Sunday night we held the seventh annual Rotoman’s Regulars League draft. The league is a 20 team Yahoo 5×5 league. Rosters are 20 deep (four reserves), so 400 players are taken. This is a very tough league with very smart, tough competition, both in the draft and all season long. And the all season long part is crucial. Though the league has weekly waiver claims it has daily ups and downs, so maximizing one’s reserve list and streaming players and pitchers on off days is essential. I made a respectable showing the first year, but each subsequent year things got worse until I decided to take a break. I hate sucking. This year I decided to return. I missed the guys and in spite of my suckiness at it, I like the format a lot.
Here’s what happened:
1. Miguel Cabrera (1B): The seventh pick overall comes after the big boys, but before you can legitimately go after someone like Mauer or Lincecum. I mean, you could, but it doesn’t feel right. So, I went after the guy I think is the best of the big boys who isn’t a big boy. He’s the right age, he’ll be helped having Johnny Damon hitting ahead of him (but maybe not Austin Jackson), and he has a lot to live down after last year’s disgraceful exit.
2. Pablo Sandoval (3B): Waiting 26 picks for a second guy is frustrating. All the obvious names went off the board. I didn’t want an outfielder and I don’t trust Mark Reynolds or Ben Zobrist at this point, and I had a first baseman already. So, it was Sandoval for me. He’s young, so maybe there’s upside, but he plays on a crappy team offensively in a bad ballpark for hitting, so he’s risky, too.
3. Brian Roberts (2B): I was glad he was around. I wanted a middle infielder who ran. What I didn’t want was a guy who’d had his first workout of the spring hours before because of a bad disk in his back. I’d read about his problems earlier in February, but somehow missed the reports of escalating malady. If I’d known I would have taken the aging statesman, Derek Jeter. Roberts says he’ll be okay, so there’s that, but players aren’t doctors. My fingers are crossed. And I took a 2B in the reserve rounds, just in case.
4. Denard Span (OF): Okay, time for an outfielder, because there were no appropriate shortstops or corners. I added three to my queue: Andre Ethier, Andrew McCutcheon, and Denard Span. All three were available as my turn approached, but then they went down on order: McCutcheon, Ethier, and–on my turn–Span. The guy I missed was Hunter Pence, who I like a tick better, but the reality is that I like Span more than most, and I got him.
5. Josh Johnson (SP): At this point most of the first-rank starters were gone. That is, the guys who pitch for good teams and throw strikeouts. So, I landed two guys who pitch for okay teams, and throw strikeouts (but not the most).
6. Jair Jurrjens (SP): One reason for jumping on pitchers here is that there still wasn’t a targetable SS or C available. The two JJs are excellent pitchers. Not quite anchors, but just one step down.
7. Jose Valverde (RP): While I was taking two starters, many teams were taking closers. Valverde was one of the last uncontested 9th inning guys available, so I punched the DRAFT button. Lock it in!
8. Yunel Escobar (SS): Finally, a guy I had ranked in this area (pick 154) who played shortstop made it to me. Escobar has a little pop, has posted good batting averages and decent production the last two years, and thoroughly fills the bill.
9. Geovanny Soto (C): I kept looking at last year’s batting average, if you can call it that, and then at Ryan Doumit, who I like a lot this year. But I didn’t think I needed to take Doumit at this point (he ended up going 201st), and I didn’t want Chris Coghlan for my outfield, or John Danks or Ryan Franklin, so I drafted Soto. Miguel Montero went later in the round, and I had second thoughts, but I have Soto on a bounceback this year and rated higher than Montero, so what the heck.
10. Drew Stubbs: I was going to take Cody Ross, but he was grabbed off the top of my queue the pick before me. Stubbs is a risky pick, but I’m really high on him. Could he lose his job? Sure. Could he steal 40 bases? Sure! Expecting a youngster to hold his job on Dusty Baker’s team is foolhardy, but the team’s options are pretty young, and Stubbs isn’t a kid. He’s got stubble even.
11. Colby Rasmus: At this point the pickings were pretty thin and I needed a starting pitcher or an outfielder. I had a long list of pitchers in my queue, and not many outfielders. Rasmus is young, has a full year under his belt, may not hit for average but my team could handle that, and will hit for some power. He’s not a great outfielder in this format, at least not yet, but he has the chance to get better. The other options didn’t appeal to me as much, Garrett Jones for instance, though you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking me wrong.
12. Wade Davis: I have him atop my breakout list, maybe ahead of Stubbs. That’s as much as sign that he’ll break out in 2011 as this year, but at this point in the draft you have to take guys who could be better than expected. Davis could be, this year.
13. Kevin Gregg: I usually don’t take any closers at all, but that hasn’t worked out for me in this league (getting 1 of 20 points is painful), so I’m adding some to the mix. Valverde is a real closer, and Gregg is the shot. I wish I could say I had a feel for the situation in Toronto, but my guess is a hunch, which is about as good as a nod to a blind man. Would Toronto sign Gregg to NOT be the closer? I don’t think so, which means he’s got a decent shot at the fulltime job. I could have taken Scott Downs, but I don’t think there’s any chance he gets the fulltime job. Gregg might.
14. Homer Bailey: I picked up Bailey in Tout Wars at the end of August last year and he was great through the end of the season. Short shrift should be given to September hot streaks, especially guys on non-contenders, who face a disproportionate number of call ups (who they’ve already proven they can get out), but it was late, and this guy is still a prospect. He just isn’t as hot a one as he was before he came to the big leagues, as many do, and failed. There is risk he’ll fail again, and there is upside.
15. Delmon Young (UT): If there is a theme here it is potential unrealized. I owned Young in the American Dream League last year, and he was a grave disappointment until the day in August I released him. Then, suddenly, he found his game and playing time, at the same time, and was a very productive player down the stretch. As with Bailey, this could be a mirage, but Young’s run started earlier and he has a little more good history (and bad) than Bailey. He’s a guy who needed maturity and focus to join with talent and skill, and there is some chance we’ll see those nuptials this year. I’m so romantic.
16. Brad Bergesen: I’m a sucker for guys who pitch to contact, throw strikes, get a fair number of outs, seem to do much better than they’re supposed to. Bergesen is a longshot, like another BB, Brian Bannister, unless he throws more strikeouts. He’s on a short leash, but while he’s on my team I like his style.
17. Felipe Lopez: The Brian Roberts blunder had me searching for a 2B/SS throughout the draft, but I kept missing on them and didn’t want to reach. Happily, Lopez made it to the reserve rounds. He’s discounted because it isn’t clear where he’ll play in St. Louis, and at his price ($1M for the year) I guess the Cards could use him as a backup. But he’s a better 2B than Schu and a better bet for this year than Freese at 3B, so I think he’ll get his AB. That makes him potentially helpful insurance.
18. Jeremy Bonderman: He is healthy, and when he’s been healthy he’s been a very good pitcher. He’s not been able to stay healthy and has a habit of breaking down in the second half, which is why he’s available in the reserve rounds.
19. Ryan Sweeney: Almost everyone I tout eventually has a great year, except for the ones I forget about. Sweeney is gradually growing into his role as a good major league hitter. He’s 25, is coming off a season of improvement, and I think he’s going to be given every chance to play regularly despite the Oakland glut of (mediocre) outfield talents. I’m not promising a breakout this year, but as with many players on this team, it could happen.
20. Kevin Millwood: He was so good the first half of last year, I could overlook the many years of awfulness and take him with my last pick. I’m going to need to manipulate this pitching staff, so it will be good to have options and guys I can replace without a look back.
HOW CAN I WIN? If the solid guys pretty much perform (and Roberts is able to play), I need a bounce back from Soto, and decent seasons from at least two of my outfielders. And it would be a big help if Kevin Gregg ended up closing in Toronto.
HOW CAN I LOSE? This team projects weak (thanks to Eun Park’s most excellent Drafttracker spreadsheet) in power hitting cats and pitching qualitatives. With 19 other teams to battle against, recovering from a weak but fun draft is tough. In other words, let me count the ways.
THE LESSON: When using draft software like Yahoos, it is worth the effort to upload your own draft list. The Yahoo list is so screwy and misleading but omnipresent, that you have to take it into account. But it makes it easy to lose track of worthwhile players who haven’t been taken because they’re not showing up on the first 10 pages of Yahoo’s lists. Knowing the players isn’t as big a help as you would think, since your wisdom is constantly challenged by the ubiquity of the Yahoo O-Ranks and ADP listings. I’m not blaming Yahoo at all, but rather my feckless belief I could get away easy. The extra work is definitely worth it.
To see the entire draft in a spreadsheet. 2010rotoregsdraft
To see Eun Park’s analysis of the draft, visit talk.askrotoman.com.