Posted on: February 19, 2010 5:05 am

A tale of two auctions

One day after participating in a 12-team mixed-league auction with representatives of various publications throughout the industry, I conducted one of our own here at This time, bids came more aggressively, forcing me to take a different approach that I think yielded a better team:

C - A.J. Pierzynski ($1)
C - Jeff Clement ($1)
1B - Joey Votto ($21)
2B - Chase Utley ($41)
3B - Pablo Sandoval ($25)
SS - Troy Tulowitzki ($36)
MI - Derek Jeter ($24)
CI - Billy Butler ($13)
OF - Justin Upton ($26)
OF - Adam Lind ($23)
OF - Jayson Werth ($17)
OF - Johnny Damon ($4)
OF - Julio Borbon ($4)
DH - Carlos Gonzalez ($1)
SP - John Danks ($4)
SP - Gavin Floyd ($4)
SP - Ricky Nolasco ($3)
SP - Brett Anderson ($3)
SP - Randy Wolf ($3)
SP - Aaron Harang ($1)
RP - Billy Wagner ($3)
RP - Leo Nunez ($1)
RP - Kerry Wood ($1)

In the earlier auction, the majority of my competitors chose to forego the big-dollar players, instead saving their money for the middle-round bargains. So naturally, I loaded up on the supposedly expensive types, landing Hanley Ramirez for $43, Ryan Howard for $38, Tulowitzki for $36, Joe Mauer for $29, Victor Martinez for $24 and Justin Morneau for $22. Hey, if nobody else wanted to bid on them, why should I let them go for cheap? Meanwhile, the supposed bargains ended up the more hotly contested players because everyone had stashed away money for them. Votto went for $30. Nelson R. Cruz went for $21. Adam LaRoche went for $11. It was a topsy-turvy auction.

In this auction, though, everybody went all out for the studs, shelling out $40-plus bids as if they had the Steinbrenner family purse at their disposal. With so much money flying off the board early, I realized some of that middle-round talent -- as well as the typical second-, third- and fourth-rounders -- would go for too cheap, so I eased up a bit, jumping in only on Utley and Tulowitzki and staying far, far away from the fistfight for Mauer and Martinez. Sure enough, I ended up with a deep arsenal of second-tier talent, with Upton, Sandoval, Jeter, Lind, Votto and Werth all plenty capable of putting up early-round numbers.

The one common thread between the two auctions was my approach to my pitching staff. I spent only $23 on this one, and I think you'd agree it looks pretty stout -- certainly better than my $22 staff one day earlier. Of course, in that auction, I never would have gotten Danks, Floyd, Nolasco and Anderson for the bargain prices I did here -- not with everyone saving up for sleepers.

If I could change anything, I'd rather have a $4 Andrew McCutchen and a $4 Nate McLouth than a $4 Damon and a $4 Borbon, but those are relatively minor mistakes for such a frenzied exercise. Overall, I think I did the best I could in each auction given the differing circumstances. Having them back-to-back underscores just how much an auction can vary based on the attitude of your competition.
Posted on: February 18, 2010 1:25 am
Edited on: February 20, 2010 1:27 pm

Mauer, V-Mart, Hanley and Tulo on one team!?

I just completed my first 12-team mixed-league auction for 2010, and though I came out of it with some of the usual regrets, I think my general plan worked out pretty well. Here's the rundown:

C - Joe Mauer ($29)
C - Victor Martinez ($24)
1B - Ryan Howard ($38)
2B - Ben Zobrist ($18)
3B - Chone Figgins ($14)
SS - Hanley Ramirez ($43)
MI - Troy Tulowitzki ($36)
CI - Justin Morneau ($22)
OF - Vernon Wells ($3)
OF - Chris Coghlan ($2)
OF - Nick Swisher ($2)
OF - Dexter Fowler ($1)
OF - Milton Bradley ($1)
DH - Hideki Matsui ($1)
SP - A.J. Burnett ($7)
SP - Edwin Jackson ($5)
SP - Ted Lilly ($1)
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka ($1)
SP - J.A. Happ ($1)
SP - Ervin Santana ($1)
SP - Shaun Marcum ($1)
RP - Leo Nunez ($4)
RP - Jason Frasor ($1)

The first thing you should notice is I have both of the elite catchers. The second thing you should notice is I have both of the elite shortstops. I have a monopoly on two positions, meaning I have 100 percent assurance that nobody in the league will better me at either of them -- well, as much as you can have 100 percent assurance of anything in Fantasy.

That was one of my goals. The other was getting Albert Pujols, but when the bidding got up to $54, I had no choice but to back down.

Why was I willing to spend so much? Hey, it's a 12-team mixed league. In such formats, particularly ones that don't offer benches, the waiver wire is deep and the $1 bargains plentiful. Middle-dollar players won't take you very far with so many low-dollar players capable of rising up and outperforming them. I wanted studs, and with five first- or second-rounders -- six if you count Morneau -- I got them.

If I have one regret on spending, it's the $38 I devoted to Howard. If I knew I'd get Morneau for $22 a couple picks later, I would have let Howard go to someone else. Then again, the assurance he offers in home runs and RBI allowed me to target speedster Figgins as my starting third baseman, giving me potentially a more balanced offense.

As for those $1 bargains, most of them went toward my pitching staff. In fact, they comprised the majority of my pitching staff. With a $7 ace in Burnett -- who, for all his shortcomings, certainly does some things right -- I managed to spend only $22 on nine pitchers. That's $22 of $260, or 8.5 percent of my entire budget, on my entire pitching staff. For as much as I knock pitching, even I hadn't done anything that extreme before. I realize Lilly and Matsuzaka have injury concerns and Jackson, Happ, Santana and Marcum have risk factors of their own, but come on: If just three of those guys pan out, I'll have a good enough nucleus to survive with stopgaps off the waiver wire. And as for saves, someone will get a big enough advantage in the category to drop a closer sooner or later. That's how I got Andrew Bailey last year.

My biggest regret is leaving $4 on the table -- $4 that could have gotten me Gavin Floyd, a pitcher who could have conceivably become my ace. But again, I can't complain too much. As long as I'm willing to put a little work into my outfield and pitching staff -- two positions that always have talent emerging off the waiver wire -- this team should turn out a-OK.
Posted on: November 12, 2009 11:49 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2009 11:53 pm

Early mock draft results

I recently took part in a mock draft for another publication. Kind of early, I know, but at least it gives you some idea what to expect. It's a 15-team league, so don't take the specific rounds too much to heart (unless you play in a 15-team league, of course).

Here's the breakdown, with the rounds in parentheses. I picked eighth overall:

C - Joe Mauer (1)
C - Jesus Flores (20)
1B - Derrek Lee (7)
2B - Ben Zobrist (4)
3B - Pablo Sandoval (3)
SS - Troy Tulowitzki (2)
MI - Alcides Escobar (18)
CI - Garrett Jones (11)
OF - Shane Victorino (5)
OF - Michael Bourn (6)
OF - Nick Swisher (14)
OF - Seth Smith (22)
OF - Will Venable (23)
DH - Hideki Matsui (16)
SP - Tommy Hanson (8)
SP - Gavin Floyd (12)
SP - John Danks (13)
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka (15)
SP - Wade Davis (19)
SP - Joel Pineiro (21)
RP - Brian Fuentes (9)
RP - David Aardsma (10)
RP - Kerry Wood (17)

For the most part, I like what I did. According to the tier approach -- where with each pick, I target the position most likely to see the biggest drop-off in talent before my next pick -- Joe Mauer in the first round and Troy Tulowitzki in the second seems like the ideal way to start a draft this year. That doesn't mean I'd take Mauer before Albert Pujols or even Hanley Ramirez, but if you pick third or later and have the good fortune of drafting Mauer, you should hold your breath and pray Tulowitzki slides to you in Round 2. That's the only realistic way you can come out of the draft with top-tier players at the two weakest positions in Fantasy. You can still get top-tier players at the deeper positions in the rounds that follow.

Going with Mauer and Tulowitzki does have its drawbacks, though. I don't have a sure 30 homers anywhere, and if Derrek Lee (who should go sooner than Round 7 even in 12-team leagues) regresses back to his usual numbers, I might fall behind in that category. Fortunately, drafting Mauer and Pablo Sandoval gave me the luxury of drafting power hitters who might drain my batting average, such as Garrett Jones and Nick Swisher. Michael Bourn should help me contend in stolen bases, though if I knew I'd end up with him and Alcides Escobar, I would have opted for Andre Ethier's homers instead of Shane Victorino's steals in Round 5.

I waited until the eighth round to draft a pitcher and still ended up with a competitive staff, which is always the plan. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Wade Davis have some potential for implosion, but I like their upside. I normally avoid non-strikeout pitchers like Joel Pineiro, but rarely do 15-game winners last so long in leagues so deep.

What do you guys think? I'm still forming my opinions at this early stage of the offseason, so any dissenting viewpoints can only help. Send an e-mail with the heading "15-team draft" to
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 9, 2009 11:39 pm

Davies and a couple comebacks

A pair of pitching performances caught my eye Thursday.

First, Kyle Davies -- a guy I chronicled all spring only to shy away from him in the end -- pitched his best yet in a start against the White Sox, allowing only five baserunners and recording eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. I don't know that you can expect him to strike out so many batters going forward, but his other numbers continue a trend he started last September, when he went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA.

So would I pick him up in a mixed league? If I already had a scrub pitcher on my bench, I wouldn't mind making an exchange. Ian Snell for Davies is already all-systems-go in one league. When trying to find an out-of-nowhere breakout, you want to keep shuffling the hottest pitchers on and off the waiver until one sticks by staying hot. Nobody will pick up someone like Snell, coming off a miserable start, if you drop him, but someone else might look at Davies if you don't grab him first.

Of course, the pitching performance that won't go unnoticed is Chris Carpenter's seven innings of one-hit baseball against the Pirates. He had a 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings this spring, and now this. I feel confident and not the least bit premature declaring what 71 percent of Fantasy owners had already come to realize: He's baaaa-aaaack.

Speaking of back, Andruw Jones not only started for the first time this season, but he hit cleanup for the Rangers . Oh, he also went 3-for-5 with a double.

How long before he replaces David Murphy in the lineup?

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 5, 2009 7:25 pm

Quick predictions

I unfortunately won't get a chance to go into much detail, but I wanted to get my predictions on record so people can ridicule them and me and whatever else they want.

So here we go -- my expected standings, as well as award winners, for the upcoming season:

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals (wild card)
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

(These first three will be ridiculously close.)
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees (wild card)
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

1. Minnesota Twins
(These next three will be close.)
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Detroit Tigers

1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
NL ROY: Jordan Zimmermann
AL ROY: Matt Wieters
NL Comeback: Chris Carpenter
AL Comeback: Victor Martinez
NL Manager: Tony La Russa
AL Manager: Trey Hillman

World Series: Red Sox over Cardinals, 4-2

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 3, 2009 2:37 am
Edited on: April 3, 2009 2:38 am

Street earns job; Rasmus closing in

With most of the roster spots filled and starting pitchers making their final tuneup starts before the regular season, Thursday was a relatively quiet day in baseball.

Most notably, the Rockies named Huston Street their closer over Manny Corpas, which wouldn't have even been a story if they hadn't scared Fantasy owners away from Street earlier this spring. Really, he deserved the job all along. The Athletics drafted him and raised him as a closer, so he doesn't know anything else. He'll suffice as a No. 2 Fantasy option, but he'll have a short leash after his struggles last season.

Cardinals top prospect Colby Rasmus finally homered for the first time, raising his batting average to .286 in the process. No word yet on whether or not Rasmus will start over Chris Duncan in left field, and the two might ultimately end up splitting at-bats. Quite frankly, fellow rookies Jordan Schafer and Dexter Fowler look like safer bets to make an impact this season than the Cardinals outfielder, who has the most upside of the three.

Brad Penny went another five strong and looks like a safe bet to open the season in the Red Sox rotation. He couldn't have a better situation to help return him to Fantasy prominence, so don't sleep on him late.

Also, Wandy Rodriguez rebounded from a mostly disappointing spring, allowing just one hit and recording 11 strikeouts in six innings. Granted, he was facing the Astros' Double-A affiliate, but at least he proved he could still make batters miss. After striking out 8.6 batters in nine innings with a 3.54 ERA last season, he tends to go overlooked as a sleeper. Really, he deserves a roster spot in all leagues.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 2, 2009 6:34 am

Late spring surprises

I missed a couple days of blogging, so forgive me if I touch on some outdated events.

I want to start with the one player whose performance at this late date in spring training might actually mean something. No, not Alex Gordon, though he fits that same criteria. I'm referring to Travis Hafner, who homered for the second straight game Wednesday, showing the kind of power outburst not seen from him since early in 2007.

But it's two days -- two days -- so I don't want to look too much into it. Then again, I don't want to look too little into it either. For as gone as his power was last year, his shoulder damaged beyond repair, and as little as he has seemed to progress this spring, the Indians sure do show a lot of confidence in him, with manager Eric Wedge already committing to batting him third or fourth in the lineup -- as in the two spots normally reserved for the team's two best hitters.

Wedge has to know something I don't know, doesn't he? He has to.

If nothing else, the two homers mean you should start paying attention to Hafner again. I recently dropped him for Pablo Sandoval in a 12-team mixed league, and I have to admit I feel a little uneasy about it today.

Not so much for the Sandoval part, though. With the recent news that he'll serve as the Giants backup catcher, meaning he'll have to move over from third base to spell Bengie Molina behind the plate from time to time, I couldn't be more thrilled. He will gain catcher eligibility, and as a catcher, he rates right alongside Ryan Doumit and Chris Iannetta. He has the potential to rank ahead of them, even, because you have to figure he'll play more than 150 games. Third basemen don't need days off the way catchers do.

I can't understate my surprise when I heard the Phillies named Chan Ho Park their fifth starter over J.A. Happ. Just what do they hope to gain by that maneuver? Happ has legitimate upside, and Park hasn't had a WHIP below 1.39 since about the time I hit purberty. I actually liked Happ as a nice, low-cost sleeper in NL-only leagues. I suppose I'd still take Park in an NL-only Head-to-Head league, where anyone who pitches has some value, but in a Rotisserie league, forget it. I don't need him bringing down my WHIP.

In another surprise move, the Tigers named Fernando Rodney their closer over Brandon Lyon. At least that one makes sense. Rodney, by my estimation, has slightly more ability than Lyon. Quite frankly, though, I don't think either has the ability to finish the year in the role. If you want to make a preemptive move in an AL-only league, my money's on Ryan Perry.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 30, 2009 2:32 am
Edited on: March 30, 2009 2:46 am

Closer news is bad news

I checked out the Mets at the Orioles on Sunday, which might have given me more to discuss if a rain delay in the first inning hadn't forced both starting pitchers out of the game.

For what it's worth, Koji Uehara looked brilliant again, striking out the first two batters he faced -- the first one on three pitches -- in his one inning of work. I keep hearing he has average stuff that won't translate well to the majors, but I see his 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings this spring and can't help but think it means something. He has hitters fooled now, and he certainly had them fooled in Japan. The guy has zero hype in Fantasy, so I don't see any good reason why not to take a chance on him late. Hey, once upon a time, people said James Shields had average stuff too.

Nothing new on the closer battle between George Sherrill and Chris Ray. Sherrill actually had a slightly better performance, with Ray giving up a hard single and what would have been a run-scoring double if Adam Jones hadn't made a terrific running catch before smacking into the wall. Much ado about nothing, I know, but I would have liked to see Ray blow everybody away.

Speaking of closer battles, the Cubs finally settled theirs by naming Kevin Gregg -- cough, gag, wheeze -- the ninth-inning man over Carlos Marmol. Too bad the majority of Fantasy owners drafted otherwise. I fell into the trap in one league myself, so we can all support each other through this painful experience. I don't feel comfortable suggesting Gregg won't keep the job. He really wasn't a bad closer in Florida. Still, if you drafted Marmol, you can't cut him just yet. I don't know if you can cut him until we've seen a full month of worry-free closing from Gregg. Well, you can , but you might end up regretting it.

And Brandon Morrow might end up regretting his words Sunday, when he went all Jonathan Papelbon on the world and said he prefers to close, writing off starting pitching for good. Talk about a career-changing move. I always hate to see young flamethrowers give into the temptation of ninth-inning heroics. For the most part, I believe the best pitchers should spend the most time on the mound. A shortage of talent is easier to hide in one-inning spurts, making Morrow's decision a bit of a waste. Oh well. For Fantasy purposes, I had soured on him this season with all of his forearm concerns this spring. But even as a reliever, he doesn't for sure have the closer role yet -- though you figure he has to secure it eventually -- and he pitches for one of the worst teams in baseball. Still a late-rounder, in my opinion.

Category: MLB
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