30
Mar
09

Warning: Only Read if You’re Obsessed With Fantasy Baseball


Being a good Jew, Christmas means nothing to me, but I can understand the excitement you goyim feel on that day because once a year, I get to do one of my absolute favorite things; draft my fantasy baseball team. Draft day is one of the best days of the year, hope springs eternal and the sheer elation I get from having an empty team page start to get filled up with stars and scrubs alike is nearly indescribable. Yesterday marked the 8th annual draft for my most important fantasy league, simply known to us all as “The League.” Every year after the draft I provide an in-depth and exhaustive recap of each team and the draft itself. This year the draft clocked in at a robust 4 hours and in total 348 players were drafted to fill the 12 teams. Join us after the jump for the full (almost 8,000 words) recap or you know, go off and do something actually productive with your life…

In order of draft positions:

(For clarification, this is a 12 team, 5 x 5 roto league with 29 roster spots, featuring the standard baseball lineup only with 5 outfielders, a corner and middle infielder slot and a utility position. As well, there are 10 pitching slots and a 6 man bench.)

It should be noted that while I have never accurately predicted the winner of the league, as you can see below, I was otherwise pretty decent on my predications where people would finish. If you are so interested, you can download the draft results round by round to follow along at home by clicking that link and downloading the document.Also, make sure to vote in the poll at the bottom!

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Team I Shot The Schlereth last year floundered in the stolen bases category and so seemed determined to not allow that to happen this year. His draft features multiple speedsters, some nice power and the absolute scrippiest of outfields amongst the 12 teams. Leading off the draft with Hanley Ramirez who looks poised to become even more of a monster this season is always a strong base point, following him up with CC Sabathia to anchor the pitching staff provides two big-time cornerstones for this team. Unfortunately, the rest of the hitting lineup just doesn’t look strong enough. Adrian Gonzalez, Dan Uggla and Justin Morneau are all excellent hitters and should provide some pop, but the rest of the lineup is devoid of power and looks likely to produce at BEST a middle-place offense. Melvin Mora was a fantastic 20th round selection, but third base is a relatively deep position and to have to settle for Mora is not great for the team’s prospects. While Johnny Damon and Rick Ankiel are solid outfielders, 5 OF slots means that you need to go at least 3 strong outfielders deep to be truly competitive and I Shot The Schlereth doesn’t have that depth. Milton Bradley was an offensive force last season, in the DH role, also in only 126 games. In his entire career Bradley has played more than the 126 games he appeared in last season ONCE, and now, moving to the NL he is unlikely to get in more than 90 games at most until his body breaks down. Carlos Gomez, Ty Wigginton, Michael Bourn, Gary Sheffield and Chris Dickerson round out the OF “depth,” if you can call it that. While this team features lots of speed, it seems to come at the expense of power, and while SBs count as one category, HRs lead to RBIs, Runs and Avg, all of which I Shot The Schlereth will be well behind in.

However, while the offense leaves much to be desired, the pitching staff as assembled looks poised to put up some big numbers. First up, the starting rotation: CC is a true ace and with the Yankees hitting behind him could very likely go off for 20+ wins and another 250 Ks. Adding Edinson Volquez as the number two is a little risky, but if he replicates his numbers from last season will be no problem. When I Shot The Schlereth took Jon Lester in the 8th round a very audible yell came out from multiple other owners in the league as at least 5 other people were desperately coveting him. Ryan Dempster, Chris Volstad and Edwin Jackson round out the rest of this strong starter crew, providing upside and some veteran stability in what looks like a very solid crew. For the relievers, Jonathan Papelbon is the number one reliever in the game and while the 4th seems early for any closer, Papelbon is one for whom you can almost justify it. Matt Capps, Brad Ziegler and Brandon Morrow round out the closer crew, putting I Shot The Schlereth in the enviable situation of having 4 legitimate closer candidates entering the season.

Best Pick: Jon Lester (8th), Melvin Mora (20th)

Biggest Reach: Matt Wieters (11th)

Worst Pick: Milton Bradley (12th)

Biggest Gamble: Matt Wieters (11th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 5

Final Place 2008: 10 (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 11th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 5th

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Team Clint Blurble last year was in contention for almost the entire season, thanks in large part to several shrewd/lucky waiver wire moves that catapulted his team towards the top. This year’s team features a strong crew of players, many of whom are personal favorites of Clint Burble’s manager. Any time you can have both of the returning MVPs in Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia you jump at that opportunity. The two of them alone provide a super strong base to build an offense upon. The rest of the hitting crew features some risk, will Rafael Furcal’s back stay healthy? Will Chris Davis continue as he did last season or undergo a sophomore slump? Can Todd Helton hold up for another season? Is David Ortiz’ a 35 HR or 20 HR hitter? Another area of concern is the outfield, while it features solid players it seriously lacks a big-time player. Carl Crawford is dope and should be a boon for stolen bases, but as much as I love Jay Bruce I worry about him being the number two OFer. However, Pat Burrell should provide some good numbers in the strong Rays lineup so the point may be moot. The bench depth is strong, although Josh Anderson and Mat Gamel were both wasted picks on players already ticketed for the minors. That said, Hank Blalock, Mike Fontenot (whose numbers I believe at the end of this year will look eerily similar to Mark DeRosa’s last year) and Rajai Davis provide protection and some upside too.

Roy Oswalt is the number one starter on this team, and he’s an excellent pick for that position. The likelihood that the Astros will be so bad that he doesn’t garner too many wins is there, but even without gaudy win totals Oswalt should provide strong peripheral stats and excellent ratios. John Lackey is currently battling some arm injuries, never a good sign before the season even gets started and is likely to miss at least a few weeks early on in the season. However, he did the exact same thing last year before coming back and being a force, so this pick should, long-term, pay out dividends. Ricky Nolasco, Chris Young, Joe Saunders, and Armando Gallaraga round out the starting rotation for the time being; resulting in one of the stronger starting pitching staffs in the entire league. In what could be one of the best moves late in the draft, Clint Burble nabbed young Rays future ace David Price, who despite starting the season in the minors is likely to make his owner very happy by the end of the season. The relief options for team Clint Blurble is a wholly different story. BJ Ryan, whose velocity has been down all spring and in fact might be left in Florida for the start of the season is the number one closer, which is not a comforting thought, Grant Balfour, Jon Rauch and Chris Perez round out the “possible closer candidates” but it looks very likely that some of the starting pitching depth might have to be moved in exchange for those all too valuable saves. That or some very close attention to the waiver wire early on in the season.

Best Pick: David Price (16th), Ricky Nolasco (11th), Mike Fontenot (22nd)

Biggest Reach: David Ortiz (4th)

Worst Pick: BJ Ryan (12th)

Biggest Gamble: David Ortiz (4th), David Price (16th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 7

Final Place 2008: 4th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 2nd)

2009 Predicted Finish: 4th

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Upon entering the league, the manager of this year’s Holliday Inn had never finished higher than 10th; all that changed in 2008. An incredible rollercoaster ride, propelled in large part from getting Albert Pujols late in the 2nd round, Holliday Inn won in a stunning, dominant fashion. Built upon an incredibly strong offense, that team powered its way to victory, while I like the offense he currently assembled; I don’t think this team has the same firepower. Carlos Lee and Matt Holliday anchor the offense, but the rest of the team features a lot of power questions. Jose Reyes leads the speed attack and that’s about it; Matt Holliday is the only other player over 13 steals and he’s unlikely to steal as many bases now that he’s a member of the A’s. Ryan Ludwick is unlikely to produce similar numbers as last season, as is Jorge Cantu and Xavier Nady. If he were able to get any playing time, Nick Swisher is also unlikely to reproduce last season’s numbers, although this time for the better. Akinori Iwamura is a bad option as a starting MIer but Clint Barmes and Swisher provide adequate depth on the bench. The lack of speed is going to be dangerous for this team as trades for steals are costly and fraught with trouble.

The pitching rotation is built on the shaky elbows of two young lefties, Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir, both of whom can be dominant and both of whom have spent significant time on the DL in the last few years. Last year was the first time Hamels got through a full season and the extra playoff innings raise a warning flag for this year’s performance. If he’s able to play like last year, this rotation looks a lot better, sans Hamels and there are a fair amount of concerns with this team. Throw in Erik Bedard and three of the top 4 starters on Team Holliday Inn are big-time injury concerns. If they all play, this team is going to be dangerous, if not…Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mark Buerhle, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeremy Guthrie and Todd Wellemeyer round out the rotation, providing some depth, but besides Dice-K no one likely to be stellar but all are serviceable. The closer situation is a little more comforting, with Brad Lidge leading the way, followed by Bobby Jenks, George Sherrill and Huston Street. While Sherrill and Street are possibilities to lose their tenuous holds on closer jobs, at least early on in the season they should be semi-valuable.

Best Pick: Brian McCann (5th)

Biggest Reach: Ryan Ludwick (8th)

Worst Pick: Ryan Ludwick (8th)

Biggest Gamble: Cole Hamels (4th), Scott Kazmir (7th) Erik Bedard (15th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 3

Final Place 2008: 1st (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 5th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 3rd

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For Your Eyes Olney got his well-deserved come-uppance last season; fresh off 3 straight victories, the trash-talking swagger of this manager led to a pathetic last place finish. In fact, he finished with the lowest final score in the history of this league, an abysmal 26.5 points and a full 26 points out of 11th place. Is this the year he returns to greatness? Was last year the first step towards his true place in mediocrity? With a gleeful smile he eagerly took David Wright with his first pick, adding Manny Ramirez next to set this offense up for some big-time production. The additions of Red Sox players Jason Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury mean that this team should be strong in all 5 offensive categories. The outfield is clearly the offensive strength on this team, with Bobby Abreu, Andre Either and Jack Cust rounding out the final starting spots. The infield features some concerns, will James Loney be more productive? Can a MI situation featuring Orlando Hudson, Jhonny Peralta and Aaron Hill be able to produce the kind of numbers that a contending team really needs? My prediction is that they won’t, and some creative moves will need to be made later in the season to rectify the situation. Waiting on a second baseman for so long led to this miserable MI situation and there were better players on the board than the options For Your Eyes Olney took instead. The bench depth though is excellent, with Kelly Shoppach paired up with Victor Martinez potentially leading to 35+ HRs out of the catcher position the highlight here. Josh Fields, Travis Ishikawa, Garrett Anderson and Luke Scott are all better options than, for instance, most of the starting OFers for I Shot the Schlereth.

When For Your Eyes Olney took Dan Haren as his first starting pitcher he did the pick without confidence and unhappy about it. This was the correct reaction. Haren as the staff ace is disconcerting, but Chad Billingsley, Matt Cain and Josh Johnson help this all-white guy staff round into shape, and these young guns look poised to take on the world. Gavin Floyd, Aaron Cook, Jesse Litsch and John Smoltz (sigh) finish out the starters providing some depth and middling level ability along the way. There are still plenty of concerns thanks to the unpredictable nature of young pitchers but these guys all seem like the right ones to pin your hopes on. Unwilling or unable to nab a front-line closer, this relief staff is cobbled together with duct tape and baling wire, headed by Brian Wilson, he of the 4.62 ERA last season, an injured Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon; not very appealing and not very likely to produce very good results.

Best Pick: Jason Bay (3rd)

Biggest Reach: None

Worst Pick: Dan Haren (5th), Aaron Hill (19th)

Biggest Gamble: Manny Ramirez (2nd)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 4

Final Place 2008: 12th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 3rd)

2009 Predicted Finish: 6th

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Always in the vicinity, team Kevin Youppilis sniffs around the top of the league but usually ends up finishing out of the money around the 5th place spot (despite last year’s second place finish.) I think that tradition is likely to continue once more this year. Flush with power, this team features 4 players with legit 30 HR ability and 3 are near-locks to repeat similar type numbers as last year. With Grady Sizemore always a potential MVP candidate, this team has a great foundation. The starting infield situation is nice, but the CI and MI slots leave much to be desired. Carlos Delgado may be as good as he was last season but I have little to no confidence in him and avoided him, Kevin Youppilis, a devout Mets fan has no such compunctions, I wish him luck. Alexi Casilla is the starting MI and while he is expected to run more this season, I think Kevin Youppilis would admit that he is not a great option as a starter. I like the outfield depth, after Sizemore comes Hunter Pence and Torii Hunter, two 20-15 threats and the upsides of Lastings Milledge and Jeremy Hermida. Long-time favorite of Kevin Youppilis, Casey Blake uninspiringly fills out the utility slot. The steals potential for this team is OK, but nothing extraordinary, likely leading to being firmly in the middle. The bench is solid-ish, with Daniel Murphy the best of the lot, Yunel Escobar, darling of last year’s drafts is solid if unexciting, as is Kendry Morales.

Having Brandon Webb atop this pitching rotation is a great situation, following him up with Yovani Gallardo is more confusing to me. Matt Garza and Clayton Kershaw throw their young potential into the mix, along with a way too early drafted Mike Pelfrey. Hiroki Kuroda provides the wily veteran stability for this staff, followed by Manny Parra, Scott Lewis, Sean Marshall (a great late-round steal) and John Lannan (number 1 starter of the Nats drafted in the 27th!) all of whom won’t put up astonishing numbers but will be more than serviceable. Overall, this rotation features a solid mix of young potential and of course, the ace numbers of Webb allow a little more gambling with the youngsters. All that starting pitching comes at a cost though; this team has a pretty terrible closing situation. While I like Chad Qualls, following him up with Dan Wheeler and Jason Motte as the only other save options, when neither is guaranteed to be the long-term save options for their own teams is both risky and foolish. Sure, saves can be found on the waiver wire, but counting on that is dangerous and this team is going to be forced to grab whoever the closer du jour is as they happen, never a good position to be in.

Best Pick: Chad Qualls (15th)

Biggest Reach: Yovani Gallardo (10th), Mike Pelfrey (16th)

Worst Pick: Mike Pelfrey (16th)

Biggest Gamble: Carlos Delgado (9th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 4

Final Place 2008: 2nd (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 9th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 8th

Predicted Number of Youppi-related names: 4

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GreenEggs&Willingham once was a force to be reckoned with in this league, but after a rules change led to a moves limit, this team really hasn’t been heard from since. This was a weird draft for this team, particularly in rounds 9-15 where nearly all the picks were highly questionable. Miguel Cabrera and Alfonso Soriano are great players to build around but taking Alexei Ramirez as your third hitter is embarrassing. Ramirez is a solid player but there was much better value on the board at the time and this pick will likely be one GreenEggs&Willingham regrets. While I really like the speed component on this team, with 4, maybe 5 players likely to reach 20 steals each, this team features a number of players likely to take steps backwards in the other offensive categories. Aubrey Huff is highly unlikely to repeat anything CLOSE to the awesome numbers he produced last season, the same is true with Mark DeRosa. Add in that Ryan Zimmerman sucks as an offensive player, Edgar Renteria is useless and Skip Schumaker is starting, this lineup has a ton of question marks. About the best thing I can say about this offense is that three players have multiple position flexibility, which is nice, except I’d rather have better players than more flexibility. The over-drafting of Nelson Cruz is baffling, as is the continued insistence that Ryan Zimmerman has value. All in all, the offense features 5 starting players who are due to see major regression in their numbers or continue their paths to ineptitude. That’s not good. The late snag of Coco Crisp was prudent, as was grabbing Jayson Werth, both should be valuable contributors. The bench depth is non-existent; the only hitter on the bench is Ryan Church, not a great sign considering how many problems and holes there are in the starting lineup.

Cy Young winner and Tiny-Tim impersonator Tim Lincecum is handed the reins as the lead ace for this pitching staff. He is followed by two major injury risks, in Francisco Liriano and Rich Harden, throw in the baffling over-draft of Chris Carpenter, a struggling Fausto Carmona, Kenshin Kawakami a pitcher new to the majors and this rotation provides more questions than answers. The only starting pitchers GreenEggs&Willingham took that I think were decent picks are Kevin Slowey and Jordan Zimmerman. Everyone else simply features too many risks and both those guys are unlikely to be the difference between contending and not. The likelihood is that Harden won’t get through more than 150 innings without getting hurt, since you know, he never has, Liriano is butters when he’s on but who there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy. I actually think Lirano is the best bet of the question marks but that is like saying he’s the best looking corpse after a plane crash. I’m still STUNNED by the pick of Chris Carpenter in the 14th round, he would have been available at LEAST 5-6 rounds later and while I do like his upside this year, there were much much better options available at the time and this team would have been better served had it taken any of those other players. GreenEggs&Willingham will have tons of strikeouts, but when half the team goes on the DL and the offense is sputtering there are going to be lots of problems. The closing situation, like the weak offense, concerns me. Troy Percival is unlikely to complete a full season without visiting the DL multiple times (seeing a theme here among these pitchers yet?), Manny Corpas may or may not be the closer in Colorado (although I think he’ll be solid if he is actually in that role,) and then Leo Nunez, Justin Masterson and Juan Cruz are all middle relievers who will give good peripherals but otherwise won’t add too much.

Best Pick: Tim Lincecum (2nd), Geovany Soto (5th)

Biggest Reach: Nelson Cruz (10th), Chris Carpenter (14th), Alexei Ramirez (4th)

Worst Pick: Ryan Zimmerman (9th), Nelson Cruz (10th), Aubrey Huff (11th), Chris Carpenter (14th)

Biggest Gamble: Nelson Cruz (10th), Alexei Ramirez (4th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 0

Final Place 2008: 3rd (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 4th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 9th

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This year’s Slanch Report team, Hayden Pennitentiary features the absolute best offense in the league, and likely the most miserable pitching staff. Stuck in an awkward drafting position, ace pitchers were flying off the shelves before we could grab them and, unwilling to reach for players kept grabbing the best players on the board instead, leading to a dominant offense but the anemic pitching staff. Taking hitters with my first 8 picks, the stage is set for well-rounded production, each is likely to hit at least 20 HRs, with Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Aramis Ramirez and Jermaine Dye are all legitimate 30+ HR threats. The expected progression from Brandon Phillips and Stephen Drew means that up the middle this team is built very strong. Long-time favorite/obsession Justin Upton’s addition to the team hopefully will prove to be extremely worthwhile; the same can be said for Cameron Maybin. Both are among the most likely breakout players this season and their upside should only take this team to the top of most offensive categories. Another favorite, Jed Lowrie should provide solid stats for a MI, and having another long-time favorite, Carlos Guillen in the utility role provides both flexibility and another 20 HR threat to this stacked offense. The outfield looks to be one of, if not THE best in the league. After Braun comes Curtis Granderson who even in limited time last year put up phenomenal numbers, as well as the other aforementioned players. Travis Snider, future rookie sensation provides some bench depth, along with Mike Lowell who was a steal in the 21st round, and two young no-hit speedsters in Elvis Andrus and Brett Gardner. As constituted, it is very possible that there are two 20 HR guys available on the bench and approximately 40 SBs. While speed is a little concern in the starting lineup, if either of Gardner or Andrus can manage an average over .260 their contributions in the SB category should outweigh everything else.

As mentioned before, the pitching staff is highly highly worrisome. The big regret from this draft is likely to be drafting Jermaine Dye over Jon Lester in the 8th, while Lester may not be by definition an ace, he’d be more than serviceable atop this rotation. Instead, in a reach, a major gamble was taken in drafting Justin Verlander in the 9th round. This pick could make or break the entire season. While some experts predict a resurgent Verlander, there is simply no way to know yet and if he sucks then this team will need to hurriedly deal off some of that vaunted offense firepower in desperation to hang on. Derek Lowe, John Danks, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettite and Joe Blanton round out this rotation, none of whom are aces but solid mid-level 2-3 type pitchers. The hope is that someone here takes a major step forward (Danks?) and that some bargains can be found on the waiver wire, otherwise this team might earn 50+ points in offense but under 10 total points in pitching. Yikes. That’s what we call a 6th place finish. Two late-round picks might pan out, Kelvim Escobar, only two years removed from an 18-win season is only expected to miss the first month and if he comes back as strong as he was it would go a long ways to helping this team. Brett Anderson, a rookie pitcher with the A’s could turn out to be solid but is just as likely to flounder. If Verlander regains his form, if Escobar regains his, if Danks repeats last season’s success, etc etc this might be OK, but as constituted right now it is a long LONG LONG ways from being good; trades and shrewd moves will HAVE to be done. While the starting pitching staff is poorly constructed, the relief corps seems to be in a much better situation. Houston’s Jose Valverde is a tick below the front-line closers but is also a very likely 40 save man, something he’s attained the last two seasons without too much struggle. Add in newly anointed Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, who proved successful in the role in the past and the late nabbing of Joel Hanrahan particularly fortunate since he was one of the last legitimate closers on the board. Toss in Takashi Saito who should have strong peripherals in a set-up role for the Red Sox and some save opportunities when Papelbon is unavailable as a decent middle relief option. Having three solid closers should enable team Hayden Pennitentiary to remain competitive and hopefully only have to look for starters to improve the overall pitching staff. If this team doesn’t add some quality starting pitching though, whether by waiver wire scouring or trades, all the power in the offense won’t be enough to get it into a contending spot.

Best Pick: Lance Berkman (2nd)

Biggest Reach: Justin Upton (10th),

Worst Pick: Justin Verlander (9th)

Biggest Gamble: Justin Verlander (9th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 3

Final Place 2008: 6th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 6th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 7th

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In a shocking turn of events, team UCan’tHandleMcLouth who would normally after 8 rounds have somewhere in the range of 6 pitchers, exercised restraint and only drafted 4. Of course, he then drafted 3 more pitchers in rounds 9-11. Essentially the exact opposite of team Hayden Pennetentiary, this team is all pitching and little offense. The offense is built on a nice speed foundation, Brian Roberts, Matt Kemp and Chone Figgins are legitimate 40 SB threats, which alone would put this team in the upper echelon for steals. Add in Ryan Theriot, Randy Winn, Denard Span, Kaz Matsui and Juan Pierre and there are loads of steals here for hoarding or trading; unfortunately, steals are only one of 5 scoring categories. Josh Hamilton is the anchor of the power side of the offense, and as incredibly dope as he is, other than the power potential of Matt Kemp, this team doesn’t feature much offensive strength. There are number of double-digit HR guys, but most of them are likely to be more in 14-17 HR range than the 22-28 area that this team would need to be competitive in offense. Nabbing Vernon Wells in the 14th was semi-fortuitous; since no one else wanted anyone to do with him, but that late will likely be worth it. First and Third base are positions where you expect to get a lot of power and this team instead features Conor Jackson starting at first, Chone Figgins at third and Alex Gordon at CI, combined these three are unlikely to hit 35 HRs, which almost every other team has from at least one of those slots. That’s a major problem. The bench features Jorge Posada, Jason Kubel, Travis Hafner and Denard Span, all of whom are decent but none are likely to be close to enough to fill in the gaps on this middling offense.

Miserable as the hitting is, this pitching staff looks to be better than decent, but not the best UCan’tHandleMcLouth has ever fielded. In a brutally hard decision for him, UCan’tHandleMcLouth was forced to decide between Alfonso Soriano and Johan Santana in the early going, he went Johan. The rest of the rotation James Shields, Cliff Lee, Ervin Santana and Sean Gallagher are strong but feature plenty of concerns too. Will Cliff Lee come close to replicating last season or is he more likely to regress towards the mean? Ervin Santana is experiencing elbow troubles already, and is unlikely to pitch the first month, who knows how long he can stand up without requiring surgery? James Shields is the best bet to maintain his success of this group but I don’t think it will be enough. Fortunately for UCan’tHandleMcLouth, at least his closer situation is extremely strong. After grabbing Joe Nathan he was able to also score Mariano Rivera (again, at the expense of his feeble offense) thus putting him in a strong position to contend in saves. Add in Joey Devine and Rafael Soriano as handcuffs who could vulture a few saves along the way and this position is fairly secure. One of the most predictable and foolish picks of the draft was when the ever-hopeful Cubs fan took Carlos Marmol in 11th, prompting the line of the draft from our commissioner who said, “When you have only 4 hitters, you’ve got to draft a middle reliever,” immediately after the pick. While Marmol is awesome, 100 Ks are valuable no matter what, but with actual closers on the board this pick is nearly inexcusable. What could have been an absolute dominating category instead is merely a strong one. With likely strengths in only two categories, SBs and Saves, this team is unlikely to be a major force unless it can pull off some creative moves. Based on his trading history in the past, this is very possible, but will be difficult for UCan’tHandleMcLouth to consider contending if he isn’t able to do so.

Best Pick: Matt Kemp (3rd), Vernon Wells (14th)

Biggest Reach: Carlos Marmol (11th)

Worst Pick: Carlos Marmol (11th), Conor Jackson (12th)

Biggest Gamble: Cliff Lee (9th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 1

Final Place 2008: 5th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 8th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 12th

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Team AC Drafferty had another baffling draft, reaching to take players when better options were available multiple times. There were several times throughout the draft when his selection of someone left the rest of us puzzled and delighted that better options might fall to us instead. Leading off with Jimmy Rollins and BJ Upton and this team right away has some great speed potential, but the selection of Alex Rodriguez in the third was truly surprising. The third round features too many sure-fire stars to take a risk on a player who will be out at least a month and may start off slow. As great as A-Rod is, there is just enough risk there that had AC Drafferty waited even until the next round this pick wouldn’t look so terrible. I know I’d rather have drafted ANY of the 6 players between this pick and AC Drafferty‘s next one of Nate McLouth. The selection of McLouth that early was STUNNING. At best a 20-20 threat, McLouth is more likely to regress this season than to build on last year’s stellar numbers. Every other player in that round was a much better option than McLouth was. Opting for two risky and wasted picks that early in the draft, when the chance to grab sure-things is there is foolish and wasteful and will likely hurt this team. A-Rod will probably still have a solid season, say 28 HRs or so, but the risk/reward in the 3rd was simply too much for anyone else to opt for. The rest of the offense also featured plenty of other surprising moves, for instance, the selection of Kelly Johnson was BAFFLING when there were multiple other viable second baseman available, not to mention that drafting Johnson in the 10th was an overdraft of at least 2-3 rounds. I loved the Votto pick who I think will put up similar numbers to Kevin Youkilis nearly 40 picks later, but then the crazy picks continued. Elijah Dukes in the 12th?!!? Delmon Young in the 17th!? Brad Hawpe provides steady production and he’s also the only big home run threat in the outfield and he’s unlikely to go above 32 at the absolute most. The selection of Chipper Jones is fine if you have a serviceable backup for him, but having two injury-risk third basemen in him and A-Rod seems dangerous to me and I don’t consider Kevin Kouzmanoff or Ian Stewart to be strong enough backups. The biggest offensive strength on this team is speed, with a glut of double digit steals guys and maybe 8 players capable of 20+ steals each. But the rest of the offensive categories are concerning, too many injury risks, Chipper, A-Rod, BJ Upton, regression risks, McLouth, Hawpe, and players unlikely to be much better than league average, Johnson, Orlando Cabrera, Young and Adam Jones leads me to conclude this offense is more likely to sputter than to soar.

As down as I am on this offense, I like the pitching staff as currently constituted. Josh Beckett and Javier Vazquez hold down the top slots here, and the return to the NL should only benefit Vazquez’ numbers; while he is a frustrating pitcher to own, his tasty strikeout numbers help offset his occasional turd sandwich starts and WHIP explosions. Gil Meche provides steady predictability, Max Scherzer has great upside (although I think he doesn’t reach it this year), Jonathan Sanchez and Bronson Arroyo should let this rotation plod along in a league-average or better position. Beckett is likely to return more to his 2007 stats than last year’s numbers and should be a legitimate ace once more. It’d be better if there was maybe one more solid starter in the mix, but that can be fixed through free agency and is not dire. As for the closers, Jonathan Broxton is a great choice to lead the bullpen crew and Frank Francisco should excel in the closers role. I’m less sold on Trevor Hoffman who is already injured to start the season and who I think will earn less than 15 saves all season. However, having two butters closers is certainly a strong enough position and if AC Drafferty stays alert to the waivers he might be able to acquire another decent closer candidate.

Best Pick: Joey Votto (7th)

Biggest Reach: Alex Rodriguez (3rd), Nate McLouth (4th), Kelly Johnson (10th), Elijah Dukes (12th)

Worst Pick: See “Biggest Reach”

Biggest Gamble: Alex Rodriguez (3rd), Chipper Jones (5th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 5

Final Place 2008: 9th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 10th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 10th

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Coming off a near-victory in 2007, team Butt-less Drafts regressed back to its more common position in the lower tier of the league. This year’s draft though looks strong and might just push this team back into contention. The first round selection of Chase Utley was a little bit of a reach, as he’d likely have been available in the next round as well. Personally I’d have rather taken either Mark Texiera or Ryan Howard there but Utley is a strong pick and will still put up dope numbers so that’s probably a wash. However, waiting on Utley would likely have meant missing out on Carlos Beltran who is poised to have a monster season and so it is possible that Butt-less Drafts received two first round equivalent picks with his first two selections. The entire outfield hit at least 20 HRs last season, and all are likely to do so once more. As well, there’s some nice balance with speed options but there isn’t any one big burner there which means that this team is unlikely to get more than 3 or 4 points at most from SBs. However, the overall power potential, and through that, runs and RBI potential is very high and this offense looks to be one of the better ones in the league. Tabbing Paul Konerko for the CI slot is risky, but one that I believe is likely to pan out when Konerko returns to his 30 HR form this season. Late round steals of Mike Cameron and Adam Lind are going to prove to be extremely helpful and many other managers will regret passing on them both. The steady predictability of Raul Ibanez is boring but at the end of the season will be appreciated. The bench is decent with Lind, Chase Headley and Emmanuel Burriss, as well, Andy LaRoche might turn out to be a major late round steal if he plays up to his potential and was certainly worth taking the chance.

The rotation is decently balanced with Jake Peavy up top followed by Joba Chamberlain, Scott Baker, Randy Johnson and Ted Lilly. While I have some concerns regarding Peavy’s health, and of course his win total on the miserable Padres, he should still put up dazzling strikeout numbers and his usual low-WHIP and ERA ratios too. Personally, I abhor Joba both in real-life and for fantasy, I distrust his ability to stay in the rotation for more than 150 innings and won’t believe it until he actually does it, and while his strikeout numbers are fantastic, unless he’s able to stay in the rotation he doesn’t justify being taken in the 9th. The depth provided from Scott Baker, Jair Jurrjens, Paul Maholm Andy Sonnanstine and Jered Weaver make this the deepest pitching staff in the league, and allows some flexibility to improve the team’s other holes by dealing some of them off. I like the strikeout potential from this team and think that there should be some strong ratios too leading to low WHIPs and ERA across the board. When it comes to the closers on this team, there are some worries but that’s also the risk with the position. Brian Fuentes’ velocity is down and it is possible he can’t succeed in the AL West, but handcuffing Jose Arredondo there was a great move and provides solid depth. Mike Gonzalez is a riskier proposition, particularly with his recent injury history and that’s it for saves opportunities on this team. Like most of the other teams in the league, this means that smart pickups on the waiver wire will be necessary. Hopefully for Butt-less Drafts the choices on the waiver wire will be better than those he made last season, for instance opting for Guillermo Mota instead of Salomon Torres, and losing nearly 30 free saves in the process. Overall though, this pitching staff is remarkably deep and definitely a major asset for this team. Throw in the power potential from the offense and you have the makings of a top-tier team in 2009.

Best Pick: Carlos Beltran (2nd), Mike Cameron (20th)

Biggest Reach: Joba Chamberlain (9th)

Worst Pick: None

Biggest Gamble: Joba Chamberlain (9th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 8

Final Place 2008: 8th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 7th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 1st

________

The league commissioner’s team, Callaspo Breeze had a reasonably solid draft, although he reached on a couple players. However, the team’s offense has depth and quality throughout, although the noticeable lack of steals is disconcerting. Offensive powerhouses like Ryan Howard and Carlos Quentin should get this team’s numbers moving and the continued progression of Ian Kinsler, in (hopefully) a full season could lead to some huge numbers. I’m less confident in Rickie Weeks and Billy Butler as the starting MI and CI respectively; they could put up decent numbers but are just as likely to continue not tapping into their potentials. The pick of Joe Mauer was excellent value in 9th, and the pairing up of him with Ryan Doumit was brilliant and should lead to fabulous production out of the catcher position, nominally a black-hole for most managers. I dislike the Alex Rios pick, but he’s another player for whom I have a strong dislike so that may be my own bias there. The rest of the outfield rounds out with Chris B. Young, Fred Lewis and Ryan Spilborghs, while Young should be solid with at least a 20-15 season, if not a return to his near 30-30 ability, the other two outfielders don’t impress me and I don’t anticipate them to be much more than decent placeholders at best. Nabbing Adam LaRoche late was a fantastic pick, and one that should prove extremely useful. The bench features a 30 HR man in Mike Jacobs and some good upside in Chris Getz and Colby Rasmus.

A rotation headed by Roy Halladay always looks good to me, and this one is no exception. With Zach Greinke, Adam Wainwright, Brett Myers, Johnny Cueto, Oliver Perez and Ian Snell on board the depth of this rotation is nearly staggering. Greinke, whom I believe is about to have an excellent year should bolster this rotation even more, I’m worried about Brett Myers and Johnny Cueto, but both have had success and even if they struggle at times should post solid numbers over an entire year. Oliver Perez is a nightmare, you never know what you’ll get from him and it’s possible that Callaspo Breeze, a secret Mets fan will tear out his chest hair from watching too many 4 pitch walks from Olly. I liked the late additions of Jamie Moyer and Anthony Reyes, you don’t know what you’ll get from either player, but it should be solid to average which is useful. In a “I’m-smarter-than-all-of-you” move, Callaspo Breeze took Joakim Soria in the 6th round. While Soria’s last season numbers and ability can justify that position, it is nearly inexcusable when he would have been available at least 2 rounds later. The only acceptable justification is if Soria was someone desperately targeted by Callaspo Breeze and, drafting in the 11th position he believed Soria wouldn’t make it back around to him. Regardless, it was an overdraft; Soria’s numbers may in the end justify the position, but I still believe there was better value on the board and that he would have been available later. Thanks to that overdraft though and the smart addition of Heath Bell, plus Chris Ray who will be a factor in the Orioles closing situation and this reliever staff has the makings to be the premier one in the league. Combined with the pitching depth and quality hitting, this team is in a strong position to contend. The lack of outfield depth concerns me, as does the MI and CI situation, leading me to downgrade this team slightly.

Best Pick: Joe Mauer (9th)

Biggest Reach: Joakim Soria (6th)

Worst Pick: Alex Rios (5th), Rickie Weeks (15th)

Biggest Gamble: Joe Mauer (9th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 6

Final Place 2008: 7th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 1st)

2009 Predicted Finish: 2nd

________

Being stuck at the end of the draft can be a boon or a curse depending on how you handle it, team asdf took advantage of it at times and others squandered it. Overall, his team looks a bit confusing and somewhat scrippy on the hitting side. Mark Texeira and Evan Longoria are the engines that drive this offense and between them there should be nearly 70 HRs, throw in Adam Dunn’s usual 40 and the offense has the makings of some strong power numbers. Jim Thome should also throw up another 30+ HRs but Vladimir Guerrero, once a top 5 pick is seeing his star fade and I think is due for a big down-turn in production. Then again, he’s in a contract year so who knows; maybe the Baseball Monster has another epic season in him yet…Otherwise, this offense has a bunch of issues. The over-draft of Miguel Tejada in the 8th is almost inexcusable, this isn’t 2003 anymore, and pairing him with Mike Aviles and Khalil Greene isn’t too inspiring, although Aviles should be solid. Ichiro helps balance out some of Adam Dunn’s average but then Willy Taveras and Jeff Francoeur come along and drag that average back down. More than likely this team will be lucky to get more than a single point in team AVG, while the HRs, runs and RBIs will be there that category is going to prove problematic. As well, besides Ichiro and Willy Tavaras (who ONLY steals and gets no other worthwhile stats) this team is decidedly missing speed, leading to another problematic category. Fortunately, the bench features a number of useful players, many of whom could start on other clubs. JD Drew when healthy can provide some very strong numbers, but of course, there is that staying healthy problem, David Murphy should take his rookie numbers and advance somewhat providing he gets enough playing time, Kosuke Fukudome is a waste of roster space but Placido Polanco is better than several teams’ starting second baseman in this league and he currently resides on the bench, making him an excellent trading chip.

The starting rotation is an interesting mix of injury-risks, regression candidates and former aces who might regain their ability. Headed by King Felix himself, Hernandez could put up an awesome season or just as likely the middling tantalizing versions he’s previously posted. Following him to toe the rubber is Carlos Zambrano (fingers crossed), AJ Burnett (who I think is likely to be on the DL at least twice this season, although apparently I’m in the minority on him), Aaron Harang, John Maine, Wandy Rodriguez and of course, Randy Wolf. All of these starters have some sort of questions surrounding them, but all of them either have had dominant seasons in the majors or at least shown glimpses of being capable to do so. So there is a decent risk/reward scenario in place. Personally, I’d rather assemble a staff with a little more of a sure-thing up top, but sometimes that is simply not possible as a draft goes down. All told, I think these picks are likely to be more than decent, with Harang and Zambrano returning more to form. The relievers include Kerry Wood, always a major risk, Francisco Cordero who is always one outing away from complete implosion, and up front, Francisco Rodriguez who will be good but not as dominant as he was last season I believe. Added into the mix was JJ Putz as a nice handcuff, Ks option as well. All in all, a pretty nice looking reliever corps, fraught with risk sure but the save numbers will be there, even if some of the peripherals aren’t pretty.

Best Pick: Jim Thome (16th)

Biggest Reach: Vladimir Guerrero (3rd), Miguel Tejada (8th)

Worst Pick: Miguel Tejada (8th)

Biggest Gamble: Felix Hernandez (7th)

Number of players hitting 270 or below (minimum 200 AB): 7

Final Place 2008: 11th (Slanch Report 2008 prediction: 12th)

2009 Predicted Finish: 11th


10 Responses to “Warning: Only Read if You’re Obsessed With Fantasy Baseball”


  1. 1 Saint Dynamite
    March 30, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Yes Slanch! Well done! My outfield is certainly scrippy. I need my Jo-Ham!

  2. 2 youppi
    March 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Last year, prediction – 9th, finish – 2nd
    This year, prediction – 8th, finish – ….? (1st?, yes.)

    Yeah, Delgado is only in a contract year and has averaged 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s over the last three years, but he’ll be a jones. Meanwhile, you took Jermaine Dye a whole round earlier, and is arguably your second best OF, but your offense is dominant?

    See you in october! I’m ready to prove you wrong again! So are Youk, Fielder, Cano, RMart AND Yovani and Big PELF!!!!!!

    COME ON, SLANCH REPORT READERS! VOTE FOR MY TEAM! KEVIN YOUPPILIS!!!!

  3. 3 youppi
    March 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    also, money job (as always). While the draft is always a high point in the year, so is the day after when I get to read all your reviews.

    also, I’ve finished second twice…
    and first in a number of other leagues…
    you’re going down.

  4. 4 shatraw
    March 30, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    well played slanch. almost entirely wrong, but well played.

  5. 5 asdf go poopie on your foot
    March 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Typical; you may have been right in past seasons but this time team asdf taking it all the way son; you’ll all see

  6. 6 Mattraw
    March 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I can personally guarantee that Soria would not have made it another 2 rounds.

  7. 7 myummers
    March 30, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    bravo, slanch. love it. also surprised how much you like my team. oliver perez= bye bye chest hair.

    your review of team green eggs & willingham, especially the first couple of sentences, is utter brilliance.

  8. 8 the sister
    March 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

    good jew, my tuchas.

  9. 9 The Roomate
    March 31, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I will dominate just you all wait.

    Any non-league people wanna chime in here? Vote?

    I’m glad this is on slanchreport so we can read it later in the season and laugh and laugh…

    • 10 shatraw
      July 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

      i’m doing that right now!

      there’s me and cary… then there’s the rest of you scrubs.

      cary, slanch will not be right in his prediction for your. sowwy…


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