Forget Opening Day. Forget Draft Day. What’s the real sign that the new Tout Wars season has begun? It’s all about the RSVP e-mail, which came on Monday from Peter Kreutzer (aka Rotoman). My first two Tout seasons as a participant in the Mixed Auction league have both resulted in bottom half finishes, which is unacceptable, regardless of the high quality competition. I can do better. So, in the spirit of the new year, here are my Tout Wars vows for 2014. I think I’ve finally figured out how to win this thing. Or at least finish in the top three. Or the top five, at worst.
1. Youth will be served
There’s something to be said for drafting experienced players, but the right balance is needed. And the right balance should be slightly imbalanced, in favor of the youth side. The average age of my drafted squad last year was a shade over 30. While it’s OK to draft a bunch of players who are in their 30’s, an average age exceeding 30 is simply too old. Only five of the 23 players I purchased were at the time below the age of 27 (Jonathan Lucroy, Justin Upton, Desmond Jennings, Felix Doubront, Steve Cishek) while seven (Dan Uggla, Aramis Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Vogelsong, Wandy Rodriguez, Joe Nathan) were at least 33. Of the latter group, only Nathan gave me a positive return on my investment. In the case of Ramirez, Ludwick, Vogelsong and Rodriguez, injuries were at least partly to blame, but generally speaking, with age comes added risk of injury. Enough of these old guys!
2. Upside over safety
I guess it’s just my nature to follow a fairly conservative approach when filling out my roster, but I’m ready to take the plunge into the more “dangerous” waters. Seriously, what am I so afraid of? Carlos Gomez and Paul Goldschmidt enjoyed breakthrough seasons in 2012, and owners who were convinced that they would take another huge step forward last season were rewarded big time. And here I am drafting Jimmy Rollins and Dan Uggla because they carried me to fantasy titles in 2007? What am I, crazy?
3. What have you done for me lately?
This is a question that I should be asking more often when setting my weekly lineups. Patience is a nice quality to have as a fantasy owner, but being too patient can be costly. Routinely starting Ian Kennedy last year despite the fact that he was ruining my ERA and WHIP was a major mistake. You see, Kennedy was one of my sleeper starting pitchers, and I was so eager to prove that my hunch was correct that I gave the guy way too long of a leash. Going forward, I’d rather miss out on a great start than suffer from a disaster outing.
4. Early FAAB aggression is good
In my inaugural Tout season, I went a little nuts with April FAAB spending to the point where I didn’t have the dough required to pick up difference makers in the second half. Last year, I was a bit too passive in the early going and found myself overpaying for marginal talent by the time September came around. So what’s the best FAAB strategy? Probably somewhere in between, though last season’s removal of the $10 Vickrey floor encourages the more aggressive approach, so I think I’ll lean more in that direction.
5. No more trading with Zinkie
Fred is always up for a deal, and he made more than 10 of them last year, two with yours truly. The first one turned out to be OK (thanks to my hard line negotiating) but the second was a complete flop. Anyway, since he’s won the league twice in the last three years, I refuse to help him win again, under any circumstances.
Well, unless the offer is lopsided in my favor. I might consider it then.