It is one of my favorite weekends of the year: Tout Wars Weekend.
Sure it is fun to be regarded such that I was invited into the league in the first place, and sure it is fun to play fantasy baseball at I guess what is considered such a high and public level.
And, it is fun to win, but at this point Tout is so much more.
It means a great long weekend in New York. It means lunch at Virgil's BBQ at W. 44th Street where my favorite wings on earth are served. It means a trip to Rudy's Music on W. 48th where this year I picked up an Aqua Puss Analog Delay for my guitar setup (and, yes, I could buy this pedal other ways, but it is fun to do it this way).
On Friday night before the draft, it means a huge conclave at Foley's Irish Pub on W. 33rd where pretty much all the Touts and friends gather and eat and drink and talk and remind one another that we love baseball, and love what we do, but most important we are all friends and comrades.
And, somehow or other, around 11 p.m. each year, I have to sneak out and write this piece before my American League draft at 9 a.m. tomorrow, and post the list of players I am hoping to roster.
Of course, I never really go in with a set plan, or players I must have, but I do prepare a sheet with positions and numbers and what seems to be a reasonable dollar value for that relative production. And, then I pencil in a couple of names per line projecting that I can get one of them for the speculated amount, and hopefully by season's end also get the requisite production.
So, that said, here are a handful of the players I am hoping I can nab this year, what I hope to pay, and what I think they can do.
Ben Revere (OF, Twins): Speed and singles, and probably little else (well, some average), but Revere has succeeded at every level so far and I think he can do .285-0-45 with 90 runs and 50 swipes atop the Twins batting order. I am also thinking I can get him for $14 or less.
Erick Aybar (SS, Angels): Part a of a two-pronged Angel middle infield I am looking at, thinking with Albert Pujols hitting behind them, they will get some hits and score some runs and steal some bases. I am looking at Aybar to go .280-10-65 with 90 runs and 25 steals, and I am pricing the Halo shortstop at around $17.
Howard Kendrick (2B, Angels): Part two of Angel middle infield time. .285-15-70 with 90 runs and 15 swipes is what I want, and $19 seems about right.
Brent Lillibridge (CI/OF, White Sox): If he repeats last year (.258-13-29 and 10 swipes over 186 at-bats) I would be surprised, but even if he does that and only hits half the homers, that would be worth the couple of bucks I think I get get him for. Lillibridge also plays second, and with an injury or two on his team, he could even grab 300 at-bats, which would be terrific.
Alexi Ogando (SP, Rangers): First half last year he was lights out: second half he was burnt out. Well, I am thinking first that a year under his belt makes the now starter better able to pace himself, just like I am thinking the Neftali Feliz as a starter experiment will fade, and quickly (meaning Ogando's stintn the pen will be short-livbed). 14 wins and an ERA around 4.00 with 140 whiffs is fine and I think right now, with the questionable status, around $7 should close the deal.
Mitch Moreland (1B/OF, Rangers): Again, potential playing time issues suggest the price can stay low, but I think Moreland can do .270-17-70 on this team if he gets a chance to bag 450 at-bats again with a full year behind him (.258-16-51 last year). With Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Hamilton all injury prone, the playing time seems likely, and $13 should be enough to roster him.
Mark Reynolds (1B/3B, Orioles): When he is bad he is awful, and when he is on, he actually can hit. Well, at least with some power as his 37 homers last year suggest. If I can get Reynolds for around $14 or so, based upon his low average and high strikeout rate, and he delivers .230-30-85 totals, that would be great. After all, he did hit .260 for the 'Stros, so it is possible. And, as a 28-year old, he is coming into those famous prime years.
Will I get them? Maybe, for again, if getting a player is more important than building a team, that spells trouble. And, well, as I said, it is fun to win.