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Sunday, March 15, 2009

No Shields For Errors

Today was our fantasy baseball draft, and Rea is walking away pretty happy, having come away with a very good draft. I'm slightly more concerned, but overall I'm in better shape than most teams, coming away with four closers in a 14-team league and a very solid lineup. I had the third pick in the draft, and not being a fan of Reyes, took David Wright; here's my entire team, with round and pick:
Pos. /Pos. Player TEAM [Round/Pick]

C Victor Martinez CLE [7/87]
1B Lance Berkman HOU [2/26]
2B /SS Mike Aviles KC [9/115]
SS Michael Young TEX [8/110]
3B David Wright NYM [1/3]
OF Jason Bay BOS [3/31], Alex Rios TOR [5/59], Andre Ethier LAD [11/143]
Util 1B-3B Jorge Cantu FLA [12/166], OF David Murphy TEX [20/278]

CL Brad Lidge PHI [4/54], Carlos Marmol CHC [6/82], Frank Francisco TEX [10/138], Troy Percival TB [13/171]
RP Hong-Chi Kuo LAD [17/227], Jensen Lewis CLE [18/250], Grant Balfour TB [19/255]
SP Fausto Carmona CLE [14/194], John Maine NYM [15/199], Jeremy Guthrie BAL [16/222], Carl Pavano CLE [21/283], and Jesse Litsch TOR (undrafted - replaced Asdrubal Cabrera [22/306])
Before I get slammed for the lack of starting pitching... I knew I'd be getting Wright at #3, and thought I'd have a chance to take Cole Hamels at 26. He was taken early in the second round, however, and with Berkman on the board, I couldn't pass him up. Unfortunately Manny and Brandon Phillips were picked on the turn, so I took Jason Bay, giving me a nice hitting core of Wright, Berkman, and Bay.

Weirdly, people started taking closers near the end of the third round. I'd been hoping to start a run with my 4th round pick by taking Papelbon at 54 and Lidge at 59. Instead, I took Lidge at 54 and with no other top-line closers left, took Rios at 59. That's about when things started to get a little nuts, with marginal SSs like Jeter and Peralta getting taken through the 5th and 6th rounds. I took Marmol near the end of the 6th and, after being forced to decide when the guy on the end passed on Mauer, decided to take Martinez (who should play more and have more power) over Mauer. I also knew I had plenty of time to get the pitchers I was targeting or thinking about: Kazmir perhaps not, but certainly Shields, Cliff Lee, even Oswalt was still there. Right? RIGHT?

Wrong! Kazmir was the next pick. Two picks after that, to my shock and dismay, went Shields. Gallardo, Oswalt, and Lee were taken later in the round. By the time we got back to my 8th round pick, I had nobody worth picking besides Michael Young (as I needed a SS), and then took Aviles to start the 9th to finish my infield. The next set of pitchers I had any interest in I still had plenty of time to get - most drafts had them going between Rounds 14 and 18 - so I took a third closer in Francisco and chose Ethier (with Manny in the lineup) over Hawpe (without Holliday) in the 11th. Then, halfway into Round 12, Rea - already with Santana AND Peavy - takes Chris Young, the pitcher. A couple of players later goes Ricky Nolasco. My next two picks were gone, and I still had NO starting pitchers.

By now I was screwed, so there was no point in reaching for unwanted starters - I took Cantu and Percival, giving me a strong utility and good insurance at 1b and 3b, and putting me ahead of the league with four closers. After that, it was just finding possible steals and relievers with low WHIPs and high K rates or people who could close potentially. Lastly, I wanted a 4th OF to be my other Util and I wanted Kelly Shoppach as insurance for Martinez. Of course, Yahoo glitched right at my pick and automatically took Pavano, and Rea picked up Shoppach a few picks later.

All in all, my hitting is probably among the most solid in the league, and my bullpen is far and away the strongest. My starting pitching is on the weaker side, though with selectivity it can be good enough to get by until people need to trade for a closer or two or until an up-and-comer appears. Last year I had some of the best pitching despite injuries to Carmona and Young by picking up guys to spot start (Cliff Lee, Jorge Campillo, etc.) and then trading those for other players. As we've seen many times in our league, the draft is far less meaningful than the in-season moves, so we'll see what happens...! It'd be nice to take first this year after coming in a distant second last year.

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