Last year Tout Weekend went from being an in-person event with four auctions and parties and live in-person radio interviews to online in a matter of days, there was hardly time to contemplate the difference. This year the difference was great, the hanging out deeply missed, the awkward mix of intimacy and alienation that is Zoom a tool but not an answer. Still, I participated in the Tout NL auction.
That’s the whole board. Click here to see the Google sheet with reserve picks.
One thing you’ll note on the Fantrax board is that each team had an extra spot, either a UT hitter or a 10th pitcher. And an extra dollar in their budget. This was to enable us to pick up a Swingman, either hitter or pitcher, something Fantrax isn’t equipped to handle naturally.
I went into the auction with the usual goals of buying value wherever it may be, not getting sucked into mid-round bid-ups of average talents, and focusing on late-rounders like Victor Gonzalez and Kevin Pillar, cheap with the potential for large profits.
Mookie Betts $40 ($43, this number in parens is what I had on my sheet): I had Mookie, Soto, and Acuna all at $43. Soto went for $44, Acuna for $42. Yelich for that matter went for $38. I had a stud hitter, especially in an OBP league.
Freddie Freeman $36 ($39): I didn’t expect the bidding to stop here, and I didn’t plan to buy two of the first five stars sold. Fred Zinkie bought two of the others, Tatis and Bauer, also mini-bargains. I think it takes a moment for everyone to get comfortable with the draft software.
Nolan Arenado $25 ($29): My line has been that while Arenado has been better at home, he hasn’t been too shabby on the road. The off chance that it’s true, that Coors does hurt Rockies players on the road, makes this an easy bet. (Yes, I think last year doesn’t count.)
Ian Anderson $13 ($15): I usually stay away from costly under-experienced pitchers, but Anderson looks too good. At this price it will sting a little if he fails, but there’s plenty of upside profits if he succeeds.
Walker Buehler $26 ($28): The NL pitching pool is deGrom, followed by nine guys any of whom could be the best or the worst. Their prices: $27, $26, $27, $26, $27, $25, $26, $27, $24. I like Buehler best out of this group because he plays for a rather good team and he’s younger than some, but the bottom line is that you make your pick (Tristan Cockcroft actually took two, Jack Flaherty and Brandon Woodruff, and Fred Zinkie took two, Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo) and you take your chance.
Will Smith $17 ($21): JT Realmuto had just sold for $19 and I was kicking myself a little, but the injury held me back (as it clearly did others). Smith came out shortly thereafter and I was definitely not kicking myself when the bidding stopped. Someone asked if we were bidding on the pitcher, though I think that was a joke.
Dansby Swanson $23 ($20): I love Swanson but what happened was the software was counting down at $16, “going twice,” and I punched +1 a microsecond after six others also did and ended up on this somewhat elevated number. Swanson earned $30 last year, so I'll take my chances (not that I have any choice). But I was saddened when Corey Seager went a little under my price a round later.
Dominic Smith $17 ($20): This relative bargain is dimmed by Smith’s hurting wrist this spring. If he plays regularly this is a great price, but the lingering effects of wrist injuries are legion. I fear I should have been more cautious.
David Price $7 ($9): Plenty of questions as he comes back from a year off at a somewhat advanced age, but there is also the potential that the time off will restore him. My plan was to pick up Price and either Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin (or maybe even both) with an eye to addressing limited innings with quality innings over the course of the season.
Dustin May $9 ($8): Having a plan meant bidding that extra dollar on May, who I like less than Gonsolin, because who knew what might happen when Gonsolin came out. A few nominations later we found out: $6. Alas, I didn’t have the money then to go $7 on a pitcher.
Jordan Hicks $7 ($11): When I said pitcher I meant not a closer. Obviously the Cards have options in the pen, so Hicks may not close games always, but for this price I can afford that not happening, and the chance that he does become the closer makes for nice potential profit.
MacKenzie Gore $2 ($2): I nominated him expecting someone else to go $3, and someone else to maybe go $4, and maybe someone even saying $5. My price was $2 and they let me have him. A disciplined group. With a limited bench this might eventually become a problem I wish I didn’t have, but for now I have the best pitching prospect in the game.
Victor Caratini $3 ($3): I was waiting for Omar Narvaez, hoping everyone would run out of money and I could afford him (Narvaez came out at 205 and Zinkie bought him for $3), but Caratini was my backup plan so I jumped in. He gets on base and he can hit, the real question is how much he’ll play besides catching for Yu Darvish. Better to have limited good at-bats at second catcher than more empty bad ones.
Sam Hilliard $9 ($10): The open question is how much OBP margin I’ve built up at this point, and can I afford Hilliard’s potentially bad OBP in order to get what should be nice production (assuming he’s given a chance at regular at-bats). In this instant I decided I did and given my limited budget this was a risk worth taking, but it could go quickly wrong.
Jurickson Profar $10 ($15): Which may be why I leapt on Profar, who will get on base to the extent he gets to play. I got a discount because it was getting late, and because of uncertainty how the Friars are going to work Profar, Kim, and Cronenworth into the mix. But power/speed with a decent OBP is the shot. Plus I needed a second baseman.
David Peterson $2 ($5): At this point I was down to $2 per player and started trying to figure out how to get to the guys I thought have the potential to surprise this year. Peterson struggled with his control last year, but he should be able to fix that. I’m willing to bet he’ll be able to use his mix of pitches to get major league hitters out at this price, especially since his spot in the rotation is secure (presuming he doesn’t get pounded) for a little while.
Edwin Rios $2 ($5): If Justin Turner didn’t return to LA Rios would be going for $18, so this is wholly a playing time issue. Do I have a clue how it is going to be resolved? I do not, but if Rios gets 300 at-bats somehow this is a big win. Todd Zola said during the action, now there’s a play based on the DH coming back at the last moment. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but if it does, I can live with it!
Kevin Pillar $2 ($8): This is another playing time issue. Every year Pillar goes cheaply because it doesn’t look like the at-bats are there, and every year (so far) he finds a way. Same story this year. One sad way is if my guy Dominic Smith misses time because of the wrist, which makes this a bit of a handcuff. For all his power and speed, Pillar is not a great OBP guy, another reason he was disregarded.
Donovan Solano $2 ($7): This is the opposite play. The at-bats will be there as long as he hits .300, as he did the last two years. He hits .300 because he doesn’t try to hurt the ball, so the homers are few and far between. He doesn’t run so for a $2 guy he helps a little in Runs and RBI and should help in batting average (which makes him an OBP plus). It could all fall apart, which is why he cost $2.
Victor Gonzalez $1 ($2): Gonzalez is a terrific talent, but this is a tiny bet against Kenley Jansen. I nominated him because I wanted him at $1.
Anthony Alford $2 ($2): The choices were slim, maybe the best available outfielder left was Odubel Herrera, but others had more money and my ardor for Albert Almora has faded. Alford is having a strong spring, is a magic 27 years old this year, and runs, so I jumped in for $2 and landed him.
Logan Webb $1 ($3): Like David Peterson, he’s going to get a good trial, he’s young, talented, and would seem to have the potential to have a good season. He’s got a better heater than Peterson, but less control, and not much more of a strikeout pitch. He was close to the best pitcher left, we do what we can.
Brendan Rodgers $3 ($11): He was having an excellent spring when he strained his hamstring. He’s going to miss a month they say, but my guess he’ll miss more. We have an unlimited DL list so the only problem with replacing him will be finding someone who plays. Since he’s my Swingman that replacement can be a pitcher, so no worries.
Dee Strange-Gordon: Speed. Bad OBP.
Blake Treinen: A handcuff for my Victor Gonzalez handcuff, though Graterol is standing in the shadows.
Steven Brault: He’s throwing hard and having a good spring. I’m not a believer or pitching him for your team, but at this point a dart throw was needed.
Brailyn Marquez: The most talent behind another closer with a spotty recent history.
The Pros: Solid group of chalk players, assuming Arenado bounces back after a bad year. As usual I’m in the lower third spending on pitching ($68, 26 percent) and this team lacks innings right now, but it should reside near the top in ERA and WHIP, and with lots of starters from good teams if things break right I’ll compete there, too.
The Cons: A lot of low-cost risks spread through the lineup. If all of them work out they become a plus, but they won’t all work out. The most important one is Jordan Hicks. If he saves 25-30 games the team profile becomes a lot stronger. My biggest failure during the draft was ending up with Hilliard, Pillar, and Alford as my motley outfield. Cheap, productive, but likely with weak enough OBP’s that if they play as much as I hope they will end up undermining the team while adding more counting stats.
What I’ll be Looking For: Saves and steals, for now, and trying to upgrade OBP in the outfield. As we go along I may end up looking for at bats, if the endgame plays don’t work out. There’s always work to do.
With Drew Pomeranz ($6) hurt, Tout NL bid $7 for Emilio Pagan and $4 for Mark Melancon. At these prices maybe someone should have built their staff around wannabe closers. With no innings pitched minimum it is possible.
I’d bumped Jazz Chisholm off my list because I doubt he’s going to hit enough, but Scott Wilderman bought him for $4, and it looks like he’s going to get a chance to hold the second base job in Miami. I was the second team out and there were still plenty of players at the bottom of my lists, but as they proceeded I crossed off just about everyone. A few names that didn’t make my lists in addition to Chisholm it might be worth looking into:
Hitters: Luis Guillorme, Pavin Smith, CJ Abrams, Jonathon India.
Pitchers: Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jake Arrieta.
A little, not much.
Despite a good spring Jo Adell was sent down. He was hurt last year by the lack of Triple-A experience, his pitch recognition was terrible. He’ll be back.
On Saturday Dustin May struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. with a 100 mph fastball.
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