Play a Challenge with Me (Firming up a roster, baseball almost here)

Baseball begins this week in Japan and here in the states next month. As far as my CDM 5x5 RR challenge project the later date is more important. For those not up to speed on what I'm doing the original post is here. Many have chipped in (remember I'll take all advice and direction) and it's time to submit a roster for South Side Sox. At the end of the last thread I finally came up with a rough draft for the initial team that fit into the 30 million salary cap and have amended it a bit into:

Total 30,000K

1B Joey Votto CIN $1,490,000
1B Albert Pujols LAA $1,700,000
2B Howie Kendrick LAA $1,020,000
2B Rickie Weeks MLW $930,000
3B Brett Lawrie TOR $830,000
3B Mike Moustakas KC $430,000
SS Troy Tulowitzki COL $1,440,000
SS Dee Gordon LAD $740,000 (not crazy about)
C Carlos Santana CLE $740,000
C Buster Posey SF $850,000
OF Carlos Gonzalez COL $1,230,000
OF Andrew McCutchen PIT $1,210,000
OF Alex Gordon KC $860,000
OF Nelson Cruz TEX $1,030,000
OF Mike Stanton MIA $1020,000
OF Matt Kemp LAD $1,610,000
D Paul Goldschmidt ARZ $600,000
D Eric Hosmer KC $960,000
SP Justin Verlander DET $1,610,000
SP Roy Halladay PHI $1,580,000
SP Clayton Kershaw LAD $1,440,000
SP Jered Weaver LAA $1,360,000
SP Madison Bumgarner SF $830,000
SP Matt Moore TB $750,000
RP Matt Thornton CWS $720,000
RP Rafael Betancourt COL $930,000
RP Jason Motte STL $1,050,000
P Kyle Farnsworth TB $1,040,000
1. SP Cliff Lee PHI $1,370,000
2. SP Felix Hernandez SEA $1,280,000
3. SP Tim Lincecum SF $1,240,000
4. SP Cole Hamels PHI $1,200,000
5. SP Zack Greinke MLW $1,160,000
6. SP Brandon Beachy ATL $650,000
7. OF Ryan Braun MLW $1,590,000
8. 1B Miguel Cabrera DET $1,760,000
9. 2B Dustin Pedroia BOS $1,270,000
10. OF Jose Bautista TOR $1,300,000
11. OF De Aza CWS $450,000
12. OF Viceido CWS $500,000 (one of these last 2 could change but I have to take one)

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I'm subscribing to Shandler's Baseball HQ. They've run salary cap and in particular CDM strategy articles in the past, including initial suggested rosters. I thought they had passed this year but I was wrong. This past week two rosters were released of two veteran and "winning" CDM players Gene McCaffrey and Josh Paley (he actually won the whole thing). They also posted thoughts..


Starting Lineup            Taxi Squad
======================     =====================
C   Napoli         890     1B   Hosmer       960
C   Santana        740     1B   Votto       1490
1B  Fielder       1380     2B   Altuve       470
1B  Pujols        1700     SP   Beachy       650
2B  Kinsler       1150     "SP" B. Myers     770
2B  Kipnis         460     SP   Price       1090
3B  Lawrie         830     SP   Hamels      1200
3B  Moustakas      430     SP   Weaver      1360
SS  Tulowitzki    1440     SP   M. Moore     750
SS  Gordon         750     SP   Haren       1300
OF  Kemp          1610     SP   Halladay    1580
OF  Braun         1590     SP   Verlander   1610
OF  CarGo         1230                        
OF  Ellsbury      1350                        
OF  Stanton       1020                        
OF  J.D. Martinez  420                        
DH  H. Ramirez    1250                        
DH  Jennings       820                        
SP  Kershaw       1440                        
SP  C. Lee        1370                        
SP  Strasburg      900                        
SP  Lincecum      1240                        
SP  Luebke         800                        
SP  Bumgarner      830                        
RP  R. Betancourt  930                        
RP  League         920                        
RP  Jansen         880                        
P   Walden        1030                        
            Total 29390 

Josh: Gene, in Wise Guy Baseball 2012 (WGB), you suggest starting with a small number of SPs; I take the opposite approach and run “naked” at C and SS. I like to maximize starts—and warm weather starts at the start of the season—and I figure I can add guys who emerge early by burning some of my player drops.


Starting Lineup            Taxi Squad
======================     =====================
C   Napoli         890     Verlander        1610
C   Santana        740     Lincecum         1240
1B  M Cabrera     1760     Price            1090
1B  Adr Gonzalez  1660     Strasburg         900
2B  Cano          1510     Cliff Lee        1370
2B  Jemile Weeks   760                         
3B  Lawrie         830     Ike Davis         880
3B  Freese         840     Kinsler          1150
SS  Tulowitzki    1440     Hanley           1250
SS  Dee Gordon     740     Reyes            1360
OF  Ellsbury      1350     Granderson       1380
OF  Nelson Cruz   1030     CarGo            1230
OF  Stanton       1020     Justin Upton     1440
OF  Jennings       820                        
OF  Morrison       740                        
OF  Viciedo        510                        
DH  Alex Gordon    860                        
DH  Freeman        760                        
SP  Halladay      1580                        
SP  Kershaw       1440                        
SP  Josh Johnson  1040                        
SP  Weaver        1360                        
SP  Gallardo      1060                        
SP  Luebke         800                        
RP  Kimbrel       1250                        
RP  Putz          1090                        
RP  Walden        1030                        
P   Motte         1050                        

Gene: For starters, Josh and I have the same catchers. Any chance you have to get fulltime ABs from a catcher -take it. The closer they are to the top/middle of the order, the better. Napoli and Santana will destroy other catchers in Runs and RBI. It is possible that Posey and Mauer will also get extra ABs, or someone else eventually. I would say that because Santana bats 3rd or 4th, and because he’s the cheapest, he is an absolute must. After that, Napoli has the power and a lovely lineup. Posey and Mauer are arguable; no one else at this time.

Josh likes Pujols and Fielder, I go with Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez. Josh has Hosmer on taxi, I have Freddy Freeman active at DH. I’m glad Josh is hedging with Hosmer, who has been elevated way past reason. Hosmer is not a better four-category bet than Freeman, nor Ike Davis for that matter. I gladly concede 10 SBs.

Note first how similar we are in starting pitching. As Josh says, he’s starting with more SPs than I am, but of my 11, we share nine. I, too, am planning to maximize 2-start weeks and home starts, in good weather as possible, it’s just that the early schedule is confused and there is much that we won’t know until the games start. Neither of us is speculating much. If Cory Luebke appears to be an outlier, he is not—rather he is a sound home-start play who can also be used safely for some road starts.

The main differences between our teams are at the extreme high end and the low end, and they actually reflect a similar philosophy. We each have three hitters with a salary over $1500 – Pujols, Kemp and Braun for Josh; Cabrera, Gonzalez, and Cano for me. I am leery of spending so much in the outfield, but eager to own Cano, who with the arguable exception of the commonly-owned Tulowitzki is clearly best bet of any hitter at his position for 2012. I will try to find a place for Braun on my roster, but am hesitant to own two such expensive OFs, and forced to choose I’ll let Kemp go. There is just no margin for error on a hitter whose BA downside scares me.

But there is method to Josh’s madness. By owning Kemp and Braun, he’s getting speed with serious power attached. My construction forces me to own one more pure-speed rabbit, namely Jemile Weeks. I am comfortable with this, at the start anyway. My thinking is that even if Weeks fails (or Dee Gordon fails), cheap speed will emerge. Nevertheless, I’ll have to watch my power, too.

Josh has one more ultra-cheapo than I do, and he’s probably thinking the same thing – if one doesn’t work, someone else in that salary range will. This is likely to be true, my only worry is what if more than one won’t work out? I like all his choices as speculations – Kipnis, Moustakas and JD Martinez – only it’s virtually automatic that one will flop, at least in the CDM sense. His choice of Martinez over my Dayan Viciedo has me reconsidering.

My bullpen is more expensive than Josh’s, and here I am thinking. I will certainly go to Jansen if he gets the job, but for now I’m taking a solid mid-priced closers approach, with Kimbrel up top for the extra strikeouts. I am not a Rafael Betancourt fan – while Colorado is not such a bad place to pitch until the weather gets warm, the track record of Rockies’ closers send me running. Josh can afford a better closer and I think he should open up his wallet. It’s so easy to spend someone else’s money.

Josh: Do not mess around with starting pitching. Gene is absolutely right about it being essential to own the best 10 to 12 pitchers. The reason: you can only play 6 or 7 of them at a time. They are the primary sources of numbers for four categories. Hitters are next in importance, with 18 of them covering 5 categories. Closers are least valuable as three or four of them cover one category. This is not entirely true: Gene did a great piece a few years ago in Wise Guy Baseball on Mariano Rivera and his ERA and WHIP value in a challenge setting. However, most closers are not Rivera and Rivera’s price tag is high enough that the salary might be better spent elsewhere.

The reason I am carrying so many starting pitchers is because I watched another owner just dismantle a league a couple of years ago by deploying a taxi squad of almost all pitchers. He had flexibility in whom he started and he racked up Ws and Ks without hurting his decimals. The drawback to this is that it puts player drops in peril.

With relievers, I think it is OK to mess around. Gene drew up a table of closers, their ADPs, and their saves for the year, and it is really hard to buy closer certainty this side of Mariano Rivera. I like both Walden and Motte, but regard neither as a sure thing. Gene is making me rethink Betancourt, whose skills I love. The problem is that I hate giving up Betancourt’s low salary because it can mean not rostering Ryan Braun - a bargain this year.

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