Last Tuesday evening, I cyber-linked up with fourteen other fantasy baseball luminaries where we assembled the squad we will each take into battle in Mixed LABR. Before the draft, I wrote a piece discussing what I would do with the sixth pick. As expected, I chose Prince Fielder to anchor my team. Here’s a peek inside my gray with a brief explanation why I did what I did.
1.06 Prince Fielder: The past several weeks, I have been doing a couple mock drafts with some very smart guys. After each pick we are required to share our thought process, who else we considered, etc. We are very candid about our picks and our strategies but treat the discussion like Vegas – what happens in the inbox stays in the inbox. This insures confidentiality and promotes openness among the participants. As such, I can’t share particulars, but as a result of the discourse, I had an epiphany. For a while, I have written about how I need to introduce more risk into my game and thought I had been doing so, but now I’m not so sure. A couple weeks ago, my alter ego Lord Zola put together a Round Table for KFFL where Bryce Harper was discussed. In the wrap up, I wrote:
"There is no way I am taking a guy like this in the third round, let alone the second or first. I realize you need players to perform better than their draft spot to win, and I may be overall too conservative, but I'll still throw my speculative darts elsewhere."
Here’s the epiphany. Drafting Bryce Harper in the first or second round doesn’t mean you think he WILL put up first round numbers, it means you think he MIGHT do it. Previously, I couldn’t understand the logic of wasting a first round pick on a dart throw, but after reading the candid thoughts posed in the double-secret mocks, I get it. I may not agree with it, but at least I know longer think someone is bat-ass crazy for a pick akin to taking Harper in the first.
All that said, it takes a while to teach an old dog new tricks, so I opted to take a player I consider to be the fourth most likely to end the season with first round value. I’ll book .300-30-100 and worry about steals later.
2.10 Clayton Kershaw: Let’s get this out of the way; I trust the hip issue that plagued Kershaw at the end of the 2012 season isn’t a factor. The main reason I opted for the southpaw is I didn’t see any hitters that moved the needle; there was no one that I didn’t think I could get in the next round, or that I felt wasn’t a reach to select. The two names that may surprise you the most that I left on the board were Hanley Ramirez and Ian Kinsler. I’m no longer going to bump a guy up my list because he plays a position others consider scarce and a healthy Kershaw is actually worthy of a first round pick because remember, we conventionally allot about 70 percent or our resources to hitting, leaving 30 for pitching, but at the end of the season, to truly determine their percent contribution, that split should be 50/50 meaning pitchers are a lot more valuable than how the market conventionally prices them.3.06 Allen Craig: Rumor has it that my buddies Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf took me out behind the woodshed for this pick during their live coverage of the festivities on their SiriusXM show, “Colton and the Wolfman.” I’m not at all surprised. Glenn and Rick have been very successful using a draft plan they call SMART where the S is for scarcity. As I have been writing about extensively, I no longer heed to the notion of scarcity. Plus, I’m willing to bet my expectations for Craig exceed theirs. This isn’t quite the equivalent of taking Harper in the first, but it trusts your sheets and instinct, something I suspect Colton and the Wolfman would understand, even if they don’t agree with the end result.
4.08 Billy Butler: Three first basemen and a pitcher with my first four picks - now maybe I’m the bat-ass crazy one. But hear me out. Mixed LABR is rather unique in that these dudes never got the memo that trading is frowned upon in industry leagues (sorry, I refuse to call it an expert league). In order to deal, you usually need to have a surplus in an area. One can have a surplus of stats or a surplus of strong players at a position. I’m aiming for the latter. The plan is to use Craig in the outfield, where he also qualifies. Then later in the season, I can dangle Butler, or even Fielder in a trade with the option to slide Craig to corner infield so I can back fill the loss with either an outfielder or corner infielder, as there should be stronger players at those positions available than middle infielders.
5.06 Yadier Molina: According to my valuation system, catchers are worth a whole lot more than the market prices them so I wanted to take advantage on at least one fairly early in an attempt to get an edge at the position. I tried to mitigate the injury risk with the relatively durable Molina. If his power persists, he’s worthy of a pick in the second or third round and I think it will sustain.
6.08 Alex Rios: When you’re five picks into a draft and your catcher is projected to steal more bases than the rest of your team combined, it’s time to find some bags. That said, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of sacrificing power since I could always deal for the likes of Michael Bourn or Ben Revere in season if necessary. Or I could even draft Revere, Brett Gardner or Juan Pierre later. Others consider Rios maddeningly inconsistent but I see a guy with an outlying season with otherwise strong and stable skills.
7.06 Yovani Gallardo: There were other pitchers I had ranked higher, but all rankings are contextual. I wanted Gallardo for the strikeouts and would be willing to deal with his ratios if his walk rate stays high, figuring Kershaw helps me absorb that. On the other hand, I like pitchers one skill away, especially when that skill is control and they have already displayed the ability to allow fewer bases on balls. This is a spot where I think Gallardo MIGHT outperform expectations, but I'm note predicting he WILL do it.
8.08 Kris Medlen: Truth be told, I don’t love this pick and I’m not even sure I like it. It’s a continuation of the Gallardo motivation plus picking Kershaw and then not getting him any support is a waste. You don’t need me to tell you Medlen is going to see a correction to his ERA. You do need me to tell you how much but for that I need a new crystal ball. Problem is my old one broke and its replacement is still on back order. For the record, that’s the sixteenth straight year I have used that line for those keeping track. Back to Medlen – the skill is there but I’m worried about the stamina as the season progresses. Even though I’ve been doing this writing thing for sixteen years, some of my league mates still don’t read my stuff so the plan is for Medlen to get off to a great start and then deal him, hoping one of my late round speculative picks hits pay dirt so I can backfill.
9.06 Miguel Montero: Someone’s catcher is going to get hurt and I’m going to be there to offer Miguel Montero.
10.08 Coco Crisp: I really don’t want to have to draft Revere or Pierre. Crisp, if healthy (I have my computer trained to add the “if healthy” part every time I write his name) will nearly match the rabbits in steals but will also poke a few out of the yard.
11.06 Kyle Seager: My feelings for Seager are very well known (if only I could have been so open about the female crushes I had back in the day). He’s a line drive hitter with a bit of pop that will only be aided by the fences being closer and lower. Let’s see, there was Beth, Dana, Kris, Karen, Amy, Kathleen…too late now I guess.
12.08 Angel Pagan: More steals without completely giving up the homers.
13.06 Marco Scutaro: The main reason I don’t feel you need to reach for the perceived scarce players is there will be someone there at every position that will be worthy of that draft spot. Scutaro is not going to win mixed LABR for me, but I promise you, if I don’t win, I won't be cursing this pick.
14.08 J.J. Hardy: The main reason I don’t feel you need to reach for the perceived scarce players is there will be someone there at every position that will be worthy of that draft spot. Hardy is not going to win mixed LABR for me, but I promise you, if I don’t win, I won't be cursing this pick (whoa, deja vu all over again).
15.06 Stephen Drew: On the other hand, I already hate this f#@>!^g this pick. When I made it, I thought I was picking a player that can surprise and play like a 10th rounder, but after profiling him recently, I’m very skeptical. Taking one of the remaining closers here would have been better.
16.08 Bobby Parnell: Like Parnell, for instance. I know Frank Francisco was named and might be given a shot when he gets back, but my money is on Parnell doing the job and keeping it. If I had taken Parnell last round, I would be talking about Hiroyuki Nakajima with this pick.
17.06 Justin Maxwell: Some may feel this is too early, but my recent application of APE questions the notion of too early and I know what the impending plan is (and soon you will too). As for the pick, let’s put it this way, Seager is jealous of the attention I have given Maxwell until I explained I am a big guy, there’s plenty of Zola man-crush to go around. The average will be low, but Maxwell has 20/20 upside.
18.08 Alex Cobb: One good thing about drafting with a group not completely in tune with your tendencies is you have a better chance at getting some of your favorites later. Cobb heads the list as I think he’s going to take step forward this season and be the equivalent of an SP4 that I usually would have drafted by now.
19.06 Ross Detwiler: Detwiler fits that description as well with the slight risk he is pushed to a relief role if the Nationals continue their all in attitude and come back to Javier Vazquez or perhaps even Kyle Lohse.
20.08 Vinnie Pestano: The assumption is Pestano is the closer in waiting in Cleveland since it appears Chris Perez will be moved later if not sooner. But I really didn’t pick him up for that reason, I want some ratio protection since I will be steaming some starters. For the record, there is some question whether Pestano can be as successful in the ninth since his side winding ways are death against righties but not nearly so daunting against lefties. Since I am buying the whole package, all I care about is the end result which will be fine.
21.06 Dillon Gee: A possible breakout season was interrupted with the circulation issues which are reportedly under control. Gee reminds me of a LIMA pick, made famous by colleague Ron Shandler.
22.08: Julio Teheran: The clubhouse leader for the fifth spot in the Braves’ rotation, Teheran could be one of those late round difference makers that are the reason waiting on pitching is so popular.
23.06 Drew Smyly: Similar in profile to Alex Cobb but without a job, Smyly makes it three for three with my end game bromances (Cobb and Gee being the others).
24.08 Travis Snider: I call this the fungible portion of the draft. If the pick doesn’t work out, you release them and cycle someone else in. Snider is the classic post hype prospect with the edge up on a full time job.
25.06 Carlos Pena: At bats are currency and Pena gives me an option when I am dealing from first base strength. Someone needs a corner and my pitch is “if you’re just looking for a body with some pop, I have Pena. If you want someone higher on the food chain, we can talk Billy Butler. If you want to get really creative, I’ll even part with Fielder.”
26.08 Jordan Pacheco: Remember the possibility of dealing Miguel Montero? Let’s just say that I’m not on the Wilin Rosario bandwagon and I suspect at minimum, Pacheco is going to have catcher eligibility before too long. And while he won’t play enough to be used anywhere but catcher, he’ll find ample time filling in at third to hold his own as a second catcher.
27.06 Joe Blanton: Back to the rotation dart board – Blanton has always sported decent peripherals except a fly ball rate leading to excess homers. Put him in a big park with Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos shagging behind him and I’ll find scoring periods I can deploy Blanton.
28.08 Clayton Richard: To channel my old partner and now Tampa Ray scout Jason Grey, 2.8 ERA in PETCO, ‘nuff said.
29.06 Tyler Greene: I’ll put the odds at better than even that I use Greene more than I use Stephen Drew.
Here’s a quick wrap-up since Lawr is editing and posting this and needs to get ready for the San Francisco First Pitch Forum:
Post Mortem: Love the back end pitching so Medlen could be a key trade chip. Obviously need saves but that’s easily fixable (see Medlen, Kris). Hitting key will be the outfield. I need Crisp and Pagan to stay healthy and either Maxwell or Snider to produce like an OF4. I’ll need to manage this team to victory, but that was part of the plan.