In a standard 4x4 auction style league the LIMA plan if executed properly works very well. In a nut shell 70% of budget is allocated towards hitting with the remainder towards pitching. With the multitude of categories your league carries....I think a LIMA plan would be fairly easy to carry out.
Prior and Foulke give you an amazing head start. I would concentrate on quality IP rather than quantity. Top set up men like Dotel (I realize he is the closer this going into this year) , Rhodes and Jeff Nelson have to be worth a ton. High K/BB ratio, etc. I would target a bounce back canidate or an undervalued starter or 2 to compliment Prior, like Wade Miller. Snag 1 more top closer and an unproven guy like Dotel or Wickman. Then back fill with set up guys towards the end of the draft. Valverde, Koplove,Lidge, Riske,Fox, Bradford all will get around 70 innings of quality production and more slop wins than you might immagine. Prior, if injury free, is a lock for 200IP so 1250 should be an easy target.
Thanks for all the insight everyone. I think I still like the idea of staying low in IP, but I have a lot of other ideas to ponder.
The thing that I might not have made clear enough is that my intent with this strategy is to stay low in IP. I'm not trying to find ways to get up to 1250 innings and compete in wins and Ks. If I load up on mediocre pitchers in an attempt to go after wins, Ks, etc., I'm also going to drive up a lot of the other categories as well. I'm going to compete (and not favorably) in categories like losses, walks, HRs, etc.
Let's face it, a guy who has 3-4 top quality starters (say Mussina, Pedro, Hudson -- which are 3 of the keepers on one guy's team) is going to kill me in a lot of categories if I'm going up against him with Prior, a bounce-back and a prospect. As good as Prior is, he can't pull that one out.
Anyway, like I said, I really appreciate the advice everyone! Thanks!
Your league is begging you to take bats early! I couldn't agree more, but I think you are stepping over gold to pick up granite.
Entering 2003 the following pitchers were not expected to garner many saves at all. Thus they became end game picks and buys in most leagues. This happens every year. The categories you listed fit these guys to a tee (although you never mentioned roster size I am guessing you have to carry at least 9 pitchers).
All of these guys, with the exception of Hasegawa, are @ or above 9K per 9 innings pitched! Very few starters approach that threshold. With your max IP of 1250 a roster of Prior and these 8 will finish very high in Ks and virtually every other category, but saves and wins. Since you also have Faulke saves isn't as big a concern. Going into 2003 I would have rostered all but Hawkins (he still scares me) and Valverde (still in minors at the time).
Why punt any categories, when you can snag guys like this... late?
In summary, I like your strategy of grabbing bats early and often, but supplement it with some high quality set up guys. You won't be sorry.