I was in New York over the weekend for Tout Wars. Looking to redeem myself after my LABR experience, I thought I would change my approach with Tout. The plan? Draft a good team, something that somewhat eluded me in Arizona.

After wading slowly into the mix in LABR, I decided to be a bit more aggressive this time out (probably a good idea I think we would all agree). In this 15 team mixed league I was able to roster a solid group of bats, but I really love my power pitching. Before I get emails from all of you saying 'but Ray, you always say don't draft pitching early' you have to realize two things. (1) Things are different at an auction. The amount of control that you have is exponentially greater so you can have a couple of “aces” an not necessarily miss out on bats. If you take an SP in the 2nd round in a snake-draft you miss out on a big time hitter. In an auction there are no rounds to worry about so you can add Roy Halladay and still get Prince Fielder if you want instead of just being able to get either/or in the second round of an snake draft. (2) If there is value present, I'm going to jump into the mix. Check out the names that I was able to roster for my staff:

Cliff Lee ($26), Felix Hernandez ($23), John Danks ($3), Chad Billingsley ($3), Ricky Nolasco ($3), Sergio Santos ($13), Kenley Jansen ($6), Sergio Romo ($4) and Tyler Clippard ($3)

I know, I know, you're saying to yourself 'Ray, when is the love affair with Billingsley and Nolasco going to end?' My response is that I'm a glutton for punishment. Billingsley should offer a moderate bounce back from last season, an I always, an I mean every season, point out how Nolasco has great skills even if he's rarely able to put things together. You also read about Danks in his Player Profile, right? He's a nice rebound candidate since he actually pitched better last year than he did in 2010. As for the bullpen arms, I have to say I'm pretty darn excited about the group. Jansen is one of the best arms in the game, and Santos was great as a first year closer last year. In San Francisco Brian Wilson doesn't appear to be 100 percent, while Drew Storen is dealing with some health issues of his own in Washington. It wouldn't take a whole hell of a lot for Clippard and Romo to pick up at least a few saves. For good measure, I also added James McDonald in the reserve rounds, along with David Robertson. McDonald has a great arm and showed some nice signs of growth last year with the Pirates. Robertson continues to impress after injuring his foot, and he'll slide in well with my stable of power arms out of the pen.

On offense, a moderate approach was key. Here's what I ended up with:

C: Kurt Suzuki ($7), John Buck (4) 1B: Carlos Lee (8) 2B: Chase Utley (6) 3B: Pablo Sandoval (23) SS: Derek Jeter (13) MI/CI: Dustin Ackley (8) Gaby Sanchez (12) OF: B.J. Upton (27) Nelson Cruz (20), Carl Crawford (18), Alex Rios (13), Denard Span (2) UT: Danny Espinosa (8)

Watch me lock down Dustin Ackley in the bidding.

Remember, this is a 15 team league, so guys like Lee and Sanchez at first and corner infield, while not even remotely exciting, provide plenty of counting stat production. You'll notice Utley as my “starter” at second, and you're likely thinking – huh? But for $6, and he was tossed out there relatively early in the draft, I felt like it was a risk worth taking. I felt even better about it when I was able to roster Dustin Ackley and Danny Espinosa for a combined $16 to handle second and middle infield if Utley is a waste. I mean, Jemile Weeks went for $16 by his lonesome. I like Weeks' speed, but I'd certainly rather have Ackley and Espinosa for the same cost. Jeter is boring, but he was the last shortstop I trusted on the board other than Alexei Ramirez. The White Sox shortstop was brought up a couple of players after Jeter and he went for $17. Cruz and Crawford in the outfield are health risk, but for $38? There were probably leagues last year where Crawford went for that by his lonesome. I love B.J. Upton. Here's why. I'm also a big fan of Alex Rios, see his Player Profile, and thought $13 was just right for his services (I have him at that cost in the 2012 BBGuys Draft Guide). Span may not excite you, but if he can stay healthy hitting atop the Twins order, then he could be a strong, cheap, option for my club. For support in the reserve round I added Aubrey Huff and Danny Valencia. Rather boring no doubt, but if they knock in 80 runs while not killing my average, I won't mind too much.

I'd like to thank our gracious host, SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, for putting on a great event this past weekend (here's a picture of me in action). The studio looked amazing, right across the street from Radio City Music Hall, and Howard Stern's studio was right next door (I still can't believe they pay a guy $100 million a year to talk  about nude ladies and sex. I'd do that for a hundredth of that. Heck, I might do it for free).

Gotta say, I wasn't overly impressed by NYC. I hadn't been there since I was 16 so I was looking forward to a big bash of late night shenanigans. While we did get into some trouble, the fact that we wandered around New York at 3 AM and couldn't find a place to get something to eat – simply amazing. Isn't there supposed to be a late night pizza place open all night on every corner?

 Click here for a review of all the selections in the Mixed Tout Wars League.

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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