As I write this, I have just finished all the last minute details prior to catching an early morning flight to Phoenix for a week's worth of games in the Valley of the Sun. Oh yes, along with the 20th Anniversary LABR draft.
Of course I am looking forward to it, first of all because as with any league, the participants are my friends by now and there is not much on earth more fun than drafting and smack talking with your friends.
But, I am also hoping to have better success after a bunch of years finishing in the middle of the pack. In fact, last year I switched to the National League, which was a bit different for though I had been in Mixed and American League formats, I had not played in a strictly NL setup for decades.
So, I looked at getting into a Senior Circuit competition as a serious challenge (which to me is also fun).
Although I have to admit I don't really draft any differently league to league, save understanding the depth and rules to get a feel for where the dollar values might fall.
Irrrespective, there are a number of players I am looking at this year in LABR, so here are a few of the guys I am hoping to get on my roster (note that on Monday's Hotpage I will reveal who actually wound up on my team).
Andre Ethier ($14): Ethier can rake. True, he is vulnerable to left-handed pitchers, but he has a .290-21-86 mean over 162 games factored over seven years. But, I have seen the Dodger right fielder slip in mocks (I got him in an NFBC Slow Draft in the 12th round) and I think as long as he is not nominated too soon--as in the first six or seven rounds--I can get Ethier at a reasonable price.
Ike Davis ($17): I guess it depends upon how much stock my leaguemates store in Davis' second half, but for sure the guy has some serious pop and looks like he is fully recovered from his past years of injury. But, there are more "desirable" first base options like Allen Craig, Joey Votto, and Adrian Gonzalez, so again I am hoping Davis comes up after some bucks are burned and slots are filled.
Nathan Eovaldi ($1): I don't think Eovaldi has even been drafted in any of my mocks, but the guy has good stuff. Yes, he is on a terrible team, but I think for a dollar he will give me some innings and strikeouts. I am also hoping his pretty good September (0-3, 3.72, 1.24 WHIP with 27 whiffs over 28 innings) is a harbinger of a solid season, even if derelict in victories. And for a buck, well, what can you lose?
Sergio Romo ($18): Uh oh. And I mean that in that Romo has been my favorite pitcher to watch for three years now, and his devistating slider and Dennis Eckersly ratio (as in a 0.883 WHIP over 290 innings) along with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings will pay off now that he is THE closer in San Francisco. Just be careful drafting players you like. They will break your heart and other body parts (at least I am doing this with my eyes open).
Ryan Zimmerman ($27): Probably the most expensive player I hope to get, but at age 28, Zimmerman is going into his prime on a team poised to be very good. Couple that with his .319-17-55 second half, meaning his totals of .282-25-95 might slip through as moderate and a little undervalued.
Matt Harvey ($9): 70 strikeouts over 59.1 innings for the #1 pick of the Mets in 2010, Harvey might out-price himself. Again, a lot of this depends upon when Harvey is nominated, and who has how much money left. So, my target is probably not realistic. On the other hand, he is probably not worth investing too much more in.
A.J. Ellis ($6): I got Ellis in the 14th round of my NFBC Slow Draft, so again a guy with a pretty good resume does not have believers. But .270-13-52 with a .373 OBP is exactly what I like. What I wonder though is how come Ellis, 31, coming off one good year, is of interest to me while say Mike Trout has to have another solid year to make a believer out of me?
Dee Gordon ($2): Do you trust Luis Cruz as your third sacker when you have Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez taking up roster spots and a lot of salary? I don't, and I think Hanley will move back to third and Gordon will get some playing time and steal some bags along with hitting a little better than .228. Of course, I am thinking middle infielder here, but I think he could be a nice investment.
Trevor Rosenthal ($4): Rosenthal has been on every list of guys I like that I have made this year, and this is no different. Rosenthal still does not have a slot in the rotation, but I am guessing (OK hoping) he will by the All-Star break. And, I think among Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Shelby Miller, someone is going to need to be replaced and I want Rosenthal when that happens. I just hope this year is not a year too soon.