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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
Report: Rangers seeking to unload SP Wandy Rodriguez
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) The Rangers are receiving some feelers in their openness to trade starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, per Fox Sports, which is claiming he could be gone in the next few weeks.

The team is seeking a trade that would allow them to bring in a top-of-the-line pitcher for its rotation in an attempt to remain in playoff contention.

Rodriguez could fetch a fair price, but his recent performances aren't driving up his value. He has allowed 19 runs in his last 19 1/3 innings pitched and hasn't managed a quality start in his last four outings.

His ERA has soared from 3.03 to 4.23.


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(12:11 pm ET) Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier had two hits, including his eighth double, and one RBI during a 10-7 win Monday against the Phillies. He also had one run and one walk.

Ethier has hit safely in five of his last six games. He is batting .471 (8 for 17) with one home run, two doubles, two RBI, four runs, four walks and two strikeouts in that span.


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(12:07 pm ET) A simulated game scheduled for Royals rehabbing left-hander Jason Vargas has been pushed back from Tuesday to Wednesday, per Sports Radio 810. He will throw about 60 pitches.

Vargas has been sidelined for a month with a left flexor strain. He won five of seven decisions and posted a 4.10 ERA before going down.


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by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:42 am ET) After 16 straight starts in left field, slumping Randal Grichuk is out of the lineup for the Cardinals in the first game of a Tuesday doubleheader against the Cubs.

Tommy Pham will slide over from center to play that spot.

Grichuk is batting .050 (1-for-20) over his last six games, though he did slam a two-run double in the ninth inning Monday that could get him going again.


Phillies' Galvis extends streak, ties season high with three RBI
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis homered Monday against the Dodgers to extend his hitting streak to eight games. 

Galvis connected for a two-run homer off Yimi Garcia in the second inning. He added a sac fly in the seventh inning to tie a season high with three RBI. It was the second time he had three RBI.

Galvis is batting .467 (14 for 30) with one double, one home run, six RBI, three runs, three walks, six strikeouts and one stolen base during his eight-game hit streak.


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by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:37 am ET) Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter is catching a break in the first game of the Tuesday doubleheader against the host Cubs. He is out of the lineup as Mark Reynolds will man the position instead.

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Phillies OF Odubel Herrera off to blistering start in July
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:29 am ET) Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera homered for the second time in three games during a 10-7 loss Monday against the Dodgers. He parked his fourth home run in the fourth inning -- a solo homer off Eric Surkamp.

Herrera is off to a great start in July. He has hit safely in his first six starts this month. He is batting .400 (10 for 25) with two home runs, three doubles, five RBI, three runs, two strikeouts and one stolen base in that span.


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(11:24 am ET) In order to activate DH John Jaso from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, the Rays needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. To make that happen, the team opted to designate reliever Preston Guilmet for assignment.

Guilmet was optioned to the minors Thursday. He has made three relief appearances for Tampa Bay this season, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. He also has five strikeouts.


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Jaso spent eight games on a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte and Triple-A Durham. He hit .250 (7 for 28) with one RBI, two doubles, two walks, three runs and four strikeouts.

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by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Any kind of hits have been hard to come by for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard lately, but he certainly came up with a big one - at least at the time - Monday night against the host Dodgers.

Howard smashed a three-run homer to right-center in the third inning to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead. He also fanned twice in the game.

That it was his lone hit is no surprise. Howard is batting .100 (3-for-30) over his last 10 games as his average has plunged to .218.


 
 
 
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