Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, welcome or welcome back to the Expert FAAB Review. Every week, I’m going to take a look at the players and the process behind the bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and either LABR AL or Tout Wars AL (I will alternate every week). Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insights behind the reasoning on the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.
Random Quote of the Week
“Remember that old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon about the bill who sings a song about how he becomes a law? Hey, and what about the Snorks? Remember them?” – America (the book)
Jason Grilli $44. Other bids: $35, $32, $31, $22, $18, $14, $9, $9, $8, $8, $6
Because of LABR’s early transaction deadline last week (Saturday instead of Sunday), Grilli was still available. Oh, the drama! How would this situation play out?
Bret and I decided to be aggressive and post at least a $40 bid for Grilli, with contingency bids on other relievers (see below) if someone else got super aggressive on Grilli. We lost Jenrry Mejia—first to injury and then to a PED suspension—and didn’t want to get completely buried in the category in mid-April. One closer in a mixed league may seem like tilting at windmills, but with all of the early job movement and the Craig Kimbrel trade, plenty of LABR teams also have one closer. In other words, we could still get some skin in the game and if it doesn’t work out for us, we can always trade Grilli later. Three or four points in a category is better than one point.
Tout Mixed auction bids (last week): $42, $40, $38, $37, $23, $19, $19, $15, $13, $9, $7, $7
Miguel Castro $39. Other bids: $35, $14, $13, $9, $6, $5, $3, $2, $2, $1.
Castro looks like the Blue Jays closer at the moment. “At the moment” is the operative set of words here; some believe that Brett Cecil could get the job back in 2-4 weeks, which partially explains the less aggressive bids than there were for Grilli. Unfortunately, RT Sports doesn’t show the team-by-team contingent bids for players, so I cannot tell you how the teams that bid aggressively for Grilli bid on Castro. Bret and I put a $21 contingent bid on Castro behind Grilli and a $13 bid on Castro if we did get Grilli. If we had missed on Grilli, we would have been shut out on closers entirely, but we didn’t have the same warm and fuzzy feelings about Castro as we did about Grilli.
Jeurys Familia $33. Other bids: $14, $14, $13, $12, $11, $9, $4.
We had a similar strategy on Familia that we had on Castro. Our bid on Familia if we didn’t get Grilli was $24; our contingent bid on Familia was the $14 you see in the “other bids” listing. Regardless of how the “invisible” contingent bids shook out, at least three teams decided to push hard on a fill-in closer. The aggressive strategy makes sense. It is impossible to catch on a dead category in mid-June in a mixed league. This can work in mono formats, but it won’t work in LABR.
Should Bret and I have bid more aggressively on a second closer? Perhaps. However, we decided that the risk of blowing through 75-80% of our budget for two closers wasn’t worth it, particularly given the risk that Castro and Familia both carry. Our guess is that Grilli holds the job all year long while Familia and Castro (in that order) do not. We’ll see how this plays out.
Francisco Cervelli $11. Other bid: $1
I thought about Cervelli last week instead of Ryan Hanigan. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire decided that he really needed to get a catcher to replace the injured Yan Gomes and didn’t want to bid conservatively and run the risk of not getting a good replacement.
Joe Kelly $7. Other bids: $5, $2, $2
The reports on Kelly’s velocity have everyone buzzing. Bret wanted to throw a $1-2 bid on Kelly at one point, but we left him off of our contingency list.
Ender Inciarte $6
With most of the cheap speed scooped off of the free agent pool last week, Inciarte was the last clear source of quasi-everyday steals in the player pool.
Jake Lamb $4. Other bid: $4.
Mark Canha $4. Other bid: $4.
I talked about Lamb and Canha in yesterday’s Free Agent Report. Lamb is a great gamble in deep mixed. If he doesn’t play or gets benched, a back end guy like Casey McGehee will be out there. I wrote yesterday that Canha will be in a platoon, but it looks like he could get every day at bats with the plethora of injuries that the Athletics have suffered. He suddenly looks like an intriguing mixed league play in the short term for the power potential.
Adam Warren $4.
Warren is a decent gamble as a back-end starter for the Yankees, although the park and the division tell me that the trigger finger should be itchy in mixed.
Ubaldo Jimenez $4. Other bid: $1.
A nice outing leads to a pick up for the one-time fantasy stud/tease.
Jim Johnson $3. Other bids: $2, $2.
I kind of wish we had thrown a dollar at Johnson to back up Grilli, but it would have been moot anyway, as Jake Ciely of RotoExperts plunked down three bucks.
Aaron Harang $3. Other bids: $2, $1.
Everyone views Harang as NL-only material, but he goes through surprising stretches where he is deep mixed relevant.
Jordan Lyles $2.
Lyles is a road streamer in mixed, although the Dodgers aren’t the kind of team I want to stream against.
Christopher Heston $1
Kevin Pillar $1
Aaron Barrett $1
John Axford $1
Nicholas Martinez $1
Tom Koehler $1
We picked up Barrett and gave up on the ghost of Welington Castillo getting traded somewhere where he will start. I like the flexibility of having relievers to stream.
Tout Wars NL
Tout Wars uses a Vickrey bidding system, which awards the winning bidder the player at one dollar more than the second highest bidder bid (this sentence uses the word “bid” a lot).
Chris Heston $19 ($13). Other bids: $12, $12, $12.
Last week saw a flurry of aggressive bids for any useful starting pitcher on the wire. This week saw the experts back off, primarily because there were only three non-Rockies starters available, and one of them is named Jason Marquis. Heston has had two solid starts against the Diamondbacks and the Rockies. He isn’t overpowering, but is the kind of pitcher who could survive a few turns through the rotation based on his deception and “heavy” two-seamer. He is worth owning in NL-only.
Matt Duffy $4. Other bids: $3, $2, $1.
Duffy has been getting a little extra playing time around the diamond, first due to Brandon Belt’s injury and now due to Casey McGehee’s day-to-day ailment. Duffy won’t do much in the power or speed departments, but he should play enough to carve out some backend NL-only value.
Yimi Garcia $3. Other bids: $3, $1.
Garcia is a solid relief prospect who benefits from being in a soft bullpen whose closer is currently hurt. Joel Peralta is the first choice for saves but Garcia could fall in right behind him fairly quickly.
Tyler Matzek $6 ($1)
Bryan Morris $3 ($1)
Juan Nicasio $2 ($1)
J.J. Hoover $1
Joaquin Arias $1
Jordan Pacheco $1
Brandon Cunniff $1
Brad Hand $0
Matt Szczur $0
Andres Blanco $0
Casey Sadler $0
Rafael Betancourt $0
I stayed out of the bidding this week, and as a LaTroy Hawkins owner I may regret not grabbing Rafael Betancourt for $1. Peter Kreutzer of Ask Rotoman snagged Betancourt before the news broke that Hawkins was being pulled from the role and that Betancourt and Ottavino will split the save opportunities.
Tout Wars AL
Carlos Peguero $50 ($4). Other bid: $3
Peguero’s price provides an excellent example of how Vickrey bidding works and how you should use it. The $50 bid for Peguero ensured that Steve Moyer (Inside Edge) would nab the outfielder, barring an incredibly crazy bid. Chris Liss (Rotowire) had the only other bid, which gave Moyer Peguero for “only” four dollars. Would Peguero have been worth $35-40 if a second bidder had also been aggressive? Probably not, but that’s the beautiful thing about Vickrey. If it is unlikely that someone else will bid much, then it’s worth putting a significant bid on the player to stake your claim. Peguero only went for $2 in LABR AL, with no secondary bids.
Roberto Perez $11 ($9). Other bid: $8
The news that Gomes was out prompted Jeff Erickson (does he own Gomes everywhere?) to bid $11 on Perez. Only one other owner bid, so Erickson got his everyday replacement for Gomes for nine bucks. I’m surprised there wasn’t more aggressive bidding by other members of the league, given that a lot of teams are carrying only one starting catcher and barring a trade (Castillo?), Perez should get the majority of at bats behind the dish and has a decent power profile.
LABR AL bids: $14, $7, $6, $4
Cody Ross $9 ($8). Other bid: $7
Ross figures to play primarily against left-handed pitching. I don’t know how much he has left in the tank, but in AL-only he’s better than the marginal fifth outfielder or utility guy most people are carrying.
Ryan Flaherty $9 ($1). Other bids: $0, $0.
Kyle Lobstein $7 ($1). Other bid: $0
Paulo Orlando $6 ($1).
Trevor May $5 ($1).
Shawn Tolleson $5 ($1).
Ernesto Frieri $4 ($1).
Allan Dykstra $3 ($1). Other bid: $0.
Chris Martin $3 ($1).
Roberto Osuna $2 ($1). Other bid: $0.
Samuel Deduno $1
Yoervis Medina $1. Other bid: $0.
J.R. Murphy $1
Jerry Sands $0
Carson Smith $0
Marwin Gonzalez $0
Robbie Grossman $0
Tout AL also had a significant number of unchallenged bids this week; that isn’t surprising, as it’s too early to cut bait on any non-injured players. Osuna at $2 is an intriguing back-up to Castro in Toronto; otherwise these are AL-only plays that aren’t worth further commentary. I do like Medina in Seattle as a sneaky CIW for Fernando Rodney.