Las Vegas is a strange place. In the middle of the desert, Vegas is a sort of oasis of make believe where you can pretend to go to Paris or New York and still hit up slot machines and poker tables.
Vegas is also where the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) holds their Winter Conference soiree, and the big kickoff for the event is the FSTA "Experts" draft that Charlie Wiegert of CDM curates. A lot of the usual suspects--Ron Shandler from BBHQ and Shandler Park, Chris Liss from Rotowire, and Steve Gardner and Howard Kamen of USA Today--participate as part of the 13-team mixed snake draft.
As always, there is some strangeness (Charlie Blackmon in the fourth round, ahead of Matt Kemp, Kole Calhoun, George Springer and Yoenis Cespedes?) but that is not only to be expected, that is a lot of what makes the whole process fun.
Lord Z and I drafted seventh (by choice, for after the first and 13th slots were taken, selecting in the middle suits me well) and I guess we helped with some of that consternation with a few of our selections, so here is the team we got, and whatever logic I can muster the morning after (Todd will likely both chime in and post his own thoughts).
Note the parenthetic is the round selected:
C-Evan Gattis (5): Lots of pop, and he will play left, meaning no lost time due to split fingers and other miscellaneous catcher injuries and a sweet home run park. Oh yeah, and there are a lot of up-and-comers and some power around him in the lineup.
C-John Jaso (15): Solid #2 catcher, won't hurt in average, and like Gattis probably will not play behind the dish. Meaning we might be the only team with two catchers, neither of whom will actually catch.
1B-Anthony Rizzo (1): Coming off a .286-32-78 year, with a solid 73 walks to 116 strikeouts as a 23-year-old, Rizzo will be the offensive spark on what will likely be the best team in the NL, if not the Majors, by the end of 2015. This will be the first sacker's third full season, meaning everything within screams of bigger breakout.
2B-Kolten Wong (7): Power/speed combo up the middle, more than likely to improve.
3B-Josh Donaldson (2): Right now the best choice at the hot corner? After a season hitting with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion hitting around him, in Toronto, we can probably remove the question mark.
SS-Erick Aybar (14): A litle pop, a little speed, and a steady average plugs the shortstop hole just fine.
OF-George Springer (3): On a now improving team, imagine what he could do during a full season.
OF-Yoenis Cespedes (4): Another case of nice pop in a fun park with a good hitting team.
OF-Kole Calhoun (6): We were surprised, and pleased that Calhoun fell to us this late. We both wanted him. Bad.
OF-Leonys Martin (10): A fave of mine, I expect a jump in power with a full season of play. Same speed as 2014 will be fine.
OF-Dalton Pompey (18): Toronto rookie has a gig so far, and a lot of upside. If he struggles, we have a few options and can still protect Pompey.
UT-Angel Pagan (22): One of the options for Pompey moves Pagan to his slot should there be a problem. If the Giants centerfielder can stay healthy, 15-20 numbers are totally reasonable.
SP-Andrew Cashner (9): Our first starter. We both love Cashner, and just hope he can stay healthy.
SP-Yordano Ventura (11): I look for Ventura to step up to the role of #1 starter at Kauffman this year.
SP-Anibal Sanchez (12): A nice value, with good strikeout numbers.
SP-Drew Smyly (13): I really like Ventura. Similarly, Todd really likes Smyly.
SP-Danny Duffy (16): I more lobbied for Duffy, but once he really was set in the rotation, he delivered down the stretch. I am guessing he can build on that.
SP-Jake Peavy (20): Back in the NL West, in a pitcher's environ, Peavy is due for a solid year. At least the kind you want at the bottom of your rotation. Like 14 wins and a mid-3.00's ERA.
SP-Scott Kazmir (21): Kind of like Peavy, Kazmir picks it up following a strong come-back.
SP-Chris Tillman (23): Amazed Tillman was still out there this late.
RP-Mark Melancon (8): First closer.
RP-Brad Boxberger (17): Sort of second closer, Boxberger will get a lot of whiffs, and could keep the gig if circumstances are correct.
RES-Andrew Heaney (24): Starting pitcher #11, the plan is to stream our starters and relievers as appropriate/necessary.
RES-Mike Napoli (26): Not sure how much is left in the tank, but Napoli should have two weeks of .375-7-17 numbers sometime. We hope he is active at that time.
RES-Kevin Quackenbush (27): Much like Boxberger, lots of whiffs, great for streaming, and maybe some saves even.
RES-Joe Panik (28): Middle coverage and potential average help, should we need it.
RES-Garrett Jones (29): Left-handed power who will platoon at Yankee Stadium. What more do you need to know?