This year’s American League Tout Wars auction was different.
To start, because the season began this past weekend with the National League playing Saturday, the precedent of the AL leading off shifted to Sunday.
What made this a little fun and different for me was that every year on the “normal” Saturday of Tout, I publish my wish list for the draft, noting some of the players I am looking to grab, for how much, and why.
Now, for the most part I don’t really care who knows which players I like, or even what I might be thinking at least prior to the start of the draft.
And, a few of my esteemed colleagues did indeed read my thoughts, which made the bidding process more than interesting. If you review the players who constitute my team below, you can see some of my thoughts about that.
Second, this was a hard draft to read. Most of the time, there is a distinct flow to a draft, with sometimes stars going at a premium, and lots of money going off the table quickly, as in the AL LABR draft earlier this month. That suggests holding a little money, and controlling the draft during the soft periods, usually starting around the fifth cycle of nominations. In this instance, there are also usually values in the $2-$3 range at the end game.
Or, like the LABR NL the next day, all owners will be very careful to pay value for most players. In those instances, there are still times where the values soften, but what that really means is trying to play it out the middle, ensuring all your positions are filled with guys who are productive, while also grabbing values and moderately priced players aggressively, as by the end game most teams will have money. That means bidding wars for the likes of Bengie Molina, who went for $21 a few years back in the XFL under such circumstances.
Sunday’s auction was more like the latter scenario, but some instances, such as the position of closer, dictated you would have to spend $17-$20 for a closer, any closer.
That makes it tough, since those soft spots and patterns are scattered and hard to spot, if they exist at all.
Anyway, here is what I wound up with:
C: Adrian Nieto ($1): I pegged Nieto for a buck, and was pretty sure I would hear crickets, and fill the spot without challenge. Nieto, as a Rule 5, should make the team backing the shaky Tyler Flowers. At worst, for a dollar, big deal.
C: Stephen Vogt ($1): My understanding is the Athletics want John Jaso ($11) to spend most of his time DHing, and that suggests Vogt (.395-3-12 this spring) will make it as the third catcher. Hope so, but again, at a dollar, not a huge investment needing very little to get a return.
1B: Nick Swisher ($18): First sackers, and power was going quickly, and at value, so I took the dependable outfielder/first sacker and that was that.
2B: Alberto Callaspo ($6): Callaspo, also versatile and able to play second and third, will get 400 at-bats and I was happy to nominate and get him and plug the spot during the first third of the draft.
3B: Kyle Seager ($21): I pegged $22 for either Josh Donaldson or Seager, and when Donaldson went for $25 just prior to the Seattle third sacker, I was happy to get him for a dollar less than I thought I would.
SS: Jed Lowrie ($14): I like Lowrie a lot, and he is a switch-hitter who makes very good contact. He was healthy last year, and if he can repeat 2013, will be well worth the $3 less than I imagined the shortstop would fetch.
MI: Eric Sogard ($4): I had no intention of cornering the Athletics middle infielders, but there they are. Still, all three repeating would be what I want, and the almost Face made big strides last year.
CI: Marcus Semien ($6): I love the White Sox rookie who hails from UC Berkeley, via El Cerrito, our home town. He Is their best choice at second or third, and in a tight league a good gamble to take.
OF: Alex Rios ($25): I love the Rios production, and got him at a bit of a deflated rate simply because the league switched to OBP. But, since I am looking for a .340 OBP for my team, if all my hitters are simply in that range, I will be fine. I think Alex can do that, plus some.
OF: Michael Brantley ($16): I had him down Saturday for $14, and I think I might have victimized myself by making sure everyone knew I wanted the Cleveland flychaser. But, the way the draft was going I knew I would have to spend to get some guys, and Brantley gives me some of everything and I think is improving.
OF: Lorenzo Cain ($8): Again, a guy who can do everything, and who should improve. Right where I thought he would cost.
OF: Alejandro De Aza ($10): Jason Collette had the same thought as me about Colby Rasmus, who went for $15, three more than I wanted to pay, but I was happy to grab De Aza towards the end for a sawbuck. Again, a guy who does some of everything.
SW: Nick Castellanos ($14): I was actually afraid I was going to leave money on the table as I had $26 and two open spots when Chris Liss bid me up for my second to last vacant slot. I did not really overpay in that I had the money to spend, and I can play Castellanos at third or the outfield. Another rookie gamble I am happy to make.
UT: Danny Valencia ($1): Oh how I thought he would do, and oh how Valencia has disappointed. But, based upon his 2013 (.304-8-23) and his minor league on-base skills, another guy who need not do much to earn a profit.
P: Chris Sale ($29): Pegged him at $24, but now considered an elite starter, I wanted a big arm for my staff and Sale is it.
P: Chris Archer ($12): Another basically young arm, on a team full of basically young players it seems. Which will make it fun. I think Archer is this year’s Alex Cobb of 2013, hopefully without a liner to the noggin’.
P: Sonny Gray ($14): I had wanted Dan Straily, assuming Gray would be more high profile and expensive. I notched Straily for $12, and would not go to the $14 that my mate Rob Leibowitz would. Still, when I had a chance for Gray at the same price, I jumped at it.
P: Scott Kazmir ($11): I cannot believe I own Kazmir in two leagues, but somehow I convinced myself that he has settled down, and that pitching in Oakland will be good for him.
P: Hector Santiago ($12): My final acquisition, and I again had the bucks and love Santiago’s potential. Another guy who can miss a lot of bats and really crank things up.
P: Glen Perkins ($18): Closers were expensive, and once I realized this I decided to focus on getting one, and trying to pick up extra saves via middle guys.
P: Fernando Rodney ($12): When I had a chance to get a second closer for $12, as opposed to a couple of good set-up guys for around $9 between them, I shifted gears. If I get a boost in saves, there will always be someone willing to trade for one of mine.
P: Sean Doolittle ($1): Again surprised that a second bid was not made for Doolittle, who throws very hard and does indeed get punchouts. He might even get a save.
Res 1: Steve Lombardozzi: Maybe my mistake in not grabbing J.P. Arencibia and hedging my catching bets, for I do have enough infielders. And, my bud Andy Behrens grabbed the Texas catcher just a pick before my turn coming around.
Res 2: J.B. Shuck: I took the speedy outfielder when I missed out on Arencibia.
Res 3: Rubby De La Rosa: Loved him as a rookie with the Dodgers, and now a year past TJ surgery, I think the now Red Sox can fill a hole and make a return.
Res 4: Dylan Bundy: A gamble with my last pick, but a fun one. And, the dude has heat and is also returning from TJ surgery. But, I also think success in the Minors this year will mean he gets a chance this year.