It seems that every year just before Tout Wars, and now prior to LABR, I like to list players I covet, why I covet them and how much I covet them for.
So, this time is no exception. As it is, I am waiting for the plane to take me to JFK to start the weekend and this year’s Tout festivities, so while I have a chance to think about it, here goes (Note that all three Tout auctions, AL, Mixed, and NL will be broadcast on Sirius/XM 87/210).
John Jaso (C $6): Gad, we do need catchers don't we? And, as much as I like Matt Wieters, I think I will look to spend the bulk of my relative wealth elsewhere. I do think if Jaso starts 120 games he can do .260-8-50, but more important I think he can score 60-plus runs as I see Oakland playing some Earl Weaver baseball this year. That means walks, dingers, and runs.
Howie Kendrick (2B, $18): I continue to be amazed how Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia are considered second rounders in an NFBC style draft, yet Kendrick slips to the 8th-to-10th round when Kendrick is clearly as productive as those other guys. He has pop and speed and still has some breakout year living inside waiting to burst out. Like in Alien.
Erick Aybar (SS, $20): Kendrick's mate up the middle usually costs more than his keystone compatriot, which again puzzles me as both spots have pretty similar scarcity. Aybar hit ugly the first two months of last year but rocked it after. I am looking for more consistency this coming year, but that means .285-10-65 totals with 15 swipes. I think the Angels are going to score a lot of runs, in fact. The question of their success lies more within their pitching and how good the rest of the mostly tough AL West is.
Mike Morse (OF, $17): Crap shoot, but a good one. No question Morse can tag the ball when healthy, but he has such a history of struggle and injury at Safeco that the gamble lies therein. I am guessing he will transcend this at least once, being a veteran leader on a team that is reloading nicely.
Kevin Youkilis (3B, $9): I think there is still some life in Youk, who will want to prove he has not had it. Yeah, the Yanks might struggle, but Youk, as long as he stays healthy, will play every day and I hope to take advantage of any skepticism around age, playing on an ostensibly bad team and injury possibilities.
Chris Young (OF, $11): Another crap shoot, but I think Young will get a full complement of at-bats in Oakland and if so give me 15/15 numbers or better. Plus, with Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Yoenis Cespedes, that will be one potent and speedy cluster of outfielders. I think they will fuel one another.
Aaron Crow (RP, $2): Forgotten arm, forgotten man who was a #1 pick. Crow is the kind of guy I love as a #3 reliever and also the kind of guy I love to nominate early on while everyone else is champing at the bit to unload bucks on Mike Trout. Think he is fine as that third reliever with a chance to either move up to closing or even get into the rotation should the opportunity present itself.
Brett Gardner (OF, $12): Again coming off an injury, but with a lot less first place limelight pressure, I think Gardner returns to form, hitting around .270 and swiping 30-plus bags. Fine with me.
Mark Buehrle (SP, $6): Boring. Undervalued. And worthy of 200 innings, 13 wins, and a WHIP around 1.30. Fine. I will take the strikeouts I can get but really as a fifth or sixth starter, fine. Steady and boring are good.
Alex Cobb ($6): If Buehrle represents the turtle, I am hoping Cobb, coming off a solid second half and a good spring, is the hare. I think he can toss 180 innings or more, whiffing 165 or so, and win 14 games with a mid-threes ERA and a WHIP a little better than Buehrle.
Justin Verlander (SP $32): Wow, how did I slip him in at the end? Simply the best starter in the American League, and in his prime on a good team. No injury history, and I am banking that Verlander can duplicate the impact Pedro Martinez used to have on teams when he was the best starter on earth. The biggest question is if I vastly underestimate how much my mates are willing to spend.
If I get the cluster above, especially right around what I project ($138), that still gives me $122 for my remaining 11 spots. And that proposes to give me some balance coming out of the draft, which is what I want.
If you check out the Monday Hotpage you can see if I am even close.