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Baseball Analysis  Bart Ewing / The Fantasy Insider

March 10, 2003


By Bart Ewing

Saturday afternoon I participated in my first, "Expert" draft. I represented Baseball Guru in the 5X5 NL league draft. It was an interesting and rewarding experience. The first thing I noticed an expert league draft is in many ways just like any other. The same personalities (good, bad, indifferent) are there and you face the same emotional rises, falls and moments of indecision. No matter how much you intellectually prepare for these things your going to drive yourself nuts at some point in the actual draft. I give myself an A- or a B+ for the draft. I’m not predicting victory. My grade represents my sense of accomplishing my goals for the draft. I basically got done what I set out to do. I was very nervous in early stages as there were many landmines I was trying to avoid as well as read the accurately the path the draft was taking. I made it through the rapids pretty well. The middle of the draft I was the most confident. I had accomplished my initial goals and felt in charge of plotting the strategy of the end game. The last stage I was more frustrated as I let my guard down and blew some late picks. I made the cardinal error of drafts I began to make assumptions about other teams and focused less on my own team needs. Winning and losing will come down to how well I did my valuations, injuries and luck. I’ve won leagues where I felt I drafted poorly in regard to my objectives but things worked out and I’ve lost leagues where I’ve accomplished my draft objectives. The draft is just phase1. Here are some rules and reminders for auctions and drafts.

1. Know the rules: I screwed up and missed Jose Reyes because I filled my middle infield slots. What I didn’t know is that I could make reserve picks at any time. I thought I had to fill my regular spots first and a better-informed player got him and I missed an ideal reserve player.

2. Always check for last minute information: Phil Nevin dislocated his shoulder the day before. He wasn’t yet projected to miss the entire season and talk was maybe a month. I took him off my draft list (unless a steal late) because I’ve learned injuries in spring training are almost always stated in overly optimistic terms. One site I checked qualified the injury as not a separation but a dislocation that helped me make a judgment. This also alerts you not just to downgrade Nevin but elevate others. Little known Brian Buchanan and rookie prospect Xavier Nady suddenly are players. I think Nady went last in the draft and potentially could be the steal of the draft. Nevin went 3rd round. That’s a draft day bullet that sets a team back before your season even started. I believe the team knew of the injury but made the choice to risk the injury wasn’t severe. There are many excellent sites with information. Some free- some pay. One reason I like the Baseball Guru site is that it’s a great avenue to other sites with any information you desire. Whatever you’re looking for just remember Baseball Guru and you’ll get there.

3. Don’t go into a draft with a strategy set in stone: If things don’t go as you planned you have to be able to shift with the draft tide. I had an idea of what direction I was going. I was leaning towards a modified Lima plan. I wanted to draft a closer but not too early. In this league closers were highly valued. The good ones like Gagne and Smoltz went about right. I actually strongly considered taking Gagne in the 3rd round something I hadn’t considered before the draft. In a 5X5-league closers simply are not as valuable as in other leagues due to addition of strikeouts. I felt in this draft some teams panicked and took 2nd and 3rd tier closers too early in a run on closers. I in the middle of that run chose to dump the category (something easily done in 5X5). I could go with the tide and get stuck with a risky bad closer or go against the tide and gobble up good starters or dominate offense.

4. Be aware of the depth at each position: Position scarcity is for real. In the FSRU league a team drafted the number 1 catcher Piazza in the 1rst round pick 6. In round 3 the same team selected I Rod. Clearly here is a player who is using position scarcity in his thinking. This can be a powerful strategy but it must be weighed with at what is ignored at expense of stocking the scarce position. In the AL catching is extremely thin. In the NL it is not as bad. Now this team has the advantage of possessing higher quality at the position and that may indeed pay off. I picked both my catchers late. Brian Schnieder and Y Torrealba. The important thing is these 2 won’t hurt me and could help me with a few well-placed breaks. My stats won’t compare with his catchers. Let’s look at another position in the NL - outfield. Normally outfield is plentiful but this year there are only about 55-65 decent picks. In a 12-team draft you need 60 outfielders and then there’s the utility spot. My first 3 picks were outfielders as I decided early on take value not matter what. I hesitated on my 3rd choice Andruw Jones. First, I’m not a big fan of his. Second I wondered if tying up my outfield picks this early was wise. In the end it proved very wise as I was taking quality at a thinner position. A not so great catcher doesn’t hurt you as bad since they don’t play. A not so bad outfielder may, as likely he will rack up at bats.

C - Piazza and I Rod vs. Schnieder and Torrealba:

OF: Cedeno, Hidalgo, Drew, Burnitz, Nady vs.

Bonds, P. Wilson, A. Jones, Sanders, E. Chavez

Although I love the Drew and Nady picks which discrepancy would you rather have? In the end we’ll see how it plays out. This is one thing I did right but I made my share of mistakes as well as you will see.

5. Focus on your team don’t get caught up in what others are doing outside the obvious: This is where I bungled. I lost 2 pitchers that would have made this a great draft and Reyes, even Nady because I was watching other teams instead of focusing on what my team needed. I got caught assuming I knew what teams were doing and with no surprise they then changed directions taking my guys.

Below is the first round of the draft with comments and then I take you through my draft which hopefully will give people some things to think about.

To view both AL and NL expert drafts got to



Round 1 FSRU 5X5 NL Draft:

1. Vlad: - No mystery here he’s the consensus, went for $47 in LABR

2. Unit: He and Schilling often go top 3 as the only Pitching Gods- Unit deserves it, Schilling does not.

3. J. Kent: Most people will balk at this pick but I wasn’t overly surprised. I emailed Craig Tomarkin at Baseball Guru the day before and asked about his thoughts on taking Kent at 4. The theory is position scarcity. Kent moves from extreme pitchers’ park to a good offensive park. Predicted homeruns alone are upper 30’s, making his about $13-15 above next 2b. Craig talked me out of it as I also decided 2b wasn’t as thin as everyone thinks. This was a slightly risky pick but a good one. You have to be willing to take some risks to gain the success you need to do great things. Playing it safe gets you middle of the pack.

4. Bonds: I struggled with my 1rst pick more than any other. Craig helped me prioritize. My top 4 was Vlad, Bonds, Unit, Pujoles/Kent/P Wilson/Sosa. The Kent picked made it easy. Bonds surprisingly is not the easy 1-2-3 pick, as you would think. He’s 38 so some drop off has to be coming eventually. The other factor is he now walks so much it takes away RBI, homers etc. Until I see him slide though I will worship at his altar. If you’re in a league with on base % then Bonds and 22 Rey Ordonezs' will win. Pujoles would have probably been my pick if Barry was gone just for his versatility. Wilson in Colorado was tempting but I figured if anyone may slide it would be him. It worked out well for me though as a baseball player I despise his ability.

5. Pujoles: Like I said his versatility separates him. You realize he’s not that young right?

6. Piazza: A position scarcity pick. Needs a power rebound to earn this spot and he can do it.

7. Sosa: Slipped a bit and people start to forget you for the new poster boys. This is a great spot to get Sammy especially if he gets motivated for a Cub run.

8. Schilling: A lot of drafts he goes 3rd or 4th so it’s a nice coup to get him at 8. I am just not as sold on him. I don’t think Arizona will win as much. The offense and pen are in decline and he faded a bit down the stretch, probably tired. Unit does stand out but Schilling can be good but compared to 4-6 others I don’t see much difference. Schilling or Oswalt who’s better? It’s close. I like Oswalt but that’s the point he went 18th.

9. Abreu: A valuable player, who can contribute in all categories, poised for a better year.

10. Berkman: About to become the new MAN in the power game. Will anyone be surprised with a run at 55-60 from him?

11. B. Giles: Look at what he did last year in under 500 at bats, what will he do with 550-600 at bats? He will be a very bad man.

12. T. Helton: Information is king. He slid from top 5 to 12 because reports that his back problems that hurt his power last year may be chronic. At 12 not bad risk though at all. At 4 or 5 yes as there’s too many other guys who can give you virtual guaranteed stats.

The Baseball Guru Draft:

Round 1: Bonds - not a bad way to start

2. P. Wilson - A guy I would have thought about at 4. Going from Florida to Colorado could be a 40/30 year, near .300 average. His speed disappeared in 2nd half but he was injured. He’s got holes in his swing and he’s the kind of hitter that MAY not benefit that much from Coors but the up side is just too big.

3. A. Jones - He had the most sock on the board and value. I considered Gagne, wanted Oswalt and or Klesko and went with the values. 3 picks 3 potential 40 homerun guys.

4. W. Miller - Drafting is easier than bidding. In a Lima plan I probably can’t afford Miller to anchor my staff. But in a draft if he’s there I can grab him. With 3 potent offensive picks I feel the I can have the luxury of taking a legit ace. Millwood, Wood and him were there.

5. J. Rollins - I was nervous about SS. I see it far leaner than 2b. Renteria is an undervalued stud with a lot of separation between him and number 2 ala Kent at 2nd. Rollins gives me speed and I didn’t want to be fishing for Ray Sanchez later. May have jumped him a little soon.

6. A Beltre - I’m actually worried about 1b depth and 3b with Nevin off the list. I wanted impact hitters. I was torn between Beltre and Lowell. Lowell went next so others were thinking the same thing. I like both as they add a touch of speed. One thing I look at is 2nd half performances. Beltre put it together last year in 2nd half coming off injury. He’s a perennial disappointment and I have a little buyer’s remorse for Lowell.

7. P. Ozuna - This is an expert league so I expect everyone knows everything. There were 2 solid 2b’s left. Ozuna and E. Young. Ozuna has the higher risk- higher reward and I felt comfortable enough with his playing time to fish. He may suck and I picked him too early probably but I wanted the position settled. Young went much later and was a steal.

8. J. Beckett - Now I’m feeling pretty good. I have an offensive nucleus to work off and I can start feeding starters. I was hoping a guy like Beckett could anchor a Lima staff, as a number 2 I have a shot at 2 aces. Here is where I decide to punt saves as guys like Mantei and Alphonseca are going and I want saves but won sell my soul for guys who may not be saving games in June. I’m still nervous about 1b.

9. T. Martinez - Sigh of relief as Martinez serves my needs just fine. I didn’t want McGriff in LA or Casey at the bottom of the 1b food chain. Another example of a strong 2nd half possibly indicating he got comfortable with NL pitchers.

10. B. Sheets - I’m taking a starter every other pick now. I like Sheets despite the team he pitches for. He’s gotten better every year and he’s a good solid fit that gets his k’s.

11. R Sanders - I stayed off outfield for awhile for obvious reasons while others scrambled. I noticed the position was drying up and a big sleeper was still there. I stay ahead of the curve and take Reggie who moves to a better offensive park. This is another guy who is not a great baseball player but a good sim player. 20-20 very doable. His average may be sub par but I look at my roster and believe I can cover any average sag.

12. J. Witasik - I punted saves but he was still there so why not. He’s got a good chance to out perform others before him; all he needs is the job. He also gives me good trade bait. I can trade him off if he becomes closer for a starter or look for another closer down the stretch if I need to pick up some points.

13. O. Dotel - Since I’m thinking reliever why not grab the best middle reliever in the game. He gives me a few saves, great ERA/ratio and near 100 innings. God forbid Wagner gets hurt! From my mouth to God’s ears.

14. E. Chavez - Outfield getting very thin and Chavez gives me 1 more speed/average threat. He makes me nervous as a 3rd outfielder but as a 5th I love him.

15. M. Derosa - I wanted guys now who won’t hurt me. His average will be nice and he potentially could really do some great things. I put him at MI with 1 eye on 1/3 as I see prospects getting slim. I later learn Derosa doesn’t qualify at 3rd and I have to scramble.

16. B. Schnieder - I had a list of 5-6 scrub catchers and when 1-2 started to go it tells me time to grab a catcher. Late news speculation says Barrett is on the block. If traded Schnieder could do a lot more.

17. A. Eaton - I fell asleep at the switch a bit and worried about role players and not taking care of my staff. I lost some good arms in next few rounds. Eaton is a guy I like to keep coming back from injury 2 years ago. Good base skills. I should of waited and grabbed other arms first.

18. K. Ainsworth - I waited too long and foolishly passed on some great potential arms such as Armas and Woody Williams. Kicking myself. I grab Ainsworth, a great pick in a keeper league but in this league could single handedly submarine a staff.

19. M. Benard - a cricket moment. You know when the name goes out and the room is silent. Even on the internet I could tell this was a cricket moment. Nothing followed by "Are we at that stage of the draft already?" In reality yes. Outfield was really thin and I panicked a bit. He played little last year but had good numbers. I assume he returns to 300+ at bats and earns double digits. I look at the Giant outfield and see potential for a 4th outfielder. In retrospect I would rather have taken Buchanan or Nady even though the extent of Nevin’s injury wasn’t known. I’m definitely slipping in the ooze at this point in the draft.

20. J. Foppert- I cover my Ainsworth ass with a reserve pick after watching Reyes fall.

21. S Woo Kim- Ugh a guy I would love to reach for on reserve but he’s on my active roster. I considered J. Jennings and probably should have risked Coors but I lacked courage.

22. Y. Torrealba - back up catcher, can’t hurt me and if Benito gets old who knows?

23. B. Butler - I had to have a 1/3 and let M. Williams/ Wigginton slip away and just couldn’t pull the trigger on guys that were left. Not a great pick just hoping he wouldn’t hurt me.

24. M. Koplove - An example of an ideal Lima reliever. Good base stats and walk with me through the events. 1. Kim is a good starter 2. Mantei is a bad closer 3. Who closes?

25. T. Redding - Reserve pick as I CMA on starters. Potentially could be better than a couple of the guys on active roster.

26. S. Saurback - Another Lima reliever, safe.

27. B. Meadows - Do I expect him to pitch like last year? No. But just in case. I really wanted Suppan that’s how sad my pitching desperation had become. Armas and W. Williams were on my mind a lot as I signed off. I like my draft but I fell asleep on my staff.

Hope this helps you in your draft journeys.

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