So off I flew early Saturday, to the Valley of the Sun, for the 2010 AL LABR auction sponsored by the USA Today and hosted by Steve Gardner.
As I have written, these auctions are a lot of fun, really no different than your home league in that we have all played with and against one another for so long that, well, it is like playing in your home league. Away from home, that is.
It was a whirlwind day as I landed, then beat it from the huge car rental facility at Sky Harbor to Phoenix Municipal Stadium where I hooked up with BBHQ’s Dave Adler and watched the bulk of the Angels/Athletics game that day.
It was a quiet affair, tied at 2-2 when I had to split in the late afternoon to check into my hotel and then make it to the draft by 5 PM.
Of note? Well, Jared Weaver threw hard, but was not so effective. Starting Angel center fielder Peter Bourjoius made a fielding error and looked horrible on a Dallas Braden whiff. Dallas McPherson made a nice barehanded grab on a bunt and promptly threw the ball right into the ground, a la Lonnie Smith in the 1981 World Series.
Coco Crisp, who was the DH, belted a nice double into the gap and was able to stretch it out nicely, and Athletics first base hopeful Chris Carter drilled a hard liner to center, grabbed this time by Bourjous, but well, Carter looked good. And Eric Patterson could not get down on a grounder, and, when he tried to backhand it the second sacker wound up with a face full of hardball, and had to leave the game.
Somehow this spring, over the few games I have seen, errors see to be running amok. There were three—actually could have been four legitimately called—over the six innings I watched, and by the time I left, pretty much all the starters from both teams gave way to players with numbers is the 80’s, none of whom were announced.
Still, it was a day in the sun watching baseball.
Then I beat it off to The Arizona Republic where Mastersballer Perry Van Hook played the role of auctioneer as I drafted against Jason Grey, Greg Ambrosius, Nick Minnix and others.
I can tell you a few things about my team, though we are essentially sworn to secrecy about the results till they are published in the Opening Day issue of the Sports Weekly.
First, because I had such a hectic morning, I didn't log into the web to see any updates, so, I did not know that Joe Nathan had made an early exit earlier in the day, so I was a bit puzzled when I copped him early on for $17.
“Hurt his elbow,” said Jason, and I blanched, spending any free second before the first break trying to find out what I could about the injury. I want to believe the Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire, when he says it is no problem and Nathan is fine, but, just in case I also picked up Brian Fuentes for $14, giving me ideally two closers for $31, just a couple of bucks more than Jonathan Papelbon fetched all by himself.
Meaning I don’t need a full season of Nathan, and, should I get one, I will have some saves to swap.
What else? Ian Kinsler seemed a bargain at $27, at least as long as he stays healthy, and I think Randy Winn for $3 might be my best bargain. At least if he gets me 350-plus at-bats.
The following morning 12 of us reassembled for a straight snake draft which was as much fun. Between bagel bites and beer gulps (well, ok, green tea for me) we managed to work through 276 picks in a little over 75 minutes. A pretty good clip.
I picked first, and took Hanley, thinking I could get some pop at the corners down the road. Sure enough, with my wheel picks I took Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Zimmerman filling out the bulk of my infield.
I do think it is interesting that five of the top thirty picks were second basemen—Kinsler, D-Ped, Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, and Brandon Phillips.
In filling that spot I was able to wait a little later and grabbed Asdrubal Cabrera, and, I also waited on closers, taking Bobby Jenks, and Fuentes back-to-back as my 13th and 14th selections.
The one thing I do like about picking first/last is that ability to double up picks at a given position, and thus fill both slots/and try to start a scarcity run.
As noted, as much fun as it gets. And, the month is just beginning!