Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Expert League

On Monday night Mike and I participated in the first annual Greener on the Other Side Expert League. It is a 12 team 5x5 roto league hosted on Yahoo!. The roster size is a bit different than we are accustomed to as there is a fifth OF spot and a second Util spot. We were both excited to be able to draft one more time this spring before the games started to count (this was the 4th league for both of us). The particiapants were Adam Ronis of Newsday, Jordan Frank from Roto Rob, Brad Stewart from MLB Front Office, Geoff Stein from Mock Draft Central, Rudy Gamble from Razzball, Eric Stashin from Roto Professor, Sean Salsbery from Warning Track Power, Jay Sarney and Brett "Ahman" Greenfield from Greener On Other Side, Ken Mathe from Roto Advice, and a "Regular Guy" that that the writers at GOTOS selected from their stable of loyal readers.

Round 1
We were handed the 6th pick in this draft and were really hoping for Holliday to fall to us. Unfortunately, Brett nabbed him with the 5th pick. Rollins was our next highest rated player, so we grabbed him. The party line this year is that Rollins had a career year in 2007 and is likely to regress this season. I agree that he may have had a career year but I see no reason for a big correction/regression this year. We were happy to grab a 25-40 player to anchor our offense.

Round 2
At 19 overall we could not pass up B.J. Upton. He has ended up on all of my mixed-league teams this year. We definitely feel that he can build on his 2007 season of 24 HR and 22 SB. Manager Joe Maddon has been on record suggesting that Upton and Crawford will have the green light all season. A 30-30 season is not out of the question. Our team now has two elite middle infielders that hit for power and have 30+ steal potential. At this point we are very happy with the early goings of the draft.

Round 3
The guys at Greener were at it again. They snatched Rios right out of our queue. Our next highest rated player was Nick Markakis. We surveyed the landscape and felt that there was a chance that he might fall to us in the 4th round if we passed on him. We opted to roll the dice and drafted Magglio Ordonez. There is nothing sexy about this pick – he is an elite hitter in a great offense. The third round is the proper place for him to go.

Round 4
Damn! Markakis went 5 picks later to Rudy over at Razzball. Looking at our board we felt that we should grab another bat and decided to go with Travis Hafner. Adam Dunn was our other option but we chose to bypass the AVG killer and take a chance on a bounce back season from Pronk. Dunn is likely to hit for more power than Hafner, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for each of them to hit 35 to 40 HRs. If Hafner comes close to Dunn’s HR output then he is likely to pace him in AVG as well.

Round 5
At this point we have our SS, 2B, 1 OF and a 1B. The remaining 3B options were not very enticing but we had a back-up plan in the event that we miss out on the top 8. With that in mind we decided to close the book on the best middle infield in the league. We grabbed Robinson Cano. This allowed us to completely ignore the middle infield positions for the rest of the draft – no reaching for Kelly Johnson in the 9th round for this squad. Grabbing another solid .300+ hitter will also allow us to take some chances later on the in the draft (such as a Cust, Swisher or Ankiel).

Round 6
Time to grab an arm. Mike is very high on Chris Young this year so he became the obvious choice. I actually have Gallardo rated higher than Young but we both knew that we could pass on Yovani and still grab him a few rounds later. The knock on Young is that he doesn’t go deep into games which cuts into his potential for wins. It is a valid concern, but we are willing to take the chance that he can average 6+ innings per start this season. If he can ever get close to 200 innings his strikeout total would be a comfortable 185+.

Round 7
As indicated earlier, we had our eyes on some big power, scary batting average guys and Swisher was at the top of the list. The positional flexibility is nice (1B and OF) but our intention was to use him as an OF. This league starts five OFs and the pool is not particularly deep. A 35 HR, .260 AVG season is what we hope to get.

Round 8
After we grabbed Swisher the top tier of closers was exhausted. Our intention heading into the draft was to walk away with 3 closers while ignoring the top tier. If K-Rod or Nathan was available for us in this round we would have taken a long look, but we were happy to see them get taken. We decided to pull the trigger on Jim Thome. He is DH eligible only, but with 2 Util spots we felt like we could not pass up his power. This will not hamstring us because we’ll still have some flexibility with the second Util spot and also with Swisher’s dual eligibility.

Round 9
As planned, Gallardo fell to us in the 9th round. He will finish as a top 10 SP this year. The knee surgery has kept his ADP in check (he typically goes around 120 overall). I have sung his praises enough on this site already so I will spare you the glowing remarks. The only annoyance of this pick is that he will be on the DL for the first two weeks of the season and the league set-up doesn’t include DL spots.

Round 10
We were dead set on taking a closer with this pick. Rivera was our first choice but Rudy was at it again, grabbing him 5 picks before our turn. Valverde was the next closer on our list. Moving on…

Round 11
…let’s grab closer #2. We were debating between Street, Capps and Soria. Mike felt more comfortable taking the established player and I concurred. We grabbed Street, who promptly blew the first save opportunity of the season 10 hours later. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

Round 12
We gave our team a once over and realized that we were long on power and light on speed. By taking Rollins and Upton with our first two picks we got lulled into a false sense of SB security, only to completely ignore the category until now. To not fall too far behind we decided to grab Taveras. He will steal 30+ bases and hit around .300. If he can stay healthy all year he has the potential to approach 50 steals, but 30 is our conservative estimate.

Round 13
Our 3B contingency plan falls into place. Kouzmanoff is being undervalued this year, largely because of his slow start to last season and his home park. Kouz is likely to hit 25 HRs this year with a .290 AVG. He is a tremendous value 150 picks into the draft.

Round 14
Part 2 of our contingency plan. We are confident in our Kouzmanoff projection. However, if he doesn’t pan out we wanted to back him up with the 2008 AL ROY: Evan Longoria. We were both aware of his demotion to AAA prior to making this pick. We have the ability to wait for him to be called up in June and then reap the benefits thereafter. A 15-10 second half is certainly within his grasp.

Round 15
With our infield largely set (except at CI) we decided to grab our fourth OF. Many pundits are anticipating big things from Milledge this year. A 20-20 campaign would be nice (and certainly feasible), but with Manny Acta’s anti-SB philosophy we might have to temper the speed projections. We think 20-15 is attainable.

Round 16
The plan for this pick was to grab our third and final closer. We had both Wood and Sherrill queued up. When Wood was selected a few spots ahead of us we grabbed Sherrill and didn’t look back.

Round 17
Randy Johnson – Mike and I were debating whether or not to select him since the 14th round. I have RJ safely in my top 25 SP rankings this year while Mike does not. However, at this point in the draft there aren’t too many starters out there that can strike out a batter per inning. The big question with Johnson is health. If he can make 20+ starts then we will get proper value out of this selection.

Round 18
Our second big power, batting average disaster pick goes to Jack Cust. There’s not too much to say here other than he will likely end up with 30 HRs and 200+ strikeouts. Hopefully the A’s don’t have a quick hook with him this year. The Japan series did not go well for Cust (0-3 with a walk and three strikeouts). We are not ready to panic just yet.

Round 19
We felt like we needed some more speed here so we took Theriot. If he can remain at the top of the order (which seems increasingly likely now that a Brian Roberts deal is off the table) he will be able to pile up runs and SBs.

Round 20
If Mike were running this draft solo I’m sure he would have taken Tom Gorzelanny by now. Fortunately for me (I’m not high on Tom G. this year) Gorzelanny was taken right before our turn in the 20th. We decided to take a chance with the Reds’ Edinson Volquez. His rotation spot is locked up. Hopefully he can find some better command while maintaining a high K rate.

Round 21
This was our most boring pick of the draft. Mark Teahen will probably end up with a 15-10, .285 line. He gives us positional flexibility (1B and OF) and a steady stat line that fills all of the categories.

Round 22
Our strategy over the next few picks was to fill out our pitching staff. We wanted to have at least three arms on our bench so the idea was to walk away from this draft with 9 SPs. To continue our trend of selection pitchers who have trouble racking up innings we selected Randy Wolf. A high K rate and a spacious new home ballpark were the motivators here.

Round 23
Greg Maddux is the model of consistency. He doesn’t strike out many batters but he seems to find a way to win double-digit games every year. Our staff already includes a lot of risky, big strikeout pitchers so we felt that we could afford the hit in K’s with this pick.

Round 24
Ervin Santana has locked up a rotation spot with the injuries to Lackey and Escobar. His home/road splits have dominated any discussion of Santana throughout his career. We will likely start him at home initially and monitor his progress on the road.

Round 25
My sleeper pick of the year, whom I’ve taken in every draft thus far, is Mark Prior. No one doubts his ability. If he can make 22 starts this year he will put up some very interesting numbers. That ballpark will only help his cause. He will likely not take the mound until late-May, and without having the ability to put him on the DL it makes this pick a little risky. We just felt that we needed to take some big chances with our pitching staff.

Round 26
Manny Parra is another selection in the mold of Edinson Volquez. A young, big upside big K SP on a team with a good offense. Hopefully he can stick with the team all year even when Gallardo comes off the DL.

Round 27
We finally filled our catcher slot with Carlos Ruiz. Our plan was to take either him or Chris Snyder (monster spring) in the last round. Given that there was no one compelling on the board this late we grabbed Ruiz one round earlier than expected.

Round 28
Is this draft over yet? We decided to take a shot on Chris Denorfia. There wasn’t much to this pick – we’ll likely drop him as soon as we spot someone in free agency that can help us.

Here is the final product (HR-SB projections):

C: Carlos Ruiz (15-5)
1B: Travis Hafner (35-0)
2B: B.J. Upton (30-30)
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff (25-0)
SS: Jimmy Rollins (25-40)
CI: Mark Teahen (15-10)
MI: Robinson Cano (20-0)
OF: Magglio Ordonez (25-0)
OF: Nick Swisher (35-0)
OF: Willy Taveras (0-35)
OF: Lastings Milledge (20-15)
OF: Jack Cust (35-0)
Util: Jim Thome (35-0)
Util: Ryan Theriot (0-25)
BN: Evan Longoria
BN: Chris Denorfia

P: Chris Young
P: Yovani Gallardo
P: Randy Johnson
P: Edinson Volquez
P: Randy Wolf
P: Greg Maddux
P: Jose Valverde
P: Huston Street
P: George Sherrill
BN: Manny Parra
BN: Mark Prior
BN: Ervin Santana

Based on our projections we will end up with roughly 315 HRs and 160 SBs. Those totals should put us in the top 4 teams in those categories. We will closely monitor the team as the season moves along and will keep you updated on any transactions. The full results of the draft can be found here.

Do you think we can contend?

1 comment:

rudygamble said...

Nice draft summary!

Sorry for snagging Markakis and Rivera away from ya :)

Good luck this season...

Rudy