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A Conversation About a Mock Auction

Paul Sporer of the internets (and the infamous starting pitcher draft guide) on was gracious enough to power through our mock auction with us, so then I pestered him to talk a little more about his team. I spotted a few interesting things about his lineup and wanted to ask him some questions. Here’s our exchange!

Eno Sarris: I love your team as my eye tracks down from catcher. John Jaso, Victor Martinez, Allen Craig and even Chase Utley on those bad knees. But you spent a buck on your starting shortstop, Stephen Drew, and $2 on your MI in Jeff Keppinger. You ended up with a good starting staff and a deep outfield, so maybe you slotted it this way from the beginning. Tell me about your middle infield strategy and how it unfolded.

Paul Sporer: Thanks! I jumped on the Allen Craig train in November and haven’t looked back. Utley is proving to be a value early on.

Jered Weaver is how it unfolded to be 100% honest. Well that and being stubborn. Realistically, I shouldn’t have gone after Yu Darvish (a target coming into the draft) once I was saddled with Weaver (who is plenty reasonable $20, just not someone I wanted). Once I got Weaver and decided that Yu was still going to happen, I decided to go weak at shortstop. It is still the most shallow position on the diamond and I figured I’d rather be weak there instead of the back end of my outfield. I had Giancarlo Stanton at that point with several of my prime targets left on the board including Norichika Aoki who I’d land soon after Weaver. I love building strong outfields so it was easy to shift to that strategy midway through the auction.

Ben Zobrist was the prime SS target, but I eschewed that strategy once I got Weaver and focused instead on Darvish and the aforementioned outfield targets (all of whom came to bear on my team: Aoki, Shin-Soo Choo, & Jayson Werth). Drew became the plan as a high-upside guy who has the skills to pay major dividends (but the body of Abe Vigoda). I also think I covered some of the shortstop deficiency with Victor Martinez. No, he’s not going to hilariously roam the middle infield in Motown, but he will be near the top of plate appearances among catchers as a full-time designated hitter and that excess advantage will alleviate the pain of lagging behind the league in SS production.

Sarris: Ah! Because my next question was going to be about pitcher budget. You spent over 35% on pitching, I spent just about 25%. But I suppose you didn’t plan on it, it was a Weaver thing. What happened with Weaver?

Sporer: Yes, the 35% was a Weaver thing. Given the way things were going, I thought for sure he’d creep into the low-20s so I figured I was safe bumping him from $1 to $20 as I’d been doing with so many players. Turns out I was wrong. Normally, I would eat it and pull a Darvish out of the plan, but here I just went with it trusting I could still build the outfield I wanted and just stack starting pitching & outfield as my foundation.

Sarris: Perils of price enforcing perhaps. I was in on Yu an think he can find the zone more this year, so I can understand getting back in on him even with Weaver in hand.

Just to finish: which pick did you like best? worst?

Sporer: How about per team?

Aoki was my favorite at 11. He earned twice that last year and it was built on a really strong foundation.
Jason Motte was actually worst at 16, but that’s far less because of Motte himself and entirely because closers apart from Motte & Craig Kimbrel went insanely cheap.

Jordan Zimmermann at 16 is great. I’m just such a fan of his game and thinks there’s even more in talent reserves.
Anthony Rizzo at 16, however, wasn’t my favorite. There are several scenarios where he earns that without having to dream too hard, I just had thoughts of 2012 Lawrie & Hosmer racing through my head.

Angel Pagan at 4 was a jaw-dropper. In fact his whole $4 OF crew was great value.
Kris Medlen at 19 was my least favorite of his. It was 12 starts and there were a ton of bargains in the pitching pool.

Austin Jackson at 17 was a steal considering he nearly earned that in his down 2011 year.
Tommy Hanson at 1 is hardly a team-killer and there is some upside, but the bargain bin had better options.

Another Tiger here as Doug Fister at 11 was a great buy. He showed that the strikeouts are real and health was the only roadblock to a great season.
Troy Tulowitzki at 33 continues to be full price (and then some even). I get that SS is thin, but has he ever earned 33?

Alex Gordon was stolen at 15. Fell back from his 2011 breakout, but only from great to very good.
Wil Myers at 7 could be on his bench until June if he doesn’t sign a Longoria/Moore deal.

The elder Weeks at 11 was a great pickup. He had a very strong second half looking exactly like the 2010-2011 Weeks.
Billy Hamilton 2 is unlikely to pay off, even at that minuscule price. Plus with Jose Reyes, Ben Revere, Matt Kemp, and Chris Young, he didn’t need speed.

David Freese at 9 looks like an early 2012 sleeper insofar as they still exist. He’s been going low everywhere, but he met the hype from the ’11 World Series so I’m not sure why.
Drew Stubbs at 6 just does nothing for me. I root for him as a former Longhorn, but he just strikes out so sooo much.

How did he get Elvis Andrus at 16?
Mark Teixeira at 18 was a name-value tax. His batting average has been murdered, but The Shift has yet to stand trial.

Desmond Jennings was about a 20 dollar player in an underperforming season last year, so how is he going for 12 when so many analyst/expert types covet power-speed combos?
Usually being compared to Bo Jackson is awesome, unless your hip is being compared to his. That’s the only time it’s bad and yet that’s Mike Napoli‘s link to Bo, so 13 felt high.

Carlos Beltran is destined to be underrated until he retires. It’s just how the twilight of his career has gone. Even with the injury risk, 14 is great.
I see the upside with Dylan Bundy, but at 5 in this particular auction I didn’t love it. Not the end of the world, but a few bucks too many for me.

The bar is so low for success at shortstop that it won’t take much for Jean Segura to earn back his 7. I think he doubles it and then some.
I just don’t like Clay Buchholz… even at 2.

How much more consistently productive does Nick Swisher need to be to go for more than 11?
Cord Phelps is going to have a hard time making it to Cleveland so even at 1, it is likely a wasted pick. [That was actually Scott Sizemore, FWIW — ed.]

Sure, he has no team, but Michael Bourn at 18 felt like robbery. Fitting, since that’s the main feature of Bourn’s game.
While I love Paul Goldschmidt for 2013 and beyond, 27 felt high. Of course, I bid 26 so maybe I should STFU.