Round Two: Jose Reyes $30 (Round Two, Fifth Player Taken)
My goal in the auction was to get bargains of +$4 or better in the outfield, and +$2 or better everywhere else. The room concerned me at first – a number of players in the first round went close to par on my sheet – not the typical CBS room. Generally speaking, CBS tends to pay early and often for the studs, and tons of bargains fall later; so far, this room did not have that particular flavor, as happened in the American League as well. Joey Votto ($44) and Emilio Bonifacio ($26) went far enough over my sheet price, however, where I knew bargains had to come. I chose to take two of those "bargain dollars" here with Reyes. Reyes earned $34 in 5x5 last year in only 537 ABs, with a big spike in OBP and slugging. I think I might get a bargain here.
Round Three: James Loney $14 (3:3)
Loney earned $17, $20, $19, $18 and $17 the past five years, and, in a thin first base pool, I targeted him. I would not have said $16 and would have moved on to guys like Adam LaRoche ($14) or Gaby Sanchez ($17). Don Mattingly appearscommitted to him, and a good start almost guarantees him a full-time job until the trade deadline.
I got antsy about letting a lot of starting pitchers go at par or one under par on my sheet, so when Bumgarner came up, I decided to push him to par to get him. I am high on Bumgarner this year, and believe he could be in the running for Cy Young. He did not turn 22 until August last year, and still earned $16 in 5x5. Rollins happens to be shortstop number two for me early (see Reyes above), but I priced him at $25, and he earned $25 or more in four of the last five years. Rollins and Reyes, if healthy, are a potent combination in the middle infield.
Round Seven: Jose Tabata $15 (7:9)
Tabata earned $11 last year in less than 350 at-bats. With more at-bats, a little better base-running and his good batting eye, I think Tabata should far exceed both last year’s earnings and my bid.
Round Eight: Dexter Fowler $14 (8:11)
I knew I would own Fowler – I priced him very aggressively based upon reports about him in the off-season and the good word of Twitter friend Troy Renck. While I do not expect 20 home runs from him, I do expect solid power production to go with solid stolen base production. The average could be a little light, but, all in all, this is still a good value play.
I said a silent thank you when Beltran fell to me at $17; I needed the power to go with the speed profile on my team. Beltran is getting old, but he can still hit. Headley took a big step last year despite injury. If you look at his extra base hits versus at-bats, he put up 33 extra base hits in 338 at-bats, after posting 45 and 53 in mostly full seasons the two years prior. Over a full season, his prorated extra base hits would be around 60…at that point, I have to believe some of those leave the park. If he eventually leaves PETCO, and stays in the National League, even better from a production standpoint. At this point, my roster is Loney/Headley at corner and Rollins/Reyes up the middle, with Tabata, Fowler and Beltran in the outfield and Bumgarner as my anchor pitcher. I felt pretty good about the roster, though I worried on how I would fill out the rotation and the power profile.
I found a soft-spot here in Round 10. In fact, I could have also pulled the trigger on Chris Heisey at $6 here, but I froze up after getting Ramirez and Soriano in quick succession. I solved the power problem with Ramirez and Soriano, assuming they do not look incredibly old at the beginning of the season. When Cueto then fell to me at $12, I did a happy dance. Health is the big issue with Cueto, but $17 in earnings in 5x5 last year over 155 innings is nothing to sneeze at…if you told me before the auction I would get Bumgarner and Cueto at a combined $35, I would have been good with that.
I wanted production from my catcher slot, but I did not want to pay $1 under my par price. I regret this pick; the few dollars saved could have netted me Jon Jay and/or Nolan Arenado later. Nonetheless, Ruiz consistently earns in this range, and I will take par earnings from a catcher. Worley is a preference bid. I saw him pitch live six times last year; he is impressive in person. I think his success will continue on a very good team, and I expect a moderate profit here.
Round 12: Marlon Byrd $7 (12:10)
Why not a former Phillie to go with the two Phillies in Round 11? Byrd is consistently underrated in fantasy baseball terms…prior to last year, he earned $16, $16 and $20. Yes, the Cubs could move him. Yes, he could break down. If he is on the field regularly between Opening Day and the trade deadline, however, I get a profit here. In a perfect world, I would have kept this slot open for the bargains I knew had to fall later, but this value is too much to pass up.
Round 13: Will Venable $11 (13:5), Shawn Marcum $11 (13:8)
In a perfect world, I would have left my UT slot open for some of the bargains I knew had to fall later…(oh, wait, I think I said this already). The fact about Venable, however, is that he has pure speed to go with a little pop. Venable’s worst case scenario is last year’s $15 of 5x5 earnings. While I did not like filling my UT slot, I knew I could live with it based on the offense I built and Bumgarner/Cueto anchoring the staff. Marcum then made that staff better by falling in my lap. Shoulder inflammation is not enough to deter me; he had the same inflammation at the beginning of last year, and earned $15 in 5x5.
I heard the jokes after I bought Buehrle: “he should spell Mark with a “c” because he has no K’s.” Take 2010 out of the mix, strike outs or no, his earnings four years out of five are $15, $14, $15 and $11. Moving to the National League, a better team and a decent ballpark, well, I expect a good profit. Thole has no one to challenge him for at-bats. His only days off will be because the player’s union would protest throwing him behind the plate for 162 games. At-bats drive offenses in 5x5, and Thole will certainly get his share.
I double-dipped three rounds in a row. Hudson is a coup at this price. I only needed to fill a second base slot (I went a long time only being able to bid on catchers and second basemen), and I knew Hudson was the guy on the board I wanted. When he stopped at $3, I knew I won the value battle there. Along came Billingsley, one of the best pitchers on my board, and I decided I would push him to $2 under my price. The room surprised me by stopping there. The park factor and his earnings for the four years prior to 2011 give me hope, despite his struggles last year; I do not think Billingsley suddenly fell off the cliff in 2011 at the age of 27. Six starters on board at this point: Bumgarner, Cueto, Worley, Marcum, Buehrle and Billingsley…I said to Mike at this point I might go for nine.
Round 17: Ted Lilly $6 (17:3)
If other owners thought Buehrle and Billingsley were speculative, Lilly at $6 certainly is not, particularly in a strikeout league and at this late stage in the auction. $22, $18, $22, $17 and $12 over the last five years…I’ll take that for $6. Seven starters and counting….
Round 20: Jordan Lyles $1 (20:3)
After unsuccessfully trying to get Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, and others, I decided to try starter number eight on spec. Lyles is a former John Sickels B+ prospect, and the ceiling is pretty high for him. He will likely spend a lot of time on the reserve list this year as I see if he develops into something.
Round 21: Joe Blanton $1 (21:2)
The mistake of the auction – he was auto-nominated while I searched for Julio Teheran. Blanton will likely be the first player nuked off my reserve list when a better guy comes along via FAAB. Luckily, I got Teheran anyway.
Reserve List: Julio Teheran, Antonio Bastardo, Jon Rauch, Lance Lynn, D.J. LeMahieu, Matt Downs, Ramon Ramirez
I am very happy with the relievers I picked up here. I missed out on Justin Turner and Eric Young, Jr. because of my Teheran pick, but I really wanted to have him there. This could be a depth mistake on my part, but one I can live with in the end.
I wound up just about on my favored spending split for the National League ($184/$76, versus a $182/$78 or $185/$75, depending on my mood). Pure coincidence, since I did not track it, but it comforts me to know the adjustments I made during the auction were consistent with my overall theory.
The Pros: One, I stayed disciplined, even as $1, $2 and sometimes even $3 bargains fell off the board. My feel of the room led me to believe there would be better bargains and, even though I missed a few, I walked away with a lot of value. On the pitching side alone, I have $33 in value (based on my bid prices, not expected earnings), while, on the hitting side, I calculated a rough $59 in value. Your value calculations will vary, of course. Two, I purchased 14 starters on offense. The 5x5 game is about at-bats, and this team will generate a ton of them…this is the type of team that should see roughly 56 at-bats a night.
The Cons: One con here is that my team is old in places. One injury can be absorbed; several guys out with nagging injuries could be a problem. This is something to keep an eye on during the season for sure. The other “con” is the lack of a closer. A number of closers went at par on my sheet, but I was dedicated to getting bargains. My prices on closers were, however, a little too low, pricing me out of saves. I think I can make an argument to a team with one closer that an offensive upgrade or a starting pitcher upgrade would be worth a closer, so I will need to pursue the trade angle.