Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
Jeanmar Gomez $22. Other bids: $12, $11, $6, $4. Tout Wars Mixed: $133
Last year, Bret and I bid aggressively on Jason Grilli after Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Padres and Grill was given the closer job in Atlanta. This year, we didn’t even bother bidding on Gomez, who went for $22 to Howard Bender of Fantasy Alarm. The difference in our philosophy this year was partially due to our stronger position in the category (we have Wade Davis and temp closer Andrew Miller), but also due to a lack of any kind of conviction in Gomez. The skills are pedestrian, and while Gomez does have the advantage of being part of a poor bullpen with many problematic alternatives, I am wary of spending more than $10 or so on a pitcher like this in an effort to chase saves, even in a deeper mixed league.
Jeremy Hazelbaker $18. Other bid: $5. Tout Wars Mixed: $15
Hazelbaker has pushed his way into fairly regular playing time thanks to a fast start and an injury to Tommy Pham. The 28-year-old minor-league journeyman was terrific in the minors last year, but the scouting reports are fairly negative about Hazelbaker’s ability to stick, as his pitch recognition has been consistently graded as poor and his defense at all three outfield positions below average. A hot bat with regular playing time works in NL-only and deep mixed, but this $18 bid from Stephania Bell at ESPN was extremely aggressive. Hazelbaker picked up four hits yesterday, so I’m sure he’s going to continue the proud tradition of “making Mike look stupid in his FAAB recaps.”
Nicholas Tropeano $5. Other bids: $4, $3, $2, $2, $2. Tout Wars Mixed: $67
Tropeano is one of those pitchers whose ceiling in reality is middling but who could provide solid value in fantasy because he pitches in a strong pitchers’ park where fly balls go to die. At a minimum, he could be a solid streamer for his home starts; at best, he could be a rotation stalwart in deep mixed. Someone pointed out that Tropeano could be the second best starter in Anaheim, but this speaks more to the sad state of affairs for the Angels than it does for Tropeano.
Bryan Holaday $5. Tout Wars Mixed: $50
Without looking, I assumed that Holaday went to Robinson Chirinos’ owner. Instead, Jeff Erickson of Rotowire picked him up for Josh Phegley. The regular at bats with Holaday will be offset by the batting average risk, and trade rumors continue to swirl around the Rangers and a primary catcher. The bigger headline is that Erickson cut Jose Peraza, a player many thought had considerable upside as a viable replacement for Billy Hamilton.
Joe Mauer $5.
I have previously pontificated in this space about how Mauer is underrated in deeper mixed so I won’t repeat myself. He was the 149th-best hitter in 15-team mixed formats last year by my valuations. This isn’t great, but as a placeholder or bottom-of-the-roster hitter, he is acceptable.
Sam Dyson $4. Other bids: $1, $1.
With Shawn Tolleson struggling in his first 2016 outing, Dyson is the logical next-in-line choice to replace him in Texas. Alan Harrison of The Fantasy Fix grabbed Dyson for $4. It is possible that Dyson out-earns Gomez, even if Gomez finishes the year with more saves.
Scooter Gennett $3. Other bid: $3. Tout Wars Mixed: $227
A revamped swing and approach against southpaws led to a solid week of results for Gennett, and quite a bit of attention in the expert leagues. The bids were much more conservative in LABR, where Harrison nabbed Gennett with a tiebreaker bid. In Tout Wars, Bret bid $31 but didn’t even come close to grabbing Gennett, as Gene McCaffrey of Wise Guy Baseball bid $227, or almost 23 percent of his FAAB budget.
Jon Jay $3. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout Wars Mixed: $37
A combination of injuries and poor performance knocked Jay off of the fantasy radar in 2015, but full health and an opportunity for a full-time job in San Diego have once again made the outfielder fantasy relevant. The markets in both LABR and Tout Wars mixed support this idea, and it is certainly worth plunking down a small amount of make-believe cash to see if Jay can return to his low double-digit steal/low double-digit home run form of pre-2015.
Alex Avila $2. Tout Wars Mixed: $34
Chris Tillman $2. Other bid: $2
I always want to believe in Tillman but while he always shows flashes with the stuff it never coalesces over long periods of time. The strikeouts are too low for anything more than a fifth or sixth starter in deep mixed, and the tough division and hitters’ park Tillman pitches in don’t help him either. I’m okay with Tillman as a streamer, but given all of the caveats about where it is bad to use him, I’d prefer a National Leaguer all other things being equal.
Trevor May $1. Tout Wars Mixed: $18
John Jaso $1
Austin Barnes $1
Angel Pagan $1. Tout Wars Mixed: $56
Nate Jones $1
Jeremy Hellickson $1
Bret and I moved R.A. Dickey to our bench and picked up Jones as a replacement. With two bench slots still open, it’s possible that we will look for more relievers to stream/add in the coming weeks. May is a strong relief pick as well. Pagan looks healthier than he has in some time, and while this might not hold up, a 100 percent Pagan is better than a few outfielders currently rostered in LABR.
Tout Wars NL
Jeanmar Gomez $275. Other bids: $180, $142, $103, $92, $37, $21, $15. NL LABR: $31.
The bids were somewhat more aggressive for Gomez in the NL, where Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ dropped 27.5 percent of his 1000 FAAB on Gomez. The $1,000 bid limit does make more aggressive bidding early palatable. With three closers in tow, I decided that I didn’t need to make a play for another ninth-inning arm.
Jeremy Hazelbaker $177. Other bids: $105, $88, $43, $0. NL LABR: $11
Aledmys Diaz $143. Other bids: $81, $35, $28, $23, $22, $7. NL LABR: $6
My $28 bid for Diaz to replace Travis Wood in my swingman slot was trumped by Hertz’s aggressive $143. I like Diaz as a short-term replacement for Jhonny Peralta (although Jedd Gyorko is likely to play some short) and was hoping a modest bid could get him. Hertz has now spent $590 of his $1,000 FAAB in the span of two weeks on Gomez, Diaz, Ross Stripling, Matt Cain, and Neftali Feliz. So far, the results on the pitchers have been strong. Even though these aren’t the types of players who typically generate heavy FAAB interest early (think undrafted rookies who are called up earlier than expected), Hertz’s strategy thus far has paid off in Tout NL.
Robbie Erlin $113. Other bids: $34, $12.
Erlin looked solid in a relief appearance at Coors, and now he moves to the Padres rotation and gets a favorable matchup this week in Philadelphia. The 25-year-old southpaw has looked promising in short-bursts, but unless Tyson Ross’ injury turns out to be more serious than initially indicated, this may merely be a short-term move for the Pads. Erlin is a fine stash in NL-only for later in the season if the Padres do decide to retool and trade off their more expensive assets. Todd Zola of Mastersball isn’t that far behind Hertz in FAAB spending, with $353 already spent on Hazelbaker, Erlin, and Matt Joyce. Zola was penalized $140 in FAAB for finishing below a points threshold in 2015, so he is already behind the eight ball.
Tommy La Stella $65. Other bids: $61, $8. NL LABR: $6
The season-ending injury to Kyle Schwarber primarily opens up additional time for Jorge Soler in the outfield, but both La Stella and Matt Szczur could find their way into a few more at bats even after Javier Baez returns, as Joe Maddon likes to mix and match frequently in an effort to keep players fresh. The profile for La Stella speaks to a hitter who benefits fantasy teams with regular at bats, so his value will be limited unless another injury pushes him into more playing time.
Alfredo Simon $61.
Simon makes me nervous in any format, and this week he gets the Cubs at Wrigley. I’d pass, even in NL-only, and even though Simon did have a decent first half in 2015 before the wheels came off of his season.
Matt Szczur $41. Other bids: $29, $12, $4. NL LABR: $1
Szczur was my second choice to replace Wood on the active roster. Instead, Scott Wilderman of On Roto nabbed him at $41, beating my $12 bid handily. As noted above under La Stella, Soler is more likely to get the lion’s share of the at-bats, but Szczur should see a few opportunities to start here and there.
Micah Johnson $35
Austin Barnes $11
James Loney $11
Arquimedes Caminero $11. NL LABR: $1
Miguel Castro $10. NL LABR: $3
There were a number of uncontested bids over $10 in Tout Wars NL. Johnson was sent down on Monday night, so fantasy owners will have to wait for any kind of return. As a minor leaguer, Loney is the kind of stash you cannot make in LABR; the Padres could call him up at some point and push Wil Myers to the outfield. Caminero and Castro are interesting future saves specs, although Feliz has pushed past Caminero in the Pirates pecking order behind Mark Melancon.
Jim Henderson $10. Other bid: $6. NL LABR: $3.
Henderson has looked sharp for the Mets thus far, and while Jeurys Familia looks safe, grabbing a quality bullpen arm in NL-only on a strong team is always a solid play.
Ivan DeJesus $9. Other bid: $2.
Even on the rebuilding Reds, DeJesus is more of a bench bat/spare part than anything else. Zack Cozart did leave early last night with an injury, so DeJesus could benefit in the short-term.
Jordan Pacheco $0.
Hansel Robles $0.
Ichiro Suzuki $0.
Jeff Francouer $0.
I activated Yasmani Grandal, but continued to roll with 10 pitchers this week, subbing Robles in for Wood. I like having relievers to stream for soft starters, and while I’m using all six of my starting pitchers this week, I can easily envision a scenario where I sit one or two starting pitchers due to bad matchups.
Tout Wars AL
Bryan Holaday $111. Other bid: $51. LABR AL: $6.
Unlike in LABR mixed, the winning Holaday bidder did have Chirinos on his active roster. Once again, it was Erickson who had the winning bid. I dig the playing time at catcher in an only, but Holaday’s profile as a defensive-first catcher doesn’t serve him well in fantasy. I asked Erickson about why he was all over Holaday in both leagues, and he told me that he is hoping to catch “lightning in a bottle.”
Steven Wright $58.
Mike Montgomery $31. LABR AL: $5.
Danny Duffy $24.
A.J. Griffin $21.
There was a good deal of pitching speculation this week in Tout Wars AL. If you’re going to pick up Wright to stash him (you have to carry a FAAB buy on your active roster for a full week in Tout Wars), this is the week to do it. Wright isn’t scheduled to start again until April 20. Griffin put up the definition of a quality start in his 2016 debut against the Angels; allowing three earned runs in six innings for a win. However, he only struck out one, and his AL-only value is marginal. Duffy and Montgomery both move to the bullpen this year after spending significant time in the rotation. Both pitchers could provide value in AL-only, although they are better as stashes in leagues with reserve lists than they are as active roster plays at the moment.
Darwin Barney $20. Other bid: $0. LABR AL: $1.
Barney has picked up a surprising amount of playing time for the Blue Jays thus far. His defensive-first profile doesn’t appeal in fantasy, but he did steal two bases in his first week and if he does play Barney could be good for another 5-10 steals this year.
Tim Beckham $3
Mike Aviles $3
Christopher Devenski $3
Jered Weaver $3
Andrew Benintendi $3
Fernando Salas $2
Mike Minor $0
Ryan Rua $0
The bottom of the AL-only barrel features a couple of back-up middle infielders, some relief fliers, and a stash in Benintendi. The latter seems like a longshot to contribute in 2016, but in an AL-only there is some latitude to make a move like this.