It’s starting to feel a bit like Spring here in Portland. It’s still light outside when I get off of work, March Madness has invaded the Rose Garden, and tonight’s Frequinox party promises to be an intoxicatingly rhythmic ritual. But the surest sign of Spring for me is a live Fantasy Baseball Draft. After winning my keeper league last year, I was unsure if the league would stay together (we’re trying to save it, but we need more Umphreaks!) Still, I always like to play in a fresh new league each year, so I created the Cascadia Baseball League on Yahoo and recruited some friends and past rivals to compete. It’s a 12-team 5X5 Rotisserie League with deep rosters. We filled the last few slots just before the draft, and it looks like a competitive, talented group of players.
Over the past few weeks I’ve developed a pretty solid strategy in ESPN mock drafts. I aim for infielders early as there is much more depth in the OF and at SP. I try not to overvalue RPs. I look for positional flexibility where possible and I try not to get anybody who kills my batting average. Perhaps most important, I have learned to be flexible, because every draft is different and this one was full of surprises. I drafted from the #2 position, which I like better than #1, although I figured I might have to reach here and there when the guys I wanted wouldn’t last another 20 picks. By the end I was happy with my team, but it’s got a much different feel than some of my successful teams of seasons past.
Here’s my round-by-round recap:
1. David Wright 3B – I passed on Pujols thinking I had a better chance of landing a quality 1B later than a 3B.
2. Matt Holliday OF – Move to Oakland won’t hurt as much as some experts think. Considered Berkman, but wanted Holliday more.
3. Johan Santana SP – I never take a pitcher this early, but everybody else had two shots at him and passed. Who am I to turn down a gift?
4. Matt Kemp OF – Missed out on the top tier IFs, but there were some nice OF options here, and I’ll need 5 eventually.
5. Shane Victorino OF – Still too soon for Alexei Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, so I went for OF #3, who could approach Sizemore numbers.
6. Rafael Furcal SS – Hoping for a return to health. Best IF option available, unless I wanted to reach for Votto.
7. Francisco Liriano SP – In mock drafts, he was the first SP I would consider taking. Here he’s a solid #2.
8. Robinson Cano 2B – Big drop-off after Cano at 2B, glad he was still there. I’d love more consistency than last year.
9. Joakim Soria RP – Since my strategy was already out the window, why not take the last of the top-tier closers? (Yes, he’s that good!)
10. Yovani Gallardo SP – I struggled with this one, but as my 3rd SP already, I felt comfortable gambling on his upside.
11. Matt Wieters C – I am buying the hype, I guess. He’ll start in the minors, but I can still get a solid C for April later.
12. Justin Upton OF – Another high risk/high reward pick I wouldn’t have made if I didn’t already have quality options ahead of him.
13. Jorge Cantu 1B – Passing on Pujols, Berkman and Votto comes back to bite me here, let’s hope last year wasn’t a fluke.
14. Clayton Kershaw SP – Best of a quality bunch of young arms I could have taken here, including Morrow and Scherzer.
15. Brian Wilson RP – Should have more leads than last year, so another 40 saves is not out of the question.
16. Ryan Theriot MI – Furcal insurance, and good 3-category production this late. Gotta have at least one Cubbie, right?
17. Jim Thome UT – I never take DH-only guys, but I felt I needed the power boost and could afford the speed/average drag.
18. Joel Hanrahan RP – Bad teams win close when they win at all. No one else left on the board has a stronger hold on the job.
19. Cameron Maybin OF – Has job and opportunity, a break out would give me good trade leverage.
20. Ian Stewart CI – Will find ABs and make the most of them, but a healthy Helton could stand in the way.
21. Mike Pelfrey SP – Job is pretty secure and the team will win. More Ks could come.
22. Wandy Rodriguez SP – Same story as Pelfrey, but the Ks are already good.
23. Ramon Hernandez C – Could be good enough in Cincinnati to make Wieters’ performance irrelevant.
24. Casey Kotchman 1B – I don’t like not having a stud at 1B. Still young enough to break out in Atlanta.
25. Armando Galarraga SP – There’s usually good pitching on the waiver wire, so I like having a solid but disposable starter or two.
26. Jesse Litsch SP – See Galarraga, Armando. (Credit where it is due to ESPN’s Matthew Berry, my favorite Fantasy Sports Writer.)
27. Daniel Murphy OF – I’ll take a flier. There’s a reason the Mets didn’t feel the need to spend money on Manny.
28. Jose Arredondo RP – I always like to target a guy with good ratios and closer potential near the end of a draft. This is a last round steal!
Don’t worry, Sounds Good has not suddenly changed to a Sports Blog, I’ll be back to posting more music stuff soon. But I really enjoy the writing of Fantasy analysts like Berry (aka the Talented Mr. Roto) at ESPN, and Brandon Funston and Andy Behrens at Yahoo, so I thought I’d take a stab at doing their jobs. If only someone would pay me to do this!