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 expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I will provide insights behind the reasoning on some the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.
Random Quote of the Week: “I really wish I had thought through the fact that I would have to come up with 26 different quotes this year when I inserted this feature into the Expert FAAB Review.” – Mike Gianella
Ben Paulsen $21. Other bids: $5, $1, $1.
One of the nice things about writing a weekly FAAB recap column—besides the groupies, public recognition, and all of the free stuff I get from restaurants, bars, and automobile dealerships—is that I sometimes am afforded the opportunity to write about a player in the mixed recap who I already covered in one of the only-league recaps, thus saving me time and money (ask me how!). Paulsen was picked up last week in NL Tout and now has been added in LABR mixed by Razzball’s Rudy Gamble with an aggressive $21 bid. This is what I wrote last week in the NL recap:
I lump Paulsen and (Brandon) Barnes together since these are partially bids for the present and partially bids for the rest of the season. Corey Dickerson’s plantar fasciitis and Drew Stubbs’ poor play has opened the door for Paulsen and Barnes in the Rockies outfield. It is also possible that the Rockies clean house and additional playing time opens up for Paulsen and Barnes later in the season. Paulsen has 15-17 home run potential at Coors if he gets to start, while Barnes profiles as a 10/10 player who maybe could go 15/15 if every single thing broke right. I foresee more of a part-time situation for both players, but in an NL-only, taking chances like this is necessary.
Since that time, Paulsen’s stock has clearly risen, as he is settling into the good half of a platoon for Colorado with former catcher/current pariah Wilin Rosario. Paulsen isn’t going to hit three home runs per week, but the power is legitimate and if he gets most of the first base at bats he could even have standard mixed league value. The bid was extremely aggressive, but for second division teams in deeper formats, now is the time to act. Razzball is currently sitting in sixth place overall, but has the third-lowest offensive point total in LABR. There is a lot of season left, but it is easy to dig too deep of a hole in some categories to recover.
Bret and I put in the $5 bid on Paulsen. We wanted him, but with only $40 in our FAAB coffers, we weren’t going to spend too big to get him. With our team humming along on the whole (second place, 3.5 behind good guy but bitter/hated rival Steve Gardner of USA Today Sports), we are looking to make tweaks, as opposed to wholesale changes. With our bullpen needs addressed via trade and FAAB and our starting pitching strong on the whole with the addition of reserve pick Noah Syndergaard to the Mets’ staff, our focus is now on offense. We are looking for moderate upgrades to Aaron Hill and Brett Lawrie for our UT slot, and Paulsen was our play this week. Our bids will be low from this point on, since there aren’t any obvious upgrades out there and as noted above this is a minor need for our squad and not a major one. Something I would like to do going forward is take a closer look at opportunities to pick up free agents who will get opportunities to play at Coors Field or as a DH in interleague games. This long and rambling point segues nicely into the next free agent, who is…
Justin Bour $10. Other bids: $5, $4, $4. Player Dropped: Kennys Vargas.
Razzball double-dipped into the hitter pool this week, grabbing Bour for $10. Razzball started the week with $88 in FAAB and with these two bids (plus a one-dollar bid for Tony Watson), dropped down to $56. Bour was always viewed as organizational filler (and was buried behind Anthony Rizzo on the Cubs), but he hit for a decent amount of power in the minors at every level. The curtain is going to come crashing down on Bour’s current hot streak, but a .240 batting average with 15 home run pace power isn’t an unreasonable expectation. That isn’t mixed-league worthy, but there’s nothing wrong with playing the starter and riding the hot bat as long as it is hot.
Eduardo Rodriguez $10. Other bids: $9, $3, $1. Player Dropped: Chris Tillman
Rodriguez is only guaranteed one more start—on Wednesday against the Twins—but given Rodriguez’s impressive performance in his major-league debut combined with the numerous glaring holes in the Red Sox rotation, it seems highly likely that Rodriguez will stick barring a horrible performance. Rodriguez’s top-shelf velocity reminds me of Noah Syndergaard, insofar as even if Rodriguez’s secondary stuff is still a work-in-progress, he should be able to survive off of the heat, particularly his first time through the league. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire was the winning bidder.
Mark Reynolds $6. Other bid: $1. Player Dropped: Tom Koehler.
With Matt Adams possibly out for the rest of the season, there is at the very least a short-term opportunity for Reynolds to run with the Cardinals first base job. The problem is that while Reynolds certainly will provide a significant power boost, his awful batting average will push him extremely close to replacement level in either direction in mixed formats. Extremely bad batting averages like Reynolds’ are significant value killers in mixed leagues far more than in only formats, since the replacement level batting average is significantly higher in mixed.
Erasmo Ramirez $5. Player Dropped: Alex Colome.
Williams Perez $5. Other bid: $2. Player Dropped: Tim Beckham.
Fangraphs’ Sleeper & Bust duo Jason Collette and Paul Sporer were at it again, diving into the free agent pool to get a pair of rotation arms in Ramirez and Perez. Ramirez’s poor early relief performances have masked the fact that he has been fairly solid in his four turns in the rotation, posting a 3.13 ERA with a 0.913 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in 23 innings. His velocity has slowly climbed up with each successive start and with the exception of his May 24 start against the A’s, Ramirez has managed to avoid the control issues that have plagued him in the past. Perez has looked solid so far for the Braves, and as I noted last week in my NL write-up, the solid infield defense behind him gives him some sneaky value, and this is only enhanced by the addition of Juan Uribe via trade from the Dodgers to man third base.
Justin Turner $2
Chad Bettis $2
Juan Uribe $1. Player Dropped: Brock Holt
Tony Watson $1. Player Dropped: Danny Farquhar
Dear Baseball Gods, I don’t ask for much. I’m a Mets fan in real life (or irl, as the kids like to abbreviate so they’ll have more time to Instagram or join Flash Mobs or whatever the heck it is kids do these days. Honestly, I can’t keep track, what with waiting for my UPS shipments of Ben Gay and Werthers Originals) and I am resigned to the fact that I will never see another Mets World Series win in my lifetime. But just once can I get to see a no hitter in person? I was at Friday’s game at Citizens Bank Park and saw Bettis twirl 7 1/3 no-hit innings before Cody Asche broke it up with a 20-hop dribbler the other way against the shift. Five years ago, I saw Travis Wood throw eight perfect innings against the Phillies before seeing Carlos Ruiz break it up in the ninth. Can a dude just get to see one of these things in his lifetime before his senses start to atrophy, the world around him goes dim and then—finally—starts to extinguish entirely in a strange hospice bed somewhere dark and unfamiliar? It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for. Thank you for your time, Baseball Gods. On the whole, you are incredibly awesome group of deities who make life so, so much better.
Tout Wars NL
Clint Robinson $2. Other bid: $1. Player Dropped: Danny Muno.
How bad is the NL-only free agent pool? Including Week 9, in the past four weeks there have been a grand total of nine winning bids of two dollars or more in NL Tout Wars. Since is a Vickrey league, this doesn’t count cases where one team bid two dollars or more and no one else bid more than $0. However, this still indicates a complete lack of belief in the ability of the free agent pool to produce stats that are viable enough even for the oceanic-level depth of this incredibly deep format.
Clint Robinson was the only player who fetched multiple bids of one dollar or higher this week. I shuttled three hitters onto my active roster (I will immerse all five of your senses in the breathtaking excitement of those moves below) yet did not see a viable reason to plunk even $0 down on Robinson.
I understand why Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ bid two dollars. With the prognosis for Jayson Werth looking grim, Robinson could sneak in some additional at bats in the outfield if Michael Taylor’s poor contact issues persist. However, Robinson hasn’t really done anything in his own right, and while some of this is a product of a lack of significant playing time, some of this is just because he is a minor league lifer and a fifth outfielder who is stretched as a starter. The opportunity could come—and at bats are at bats—but Robinson is a long shot to contribute. On the other hand, it’s a $2 bid, and as I pointed out above, quality free agents have been hard to come by this year. Get off of your high horse, Mike, and for the love of everything good and holy, stop addressing yourself in the third person. It’s not a good look for you, Mike!
Hunter Strickland $1 ($7). Reserve Michael Bolsinger
Stephen Piscotty $1 ($6). Release Junior Lake.
Eddie Butler $1 ($4). Release Chris Hatcher.
Taylor Jordan $1 ($3). Reserve Jon Niese.
Eric Young $1 ($3). Reserve Peter Bourjos.
Chad Bettis $1. Reserve Jorge de la Rosa.
Matt Wisler $1. Reserve Vance Worley.
Carter Capps $1. Reserve Kevin Quackenbush.
Jose Lobaton $1. Release Tony Cruz.
J.J. Hoover $0. Reserve Jerome Williams.
Blake Treinen $0. Reserve Grady Sizemore.
Three of these minor moves were mine. I had picked up Cruz for the short period of time that Wilin Rosario was in the minors, but with Devin Mesoraco out for an extended time (and possibly for the rest of the season), I decided to take a $1 stab on Lobaton and the almost-inevitable Wilson Ramos injury. Young has barely played at all, but he is a decent enough speed stash in NL-only, and there is always the possibility he is cut by the Braves and gets a better opportunity with another team. The big move for me here was Piscotty, who could see some time at first base at some point or could be traded for a first baseman and slot in immediately into another team’s outfield.
With replacements this hard to come by, trading is essential in order to push your team to a pennant. Ray Guilfoyle of Fake Teams and Lenny Melnick of Roto Experts pulled off a straight swap, with Guilfoyle trading Lance Lynn to Melnick for Charlie Blackmon. At first glance, I thought Guilfoyle took Melnick to the cleaners, but a closer look at the categories revealed that while Melnick may have surrendered the more valuable player, this was a fairly straight needs-for-needs trade that improved both teams a good deal, and may have actually propelled Melnick’s team into frontrunner status. It is an old chestnut in fantasy, but in a league where there are not a lot of trades, maximizing your value via any avenue available is essential.
Tout Wars AL
Eduardo Rodriguez $37. Other bids: $37, $36, $26, $24, $24, $9. Player Released: Dylan Bundy
Sometimes the Vickrey bidding process results in a discount for the buyer. In a few rare cases, what you see with Rodriguez this week happens, and a player goes for almost the same or exactly the same amount as his high bid. In my home league, I bid a more conservative $12 on Rodriguez and lost out to a $13 bid. However, the mechanics of FAAB reclaim and deeper reserve lists in Tout lead to higher bids when a player like Rodriguez gets out of our dreams and gets into our car. Rodriguez fetched the highest FAAB bid in Tout Wars this year by far, beating the winning bid for Thomas Field by $18. The risk/reward proposition makes a good deal of sense in an AL-only, particularly given the parity in the NL and the diminished likelihood that an NL import is traded into the American League at the deadline. The question here is whether it is better to wait another eight weeks for Cole Hamels or Aaron Harang or if grabbing the potential of Rodriguez putting up solid numbers and staying in the majors the rest of the way is worth it. There is certainly risk here, but if you need a pitcher, the risk of waiting and falling back further in the standings is potentially greater. I would have bid at least $40 in a format like AL Tout.
Chi Chi Gonzalez $11 ($35). Other bid: $10. Player reserved: Chad Qualls.
Jeff Erickson of Rotowire took the kind of aggressive approach with his FAAB that I like to see. He had the losing $37 bid on Rodriguez and threw out the $35 winning bid on Gonzalez. I am not sure why 10 teams passed entirely on Gonzalez. He doesn’t have the polish of Rodriguez, but there is a chance he could stick for more than just an outing or two based on his performance last night. Baseball Prospectus’ Kate Morrison gave me a succinct summary of Gonzalez’s MLB debut:
While Gonzalez wasn’t dominant, he showed the tenacity and pitchability that has been a staple of his minor league career…(although) he didn’t throw his curve.
I can see why the bids weren’t more robust for Gonzalez, but I don’t understand why there weren’t more bids in the $5-10 range. Starting pitching in the American League is extremely thin this year, and there will not be a significant number of opportunities to improve your staff in an AL-only.
Jarrod Dyson $7 ($36). Other bids: $6, $2. Player reserved: Thomas Field
In 2014, Dyson was a monster on the base paths and a fantasy force, particularly in only formats. This year, he has mostly been buried on the bench, and while he has managed five steals, he hasn’t nearly had the same kind of impact that he had in 2014. Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball grabbed Dyson for seven after plunking down a fat $36 bid. I’m not sure why $35-37 was the magic range of bids this week in Tout AL, but the gamble on Dyson returning to form and altering an entire category was a worthy play.
Adam Rosales $5 ($15). Other bids: $4, $2. Player reserved: Ryan Flaherty
Adam Rosales is a starting third baseman? On a major league team? In a universe that hasn’t seen plagues or similar devastation enough of the Earth’s population for it to be deemed tragic but not enough for baseball games to be canceled and for all of us to start behaving like the characters in The Walking Dead or – if you’re older and prefer a reference more suited to your geriatric lifestyle – Logan’s Run
This was going to be the introduction to the Rosales player comment before the Rangers decided to call up uber prospect Joey Gallo, relegating Rosales to a utility role and a near non-entity, even in AL-only. Thanks a lot for destroying the humorous and pithy comment that I had so carefully crafted for this segment, Texas Rangers. Thanks a lot.
J.B. Shuck $4. ($9). Other bids: $3, $0. Player reserved: Gordon Beckham
Shuck got a fair amount of playing time this week while Avisail Garcia fought through a minor knee injury, but with Garcia presumably back to full health, it’s likely that Shuck returns to his familiar bench role. The four steals are interesting; it is possible that the White Sox will run Shuck more than the Angels did and that Shuck could steal another 8-10 bases. Even if this happens, Shuck’s value is very limited barring an injury.
Ramon Flores $1 ($3). Player released: Grant Green.
Efren Navarro $1 ($3). Player released: Marc Krauss.
Tyler Collins $1 ($3). Player reserved: Buck Farmer
Jake Elmore $1 ($2). Player reserved: Maxwell Muncy
Mike Montgomery $1 ($2). Player released: Chris Young
Eduardo Nunez $1. Played reserved: Adrian Beltre.
Ivan Nova $1. Player reserved: Zack McAllister
Jerry Sands $0. Player reserved: Slade Heathcott.
It was a fairly quiet week on the back end in Tout AL. Flores could get a decent opportunity for the next week or two in the Yankees outfield. Mike Montgomery keeps reemerging like a bad penny. Ivan Nova is an intriguing stash by Chris Liss of Rotowire.