Some Very Assorted Notes from Arizona

As most readers will know by now, Team FanGraphs recently completed a trip to Arizona. I, personally, just returned last night, and will empty at least part of my notebook here, as follows:

• The trip allowed me to see Colorado outfielder and personal cause célèbre Charlie Blackmon twice — once in person (at the Brewers’ Maryvale Park) and once on television. In both cases, he not only confirmed my (perhaps) irrationally high assessment of his abilities, but actually raised my expectations.

In the first game, we saw Blackmon walk and also fline a shot to right center for a triple. In that same game, he showed what I’d consider solid-average or above-average arm strength from center field, twice holding a runner at third (from second base) on a single (and no, in neither case was the runner Prince Fielder). In the second game — on television at Scottsdale’s Papago Brewing — I saw him line a ball to center-left center (i.e. the opposite field). That was either (a) against Darren O’Day or (b) against Sean O’Sullivan or (c) those pitchers are the same people.

Small sample? Yes. But after an Arizona Fall League showing that placed him second on the SCOUT leaderboard for batters, Blackmon now has 5 K, 5 BB, and a HR in 35 spring-training ABs. Oh, and a stolen base.

• Blackmon’s name reminds me: next week, I’ll release for the audience’s pleasure this year’s All-Joy Team. Except I don’t care particularly for the term “All-Joy Team.” I’m considering the Colby Lewis All-Stars or Team Joy Squad (which resonates, of course, with Teen Girl Squad) or something else.

• Twelve members of Team FanGraphs participated in an ottoneu draft last Friday night and — with the exception of Chris Cwik, Zach Sanders, and Paul Swydan — were all present in the “board room” (literally) of Phoenix’s Highland Hotel at Biltmore. The draft started at 7:30pm local time and finished at — well, it never did finish, although we stopped at ca. 2:00am local time. (For those who’re considering an ottoneu team, note: the first draft will take a while; the drafts in subsequent years, not so much.)

The draft resumes tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and I’m sure someone will publish the final results of that draft somehwere in these pages. In the meantime Albert Lyu (one of the team owners) sent out the following to all league participants:

So according to ZiPS, and not including (very rough) projected reserves and not including $ of projected reserves and not including unfilled roster spots, here’s a really really really rough 2011 standings projection. Almost certainly means nothing.

Here’s a chart of same (LW/Spot is ottoneu points per spot):

• The reader might notice how many fewer dollars I (a.k.a. The Very Handsomes) spent than everyone else. In fact, here’s a screen capture from our suspended draft:

Second most players, most dollars remaining by $75: that’s how The Very Handsomes are currently rolling. My explanation for that is at least two- — and maybe more- — fold, as considered below.

1. In ottoneu, there’s no separation of FAAB and auction dollars. Each owner begins each season with $400. Owners can loan each other money during the course of the season, so there is some room for flexibility, but generally it’s the case that however an owner leaves the draft is how he’ll continue through the majority of the season.

If I were to hypothetically draft only $1 players till the end of the draft, I’d enter the season with $119 FAAB. Chris Cwik (Wookie of the Year), the next wealthiest player, would leave the draft with a maximum of $39 by those same criteria. That sort of financial cushion allows me a great deal of flexibility as the season unfolds.

2. Value, not players, win fantasy championships. Is my team the best for this coming season? No, likely not. I still bought some real players — Joe Mauer at $45, Jason Heyward at $38, Jose Reyes at $26 — but my third-highest-paid player is prospect Mike Trout at $12. I, then have Josh Beckett at $11, Edinson Volquez at $10, Bryce Harper at $10, and Carlos Beltran at $10. Those are the only players for whom I entered into double-digits.

3. I think it’s generally the case that people who like both baseball and each other enter fantasy drafts/auctions with a great deal of enthusiasm — an enthusiasm that manifests itself by rampant bidding. I resolved in this draft to remain patient though the first several rounds of nominations. Did players go at their estimated prices? Generally, yes, I think — and maybe my team is worse for it. But I was resolved to get value and think I did in almost every case.

• Yes, duh, I bought Charlie Blackmon. Only $1!

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Chad Youngmember
13 years ago

love the strategy for the auction – we talked about this on the podcast a couple weeks ago, but ottoneu is alllll about value. guys like beckett (who I also have) and beltran have the potential to become HIGHLY valuable keepers for 2012. a couple prospects pan out and suddenly you have a core that you can add a big name bat/arm to for next season, and you are in good shape. personally, i think reyes at $26 is a reach, but other than that, solid start.

and as for the projected standings, i know i mentioned that my success in years two and three of the original ottoneu was fully a result of having a TERRIBLE team in year one and moving some of my bigger name guys for youngsters.