Aaron Hicks, Darin Mastroianni, Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck, Dan Straily, Tony Cingrani, Billy Hamilton, Wil Myers
Tout Wars is one of the two exclusive fantasy baseball events each year (the other is LABR which I participated in earlier in March). Thanks to the powers that be I was invited to New York to put together a squad in Tout Wars for the second straight year. Below, you will see how my team came together, and I’ll give some thoughts about the entire weekend, which by the way, was a total blast (gotta be the greatest group of folks anyone can work with).
15 team mixed league auction.
14 hitters (2 C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OFs, UT)
nine pitchers (any mix of starters and relievers)
$260 salary cap
* This league is using OBP in place of batting average. It’s still a 5×5 league, just with that one change.
* Numbers in () are prices paid for each player.
* This league also has a shallow bench, only four spots. However, there is also an unlimited amount of DL spots beyond the four bench spots meaning a player on the DL does not take up a bench spot – i.e. players who start the year on the DL can be replaced with players off the waiver-wire.
C: John Jaso ($6), Tyler Flowers (4)
1B: Eric Hosmer (17)
2B: Howie Kendrick (12), Emilio Bonifacio (6), Daniel Murphy (Reserve)
3B: Martin Prado (14), Manny Machado (6), Pablo Sandoval (14), Alex Rodriguez (Res)
SS: Derek Jeter (7)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez (36), Bryce Harper (33), Domonic Brown (6), Jon Jay (4), Cameron Maybin (6), Billy Hamilton (Res)
Jaso is a solid hitter, and in an OBP league he’s a lot better option than in “normal” leagues (he had an elite .394 OBP last season). Flowers an I are not related but can you blame me for drafting my namesake? He has power and his OBP should be about league average.
Hosmer has had a killer spring, and you know I expect a bounce back (see his Player Profile). Machado may not have a strong OBP, but the rest of his game should be very solid for the price. Sandoval has that elbow issue, so there is uncertainty. I could have used my money elsewhere (another arm perhaps, see below for more on that), but when I saw him sitting there for such a cheap price I had to take the plunge. A-Rod goes to the DL, and I’ll grab another player.
Kendrick will never get to the level some hoped for, but he’s always solid across the board (see his Player Profile). He does take a bit of a hit in an OBP league though. Murphy was a nice reserve round add. I’ll be able to place him on the DL and add another player (a shortstop), to fill out my lineup. Wait, how does Emilio qualify at second? In Tout there is a 15 game per position requirement, not 20. Emilio appeared in 15 games at second base last season. Prado also qualifies in the outfield, and by this point I think everyone knows I’m a big fan.
Jeter isn’t great, and it looks like he’ll miss the first week of the season, but for $7 who is gonna complain? Not I.
CarGo on my team everyone understands, but Harper? I like Harper, but I’m not predicting a top-10 season this year like others are. “So Ray, why is he on your team then?’ I tossed out Harper at $33 and then… crickets. I was very surprised that no one said $34. Did I miscalculate? Certainly seems that way, though it’s not an obnoxious bid (Stanton went for $34, the same Price as Justin Upton to make me feel a little better, but when other 20/20 types in the outfield went for much less – Choo $25, Cespedes $24, Heyward $31 – let’s just say I wasn’t overly excited). There is no doubt Harper has the talent to justify that bid, just wouldn’t have been my first choice. Brown has had a tremendous spring, and there aren’t any more talented outfielders that went for less than $6. Jay isn’t exciting to most, but he is a .300 career hitter who had a .373 OBP with 19 steals last season in 117 games played. Maybin will struggle in OBP, but his wrist seems healthy. There’s a 15/40 season lurking here. Hamilton was a total shot in the dark reserve add. Normally I wouldn’t have done that, but since I have two injured guys I can place on the DL, I figured I could add Hamilton at little risk.
Yes, that was me at 2 AM at Foley’s shooting a double shot of Jameson. Take that Kay Adams. That’s right, the Oracle doesn’t just drink fruity drinks (check out the shocked look on Kay’s face in this photo… that’s the Oracle on the left and Kyle Elfrink on the right). Well, I do most of the time…
I love Cliff Lee. He’s a top-5 option in my mind. He gave me six wins last year in Tout, but I’m doubling down on him this season. I might have paid a dollar or two more when compared to other similar arms, but I feel like I made that back when I got Greinke for just $14. Morrow for a dollar less has a lot of up as well. That’s a pretty strong trio in my mind. Add in veterans like Hudson and Dempster and that’s a solid core. I also felt really good about Volquez in the reserves. He had an ERA under three with a WHIP in the 1.20′s and darn near a K per inning in his home starts last season.
As usual, I like my pen. I snagged Adams with an early bid, and he’s a dominant arm when healthy. Romo might have gone for a dollar or two more than he should have, but I’ve long said he’s a top-10 reliever in baseball if he can stay healthy. Some are worried about the varied performance of Hanrahan in Spring. I’m not. Jose Veras is no great shakes but he’s been over 10 Ks per nine the past three years and he appears to be the Astros main option in the 9th.
Some final thoughts.
My team has a ton of speed but might be a bit thin on power. I’ll address that at some point on the trade market once I get clear on the steals.
My staff needs another arm. I’ll almost certainly add one in the first waiver period with one of my two DL spot openings (I will use the other spot to get a shortstop to help cover until Jeter returns).
I usually limp slowly into drafts, but I went a bit bigger than normal thanks to the Harper add. That was unfortunate too. This draft would have played perfectly into my hands if I done my normal start slow, wade into the water slowly thing. As it was, I spent big early on some folks and that meant in the middle rounds, when a lot of “my guys” were going for less than market value, I just didn’t have the cash to spend (this was particularly evident on the hill – Lincecum for $10, Gallardo $15, Zimmerman $13, Wilson $8). I really hope I don’t regret not having the cash to spend on Lincecum. Hell, if I had gotten that foursome for $46 I would have felt flipping fantastic.
Best Picks: Bonifacio/Maybin for $6 each, Greinke for $14.
Worst Pick: Harper for $33 (only because it wasn’t my plan, not cause I hate the player).
Click on the link to see the 2013 Mixed Tout results.
By Ray Flowers
Dylan Bundy, the Orioles uber-prospect who was chosen #4 overall in last years draft leading to him being named the #10 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, has started out his professional career as if he has no intention of spending much time in the minors. Through five starts in A-Ball he’s walked two batters in 17 innings while he has allowed one hit. That’s three base runners in 17 innings leading to a 0.18 WHIP. He’s also fanned 25 batters and not allowed a run. Time to move him up a level already Orioles?
Zack Cozart is hitting a solid .271 for the season, but that’s likely a disappointment to his owners since he was hitting .342 ten games into the season. Like I said all preseason, and into the season when he was tearing it up, Cozart isn’t at a point in his development when he should be expected to perform at all-star levels. After his recent downturn in production at the dish Cozart is on pace to hit .271 with seven homers, 30 RBI and seven steals. Hate to tell you I told you so but…
Anyone out there realize that Adrian Gonzalez hit .271 with two homers an a .737 OPS in April? As I wrote three weeks ago in Panic In The Streets, AGone hit only one homer last April before finishing the year with 27 bombs so it’s certainly not panic time. However, he did hit .314 with a .836 OPS in a better first stanza to the season last year. For his career his April has led to a .288 batting average and .856 OPS with the OPS being the second lowest of any month from April through September. If you’ve read my stuff you know my thoughts on Gonzalez, but the guy has hit 29 homers in 181 games as a Red Sox. Are you ready to finally admit that I was right back in January of last year when I warned that Adrian may not produce huge homer totals playing half his games at Fenway Park? See ADP Riser: Adrian Gonzalez.
Billy Hamilton of the Reds might be the fastest man in the sport. Rated the 48th best prospect in the game coming into the 2012 season by Baseball America, Hamilton stole 103 bases last year as a 20 year old in Single-A ball. This season he’s off to a stupendous, and that isn’t a term I throw around lightly, pace with the bat as he’s hit .398 through 23 games at High-A ball. But what about the speed you say? Try this on for size. In those 23 games Hamilton has stolen 29 bases to give him 132 steals in his last 158 games. He isn’t likely to appear in the bigs this season, but dynasty leaguers you had better be aware of a guy who plays shortstop who owns the skills of Vince Coleman.
At this point, meaning when I wrote this piece, there are two greatly differing reports on the health of Evan Longoria. One report suggests he has a hamstring or knee situation that may or may not result in him being placed on the DL. The other reports suggests that it’s a hamstring issue that could keep him out for 6-8 weeks. As a Longoria owner I almost upchucked my breakfast this morning when I heard the 6-8 week line of though. Let’s hope that the report was premature and that Longoria will be back in a relatively short period of time cause losing Longo for two months would be a devastating blow to his fantasy squads.
Jed Lowrie is hitting .297 and here we go again. I’m getting questions about people in mixed leagues who really want to add him to the mix. I’ll repeat the same thing I’ve been saying for two years – he’s not that good. For his career his slash line is completely big league average at .256/.328/.409. He’s also stolen only four bases in his career and per 140 games he’s a 12 homer bat. Yippee doodle. It should also be noted that though Lowrie has hit .304 in the month of April in his career that his May-October batting average is .243.
Stephen Strasburg has been as dominating as any pitcher in baseball with a 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 34 Ks in 32 innings to start the 2012 season. The most amazing part of his effort though may be this: Strasburg has allowed 22 hits in his 32 innings, and the breakdown is 20 singles, two doubles, zero triples and zero home runs. That’s two extra base hits in 32 innings folks. Wow.
By Ray Flowers