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April 19, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Tout Wars FAAB Frenzy

by Jason Collette

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It was once again an active FAAB cycle in Tout, as owners had to replace Josh Hamilton, Joe Mauer, and Ryan Zimmerman while trying not to get too depressed about the early body blows to their title hopes.

AL-Only:

Matthew Berry purchases Jeanmar Gomez ($6) and Kevin Millwood ($2). Berry is on the hunt for starting pitching after losing Phil Hughes to the disabled list while still patiently waiting for Rich Harden and Kevin Slowey to get healthy. Neither Gomez nor Millwood is going to help immediately, but both could be up in the majors in the near future. Gomez is off to a hot start in AAA, as he has won both of his starts so far while giving up just two runs in just under 13 innings, and Millwood had a strong showing in his last start, allowing just one hit in seven scoreless innings.

Dean Peterson purchases Sean O’Sullivan ($1). Sullivan is off to a typical start for him—low strikeouts while killing owners' WHIPs in hopes he can win a few games. So far, he has worked in both relief and in the rotation, allowing 15 baserunners in just 9 innings. The only reserve options Peterson had were the injured duo of Frank Francisco and Tommy Hunter, so depth never hurts, but a matchup against the hot Indians this week may be an ugly one.

Mike Siano purchases Travis Buck ($5), Jeremy Blevins ($0), Lars Anderson ($1), Mitch Maier ($0), and Scott Sizemore ($1). Siano was a buying fool, as he had to cover for the disabling of Rajai Davis, the demotion of Kevin Jepsen, and the retirement of Manny Ramirez. The acquisition of Sizemore is a solid play, especially since Will Rhymes (who I own) is not off to the best of starts, while Sizemore has an early .407/.500/593 slash line in his first 32 plate appearances in AAA. Well played, Siano, well played.

Lawr Michaels purchases Reggie Willits ($0) and Al Alburquerque ($0). Michaels was the unfortunate loser when Josh Hamilton broke his shoulder, and the free agent pool in AL Tout Wars is as shallow as a puddle of spit, so Willits was the best of the lot, even if the most Michaels can hope for is the occasional pinch-running opportunity for steals or runs. Alburquerque has only thrown 2.2 innings but already has four strikeouts to go along with one of the league's best names. He is no stranger to high K/9’s in his career, but he is  to low walk rates.

I bought Steve Holm ($0) and Omar Vizquel ($2). Michaels was not the only player to lose a big name: I saw Joe Mauer go down just days after losing Tsuyoshi Nishioka, which led to these two acquisitions. I have never been one to advocate spending big money on catchers in AL- or NL-only leagues, but I decided to throw the league a curveball and grab Mauer, only to come up empty-handed. Holm had two hits on Sunday against Rays pitching, and I fear it may be his last two until Mauer's return, whenever that is. Vizquel at least gets one game a week and can still run a bit; he could pick up four to five steals in limited playing time under an aggressive manager like Guillen. These kind of injuries derailed my 2010 season, and 2011 already has a groundhog day look to it.

NL-Only:

Steve Gardner purchases Alberto Gonzalez ($4), Miguel Cairo ($0), and Guillermo Mota ($3). Gardner lost Ryan Zimmerman to the disabled list and already had Zach Greinke there, so he is trying to find serviceable help for some kind of counting stat; he also had to replace Eric Young Jr in his active lineup. Mota is off to a solid start in the Giants bullpe,n as he has struck out 12 batters while walking just one in 12.1 innings. That 8.8 K/9 is higher than any other point in his career, but his Pitch f/x data does not show anything new in his bag of tricks.

Peter Kreutzer purchases Jason Marquis ($4). Marquis, like Mota, has found new dominance out of the gate. He has a 7.0 K/9 through his first 19 innings and has walked just three batters while giving up just one home run through three starts. We have seen this Marquis before, back in 2004 under Dave Duncan, so if he can somehow do it again, this will be quite the early-season FAAB grab.

Scott Pianowki purchases Livan Hernandez ($5). He shall Livan forever in FAAB, as someone is always chasing wins, and he’s already 20 percent of his way to last year’s total of ten. Livan is only helpful for wins, though he’s actually been a decent WHIP risk since his disastrous 2009 season ended. If you need a spot starter while chasing a win, you could do a lot worse.

Nate Ravitz purchases Brandon Kintzler ($0), Anthony Rizzo ($6), Wily Mo Pena ($1), and Charlie Blackmon ($1). Color me very impressed by Nate’s buys—especially the last two. Pena is off to a massive start in AAA Reno for the Diamondbacks, walking as many times as he has struck out and hitting .429/.500/971 in his first 40 plate appearances, while Gerardo Parra and Willie Bloomquist currently fill left field in Phoenix most nights. Blackmon is an athletic guy with some pop and speed that would fit well in Coors Field and already has six extra base hits and ten RBI in the PCL.

Rob Leibowitz purchases Dillon Gee ($4) and Bill Bray ($0). Rob had to replace Andrew Cashner and went after relief options who could help with strikeouts with little risk.

Phil Hertz purchases Eduardo Sanchez ($2) and Steve Pearce ($0). Hertz is clearly speculating for saves in St. Louis, as Sanchez has struck out eight batters in just three innings and has a history of strong strikeout rates as a minor league reliever/closer. It would surprise me to see LaRussa go with someone so inexperienced at the major league level over such options as Miguel Batista, Mitchell Boggs, or Jason Motte, but many a pundit has been made look foolish by LaRussa before.

Tristan Cockcroft purchases Jon Jay ($7). Tristan already had Utley on the DL and lost Jeff Keppinger, so he needed a utility guy to get some at bats. Jay has played sparingly so far, getting just 22 plate appearances.

Brian Walton purchases Jenrry Mejia ($2). Mejia is a pure speculative play for later in the season, as he is down in AAA but is off to a good start so far.

Mike Gianella purchases Ivan DeJesus Jr ($1). Nothing like those “Jr” buys to make a guy feel old. Mike jumped at the chance to reserve Edgar Renteria, and surprisingly got DeJesus without a whimper from Rafael Furcal’s owner. Then again, the fact that DeJesus Jr has struck out in half of his plate appearances thus far is probably why the bid went uncontested.

Lenny Melnick and Paul Greco purchase Rob Johnson ($0). I believe Johnson makes the fifth catcher this team's owners have rostered on the young season, as they ignored the position on draft day. Johnson is barely second-catcher material despite his early hot start.

Scott Wilderman purchases Jason Isringhausen ($0). It is 1995 all over again in New York! Isringhausen has faced nine batters; he has struck out four of them, walked one, and given up a home run.

The league also had its first trade, as Chris Liss traded Jason Giambi to Phil Hertz for some FAAB dollars—the equivalent of being traded for a dozen baseballs in real life.

Mixed League:

Andy Behrens purchases Mitchell Boggs ($8), Sergio Santos ($12), and Bill Hall ($3). Boggs is another play in the Ryan Franklin waiting line, but he has a tremendous splits issue for his career: righties have hit just .235 with a 656 OPS in 428 plate appearances, but lefties have teed off to the tune of a .328 average and 974 OPS in 323 plate appearances. Say it with me—ROOGY. Santos is the one guy in the White Sox pen who has yet to piss off Ozzie Guillen, and he could run into some saves here at some point, as Matt Thornton simply does not look that good right now. Bill Hall offers positional flexibility and some pop in Minute Maid Park, while at the same time being a batting average risk in mixed league play.

David Feldman purchases Luke Hochevar ($1). The good news is that Hochevar has reduced his walk rate so far. The bad news—his strikeout rate is down and he has already given up six home runs in just under 26 innings of baseball. The 4.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio is pretty, but that’s where his attractiveness ends so far in mixed leagues. His ERA is already 4.21 despite a .203 BABIP.

David Gonos purchases Hank Conger ($5) and Jeff Baker ($1). Gonos grew tired of John Jaso, so he cut him loose for the one-time presidential hopeful. Conger has always had a good bat, but defensive issues have stalled him. He is having a solid year in limited time so far, so he’s worth the speculation that Mike Scioscia can somehow just overlook his issues behind the plate and just enjoy what he can do at the plate. Baker has already driven in six runs and scored four times, but he has yet to draw a walk in 27 plate appearances.

Paul Petera purchases Sam LeCure ($9) and Jonathan Herrera ($7). I mentioned LeCure last week as a good NL-speculative move, but then he went out and had a solid first start against the Padres, and now this Mike Leake issue may open up more time. I still like him more as a reliever. Herrera is off to an unbelievable start with the Rockies, as he has scored ten times, hit his first home run, and been on base an amazing 54 percent of the time, walking in 11 of his 47 plate appearances. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Charlie Wiegert purchased the legend of Sam Fuld ($13). Fuldmania is out of control in Tampa Bay, and with good reason. Fuld is now leading the American League in batting and has seven steals, though he has thrown out in his last three attempts to take his eighth base. Fuld will continue to get his playing time: the Rays have no other options in the outfield right now, and the struggling offense does not exactly have many other choices. Joe Maddon has rewarded Fuld with the leadoff role, and he has been an effective table-setter so far.

Seth Trachtman purchases Wilson Ramos ($2), Kyle Lohse ($5), and Charlie Morton ($7). Seth was my company in misery as the mixed league owner of Joe Mauer. He also has Edinson Volquez and Jake Peavy on the reserve list and wanted to get Brad Penny off his active list, so he took chances on Lohse and Morton. Morton is very intriguing, as he has apparently lowered his arm angle a bit and has found some early success, but his dangerously low strikeout rate makes him an extremely risky mixed-league play.

Scott Swanay purchases Jerry Sands ($6). Swanay had to be thrilled yesterday when he learned that Sands was being called up to the majors, as he was likely expecting to eat a week of dead stats in order to get the talented Sands in June. Now, Sands is up and the Dodgers say he is up to play and not sit, which is great news. Sands was off to a stellar start in the PCL, with eight extra base hits, 17 RBI, and 12 runs scored in just 45 plate appearances.

Nando DiFino purchases Melky Cabrera ($3), Matt Lindstrom ($2), and Wilson Betemit ($4). I like the last two much more than the first, as I think the milk man will quickly turn sour. Lindstrom is already grabbing some save opportunities, and Huston Street is not a model of health. I am always going to be a sucker for Wilson Betemit, and Nando only needs him until Evan Longoria comes back. DiFino’s injured list contains Utley, Longoria, Hamilton, and Greinke, and yet he is still in the middle of the pack in the standings right now. Amazing.

Fred Zinkie purchases Corey Patterson ($3) and Jayson Nix ($4). The Canadian stays in his own backyard to pick up his newest players. Patterson is an interesting pickup, as John Farrell has the Jays running all over the place. Heading into play yesterday, both Aaron Hill and Travis Snider were already just one steal shy of their career highs for a season. Patterson will get time while Davis is out, but one would hope he does not hit up in the two-hole as he did yesterday, as that is not his forte.

Derek Carty purchases Paul Maholm ($1). Maholm is off to an 0-2 start with a 4.7 K/9, but has managed a 2.33 ERA to show for his efforts.

Tim Heaney purchases Jamey Carroll ($4) and Miguel Batista ($6). Carroll is for the at bats that Furcal is vacating with his injury, and Batista is one of the other names in the Franklin speculation play. Heaney had Furcal, so the move makes sense for him, but with League, Kimbrel, and Contreras already getting saves, Batista is just for depth.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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