Friday, November 14, 2008

Chasing Catchers

Toz of all people has a question:
How do you feel about price enforcing catchers at auction? It appears to be a dangerous game because of the unpredictability of the catcher position, but you also do not want a major contributor at catcher (Mauer, e.g.) to slip through and give your opponent a boost.
Toz has auctioned against me for the past 13 years, so he knows what generally happens to me at the auction. More often than not, I wind up with one everyday catcher and one $1 scrub. The everyday catcher was usually someone like Jorge Posada or Jason Varitek: a guy who in his prime was very, very good but not someone I'd have to go too far past $20 for.

My general belief about catchers is that I'll price enforce but I won't chase just for the sake of having two starters. I don't mind paying the full inflation price, either, which is something I try to avoid doing at thicker positions like the outfield and the corner infield positions.

That inflation price, though, is the kicker. In non-keeper leagues, let's say you start with a baseline price of what he earned in 2008 in 4x4: $23. You decide that he's young, that Jorge Posada will never be the same and Victor Martinez is toast so you should push your bid up on Mauer. You put your bid at $26. If you get him, you feel like you can live with a $3 loss at catcher, as you're likely to find a bargain or two elsewhere in the endgame to offset Mauer. If he sails past $26, so be it. You'll live with another option behind the dish.

In a non-keeper league, that's that. But what happens with 20% inflation?

Your inflated price on Mauer is now $31. Geesh. That's a lot for a guy who doesn't hit for power, doesn't run all that much, and plays half of his games in a pitcher's park. Maybe I want A.J. Pierzynski at $14 or $15 instead.

Getting back to Toz's question, I think price enforcing catchers is certainly important. But it's no more important than making sure you price enforce at any other position. Making sure your opponents pay is fine. Overpaying just because that player is a catcher is still overpaying, and a formula for losing.

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