A look at the Forecasters Challenge

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This is as much for my benefit as anyone else’s, but I wanted to check in on how my players in the Forecasters Challenge are doing now that the season is almost half over. We’re not getting status updates, so it’s all guesswork at this point.

For those not following along, Tom Tango’s Forecasters Challenge
includes 22 teams, most generated by rankings provided by experts. The
draft was run 1,000 times with random draft orders to hopefully mix
things up a bit, though it didn’t really work out. 71 players were
drafted by the same team 1,000 times and 185 were drafted by the same
team at least 900 times.

So there isn’t going to be a whole lot of variety outside of the elite
players. Hanley Ramirez, my No. 1 player, was drafted by 18 of the 22
teams and no more than 115 times by any of them. If everyone had ranked
Hanley first, he would have been on every team 45 or 46 times.

My team has a bit more variety than most, suggesting that I didn’t have as many extreme rankings as some.

Here are the players I drafted the most frequently and the position at which I had them ranked on my overall list:

Jordan Zimmermann – 1,000 – 264th
James McDonald – 1,000 – 353rd
Tom Glavine – 984 – 397th
Johnny Cueto – 793 – 149th
Carlos Silva – 667 – 400th
Ian Snell – 513 – 270th
Francisco Liriano – 499 – 69th
Josh Johnson – 467 – 146th
Tommy Hanson – 447 – 425th
Brad Penny – 435 – 325th
Jon Lester – 423 – 68th
Anibal Sanchez – 372 – 306th
Glen Perkins – 341 – 357th
Brandon McCarthy – 311 – 418th

Relievers did have value in the scoring system, but not as much as starters and I ended up with starters almost exclusively.

Unfortunately, that’s mostly it for pitchers. I got Johan Santana 45
times, Chris Carpenter 36 times and Matt Garza 234 times. No one else
drafted more than a handful of times figures to make a big
contribution. It looks like I’m receiving big points from Cueto and
Johnson, who rank third and fourth respectively in the NL in ERA, but
they’re my aces and the lower-ranked guys aren’t doing much.

There’s more to like about the hitters:

Victor Martinez – 999 – 47th
Khalil Greene – 969 – 177th
Coco Crisp – 648 – 91st
Justin Upton – 630 – 73rd
Martin Prado – 629 – 408th
Asdrubal Cabrera – 626 – 228th
Erick Aybar -589 – 286th
Adam Jones – 522 – 92nd
Hunter Pence – 500 – 60th
Nick Markakis – 498 – 14th
Eric Chavez – 494 – 362nd
Joe Mauer – 474 – 53rd
Curtis Granderson – 452 – 31st
Todd Helton – 430 – 147th
Jim Thome – 406 – 136th
Bobby Crosby – 397 – 461st
Rick Ankiel – 387 – 121st
Nick Johnson – 362 – 268th
Conor Jackson – 352 – 83rd
Carl Crawford – 341 – 8th
Yunel Escobar – 338 – 148th
B.J. Upton – 301 – 11th

Everyone knows what Victor and Mauer are doing, and also included
are some of this year’s top breakthrough players in Justin Upton, Jones
and Pence. Khalil is showing signs of becoming useful, and Prado is
providing nice value for who was drafted in the 500s. Unfortunately,
Crisp will go down as a bust because of his shoulder problems. I was
quite surprised to see how often I ended up with Chavez despite what I
thought was a pretty safe ranking.

A couple of more lists before I wrap this up.

Here are the top players I never ended up with, along with where they were picked on average and where I had them on my list:

CC Sabathia – 7th – 29th
Grady Sizemore – 8th – 12th
Roy Halladay – 11th – 25th
Matt Holliday – 12th – 22nd
Tim Lincecum – 14th – 17th
Ryan Howard – 17th – 23rd
Lance Berkman – 17th – 30th
Alfonso Soriano – 20th – 21st
Jake Peavy – 21st – 44th
Cole Hamels – 22nd – 37th
Chase Utley – 23rd – 16th
Carlos Lee – 23rd – 28th
Dustin Pedroia – 23rd – 41st
Brandon Webb – 24th – 26th
Prince Fielder – 25th – 27th

It’s pretty bizarre that I never got Utley or Beltran, considering I
had them ahead of where they went on average. But I guess B.J. Upton
and Markakis were still available in those spots and I was getting them

Here are the best players to go 1,000 times and their average pick:

Rafael Furcal – 52nd
Justin Verlander – 58th
Francisco Rodriguez – 66th
Zack Greinke – 74th
Ty Wigginton – 75th
Aubrey Huff – 77th
Mike Aviles – 79th
Carlos Zambrano – 83rd
Willy Taveras – 87th
Matt Cain – 92nd
John Lackey – 93rd
Edwin Encarnacion – 108th
Denard Span – 114th
Jose Lopez – 126th
Milton Bradley – 128th
Mike Jacobs – 131st
Erik Bedard – 131st

Greinke and Cain are set to work out really well. Of the low ranked
guys to go 1,000 times to the same owner, Trevor Cahill, drafted 369th,
appears to be offering the most value.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

AP Photo/Ben Margot
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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.