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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
Cubs RP Jason Motte picks up relief win on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:44 am ET) Cubs reliver Jason Motte (2-1) earned a win in relief in Saturday's 9-6 victory over the Diamondbacks. Motte entered the bottom of the eighth inning with one away and managed to retire the two batters he faced. The Cubs put up three runs in their half of the ninth, which allowed Motte to pick up the win. 

The hard-throwing right-hander lowered his season ERA to 4.76 and he has not been scored upon in his last four outings.


Diamondbacks' Enrique Burgos serves up game-winning home run
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:42 am ET) Diamondbacks reliever Enrique Burgos (0-2) picked up a loss to the Cubs in Saturday's 9-6 defeat. Burgos, who hadn't allowed a run in three straight outings, served up a game-winning three-run home run to Anthony Rizzo in the top of the ninth inning.

The Diamondbacks haven't officially named Burgos the closer, though he did successfully record two straight saves earlier in the week. But he took a step backwards with Saturday's performance and it remains to be seen if manager Chip Hale calls on him if a save chance occurs on Sunday.


Cubs RP Pedro Strop records first save of 2015
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:37 am ET) Cubs reliever Pedro Strop picked up his first save of the season in the 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Manager Joe Maddon decided to give regular closer Hector Rondon the night off, so Strop was tabbed to close out the game.

The right-hander tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out one, to pick up the sixth save of his career. He now has four straight scoreless outings under his belt.


Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo ties career-high with six RBI on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:35 am ET) Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was the hero in Saturday night's come-from-behind win over the Diamondbacks. Rizzo went 2 for 5 and tied a career-high with six RBI. 

In the fifth inning, Rizzo cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Then, with the game tied at six in the top of the ninth, Rizzo hit a three-run home run to put the Cubs up 9-6, which would be the final score.

The homer was Rizzo's ninth of the season and the six RBI give him 29 on the year. 


Cubs SP Jake Arrieta gives six runs in no-decision Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:30 am ET) By definition, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta (4-4) posted a quality start in Saturday's loss to the Diamondbacks. The right-hander went six innings, giving up six runs (three earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out seven as his ERA rose to 2.95.

A couple of miscues from the defense, coupled with a sixth-inning home run from D-Backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, hurt Arrieta in this one. But luckily for him, his offense was able to erase a deficit, and Arrieta picked up a no decision. He'll hope for better fortunes in his next start Friday against the Royals.


Diamondbacks SP Rubby De La Rosa gets no-decision Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:27 am ET) Diamondbacks starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-2) pitched well in Saturday's loss to the Cubs, all except for one inning. The young right-hander tossed six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out eight and walked two on the evening.

All of the damage to De La Rosa came in a four-run fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, De La Rosa hit Kris Bryant to force in a run, and then served up a three-run double to Anthony Rizzo. 

Fortunately for De La Rosa, his offense put up six runs on his behalf. Unfortunately for him, the bullpen wasn't able to hold the lead, as he picked up the no decision. He'll take a 4.27 ERA into his next start, scheduled for Friday in Milwaukee.


Twins pitcher Casey Fien begins rehab assignment on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Twins pitcher Casey Fien tossed one scoreless inning on Saturday for Triple-A Rochester. Fien did not allow a hit with one walk and no strikeouts in the outing.

Fien is currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury and has not pitched for Minnesota since April 29. He currently owns a 1-2 record with a 4.35 ERA and three strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work.


Cardinals not concerned yet about Michael Wacha's innings
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha is scheduled to take the hill again on Sunday against the Royals, his ninth start of the season. Wacha has already logged 50 1/3 innings of work, something the team wants to monitor very closely throughout the season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"It's probably something to look at later," said Matheny. "Right now, we don't want him to be concerned with that stuff. And I don't think right now is the time to conserve. I seems like this game shows you when it’s time to conserve.

"We'll monitor his workload as much as possible but when he's throwing the ball well and he feels as good as he does, we need to take advantage of it. But we have some parameters in sight of where we’d like to keep him at."

Wacha, 6-0, has a 2.13 ERA with 31 strikeouts so far this season. 


Mariners' Austin Jackson goes 3 for 5 in seventh rehab game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson went 3 for 5 with a double in his seventh rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday.

Jackson, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an ankle sprain, is now hitting .310 (9 for 29) on his rehab assignment and may be closer to a return. Jackson has been out of action since May 3 when he rolled his ankle. Jackson is hitting .242 with four RBI in 95 at-bats for Seattle this season.


Dodgers CF Joc Pederson blasts 12th home run of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson went 1 for 4 at the plate in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres on Saturday.

Pederson did his damage in the first inning when he crushed a lead off home run over the right field wall off of Ian Kennedy, his 12th of the season. He has now tied a Dodgers' rookie record for most leadoff home runs in season with Johnny Frederick, who set the record in 1929.

Pederson is now hitting .243 with 23 RBI in 136 at-bats this season.


 
 
 
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