NFBC draft recap

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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.

 


Grady.jpgRound 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.

 


Gordon.jpgRound 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.

 


Bedard.jpgRound 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!

 

Thanks,

Cory

 

22 Comments

Nice job Cor. I hate having to adjust when someone takes a targeted player just before me. I joined my first ever N.L. only (10tm, 5×5, roto) and we drafted Fri. night. I’m pretty happy with my team, however your projections have me finishing a surprising and disappointing 5th. Like to see what the crew thinks.

1.10 Tulo
2.1 Broxton
3.10 McCann
4.1 Ethier
5.10 LaRoche, Adam
6.1 Wandy
7.10 Uggla
8.1 A. Escobar
9.10 Cantu
10.1 Blanks
11.10 Coughlan
12.1 Dotel
13.10 Latos
14.1 Sanchez, Jon
15.10 Milledge
16.1 Sanchez, Gaby
17.10 Ohlendorf
18.1 Gwynn
19.10 Volstad
20.1 Sherrill
21.10 Ryan, Brenden
22.1 DeWitt
23.10 Kennedy, Ian
24.1 Hundley
25.10 Dickerson
26.1 Correia
27.10 Runzler
28.1 Johnson, Reed

Thanks, Casey

Thanks, Cory!
I love writeups that give a look at the thought process behind each pick.

Sorry you missed out on Hamels and Nolasco… Billingsley is a nice consolation prize in the 6th.

Chris Spencer – FantasyBaseballTradeMarket.com

It’s an interesting lineup from the standpoint of power. There are no superstar bangers. Instead the power is spread out with every position capable of hitting 20+, and a few will likely hit 30. It’s also a perfect example of the 411 pitching philosophy – you can build a strong rotation without spending your early picks on high profile starters. Nice execution!
Allan in San Antonio

Interesting to read. In reviewing the draft, team #9 certainly seemed like a wild card, with his top two picks being catchers (Mauer and Martinez), followed by three pitchers (including two relievers), then Beltran.

outstanding, well-written and transparent,k Cory….thank u!

good luck today!

– J from Bowling Green

Hey Cory – Ryan Carey here – your facilitator from yesterday – great job at the draft and great recap of your thought process.

Folks – I was there calling out the picks the guys made – it was an interesting draft as a couple of owners threw some curve ball strategies out there early. One guy opened with Mauer, V Mart, Grienke, Broxton and Soria as his first 5 picks – an exotic opening 5 for an NFBC Main Event. Cory stayed with his game plan and at quick glance he’ll definitely be in the running again this year.

I drafted my 12 team league afterward and Cory – I also ended up with McLouth – who slid too far in my draft as well – I selected him at 13.4!! I couldn’t pass him up at that point either and agree with your take on him even though I gave you some playful ribbing at the draft when you took him. Other team Cory players on my squad – Prado, R Wells, B Myers and Alex Gordon who I stole in Rd 26!

Thanks for being a good sport – it was my first time ever running a draft and having you and Mike there as well as the Mastersball guys Todd Zola and Lawr Michaels was a real treat. Good luck this season.

Cory –

Since I pull my hair out worrying about who will get picked before my turn in our 12 team league (as I lost Rollins one pick before my 2nd round turn – settled for Reynolds who feel to me)…..I cant imagine the mindset and anxiety of 15 team league and seeing how deep into the rankings you must go just to fill the squad, let alone account for production, etc.

Yeoman’s effort from you and Mike on this. Best wishes toward your back-to-back Yoohoo Showers in 2010. While I have finished in the money, 4 out of the last 5 years, I only have 1 championship (flags do fly forever though) to date…so I am gunning for my 2nd title in 2010.

Thanks and appreciation to the whole Fantasy411 team with your collective feedback and input, also, really looking forward to the TV series on MLB this season.

– BDH in DC

A good draft, but it feels like you were scripting a lot.

I like to have a good idea of the player pool and the general plan for building the squad, but whenever I go into a draft looking for specific players I tend to reach for them or pass on better values that have fallen in the veteran player pool.

Individual drafts and player performance vs valuation tend to be so volatile that carrying concrete plans often results in less than ideal team construction.

Best of luck this year (and congrats on the show! I’ll be watching).

A good draft, but it feels like you were scripting a lot.

I like to have a good idea of the player pool and the general plan for building the squad, but whenever I go into a draft looking for specific players I tend to reach for them or pass on better values that have fallen in the veteran player pool.

Individual drafts and player performance vs valuation tend to be so volatile that carrying concrete plans often results in less than ideal team construction.

Best of luck this year (and congrats on the show! I’ll be watching).

Luke, you are right that I did script things a bit, but it was based on the idea of players as “tiers”… that is, I viewed Adam LaRoche as the last acceptable 1B, so once I reached the point where I didn’t think I’d get another shot to take him, I took him. Same for Gordon, Qualls, Iannetta and a couple of others. I valued LaRoche somewhere around the midde of the 10th round, but that meant he wouldn’t get back to me at 10.14, which in turn dictated that I take him at 9.2. This can be construed as “reaching” to a certain extent, but the further you get from the top, the more valuation becomes subjective and lines between 10th and 11th round players (for example) get blurred. It’s basically an extension of the Bill James “pyramid” theory

Note however that I did improv a little at times, particularly with McLouth in the 8th… when the guys I had targeted for that round were no longer available, I took a guy who I perceived as having slipped far enough that I couldn’t ignore the value.

* * *

Chris, you’re right, I’m bummed to not have gotten Hamels or Nolasco; I could’ve taken either at 5.2 (after Papelbon at 4.14), but I gambled that one would be available at 6.14, and in fact I did one mock where I got them both at the 6/7 turn. Billingsley-Garza-Weaver is not the top three I planned, but in essence I traded down one notch in those three to get Ethier’s bat, a big upgrade over whatever other OF may have been on the board in the 11th, when I took Weaver.

Thanks,
Cory

Ryan, thanks for the comments and for doing an awesome job as the facilitator… not sure that’s the right word though, you were the point man for what was a very smooth draft. Team 9 was definitely the wild card; I’ve never seen someone go 10 picks with 2 C’s, 4 P’s and 4 OF’s before… we’ll see how that works out. Gotta admit I’m jealous he got Broxton-Soria, the tandem I was hoping for!

Thanks,
Cory

I didn’t realize you were scripting by tiers (as I often do) as opposed to specific players.

My biggest pitfalls on draft day are falling in love with specific players (to the point of taking them too early to retain upside or passing on superior players that fall) and treating all projections equally — you just can’t treat a projection for BJ Upton or Dice-K with the same certainty as Torii Hunter and Derek Lowe, but I often find myself doing so on draft day.

Cory –

Thoughts on C. Hart bounce back. I passed on McClouth (hindsight I probably shouldnt have) but waiver wire holds Diaz, LaPorta, Byrd right now as options.

Also, do you think C.B. Young figures it out in ARI this year?

I posted my lineup from the draft in Zach’s NL-only auction thread. Your thoughts/feedback would be appreciated.

thanks –

BDH in DC

Hey guys,

Was great to see Cory and Mike at the draft Saturday. I had pick 14 in league 4.

I got Cole Hamels in round 8 of my draft. I liked that pick and like even mor now knowing Cory was looking to get him in the 6th but he was already gone.

I also grabbed Chad Qualls and got him in the 12th. Would love to know what you guys think of my team. If you get a chance please give my team alook. I posted it on my blog at: http://jerseyhitman.mlblogs.com/

Casey,

Wandy/Sanchez are my 1-2 SPs in one of my NL-onlys as well so of course I like that. Solid hitting and nice job with the closers. The rest of the rotation is a little shaky but in an NL-only starting pitching is the least difficult position to fill off the wire. I think you’ll do just fine.

Zach

Interesting write-up on the draft. It looks like a pretty solid team. I’m in a 10-team mixed 5X5 keeper league. We had our draft a week ago and guys are already tinkering with their teams. A few guys now available as free agents caught my eye. Would you drop JJ Hardy to pick up Ian Desmond now that he’s won the starting job? What about grabbing Lastings Milledge and dropping Franklin Gutierrez? Both Hardy and Gutierrez are bench guys so I’m looking at upside here. What would you do in this case. Thanks — Jay

Joe, I’m jealous you got Papelbon and Hamels in the 6th and 8th respectively! I could’ve taken Hamels/Nolasco at the top 5th but that gamble didn’t work out, so in the net result I traded Hamels (5.2) and Pence (7.2) for Ethier (4.14) and Garza (7.2), figuring that I still would’ve taken Papelbon at 4.14, plus Billingsley (6.14) and Weaver (11.2) as my #2 and 3 starters.

That’s a deal that could pay out but I admit I would rather have had the other half. Of course, the future is unwritten so who knows what would’ve happened had I taken Papelbon/Hamels at the 4/5 turn… we’ll know for sure on October 4!

–Cory

Jay,

I’d make the Hardy for Desmond pickup (upside factor) but hold onto Gutierrez. Milledge may turn out to be the better player in the long run but that’s just speculation. Gutierrez is the more complete player right now. He offers both power and speed and also carries a decent amount of upside.

Zach

Cory,

Having only once played in a league this deep (and having it be auction format), I have a question on when you need to play it safe, vs. going for upside. I don’t have any issue with what you did up till pick 11.02, but at that point is when I would probably roll the dice a little. You didn’t see fit to do so. Being a J. Weaver owner from last year, I see his value. He’s a solid pitcher, but I might have gone with Scherzer, Slowey or even Liriano in that spot. Sure, they all come with risk, but they all have far greater upside than a rather pedestrian Weaver can give you there. If you wanted to play it safe, why not Dempster with that pick or am I splitting hairs?

Why not Chipper over Alex Gordon? In this case you did the opposite, went with upside over safety, but Chipper is like the Erik Bedard of hitters. Even if Gordon makes the lineup every day, he could give you 500 AB’s of .240.

Finally, why Wells vs. Cueto, Santana or Harang? You specifically mention Harang as someone you didn’t want, but the K/BB ratio is still solid for Harang, the K’s are going to be miles above what Wells can give you and you know you are getting 200 IP with Harang. I don’t know why, but maybe Harang is my version of Encarnacion. I just see something like 14-10, 3.90, 1.30, 190 for that guy. I don’t think Wells has the potential to give that to you, certainly not the K’s.

These are my only gripes. Other than that, a great plan, great execution and best of luck this year!

Topshelf, thanks for the feedback. In a nutshell:

1. I agree that this is about as good as it gets with Weaver, but without a true ace I’m less likely to gamble on a big upside guy who might in turn blow up in my face. Scherzer has command issues and could wilt under Jim Leyland as E-Jax did last year; Slowey is coming off injury and in my view comparable to Weaver, and Liriano has never topped 140 IP in a season, never mind the fact that he was horrendous last year. I would’ve gone for any of those guys as my #4, but not my #3.

2. Chipper will probably hit for better average and a little more pop than Gordon, but Gordon will chip in 10-12 steals in a mostly full season, which gives him the edge. I should point out the irony that you didn’t like the “safe” pick at 11.2 but don’t like the “upside” pick at 13.2, either. :-)

3. I think Cueto, Santana and Harang are just as likely to blow up this year as have big years. Like Weaver, I don’t think Wells is going to get much better than we’ve seen, but I’m less concerned about his blow-up risk.

No doubt there are always chances to second-guess picks, particularly in terms of timing, but on a player-vs.-player comparison I’m comfortable with these guys over what I left on the board.

Thanks!
Cory

Cory,

Your rationale makes sense and I’m sure if it was my money on the line, I’d think twice instead of just risking up my portfolio, but here’s a question for you. If you get a typical Randy Wells season, 11-11, 4.30, 1.33, 145K’s, and he doesn’t kill you, that’s great, but can that win you the league? Maybe it can win you the 15 team tier that you are in if you don’t have any blow ups, but I’ve always thought that you need to be ultra safe with the first 10 players on your roster and then you need to get outperformance from the remainder to win the league, especially the national version. If Wells just delivers as expected, is that good enough? Don’t you need these bottom rung players to greatly OUT perform in order for you to succeed? I guess you can make the argument that if you were to sub out Scherzer for Weaver and Liriano for Wells, and one panned out while the other one did not, then the net effect is zero so what have you gained?

I’m not being critical of your approach at all, you certainly know more about these things than I do, but it just goes against what I have always done in drafts (Safe for the first 8-12 rounds, slightly higher risk/reward over the last half).

By the way, I’m actually a Gordon fanboy. I’ve owned him every year since 2007, which I guess accounts for the anti-Gordon bias this year. I just know that with my hatred, he’ll work out just fine for your NFBC team this year, and I’ll hate him even more for it next year. Funny how Siano’s man crush can be another person’s DTM.

-Evan

I expect better than that from Randy Wells, more like a 3.80-3.90 ERA and a WHIP around 1.25 or 1.28, but that’s nit-picking. In any case, my real goal with SP’s is based more on “do no harm” than anything else, and I don’t think any of the guys I drafted will truly blow up, and if they do, I don’t have so much invested that I can’t move on to the next thing.

Thanks,
Cory

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