My draft

This past Sunday, I had the draft in my main league. It is a 12-team mixed league with the usual stats plus holds and BB/K for batters. We are allowed to keep up to four players (but no more than three batters) at a cost of the first several picks (first keeper costs the first-round pick, and so on). This year, my keepers were Kemp, Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera, but I traded Cabrera for Reyes a few weeks ago in an effort to diversify my roster a bit. With first base so deep, I didn’t feel as if I needed to gum up both my 1B and CI slots so early. Of course, now Reyes has the thyroid problem—don’t get me started. We also get to keep two rookies coming into the season cost-free. I had the eighth pick in the snake draft.

1. Matt Kemp (keeper)
2. Mark Teixeira (keeper)
3. Jose Reyes (keeper)
4. Josh Beckett
5. Chris Carpenter
6. Cole Hamels
7. Adam Dunn
8. Derek Lee
9. Matt Wieters
10. Chipper Jones
11. Julio Borbon
12. Tim Hudson
13. Frank Francisco
14. Jay Bruce
15. Howie Kendrick
16. Matt Capps
17. Dexter Fowler
18. Adrian Beltre
19. Kyle Blanks
20. Jonathan Sanchez
21. Scot Shields
22. Fernando Rodney
23. Manny Corpas
24. Justin Duchscherer
Rookie keepers: Neftali Feliz, Michael Brantley

This season I decided to target starting pitching more than I had in the past. Since my league has holds in it, one or two pitcher spots usually go to setup guys. With a few closers as well, it is entirely likely that each week I will only start four or five starting pitchers. So the replacement-level starting pitcher is quite high in this league, and the return to building a solid core of three or so good starters is high. Beckett was the fifth pitcher off the board. I had planned on getting only one more good starter in the next couple of rounds, but when the next round came up, Carpenter was by far the best player remaining according to my projections. He’s a bit of an injury risk, but with Beckett already in the pocket, I felt fairly safe. Plus, I felt that Hamels would still be there in the next round, which he was, and I wasn’t going to let him get away. After that, I felt pretty good about my pitching, but felt I needed some guaranteed power; I knew there was plenty of speed left in the later rounds. So I went with Dunn.

Tim Hudson’s not gonna hurt me. With those four starters in the fold, I was able to pass on guys like Derek Lowe and Aaron Harang. No more will I suffer when Dusty Baker leaves Harang out to dry in the eighth inning.

For the most part, my batters are caricatures. With the exception of Kemp, most of my early-round guys are either-or types—either power or speed. Reyes and Borbon will hopefully give me plenty of speed, while Dunn, Teixeira, Bruce and Lee will hopefully go get ‘em in. Blanks and Fowler are my upside guys, passing on the likes of Milton Bradley. Dunn helps in the BB/K category too.

What costs did I pay? Well, I got a little squeezed at third and second. Still, if I can get performance out of either Beltre or Jones, I’m in pretty good shape. As it currently stands, one will be my DH while the other mans third. But DH/Util is the easiest spot to replenish, obviously—I can easily slot someone like Blanks or Fowler in if one of my hot corners goes down. Kendrick, well, I’m hoping he’s ready for a breakout. But if not, at least I hope he helps with my batting average. I also think, perhaps colored by my Ben Zobrist-athon last year, that second base is a position where one can find breakouts in the bushes. I’m more or less satisfied with Wieters in the ninth.

This year’s draft was one of the earliest I’ve ever participated in, and the uncertainty that surrounds relief pitching at this time of year is remarkable. There are enough closers that have question marks—guys like Matt Lindstrom and Brad Lidge—that differences of opinion can vary widely (to say nothing of the situation in Minnesota now). I’m expecting good stuff from Francisco—he’s got the skills for it. If not, I have Feliz as a sort of backup. Shields and Rodney are my hopes for holds—mainly I’m playing on Mike Scioscia‘s propensity to use setup guys; not all managers do. Likewise for Corpas, though if Street re-injures himself, I should be in a good position to get some vulture saves.

As always, even right after the draft, I find myself playing the what-if game. I forgot about Francisco Liriano and could’ve had him relatively late, etc. … I actually have two more picks left in the reserve draft (which we’re doing by e-mail). So feel free to post some suggestions (alas you don’t know who’s gone yet). I would love to post who I’m thinking about taking, but that could obviously backfire!

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  1. Jon E said...

    Has Scott Sizemore been taken yet? Ryan Perry also looks really good so far this spring in the Tigers ‘pen.

  2. werthless said...

    Wouldn’t a deep waiver wire in SPs suggest that the returns to drafting SP early are lower? Essentially, the VORP is lower. I think you have it backwards.

    Your comments with respect to drafting 2Bs reflect the above understanding. With a deeper waiver wire, you can gamble on a cheap, high upside pick, without worrying about starting a complete liability if it doesn’t work out.

    On a positive note, I love some of your picks after Hudson: Bruce, Fowler, Beltre, Blanks.

  3. Jonathan Sher said...

    I look forward to your 1000-word article on relative depth and value, because like Werthless, I wouldn’t take starting pitchers so high in the draft. By passing on hitters in rounds four through six you have instead taken some risks with hitters later:
    – Chipper Jones has topped 500 AB once in the past six years and is soon to be 38.
    – Julio Borbon has a less-than-firm grasp on his job. I like Borbon and I have him as one of 15 keepers in an AL only auction league. It just seems like a bot of a reach at that stage of the draft. There are some questions about his defense he needs to work thru.
    – Kendrick may not get full-time at-bats.
    – Dexter Fowler may have to compete for at-bats.

    I don’t play in a 12-team mixed league but it seems to me you took on a relatively high degree of risk offensively to get pitching in the early round, and while I like some of your picks (Beltre, Blanks and Bruce), I’m skeptical your strategy will work.

    I also am not a fan of Shields or Rodney—was Jepsen already gone?

  4. B-Chad said...

    I’d rather have Kevin Jepsen than Shields/Rodney personally, but do like your reasoning behind selecting Angels, as it is sound.

    Troy Glaus would be a target if I had your team and he were still available.  Good career walk rate and power numbers, obvious question marks.  At this point he’d be a bench bat though given your assortment of 1B/3B.  Still worth a gamble IMO. 

    Ian Desmond is another guy I like a lot.  2B/SS eligibility.  Good minor league numbers last year, should offer speed and maybe a bit of pop with decent average.  Tough to say for sure though, and he’s still battling for a starting spot.

  5. Kampfer said...

    I don’t get how Bruce stays for so long…
    I picked it with my 6th round pick with my 5th going to CarGo (we get to keep 3hitters 3pitchers, 14teams)

  6. Jonathan said...

    B-Chad – yeah, I may take a closer look at Desmond, now that Reyes may miss a few actual games.

    Werthless – love the handle by the way.  I’m gonna write an article soon about relative depth at a position and value.  I think I’m right to a first approximation – maybe I’ll persuade you once I have 1000 words to spend on the issue. 

    Jon and ayebatter – I’m not so high on S. Sizemore. We’ll see if i’m wrong about him.  I think Bruce took a hit in value because of playing time issues.  Dusty baker is predictably unpredictable when it comes to giving young players playing time and the reds just seem to keep adding more OFs.  I’ll be very interested to see how the Reds play out on THT’s forthcoming depth charts…

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