Cash or M*A*S*H
I do have to admit that all things considered, one must manage risk as much as possible when assembling a fantasy team.
I also believe that the path to success in any venue often lies in embracing the discards or rejects of others.
Which brings me to last Saturday's AL Tout Wars Auction, held at MLB.com headquarters in the Chelsea District of Manhattan.
AL Tout is a storied league, being the source of both the book and film Fantasyland, as it includes some of both the best players and best known players in the Fantasy Baseball Universe. Ron Shandler. Jason Grey. Matthew Berry. Rick Wolf. Glenn Colton. Steve Moyer. Jeff Erickson. Mike Siano.
It is hard, but the hardest part, for me, is not playing against these guys; it is trying to figure out how to outwit them.
Gordon hiding a big season inside?
In saying this I don't mean specifically what players to take, although that certainly factors in. For, as I have written many times, I try to think more of positions as placeholders for the statistics a player will provide.
One other thing I have noticed not just at Tout, but LABR, and all the leagues in which I play, is that they have become increasingly tough during the auction. That is because so much more thought, discipline, and price enforcing has become the rule.
Which means my opponents don't mind I if want a player; but, they want to make sure I pay for the full value.
So, the question is how do I outsmart these guys who are the smartest of the smart when it comes to knowing players and performance and fantasy strategy?
Well, I have always trusted taking a few players coming off down years, for those players are usually devalued.
But, I never considered truly building a roster around a bunch of these guys until this year.
So, last Saturday, at MLB.com, that is exactly what I did.
Matt Wieters ($17). Justin Morneau ($20). Chone Figgins ($19). Asdrubal Cabrera ($15). Coco Crisp ($18). Alex Gordon ($17). Mike Cameron ($4). A.J. Burnett ($9). Joe Nathan ($16). Erik Bedard ($6). Scott Baker ($4). Jake Peavy ($15).
All of these players were either hurt last year, underperformed last year, or both. Some, like Gordon and Wieters, have always underperformed.
And, all of these players are on my roster, as is one more very good but risky player in Josh Hamilton ($29).
It is funny though, because as I listened to a replay of the AL Draft last Sunday, as Todd Zola drove me from Chelsea to JFK to fly home, all I kept hearing from Sirius Radio guys Lenny Melnick and Paul Greco, who covered the event on air, was that I had a high risk/high reward roster. Lenny and Paul also thought it was dicey to take that many players with question marks behind their names.
Truly, I had not thought of this team in that context. I was thinking in terms of sow's ear from 2010 that could turn into 2011's silk purse.
I was also thinking in the context of "These are all generally good and talented players, and they - save Wieters and Gordon - have had more success than failure over their careers. Further, none of these players seems to have fading skills as opposed to some kind of off-year struggle."
I am already more than mindful of the possibilities as arguably my best pitcher - Jake Peavy - is already flirting with disaster as well as shoulder issues. He is also a former Cy Young winner who is still just 29 years old.
So, while building a roster of steady, predictable guys in a deep league like Tout is the conventional path, when everyone follows that path, there is nowhere left to go. (Truth is, that not only does not win, but well, it is boring.)
And, while I am looking at an all or nothing scenario, I do have a few thoughts about that.
First, all these guys could be due, and I could scrape through somewhat unscathed. Stranger things have happened.
Second, the objective of the draft is to come out of it with a team that is competitive, and adjust along the way, for winning with a team purchased on auction day that does not require manipulation over the season is a rare bird. So, no matter who I purchased, I am going to have to play the FAAB game.
Finally, I truly did not select this team to finish below second.
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.