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Thursday 19th Oct 2017

Part II – The Auction and Resulting Roster

Shortstop Brandon Crawford, SF, projected to be -$1 before the season but had hit very well in spring training and changed my mind as I decided to keep him at $5 thinking I needed to give him a chance and there would be tough battle$ for the available shortstops. Plus I would only need a MI in the auction.

Next two pitching prospects that have been on my “Farm” for several years. Ross Detwiler, the tall, talented LHP from Southwest Missouri State who I had seen pitch at college and hoped would be a good major league pitcher. Well that hadn’t materialized until late last year but he had survived several years of cuts. I would have cut him this year if he was pitching in the bullpen but since we had to wait before we drafted I knew he was going to be in the rotation and in fact he got his first win the night before our draft so I was happy to keep him at $5.

Randall Delgado on the other hand was a much higher rated prospect but had not looked good this spring (shows you how bad Julio Teheran had pitched) and only the injury to Tim Hudson had given him a chance. Still I believe in the arm and the long term potential so I kept him at $5 also.

Well keeping all three deleted my frozen profit – at least on the latest set of projections but I would need to take some chances in the draft so I took these three early. But they weighted heavily and in my last hours of prep for the auction I realized I was not going to contend unless things went perfectly and that wasn’t bloody likely.

So I decided to be ready to race or rebuild depending on how things opened but my gut said I would have to rebuild.

The one good thing is that you can go AC/DC – not musically but if the draft goes perfectly for you can eschew the late rebuilding plays and play for this year. If you don’t like what happens early then look for those rebuilding chips AND don’t forget to get a couple of very good players that contending teams will want to trade for later in the year. Notice I didn’t say STUD players. Sure you might get  Matt Kemp ($59+)), Ryan Braun ($54), or Hanley Ramirez ($42) BUT what would the market for them be when perhaps only one of the contending teams could fit him under the salary cap at those prices? You HAVE to keep that in mind.

Okay, gavel time. To quickly review I would need to buy a shortstop, a CI or MI (I could move Murphy), three outfielders and a utility player and three pitchers and had $145 to work with.

There was one other wrinkle before the auction started. One of the teams, actually the team that won last year (they had a good team but actually won because the team who had the best draft totally mismanaged their roster in respect to free agent pickups and trades and by the time they woke up it was too late) had frozen their ENTIRE roster! Something none of us had ever seen done before.  In fairness to them the marginal players that they might not have frozen likely couldn’t have been repurchased for their prices. Still in fairness to you it wasn’t a great freeze list – there would still be the potential for other teams to win the league.

And try they did. So the 2nd place team had the first nomination and threw out a player they loved but whose contract had expired after 2011 – so what would Kemp go for – keep in mind we were drafting less than five miles from Dodger Stadium. Now this was a fun player for me. I had no delusion that he might go for a price low enough to have THE premium trade chip or that I could bid enough to get him to just enjoy him on my team and a player like Kemp if he were to succeed in going 50-50 could cover enough holes to help anyone win. Unfortunately one of the 50s was not his auction price as I help the team that nominated him pay $62 for his services this year.

Braun at $54 and Hanley at $42 were also first round nominations before it was even my turn. I needed a shortstop and with Hanley off the boards and Troy Tulowitzki ($45) and Jose Reyes ($36) frozen I decided to test the water and throw out Rafael Furcal. Furcal hasn’t been a premier fantasy shortstop since 2006 but he was reportedly healthy and off to a good start so I was slightly stunned to have the bidding stop on my $16 bid. Maybe they were saving their money for Jimmy Rollins but I knew he would go for more and he did, bought for $30 by one of the strongest freeze lists. (exactly what you want to note during the auction – WHO will be the buyers if you want to sell Furcal)

I was even more surprised when I landed Alex Gonzales for $10, which is about fitty cent for each home run the Brewer’s shortstop will hit this year but again if he is doing well and a contender has a week SS or MI slot I will waive his picture at them. And if I don’t trade him and he has a good year he may be a reasonable keeper at that price. Remember we are in a keeper league so there is 20-30% inflation each year.

Ryan Howard was definitely a player I wanted to buy. But I was not alone. Sure anyone would buy him for a low price, replace him with a playable reserve and then be glad to get him into the lineup in the second half of the year. I was more concerned with getting him at a price where he would be a reasonable keeper if healthy and hitting late this year or launching balls in spring training next year and again in an inflation riddled year I thought that was anyplace in the 20s. Sadly there were three other teams who were looking to play for next year in this year’s auction (which unfortunately can’t really be clarified until you are in the middle of the auction). Still I was not off my rocker to pay $29. Sure I would have liked to pay less but Howard is a difference maker – especially with the dearth in power from NL first basemen. So either he is blasting home runs later this year and someone wants to overpay for him or I decide next year how good a keeper he might be.

Even with that questionable purchase I have to tell you that if you are thinking you are likely rebuilding there is calm about the auction for you. You don’t feel pressed or nervous or agitated if someone else gets a good player. An amazing revelation in this draft.

There was one more player I wanted specifically to trade and I mentioned Andre Ethier earlier. I will presume you know that he is today second in the NL in runs batted in …….the only person in front of him is of course his teammate Kemp. I expect that to continue – not the second but a boatload of RBI's for the season. I was happy to pay $34 for him.

Now I had spent the majority of my budget but had a comfortable amount especially for the pitchers I wanted – a couple of very good arms who could close games next year (if not late this season). David Hernandez has a great arm and he is learning from a very smart pitcher……and J.J. Putz will not be back in Arizona next year so there is every possibility that Hernandez will close for the Diamondbacks in 2013.  Well worth my dollar.

Similarly I think Rex Brothers will close in Colorado next year and was happy to place a $3 bet on him. The last pitcher I got was to make sure I won the league scrabble championship – just kidding but there are several other good reasons to own former Notre Dame Quarterback Jeff Samardzija. And I was fine for paying $8 to roster him this year whether he is traded this year or competing for a spot on my freeze list next year.

The last couple of players I rostered were outfielders. Will Venable for a retail $16. But I expect him to have another good year and be a light trade chip. Gerardo Parra on the other hand is clearly the best fourth outfielder in the National League and just a thumb injury or a sprain away from more than the projected couple hundred at bats which is low considering he is the backup for Kubel, Young, and JUp and will not only give them days off but be a defensive substitution for Kubel in close games and any of them in others. Six dollars would make a nice price for him if he was a starter in 2013 – hell he was worth $17 last year and wasn’t a starter.

So there you have my auction results. The next chapter will give you my reserves and minor league selections and perhaps some early trade talk.

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