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Thursday 19th Oct 2017

Saturday afternoon I wished I had a way to blog this in real time – but on the other hand there are some in my AL keeper league based in LALA-land who might happen upon it.

So the best I can do is set up the FAAB question for you and then give a recap of what happened.

The GAR is an eleven team league that plays deeper because each team has three reserve spots in addition to DL slots, and the league has very deep Farm Team rosters for minor league prospects.

You already know the subject of the question, Papa Grande the nickname for Jose Valverde the past and present closer of the Detroit Tigers. Valverde who signed a minor league contract with the Tigers after the season started was just called up this week and already has two saves. So while we say there are always closers that come available during the season, here is an extreme case – an experienced closer for a contending team that was not available in the auction (or minor league draft).

And because of that limbo status on draft day, in this league he is treated as a normal free agent - bid and salary wise – he will count $5 against the cap. But he can’t be retained next year and he can’t be traded within the league this year.

So how much of your $100 FAAB budget would you bid for Valverde?

My team is currently in 6th place having moved up seventeen points this week with a good not great week but categories starting to settle at least a little. In fact the Live Scoring would show me gaining three points and temporarily at least in 4th place (of course that could change in an hour). I have $92 left and have Fernando Rodney and Ernesto Frieri whose eight combined saves have me in 5th place in the category, one save behind fourth place and six off the lead. So Valverde if he remains the Tigers closer for the balance of the year would put me very close to all eleven points or certainly competing for ten or eleven.

But the rule regarding his status will effectively eliminate most of the teams behind me in the standings – although there is one team with a good roster off to bad start who might well think he could win or at least place if things broke right for him. But he has only Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen on his roster. The two teams who started Saturday just ahead of me also need saves to contend and while they can certainly obtain them via the trade route as teams rebuild (we have no trades in the first month of the season so next week will be the first chance to test those waters) this is a rare chance to buy them. One of those teams has a couple dollars less than I do and the other has several dollars more. The three teams atop the standings all have $92-97 left to bid with.

There is one other factor before you guess how much to bid – the league does allow zero dollar bids but only after you have used all your $100 (or any salary of a player bought in the auction reclaimed if they were to be traded to the NL IF you wanted to drop them).

So how much would you bid in my shoes?

Not an easy question but a very interesting one.

I finally decided to bid $80 of my $92. Part of that is the one team lower in the standings who thinks he can compete has $79, and would win on a tie at that number if he went all in. So he is the one possible bidder I can eliminate by going with eighty. I can also win a tie at that number with the top three teams in the league. But really I have no idea if any of the other five teams will go that deep. For one thing a couple of them like to have control when there are NL players traded over later in the year. For another I don’t know how they feel about their real ability to compete this year.

Trades will go a long way to determine if they can truly put their team in the hunt at the early August (first weekend) trade deadline. And one or more of them may already be working on a trade with the one team that was known to be taking a two year plan at the draft. But that team is not likely trading their $7 Addison Reed who they can keep for next year or long term contract for another year.

So it will be very interesting to see the actual free agent bids tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

And I will reopen this file and write the postscript then.

Sunday morning – the bids are in and of course are very interesting. Two of the teams in the top three bid for Valverde with bids in the $40 and $30 range – one in third place in saves but only two back, the other on save below me. The third team that did not bid on Valverde leads the league in saves with two good closers, Jim Johnson and Casey Janssen.

Only one of the next group that I am in although both needed saves. That bid was in the $60’s.

Two of the teams below sixth who still think they have a shot to finish in the money and needed saves bid – one in the $40s and the other $71.

So my $80 bid held and I just have to hope that both Valverde can stay healthy and closing all year in Detroit and closer to home that I can manage the rest of my team to continue to move forward navigating the inevitable trade wars and finish in the money.

I am sure you have seen several jokes about the cold weather from Colorado all the way to the East Coast.

Major League Baseball, however, isn’t laughing. The half dozen games already cancelled or postponed affect a lot more than just our fantasy hitters and pitchers missing a chance to contribute to our teams. With the American and National leagues realigned, several of the series being affected by Mother Nature’s spring tantrum will cause havoc with the MLB schedule later this summer.

Consider the Atlanta Braves visiting the Colorado Rockies for the only time this year. First, Monday’s game was cancelled, so the two teams were supposed to play a day/night doubleheader on Tuesday. As of this writing on Tuesday afternoon, they did get the first game in and now wait for evening and yes, colder temperatures. The problem is that the Braves are not scheduled to return to Denver for the rest of the season.

While they do travel to the West Coast in May to play the Giants and Diamondbacks, they can’t use their one off-day before returning to Atlanta because it would take away their only day off in the month of May. It would also exceed the number of straight days a team can play under the current bargaining agreement. The same is true when they play the Padres and Dodgers in June.

And they won’t be alone if the Marlins and Twins have trouble with their second game on Tuesday or their scheduled game on Wednesday.

It seems logical that MLB will have to alter its scheduling procedures when NL and AL teams are going to play only one series in the opposing park if either team is in an unprotected environment for games in March, April and May when there is any possibility of weather wiping a game off the schedule.

Let’s just hope that none of the affected teams need that game to qualify for postseason play this year. Then we will really have a scheduling nightmare.


In my last column, I related some stories from the auction draft of the Splendid Splinter league and noted parenthetically that at the time I was writing I was negotiating a trade to obtain Joey Votto.

It was a little early for a team to make a rebuilding trade but my trade partner was in year two of trying to improve an absolutely terrible roster he inherited last year. That first year was tough for him and he was faced with trying to get a better roster for next season – and that was apparent at the draft.

So with my biggest power hitter on the DL, I needed to find a hitter to get me some HR/RBI to tread water in those categories until Aramis Ramirez returned and then to add to my decent but not championship hitting (the pitching being fine). I had reached out to the team that needed to rebuild and he had correctly posted a note on the league’s site to let everyone in the league know he was open for business. Giving everyone in the league this knowledge is not only the ethical thing to do but may also get some trade dialogue started with a team you would never think would be interested.

There were several pieces I was interested in but it looked like outfielders Matt Holliday or Carlos Quentin were likely the best targets, and I should be able to get them for a very good minor league prospect or even two and maybe a player from my current roster. But I couldn’t help notice that attractive Joey Votto sitting on his roster, and at $47 not a keeper but a very valuable trade chip. So when we got past the introductory emails, I suggested that while I wouldn’t include him in a trade for a lesser player, I would be willing to trade my $5 Yonder Alonso in a package for Votto.

Prior to discussing any players, I had looked at the other team’s roster and also identified a nice upgrade at catcher if I could get his $11 Wellington Castillo in the deal and I would send my $8 Russell Martin so he would have a replacement at that position without having to spend any of his precious FAAB dollars. But I didn’t mention that until we were dealing in specific players – you don’t want to ask for or offer every single player in your first serve.

And I had encountered a problem as I did the math with my current and future lineups. (This is easy to do, take your current lineup and put it onto an excel sheet. I usually put my current players in column A, their salaries in column B, and a list of positions in column C. Then in column D you will put in the new players and their salaries in column E.  Run a sum below both salary columns.) It was important for me to make sure that I could fit both Ramirez ($33) and Votto ($44) under the $300 salary cap once Aramis was back. But after printing out both my roster and his, I found my memory faulty because Votto had actually gone for $47 in the auction. That meant since I was also adding three dollars for the upgrade at catcher, I needed to ask for one of his $1 starting pitchers and really needed to add a starter anyway, having only five coming out of the draft.

So we actually exchanged trade proposals in cyberspace – something that wouldn’t happen on the phone but can have some benefit. He had asked for Alonso and a minor league prospect for Votto and another player. At the same time, I had sent an offer of Alonso, Martin and a prospect for Votto and Castillo. I followed that saying I needed the one dollar pitcher and asked for A.J. Burnett. That didn’t work for him as he thought Burnett was the only keeper of his four one dollar starting pitchers (and he is probably right about that).

So after a phone discussion, we arrived at the final trade.

I would give Alonso (5D12), Martin (8D13), and minor leaguers Brett Jackson (CHC) and Alex Castellanos (LAD) for Votto (47D13), Castillo (11D13) and Ricky Nolasco (1D13).

I got Votto to replace Ramirez at CI (and then stay there when Ramirez was back going to 3B, moving Matt Carpenter to the outfield) and an upgrade at catcher, as I think Wellington Castillo will hit plenty of Wrigley Field home runs. My trade partner also did well, as he will be able to put Alonso under contract next year and has two very interesting prospects that will hopefully graduate from his Farm next year or later. Jackson’s star is not as bright as it used to be, but the Cubs reworked his swing this year and early returns from his first few weeks at Triple-A Iowa have been positive. Castellanos would have been the star of the Dodgers spring training games if not for the explosion of Yasiel Puig, but is a very good outfield prospect.

There are some points here that may help you:

  1. Communication is always the key towards finding a deal. I prefer a phone call to get things started but e-mail will work very well, especially if you know the person you are dealing with.
  2. Find out what your prospective trade partner needs/wants and don’t try to just trade players you want to trade.
  3. Give several options for your trade partner to choose from. Whether you offer a choice of outfielders or pitchers or prospects, you empower them to choose the player they like of equal parts.
  4. Always be willing to give an extra/better player to acquire something that will help you – you can’t get something without giving up something.
  5. A trade should ALWAYS work for both teams.
  6. It is never too early to look beyond the standings – I am currently in first place in this league thanks to a great start by my pitchers, but my offense will lose points if I can’t get some production from the CI slot.

And getting an early start puts you ahead of your competition to get a deal done and gets you ramped up in your quest for the Yoo-hoo shower.

In my last column I mentioned briefly a very interesting auction draft I had on Wednesday, April 3. This was for an NL-only league – the Splendid Splinter league - an 11-team, 5x5 keeper league, now more than 25 years old.

I entered the draft with the following freeze list after rebuilding last year:

C – Wilson Ramos                   8D11

1B – Ryan Howard                  29D12

CI – Matt Carpenter                10F12

2B – Daniel Murphy               2D11

SS – Brandon Crawford          5D12 (promoted from FARM last year)

OF – Gerardo Parra                 6D12

OF – Starling Marte                5D13 (promoted from my FARM on draft day)

OF – Yonder Alonso               5D12 (promoted last year)

P – Jeff Samardzija                 8D12

P – Patrick Corbin                  10F12

P – Wade Miley                     10R12

P – Ross Detwiler                 5D12 (promoted last year)

P – David Hernandez           1D12

P – Rex Brothers                  3D12

So I would have $153 dollars to spend in the auction and I hoped to get one top tier hitter ($40+) along with a couple of good hitters in the twenties and then fill in the remaining slots. On the pitching side, I just needed to buy three pitchers but at least one closer was a necessity since neither Hernandez nor Brothers had assumed closing duties for their respective clubs. (Who knew the Diamondbacks would give an already aging J.J. Putz a new two-year contract?)

This auction was oversold – over 20 percent draft inflation – so I would have to pick and choose carefully on which players I battled for as well as trying to get money out of the other bid purses. There was one team with over $200 and two more with $175+. This also meant I didn’t want to go into the middle/late phase of the auction with too much money – there would be bidding wars on players not deserving of even uninflated prices if those three teams hadn’t spent most of their money.

I didn’t roster a player for the first round and was quite surprised in the second round when the bidding was stopping on Russell Martin at $7; I said $8 and won him. Martin and McCann were the only two decent catchers available in this draft (and McCann, injury and all, went for $17 later in the draft).

In the next round – too early for my tastes – Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura was brought up and I was very happy to win what turned into a two-team battle at $22. I think Segura was undervalued this year given that in addition to 30+ stolen bases, I think he will deliver a good AVG and maybe double-digit home runs.

A while later, I don’t have the exact order for the next player I rostered but I think it was Rafael Soriano, who I was glad to pay 21 dollars for as he was the best closer available and the Nationals will win a lot of games.

I now had $100 left but spent awhile gently nudging the better players brought up to extract two dollars here and four dollars there from my opponents when they were buying players not on my list.

I had hoped my next pitching buy would be a starter – but at the same time I was hoping it was quite awhile before Hyun-Jin Ryu was brought up in front of a Los Angeles draft table. In the meantime, Jason Grilli suddenly became available for I thought a bargain price of $15. Now I really needed to wait on Ryu and hope that if that failed I could find another good starter.

Having not been able to get one of the top hitters despite going to the mid to high forties chasing Votto, Tulowitzki and Kemp, I moved $10 off the top slot to add another $20 hitter. The best third baseman with Hanley Ramirez injured was Aramis Ramirez, and being able to move Carpenter to the outfield, I battled to get Aramis for $33 as I really needed the power.

Just after that, Jimmy Rollins was nominated, and while Segura had filled my MI, I had to go after the power/speed combo and play Rollins at UT for now with the ability to bench Crawford if he fails to hit. The other bidders were surprised I was in on Rollins and that I was staying in through the twenties but there wasn’t a better player for me at that point and I was going to at least try. And successful I was, getting him with my last bid - $29.

Now I was in a great position as I had $25 for just three players, needing one starting pitcher and two outfielders. But I still wanted Ryu, and the young Korean Dodger still hadn’t been nominated … so I waited.

(By the way, as I am typing this on Wednesday morning I am negotiating a trade to try and add Joey Votto in part because Aramis is on the DL for a couple of weeks but also to take my best shot at making my team a true contender in this league).

There were some pitchers going but I stayed the course and was pleasantly surprised that when Ryu was brought up he went for only $13, half of my remaining funds. Perhaps it was that the night before, in his first start, he had given up 10 singles to the visiting Giants. But I was unconcerned about that. He had only allowed one earned run and it WAS his first big league start in the United States (and he had a very nice second start getting a win). His pitching and training may be unconventional but he HAS swing and miss stuff and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he struck out 200 batters this year.

Little did I know at this point that what had really been a super draft for me so far – dancing between the more contentious battles, getting some good players for my team and a pitcher I really wanted along with not just one but two closers, would take a downward turn in a hurry. What should have been a great position, 12 dollars left for just two outfielders, turned into a nightmare as every decent fly chaser nominated was out of my reach, and believe me I was reaching.

The pre-draft favorite needed an outfielder as well, but their max bid was $8 so for awhile if there was an outfielder I wanted, I would either try and get to “Eight” before them or bid “Nine” after their eight. If I really wanted the player – Chris Heisey is the one I vividly remember but there were a few more – I would just go to “Eleven.” And I got nothing. Outbid every time. Obviously, this was before dollar days or even the late several but less than a handful endgame.

It was at least an hour (obviously not all the nominated players were outfielders).

And it wasn’t fun – at all. Finally, moving well into the middle of my second page (of two pages of Mastersball tiered rankings that I had modified for this particular league), I found an outfielder I could use and get. It cost me $4 to roster Andres Torres but at least he could add some stolen bases.

And now the last stage, trying to get a playable outfielder for eight dollars or less. Yes, I know it sounds easy. Surely there would be bargains at the end of the draft, and there were if you were in the market for a pitcher. But it wasn’t in my quest for an outfielder even when jumping to “Eight” several times. Finally, I landed Padre Chris Denorfia, although I needed to bid all eight of my remaining dollars to get him.

Well, no draft is perfect. But aside from the agony of the last few hours, I had fun and had collected a very nice team. And little did I know dessert was waiting.

No, not the fudge brownie ala mode I ordered (we draft in a back room at a local Denny’s). After the auction portion, the Splinter league drafts three reserve players (actually some teams draft more because for each injured player you have you get an extra reserve pick). I thought with my first pick I really needed to draft some saves insurance and since Mark Melancon was there at 1.07, I was glad to take him and back up Grilli. But the FUN was my second pick at 2.05 when I proudly called out "Didi Gregorius, shortstop, Arizona." I got a few looks before one of my opponents loudly objected. But Gregorius, on the Diamondbacks' DL, was in fact on the opening day roster, and much to the chagrin of my vocal opponent was thus a legal pick. One of my other opponents could only shake his head and say “Wow, nice pick.”

Sweeter than the fudgy brownie.

This week, I attended three different auction drafts for AL/NL keeper leagues, and while a recap of every single player might bore both of us, I think the highlights and observations might be useful to those of you who play in these formats (and if you don’t now, you should try and do so next year as they are, in my opinion, the best types of fantasy baseball leagues).

For those of you who are asking about the drafts being after opening day, it is really the only good option for keeper leagues because everyone needs to know which players made ML opening day rosters and which players are still minor leaguers. It is also very important to know which players started the season on the DL.

Tuesday was the draft for my AL keeper league, which is based in Los Angeles, where I lived before I moved to Arizona (so I could have baseball ten months a year). The Great American Rotisseleague (GAR) held its 28th auction at Taix Restaurant in Los Angeles and welcomed three new teams, as we not only had to replace two owners, whose business schedules forced them to make a tough choice, but also deal with the arrival of the Houston Astros in the American League. Those three teams drafted from the two existing rosters, both of which were in contention all year long, and in addition we gave them the benefit or rolling back any D11 players to D12 so they would not have to make any long-term contracts in their first year and would have the players for at least two seasons. If they drafted D12 players or players already contracted, those would not change. This innovative option gave them all different paths to be competitive in their first year or build their roster for future seasons and did not disrupt the rosters of the existing eight owners.

The league plays much deeper than most AL-only leagues because in addition to very deep (unlimited as long as you are willing to pay $5 for each retained player) minor league FARM rosters, we allow each team to draft three reserves after the auction. These players, which salary/contract wise are equal to any other free agents, can replace players who started the year on the disabled or suspended lists or just have some replacements as the league does not start the FAAB process until after the second week of the season.

Okay, you want to know the high bids. First remember that, as in most keeper leagues drafts, inflation is very high (this year almost thirty percent in the GAR) and secondly that many stars – Miguel Cabrera (52D11), Justin Verlander (37D11), Prince Fielder (51D12), and Josh Hamilton (42D12) to name a few were kept. I thought going into the auction that Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Jose Reyes, and Jacoby Ellsbury would fetch the highest prices and fully expected both Cano and Reyes to go for $50 or more. There were also two other very good second basemen – Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia – in the auction as well as SP Jered Weaver and AL newcomer Michael Bourn.

Cano in fact did go for $50 (to the league’s defending champion who had him last year and returned with a very good keeper list). Reyes fell just short, the gavel ending at $48. I wasn’t surprised by Pujols fetching $45 despite some tarnish last year and this spring to the future HOF, but the surprise of the night was Weaver also going for $45 – and to the same team that rostered Reyes and also spent $41 for Pedroia. Good thing he entered the auction with $215 to spend.

I purchased Beltre for $45, and I’m glad I didn’t have to go higher for him, which I thought I should have. Both Kinsler and Ellsbury went for $39 while Bourn and Shane Victorino both fetched $37. The next highest price for a pitcher was $33 for R.A. Dickey.

On Wednesday night, the Splendid Splinter NL keeper league held its auction. I am unsure exactly when this “sister” league first drafted. I think it was a year or two after I started the GAR, and almost half the teams still playing were the original members of both leagues, so it is always a competitively edged but fun night of getting back together, and there are still barbs from the previous evening to deal with.

I don’t have all the prices from that auction but I can tell you what the top hitters available went for – Matt Kemp went for $48, Joey Votto for $47, and Troy Tulowitzki for $46. The elite starting pitchers were also in demand – Clayton Kershaw went for $44 while Matt Cain was rostered for $36 and Cliff Lee for $34.

There were two extremely good freeze lists in that league, so I was taking my rebuilding chips into their second year and hoping to add enough talent to finish in the money this year. Things went well for most of the auction, although that is a story for another day, but unraveled slightly this week as my new $33 third baseman, Aramis Ramirez was placed on the DL, hopefully for just a few weeks.

On Saturday, I auctioned the 30th auction draft for the Bowling Rotisserie League commissioned by Mastersball’s Don Drooker. Don has an excellent group - three who have been in the league the entire time and one who joined in the second year. Fatherhood, children, work and other things conspire against us keeping leagues together over time, so that is an even more remarkable achievement. $44 was the high bid in that league and fetched both Carlos Gonzalez and Joey Votto for different owners.

The Bowler’s league (originally all the participants were at least tangentially in the bowling business, now I doubt any are) didn’t have the inflation of the Splinter, so it was interesting that the Ginkos paid the same $22 for the Brewers’ shortstop on Saturday afternoon as I had paid on Wednesday night. But Don’s league is an original Rotisserie Baseball Handbook league, so in a 4X4 league the Old Duck had to pay $36 for Rafael Soriano while I got him for $21 earlier in the week in a 5X5 league.

At all three drafts, there was the added complexity and nuances that make auction leagues so much the better rotisserie experience as well as the elements added by keeper leagues over redraft leagues. But one thing remained constant in all three places – a great camaraderie built by years of friendly competition.

As we enter the last weekend for most mixed league drafts, I have to give Thanks to NYY fanatics and drafters overboard with both position scarcity and some measured risks.

Okay, I didn’t really have that in mind until Thursday night when Greg Morgan (Masters of the NFBC published on Tuesday here at Mastersball) and I drafted our one “Captain Morgan" team this year, an entry into the new Fantasy Baseball Players Championship. A spinoff of the very successful Fantasy Football Players Championship, this is the first year and as such all the drafts are online. The inaugural Main Event is paying a $50,000 Grand Prize to the overall winner which, given the $1600 entry of only sixty teams, makes it a very attractive "return on investment" event.

The format is slightly different from the NFBC, each of the fourteen teams in each league having a tenth pitcher and an eighth reserve slot. The ten pitchers must be six starters, two relievers, and two free/flex hurlers who can be either starters or relievers. The contest also allows lineup submissions twice a week for two periods: Mon-Thurs and Fri-Sun.

As Greg and I settled in behind our computer screens connected by phone, we wondered what would happen to us with the third pick in the draft. We both agreed that our preference would be 1) Miguel Cabrera; 2) Mike Trout; and 3) with perhaps slight consternation, Ryan Braun.

The draft room fills and finally the first pick goes up on the screen – Miguel Cabrera to Team 1.

No surprise but perhaps a slight sigh as we hoped for a Braun pick there. What happened next both shocked and amazed us in all the good ways: Robinson Cano to Team 2. (Thank You!)

So we happily took Mike Trout and now we could get ready for a long wait before our next pick. Actually, before the draft I had listed all 13 pitchers in my top two tiers so we could see what was left as we decided on our second and third picks. With the extra pitching slot and the ability to better stream starts, pitching would be very important in this league. But, that didn’t necessarily mean that there would be lots of early picks. In the very first FBPC satellite draft in January, there were only four pitchers taken in the first three rounds (Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg in the 1st, Clayton Kershaw in the 2nd and David Price with the last pick in the 3rd). But that was many drafts ago, and even in the NFBC main events last weekend there were more pitchers taken in the second and third rounds.

So we waited and as we did so Greg prophetically said “wouldn’t it be great if Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton came all the way back to us at 2.12?”

Back to the pitchers drafted Thursday, there were three in the first round – Verlander at 1.05, Strasburg at 1.07, and Kershaw at 1.09. More surprising was there were only two drafted in the second round – David Price at 2.06 and Felix Hernandez at 2.08. Yes, if you looked closely, that means both Team 7 and Team 9 started this draft with a pair of hurlers. Maybe I should add them to the groups above.

But when the two teams in front of us both selected the appropriate second basemen, yes both Bautista and Hamilton were still there and I voted for Bautista to join Trout in our outfield. On the turn (Hamilton,Yoenis Cespedes, Cole Hamels, Paul Goldschmidt), we decided on Cliff Lee to be our staff ace. And now another long wait.

I was very happy to see Allen Craig still available and we started him at first base with our fourth round pick. With the third pick in round five we selected Madison Bumgarner, who together with Lee should give us a base of 400 strikeouts with great ratios and 25-30 wins.

We continued to see a player slip to us (at least based on the previous NFBC drafts Greg and I had seen in the last week and on FBPC team he did with his father) and 6.12 was a fine spot to add Jimmy Rollins and get a top-tier shortstop. With the wrap around pick, we again added a pitcher, this time Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney (fourth closer off the board after Craig Kimbrel, Ardolis Chapman and Jonathan Papelbon).

Since we had missed the second tier of second basemen and because we both see a healthy Chase Utley (at least so far this year), we added the Phils keystone player at 8.12. There were a lot of good choices for our ninth round pick but we agreed that more power was good and another first baseman might allow us to push Craig to the outfield later if things went well, the corner infield pool being very deep this year, so we took Paul Konerko, having just missed on Ryan Howard. Trout will lend Konerko a few steals, Paulie pretty unlikely to even get one on the back end of a double steal, but Konerko is a nice plus with batting average in addition to the power categories.

As our pick in the tenth round neared, we saw that despite eight or nine closers rostered, the Giants’ Sergio Romo was still there, so we added him at 10.12 to not only serve as a great partner with Rodney but to hopefully fuel a closer run, and we did as nine more were drafted in the 11th and 12th rounds. We actually doubled up on pitchers on the 10/11 turn, adding Doug Fister, who several rounds earlier I had asked Greg if he liked because he was sitting in the pool with more than a dozen less worthy pitchers drafted over that time. Adding another 180+ strikeouts with an elite WHIP would obviously be great as SP3.

As the 12th round inched towards us, we were hoping that one of our third base choices would last, and in fact when both Kyle Seager and Manny Machado did, we chose Seager at least partially for a little more experience and perhaps a few more home runs. We both like Machado’s upside and would be glad to add him later should the opportunity arise.

There wasn’t a pitcher we really liked there and there was a good hitter we both liked, so we added Torii Hunter at 13.03, not expecting him to duplicate last year’s numbers but as a good run producer in that Tigers' lineup. But almost two rounds later, there was a pitcher still there that begged to be rostered, and so our 14th round pick was Cardinals' starter Lance Lynn. At 15.03 we added more power with Josh Reddick as our fourth outfielder.

At 16.12 we added another 30+ swipes with the Brewers' Jean Segura filling out our MI slot. There are lots of times when, drafting in tandem, you are hoping your partner can accede to your preferences, and thankfully Greg was there to allow me to add Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers' new Korean import. Having seen Ryu pitch a couple of times, including spring training, I can tell you he should be a very good pitcher to have – another hurler who can add 200 strikeouts.

We had not found the right catcher to add in our previous selections but it was time to take a stand and I lobbied for Chris Iannetta to join us at 18.12 and Greg relented. Iannetta has shown considerable power before but I think there is a chance for him to contribute a better batting average this year for the Angels, and of course for Captain Morgan. Greg got his choice of starters at 19.03, as we added A.J. Burnett and his nice strikeouts as SP #6. While the Pirates hope to win more games this season, it would be unlikely for Burnett to repeat his win total, but as long as he keeps the ratios down he will be a fine starter for us. We added our second catcher at 20.12, hoping that Wilson Ramos is fully recovered because if healthy, the Nats backstop should keep Kurt Suzuki on the bench most of the time.

With our 21st and 22nd round picks, we added two more pitchers – Sergio Santos to hopefully add some saves during the season and Dillon Gee as another decent NL starter to use for matchups and two-start weeks. But we still had one outfield spot open and our utility slot, which at this point, with the draft very OF rich, would be a home for our sixth fly chaser. Carlos Quentin and a prayer for him staying healthy was the choice at 23.03. The pick at 24.12 was another promising NL starting pitcher in Ross Detwiler.

Back to offense with the next three picks – first at 25.03 Gordon Beckham as our Utley insurance and reserve MI. At 26.12 we succumbed to the incredible upside of a player who won’t start the year in the major leagues, but there was not a hotter hitter in either the Cactus or Grapefruit leagues than young Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And the starters for Don Mattingly’s team are not exactly bastions of health, so who knows when Puig might get a flight back from Double-A Jacksonville. Incidentally, if you are looking for comparisons, I am not the only one who thinks a full year of Puig would dwarf what Yoenis Cespedes put up last year. It would be great to see the first A's/Dodgers game when both are on the field.

At 27.03 we added our final starting hitter, Indians’ outfielder Michael Brantley, who had no business being on the board at that point in the draft, but of course every team is chasing different needs there.

Our last five picks were more reserves - four more pitchers, Houston’s Josh Fields for saves potential at 28.12, Miguel Gonzalez, Eric Stults and Jake Westbrook in rounds 30, 31 and 32. In between, we added an extra outfielder, Collin Cowgill, who is now playing for the Mets (Cowgill has a nice skill set, as Lawr Michaels described earlier this spring).

Below is the final roster for Captain Morgan by position with round selected. Both Greg and I are glad to answer questions about the players or the draft and possibly help you with your decisions in drafts this weekend. Good Luck!



C – Chris Iannetta (18.12) and Wilson Ramos (20.12)

CI – Allen Craig (4.12), Kyle Seager (12.12) and Paul Konerko (9.03)

MI – Chase Utley (8.12), Jimmy Rollins (6.12) and Jean Segura (16.12)

OF – Mike Trout (1.03), Jose Bautista (2.12), Torii Hunter (13.03), Josh Reddick (15.03) and Carlos Quentin (23.03)

UT – Michael Brantley (27.03)

Reserves – Gordon Beckham (25.03), Yasiel Puig (26.12) and Collin Cowgill (29.03)

SP – Cliff Lee (3.03), Madison Bumgarner (5.03), Doug Fister (11.03), Lance Lynn (14.12), Hyun-Jin Ryu (17.03), A.J. Burnett (19.03), Dillon Gee (22.12, Ross Detwiler (24.12), Miguel Gonzalez (30.12), Eric Stults (31.03) and Jake Westbrook (32.12)

RP – Fernando Rodney (7.03), Sergio Romo (10.12), Sergio Santos (21.03) and Josh Fields (28.12)

Sometimes headstrong fantasy players want to make all the decisions--good or bad--and take all the credit for their brilliance (or lack thereof).

Other times it is preferable to pool knowledge and have a partner who can help not only with draft decisions but with team management throughout the long baseball season.

And of course, there are sometimes financial considerations to having to only pay half an entry fee and thus both save some money but be able to play for higher prizes.

Our esteemed Rotisserie Duck card collector, seller, and columnist Don Drooker and I have known each other for many years and live in the same city, formerly in the same 55+ community. Don is a bashful duck about his many accomplishments including being the only four time winner of the XFL (Xperts Fantasy League) started in 2003 by Ron Shandler.

But the old duck also plays in 4X4 AL and NL keeper formats that are almost as old as the first roto league that was formed at La Rotisserie restaurant. And, he has won both those leagues many times. Both are auction leagues and Drook has a particular disdain for serpentine draft leagues, wanting to get the player he wants and not having every single target he brings to mind disappear by a drafter in front of him.

Well, Don and I decided to partner up for a $250 NFBC Satellite league that drafted on Monday night. The NFBC satellites have several price points and are individual leagues, so the strategies that go into competing for multi-league overall rankings as in the Main Event or the Draft & Hold leagues don’t apply. That doesn’t mean I would approach the draft much differently but I would adjust and do some things that couldn’t possibly allow a team to be high in the overall ranks. The object is just to finish in the money in this one league.

I can’t tell you that getting two grizzled fantasy players to agree on a draft is a piece of cake, but I can tell you we had a good time deciding on our plan and then zeroing in on which players to get, and of course when.

The bad news was drawing the #12 pick in a fifteen team draft. But, the notion that you can win from any draft spot with any roster construction is more important than the player you got to pick in the first round. Not surprisingly, the usual suspects were taken with the first eleven picks, not one rat in the league allowing someone better to fall so we agreed to start this ride with Giancarlo Stanton.  Good to get power early in these drafts regardless of league format.

Don agreed with my suggestion that if either Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw were available with our second round pick we could anchor our (mostly) NL staff with either and given the choice we chose Mr. Kate Upton.

Now the long wait…and the reason of course that Senor Dux doesn’t like drafts. Still, we were pretty fortunate that one of our first base targets was still available at 3.12 and we welcomed Billy Butler to the “Captain Dux” squad.

The fourth round pick wasn’t as clear, but the chance to start our middle infield with a solid contributor across the boards meant Ben Zobrist was the choice we made. Depending on later choices we could move him to either 2B or SS or even OF if needed.

Obviously we were a little slow at this point and while there is always speed available later most of it us in outfield eligible players, so having a leadoff hitting second baseman who should get 30+ bags led us to Jose Altuve.

With the injuries to Brett Lawrie and Pablo Sandoval, Martin Prado was the last third baseman available without going to a lower tier and while we don’t mind doing that it should be for a CI. Plus if we did find a third baseman we liked in addition to another corner, Prado could easily be moved to the outfield (prophetic reasoning, but good roster flexibility is a huge help over a long season when you can do it without sacrificing any stats.

Somehow the impending catcher run hadn’t yet started and we hoped with Posey, Mauer, Molina, Wieters and then Carlos Santana by 6.02, it might be delayed until the seventh or eighth round. Neither Drook nor I are true scarcity drafters but a solid base in the first ten rounds would include one catcher with 1B, 3B, 2B, and SS if all were quality hitters. And, in fifteen team leagues playing two catchers, there is a big plus to not having to give away stats at the position. I didn’t mind Victor Martinez, Willin Rosario and Miguel Montero going late in the sixth but we were close to the end of a tier (okay players we could agree on in that tier) when Salvador Perez who we had hoped would slide and Jonathan Lucroy went in the three picks before us. That still left us with Jesus Montero and we decided not to press fate and add him at 7.12.

Finally in the eighth round we took our second pitcher – Giant’s closer Sergio Romo who was the fifth closer off the board. Romo is, as Todd suggested in his TOUT team review, somewhat mistakenly discounted because he might have less saves than some other closers. But Romo's ratios will be much better than his compatriot closer and though we knew we were stretching the tiers on starters, we felt we could get what we needed later.

After taking a solid outfielder with speed in Norichika Aoki in the ninth round, later came at 10.04 in Ian Kennedy who had kindly slipped past some less worthy pitchers and made a fine SP2 with Verlander. We added another veteran hurler on a good team at 12.04 in Tim Hudson after taking Todd Frazier – a true CI with 1B and 3B eligibility in the eleventh round.

The secondary closer run almost swallowed us but we drafted Bobby Parnell at 13.12 so we didn’t have to try for the Angel’s save crew or hope Jose Veras would be viable in Houston. We would try and add some setup pitchers with good skills late in the draft with the hope of giving us two plus closers to start the year. In fact the ending distribution of closers was two teams with three; seven teams with two; and six teams with one closer. Of course many had relievers they hope add to their total. We should lose to the teams with three and beat the teams with one but try to be the best amongst those with two closers as of now.

Don and I both like the upside of young Oriole third sacker Manny Machado so we added him at 14.04 which meant as alluded to, we shifted Prado to the outfield. We added David Murphy with the next pick a nice double digit producer in both HR and SB and a player who should get a few more at bats this year in a great ballpark. Our fourth starting pitcher, in the 16th round was another Diamondback, sinkerballer Trevor Cahill.

We had left our last middle infield slot slide but the opportunities were drying up and before things went way off target, drafted Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, moving Zobrist to MI and allowing another lineup variation in weeks where we might want to play someone else there and shift Zobrist to the outfield. On the 18th round side of those picks we finally got our second catcher in the Angels’ Chris Iannetta who has been swinging very well this spring. Iannetta has good power and we can afford his projected average although I think there is a decent chance he improves on that this year in Anaheim.

Denard Span in the 19th round and Michael Brantley in the 21st finished our OF/UT slots and we would add some pitchers in Patrick Corbin, Wily Peralta, and Ricky Nolasco as we rounded out the first 23 rounds with our starting lineup (you can draft players in any order in NFBC drafts but as old school auction players where reserves are reserves we tend not to stray from that approach).

We were able to add a good CI in Adam Lind and a decent stolen base threat in the MI as long as Chris Getz holds the second base job for the Royals. We also speculated on the Rangers Jurickson Profar later in the draft and added Seth Smith as a possible platoon matchup at OF/UT. On the pitching side we selected Chris Narveson who I have thought for years has good stuff but hasn’t quite been able to put it together and added two relievers who might get save opportunities in Vinnie Pestano and Mark Melancon.

The full roster for the “CAPTAIN DUX” team is listed below by position with the draft slot used. It looks to have good, not great power but plenty of speed and adequate BAvg. Frankly I think the projections for several of our hitters is on the low side – as an example I expect both Billy Butler and Jesus Montero to be closer to thirty HR than to twenty. I also think that Prado will hit twenty home runs in the NL West while both Frazier and Machado could challenge 20/20 levels.

But ultimately the team may go as far as Verlander with Kennedy and two good closers and a hopeful supporting cast can take them. The good news is that there is plenty of pitching available via FAAB. I am always glad to answer questions about the players or draft here or on the message boards and perhaps the Old Duck will chime in as well. Good Luck in your drafts over the next week.

CAPTAIN DUX – NFBC Satellite entry

C – Jesus Montero (7.12) & Chris Iannetta (18.04)

CI – Billy Butler (3.12), Manny Machado (14.04), & Todd Frazier (11.12)

MI – Jose Altuve (5.12), Jhonny Peralta (17.12), & Ben Zobrist (4.04)

OF – Giancarlo Stanton (1.12), Norichika Aoki (9.12), Martin Prado (6.04), David Murphy (15.12), & Denard Span (19.12)

UT – Michael Brantley (21.12)

Reserves – Adam Lind (24.04), Chris Getz (25.12), Jurickson Profar (28.04), & Seth Smith (29.12)

SP – Verlander (2.04), Kennedy (10.04), T. Hudson (12.04), Cahill (16.04), Corbin (20.04), Peralta (22.04), & Nolasco (23.12)

CL – Romo (8.04) & Parnell (13.12)

Reserves – Narveson (26.04), Pestano (27.12), & Melancon (30.04)

Tout Wars auctions will be held on March 23 and 24 in New York City as is the custom. But in an effort to branch out and give people insight to more draft formats, Tout added a 15-team draft with on base percentage replacing batting average to this year’s events.

This was very helpful for me since I couldn’t get to the Big Apple to take my seat there, thus on Monday evening I got to draft in the first Tout draft of 2013. So here is a draft question for you - who would you take with my first pick?

Rememeber, it's an OBP league. Here are the ten players who were off the board – Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Carlos Gonzalez. Who do you take?

I must admit when I got the eleventh pick in the draft I didn’t see this scenario – there is usually one of those that always slips, whether it is because somebody wants to take the first pitcher or because there is always a diehard drafting Giancarlo Stanton, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria or Troy Tulowitzki betting they can actually play a full year. So who did you take at 1.11?

I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to go for the upside play, and thinking this group would be slow to draft the first pitcher, I thought the best hitter to give me that shot was Bryce Harper. So yes, I was that guy. But add a few more home runs and a few more steals to either his 2012 numbers or projected 2013 numbers and Harper has first round value, and unless you are a hater, you will agree there is a possibility for even more.

But I also wanted to have a shot at upside in the second round where I didn’t think I could get Harper at 2.05 but would have been happy to take either Justin Upton or get one of the first pitchers. J-Up went at 1.14 and I was happy to get Justin Verlander at 2.05 after the turn settled for Jason Heyward, Jose Reyes, Longoria, and Hanley Ramirez.

Now I had to wait a long time to get back to 3.11 where my choice was which first baseman I wanted to add, with Paul Goldschmidt, Allen Craig, and Billy Butler all there and probably not on the shelf for too much longer. I took Goldschmidt as much for the stolen bases he will contribute over the others as for another shot at more upside from the young Diamondback. Around the corner I was hoping to get B.J. Upton or Chase Headley, two more guys who are likely to have double-digit contributions in both HR/SB, but neither made it. Seven pitchers went after Verlander, including Matt Cain and Yu Darvish in front of me. In the fourth, I took Jered Weaver, who was surprisingly still waiting for a dance partner. At this point I thought I had 55+ HR and 40ish SB and two of the top ten starting pitchers. Now I would go back to work on my infield, wondering what would be available at 5.11.

Having just missed Aaron Hill, I thought I was better with the upside of Jose Altuve at second base over a shortstop (Jimmy Rollins went two picks later) because I thought some good players would last longer at shortstop. On the back of the 5/6 turn, I took Austin Jackson, who looks like a good bet to score 100+ runs while having double digit HR/SB. Note at this point Altuve was the only hitter below a .350 OBP and not real far off at a projected .330 percentage.

I normally like to get two productive catchers in these formats but hadn’t pulled the trigger on one of the early backstops like Posey (2.15), Carlos Santana (4.13), or Joe Mauer (5.06). It looked like I had a shot at Yadier Molina in the seventh but he was taken at 7.07, and just a few picks later Wilin Rosario went off the board. In case the run got longer, I decided to take Salvador Perez, another .330+ OBP catcher who would also get double digit home runs. At 8.05 I took my third baseman, selecting Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier, another good bet for double digit HR/SB but who, at just over .300, would be my lowest OBP hitter. I thought there that I might still be able to get Mastersball fav Kyle Seager later in the draft.

While I added my closers – Greg Holland in the ninth round and Brandon League in the 13th round, I purposely waited to add to my starters until later in the draft as I filled out my hitters but started back up in the 16th round, adding Clay Buchholz, Hisashi Iwakuma, Wade Davis, and Ross Detwiler in four consecutive picks.

The team is summarized by positions below with the pick value in parentheses, but as a final point I will say there were several drafters using picks to roster minor leaguers well before we got to the reserve rounds. I think we have all seen this happen this year when many are trying to find 2013’s Mike Trout when in fact that was an unprecedented season from a rookie callup and one not likely to be duplicated. Sure there will be players coming up this year as always who will help fantasy teams, but I chose to use my four reserve spots on players who might help me much earlier in the season.

Here is my opening day roster:

C – Salvador Perez (7.11) & A.J. Pierzynski (10.05)

1B – Paul Goldschmidt (3.11)

3B – Todd Frazier (8.05)

CI – Kyle Seager (11.11)

2B – Jose Altuve (5.11)

SS – Jean Segura (12.05)

MI – J.J. Hardy (14.05)

OF – Bryce Harper (1.11), Austin Jackson (6.05), Dayan Viciedo (15.11), Justin Maxwell (20.05), Cody Ross (22.05)

UT – Mitch Moreland (23.11)

SP – Justin Verlander (2.05), Jered Weaver (4.05), Clay Buchholz (16.05), Hisashi Iwakuma (17.11), Wade Davis (18.05), Ross Detwiler (19.11), Drew Smyly (21.11)

CL – Greg Holland (9.11), Brandon League (13.11)

Reserves added were:

Rick Porcello (24.05) – with Smyly gives my Tigers 5th SP plus possible extra with trade

Sean Doolittle (25.11) – strong option behind Balfour in Oakland pen

Mike Olt (26.05) – lots of power if/when he is in the Rangers' lineup

Juan Rivera (27.11) – could get lots of at-bats in the Yankees' lineup to start the season

 While we can’t compare all the teams (at least for now), I do think this draft gave me a good balance between good hitting, with 250 projected HR and 170 projected SB for the starters, and a good pitching staff, with 100 projected wins and 60 projected saves with 1164 strikeouts, all of which will go up some with substitutions and additions. I will follow this team and the Tout online league with future articles and am always glad to discuss the selections on the forums.

The entire draft can be found HERE

Saturday night was the auction for the AL LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality, the longest running fantasy industry league which started in 1994.

I approached the draft with this plan –

  • Don’t spend over $30 on any player – while this means you don’t get the Miggys or Trouts, you should be able to budget the rest of your monies to get a starter or at worst platoon player for all of your hitters. You win more points IF you have more at bats as the Stars and Scrubs drafters will actually have hitters with negative value in their lineup in one or more spots.
  • Get two good catchers – they don’t have to be the most expensive, in fact I was trying for two at $15 each – as long as they play most of the time and have batting average that won’t drag your team down. Again teams who have near zeroes at their second catcher much less their primary backstop will be draining the extra production of their stars to just break even. Yes you can find home run hitters late but their averages will drag you down (unless you have a gigantic buffer).
  • Get really solid players at 1B, 3B, 2B, and SS, likely going into the low 20's and then hope you can get starting players in the $5-10 range for you MI and CI.
  • I allocated $190 for hitters and $70 for pitchers
  • So on the pitching side I would try and get one ace starting pitcher and one of the better closers or the best two starting pitchers I could afford for $40 or less and then bottom feed for closers. There are always new closers that emerge during the year and this year especially in the AL there are very few dependable save producers – even the venerable Mariano Rivera has question marks.
  • So how did things play out? Well at least for those who didn’t listen live on Sirius/XM radio I will give you a brief recap with my reasoning. I was asked when interviewed for the radio broadcast if I had any players on my must get list. Frankly I never go into a draft or auction with that mindset. What if you don’t get that player? Why would you waste extra dollars on just one player when you need a balanced productive roster?

    I did have a couple of guys at each position that I thought might fit well into my budget but you must take the value the auction gives you rather than reaching too much. On the other hand you must fill a need when you have control (dollar wise) later in the draft. So off we go ……

    I did some mild bidding as the draft started up knowing that the prices for Mike Trout ($42), Miguel Cabrera ($40), Robinson Cano ($35), Justin Verlander ($31), and David Price ($27) among the early nominations were going for more than I wanted to spend. In fact it wasn’t until late in the second round of nominations that I landed my first player – Texas closer Joe Nathan for $18.

    The next player I landed was Chris Sale for exactly $20. So I had the backbone of my pitching staff but through the first three rounds still did not have a hitter. That changed abruptly when I landed Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus for what seemed like a slightly soft $21. His runs scored and stolen bases are nice contributions in a shallow MI pool but as I said I wanted to get a good player at both SS and 2B. Jason Kipnis who I liked last year was out of range at $26 and frankly while the room was not egregious in their early overspending, the auction through five rounds was overspent.

    Early in the sixth round I landed one player I do like for an improvement on a nice first season in 2012 when Yoenis Cespedes in just 480 at bats had 23 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and 82 RBI with a .292 BA. I think he adds 5-10 in each counting category with likely a slight reduction in batting average. So I added Cespedes as my most expensive player and key outfielder at $29

    Unfortunately I can give you every twist and turn in the draft – useful only if you are battling insomnia, but I will give a few interesting developments and list my full team and my six reserve picks. Remember that in LABR you can’t just move players in and out of your lineup – if a pitcher is killing you, your only recourse is to drop him. But the reserve players are valuable in that they can be activated and then reserved as long as you have the active roster opening to use.

    I didn’t quite get the prime cut of the good but not expensive catchers – Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, and Victor Martinez all going for just under $20 – but I did get Ryan Doumit for $16 and A.J. Pierzynski for $14 to give me to solid catchers who should hit 15+ home runs and have decent batting averages.

    It was a long time before I got my third pitcher but eventually landed Tampa’s Alex Cobb for $9. All the rest of my pitchers were added in the end game when I had some control.

    So here is the Mastersball team in the AL:

    C – Doumit ($16) & Pierzynski ($14)

    CI – Billy Butler ($27), Kyle Seager ($20), and Mitch Moreland ($10)

    MI – Jose Altuve ($19), Andrus ($21), and Hiroyuki Nakajima ($5)

    OF – Cespedes ($29), Justin Maxwell ($10), Leonys Martin ($13), Juan Rivera ($3), Casper Wells ($2)

    UT – Mike Olt ($3)

    SP – Sale ($20), Cobb ($9), Jason Hammel ($7), Mark Buehrle ($4), Drew Smyly ($4), & Jose Quintana ($3)

    RP – Nathan ($18), Sean Doolittle ($3), & Phil Coke ($2)

    Reserves – I picked in the late middle of the snake at 1.08

    1.08 Robbie Ross, P, Texas – huge bonus if he wins the 5th spot in the rotation

    2.05 Carlos Peguero, OF, SEA – good power and hedge for Wells

    3.08 Conor Gillaspie, 3B, CWS – some chance he could make club out of spring training

    4.05 Hector Santiago, LHP, CWS - likely starts in bullpen BUT would be 5th starter if John Danks falters

    5.05 Daniel Nava, OF, BOS – likely in a platoon but could replace Rivera when Granderson comes back

    6.08 Scott Downs, LHP, LAA – did well last year and we know Scioscia trusts him in the 9th.

    Always glad to discuss the auction or my team in the forums and will have a few updates about the competition in this great league. Look for the “Leviathan” – the Sports Weekly edition out in two weeks with full AL prices and rosters as well as those of the NL which took place on Sunday night.

    As in Arizona and Justin Upton and their trade with Seattle as you have seen on many channels today. I see many opinions about the deal between the Diamondbacks and Mariners, but many of those are flawed in my view.

    Yes, both the Diamondbacks and Mariners knew that J-Up had Seattle as one of the four teams on his no-trade clause. But not only are there ways around that, Seattle adding a sweetener that would convince Upton to drop his block, perhaps a transfer bonus, buying him a house in Seattle or more likely giving him an option for the third remaining year (2015) on his current contract.

    But both Arizona and Seattle announced the trade (purportedly without asking Upton) for additional reasons. For Arizona, they get other teams to take notice that they are in fact serious about trading Upton, not just “listening to trade offers.” The failed trade may re-open dialogue with Texas or initiate discussions with Atlanta, where Justin could be united in the Braves outfield with his older brother.

    Atlanta would know they could then move Martin Prado to third base, thus making Juan Francisco a potential part of the Upton trade along with one of Randall Delgado/Julio Teheran and a younger pitching prospect.

    Texas no longer has to offer either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, as Arizona received Didi Gregorius in their deal with Cleveland. So third baseman Mike Olt is the first piece along with a few of the Rangers' many good pitching prospects.

    Seattle, if they could swing the deal (and unlike many articles penned today I don’t think they would be giving up too much), would then have Upton adding to their weak offense AND playing with Felix Hernandez along with many other pieces they either have in place or are just a phone call away. They would only be parting with Taijuan Walker and still have top pitching prospects Danny Hultzen and James Paxton ready late this year or more likely in 2014.

    But even if they couldn’t convince Justin Upton to move north, they let other teams know that the presumably untouchable Walker would be available if they could meet the Mariners' price. So if they can’t make the Upton trade, they may get many new offers this week.

    Bottom line in my opinion is even if they can’t complete the Upton trade, both the Diamondbacks and Mariners made other strides in trying to better their respective teams.

    If you are frantically searching for news from MLB teams, relax and enjoy a few days of either presents or silence and maybe work on your lists (you can never have too many lists or update them often enough). Part of the delay in new signing or trades is because the MLB offices in New York are closed until Wednesday.

    There is another reason that Michael Bourn and others haven’t been signed yet – the new rules on draft pick compensation require that to be eligible for an extra draft pick teams must have made a $13.3 Million qualifying offer. While this part of the changes is good in eliminating compensatory picks for good middle relievers, there is a downside – in order to sign of the players who was made a qualifying offer that team would forfeit its first round pick (unless they have a top ten pick in which case they forfeit their second round pick.

    In addition to the huge amount of money to sign Bourn a team also had to give up a first round pick AND the associated money to sign that draft pick. That is quite a heavy investment. Teams who have a top ten pick – yes like the Cleveland Indians won’t lose their top ten pick but will forfeit their second round pick and slot monies. This not only makes it advantageous for those teams but now enables them to make some very creative trades.

    We haven’t seen this yet but I will guess we see at least one of these “sign and trade” deals made soon and Cleveland is in the primary position because now they would only lose their third round pick. So they could sign Bourn, forfeit the third rounder and then trade Bourn to a team that doesn’t want to lose its first round pick for a very good minor leaguer – a better player than they would have been able to draft.

    Now we just have to wait until Wednesday to see if teams are smart enough to make one of those trades.

    Another team that looks to be on the verge of a trade is the Arizona Diamondbacks who recently signed OF Cody Ross to a three year deal. The problem is that Ross is now the fifth outfielder on that team along with Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, and Adam Eaton. Ross would be a fine platoon partner with Parra so the most likely player to be traded would appear to be Kubel who has one year left at a reasonable $7.5 million. Tampa Bay is a team looking for more power so that might be a good match but any other AL team that has the DH slot might also be interested in Kubel. Of course there is always the chance the Diamondbacks finally find a team that wants to overpay for Upton but the matches there seem hard to find. Having “invested” a lot in SS Didi Gregorius the only thing the DBacks could really want to upgrade their lineup would be a STUD third baseman. Hard to see that trade or one for a number one SP.

    We will just have to wait and see

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