The Tout Wars crash course began just a few hours after I heard the news that a spot had opened up in the Mixed Tout league and that I was invited to join. Seven days. That’s all the time I had, and I would have to make the most of it. How exactly does one prepare for an auction draft with some of the country’s most skilled fantasy owners? Well, I went ahead and identified exactly the guys I would be targeting along with several fallback options. Then, I assigned a rough dollar value to each of these players. This method of preparation helped, but not quite as much as I thought it would. We all know that there’s no such thing as a scripted auction.
This past Saturday afternoon, at approximately 3:15 PM ET, I made my Tout Wars debut, joining 14 other fantasy gurus in a moderately sized conference room over at Sirius XM headquarters in midtown Manhattan that was barely big enough to fit us all. I was a little nervous at first, but once the first few players went off the board I settled down. Little did I know that our auctioneer, Rotowire’s Jeff Erickson, was known for his blazing fast paced style. Great. What a way to welcome a rookie!
Just a few minutes into the proceedings, one of my prime targets, Justin Upton (my personal MVP pick) was nominated, and though I had budgeted roughly 35 dollars for him, I was forced to spend 40. This didn’t bother me too much though as I don’t mind paying top dollar for elite talent. When Carlos Gonzalez, a very comparable player to Upton, also went for 40 bucks, I felt satisfied with my investment. I managed to secure my #2 target as well, shelling out 34 bucks for Mark Teixeira. Again, I overpaid by a little, but I’m pretty sure that Tex could bring back 30 dollar value if he can raise his batting average to the .275 range, and I think he’ll do just that. Paul Konerko going for a mere 20 dollars made the Tex pick look like a stretch, but the beauty of the auction is that you can get the guys you want, right? That said, at this point I found myself in the undesirable situation of being around 10 bucks over budget, so I sat tight while most of the other studs flew off the board. But then the bidding on CC Sabathia stopped at 20. I had set aside about 18 for my ace, planning on going with Yovani Gallardo. I had to call out 21 for CC, and I got him. Good value I thought, but definitely not what I had planned. The pattern of going over budget by a few dollars on a particular roster slot (Matt Cain for 16, Kevin Youkilis for 21) continued a few more times. These were all players I liked and felt were bought at fair or, in the case of Cain, below market value. But I had budgeted 14 for my #2 SP, thinking I would draft a Ricky Romero/Gio Gonzalez type player, and expected the Youkilis bidding to stop at around 18.
Spending a bit too much early on in the draft prevented me from taking advantage of bargains late as there were a bunch of quality players, particularly starting pitchers, who were bought for 5-10 dollars. I don’t regret chasing Upton and Teixeira, but maybe 24 dollars for Hunter Pence, although fair value, wasn’t the best idea considering my financial constraints. Maybe I should have more often followed the approach I took at shortstop, realizing that $21 for Jimmy Rollins, my first choice, was too steep and going with a $13 Erick Aybar instead.
Although I ended up building a very strong offense, a lineup stacked with both power and speed that I feel matches up well against any of the other teams, my starting pitching beyond my top two is mediocre at best. I also couldn’t manage to add a second closer to pair with Jonathan Papelbon. This will put me at a huge saves disadvantage to start the season. The lack of proven high strikeout starters bothers me a little more, however, and I may be forced to make an early season trade to address this issue. I have plenty of high quality hitting to trade though, so I’m fairly confident that a deal could be struck if needed.
I think that this squad as currently constructed could finish middle of the pack. Acquiring a solid #3 SP along with a capable second closer might loft me into top-5 territory. All in all, I haven’t had so much fun on a Saturday since I took my SATs ten years ago, and I look forward to competing against the best in the business over the next six months!Visit toutwars.com to view the results from all three of the Tout drafts.