April 5, 2000
There was a time when conservatism produced solid results in fantasy auctions. Hang back, let people spend themselves silly on the stars, then scoop up the middle guys at reasonable or even bargain prices.
Judging by the LABR and ToutWars auctions last month, those days are gone.
I went into the American League ToutWars auction with my usual strategy of skimping on starting pitching, and with the expectation that I would grab a closer if the top names were going for under $30. Indeed, early on, closers were running a few dollars below what I expected, so I grabbed Troy Percival at $28, figuring that the Angels will run him out there until his arm falls off. Knowing I had some flexibility on the hitting side, I took Ray Durham at $30 (a few dollars over, but speed was going quickly) and Rafael Palmeiro at a reasonable $28.
On balance, hitters were going right around where I expected them, but I didn't jump in aggressively. I took John Olerud at $18, Jose Offerman at $19 and Brad Ausmus at $11, shoring up my speed and average categories. Meanwhile, second-tier closers went ridiculously cheap: I ended up with Paul Shuey, arguably only a half-closer, at $18. For comparison's sake, Todd Jones went for $18, Bobby Howry for $20, Jason Isringhausen for $19 and Steve Karsay for $12. I figured I was set in saves and could concentrate on hitting.
The problem? AL hitting this year is poorly distributed. The middle class has shrunk. So Bobby Higginson cost me $13; a good gamble, since he's not as bad as his 1999 performance, but not a bargain right now. Gabe Kapler cost me $15; thank God he's hitting directly behind the patient David Segui and not the hacking Ruben Mateo.
After I took Troy Glaus at $16, I found myself staring at a pool of some pretty yucky hitters, and I largely sat out as the few decent hitters remaining went for insane prices: Alex Gonzalez for $16, Will Clark for $17, Jacque Jones for $12, Troy O'Leary for $20 and Chad Curtis for $12. This was as much a function of the fact that four or five of us had too much money left as it was a function of high expectations, but it still relegated me to the sidelines.
I wound up filling out my offense with reserves and scrubs: Bill Haselman $1, Craig Wilson $1, Jason McDonald $1, Quinton McCracken $3 and Stan Javier $2. My one extravagance was Jeremy Giambi at the insane price of $15, largely because I'm convinced John Jaha is good for only 250 at-bats this year, and Giambi won't hurt me even if he plays often.
The rotation is probably the only aspect of the team where I met my goals: three starters who were likely to post good ERAs and Ratios without many wins. Eric Milton $18 and Jeff Suppan $9 fit the bill, and while Mike Sirotka $3 has had a rough spring, he was solid last year, and I can replace him with reserve pick Jim Parque if necessary.
At this point, I expect to be competitive in saves, ERA, ratio and batting average, but stuck in the middle in home runs, RBIs and steals. That's just not a recipe for a contender.
C Brad Ausmus $11 C Bill Haselman $1 1B Rafael Palmeiro $28 2B Ray Durham $30 SS Craig Wilson $1 3B Troy Glaus $16 CI John Olerud $18 MI Jose Offerman $19 OF Bobby Higginson $13 OF Gabe Kapler $15 OF Quinton McCracken $3 OF Jason McDonald $1 OF Stan Javier $2 UT Jeremy Giambi $15 SP Eric Milton $18 SP Jeff Suppan $9 SP Mike Sirotka $3 RP Sean DePaula $1 RP Scott Service $1 RP Bill Simas $1 RP Rich Garces $3 RP Paul Shuey $18 RP Troy Percival $28 RES Jim Parque RES Dee Brown RES Ryan Christenson RES Alfonso Soriano RES Matt Perisho RES Calvin Maduro