The first weekend of NFBC Drafts is in the books. I will be heading to the Bellagio in Las Vegas in a few days for weekend number two. It’s time to put the finishing touches on our cheat sheets, pack our bags and fly to Sin City, the Windy City, or the Big Apple. If you’re headed out to Vegas stop by and say hi. If we’re in the same league, please ignore everything I’m about to say.
I thought Pedro Alvarez would come into camp on a mission, ready to prove that last year was a fluke. This spring I’ve seen no evidence of that. Pedro’s bat looks slow and now his knee is swollen. That makes Casey McGehee (ADP 410) a possible end game flier if you need a corner infield dart in rounds 28-30. If he doesn’t win the job, just throw him back during FAAB.
Scott Rolen (ADP 431) says his shoulder is healthy for the first time in years. If the spring training box scores are any indication, Rolen is telling the truth. The former Cardinal is tearing up cactus league pitching (.321/.387/.571), and the third sacker is another late consideration who might be there in the 30th round to give you depth at third base.
Casey Blake is receiving no love whatsoever from NFBC Satellite drafters (ADP 525) but if he overcomes neck issues and wins the job Blake is worth a look at the end of NL Auctions if you are desperate. Blake hit a home run recently in minor league action and went two for three against the Cubbies to break out of his hitless drought. The former quarterback is one of those aging, ugly picks with upside, but his modest power remains intact when he’s on the field. A healthy Blake manning the hot corner in Coors Field is capable of 20 bombs and perhaps an acceptable .260 batting average as he moves away from the pitchers park he’s hit in the last four years.
Some have already penciled in Kyle Seager at third base in Seattle, but Alex Liddi’s bat has carries the fantasy potential at Safeco. In 2011 at Triple-A he posted (.259/121/30/104/5). Liddi's bat is on fire (spring: .429/.450/.714) and if Eric Wedge is wise the team will break camp with the Italian slugger in tow.
Josh Donaldson is battling Eric Sogard for the starting third base job in Oakland. Athletics management wants Josh to win the job, but his poor showing at the plate in March (.231/.293/.288) coupled with Sogard’s success (.341/.400/.545) means that this competition may go down to the wire. Donaldson’s eligibility at catcher and the fact that he might receive everyday AB’s could make him a sneaky pick in the 30th round (ADP 453).
Lonnie Chisenhall was a deep sleeper of many in early off-season drafts. Unfortunately, this sleeper may keep hitting the snooze button well into the season. Jack Hannahan’s glove has made him the favorite to be the Indians opening day starter, leaving Lonnie likely ticketed for Triple-A Columbus to get regular at bats to continue his development.
Chipper Jones has received plenty of disdain from drafters in recent seasons and this year is no different. Larry’s 310 ADP will certainly fall further following his arthroscopic knee surgery. It’s as though teams avoid drafting the aging veteran as long as possible and then finally somebody gives in and rosters the Atlanta fixture just because somebody should. Make no mistake, drafting Chipper will not win your league, but you have to pick your strengths and weaknesses. If you missed out on the top and mid-tier corner infielders, Jones can be useful.
If you handcuff a Placido Polanco or similar stopgap, you can take Chipper’s 15+ HR’s over 120 games and then 35 games from John Doe. The end result is solid production (.275/65/20/80) from a 21st round investment. That’s similar to or better than what you’ll receive from David Freese (ADP 155) or Mike Moustakas (ADP 178). That may sound like crazy talk, but let’s look at the numbers.
If we project last year’s stats over 150 this is how they stack up: Moustakas (.263/43/8/50), Freese (.297/43/15/85), Jones (.275/66/21/83). If “Moose Tacos” increases his rate production by 50% he’ll still fall short of Chipper and yet he’s being drafted 9 rounds earlier. I understand the upside of the young Royal, but it’s a long climb up just to reach par with Chipper. Sure, Moose makes my lineup look sexier on draft day, but when you crunch the numbers, the red headed stepchild from Atlanta projects to be a better return on your investment.