Tout Wars Draft: Saturday at 3pm
This one might be short, as I am preparing for the Tout Wars Mixed league auction on Saturday afternoon at 3pm in New York City. Well, I have been doing that all offseason, really, with all the rankings we have provided you and all the analysis that went with them. But, there is more to it than that, as one has to figure out what strategy to utilize in the auction. I have a few that I am tossing around, but will sit down at the draft table at SiriusXM's offices without a strict strategy, as I will let the player prices dictate what strategy I will go with.
I spent my lunch yesterday updating what auction price I am willing to pay for most of the draftable hitters and pitchers, but again will be flexible with the prices I am willing to pay. To say that I am anxious for this draft would be an understatement. I have done many auction drafts in my three home keeper leagues (two NL only and one AL only), one of which I have been in for 15 years. But, this draft will be different, as I will be sitting in the same room with 14 other fantasy writers/experts, some of which have been in that room many times, and a few others who will be making their first appearance in this league like me. I am comfortable with my auction experience, but I don't know the drafting skills of the 14 others in the room. Do they like to bid up certain players? Do they target the superstars? Do they sit back and wait to spend their money? I will learn this during the draft, and will have to adjust accordingly, as this will impact who I draft and who I call out for bid.
While many of you have had drafts already, this is my first auction draft of the season, so I am pretty stoked. I finished fifth in the Tout Wars mixed league draft last season, allowing me to get an invite to the mixed league auction this year. i am just hoping to compete again this season. Like any other league, i will need some luck with injuries, no disappointing seasons, and a few players to exceed my expectations.
I will let you know the results of my draft on Sunday.
Javier Baez: Ready for prime time
Unless you haven't been watching the MLB Network or not paying attention, you have missed the excellent spring training that Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez is having. He hit his fifth home run of the spring on Wednesday night, estimated at 440+ feet to dead center. When the prospect experts say his swing is similar to the swing of Gary Sheffield, I was skeptical. But, after seeing him hit, it appears he grew up watching Sheffield on a daily basis, as their swings are very similar.
In an article written by Cubs beat reporter Patrick Mooney, from Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, Cubs vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod had high praise for the future shortstop:
Aside from the eye-popping numbers and laser shows in batting practice, what has really impressed Cubs officials is the focus, a more businesslike approach.
"Having the success that he had last year - really from Day 1 - (he) came in with more of a purpose this year," said Jason McLeod, the vice president of scouting and player development. "Certainly, we've communicated with him the plan to start the season in (Triple-A) Iowa and play shortstop.
"He wanted to come in and show like: ‘OK, that might be the plan. I'm fine with it. But I'm going to show you guys just how serious I'm taking this.'
"He's done that. He's played very well up here in major-league camp. I've been really happy seeing how he is interacting with his teammates and (becoming) much more comfortable dealing with them and dealing with questions from the media. He's been great. That's been really a joy for us to see."
Baez is getting close to the big leagues, but more than likely, he will start the season in AAA, as he will continue to learn how to play second base, and possibly some third base. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs purchase his contract and make him their every day second baseman, or shortstop until Starlin Castro is ready. Heck, who saw Jose Fernandez making the Marlins rotation out of spring training last season? I didn't. The Marlins had already moved him to minor league camp before promoting him. The same could happen to Baez.
For those of you in non-keeper leagues, it would be a good idea to look to grab him late in your mixed league and NL only drafts this season. He could be up before June.
Matt Kemp: Ready by mid-April?
Many fantasy experts are pretty united in their advice to stay far, far away from Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on draft day. I am on the other end of this argument, and maybe I am on my one person island with my stance on him. Yesterday, we got some great news on Kemp, as he finally played a full minor league game, going 0-5 with three strikeouts. More importantly, he played the field for the whole game, which is a big step.
His shoulder is 100% healthy, so his power should return this season. The fact that he played a full game in the field shows that his ankle is getting close to 100% healthy as well.
On Thursday, we got this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney:
The Dodgers are very hopeful that if Matt Kemp will be back in the lineup in the first 10 days in April if he doesn't have a setback.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 20, 2014
If true, and he doesn't have a setback, Kemp will be back in the Dodgers lineup in the second week of the season. Kemp currently owns an ADP, per NFBC, of 54.42, so it appears the fantasy owners in NFBC leagues are higher than some of the fantasy writers I follow on Twitter.
His return could result in Andre Ethier being traded by the July 31st trade deadline, so do be afraid to draft Ethier late in drafts this season as your 5th outfielder. He may not get a lot of playing time early, but he will be a full time player in the second half.
Aroldis Chapman: Out 4-6 weeks
I am sure you heard about Reds closer Aroldis Chapman getting hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Royals catcher Salvador Perez on Wednesday night. Any time you see this, you cringe, because nothing good can come when a player gets hit in the face with a batted ball coming at them over 100 mph.
Chapman had surgery to place a metal place in his forehead on Thursday and can begin to pitch in games in 4-6 weeks per Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal:
#Reds: Chapman had surgery tonight to insert titanium plate to stabilize fracture. Per team doctor, Chapman can begin working out in 10-14 days and pitch in game conditions in 4-6 weeks. Surgery took 2 1/2 hours.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 21, 2014
The original reports on Chapman indicated he would be out 6-8 weeks, but now Rosenthal is saying 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, the Reds will go with a closer by committee, using J.J Hoover and Jonathan Broxton. Hoover has the better strikeout rate, but Broxton has the experience in the role. I i imagine Reds manager Bryan Price will go with whoever has the hot hand till Chapman comes back.