NL only Auction Results: Limiting Risk at the draft table

Christian Petersen

Ray discusses the results of his NL only keeper league auction from Friday night in NYC.

I joined the New York City based Universal Baseball Association 4 x 4, 12 team NL only keeper auction league about eight years ago, but it wasn't until this offseason that I found out that this league is one of the very first rotisserie baseball leagues ever formed. One of the owners in the league, Andy Bohjalian, created a blog with his two sons, to write their thoughts on anything sports related.

In one of the first few blog posts, Andy, a long time owner in the UBA league, wrote a post about the league, and you can find it here. It is a very interesting post, explaining how roto owners managed their teams before the internet was discovered, along with details of who created the UBA league Here is an excerpt from Andy's post regarding the league:

I have been playing in the UBA since 1986. So while I won't claim to have been present at the creation, I was just 3 blocks south and 5 years late. There can't be more than a couple of hundred guys who have played this fanatical game longer than I have. In fact, I do believe that the UBA founder actually has an aging sheet of paper, laced with the requisite faux self-importance, certifying the UBA as one of the first ten, or dozen, or hundred, rotisserie leagues ever formed, and signed by the game's inventors.

The guy who created rotisserie baseball is Daniel Okrent, created in an old New York City restaurant called La Rotisserie Francaise. Thus rotisserie baseball, or roto baseball, as we have come to know it. Okrent also was the first public editor of the New York Times.

Anyway, getting back to my draft. After three offseason trades, I went into the draft with the following 11 keepers:

2B - Kolten Wong - $5

SS - Chris Owings - $10

3B - Nolan Arenado - $5

OF - Ryan Braun - $49

OF - Christian Yelich - $5

OF - Charlie Blackmon - $10

P - Homer Bailey - $15

P - Jeff Samardzija - $2

P - A.J. Burnett - $2

P -  Nathan Eovaldi - $1

P - Tyler Clippard - $4

And the following prospects, including two drafted in this years two round prospects draft:

$5 Javier Baez

$5 Oscar Taveras

$5 Corey Seager

$5 Joc Pederson (2014)

$5 Raimel Tapia (2014)

$5 Trevor Story

$5 Roman Quinn

This past offseason, I also made a few trades, which netted me Baez and Taveras:

1. $2 S0 Sergio Romo and 2nd round farm pick for $5 S2 Javier Baez

2. $20 Giancarlo Stanton (in last year of contract) and $5 S1 Devin Mesoraco for $5 S2 Oscar Taveras

3. $5 S1 Anthony Rendon for $10 S0 Homer Bailey, who I raised to $15

Each deal was not easy to make, as my roster was pretty well set for a run in 2014 had I not made these deals. But, a run in 2014 doesn't guarantee me another run in 2015, so I was looking to deal for some of the top prospects in the game, Baez and Taveras. Both are close to major league ready.

I was willing to deal the cheap Romo for Baez as closers are a volatile bunch and his strikeout rate had dropped a bit in 2013. Trading Stanton was not easy either, but the prospects of getting a possible .300-25 home run hitter in Taveras was worth it to me.

I wanted a quality starting pitcher to anchor my staff, so I dealt the cheap Rendon for Bailey, who I subsequently raised to $15 to allow me to keep him this year and next. Bailey has improved each year in the big leagues and he is on the cusp of becoming an ace, in my opinion.

So, with all that said, my team would have been better off without the trades for this season, but I like to take a longer term view and felt I got great value with these deals.

Heading into the draft, I had spent $108 on 11 players, leaving me with $152 to spend on 13 players. The UBA league is a 4 x 4, $260 salary cap, NL only league, and the draft pool was stocked with talent this year. Here are the results of my draft, along with the respective auction prices:

Pos

Player

$$

C

Gerald Laird

1

C

Hector Sanchez

1

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

34

2B

Kolten Wong

5

SS

Chris Owings

10

3B

Nolan Arenado

5

CI

Lucas Duda

7

MI

Dan Uggla

15

OF

Ryan Braun

49

OF

Charlie Blackmon

10

OF

Christian Yelich

5

OF

Mark Trumbo

36

OF

Seth Smith

11

U

Wilmer Flores

4

P

A.J. Burnett

2

P

Tyler Clippard

4

P

Nathan Eovaldi

1

P

Jeff Samardzija

2

P

Homer Bailey

15

P

Matt Cain

22

P

Mike Minor

16

P

Jonathan Broxton

4

P

Patrick Corbin

1

I decided that catchers were too expensive at the draft table, so I spent my money elsewhere. The few top catchers in the draft were: Buster Posey ($34), Jonathan Lucroy ($26) and Miguel Montero ($14). In my draft preparation, I wanted one of Lucroy or Montero, but didn't want to spend that much for a catcher, so I elected to spend my available funds elsewhere.

I told one of the owners before the draft, over a few cold ones, that with the Braun thumb injury that I would have to draft some less risky hitters, so that lead me to Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez at $34. AGonz isn't the 35 home run hitter he was several years ago, but he should be good for a .290 batting average with 20-25 home runs and 90+ RBI.

I also landed Diamondbacks power hitter Mark Trumbo at $36 after some of the top hitters went off the board. I had been in the bidding for the following, but did not want to go over $40 on any one player:

Andrew McCutchen - $46

Carlos Gonzalez - $46

Jay Bruce - $43

Matt Holliday - $36

Justin Upton - $35

Jason Heyward -  $34

Matt Kemp - $32

Allen Craig - $32

Curtis Granderson -$30

With Trumbo and AGonz, I felt I knew what I was getting as AGonz can put up similar stats as Matt Holliday and I got him for a few dollars less than what Holliday went for. Trumbo is basically Jay Bruce with a slightly lower batting average, so I was happy to get the 35 home run potential for $36.

After some of the top available pitchers came off the board, and owners were spending their war chests of cash, I jumped into the bidding. Before I get to who I purchased, here are the prices for the top starters in the draft:

Clayton Kershaw -$35

Stephen Strasburg - $35

Madison Bumgarner - $29

Cliff Lee -$28

Zack Greinke - $27

Cole Hamels -$21

Andrew Cashner - $21

I like each of the pitchers above, but could not see myself spending more than $30 on Kershaw, especially with the Braun injury. I am not a big fan of Strasburg above $25-27, so I opted out of the bidding on him. I like the prices for the remaining starters auctioned, especially Bumgarner and Lee, but felt that Lee is a risk to be traded this season, and I couldn't afford to lose him should he be dealt to an American League team.

Instead, I opted to be more thrifty and spent $22 on Giants starter Matt Cain, who has his own issues to start the season, but I think he can be the ace starter that we saw in the second half of the 2013 season again. I loved getting Braves starter Mike Minor at $16, as he is a few weeks away from returning to the Braves rotation. I read that his shoulder injury is not a concern and they were just being cautious with their young starter.

I was able to grab Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin at the end of the draft, and he could be someone I use as trade bait at midseason, should I be competing for a the championship this season.

What I am lacking is a closer so that presents a problem at the moment, but I was able to grab Broxton at $4 late in the draft, so I should be able to grab a few saves from him before Aroldis Chapman comes off the disabled list. Reds manager Bryan Price announced that Broxton would close when he returns from the disabled list, and that's a good thing after seeing J.J, Hoover get knocked around over the weekend.

I think Tyler Clippard could end up closing in Washington by midseason should current closer Rafael Soriano continue to get hit around like he did last season and in spring training. He has started the year off fine, but his fastball velocity and strikeout rate are on the decline, so that is a worry for Soriano owners.

With that said, here are the auction prices for the closers that were available in the draft:

Craig Kimbrel - $39

Kenley Jansen -$36

Rafael Soriano -$26

Huston Street - $26

Jonathan Papelbon - $24

Addison Reed - $21

Jose Veras - $16

Jose Valverde -$13

Looking back, maybe I would have been better off spending on a Kimbrel or Jansen since I already had a decent starting rotation heading into the draft, but I just didn't want to spend that much on a closer. Maybe I should have kept Sergio Romo at $2, but the chance to get a power hitting infielder like Baez was too much to pass up.

My offense will benefit once Baez and Tsveras get called up. I think Baez could be called up in May, with Taveras more of a June - late June call up.

So, how did i do? Can this team compete?

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