Mixed, One Third of the Way

by Perry Van Hook, www.fantasybaseball.com

As we start Week 9, I just made my first trade in this league, sending Roy Oswalt to Paul Petera for Jermaine Dye. Part of my rationale was that I was doing very well in the pitching categories without Oswalt contributing much and I had Chris Carpenter back from the DL and looking and feeling great, with a very good spot starter in Nick Blackburn. While I could have traded either Derek Lowe or Carpenter for Dye, another part of my rationale was that Oswalt was supposed to be my ace SP on both my NFBC main event and online leagues as well as in the FB.com staff league. If in fact Oswalt turns his season around like he did in the second half of last year, he will help those teams immensely and I won’t mind the fact he is doing well here for one of my opponents. OTOH, if the WBC did in fact get him off to a start he can’t recover from or he is traded to the White Sox or some other poor pitching ballpark, or he just keeps scuffling, I will be glad I translated the extra starting pitcher for the power I need from Dye. Especially with Joey Votto now on the DL for at least a couple of weeks.

Currently the lineup is:
C – Pierzynski and Y. Molina
CI – Atkins, Mora, and Beltre
MI – A. Ramirez, Barmes, and J. Lopez
OF – Ellsbury, N. Cruz, Werth, Juan Rivera, and Dye
UT – L. Scott
Reserve – Spilborghs and R. Santiago

For the first eight weeks they have generated 43.0 points (roughly 9th), falling from last month
BA=.2710 for 9 points; HR=68 for 6 points; RUNS=303 for 4 points; RBI=301 for 7 points; and SB=70 for all 17 points

On the pitching side I now have 57.0 points (now fifth) with ERA=3.98 for 13 points; K=359 for 9 points; S=11 for 4.5 points; W=33 for 14.5 points; and WHIP=1.25 for 16 points

SP – Carpenter, Lowe, Lohse, Saunders, Zimmermann, Washburn, Gaudin, and Blackburn
RP – Broxton
Reserve – Medlen and Hanson

Blackburn is reserved when on the road (except this week for a start against the Mariners); the others only when they are pitching in Texas, Colorado, or Yankee Stadium. I have Chad Gaudin now available for starts in San Diego or other friendly matchups. I added Kris Medlen just before he came up (allowed in TOUT but not in most leagues). Perhaps swayed by his fantastic Triple-A numbers and the two start week he was schedule to have in his first week I made a heavy bid – $33 on him. Fortunately it only cost me $15 as the underbid using the Vickerey system was $14. That didn’t work very well in his first two starts, but yesterday he got his first win giving up only one run and striking out nine. I will likely reserve him to start Week 9 with the likelihood that Tom Glavine returns to make a start late in the Week.

Here are the TOUT standings after Week 8:
Rank     Team        Points
1)         Jason Pliml, MDC                   131.0
2)         Michael Salfino, SNY.tv        113.0
3)         J.P. Kastner, CreativeSports   113.0
4)         Chris Liss, Rotowire               110.0
5)         Perry Van Hook, FB.com       100.0
6)         David Gonos, OpenSports       98.5
7)         Alex Patton, pattonandco        97.5
8)         John Hoyos, rotojunkie            90.5
9)         Brendan Roberts, ESPN          90.0
10)       Paul Petera, HQ                       90.0
11)       Larry Schechter, Shrink           88.5
12)       Eric Mack, CBS                       80.0
13)       Eric Karabell, ESPN                77.5
14)       Andy Behrens, Yahoo.com     76.0
15)       Doug Dennis, HQ                    67.5
16)       Alex Cushing, mlb.com           62.0
17)       Will Carroll, BP                       45.0

Hammer and Tongs! (A Mixed League Rant)

by Doug Dennis, baseballHQ.com

My first year in Tout has been a total embarrassment so far.  To start with, I am not even listed among the players.  That is a good thing, because I’d rather be anonymous than associated with the team I drafted, currently riding in 16th place.  Who knew there even was a 16th place?  (I guess Will Carroll–he’s in 17th).  da dum dum!  I was a last second addition, got a cheapo flight at 6am (that’s get up at 4am!) from Cincinnati to Newark and back all within 24 hours (it was as if I’d never left!) and by the time I turned my attention to figuring out *how* to draft a mixed league roster with 17 teams in it, the plane was over Pennsylvania.  That’s not an excuse–that’s just the way it was.

Without a quick and ready way to calculate out a budget strategy for such a league, I figured that I needed something between a regular NL-only or AL-only budget and a mixed league where everyone owns nothing but all-stars.  But how?  I threw up my hands about two drinks in (was I over Latrobe?) and decided to just get offense and trade around later.  $251 of offense, $9 of pitching and then use my tiny 4-man reserve list (we really need a bigger reserve list!) for additional pitchers.

Flight arrived, bus to Port Authority, a short walk later and Glenn Colton is complimenting me on my Yankees hat while drafting AL-Tout.  Shortly thereafter, I was seated next to J.P. Kastner, (who laughed at me every time I bought a player) and Eric Mack (who was convinced that I was a Mets fan)–because–I spent some ungodly amount of money to roster David Wright and Jose Reyes.  At that point (in retrospect), my season was already over.  What–the Mets new park is a place where hits die on the track and its the Yankees who are in a band box?  Why did no one tell me this?  I coulda had Nick Swisher and Robbie Cano for far less.  But I digress.

Unable to stop myself, to Wright and Reyes, I added Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Nate McLouth, Adam Lind (that was a good one!), but then (and apparently, this was bad) Mike Napoli, Mike Jacobs, Mark DeRosa, David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, Pat Burrell and Ryan Garko.  Oh, yeah, and that other Met, Brian Schneider–the one who has not played.  I ask you, should not this offense be good?  Well, it is just a bit above average in this mixed league.  If only I had this offense in NL-only!   Slightly above average offenses are not helpful when juxtaposed with a $11 (not $9) pitching staff.

Oh, I mean, I got my money’s worth with that $11.  I got Fernando Rodney.  I got Koji Uehara.  I got Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell.  I got Dallas Braden.  It isn’t like these guys stink, but in a mixed league . . . ai caramba!  Middle relievers are so pointless.  Closers had better be top shelf.  Braden gives me his all, but without 8 Ks a game, he’s killing me.  I also got Brett Anderson, Kenshin Kawakami (Kamakaze is what I call him because he always destroys my ERA), Jeff Niemann, David Purcey . . . not good.  Especially with Clay Buchholz cluttering my reserve list.  What team keeps Buchholz in the minors and uses Brad Penny?  Seriously  . . .

I limped out of the Marriott knowing that this team was going to stink and stink big, unless I could rob Will Carroll blind.  I gave it a try once or twice.  Now he doesn’t return my calls.

After the draft, I went to some Soho bar with Steve Moyer, Michael Salfino and Ron Shandler.  Someone else came too that I liked a lot, but can’t remember who it was.  The bar was cool, and we stayed until I had to get a cab back to Newark Airport and catch my flight home.  Through my haze at 5 am, I did some quick calculations–with average luck I could finish 10th. I shook the calculator and did it again.  10th.

I had someone offer me the Orioles pitcher Guthrie for David DeJesus.  I suppose that my roster did make me look plenty stupid–easy pickings for the sharks at the table.  I made one trade recently–got Mark Buehrle for Pat Burrell and Ryan Madson.  Madson promptly gave up a 3-spot and Burrell got hurt.  Maybe things are looking up–maybe I can move up from 16th to 10th.  After all, in my read of the rules on the flight to Newark, I noted that complete stink bomb players get booted the following year.  I don’t want that to be me!  It is embarrassing enough as it is.  Watch out Karabell–I’m gunning for you!

Welcome to My Toutmare!

by Peter Kreutzer, NL

My most expensive pitcher isn’t on the DL, but he’s been so ineffective pitching that he got knocked out of last night’s game by taking a line shot off his pitching arm. My second most expensive pitcher got through three innings on Opening Day and has been on the DL ever since. My fourth most expensive pitcher threw a beauty of a game, then in his second start got hurt and is on the DL I mention these things to explain why today I have 9 pitching points (out of a possible maximum of 65).

Yes, I have Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb and Chris Carpenter on my team. Because I obtained Hamels while price enforcing, I don’t have a closer, but I don’t mind that. Well, I wouldn’t mind that if my team was wracking up wins from dominant starts by my hydra of aces. At least Chris Young and Anibal Sanchez have been good, though they bring their own worries.

And the hitting has been in the first tier, presently with the fifth most points in the league, which makes a comeback seem possible. It’s not even the end of April, and this has been a shorter April baseball-wise than usual, but there are good reasons to worry about April performance. It isn’t that bad performances doom a player the rest of the year. Sometimes they are just the random fluctuations that come with a lucky or unlucky hop here or there.

But sometimes, as was the case with Webb on Opening Day, the bad performance indicates an injury or some other condition that represents real information. I looked at Hamels’ spring problems as a little issue, something he would get past because he always had, but now as he struggles I face $61 of my $91 pitching staff missing considerable time this year.

That kind of offsets the pleasure of grabbing Brian Barden on my reserve list.


By Perry Van Hook, FantasyBaseball.com

This story originally ran at FantasyBaseball.com. Used with permission.

As Big Dawg and I compared sheets before the TOUT WARS mixed league auction was set to start in the Times Square Residence Inn in NYC last Saturday, we opined that the top players (Pujols, Hanley, Wright, and Reyes) who are all projected to earn $37-40 in a fifteen team, mixed, 5X5 format, would likely go in the low to mid forties. Several of the thirty something players (Howard, Teixeira, Kinsler, Sizemore, and Braun) would also get pushed up to high thirties or even low forties in a free spending auction for an admittedly shallow league.

But just before the introductory comments were to be made, we found out that two more teams had been added to make it a seventeen team league. I used to play in a redraft, mixed league of that size when I lived in LALAland, but I wondered whether the other writers would continue to view this as shallow – thus spending more for the top players or whether those inclined to a “Stars & Scrubs” strategy would continue with that bent. There would be plenty of pitchers and outfielders if they spent their money on their infield and top starting pitchers and closers.

Undeterred from their free spending tendencies, many of those at the table began the afternoon spending their $260 like sailors on a shore leave after months at sea.

David Wright for $50…..and Jose Reyes for $55 (look I like Reyes as much as the next guy and I don’t mind drafting him with any top pick or spending slightly more than he is projected to earn, but when a Great season from him would still leave you left with at least a ten dollar loss, it will mean some serious holes somewhere on your roster. Actually Doug Dennis, an analyst with BaseballHQ, and a friend of mine from the XFL chose for the hole not to be in his offense continuing to buy heavy there even after Wright AND Reyes, but instead opted to start the season with an $11 dollar pitching staff – almost a full Labadini. True he did get much more value than the eleven dollars would suggest, and there IS trading in this league so perhaps some teams can manage to rebalance their roster or find some free agents to patch the holes in their lineup, but only four reserve roster spots and 359 players drafted it may be tougher than they expect.

Okay, back to MY draft plan. I had started with a two budget plan – one if I could get a few of the top hitters, and one if I adopted the more balanced – go for value with no holes option. Both plans would attempt to roster a competitive pitching staff for less money than 170/90 or even 180/80 splits, but not to the extreme of a 200+ offense either. Plan A was a 195/65 approach where the pitchers would be one $20 anchor and one $15-20 closer and a lot of endgame value plays – hopefully with both the skills and upside to earn $10-12 over the course of the season.

Plan B would be a 185/75 budget which would allow me to find two good pitchers in the $9-11 range to add to the SP anchor and closer – whether starters or secondary closers. The more balanced approach must get you more AB than the S&S teams so you can compete in the counting stats

Fortunately the tables early overspending continued for quite a while which allowed my pitching staff to be of much higher quality (especially for a seventeen team league) than you might expect.


My first buy (after what seemed like quite a while) was Reds 1B Joey Votto for $24 – just about Big Dawg’s projected value ($23), but with some upside if he improves as last year might suggest.

Next on my roster was Houston ace Roy Oswalt for $21 – a happy twenty one for me as I like Oswalt and considering that Hamels (with some at least slight risk) had gone for $25 and Halladay and Webb had gone for $28, and the top three starters had all fetched $31+.

My strategy for nominating players was fairly simple early – players who I thought would be overvalued by the rest of the league, including two Angel pitchers – John Lackey and Ervin Santana who I have some real concerns about health wise and thus did not want to assume that risk in this type of league. Lackey went for only $13 and Santana $6, so the rest of the table obviously felt the same way. If they only miss April’s games they could be good value for their owners, or………..

My third purchase was Rangers RF Nelson Cruz at $16 (a $15 projection), hoping that he can build on the numbers he generated last year after being recalled from AAA where he was absolutely hammering pitchers in that league. Should he deliver on his potential for a full season he would give me the much needed power that is usually absent from “red chip plans.” Third baseman Garrett Atkins was next at $18 – just at projected value, but again with some upside if he can avoid any minor injuries in Colorado.

There was an early attempt by the table to get money spent on closers (probably common in many of your drafts as well). This is a dual edged sword in a larger league as while it does get other teams to overspend – especially on the top save producers it does make it harder for everyone to get specific ones they might want, much less two good ones. But the top down approach of nominating those hopes to establish a market precedent so the later ones will be cheaper although bidding wars amongst teams with too much money can endanger that.

I wasn’t planning on getting two, but I did want one who would strikeout more batters than most AND have more save opportunities. That appeared for me in the person of Jonathan Broxton. While we have yet to see Broxton  be successful for a full season, I like his chances this season while Big Dawg is not as high on him, I bought him for $19 (nice because some I don’t like as much had gone higher and the next step down would not be as likely an anchor). I preferred that to Fuentes at $17 with a slight health risk or even Hanrahan at $12 because even if he gets the saves he won’t have the accompanying strikeouts.

There were still two players I wanted for this developing team that hadn’t been brought up, assuming I could roster them for the right prices. Fortunately Jacoby Ellsbury ($31 buy vs $27 PE) and 2B (soon to be SS eligible) Alexei Ramirez ($25, right at PE) were added to the steam and gave me a solid foundation in stolen bases while not being a drag on home runs.

I bought two other players before the first break – Jayson Werth (a Big Dawg favorite at $20 vs $22 PE) and Leo Nunez, a pitcher I had seen quite a bit last year with the Royals whom I think will have the first shot to close for Florida if Matt Lindstrom is not ready by opening day or is troubled again later in the year ($5 vs $4 projected).

That was $134 spent on six hitters and $45 for Oswalt, Broxton and Nunez, and I would go back to the table waiting for more value for my remaining $81. Remember that patience can be a virtue under the right auction conditions and at many different points of the auction. I did have my CI pair and stud pitchers and while I didn’t get both MI, the “Cuban Missile” would have shortstop eligibility after the first two weeks of the season allowing me to “cheat” on a lesser priced shortstop late in the draft if necessary.

The bargain hunting was a slow process, but I was confident they would appear…. I just had to hope they would be enough. I got Hong Chih Kuo for $2 not only useful for his strikeouts and as a play when some starters might have bad matchups for the week, but at least some measure of Broxton insurance. I also won Yadier Molina for $8. With the top catchers going for far more (Martin $24, McCann $25…even Mauer and Wieters for $15) I just wanted two reliable backstops that wouldn’t be a drag on batting average and would hopefully contribute something else. And with YMo’s batting average it would allow some more productive catchers who might be averaged with him for BAvg. In fact it was my nomination after buying him so I immediately put up brother Bengie and watched him go for $15 – what I wanted to pay for both catchers.

The early overspending really helped with the starting pitchers, as did some being late to the nomination order. I went an extra dollar or two on Chris Carpenter (won at $12) because of his strong spring and my conversation with a Cardinal scout who said that Carpenter continues to say that he feels good and doesn’t have anything holding him back. There was one other starter I really wanted and hoped wasn’t a target for someone else. At that point I had nine dollars budgeted for my third SP, but was glad to go a few extra and get a nice bargain with Derek Lowe at $11 who has been excellent this spring. I hope the Braves can score enough runs for him to get a few extra wins.

Lots more waiting – being careful to bid a lot of times, even if a low advance so the table could not really discern which players were targets and which were just stabs at bargains or pushes to higher prices.

This pre-end game is tough. You may have enough total dollars to appear in control, but never know when the player you want to take a run at is the only remaining target of another player. You also need to be very aware of what is available at each position and the amount you are willing to spend may shift positions. I wanted a solid third corner as well as a shortstop (where the prices were higher and the choices slimmer) and that second reasonably priced catcher. I also wanted to eventually get to $2 per player and dominate the end game with the Power of Two.

Adrian Beltre was still on the board – you know if you have participated in several auctions that point in the draft where the player is nominated is key, and not something you can control. So I hoped I could roster him – clearly the most productive 1B or 3B available now………and things finally ground to a halt on my $15 bid. Next came a slight profit on my $10 winning bid for Jose Lopez whom we project to earn $13. I would not have believed that another player projected to earn double digits would get landed for a two dollar reaction bid, but there I was, glad at that point to fill my UT slot with Melvin Mora.

At this point, I had $21 left to buy seven players, but I still didn’t have that second catcher. There would be lots of cheap outfielders for my remaining two slots and I would buy three $2 pitchers to complete the staff. While there were several catchers that would go cheap later that I could stomach, I again pushed a little to get predictably solid production from A.J. Pierzynski, and I didn’t mind spending the $10 to get him – although that was the most I could likely have afforded as I was now at $11 for 6 players – just below the targeted two dollars per player.

The end game is fun if you think you did really well, but frustrating if you can’t land guys you really like, but the key is discipline. Sure you could go to three or four dollars and be better than the dollar per player that many would get to, but I would rather have several players I was happy with than that one and getting players for a dollar is truly capricious as once it turns to a draft (dollar per player so the nomination is automatically won) you are dealing with the order you are in and the positions that your opponents need versus what you need. I would rather have the control and you won’t have that if you stray.

What happens is that several times a player will be nominated for a dollar and I will say Two right away on any player that fits a position need. Some will get a $3 bid and some will be mine. When I nominate a player there, it is for $1 if there are lots of equal OF or P – I won’t be going to $3, or nominate them for $2 locking out all the bidders who have only a dollar or two to bid.

So Jordan Zimmerman, the rookie SP for Washington was nominated for $1 and I won at $2. I also raised a dollar nomination to $2 and won the Angels Joe Saunders for $2. I still needed two outfielders, so I nominated Luke Scott for a dollar and bought him. There was now one team that could bid up to $3 but he needed a different player, so my next turn I bought what should be one of the steals of the draft getting Ryan Spilborghs for $2 when he was clearly the highest rated hitter on the boards – $14 on our projections. I also won the bid at $2 for Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson. I don’t know how many innings he will pitch for the Braves – I think it should be half the season, but I think they will be very useful innings which the reason to tie up one of my reserve spots until he is called up. I still needed a shortstop but there was only one that would likely give me an immediate profit, so I welcomed my $2 Clint Barmes aboard.

We had a break following the auction to get ready for the four round reserve draft, and I was not thrilled to draw #17……..but delighted fifteen minutes later to get Juan Rivera and Kyle Lohse with my first two picks. For the second pair, I took David Aardsma (before the news they were moving Morrow to the bullpen in Seattle) and finally, hoping he makes the Phillies rotation as the fifth starter – Chan Ho Park who has been excellent this spring. Yes, I thought about Stephen Strasburg who will likely be the first pick of this year’s draft by the Washington Nationals and who several scouts have said could pitch in the major leagues this year, but he Does have Scott Boras as an agent and with only four reserve slots and Hanson already there, I couldn’t see blocking another one – so of course Karabell takes him right after me.

Here is the whole team by position (prices in parentheses)

C – Y. Molina (8) and Pierzynski (10)

CI – Votto (24), Atkins (18), and Beltre (15)

MI – A. Ramirez (25), Barmes, and J. Lopez (10)

OF – Ellsbury (31), Werth (20), N. Cruz (16), L. Scott (1), and Spilborghs (2)

UT – Mora (2)

SP – Oswalt (21), Carpenter (12), D. Lowe (11), J. Zimmerman (2), Saunders (2), and T. Hanson (2) [to be replaced by a reserve pitcher]

RP – Broxton (19), L. Nunez (5), and Kuo (2)

Reserves – Rivera, Lohse, Aardsma, and Park

To use the poker analogy – a red chip team. Not one first or second round player if this was a draft. BUT all the hitters are starters with job stability (at least for now and assuming Barmes gets off to a good start – not great, just good enough for them not to have to try one of their many other players off the bench). The key is the full time status which will generate more AB than a stars and scrubs team and even if their rate of production is not as high, should thus generate more R and RBI and for those who can steal a base more SBO. In fact, if you view the many articles at www.toutwars.com, you will see one set of projections that has my team with 7400 at bats, just barely third four behind another balanced team of Larry Schechter and not quite a hundred behind the leader – another balanced team of Eric Karabell, but 100 more than the highest dollar offense and several hundred more than the next few teams.

I took a different third party to project my counting stats for the hitters and looked at 1072 Runs; 270 Home Runs; 1095 RBIs; and 172 Stolen Bases. Those are equal to or just slightly higher than what Scott Swanay of FantasyBaseballSherpa had projected for me along with a .284 BA giving me 63 points in hitting (third to Schechter’s 66 and Dennis’ 65).

With Sherpas pitching projections added in, he has me second by one half a point to Schechter at 117.5, but with both of us eighteen points ahead of the next best teams.

Projections are just that. Now let’s see what the players do on the field. Still I like the team.

My Bad Hairston Day

Alex Patton
A Bad Hairston Day
Tout Wars Mixed

The first thing you think – or ought to think – when you’re asked to join a 17-team mixed league is, man, that’s a tall mountain to climb. If you play it straight, you maybe have a one in-ten-chance of getting to the top, because at least that many of your opponents know as much as you do about major league baseball players and what they are capable of doing. The only way to increase your chances is to cheat. Continue reading “My Bad Hairston Day”