RotoWire Staff Keeper League

It’s hard to get 18 people to agree on an auction date, so much so it had to be a week into the season. Moreover, the start time of the auction – and subsequent minor-league and reserve draft – was 7 pm ET, also known as midnight Western European time, i.e., I knew I was pulling an all-nighter.

While an auction necessarily takes more time than say a straight draft, we also wasted a ton of it – it finished sometime after 6 am my time (my roster was full and I went to bed while it was still going on.)

While part of it was tech/connection issues that are hard to avoid, people were taking several minutes for each pick in the reserve draft, and instead of using the delay from one deadbeat’s pick to get ready for theirs, they would pick an already drafted player and then use another three minutes to find someone they liked. For next year, we need a strict (and that means you get skipped) one-minute limit for the reserves. If you don’t want to prepare ahead of time, that’s fine, but it’ll mean you have a bad team, not that everyone else has to stay up later and later waiting for you to do research on their time. I say this every year, but I’m going to the mat for this in 2019. Let’s call it the “Have respect for other people’s time” Act.

(Granted, no one made me move to a time zone five hours ahead of the east coast of the US, but this annoyed me even when I lived in LA.)

Another annoying/hard-to-resolve issue is a couple people accidentally bid on players they didn’t want. One of the owners, Kevin Payne, got Starling Marte for 48 (he meant to bid 38), but didn’t complain as that was ballpark value anyway in a keeper league like this – more on that below – but other owners had the auction wound back due to errors. That’s understandable – if time-consuming and frustrating – but the worst was when I won a $2 Zach Britton – 17 other owners refrained from going to $3, except one who swears he tried to hit $3, but his button wasn’t working. This isn’t someone getting a player he didn’t want, but someone missing out on a good deal and not saying so during the bidding, but 10 seconds afterwards while I was boasting about my purchase. So we threw it back and he got Britton for $5. That I didn’t go on tilt the entire rest of the way was a feat of Herculean restraint the likes of which I’ve never before exercised in my nearly 47 years on this earth.

That out of the way, some background on this league is in order. It’s a keeper league in which you can hold up to 15 players, meaning you need only eight in the auction if you’ve kept the full amount which I had. It also means the available players are massively inflated – I have Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado kept for $13 each. That’s roughly $100 of surplus value collectively which means I have $100 extra to spend that wouldn’t be available in a one-year league where I bought those players. If you add that surplus to my other 12 keepers – presumably you keep only those players who would fetch more on the open market – and multiply that across 18 teams – you can see how much extra money there is for the remaining pool. And having done this format for many years, all the owners know this going in.

Here’s what my active squad (Liss and Shoe’s Dynasty) looked like:

Players in black are keepers, red are purchased at auction. I made one fairly serious error that any experienced player should have avoided – I kept a suspended Jorge Polanco for $1 in the utility. For some reason, when I was doing my list, I looked only at value, not at position, and clogging up the utility meant I couldn’t bid on catchers or any middle infielders. Once I bought Josh Donaldson early in the auction, I was frozen out from third basemen too. Not that there were a ton of bargains I wanted to buy, but it was a bad strategy to get frozen out like that just to keep someone you’ll have to carry on your bench for half a season – especially when your team is a contender.

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In any event, my strategy was to go big on two stars, and I got Donaldson – who was considerably cheaper than Freddie Freeman $51 and Joey Votto $54 – and Shohei Ohtani (pitcher or hitter, depending on the week) for $45, $6 cheaper than Justin Verlander which I think should be the case.

After that, I filled out with what I could afford, a $2 Matt Kemp, a $2 Britton (which was perfect before being reversed), an $11 Dexter Fowler, a $7 Kevin Gausman – you can read the chart. I felt good about these buys under the circumstances, and I made sure my reserves had a few useful players getting innings and at-bats now.

The reserve draft which is theoretically 17 rounds if you kept no minor leaguers mixes both reserves and minors (defined as players with fewer than 20 major-league games played.)  I kept seven minor leaguers, so I needed to draft only three, and once you get outside the top-40 prospects or so, the difference between say No. 70 and No. 150 isn’t that big.  Accordingly, after taking Carter Kieboom (whoever that is) with my first reserve pick, I went six straight reserves before filling out my last two minor league spots.

Here’s our reserve list:

Brad Miller and Matt Duffy are playing nearly every day, and Andrew Heaney and Carlos Rodon should be back at some point – and also keepable. Brad Peacock and Robert Gsellman can fill in for starters with tough matchups, too.

Overall, despite the Polanco error – and I’ll try and trade him to a rebuilding team that doesn’t mind that he’s suspended and can reap the keeper value for next year – I’m happy with this team. The Dynasty is now in Tim Schuler’s hands to manage it day to day, while I pursue trades. (I’m the GM, he’s the manager.)

Here’s what the entire auction looked like:

Here’s the entire reserve list:

And here’s the order in which the reserves were picked: