NFBC recap – 3/21/09
Well folks I haven’t been around the blog much lately since I’ve been doing my NFBC prep, and today was the day. If you like short and concise blog posts, look elsewhere… here comes the detailed breakdown for my afternoon with Siano. I picked 13th out of 15, so I’m presenting the picks in pairs here since that’s how we planned them:
1/2 — I was hoping Chase Utley would fall to me at 13 but not really counting on it, so I figured I’d get Ryan Howard and then follow up with Upton or Crawford. However, neither of them made it to me, and neither did backup option Mark Teixeira. By ADP the best player left was Josh Hamilton but I opted for my highest-ranked player, B.J. Upton (who I believe will start the season on the DL but only miss one week and otherwise will be fine). Wanting to start with a 1B/OF pair, I considered Lance Berkman with my next pick but opted for the young upside of Prince Fielder, who I had ranked 16th overall.
3/4 — My plan here was to drop a 411-style bomb on the draft and go with Russell Martin and Brian McCann with back-to-back picks, creating an elite tandem at a weak position and forcing others to scramble to pick up duff catchers. However, McCann went to Team 10, but I was still able to get Martin, and I complemented him with my “Plan B” pick, the Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino.
5/6 — My plan here was to take the best available closer, figuring the top ones would have been drafted earlier in the round, and then take Derek Jeter. I wanted Francisco Rodriguez but he went at 5.08, so I took Joe Nathan… very happy with that. By ADP I figured Jeter to be a 7th rounder but in my rankings he was a late 5th/early 6th, so in my view I got him at exactly fair value. Through six picks, we are 100% dead on plan.
7/8 — The plan was to take either another closer or the best available SP, depending on the options, and then an outfielder like Jason Werth or Lastings Milledge. Jose Valverde went at 7.01 but I was very happy to get Jonathan Broxton at 7.13 (Brian Fuentes went at 8.05). Having taken Victorino at 4.03, I no longer wanted a 2nd OF, so I took my top-shelf 2nd catcher, Chris Iannetta (right). By ADP he’s a mid-9th rounder, but I had him ranked 100th overall and took him at 108th.
(There was a big debate over this pick on my Facebook page, whether or not I should’ve taken any catcher this high, much less two in my first eight picks. This is an old school 411 tactic that long-time fans should know.)
9/10 — The plan here was a pitcher and then Kelly Johnson, if he lasted, since I missed out on Utley. However, 411 favorite Edwin Encarnacion was still on the board and I was feeling thin on power, so I decided to go for him instead, figuring Johnson had a better chance of lasting to my next pair of picks than did Edwin. Plus, not having taken an SP yet I needed to take at least three more and quickly, so if I had to take one bat over the other, I wanted Edwin. Potential targets Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester and Brett Myers all went after our 7/8 picks, so I went for last year’s 2nd half stud Ricky Nolasco.
11/12 — Kelly Johnson was STILL on the board, but SP’s were starting to go more quickly so I stuck to the plan and grabbed what I felt was the best available pair: Matt Garza and Jered Weaver. Adam Wainwright, John Danks and Ted Lilly had all gone off the board since my last pair of picks so I felt these were the two next best guys. Weaver is particularly underrated in my opinion… some may recall I had him on my NFBC team last season and I’ve never seen a pitcher have such bad luck and have so many cheap grounders get through for hits. He’s still young enough to break through.
13/14 — I gambled correctly when I passed on Johnson to taking Encarnacion, and sure enough Johnson lasted to my 11/12 picks. But since I needed SP’s so dearly, I gambled one more time that Johnson would make it to me at 13.13… and he nearly did. Unfortunately though he went at 13.10 I started to look for outfielders instead, but then Shin-Soo Choo went the pick before me, so I grabbed another solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez. I still needed a 2B and had my eyes set on Felipe Lopez, but I figured I could wait on him, and Adam LaRoche was the best power bat left who wasn’t DH-only (i.e., Thome) or an average killer (Giambi or Cust) so I took him instead. By ADP I expected he may have lasted to the 16th or 16th round, but on value I felt he was worth a 10th or 11th round pick so I grabbed him.
15/16 — Oops. Lopez went at 15.02, so I was officially digging deep for a 2nd baseman, and I still needed outfield help. Jeremy Hermida went at 15.09, so I went for what I felt were the two best available: Ryan Spilborghs and Jason Kubel. I said to Siano that these were essentially the make-or-break picks of the draft, because if they put up numbers consistent with my expectations, they’ll be solid values here and I’ll have a strong outfield. If not, I’m toast. Then again, my 4/5 outfielders last year were Pie and Maybin so I’m already doing better with this group!
17/18 — I got my 2nd baseman in Alexi Casilla (below), who if healthy could hit .290 and steal 25 or more bags, so I’m happy with him at this point even though I wasn’t really targeting him. I then took Manny Corpas, figuring he’ll win the closer job over abysmal Huston Street, but even if not he’s a solid setup reliever and closer-in-waiting. Yes, the road to 5th place is lined with those, but I already have Nathan and Broxton, so Corpas can give me value even without the saves.
19/20 — Needing a middle infielder and a fifth starter I targeted Mike Fontenot and Bronson Arroyo, figuring both would easily get to me. Notsomuch. Arroyo went at 19.09 and Fontenot at 19.12, the pick right before me… missed them by thatmuch! Instead I took Joe Saunders and fifth outfielder Cody Ross, who should provide decent pop and a few steals as the Marlins’ everyday left fielder.
21/22 — Just looking for best-available and upside here… Colby Rasmus as my utility guy and Asdrubal Cabrera as my middle infielder. Rasmus could actually be a key player for me if he does his Jim Edmonds-with speed act: .260-20-70 with 10-12 steals would be a huge value at this point in the draft. We were set to take John Smoltz to build pitching depth but he went the pick before us at 21.12.
23/R1 — Pitching depth since we didn’t get Smoltz. Rehabbing Kelvim Escobar, who is ahead of schedule and may return by May or June, and tarnished prospect Homer Bailey, who is having an outstanding spring and may yet make good on his once elite prospectdom.
R2/R3 — With my 2nd reserve pick I stashed away the best minor league bat who might make an impact later this year, a la Longoria last year or Pence in ’07: Matt LaPorta. Then I picked up power sinkerballer Justin Masterson, who is deep on the Red Sox depth chart but could still log plenty of valuable innings. Great arms find roles.
R4/R5 — Took a shot here on David Aardsma, who is having a strong spring, in hopes he might steal the Mariners closer job. If so, we get dirt-cheap saves… if not, we cut him. Then we picked up Lyle Overbay, in case LaRoche gets off to another awful start and I need a plug-in for a month.
R6/R7 — Wilson Betemit, who I think will get ple
nty of at-bats all over the diamond for the White Sox, and who I think is a good longshot gamble to steal away the 2nd base job from Getz but before Beckham arrives. Then we added one more high-ceiling prospect arm in James McDonald to wrap things up.
So what does it all mean?
Well, one of my goals was to follow my projections and trust my rankings, which I did (thanks to Siano for keeping me focused). I wanted to emphasize young guys with upside where are in or entering their prime, and only five of my 30 picks are 30 years or older; a full half of them are between the prime ages of 25 and 28. Finally, I wanted to get back to the 411 style of drafting… get a big bullpen, pair up two top catchers, and take some chances on starting pitching. As a result, I have a team that I think can win my league, if all of my young players approach or exceed my expectations, but one that could finish near the bottom if they’re not ready for prime time.
In any case, here is my draft recap spreadsheet, with three tabs:
1. Pick-by-pick results, with my projections for each player.
2. “Opening day” 23-man rosters for each team, using the first group of players picked for each team that would make a legal roster. That is, some teams didn’t draft catchers or fifth outfielders until the reserve rounds, so I took the first 23 players that could make a legal roster regardless of the order in which they were picked.
3. Projected standings based on these rosters. Yes, I project my team to win, but of course there is a selection bias here… I picked players that I think are good and will produce. Still, it’s nice to get that positive validation!
Well, that’s it for tonight… 411 Listener League is on Thursday, a nice easy 12-team mixed, which is a break after the grueling 15-team NFBC format. Then it’s NL Tout Wars over the weekend, a scratch auction that is incredibly challenging but enjoyable.
Now that my team’s put together let’s get to some baseball!!