Trying to get the best auction team is tough in any venue – trying to do it against eleven of the best fantasy baseball analysts and writers is work.
So as much fun as it was to see a room full of friends from the industry, once auctioneer Don Drooker opened the bidding in Saturday’s AL LABR auction it was time to buckle up and see if my plan could be put into play.
And of course you know that’s not easy when your competitors have the same goal so my idea was to avoid the top level of spending – high $30s into the low $40s for the very best hitters; high $20s and low $30s for the best starting pitchers – and try for a team of players who would for the most part contribute double digit numbers in home runs and stolen bases, hoping to arrive with 200+ home runs and 150+ stolen bases which would have been near the top in those categories in 2011.
So while I put in bids on Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander et al, I was trying to seem competitive with those bids but not landing them at what I perceived to be the winning bid range. And for the most part the prices did approach what I thought – maybe slightly less some of the top players, but balanced off by higher prices for many of the tier two hitters and pitchers.
But let’s look at the prices I paid and see how I came out. My other goal is to get as many at bats as possible from the hitters because the teams that spend several thirty dollar bills on some players would find it hard to fill out their lineup with regular starting players.
The first player I landed was Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie at $28 – maybe slightly more than the twenty five I had hoped but you have to make some quick decisions – and if I didn’t land Lawrie there (who I think has a floor at 20/20 with considerable upside), would I for sure be able to get Eric Hosmer the best first baseman left? Anyway Lawrie put me off to a good start on the double//double club.
The first pitcher I bought – and second player – was Angels closer Jordan Walden at $16. I thought, correctly as it turned out that some of the closers in the tier 1B (below Mariano Rivera) might go for slightly more, so get what you can. Rivera went in the twenties and several of the others went for around eighteen, so I was right there. I would try later to get one for a little less.
After the first hour I was one of three teams that had not spent over $100 and while I wished I was alone there I should be able to land several players who fit the plan. First was Adam Jones and at $23 I might have overpaid but not by more than a dollar or two and 24/11 would be fine.
I added both Matt Joyce and Dustin Ackley at $19 – I am a little higher on Ackley than most but as a 15/15 or close middle infielder I was happy to have him. I had wanted to get both Ackley and Jason Kipnis but that turned out to be a pipe dream. In fact it was tough to land one of the second tier shortstops early so I waited until later when I could get Alcides Escobar and his twenty plus bags for a reasonable $13.
If you want to see all the LABR results and decide for yourself who has the best team, I will leave a link for the Google spreadsheet that the Sirius/XM crew put up in real time. Sunday’s NL auction will be up by the time you read this on Monday.
Even the second and third tiers of starting pitching were running high, so I was happy later in the auction to start my staff with a $14 Jeremy Hellickson. I added a $13 Daniel Bard soon after that and think they will make a fine pair of starters to anchor what I presume will be a seven starter/two closer staff.
Here is my team with prices
MI – Ackley (19), A. Escobar (13), & Trevor Plouffe (5)
UT – Ryan Sweeney (4)
Obviously Donaldson is a tricky cheap second catcher play but if he can hold the job at third base for Oakland that will be a bargain. If not I will grab a backup in the reserve rounds or a minor leaguer I think will come up (there are two). Plouffe is the only playing time question but reports are the Twins are going to get him plenty of at bats in the outfield and he was the best I could roster late in the auction. We don’t know how long Carl Crawford is out giving Sweeney full time at bats before he reverts to a share with Cody Ross but at least it is at the UT slot. Even with minimal playing time for those three, I came in with a projected 198 home runs and 170 stolen bases, so I am fine with that.
On the pitching side I am very happy with this group:
SP – Hellickson (14), Bard (13), Matt Harrison (6), Jarrod Parker (6), Dustin McGowan (1), hopefully Alfredo Aceves (2) and I took a shot with my last SP slot rostering Seattle’s Danny Hultzen for $4 and hoping the arrival is sooner than later
Closers – Walden (16) and Kyle Farnsworth (13)
I was about the third team to complete my roster but it doesn’t give you much time to relax before the reserve draft because you must mark off all the players drafted, so a quick trip for a soda and trip to the bathroom and I returned to watch so many hoped for targets get taken as the last players for the rest of the room’s rosters.
There is a draw for an Ace and then the reserve serpentine draft goes clockwise – I was eleventh with Nate Ravitz the only team to pick after me in the first round. Amazing that with all the crappy catchers drafted and someone drafting minor leaguer Ryan Lavarnway during the auction that the first ten picks would still leave me Kelly Shoppach, but I was very happy to add him and give myself Donaldson insurance.
After Nate’s picks I was happy to get the Royals’ Mike Montgomery in the second round. In the third/fourth turn I rostered Seattle 3B Alex Liddi and Royals potential SP Luis Mendoza. And I was very happy (Brad Evans from Yahoo wasn’t) to pair Liddi with my fifth round selection of another young Mariner third baseman, Vinny Catricala. If Chone Figgins can’t improve on last year’s BA/OBA one of these power hitters may get an early opportunity (or if the Mariners used Figgins in center field for the first month while Franklin Gutierrez is out). My last pick being a fellow crafty lefty was Detroit rookie Drew Smyly who is still in the competition for the Tigers’ fifth starter. I think those picks supported my roster very well. I would have liked to find an outfielder for Sweeney insurance but those were well picked over.
So we go to battle soon and I will report on this LABR team all year with trade discussions and decisions and FAAB additions and of course the standings as I try and capture another flag for the Mastersball staff. You can start here