Eric Mack
Tuesday March 22nd, 2011

If there is one sure way to bore someone, tell them all about your fantasy team. Go ahead and try it on a date -- right after you explain how you like long walks on the beach and deep philosophical conversations. Blah. Blah. Blah.

This is not to say fantasy baseball is boring, but no one really cares about your team. Sorry.

But, this writer has to do it here. Hopefully, not to bore you, but to explain the reasoning about those players I was at least $1 more excited about than everyone else in Tout Wars (, the national competition among the best fantasy analysts in the industry. There has to be reasons the writer you have been following put his own mouth where his auction money is.

Here are my 23 buys and four reserve picks in the 15-team mixed league Rotisserie auction in New York City last weekend, and, hopefully, some sound reasoning for why they wound up playing for yours truly:

$39 Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers Tout rank: 3rd (tie) ADP: 10th

Why him: Braun has averaged .302-31-108-102-16 in the past three years, leaving him behind just Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera among all hitters in three-year averages. The consistency in health and production makes him a safe franchise foundation and there is still more room to grow as a 27-year old this season. Hey, we talked all about 27s, might as well put the money on one. This could be an NL MVP season for him, especially since he will have a contract-year player in Prince Fielder playing behind him. For him to make the hefty rate play, he might need to go .310-40-120-105-15, but he is entirely capable of it. Braun has wound up on my team in each of my past three drafts this spring.

$30 Jose Reyes, SS, Mets Tout rank: 20th (tie) ADP: 27th

Why him: Well, this is likely the highest overpay of the day and it drew considerable criticism from the Sirius/XM live broadcast and the live chat. But, if there is one player perched to be a Rotisserie monster and motivated for his next huge contract at age 27 (there it is again), it has to be Reyes. We still haven't seen the best of him and there is no better year to do it than at the prime age and heading into free agency in New York. Reyes proved healthy in 2010 after his early-season thyroid issue and he can prove far more consistent with that extensive play under his belt. He is capable of going .290-15-75-110-40, but I might need 50-plus steals to make him be worth the freight. I just had another owner bidding me up, I probably should have stopped at $26 or $28.

$27 Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants Tout rank: 28th (tie) ADP: 17th

Why him: I had no intention of playing more than $20 for any pitcher, but analysts tend to hold that strategy to a fault at times. Lincecum was attained at value, but it should be reminded yours truly considers him a bust candidate because he is at risk of the World Series hangover. Lincecum got stronger as the year went on, though, not worse. This was a bit of an overpay, but again, consistency in healthy and production makes him a bit safer than other buys in this range (Jose Bautista $27, Adam Dunn $29 and Nelson Cruz $35).

$25 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox Tout rank: 34th (tie) ADP: 57th

Why him: Ellsbury is in a similar spot to Reyes, offering similar production -- albeit leading off for the most impressive lineup in baseball. He is a perennial injury-risk sleeper at age 27 (hello!) and playing for a long-term contract amid his arbitration years. We haven't seen the best of him yet and he was the second-most productive outfielder (to Braun above) in his last healthy season in '09. Braun, Reyes and Ellsbury are all multicategory beasts in their primes. I was willing to go as high as $30 for him, but fortunately for my bankroll, the bidding stopped $5 short.

$23 CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees Tout rank: 38th (tie) ADP: 32nd

Why him: Yours truly seems to like Sabathia more than almost all fantasy pundits, ranking him second among SPs on But Sabathia is pitching for a contract amid his opt-out clause in his past huge deal. Also, he still has that potent Yankees offense providing him plenty of potential to lead the AL in victories again. Sabathia is a bit lonely in that Yankees rotation, so he is going to be asked more to be a 240-plus inning horse he was before arriving in New York. Remember how huge his past contract year was? Yeah, Sabathia could be a bargain.

$18 Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins Tout rank: 72nd (tie) ADP: 48th

Why him: Morneau is the ultimate injury-risk sleeper, and frankly, one I am not completely convinced about, but he came at a bargain at this price -- despite some criticism. In a 15-team mixed league, you have to have a top-12 slugging first baseman on your roster -- otherwise your power categories could really suffer. My top buys are more multicategory guys, Morneau needs to provide some thump -- even in a tough Minnesota park for homers. David Wright was able to overcome his post-concussion syndrome and tough hitter's park in Year 2 last season. Morneau needs a similar rebound.

$17 David Price, SP, Rays Tout rank: 79th (tie) ADP: 52nd

Why him: Price is coming off a breakthrough as a third-year starting pitcher, but I sensed pitchers in general were going a bit undervalued. It would have been better waiting for the likes of Clay Buchholz ($9) or Josh Beckett ($9), but Price is still a top-10 ace for me, and I was able to lock up three of them without grossly breaking my strategy of spending just $100 on pitching.

$16 Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers Tout rank: 87th (tie) ADP: 65th

Why him: This would have been a contract-year player, but Weeks signed an extension right before reporting to camp. He enjoyed a 27-year-old breakthrough last season and still has Braun and Fielder behind him in the lineup and poised for big years. The Brewers are a nice team to buy into as a contender. Weeks can be a huge part of that if he can post the .275-25-80-105-15 he is capable of. After spending so much on those arms above, I really needed the bidding to stop here. Thankfully, it did.

$14 Jon Papelbon, RP, Red Sox Tout rank: 103rd (tie) ADP: 93rd

Why him: Papelbon has a bad, bad stigma placed on him after seeing his numbers decline in each of the past three seasons. He still is the unquestioned closer of arguably the most talented team in baseball (since Chase Utley at $11) is a question mark for the Phils). Paps also happens to be in a contract year as well. Spending less than $15 for a potential 40-save closer was never something I thought I could do. As long as he stays healthy, the Red Sox's bolstered bullpen setting him up should make Papelbon stronger and leave him with a lot fewer sticky situations. That should help the numbers improve.

$10 Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees Tout rank: 149th (tie) ADP: 109th

Why him: With Sabathia and Hughes, I have the two best starting pitchers in the Yankees rotation for about the same price combined as Roy Halladay $31. There should be a lot of victories coming my way, especially since Hughes is ready to take off as a third-year starting pitcher. Hughes will need to compete for 20 victories and a Cy Young if the Yankees are going to keep pace with the Red Sox in the AL East. Hughes is entirely capable of that.

$10 Kelly Johnson, 2B, Diamondbacks Tout rank: 149th (tie) ADP: 110th

Why him: Hey, look, another contract year coming off an age-27 breakthrough! Johnson was lauded as the steal of the draft at this price. Seeing Utley (I feel asleep and got cheap in that bidding, sure it would have gone too high) and Johnson go for so cheap was very surprising. I have a stud middle infield now with Reyes, Weeks and Johnson -- all of which are smack dab in their primes at 27-28.

$10 Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians Tout rank: 149th (tie) ADP: 157th

Why him: Sizemore was a bit of a mistake, I am not going to lie. I should have stopped at $8, but I was lured in by the speed-and-power potential. He is still coming back slowly from microfracture surgery and will start the season on the DL. A healthy rebound season from Sizemore could be huge for my team, especially with all those multicategory talents I have above. It is not something I am counting on, though.

$6 Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies Tout rank: 211th (tie) ADP: 219th

Why him: Stewart is a potential .280-30-100-100 beast who hasn't popped yet. He turns just 26 this April, too. He has struggled against lefties, a concern, and Ty Wigginton is now in town to potentially steal those at-bats, but Stewart has a lot of untapped upside and I needed a slugging third baseman at the point I got him. His bid, though, left me a bit a bit short in the end game, so backing off might have made my team a bit deeper. A Stewart breakthrough will be very important to this team's chances of winning Tout.

$4 Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs Tout rank: 237th (tie) ADP: 207th

Why him: This is the first buy that is clearly past his prime -- I had no intention of winning this one -- but Soriano will be hitting fifth in the Cubs lineup and could be a 20-plus homer, 100-plus RBI threat. He won't steal bases anymore, but as a cheap fill-in outfielder, he will do the trick.

$3 J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays Tout rank: 256th (tie) ADP: 258th

Why him: Catchers off the elite tier aren't worth a dime, so I waited, waited and waited for my first catcher. Arencibia was one of the last decent ones off the board and I was the only one aggressive with him. I didn't expect the bidding to stop so quickly, but so many analysts nominated catchers for bidding, perhaps to get everyone to spend on them early. That is a good strategy and I am thankful I backed off after getting stuck with Joe Mauer as my highest-paid player last season. He didn't prove worth the price. Most catchers don't. This one could with all that power potential.

The rest of my roster was filled about with players no one bid against me after nominating them. My cricket picks:

$1 Octavio Dotel, RP, Blue Jays -- I really need him to be the Blue Jays' closer, since Papelbon is the only guy I have for saves.

$1 Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros -- He is a potentially solid insurance plan for Stewart at third base and my starting CI or DH. Hopefully his second half numbers are a sign of things to come. I am not yet convinced he can sustain that level of production, though.

$1 Scott Rolen, 3B, Reds -- He was a god-send for the Reds and fantasy owners last year, but he is merely roster filler for this team. Anything out of this veteran -- he does have a great park to hit in -- will be gravy.

$1 Ramon Hernandez, C, Reds -- Hopefully he proves to be a second catcher who just won't hurt me. There wasn't much left on the board.

$1 Ryan Ludwick, OF, Padres -- There is pop in his bat still, even if he will never hit 30-plus homers again, especially in that ballpark. At his cheap rate, 20 would be plenty.

$1 Matt Capps, RP, Twins -- I need the Twins to start slow with Joe Nathan at $11, because I am going to be short on saves.

$1 Bobby Jenks, RP, Red Sox -- This was a mistake nomination. I should have gone with Daniel Bard instead. I wanted to box my Red Sox closer. I went Bard a nomination later, but someone nailed me with a $2 bid. I told myself not to get stuck being unable to bid $2 and it cost me late.

$1 Kevin Slowey, SP, Twins -- This was going to be a potential 15-game winner as a LIMA (low investment mound ace) pick, but the Twins announced early this week Slowey lost his rotation battle with Scott Baker. I still think Slowey is better than all but Francisco Liriano in that rotation, though. Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn and Baker do very little for me. Slowey is a strike thrower with a solid winning percentage. I will have to reserve him out of the gate, or cut him.

My reserve picks:

Rafael Soriano -- I needed some sleepers for saves. So, let's go to one of the best teams in baseball that signed a former stud closer to set up for a 40-plus year-old Mariano Rivera. Now, hand me that Rivera voodoo doll and a few pins. Elbow, ike. Shoulder, ike. Knee, ike.

Nyjer Morgan -- So many analysts pay decent money for steals guys like Rajai Davis and Juan Pierre. Morgan goes for $0. That might be why I never bother with one-dimensional basestealers. There is always a bargain one to be had among them.

Scott Kazmir -- OK, so I still have a soft spot for this 27-year-old former burgeoning ace. Anything he can provide will be a bonus. I think he can rebound, but he has plenty to prove with his command first.

Alex Gonzalez -- My middle infield is already stacked, but I figure Gonzalez should have been bought by someone before the penultimate pick in the reserve round. This is cheap middle-infield pop I will stash and wait for one of his hot streaks.

If you notice, the only categories of my preview series I neglected were the rookies and overlooked sophomores. Those are two faves of smarty-pants analysts. They love to Tout those next big things. I couldn't get any players in those categories because they just liked them a few dollars more than I.

For a full list of the rosters and prices, go to We don't have time or space to review it all for you here.

Here is the top 10, though:

Hanley Ramirez FLA 47 Albert Pujols STL 46 Troy Tulowitzki COL 39 Ryan Braun MIL 39 Miguel Cabrera DET 38 Carl Crawford BOS 38 Mark Teixeira NYY 37 Adrian Gonzalez BOS 37 Joey Votto CIN 36 Carlos Gonzalez COL 36 Evan Longoria TB 36 David Wright NYM 35

Eric Mack writes bi-weekly for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.

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