Ongoing NFBC update
11:10 p.m. — OK, here’s the story. For those of you who haven’t heard,the East Coast got pummeled by a major snow and ice storm between Thursday and
Friday. So by the time I got to work Friday morning, my flight to Chicago that afternoon had already been cancelled, along with every other flight out of
the three major NYC area airports. After a frantic online, phone call and
AIM search (with Pat’s travel agent), I managed to get on an 8:00 flight this morning. Problem is, it was out
of Islip, the Long
Island regional airport. I got there in plenty of time, but there’s
only one de-icing machine for the entire airport, and as of 10:30 they hadn’t even de-iced the two other planes
scheduled to leave before us. Obviously I wasn’t getting out before noon or maybe even later, so I gritted my teeth, cancelled the flight
and headed home.
I got home just in time for the draft to start at 1:00 p.m. ET, and must give major props to the
NFBC organizers who set up the conference call dial-up for those of us who were
trying to participate remotely. Pat worked the draft on-site, and I texted
suggestions and thoughts to him throughout, while listening to the draft on the
conference call and working the draft on the laptop. It wasn’t ideal, but at
least I was in the game. I had to split after 18 rounds so Pat finished up the
rest with only sporadic input by me. (There were three picks I would have done VERY differently than he did, but I won’t name names. My boy did a fine job flying solo under unexpected circumstances.)
Anyway, we knew it would be unpredictable when Utley went fifth overall,
Holliday went 10th and Hafner (DH only) went 11th. Vladdy was our first choice
but went eighth, so we opted for Cabrera’s four-category upside over
Wright’s additional speed. (Yes, we may regret that later, but you make the best decision based on available information at the time.) It got stranger after that, as Derrek Lee went 15th, far earlier than expected… then our second choice, Teixeira, went right before us.
So with our 18th pick, we had multiple choices we never anticipated being able
to choose from: Santana, Sizemore and Jeter. We love Grady and Jeter, but Santana was too good a
value at that point and we took him.
Meanwhile, Furcal went 29th overall, Oswalt went 34th, K-Rod
went 37th and Nathan went 41st, all of them a few to several picks earlier than expected. We had hoped for Brian Roberts in the fourth
round, but fearing being shut out of prime speed guys altogether, we took him
in the third; Figgins went two picks later. And then there was Cris Carpenter
sitting there in the fourth (49th) so, once again, we felt we had to take the
best available player, one who was at least a round beyond fair value. I’ve never had two big aces before, I wonder what it will be like!
From that point it was a scramble to build out the offense and bullpen,
as can be plainly seen, since we didn’t anticipate taking a starter before the sixth or seventh round and instead we already had two after four rounds. Folks, don’t try this at home. We did have a shot at some speed guys throughout the
next few rounds, but feeling we would have a harder time finding power bats, we
opted for Sheffield and Sexson. And then to compound the
problem, guys like Kinsler, Kendrick and Barfield all went several rounds
earlier than we had anticipated.
By the time the ninth round came around, there was no choice
but to take Chris Young… let’s hope he pans out like last year’s ninth round
speed stab, Corey Patterson! Same deal with Upton in the 15th… let’s hope that
our friend Bill Chastain is right and Upton plays all over the place, enough to
get 30 or so steals. We’re gonna need ‘em. From that point on it was pretty much "best available."
Obviously our batting average is going to be weak, we’re
still short on speed, and a third closer wouldn’t hurt. But compare this team
to what we had last year coming out of the draft, and realize it’s actually not too bad, possibly even pretty good:
2006: Martin and Barajas
2005: Barrett and Lieberthal
Edge: Martin will give us more steals than Barrett, with
a decent average and some pop. All Barajas has to do is play to be better than
Lieberthal. Even, possibly a slight edge this year.
2006: Sexson, M.Cabrera and Lowell
2005: Thome, Glaus and Encarnacion
Edge: Cabrera will lift this trio to a higher average
than last year, and his handful of steals will make a wash with Encarnacion. A
little less power but otherwise virtually identical. Even.
2006: Roberts, O.Cabrera and DeRosa
2005: Loretta, Jeter and Belliard
Edge: Roberts won’t match Jeter but he’s very solid at worst and I’m banking on a breakout season (.300/18/65/35/110) that could approach what Jeter did last season.
Cabrera is better than either Loretta or Belliard, and DeRosa figures to be
comparable. A lower average from this year’s trio, but more speed and
comparable power. Clear edge to 2005, but only because of Jeter’s greatness… and Roberts could close that gap.
2006: Sheffield, Burrell, C.Young,
Hawpe and Hermida (or Griffey)
2005: Guerrero, Sizemore, Swisher, Patterson and Rios
Edge: Obviously a big edge to 2005, particularly in
speed. This year’s quintent all have upside and should be comparable or maybe better in the
power categories, but can’t possibly match last year’s average, speed and run-scoring.
Edge: If Upton plays enough he’ll be a major upgrade over Green’s meager season, obviously and
particulary in terms of speed. Let’s hope the super utility role agrees with him.
2006: Santana, Carpenter, Capuano, Jennings and Loaiza (or Nolasco)
2005: Webb, Bonderman, Suppan, Jf.Weaver and Loaiza
Edge: Huge edge to this year. Even if our bottom three
stink again, that can’t be worse than last year’s Unholy Trinity. And it’s
entirely reasonable to think that Santana and Carpenter will far exceed even the
excellence we got from Webb and Bonderman last year. Finally, remember that Capuano is a "List of 12" guy this year who halved his walk rate in ’06 without losing much of his strikeout rate!
2006: Gagne, Fuentes, Otsuka and Rauch
2005: K-Rod, Ryan, Shields and Duchscherer
Edge: Huge edge to 2005, although a healthy Gagne could
make this relatively close. And if Chad Cordero gets traded, now we’re on to
something… hey, we can hope can’t we?
2006: Votto, LaRoche, Pence, Pedroia, Griffey (or Hermida),
Kuo, Nolasco (or Loaiza)
2005: Kendrick, J.Bartlett, N.Logan, Br.Anderson, S.Mori,
Edge: Only one of the prospects needs to pan out to match
what we got from Kendrick, and all three of them could secure MLB jobs in short order: LaRoche > Betemit, Pence > Burke/Scott/Biggio/Lane and/or Votto > Hatteberg. If two or more pan out, this will be a huge edge
So, loooking at it today I don’t think we can win the country but
I didn’t think that after the draft last year either, and we battled to sixth
place. The key, like last year, will be finding value on the free agent wire like
we did with Eric Byrnes, Chuck James and Takashi Saito. I don’t know if we’ll
be as fortunate this year, but if we are, we should be in great shape.
I’ll post projections for our team, and projected standings,
once I get the complete draft results. Thanks for everyone’s comments, I appreciate the feedback. G’night!
* * *
7:35 p.m. ET — The draft is over and I’ve completed our roster below, including our seven reserve picks. Interestingly, while we pursued a very different strategy as last year by virute of the opportunistic Santana/Carpenter picks, the overall strengths and weaknesses of last year’s and this year’s teams are very similar. More commentary on that and other topics to follow later tonight after everyone else here is asleep.
* * *
4:20 p.m. ET — We’re into the reserve rounds of the NFBC Draft and since I’m not helping out "live" at this point (more on that later), here’s a quick update of our team through the first 18 rounds. Hope you’re all sitting down, since this isn’t the typical Schwartzstops squad:
C – R.Martin, LA (12th round)
C – R.Barajas, PHI (21st)
1B – R.Sexson, SEA (6th)
3B – M.Cabrera, FLO (1st)
CI – M.Lowell, BOS (18th)
2B – B.Roberts, BAL (3rd)
SS – O.Cabrera, ANA (10th)
MI – M.DeRosa (19th)
UT – B.Upton, TB (15th)
OF – G.Sheffield, DET (5th)
OF – C.Young, ARI (9th)
OF – P.Burrell, PHI (11th)
OF – B.Hawpe, COL (13th)
OF – J.Hermida, FLO (17th)
SP – J.Santana, MIN (2nd)
SP – C.Carpenter, STL (4th)
SP – C.Capuano, MIL (14th)
SP – J.Jennings, HOU (20)
SP – R.Nolasco, FLO (26th)
MR – J.Rauch, WSH (23rd)
MR – A.Otsuka, TEX (16th)
CL – E.Gagne, TEX (8th)
CL – B.Fuentes, COL (7th)
Reserves: K.Griffey Jr., CIN (22nd), D.Pedroia, BOS (24th), J.Votto, CIN (25th), H.Pence, HOU (27th), A.LaRoche, LA (28th), H.Kuo, LA (29th) and E.Loaiza, OAK (30th)
(Loaiza may be dead to me, but I guess he’s not dead to Pat!)
That’s right, we took Johan and Carpenter as our top two starters after they both dropped to what we felt was a round or more past their fair value. If rule #1 is don’t overpay for starting pitchers, and rule #2 is "have a plan and stick to it", then rule #3 is take advantage of opportunities when they arise… we felt these were great opportunities that we had to pursue.
Needless to say that had us scramling to assemble an offense, and other than a few low AVG guys and some health risks, we like how this is shaping up. I just got off the phone with DePirro (like I said, more on that later) and our reserve picks are adding great depth.
Full recap coming soon!