Ace In The Hole

Playing in thefoulline.com fantasy baseball league for as long as I have, I’ve obviously been able to pick up on some owner trends over the years and how they approach their draft.

Ginger will load up on elite bats in the early rounds and hope to grab a few diamond in the rough pitchers later. Dave will mostly emulate the same plan, Allan will use the exact opposite of whatever strategy he used the year prior, and Dennis will load up on every single Yankees player he can get his hands on. Everyone has their tendencies and most tend to stick to them.

You might have to ask Dave or Allan what the book is on me, but I definitely had a plan heading into this season. It took me 25 minutes or so to formulate my entire draft strategy for the 2019 season. I was getting elite pitching, and then I was going to draft more elite pitching. Then when that was done, I might take an elite pitcher or two.

In my opinion, the opener is going to take over Major League Baseball, and the days of the 200 inning workhorse are numbered. The truly elite aces are going to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and having those dominate pitchers are going to be the difference between winning and losing. I was locked and loaded on my plan, and wasn’t going to deviate from it no matter what.

So naturally, I drafted Max Scherzer and Chris Sale in the first two rounds, and both of them lost on Opening Day. So much for the best laid plans right?

Opening Day quick hits:

-This was the best draft we ever had. Everyone had a plan and seemed to be happy with their picks, and unlike previous years, it didn’t seem to just drag on for all eternity.

-I was stunned that I seemed to be the only person prioritizing pitching, as only two pitchers went in the first 15 picks. I thought as many as 10 pitchers could’ve gone in the first two rounds.

-My desire for Max Scherzer was the worst kept secret of the draft, and Dylan changing his team name to “Max Headroom” before the draft only to take Mookie Betts was a master class in trolling.

-I hate to say it, but I’m starting to get this nagging feeling that Francisco Lindor might end up being the bust of the year.

-The RedRays have EASILY the best OF in the league. Yelich, Springer and Acuna? Yeesh.

-I absolutely LOVED the Yankeehaters first four picks.

-I said Javier Baez would be the bust of the year. He proceeded to mash two dongs today.

-Mike is starting Jurickson Profar at first base. That makes me sad.

-Jameson Taillon in round 11 by team Stogies might’ve been the steal of the draft.

-Or was it Corey Seager by Rays Those Cowbells in the same round?

-Maybe I’m crazy, but is first base the weakest position in fantasy this year? Try to convince me otherwise.

-The Chris Archer trade is the gift that keeps on giving.

-Apparently Dave was mildly upset that I picked Zack Wheeler in round six. I was really sorry to hear that.

-Allan needs an intervention for his Carlos Correa love. And it’s not really doing you any good.

-I heard a rumor that Ginger was absolutely sick about selecting Stephen Strasburg and regretted it almost immediately. My respect for her grows even more.

-Dylan drafted Tommy Pham. If he had followed through on taking Max Scherzer, he might’ve been my mortal enemy this year.

-Speaking of Dylan, I absolutely LOVE the name “Lou Brown”. Simple, yet outstanding. In a league where nobody else changes their team name, Dylan keeps it fresh year after year and I can respect that.

-Andrew McCutchen was one of my favorite players to draft this year. He’ll score 130 runs atop that Phillies juggernaut.

-Dennis taking Kris Bryant in round five is going to end up being a sensational pick.

-I took him about 50 picks before his ADP, but I absolutely had to have Yu Darvish this year. He’s throwing 97 MPH in spring training and plays for an elite team.

-How did Willis get JD Martinez with the ninth overall pick?

-This may be hyperbole a bit….. but I think Luke Voit could hit 40 home runs.

-I think I had the best draft I’ve ever had…. by far.

-And looking at the matchups…. I think I may start 0-2.

So who wants to make a trade?

Thanks for reading, and good luck in Week one!


The Pick Is In

In the hours leading up to thefoulline.com’s 8th annual fantasy baseball draft, I tried all sorts of different things to relax and get into the right mindset for drafting. I watched the NCAA Tournament, I turned on some of the NASCAR race, I went out and washed my car, and I even went to the driving range and smacked some golf balls around. Turns out, it was useless.

I quickly realized that I could play in this league for 50 years, and I would always get pre-draft jitters watching that clock tick down. There’s nothing like knowing that nine other baseball savants have worked just as hard as you, for just as long as you, and would like nothing better than to steal the player you’ve been targeting all offseason. In fact, they probably revel in it.

I always try to have a backup plan in place for all my picks. Turns out it’s not enough. In this league, you need a backup plan for your backup plan for your backup plan. This year was no different. This might have been our most well executed draft ever. So let’s recap – it’s thefoulline.com draft diary!

The Clock Hits Zero

As I entered the draft room, I found myself knee deep in a discussion about which was better, the World Cup or the NCAA Tournament, As I was about to step in and give my opinion, Dave V. decided to put a stop to that conversation right away. It’s probably for the best. That debate would’ve lasted well into the 6th round. After some more idle small talk, the timer ticked down, and we were ready to go.

Surprise! Mike Trout goes #1 to The October Boys. There were some rumblings that Dennis has been bribing his way into the first pick year after year, and who knows, maybe they have some weight? I know I’d do just about anything to get Mike Trout, he’s a game-changer!

WillisBeTheYear grabs the best pitcher in the world after claiming he would do so last year and not following through. Clayton Kershaw goes #2, and our draft has a predictable start.

If there was one team I was completely unsure about, it was newcomer David Valentino. I’d heard rumblings he could go several different directions here. He settles on the best OF in the world, Andrew McCutchen. Great pick!

The Love Boat Captains grabs the best power hitter in the game, Giancarlo Stanton. Just move out of the way next time a fastball is heading for your face.

I know for a fact that Mike wanted Goldschmidt and only Goldschmidt with this pick. He gets his wish, and the best first baseman is off the board at pick #5.

If there was any pick in the first round I had pegged for sure, it was that Sam was taking a pitcher in round one. He doesn’t disappoint, and David Price goes to Panda the Hammer.

Believe The Hype grabs the second-best first baseman in the city of Chicago, Jose Abreu.

Is Miguel Cabrera fully healthy? If so, the RedRays just got the steal of the first round as Miggy goes #8.

The worst kept secret in the league was that I wanted Anthony Rizzo with my first pick this year. I get my way and Rizzo finds his way onto Rays Those Cowbells at #9.

Dave and I had been discussing our picks in the weeks leading up to the draft. He did a great job of pretending to give me information, but still not really letting me know who he was going to take. Adam Jones is the pick, and it’s a good one. He’s become so consistent it’s almost boring.

Round Two

I’d been preparing myself for a huge pitching run in round two. All the mock drafts that I did and all the pre-draft research suggested that this was the time to grab your ace. I thought as many as eight pitchers could go in this round. Well true to form, thefoulline.com goes away from conventional wisdom, and Dave grabs Robinson Cano at pick #11. I thought this was a bit of a reach, but I think Dave had some personal mission to get Cano on his team at least once before he retires.

Another pick I had pegged for weeks before the draft, AL MVP Josh Donaldson goes to Rays Those Cowbells at pick #12.

RedRays grabs Max Scherzer here, and I really like it. Moving from the AL to the NL is good. Moving to the best team in baseball is better.

Believe The Hype takes fantasy monster Felix Hernandez, and the pitching run has begun.

Panda the Hammer grabs the best catcher in the world, Buster Posey, and the pitching run stops as quickly as it started.

In a move that surprises nobody, Mike takes AL CY Young winner Chris Sale here. Like he does every year. Man crush!

The LBCs give Jose Altuve a home at pick #17, and I’m lukewarm on this pick. I see regression coming. Still, it’s 40 steals in the bank.

Team Stogies grabs my personal favorite pitcher in the game, Adam Wainwright, to anchor his pitching staff.

Willis steals Jose Bautista, who should’ve went 5 picks before this. The building of the infamous WillisBeTheYear beer league softball offense has begun.

As Dennis went on the clock, I told Allan that he would take a pitcher and Troy Tulowitzski with his next two picks. The first half the equation comes true as World Series hero Madison Bumgarner is the last pick of the 2nd round.

Round Three

I feel downright clairvoyant as The October Boys grab Troy Tulowitzki with this pick. Dennis loves Tulo!

Willis will keep building his stud offense, right? Nope. He takes Corey Kluber here. I love me some Kluber. This is a great pick.

I have no idea why, but for some reason Edwin Encarnacion sinks like a stone in the draft every year. He routinely puts up first round numbers, and are his injuries really that much bigger a deal than some of the other players that go before him? David V gets McCutchen and EE to anchor his offense. Dangerous.

The Love Boat Captains steal rising superstar Anthony Rendon, who I thought would go ten picks before this.

Mike must have seen a copy of MLB 15 The Show in a store somewhere, because he makes Yasiel Puig his #1 OF. It’s a great pick! Puig will break out this year.

I knew two things about Johnny Cueto heading into this draft. Somebody would take him early, and that somebody wouldn’t be me. Still, you can’t argue with his numbers last year, and Panda the Hammer adds a 2nd ace to his team.

Allan takes a 3rd baseman in the first three rounds every year. This year is no different, as the champ adds the ageless Adrian Beltre to his lineup.

Michael Brantley is a RedRays-type player. Solid, not flashy, gets the job done. He’ll put up huge points this year for team RedRays.

All along I wanted a pitcher here. I was targeting Jon Lester or Cole Hamels. Never in 100 years did I think I could land Stephen Strasburg at pick #29. I’m amazed this pick took me 25 seconds to make. Maybe I just wanted to be sure I didn’t click onto the wrong player.

Team Yankeehater thinks this is 2010 as he nabs Albert Pujols with the last pick of the 3rd round. I don’t hate the pick, but aren’t there younger, higher upside players available here?

Round Four

I always consider round four to be the game-changer round. There are a ton of high quality players available in the first 30 picks, and it’s pretty hard to make a mistake, outside of unforeseen injuries. But in round four you have to start taking gambles and making decisions. When to pass on the player getting older, and when to reach a little and grab the up-and-coming young stud. Dave makes just such a decision and takes Nolan Arenado #31. I like this pick, a lot! Great home ballpark, elite prospect pedigree. He may hit 30 HRs this year.

If there was one player in the whole draft I had to have, it was Matt Harvey. He’s throwing 99 MPH in spring training, and his breaking stuff looks sharp. He may throw 185 innings, but those 185 innings will be the best for a pitcher not named Kershaw.

The RedRays commit downright larceny as they snatch Carlos Gomez at pick #33. Gomez is a mid-2nd round player who had no business being on the board here.

Allan grabs his boy Julio Teheran. Can’t argue with this pick. He’s young and getting better. I just worry about his win total after Atlanta completely bottomed out this offseason.

Panda the Hammer takes only 10 seconds to select Jordan Zimmerman, and once again, he’s building the best pitching staff in the league.

sportsmanMike nabs Carlos Santana with this pick. Can’t hate it. He set career-highs across the board and has multiple position eligibility.

Ginger takes the least likeable pitcher in the game, Zack Greinke. You couldn’t pay me enough to take this dude.

In a move that shocks nobody, one of our Yankees fans takes only 9 seconds to draft Masahiro Tanaka. With Wainwright and Tanaka leading his pitching staff, team Stogies better pray the Tommy John fairy doesn’t come knocking.

WillisBeTheYear grabs Jose Reyes. He’ll steal 30 bases and score a ton of runs atop the major’s best lineup, and he plays at a horribly weak SS position.

Dennis grabs Jon Lester with pick #40. I was willing to take him at pick #29. See how this draft can ruin a man?

Rounds 5-10: Where Championships Are Won

The October Boys: Bryce Harper, Matt Kemp, Michael Wacha, Jered Weaver, Chris Davis, David Ortiz.

It’s hard not to like these picks. Dennis resists the urge to grab Harper early and gets him in a much better spot here. The problem with Harper is you always have to overpay to get him, but if you can get him at a reasonable price, the value is there. Matt Kemp looked back to normal in the 2nd half last year, and I think the big dimensions at Petco Park play well to his gap power. Wacha has one of the best arms in the majors, and Weaver is always a solid guy to fill out your rotation. I think he reached on Chris Davis, but I think a bounce back and 40 HRs could be possible. I have no idea how Ortiz lasted until round 10.

WillisBeTheYear: Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, Dallas Keuchel, Ian Kinsler, Evan Gattis.

Wow. Runs of picks like this should be illegal. This is an amazing run for Willis. He got three stud first baseman here, all at amazing value. Freeman and Gonzalez mash, and V-Mart in round 7 is robbery. Dallas Keuchel was one of my targets. With a 63% ground ball rate, he’s Brandon Webb in his prime and will be this season’s breakout ace. Ian Kinsler still has something left, and Evan Gattis will hit 30 HRs moving from behind the plate and into Minute Maid Park. I’m REALLY glad they moved Willis out of my division.

Stogies: Hanley Ramirez, George Springer, Kris Bryant, Justin Verlander, Taijuan Walker, Dee Gordon.

Our newcomer means business. I saw Hanley Ramirez go mid-2nd round in some of my mocks; he gets him in round 5. I cried a little bit when he took Springer, I’ll admit it. I really wanted him! He may hit 45 HRs this year. Someone finally takes the plunge and takes super rookie Kris Bryant! It’s a good pick. But then the dreaded autodraft kicks in and grabs Verlander and Walker. I’m not crazy about those picks, but they are high-upside arms. At this stage in the draft, you could do a lot worse. Dave V. returns and grabs Dee Gordon, who should steal 50 bases leading off for the Marlins. This was a good run for team Stogies.

Love Boat Captains: Ian Desmond, Joey Votto, Carlos Carrasco, Jake Arrieta, Devin Mesoraco, Christian Yelich.

This is such a Ginger run. The last of the elite shortstops go off the board, and surprise! Joey Votto goes to the LBCs. At this point I honestly just want someone else to take him, just so she can’t get him. Carrasco and Arrieta are high-upside mid-rotation arms who have the talent to pitch like aces, and are typical LBC pitchers. Mesoraco may be the best power hitting catcher in the majors. He’ll make a run at 30 HRs. If there was one person I was sure was going to take Christian Yelich, it was Ginger. Yelich has huge breakout written all over him. It’s runs like this that have the LBCs in contention every year.

sportsmanMike: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jacob deGrom, Corey Dickerson, Jason Kipnis, Zach Britton, Alex Cobb.

This is a nice run for team sportsmanMike. He gets good value with Ellsbury, who always seems to be overdrafted one way or another. deGrom was one of the nice surprises in the league last year. His stuff is legit. He’ll be a strong #2 on this pitching staff. Dickerson tears up Coors Field, and Mike makes his best pick of the draft getting Kipnis this late. He has 20 HR, 30 SB upside. I can’t say that I like the Britton pick. There were better closers available with later price tags. But he makes up for it with a high upside arm in Alex Cobb. If Mike can ride out April, he’ll have a borderline ace at a round-10 price tag.

Panda the Hammer: Greg Holland, Jonathan Lucroy, Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist.

If there’s one team in the league who laughs in the face of conventional wisdom, it’s the Hammer. He takes a catcher in round two, grabs two elite closers before round 10, and piles up on the early pitching. Everything the experts tell you not to do. Holland and Chapman form a dynamic closing duo. Lucroy is an elite catcher. Dozier was a revelation at 2nd base last year. He’ll put up points for this team. Todd Frazier is legit. He’s not flashy, but he could go 20/20 this year. Zobrist can play everywhere and is fairly predictable in his stat lines. These are the types of runs of picks Sam makes every year.

Believe The Hype: Cole Hamels, Phil Hughes, Tyson Ross, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Gonzalez, Mat Latos.

As Allan and I watched Cole Hamels tumble down the boards, I knew Allan would grab him here. It might be the steal of the draft. Allan’s laptop then proceeds to crap out on him, and Phil Hughes is autodrafted to BTH, leading to a string of obscenities being screamed throughout the RTC/BTH war room. You could’ve done worse! Hughes might be the most underrated pitcher in MLB. Or maybe it’s Tyson Ross, whose playing for San Diego was the only thing holding him back from being among baseball’s top tier pitchers. Nelly Cruz will swat 30 HRs, and I admit, I completely forgot about Carlos Gonzalez. I think Allan might have too, until he saw him sitting there for the taking. If he plays 120 games, it’s a steal. Latos moving to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark is good value. This was a nice run for our champion.

RedRays: Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Evan Longoria, Craig Kimbrel, Dustin Pedroia, Salvador Perez.

This is an awesome string of picks. Samardzija and Iwakuma are excellent pitchers to fill out the middle of a rotation. Longoria is GREAT value this late. He’s always drafted too high every year. I guess this is the over compensation as he tumbles down the draft boards. Kimbrel is the game’s best closer, although I’m concerned about the Braves win totals dropping this year, limiting his save chances. I’m not sure how in a league full of Red Sox fans, Pedroia lasts until round 9. It’s a great pick. Perez has power at a position where power is scarce. This run could get the RedRays back into the playoffs.

Rays Those Cowbells: Ryan Braun, Gerrit Cole, Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Garrett Richards.

Is Braun’s thumb healthy? I sure hope so, I’m counting on him to be my #1 OF. I had two preferences for this round 6 pick. I wanted Alex Wood, and if I couldn’t get him, I wanted Gerrit Cole. Wood goes to team Yankeehater right before I could get him, so I settle on Cole, who I really like, a lot! I like a 30-HR bounceback from a healthy Fielder, and Holliday is somebody I’ve always wanted but could never get. He’s as solid as they come. There’s no pick in my draft I regret more than Bruce. I should’ve taken Christian Yelich with this pick. I make up for it by snatching my #1 mid-round target, Garrett Richards. He’s a top-tier ace, going in round 10, because he’ll miss two weeks? Sign me up! This run of picks was okay, with Richards being my favorite and Fielder a close runner-up.

Yankeehaters: Alex Wood, James Shields, Justin Upton, Sonny Gray, Jorge Soler, Doug Fister.

This is a really good run for Dave. As mentioned, Wood was somebody I really wanted. His 200 K potential and RP eligibility are worth their weight in gold. Dave double dips on new Padres, with Shields moving to the best pitcher’s park in the majors really helping him, and Upton being downgraded for the same reason. But he’ll serve nicely as a #2 OF. Sonny Gray is somebody I really like. He’ll take that final step and be a true ace as he leads Oakland’s staff. Soler is kind of like a George Springer light. It’s rare you find 30-HR potential in the late rounds. Fister is a solid mid-rotation arm who always gets underrated for some reason.

Picks I Really Love, Rounds 11-22

Round 11: Dellin Betances by Stogies. I WANTED this guy. He’ll dominate for the Yankees this year.

Round 12: Kolten Wong by RTC. My #1 target at 2nd base. He’ll hit 15 HRs and have 30 SBs. Mark Trumbo by TOB. Now healthy, he’ll follow through on last years promise of 35 HRs.

Round 13: Yordano Ventura by BTH. Does anyone in baseball have a better arm? Why is he still on the board here? Gio Gonzalez by PTH. He’s slipped from his peak, but he’s not round 13 kinda bad.

Round 14: David Wright by Stogies. Yea okay, he’s not in his prime anymore. But the guy isn’t dead. Kyle Seager by Willis. .270 average and 25 HRs in round 14?

Round 15: Chris Archer by RedRays. High upside arms are always good late. Yan Gomes by Yankeehaters. He was going to be my starting catcher with my next pick. Suck it Dave.

Round 16: Marcell Ozuna by SM. Sneaky power. Could make a run at 30 HRs. Kevin Gausman by LBC. Could be this season’s Garrett Richards. Guy throws HARD.

Round 17: Hunter Pence by Willis. I can wait the two months if I get him in round 17. Drew Hutchison by RedRays. 184 Ks in 184 innings. A strikeout per inning can’t be ignored.

Round 18: Danny Salazar by Yankeehaters. He can’t be as bad as last year, can he? The stuff is still electric. Matt Adams by SM. At some point, the breakout is coming.

Round 19: Lucas Duda by RedRays. The most silent 30 HR season ever.

Round 20: Shelby Miller by Yankeehaters. A flyball pitcher moving to a flyball park. Daniel Norris by Stogies. 15.1 strikeouts per 9 at AAA last year! That’s insane. The best pitching prospect nobody has heard of.

Round 21: Homer Bailey by RTC. I still love the talent level. He’ll bounce back from last year.

Picks I Really Hate, Rounds 11-22

Round 11: Steven Souza by TOB. This was a terrible pick. He might’ve gone undrafted.

Round 12: Jose Fernandez by Willis. Love the player, hate the fact that he might not pitch until July.

Round 13: This was a good round for everyone!

Round 14: Another top notch round!

Round 15: David Robertson by TOB. Simply because his suckage gifted Allan a championship.

Round 16: Jessie Hahn by BTH. Not a bad player, but he probably wouldn’t have been drafted.

Round 17: Drew Storen by LBC. A talented arm , but I just can’t trust this guy. Everytime I turn around he’s given up 3 ERs.

Round 18: Brian McCann by RTC. This is an absolutely awful pick that had no business being made. McCann is garbage.

Round 19: Alex Rodriguez by Willis. A-Rod sucks and so does this pick. Retire already. Matt Wieters by BTH. Allan will need to drop him for a catcher who won’t start the season on the DL.

Round 20: Jean Segura by BTH. Only because I was begging him to draft Asdrubal Cabrera. Pablo Sandoval by PTH. He’s fat and his regular season numbers are mediocre.

Round 21: Brett Cecil by BTH. I think Allan gave up at this point and autodrafted a middle reliever. Cliff Lee by Yankeehaters. Isn’t he out for the year?
If you’ve stuck with me this long, I just wanna thank you for reading. This is the best fantasy baseball league in the world, and I’ve had a blast writing for the site these last two months. I have a lot of exciting stuff coming, including the weekly fantasy reviews. Stay tuned!

And now we dip into the magic 8-ball and see who will be in our final four….

Playoff Predictions

The October Boys
RedRays
WillisBeTheYear
Love Boat Captains

Draft Day

As we approach the final hours before thefoulline.com’s 8th annual fantasy baseball draft, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place.

I’ve ramped up the prep work and I’ve assembled my strategy. I’ve taken the necessary electronic precautions after my infamous “computer meltdown” of 2012, and I’ve checked the weather forecast for possible thunderstorm-related power outages. I’m good to go.

I absolutely love draft day. It’s the only time of the year where all 10 owners get together at the same time and chat. It’s the thrill of being on the clock, wondering if the team in front of you is going to swipe the player you desperately wanted, but never thought would be there for the taking in the first place. It’s fresh beginnings, and a chance to erase the previous season’s mistakes.

This will be our first draft with this set of 10, and I hope we can play together for many years. Since I started in 2009, we’ve had a lot of roster turnover, and sometimes I miss the old gang. Dylan and his gaggle of Shortstops, the McLaughlins, Matt and Dave, our Canadian friend Less Than Zero, and of course Dave’s father and his Bostobadboys, misspelled and all. It was really fun playing and trading barbs with all those guys.

But now we have new blood in the league, and draft day is about looking forward, not backward. And I’m more focused and determined than ever before. But I know you all will be too. I’m ready.

Just leave Anthony Rizzo for me, okay?

The Pick of Destiny

I feel like I should start this post, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Everyone prepares for a fantasy baseball draft differently. For me, as soon as January rolls around, I start checking out player rankings, do a few mock drafts, and read everything that Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Scott White, Ray Flowers and the rest of the so-called fantasy experts put out. In mid-February, I ramp up the mock drafts, listen to ESPN Baseball Fantasy Focus daily podcasts and begin creating my position tiers. I spend way too much time reading articles, comparing tiers and evaluating ADP’s. Does it help? I’m not sure. But it’s fun to read, and I enjoy preparing for the draft.

Ginger, on the other hand, waits to find out her draft position before the draft, does a few mocks, and subsequently wins the league every year.

This year’s preparation was no different. Doing my research, I made the determination that first base was really thin. I wanted Cabrera, Pujols, Votto, Gonazalez, or Fielder. I wasn’t interested in anyone else, so my first-round pick was going to be one of those five, even if I had to reach a little. I also thought that there were only a handful of truly “elite” outfielders: Kemp, Braun, Ellsbury, J. Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Granderson, and Bautista. I wanted to grab at least one of those guys, with my strong preference being Justin Upton or Carlos Gonzalez (hopefully both). Those were the two positions I was going to fill first. There was no way in hell that I was going to take a pitcher in the first two rounds. Doing my mock drafts, I was always able to land a first baseman in the first and Justin Upton in the second. I did 10 mocks the week of the draft, and this was always the way it played out.

But something funny happened on my final practice draft, three hours before the live draft. I changed my game plan. Was it going to have a negative effect on how my draft was going to turn out?

Let’s check out the running diary from draft night.

You are… on the clock!

Prior to the draft, rumors circulated that Mike and The Hammer might not make it for the beginning of the draft. The other eight owners waited patiently in the draft room with some idle chitchat. But as the countdown clock finally hit 00:00, we had nine owners present as well as Mike ready to draft away via the iPhone.

It’s finally time to see who the new guy decided to go with at #1.

Miggy Cabrera with his soon-to-be third-base eligibility goes #1!

I know for a fact that Dennis mulled this decision all day long. He initially thought that he should grab an elite arm and shore up his rotation. Then he considered taking the best shortstop on the planet, Troy Tulowitzki. After conducting several mocks, taking Verlander or Cabrera first, Dennis goes for the bat. Great pick. Solid start for the October Boys.

  • Second pick was the easiest decision in the world for Mike – Albert Pujols
  • Pick three sucks. I really think it’s the absolute worst one to have. With that being said, I chuckled a little to myself when I saw that Ginger had drawn the short straw and got the third pick. With this pick, you hope someone takes a pitcher and leaves Cabrera or Pujols to fall to you. With the rumor of Mike making picks from his iPhone, this was a possibility.
     

    Unfortunately for the LBC’s, the two big guns went with the first two picks. So what’s the game plan? Ginger hates taking pitchers early, doesn’t care for Jose Bautista or Matt Kemp, and knows Tulo gets hurt every year, which means one thing… Joey Effing Votto, LBC mainstay and alleged voodoo leader of the three-time champ.

    As we approached the weeks before the draft, threats of taking Votto before Ginger could grab him were echoed by WillisBeTheYear, RedRays and myself. Our hopes were that without Joey V., the LBC’s would be sunk. No such luck.

    And I guess we’re all playing for second place again.

  • believe the hype (sundae-free) takes Jose Bautista (whose production, I predict, falls way off this year).
  • Boston bad boys picks Adrian Gonzalez with the fifth pick. That’s four of the top-five first basemen off the board, and my plan is working.
  • Rays Those Cowbells grabs Tulo
  • Halladay goes to WillisBeTheYear
  • Verlander goes to RedRays
  • chefdick again reaches a little on Longoria
  • The Hammer nabs 2011 NL Cy Young-winner Clayton Kershaw

So far a solid start for everyone.

Round Two

I have a well publicized man-crush on Dustin Pedoria. Dan loves Longoria, Dennis idolizes Jeter, and the RedRays always grabs Martin Prado. But there’s no bigger love affair in the league than the one between The Hammer and Cliff Lee. Last year he took him with the 5th pick, and this year he snags him with the 11th. Lee is a great pitcher, but it may be time for an intervention for Sam.

This is another top notch round for The Foul Line league. Chefdick grabs another elite bat in Matt Kemp. RedRays takes Prince Fielder, the last of the great first baseman. He had planned on the elite arm/elite bat for the first two rounds. So far so good. WillisBeTheYear lands Ryan Braun with the 14th pick, which is downright robbery. Rays Those Cowbells takes my advice and snags Robinson Cano. And here is where I change my strategy.

Maybe I should have gone with the game plan and picked Justin Upton. It served me well in a lot of my mock drafts, so why mess with it? OF is shallow, so take one of the five remaining sure things, right? Nah, I’m taking Hanley Ramirez. RedRays gave me a WTF? on the chat. He later told me that he would have bet his house that I was going to take Pedroia. Nope, I take Hanley, the same guy that I picked two season ago at #2. The same guy that quit on his teammates last year. The same guy that had shoulder and back injuries in 2011. This might come back to haunt me… or I’m the smartest guy in the league. We shall see!

Believethehype picks Jose Reyes, the last of the upper-tier shortstops and guaranteed to miss 30 games at some point this season. LBC’s wanted Ellsbury with this pick, and of course she got him. Mike reached a little on Adrian Beltre, but I love this pick. Beltre is a monster, and I believe he is the safest 3B option. October Boys follows his first round gem by grabbing CC Sabathia. We may need to keep an eye on the rookie.

3rd Round, and the gloves are off!

Dustin Pedroia is a very good player, but he is definitely not worthy of a 2nd round pick. 3rd round is perfect.

I hate Felix Hernandez. Mike can have him. He plays on an awful team with no run support, and he misses out on a ton of wins every season.

LBC’s scoops up another of the great OF’s in Granderson.

I knew if anyone was going to pick Justin Upton is was going to be Allan. He traded him to me last season, and I knew he regretted it. Of course, Allan gives me an eff-you and takes the 2012 NL MVP. Nice pick! I’m left with the consolation prize, Carlos Gonzalez, and the outfield has just got incredibly thin.

Dan vowed to follow the LBC’s lead and wait on pitching. It lasted all of three rounds, and Jered Weaver is a RTC. Dan loves pitchers. It’s a fact!

Hamels, McCutchen, and Lincecum all get snagged. This draft is going as planned. It appears that everyone has been doing their homework.

Round three ends with The Hammer picking relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel. I’m not one to tell someone who to pick for their team… but this one was CRAZY.

Round 4… My plan is working!

I am definitely taking a pitcher this round. I really wanted Dan Haren, David Price, or Zack Grienke with this pick. Of the four, Grienke was my top choice. Of course, Chefdick starts off the round from hell by snagging Price. Willis sticks it in my ear and takes Haren. At this point the only thing in the way of Grienke becoming a Boston Bad boy is Dan’s pick. Having played with Dan for a few seasons, I know that he hates Zack Grienke. There’s no way that he takes him here. No freakin’ way!

And suddenly Dan is out of the draft room. I’m not a religious man, but I’m praying that Dan has loaded up his draft queue with non-Greinke players.

Tick… tick… tick…

Allan gets on the chat and says that he talked to Dan and that his computer died. How does this happen?!? At the end of last season, we all had to hear Dan complain that he would have taken down the LBC’s in the playoffs if only Troy Tulowitzki had played mediocre… blah, blah, blah. He vowed that 2012 was gonna be his year! He was dominating his mocks and ready to wreak havoc on the league. Dan talked all kinds of smack on how this was his year, and he didn’t take the time to make sure his computer was working?

Tick… tick… tick…

In the minutes leading up to the draft I made sure my computer was plugged in securely. I had my iPad on standby, iPhone loaded up to the CBS site. All contingencies were in place. So how does Dan forget to defrag his hard drive, or whatever crappy excuse he has? Now, if he winds up with a lousy, computer-generated team, we’re all gonna hear about it for the rest of the season. This is bad.

Tick… tick… tick…

And as the clock hits zero, Dan’s broken computer picks Grienke, and my perfectly constructed plan has its first problem. Thanks, Dan! A wise person once told me, “The thing about the fantasy draft is that you hope to get the player you want, but you should expect that he won’t be there.” Ok, that person was the Love Boat Captains, but she’s right. You need contingency after contingency. It can wear you down. So, I miss out on my top four pitchers and take C.J. Wilson. I’m ok with the pick. Wilson is not pitching in the Texas bandbox anymore and has had a 2.56 ERA on the road over the past two seasons. Is he an ace? Close…

Allan follows this pick by doing Dan a favor and taking Josh Hamilton. It’s well documented that I absolutely would never take this guy in a draft. He will break down at some point in the season. LBC’s, Mike, and October Boys finish the round taking great value picks Hudson, Shields, and Teixeira.

Four rounds completed, 1600 words and counting. This recap may never end!

Is it just me, or does it seem like this year there are 25 great players, followed by 25 really good players, a handful of decent guys and then garbage the rest of the way?

Rounds 5-10 – Things are getting interesting now

  • The October Boys: Matt Cain, Michael Pineda, Jay Bruce, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jayson Werth and Big Sexy Alexei Ramirez. I love the Cain pick. He’s a sure thing and a great #2 on Dennis’s staff. Pineda is going to get crushed under the pressure of playing in NY. His second-half stats last year were pretty mediocre. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium is going to turn last year’s lazy fly balls at Safeco into home runs. Bruce is a solid pick. As for Ubaldo and Werth? Good players coming off bad years. Dennis is counting on a bounce-back.
  • sportsmanMike: Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon, Ervin Santana, and Asdrubal Cabrera. I’m trying to find something that I don’t like about these picks..but it seems like Mike did his homework, executed his plan and landed the players that he was targeting. Ok, Weeks was a little early, and Asdrubal will not be putting up the same numbers as his fluky 2011 season. I feel better now.
  • Love Boat Captains: Carlos Santana, Mat Latos, Starlin Castro, Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Masterson. This is typical LBC draft. Fills two holes with elite players, then grabs a couple of sleeper picks. Bonifacio may steal 200 bases this year. It makes it even more enjoyable of a pick when Dan types “Bonifacio is it. That nobody player that damn near wins the MVP for the Love Boat Captains every year? That’s it right there!” Coupled with Dennis saying “Shit, I really wanted him too!” I look across the table to see Ginger do her little “I know more about fantasy baseball then you do” smirk, and I realize that we’re all screwed, again! It’s also fun when I tell her that I think Ackley isn’t going to be any good, and he starts off the season with a home run and the game-winning RBI. I don’t particularly like the Latos and Masterson picks, but these are the kind of pitchers Ginger rides to a championship.
  • believe the hype: Giancarlo “Don’t Call Me Mike” Stanton, Tommy Hanson, David Ortiz, Michael Young, Yu Darvish, and Johnny Cueto. I really like Stanton a lot! He adds to a really impressive OF for Allan. Yu Darvish has looked good in the spring, but I’m still leery of a pitcher from Japan making the transition to American baseball. Hanson may be a steal… or a giant bust. I’m hoping for the latter.
  • Boston bad boys: Dan Uggla, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Matt Moore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Max Scherzer. I’m all in on Uggla. He had a great second half last season and is mashing the ball in spring training. He was a guy I targeted in every mock. I followed by making a very un-Dave-like run on young arms. Bumgarner will break out this year, Strasburg has lived up to the hype, and Moore has three great pitches and may be the best of the three. I was absolutely shocked that he fell to me. Thanks, Rays fans. I had to take an ourfielder at this point, since I only had one. I am counting on Choo to return to form after a horrendous 2011. In the 9th round, I figured he was worth the chance. I ended with my good friend Max Scherzer. Not entirely sure why I like him – I just do. Here’s hoping for a another 15-win season.
  • Rays Those Cowbells: Jon Lester, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Wainwright, Lance Berman, Andre Ethier, and Josh Beckett. Dan confirmed what I already knew: he loves pitchers. He grabbed three really good ones here. This was a good run for Dan… or was it Allan at this point? It’s hard to tell. These are pretty good picks, so I’m leaning towards Allan on his Nook. If Zimmerman can stay healthy, he’s as solid as they come. Not an Ethier or Berkman fan, but at this point of the draft it’s getting to be slim pickings.
  • WillisBeTheYear: Matt Holliday, Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, Shane Victorino, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Rodriguez. Prior to the draft starting, I made the statement that Willis was the one player that scared me this season. These six picks are the reason why. With the exception of the adulterous steroid user, Willis got great value with every one of these picks. At this point of the draft, Willis has Halladay, Hamels, Haren, Johnson and Romero. To mess with his mojo, I like to remind Willis that he traded me Josh Johnson two seasons ago for Mark Reynolds. Johnson pitched lights out the rest of the season, while Mark Reynolds was, well, Mark Reynolds.
  • RedRays: Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Pablo Sandoval, Chris Young, Anibal Sanchez, and John Axford. Solid run by the RedRays. It’s hard to argue with any of these picks, so it’s time for a little game I like to call “Guess the Player Stats.”
    • Player A: .333, 23 runs, 8 HRs, 20 RBIs, 14 SB
    • Player B: .160, 21 runs, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 6 SB.

    Player A is Desmond Jennings over his first 141 at-bats last season. Player B is Jennings over the next, and final, 106 at-bats. It poses the question, is Desmond Jennings a flash in the pan? (4/1/12 update: Jennings hit 3 bombs in one game.)

  • Chefdick again: Brandon Phillips, Michael Morse, Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and Mike Napoli. Chefdick is clearly sick and tired of finishing in second place. He grabbed the best remaining players at their positions with each of these picks, and I think he nailed every one! (Except Garza. He sucks.) The Texas triumvirate 8-9-10 was money. Chefdick, without a doubt, had the best draft.
  • the Hammer: Kevin Youkilis, Alex Avila, Jimmy Rollins, Paul Konerko, Gio Gonzalez, and Drew Storen. The Hammer has assembled a pretty good team, but with the exception of perennial 30-HR, 100-RBI guy Konerko, I think he reached on every one of these picks. With that being said, these rounds were tough, and he did add some solid players.

10 rounds in, it’s time to stock up on the mediocre pitchers!

Picks I Love, Rounds 11-22

  • Round 11: Brett Lawrie by LBC. David Wright by BBB.
  • Round 12: Jonathan Papelbon by RTC. Pap is going to dominate in the NL. Carl Crawford by Willis. This guy does not suck, this guy does not suck (repeat 100 times).
  • Round 13: Matt Wieters by TOB. This is the season that Wieters lives up to the hype.
  • Round 14: Brandon McCarthy by LBC. Breakout candidate. Pitched great on opening day in Japan.
  • Round 15: Francisco Liriano by BBB. I picked Liriano based on one stat: He has a 26/4 K/BB rate in the spring. His control is there. I look forward to a huge bounce-back season. Jesus Montero by Willis. I like a guy that’s eligible at catcher but is playing primarily DH. He’ll get a lot of AB’s. This kid is something special.
  • Round 16: Howie Kendrick by RR. Hitting in front of Pujols is going to lead to great numbers. Add 2B/OF eligibility, and this guy is a bargain. I was going to take him with this pick, and the RedRays stick it to me for the 3rd time in the draft.
  • Round 17: Kendrys Morales by Chefdick. Another guy I was targeting, before Chefdick swooped in and grabbed him. After missing the last season and a half, this guy was totally worth the gamble. Another good pick by Chef.
  • Round 18: Not Applicable. We all picked garbage.
  • Round 19: Brennan Boesch by RR. Solid player having a good spring. Hitting in front of Cabrera and Fielder is only going to help this year.
  • Round 20: Erick Aybar by The October Boys. If you’re going to wait on shortstop, you can do a lot worse than Aybar.
  • Round 21: Ryan Roberts by The October Boys. A versatile player who’ll steal some bases and hit some home runs. The rest of this round was pretty ugly.

Picks I Hate, Rounds 11-22

  • Round 11: BJ Upton by Chefdick. The outfield position got thin early, but I think this is a gamble that he could have waited a few rounds for.
  • Round 12: Chris Carpenter by Chefdick. If he were healthy, I wouldn’t have taken him this high. He had a mediocre 2011 with a great run in the playoffs. He’s not a guy you can count on, especially when he’s all banged up.
  • Round 13: Andrew Bailey by Chefdick. Round 13 is early for a middle-of-the-road reliever. Add the nagging injuries, strained lat, and hurt thumb, and this could be total waste of a pick. That’s three turds in a row for Chefdick. Didn’t I say he had the best draft? I may need to reevaluate.
  • Round 14: Joe Nathan by RedRays. Big name, bad arm. 10.79 ERA in the spring.
  • Round 15: Jair Jurrjens by Chefdick. Not a fan.
  • Round 16: Mike Leake by The October Boys. This t-shirt shoplifter is un-draftable. The fact is that he’s just not very good.
  • Round 17: Matt Joyce by unsportsmanMike. This guy is good for one month a season. Which month? That’s a good question. PASS!
  • Round 18: Adam Lind by BBB. This guy and his damn back issues. I picked him and dropped him. Believe the hype can have him! He’ll drive you crazy this year. I traded Ian Kennedy for this bum last season. I am a moron.
  • Round 19: Alfredo Aceves by The October Boys. Long relievers hold absolutely no value in fantasy baseball.
  • Round 20: David Freese by RTC. World Series MVP does not translate to good fantasy player. Stats are mediocre.
  • Round 21: Chase Utley by the Hammer. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Utley went from top-5 pick to Mr. Irrelevant.

If anyone is still with me, I really appreciate you reading this monster of a post. I hope you remember that this is just one guy’s opinion. Drafting a team is a fickle business. Do you draft a team of players that you enjoy watching, or the players that put up big numbers but play for a team you hate? After all, we are only playing for bragging rights, so we should just try and have fun.

In closing, I want to thank everyone for supporting the site and playing in OUR league again. I really do look forward to it every year. Let’s all try to remember that this is just a game. and that the important thing is to enjoy each other’s company, appreciate the baseball being played, have some friendly discussions, and keep the focus on the friendly competition. There’s a reason that this is the best fantasy baseball league around. We have ten owners that know their baseball and are savvy with their teams. Let’s make this the best year yet!

Playoff Predictions

Chefdick again
Boston bad boys
RedRays
WillisBeTheYear

Thanks for reading… PLAY BALL!