March 2008

Tout Wars!

Tout Wars is this weekend and we wanted to make sure you check out the new and improved site!

I have AL Tout on
Friday at 5pm ET. Cory is NL Only on Saturday morning and Cushing has Mixed at
the same time Saturday.

-Siano (Blog

Today’s Chat and Recent Roundtable

This afternoon, Mike and Cory held their second 411 chat, answering all your questions as draft time is upon us.  Here’s the Chat Transcript

If that’s not enough to keep you busy, here’s the newest Fantasy Roundtable

Let the reading begin!


One more mock draft

…and then I’m taking a break until the 411 Listener League draft on Thursday night.

Tonight I participated in the mock draft, picking out of the #2 spot, and  thanks to Tony in Jacksonville for inviting me. The complete draft results are here:

And here are the projected standings:

For contrast, here are the projected standings using my projected stats (yes, which do account for Lackey missing 3-4 starts; I have him at 180.0 IP):


1 Schwartzstops 87.0 .2885 1162 299 1144 191 3.495 87 107 1061 1.246
2 Matt Lutovsky — SN 77.5 .2826 1137 312 1196 90 3.598 98 101 1202 1.231
3 Neighbor Steve 73.5 .2857 1171 313 1133 172 3.743 88 96 1072 1.252
4 Evan Dickens (Wire Tap) 70.0 .2819 1100 285 1095 157 3.420 89 111 1129 1.244
5 Chris From League 17 68.5 .2797 1183 319 1166 174 3.869 86 95 1106 1.297
6 Tony in Jacksonville 65.5 .2903 1183 284 1134 157 3.588 72 96 1016 1.253
7 BillBender_SN 65.0 .2867 1158 276 1071 148 3.566 107 64 1210 1.251
8 Darryl Houston Smith 62.5 .2862 1146 269 1095 169 3.313 85 89 992 1.208
9 The Fantasy Man 56.0 .2798 1140 281 1043 216 3.702 100 68 1273 1.303
10 Kid Cushing 53.0 .2872 1138 296 1147 156 3.736 80 87 1048 1.284
11 Rocco… League 24 52.0 .2907 1209 308 1168 116 3.991 74 49 946 1.333
12 Chris in NorCal 49.5 .2846 1137 297 1124 144 3.642 81 86 1112 1.274
1 Schwartzstops 87.0 10.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 11.0 10.0 7.0 11.0 5.0 9.0
2 Matt Lutovsky — SN 77.5 4.0 2.5 10.0 12.0 1.0 7.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 11.0
3 Neighbor Steve 73.5 6.0 9.0 11.0 6.0 9.0 3.0 8.0 8.5 6.0 7.0
4 Evan Dickens (Wire Tap) 70.0 3.0 1.0 5.0 3.5 6.5 11.0 9.0 12.0 9.0 10.0
5 Chris From League 17 68.5 1.0 10.5 12.0 10.0 10.0 2.0 6.0 7.0 7.0 3.0
6 Tony in Jacksonville 65.5 11.0 10.5 4.0 7.0 6.5 8.0 1.0 8.5 3.0 6.0
7 BillBender_SN 65.0 8.0 7.0 2.0 2.0 4.0 9.0 12.0 2.0 11.0 8.0
8 Darryl Houston Smith 62.5 7.0 6.0 1.0 3.5 8.0 12.0 5.0 6.0 2.0 12.0
9 The Fantasy Man 56.0 2.0 5.0 3.0 1.0 12.0 5.0 11.0 3.0 12.0 2.0
10 Kid Cushing 53.0 9.0 4.0 6.0 9.0 5.0 4.0 3.0 5.0 4.0 4.0
11 Rocco… League 24 52.0 12.0 12.0 9.0 11.0 2.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 1.0 1.0
12 Chris in NorCal 49.5 5.0 2.5 7.0 5.0 3.0 6.0 4.0 4.0 8.0 5.0

What’s interesting about this isn’t necessarily the difference in the projected standings, which is to be expected since I’m sure my projected stats are those being used by the system. And, clearly Matt L. and I had the best teams anyway.🙂

What’s clear about this is how much easier it is to build a great team in a 12-team league than it is in a 15-team league, which I found out the hard way in NFBC yesterday. So folks, please understand if I’m less than enthused about answering questions about 8-team or 10-team leagues… they are not really that challenging. But, I promise to try and be nice, you never know when it might be a new listener we’re trying to convert!

Hope everyone’s drafts are going well and good luck to those yet to come…


NFBC recap, final thoughts

An Excel file is attached with three tabs:

1. The complete NFBC pick-by-pick results for New York League 9 (we are Team 15);
2. The opening day 23-man rosters for each team in our league… note that NFBC rules allow for teams to NOT have an official roster after 23 rounds, so a lot of clubs wait to draft their second catcher or ninth pitcher until the reserve rounds. These projected rosters use the earliest picks taken by each team to build an official 23-man roster, and do NOT account for guys who will be on the DL or otherwise not active at the start of the season (Lackey, Kazmir, etc.);
3. Projected standings using my own projections.

These results obviously show that our team has tremendous upside, but in reviewing our projections, they are very optimistic for a lot of players… not just the young guys (Maybin, Pie, Milledge, Ellsbury, Weaver, Towles, Encarnacion) but also for some of the veterans, too (Delgado, Arroyo, even Soriano). I wouldn’t say we’re guilty of drafting to the projections, but clearly we’re taking an optimistic view of what this team can do. We need not just good seasons from some of our young guys, but breakout, Rookie of the Year type seasons.

In hindsight, a guy like Ichiro would’ve been a much better second pick for us than SKevinkouzmanoff07
oriano. I’m not a big fan of either guy, but getting that high AVG/SB combo would’ve positioned us much better for our subsequent and later round picks. Furcal or even Kinsler would’ve been a better fit than Atkins, too. Then we take Lincecum over Encarnacion, Kouzmanoff (right) over Weaver, then Delgado becomes our CI rather than UT and we can take several different options… and with Ichiro/Furcal, we don’t need to gamble on Maybin, so we go with a Franklin Gutierrez or Luke Scott and that offsets some of the power we’d have passed on earlier.

You can drive yourself crazy doing this, but it’s clear to me in hindsight that our early round picks set us on a path that put us in a position where we had to take more and bigger gambles than we should’ve.

For the record, I don’t have any regrets about the first four pitchers we took, or when we took them. My research and mock drafts all made me very comfortable taking five pitchers in our first 12 picks (3 SP, 2 CL), and that’s what we did, but we just missed on the third SP we wanted (McGowan or Wainwright). Otherwise it would’ve been a dream start to our pitching staff.

Anyway, that’s how it all went down. Listener league draft is Thursday and Tout Wars NL is on Saturday, so I’ll see if I can get off tilt and right the ship. Good luck to everyone in your drafts!


NFBC recap, part deux

Picking up where we left off after the first half of the draft…

Round 16

Best pick: On pure upside value, Carlos Delgado was a genuine
bargain at 226 overall, given that our rankings had him at 155 and satellite
ADP was 181. But he obviously carries a tremendous amount of risk, too.

Worst pick: I agree with Joe Sheehan that Dioner Navarro could take
a big step forward, but how big a step does it have to be to justify the 259th overall
pick when satellite ADP has him at 318?

We wanted: I wanted a third closer, and both Brandon Lyon and C.J.
Wilson were still on the board. We could’ve used a nice young speed option like
Adam Jones or Justin Upton, too.

Our pick: Delgado – my own “value based” approach got revenge on me
here as Pat overruled me to select Delgado, even though that locked up our UT
only halfway through the draft and we had bigger needs than another aging power
hitter. Delgado could more than justify this pick by simply repeating last
season’s numbers, but at this point, is even that too much to ask?


Round 17

Best pick: No great values in this round, but Billy Butler (247th overall)
was a very nice find compared to our ranking (222) and satellite ADP (220).

Worst pick: No real stumbles here either, although Randy Winn (250
vs. our 266 and ADP 288) and Shaun Marcum (245 vs. our 300 and ADP 266) weren’t
the most inspired selections.

We wanted: I hoped Randy Johnson would slip to us as our fifth
starter, but he didn’t. We liked Ramon Hernandez as our second catcher or Matt
Diaz as a cheap high-AVG complement, but they both went off the board, too. I
pushed hard for Bill Hall, who I think will rebound with decent power, a few SB’s
and two-position eligibility. This led to Pat’s moment of inspirationTiwnxczi_1

Our pick: Felix Pie (right) – We got him at 255 overall, and compared
our ranking of 199, that looks like a great value. But satellite ADP was only 295,
suggesting we would’ve had a shot at him the next time around. Pie has great
upside, and could add a badly-needed 20+ steals to our total, but his youth,
inexperience and mediocre plate discipline – not to mention his volatile
manager – make this a very risky selection when we needed a little


Round 18

Best pick: If he bounces back to match our projected ranking of
167, Bill Hall will be a steal at 264th overall. He was even a bargain compared
to his satellite ADP of 233.

Worst pick: Cameron Maybin (256th) and Colby Rasmus (262nd) both
offer plenty of upside, but were taken much too early compared to both our
ranking and satellite ADP.

We wanted: I would’ve liked Hall, or Carlos Ruiz as our seconT1_maybin_si_1d
catcher, or even the cheap 25 homers of Luke Scott. But Pat won the day on this
pick too.

Our pick: Maybin (right) – there’s no denying his awesome talent and
upside, particularly in steals, and that’s where we most needed help. If he
matches our projection – .251 with 11 homers, 49 RBI’s and 26 steals – then this
will end up being a reasonable gamble given our lack of speed. But it’s far too
easy to see a scenario where he hits .212 for six weeks and then spends the
remainder of the season in Triple-A. I like his future but I didn’t like this
pick at the time and I don’t like it now.


Round 19

Best pick: Nothing special here, although Coco Crisp at 279 could
be a nice bargain if he gets traded somewhere so he can play every day. I’d
prefer that, so our Ellsbury pick will look a lot better, too!

Worst pick: Not a bad pick per se, but I thought the 281st overall
pick was a little early to gamble on Johnny Cueto.

We wanted: Someone likely to spend the season in the Majors

Our pick: Ronny Paulino – nothing special here but a reasonably
safe pick to hit .275 with 10-12 homers, a nice complement to Towles as our
second catcher.

Round 20

Best pick: Gary Matthews could be a nice value at 294th overall if
he plays enough to put up his usual 15/15 season. Better than Randy Winn in any

Worst pick: Juan Rivera. Doesn’t matter what pick was used on him.
He’s the sixth outfielder on a team that doesn’t need a DH. I hope the team
that picked him had some rock-solid trade intel.

We wanted: A middle infielder or bullpen help.

Our pick: Joaquin Benoit – A little old (30) to be considered a
closer of the future, but I like his chances to earn some saves along with C.J.
Wilson, and with K-Rod and Coco already in the fold,
that’s all we needed with the 286th overall pick.


Round 21

Best pick: Frank Thomas should never have lasted to the 301st overall
pick, a full four to five rounds
later than either our rankings or satellite ADP. Even though he locks up the UT
spot, I’d rather have him than Delgado. Great, cheap source for 25 homers.

Worst pick: Rajai Davis at 308th overall. Sure he could win some
playing time over Dave Roberts, but so what? He’s a poor man’s Dave Roberts.
Satellite ADP was 358 and our rankings had him even lower.

We wanted: Middle infield and/or speed.

Our pick: Akinori Iwamura – we’ll have to start the season with him
on our bench, but by Week 3 we should be able to put his 10/10 production and
decent run-scoring potential in our middle infield slot. Given our needs, he
was a terrific find with the 315th overall pick, especially compared to satellite
ADP (239).


Round 22

Best pick: Daric Barton (320th) should be a cheap source for a
solid average and a dozen or more homers as a corner/utility guy. We ranked him
293 and ADP was 300.

Worst pick: I guess you could defend the gamble on Jonathan Sanchez
at 322, but our ranking and satellite ADP said you could’ve taken that gamble
100 picks later.

We wanted: Pat wanted Homer Bailey but I couldn’t stomach his a)
lack of complementary pitches to his heater and under-used curve, b) bandbox
home ballpark, c) sporadic control and command, d) terrible spring stats that
might result in him going to Triple-A, and e) his pitcher-abusive manager. But
given our need for a fifth starter, I went another route.

Our pick: Wandy Rodriguez – he might not have Homer Bailey’s
perceived upside, but he should be a safer bet this year to post a 4.00 ERA,
1.30 WHIP, a dozen wins and decent strikeouts. His extreme home/road splits from
last year should even out somewhat, and having a much better defensive outfield
(Bourn in CF and Pence in RF) should help some too.


Round 23

Best pick: Franklin Gutierrez (336th) could provide 20/10
production. Both our ranking (265) and satellite ADP (309) agree his upside was
worth a pick two rounds earlier. I wish it had been us who made it.

Worst pick: Bartolo Colon is way down on both our rankings and
satellite ADP, so the 343rd pick might be a little early. But for the last
round, why not.

We wanted: Another decent bullpen arm. I wish we had taken Gutierrez
instead of Maybin, too. I’m going to drive myself crazy reconstructing our
draft in a way that would’ve been completely possible (Lincecum over
Encarnacion, Kouzmanoff over Weaver, Gutierrez over Maybin, etc.) and probably
resulted in a much more well-rounded team.

Our pick: Manny Delcarmen – I’m surprised he lasted this long,
given that Francona anointed him some time ago as Papelbon’s top setup guy.


Reserve Rounds:

Our picks:


R1 – Moises Alou – he should come
off the DL just as Maybin is going down to Triple-A. In hindsight I should’ve
gone for Andre Ethier here since I’m surprised he was still on the board.

R2 – Erick Aybar – I’m assuming he’ll
be able to hold the fort at MI for two weeks until Iwamura qualifies, and maybe
grab a few steals along the way.

R3 – Joe Saunders – he should get
another shot at the rotation with Lackey and Escobar out, he’s having a strong
spring and he’s in his age 27 season.

R4 – Tom Gordon – simply a bet
against Brad Lidge’s health and mental fortitude.

R5 – Nate Robertson – a short-term
bet in case he gets off to another fast start. He won’t be here at the end of the
season, that’s a certainty.

R6 – Jose Contreras – his 2005-06
stats were so similar, and his dropoff last year so extreme, that I have to
believe he’ll rebound somewhat. He said he was distracted last year by a messy
divorce, and now has a new Cuban teammate to keep him company, so this is
simply a short-term gamble to see if he can regain some old magic.

R7 – Matt Antonelli – if he
improves as quickly this year as he did last year, we hope he can take over for
Iguchi in the second half.


Our final roster:

C — J.R. Towles (14)
C — Ronny Paulino (19)
1B — Ryan Howard (1)
3B — Garrett Atkins (3)
CI — Edwin Encarnacion (10)
2B — Kelly Johnson (9)
SS — Jhonny Peralta (15)
MI — Erick Aybar (R2)
UT — Carlos Delgado (16)
OF — Alfonso Soriano (2)
OF — Jacoby Ellsbury (8)
OF — Lastings Milledge (11)
OF — Felix Pie (17)
OF — Cameron Maybin (18)
SP — Brandon Webb (4)
SP — Daisuke Matsuzaka (6)
SP — Jered Weaver (12)
SP — Bronson Arroyo (13)
SP — Wandy Rodriguez (22)
RP — Joaquin Benoit (20)
RP — Manny Delcarmen (23)
CL — Francisco Rodriguez (5)
CL — Francisco Cordero (7)

And the bench:

3B — Akinori Iwamura (21)
2B — Matt Antonelli (R7)
OF — Moises Alou (R1)
SP — Joe Saunders (R3)
SP — Nate Robertson (R5)
SP — Jose Contreras (R6)
RP — Tom Gordon (R4)

I’ll post projected final standings, and some final
thoughts, later tonight.




NFBC recap part one

411 host alumnus Pat DePirro and I joined forces again today for our third annual crack at the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. We won our league in 2006, finishing sixth in the country, but barely slipped into third last year to win back our entry fee. With our eyes set on recapturing the magic of 2006, here’s how our first half of the draft went down ("satellite ADP" refers to average draft position in recent NFBC satellite drafts, which is a helpful indicator since many main event contestants warm up by doing satellite leagues):

Round 1

Best pick: A basic 411 adage is that you can’t win your league in
the first round, but you can’t lose it. Still, it’s hard for us to not LOVE
getting Ryan Howard with the 15th overall pick, when our value rankings had him
ninth and satellite ADP had him going 11th.

Worst pick: Albert Pujols went 9th, which isn’t a bad pick
obviously but just a very risky one. Grady Sizemore was a surprised at the 13th
pick, and that’s what enabled us to take Howard.

We wanted: We expected to get Alfonso Soriano and Grady Sizemore
with our first two picks, but we weren’t disappointed with who we got instead.

Our pick: Howard – even if he only hits .275 with zero steals, he’s
a near lock for 45 or more homers and 120 or more RBI’s, and obviously his
upside beyond that is extreme.


Round 2

Best pick: We never would’ve passed on Prince Fielder if we didn’t
have a shot at Ryan Howard, so that’s the only reason we allowed him to last to
the 5th pick up this round, 20th overall. Unbelievable mistake by those teams
who passed on him not once, but twice.

Worst pick: Look, I’m a big Corey Hart fan, but is he really the 30th
best player in fantasy baseball this year? Ah, no. But that didn’t stop him
from going to Team 1 with the last pick of this round. Certainly he wouldn’t
have lasted until their next pick, but that’s no excuse for such a big reach
this early.

We wanted: Soriano or Sizemore, as mentioned above.

Our pick: Soriano – if he hits .268 (like he did in 2005) with 28
homers (2004), 70 RBI’s (last season) and 18 steals (2004), this will be a
disastrous pick. Then again, if he stays healthy (knock on wood), he should hit
35+ homers and steal about 20 bags, if not more. Moderate risk but massive reward.

Round 3

Best pick: Debate the value of catchers all you want, but Russell
Martin inexplicably lasted to the 13th pick (43rd overall), late enough that we
thought we might actually get him with our pick, but it wasn’t meant to be.
If he even comes close to last year’s production, this will be a steal.

Worst pick: Maybe Carlos Pena really will hit 46 homers again. Or
maybe he’ll hit .280-36-110 or so, which would certainly validate a pick in the
late 4th or early 5th round. But it certainly doesn’t justify the 12th pick of
the 3rd round (42nd overall).

We wanted: Our original plan all along was to take Garrett Atkins’
power and batting average to complement the speed and runs of Sizemore and

Our pick: Atkins – the first half slump was scary, but his huge
second half, combined with his huge 2006, convinced us that he’s pretty safe to
go .305/25/105 if not more. His high average upside complements Howard and
Soriano very nicely, although our overall lack of speed in our first three
picks would have ramifications later on.


Round 4

Best pick: It’s not as great a value as when we took him in the 8th
rounBrandonwebbd in 2006, but I still love getting Brandon Webb (right) with the first pick of this
round, 46th overall. Our rankings were very favorable towards starting pitchers
and had him 30th overall, but even if you think that’s overly optimistic,
consider that satellite ADP had him going 40th, so we got good value by any

Worst pick: With declining power and average, it’s hard to justify
Michael Young with the 5th pick of this round, 50th overall. My projections,
which I think are more than generous given the recent trends of his career, make
him the 84th ranked player overall, and satellite ADP had him at 76th. So any
way you look at it, this is a reach of at least one full round, if not more.

We wanted: We targeted Webb with this pick from the moment
draft spots were announced.

Our pick: Webb. A very reliable ace who’s still right in his prime,
and might even benefit from the presence of Danny Haren and a resurgence, if it
lasts, by Randy Johnson.


Round 5

Best pick: The batting average is scary, but if Chris Young can
even get it up to a very reasonable .255 or .260, he should be a lock for 30-30
with 100 or more runs. That he went with the 3rd pick of this round, 63rd overall,
is a huge bargain… ADP had him at 46 and we ranked him 48th.

Worst pick: This round was an utter train wreck. It’s hard to
decide which pick was more inexplicable, when you compare the overall pick cost
to the satellite ADP for Matt Kemp (ADP 89 vs. pick 61), Howie Kendrick (102
vs. 72) and Josh Hamilton (99 vs. 74). I promise you they all look even worse
compared to the rankings we were using. And it’s not like Jorge Posada (95 vs. 73)
was such a huge bargain, either. Maybe everyone thought it was the 7th round,
not the 5th?  Yes, you can lose your league in the fifth round, too.

We wanted: We would’ve jumped all over Chris Young or Brian McCann had
they slipped, but that was probably overly optimistic. Still, we got close enough to think about it.

Our pick: Francisco Rodriguez – DePirro is no fan of Young’s, but
we would’ve had a fistfight over him had he lasted to our pick. Fortunately
that crisis was averted, so we took a top three closer to anchor our bullpen.


Round 6

Best pick: Our pitcher-friendly rankings had Aaron Harang at number
49 overall, and satellite ADP pegged him at number 71, but he lasted to the 88th
overall pick to Team 3, so that’s a pretty good bargain by any measure.

Worst pick: This round was a pretty good rebound from the numerous mistakes
that littered the 5th, so it’s hard to pick on anyone here. But based on our
rankings, it’s hard to see Brad Hawpe earning the 86th overall pick (11th in
this round). To be fair, satellite ADP makes this look like a bargain, since
that pegged him at number 69, so obviously we have a big disagreement on this

We wanted: Shane Victorino or Rickie Weeks would’ve been nice fits
given our early needs for speed, but neither fell to us. DePirro was leaning
towards Harang, but I swayed him on this one.

Our pick: Daisuke Matsuzaka – we passed on Harang’s reliable
production to go for what we believe to be the bigger upside. Given a full
season to adjust to the U.S. and a Major League workload, not to mention that he’s entering his age 27
season, we think Dice-K could give us ace-quality value (66th in our overall
rankings) with the 76th pick.


Round 7

Best pick: Maybe people were still concerned about Ryan Zimmerman
because of his wrist surgery, but our rankings placed him at 67th overall. Even though satellite ADP had him much lower, at 84,  he’s still a bargain by any measure with the
98th overall pick. Wish we had gotten him.

Worst pick: I’ve got nothing against Fausto Carmona, John Maine or
Ben Sheets, but all three went at least a round too early. Our projections, satellite
ADP and actual picks for all three: Carmona (128, 122, 94), Maine (111, 127, 95), Sheets (127, 118, 102).

We wanted: We had originally targeted Zimmerman, but getting Atkins
made that miss easier to take. James Shields or Adrian Beltre would’ve fit
nicely also, and Beltre went with the pick immediately before ours, so we had
to make a quick decision.

Our pick: Francisco Cordero – This pick essentially started a run
on the second tier of closers, as six went in the very next round. We like his
great strikeout potential and think his fastball/slider combo will enable him
to post excellent numbers even in homer-happy GABP; with K-Rod and him we got the power closers we always like to build around.


Round 8

Best pick: Given how many closers went in this round, Billy Wagner
was a very good value at the 107th overall pick, compared to both our ranking (71)
and satellite ADP (94), too.

Worst pick: I can understand to a certain extent why Alex Gordon (119th
overall) and Orlando Cabrera (120th) went with the last two picks of this
round, and by ADP both are reasonable selections. But our rankings had them
both 30 or more picks lower, a full two rounds.

We wanted: Speed, and we thought we had a good solution, tooP1jacobyellsbury

Our pick: Jacoby Ellsbury – earlier this week, WFAN radio in New York reported that Coco Crisp had been traded to the Mets,
which would make Ellsbury (right) the everyday CF for the Red Sox. That report was
refuted by both teams, but with an intensity that suggests to me a deal is
actually imminent once Crisp gets healthy. So when we were told by a “friend”
before the draft that the trade had gone through, we thought we got a steal
here, only to find out that our legs were being pulled. I won’t name names, but
I thought that “friend” showed particularly bad taste and judgment in giving us
false info. like that only minutes before we were set to draft. We still expect
Ellsbury to see significant playing time, and probably enough to steal 30 or 35
bags and justify this pick, but the misinformation we were given made this a
much riskier pick than it needed to be. Trust me folks, I won’t forget how this
one went down… I won’t forget and I won’t forgive.


Round 9

Best pick: Given how he’s thrown this spring, you’d have to say that Francisco Liriano
was a very nice gamble with the 126th overall pick, and both our rankings (105)
and satellite ADP (112) agree with that.

Worst pick: He wasn’t a truly terrible pick, but since everything
went pretty much by the book here so for lack of an alternative I’ll go with J.J.
Hardy. He went 124th overall, compared to a satellite ADP of 143 and our
ranking of 177. Yeah, I guess that is a pretty bad pick.

We wanted: Orlando Cabrera would’ve been a perfect fit and we
thought we would get him even though we knew it would be a round too early, but
as mentioned above, he went even earlier than we were willing to reach for him.

Our pick: Kelly Johnson – we didn’t get the speed we wanted out of
our first middle infielder, but Johnson is a valuable package of decent power,
a little speed, solid average and a potentially high runs total atop an
improved Braves lineup. We ranked him 144th overall and got him 135th overall,
so it was a slight but reasonable reach; we think satellite ADP (154) underrates


Round 10

Best pick: Tim Lincecum went 141st (compared to our ranking of 114
and satellite ADP of 120), and Brett Myers went 148th (110 and 117). Two
excellent bargains at this point by any measure.

Worst pick: Jeff Francis went 150th overall, though satellite ADP
had him at 177 and we ranked him only 218th. No excuse for this one. Maybe it was an overreaction to missing out on Myers and Lincecum.

We wanted: DePirro wanted Lincecum here, and in hindsight I
probably should’ve been on board with that given the great value he would’ve
represented. But with Webb and Dice-K already onboard, and enough depth of number
three and four starters left to satisfy my tastes, I fought hard for who I
thought was one of three or four best available bats remaining…

Our pick: Edwin Encarnacion – like Johnson, he was a slight reach
with the 136th pick, since we ranked him 143 and satellite ADP was 145. But if
Dusty Baker doesn’t screw him up, I think he’s a lock for 22/80/10 if not more, and his
batting average upside could be considerable. A somewhat risky pick, but we
needed bats.


Round 11

Best pick: On pure value, Aaron Rowand was a pretty solid pick at 154th
overall, since we ranked him at 115 and his satellite ADP was 149. If he steals
more as promised, this could be a very nice pick. Or he could stink in that
ballpark. Good upside here though.

Worst pick: I know he’s a closer and all, but we and satellite ADP
both agreed on George Sherrill as exactly the 213th ranked player, but he still
went 161st overall. That’s a full three-round reach, friends. That’s not good.

We wanted: We hoped, we prayed, we dreamed, that one of Chad
Billingsley, Dustin McGowan, Adam Wainwright or even F*&^#$’ing Ted Lilly
would get to us here, but none did. McGowan and Wainwright went back-to-back
just three and two picks before us. I promise you that made the  Lincecum vs. Encarnacion decision that much more painfule, since both Longoria and Kouzmanoff lasted into the 12th round.

Our pick: Lastings Milledge – by his satellite ADP of 228, he’s a
ginormous reach here at number 165 overall. However, we think that
significantly undervalues him, and our rankings had him at 137 overall, so if he
makes good on his potential to approach 20/20, this might end up being a huge


Round 12

Best pick: Our rankings smile on the selections here of Carlos
Marmol at 176 (vs. our 87, based on the big assumption that he’s the Cubs
closer) and Oliver Perez at 166 (vs. our 108, based on the assumption that he doesn’t

Worst pick: Sure, closers were going fast, but there’s no
justification for Troy Percival at 169, compared to satellite ADP of 211 and our
ranking of 275.

We wanted: Billingsley, McGowan or Wainwright. Not getting one of
the three of them in the 11th round might be our single biggest disappointment
of the entire draft.

Our pick: Jered Weaver – at worst, he’s a decent innings eater as
our #3. If he improves even somewhat from last year, which we think he will
since he’s only 26, he’s a very reasonable pick here at 166th overall. Our
ranking of 146 says decent bargain, satellite ADP of 173 says fair value. Still, would you rather have Lincecum and Kouzmanoff, or Encarnacion and Weaver? That’s how the math ended up for us.


Round 13

Best pick: Kosuke Fukudome at 188, a big drop from our ranking of 154
and satellite ADP of 153. Should provide double-digit homers and steals for a
bargain price.

Worst pick: Austin Kearns at 192, compared to our 224 ranking and
his 247 satellite ADP. Why reach for this guy, even if they’re moving to a
better stadium? Did he start taking HGH?

We wanted: Fukudome or Zack Greinke, who went the pick right before
ours, just like McGowan and Wainwright.

Our pick: Bronson Arroyo – he rebounded in the second half last
year and should end up with similar numbers to Greinke, but obviously without
as much upside. We took him at 195 compared to satellite ADP of 210, but our
rankings had him at 149, so it’s a good gamble in our view.


Round 14

Best pick: Chien-Meng Wang went at 204 vs. our 176 ranking and
satellite ADP of 158. He better win 18 games again though.

Worst pick: I wouldn’t have gone for Tom Gorzelanny at 196 (us 257,
ADP 226), Chris Duncan at 201 (us 248, ADP 245) or even Jay Bruce at 198 (us 311,
ADP 271), not with DustTowlesy Baker and Corey Patterson in town.

We wanted: A catcher and/or speed. Or maybe both!

Our pick: J.R. Towles – Kevin Goldstein will kill me for passing on
Geovanny Soto, but I wanted the few extra steals Towles (right) will get, and at 196th overall,
he was a reasonable pick compared to his satellite ADP of 200, and especially since
we had him ranked at 163.


Round 15

Best pick: I still have playing time concerns about Joba
Chamberlain and Jared Saltalamacchia, but by any reasonable standards they were
bargains with the 212th and 218th overall picks.

Worst pick: Scott Baker (221st overall), Jason Giambi (222) and Carlos
Gomez (224) all have their merits, but all went three rounds too early.

We wanted: A middle infielder and/or speed, or Geovanny Soto if we
got a second chance at him, which we didn’t. Stephen Drew went a few picks
before us too; he’s not great but should get 10 or so steals.

Our pick: Jhonny Peralta – I don’t stardom is a realistic
expectation any longer, but he should go .270/20/70 again and that’s well above average
for a shortstop. He was also a fine bargain at 225 overall, compared to both satellite
ADP (178) and our ranking (191).

* * *

So that’s how the first half of the draft went. I’d love to type more tonight but I’m exhausted! I’ll recap the second half tomorrow, with projected standings and some final thoughts. Enjoy!


MLB Park Factors

Our fantasy hamsters are busy spinning their activity wheel to produce a nice MLB Park Factors page, but the real 411 insiders know to get it here on the blog, so 
here it is!

What do these numbers mean, how did we determine them? Glad you asked!

* We added up the batting stats compiled by the home team in all games in their home ballpark over the past three seasons (2006-07 for the new Busch Stadium), PLUS the stats compiled by their opponents in those games;

* Then, we added up the batting stats for each team and their opponents in their road games… that is to say, we took all Diamondbacks home batting stats (plus their opponents in home games) and compared them to their road batting stats (plus their opponents in road games);

* Next, we pro-rated all stats over 1,000 plate appearances so we’d be comparing the frequency of events on a per-plate-appearance basis, rather than simply counting up to see where something happened the most, which could be skewed if hitters had more PA’s in one ballpark than another;

* Then, we divided the prorated home stats by the prorated road stats to determine an index for each stat category. Keep in mind that some ballparks may increase production in one category, but decrease it in others, so providing only a single value isn’t a great way to determine the influence of each park on offensive production.

The numbers provided here are “simple” park factors, meaning that these numbers are not adjust edfor strength of schedule. That is, the Pirates may play the Red Sox in interleague play while the Cardinals play the Orioles, and the relative strength of those opponents will somewhat skew the frequency with which different offensive events occur. Our friends at Baseball Prospectus do this, which results in some slightly different numbers, but for basic fantasy purposes the “simple” method is still very useful and telling.

Here’s a for instance… the Chase Field HR factor is 114, meaning the Diamondbacks and their opponents hit 14% more homers in Chase Field over the past three years than they did on the road. And while Fenway Park is actually not a good homer park (83), it increases doubles (135) more than enough to offset that, making it a good offensive park overall in terms of runs per game (108) and OPS (102).

Another interesting tidbit is the effect of parks on stolen base attempts and success rate… note that many of the parks perceived as bad hitters’ parks have above-average rates of stolen base attempts, perhaps as teams attempt to compensate for the tougher environment by running more. But what’s also interesting is that (with smaller variation than other stats, but still) some parks lead to higher SB success rates that others… for instance, PNC Park saw 3% more SB attempts than road games, but allowed 8% less in terms of success rate. What causes this? Infield types? Different types of materials? Wet track? I wonder how we can find out more about this to figure out where our sleeper basestealers would come from…

OK, that’s it, enjoy. Looking forward to reading questions and comments!


Preseason Picks

As heard on Monday’s 411 Preview Show, here are Mike and Cory’s sleeper and bust picks for ’08!


C     J.R. Towles
1B    James Loney
2B    Rickie Weeks
SS    Michael Young
3B    Pedro Feliz
OF    Matt Kemp
OF    Jason Bay
OF    Carlos Quentin
SP    Matt Cain
SP    Oliver Perez
RP    B.J. Ryan


C     Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B   Carlos Pena
2B   Howie Kendrick
SS   Yuniel Escobar
3B   Mike Lowell
OF   Magglio Ordonez
OF   Corey Hart
OF   Josh Hamilton
SP   Fausto Carmona
SP   James Shields
RP   Jose Valverde


C    Dioner Navarro
1B   Adam LaRoche
2B   Howie Kendrick
SS   Julio Lugo
3B   Edwin Encarnacion
OF  Franklin Gutierrez
OF  Jason Kubel
OF  Luke Scott
SP  Dustin McGowan
SP  Zack Greinke
RP  Eric Gagne


C    Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B   Adrian Gonzalez
2B   Placido Polanco
SS   Edgar Renteria
3B   Mike Lowell
OF   Manny Ramirez
OF   Hideki Matsui
OF   Vernon Wells
SP   Roy Oswalt
SP   Roy Halladay
RP   Chad Cordero 


Interview with Cory

Here’s a gripping interview with Cory (that’s me) that was posted today on, the daily blog portion of Baseball Digest Daily:



Hold Off Till Later!

I’m in a 12 team roto league with 4 relief pitching spots and counts holds and saves. Where do you draft Top setup pitchers like Betancourt, Broxton, Bell and Okajima? If top Closers Papelbon, Putz, K-Rod and Nathan get drafted in the top 7 rounds, where should I be looking to draft for holds?

Thanks for the advice
Mike from Hamilton


Although it’s important to have two reliable middle relievers in this format, here’s why you don’t overpay for the “top” names:

2007 MAJOR LEAGUE HOLDS LEADERS  (2006 total in parenthesis) 

2.  Heath Bell   34  (0)

3.  Jon Rauch   33   (18)

5.  Jonathan Broxton   32   (12)

6.  Rafael Betancourt   31  (7)

10.  Ryan Franklin   25     (8)

These five guys all ranked in the top 10 in holds last year, but their 2006 totals are less than impressive.  Now some of this can be attributed to a significant hike in innings from ’06 to ’07 (Bell’s IP almost tripled), but the point I’m trying to make is that while saves are somewhat predictable (a closer is a closer), holds vary greatly from year to year.  Sure, selecting a name brand middle reliever gives you a better chance at piling up holds, but I’d much sooner wait and take a player with good WHIP and K numbers who figures to get plenty of late inning opportunities.  Continue to prioritize closers, and wait until at least the middle rounds (12 at earliest) before even thinking about middle relief.

Zach Steinhorn,