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Musings on the 1st Annual BTB Readers' League Draft

On Wednesday, March 8, at 8:15 PM EST, I took part in a fantasy draft with Marc Normandin and a bunch of readers. This'll be an ol' "thought-process" type thing. I'll record what I think about each round, and why I made every pick that I did. At the same time, I'll talk about things I liked and things that I wouldn't have done. (If I didn't like it, you're probably onto something good.)

Here are the parameters:

  1. This is a 12-team league.
  2. The draft was a 25-round serpentine draft; the order goes back and forth every round.
  3. We're a 7x7 league with the following stats: H, R, RBI, BB, TB, SB, OPS for hitters, and IP, W, SV, ERA, K/9, K/BB, and WHIP for pitchers.
  4. The draft order was as follows:
Sons of Ed Sprague
Karate Explosion
Diamond Dawgs
The Slurves
The Slumpers (Me)
Nine Bill Muellers (a lie if I've ever seen one; he disappointingly took good players instead)
The DungenessDragons
Boston Stranglers (Marc)
Power Hour of Power
Statutory Apes (the best name, by far)
Academic All Stars
Death By Sexy

For the sake of privacy, user names will not be disclosed.

And so, the draft began...

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - David Ortiz
  2. Karate Explosion - Alex Rodriguez
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Felix Hernandez
  4. The Slurves - Albert Pujols
  5. The Slumpers - Mark Teixiera
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Johan Santana
  7. The Dungeness Dragons - Manny Ramirez
  8. Boston Stranglers - Bobby Abreu
  9. Power Hour of Power - Michael Young
  10. Statutory Apes - Vladimir Guerrero
  11. Academic All Stars - Derrek Lee
  12. Death By Sexy - Carl Crawford
I made a Top 5 board to start out the draft, just because it makes the first selection a lot easier.

My board looked like this:

  1. Alex Rodriguez
  2. Albert Pujols
  3. Mark Teixiera
  4. Miguel Cabrera
  5. Johan Santana
I knew I would end up with one of those five guys. A-Rod and Pujols are simply amazing hitters, and, while Pujols is better, I view A-Rod's position as more premium and he has a better surrounding cast. Cabrera's on the list because of positional flexibility. Johan Santana's on the list because he's the only pitcher I like in the first round.

Why Teixiera so high? He plays in a great hitter's park and is still maturing. He'll be 26 by the end of April, and he just keeps getting better; he hit .301/.379/.575 last year.

Teix fell to me, and, while I'd rather not take a guy like Teix b/c of the availability  of good first basemen later (see: Carlos Delgado), it was what I considered to be a low-risk type pick.

In this round, Vlad Guerrero was the steal, as Guerrero was my #6 guy and I'm sure often considered as a "second choice" type. If he's healthy, he's one of the 3-4 best players in the bigs, and he provides everything.

I was a little confused by the Felix Hernandez pick so high just because I couldn't imagine him being more valuable than Pujols. But would anyone be surprised if Felix hit his 90th percentile PECOTA? I sure as hell wouldn't be.

Onto round 2...

  1. Death By Sexy - Miguel Tejada
  2. Academic All Stars - David Wright
  3. Statutory Apes - Jason Bay
  4. Power Hour of Power - Roy Halladay
  5. Boston Stranglers - Miguel Cabrera
  6. The DungennessDragons - Jose Reyes
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Chris Carpenter
  8. The Slumpers - Jake Peavy
  9. The Slurves - Pedro Martinez
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Chipper Jones
  11. Karate Explosion - Gary Sheffield
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Victor Martinez
My number 4 player, Miguel Cabrera, survived all the way until Marc, but I figured that he'd snatch him away from me. A debate happened on about who was the better player: Wright or Cabrera. The vote was unbelievably close. Fantasy-wise, it's steals v. flexibility + provenness. I rated Cabrera higher than most b/c I like later-round third basemen (we'll get to that later), and because Cabrera's not a Met. I fear drafting Met players, as a Met fan, but that changed in Round 3.

Anyway, my pick was Peavy; he pitches in a great park and is simply a dynamite hurler. If he's healthy, I don't doubt that he'll be one of the best, and I was thrilled that he survived.

Kudos to Sons of Ed Sprague on the Victor Martinez grab; it could be a little high, but VM is the best catcher in the league, IMO. The Reyes pick worries me b/c he could be a drag on TB, OPS, and BB.

To Round 3:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Roy Oswalt
  2. Karate Explosion - Ichiro
  3. Diamond Dawgs - I-Rod
  4. The Slurves - Alfonso Soriano
  5. The Slumpers - Carlos Beltran
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Chase Utley
  7. The Dungeness Dragons - Grady Sizemore
  8. Boston Stranglers - Carlos Zambrano
  9. Power Hour of Power - Travis Hafner
  10. Statutory Apes - Todd Helton
  11. Academic All-Stars - Andruw Jones
  12. Death By Sexy - Chone Figgins
Well, Death By Sexy assured himself of leading the league in steals in this round; Figgins + Crawford = love, at least in the steals department.

Yes, I took Beltran, the disappointing Met, and I feel like I've violated several of my fantasy principles. But this is a guy who was drafted as the #2 and #3 overall pick in fantasy drafts last year, AND I saw him go #1 in a few. I won't let one bad year stop me.

I love the Oswalt pick here, but that's b/c he's an athletic inspiration to short guys like myself. My favorite pick of this round was Sizemore, because it made me realize the obvious: why did I take a gamble on Beltran when Sizemore's kind of a sure thing to be very similar to Beltran's peak?

The I-Rod pick was accidental, by Diamond Dawgs, and I wish we could have taken it back (he meant to pick Varitek). But that makes my job easy, huh?

Round 4:

  1. Death By Sexy - Dontrelle Willis
  2. Academic All-Stars - Jeff Kent
  3. Statutory Apes - Rich Harden
  4. Power Hour of Power - Joe Mauer
  5. Boston Stranglers - Carlos Delgado
  6. The DungenessDragons - Eric Gagne
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Aramis Ramirez
  8. The Slumpers - Rafael Furcal
  9. The Slurves - Mark Prior
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Mariano Rivera
  11. Karate Explosion - Jimmy Rollins
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Mark Buerhle
Lots of stuff going on in this round...

Delgado was a great pick here and proved the wisdom of NOT taking Teixiera in the first round. Oh well, we live and learn, right?

Two closers went off the board, and I decided to adopt a "not-taking closers" approach. My initial closer philosophy was "Don't take a closer high not named Gagne," but that backfired on me last year, as he was my second rounder in a couple of leagues. Yikes.

I'm liking the Mauer pick and the Prior pick here as well, somewhat risky w/ injury histories, but certainly worthy at this point... actually, the only BAD pick was on me. I didn't realize the problems that Furcal was having with his rehab. So I eschewed Rollins and Peralta in favor of a SB/BB shortstop who might not be healthy enough to steal bases.

If Furcal and Beltran are healthy, I'll be OK in the steals department, but this was the first significant low-point of my draft, I think.

Moving right along, we get to Round 5:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Derek Jeter
  2. Karate Explosion - Lance Berkman
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Jim Thome
  4. The Slurves - Carlos Lee
  5. The Slumpers - Jason Varitek
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Richie Sexson
  7. The DungenessDragons - Billy Wagner
  8. Boston Stranglers - Adam Dunn
  9. Power Hour of Power - Chad Tracy
  10. Statutory Apes - Ryan Howard
  11. Academic All-Stars - Paul Konerko
  12. Death By Sexy - Ben Sheets
A bunch of very good picks this round. I took Varitek because I wanted to sure up a weak position and because Marc ensures me that he won't decline. Pretty simple. Plus I didn't really have another guy I wanted to take this high.

The Sexson and Dunn picks are the two best of the round because they exhibit an understanding of what is worthwhile. Sexson and Dunn are high BB, TB, and OPS guys. And those all count. Sheets at 60 is solid because Sheets, when healthy, is Cy Youngable.

Thome's a risk and a reach there, I thought. With Sexson, Dunn, and Howard all going later in the round, I thought that Thome was a bit too high here. I like a rebound from Thome, and he could very well be the best guy for the league's requirements. But I didn't have Thome anywhere near a mental Top 50. Howard, on his own, is a bit of a risk, too. PECOTA loves him, but I'd like to see a little more against lefties before I jump on-board. More likely than not, though, Howard is a Top 25 pick next year.

Round 6:

  1. Death By Sexy - Barry Bonds
  2. Academic All-Stars - Randy Johnson
  3. Statutory Apes - Eric Chavez
  4. Power Hour of Power - Brad Lidge
  5. Boston Stranglers - Brandon Webb
  6. The Dungeness Dragons - Huston Street
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Francisco Rodiguez
  8. The Slumpers - Morgan Ensberg
  9. The Slurves - Juan Pierre
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Ken Griffey Jr.
  11. Karate Explosion - Johnny Damon
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Hank Blalock
I was a happy camper when Ensberg slipped to the 68th slot in the draft. He was a darkhorse MVP candidate last year and would have gotten more mention if Derrek Lee didn't become a Greek deity with a bat last year, and if Pujols was more hurt. There are a lot of very good third basemen in the league at this point... almost as many as good first basemen with the bat. Ensberg might be a drag as far as RBIs go because the Astros aren't going to score too many runs. But he was too good to pass up at 68.

Three closers went this time. F-Rod is one of the best when healthy, but everyone is scared about his mechanics. I've said it before: Lidge in '04 was unbelievable, and no one mentions it in the same breath as Gagne in '03. They were darn close.

The BEST pick, though, was undoubtedly grabbing Barry Bonds. In a league where walks count, if Bonds plays and is healthy, it's an ensured win in the BB category. Bonds is a risk at this point, but OFs do emerge throughout the season, and damn, is he a good risk to take.

I also wanted to murder Marc for taking Brandon Webb, who will be the beneficiary of Orlando Hudson's defense. I had him queued up for this pick.

I didn't take issue with any of these picks, and I liked the Griffey pick. Defense doesn't count here, and Griffey reestablished himself as an elite hitter last year.

Round 7:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Andy Pettitte
  2. Karate Explosion - Marcus Giles
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Trevor Hoffman
  4. The Slurves - Jorge Cantu
  5. The Slumpers - John Patterson
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Hideki Matsui
  7. The DungennessDragons - Bartolo Colon
  8. Boston Stranglers - Jim Edmonds
  9. Power Hour of Power - Scott Podsednik
  10. Statutory Apes - Jhonny Peralta
  11. Academic All-Stars - Joe Nathan
  12. Death By Sexy - B.J. Ryan
Patterson was a combination of what I see on TV and a mild focus on park factors this year. I love watching Patterson; he's got that old-fashioned late breaking curve and he's just dominant at times. He's a dramatic flyball pitcher in a park where homers go to die. I was happy that he survived this long.

The 7th round always seems to be the "he survived this long" round, actually... the AL Cy Young winnerr went, as did perenially undervalued Jim Edmonds. Jhonny Peralta, many people's MVP from last year, also got taken. But the best pick was Joe Nathan, the great closer with everything but the name recognition. The Podsednik pick was a nice grab of steals this late... I'm surprised that he fell this far. Must be a crowd o' statheads.

I like Marcus Giles as a player a lot, but he always manages to get hurt. If healthy, that's a great value pick.

Round 8:

  1. Death By Sexy - Jason Schmidt
  2. Academic All-Stars - Vernon Wells
  3. Statutory Apes - Felipe Lopez
  4. Power Hour of Power - John Smoltz
  5. Boston Stranglers - John Lackey
  6. The DungenessDragons - Barry Zito
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Pat Burrell
  8. The Slumpers - J.D. Drew
  9. The Slurves - Brett Myers
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Brian Giles
  11. Karate Explosion - Chad Cordero
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Garrett Anderson
I have a little maxim in fantasy baseball: in rounds 8-12, you should take a risk, at least once. It's late enough so that you can compensate for it if it backfires, and it could be a huge boost for the fantasy team if it works out.

Which is why I took J.D. Drew, one of the game's most complete hitters WHEN HEALTHY, which is about as often as (insert name of socially awkward guy here) gets a date. Well, that and Statutory Apes and Boston Stranglers conspiring to keep the players I wanted away from me.

Speaking of Drew, I found it funny that Burrell and Drew, two players inexorably tied together by their Phillie draft histories, went back to back.

The best pick here was Felipe Lopez, who can play BOTH middle infield positions, I think, and will be pretty solid here.

The worst one was Brian Giles, but only because Diamond Dawgs will never survive if Marc Normandin ever acquires plutonium, anti-tank missiles, a revolver, or any other deadly weapon or substance. Otherwise? Solid.

Round 9:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Bobby Jenks
  2. Karate Explosion - Cliff Lee
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Freddy Garcia
  4. The Slurves - A.J. Burnett
  5. The Slumpers - Tim Hudson
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Josh Beckett
  7. The DungenessDragons - Cliff Floyd
  8. Boston Stranglers - Rickie Weeks (Die, Marc.)
  9. Power Hour of Power - Scott Kazmir
  10. Statutory Apes - Matt Holliday
  11. Academic All-Stars - "Everyday Eddie" Guardado
  12. Death By Sexy - Everyone's Favorite Father of Quintuplets and Potential Future President of Venezuela Melvin Mora
Go Mora! And I'm not being sarcastic or anything; I really like the guy.

Hudson was one of those "huh?" picks. I had no intention of drafting Hudson, but I saw him on the board and felt like it was too late to let him slide away.

I liked the Cliff Floyd pick a lot, because Floyd steals bases, and very few people remember that. He's part of that "risk-taking" aspect of these rounds. Kazmir is a volatile guy, who COULD be a Cy Young candidate this year... or he could have a consolidation year of sorts. Another nice risk.

I say "Die, Marc" because I wannted Rickie Weeks in the 10th round. But there are worse things (like not being able to locate Ian Kinsler and then seeing him drafted right after your last pick).

I worry about an implosion from Bobby Jenks, but, then again, he has a World Series ring and I don't. We'll see how he does this year.

Round 10:

  1. Death By Sexy - J-Lo (Javy Lopez)
  2. Academic All-Stars - Roger Clemens
  3. Statutory Apes - Noah Lowry
  4. Power Hour of Power - Troy Glaus
  5. Boston Stranglers - Doug Davis
  6. The Dungeness Dragons - Adrian Beltre
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Francisco Cordero
  8. The Slumpers - Danny Haren
  9. The Slurves - Curt Schilling
  10. Diamond Dawgs - C.C. Sabathia
  11. Karate Explosion - Jon Garland
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Robinson Cano
TDD is countin' on a bounceback with Beltre, and it's certainly possible. It's really, really odd to see a guy put up one amazing season and then nothing else, but that's what it's basically been w/ Beltre. Still, if he is anywhere near the 2004 Beltre, this is a great value pick.

A handful of good pitchers here: I like Sabathia a lot. I was happy to grab Haren this low; I love the Oakland defense behind anybody, and this is my fourth starting pitcher already.

Schilling's another one in the risk category, but the biggest one is Clemens. Clemens is leaning towards retirement, but does anyone really believe him? He's deadweight on the roster for a month, but it might be worthwhile.

See what I mean by a bunch of third basemen? Glaus is a bona fida star in many aspects of the word, and he survived this late.

I don't like Cano very much, but there's no basis for that. He could be a pretty good second baseman this year.

Round 11:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Jeff Francoeur
  2. Karate Explosion - Prince Fielder
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Willy Taveras
  4. The Slurves - Jose Contreras
  5. The Slumpers - Jason Giambi
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Coco Crisp
  7. The DungenessDragons - Kenjii Johjima
  8. Boston Stanglers - Jorge Posada
  9. Power Hour of Power - Izzy
  10. Statutory Apes - Matt Cain
  11. Academic All-Stars - Aubrey Huff
  12. Death By Sexy - Sean Casey
The Prince of Power fell to 122, and he's one of the early frontrunners for ROY. I managed to snatch up Jason Giambi, calling an audible (I did not have him in mind at all in this draft). It was one of those "Yeah, I can take who I want here... or I can steal a ton of walks and total bases and such."

Great job by TDD and Boston Stranglers for snatching up a couple of catchers here (this won't be the last time I mention catchers), but Posada and Johjima were great picks at  this stage, I think. Statutory Apes must be a Giants fan; he took Lowry and Cain in back-to-back rounds. I can't blame him; they could be both very good this year.

I didn't like the Sean Casey selection, to be perfectly honest... I thought that there were a couple of better options on the board at the time, most notably Morneau, who went in the 12th, and Overbay, who fell all the way to pick #177 in the 15th. I think that he just got a bit unlucky, there, but Casey's move to Pittsburgh should ensure that he'll have a job this year. Which was questionable by midseason in Cincy.

Round 12:

  1. Death By Sexy - Mark Mulder
  2. Academic All-Stars - Julio Lugo
  3. Statutory Apes - Kerry Wood
  4. Power Hour of Power - Jeremy Bonderman
  5. Boston Stranglers - Livan Hernandez
  6. The DungennessDragons - Kevin Millwood
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Bobby Crosby
  8. The Slumpers - Brad Wilkerson
  9. The Slurves - Randy Winn
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Omar Vizquel
  11. Karate Explosion - Scott Rolen
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Justin Morneau
I really liked the last two picks of this round. Scott Rolen was a .314/.409/.598 hitter in 2004 (which is undeniably his peak season), but he was a damn solid .286/.382/.528 in 2003, which is still very good for the third baseman from St. Louis. If he rebounds to 2003 levels post-injury, this is a steal. Morneau struggled last year, for various reasons, but seriously, the guy can rake. His translated 2004 season was around .268/.342/.541, for all levels (pretty much what he did at the big league level). Snatching him this late is a coup, especially if you can bench him.

My pick was Wilkerson, who fits into an SAT-style analogy with the following.

Brian Giles:Marc Normandin as
Brad Wilkerson:____.

A) Jim Bowden
B) Sgt. Shriver
C) Hot-Lips Houlihan
D) Keira Knightley
E) Dan Scotto

Using the first law of multiple choice tests, the answer is always C, it is clear that the answer is Hot-Lips Houlihan, from the famed, hit series M.A.S.H.

Marc nabbed innings eater and freak of nature Livan Hernandez in this round, and I really liked the Bobby Crosby pick (Harold Reynolds' MVP, I think).

Round 13:

Round 13-16 is officially the part of the draft where risk-taking is eschewed for "Oh, crap, I need to draft a ____." At least, in my mind.

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Ervin Santana
  2. Karate Explosion - Derrick Turnbow
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Ronnie Belliard
  4. The Slurves - Milton Bradley
  5. The Slumpers - Erik Bedard
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Ramon Hernandez
  7. The DungennessDragons - Keith Foulke
  8. Boston Stranglers - Brian Roberts
  9. Power Hour of Power - Joe Blanton
  10. Statutory Apes - Jeremy Hermida
  11. Academic All-Stars - Jon Leiber
  12. Death By Sexy - Torii Hunter
I take pride in the fact that I started a little "mini-run on Orioles," by grabbing Erik Bedard. I determined earlier that I was taking one of the two potential "Mazzone Miracles" here, but I decided to stick by my guns and go with what I wrote in the preview article for them. I thought he was a safer option than Cabrera, whose potential range of outcomes is a lot larger.

Turnbow's survival was the gain of Karate Explosion, who wisely added one of the NL's best closers last year. If the Brewers are planning on making a run for the playoffs this year, Turnbow could get a lot of saves. Hermida's a fun pick because everyone loves the guy, and we know he's going to play. His cup of coffee last year was the equivalent of a tall mocha frappuccino: very tasty but not enough to know for sure if you like it. Enough certainly to use a 13th rounder on him. Hermida could be in the Top 20 next year, if he breaks out this year. I wouldn't bet on it, but I like the pick either way.

TDD keeps coming up with picks that I like. Foulke is one of the best closers in the game, and last year was his first down year in a while. A team with a healthy Foulke as a closer would be fine there.

Round 14:

  1. Death By Sexy - Geoff Jenkins
  2. Academic All-Stars - Brian Fuentes
  3. Statutory Apes - Chris Young
  4. Power Hour of Power - Jonny Gomes
  5. Boston Stranglers - Carlos Silva
  6. The DungennessDragons - Zach Duke
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Aaron Rowand
  8. The Slumpers - Chad Orvella
  9. The Slurves - Todd Jones
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Esteban Loaiza
  11. Karate Explosion - Jake Westbrook
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Brenden Donnelly
Lots of things going on in this round:
  • The first Rockies pitcher was selected.
  • Carlos Sliva, the man who shattered control records last year, went off the board.
  • One of the most intriguing young pitchers, Zach Duke, was selected.
  • The first non-closer reliever was selected.
  • I picked my first closer.
Fuentes is inherently dangerous because he pitches at Coors, but it's late enough to take a flier on him. I honestly worry about the Silva pick. I love a guy who doesn't walk people, but what kind of margin for error does he have, at this point? Where is his room for improvement?

Donnelly is an excellent "first-reliever" off the board with the injury risk on F-Rod. On his own, he's a great reliever (I picked him up in leagues to replace Gagne last year). Scot Shields would have also fit the bill here. I also liked the Loaiza pick; he's a safe bet to get some innings and a bunch of wins with the A's.

For me, I took Orvella because I love a mediocre-player turned pitcher. Except Victor Zambrano.

Round 15:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Nick Swisher
  2. Karate Explosion - Chris Capuano
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Joey Devine
  4. The Slurves - Edgar Renteria
  5. The Slumpers - Mark Ellis
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Ryan Freel
  7. The DungennessDragons - Tadihito Iguchi
  8. Boston Stranglers - Brad Radke
  9. Power Hour of Power - Lyle Overbay
  10. Statutory Apes - Javier Vazquez
  11. Academic All-Stars - Tom Gordon
  12. Death By Sexy - Greg Maddux
This was an "Oh Shoot" selection from me (as Phil Simms would say). I didn't have a second baseman, so I boiled it down to three candidates: Ellis, Freel, and Iguchi. Amusingly, they all went in succession. I like Freel better but I trust that Ellis will have a role this year.

Vazquez' peripherals were better than his actual numbers last year, so we'll see what that means for '06. Devine's a good pick at this point; he could be closing for the Braves at some point. Capuano's a forgotten man of sorts, but he's a pretty good pick at this point (he won 18 games last year, which was completely amazing and unexpected). I like the Overbay pick this late. Solid 1B in the 15th. Maddux this late was another one. We often undervalue the aged population, and Brian Sabean capitalizes on this (although he goes too far, most definitely).

Not liking the Tom Gordon pick, am I, but I worry about Phillies signings and, more importantly, aging relievers-turned-closers.

Round 16:

  1. Death By Sexy - Nick Johnson
  2. Academic All-Stars - Ryan Dempster
  3. Statutory Apes - Chris Ray
  4. Power Hour of Power - Mike Gonzalez
  5. Boston Stranglers - Aaron Harang
  6. The DungennessDragons - Dan Johnson
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Francisco Liriano
  8. The Slumpers - Armando Benitez
  9. The Slurves - Jose Valverde
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Bill Mueller
  11. Karate Explosion - Bob Wickman
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Justin "The Duke" Duchscherer
Shame on Statutory Apes, who stole Chris Ray from me in the 16th and forced me to select Armando Benitez, whose strikeout rate is plummeting faster than (insert topical reference here, although the Bush Approval Rating one is a little dated and overplayed).

Diamond Dawgs again messed with the "way of the league," first by taking Giles and risking his own life, and now by taking Mueller and not making Mueller be drafted by Nine Bill Muellers.

Nick Johnson was a steal here and I would have taken him earlier, but I had no room for him :(. Also good pick: Francisco Liriano, who is drawing rave reviews at the WBC. Wickman led the league in saves last year, but my money's on Fernando Cabrera closing some games by mid-August. I'm hoping for that, at least.

Round 17:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Brandon McCarthy
  2. Karate Explosion - Derek Lowe
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Chad Qualls
  4. The Slurves - Benji Molina
  5. The Slumpers - Brad Penny
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Scott Linebrink
  7. The DungennessDragons - Jason Lane
  8. Boston Stranglers - J.J. Hardy
  9. Power Hour of Power - Jermaine Dye
  10. Statutory Apes - Scot Shields
  11. Academic All-Stars - Michael Barrett
  12. Death by Sexy - Jeff Weaver
I have here in my hand a list of 192 people that were known to have been selected ahead of Brandon McCarthy, who was a pretty solid pick here in his own right. Late enough for the flier on another young pitcher. (I was hoping that McCarthy made it to pick #206, but it wasn't meant to be). I took Penny this round because of my faith in Paul Depodesta and because I think that Penny's actually a really good pitcher.

Guys like Jermaine Dye always seem to survive to late rounds and they always seem to be great picks. Dye's a consistent outfielder but isn't remarkable enough for anyone, besides a fan of his team, to want to take him with a higher pick. Nice find there.

Linebrink and Shields are similar picks: both candidates to pick up some saves if their elite closers go down. I like Shields a little better than Linebrink, myself.

Jason Lane was very high up on the Yahoo list, for some reason, after many years of toiling for a well-earned job. I think he'll do better this year, but I wasn't prepared to pick him. The 17th round seems like a good spot for Lane and his .274/.340/.491 PECOTA projection.

Round 18:

  1. Death By Sexy - Moose
  2. Academic All-Stars - Kevin Mench
  3. Statutory Apes - Daniel Cabrera
  4. Power Hour of Power - Jarrod Washburn
  5. Boston Stranglers - Placido Polanco
  6. The DungennessDragons - Nomah Garciaparra
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Mark Loretta
  8. The Slumpers - Fernando Cabrera
  9. The Slurves - Garrett Atkins Diet
  10. Diamond Dawgs - David Wells
  11. Karate Explosion - Matt Morris
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Carlos Guillen
Great find at the bottom of the round for Sons of Ed Sprague, who remembered that Guillen was just a year removed from being a fantasy god: .318/.379/.542 with 12 steals. He was hurt last year but still managed to hit .320. We'll see if he can repeat that again.

Mike Mussina at the top of the round was also a really good pick; the Moose is a lock for a bunch of wins, if nothing else. The Atkins Diet pick was solid, but it might be worth considering only playing him when he's at home.

My pick? Well, it was certainly the biggest reach of the round; the guy's only thrown 30 big league innings. I love the guy, though, and I think that Bob Wickman might not be closing by July. Somebody take him out to dinner, please...

Finally, the Daniel Cabrera pick was solid because of the potential for a Mazzone-led resurrection. I was pondering taking him when I took Bedard, and that was a long time ago.

Round 19:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Magglio Ordonez
  2. Karate Explosion - Jason Kendall
  3. Diamond Dawgs - David Eckstein
  4. The Slurves - Shea Hillenbrand
  5. The Slumpers - Jason LaRue
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Kelvim Escobar
  7. The DungennessDragons - Matt Clement
  8. Boston Stranglers - Aaron Heilman
  9. Power Hour of Power - Oliver Perez
  10. Statutory Apes - Chris Reitsma
  11. Academic All-Stars - Joe Borowski
  12. Death By Sexy - Mike Timlin
Well, the LaRue pick was dumb because I completely forgot about one Josh Willingham, who would have been the perfect backup catcher for the fantasy ballclub. On its own, I'm OK with it; LaRue won't kill me if Varitek goes down.

Oliver Perez? He's a bounceback candidate, and you've gotta love all those strikeouts. He DID fan 239 in 196 innings in 2004. Last year was kind of a lost season for him, though. Worthy pick at this point.

Heilman was one of the three best relievers in the game in the second half last year, so we'll see if his game plays every five days this year. Good pick because of the option to play him in the relief slot.

Reitsma's closing for the Braves, I think, so that's solid at this point (Devine went a few rounds earlier). Not as fond of the Jason Kendall pick, and, unfortunately for Shea Hillenbrand, HBP doesn't count in this league.

Round 20:

  1. Death By Sexy - Paul Byrd
  2. Academic All-Stars - Luis Castillo
  3. Statutory Apes - Scott Baker
  4. Power Hour of Power - Aaron Hill
  5. Boston Stranglers - Brandon Inge
  6. The DungennessDragons - Tom Glavine
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Josh Towers
  8. The Slumpers - Bill Hall
  9. The Slurves - Shawn Green
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Aaron Boone
  11. Karate Explosion - Rocco Baldelli
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Chien-Ming Wang
The fact that Wang lasted until the 20th round signifies that there are no Yankee fans in this draft. Although I might be wrong about that. We'll see what happens with Wang, who was very good last year for the Yankees even with a strikeout rate that resembled his G/F ratio.

Castillo's a nice pick this late; he walks a lot, hits for average, and will log a few steals. I'd consider starting him at second (if I'd taken him) even though I have Mark Ellis.

My pick was Bill Hall, who was very good for the Beermen last year but might not have a place to play this year. I'm banking on him finding somewhere to play, and I like his positional flexibility.

I was initially pretty down on the Aaron Boone selection, but it turns out that after the first two months, he settled into a reasonable season for a third baseman. It's a safe bet that he wasn't entirely healed from his terrible offseason basketball injury, so he might hold off Andy Marte longer than I thought.

Aaron Hill and Josh Towers are from the American League's sexiest pick (the Blue Jays). Hill's not spectacular but I don't think he'll be terrible this year (it's too bad defense doesn't count in some form, huh), but Towers' '05 looks like an aberration, especially with a worse defense behind him. Still, there are certainly worse arms to bank on, and at this point, it's OK to take fliers on guys. You can always cut them early on.

Round 21:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Jesse Crain
  2. Karate Explosion - Jose Vidro
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Mike Piazza
  4. The Slurves - Mike MacDougal
  5. The Slumpers - Ryan Zimmerman
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - A.J. Pierzynski
  7. The DungennessDragons - Yuniesky Betancourt
  8. Boston Stranglers - Dan Wheeler
  9. Power Hour of Power - Andy Marte
  10. Statutory Apes - Josh Willingham
  11. Academic All-Stars - Mike Sweeney
  12. Death by Sexy - Jason Marquis
Piazza and Marte were solid picks in this round, as was Dan Wheeler with Houston, but the real steal here was Willingham, who was a monstrous hitter in the minors last year and would probably be an acceptable starter at catcher for most fantasy teams. Good find this late.

I snagged Zimmerman b/c of an optimistic PECOTA, but, more importantly, I liked the fact that he had a job. Marte's better and in less of a terrible environment for hitters... but I don't know when Marte will play.

MacDougal will probably close out the 17 or so opportunities he gets with the Royals. But he's a good pitcher, certainly. His value might go up if the Royals deal him at the deadline.

Round 22:

  1. Death By Sexy - Jorge Sosa
  2. Academic All-Stars - Kenny Rogers
  3. Statutory Apes - Ryan Madson
  4. Power Hour of Power - Jon "Craig" Papelbon
  5. Boston Stranglers - Luis Gonzalez
  6. The DungennessDragons - Terry Tiffee
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Craig Hansen
  8. The Slumpers - Juan Uribe
  9. The Slurves - Craig Counsell
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Kyle Farnsworth
  11. Karate Explosion - Brian Lawrence
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Orlando Cabrera
A hearty bit of profanity to Statutory Apes, who stole Ryan Madson out of my queue. Madson was my version of Heilman: a guy who might be starting that would qualify as an RP for the season.

Juan Uribe was my selection, mainly because Furcal could be hurt and Hall could be on the bench. I have a proverbial glut of middle infielders now, and I might address that somehow. Free agency or trades await.

Karate Explosion took Brian Lawrence, but Lawrence no longer has a functioning pitching arm, so that might be problematic. Lawrence was a good pick otherwise, too; good park and a nice innings guy.

Terry Tiffee's name got thrown around the draft room a lot, for some odd reason. OK with me to use a pick this late on him...

Jorge Sosa was amazing last year, and so Death By Sexy did well to take him here. I don't know where he fits in with the Braves THIS year, but I'll assume he nabs a spot in the rotation. Good late round pick there.

Round 23:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Mark Kotsay
  2. Karate Explosion - Rafael Betancourt
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Rafael Soriano
  4. The Slurves - Danys Baez
  5. The Slumpers - Ramon Ortiz
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Jose Guillen
  7. The DungennessDragons - Raul Ibanez
  8. Boston Stranglers - Brian McCann
  9. Power Hour of Power - Brady Clark
  10. Statutory Apes - Clint Barmes
  11. Academic All-Stars - Pedro Feliz
  12. Death By Sexy - Ryan Church
I was in a spot where I simply didn't know who to take here, so I settled on Ramon Ortiz in his new pitcher-friendly home. Brady Clark was good here; we'll see if he's really as solid as he played last year. Also liked: Rafael Soriano, a pitcher in the vein of Fernando Cabrera, just selected much later.

Brian McCann was similar to Willingham as far as going after a lesser-known catcher who will probably be as good as the established guys.

Pedro Feliz carried me in fantasy when my entire team went down with injuries. And when Eric Chavez sucked to start out the season.

Clint Barmes is another player who really isn't very good but is helped out a ton by his home park. It helps in fantasy, and it works out here, if he's healthy.

Baez would have gone about 6-7 rounds earlier if he was still in Tampa, and he's a saves guy if Gagne gets hurt. That said, I don't like him much on his own.

Two more of these...

Round 24:

  1. Death By Sexy - David Bush
  2. Academic All-Stars - Dustin Hermanson
  3. Statutory Apes - David Weathers
  4. Power Hour of Power - Conor Jackson
  5. Boston Stranglers - Jae Seo
  6. The DungennessDragons - Chris Shelton
  7. Nine Bill Muellers - Paul Lo Duca
  8. The Slumpers - Wily Mo Pena
  9. The Slurves - Tim Wakefield
  10. Diamond Dawgs - Julio Franco
  11. Karate Explosion - B.J. Upton
  12. Sons of Ed Sprague - Arthur Rhodes
This was my happiest moment of the draft; I'd completely forgotten about my outfield, and I only had 3 guys who could play out there. Then I saw Pena right around pick #275, and I just kept my fingers crossed that he'd survive.

Conor Jackson's a statheady prospect, and we'll see if the D'Backs fit him in. The guy can certainly hit, and he's in a good hitters' park.

Marc is banking on the improvement shown by Jae Seo to be real. I'd say that he's middle of the rotation good this year, and that's not bad for the 24th round.

Julio Franco's not going to get much playing time with the Mets, but he SHOULD be drafted in every league, just as a token gesture.

Round 25:

  1. Sons of Ed Sprague - Yadier Molina
  2. Karate Explosion - Bruce Chen
  3. Diamond Dawgs - Craig Biggio
  4. The Slurves - Angel Berroa
  5. The Slumpers - Kris Benson
  6. Nine Bill Muellers - Ian Kinsler
  7. The DungennessDragons - Bobby Howry
  8. Boston Stranglers - Shawn Chacon
  9. Power Hour of Power - Alexis Rios
  10. Statutory Apes - Justin Verlander
  11. Academic All-Stars - Adam Everett
  12. Death By Sexy - Jason Vargas
I liked the Bruce Chen pick! It's hard to root against him. More amazingly, though, is that four Oriole starters got selected out of 300 players. We're all anxious to see how Mazzone does in Baltimore.

My pick was a tossup between Chacon and Benson, but I decided to let Marc have Chacon and to see if his hypothesis about Chacon and BABIP is OK.

Verlander is the most talented of all of the hurlers to get drafted here.

Actually, I'm quite annoyed, because my plan, all along, had been to leave second base open and then snag Ian Kinsler late. But Kinsler wasn't on the ranked Yahoo list... apparently, they don't rank every player; they just rank most of them. The other guys are available in the alphabetical list. I should have figured this out.

So, obviously, I really liked the Kinsler pick here.

I had fun with this draft, and I hope you enjoyed reading my draft musings. I tried not to be too harsh, even though I'm sure my writing comes across that way. I definitely think that this was the strongest group that I've ever drafted with, which is bad, because I'm really not very good at fantasy baseball (the best I've ever finished in a league is 3rd).

I hope I've inspired someone to join a fantasy league with a live draft somewhere; they're a lot more fun than getting an offline draft or just a random team. There's less trading, but there's more immediate input.

Enjoy the season!