NFBC draft recap
Today was my fifth NFBC draft, and my second as a defending champ.
I had the second pick, which was my first choice in KDS, gambling that Albert Pujols would go first and I would get Hanley Ramirez next, which is who I wanted all along. After a nervous week due to Pujols’ back ache, he ended up going first overall and I got Hanley second. With trusty wingman Mike Siano at my side, here’s how the rest of the picks went…
Round 2.14 – I was hoping for Brandon Phillips but he went a few picks earlier so I took Dustin Pedroia instead, trading a few homers and steals for more runs and a better average.
Round 3.2 – The original plan was for Jayson Werth, but he went at 2.10, almost a full round ahead of where I expected he would. As a result Grady Sizemore slipped to me, about a half-round after I thought he would, so I grabbed him. Similar to the Phillips/Pedroia tradeoff, I sacrificed a little power for more runs and a steals; he’s healthy again and should put up numbers worthy of a much earlier pick. Through three rounds I project 72 homers and 78 steals, with a nearly .300 average and well over 300 runs, although I’m a little short in RBI’s.
Round 4.14 – I was targeting Jonathan Broxton and strongly considering following him with Jonathan Papelbon for a monster 411-style bullpen tandem, but Broxton went at 4.7. Figuring Team 1 would only take one of the two remaining elite closers, I opted to make up for some additional power with Andre Ethier.
Round 5.2 – Team 1 didn’t take either closer so I opted for Papelbon’s youth over Mariano Rivera‘s experience. Rivera went three picks later.
Round 6.14 – My hope was that Cole Hamels or Ricky Nolasco would be available here, and I was able to get one of them in most of my mock drafts; had both been on the board I would’ve tried to take them in tandem. Unfortunately both went earlier in this round, so I went for my highest rated remaining starter, Chad Billingsley.
Round 7.2 – Cliff Lee was awfully tempting here but the abdominal injury is very worrisome, so I opted for List of 12 favorite Matt Garza.
Round 8.14 – My plan was to take another pitcher here, hopefully a closer like Jose Valverde, Heath Bell or Joakim Soria, but the run on closers was well along and all three were gone, along with my intended #3 starter, Scott Baker. However, Nate McLouth (right) was still on the board, more than two rounds after I thought he would be gone, so I called an audible and picked him. Spring stats don’t count; like teammate Brian McCann did last year McLouth is still adjusting to new contact lenses, and I fully expect him to put up another 20-20 season, an absolute steal this late in the draft.
(Note that my first all eight players are all between the ages of 25 and 28, based on their age at the midpoint of the season on July 5.)
Round 9.2 – I considered Billy Wagner here as my #2 closer but gambled he would slip to my next pair of picks, and stuck to the plan by taking Adam LaRoche. He probably would not have gone for another round or so, but I doubt he would’ve been around for my next pick at 10.14, and I didn’t want to get stuck with a Paul Konerko or James Loney at first.
Round 10.14 – Wagner went a few picks after me in the ninth round, but my “safety valve” #2 closer Chad Qualls was still on the board so I grabbed him here. His knee has been healthy this spring so I expect 35 saves and an excellent WHIP.
Round 11.2 – I took my perceived best available starter, Jered Weaver, rejoining him with Garza and LaRoche in a mini-reunion from last year’s team.
Round 12.14 – I was targeting Mike Napoli, Ryan Doumit or Russell Martin here, and would’ve taken back-to-back catchers had the right tandem been available. Napoli had gone earlier, in the 10th round, and both Doumit and Martin went just before my pick, so I took my perceived next-best option, Chris Iannetta, another returnee from last year’s team. Jim Tracy‘s comments about splitting playing time between Iannetta and Miguel Olivo are certainly worrisome, but ultimately Iannetta is the better hitter and should win out.
Round 13.2 – My original plan was to take either Ryan Ludwick or Tim Hudson here, but Team 3 surprised me by taking them in the ninth and 10th rounds, respectively. I considered Rich Harden but didn’t want to take a #4 starter so soon, so I reached a round earlier than planned and took Siano’s mancrush, Alex Gordon (right). I know this is a big gamble, with him having missed most of spring training after missing most of last season, but I still believe in his upside and didn’t like most of the remaining third base options. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick.
Round 14.14 – I was planning on taking Lastings Milledge here, having no reason to even consider he would go earlier, but Team 9 stunned me by taking him later in the 13th round. I viewed the next-best outfield option as Mike Cameron, but didn’t want to take that batting average risk on top of guys like McLouth, Iannetta and Gordon, so I took Martin Prado for his average, runs and position flexibility. I don’t expect him to match last year’s home run output, but he should hit .300 and score a ton of runs batting second for the Braves.
(Note #2… that’s four straight picks between the ages of 26 and 27; my oldest player so far is the 31-year-old Qualls.)
Round 15.2 – With Prado as a counter-balance, I took Cameron as planned… finally, an old guy! Sure he’s in decline, but he’s moving into a strong offensive environment, so I can live with the .250 average as long as I get the expected 20 homers and 10 steals.
Round 16.14 – I didn’t want to take Joe Blanton or Aaron Harang, so I gambled on youth and upside by taking Phil Hughes as my fourth starter. He probably won’t throw more than 150 innings or so, and tanked as a starter last year, but if the hype about his improved changeup is true he should be a reasonable pick here.
Round 17.2 – Some mancrushes never die. Edwin Encarnacion will be on my NFBC team once again and this is the year he breaks through: he’s 27, has averaged 26 homers per 162 games over his last two seasons, and should be healthy in time for the start of the season. I can always dream, can’t I?
Round 18-14 – In what has become my NFBC tradition, I once again took a third reliever in the 18th round, this time presumed Twins closer Jon Rauch. I would have preferred Chris Perez or Jason Frasor but both had gone in the 16th round, so I was pleased and surprised to find Rauch still available here, figuring he’ll at least split saves with Matt Guerrier if not win the job outright.
Round 19.2 – Randy Wells isn’t a special pitcher, and isn’t going to be one, but he should be a relatively safe option as my fifth starter.
Round 20.14 – Let no one say I don’t put my money where my mouth is, which I did here by taking Erik Bedard (right). I have no idea when he will pitch again for the Mariners, but I’m certain that when he does he’ll be very effective, with decent ERA and WHIP numbers plus a strikeout per inning. Remember, this is a 15-team league, making Bedard the equivalent of a reserve-round lottery pick in a vanilla 12-team league.
Round 21.2 – Not sure why Rafael Furcal and Orlando Cabrera were both still available here, but they were. I took Cabrera, even though he’s older, thanks to his better home ballpark and consistent, healthy track record.
Round 22.14 – David DeJesus is the prototypical fifth outfielder in a 15-team league: he’ll contribute a little in every category while being spectacular in none of them.
Round 23.2 – Even though the rules don’t require it, I prefer to complete a fully legal roster with my first 23 picks, so I took Nick Hundley as my second catcher. The batting average is worrisome, but he has pop and surprised with some speed last September.
Reserve 1.14 – The whole “DTM” thing is Siano’s attitude, not mine, so if you’ve got Bedard you might as well take Brett Myers also, the original owner of Club DTM. Even though he’s only 29 it’s possible arm is toast already, I’ll gamble on him as a reserve pick.
Reserve 2.2 – I just missed on Jason Motte as my closer of the future lottery ticket, so I took my second choice, Brandon League. I drafted Seattle’s closer, David Aardsma, in the reserve rounds last year also so let’s hope history repeats itself!
Reserve 3.14 – Matt Diaz looks like he’ll be the Braves everyday left fielder, with Melky Cabrera serving as the fourth outfielder, so I grabbed Diaz here. He’ll hit for average, chip in a handful homers, and even steal a few bases. If Gordon or Encarnacion starts the season on the DL, Diaz will make a useful replacement with Cabrera moving to the middle infield and Prado to the corner.
Reserve 4.2 – Another starting pitching gamble, Marlins righty Anibal Sanchez. He’s still only 26 so I’m hoping he follows the Josh Johnson path to success this year in his first full healthy season.
Reserve 5.14 – I generally grab at least one or two prospect bats in the reserve rounds, but the ones I liked were gone, so I went for another arm, Rays righty Jeremy Hellickson. After his meteoric rise through the minors, and his impressive spring cameo, he should be the first one to get the call if and when the Rays need another starter.
Reserve 6.2 – Dioner Navarro could replace Hundley if he returns to his 2008 form and Hundley’s average becomes too big a burden.
Reserve 7.14 – Couldn’t go without one prospect bat though, so I took Orioles third baseman Josh Bell. With fading veterans Miguel Tejada, Garrett Atkins and Ty Wigginton in front of him, he could see some action in the second half.
Based on my projections, my 23-man roster has me in a flat-footed tie with Team 15 for first place in this league, although several categories are very close. I have a few key injury risks, I could be shy in speed, and as usual my rotation is more about promise than results right now. But 22 of my 30 players are under the age of 30, and only two are older than 32, so there is plenty of upside in this group.
(Here’s the full pick-by-pick draft results, along with my player projections and projected standings:
2009 NFBC recap.xls)
Overall I was mostly able to execute my plan, and as we like to say, it’s better to have a bad plan and execute than no plan at all! Gotta get some sleep now… Tout Wars tomorrow!