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When Patience is Not a Virtue: The Experts League Auction

Sunday afternoon, the 12 members of the ottoneu FanGraphs Experts League gathered for our annual auction, bidding $1,210 on 174 players over 3 hours and 19 minutes. Thats about 69 seconds and $7 per player. And yet it didn’t take more than about five minutes for arguably the two best values of the day to come off the board.

The first two players tossed out both went for less than what I anticipated them costing – and yet I failed to pull the trigger.

FanGraphs own Eno Sarris started us off by nominating Matt Kemp, a player I mentioned last week would cost “$55-$60.” And yet, the bidding slowed down around $40 and eventually came to a stop at $47, with my hand sitting on the +$1 button, but not making the necessary move. Why wait? Well, I prefer Ryan Braun to Kemp and figured if Kemp goes $47, maybe Justin Upton will stay closer to $30 than the $40 I anticipated. Beside, Maybe I would rather have a $40 Hanley Ramirez and a $40 Upton than go for broke on Kemp.

So up next, ESPN’s James Quintong throws Braun and the bidding jumps fast, but again stalls earlier than the $60+ I expected, ending up at $57. But again, I walked away. This time I felt that while Braun might be worth $60, he didn’t look like a great deal when Kemp was only $47.

But then the OF pickings got slim. I still had interest in Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Upton, and Jose Bautista, and figured one of those guys would sneak through in the low 30’s.

Wrong.

My patience was rewarded with Gonzalez going for $37 (too much especially considering he likely loses OF eligibility after this year), Bautista going for $39 (power hitters coming off wrist injuries make me nervous), and Justin Upton matching Kemp at $47. In the midst of this, I did grab a $33 Hanley Ramirez, which helped ease the pain, but I still needed an OF and a Util, and the options were not looking pretty.

I passed on a $16 Carlos Santana (huge steal at C, maybe the best deal in the auction, but not as good if he is your util), Evan Longoria at $38, and Albert Pujols at $38. Only the last of those really bothers me.

I ended up with the following auction buys:

Hanley Ramirez – $33
Jacoby Ellsbury – $31
Bobby Parnell – $15
Eric Hosmer – $9
Mark Reynolds – $6
Yasmani Grandal – $5
Frank Francisco – $3
Erasmo Ramirez – $1
Tyler Greene – $1

That leaves me with this roster set up:

C Wilin Rosario Yasmani Grandal      
1B Ike Davis        
2B Howie Kendrick        
SS Hanley Ramirez Dee Gordon      
MI Dustin Ackley Tyler Greene      
3B Mike Moustakas Mark Reynolds      
OF Jacoby Ellsbury Nick Swisher      
OF Allen Craig Brandon Moss      
OF Nick Markakis Matt Joyce      
OF Starling Marte        
OF Carlos Gomez        
Util Eric Hosmer        
SP Jered Weaver Julio Teheran      
SP Mat Latos Chris Tillman      
SP Jordan Zimmermann Cory Luebke      
SP Shaun Marcum Erasmo Ramirez      
SP Edwin Jackson Trevor Bauer      
RP Joe Nathan        
RP Ryan Madson        
RP Casey Janssen Sergio Santos      
RP Bobby Parnell Frank Francisco      
RP Santos/Francisco        
Pros Jurickson Profar Gerrit Cole Grant Green Jedd Gyorko Nolan Arenado

First, I should say that I really like my OF depth and expect that I will be able to use that or (should any of my prospects pan out) my MI depth to improve elsewhere. But I do not like that $31 Ellsbury at all. I actually just plain don’t like Ellsbury this year. Not really sure why, to be honest, but this feels like a big overpay, and I’ll be glad to take offers for him if the rest of my OF proves worthy.

The other bid I got blasted for was $15 on Parnell. But honestly, I don’t hate that. Brandon League went for $15, as well, and closers come at a premium in this format (5 RP slots, 5×5 scoring). Parnell or Francisco should get saves for me and at $18 total, I am fine with that.

The problem was being patient. I should have struck on Kemp. Let’s say I pay $50 for him. I never sign Ellsbury in that case, but I could still grab Hanley at $33. I’d have those two at $83 instead of Hanley and Ellsbury at $64, which means I have to save $19 elsewhere. But I ended the auction with $12 in cap space, so simply passing on Parnell would have done the trick. If everything else goes as it did for me, I end up with basically the same roster, just with Kemp instead of Ellsbury and no Parnell (replaced likely by a $1 prospect or flyer).

In many of my leagues, the first few guys off the board are overpriced, as overzealous owners pay up for big names. But now in my third year playing in an industry league like this one, I am realizing that has not been the case – everyone plans to be patient and the result is a couple good deals right off the bat, if you are willing to be the one to set the market. If Ellsbury even touches his 2011 (say 20 HR, 30 SB, 80 RBI, 100 R), I will be fine with that price. And if he puts up 30 HR and 100+ RBI again, I’ll be dancing a jig.

But for this week, the lesson is that patience is not always a virtue.