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Friday 19th Jan 2018

Ask and ye shall receive, albeit a couple of days later than usual. As Tony Soprano often reminded, “Sorry, this is my busy season.” I find it ironic that those of us in the fantasy baseball information dissemination business can’t wait for opening day so we can take a breath. Though, this season’s break has to wait a week since so many more leagues than normal are drafting the first weekend in April. Anyway, I’ve received a bunch of requests to write up my NL Tout Wars draft, so here we go.

As is usually the case with auctions, I’ll know in the first 15 minutes what my plan will be. If the early prices are within a buck or two of my expectations, I’ll jump in early. If they are mostly four or five bucks over, I’ll sit back and wait for the soft underbelly of the auction where the prices of the middle tier are either as expected or a little under. From my experience the previous Friday in Las Vegas at the National Fantasy Baseball Championship National League auction, I anticipated being able to grab several discounted outfielders late so I would be sure to have the open roster spots.

My general plan is to walk in with my ranking tiers and a round guideline of “my lines.” I draw 23 lines (14 hitters and 9 pitchers) and assign a price. I don’t assign a position to the price but based on the tiers, I try to make sure there is an ample inventory across positions from which to choose. My hitting lines were 30, 25, 20, 20, 15, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 3, 3, 2 and 2 for a total of 170. The pitcher lines were 20, 18, 15, 12, 10, 5, 5, 3 and 2 for a total of 90. The split is a little more to pitching than normal (65:35) but this is only a guide, I always slide budget around based on the purchases.

I knew right away the plan was what I call middling. Thanks to Chris Liss and Derek Carty, the early prices were above what this room normally pays. Chris is an aggressive player that knows the odds as well as anyone but is also not afraid to take chances. His presence was missed last year as the room as a whole was rather reticent to pay top dollar. Derek's plan was a change-up from what he normally does and he was dead set on being aggressive early. The two in tandem served to make sure all the top players sold for full price and then some. To be honest, this is how I hoped it would go so I could draw from my experience in Las Vegas to fill as many spots as I could with regulars and not scrounge for at-bats at the end.

The first player I bought was Bobby Parnell for 13. While I won’t go crazy for closers, I want my saves and prefer not to have to FAAB this season’s Rafael Dolis and cross my fingers (and hold my nose). I feel Parnell will be the guy for the Mets and cost a couple less bones than the closers already off the board. Soon thereafter, I picked Kenley Jansen for 11, mainly because I like to have one middle reliever on my roster (usually cheaper) but if my sense was right, I could also get Brandon League on the cheap (as I did in Vegas). The only problem with that was Sergio Romo. All saves are not created equal. Romo’s ratios tack on four points to your fantasy total. Romo is being discounted due to the likelihood he doesn’t accrue quite as many saves as the other top closers since his usage will be tempered a bit. It may only be five saves, but that’s enough to drop him in price, which it did. I added Romo for $15 which in essence took away the line for a decent starting pitcher. For what it’s worth, I did not add League as he went a little higher ($14) that I wanted to go, especially since I had Romo. Worst case is I overpaid for my setup man, best case is I have a closer to deal down the line.

A major repercussion of the reliever gamut was having to drop the line for my top starting pitcher down from 20. I sensed this was going to be OK as the guys I thought I could get in that range all went for more than I was willing to stretch. Based on my experience in mocks and drafts, I felt there was someone I could still get that I liked and sure enough, Jordan Zimmerman was there for 18. He’s discounted due to a lack of strikeouts but if you pair him with a strikeout pitcher discounted because of questionable ratios, you can get an aggregate whose sum cost less than two pitchers with stats averaging the two. I never expected that pitcher to be Yovani Gallardo, but when the bidding stalled at 16, I decided I’d go 17 and he was mine. At this point, I knew I would be pitching heavy and something would have to give on hitting – so my $30 line was reduced to $20.

It’s no secret that I feel Allen Craig is in for a big year (mainly because I am less concerned about his health than others), so it is no surprise he is anchoring my hitting. The only problem was I was hoping he would be my second most expensive hitter but at 25, he’s the leader. Next is Aramis Ramirez, another guy I have pegged for more playing time than most others expect. He cost 24, which meant I was going to skimp at catcher.

There were a few players I was specifically asked to discuss.

Josh Rutledge cost 17 and along with Craig is a mainstay on a lot of my squads. Some are hedging playing time since Colorado has some reasonable options at second base, but I’m confident Rutledge will occupy the two-hole in the Rockies’ order for 150 games. If he does, a 20/20 season is not out of the realm.

Daniel Murphy was my only chase at 15. It’s not that the price is outlandish (assuming he’s good to go opening day) but it came at the point where most players were selling under price and I had to go full boat.

Alex Gonzalez is slated to play first while Corey Hart is out, so he should earn the buck I paid in April and the rest will be icing. Who knows? Maybe Jean Segura or even Norichika Aoki will struggle, opening up more time for Gonzalez.

The player I was asked about the most was Nate Schierholtz, mainly because those following along via the live blog and feed assumed it was an overpay because I had the most money left (14 for two players) and it took 13 to land him. Truth be told, that was right where I had him priced, so I was fine with the purchase.

All totaled, I am fine with the team, though it is tilted more to pitching than normal. But I should have some assets to deal to fortify the hitting. I like the prices I got for Dillon Gee ($9) and Brandon McCarthy ($9) even if meant settling for Chris Johnson at 8 and Russell Martin at 9, two spots I planned on spending a little more.

Here’s the squad. Please feel free to post questions in the comments and I’ll address them. I didn’t purposely do this, but it doesn’t surprise me that in my subconscious it worked out that a majority of my players have a measure of upside over the static projection.

C - Russell Martin 9, Hector Sanchez 1
1B/3B - Allen Craig 25, Aramis Ramirez 24, Chris Johnson 8
2B/SS - Daniel Murphy 15, Josh Rutledge 17, Alex Gonzalez 1
OF – Jon Jay 13, Cody Ross 12, Gregor Blanco 4, Chris Heisey 5
UT/SW – Carlos Quentin 16, Nate Schierholtz
SP – Jordan Zimmermann 18, Yovani Gallardo 17, Brandon McCarthy 9,
         Dillon Gee 9, Wily Peralta 4, Kyle Kendrick 1
RP – Sergio Romo 15, Bobby Parnell 13, Kenley Jansen 11
RES – Miguel Olivo, Jeff Locke, Eric Stults, Kevin Kouzmanoff

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