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Saturday 24th Feb 2018

Thursday, July 12 – 1:25 PM

The All-Star break is a time for fantasy owners to reflect and plan ahead. But most importantly, it’s a time to take a break. Read a book, go to the movies, go to the beach. Do something, anything, that takes your mind off managing your teams.

If only I could follow my own advice. You see, I do the reflecting. I do the planning ahead. The taking a break part? Not so much. Why take a break now? That’s what the winter is for. So I figured I’d devote this week’s column to evaluating my Mixed Tout Wars squad at the break, which for me isn’t really a break, well, you get the point.

Coming out of my inaugural Tout draft, I liked my hitting but felt that my pitching was extremely weak. Amidst the lightning-fast paced auction, I made some mistakes in money management that prevented me from scooping up a bunch of those $5-$10 starters. So my rotation consisted of two aces (CC Sabathia and Matt Cain) and a group of $1 guys, three of whom I still own in Ryan Vogelsong, Ivan Nova and Edinson Volquez. It turns out that my starting rotation is actually the strength of my team while all of my bust players are on the hitting side. So without further adieu, here are the award winners.

Best Value Picks

1. Ian Desmond ($5)

Strapped for cash, I desperately grabbed Desmond towards the end of the auction, viewing him as the last acceptable starting MI option left on the board. I thought that he could at least give me 20-25 steals and double-digit homers. Instead, I got a shortstop who is on pace for 33 homers, 100 RBIs and 21 steals! No way am I counting on Desmond to continue slugging home runs at this rate, but even if he finishes the season with 25 homers and 20 steals, I’d be raking in a huge profit.

2. Ryan Vogelsong ($1)

I was definitely of the majority opinion that Vogelsong was bound to regress after coming out of nowhere in 2011, which is why I was shocked that I actually wound up with him. I was limited to $1 bids when filling out the back end of my rotation, and Vogelsong just fell into my lap as I scanned further and further down my cheat sheet. Honestly, I really wanted no part of him. Funny how things happen. Outside of Matt Cain, Vogelsong has been my most dependable starter, and I’m gradually becoming a believer.

3. Ivan Nova ($1)

Another one of my end game $1 specials. Nova’s 10-3 record is mostly a result of tremendous run support, as his ERA and WHIP are still nothing to go crazy about. But he is pitching better of late and I love the increased strikeout rate. I was very close to dropping Ivan on a number of occasions, but he’s bought himself some more time. All in all, this was $1 well spent.

4. Matt Cain ($16)

I valued Cain at around $20 going into the draft, so I knew I got him at a good price. I didn’t know that he would be this good. We’re looking at a $10 profit here, and I honestly don’t anticipate a major regression.

Biggest Busts

1. Justin Upton ($40)

What a disaster! I was so high on Upton that when I got caught in a bidding war I landed up spending $7 more than I had originally budgeted for him. He was the guy I had to have. So far, J-Up is performing like a $10 player. And that’s being generous. This is what can happen when you lock yourself into a certain player in auction drafts. Always be flexible. Lesson learned.

2. Kevin Youkilis ($21)

Going into the season, the general opinion on Youkilis was an overly negative one. He was old and injury-prone and simply wasn’t worth it as he would not come at much of a discount on draft day. I decided to gamble on a bounce back and figured I could get Youkilis at a bit of a discount just because everyone else would be afraid to take him. I was wrong about the bounce back and wrong about the discount. Youk’s production has gone up since his move to the Windy City, but he still has plenty of work to do if he plans on earning the 21 bucks I shelled out for him.

3. Erick Aybar ($13)

Aybar or Rollins. Those were my two targets at the shortstop position. I didn’t want to spend big but also didn’t want to be too cheap. When the bidding for Rollins went up to $20, I pulled out. I was thrilled to get Aybar for seven dollars less. Hitting atop a strong Angels’ lineup bolstered by the signing of Albert Pujols, Aybar was a lock to give me a solid average to go along with 30 steals and a ton of runs. Oops. Instead, Erick has been one of this year’s biggest busts. Why am I currently in second to last place in steals? Look no further than Aybar, who is on pace to finish the year with a mere nine swipes.

4. Delmon Young ($12)

I’ll admit it. I was fooled by Young’s 40-game stretch following his trade to the Tigers last season in which he launched eight homers and racked up 32 RBIs. Clearly, that was a fluke, as Delmon’s inconsistency and prolonged cold spells have been infuriating. There’s a good chance I won’t be drafting Young again. Ever.

Best FAAB Pickups

1. Will Middlebrooks ($7)

When Kevin Youkilis landed on the DL, picking up Middlebrooks was the logical move. I’m glad I followed logic. The rookie third baseman has exceeded all expectations, batting .298 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs through 48 games. He looks like the real deal and should be a mainstay in the Red Sox lineup for years to come.

2. Santiago Casilla ($24)

Spending almost one-quarter of your FAAB budget on one player in mid-April is always very risky. But for me, this was a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures. I owned only one closer. I had to make this move. Luckily, it has worked out nicely. Casilla is struggling of late and there are rumblings that Sergio Romo could soon take over the ninth inning role, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy has publicly stated that he’s sticking with Casilla. Even if he loses the job tomorrow, I won’t regret this purchase one bit. His 21 saves are mine to keep.

3. Andy Pettitte ($5)

This was looking a lot better before Pettitte got injured, but five FAAB dollars is still a small price to pay for a 3.22 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 59 strikeouts over 58 2/3 innings. Tout Wars allows for an unlimited number of DL spots, so I can just stash him and hope he returns in time to make a meaningful contribution down the stretch.

Worst FAAB Pickups

1. Johnny Damon ($10)

I really don’t know what I was thinking here. For some reason, I assumed that Damon would pick up right where he left off last year despite missing all of Spring Training as he searched for a contract. Huge mistake. I was so frustrated by Johnny’s early-season ineptitude that I cut him only a few weeks after adding him to my roster. And now he’s batting an impressive .306 over his last 15 games. Maybe I should have held onto him a little longer.

2. Franklin Gutierrez ($7)

This one is a little unfair as Gutierrez got re-injured just days after I acquired him. But seven FAAB bucks could make a difference late in the season, and if I miss out on a high-impact player because I overpaid on a guy who gave me only a few games, well, that would be depressing.


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