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Fantasy Baseball 2012

2011 was a pretty frustrating fantasy baseball season for me: I drafted what I thought was a terrific team, and then got slammed by injuries and slumps (such as Albert Pujols’ ineffective-then-injured first half, Rafael Furcal having nothing left, and Chad Billingsley turning into a pumpkin) and struggled to cover for the pieces, ultimately finishing 8th out of 16 teams. On the bright side, finishing 8th gave me the first overall pick for 2012, so I decided to come back for my 20th year of fantasy baseball.

My keeper roster was tough to figure out, since Albert Pujols and Cliff Lee seemed clearly better than anyone else I had to keep, but they also used 3/4 of my keeper years. I considered not keeping Pujols and drafting him with the first pick, but I had trouble figuring out how to turn James Shields (or Ryan Zimmerman) + 5 more years into something equivalent to the guy I was planning to take, Roy Halladay. So ultimately I traded Lucas Duda and Jamile Weeks for a 3rd and a 7th round pick, and kept Pujols. I tried mightily to acquire enough years to keep Shields, but couldn’t do it, alas.

I went into the draft with two solid starters – Lee and Jordan Zimmermann – and with Halladay I figured I’d start working on hitters. A good strategy, since the pitching pool felt quite deep this year. But the hitting pool seemed so shallow that this year really tested my maxim that you can always draft hitting.

Here’s the team I drafted:

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Miguel Montero ARI 2/17 28 I took him in the 4th round last year, and he had a breakout season. I sure hope he can do it again.
1B Albert Pujols LAA Kept 32 Let’s see whether moving to the American League perks up his bat this year.
1B Ryan Howard PHI 14/209 32 Taking a gamble that he’ll play this year and hit a bit.
1B James Loney LAN 16/241 27
2B Neil Walker PIT Kept 26 Another guy I’m hoping will repeat his 2011.
3B Ian Stewart CHN 12/177 26 Whether he’s really my third baseman remains to be seen. I have other options as backups.
SS Jimmy Rollins PHI 4/64 33
OF Nick Markakis BAL 3/43 28 Another year, another weak outfield.
OF Josh Willingham MIN 7/97 33
OF Alfonso Soriano CHN 8/113 36 Drafted purely for his power.
C Tyler Flowers CHA 24/373 26 Marginal backup catcher, maybe Pierzynski will get hurt and he’ll break out.
C Gorman Erickson LAN 25/400 24 Might get called up if the Dodgers can’t stand their current options.
1B/3B Mat Gamel MIL 10/145 26 At least, I hope he plays enough – and plays well – to qualify at 1B this year.
2B/OF Howie Kendrick LAA 4/49 28
3B/OF Martin Prado ATL 7/107 28
SS Clint Barmes PIT 23/361 33 Another guy I just hope plays and hits some dingers.
SS Jonathan Villar HOU 22/348 21
SS/OF Grant Green OAK 25/393 24
OF Peter Bourjos LAA 18/273 25
OF Brett Jackson CHN Kept 23
OF Domingo Santana HOU 21/335 19
OF Michael Choice OAK 24/383 22
SP Roy Halladay PHI 1/1 34 I don’t think there was anyone else available who was clearly a better choice for the first overall pick this year.
SP Cliff Lee PHI Kept 32 I was surprised he fell to me with the 8th pick. Taking him was a no-brainer, as Halladay and Sabathia had already been picked.
SP Jordan Zimmermann WAS Kept 25
SP Matt Garza CHN 3/33 28
SP John Danks CHA 6/81 26
SP Ryan Dempster CHN 9/129 24 How did I end up drafting so many Cubs?
SP Brett Cecil TOR 19/289 25
SP Josh Tomlin CLE 20/305 27 There wasn’t much left in starting pitchers at this point.
SP Julio Teheran ATL Kept 21
SP Wily Peralta MIL 21/321 23
RP Addison Reed CHA 13/193 23
RP Grant Balfour OAK 15/225 34
RP Sergio Romo SFN 17/257 29

I’m definitely gambling on a few players coming through rather than washing out (Mat Gamel, for instance), and as often happens I hate my outfield. But it could be much worse, and I do have quality starting pitching. It’s not a world-beating team, but it has potential.

Fantasy Baseball 2011

I was able to make it up to Wondercon only for Saturday last weekend because my fantasy baseball league decided to hold our annual draft on Sunday. 5 of our local owners gathered in a conference room at Apple and spent close to 10 hours drafting our teams. I probably put less effort into this draft than any one I’d ever done before.

My strategy, such as it was, mainly involved drafting younger. Last year’s team was awful, though not so much due to age as due to a lot of marginal players with low upside. I think I did well drafting for youth and guys with upside (but I did draft a few old players; I think some old guys are worth picking in the right spots). Secondarily I wanted to avoid drafting hitters in pitchers’ parks and pitchers in hitters’ parks. I didn’t do a great job at that, although I think any choices were fairly defensible.

Here’s the team I ended up with:

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Miguel Montero ARI 4/56 28 I’ve been a big fan of Montero for years now, and I’m happy to have him now that he’s got the starting job in Arizona.
1B Albert Pujols SLN Kept 31
2B Neil Walker PIT 5/65 25 I’m not so comfortable relying on a young second baseman for the second year in a row (last year’s guy, Scott Sizemore, was a bust). But many people seem to think he’ll be fine, and a few think he’ll be very good. He’s off to a hot start.
3B Ryan Zimmerman WAS Kept 26
SS Rafael Furcal LAN 7/112 33 Old hitter in a pitchers’ park. Not really what I wanted, but shortstops has really dried up by now.
OF Nick Swisher NYA 3/40 30
OF Carlos Quentin CHA 6/88 28 Pretty happy with this pick. He has breakout potential, but of course he also has bust potential.
OF Adam Jones BAL 7/104 25 This guy was a top prospect just a few years ago. And he’s only 25! He still has a chance to be a star, I think.
C Miguel Olivo SEA 12/184 32 The perfect backup catcher: Gets a lot of playing time and has impressive power. But, an old guy in a pitchers’ park.
C Ryan Lavarnway BOS 11/342 23 Top catching prospect in the Red Sox’ system – and they need a catcher.
1B Daric Barton OAK 10/152 25 Another “was a top prospect just a few years ago”, and maybe this year he’ll add some power. Another hitter in a pitchers’ park.
3B/SS Jhonny Peralta DET 8/120 29 The perfect infield backup: Qualifies at two positions, doesn’t kill you on average, and has power.
SS Zach Cozart CIN 23/368 25 Cozart has a weird performance history, alternating average with power. If either one shows up, he could make the Majors this year and be a quality shortstop.
OF Pat Burrell SFN 14/216 34 Old guy in a pitchers’ park. But also a guy guaranteed playing time and who has power. In the 14th round, this is the kind of guy you want.
OF Kosuke Fukudome CHN 18/280 34 Probably the first guy I’ll cut when someone better comes along. But he has some hitting skills which ain’t bad for a 5th outfielder.
OF Domonic Brown PHI Kept 25 Top hitting prospect starting the season on the DL due to a broken bone in his hand. I’m not sure I entirely believe in his ability, but certainly the potential for stardom is there; it seems like he has to put a lot of things together to achieve it, though.
OF Brett Jackson CHN 19/296 22
OF Eric Thames TOR 21/328 24
OF Matt Dominguez FLO 24/380 21 20-year-olds who hit well at AA are worth taking a flyer on. Unfortunately he got hurt before the season.
SP Cliff Lee PHI 1/8 32 I was surprised he fell to me with the 8th pick. Taking him was a no-brainer, as Halladay and Sabathia had already been picked.
SP James Shields TBA Kept 28 I agonized over keeping Shields or Zack Greinke. Shields has great peripherals but a serious problem with home runs. Greinke is a little more expensive, has moved to the NL, but is on a team (Milwaukee) with brutal defense, and will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season with a broken rib. And who knows how long it will take him to be back to his normal self after that. Ultimately, Shields’ peripherals made me decide to go with him.
SP Chad Billingsley LAN 2/24 26
SP Jordan Zimmermann WAS Kept 25
SP Derek Lowe ATL 5/72 38 Probably an overdraft. And he’s the oldest guy on my team. But, he’s been reliable for a long time and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
SP Ricky Nolasco FLO 6/83 28 Nolasco is a lot like Shields, and plays for the other Florida team. Again, I was sold on his peripherals.
SP Jorge de la Rosa COL 11/168 30 Pitcher in a hitters’ park!
SP A.J. Burnett NYA 11/76 34 If he stays healthy and is anywhere near his usual numbers, then this could be a steal.
SP Homer Bailey CIN 17/264 25 Frustrating prospect who’s struggled for a few years and is starting the season on the DL. But he’s only 25! Seemed worth taking a flyer.
SP Julio Teheran ATL Kept 20 Best pitching prospect in baseball.
SP Jacob Turner DET Kept 20 Second-best pitching prospect in baseball? That may be overstating things, but the difference between him and whoever’s above him is not huge.
SP Kyle Gibson MIN 15/232 23
RP Luke Gregerson SDN 9/136 27
RP Mike Adams SDN 16/248 32
RP Huston Street COL 13/200 27

Overall I think I executed fairly well. I’d really like to have a better shortstop, and to have found someone less risky than Lowe and de la Rosa to rely on. The outfield has a lot of potential but might not realize it. Otherwise I don’t have many complaints.

Last year’s team was a disaster – I finished next-to-last in the league – and I think this is clearly a better team. But our league is intensely competitive, so finishing in the money (among the top 7 of 16 teams) is not guaranteed.

I’ve been getting burned out on fantasy baseball, so this might be my last season in the league. Then again, I’m more excited about this team than I have been for a couple of years, so maybe I’ll be back. Especially if my prospects start developing.

Fantasy Baseball 2010

Yesterday we performed our annual ritual of picking real baseball players to join fake teams. Last year was a disappointing year for me as I had a really good team, traded my 3rd-round pick in 2010 for Jason Bay, and then my whole team decided to take June and half of July off. I struggled my way back and finished in 4th place, which ain’t bad (the top 7 spots out of 16 teams pay), but I failed yet again to beat my 1999 performance, when I finished 3rd. Frustrating.

I headed into the draft with the best hitter in baseball, one of the 5 best pitchers, a top third baseman, and another good pitcher. But also down one pick, and with no true prospects in development. So here’s how the draft shook out for me:

`

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Kurt Suzuki OAK 6/93 26 Victor Martinez was the first pick in the league. Suzuki has a little upside and is sure to play every day.
1B Albert Pujols SLN Kept 30
2B Scott Sizemore DET 7/109 25 A bit of a risky pick, as it’s by no means clear the Tigers will stick with him, even though he should be a decent hitter. And unfortunately I have no backup plan at second base.
3B Ryan Zimmerman WAS Kept 25
SS Yunel Escobar ATL 1/13 27
OF Josh Willingham WAS 5/77 31
OF Mike Cameron BOS 8/125 37
OF Conor Jackson ARI 10/157 27
OF Juan Rivera LAA 13/205 31
C Nick Hundley SDN 19/301 26
C Jonathan LuCroy MIL 20/317 24 LuCroy and Exposito are both catching prospects. LuCroy is probably close, Exposito is at least a year away – assuming he keeps hitting.
C Luis Exposito BOS 26/405 23
3B Casey Blake LAN 16/253 36
SS Cliff Pennington OAK 23/363 25
2B/SS/3B Craig Counsell MIL 25/397 39 My one multiposition backup – such as he is, at age 39.
OF Luke Scott BAL 12/189 21
OF Rick Ankiel KCA 28/418 20
OF Domonic Brown PHI 15/237 22 A perhaps-slightly-overrated prospect for the Phillies.
SP Zack Greinke KCA Kept 26
SP James Shields TBA Kept 27
SP John Lackey BOS 2/29 31
SP Scott Baker MIN 4/61 28
SP Justin Masterson CLE Kept 25
SP Charlie Morton PIT 14/221 26
SP Ross Ohlendorf PIT 18/281 27
SP Tom Gorzelanny CHN 22/349 27
SP Daniel McCutchen PIT 24/376 27 Having 3/5ths of the Pirates rotation could be my key to victory!
RP Jose Valverde DET 11/173 30
RP Chris Perez CLE 17/267 24
RP Sergio Romo SFN 21/333 27
RP Hideki Okajima BOS 27/412 34
SP Jacob Turner DET 9/141 19 This year’s “out on a limb” prospect pick, he was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2009 and has yet to pitch in the minors, but is very highly regarded.
SP Julio Teheran ATL 29/422 19 Another very young, highly-regarded pitcher, but he hasn’t yet shown his potential yet.
SP Cory Luebke SDN 30/425 25 And another prospect, but this one may well be up this year.

I hoped to go back to taking a big bopper with my first-round pick, but there weren’t many left when my 13th-overall pick came around, thanks to our deep keeper rules, so instead I took Yunel Escobar, who is a strong-hitting shortstop who has additional upside. I used my 4th round pick to take Josh Willingham, who can rake when he’s healthy. And I beefed up my rotation with John Lackey and Scott Baker, which should make it quite good.

The first ten rounds of my draft went pretty well, I thought. As I said, my main regret was not having a better plan in case Scott Sizemore doesn’t work out, and not having a quality multiposition backup. Otherwise I have a pretty balanced team, albeit with my usual less-than-dominating bullpen. And I’ve restocked with some high-upside prospects.

Our league continues to get more competitive, as once again I was scrounging for guys to pick with my last few picks. But my list of prospects was very deep this year.

And as always I have no idea whether I’ll truly compete. I have some injury risks here and there (Lackey, Willingham, a couple of old guys), but I’m by no means relying on everyone being completely healthy. I’m just hoping I can come out of the gate strong, since struggling to get back in the hunt after a slow start always sucks.

Fantasy Baseball 2009

If it’s April, then we must have had our fantasy baseball draft by now, right? Right!

Here’s the team I ended up with:

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia TEX 5/78 23 Another year with a tandem of two half-decent catchers. At least they’re both young this year!
C Jesus Flores WAS 13/206 24
1B Albert Pujols SLN Kept 29
2B Kelly Johnson ATL 1/14 27
2B Mark Ellis OAK 21/334 31
2B/SS Clint Barmes COL 10/158 30 Wonder how long he’ll have a starting job?
3B Ryan Zimmerman WAS 2/30 24 He’s going to break out some year, right?
3B Bill Hall MIL 15/238 29
SS Derek Jeter NYA 4/62 34 As a Red Sox fan, I’m happy his bat is declining rapidly. If he does have one more great year in him, though, it’d be great if 2009 is it.
OF Daniel Murphy NYN 6/94 24
OF Chris Young ARI Kept 25
OF Josh Hamilton TEX Kept 27
OF Mike Cameron MIL 11/174 36
OF Michael Cuddyer MIN 19/302 30
OF Juan Rivera LAA 22/348 30
SP James Shields TBA Kept 26
SP Hiroki Kuroda LAN Kept 34
SP Zack Greinke KCA Kept 25
SP Edinson Volquez CIN Kept 25
SP Paul Maholm PIT 7/110 27
SP Andy Pettitte NYA 8/126 36
SP Jon Garland ARI 14/222 29
SP Anthony Reyes CLE 16/254 27
SP Ross Ohlendorf PIT 17/270 26
SP Doug Davis ARI 18/286 33
SP Jordan Zimmermann WAS 9/142 23 Should be in the Majors in a few weeks.
RP Jonathan Broxton LAN 3/46 24
RP J.J. Putz NYN 12/190 32
RP Bobby Howry SFN 20/318 35
RP Justin Masterson BOS 23/361 24

The draft this year was really weird: We got down to the end of the draft, where last year I took Paul Maholm and Zach Duke with my last two picks, and the year before I took Josh Hamilton with my last pick. This year, though, there was no one left I wanted, not role players with guaranteed starting time, not second-tier prospects, nothing. So I passed my last 5 picks. I’m not sure whether the player pool is smaller this year for some reason, or if the league as a whole is drafting better. Or maybe I’m just too picky. But I felt I’d do better waiting to see how roles change in April than drafting guys with those last 5 picks.

As usual I ended up with a bunch of quality hitters, and a pretty weak pitching staff. It seemed like the pitchers I wanted kept getting taken just before I wanted them, and there was always a good hitter I wanted more than the next other pitchers. I had especially hoped to get Josh Beckett with my first-round pick (14th overall), but he went 2 picks before me.

I feel like the rest of the league is passing me by in drafting prospects who stick, as it’s been a while since I’ve drafted a young impact player at a premium position, so I keep spending early picks on 2B, 3B, SS and even catcher (although the “two decent catchers in tandem” strategy has worked surprisingly well). And I still haven’t worked out how to draft pitchers.

But I don’t think I have a bad team. And I did finish in third place last year (out of 16), and I finish in the top half more often than not.. So maybe I’m overly pessimistic.

The Power to Believe

Great article by Joe Posnanski about Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. (via Rob Neyer)

One thing fantasy baseball does for me is gives me a little more connection to players I’d otherwise be somewhat indifferent towards – well, to the extent that one can be indifferent towards the best player in baseball. Back in 2001 during our league draft I decided to take a flyer on a guy named Pujols, who had spent most of 2000 in A-ball, and was filling in at third base while Bobby Bonilla was on the DL.

Someone in the room said, “They’ll send him down as soon as Bonilla comes back.”

A couple of weeks later, Bonilla came back. Rather than sending down Pujols, the Cardinals released John Mabry. Pujols has since gone on to beat the living daylights out of National League pitching.

I drafted Pujols in the 16th round that year (this is a keeper league, so that’s like taking him in the 21st round in non-keeper leagues). Overall he was the 248th player taken in the draft – 362nd if you include the keepers.

And I’ve had him on my team ever since.

Anyway.

If anything, I think Pujols is underrated. He’s been hurt in one way or another for most of his career – he has a bad elbow which may eventually need reconstructive surgery, and for which he had surgery this offseason to correct a nerve problem and hopefully alleviate the pain he feels in it. That’s the main reason he plays first base, to avoid aggravating his elbow by having to throw more often. He came up as a third baseman and played all four corners (first, third, left field, and right field) his first two seasons. Last year he played one game at second base. Okay, events like that are flukes. But still. How great would it have been if he’d been able to spend his career at third base or in the outfield and been fully healthy?

The only thing he can’t do is pitch. As far as we know.

Since I don’t believe in god (in my Facebook profile my “Religion” field reads “unbeliever/heathen”), it’s strange for me to read about his clearly deep religious beliefs. It’s an aspect of him I can’t realte to or even really understand. “He played baseball, and he went to church, and that seemed about all that interested him.” On the other hand, if it works for him and his life, then that works for me.

I hope – for his own peace of mind – he’s telling the truth that he doesn’t care whether people believe that he’s not using steroids. The steroid witch-hunt has been such a disaster for baseball – to my mind much worse than any actual use of steroids has been. I hope the reigning Best Player in Baseball can escape the witch-hunt. Because I just want to see him play.

Fantasy Baseball 2008

Ah, another year of fantasy baseball. Last year was extremely frustrating, since I came out of last year’s draft with what I thought was one of the best teams I’d drafted in this (very competitive) league, and then my pitching imploded and various other things went wrong. Mid-way through the season I decided that if I didn’t finish in the money that I’d drop out of the league. I ended up finishing 7th (out of 16 teams) which was the last spot in the money, so here I am, back again!

As always, the draft was held at Chris’ house down the street. I got there at 11 am to set up the wireless, which ended up going flawlessly – it worked the first time! Internet connectivity was actually great, and the draft went very smoothly. We were doing each round in about 25 minutes for the first 10 or so rounds, and it speeded up after that. It took us a little less than 9 hours to do the whole draft, which is about average. A long day, but it’s a lot of fun – which is why I do it!

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Gerald Laird TEX 14/218 28 My catching really stinks.
C Dioner Navarro TBA 15/234 24
1B Albert Pujols SLN Kept 28
2B Kelly Johnson ATL 2/26 26
2B Ron Belliard WAS 19/296 33
2B/SS Erick Aybar LAN 18/281 24
3B Miguel Cabrera FLO Kept 25
3B Melvin Mora BAL 20/310 36
SS/1B Carlos Guillen DET 1/10 32
SS Jhonny Peralta CLE 6/90 25
OF Corey Hart MIL Kept 26
OF Chris Young ARI Kept 24
OF Josh Hamilton CIN Kept 26
OF Jacoby Ellsbury BOS Kept 24
OF Jason Kubel MIN 16/250 26
OF Carlos Gomez MIN Kept 22
OF Melky Cabrera NYA 22/345 23
SP James Shields TBA Kept 25
SP Joe Blanton OAK Kept 26
SP Jeff Francis COL 3/42 27
SP Hiroki Kuroda LAN 4/58 33 A new Japanese import, reportedly an extreme groundball pitcher.
SP Zack Greinke KCA 5/74 24
SP David Bush MIL 7/106 28
SP Kevin Millwood TEX 9/138 33
SP Edinson Volquez CIN 10/154 24
SP Paul Maholm PIT 23/356 26
SP Zach Duke PIT 23/364 25
RP Rafael Soriano ATL 11/170 28 I have the all-Rafael bullpen!
RP Rafael Betancourt CLE 12/186 33
RP Rafael Perez CLE 13/202 26
IN Carlos Gonzalez OAK 8/122 22 The key prospect in Oakland’s trade of Dan Haren to Arizona.
IN Gio Gonzalez OAK 17/266 22 One of the prospects in Oakland’s trade of Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox.
IN Brent Lillibridge ATL 21/323 24
IN Matt Antonelli SDN 21/334 23 Heir apparent to second base in San Diego.
IN Justin Masterson BOS 23/368 23 Well-regarded sinkerball pitching prospect.

My biggest regret of the draft was not taking Kurt Suzuki when I had a chance, as that left me with the true dregs for my catching slot, without even much upside. I also regret just missing out on prospect Brandon Wood. But those are fairly small regrets; overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I expect I’ll have a middle-of-the-road pitching staff with some upside, and a potent offense. My team is generally young (which is typical of my teams in recent years) so it could be better than I project.

It takes a fair amount of luck to win this league, not to mention a better pitching staff than I usually have. But I still have a fun time putting the team together. Hopefully the dice will roll more in my favor than they did last year.

Fantasy Baseball 2007

This year is my 15th year playing fantasy baseball, and 9th year in this very tough league. I’ve finished as high as 3rd (out of 14 – now 16 – teams), and as low as 14th. My approach to preparing and my draft strategy keep evolving, but this year I returned to some basic principles that have worked for me before: Keep it simple, and draft for youth.

My returning core was basically what it’s been for a few years: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Jeremy Bonderman, Brett Myers, and a supporting cast of rookies or second-year players. But I needed to fill some of the “skill positions” (C, 2B, SS) and I desperately needed to draft a better pitching staff; pitching has been my bugaboo for years.

9 hours of draft later, this is what I went home with Sunday night:

Pos Player Team Round/
Pick
Age Comments
C Miguel Montero ARI Keeper 23
C Josh Bard SDN 6/87 29
C Dioner Navarro TBA 16/247 23
1B Albert Pujols SLN Keeper 27
2B Orlando Hudson ARI 5/71 29 The 2B pool was very thin this year. I picked Hudson over Jeff Kent, picking youth and a hitter’s park over age and Chavez Ravine.
2B Adam Kennedy SLN 21/327 31
2B Todd Walker OAK 12/177 34 Not sure how much he’ll play, even though he nominally qualifies at 1B, 2B and 3B. The one pick I made that I actually regret.
3B Miguel Cabrera FLO Keeper 24
3B Edwin Encarnacion CIN Keeper 24
SS Bill Hall MIL 1/7 27 Will probably qualify at OF before long.
SS Bobby Crosby OAK 10/151 27 I decided this was a good pick to roll the dice that Crosby can be healthy this year.
OF J.D. Drew BOS 3/39 31 I put my head in my hands when I made this pick. Frankly, Drew is a great player, but only when he’s not hurt.
OF Corey Hart MIL 4/55 25
OF Chris Young ARI Keeper 23
OF Shane Victorino PHI 9/135 26 In another youth-oriented pick, I chose him instead of Ken Griffey.
OF David DeJesus KCA 8/119 27 Another guy I hope stays healthy.
OF Josh Hamilton CIN 22/342 26 My last pick in the draft. Personal problems hae kept him out of baseball for several years, but he made the Major League team and could be good.
SP Brett Myers PHI Keeper 26
SP Jeremy Bonderman DET Keeper 24
SP Chris Capuano MIL 2/23 28
SP Bronson Arroyo CIN 3/35 30
SP Zack Greinke KCA 6/83 23 Comeback player of the year? He had a great spring training.
SP James Shields TBA 7/103 25 I like guys who don’t issue many walks.
SP Joe Blanton OAK 10/158 26
SP Livan Hernandez ARI 14/215 32
SP Mike Pelfrey NYN Keeper 23
SP Esteban Loaiza OAK 15/231 25 Starting the season on the DL
RP Justin Duchscherer OAK 11/167 29
RP Scott Linebrink SDN 13/199 20
RP Cla Meredith SDN 12/183 24
IN Billy Rowell BAL 18/279 18 Orioles’ 1st-round pick in 2006.
IN Carlos Gomez NYN 17/263 21 Mets prospect; reached AA at age 20.
IN Felix Pie CHN 18/286 22 Cubs prospect, probably ready to play this year, but it’s the Cubs.
IN Jacoby Ellsbury BOS 20/311 23 Red Sox center fielder of the future.
IN Luke Hochevar KCA 19/295 23 Royals’ 1st-round pick in 2006.

The big difference between this year and last year’s team (which was awful – I finished 10th out of 16 teams) is that I don’t have Bonderman, Myers, and the four stooges (Javier Vazquez, Matt Clement, Derek Lowe, and Jeff Suppan): Instead I have Bonderman, Myers, and five young guys with some upside, plus a LAIM (League Average Innings Muncher) in Hernandez, plus a top prospect in Pelfrey. So I’m very hopeful that my pitching will be greatly improved this year.

I’m also happy that I managed to execute my draft plan: I picked Bill Hall in the first round, figuring that he should be at worst an average shortstop, and perhaps an All-Star quality shortstop/outfielder. Then I picked two of the four pitchers I was targeting in Capuano and Arroyo (Aaron Harang and David Bush were the other two), and a nice supporting cast.

Certainly I have some risk: None of my pitchers are sure things. J.D. Drew could get hurt. My catchers could potentially all be busts. But on the other hand I have a lot of useful spare parts and if things come together I could actually have a great team.

I enjoyed the prospecting this year. I knew that Tim Lincecum and Homer Bailey would be picked early, but Luke Hochevar could be an excellent pickup as well. And I’m always on the lookout for “the next Miguel Cabrera”, the 20-year-old who’s playing well at Double-A. Carlos Gomez didn’t play nearly as well at AA as did Cabrera, but he did play there, and not badly. He could be a great one.

Last year was a season mired in drudgery. I’m very hopeful that this year’s team will be a lot more fun, and more successful.

At the End of an Insane Month

My insane month of March is now over. Thank goodness. Even though it was mostly a lot of fun, it was so packed that I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in what I had to do or much time to relax.

As I said, I spent most of last week preparing for my fantasy baseball draft. But before that, Subrata and I spent most of Saturday playing the final ultimate tournament of the season. It was warm and sunny (and windy, as the day wore on), and there was enough turnout for 2 games with enough subs to keep me reasonably rested. Only five people from our team turned out, so we merged with another team, and our team won 2 games out of 3!

I had a pretty good afternoon personally, making a couple of blocks and a few good throws. My game got more erratic as the day went on and I got more and more tired, but at least I was still running and not exhausted on the sideline by the end of the day! Then the league had a barbecue to finish off the season, and we all got our league disks for the year, as well as some other goodies (I got a bag for my cleats and a lanyard).

Boy, I sure was stiff afterwards, though. Even with doing some stretching!

And then Sunday I got up and Subrata and I headed over to our fantasy baseball draft. Our league has 16 owners, 6 of whom showed up locally, and everyone else drafted remotely over Internet chat. (Most of the others are on the east coast, especially around Boston.) We started promptly at 11 am Pacific, and made good time for the first 3 hours, and then bogged down considerably, and finally finished up around 9 pm. Yes, it was a long slog. But then, the second half usually is. I did my best to not be the guy slowing down the draft, and did better than in past years, I think.

I’ll likely post an entry about the team I drafted, but suffice to say that I think I executed my plan much better this year than I did last year. Things could still go wrong, but I think I have the potential to finish near the top of the league this year.

Finally, today I took my car in for its 75k service. It was also time to have my timing belt changed, which turns out to be a fairly pricy proposition for my 2000 Civic. But the car should be good for a number of years yet. Now I just need to get some new tires, which hopefully won’t be hard. I need to do that soon, so I can have everything in shape for when my Mom visits me later this month!

But for now, I’m just happy to have some unstructured time.

Because unstructured time is time I can spend watching baseball!

What I’m Up To

Well, most of my free time is going towards preparing for the fantasy baseball draft. Which has mostly involved remembering how to use the software I wrote for last year, and trying to fix the things which didn’t work so well for me last year (which is a lot of things, since I finished 10th out of 16 teams). It’s going, but it’s not going very quickly.

Keeper rosters were due yesterday at noon. These are the list of players each team is keeping from last year to this year. Our league has a budget based years of service in the Majors, and each team typically keeps 4-to-8 players. I kept 8. I was fortunate to be able to make a couple of last-minute trades which sent some players I didn’t plan to keep to other owners for some draft picks. Consequently, I have 5 extra draft picks, which is kinda nice.

Now I just have to figure out who I want to draft!

I had planned to spend this evening playing the pick-up Ultimate game, but I got to the field (a different one from our usual field) and there was no one I recognized, and no one with a frisbee – just lots and lots of soccer players. I stayed there for 15 minutes and then bagged it. In any event it was cold and very windy so it wasn’t a great evening for frisbee. But still, I would have been happy to play for a bit.

Debbi’s doing well, by the way. She’s back at work this week. Her mouth is still a bit sore, but she’s taking fewer painkillers and is eating a few foods she can chew – just nothing crunchy yet.