My essay about Tout Wars this year is about Mike Lombardo. He just wins.
Somebody has to be in last place, even in an expert league, and the usual reason (in an expert league) is the last place team suffered an inordinate number of injuries. It can be argued that avoiding injuries is a skill, at least sometimes, but most injuries are pretty random. This is especially true in auction leagues, where at least two people agree on each player’s fair (including injury risk) price.
Joe Sheehan’s Tout Wars piece this week (like all of this remarkable series running on Sportsline) describes his measured plan to climb out of the basement. One of his prime motivations, it seems, was to not break the Ask Rotoman record for worst finish in Tout Wars AL!
Reading this, I was stunned. I reeled. I rocked. I’ve had some bad years, but I didn’t know that I held the record for worst finish ever (I’m pretty sure this is in the AL version of the league). Then I remembered: The year was 2000. The draft was in Chicago. I couldn’t attend and I asked a guy who wrote for my magazine that year to represent Ask Rotoman.
Over the years there have been some bad Rotoman teams, and I was responsible for all of them, except that record breaker. For the record.
Tout Wars: CBSSports.comMany Tout Wars players are writing weekly columns this year, which are published at CBS Sportsline. Todd Zola’s gem this week has the best definition of deep and shallow leagues you are ever likely to read. He also does a good job explaining how to differentiate between a slump and bad luck, and why that matters in a shallow mixed league.Â
These are random notes on the Peter Kreutzer entry in this year’s Tout Wars NL. The idea is to give some context for the picks, why I made the final bid and when, plus any other tidbits along the way.
The big issue in this draft was that prices were generally right on. Only a few players (Chris Snyder, Ty Wigginton, Yunel Escobar, Lastings Milledge) ended up more than a few dollars off my bid prices. So in most cases the bidding quickly got to the area of the price, and then it just depended if two guys wanted to swap bids or not at that point.
Before Tout I make up a list of players I’d like at my prices that add up to the $260 budget, and I try to work from that. In the NL in recent years there are lots of stars but very little depth among hitters. I targetted Troy Tulowitzki and Brandon Phillips and held out some hope to pick up David Wright, though my $41 target was not aggressive.
Wright was nominated first and almost immediately went to $42 and I opted not to go past my budget. I did pick up Tulowitzky for $27 and could have made a bid on Phillips at $30, but I flinched and he went for $29. As I didn’t make that bid it ran through my mind I had him elsewhere, and I didn’t really want to make commitment bets in two leagues on him, though I think he’s no fluke.
On the pitching side I wanted to take many mid-teen potential aces with some level of injury discount. The odd thing is that the first one I bought was Carlos Zambrano. I have injury built into his projection and bid price, which is unusual, yet when I was price enforcing at $20 he became mine. Okay.
Enough prelude, here’s the team in position order.
Catchers: Dave Ross $3 and Eric Munson $2. The good catchers went for decent prices (Martin $26, McCann $18, both to Mike Lombardo, current champ), while the riskier mediocre hitters (Carlos Ruiz $11, Michael Barrett $9) went for too much. Ross and Munson went for too much but at that point I had the cash and the pickins were awfully thin. One hopes for just enough AB to get some positive power numbers.
Corners: Todd Helton $19, Chad Tracy $5, Ian Stewart $1. Helton was a good price early, I thought. Tracy will start the year on the DL, but at that price he can miss some time and I’ll be okay. The collapse of talent at 3B was a problem. Mark Reynolds and Nomar went cheaply ($8 and $4 respectively) but I let them go, and Kouzmanoff ($19) and Wigginton and Yunel Escobar went for a lot, so I let them go.
Middle: Tulowitzky went for his price. I like Miguel Tejada for $19, like I like Helton. Tad Iguchi for $8 is a good price, those his power will be neutralized a bit in that ballpark. Reyes went for $44, Ramirez for $40, and Rollins for $36.
Outfield: Juan Pierre at $16 wasn’t a buy I ever expected to make, but the price is good enough, I needed speed, and we get to keep his stats if he were to end up in the AL. Brad Hawpe at $23 is a fair enough price for another guy I have no shine for. I did like that he was a Rockie. Adam Dunn at $23 is a good price for a big power hitter, especially since I seemed to be compiling a team that didn’t value batting average much. Corey Patterson at $15 is the speed version of Dunn and one hopes that they don’t crash into each other chasing a short pop up. Final outielder, as it were, was Cody Ross, who should end up the regular center fielder in Miami. A regular (or close to it) for $3 can’t be bad, even though Ross isn’t all that good.
Utility: I had $4 and one slot left and it was my turn to nominated. Scott Podsednick has been having a good spring, and like so many of my players is a Rockie. It’s a shot.
Starters: Zambrano is joined by Pedro Martinez ($14) and Ben Sheets ($15), who are both having strong springs. The injury risk is high, which is why I could afford the three of them. If two play most of the season I should be okay. Noah Lowry $1 and Ryan Dempster $1 were crickets. I didn’t expect to get Lowry. He’s hurt and his WHIP may be especially painful coupled with Zambrano’s when he ‘s healthy. Dempster is having an excellent spring adjusting to starting. Final two slots went to Chuck James $3, also hurting but talented and supposedly coming back, and Carlos Villanueva $6, who has been very good the last two years, but has been squeezed this spring, perhaps it turns out all the way to Triple-A because he has an option. But with Capuano’s injury and I hope not Sheets’ he’ll see plenty of time Milwaukee.
Closers: Takashi Saito $22 was at the top end of the top prices for closers, as I had him rated. But I had him for $27, so he seemed like a bargain until all the other closers sold for similar prices. The closer game is kind of like a draft. We each take one really good one, one risky one, and perhaps a CIW. My risky closer is Kerry Wood $10, who has looked good this spring, but like so much of this team, comes with upside and injury potential intertwined.
Reserves: I got Mike Hampton (injury prone, having a nice spring) in the first round, shoring up one of my problem areas. In later rounds I got Yusmiero Petit, having a breakout kind of spring, Jonathan Meloan, in Triple-A but will end up in the bullpen at some point behind Saito, Joe Koshansky, as some overreaching Helton insurance, and Chris Sampson and Victor Diaz, late in the game, just because you can’t too many pitchers or outfielders.
After the draft Corey Schwartz told me that my team finished, based on his projections, in a three way tie for second. There is a lot of work to do, and injuries will be an issue (hopefully a manageable one), but this is the start.
Jason Collette found me in the lobby of a hotel that says it’s in Times Square but is actually between Bryant Park and Herald Square, and got me to the right floor, for which I’m thankful. He’s also the only Tout NLer to post a draft summary so far, which gives him dibs on the narrative.
You can find the whole results at the Tout Wars site.
I’ll explain my team here tomorrow.
I have to admit, I was giddy. I wrote up who I was going to buy and why the night before the 2002 Tout Wars draft, and then submitted commentary later about why things changed.
They changed mostly because Albert Pujols went for $28. We have to adapt.
Still, even with a $28 Pujols my askrotoman.com squad finished fifth, as it had in 2001 and 2000. For some reason revealing who I was going to buy before the auction didn’t get me a better team. It got me a mediocre one.
Revisiting the 2002 draft story reminds me that we inevitably spout all kinds of booshwah because we’re excited and interested and we can. And we know stuff. The future careers of baseball players is in their hands. We get to judge, but they get to gloriously prove us wrong.
Those are the moments we should live for.