Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Trip Through Fantasyland

"Tas" is the reason I have avoided writing about fantasy baseball on this site for the last five years. So though I play it, admire it, and can for short periods become obsessed by it, I don't write about it. Because right about the time normal people hear the syllable "Tas" in "Fantasy Baseball", their eyes gloss over, and they start to feel a little numbness just behind and to the outside of their eyelids. And they're gone.

I get this, so I don't write about fantasy baseball. But the people who do, and the people who read them, generally know their stuff. If you want to see exactly how obsessive fantasy baseball (also called Rotisserie) can get, I highly encourage you to check out Fantasyland, a very entertaining book by Sam Walker, which is now available in paperback. Walker was a sportswriter who was invited to join "TOUT Wars", a premiere fantasy baseball league run by a bunch of guys who sell fantasy baseball advice for a living.

He goes totally overboard. Besides spending thousands of dollars, he uses his access to players and GMs to try and influence them. For instance, he called Pirates GM David Littlefield and trying to convince him to trade for Doug Mientkiewicz (who was eventually traded to the Red Sox) because Mientkiewicz would get more at-bats in Pittsburgh. He also tries to convert Jacque Jones to becoming more disciplined at the plate, and Jones plays a pivotal (and touching) role in the book. For Twins fans, it's a fantastic read.

Anyway, there are thousands of people who have spent months crunching numbers and reading tea leaves trying to figure out exactly how many RBI Jason Kubel is going to end up with this year. And last weekend, the top echelon of these people - that TOUT Wars league - gathered and started drafting players. So I thought it might be kind of interesting to see exactly what they think various Twins will be worth this year. And whether that might be a reality check to Twins fans.

It's Good To Be King
How far ahead of every other starting pitcher is Johan Santana? According to the rotoheads, it's not even close:

Johan Santana - $36
John Lackey - $24
Dan Haren, Felix Hernandez - $23
C.C. Sabathia, Jeremy Bonderman, Roy Halladay - $22
Daisuke Matsuzaka - $21
Curt Schilling - $20

No reality check here. There's a level of top starters, like Schilling, Dice-K, King Felix and Halladay. Then there's a slightly higher level, which is completely empty. And then there's the level that Santana is on. Giggle.

And a Bunch of Jacks (or is it Jokers?)
And the rest of the rotation?

Boof Bonser - $11
Matt Garza - $9
Glen Perkins - $1
Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, Carlos Silva, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker - $0

The fantasy baseball junkies like Bonser more than Twins Territory does. They also clearly don't expect Garza to remain in the minors long. And they're hoping they'll see Perkins. And Slowey or Baker. I'll let you figure out what that means for the rest of the names on the list.

Closing the Door
The seamheads don't lust after the Nathanator quite as much as Santana. That doesn't mean he's any slouch:

Joe Nathan - $26
Mariono Rivera - $25
BJ Ryan - $25
Francisco Rodriguez - $24
Huston Street - $23

He's been ridiculously consistent and healthy (knock, knock) the last two years, making him a favorite. This isn't a fluke, by the way. He finished with the top price in another premier league draft (LABR League) just a few weeks ago.

The Rest of the Best Bullpen
The rest of the bullpen is usually drafted based on their perceived ability to end up closing. Given Nathan's track record, it's a good sign that the roto-junkies didn't bid much compared to other middle relievers:

Juan Rincon - $3
Jesse Crain - $2
Pat Neshek - $1
Dennys Reyes, Matt Guerrier - undrafted

Essentially, it looks like they expect roles to more or less follow seniority, which is probably accurate for this organization. I am a little suprised that Reyes didn't get drafted. I think the general expectation in Fantasyland is that he'll regress a bit this year.

That's it for tonight. If I have time, I'll cover the hitters side tomorrow.

Twins Takes
Very briefly...
  • Garza was sent down, allowing us all to pick his recall date in a pool at the event on the 7th. Good times. I'll go with 4/24.
  • So apparently this leaves 28 guys in camp, but I still can't figure out who the last guy is. 5 starting pitchers + 6 relievers + 9 position players + 4 bench = 24 guys. Besides them we know that Durbin, Heintz and Rabe are still around. Who is the last guy? Is Liriano still in camp? Can someone help me?
  • While this whole 25th spot is a bit of a mess, it's worth noting that it's partly due to the injury to Alejandro Machado. That's unfortunate, but it's not a bad break for the organization. His injury, which will take 5-6 months to rehab, virtually assures the Twins that they'll get to keep Machado in their organization next year and not have to return him to the Nationals. The Twins might very well have their backup middle infielder for the next several year for the cost of a Rule V waiver. Nice.


Nick N. said...

So apparently this leaves 28 guys in camp, but I still can't figure out who the last guy is. 5 starting pitchers + 6 relievers + 9 position players + 4 bench = 24 guys. Besides them we know that Durbin, Heintz and Rabe are still around. Who is the last guy?

Luis Rodriguez?

John said...

No, Luis is included in the 24. Here they are off the top of my head:
Santana, Bonser, Ponson, Ortiz, silva
Nathan, Rincon, Crain, Reyes, Neshek, Guerrier
Mauer, Morneau, Castillo, Bartlett, Punto, Kubel, White, Hunter, Cuddyer
Cirillo, Rodriguez, Tyner, Redmond

That's the 24. Then there's Durbin, Heintz and Rabe and....

who's the other one?

Anonymous said...

Has Lew been DL'ed yet?

Anonymous said...


JimCrikket said...

I think Garza was the 28th and they're down to 27 now. Ford, Machado and Liriano are all DL'd.

Durbin is currently on the 25-man roster and nobody on the 40-man other than those you listed remains in camp. Two non-roster invitees (Ponson and Rabe) remain.

Rabe is there to keep the other outfielders from having to play excessive innings before breaking camp and has no shot at going north. It's going to be Durbin or Heintz unless Durbin is released/traded. If he IS let go, I suspect Venefro could still be recalled rather than carrying Heintz, who probably would have been sent down already if Mauer hadn't come up semi-lame.

JimCrikket said...

Looking over the list of non-roster invitees still with the organization, Ken Harvey is still listed but he hasn't played in forever. I know he was hurting but I suppose there's no reason to put a non-roster guy on the DL. Could be he's the mystery-man that's still being counted as being in the major league camp.

Adam said...

Machado could have been a great utility guy for us for the next several years without getting hurt too, but then we'd just get to use him this year as well.

but ah well, silver lining.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain to me why he wanted Dougie Baseball to go to the Pirates for more playing time when they are in the NL? Walker was in the AL Tout Wars.