Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winner's Circle ESPN League

I finished up my second team of the season in a Live Auction Draft over on ESPN. It's a public league, but it's 2009 Champions only (I won all 4 of my dismal public leagues last year on ESPN). The advantage of the Champions Public Leagues is that you know you're likely playing against guys that at the very least set their lineups. I think in my standard public leagues last year, we only had about 5 teams who showed up consistently throughout the season.

It's a standard 10 team league, with 5x5 Roto categories, $260 cap. If you haven't tried them yet, I'd definitely recommend doing a league using ESPN's Live Auction Draft format. It's done very well, and makes for something different if you're bored with the old snake drafts. The rosters are C-1B-2B-SS-3B-MI-CI-OF-OF-OF-OF-OF-UT-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-BN-BN-BN-DL. I'm actually not very happy with my team here, but am in the process of negotiating a trade. I bought Victor Martinez early on, and then ended up caught trying to bid up Joe Mauer. In the end, I have Mauer probably at around $35 in a league like this, so getting him at $23 is nice. Plus, I can just trade V-Mart for a high-quality player to a team that doesn't have a catcher. I'm working on that right now. Here it is, in order of acquisition.

C - Victor Martinez - $16
I was trying to set a precedent and get people to go nuts on Mauer. I like Mauer a lot, but I think he can get overpriced sometimes. V-Mart isn't a bad choice for $16, and I was happy with getting him here. I usually don't go for the better catchers, but I like to try and see how different strategies work in my public leagues.

OF - Carlos Beltran - $10
I took a bit of a risk here with Beltran's injury. But if he comes back healthy after the first month, I could get a nice bargain. Not sure if I like this pick yet, and I'll have to wait and hear the news on his status for the season.

C - Joe Mauer - $23
Yep. I'm the clown that bought both Mauer and V-Mart. Luckily, V-Mart has CI eligibility. However, I'm probably going to trade him for a nice upgrade at the SP spot. I just couldn't pass up Mauer at $23 when the likes of Albert Pujols were going for $47. Even if the plan here fails miserable for trading, Mauer is a great Utility guy...the only catcher who you can say that about.

SS - Hanley Ramirez - $41
The big guns were going for a bit over value for the most part (other than Mauer). Hanley isn't bad at $41, and with the SS and MI positions, it's nice to have a guy like Ramirez to solidify those slots. Pujols went to a Cardinals homer for $47, so I'm okay with this. Plus, it's Hanley Ramriez!

OF - Nelson Cruz - $17
I got Cruz in my first draft as well. The price was a little steeper here, but if Cruz plays all season, he's got tremendous power. Add the nice bit of steals to that, and you've got a Grady Sizemore like outfielder for Roto. I think he'll be well worth the $17.

2B/OF - Ben Zobrist - $17
I wrote about Zobrist in my previous draft. I like Zobrist as a solid option for my MI slot, but it's also nice to have his flexibility in a 5 OF league. Hopefully he'll put up the .280+ BA that ESPN is projecting him for, rather than the .261 that CBS is projecting. Either way, I'm loading up on Power-Speed combos quickly.

1B - Kendry Morales - $18
I'm sticking with the middle of the road salaries so far (besides Hanley). Morales had a huge year last year, finally living up (and surpassing) his expected potential. I don't see any reason he won't put up similar numbers this year, and for the price, a .295-30-100 first baseman is nice to have.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $24
Sticking with the first basemen, I took Adrian again. My hope is he is traded to a contender in a better ballpark at some point this year, giving him 50 HR potential. If not, he could still put up Prince Fielder type numbers, sans the ridiculous RBI totals (stupid anemic Padres).

3B - Ryan Zimmerman - $19
This team feels awfully familiar. Zimmerman was pretty much Longoria's equal last year, but without the man crushes (those went away in 2006 for some reason). While Longoria is younger, Zimms is reaching his prime and comes a lot cheaper than his Tampa counterpart. Don't hesitate to take Zimmerman among the Top 3 third basemen.

OF - Manny Ramirez - $12
I'm not sure what everyone is so scared of with Manny. Yeah, he only hit 19 HR last year, but he spent a third of the season lounging around his house. The guy is on a good team, in a good lineup, and is only one full season removed of a scorching 2nd half 2008. Count Manny in for another .290-30-100 season. For the price, it could be one of the better bargains in drafts this season.

OF - Cody Ross - $7
I started running out of money around this point thanks to my V-Mart/Mauer fiasco. Woops. Ross is still improving, and he'll likely see 25 HR and an average that won't totally kill you. He's going undrafted in some leagues I've seen, but has the ability to provide solid numbers across the board. Kind of boring though.

RP - Rafael Soriano - $7
I don't like paying for saves, but Soriano is nasty and I'll need help with my rate stats given my current $$ left. Soriano might not get as many save chances in TB as elsewhere, but he's still got wicked stuff. $7 is a reach though.

SP - Scott Kazmir - $7
Since I'm low on money, I'm going for upside with my pitching. Unfortunately, I missed out on Brandon Webb for the same price because I had to run to the bathroom. A healthy Kazmir could be good for 200 K's again. For $7, I'll take that chance at this point.

SP - Matt Garza - $9
I really like Garza and he seems to be getting better. Like I said in my last post, his curveball is scary looking, and he could be a candidate for 200 K's as he matures. Not a bad 1-2 punch if I have health and luck on my side.

SP - Ricky Nolasco - $10
I'm believing the hype about Nolasco being incredibly unlucky last season. I have him in 3 leagues now (including my FBAL league which I'll get to last). He's a lock for 200 K's if he pitches the whole season, and his WHIP is just dirty. Not a spectacular Top 3, but definitely serviceable.

SP - Matt Cain - $9
Cain has been pegged for some regression this season. Still, even with a little regression he could be a very nice pitcher. I'm sure there was SOME reason he was able to sustain such consistent excellence throughout last season. At least I have a staff that I think the rest of the league will underrate significantly.

SP - Hiroki Kuroda - $4
Kuroda's a good bet to be solid in ERA and not kill my staff. While he's not in the same K-League as the previous 4, he's a steady pitcher in a nice pitcher's ballpark. I expect him to get me some wins and keep his ERA below 4. Nothing special.

SP - Jonathan Sanchez - $3
Hoping for some upside here. If not, I'm hoping he's in the rotation all season to keep me in the K race. There are such a slew of 200 K pitchers this season that I wouldn't recommend drafting any pitcher before the 6th Round (unless Halladay drops to you in the 4th...which I recently saw in a KFFL EXPERT LEAGUE!). This guy could be hell on my rate stats. Hence...

RP - Matt Thornton - $1
It's $1 bid time. Thornton was lights out last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't repeat that. With some luck, I could even get a few saves out of him. I'll need him and Soriano to be on their toes all year to keep my ERA and WHIP in check with Jonathan Sanchez on my team.

RP - Mike Adams - $1
Who the hell is Mike Adams!?! In limited time he had a non-existent WHIP and a sub-1 ERA last season in relief for the Padres. I drafted him in the same vein (vain, vane?) as Thornton and Soriano. Not much more to say, but check out his stats and DO NOT forget him on draft day.

RP - Takashi Saito - $1
More of the same. Saito isn't the guy he used to be, but he's no slouch either. I expect to have a lot of relievers in my lineup at any given point and play the matchups with my starters.

RP - JJ Putz - $1
I'm just waiting for Bobby Jenks to fail. I have Putz to keep a hold on Thornton's value assuming there's any chance of a closer position. Hopefully, Putz can come back strong from surgery. If not, he'll be dropped in a heartbeat.

RP - Brandon Lyon - $1
This is why you shouldn't pay for saves. There's always some guys like Lyon sitting around during the $1 bid part of the draft. He won't have the same ERA and WHIP as last season, but he's the closer, and Saves are a category.

SS - Macier Izturis - $1
Yuck. I needed a MI for my lineup and decided to just wait. I'll likely do some waiver wire shuffling early on to get things in shape. If not, Izturis at least won't do anything to destroy my categories.

OF/1B - Garrett Jones - $1
Jones burst on the scene last year with the Pirates, hitting what seemed like a HR every game. I don't expect him to keep up that ridiculous pace, but he could put up a line of .270-30-85. He's got a little speed, too, and could challenge 20 steals if the Pirates let him run loose.

So there it is. Not the most exciting team I've ever put together, but reasonably competitive. However, I think with the trade of Victor Martinez (hopefully for Jose Lopez and a SP), it should solidify a bit up the middle and in the staff. I'm going to call this my "See How Much Middle Relievers Can Positively Affect Your Pitching Categories" league. Let's hope the answer is "A Lot". I rate this team a B- with A- upside and in need of some luck and big moves.

UPDATE: I picked up Phil Hughes off the waiver wire for JJ Putz and Colby Lewis for Takashi Saito. If Lewis doesn't work out, I suspect someone of high bullpen (or other) caliber will be on the waiver wire, but I'm going with upside in Lewis. Hughes is just a stud.

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