This article is part of our Collette Calls series.
The week began with me packing for a week-long trip that included business in three states before participating in my favorite weekend of the year. It ended with me sitting on the foot of my hotel bed using the room's ironing board as a desk so I could tether to the hotel room TV as a second monitor for the day's activities.
The week was surreal, to say the least. I spent the days mostly in sparsely populated areas, but evenings in places for meals earlier in the week that were decidedly crowded. That ceased Friday evening as I mostly sequestered myself to my hotel room save the quick jaunt to something near my hotel to grab a meal to-go. Tout Wars weekend is typically spent in the company of many at Foley's pub in New York, but I saw more episodes of Schitt's Creek on Netflix than anything else this weekend.
All of that is said to set the stage for what was a very different AL Tout Wars auction. We conducted the auction using the Fantrax software, which I will say performed admirably well on a hotel wifi connection. It has been many years since I have conducted an online auction with software, and I was reminded of how much different it was from an actual live auction. I set up a webex for those who wanted to chat during the auction, but only two others joined, and even that got quiet as the auction went on.
In a live auction, you can talk trash, utilize some delay tactics to slow things, and can keep up with nominations because you can see things flow around the room. None of things are afforded to you in an online auction, and the pace actually felt more frenzied than it does when we have Brian Feldman walking around the room showcasing his superior auctioneering skills and humor.
Quite honestly, I felt a bit out of my element. I've done live auctions dating to 1993, but I was not fully prepared for an online auction. I love live auctions and the energy in them, so the virtual environment just did not do it for me. Normally, I have a terrible night's sleep the night before Tout because I am either out too late or I am up too early nervous about things. This year, neither happened as I was asleep before 10 p.m. and woke up about 7:30 in the morning for the 9 a.m. online auction.
I've never "winged it" at Tout Wars until this year because I could not get in the right mindset, despite my best efforts. I sympathize for all the expert teachers out there this week who now have to figure out how to teach virtually to students as schools are shut down in nearly 40 states. I let the auction dictate what I was going to do, so you will see how it differs greatly from what I put together at LABR two weeks ago.
|15||Yasmani Grandal||CWS||CA 1B||21|
|49||J.D. Martinez||BOS||DH OF||33|
|86||Danny Santana||TEX||OF 1B 2B||14|
|103||Michael Brantley||HOU||OF DH||24|
|142||Domingo Santana||CLE||OF DH||17|
|248||Myles Straw||HOU||SS OF||2|
|258||Aledmys Diaz||HOU||1B 2B 3B||1|
|277||Brandon Drury||TOR||3B OF 2B||0|
I bought Yasmani Grandal $2-3 over his projections, because I believe in the player. I laid out my reasons for him in my AL Central Bold Predictions earlier this season, and I am a big believer in putting my money/reputation where my mouth is. I don't recall who was bidding me up on Grandal, but it's likely Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss were both guilty. Our projections have Grandal rated as the top fantasy catcher in OBP formats, so I am not complaining about the price. I took Austin Allen in LABR, albeit a few bucks cheaper, but that was expected given he was a bit quiet in February and I was surprised I got him cheaply in LABR.
The bigger issue was I liked many of the catching prices later in the auction. The $6 price on Danny Jansen was one that really stood out because I have that Jansen/Murphy duo in LABR so would have gladly done it again in Tout, even with the OBP format.
Simply put, this is the ugliest part of my roster by a country mile. I did not buy my first player at the corner until rostering Danny Santana as the 86th player in the auction, and didn't fill out my corners until the end game with Ryan Mountcastle and Aledmys Diaz. Nineteen corner eligible players went before I purchased Santana, and I was active in most of the bids. I tried to get Jose Abreu, but did not want to pay $26 for him. I went after Luis Arraez, but cheaped out when he got to $13. I did go head to head with Rob Leibowitz on Miguel Sano, but dropped out when he got to $23. Santana ended up being the first buy once I saw where things were going, plus I needed his speed and positional flexibility. He is a riskier skillset than I normally put on the roster, but I made the move. I later tried to buy C.J. Cron, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Kyle Seager, Miguel Cabrera and Yoshi Tsutsugo, but was the penultimate bid on each player. In hindsight, I should have gone the extra dollar for any one of them, because I ended up spending that money elsewhere and was left scraping the bottom of the barrel rostering Mountcastle, who may not even make the roster, and Diaz who at least qualifies at three positions. My best hope is Yermin Mercedes makes the Chicago roster so I can move Grandal to first base and get some production from the corner.
I did not plan on grabbing Marcus Semien heading into the draft, but I had just two full-time players 71 nominations into the auction in Grandal and J.D. Martinez, so I needed to get some offense. I went the extra dollar for him, and Tim Anderson went for the same price two spots later. Both players have regression concerns for 2020, but there frankly was not a price later on which makes me regret going the extra dollar on Semien. Nick Madrigal was a mistake for waiting until the 181st nomination to go the extra dollar on a guy. Truth be told, I should have gone the extra dollar or two on Shed Long, who went for $8 to Howard Bender just before, but I had my heart set on Madrigal's OBP upside with his elite bat-to-ball skills and his speed, and I paid for it. He was the last player that fit the OBP/speed needs that I had, so I had to pay for it. Speaking of speed, Myles Straw was a final grab with my final pick because the middle infield pool was rather dry so I went with the guy who had the most upside, and the one I also rostered in LABR.
This group will carry me or bury me. I said J.D. Martinez would be a top 10 player in 2020, and I paid the price for making that prediction. There has been no discount on him in the drafts I have participated in this spring coming off his "down" year, and that was the case in this one. Our RotoWire projections value him at $35 in AL OBP leagues, so I saved some money by that measure. I purchased Michael Brantley as the 103rd player in the auction for as my roster needed an injection of OBP skills at that point. I love his safe skills, and he is one of the best pure hitters in baseball. The Domingo Santana buy could be a bargain, depending on which Santana shows up. The 2017 version was great, and the early 2019 version was fun too, but there has been a lot of bad production around those times. I purchased him as the 142nd player in the auction as I saw the outfield power pool drying up. Finally, I bought Mike Tauchman as the 200th player in the auction because I love the skills in that ballpark, and did so passing on Hunter Renfroe at the same price and let Alex Verdugo go at $1 more.
Tout allows for a swing player that can be either a hitter or a pitcher; most draft the spot as a second hitter. My two grabs were Miguel Andujar and Yasiel Puig. Andujar will gain positional eligibility in-season, though the delayed season certainly clouds his path to playing time. Had the season started on schedule, Andujar had a starting job, but with the season likely not happening until closer to Memorial Day, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should be healthy by then. Puig was the 217 player purchased in the auction, and I just went with upside there because the talent pool was dried up. I need Puig to sign with an AL club during this extended break for this to work out. Perhaps the wiser buy would have been purchasing Jose Martinez, who went for $2 at player 245. I did not want to get caught in a situation where I let something go only to see a target go for more later when I did not have the money.
I did have a plan here: buy starters from good teams and look for bargains saves while getting Ken Giles, Hansel Robles or Jose Leclerc. I got LeClerc and Matt Magill for saves, and here is how the overall closer price pool went:
I was rather stunned with the prices on Taylor Rogers, and especially Giles. I was the penultimate bid on Hansel Robles and Joe Jimenez, but ended up with one guy I wanted and Magill at the price. I threw in Chad Green at $4 as well because of what he is capable of and him bringing a new pitch into the fold this season.
The starters were all off clubs with good offenses who should provide run support. Getting Kenta Maeda for only one dollar more than I paid in LABR was pleasing, and Jake Odorizzi was purchased because I liked the price, but would not have gone up any higher. Charlie Morton was also purchased right at our RotoWire projected value for him, and I like him even more in a shorter season because workload concerns are eschewed with the extra rest. Every staff needs and anchor, and this is mine. Once I had those three, I went searching for bargains and found them in Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chris Bassitt. Montgomery was never going to work a full season in New York, but he can work three-fifths of a season there. Eovaldi has looked great in spring, and 100 innings might be all I get out of him, but I would be surprised if any starter exceeded 140 innings this season. Bassitt has been my guy all winter and I got him $6 cheaper than what it cost me in Tampa Bay two weeks earlier. I really like the starting pitching staff I was able to assemble for $61.
I once again took Yermin Mercedes as he is expected to be the 26th man on the Chicago roster. His numbers in the minors last season were awesome, and I will take that dart throw. Brandon Drury is a versatile defender with decent pop but terrible OBP skills, so I am hoping I do not have to use him too often. That said, it is always good to have someone to use in your lineup to cover injuries. Randy Arozarena comes up when, not if, Kevin Kiermaier gets injured, so I'll stash the slash and dash bat until that happens. Lewis Thorpe is my Odorizzi/Maeda insurance in case either become injured as he is likely the first guy called up to replace them in the rotation.
I should be fine in steals, wins, strikeouts and the ratio categories, but I need to find more offense. My projected totals left me 100 runs, 50 homers and 100 RBIs short of goal, and that is going to be tough to make up in-season unless I am extremely aggressive in the free agent market and/or trade market. It did not help that Mike Gianella spent $251 on offense taking advantage of the quietly dropped innings limit requirement. Bully on him for noticing the change in the rules that nobody else in the league saw until we noticed the end result of his roster. That was something that would have likely come up during table talk in a live auction, but flew under the radar in the frenzied online auction format. I just hope I get the opportunity to play this team out in 2020.