Strategizing for Ottoneu

Well, I’m back for another year in the Fangraphs Staff II Ottoneu league. This’ll be year six, but I’m still looking to regain the magic that allowed me to finish third back in the first season, when I was leading heading into the final stretch before fading due to innings limits.

Here’s how I’ve finished in the meantime:

2012 – third (of 12)
2013 – sixth
2014 – 10th
2015 – fourth
2016 – ninth

When we started out, I had a weird mix of good players, prospects and a few guys who put together really nice seasons — like Jason Kubel and Josh Willingham. I’ve had enough of those prospects pan out to have a really nice base for a good team moving forward, but I haven’t been able to quite seal the deal.

I thought my team was just a couple closers away from being very good last season, so I spent big money on Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. It didn’t so much pan out. A.J. Pollock got hurt and missed a huge chunk of the season, and even some of the smaller pieces I added completely fell flat and were no help at all — like Eduardo Escobar, Eddie Rosario and Byungho Park. It’s not that I had huge expectations for any of those guys, but Escobar has a lot of position flexibility and I was hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with one of the other two. I know Rosario has terrible plate discipline, but he’s got some pop and a good hit tool. It just didn’t work out. Similarly, Park has a ton of swing and miss in his profile, but at least for a while there his power made him useful.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the guys I have cut since the season ended. We’re a linear weights league with the new arbitration setup.

Cuts (in reverse order of occurrence):

OF Billy Hamilton $3
3B David Wright $4
SP Lucas Giolito $10
SP Michael Wacha $12
C Devin Mesoraco $13

This was my last quintet of cuts. Every year before I make my last cuts, I flip the switch from “well, this player could be worth this” to “take the cash flexibility in the draft and run.” I made each of these cuts with less than an hour left until the deadline, and almost considered getting up from the computer and just leaving it. I realize the Giolito price is prohibitive, but I still believe in him. Still, even with auction inflation he should be available for less than this. A twitter follower tried to tell me Wacha wasn’t guaranteed a rotation spot, but I’m not sure I buy that. Still — shoulder issues are scary. It’s been so long since Mesoraco has been a useful player, even though I still think he’ll provide good value at that price point. With that said, as you’ll see shortly, I have two catchers who’ll chew threw my playing time allotment, as is. I want to believe in a Wright resurgence, but I think he’s in that weird Joe Mauer territory where he pretty much just is who he is at this point. Third base isn’t much of a need for me, anyway.

RP Ryan Pressly $3
3B Yulieski Gourriel $17
SP Ervin Santana $3
SP Tyler Jay $3

I like Pressly as perhaps the next Twins closer more than most — he throws hard and both his slider and curve have good whiff rates — but I can swoop in and get him for a buck in the auction if I want. Gourriel at that price is just too risky — he’s not exactly young and the league average price for him is under $10. I like Big Erv but he’s just not enough to move the needle compared to the types of pitchers who’ll be available for $1-2 at the end of the draft or right after it ends. Jay might end up being a reliever, and will also probably be available for a buck well into the season. I need to pinch those pennies to fill out my starting lineup.

OF Jason Heyward $18
RP Brandon Kintzler $3
RP Craig Kimbrel $29
RP Aroldis Chapman $29
SP Jesse Hahn $3
3B/OF Yasmany Tomas $3
DH Byungho Park $6
1B Joe Mauer $5
UTIL Eduardo Escobar $3
OF Eddie Rosario $3

Ah, yes…the post arbitration cuts. The only two moves I’d consider taking back here if I could would be Heyward and Kintzler. Part of the deal with Heyward is that I desperately would like him to be good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be true. The stuff coming out about him working on his swing this offseason is encouraging, but I’ll still take the added flexibility in the auction — for now. With Kintzler, it’s not so much about him being good but that I think he’ll get the first shot at saves in the Twins bullpen this season. I think Pressly and even J.T. Chargois are more talented pitchers, but I’m not sure the Twins will see it that way right out of the gates. The two big closers were cost prohibitive, and the rest were just spare parts that I took chances on at some point to see if I could find a spark. Nothing wagered, nothing lost really.

So with that said, I give you the current roster of “Duda Not So Hard” (formerly Bang the Woodrum, and I’m taking recommendations):

Twenty of 40 roster slots filled at a cost of $304 (out of $400)

Tentative Starting Lineup

C- Yasmani Grandal $14
C- Willson Contreras $7 (also OF)
1B- Open
2B- Brian Dozier $15
SS- Xander Bogaerts $21
MI- Carlos Correa $21
3B- Manny Machado $35
OF- Bryce Harper $53
OF- Gregory Polanco $16
OF- A.J. Pollock $14
OF- Lorenzo Cain $8
OF- Open
UTIL – Miguel Sano $14 (3B/OF)


Jurickson Profar $9 (literally position eligible everywhere but C)

Pitching Staff

SP- Gerrit Cole $24
SP- Danny Salazar $15
SP- Garrett Richards $9
SP- Julio Urias $8
SP- Zack Wheeler $7* (apparently he’s a roster exemption for now due to DL)
SP- Jose Berrios $5
SP- Sean Newcomb $3
RP- Brad Brach $3
SP- Archie Bradley $3

So basically, I have to find a first baseman. I rebuffed an offer for Eric Hosmer ($8) in exchange for my Contreras. I think I can find a decent bat in the draft, or in the meantime start Profar while I figure things out. The best available first basemen heading into the draft are Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Chris Carter, Chris Davis, Mike Napoli, Victor Martinez, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez — so I think I should be able to figure something out there.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to filter in some more depth into my rotation. The “best available” starters list is pretty strong as well: Masahiro Tanaka, Jeff Samardzija, J.A. Happ, Stephen Strasburg and a few others who are interesting.

Basically, I think I have the foundation in place for a very, very good team — especially up the middle and in the infield. I’ll have to be diligent and stick to the budget, but I think there’s a chance I could challenge Brad for the crown this season.

In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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Rylan Edwards

As the cutter of cuttee, JA Happ, I’m curious why you find him so interesting and worthy of sharing status with Stras and Tanaka?