I received an email from our own Ray Guilfoyle early Monday morning, asking if it might be possible for me to take his spot in the CBS NL-only experts league auction on Tuesday. The draft had been moved to a few hours earlier, and Ray could not make the draft at that time. As I started to get to work to prepare for this, three things crossed my mind:
1. I had never played in an experts league.
2. I had not played in an NL-only (or AL-only for that matter) league in a few years.
3. I had not played in an auction in a couple years either.
That said, I still understood the basics from my times playing in those formats, and was excited about the possibility. Marc Normandin represented Fake Teams in the league last season, and finished in 5th place of 12 teams. My hope was to build auction rankings from scratch as discussed by Christopher Rizzo in less than 24 hours, and hope for the best. I was able to turn around the rankings in time (barely), and felt at least reasonably confident that I was familiar enough with them to use them in this draft. Ideally, I would have wanted to do more research related to this format, but my general knowledge of the Majors gave me enough to work with.
The draft was held on Tuesday morning, and took approximately 4 1/2 hours to complete. Here's the details:
Rosters consist of 2 catchers, 1 each of 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, and MI, 5 OF, 1 UT, and 9 P. In addition, there is a 7 round reserve draft after the auction is completed.
Categories are standard 5x5 (R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV), it is a 12-team NL-only league, and the salary cap is $260
With that in mind, here is my final roster, along with some of my thoughts about how the draft went, and how the team bodes for the season.
C - Jonathan Lucroy ($16), Hector Sanchez ($2)
As the draft progressed, I really wanted to get one of the better catchers available. With 24 catchers coming off the board and only 15 starters, I wanted to make sure that at least one of the catcher positions wasn't a complete waste, and Lucroy came up after Yasmani Grandal ($10), Buster Posey ($31), and Yadier Molina ($19), and I ended up overpaying for him at least in part due to that. I took Sanchez with my last $2, and like him to get a decent amount of at bats when the Giants rest Buster Posey or play him at 1B instead.
1B - Garrett Jones ($12)
I waited way, way, WAY too long to fill the three corner positions (1B, 3B, CI), and so I was left with Jones as the best of a bunch of bad options. He should provide some solid power totals along with consistent playing time, so I think this one can turn out to be a push.
2B - Daniel Murphy ($9)
I like Murphy as a solid and unspectacular option here. He should provide a little bit of everything in each category, although none of it at particularly high levels.
3B - Ty Wigginton ($2)
One of the things that I did not foresee properly during the draft was just how terrible both 3B and CI become after the big names come off the board. Wigginton qualifies at 3B, which helps, and could potentially see a lot of at bats at multiple positions this year for the Cardinals.
SS - Zack Cozart ($13)
Cozart has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now, as he provides power at shortstop. He could turn out to be a great value if he can improve his batting average, but it's hard to foresee that right now.
MI - Dan Uggla ($17)
Uggla is a good source of power, but an unforeseen consequence of this was that I locked up my MI position fairly early on in the draft, leaving me struggling to fill the corners when there were still a lot of MI candidates available. I do like him to improve on his batting average from last year, even if it is only slightly.
CI - Daniel Descalso ($4)
As the draft got late, I had planned to aim for Chris Nelson to fill this spot. Something I had not taken into account with that hope was the fact that Nelson qualifies at 2B as well as 3B, and as a result also MI. Nelson ended up at $10, and I ended up taking a shot on Descalso for the hope of at bats. Descalso is expected to some at 2B for the Cardinals, so that additional flexibility is nice.
OF - Giancarlo Stanton ($39), Ben Revere ($17), Carlos Beltran ($20), Lucas Duda ($10), David DeJesus ($6)
Stanton was the second player I signed, as my largest concern coming into the draft was getting enough power. It was a tiny bit of an overpay in my opinion, but he was the player I wanted there and it was early enough to allow for movement in strategy if I needed to. I added a pure speed guy in Revere, and liked the values of Beltran and DeJesus when they came up in the draft. The big question mark here is Duda, as he could provide way more than $10 in value, or be a complete waste of a roster spot.
UT - Clint Barmes ($2)
By the end of the draft, I was looking for players who were likely to get at bats to help my counting stats. Barmes fit the bill when he came up, so I went to $2 for him.
P - Stephen Strasburg ($30), Kris Medlen ($20), Tim Lincecum ($19), Scott Baker ($1), Chad Billingsley ($3), Julio Teheran ($3), Kenley Jansen ($8), Tyler Clippard ($5), Jonny Venters ($2)
Medlen was the third name in the draft, and I have been a big proponent of him all offseason. He could turn out to be either a complete steal or a complete disaster. Strasburg came out at number 10, and I really like the value I got for him here. He did end up as the second highest cost pitcher, behind only Kershaw. Lincecum seems to me like a steal at that price, as he could provide similar value to Strasburg if he is back to his Cy-Young self. I like Teheran to win the 5th starter job, which could very well make the $3 a bargain over a full season. I thought $2 was too little for him, hence the bid, but it cost me the potential to draft players I wanted later.
The biggest problem this team may have is that it is not likely to be competitive at all in saves. My plan after watching a few of the big name closers go off the board was to target players like Jansen, Brandon League, and Jonathan Broxton, all of whom were still available later in the draft. I was able to get Jansen, however, my computer froze around player 150 or so, which was around the same time League was announced. I'll have to see whether I can make a trade to get some saves, but I like how the staff has turned out, as all of these pitchers could provide high strikeout totals (given their innings), along with great ratios. In addition, it is possible that depending on what happens, each of them could end up in line for some saves. I could probably use another starting pitcher, but it is possible one will turn up at some point in the season.
Reserve - Martin Maldonado (C), Kyle McPherson (SP), Jake Marisnick (OF), Christian Yelich (OF), Daniel Hudson (SP), Arodys Vizcaino (SP), Marlon Byrd (OF)
My goal with the reserve picks was to load up on prospects that could debut this season, but right before the end of the auction we saw Zack Wheeler, Tyler Skaggs, and some of the other top prospects drafted for $1 instead. I like Hudson to potentially be available down the stretch once he finishes up rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and Byrd could potentially earn a job in the very poor Mets' outfield. Otherwise, just prospects with the potential to see time this year. I like McPherson as a possibility to win a starting rotation spot at some point in the season.
Overall, it's been a very interesting experience, as I tried to make quick decisions as I was going. I was determined to not leave any money on the table, which may have cost me at the end of the draft as players I was interested in like Wheeler and Skaggs were posted later when I had no money left to spend. I think that it will really come down to whether players like Tim Lincecum
Some other key items:
- Top Salary overall was Ryan Braun ($40), followed by Matt Kemp ($39), Stanton ($39), Joey Votto ($37) and Carlos Gonzalez ($37)
- Top pitcher salary was Kershaw at $31, followed by Strasburg at $30
- Prospects Oscar Taveras ($6), Jorge Soler ($1), Billy Hamilton ($3), Gerrit Cole ($2), Zack Wheeler ($1), and Tyler Skaggs ($1) were all bought at auction, while Nolan Arenado, Carlos Martinez, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Fernandez were all drafted in the reserve portion.
- Sleeper picks have apparently been figured out by the industry, as players like Adam Eaton ($19) and Matt Carpenter ($13) both seemed to be bid on by a number of teams.
- Closers for the most part went in the $15-$20 range, with Kimbrel being the exception at $25.
- A note to all NL-only drafters out there: Make sure you get your 3B and CI's relatively early - the dropoff out there is brutal, as evidenced by my failings at the position.