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2012 Draft Prep: Tout Wars takeaways

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For those unfamiliar with Tout Wars, here's a quick rundown: 41 of the world's best fantasy baseball players gather in New York City to participate in three separate leagues (AL only, NL only, and Mixed). It's auction style against the best and the brightest, meaning there are no sleepers -- only gambles, outbids, and frustrated sighs when a catcher you were trying to sneak through for a dollar is bid up to two by that dude across the room.

Tout Wars isn't just a slap-ourselves-on-the-back festival of narcissism for Fantasy experts; its original intent was to provide a value barometer for the millions of Fantasy Baseball players looking for advice as they go into their own drafts.

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In Saturday's mixed league, for instance, which took place just hours after Ryan Madson's need for surgery was made public, "RYAN MADSON TOMMY JOHN" was written on a piece of paper and waved in front of participants by auctioneer Jeff Erickson (of Rotowire) before the auction began. Supposed new closer Sean Marshall promptly went for $12. By comparison, Cleveland closer Chris Perez cost $7, Seattle's Brandon League cost $10, and Jose Valverde went for $12. I bought Aroldis Chapman for a dollar.

In Sunday's NL-only auction, a room of experts collectively managed to place Marshall's value at $13. He cost three dollars more than Dodgers closer Javy Guerra and a dollar more than Nationals closer Drew Storen. Chapman went for $5.

So, even though I personally think Chapman will find his way into the closer role at some point (if he doesn't remain a high-strikeout starter, which would still make him a bargain for a buck), I can't ignore the fact that a bunch of experts disagree. Vehemently. And this was just one of many nuggets I took away from my Tout Wars weekend. Read on for more lessons learned over the three days of auctioning, player-buying, and speculating ...

Freddie Freeman is not getting the respect he deserves: Freeman hit .282 with 21 home runs last year, his rookie campaign with the Braves. It's not out of the question to think he can hit 30 this year, and do so at first base in a league that lost two of its top first basemen (Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols). But Freeman commanded just $14 in Tout Mixed. On the NL-only side, Yahoo's Scott Pianowski added him for $22. His current ADP on CBSSports.com is 130, behind Derek Jeter, Jason Heyward and Dee Gordon.

The Hawaiian Lion is the greatest shot you've never head of: It's Goldschlager on the bottom and Jose Cuervo gold on top. It's delicious. I swear. And that's what makes it so dangerous. It made the Friday night Tout Wars party both a little more and a little less memorable.

Four very different reserve gambles: My reserve draft (a quick snake done after the auction to fill out the bench) consisted of four players who could either fade into obscurity or be pleasant bargains:

Chone Figgins: Best case, he gets cheap steals and has a rebound in average. Worst case, he repeats his dismal 2011 and I cut him for Rod Barajas.

Kerry Wood: Best case, Carlos Marmol is traded or injured, and he takes over as closer. Worst case, he's an effective middle reliever with a high strikeout rate.

Grady Sizemore: Best case, he sits on my DL (doing no harm to roster size) and then returns with a bang in two months. Worst case, he sits on my DL doing no harm to my roster size. I am still able to add Rod Barajas.

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Kevin Gregg: Best case, he emerges as the Baltimore closer or is traded to Cincinnati to close. Worst case, he's a poor man's Kerry Wood.

Sorry, Cory: At the end of the Mixed auction, MLB.com's Cory Schwartz called out A.J. Pierzynski for a dollar. At that point, I had $4 to spend on two players, so I bought him for $2, figuring he's good for a nice batting average and will hit second, apparently, in the Chicago lineup. Just so everyone doesn't think I'm some heartless dream-shatterer, I was on the other end of that, "I'll go two," outbid a few times, most notably when Fred Zinkie went up to $2 on Josh Willingham, a player I thought I could sneak into my outfield for a dollar.

Every league needs a Zinkie: The defending Tout Mixed champ also probably set the record for most trade offers last year, and while they weren't all sent to me, he managed to chronicle a several-week-long odyssey of counter-offers and insane proposals that were exchanged between us. Not every league literally needs Fred Zinkie, but it helps to have someone who you know will always at least be receptive to helping you work out a trade, and do so fairly. I think our league of 15 has at least 10 free-wheeling, let's-make-a-deal-type owners who fit that bill, possibly more.

Don't forget about Ryan Howard : He went for $7 in Tout Mixed and is probably worth $10-11. He'll likely make a team back up to $15 in value. Paul Singman nabbed him in Tout Mixed, and can now DL him, pick up a middling first basemen to hold him over, then reap the rewards of a healthy Howard for the second half of the season. In keeper leagues, he's even more of a smart, sneaky play.

Oh, hold on: Apparently, Cory Schwartz believes that my $39 Hanley Ramirez purchase was the most egregious act of overspending in the auction, so now I don't feel so bad about stealing his would-be catcher.

In defense of Hanley: A year ago, we were talking about him as the top overall Fantasy player. He went for $49 in last year's auction and, as we all know, hit a bit of a rough patch in 2011. But consider that he was hurt, he has a new manager this year, he'll have eligibility at shortstop and third base, and he has a much stronger lineup around him this year. Add all that together, and I see at least $39 worth of value coming back.

Two pitchers I wish I had gone the extra dollar on:

Stephen Strasburg: Sports Illustrated's Eric Mack got him for $17. Looking back, at $18 (assuming nobody else went bid him up to $19), he would have been a great addition to my staff. Lots of strikeouts, a low whip, and low ERA.

Mark Buehrle: Wise Guy Baseball's Gene McCaffrey and I were stuck at a tiny table off to the side at last year's Mixed draft, and we kept going after the same players. This year, we nabbed seats at the normal table ( FantasyBaseballSherpa.com's Scott Swanay sat on the floor for the five-hour extravaganza), and didn't tangle at all. But Gene's $2 Buehrle could turn out to be a tremendous buy. The last time he pitched less than 200 innings in a season, Justin Bieber was five years old.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Marlins delay Giancarlo Stanton's spring debut until Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) The Marlins opted to push back outfielder Giancarlo Stanton's spring debut to Thursday. Stanton, who hasn't played since getting hit in the face in September, was originally scheduled to face the University of Miami in an exhibition game Tuesday.

"It just made more sense -- he can get more at-bats on the backfield," manager Mike Redmond said, per The Miami Herald. "We have simulated games going on back there. So, it just made more sense for him instead of going over there for one at-bat, keep him back here and he can get more at-bats and more work done back here and then he'll be ready to roll for Thursday."


Reports: Mets eyeing third game of season for Matt Harvey's debut
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) It appears the Mets are leaning toward having starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who has not pitched in a regular season game since Aug. 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, make his season debut in the third game at Washington, several team sources told the New York Post.

The Mets are targeting the third game on the road, as opposed to the season and home openers, because they don't want Harvey to feel added pressure given the circumstances, particularly if he makes his first start in front of an exhilarated home crowd.

"All that has been discussed,’’ one source said.

“Things can change, but that schedule makes sense,’’ another source said.

Harvey seems fine with whatever the Mets have in store.

“Anything they want to do is good,’’ Harvey said.


Phillies' Harang opts to skip spring debut Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:41 am ET) Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Harang was scratched from his spring debut Wednesday against the Yankees.

Although Harang had an ice pack on his lower back Tuesday, according to The News Journal, he told reporters he will miss Wednesday's start because he needs to work on his mechanics and is not ready to pitch in a game. Harang added he does intend to be ready the next time his turn in the rotation comes up. 

Harang dodged questions about his back issues, but he did mention he went to see a chiropractor a few days ago to get his back realigned.

Kevin Slowey will start in Harang's place Wednesday.


Nationals' Yunel Escobar returns after dealing with fever Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:35 am ET) Nationals second baseman Yunel Escobar was back practicing Tuesday after missing on-field workouts Monday due to a fever, according to The Washington Post. Escobar said he was feeling better Tuesday.

Pirates' Cumpton to meet with Dr. Andrews concerning elbow issue
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:31 am ET) Pirates pitcher Brandon Cumpton is slated to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Monday after feeling discomfort in his elbow, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Cumpton first noticed an issue when he was throwing live batting practice last week.

Pirates 1B Corey Hart expects to make spring debut by Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:27 am ET) Pirates first baseman Corey Hart suffered a laceration on his foot near the arch when he stepped on a loose hot tub filter, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hart, however, expects to make his spring debut by Monday.

Manager Clint Hurdle revealed Monday that Hart needed three stitches to close the wound. He also mentioned Hart would be sidelined for a few days.


Report: Twins working on contract extension for Brian Dozier
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:23 am ET) The Twins are working on signing second baseman Brian Dozier to a contract extension, according to the Pioneer Press. There were strong indications Tuesday the Twins were making progress with Dozier's agent -- Damon Lapa -- and a contract extension could be close to being finalized, a source said.

“I’d love to be here,” said Dozier, who declined to comment on the negotiations. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. If the opportunity presents itself, then I’m all for it. We’ll see.”

Dozier is not arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season. If he does sign a contract extension, it will likely run through all three of his arbitration years and likely 1-2 free agent years.

Dozier tied a career high with 33 doubles in 2014, but he did finish with a career-best 23 home runs. He also had a career-high 21 stolen bases and 112 runs.


Tigers' Victor Martinez: I'm still on track for opening day
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:13 am ET) Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez told reporters he remains on track to play on opening day, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Martinez, who is working his way back from a medial menisectomy in his left knee, revealed that he suffered the injury while playing catch in the street with his brother in February. He took 25 swings off a tee from each of the plate on Monday, and told reporters he would have taken 50 if the team trainer wasn't around.

The 36-year-old hit .335/.409/.565 over 561 at-bats last year.


Red Sox looking at Brandon Workman as a reliever
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:12 am ET) The Red Sox are looking at pitcher Brandon Workman as a reliever this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Manager John Farrell seemed to think Workman would be more than adequate in the role. "His mentality is one that embraces those higher leverage type of innings," Farrell said. "In one-inning stints, his stuff plays up a little bit more with power, a little bit more swing-and-miss ability with his fastball."

Workman seems open to the change. "If John tells me that’s where I’m going to fit in, that’s where I’ll fit in," he said.

The 26-year-old Workman posted a 5.17 ERA over 87 innings last year. 


Twins' GM believes Kyle Gibson can get to the next level
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:44 am ET) Twins general manager Terry Ryan believes pitcher Kyle Gibson can get to the next level, according to the Star Tribune.

"The guy has too good of stuff not to be more consistent," Ryan said. "I don’t think it’s 'if' he makes another jump. He’s going to make a jump. It’s a matter of how high."

Gibson showed flashes of promise in 2014. While his overall numbers were just average, Gibson was solid during the first half of the year. He posted a 3.92 ERA over 101 innings to start the year, but struggled with a 5.17 ERA in the second half. Gibson said the reason for his success last year had to do with execution.

"The reason for the jump was my focus on executing pitches," Gibson said. "In 2013 I got caught up in all the information and the scouting reports instead of realizing this is the pitch I need to execute so let’s execute it."

Gibson said he's hoping to increase his strikeout rate this season, but wants to make sure he can still retain his strong ground ball rate. The 27-year-old posted a 4.47 ERA over 179 1/3 innings last season. 


 
 
 
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