Last evening, Lawr and I participated in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association fantasy baseball draft, broadcast live on SirisXM. This is a 13-team league, standard 14 hitter/9 pitcher roster with 6 reserves, and (as it turns out) importantly, a disabled list. There is no trading but weekly transactions including acquisitions via FAAB. We picked from the 12-hole, partially by design as we had a say in the pick placement and opted for 12 over 8.
Knowing we were drafting twelfth, Lawr and I exchanged some e-mails in which I will admit I suggested I was a little warmer to the notion of taking Hanley Ramirez than I really was. When we talked in person, we decided try something a little different. We both know the player pool so we said let’s keep all opinions under wraps and discuss the potential picks between our picks, instead of having a pre-draft skull session like most drafting duos prefer. We thought it would work this way: there would be no information overload, no preformed bias, etc. With respect to Hanley, we pretty much agreed not to take him in the first round, but would talk about it if it came up in the second.
Before the draft, we were interviewed by SiriusXM and Lawr made a point he has made in the past, that in a draft like this, it is really hard to mess up in the first few rounds, as there are a lot of good players. He then when on to say he prefers to focus on the players from the scarce positions (catcher, second, short and third) but he knows I am not averse to taking outfielders or first baseman. I responded that I will use scarcity as a tie breaker, but will not take a thin position if I leave too much production on the table offered from another spot. That said, I usually end up taking someone from the proverbial scarce positions early. The player pool is bunched so the delta between players is not that great. I also believe in my own cliché, “choose, not chase.” What this means is while I agree it is hard not to get really good players early, selecting the right ones both in terms of positions and contributions mean you are choosing your ensuing picks from a number of available candidates as opposed to chasing needed stats or positions from a restricted group. The more picks you can choose and not chase, the better off you are as you have the entire inventory as your arsenal.
With that as a backdrop, here is how the early part of the draft unfolded.
Troy Tulowitzki, Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista were the first five. We did not expect any to make it down to us obviously, but we started tossing names and were looking at Ian Kinsler and maybe Evan Longoria.
The next five were Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez and Evan Longoria. No real surprises but Longoria is crossed off the list. The idea of going Justin Upton then Kinsler was under serious consideration.
Pick eleven was Justin Upton so there went that idea. Then Lawr and I looked at each other and realized we had an option we never thought would be available as Jacoby Ellsbury was still sitting there. While neither of us would take him if any of the other eleven players were remaining, at this point, the risk of him matching last season’s production has been mitigated. He does not have to. We have a built in buffer so we gladly took Ellsbury off the board.
Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes went at the wheel, putting us back on the clock. While I suspect my esteemed partner would have preferred Ramirez, he looked at me and said, “Kinsler?” I nodded to that was the pick. Guess who went next? The plight of Hanley is going to be fun to watch this coming season and is something sure to be discussed on the site in the coming weeks and months.
Lawr and I then talked a little general strategy, agreeing we did not want the very top tier pitchers, but did not want to wait too long. Then we somewhat surprisingly discovered we were on the same page with respect to catchers as Lawr stated that is Carlos Santana was available, he would not mind taking him. I was going to say the same about Mike Napoli, so we ranked Santana over Napoli and crossed our fingers. Santana went the pick right before us (the only time all night we were sniped) so we took Napoli.
The fourth pick was a little interesting in that we had thought it would be a pitcher, but we could tell by the flow the same guys we wanted would be available next time, so we quickly looked at hitters. I started reading names and when I got to Kevin Youkilis, Lawr stopped me and said “him.” My first reaction was “but we can get him later”, but I managed to get control of my synapses before actually saying it. This is one of those instances you cannot be married to the ADP, which in early drafts has Youkilis as a fifth or sixth rounder. He has the type of production that we could use and fills a scarce position. The injury risk is lessened since the pool is still shallow enough we could hedge with a full time third baseman as a reserve. So Youk it was.
Personally, I was happy with the team to this point, as it has the perfect profile of the “choose, not chase” mantra. We would easily find a decent shortstop and the power-speed balance was fine.
Sure enough, for the next two picks, we were able to pretty much choose two of the top ranked players on the board. We did not feel pressured to get a shortstop at that point, or get some speed, etc. The top two players were Michael Cuddyer, who gets a Coors boost and Miguel Montero, who plays more than most catchers, is in the prime of his career and plays in a great park.
At the next turn, we took Matt Moore which is a little out of character for us, but we both feel he is the exception to the unwritten rule about not trusting rookie pitchers and we actually got him later than he has been drafted so far this season. Jhonny Peralta was next, shortstop is out of the way so now it is bouncing between hitting and pitching, focusing on the plush outfield pool while sticking in the corner and middle when the opportunity presented itself. We were going to be doing a whole lot more choosing than chasing, mission accomplished.
The link to the draft is HERE. This is the rest of the Mastersball squad:
Nick Swisher, Ryan Madson, Coco Crisp, Gaby Sanchez, Kyle Farnsworth, Justin Masterson, Brandon McCarthy, Chris Sale, Dayan Viciedo, Ricky Nolasco, Jason Barlett, Grant Balfour, Denard, Span, Josh Reddick, Jonny Venters, Mike Carp, Brian Roberts, Danny Valencia and Brett Anderson.
C: Napoli, M Montero
1B/3B: Cuddyer, Youkilis, Sanchez (Valencia)
2B/SS: Kinsler, Peralta, Bartlett (Roberts)
OF: Ellsbury, Swisher, Crisp, Viciedo, Span
UT: Reddick (Carp)
SP: Hamels, Cain, Moore, Masterson, McCarthy, Sale, Nolasco (Anderson)
CL: Madson, Farnsworth (Balfour, Venters)
If they are not healthy and open the season on the disabled list, we can store Roberts and Anderson and replace them with free agents, as there are useful hitters and pitchers on the wire.
All you really want to do is cobble together a team that will put you in contention, and then it is up to hard work in-season and a little lady luck. I am looking forward to taking this team into battle.
On observation I will share from the draft is the ascension of Brett Lawrie and Desmond Jennings up draft boards. They both went in the middle of the third round. I found it interesting that fellow new shiny toy Eric Hosmer lasted until the very end of the fourth, even though he has just as attractive a pedigree and showed the ability to handle MLB pitching for almost an entire season, a few months longer than Lawrie and Jennings.
We will be sure to update the comings and goings of the team as the summer wears on.