Monday, March 15, 2010

Life is Just a Fantasy: The Draft – Rounds 1 through 8

After a little bit of excellent corned beef and cabbage at my buddy Dave’s house, we settled in to have our league draft. My draft strategy was simple… I was looking for a balanced team… I wasn’t going to chase large home run and RBI totals by sacrificing batting average and strike outs. Higher average, lower strike outs, decent (if unspectacular) power numers and higher on base percentage guys were the type of hitters I wanted. I also was looking for a nice rotation with some higher end starters and some high potential sleepers. I wanted low ERAs and low WHIPS with good strike outs. I wasn’t worrying about win totals.

With ten teams in the league I wound up with the 5th spot in the draft, which I consider just about the absolute worst place to have (along with the 6th spot) in a ten team draft. My favorite place to draft is the last pick. I enjoy being able to pick twice in a row. In the middle of the pack you always have eight or ten full picks being down inbetween yours. In any other draft positions you get to pick twice with 6 picks or less. It makes it easier to narrow down particular positions that you are self debating about.

Being in the middle does have one thing going for it though… you don’ t have to go a full 16 or 18 picks waiting for things to come back to you.

Anyway, With the 5th pick I immediately knew that I was not getting Pujols, A-Rod or Hanley Ramirez; so I set my sights on Chase Utley. I knew the worst case scenaro was I would wind up with Ryan Braun (which I wouldn’t mind at all) but I coveted Utley, a five tool player at a middle infield postion.

I’ll list each round with the order each player was drafted, and with my player in bold. After each round I’ll give you a little commentary and my thought process for why I made each pick.


1. Albert Pujols
2. Álex Rodríguez
3. Hanley Ramírez
4. Ryan Braun
5. Chase Utley
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Mark Teixeira
8. Joe Mauer
9. Roy Halladay
10. Evan Longoria

So I got my desired pick when Braun went 4th. Nothing insane in the first five picks but I was very surprised to see Troy Tulowitzki go in the first round. Not a terrible pick, but I would consider him a late 2nd round at the best, and more likely a mid 3rd rounder myself. Taking Roy Halladay with the 9th overall pick was gutsy. I do think he’s one of the two best pitchers to have, but again… in the first round is a little surprising, but not a bad move. Unless an injury occurs, Halladay is going to dominate the NL.


1. CC Sabathia
2. Prince Fielder
3. Ryan Howard
4. Matt Kemp
5. Tim Lincecum
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Zack Greinke
8. David Wright
9. Johan Santana
10. Félix Hernández

In the 2nd round and I already have my first dilemma. If Lincecum had been on the board still I would have taken him (I also would have grabbed Halladay and perhaps Sabathia had they been there). With all of them gone I have to choose between Miguel Cabrera, Johan Santana, David Wright and Felix Hernandez. I waffle quickly. I want Wright or Santana but as a Mets fan I worry about drafting with my heart and not my head. As much as I believe Wright’s power will return this year, his 140 strike outs go against my draft strategy. I see names like Haren, Lee, Lester and Carpenter still on the board and decide I’m pretty guaranteed to have an ace stud in the 3rd round, so I go for the best remaining overall player in Cabrera, who really is a first rounder, so I feel good about the pick. As expected Santana, Wright and Hernandez all go right after I pass them up. It was a bit of a surpise to see Matt Kemp (who as ranked by almost everyone as a 1st round pick and like a 7 or 8 overall) fall almost to the middle of the 2nd round, but I happen to think that was the perfect place to get him. I didn’t project him to be a 1st rounder myself.


1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. Adrián González
3. Ian Kinsler
4. Matt Holliday
5. Dan Haren
6. Kevin Youkilis
7. Mark Reynolds
8. Carl Crawford
9. Jacoby Ellsbury
10. Justin Upton

Like I thought, there was ace level pitching available here. It was down to Haren, Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander. I went with Haren mainly due to the National League and his superior WHIP and ERA numbers, but I couldn’t really have gone wrong with any of them. Mark Reynolds was a bit of a surprise here, but his power and RBI numbers must have been too good to pass up with the top seven 1st basemen and top three 3rd basemen off the board already. I wouldn’t have touched him mainly because his average and strike out numbers go way against my draft strategy. Crawford was drafted here in his proper place. He’s another who I think is a tad over rated as a 1st or 2nd rounder. I actually also think Ichiro went a little early as his numbers have decreased enough the last two years to make him more of a 4th rounder in my opinion.


1. Justin Verlander
2. Aaron Hill
3. Derek Jeter
4. Cliff Lee
5. Víctor Martínez
6. Chris Carpenter
7. Joe Nathan
8. Grady Sizemore
9. Mariano Rivera
10. Pablo Sandoval

It’s in this round that I see the first of a number of mistakes. Things start off right with Verlander (who I would have taken next had he been there) and Lee (ditto). I decide to stick to my draft strategy and get a 2nd starting pitcher by the 4th round and grab Carpenter over Adam Wainright and Josh Johnson mainly because of Carpenter’s overall body of success. Then two bizarre moves are made. The first is Joe Nathan. The person who drafted him had no idea Nathan is likely out for the season. Bad move. Then two picks later Rivera is picked. Picking Closers on the 4th round is just plain terrible. I knew in my gut people would immediately panic and there would be a run on closers in the next two rounds.


1. Ben Zobrist
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. Adam Wainwright
4. Jonathan Papelbon
5. Brian McCann
6. Jonathan Broxton
7. Brandon Phillips
8. Robinson Canó
9. Ryan Zimmerman
10. Jayson Werth

I was right to a point. Papelbon goes right before me and I hesitate and consider Ryan Zimmerman, Jason Bay and Jayson Werth. I decide to go with the idea of a fully balanced overall team and grab the last of the All-Star caliber catchers available with McCann. After him the overall quaility at the position drops decently, so McCann it is. The next pick is REALLY bizarre as Jonathon Broxton goes at least six rounds before I would have even considered him. Zimmerman and Werth both go quickly and I start looking at Bay, Jon Lester, Jimmy Rollins or Josh Johnson as my next pick if any of them are there.


1. Derrek Lee
2. Javier Vázquez
3. Josh Johnson
4. Jimmy Rollins
5. Brian Roberts
6. Jon Lester
7. Joey Votto
8. Justin Morneau
9. José Reyes
10. Jason Bay

Another really bizarre pick comes when Derek Lee is drafted before Joey Votto and Justin Mourneau. Same with Brian Roberts who is an excellent player but whose back problems might haunt him all year and greatly affect his play. Johnson goes and takes him off the board for me and Rollins goes two picks before mine and in a way I’m glad. I think I would have taken Rollins if he had been there and having both middle infieldes of the Phillies was a dilemma, plus I happen to think Rollins is over-rated and don’t trust that his average will rebound. Lester is on the verge of Acedom, so I decided to grab him over Bay because having three total pitching studs at the top of my rotation fits right in with my strategy. I actually consider Votto and Mourneau even though I already have a 1st baseman in Cabrera only because both are great hitters and I can play them in the IF position. I also yern for Reyes who would have gone in the 1st or 2nd round of not for his weird Thyroid situatiuon. I feel it’s too much a gamble and I stick to my guns and grab the pitcher instead.


1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Shin-Soo Choo
3. Josh Beckett
4. Kendry Morales
5. Aramis Ramírez
6. Michael Young
7. Adam Dunn
8. Brian Wilson
9. Adam Lind
10. Cole Hamels

Ok, it’s the seventh round and I still don’t have an outfielder, but the studs are all long gone. As the round starts I hope to get Kendry Morales but he and Choo go quickly. I briefly consider usual favorite of mine Adam Dunn, but it’s too early. If he’s there in the 9th or 10th round I’ll grab him, but 7th is too early with those strike out and average numbers. I then consider Ethier and Markakis but gamble they’ll be around for another round and grab what I think is the last of the top 3rd basement left in Ramirez. As soon as I do it I think it’s a mistake. With Chone Figgins still on the board I would have filled a fairly glaring need for speed. The only guy I’ve drafted so far with any SB numbers is Utley in the lower 20s. Ramirez is a very good pick but I do start to regret it somewhat. I comfort myself with Ramirez’s much lower strikeout numbers and overall very consistant stats. I also decide to grab either Ethier or Figgins in the next round. Dunn goes in this round and while I am sorry to see him go, I wouldn’t have touched him for another 3 rounds so it’s not that big a deal. Brian Wilson goes in this round which I think is just plain ridiculous.


1. Francisco Rodríguez
2. Andre Ethier
3. Chone Figgins
4. Ubaldo Jiménez
5. Heath Bell
6. Jason Bartlett
7. B.J. Upton
8. Matt Cain
9. Manny Ramírez
10. Francisco Cordero

This turns out to be a very weird round. It starts with yet another closer going in K-Rod then the next two are what I hoped would be my next pick in Ethier and Figgins. With a strong need for speed I briefly consider B.J. Upton, but his horrible average and strike out numbers scare me off. I decide I need speed which leaves Markakis out and Granderson’s average and strikeout totals scare me so I go with the overall solid numbers of Bartlett at short. The 30 steals with an average over .300 and lower strike out totals lead me to take the chance. It’s a bit of a risk because Bartlett needs to do it more than more and he is not sure thing to repeat is 2009 success, but I don’t think the risk is a huge one. Before my pick Heath Bell goes and afterwards so does Francisco Cordero. That makes eight closers gone by the end of the 7th round. I think everyone is crazy.

To be continued: Rounds nine through sixteen to come in the morning.

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