On Saturday, six months of hard work and preparation culminated as my co-managers and I arrived at Arlington Park in Chicago for the 2011 NFBC main event. This day in all honesty, really does feel like being a kid on Christmas morning. All the excitement and anticipation builds up the entire year waiting for this glorious moment. To sit down at that draft table with 14 other competitors who love and respect this game as much as I do is an awesome feeling. Though I had a bit of panic in the days leading up to the draft, I felt extremely calm once I settled into my seat. I knew that I was ready.
If you have been reading my articles this offseason, you know already that I had a well thought out plan in place with contingencies based on any possible scenario that we could foresee happening. My main goals heading into the draft were to make sure I acquired one of the top seven players at first base and also shortstop, as I believe there is a significant drop-off after those groups at each position. I wanted to grab one of the top tier pitchers as my ace in round three. I wanted to get one of the top closers, and then supplement him with another solid guy who had job security, grabbing both before round 11.
Here’s an in-depth breakdown on how the draft turned out, with analysis and thought process along the way. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Round 1, Pick 12 (12): The plan we developed before the draft had us starting with two corner infielders in the first two rounds. Alex Rodriguez was the top choice on our board here, with hopefully Prince Fielder or more likely Ryan Howard falling back to us in round two. This would give us a tremendous power base while covering both corner positions which are a bit shallow this year. The top five picks off the board seemed like it would be a normal first round with Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. The guy sitting in the sixth chair was wearing a Joey Votto jersey to the draft, so I assumed his pick would be an easy one. He shocked everyone though when he selected Alex Rodriguez.
With A-Rod off the board, our target now shifted to one of the top first basemen or possibly David Wright. Picks seven through nine quickly followed taking the top three in order Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira. This means that at pick 10, Carl Crawford, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez are still on the board. In our preparation, we really didn’t think that any of these players would fall to us, but now we were assured to get one if that’s the route we wanted to take. Braun went off the board at 10, followed by CarGo at 11.
We’re now on the clock at pick 12. In our discussions leading up to the draft, the one player who intrigued us if he did fall was Crawford. The original plan called for two power corner infield bats, then hoping to fill speed with Jacoby Ellsbury in round three, or Elvis Andrus in five. Crawford would certainly fill that void for us, but with all of the top first basemen off the board already, would Prince or Howard make it back to us in two? Should we even go as far to take Prince here to assure that we get one of those top players at his position that we so desperately covet? David Wright would certainly be a solid pick here as well, but can we really pass on Crawford here? The answer to that last question, is no. Carl Crawford becomes the face of our 2011 franchise.
Round 2, Pick 4 (19): With Crawford in tow, we now pray that either Fielder or Howard make it back around. If they both go, Kevin Youkilis could also get some consideration. Robinson Cano, David Wright and Josh Hamilton round out round one. Prince goes off the board with the first pick in round two, and at this point we don’t like the chances of Howard making it back. Then Matt Kemp and lastly Kevin Youkilis are taken before we are up again. This pick is the easiest one we make in the draft, Ryan Howard.
Round 3, Pick 12 (42): Our plan heading into the draft was to take Jacoby Ellsbury if he fell, or one of the top-tier starting pitchers in round three, preferably Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander. The way the first two rounds played out, we now also considered another stud corner infielder should Jose Bautista or Adam Dunn fall back to us, and then we’d just grab our ace in four. Bautista goes off the board at 3.2, and Dunn makes it all the way to 3.11 before he’s snaked right out from under us. With Lester and Kershaw off the board, Justin Verlander becomes the ace of our staff.
Round 4, Pick 4 (49): After taking Verlander, there are a lot of interesting names still on the board that would merit consideration should they make it back to us in round four. Most of them go off the board in the six picks between ours, leaving us with a couple of options. All along we wanted to assure ourselves of a top seven shortstop, and Alexei Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Andrus are still on the board here. Another favorite of ours, Justin Morneau is still here, and he was an absolute monster the first half of last season, but is he really healthy and worth the risk this early? Brandon Phillips is another intriguing option that could help our team across the board. In the end, since we missed out on our corner/corner start, and because we believe in his tremendous upside when healthy, Justin Morneau becomes the pick.
Round 5, Pick 12 (72): At the 5-6 turn our original plan called for us to take our shortstop (preferably Elvis Andrus) and then either a third basemen depending on who was still available, another outfielder, or the top tier closer that we coveted. Hunter Pence is another guy who I loved if he fell back to us, but he went earlier in the round. We were more than delighted to see Elvis Andrus on the board, especially after Derek Jeter went with the first pick in the round.
Round 6, Pick 4 (79): Again, our original plan gave us some flexibility here depending on what was on the board. Carlos Marmol was the first closer off the board at 6.01, and had another one gone before it got back to us we may have looked in that direction. The top outfield options remaining were Drew Stubbs, Corey Hart, Colby Rasmus, Brett Gardner, Delmon Young and Rajai Davis. Though we liked some of these players to varying degrees, we felt like at least one of them would surely make it back to us in round seven or eight. This turned our attention towards third base, where Michael Young, Pablo Sandoval and Pedro Alvarez were on the board. We valued Young and Sandoval pretty similarly, but Young had the more proven track record and was the better bet to finish with a higher average. This would help offset the potential average drain from Andrus the round previous. Welcome to the team, Michael Young.
Round 7, Pick 12 (102): Our main focus here is to grab that top-tier closer should one be available, and then follow it up with either our second outfielder or second starting pitcher. Brian Wilson went the pick after us in round six, quickly followed by the rest of our top tier in Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell. As the snake moved back towards us in round seven, several of those outfield options we briefly considered in round six were still there. There are also a couple of starting pitchers, namely Chad Billingsley and Chris Carpenter who stand out among the rest. Billingsley gets taken two picks before us, which leaves us a difficult choice. Colby Rasmus, Corey Hart and Delmon Young are all on the board, and all players who we value pretty similarly. Chris Carpenter is also there and would make a fantastic second starter, but would he make it back to us in round eight? Looking at the three teams between us, two of them had two starters and only one outfielder, so it seemed likely that they could each go with one in the next pair. Now the debate turned to which outfielder we liked the best. Corey Hart was the top guy on our board, but came with a small injury concern and may even miss the first week of the season. If healthy, he could be a 25/25 player though. I also really like Delmon Young and his .300+ bat in the middle of the Twins lineup. As time winds down, we come to an agreement that Corey Hart fits our team the best here.
Round 8, Pick 4 (109): Whether or not we made the right decision on Hart is debatable, but at least it appears that we played the snake correctly. In the six picks in between, Delmon Young and Colby Rasmus both are selected, while no starting pitchers leave the draft board. We now grab our number two starter, Chris Carpenter.
Round 9, Pick 12 (132): As we’re winding down before the break, we try to figure out what exactly we need out of our next two picks. Though we missed out on the top tier of closers, our plan all along was to grab two who had job security before round 11. If we don’t grab one in the next two picks, then this can’t be accomplished. Our team could also use another high power/high average bat, but how many of those are readily available in round nine? By the time we are called, another closer run has seriously depleted the inventory at the position. It’s extremely hard to differentiate the remaining options and assuredly one of them will be there for us in round 10. As far as the high power/average bats available, Kendrys Morales and Vladimir Guerrero are still on the board, yet I don’t think either one still should be. Morales is ruled out simply because we can’t afford any more unnecessary injury risk. Vladimir Guerrero is the pick.
Round 10, Pick 4 (139): Well, we know exactly what we need to do here. Though it may not be the sexiest pick, if we don’t grab one of these closers here then we’re basically punting the position which I can’t allow myself to do. We like Ryan Franklin a little bit better than Joel Hanrahan and Leo Nunez simply due to job security. Ryan Franklin becomes our first closer.
At the first break we are fairly pleased with the team we have assembled. We have our first baseman, third baseman, corner infielder and shortstop covered. We also have two outfielders, two starters and a closer. Vlad fills our utility position, but will cause us to lose a lot of flexibility for the rest of the draft, but we felt that he was worth that risk in the ninth round. I know that drafting to targets isn’t always the best idea, but I like to keep track of our power/speed ratio with a goal of 270 homeruns and 175 steals for the draft. Through 10 rounds, we have roughly 160/110 which is right around where we want to be at this point in the draft.
Our predraft plan for rounds 11-20 have us taking our second closer in round 11, hopefully our second basemen in round 15, then mixing in the outfielders and starting pitchers that we like in between. Our plan at catcher is to grab a solid guy in rounds 12 to 15 then wait until later for the second option.
Round 11, Pick 12 (162): We are obviously looking to still grab our second closer here, and to our surprise the other guy we strongly considered in round 10 is still on the board. We will happily select Joel Hanrahan here.
Round 12, Pick 4 (169): We are looking for our third starting pitcher here, with two names very closely bunched on our board to consider, Matt Garza and Wandy Rodriguez. I am leaning in the direction of Wandy simply due to the higher strikeout potential. My co-managers like Garza more for his youth and move to the NL central. They are so close on my board that I digress to them, and Matt Garza becomes our third starter. Chase Utley is still on the board here, but we just can’t convince ourselves he’s worth the risk.
Round 13, Pick 12 (192): Our plan all along for rounds 13 and 14 is to grab our third and fourth outfielders as this is a point in the draft where we identified considerable value in the outfield rankings. Specifically, Travis Snider, Will Venable, Ryan Raburn and Mike Morse are all players that we planned to look at with these two selections. Snider was taken earlier in the round at 13.05, but the other three were still available when it came to our pick. Venable differs from the other two in that I think he has a higher ceiling and has 40+ stolen base potential. We did also debate taking James Shields here, but decided that the value in the outfield was too much to pass up and that Shields might make it back to us later. It may seem like a reach to some, but Will Venable was a very easy choice here.
Round 14, Pick 4 (199): James Shields was taken in the six picks between, so he no longer required consideration here. Both Raburn and Morse are still available and either one would slot in nicely as our fourth outfielder. Another intriguing name on the board is Drew Storen. After missing on the first couple of closer runs and having to settle for Franklin/Hanrahan, I think that Storen would really help to solidify our bullpen, but I can’t seem to justify taking three closers in five picks. Jordan Zimmerman is another name we tossed around, but again thought the value in the outfield was too great to pass up. The Raburn/Morse debate came down to the last couple of seconds, but in the end we decided to welcome Ryan Raburn to the squad.
Round 15, Pick 12 (222): The predraft plan for the 15-16 picks was to take my top sleeper and second base in Danny Espinosa and then grab either our 4th starting pitcher or 4th outfielder depending on how the earlier rounds shook out. Jordan Zimmerman and one of our favorite sleepers, Erik Bedard were both selected before our pick in round 15. Surprisingly, two players we considered in round fourteen, Drew Storen and Mike Morse are also still available. Not wanting to take our fifth outfielder already, we decide pass on Morse. The teams on the snake have two, two and three closers respectively so we figure there’s a decent chance that Storen could make it back to us in round 16. We opt instead to stick to our original plan and take their Nationals teammate, Danny Espinosa.
Round 16, Pick 4 (229): As we had hoped, Storen made it back around and was available here. While a bullpen of Franklin/Hanrahan may seem like a weakness, adding Storen could help to really solidify them as a group. Morse and Peter Bourjos are still available as options here as well, but the value on Drew Storen is too much to pass up.
Round 17, Pick 12 (252): Well, sometimes you wait just a little bit too long on a position and pay the price for it. Hoping that either Morse or Bourjos would make it back to us in round 17 proved to be futile, and left us with a lot of very questionable options. We could look into grabbing our first catcher here, but shockingly only 13 have been selected so far, and that includes Jesus Montero who was taken earlier in the round. With many serviceable options still there, we decide to take a gamble. I know that I preach not to take players with injury concerns, yet still have done so at earlier points in this draft. In round 17 though, and as a fifth outfielder, we decide that the potential profit to be made on far outweighs the risk and select Carlos Beltran.
Round 18, Pick 4 (259): Still nothing standing out at the catcher position as there are numerous quality options that have fallen still available. We do however need to shore up our starting pitching. The debate comes down to the trio of Scott Baker, Wade Davis and Michael Pineda. With the risks that we have already taken in the draft, we settle on the most consistent and proven performer of the bunch in Scott Baker.
Round 19, Pick 12 (282): As we have to sit through the 22 picks before it makes it back around to us, we decide that the best idea would be to again focus on a starting pitcher in round 19. Hopefully one of the guys we considered in round 18 would fall, but if not we still needed to build up our depth at the position. Other than starting pitchers, we also had needs at catcher and middle infield that need to be filled. When it rolls back around, we are thrilled to see Michael Pineda still on the board. I banter with my co-managers a bit about Kyle McClellan who’s a guy that I desperately want on our roster, but we agree he can probably be had later and go with the extreme upside of Michael Pineda.
Round 20, Pick 4 (289): Of course, three picks after ours McClellan goes off the board which infuriates me, but still I don’t think we would’ve grabbed him in round 20. Of the catching options on the board, the debate came down to Russell Martin, Miguel Olivo and JP Arencibia. As time wound down, we came to the consensus that Russell Martin was the best fit for our team.
Through 20 rounds we now have all of our positions filled except for second catcher, middle infield and sixth starting pitcher. I think we’ve hit our goal for stolen bases and are just under in homeruns. Very pleased with how the draft has played out thus far. In rounds 21-30 we’re looking to build depth at starting pitcher, as well as grab a couple of outfielders who are getting close to full-time at bats. This will help to offset Hart and Beltran possibly missing the first couple weeks of the season.
Round 21, Pick 12 (312): Logan Morrison was the guy I hoped would fall to us here, but he was snached up earlier in the round. None of the other outfield options jumped out above the rest, and I definitely felt like we could use another starter with high strikeout potential. James McDonald fits in very nicely here.
Round 22, Pick 4 (319): Bill Hall was an option that we were planning to look at as our middle infielder here, but he went two picks before ours. JD Drew and Jonny Gomes received some consideration here as well, but we decided again to look for pitchers who could bolster our strikeouts. Though health is a major concern, it’s hard to ignore the potential upside of Jake Peavy. Brandon Beachy, JA Happ and Chris Young are other names that we debated in this spot, and looking back objectively were probably better choices, but we decided to go with Jake Peavy.
Round 23, Pick 12 (342): Heading into our 23-24 picks we wanted to fill that void at middle infielder with someone that has a bit of pop, and also snag our 2nd catcher. Ty Wigginton seems to be the perfect fit for us at this point. He has eligibility at first, second and third. He should also get 400+ at-bats and hit 20 or more home runs. Welcome aboard Ty Wigginton.
Round 24, Pick 4 (349): There are still several decent options at catcher available, to where we decide that we can still wait at least another round before securing our second one. Also, we desperately need an outfielder that’s getting close to full time at-bats to fill in at the start of the season. Brad Hawpe and Melky Cabrera are the two best options available, and it’s clear to me who the obvious choice here is. Brad Hawpe is the pick.
Round 25, Pick 12 (372): There are still several decent options at catcher available, to where we decide that we can still wait at least another round before securing our second one. Also, there’s a starting pitcher available whose name we mentioned back in round 22 that could give some nice depth to the back end of our staff. JA Happ becomes the selection here.
Round 26, Pick 4 (379): Eventually we have to take our second catcher. I’m definitely surprised that Nick Hundley has fallen this far and is still available; he’s an easy selection here.
Round 27, Pick 12 (402): Everyone likes to take shots at their favorite closers in waiting in the reserve rounds of these drafts, and I’m no different. I think that this guy might even be the favorite to close at the beginning of the season with the injury to Brad Lidge. We gladly select Jose Contreras here.
Round 28, Pick 4 (409): We still need another outfielder to cover for the Hart/Beltran, but to say the remaining options are underwhelming would be an understatement. As far as late round starting pitchers, I would much rather gamble on a young guy with upside than a boring veteran fifth starter type that you know will be dropped in the first couple of weeks. In this mold, we select Andrew Cashner to round out our rotation.
Round 29, Pick 12 (432): Outfielder with a starting job at the beginning of the season? With the Nyjer Morgan trade, Rick Ankiel at least appears primed to be the starting centerfielder in Washington.
Round 30, Pick 4 (439): Just looking for anybody who has fallen through the cracks that might be a potential draft and hold player. He might crack the 25 man roster, and I believe is only a fragile Scott Rolen injury away from becoming an impact bat. Welcome, Juan Francisco.
There you have it, the draft is complete! Here’s an easier look broken down by position.
C: Martin, Hundley
3B: Young (Francisco)
OF: Crawford, Hart, Venable, Raburn, Beltran (Hawpe, Ankiel)
SP: Verlander, Carpenter, Garza, Baker, Pineda, McDonald (Peavy, Happ, Cashner)
RP: Franklin, Hanrahan, Storen (Contreras)
Again any comments or feedback are greatly appreciated!