For my long-time readers, welcome back to the FAAB logs. For new readers, a few brief explanations before I get rolling.
This weekly series tracks FAAB bids in an A.L.-only, 4x4, 12-team only league with $100 FAAB budget. If players are traded to the National League, money is added to the FAAB based on the salary of the player lost. The idea behind the column is to try and give insight behind the strategies and tactics of a league that is bidding on players based not only on this year's budget, but also is trying to navigate against a $350 active roster salary cap and sees some teams playing for this year while others are playing for 2012 and beyond.
Dan Johnson $24. Other bids $20, $13, $4.
There were 11 DH-only hitters frozen or eligible to be purchased at our auction. The result was a logjam at the end of the auction and Dan Johnson was left on the table. Our league uses a three game in-season requirement, so this opened up Johnson for a few teams. The bid here is aggressive, but if Johnson works out you're potentially getting 20-25 HR from a FAAB replacement for a full season as opposed to waiting for the next big thing. Is Johnson that player though? His best-case scenario looks like the guy he replaced in Tampa, Carlos Pena, with fewer HR and more doubles. If you're in an OBP league, Johnson is more solid than in a batting average league, since I don't think a .210-.220 batting average is entirely out of the question. This is the right play here, but keep in mind that Johnson's no sure thing.
Felipe Lopez $4. Other bid $3.
The Evan Longoria injury led to Lopez's quick call up from Triple-A. There is talk of a platoon at 3B with Sean Rodriguez, but Johnson played a little bit at 3B last year and will get a little time there as well. Lopez is an acceptable third MI in A.L.-only even as a back up. He'll pop the occasional HR and steal the occasional base and his batting average last year was likely an anomaly. If you have a dead spot at middle after your auction, Lopez is worth at least a $5 bid.
Jake Fox $3. Other bid $1.
Fox was the other DH-only who got lost in the shuffle at the auction on Saturday. He hasn't played in the field yet, so there were fewer potential suitors for Fox's services via FAAB. He's kind of the poor man's Johnson in that Fox has power but doesn't like to take ball four. Fox had a hot spring, but playing time is an issue for him at the moment. Matt Wieters started all three games against the Rays, and LF, RF, 1B, 3B, and DH are all pretty stacked for the Orioles. When Fox does gain catcher eligibility, he's going to be a fine play there over some of the detritus owners are forced to carry in A.L.-only, but you should keep your expectations modest. 8-10 HR with little else is Fox's upside unless there's an injury or a trade.
Jack Wilson $2. Other bid $1.
Wilson is the kind of everyday player you're stuck owning in deep leagues. He doesn't do much of anything, but he does just enough across the board that if he's playing you have to stick him in there over a dead spot. He'll hurt your average somewhat or a little but provides enough RBI that he's a necessary evil. If you do pick Wilson up, keep in mind that Dustin Ackley will probably be up sometime this summer and Wilson could wind up in a job share with Brendan Ryan at shortstop. At that point, Wilson's "production" goes from being acceptable to not so much.
Michael Wuertz $1. Other bid $1.
Brian Fuentes is probably the man for saves right now in Oakland, but Wuertz might get the odd opportunity here and there. His strikeout rate is high enough that even for 5x5 he's worth owning at the bottom of your staff without the saves, but keep in mind he generally isn't the most WHIP-friendly pitcher. He also seems to thrive in Oakland and has been merely average to above average elsewhere the last two years on the road.
Daniel Schlereth $1.
Schlereth is your typical hard throwing reliever who has a high ceiling but needs more polish. The walk rate is the big problem in Roto; even a limited number of innings from Schlereth could hurt your WHIP if he can't find the plate. The strikeout rate is tantalizing, though, and he induces enough ground balls and pitches in the right park when he does throw a cookie. Reports are mixed on his curve; Baseball Prospectus called it "baffling" while Fangraphs said that it's "quite inconsistent." Schlereth is more of a future saves play than a current one, but he's worth rostering in deep A.L.-only leagues.
Jesse Crain $1.
Signed by the White Sox to a three-year deal this winter, Crain moves into a much less favorable park for pitchers but probably into a higher leverage role with Chicago. His fly ball tendencies mean a few more balls might leave the yard, but this is counterbalanced by his willingness to mix in the slider more with his 95 MPH heater. If Crain builds on last year, he could be almost as good a set-up man as Matt Thornton was before him. If Thornton goes down, don't be surprised if it's Crain - and not Chris Sale - who gets the first crack at save opportunities.