Well, that was fun. I just got back to my hotel after participating in AL Tout Wars, helping administer the Mixed auction and grabbing a bite to eat in the city that never sleeps. If you have not seen them yet, a chat and spreadsheets for the AL and mixed auctions are available at the Tout Wars site. I have participated in both the Mixed League and National League only versions, but due to scheduling, I was invited to play in the Americal League, getting to square off against my partner Lawr Michaels, my former partner Jason Grey as will as such fantasy luminaries as Ron Shandler, Jeff Erickson, Matthew Berry, Jason Collette, Mike Siano, Dean Peterson, Steve Moyer,Larry Schechter and the venerable duo of Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf. Here is a quick review of my squad.
I wrote last week that I may buck the conventional way of thinking and spend a little more on pitching than others and certainly more than I usually do. And that discussion turned out to be a bit prescient, though the way it unraveled was different than expected.
By means of a quick review, my initial plan was to get an upper echelon starter for about $20, a closer for $20, three starters for about $10 each, then divide $10 amongst my last four pitchers. While I hoped to be able to put value pitcher on the $10 lines, I was prepared to add up to $10 total to those spots. I was confident I would find the top starter and closer, and to be honest, the guys I expected to put there were either Jered Weaver or Max Scherzer and Matt Thornton. But something funny happened on the way to the auction. As I was waddling over from my hotel, about a mile from the auction, while gnawing on a bagel, two words popped into my head and made me utter aloud, “Aw, shoot” (well, it sounded a little like that with my mouth full of bagel).
The two words were Dan and Haren. It suddenly struck me that I was almost definitely going to be able to put Dan Haren on my top pitching line and I now had a decision to make as I was pretty sure I could also snag Weaver or Scherzer. I decided that if I could get then both for $20, while I would have to be extra careful with hitting, I liked that foundation and trading is allowed so I figured I would go for it. After all, I have already decided to funnel $10 over to my pitching, I just did not expect to put it all on a $10 line, doubling it.
Cutting to the chase, I indeed bought Haren and Scherzer both for $20. And, I got what I consider another gift by putting Jonathan Papelbon on the $20 closer line, saving a buck while doing it. To make the rest of the lines work, I need to buy 2 more starting pitchers for $20, then $10 for my last four arms. I got Jeremy Hellickson for $13 and Brian Duensing for $5, saving $2. Adding that to the $1 saved on Papelbon, and I now have $13 to spend on my last 4 pitchers. I made the decision to get what I call a “half-closer”, someone I expect to get 10 or so saves and then cherry pick the rest. My target was Brandon League but when he went for $10, I opted to pay $6 for Matt Capps instead. That left me $7 for the final 3 pitchers. I was happy to end up with one of my favorite AL end game chuckers in Brandon McCarthy and had no issue buying Scott Downs for a deuce. I went a tad over budget with Kyle Drabek at $5, but he was under value and I would not be taking anything away from my hitting, as I could tell at the time it would not have helped.
Speaking of hitting, the informal plan was $55 for Ian Kinsler and Shin-Soo Choo. I overspent by $4 being extended to $29 on Kinsler, but that’s okay, I would just make a $20 line to be $16 and be fine. The rest of the hitting goal was to just look for value, saving a couple of outfield slots for what I sensed would be the soft spot of the hitting, aging but still productive outfielders. That came to fruition with Torii Hunter at $19 and Magglio Ordonez at $11. I wanted another outfielder of that ilk, but liked the value of Luke Scott, eligible at 1B for $15 and Marco Scutaro for $12. The only move I regret is actually Scutaro, as that stripped me of the chance to afford another undervalued outfielder. But I liked the end game outfielders more than the end game middlemen, so Scutaro it was. Much to the chagrin of my niece Brooke, I picked up a couple of aging Yankees in Jorge Posada for $12 and Derek Jeter for $21.
As a Red Sox fan, Brooke will be upset. two of my proudest moments as an Uncle were a couple of phone calls I received from her. The first was when she was four and wanted to sing me the song she learned in day care and proceeded to belt out a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" that would make Harry Carey proud and the second was a couple of years later when she asked me "Unkey, what's OBP stand for?" But perhaps my favorite memory was being in a restaurant with her when she was probably 7 or 8 years old. She pointed to a guy wearing a "Yankees Suck" t-shirt. She whispers to me “Unkey, look at that shirt. It’s mean, but it’s true.”
Anyway, I realized a long time ago that a player’s performance is not impacted if they are on my roster, so I decided if the enemy is going to produce, I may as well be the beneficiary. I rounded my team out with Kila Ka'aihue at $9, Wilson Betemit at $3, Conor Jackson at $2, Andruw Jones at $2 and old friend Austin Kearns for a buck. I really thought I was over the Kearns addiction, but as I know all too well, it is one thing to lose weight, it is another to keep it off. Oh yeah, my second catcher was Brayan Pena at $2, which I actually liked, until Alex Avila was also bought for $2 right afterwards. Then I did not like the deal so much.
I have four part timers, which is twice what I prefer, but paying the extra $12 for pitching as well as paying for a catcher forced that. However with reserves, FAAB and trading, or perhaps if Betemit hits his way into more time or if Grady Sizemore has a setback giving Kearns more at bats, I will be in decent shape.
With my reserves, I picked up a couple more part time sticks in Corey Patterson and Mike McCoy. Nothing really to see there except to show how deep the draft goes and the quality of players left to put on reserve. That said, I sort of like my speculative starting pitchers, Josh Tomlin and Andrew Oliver. If my regular staff performs as expected and either of those guys back their way into the rotation, I could have some pitching to deal.
As I have said ad nauseum this spring, you do not win the league at the draft or auction, but you certainly can put yourself in position to compete and I feel I have done that. My attack is not as strong as I am used to, but with injuries playing such a large part of today’s game, if I can stay healthy and find a way to add another 500 at bats from my four end game batter’s spots, I think I can hang in. We’ll know in another 27 weeks or so. But right now, unlike the rest of the city, I need to sleep. After all, the National League participants deserve to have their auctioneer being well rested and at the top of his game.
Please feel free to tell me what you think.