Though I have been competing for several years in one of the most nationally-known fantasy leagues, Tout Wars, I rarely if ever talk about it here, because after all, this site is about the Cardinals.
Yet at least once per year, it makes sense to delve into it a bit when the two worlds meet. The National League Tout Wars draft was Sunday morning in New York and I again participated – facing off against 12 of the top writers in the fantasy world.
I will look at where the Cardinals players went in the draft and a bit of my thinking about them. There was also a 17-team mixed draft on Saturday afternoon/evening. I will include those prices without commentary, as that format is likely less-transferable to your local league. In addition, I was only watching that draft, not bidding!
Full AL, NL and mixed rosters are available at ToutWars.com.
A bit of background. Most of the participants know one another pretty well, including draft tendencies and favorite clubs. My Cardinals background is more team-focused than most, which leads newer league members to assume I will try to assemble a St. Louis-oriented roster.
That is not the case. With a 23-player draft plus four reserve picks from a 16-team NL pool, odds are that any given owner will have one or two players from a given club on his roster.
So it was for me and the Cards in recent seasons. In 2007, my second catcher was a $4 Yadier Molina and I wasted $13 on a then-still hopeful return to St. Louis for Adam Kennedy.
Starting last season, which became a disaster for me, I also had two Cardinals. This time, they were expected to be a more integral part of my team at $16 each. Rick Ankiel was fine prior to his injury and Jason Isringhausen, well, let’s just say that they weren’t the only two disappointments…
It was yet another reminder to not pay for last year’s stats.
That was certainly a lesson I took into 2009. I was searching for players with solid skills but would be undervalued because they have yet to break out or due to concerns over past injuries.
In a league like this where all the competition is knowledgeable, there aren’t going to be sleepers. Everyone pretty much knows the players well. So looking for this upside is where I decided to take my chances on draft day.
I also wanted to build a solid team from top to bottom, avoiding having to fight for the inevitable late-draft scraps with people having too much to spend on too few decent players. With the four reserve rounds, we are talking about 13 teams times 27 players per team, or 351 NL players taken.
With that long introduction out of the way, following are the prices of the Cardinals players drafted in 2009 Tout Wars. You’ll see three values. The first is the player’s price in NL Tout. Second is his value as calculated through our draft kit, free at creativesports.com, where I also write during the season. On the right is the winning bid from the Tout Wars 17-team mixed draft auction.
Now, let’s discuss the Cardinals players.
Catcher: I like Yadier Molina, but knew he would go for more than what I had allocated as his batting average improvement last season caught peoples’ attention. I was right.
First base: Albert Pujols was actually a bargain by most valuation systems, though not mine. It was very early in the draft, but having it to do over, it might have been tempting to say “$39”. At that point, I was still saving my corner money, hoping to get Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats, but I got out of the bidding for him at $23.
Second base: Though only initially qualifying as an outfielder, Skip Schumaker will become second-base eligible after only five games, making an $8 bid more reasonable. I chose not to go there, however.
Shortstop: Readers of this blog know how excited I became after looking at Khalil Greene’s springs compared to regular seasons. I ended up in a bidding war with Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ, paying more for Greene than I planned. But after a one-year absence from my Tout roster, Greene is back!
Third base: Hertz took a late $1 flyer on David Freese. Darn. I had hoped Freese would slip into the reserve round, but obviously he did not. I selected Houston’s new third baseman Chris Johnson instead. Troy Glaus’ value was approximately cut in half ($7) for good reason. I had no interest in going that route amid concerns about a lag in his power returning.
Outfield: I honestly did not have room for Colby Rasmus, as outfield is where I loaded up on talent. I had both Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel targeted, but secured neither. I bid Ludwick up to $22, at my top value, and let Lenny Melnick/Paul Greco take him for $23. They also added a $7 Chris Duncan, which could be especially nice if he is traded and receives more playing time. I may have gotten out too quickly on Ankiel as he sold for $14.
Starting pitching: I wanted the dual aces of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. I paid for the first, but bailed out on the latter when the amounts reached double-digits. My biggest regret from the draft is not staying in on Carp longer, but I was worried about money after going over budget on Greene and several non-Cardinals.
While not Carp’s replacement, a $3 Joel Pineiro could be an asset if he can keep throwing an effective sinker. I was fine taking that small chance. Todd Wellemeyer and Kyle Lohse also received credible bids, $4 and $7 respectively, but I didn’t want to go in that direction.
Relief pitching: There apparently was an undercurrent of interest in the room and on the live draft blog over what I would do with regard to the Cardinals’ closer situation. I would have loved Jason Motte, but it would have taken at least $12 to get him and probably more. I viewed that as fairly high risk. Instead, I grabbed Chris Perez for just $4. Over the course of the season, I believe I will get more value per dollar in return for him.
Ryan Franklin and Josh Kinney also received bids from others, just to make sure the waterfront is adequately covered!
If you’re keeping score, I actually doubled my level of past Cardinals participation by taking four in this draft – the ones bolded in the table above. Greene, Wainwright, Perez and Pineiro cost a total of $39 of my $260. Yet the year-over-year increment is only seven dollars – the amount gambled on the latter two pitchers. As noted, I also would have liked to acquire three or four other Cards, though.
When analyzing why, I think I do harbor more optimistic feelings about several of these St. Louis players than do many other pundits. I don’t know that it makes them “homer” picks, however. I prefer to think I just have a deeper knowledge about them.
After all, I also ended up with four members of the Washington Nationals and I can assure you that I certainly have no affinity to that team. The reality is that they had more of what I wanted – emerging and comeback candidates at decent prices.
For those playing fantasy, good luck in your drafts and may you have a successful 2009 season!