This past weekend I made my 18th annual pilgrimage to participate in Tout Wars. The word pilgrimage seems appropriate as attending a fantasy baseball auction in person is probably as close as I often get to have a religious calling.
This year the experience was bittersweet due to the untimely passing of Steve Moyer. My first Tout Wars experience took place in his basement in Bethlehem, PA in March 2001. That event helped solidify many friendships which continue to the present day. I remember our dinner conversation fondly, where a group of us discussed Steve’s local extremely deep dynasty league. As many noted it was a strange experience not having Steve there going through his sheets of $1 endgame players and not having him correcting me on my butchery of player name pronunciations. I’ll miss his dry wit and the no bullshit way he always expressed himself. The Steve Moyer Memorial Home Run is being administered by Peter Kreutzer and Jeff Erickson to support his children.
This year’s event was held at a new venue – Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the New York Penn League (Rookie Ball) New York Yankees affiliate.
Pre-Draft Strategy: After several years of moving towards a more-balanced hitting/pitching split, I opted to go back to my old ways with a more hitter heavy split of 195/65. On the pitching side of things, I opted to move away from my usual “ace anchor” approach and decided to spend my money on starters with upside in the middle teens to single digits range and to add a single closer. For the hitters, I focused mostly on value and used my spreadsheet to target each slot with a $ amount that I could easily shuffle on the fly as I purchased players. I decided to try one new thing this year. In addition to my usual budgeting spreadsheet and tier-pricing sheet, I added a third party online software which I felt made it easy to look up players and track draft spending.
Draft Day: (Draft Day rosters can be found here.) So how’d it go? Well, let’s start with the positives. I drafted the pitching staff I set out to draft, though was subject to many jokes about its youth throughout its acquisition. I acquired Michael Fulmer for his “veteran presence”.
As many of these players do not have long established baselines for performance at the MLB Level, projections of my pitching staff tend to vary quite a bit along the range from optimistic to highly skeptical. This is not surprising at all. My strategy was to embrace skill and talent and to take a chance on that with the understanding that because of the uncertainty surrounding these pitchers, few if any, would go for full value and create an opportunity for s good return on the investment. Now it ’s time to cross my fingers, hope for good health and watch and see if they could build on the positives they have shown thus far in their young careers.
I consider every pitcher here a bargain, with the exception of Berrios who I bought at projected value and Puk who was a speculative play on the basis (and hope) that he might get called up to the Majors more quickly than expected depending on what goes on with the A’s MLB pitching staff and his own progress through Triple-A. I went over my budget by $2 to obtain Robertson in the end game at a bargain and speculative saves play. I originally planned to add no middle relievers and instead rack up as many innings as possible, but given what was available on the market, I went after value instead. In the reserve round, I was pleased to pick up J.C Ramirez as a possible source of innings as I have him valued at around $3. Though I believe Andrew Cashner owed his success to smoke and minors last year, I too a chance on him in the reserve round on the off chance that his swing and miss skills might return given and him worthy of activating. For now, he will stay firmly ensconced on the reserve roster.
So what went wrong? Well, things did not go wrong so much as resources got mis-budgeted and misallocated. I think I was done in by too much info in too small a space and should have utilized my one spreadsheet/one 11×17 sheet of paper approach instead. The upshot was thinking I still had more money in my hitting budget left than I did. I ended up reallocating dollars to additional $20-range players that should have been more evenly distributed along the rest of my hitting roster. The end result was yes, I still spent $193 on hitting, right around target. However, since I had accidentally distributed towards $20 players, I went after what was left on my desired players in that value range and ended up with a less balanced offense statistically than I had in mind. In other words, the value was good; the distribution will necessitate me being an active trader however and I’ve drafted a not quite-stars and scrubs offense.
Yan Gomes $4
Bruce Maxwell $1
Logan Morrison $14
Matt Chapman $16
Mike Napoli $1
Whit Merrifield $21
Jean Segura $22
Elvis Andrus $24
Kevin Kiermaier $20
Bradley Zimmer $22
Colby Rasmus $1
Jon Jay $1
Nelson Cruz $26
Ian Kinsler $20
I look at this roster and see a competitive team and one with leverage to deal. My own projections, as well as others’, have shown it crushing in stolen bases, albeit well beyond the point necessary to achieve first in that category. On the other hand it’s somewhat deficient in power and overall in need of improvement and balance.
Immediately following the conclusion of the reserve round, which also included prospects with potential to get called up such as Kyle Tucker and Michael Chavis, I was being approached for deals by multiple league members for speed. Lawr Michaels and I on Monday quickly seized upon a deal that jumped off the page to both of us that had us exchange Jean Segura for Jonathan Schoop. These two players of similar overall dollar value help to balance the projected stats of our teams. The trade should not cost me first place in steals but has the potential to move me up in home runs and RBIs, so I’m satisfied with the move. Since I still have leverage in the steals category, I suspect this will only be the first of several maneuvers I make this upcoming season.
Next year, the lesson I’ve already learned is to go back to my roots and simplify. I’m not sure I’ll go all the way back to paper and pencil, but it’s possible!