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Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

Everything changes. Nothing changes.

Such is life, and such it is for me, going back to the LABR American League after a three-year hiatus to the National League. Truth is, I don't really care much about the parameters of any league in which I play as long as I do indeed understand them.

So, this Saturday--as covered live on Sirius/XM, channel 87--I will acquire my team during the 12-team auction with a $260 salary cap, in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality, hosted by USA Today's Steve Gardner.

Thus, in plain sight, in front of mine enemies (ok, well, my league mates, like Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf, whom I love), here are some of the players I have an eye on, and their price zone.

Now, I realize you might think it is silly to reveal one's cards too soon, but I have found we all have egos, so if I told you every detail of my foolproof plan to take over the world, you would look, and say "that is good, but what if you did this?" Additionally, we all have players we like and don't and price enforcement can be a tricky thing. Should I get into a battle over the rights to Chris Sale (who undoubtedly will have some serious bidding), I just have to figure if the extra dollar is worth it, or I can adjust elsewhere. 

So here are indeed some players who seem interesting to me. Note there are a couple of higher priced players, but it is finding the productive everyday bargains that win leagues like this. That, and trying to figure out a way to unlock a title your mates have not seen. Sometimes that means failing big, but sometimes it means winning big.

Yonder Alonso ($7): Ah, the beauty of disappointment can shine when a prospect loses some gloss. But, much like Danny Valencia, Alonso is now the perfect fit for Billy Beane's team of exiles from the island of lost players. Alonso produced a modest .282-5-31 line over 364 at-bats last year but had a stellar .381 OBP with 42 walks to 44 strikeouts. I suspect he is considered a corner guy by most, but I also think he will play first base full-time and jump his totals to .280-15-75.

Eduardo Escobar ($6): I had him on my list last year for a buck, and got him. The guy plays all over, does a lot of good stuff, and is made for an AL-only middle infield spot.

George Springer ($26): Still a level two star, but not for long. If Springer stays healthy, he becomes a first rounder in 2017, cranking out a .275-28-85-25 line (remember, I am very conservative with my projections).

Ryan Madson ($2): Another Beane bargain, I have to think Madson will take over if and when Sean Doolittle's elbow falls off. That means somewhere between 10-25 saves, I think. And, some whiffs, too.

Jason Castro ($4): So shiny after hitting .276-15-56 in 2012. So dull and broken, since. But, again, the Astros are now a solid veteran team with post-season experience. Castro will raise his game with this team and return to those numbers of three years ago, or maybe even best them.

Brad Boxberger ($14): In the end, he gets the ball and the saves, but I am hoping role uncertainty will cloud his price. I call this process "the lessons of Fernando Rodney."

Trevor Bauer ($3): Good team, good rotation, less pressure, Trevor steps it up. For $3, he can toss 175 innings, win ten, have an ERA around 4.00, a WHIP of 1.30 and 165 whiffs. But, I think Bauer will do even better because of changes in the environment.

Kevin Kiermaier ($6): There are a lot of really good young outfielders in the Majors, so it is hard to isolate the ones who will excel. I am thinking Kiermaier is ready to take a step based upon the pretty good .352 OBP he managed in the Minors. .270-12-70-20 is doable.

Check out the Hotpage on Monday for the assessment of my spoils, and remember you can follow me @lawrmichaels.

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