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RotoWire's AL LABR Team

Last night, I drafted our AL LABR squad. For those unfamiliar with the League of Alternative Baseball Reality, the format is 5 x 5 12-team AL only league with 2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 1 CI, 1 MI, 5 OF, 1 U, 9 P, 6 reserves. $260 budget. Here's my squad:

Pos Player $
C Matt Wieters 15
C A.J. Pierzynski 9
1B Adam Dunn 26
2B Ian Kinsler 28
3B Brandon Inge 7
SS Derek Jeter 23
CI Chris Davis 1
MI Cliff Pennington 12
OF Josh Hamilton 30
OF Alex Gordon 9
OF Michael Saunders 5
OF Desmond Jennings 6
OF Scott Podsednik 6
U Travis Hafner 4
P Jon Lester 27
P Clay Buchholz 16
P Gavin Floyd 10
P Michael Pineda 11
P Jeff Niemann 6
P Justin Masterson 5
P Nick Blackburn 1
P Kyle Gibson 1
P Darren O'Day 2
R Mike Gonzalez 0
R Jesse Litsch 0
R Michael Taylor 0
R Travis Buck 0
R Tyson Ross 0
R Daniel Cortes 0

 

Some observations: A lot of the players I liked going in turned out not to be bargains. Alex Rodriguez at age 35, coming off a down year, still went for $37, so I let him go. Manny Ramirez - who I think will do fine on the Rays - went for $16, despite the power outage in Chicago last year and his 39th birthday arriving in May. I was in on the bidding for both, but once a good deal of the profit margin evaporated, I dropped out.

I bought Jon Lester for $27 early and thought this was a good price for an elite strikeout pitcher on a team that significantly improved its defense this offseason (Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are gold-glove level defenders, and the health of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia should also be a big lift) and that should offer plenty of run support. But after Felix Hernandez ($30) and C.C. Sabathia ($26), several other top AL starters came at a significant discount: Justin Verlander ($21), Jered Weaver ($21) and David Price ($20).

I also bought Clay Buchholz for $16, despite peripherals (120:67 K:BB in 173.1 IP) that did not support his strong cosmetic stats (17 wins, 2.33 ERA). Normally, you might expect significant regression, but like Lester he'll benefit significantly from the improved defense and run support, and his raw stuff (94.1 mph fastball) portends a better strikeout rate as he matures (Bucchholz won't turn 27 until August). Incidentally, as a Yankee fan, it's makes me ill to have to root for those lowlifes.

I typically like to buy failed post-hype mega prospects, and so the Royals' Alex Gordon ($9) who tore up Triple-A last year, the Orioles' Matt Wieters ($15) ? the light bulb could go on at any point ? and the Rays' Desmond Jennings ($6) - he's hardly had a chance to fail, but his stock slipped last year as he played through injuries ? fit the bill. Jennings might not be up until June, but if he rakes at Triple-A, he should be a full-time player for four months and could steal 25-plus bases in that span.

I was aggressive in buying Seattle rookie Michael Pineda ($11), but he had a 76:17 K:BB ratio in 62.1 Triple-A IP, plays in cavernous Safeco Field and has perhaps the best defense in baseball behind him, especially now that the Mariners have moved Chone Figgins back to his natural third base and signed Brendan Ryan (arguably the top infield defender in the game). I'm hoping Pineda breaks camp with the club, but even if he comes up in June, he should earn that.

The one purchase I regret is Josh Hamilton for $30. I was price enforcing, i.e., making sure someone else didn't get him at the bargain price of $29, and was fairly sure someone would go up to $31. Hamilton batted .359 last year and hit 32 homers in 133 games en route to an AL MVP award, so he can roll out of bed and earn that amount. But he apparently has trouble rolling out of bed (.819 OPS during the day/1.121 OPS at night last year, .762/.967 for his career). It could simply be a coincidence, but given his history, it adds some risk. I'd rather have bought B.J. Upton for $29.

Comments

By: rkinigson
On: 3/6/2011 5:08:00 PM
Is it okay to use the word LOVE in the same sentence as Podsednik? I think that's a great pick at $6. Getting Lester AND Buchholz for a combined $43 is fantastic, as much as it kills me to say anything nice about the Red Sox!

On the other hand, although I like Kinsler, I think $28 is a little high. Then again, 2B is a thin position and paying a little extra to get one of the top three is a good deal.

Overall, considering the level of competition in the AL LABR, I like this roster. How do you think it compares to the others?

 
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/6/2011 7:35:00 PM
I'd argue you overspent on Pineda, but that's probably the only guy I'd say that about. With the benefit of hindsight, anything you'd do differently?
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/6/2011 7:42:00 PM
Rick - hope you're right about Pods - banking on him getting time when Juan Rivera proves he can't play the outfield. I think this team is pretty strong - but see above - a bit nervous about Hamilton.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/6/2011 7:43:00 PM
Mark - Pineda was expensive, but it was late in the draft, and I wanted one more potentially game-changing pitcher. Hellickson went for 13 as did Matusz, so I felt Pineda was worth about that.
 
By: Dave Regan
On: 3/6/2011 7:55:00 PM
Except it wouldn't surprise me if the M's stashed Pineda in Tacoma until June. After all, you have to make room for Luke French.
 
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 3/6/2011 8:33:00 PM
I'm Ron Burgundy?

I like the prices you paid on most of your name players (the Boston pitchers, Dunn and Jeter especially - heck, J.J. Hardy went for $18). I'm not sure on the second half of the roster. The $11 on Pineda is more expectant than I'd be willing to be.
 
By: Kevin Payne
On: 3/6/2011 9:06:00 PM
Your ties to Brendan Ryan are too obvious. You never know when Hamilton goes back to body shots with random girls and has never hit over 32 homers in a season. I think you overpaid for Jeter and you would have taken Soriano too had he been in the AL.

I never, ever condone punting saves, I'd be surprised if you won going with this theory. That being said, the Wieters, Dunn, Kinsler, Lester, Masterson, Blackburn picks were great and that's taking into account their prices.
 
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/6/2011 9:11:00 PM
Dunno about punting saves...I don't see that working out well. I like the strat of going cheap in the OF but you might have some platoons. Nobody likes Inge more than you...you always have him. I liked the Pineda pick....
 
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/7/2011 10:43:00 AM
I can only assume that trading for a closer is cheaper than drafting them in this league. Otherwise that FAAB budget will get hit hard early. Walden at $3 would of been nice. Owning Kinsler and Hamilton will ensure that Liss's fingernails will be chewed down to the bone on a daily basis. Pennington at $11 isn't to shabby but I think you should of gone 2b at MI. I would trade Jeter asap to fill holes. I don't see him getting off to a fast start with him closing in on 3000 hits. Most guys struggle as they approach historical marks.
 
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 3/7/2011 10:57:00 AM
Maybe there's an exception league out there somewhere, but my general observation is that it's far harder to deal in an expert league than it is a common league. That doesn't mean trading isn't possible, but I'd hate to go into a league expecting or needing to make a deal.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/7/2011 11:15:00 AM
Lots of assumptions here, mostly unfounded in my opinion. Tom Trudeau of Bloomberg Sports bought 4 closers. I imagine he doesn't want to win saves by 50, so he'll deal. Last year, I bought no closers, finished second despite spending $30 on Kendry Morales, $29 on Dustin Pedroia, $29 on Grady Sizemore, $5 on Desmond Jennings and $6 on Erik Bedard while leaving $7 on the table. I traded for three closers over the course of the year and got a 7 or 8 in saves and a 12 in Ks. Plus, if Feliz is a starter, O'Day could close, Mike Gonzalez if healthy could close, and Daniel Cortes might be in line after League in Seattle. Finally, this isn't like the typical home league where three teams get all the points, and you can't have a weakness - all the teams make moves until the end, and you can win with a 3 in a category. So I have four options (1) tank saves; (2) trade for saves; (3) FAAB saves or (4) my relievers become closers. I'll have to see how things shake out as the year goes on,
 
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 3/7/2011 11:37:00 AM
Although most of them have fleas and aren't guaranteed anything,Trudeau might wind up with five closers. Nathan, Perez, Thornton, League, Rodney. But this is a team that *has* to make a deal or adjust the roster, and I think that's a terrible fix to put yourself into, especially in an expert league and a mono league where the waiver wire is no guarantee to help much. I understand "get value now, get balance later" to a point, but this extreme strategy, IMHO, was a major mistake. (I also thought the Trudeau team came out of the auction with a very weak offense. You look it over, tell me if you agree.)

Sure, you can overcome it, anything can be overcome. Maybe he'll pick a disproportionate amount of the waiver-wire cherries. Along those lines, just make most of your 65-foot putts and you'll be the best player on the PGA Tour.
 
By: Kevin Payne
On: 3/7/2011 11:59:00 AM
My bad Liss, I thought there was no trading. Taking four closers is perplexing since everyone in the league knows you have to trade them away at some point. You're unlikely to get full value in that case. And I agree that moreso that in any of the past few years, there are question marks up and down the AL as far as closers and potential candidates in waiting.
 
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/7/2011 1:17:00 PM
Liss is a good trader...Dunno how he gets some of those goofey deals through but his side is almost always the better side from what I remember. Closers is probably the most volatile position. I like to go weak at closer too...to start, just not this weak. I don't see much beauty in his back up rp's. I agree with Scott, I don't like Trudeau's strat at all, especially with a weak offense. I like smooth and steady instead of peaks and valleys....
 
By: Erickson
On: 3/7/2011 4:08:00 PM
Hell, I punted saves in a 4x4 AL league last year and still won the league by 11 points. Granted, I got lucky to hit on nearly every single starting pitcher I took a chance on, but it can be done. If that's what the league is giving you, take it. I don't like punting categories, but no need to get dogmatic about it.
 
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/7/2011 5:40:00 PM
"Last year, I bought no closers, finished second despite spending $30 on Kendry Morales, $29 on Dustin Pedroia, $29 on Grady Sizemore, $5 on Desmond Jennings and $6 on Erik Bedard while leaving $7 on the table."

Wow. That sounds impossible.
 
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/7/2011 5:54:00 PM
Trudeu's offense is embarassing. The absence of power is glaring.

I like your team, but I like Lawr Michaels' team, too. After seeing the costs for good closers - $20 or more - I don't blame you.

Best bargains - CSantana at $17 and Morneau at $16. As armchair QB, I'd save the Pineda and JHamilton money, hit +1 on Santana (instead of Pierzynski) and Morneau instead of CDavis at CI. I realize that's totally unfair, especially considering the ebbs and flows of the auction, but Santana and Morneau really strike me as good value.
 
By: mvbb17
On: 3/7/2011 9:38:00 PM
2 biggest things I noticed was that top line starters went for closer to $20 than $30. Also, marginal middle IFs went surprising high in the $10-15 range - Casilla, Aviles, S.Rodriguez, Nishioka to name a few, even Hardy at $18. Price for $20 and V.Martinez for $22 are two bargains that stand out.

Love your team Chris. Great ABs with few holes. If Pineda or Masterson turn into a solid SP, you can easily flip a starter for a closer. I also think M.Gonzo can get 5-10 saves based on lefty matchups alone with upside to do more if Gregg falters.
 
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/8/2011 10:05:00 AM
I agree on the MI; I noticed that, too. Liss' money on Kinsler and Jeter was well-spent compared to what those guys went for.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/8/2011 10:07:00 AM
Stopa - also left out that my other big purchases were Jeter and Mauer - two players coming off huge 2009's that had disappointing seasons in 2010. And Scott Baker who also disappointed as well as 5 on Michael Brantley, 10 on Ryan Sweeney and 7 on Salty. It was David Price 12, Rickey Romero 3, Gio Gonzalez 4, Alex Gonzalez 1, Austin Jackson 6, Ervin Santana 6, Jake Westbrook 2 and Jeremy Guthrie 2 who carried the load. http://rotosynthesis.rotowire.com/RotoWires-AL-LABR-Team-BBD1786.htm
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/8/2011 10:07:00 AM
That comment was in response to Stopa's prior comment.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/8/2011 10:09:00 AM
mvbb17 - hope you're right. I do have some lottery tickets like Pods, Jennings, Pineda, Masterson and the relievers who have a chance to close. If my main guys stay relatively healthy, I'll just need to cash in on 1 or 2 of them.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/8/2011 10:10:00 AM
Also agree Carlos Santana at 17 was a great buy. Was very close to going 18. Disagree about Morneau - major risk still.
 

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