Walking the Walk- baseball edition

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Fantasy Baseball

So, I did this during football season and people loved it, so its back for baseball. I take my most challenging league, tell you my team, and keep you posted through the season on deals, changes, and how my team is doing. That way you can see if I’m taking my own advice.

Its 12 teams, rotisserie, auction. The lineup is made up of C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, U, U, 4 SP, 3 RP and 8 bench. Categories are AVG, R, BB, HR, RBI, SBN (stolen bases minus caught stealing) for hitters. And ERA, WHIP, W, QS, S, and K for pitchers.

We had our draft last Monday night and it went perfectly with one exception. I’m sitting in class (I’m a senior in college) doing the auction, but I had to go when class was out. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Going in, the only position I knew I needed an elite player at was SS. After the top three, it gets ugly fast, so I set maximums of $50 for Hanley, $40 for Tulo, and $30 for Reyes. And 13 players in, I nabbed Jose Reyes for $25. Along with being thrilled on the price, I’m also $5 ahead of budget, which I recommend you keep track of, because if you give SS $30 in a $260 budget, then you can “overpay” up to $5 later on and break even. Don’t have money still in your pocket.

First base is top heavy, which shouldn’t be confused with “deep”. I knew I didn’t want to pay for the first group, and I see a tier of Kendry Morales and Justin Morneau just below them, with elite ability, going at a discount, so I wanted one of them in the $20 range. Morneau went for $21, so I set my sights on Morales and I grabbed Kendry Morales for $20.

So far I’m thrilled.

If you play in a league that splits up OF by position, you know LF is super shallow. I had split up the three OF spots into $30 for the two corners, and $25 for McCutchen in center. No, you shouldn’t target just one player, but I was. Delmon Young’s name popped up as the 76th nominee. I didn’t have much interest, but the bidding stopped around $13. We are talking about a 25 year old who is coming off .298, 21 HR, 112 RBI. I jumped in quickly, and grabbed Delmon Young for $16, a whopper of a bargain.

Now I’m ahead $4, because I went over the $15 I had set aside for LF. It should also be noted, at this time I had by far the most money left, which put me in a position of power.

I grabbed Andrew McCutchen for $28. Yes, that’s $3 over my target, but I was $4 ahead, so it was an easy decision. See what keeping track gives you? Flexibility.

At third base, I was planning to spend up to $15 on one of Pablo Sandoval, Pedro Alvarez, or Casey McGehee, but when Aramis Ramirez came up at #88, again the bidding slowed quickly. and I nabbed Aramis Ramirez for $15. So I have five players and I’m ecstatic with every price.

The draft wore on, without much action for me. So many people were low on cash, that a lot of low budget guys were coming up. I had a list of such players I wanted, so I passed.

I had set aside $10 for catcher, and was looking at the group of Wieters, Soto, and Montero, but because of the financial troubles of my friends, and the fact I had nominated a catcher every turn I had…

(NOTE: I always nominate catchers because most teams only need one, and only pay for one, so I nominate catchers I don’t want, and that’s one less team bidding against me, because they won’t need the player)

I was able to steal Carlos Santana for $11. That brought me back to even for the draft budget. Remember, Santana was the better hitting prospect than Buster Posey before last season. .280, 20 and 80 is easily within reach. Again, I’m thrilled.

Now, I had planned to take one SP in the $20 range, two around $10 and one at $5 or less. But as the draft went on, I began shifting to a 20/15/5/5 plan because there would be lots of quality to be had dirt cheap.

Sure enough, Matt Cain came up. He was in my group of $20 and I didn’t hesitate to get Matt Cain for $16. He is especially valuable in this league because it counts wins and quality starts, plus his excellent ERA and WHIP, and he strikes people out. I love it.

I’m back ahead by $4.

I had budgeted $15 for second base, targeting a big group of second-tier guys, Weeks, Uggla, Hill, Beckham… and sure enough, I was able to get Rickie Weeks for $15.

Following the 20/15/5/5 strategy, Josh Johnson had been with Cain the $20 group, but I had filled that spot. However, I simply couldn’t resist his elite ERA, WHIP and K, plus he provides a ton of QS. I went and grabbed Josh Johnson for $19. If you’re keeping track, you know that fits perfectly, because I spent $35 on my top two SP, which was the plan anyway.

Yes, I already had a CF, but I crush hard on power/speed combos, so I filled a UTIL spot with Drew Stubbs for $11. He is one of maybe six players with a realistic 30/30 shot.

If you’re keeping track, I had budgeted $55 on OF, and had spend $44 on LF and CF. I had a group of RF valued at $15, that I knew I would consider going over budget for. Ethier went to rich for me, and then Stanton came up. I weighed my options as the bidding slowed, and made a split-second decision to take money out of my bench budget (I had alloted $24, or $5 per slot), to get Mike Stanton for $17. The HR and RBI should pay bountifully. So I made the bench budget $18 and stayed on course.

With Weeks at 2B, I knew I needed a quality backup, and tabbed Gordon Beckham for $9. I had him between $12-15 so that was a great price.

The next three buys were easy. I didn’t think twice grabbing Wandy Rodriguez for $9. I had him around $12 and his 2010 second half showed huge potential. I also had no problem with grabbing my first closer in Leo Nunez for $4. He has 56 saves in the last two season, and is only 27. And my last starting SP spot I filled with another personal favorite for this season Brandon Morrow at $8.

This is where I had an interruption. The draft was going PERFECTLY. Far better than can be expected. I was ecstatic. But my class ended, and I had to run to the library, which was the next closest building with WiFi.

At this point, I had $37 left and 11 spots to fill, 3 RP and 8 bench. I was planning to buy one solid closer (Andrew Bailey was the top of my list), I wanted Pablo Sandoval, and one more $2-3 starting pitcher, and the rest would be $1-3 backups for each defensive position.

But I got to the library, got back online and found the auto-bid had purchased Ted Lilly for $8, Huston Street for $7, Rafael Furcal for $5, Hiroki Kuroda for $8 and Ryan Raburn for $2……. Wow, huh? The Street pick didn’t bother me. Neither did Raburn for the price. But the others torpedoed the rest of my plan.

It could have been worse. I waited and was happy to get Chase Headley for $2. On my next nomination, I nominated, and got Carlos Zambrano for $1. Have you seen his second half stats last season? I was shocked myself when I looked. Finally, I took chances on Jason Bay, Luke Scott and Yunel Escobar for $1 each.

Veterans have a good habit of sacrificing power for average as they age, so I’m hoping Bay gets the idea, and gives me .280 with around 12-15 HR. Or he could get hot early and I would deal him. Scott I nominated, expecting someone to go to $2 and they didn’t, so I will try to move him. And Escobar gives me three-deep at shortstop, so i should be able to get good trade value for Furcal or YE closer to the season.

The night of the draft, I was again thrilled beyond belief to trade Lilly for Andrew Bailey, who I had been targeting before the auto-bid disaster.

So I spent every dollar, and ended up with this lineup.

C- Carlos Santana
1B- Kendry Morales
2B- Rickie Weeks
3B- Aramis Ramirez
SS- Jose Reyes
LF- Delmon Young
CF- Andrew McCutchen
RF- Mike Stanton
U- Gordon Beckham
U- Drew Stubbs
SP- Josh Johnson
SP- Matt Cain
SP- Wandy Rodriguez
SP- Brandon Morrow
RP- Andrew Bailey
RP- Huston Street
RP- Leo Nunez

B- Rafel Furcal
B- Jason Bay
B- Chase Headley
B- Luke Scott
B- Yunel Escobar
B- Ryan Raburn
B- Hiroki Kuroda
B- Carlos Zambrano

I don’t see any specific area among the starting lineup that desperately needs improvement. I’m satisfied, at least until the season starts and all hell breaks loose.

Every week, you will get updates on how the team is doing, any of my transactions, and some other random thoughts. Enjoy.

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