Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How To Steal a Title on Draft Day

The stolen base is that elusive stat that very likely will go a long way to determining whether or not you win your fantasy league this year. I have never been an advocate of dumping a category during the draft, and that goes double for SB's. Unlike saves, another category often ignored in drafts, stolen bases don't come into the league via the waiver wire. If you are going to build a team that will compete in the stolen base category, you will need to find your speed at the draft table.

Speed always comes at a price come draft day, so it is no surprise that the elite speedsters and 20/20 players disappear from draft boards in the opening rounds. Take a look at the players projected to steal 10 bases or more and you will see that about half of those players (40-50 hitters) will likely be drafted in the first half of drafts.

In most leagues there is usually one or two owners who load up on SB's and one or two who neglect or "punt" the category. Then there will be everyone else in the league grouped in the middle where the difference between 10th place and 3rd place might be 20-40 sb's over the course of the season.

Your goal should be to finish no worse than 3rd place in SB's this year. Take a look at last years standings to give you an idea of what to shoot for - but in mixed leagues using standard rotisserie lineups (14 active hitters) - 140-150 sb's is a nice range to shoot for. Let's assume for arguments sake that you have drafted your fair share of speed early in the draft, that would be about 4 speed guys in the first 12 Rd's, and about 80-100 sb's. That means you will need to find at least another 40-50 sb's the rest of the way.

The key is to try and draft a lineup that will help pad your stolen base totals without rostering players who drag you down in other categories. You know the guys I am talking about: Willy Tavarez, Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn are all names you will see drafted by owners looking to grab those 40-60 sb's with one pick. But these players often offer so little in the other 5 categories that the damage they inflict often negates the one positive attribute they bring to the table.

Now, you can put all your eggs in a speed demon like Tavarez's basket or you can spread the risk and draft sources of cheap speed later in drafts while still providing enough pop to keep you competetive across the board. Here is a list of players to target in the middle and end of drafts to help you steal those precious points in the stolen base category. ADP's are from Mock Draft Central's current list.

  • C - Mike Napoli - LAA - ADP 156 - '09 Outlook: 8-12 SB - Besides offering tremendous power upside, Napoli also is the only Catcher outside of Russell Martin with the potential to add double-digit sb's for your team. He is an injury risk, which explains why he is often rostered later in drafts. But if you are waiting on the position or looking for the ideal #2 Catcher, Mike Napoli is the name to remember.
  • 1B - Gabriel Sanchez - FLA -ADP Undrafted - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - First base is not the position to go looking for SB help. Only Lance Berkman stole more than 10 bases from the position last year. That being said in deeper leagues, if you get to the end of your draft, Sanchez makes a nice end-game SB gamble for your bench.
  • 2B - Rickie Weeks - MIL - ADP 222 - '09 Outlook: 20-30 SB - Weeks' disappointing 2008 has him falling in drafts to the point where his power/speed combo and upside potential makes him undervalued this year . If you can roster him as your MI, even better.
  • SS - Elvis Andrus - TEX - ADP 299 - '09 Outlook: 30-40 SB - The Rangers believe in Andrus' ability enough to have moved Michael Young to 3B this off season. He has been a trendy pick in expert leagues, such as the NFBC, but it is very likely here will be there for the taking late in many leagues. If you are going to target a one category speedster late - make it a MI and not an OF.
  • 3B - Alex Gordon - KC - ADP 158 - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - The shine is off the former can't miss prospect, but if you miss out on David Wright, my advice is to wait and set your sights on Gordon right around Rd 10. The speed he brings to the table makes him at least as valuable as Garrett Atkins, who is being drafted 70 picks higher. If you somehow miss out on Gordon, Mark Reynolds can be a fallback plan, but he provides less speed and is a BA liability.
  • MI - Felipe Lopez - ARI - ADP 317 - '09 Outlook: 15-20 SB - The MI position is a place where most fantasy owners will try to shore up their team speed later in drafts. Kaz Matsui, Alexi Casilla, Cliff Barmes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Ryan Theriot, Jason Bartlett and Emmanuel Burriss are others who will provide cheap speed from this spot. I like Lopez the best because he's leading off in Arizona, and there is at least double digit HR potential in his bat.
  • CI - Josh Fields - CHW - ADP 332 - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - Look, Fields should be a reserve player on your roster if you draft him since he hasn't proved he can be the everyday guy. He is also a major BA risk. But he has displayed good speed in AAA to go along with better than average major league power. As nice guy to target as insurance if you draft a Chipper Jones or Ryan Zimmerman as your starting 3B.
  • OF - Adam Jones - BAL - ADP 174 - '09 Outlook: 15-25 SB - Jones will be hitting in the 2 hole this season for Baltimore. Brian Roberts in front and Nick Markakis behind. He has already snagged 7 bases this spring and announced that he will be more aggressive on the base-paths this year.
  • OF - Fred Lewis - SF - ADP 225 - '09 Outlook: 18-23 SB - Lewis is one of those players that help win titles. He has the LF job all to himself this season and is recovered from the foot injury that slowed him up down the stretch last year. He'll chip in at least 10-15 hr's as a bonus.
  • OF - Elijah Dukes - WASH - ADP 246 - '09 Outlook: 13-23 SB - Dukes is a risky pick, I won't lie. He has been injury prone and his emotional problems are well documented. All this has done is keep his price reasonable. But if you are feeling lucky - few OF's in this range offer the 30/30 upside of Dukes. Of course that means a full season of a healthy, happy and motivated Dukes.
  • OF - Cameron Maybin - FLA - ADP 277 - '09 Outlook 25-35 SB - Lastings Milledge's stock keeps rising by the day. He no longer qualifies as undervalued. Maybin's value is still being held down by his rookie status. But the Marlins have inserted him in the lead off spot, moving Hanley Ramirez down to third. Even if he struggles at times, 10 HR's and 20 SB's seem certain for the jewel of the Miguel Cabrera trade.
  • OF - Jordan Schafer - ATL - ADP Undrafted - '09 Outlook 15-20 SB - Schafer at this point is potentially a steal of any draft. The Braves prospect has won the CF job in Atlanta. The Braves traded Josh Anderson to Detroit so the job is Schafer's. He brings power/speed skills to the table and will be given every chance to succeed this year.

You get the idea - don't go for the one category guys anymore - grab multiple guys who help you across the board. Some other names to consider: 2B Chris Getz, SS Mike Aviles, Of Coco Crisp, OF Randy Winn, OF David DeJesus, OF Daniel Murphy, OF Colby Rasmus, OF Chris Dickerson, OF Felix Pie, OF Ryan Spillborghs and OF Shin-Soo Choo.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Around the Majors: D-Train on DL with anxiety disorder.

Dontrelle Willis, a former 22-game winner, was placed on the DL due to an anxiety disorder.

Willis said the diagnosis came after follow-up blood tests showed something of concern. Doctors told him that the condition is treatable and that they'll start him on a regimen.

"I'm not crazy", Willis said "though my teammates might think that I'm crazy." He went 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in eight appearances with the Tigers last season following his blockbuster trade to the Tigers the previous off season. Despite making adjustments to his delivery, the southpaw continued to struggle this spring. Willis allowed 15 runs (12 earned), 17 hits and seven walks in 8 2/3 Grapefruit League innings. " No word on if the Tigers will provide any help for the anxiety that Willis gave to his fantasy owners last year. Elsewhere around the majors:

  • Angels ace John Lackey received a cortisone shot aimed at reducing the inflammation in his strained forearm.
  • The Washington Nationals addressed their logjam in the OF by placing Willy Mo Pena on waivers.
  • The Blue Jays are very concerned with B.J. Ryan's loss of velocity despite seemingly being 100 percent healthy. His velocity has varied between 83-86 m.p.h., way down from last year. If you own Ryan, you need to look at the possible replacements should he need to stay behind to build up his velocity. My choice would be Scott Downs.
  • Bill Madden of the Daily News wrote today about the fast rising Yankee SS prospect who may push Derek Jeter to CF as soon as next season.
  • Brett Gardner has officially won the Yankees center field job.
  • Hopefully if you spent a high pick on the Cub's Carlos Marmol, you were smart enough to draft Kevin Gregg many rounds later. If you didn't you probably don't want to hear about how Pinella just named Gregg the new closer.
  • The Dodgers Chad Billingsley had no set backs today and is on track for his first start on April 8th.
  • Brewers' closer Trevor Hoffman played catch today for the first time since March 20th, but still seems destined to start the season on the DL. Carlos Villaneuva would likely step in a the closer were Hoffman to miss any time. I drafted Villanueva in the end-game of my NFBC draft for just this situation.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Around the Majors:Tejada gets slap on the wrist

Miguel Tejada received a year of probation and 100 hours of community service, in addition to a $5,000 fine for lying to Congress about performance-enhancing drugs. Tejada briefly addressed the court, "I apologize to the Congress, to the court, to all the fans of baseball and especially the kids," Tejada said quietly. The sentence was tied to Rafael Palmeiro, who implicated Tejada as a way to explain away his positive test for steroids in 2005. Palmeiro said that Tejada had given him a B-12 shot, which is believed by some to be a steroid masker. Other news from around the Majors:

  • The Atlanta Braves sent top prospects Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward to their Minor league camp on Thursday.
  • Emilio Bonafacio seems like a lock to be on the Florida Marlins Opening Day roster. He may have even played himself into a regular job at 3B if Gaby Sanchez isn't ready at 1B. Jorge Cantu would seemingly slide across the diamond opening up starts for Bonafacio at the hot corner.
  • Angels C Mike Napoli will test his surgically repaired shoulder for the first time this spring on Friday. If you drafted him early this year (like I did), you will be waiting anxiously for the reports out of Angels camp. Napoli provides tremendous power upside from the C position, but health has always been an issue. He need to take the next step in his rehab to increase his chances of making the team out of ST, where his power bat would at the very least give him some DH at bats right away.
  • Angels SP John Lackey is experiencing some forearm tightness. While he says it is nothing to worry about, it has to be noted that he missed the first 6 weeks of the season last year with a forearm injury.
  • The Detroit Tigers are starting to face the economic reality that has engulfed the entire city. There have already been internal discussion on what to do with Dontrelle Willis and the $22 million that he is owed for 2009 and 2010.
  • The entire city of Milwaukee, not to mention countless fantasy leaguers are concerned about Ryan Braun's injury status. After seeing him struggle down the stretch with a similar injury last year, we understand.
  • Cincy's Johnny Cueto looks ready to improve upon last year's mini-breakout. He simply dominated the Red Sox yesterday as he faced the minimum 18 batters in his six innings of work. He struck out 5 in all and was so efficient with his pitches that after his outing he was sent to the bullpen to throw 20 more pitches just to get his work in.
  • The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders says Todd Helton's power was the biggest surprise of Rockies camp for him.
  • CC Sabathia was not only named as the Opening Day starter for the Yankees, but it was also announced that he will pitch in the Yankees home opener on April 16 as the Yankees open their new ballpark.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NFBC Journal: Main Event Roster

Okay - here is the rest of my Main Event roster. I will be doing a more in depth look at the entire draft, breaking it down pick by pick. I'll delve more deeply into the thought process behind each pick as I try to build a team to win not only my individual league - but also the $100,00 overall title. For those interested in just a quick look, here is the rest of my team and what round I picked them at:

C - Ryan Doumit, Pirates (7)
C - Mike Napoli, Angels (11)
1B- Chris Davis, Rangers (4)
2B- Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (24)
SS- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (1)
3B- Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres (16)
MI- J.J. Hardy, Brewers (8)
CI- Kendry Morales, Angels (18)
OF- Matt Kemp, Dodgers (2)
OF- Nick Markakis, Orioles (3)
OF- Cameron Maybin, Marlins (13)
OF- Rick Ankiel, Cardinals (15)
OF- Felix Pie, Orioles (22)
UT- Kosuke Fukodome, Cubs (27)
SP - Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (6)
SP - Brett Myers, Phillies (9)
SP - Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks (12)
SP - Johnny Cueto, Reds (14)
SP - Jair Jurrjens, Braves (17)
SP - Paul Maholm, Pirates (19)
RP- Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (5)
RP - Brian Fuentes, Angels (10)
RP - Dan Wheeler, Rays (21)
BN - Colby Rasmus (20), Matt LaPorta (28), Dallas McPherson (26), Pedro Alvarez (30)
Kenshin Kawakami (23), Jorge De La Rosa (29), Carlos Villanueva (25)

NFBC Journal: The Main Event

This past Saturday 390 Fantasy Baseball players converged on 4 cities (Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Orlando) to simultaneously draft their teams for this years upcoming National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Players compete individually within their 15 team leagues and then compete for the Grand Prize of $100,000 against the other 389 entrants.

This was my first year participating in the Main Event, and I would be drafting here in my hometown of Manhattan at the ballroom of the Sheraton on 52nd St. That's right, home cooking before the big event. Needless to say the biggest challenge was tempering my excitement and getting a good night sleep on Friday.

My preparation for this year began early in December, when I was chosen to participate in a Champions Draft for Fantasy Sports magazine. Since then I had also done a 30 rd slow draft, a 20 team mixed league draft and a final NFBC Satellite league on March 14th. I knew the player pool, knew who I was targeting and had constructed for myself a fairly elaborate draft tool/sheet to take in with me.

My sheet had a section devoted to Player Rankings, with Tiers and $ values. Next to that was a list I created which I called my ADP/Position Scarcity Report. Here I again ranked players at various positions, but also incorporated the most recent ADP data available to NFBC drafters. The goal of this list in unison with my Rankings list would be to help me gauge and exploit pockets of value throughout my draft. In the upper section of my sheet I had an up to date Depth Chart for all MLB teams next to a Roster Tracker for the 15 teams in my league.

In addition to my sheet I had 1 magazine, Rotowire's, for quick look ups of any players I needed to do some quick research on. I chose this mag, because it listed it's player write-ups in alphabetical order, a must for quick searching. Also, they had previews of 1,500 players - more than just about any magazine in the marketplace.

I also had another chart, which broke the draft down into 5 sections, looking at 6 rds at a time. Here I listed players using the ADP data available, with color codes to help me at a glance identify which positions might be more heavily targeted at certain points. It would also help me identify certain players that were rising and falling in relation to their pre-draft ADP's. Lastly, I had a clipboard, with my own personal Roster Worksheet. After picking a player, you enter his name and projections and work toward you pre draft goals/targets in the 5x5 categories.

I arrived early, and entered the draft room. We were in the ballroom at the Sheraton and the room was already buzzing with excitement. Eight leagues would be drafting here in NY, with another 18 happening simultaneously in the other 3 cities. Las Vegas had the largest room, with 11 teams I believe, Chicago had 4 leagues, Orlando 2 and the NFBC even added 1 Online league this year to the Main Event. Everything was very well organized and our New York coordinator Tom Kessinich had everything under control. I found my U-shaped draft table, and took my spot at #8, smack dab in the middle. I introduced myself to the guys sitting to my right and left and proceeded to unpack my stuff and lay it all out. Needless to say, my elaborate set-up garnered more than a few looks from my league mates. Just as planned. Yes I was new to the competition, but I was ready to rumble! I had made the decision early on to forgo my laptop, mainly because the NFBC doesn't allow plug-ins. But, I was still surprised that I didn't see more computers. It would seem that the NFBC has more Old-school pen and paper guys than I was anticipating.

Okay, everything was ready to go. I started going over my strategy and somewhat scripted attack plan for the first few rounds. At #8, I had a good idea of who would be available to me and that initial pick would go a long way to determining who I chose in the next few rds. In my mind my choices would be Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira and Ian Kinsler. There are many different plans of attack in the NFBC - and where you pick in the first rd helps narrow it down.

My goal was to draft 5 category guys with my first 3 picks. So for my plan, Teixeira was out. That left Rollins and Kinsler. SS and 2B. I really liked them both. They both brought power and speed to the table at scarce positions. Kinsler slightly more power and Rollins more speed.
For me the deciding factor was reliability and injury risk. Who was more reliable and less of an injury risk. That led me to stick to my pre-draft plan and select Jimmy Rollins as my first pick in this years draft. Now I'd just have to get the rest of the guys I wanted to make it all work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Party Has Officially Ended

With those words, typed into his blog 38pitches, Curt Schilling announced his retirement from MLB after an illustrious 20 year career. He joins Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina or the list for what could be and interesting class for induction to the Hall of Fame in 2014. Other news around the majors:

  • The Florida Marlins finally got their stadium deal passed. The team is slated to move into their new digs for the 2012 season.
  • The Cleveland Indians demoted LHP Jeremy Sowers today, leaving LHP's Scott Lewis, Aaron Laffey and Zach Jackson to compete for the 5th Starters job. Also of note, OF Matt LaPorta was sent to AAA while prospect Trevor Crowe remains in camp and may still have a shot to make the team as a 5th OF.
  • We wrote about Shawn Hill getting released by the Nationals recently. Well he couldn't have asked for a better landing spot. The San Diego Padres signed Hill to a minor league deal and he might be the front runner for the 5th spot in their rotation. NL-only owners should keep tabs on Hill, as Petco Park is a great place to jump start a flaggin career. Just ask Randy Wolf.
  • Lastings Milledge was one of the very trendy picks this weekend at the NFBC. His owners will be very happy with the news that he will now be the leadoff hitter for your Washington Nationals.
  • David Price may yet be headed for AAA, but he had his best start of the spring on Sunday.
  • We should have a decision from Lou Pinella as to who will win the team's closer job, Carlos Marmol or Kevin Gregg. Early drafters have already spoken and it's Marmol by a wide margin.
  • BJ Upton is an almost sure bet to start the season on the DL. Getting hit on the hand the other day just kind of cemented the thinking that was already growing in the Rays's camp.
  • Xavier Nady has been named the Yankees starting RF. Nick Swisher heads to the bench for now.
  • Ubaldo Jiminez had another strong outing on Monday for the Colorado Rockies.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Young Guns: My NFBC March 14 Roster

Here is my team from my recently completed NFBC Satellite draft from the #3 spot- I have decided to name them Young Guns

Catchers: G Soto (5) J Saltamacchia (21)
Corners: Aubrey Huff (7), Casey Kotchman (14), Mark Reynolds (15)
Middle: Jose Reyes (1), Placido Polanco (13), Aaron Hill (20)
Outfeild: BJ Upton (2), Nate McLouth (3), Corey Hart (4), Raul Ibanez (11), Adam Lind (16)
Util: Juan Rivera (26)

CL: J Soria (6), D Wheeler (17), T Walker (27)
SP: J Vazquez (8), J Chamberlain (9), D Price (10), M Scherzer (12), A Sonnastine (18),
S Marshall (19)

Bench Hitters: T Glaus (23), D Fowler (24), M LaPorta (25), R Belliard (30)
Bench Pitchers: J Smoltz (22), J Blevins (28), R Porcello (29)

I went right to my Plan B as I was expecting David Wright to be my first pick. I happily grabbed Reyes and it should be fun to own him on one team this year. My overall strategy going in was
to target speed and power early and i achieved that with my first 4 picks-I would have taken Mourneau in the 2nd or Votto in the 4th but neither was available. 11 1b were off the board when I chose Hart - I had Huff next on my board, waited and I got him in the 7th.

I Grabbed a C early, which I rarely do, but wanted to test out in this draft. I then chose Soria as my closer deciding to try Todd Zola's "Papelbon Plan" on for size. Now I usually wait for C and Closers, so this was a departure from my usual strategy. Last year in my NFBC draft I grabbed a Tier 1 SP in Rd 5-6 and waited longer on Closers. After grabbing A Huff to fill my 1B void it was time to roster some starters. I targeted SP with high K/9, low Whip's on winning teams. Vazquez and Chamberlain fit the description well. I Gambled more than normal with so many young arms - but the upside is very tantalizing.

One pick I regret a little is David Price. The second run of closers had started earlier in the rd and I should have grabbed my second one here. Yes I can say I drafted him, but if he might start the season in AAA or just be a bust. If so I just burned that pick. For the Main Event, I will try to remind myslef that RD 10/12 is when that 2nd Tier of reliable closers will be drafted.
Max Scherzer is another risky pick - but I am not unhappy with where I got him.

At this point in the draft my team was a little short on power. Polanco and Kotchman were drafted next as BA balances since I had reserved myself to the fact that I was going to have to roster Mark Reynolds for his Power. I timed Reynolds (who slid down in this draft) just right as the guy right after me typed "Bastage!" right after I picked him, then grabbed Kevin Kouzmanoff. That made me feel better about rostering this BA killer.

The next stage of the draft filled out my starting roster. I like Marshall and Sonnastine at the back of my rotation. I should get some nice help mid-season from Glaus/Fowler/Laporta and Smoltz will be good when he pitches. Since I didn't need SB's late I also gambled that Aaron Hill can deliver some power at MI. I am hoping for 35-45 saves out of Wheeler/Walker/Blevins.

My projections were: R 1090 HR 270 RBI 1095 SB 170 BA .283
W 83 SV 73 K 1149 ERA 3.68 WHIP 1.25

I think this team can compete, and it looks like I will be streaming two start P as well as W's may be a problem with so many young arms. As you can see by my roster, the 15 team format of the NFBC provides an interesting challenge. Your goal going in is to hit your targets, and I did pretty well in that respect.

This draft was a tuneup for my Main Event draft this Saturday. My goal aside from winning this league was to test out my feel for the marketplace as we get ever closer to D-Day.

Spring Training Report: St. Louis Blues

The question of who will open the season as the St. Louis Cardinals closer just got a lot murkier (if that's possible) with the announcement that front-runner Chris Perez will be shut down with shoulder discomfort. Tony LaRussa has not named a closer as of yet and it is not that far-fetched to see him employing a closer-by-committee approach. The other names in the mix for saves include Jason Motte, Ryan Franklin, Josh Kinney and Kyle McClellan with Motte seemingly in the lead at this point. Elsewhere around major league camps:

  • Joe Torre says that Hideki Kuroda will be the Dodgers Opening Day starter. He will be followed in the rotation by Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. Torre has yet to name his No. 5 starter.
  • Time to scratch SP Shawn Hill off your cheat sheets. The Washington Nationals released the promising but chronically injured pitcher yesterday. Someone else will probably sign him and give him a look, but the chances of him having any value this season are very slim.
  • Marlon Byrd's big spring means that Andruw Jones' chances of making the Texas Rangers out of camp are slipping away.
  • Hideki Matsui will be restricted to DH duties until June. This could be a problem for the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi. Jorge Posada is coming back from shoulder surgery and won't be able to catch everyday. LF Johnny Damon also seemed slated for DH duty at least once a week to help keep his legs fresh. So it looks that Matsui will be sitting at least once a week and with that his overall numbers will take a hit. Adjust your values accordingly.
  • Carlos Villanueva. That is a name you are likely to hear called out late in a lot of drafts after today. Closer Trevor Hoffman strained a rib cage muscle over the weekend and might miss the beginning of the season. In case you forgot, Hoffman is 41 years old. Villaneuva struggled as a starter last year but flourished once moved to the pen. Before Hoffman was signed manager Ken Macha mentioned that Villeneuva was first in line for closer duties, so likely he is the Brewers Plan B.
  • No real surprise, but the Jose Reyes will bat third experiment has likely been scrapped.
  • Not that you were likely looking to draft the Pirates 4th or 5th starter this year, but it is still worth noting that Tom Gorzelanny has been demoted and former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf has firmly grabbed the 4th spot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish

With less than a week to go before my NFBC Main Event draft it is time to cross one more thing off my to-do list.
I need to come up with a name for my team.

A quick look at the last names of my competitors reads like a roll call from a Sopranos convention: DiVeglio, Bono, Martino, DiMauro, Ciepela, Crescenzi, Piazza, Janovici and Sisto. I look at that list and sense that Ryan Patrick Carey needs to call on his Gaelic roots and put it out for all to see. Never mind that I'm half Italian - in this league I will assume the role of resident Mick.

So, we need to come up with a name. I have a short list but am open to any clever suggestions. Here is what I have so far:

Drunken Irishmen
Irish Rovers
Finnegan's Wake
Vernicious Micks
Shane McGowan's Liver
Lucky N' Charming

Got anything better? Let me know.

"My [butt] feels good and that's that."

That's how Erik Bedard summed up his successful return to the mound today for the Mariners. It was his first appearance since being scratched due to a sore butt. Bedard has a 1.59 ERA on the spring in 5.2 innings pitched, so it's time to move him back onto your radar as a big value play later in drafts. It should be noted that this is a contract year for Bedard and if he proves he is healthy the M's will surely deal him by mid season. Lots of other stuff happening in camps as teams continue to prepare for the season and we prepare for our drafts:

  • If you were thinking of drafting Jason Schmidt as an end-game pick, you might want to think again. Manager Joe Torre said he was out of the running for the 5th Starter's job. It bears mentioning that Jeff Weaver got shelled and will be used exclusively in relief.
  • Cole Hamels is going to have his elbow examined, which is never something you like to hear at this point in camp. He very well may be fine, but if I was drafting this week I would be very leery of spending the high pick or big bucks it will take to draft him.
  • By now you know about Ervin Santana's elbow sprain which will likely delay the beginning of his season. He reportedly started his throwing program today, which while encouraging still can't get me to stop thinking about Francisco Liriano. Like Liriano, Santana relies on his Slider to be effective, throwing it 33% of the time last season. My worry is that when he returns, will he shy away from the slider?? Will he compensate by changing his arm slot and lose control? History tells me that the answers are Yes and Yes, at least in his first few starts.
  • I guess the fact that the Mariners signed Chad Cordero means we have to at least add him to the closer mess/mix in Seattle.
  • Khalil Greene is having a great camp, hitting .447 as he settles into the St. Louis lineup. I temper your excitement by pointing out that another SS, Angel Berroa is tearing it up this spring at a .429 clip.
  • Baltimore's Adam Jones stole his 7th base of the spring yesterday. He stated earlier in ST that he wanted to steal more bases this year, and if he can deliver on that promise he will be a nice find later in drafts (ADP 184)
  • Jordan Zimmerman had another nice day pitching 4 scoreless frames and striking out 6. For the spring, Zimmermann, 22, hasn't been scored upon in 12 1/3 innings and has struck out 16 batters.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

National Fantasy Baseball Championship

Today I will be participating in an NFBC satellite draft in preparation for the Main Event. I realize that many of you may not be aware what the NFBC is, so follow one of these links to their homepage to see for yourself. As you can see, it is a national contest with an overall grand prize of $100,000.
This season thee will be 390 individuals competing in 4 different cities: Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and Chicago. Also, due to the lousy economy, organizers have added a phone option this year that will allow those that could not afford to travel to the live drafts to continue to participate. The NFBC holds the Main Event draft simutaneously in the 4 cities. In addition to the Main Event, the NFBC has bookend events on Friday and Sunday. On Friday, they hold Al, NL and Mixed League Auctions and on Sunday they hold their Super and Ultimate drafts in which owners pay $2500 and $5000 dollars to compete. The entry fee for the Main Event is $1300.

In the buildup to the big draft weekend, the NFBC also offers a full slate of Satellite drafts. These range in price from $125 to $1000, and are a great place to dip your toes into this competiton. I played in two Satellite leagues last year and was lucky enough to win one of my leagues, here are the final standings from that league. So, by virtue of winning my league I won a Free Invite to this years Main Event. I will be blogging a little more about that team this week as I look back on what went right with that team. The NFBC has also teamed up with NBC this year, and is offering an online contest consisting of 12 team leagues. The entry fees are lower and this contest already has over 400 people signed up with weeks still remaining til drafts take place.

So, today is my last Satellite before the Main Event. I have the #3 pick and have already decided I am going to take whoever is left between Jose Reyes and David Wright. I already have Albert Pujols on another Satellite team and as a New Yorker, look forward to having a local star to anchor my team and follow all season long (even if it's a Met). I will post the results of this draft later in the day. Sorry, gotta go check my sheets and prepare for the draft to begin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stuck in the Middle

Okay - the results are in and I now know what spot I will be drafting from and who I will be drafting against. Drum roll please.......#8 pick.

Good news and bad news here.

First off I got my 8th preferred slot from my KDS - and ended up at 8. I like to draft in the middle because you can see the draft developing around from both directions. You don't have to wait to long between picks in either direction, so it makes it easier to keep yourself from missing out on positional runs on scarce positions, like Catchers and Closers.

The somewhat bad news is that since the Arod injury, in my mind there is a definite talent dropoff after pick #7. My draft board right now from #1-7 looks like this: Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, David Wright, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera. 8 would have been alot sweeter before the news that Arod would miss at least 6 weeks as you could have just allowed the draft to dictate who to choose. Sizemore, Braun or Cabrera would have fallen to you and you happily snap him up. Pick 8 is a tough one now - You have to consider all the guys not in the Elite Tier of players: Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee, Dustin Pedroia and then the real wildcards...Chase Utley and Arod himself. I will be looking at all the players mentioned above and will likely go to find out more about hip injuries than I ever planned as I evaluate the risk/reward of Utley and Arod.

Who knows, since it is a New York league, I can say a prayer that someone above me has to have Big Tex and somehow Sizemore slides to me at #8. Hey, it's my birthday...let me enjoy my wishes. Anyway, here are the guys I will be drafting with on March 21st. Most interesting name on the list, Mike Piazza. Could it be him???? We'll see.

1. Lenny Diveglio, Medford, New York
2. John Bono, Albertson, New York
3. Joe Martino, Melville, New York
4. Brian Zirlin, Short Hills, New Jersey
5. Louis DiMauro, Staten Island, New York
6. Steve Ciepela, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7. Michael Crescenzi, Wake Forest, North Carolina
8. Ryan Carey, New York, New York
9. Bobby Brendler, Rockville, Maryland
10. Larry Lensak, Wayne, New Jersey
11. Mike Piazza, Watervielt, New York
12. John Sisto, New Rochelle, New York
13. Scott Fleming, Totowa, New Jersey
14. Justin Pappas, Farmingdale, New York
15. Steve Janovici, Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Today is my birthday.

Friday the 13th...Gotta love it!!!

So what am I doing to celebrate the big day...as you might have guessed, right now it is fantasy related. I am camped out in front of my computer at high noon here on the East Coast along with 100's of other National Fantasy Baseball Championship owners eagerly awaiting the announcement of my League and draft position for the Main Event.

The Vegas leagues are coming out first, so I'll have to wait a little longer to learn my fate and begin my 8 days of draft prep for my Main Event draft.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

KDS - What is it???

The first big decision of the NFBC season is setting your KDS. For those of you saying to yourself, "What the heck is a KDS?", here is a primer:

KDS stands for Kentucky Derby Style preferences. It is the system used to determine draft positions in the NFBC Main Event, Ultimate League and all NFBC Satellite Leagues. The KDS process allows owners to rank their order of preference for Draft Day, ranking their preferences 1 through 15 before the leagues are randomly selected.

It adds another level of strategy to the season as you get some say in determining where you will pick in the draft. Even before the leagues are formed all owners submit a ranking list to the people running the contest. Once leagues are formed, names are drawn at random. Rather than simply slotting the owner into that position, KDS allows the owner to indicate alternate preferences via your KDS rankings.

As an example, I set my KDS preferences this way for the Main Event:

1, 4, 6, 5, 7, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Now I did this quickly right before the deadline, so I didn't really spend a lot of time debating the merits of my choices - but I made one clear choice - after pick one, I moved the 2nd and 3rd slot down in my preferences. How will this work? Easy. When the names are drawn, the powers that be at the NFBC will look at the corresponding owners KDS and assign the best possible position based on your rankings. If my name gets drawn second say, and the #1 pick is already taken, I would be assigned pick #4 instead of pick #2.

Some owners would rather draft in the middle, if they are selected early in their league; others like to stay near the top and others like to move down to the lower end. Many owners leave their KDS 1-15 and live with the luck of the draw. The good people who run the NFBC say that most NFBC owners will get a more preferred draft spot than the random slot would have given them.

I personally like the KDS system a lot and if you are the commissioner of a league looking to add a little spice to the run-up of your upcoming draft, give KDS a try. I think you will find that your league members will enjoy the added element of draft strategy.

Welcome to Fantasy Ledger!

Thank you for checking out Fantasy Ledger. This is the initial post in a blog that will be dedicated to delving into the world of fantasy sports, with a focus primarily on Baseball and Football. I have been playing fantasy sports for 14 years and can still remember my first draft in 1995. My first pick...Mike Piazza! I am a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan, so I also fondly remember grabbing Jim Thome and watching him and the Tribe make it all the way to the World Series against the Atlanta Braves. Funny other than these two players - the only other thing I remember (other than finishing near the cellar) is grabbing Mark Wohlers at our mid-season draft and watching him grab the closer's job and help me avoid a certain last place finish.

For anyone who has ever played in a fantasy league, you will always remember something special about the first time you ventured into wonderful world of fantasy sports and got hooked. I remeber my first drafts, in a second floor office of some real estate company that many of my first league-mates worked at. I was the new guy, recruited by a friend as a last second replacement, and went into that draft totally unprepared and it showed. But they were a great bunch of guys, a lot of fun and I played baseball and football with them for the next few years - until the commissioner reloacated to Las Vegas and the league petered out.

Since then I have added more and more to my fantasy plate every season. I have won championships, won contests, started leagues and even been forced out of a long-time league that I helped found by a commisioner that I just didn't see eye-to-eye with anymore. This year I am very excited to be taking my game to another level with my participation in the NFBC Main Event for the first time. The Main Event draft will be taking place Saturday, March 21st, so needless to say I am knee deep in preparation and anxiously awating my league and draft slot assignment. One of the many things I will be blogging about will be my journey in the NFBC this season with regular posts on draft preparation, roster management and weekly FAAB decisions.

So welcome aboard and good luck to all of you this season!!