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 zero-dollar 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.
All 2016 statistics in this article were as of Sunday, May 29.
Wilmer Flores $5.
Logan Morrison $5. Other bids: $3, $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $57. Tout Mixed Draft: $55.
Seventeen games into the 2016 season, Morrison had a putrid .067/.125/.089 slash, with zero home runs, RBI, or steals. Even in AL-only, he less than was worthless. I know this from experience, since I have Morrison in an AL-only home league. Since then, Morrison has quietly put up a .311/.411.451 over 95 plate appearances with three home runs, 11 RBI, 10 runs, and three steals. This still isn’t the most exciting profile in a 15-team mixed league, but it will play at the bottom of a roster. Morrison is kind of underrated as a regular in deep mixed if you can stomach the batting average. He hit 17 home runs and stole eight bases last year; those steals in particular are a nice little perk from your first baseman.
One of my first jobs out of college was for a market research firm. Employees at the company were told that they could use a pseudonym instead of their real names to introduce themselves on calls, as long as the pseudonym wasn’t either a) something distasteful (no, you couldn’t use Bofa Longfellow) or b) a famous name. Nearly no one opted for a pseudonym, but the few employees who did followed the rules and used something generic like John Smith or Jane Jones. However, there was one guy who insisted on calling himself Jim Morrison. He didn’t seem to be a big Doors fan—in fact he never talked about The Doors at all—but he was very happy about being able to introduce himself as Jim Morrison. I tried to talk to him about this one day (I stupidly stayed at this job long enough to become a supervisor) and he started shouting “I AM JIM MORRISON!” in the middle of the call center floor over and over. The other supervisor on duty gave me a look that said “c’mon Mike, everyone else here is just trying to run out the clock and get to the end of our days as quickly as possible. Don’t be that guy.” So I never brought this up to “Jim Morrison” again, but it always bothered me until I left the company, and apparently it still bothers me to this day.
Anyway, whenever I see the surname Morrison I think about this story and that weird job. Nearly every job I had in my 20s made the movie Office Space seem pedestrian by comparison.
Whit Merrifield $3. Tout Mixed Auction: $5. Tout Mixed Draft: $55.
Whit Merrifield sounds less like a person’s name and more like a jaunty craft beer from a local brewery that doesn’t follow the rules when it comes to things like “ABV” and “hops” and “health and safety inspections.” Merrifield was so far off of the radar that the only article prior to this one that he was mentioned in at Baseball Prospectus was published in November 2012, and he hasn’t even appeared in any of the BP Annuals as a lineout. Merrifield is getting playing time for suddenly snake-bit Royals and delivering, with a blistering .361 batting average in his first 36 major league plate appearances. His numbers from the minors this year were pretty darn excellent as well, and even if the power is a mirage the 16 steals in 36 minor league games leap off of the page, and are fairly consistent with what he did at Omaha in 2015 as well. Even when the Royals are completely healthy, Omar Infante and Christian Colon could easily be supplanted if Merrifield performs. He’s fine at this cheap FAAB price as a flier and a steals play.
Bobby Wilson $3. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $0
It must be musical name association for me today, because now I’m thinking about Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. I don’t have any stories about his name, this is merely something that randomly popped into my head. If you were looking for a 200-word riff here about Brian Wilson, I apologize. Wilson (Bobby, not Brian) has been extremely productive in his limited at bats behind the dish for the Rangers while splitting the catching duties with Bryan Holaday in Robinson Chirinos’s absence. Chirinos should be back next week if his rehab assignment goes well, so this is a short-term pickup, even in deep mixed, two catcher formats.
Hyun Soo Kim $2. Tout Mixed Auction $44.
It took a while, but the Orioles finally gave Kim a chance at regular at bats and he has responded with a blistering .383 batting average in his first 54 major league plate appearances. This is more of a volume play for runs and RBI in deep mixed than it is for any hope that Kim will do more than hit 10-14 home runs with a decent batting average. This plays in mixed, and especially in deep mixed, where finishing with one or two points in batting average out of 15 teams isn’t exactly optimal.
Williams Perez $2
Carlos Perez $1. Other bid: $1.
Christian Friedrich $1. Other bid: $1
Pat Dean $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $0. Tout Mixed Draft: $2
CC Sabathia $1. Tout Mixed Draft: $66
Robbie Grossman $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $32. Tout Mixed Draft: $6
Mike Bolsinger $1
Franklin Gutierrez $1. Tout Mixed Auction $21
Bret and I didn’t put any bids in this week, although I did float the possibility of putting a low-end bid on Sabathia. Dean scares me regardless of what the matchup is and I don’t have much confidence in Friedrich either. Gutierrez is my favorite play in this week’s one-dollar bucket. With Leonys Martin on the DL, it is possible that Guti breaks out of a strict platoon and gets every day at bats for the Mariners. The power potential is there.
The Baseball Prospectus team stood pat on the FAAB front but we did make a trade, flipping Hisashi Iwakuma to Stephania Bell of ESPN for Fernando Rodney. If you told me in March I would have been trading anything for Rodney I would have probably laughed (with you, not at you, as that is a mean thing to do) but Rodney has been terrific and with Andrew Miller back in a set-up role for the Yankees we need the saves. We have enough starting pitching options on our active roster and bench that we could afford to say goodbye to Kuma.
Bret picked up Alexander Reyes as a stash in Tout Wars mixed auction. With a deeper reserve list in Tout mixed than there is in the only leagues, Bret is fully taking advantage of the ability to stash future plays for later in the season.
Tout Wars NL
James Loney $291. Other bid: $33.
Memorial Day Weekend is a time to honor the military, have outdoor cookouts, and shoot off fireworks. It is also a time for fantasy experts to fall asleep at the wheel. The Mets acquired Loney from the Padres this weekend to replace the injured Lucas Duda. Loney will be added to the Mets’ roster today and should pick up regular at bats at the position. I am certain that Andy Behrens of Yahoo! would have bid significantly less than $291 if he had taken the Memorial Day lassitude of fantasy experts into consideration.
Before hot takes and even before the utterance of the words “my column”, Loney was a magnet for both. Back in those days we called them “bloggies” and we railed against “stupid” teams like the Dodgers for giving “bad” players like Loney opportunity after opportunity to fail. The hard cold reality is that while Loney never did live up to his top prospect pedigree he was fine for a while, then wasn’t all that good, then had a brief revitalization with the Rays before falling apart completely. Any of these possibilities are possible with the Mets but unless Loney hits .150 with zero power he will get most of the at bats at first while Duda is out. This makes him an auto-add in NL-only and someone to consider in mixed. He could not be added this week in LABR because the rules only permit active major leaguers as FAAB additions.
Carlos Torres $25.
Felipe Rivero $15. Other bid: $3.
Steve Gardner of USA Today was busy this week attempting to bolster his pitching staff, grabbing Torres and Rivero to replace Rubby De La Rosa and Matt Cain. Gardner and I both were trying to do the same thing, as I had the $3 bid on Rivero and picked up some relievers as well (see below). Gardner entered the week first in strikeouts but scuffling a little bit in ERA/WHIP so adding relievers to avoid damage to his ratios makes sense.
Greg Garcia $14. LABR NL $4.
Gardner was all over Garcia, grabbing him in both Tout NL and LABR NL. Garcia picked up a significant number of at bats with Matt Carpenter on paternity leave but with Carpenter back in the fold Garcia will likely return to a bench role. With Kolten Wong struggling, Garcia could see a few starts here and there at second base but this is strictly NL-only speculative territory for now.
I was busy this week, making a trade with Behrens and picking up two relievers. With a number of injuries and demotions hampering my offense, I flipped Jerad Eickhoff for Denard Span. I need power more than I need speed, but the runs and RBI will also play while I wait for my team to get healthy. I still like Eickhoff, but with Aaron Nola and Steven Matz performing I felt like I had the ability to make the move. I will go back to rolling a lot of starting pitchers out there to chase volume later in the season but for now I am willing to use five starting pitchers. Grimm and Broxton both play on good teams and are vulture win plays, not closer-in-waiting plays.
Tout Wars AL
Whit Merrifield $187. Other bids: $106, $31, $30, $27. LABR AL: $9.
Merrifield is even more of a coveted option in this format than he is in LABR mixed. In AL-only, regular at-bats play even if they’re not attached to steals. Ron Shandler of ESPN made the most aggressive bid, sinking nearly 20 percent of his budget into the hopes that Merrifield will play every day. This is a case where the $1,000 bid structure with zero-dollar minimum bids in Tout Wars led to a more aggressive top bid than in LABR, where you are not permitted to bid zero.
Franklin Gutierrez $166. Other bids: $117, $31, $27.
As I mentioned in the mixed section, Gutierrez should be in line for additional playing time over the next week or two with Martin on the shelf. A slow start made Guti appear to be unplayable even in AL-only in the early going but the M’s outfielder has been on a mini-tear of late, with a ridiculous .400/.429/.900 slash in his last six games, including three home runs in 21 plate appearances. Gutierrez isn’t going to post the ridiculous ISO he did in 2015, but the power is legitimate and he could reward Chris Liss of Rotowire with a big payoff in an AL-only.
Luis Sardinas $42
Austin Romine $41. Other bid: $29. LABR AL: $1
As Brian McCann’s backup, Romine doesn’t have very much value but he could get some regular at bats behind the plate if Mark Teixeira has to go on the DL if the Yankees shift Brian McCann to first base. However, Romine is borderline, even for AL-only. With Dustin Ackley sidelined for the foreseeable future, Romine does move up the depth chart for the Yanks.
Brett Eibner $31. Other bid: $27.
You have to feel for Steve Moyer of Inside Edge. He bid $27 on Merrifield, Gutierrez, and Eibner and lost out on all three. He didn’t have any other contingent bids and as a result has to carry Steven Moya and a line of zeroes on his active roster for an entire week. This isn’t nearly as much of a death sentence in only as it is in mixed but I would have likely either put in additional contingent bids (at a very low amount) or put in a more aggressive series of bids on the trio.
Unlike Merrifield, Eibner received plenty of virtual ink at Baseball Prospectus, mostly from former BP scout Zach Mortimer in a dynamic series of Minor League Update articles. Eibner had always been an exciting prospect from a power perspective but was never able to get past an extreme strikeout rate to translate those tools into skills. He finally showed some signs of breaking past this in 2015, and in 2016 Eibner was an absolute beast in Triple-A. The Royals seem willing to jump Eibner past Jarrod Dyson and give him a clean shot in the outfield. It’s entirely possible that nothing comes of this, but if Eibner has made a real breakthrough in the minors and can translate it to the majors, he could be an AL-only find and expand his value to mixed league formats as well.
Pat Dean $31. Other bid: $27. LABR AL: $6.
YOU KNOW SOMETHING? NOT ONLY ARE WE GOING TO SEATTLE. WE’RE GOING TO CHICAGO! AND CLEVELAND! AND DETROIT! AND KANSAS CITY! AND TORONTO! WE’RE GOING TO BOSTON! AND TEXAS! AND NEW YORK! AND WE’RE GOING TO TAMPA BAY! AND BALTIMORE! AND ANAHEIM! AND OAKLAND! AND HOUSTON! AND THEN WE’RE GOING TO WASHINGTON DC TO TAKE BACK THE NATIONAL LEAGUE BECAUSE WE ALSO PLAY INTERLEAGUE GAMES! YAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!
Dean is off to a great start but he’ll eventually lose steam as the campaign slogs through the long summer months and people get more of a look at him. You might be willing to Kerry on with Dean on your fantasy squad, but even if your friends don’t have the Gephardt to tell you that it’s a bad move, Dean will still hurt your ratios. Just because you have the Kucinich to make a move, doesn’t mean you should scratch it.
Dean is a lefty junk-baller who will get by on deception for only so long before the league catches up with him. Even if he survives in the majors, Dean’s whiff rate is going to plummet and he’ll have limited value, even in AL-only.
Matt Boyd $27. Other bids: $16, $11. LABR AL: $5.
You can go to the Matt with this bid but a few bad outings would make your season Null and Boyd.
The former Blue Jays hurler has decent stuff but has been prone to the long ball in his short major-league career. Boyd is mostly a match up play, although the decent strikeout rate makes him worth starting regularly in AL-only if you can live with the ERA/WHIP hit.
Taylor Motter $26. Other bid: $11. LABR AL: $4.
Motter was picked up in Tout a few weeks ago as a stash, didn’t make it up to the big leagues, then was released in short order by his AL-only squad. Motter is still a part-timer, but with some terrific at bats of late he could push his way into additional playing time for the Rays. The power/speed combination is tantalizing, and the Rays willingness to give players like Motter a legitimate chance despite their pedigree or draft standing makes Motter worth a flier in AL-only and worth monitoring in deep mixed leagues.
Given the poor performance of the Twins’ bullpen, Kintzler makes sense as a flier. Butera is a good one-week play with Salvador Perez likely out for most if not all of the week. Bush is looking more and more like the logical closer-in-waiting in Texas to newly-minted closer Sam Dyson.
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