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Andy Behrens

The Roto Arcade Pro-Am, Year Two

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Here at Roto Arcade, we take user feedback very seriously. And not a day goes by that we don't receive 50 emails asking – no, demanding – that we analyze our own fantasy drafts. The longer the analysis, the better. The Yahoo! community has spoken with one voice, urging us to deliver as many million-word draft reviews as possible. (IceBerg is really the lone dissenter).

Today, you get your wish. The Roto Arcade Pro-Am recently held its auction, and the participants were kind enough answer questions about their strategies. This year's league is significantly different from the inaugural version, as we're going head-to-head (my preference) and we've added OPS and holds as categories (personal favorites). Just like last season, the 14 league members are a collection of excellent fantasy bloggers and sketchy Arcade commenters.

As you read the Qs and As below, you'll find that the mix of auction tactics at work in the Pro-Am was fairly typical. We had people who took the stars-and-scrubs approach, and others who sought balance. And we had an auto-picker who missed the auction entirely, because his life is spinning horribly out of control. My team, Secret Treasure Loaf, took an approach that was rather similar to this one, discussed on Tuesday. In mixed leagues of reasonable size, I'll generally spend big for elite talent, then target specific positions and players in the $1 speed round. But you don't need to read my mixed auction philosophy again.

Let's hear from the other participants…

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Rudy Gamble and Grey Albright, Razzball
Team Name: Razzball

Q: In the final hour of the auction, you guys definitely had the biggest pile of chips – well, other than our auto-picking friend slondo1, who left $34 unspent. You used your financial leverage to outbid the room on a few players at the end, including Chase Headley(notes). Care to project his 2010 season? That definitely seemed to be a case where you were targeting the player.

A: We've found that third base is the most overvalued position in drafts this year. When every solid 3B went off the board at what we felt were inflated rates, we just punted it figuring that we can get an upside play like Headley at the very end. Interestingly enough, this is the player whom Grey and myself (Rudy) differ on the most. Grey projects him at 70/20/85/.290/10 while I've got him at 72/14/67/6/.260. The league is shallow enough at 14 teams that if Headley ends up more like my projections, we can drop him for someone better.

Q: So is it typical for you to complete an auction without owning any $30 players, or any $1 players?

A: Yes. Our No. 1 goal is to have across-the-board depth vs. investing heavy in a few players, as it leaves us less vulnerable if a big injury hits or a player has a huge falloff in performance (like 2009 with Reyes & Wright). In addition, when so many teams are going for broke on players in a relatively deep format like 14-team MLB – 11 guys at $40-plus, 27 guys above $30-plus – you know money will run out and you'll be able to stock up on second-tier player at relative bargains.

The reason we didn't end up with any $1 players is that, by not paying big premiums early in the draft, we never had to resort to $1 players. Why pay $1 for guys like Jake Fox(notes) and Aubrey Huff(notes) when you can get The Big FraGu and Nick Swisher(notes) for $3?

Q: You spent $46 on closers and another $5 on holds. Was that by design? Because when you think of Razzball, you think of SAGNOF…

A: That's true. We love our SAGNOF. We spent more on closers than we normally would. It was a combination of having enough money, and that you can never have enough closers (we ended up with four) - even in H2H. It's a lot easier to trade a closer than it is to trade any other player you draft for $12 or less. As for the $5 on holds (Madson at $3, Sherrill at $2), we figured these were some of the better middle relievers, but we didn't want to spend too much on them since holds can be found in free agency.

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Jared Norris, "Uncle Charlie," Fantasy Baseball Geeks
Team Name: Ron Gant's Bicep

Q: You bought a very large pile of starting pitchers, yet left a "Util" spot open. (Some of the pitchers will become DL-eligible soon, so you'll have roster spots to work with). Is that your typical approach in head-to-head, or were you just buying values? And why have not we made a trade yet? Our needs are perfectly aligned.

A: Some people collect baseball cards, some people still collect “Goosebumps” books, and I would not be surprised if someone has collected all 93 films staring Eugene Levy. I, on the other hand, collect starting pitchers – or should I say hoard starting pitchers. In the four leagues I'm participating in this season, I have 16 starting pitchers comfortably sitting on my bench (21 total bench spots). So yes, this was another example of my usual approach in a head-to-head league.

In 2009, 26 of the top 50 starting pitchers ended up being drafted after pick No. 150. Of those 26, four were not drafted in most leagues (Happ, Wells, Feldman, Correia). So I figure why not try and maximize my potential by targeting starting pitchers with upside late in this auction? If I end up with seven or eight starting pitchers, targeting some with risk and some without, I'm bound to hit on three or four of them, which will end up filling my starting staff. I like my chances given the starting pitchers I bought late in the draft: John Lackey(notes) at $9, David Price(notes) at $5, Brandon Webb(notes) at $2, Erik Bedard(notes) at $2, Wade Davis(notes) at $1, Luke Hochevar(notes) at $1, Fausto Carmona(notes) at $1, and Marc Rzepczynski(notes) at $1.

I did not intentionally leave my Utility spot open; I ended up having to auto-draft the last five rounds, which is probably how I ended up with Juan Uribe(notes) as my MI. Do not get me wrong – I love watching Uribe flip his bat (a la Dante Bichette) 15 times a year, but I would have much rather grabbed another MI.

Q: Give me projections for David Price and Wade Davis, please. That's an interesting fantasy pairing.

A: I guess I should be asking you, Mr. Behrens, “Keeper of the secret loaf,” for your projections on David Price, seeing how you sent me a trade offer for him an hour after the draft. I think Price is in for a rebound season in 2010 – remember, it was only two years ago when we were drafting him like we are Strasburg this year, and as we did with Hanson last year. In 2008, we stashed Price counting down the days 'til June 1st, which then turned into July 1st, which then turned into after the All-Star break…OK, well, maybe Price ended up taking a little bit longer than Strasburg probably will, but at the time the hype around Price was just as strong as the other two. In 2010, I think Price will end up with a similar line to the one teammate Matt Garza(notes) put up last year, in his second full season: 8 W, 12 L, 200 INN, 190 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.26 WHIP. Except I think Price will end up with more wins; somewhere between 10-to-14.

I'm a big believer in Wade Davis. What is not to enjoy about a young pitcher who is 6-5, 220 lbs. and commands a fastball above 95 mph? Young power pitchers like Davis continue to put up quality starts in the majors (see Josh Johnson(notes) and Brett Anderson(notes)). I'm tempering my expectations this season a little for Davis and hoping for a line somewhere along the lines of 10 W, 175 INN, 170 K, 4.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP. Drafting young starting pitchers on the Rays in the finals rounds is a excellent rule of thumb to follow. It has worked out well the past few years if you drafted Shields, Garza, Niemann, Price. I'm hoping it pans out with Davis, and I'll take the same approach next year with Jeremy Hellickson(notes).

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Ray Flores, Fantasy Baseball Cafe
Team Name: Republik of Mancunia

Q: Damn you for getting Quentin. Just throwin' that out there. I realize it's not really a question. Moving on…

A: Yes, I'm really quite content to nab Carlos Quentin(notes), even if it meant shelling out a few more dollars, because he has been a routine target of mine in all of my drafts. Even a year removed from a wrist injury, he still clubbed 21 home runs in 350-some at-bats. Of course I have a few concerns with him, namely his record for being a bit injury prone. He isn't a great line-drive hitter, which will keep his batting average from going above the .280 mark. Quentin is just 27 going on 28, and the power potential is still there. The wrist should be healed. As long as his foot problem doesn't flare up, 30 homers is definitely not a stretch. I knew Quentin's average auction value in Yahoo was around $5-6, but I also knew most guys in the room would spot him as a potential game-changing value. The only thing I'm a bit disappointed with is that I might have had Quentin for, say, $9 instead of $17, had it not been for just one manager who was bidding hard for him. (I guess that was you, Andy). Still, not a bad price on a guy who can produce second or third round value.

Q: Is your intention to punt saves entirely (completely reasonable in this format), or should I be making closer-for-starter trade offers?

A: Yes and no. No, I don't go into any draft or auction planning to punt saves, but yes, punting saves was a very strong consideration going into it. About midway through the auction, I was pretty much set on going to the dollar store for middle relievers and using every extra dollar on my offense and/or starting rotation. Personally, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of paying $8-9 on the likes of Carlos Marmol(notes) and Francisco Cordero(notes), given the volatile nature of H2H on a weekly basis. The same idea applied to the top setup men for holds. That's not to say I didn't try to get at least one closer, though, because I was sniped from getting Brian Fuentes(notes) for just $2.

In the end, I was pleased with the bullpen I built. I took four middle relievers for just a dollar each. Mike Adams(notes) and Jason Frasor(notes), in particular, could wind up closing by season's end, and are fantastic value for solid ratios and holds. (Ed's Note: Frasor will be closing next week, in fact). Dan Wheeler(notes) and Jim Johnson(notes) do stand some chance of closing as well, considering the injury concerns with their team's respective closers (Rafael Soriano(notes) and Mike Gonzalez(notes)).

Q: You didn't reach $40 on any player. Is that a standard approach for you in auctions?

To be honest, I haven't played in an auction league in many moons and my approach was a vague one, at best. I know for sure I wasn't against bidding $45 on the top stud bats, namely Pujols, Fielder, Braun, Hanley, and A-Rod. (I stayed well away from the Justin Upton(notes) bid war, though). Knowing that this was a H2H league helped in forming a basis for a game plan. Like I said, I only wanted to pay $1-3 on relievers and I surely didn't want to pay $20 for any starting pitcher. I was also intent on paying no more than $20 on my No. 1 outfielder, then hitting the bargain basement with my C, MI, CI, and two UTIL spots. I was willing to fork up a big premium on my infielders, namely 1B, SS, and 3B, which made any bidding war on Pujols, Hanley, A-Rod, etc. all the more acceptable. Once I saw that a few guys had dedicated their budget on two $40-plus players, I made up my mind to take a hybrid of the same conservative approach Grey was using, and an aggressive approach on winning the players who I think possess a good chance at producing first/second round value (Gonzalez, Wright, Rollins, Quentin).

Had this been a roto league, I would have gone the extra dollar on a top 5-10 hitter – maybe even two $45-50 hitters, if need be. I think the best of what Pujols and Hanley bring to the table is illustrated in roto, and that's where their true worth comes out. In H2H, all production fluctuates on a week-to-week basis – namely steals, saves, holds, and batting average. In that sense, I didn't mind spreading the wealth around my roster if it meant I was going to pay a little more for guaranteed production (Ibanez, Ethier) and snagging some upside players who could produce like $20 players (Nolasco, Johnson, Quentin). Maximizing my R, HR, RBI, W, K potential for consistency from each spot became more important than just building around two $45-50 assets, while lacking some flexibility to build a great team off of it.

Despite some rusty moments, I felt like I stuck to a good game plan. In particular, I loved getting Johnson and Ricky Nolasco(notes) for $17 apiece, not a shabby price for two potential top 10 aces, in my opinion. I think my success mostly depends on the health of my starting pitchers, namely Kazmir, Ervin Santana(notes), and Tim Hudson(notes), but if any one of them pans out, I like my chances overall. Of course Adrian Gonzalez(notes) being traded out of Petco by deadline day would help.

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Million_Dollar_Sleeper, Yahoo! commenter, blogmaster at MDSfantasy
Team Name: The Fiat Punto

Q: Congratulations, sir, on purchasing perhaps the buzziest fantasy roster I've ever seen. You literally bought all of this year's most hyped players: Bruce, Gonzalez, Anderson, Heyward, et al. Any regrets about the prices?

A: No regrets about the prices. I had to pay full price on CarGo, the waiting game didn't work out too well there. I'd take him over Bay at $20, but I am a little jealous of Werth and Cruz going for the same price. Bruce was the 119th player nominated and one of the last power bats out there, so $16 isn't a bad price for him. I'm not worried about the batting average; the BABIP will correct itself. Heyward is a superstar. Virgil is sewing him a technicolor dream coat right now; $12 was nothing. His keen eye will help the OPS and he has a nice power/speed combo. My man-crush on Brett Anderson rivals Noise's feelings for Billy Butler(notes). Brett racks up the K's, has good control, and induces ground balls. That is the holy trinity for SPs. Pitching in Oakland doesn't hurt, either. From June through September, Anderson posted a 8.7 K/9, 1.18 WHIP, 3.33 ERA. Sure, I may have went into the draft eyeing a few specific players, when most gameplans look for cheap prices regardless of the player name. But there were going to be some good $1 buys with the replacement value, and the way people were spending early in the draft. I wanted to get players who will make a big jump in perceived value. I believe all these players will do so.

Q: OK, convince me that Weeks-Escobar-Hudson isn't the worst middle infield in the history of fantasy.

A: Weeks has 20/20 written all over him: 20 days on the disabled list, 20 trade offers sent out by MDS. I know the batting average is risky, but he does take a lot of walks, so the OPS is OK. I just have this feeling that Rickie will defy the injury gods and break out. He is having a great spring, if that counts for anything. Yunel Escobar(notes) is a solid option. He was No. 11 in my SS ranks and his OPS will be over .800. I shouldn't have to defend him. Orlando Hudson(notes) is hitting in front of Joe Mauer(notes) and Justin Morneau(notes). I'll get a 10/10 HR/SB combo, decent OPS, and a lot of runs. I'm sure I'll shop him around after a couple months; he seems to slow down around the All-Star break. I wanted to save money without having to roster David Eckstein(notes). I think I accomplished that, with two solid options and a risk/reward-type player.

Q: I'll give you credit for calling Ryan Franklin's(notes) 2009 season much earlier (and of course much louder) than anyone else. Is Bruney this year's Franklin?

A: Yes it is true that MDS was able to see into the mind of Tony La Russa, but I don't think there is a "this year's Franklin". I spent almost all my money before I could address saves, which I do regret because there were good deals later on. So I went for set-up men who could possibly take over the reigns. I didn't know about Bruney's 1.50 WHIP and control issues until after I drafted him. For some reason, I thought he was better than that. I could have sworn he was on my watch list last year in holds leagues. I actually had Sean Burnett(notes) on a few of my teams last year, anticipating the MacDougal demotion. Matt Capps(notes) will lose his job eventually. It would have happened sooner, but the Nats released Every Day Eddie. Because I missed out on saves – I didn't want Wood for $2, where were you guys? – and it is a H2H league, I don't mind loading up on holds. Maybe I'll get lucky with an injured closer (Billy Wagner(notes), c'mon down) and split the reliever stats 1-1 each week. Bruney will likely be dropped.

Scott Pianowski, Roto Arcade
Team Name: pianow

Q: Your first three buys were outfielders; they went for a total of $109. It was almost an anti-scarcity approach. Were you thinking about "The $100 Outfield" as you bought them? I'm guessing it was a case where you specifically wanted 5-category players at the top, yeah?

(Ed's note: "The $100 Outfield" refers to roto's founding fathers. Someone spent $100 on Dave Kingman, Ron LeFlore and Bobby Bonds. It did not go well).

A: Everyone generally has a "reset, start over" moment in an auction. Mine came pretty early. At least I didn't say $32 for Paul Householder. I wanted to do some version of stars and scrubs, so the I'm not terribly disappointed with Justin Upton, Matt Kemp(notes), Evan Longoria(notes) and Dustin Pedroia(notes), even if I overpaid somewhat for Upton and Longoria. Ellsbury is the play that sticks out like a sore thumb - there's no reason to go into the $20s for speed when you can get Rajai Davis(notes) for a buck. (I'm shocked that wasn't topped, but that's beside the point; cheap speed is out there).

My team is also designed sweetly for a 5x1 league - lots of offense, some closers. My starting pitching has no one close to ace level; I'll need a lot of fixes there.

Q: I've been in other auctions with you, yet I've never before seen you reach the point where you only had $1 to bid on the last few roster spots. Was that an accident?

A: I like to have some leverage in the endgame and avoid the $1 draft portion of the program, but I had trouble staying disciplined in the pre-endgame, and wound up being in the flea market with everyone else. And so it goes. Fortunately when you're in my world, you usually get a shot at redemption 24 hours later (in a new league) or 30 seconds later (on the waiver wire).

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Rob, Yahoo! commenter
Team Name: Patrick Bateman

Q: OK, how high would you have gone on Mauer? Because $44 seems like it must be the outer limit, yeah? I'll now yield 100 words for you to make the position scarcity argument…

A: As far as the price goes, I probably would have gone $48. Getting both Mauer and Fielder was on the top of my to-do list. Howard went for $41 the pick before, and I felt $44 was a fair price on an elite catcher given the lack of depth at the position. The very next pick was Braun at $44; outfield is a lot deeper and can be had later in the auction for less money. Catchers are a hot commodity; having one that puts up numbers like Mauer goes a long way in a 14-team league.

Q: In an OPS league, you bought two of the cheap-speed/no-power outfielders (Michael Bourn(notes) and Rajai Davis). Was that just a case of finding value late in the process?

A: Getting Fielder (1.014 OPS) and Mauer (1.031) early gave me options on speed later in the auction, without having to worry about power so much. In 2009, Davis had 41 steals, 65 runs score, and he batted .305 with an OPS of .783. I was shocked that I got him for $1, honestly. It makes me think I overpaid for Bourn at $8.

Eric Hinz, Fake Teams
Team Name: Oscar Meyer Wieters

Q: OK, for the second straight season, you use "Wieters" in the team name, yet he's nowhere to be found on your roster. What gives? At least you bid on him this time.

A: No amount of pressure will get me to overpay for a player, and I was feeling it in the draft room. At times like that, I look towards that paragon of determination and fortitude, The Black Knight. As he so eloquently said in the face of majestic tyranny, "I move for no man."

So I stopped bidding on Wieters around $20. At the time, I knew that was still a value relative to Mauer's auction price, but V-Mart and McCann were still there. Ultimately, I ended up with Jorge Posada(notes) for $2.

Q: You and I seemed to have similar approaches here, waiting until the very end to address starting pitching. (And then you snaked me on De La Rosa, Latos and Marcum). Is that something you do in every draft/auction, or is it format-specific?

A: Like all great draft strategists, I wait until the draft is finished and I have my team before explaining things. While not to the level of buying a monster truck, I wanted to overcompensate for the sixth pitching category, holds, and the format. In the draft chat, you mentioned holds were a personal favorite category. As such, I figured you had properly discounted SPs in favor of RPs in the H2H format, and were going to go for end-of-the-draft starters. Clearly, my hindsight was 20/15 as I swiped three of your favorites.

"Oh, had enough, eh?"

Keith G, Yahoo! commenter
Team Name: dudes

Q: That's really a solid team, especially considering that you had no more than 60 minutes to prepare. Your first two buys were Roy Halladay(notes) and Zack Greinke(notes). Was that the plan going in? Get a pair of aces, then buy a collection of $15-$25 hitters?

A: Yes, I was stoked at the opportunity to get into this league, but like you said it was last minute, and this was my first auction draft. I got into a mock right after I found out about this, but it didn't do me much good – there were only three real people in it. Anyways, I basically went in with no strategy whatsoever. I'm not going to lie. I started off hesitant to throw big money at any one player, and next thing I knew I had Halladay and Greinke on my team. I figured at least I could forget about pitching for the next several rounds. I definitely had some misfires on my first go 'round, but my team didn't turn out a total disaster, I don't think.

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Tom Herrera, FanHouse
Team Name: FanHouse Finaglers

Q: You bought your first ten players in a hurry, then didn't acquire anyone between nominations No. 100 and No. 225. Is that standard procedure for you in an auction, or did you just happen to get a bunch of targeted players in the first hour?

A: Actually, no. I'm usually super-passive at an auction when all the big names are flying early, because I can't believe the absurdity of inflation. But I thought this one was different because there were some very appealing prices early on. I do wish I got in the mix on Mark Teixeira(notes) because he was definitely the biggest bargain of the sluggers, and power wound up being the biggest weakness of my roster. Once I realized my money was fading and I had a lot of positions still to fill, I told myself I better chill out for a while and see how the money gets spent, try my hand at some bargains late.

One of the big advantages of doing this Yahoo! online auction is everyone's salaries are right in front of you. When I'm at a live auction, it makes it much harder to track if it's just you, unless you have some kind of software to do it for you. Then when the salaries were all level, I joined in again.

Q: Was the $10 bullpen by design? Shouldn't you make me an offer for Motte, so as to back up Franklin?

A: Yes, Matthew Berry taught us well to never pay for saves, and while that's harder to do in an auction, I don't believe in wasting big money on a Mariano or Papelbon. (Ed's note: Tom and I were Talented Mr. Roto graduate assistants, back in the day. Berry has an extensive coaching tree). It may be a nausea-inducing bullpen on paper, but the save total is what counts in the end. Also, I didn't bother to go after holds specifically; since there are usually a few surprises on the wire, you can get a few holds from. If Franklin sputters out, I'll grow an awesome goatee in his honor until he gets back on track again.

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Brendan Horton, Fantasy Baseball Cafe
Team Name: Imma Let You Finish

Q: You happen to own two players who are thought to be prime candidates for disastrous regression: Mark Reynolds(notes) and Aaron Hill(notes). I'm not saying that I think they will regress disastrously – in fact, Reynolds has become a pet player of mine – but the industry is down on them. Give us projections for those two, please.

A: Reynolds' average is a terrifying prospect, especially if his BABIP regresses for any reason. However, 40/20 players are few and far between. I think he's exactly that; last year was not some sort of anomaly. None of his indicator rates really spiked abnormally, so for the price I felt he was worth the gamble. Hill I fully expect to see regress in the home run department, but still a .280, 20 HR, 90 RBI, 90 R, 5 SB, .800 OPS is nothing to downplay, and worth what I paid for him.

Q: Johan Santana(notes) was an interesting buy, and your logo suggests a certain fondness for Mets. I take it you're feeling good about Johan in the year ahead? Not worried about his off-season maintenance?

A: As only the 13th highest paid player at auction, I think that's reasonable value for a guy who I still believe is capable of being a Cy Young contender. Provided he's healthy and the entire Mets team doesn't spend the year on the disabled list like last year, I think he puts up the typical 200 inning, 200 strikeout, mid-2.00 ERA season we've come to expect. I usually don't let the Mets blinders come out in fantasy, and I'm hoping that isn't what happened here.

Slondo1, Yahoo! commenter
Team Name: Bender B. Rodriguez

Q: Ah, Bender. Where to begin? You were the lone auto-picker in the room, which of course put you in an awful position. You have no catcher. You left $34 on the table. Your middle infield is straight outta 2003. How can you fix this?

A: Due to my super-awesome oversleeping, I choose to consider this a "control" team: a test of what auto draft can do versus real players. (Ed's note: The draft was in the afternoon. He overslept an *afternoon* draft). That being said, I would like all league members to sign a pledge promising to retire forever from fantasy baseball if they finish below me in the final standings. I'm only half kidding.

Q: Few people know this, but you're the originator of The Distler Method. Can it possibly work in a 6X6 like this?

A: No way, no how. Definitely not when OPS is a category. In fact, the method as a whole is down right now due to the stolen base making a comeback and home runs being on the decline. It's no longer the rare specialist commodity that it was five, four or even three years ago, and with younger players all the rage, there's more all-category players. The absence of 40-year-old lumbering power hitters killed the Distler Method. If only they'd allow more steroids.

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A-mak15, Yahoo! commenter, defending league champion
Team Name: Surrendering Pumas

Q: Is it correct to assume that you were determined to fill the talent-scarce infield spots early, then take whatever the auction gave you at 1B, OF and Util?

A: I went into this draft under the impression that, because the league settings are so different from standard leagues – 14 teams, 20 positions to fill – managers would adjust their spending accordingly. My meticulously constructed strategy, it failed miserably.

The entire room spent like it was default settings. When you increase the number of positions, you have to reduce the dollar value of each player. You can't blindly throw $45 at a stud when, in this format, they should be going for $29. That's why 12 teams overspent and were forced to watch helplessly on the sideline.

Third base is scarce; I was going to outbid everyone to get A-Rod. That was the mindset. Utley, Dunn and Jeter, too. I would aggressively pursue them. That would give me an average line of 95-30-91-16-.294 and an OPS of over .900 between them. Unfortunately, RGB's completely disturbing adoration for Jeter left me throwing $31 (market price) at Reyes instead.

A-Rod should have reasonably gone for $32-$35 because of the unique settings. Not $46. I had the intention of dropping $95, nabbing A-Rod, Utley, Dunn and Jeter. Landing A-Rod and Utley shouldn't have cost me $92, not in this format.

Q: You put a bunch of closers up for bid and went after most of them aggressively, eventually coming away with K-Rod. Were you thinking that in a draft room full of industry folks, you'd get saves at below-market prices?

A: My strategy consisted of nominating four closers with my first four picks and coming away with three. I wanted Broxton, Papelbon and K-Rod, but the prices were outrageous. I thought others would shy away because endgame closers are so cheap (Leo Nunez(notes) at $1, Trevor Hoffman(notes) at $2, Huston Street(notes) at $3) and because they would invest their money elsewhere. It's so early; how do you drop $20 on a one-cat player?

The plan was to invest a substantial amount of my budget ($210 or $220) on hitting, acquire three elite closers and one Kevin Gregg(notes) with the remaining dough, scoop up three set-up guys off waivers, and stream. A hitter is more valuable than a starting pitcher in the Pro-Am because you're playing for six categories as opposed to four. If I roll out an outstanding offense and I'm competitive in the holds and saves categories, then stream for wins and strikeouts, there is no possible scenario in which I don't waltz into the playoffs.

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Scott Swanay, Fantasy Baseball Sherpa
Team Name: The Sherpa

Q: Tell me a little something about your nomination strategy, please. You tossed out a series of $1 middle relievers, and I don't think you actually bought any of them. Were you trying to get the rest of us to waste a dollar here, dollar there?

A: I was trying to throw people off-balance a bit – tough to do with this crowd – by nominating guys like David Robertson(notes), Chris Perez(notes) and Jason Motte(notes) while most people were still nominating guys in the $20-30 range. I was hoping that others might pass on guys at that stage of the auction whom they would have bid up later on. I figured I'd win either way: Either I'd get a strong holds guy (with the potential to become a closer) at a discount early in the auction, or I'd force other teams to make quick decisions and hopefully spend more than they would have been willing to later in the auction.

Q: You've rostered three catchers in a one-catcher league. Trade chips? Total Catcher Control strategy? Please explain.

A: You're not giving me enough credit here – I actually bought four catchers during the auction, although one of them, Victor Martinez(notes), is also a decent (albeit not great) option at first base. I'd like to tell you that this was the result of a brilliant master plan to hoard talent at a thin position in order to trade from a position of strength. In reality, it was the combination of happenstance and my unsuccessful attempt to outsmart Yahoo!'s auto-bid program, which had to be called back from the clubhouse to pinch-hit for one of the teams.

I thought I had figured out how far I could bid-up Team Robo-Bid without getting stuck with a player, but I guessed wrong on Russell Martin(notes). I don't know why I felt responsible for doing that with 12 other owners in the auction, but I just did. Then, intent on proving I had learned my lesson, I tested Robo-Bid's limits again with Mike Napoli(notes) – and, you guessed it, I guessed wrong yet again. At least I should have the catcher spot covered, even if there's a natural disaster at this year's All-Star game.

Coincidentally (well, maybe not), I made a similar mistake the other day in another league and got stuck with Ollie Perez. I never realized what a proud (and stubborn) people the sherpas are. The moral of the story: If you're in a league with me, please show up to the draft on time so that you'll save me from myself. That, and don't run with scissors.

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Photos via US Presswire

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