Friday, February 27, 2009

Sportsline A.L. Team Review: CBS Mack

Frank noticed that Eric Mack's strategy in the CBS Sportsline expert auction was a little different than mine.
Eric Mack (CBS Sports)...spent big for Teixeira and Morneau, then settled for $15 starters as opposed to your $20 aces. He ended up having to gamble on unsigned free agents in order to make the dollars work. It'll be interesting to see how the two of you fare relative to one another.
Eric Mack is a tough owner to compete against. He has dominated the A.L. side of this league for the last four years, coming in 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st, missing the four-peat by a combined 8 1/2 points. He knows how to play this game, and is particularly sharp about working the free agent pool in this daily transactions league.

As Frank points out, Mack was one of the owners who chased a couple of stars early, buying Tex and Morneau for a combined $83. My combined bid limits for the two of them sat at $60, so I had Mack $23 in the hole two players in, with about 32% of his budget gone.

As more than a few readers (including Frank) have pointed out, this was a Stage One auction with a long and lively endgame, so Mack certainly had a chance to capitalize on that and make up for the significant hole he dug himself with those two buys. Did he?

No, because he fell into dollar derby when he bought Brandon Wood at $14 late in Round 12, leaving Mack with $10 for nine players.

He turned his focus to pitching after those two corners went, buying Chien Ming-Wang ($13), Jeff Weaver ($15), Justin Verlander ($16), and Matt Garza ($15) with his next four picks. I have those four at a combined $6 under value, so while I wouldn't high-five Mack for outdoing me on the pitching side, he did put together a solid staff on the cheap. But then he made the mistake of pushing the envelope one too many times, and bought Gavin Floyd for $15 who, in my opinion, was way overpriced.

I like his Delmon Young buy ($15) a lot, and like Mike Lowell at $11 too, but feel like Wood has the same problem as Floyd. He doesn't have a lot of upside at that price, and runs the big risk of earning half that.

The other problem I see is that the team he bought pre-endgame leaves Mack with three players on offense who could torpedo him if they don't work out: Wood, Nelson Cruz ($15), and Nick Swisher ($10). There's nothing wrong with the prices on Cruz or Swisher; both were within $1 of my bid limit one way or the other. But if they're part-timers, or juggling in and out of their respective line-ups, it's going leave Mack light on AB and - subsequently - production.

His endgame was also OK, but he didn't pick up as much value as some other teams. Mack gambled on quite a few high risk, high reward guys. I like Kenji Johjima and Glen Perkins at a $1 apiece. The rest of his picks are mostly long shots to help, and include George Kottaras, Pedro Martinez, Aaron Poreda, Dontrelle Willis, Eric Patterson, and the since departed Orlando Hudson. With the exception of Hudson, a couple of these guys could work out, but it seems to me like most of them won't.

From a categorical standpoint, Mack dug a large hole. He didn't draft a closer or even a CIW and has nine starters or potential starters. He's also last or near last in speed. Buying Ryan Freel at $2 in Round 14 was a mistake. He could be a very nice value play, but with a huge lack of team speed Mack probably should have tried to buy a full-timer who would contribute across the board instead.

My bid limits compute Mack's team out to a $249 in value. The Sportsline projections show him finishing 8th, while the Patton projections are far less kind and put him in 11th. Both projections show him light in runs, SB and saves. The Sportsline projections are more generous to Mack in ERA/WHIP. That actually could work out, since the plan would be to keep the cheap, fungible pitchers who work out and jettison the ones that don't.

I think there are too many question marks on offense here, and there are going to be too many holes that have to be plugged on offense for Mack to be a major force this year.

Of course, he's beaten the A.L. side these leagues silly for the last four years and has the Rotisserie skill and acumen to make this post look incredibly stupid come September. I hope his imaginary clubhouse doesn't have a billboard like mine does.

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