Official Keepers for 2014

Keeper Of The Year

The 2014 Keeper Deadline has come and gone and we now know which players are officially off the board for next week’s draft. Everyone can begin preparing their draft sheets and plotting out their draft placement strategy.

Without any further ado, here are the official 2014 Salmon League keepers:

The Dominators

Draft Priority – 14
Official Keepers:
Mike Trout – OF – LAA
Jay Bruce – OF – CIN
Felix Hernandez – SP – SEA

money grubbers

Draft Priority – 13
Official Keepers:
Jason Kipnis – 2B – CLE
Andrew McCutchen – OF – PIT
Jose Fernandez – SP – MIA

Captain Jack Sparrow

Draft Priority – 12
Official Keepers:
Hanley Ramirez – SS – LAD
Bryce Harper – OF – WAS
Stephen Strasburg – SP – WAS

High Cheese

Draft Priority – 11
Official Keepers:
Jason Heyward – OF – ATL
Freddie Freeman – 1B – ATL
Cole Hamels – SP – PHI

Dome Dog

Draft Priority – 10
Official Keepers:
Troy Tulowitzki – SS – COL
Yasiel Puig – OF – LAD
Chris Sale – SP – CHI

cracker jack

Draft Priority – 09
Official Keepers:
Jedd Gyorko – 2B – SD
Carlos Gomez – OF – MIL
Adam Wainwright – SP – STL

Sea Bass

Draft Priority – 08
Official Keepers:
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – COL
Edwin Encarnacion – 1B/3B – TOR
Max Scherzer – SP – DET

S.L. Disappointment

Draft Priority – 07
Official Keepers:
Jose Bautista – OF – TOR
Hunter Pence – OF – SF
Cliff Lee – SP – PHI

InSaNeAuDiO

Draft Priority – 06
Official Keepers:
Miguel Cabrera – 3B – DET
Allen Craig – 1B – STL
CC Sabathia – SP – NYY

TheFightingFernandos

Draft Priority – 05
Official Keepers:
Ryan Braun – OF – MIL
Evan Longoria – 3B – TB
Zack Greinke – SP – LAD

Genies in a Bottle

Draft Priority – 04
Official Keepers:
Adrian Beltre – 3B – TEX
David Wright – 3B – NYM
Gio Gonzalez – SP – WAS

38 MPH Heaters

Draft Priority – 03
Official Keepers:
Giancarlo Stanton – OF – MIA
Eric Hosmer – 1B – KC
Yu Darvish – SP – TEX

Radioactive Rush

Draft Priority – 02
Official Keepers:
Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – ARI
Adam Jones – OF – BAL
Homer Bailey – SP – CIN

ZIMA

Draft Priority – 01
Official Keepers:
Robinson Cano – 2B – SEA
Prince Fielder – 1B – TEX
Clayton Kershaw – SP – LAD

Disclaimer: As always, it’s important to remember that you can still change your keeper between now and draft in the event of a major injury that occurs between the keeper deadline and draft day. Players who were injured prior to the deadline, but selected as keepers are not eligible to be swapped for another player on your roster. Only DL-level injuries qualify, swapping a player with day-to-day injuries is not allowed.

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SLB Amendment Voting Results

By: Commissioner Graves

Amendments 2014The amendments have been proposed. The votes have been cast. The results have been tallied.

In a stunning example of efficiency, we managed to get the entire league to vote on this round of proposed amendments within just 48 hours. Needless to say, this is a brand-new record for SLB voting. Praise be to the SurveyMonkey gods!

As always, the results are here for you to see, no hidden tallies or secret agendas.

In keeping with tradition, any amendment that ended with a deadlocked vote will be considered defeated. We are very much a democracy in the Salmon League and if the majority does not want something, the tie goes to the runner and we leave things the way they are for the time being.

Enough preamble, let’s jump right into the voting results:

Amendment Proposal #1

Should the Salmon League institute a moratorium on additional amendments to the league rules for the next three seasons?

Proposed by: Mike Kunkel
Endorsed by: Jeremiah Graves & Steven Kunkel

Voting Results:

Amendment #1

What this Means: In the case of a tie, a majority does not approve the change and the moratorium proposal will not be activated. Amendment proposals will be accepted throughout the 2014 season and voted upon at next year’s Winter Meetings in preparation for the 2015 season.

Amendment Proposal #2

Should one “NA” roster spot be added to each team?

This additional spot would allow teams to hold onto a player in the minors and/or a suspended player without wasting an active roster spot. It would operate in the same fashion as the DL spots currently do, but the player would not be keeper-eligible.

Proposed by: Jeremiah Graves
Endorsed by: Craig Denny, Grant Morfitt, and Steven Kunkel

voting Results:

Amendment #2

What this Means: Beginning in 2014 each team will have one “NA” roster spot for inactive (but non-DL’d), minor league, or suspended players. Team are not required to put a player in this roster spot and the player listed in the NA roster spot will not be eligible as a keeper at season’s end.

Amendment Proposal #3

Should the move limit be abolished for 2014 and beyond?

Proposed by: Jeremiah Graves
Endorsed by: Mike Kunkel, Justin Kunkel, and Steven Kunkel

Voting Results:

Amendment #3

What this Means: Beginning in 2014, the SLB will operate without a move limit to accommodate the growth in roster size and league size since the move limit was established nearly a decade ago.

* * * * * * * *

So there you have it. We’ve got two changes coming to the league in 2014 including no moves limit and an additional inactive roster spot.

Obviously, this league is always evolving and given all of the talk about people using these rules to their advantage and finding loopholes to game the system, it’s entirely possible we’ll be voting on related amendments next offseason.

For now, I want to say thank you to everyone for voting and for the lively debate throughout the year. I’ll reset the Amendments Page on the SLBlog in early 2014 as we open up the floor for new amendment proposals.

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Steven’s 2014 Pre-Season Predictions + Rankings

Ohhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaahhh!!

By: Steven Kunkel

I feel like we say this every year, but the 2013 season was another intense battle to the finish. This has really become an indictment of this league as we have many teams that know how to put together a winning club to compete each year. 2013 saw four teams battle it out for 1st place during the regular season from start to finish. It saw High Cheese battle from an incredible deficit to make the playoffs. It even saw the emergence of 38 MPH Heaters, InSaNeAuDiO implant himself as a consistent competitor, Radioactive Rush fall on some tough times (seriously, look at the numbers), and Genies in a Bottle miss the playoffs for the first time.

The Dominators’ owner has done his share of gloating over his first championship since the 2006 season. Many in the league hate this because he is the first team with 3 championships in league history; and he’s also one of the biggest loud mouths in the league. Even using arguments from years past to support undefined ways that make him sound better than he actually is. Most likely, we’re all about to hear him be as raucous as humanly possible until one of his league mates can match him in titles.

Personally, it was one of the most challenging years I’d ever experienced (aside from the years I don’t make the playoffs). Every day was a grind it out moment that saw me spending way too much time idly watching the ticker too late into the evening (my best player is on the west coast).

However, now with the regular season two months past and the Winter Meetings in Dallas quickly approaching, like the real-life players of this game we love, it’s time for us to look beyond what was and look to what will be – The 15th season of the SLB; 2014.

While it’s still really difficult to make the assumptions I’m about to make – the regular baseball season is still four months away and we have untold numbers of real-life free agent signings, trades, injuries, and happenstances (we don’t even know if A.J. Burnett plans to retire yet or not); plus, our own fantasy difficulties to take into account based on the fact that we haven’t had the SLBs Winter Meetings, Draft, or keepers – I’m going to attempt to put together a list of who has the best chance to win the 2014 SLB Championship by ranking each team’s chances on a basis of A-F.

Earlier this year, towards the end of the season, I set the stage to be able to do this by already creating a potential (likely) list of keepers for each team. In the same article, I created a possible draft selection outcome that I’m going to use to help me define how each team will finish. I’m going to take some liberties and make some tweaks where I feel are necessary, but they shouldn’t be mind-altering. Below is a review of each of those lists:

steven-potentialkeepers001

steven-potentialfirstround001

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time over the years creating a way to evaluate each of our teams over the long haul. Taking into consideration what each team has been able to accomplish over their careers, in my opinion, would be the best way to get a good idea of what to expect from someone going into the next year. Cracker jack has only missed the playoffs once since they were instituted in 2005 & their team is a great sample to use for someone that you would anticipate to make the playoffs every year. But there’s more to the story, cracker jack has also not won the championship since 2005. In fact, he hasn’t even made it there. As a result, he may be someone an evaluator would shy away from to win the Championship based on the likelihood that cracker jack would crack in the big game.

However, the biggest difficulty in evaluating at this current moment is that some of our teams have 14 years of experience and some of our teams (High Cheese, 38 MPH Heaters, Dome Dog, & Radioactive Rush) don’t yet have five years of history to their name yet. Currently, I feel like five years is the best sample size to be able to evaluate a team based on the things they’ve been able to accomplish. For example, both ZIMA & SeaBass had quite a bit of success in the early portion of their careers. ZIMA made the playoffs his rookie year and finished 3rd. ZIMA hasn’t been able to replicate that type of success since. Even with top-notch keepers at his disposal every single year. SeaBass finished 4th in the regular season his rookie & sophomore seasons; even finishing 2nd his sophomore year. However, they haven’t made the playoffs since – a streak that continued for its 6th year in 2013.

I believe that five years’ worth of data would offer the best axiom for evaluation because of situations like the one that currently resides with Dome Dog. Dome Dog stepped up to the SLB plate ready to hit his rookie year and put on a Pujols-ian show by winning the league title. He then made the playoffs in 2011 (2nd year) & 2013 (4th year), but in 2012 he laid the largest egg possible by going home with a 13th place finish, missing even the consolation playoffs. So, Dome Dog’s 5th year really appears to be his defining year to determine what and who he is in the SLB. Everything points to him being a contender every year, but, depending on their 2014 finish, perhaps they could be labeled as a Jekyll & Hyde team if they finish with another non-consolation finish.

Like it or not, how you’ve performed in the past will affect the odds of your future success. Let’s be honest, the Blue Jays were the odds-on favorites to win the World Series at the beginning of 2013. Then Reyes got hurt. Buehrle pitched like the old Buehrle he is. Dickey sucked. Bautista got hurt & the chances of the entire organization went down the tubes with them. Anybody think the Blue Jays are going to be the odds-on favorites in 2014?

Since we don’t have five years’ worth of data available to us for each team, however, I’ve decided to utilize an analysis that covers three years (the least amount of league membership). Below, you can see where your team has finished since 2011 & the overall average finish for each team’s regular season & post-season.

steven-datapile001

With all of this established, let’s take a swing and miss at predicting which team has the best chance of taking home our 2014 championship.

Below you will find a list of the SLB teams with a Grade based on that team’s perceived chance to win the 2014 Championship, some made up Odds coinciding with that team’s grade, and the Reasoning why that team is listed where they are.

SeaBass

Grade: D-
Odds: 100 : 1

Reasoning: As mentioned previously, SeaBass had quite the start to his career. Not only did he finish 4th in ’06, but he did so again in ’07 and he took that ’07 team all the way to the Championship where he blew a 2nd week lead to money grubbers. Granted, the league had 8 members in ’06 & 10 members in ’07, but SeaBass still showed an early propensity to make intelligent moves that brought him places. If nothing else, he was at least middle-of-the-pack enough to have a chance to do something once the playoffs hit. That was 6 years ago. Since, team SeaBass has put up the following winning percentages: .472, .491, .471, .422, .493, & .429. Only twice has SeaBass put up a year that could even be deemed competive-ish, let alone worthwhile.

Earnestly, I believe the breakdown came when he traded Wright to Genies. Since, the most moves that have been made by SeaBass was 30 in 2011. In fact, there have been three years where less than 20 moves were made by this GM since this trade occurred in 2008. Is there a chance that we have a shy trigger? Good trades being missed? Logical free agent acquisitions tentatively viewed? We all know that we don’t win this league at the draft, which is really too bad because SeaBass has some world-class keepers in CarGo, Encarnacion, & Scherzer; plus a projected draft pick of Jean Segura really can add the speed & OBP that could keep this team elite, but without the willingness to dig deep into the free agency well to take some chances, we just can’t sign off on a higher chance of a Championship.

It’s really too bad, because SeaBass GM’s shark-like tendencies could be really fun if they were seen at full strength.

SL Disappointment

Grade: D
Odds: 83 : 1

Reasoning: SL Disappointment has done his best over the years to live up to his namesake. Since winning the very first league Championship back in 2000, SL Disappointment’s GM has battled with disinterest, leaving the league, and inactivity. Since coming back in 2010, the SLB has seen a more dedicated GM with the tools to do what is necessary, but without the talent to do what is needed. He hasn’t been able to find the 2nd keeper that sets his team apart, so SL Disappointment typically starts the year in a hole. He’s ridden Bautista about as far as Bautista’s talents are going to take him, Lee is getting old, and Pence (his 3rd best player that I’ve projected he’ll keep) is talented but isn’t really a difference maker.

Fortunately, the Disappointment’s luck may be turning. With a deep & talented 1st round appearing to be at the league’s disposal, the Disappointments have a chance to have a true difference maker playing next to Bautista’s talents. We’ll see what he does with it, but I currently have Ellsbury’s 40+ steals playing next to Bautista’s 35+ homers. The Disappointments have proven they can compete when they finished with a .508 winning % in 2011, but were beat out for the playoffs by a mere win.

Overall, this could be another case of a manager who needs to have a happier trigger in free agency. Not destructively so & I recognize there’s always a balance, but at least enough to grab one of the hot free agents before they’re all gone.

ZIMA

Grade: D+
Odds: 72 : 1

Reasoning: ZIMA is an anomaly. Here’s a manager with the best collection of keeper talent in ages. He inherits Pujols from the team’s previous owner. Lands Kershaw for next to nothing & swindles a trade for Fielder that makes the other owner look like a fool. We all know he has baseball chops and we all know he’s active in trying to put the best team on his make-believe roster as possible. However, even with all of this going for him, ZIMA has a CAREER winning % of .479. It’s enough to make your jaw drop. Even with all of his statistical advantages, ZIMA has not been able to put together a season where he drafts and coordinates his roster into a winning team since his first year in ’09 – back when the league was a 10 team entity.

Personally, I’d review a different draft strategy. Something, anything, has to be better than what’s currently being put down on paper. We all know you’ve got the stuff kid. You’re involved in trades. You text other members almost every week about this player or that, something’s got to give.

However, for the time being, without any known proof that this is possible & with a declining Fielder & aging Cano as the likely keepers, the odds are not ever in your favor.

j’s team

Grade: C-
Odds: 56 : 1

Reasoning: Don’t get the grade & the odds wrong, j’s team’s GM is a talented fantasy owner. He is tied with cracker jack & money grubbers with two championships a piece. Since the playoffs began in ’05, he’s made them 6 of a possible 9 times. His 14 year career winning % is .497, which is just enough to tell us that he sits right around .500 almost all of the time, which is just enough to tell us that they’re always in it.

The reason j’s team is getting such a poor grade has a lot less to do with the talent’s the GM has or the success this team has had over the long run or the keepers he has, which between Longoria, Braun, & Greinke are all successful major leaguers with years ahead of them, but with past injuries. The reason j’s ream is getting such a poor grade is simply that I don’t think 2014 is his year. Personally, I think j’s team needs to regroup and re-evaluate. Since moving to a 14-team league, j’s team has finished the regular season in 11th, 5th, & 12th. He made his way to the championship in 2012 with a team I was shocked could make it there, but, overall, I just think he needs a new strategy for this many league members.

So, right now, he sits with a poor grade.

InSaNeAuDiO

Grade: C
Odds: 47 : 1

Reasoning: InSaNeAuDiO, who, in this post I’ll refer to as IA because the name is annoying to spell, has seen somewhat of a Renaissance under their current GM. A team thought lost for dead, who in 2012 joined many in their willingness to screw up their 1st round picks, finished that year 6th and in the playoffs just to spite everyone. It’s not as though IA has had much fantasy success. He has a career .477 winning %. He’s made the playoffs 3 times since 2005, which is approximately 33% of the time.

However, what he has is Miguel Cabrera. He has Miguel Cabrera and a possible draft pick that’s good enough to replace his existing keeper SP with one that might actually be worth his time. Plus, if the aging CC Sabathia can put together a mediocre season, IA might be in business.

When you have virtually the best fantasy hitter of all time two years running, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a way to make the playoffs. InSaNeAuDiO may just need to play his hand just right to have a better chance than some of his other league members.

38 MPH Heaters

Grade: C+
Odds: 39 : 1

Reasoning: 38 MPH Heaters is the picture in the encyclopedia next to the “what have you done for me lately” phrase. If he wouldn’t have put together a good year in 2013, there’s a near 100% certainty that he’s at the end of this list with a big ‘ole grade of F. Turns out though, that 38 MPH Heaters showed a propensity to adapt. He made shrewd decisions. He drafted Jurickson Profar (bad choice) & Wil Myers (good choice) and held onto them…for TWO MONTHS…without them ever playing a single game. He traded for Hisashi Iwakuma and made what could have been the largest blockbuster for the 2nd year in a row later in the year when he landed Pujols & Mauer.

The GM of money grubbers and I had a 20 minute argument on whether or not 38 MPH Heaters’ moves this year were good or bad and I lost the argument. 38 MPH Heaters did everything he needed to in 2013 to set himself up for a chance to be successful. His biggest problem? He blew it.

However, if things hold, in this league, we have a guy who is currently being a shrewd owner and may be on the rise. We may know more when 38 MPH Heaters reaches their 5 year mark at the end of 2014.

Genies in a Bottle

Grade: C+
Odds: 31 : 1

Reasoning: Genies in a Bottle is, unquestionably, to this point, the most successful GM the SLB has ever seen. He is the smartest GM in our league. In fact, even if team Dominators, with three pennants won (no other team has more than one pennant), wins the regular season the next three years, they will only be able to tie the Genies’ mark of 6. It’s an outrageous bout of success we may never see again.

However, team Genies has a problem. Team Genies is distracted. He works – a lot. He’s getting married. He has a social life that takes him away on important weekends. This grade is not an indictment on anything but the fact that team Genies may have a difficult time winning anything with so much going on. With so many other teams closing the gap even as slightly as they are, team Genies will likely continue, in my view, to hold onto one Championship trophy – hey, at least he recently has one.

Radioactive Rush

Grade: B-
Odds: 29 : 1

Reasoning: Something funny happened last year. Team Radioactive Rush was actually good. I don’t mean he made the playoffs. I don’t mean he even had all that successful of a record – he competed, but Radioactive Rush never REALLY had a shot at the playoffs. The weird part is, Radioactive Rush had only 9 losses last year; Cracker Jack, our 6th seed, had 11 losses. Per his own stats, Radioactive Rush continued to deem that he was “unlucky,” which I think we all agree is a pretty poor way at looking at anything. Your team either did what it needed to do or it didn’t, but it is kind of funny that the numbers suggest he was “unlucky” and he had fewer losses than one of our playoff members, which means when he lost, he got blown out.

This, however, is the type of sign that makes me think that, perhaps, just perhaps, Radioactive Rush is starting to get the learning curve. He finished 7th in the regular season his first two years in the league. He finished the regular season his 4th year in 9th, but close enough to be dangerous-ish come the last week of the season.

Granted, it might be an alternate universe when you see Radioactive Rush ahead of Genies in a Bottle on any list. ;-)

Dominators

Grade: B-
Odds: 26 : 1

Reasoning: The Dominators won the 2013 Championship to capture their 3rd and most heralded Championship to date. It’s their first one since 2006, but their second appearance in the Championship game since 2010. Overall, we’re not necessarily talking about the most successful fantasy team here – despite their ridiculous number of Championships. However, what we are talking about here is a team with a career winning % of .509 over 14 seasons. We’re talking about a team who has a .586, .565, .456, & .617 (the highest ever) winning % over his last four seasons. Really, what we’re talking about here with this B- rating is a team that may have figured it out.

The most difficult thing team Dominators has to contend with right now is the terrible draft spot he’s about to get and the fact that only one team has ever been a back-to-back Champion – the ’04 & ’05 cracker jacks. While this is a team on the rise, history is definitely not on team Dominator’s side. Thus, a B- ranking is in the cards.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Grade: B-
Odds: 25 : 1

Reasoning: Captain Jack is ballsy. Last year he drafted the most promising, injured, injured, & injured team I’d ever seen coming out of a draft. Again, promising, but, again, injured. He turned that into a successful 4th place finish.

Captain Jack is good at fantasy baseball. They’ve been a part of the SLB for 6 years now and have missed the playoffs once. Captain Jack’s average regular season finish is 3.833. His average playoff finish is 4.333. He wins. He makes the playoffs. He even wins a championship when he can – Captain Jack holds one SLB Championship. Once, Captain Jack forced the draft table to wait 10 minutes for him to select a player. When pushed why, he said he was looking for a 1B with steals – it was the late rounds. There aren’t 1B with SB in the late rounds.

Captain Jack is ballsy.

Captain Jack might have a problem one of these years with fielding a successful team. Captain Jack is really good at fantasy baseball, but cannot get a grade higher than a B-, because I’d be too afraid to do so.

Dome Dog

Grade: B
Odds: 18 : 1

Reasoning: Personally, I’m not 100% convinced that Dome Dog actually deserves this grade. He goes wildly young at the draft table & a recent criticism of the Dome Dog GM’s strategy is that “[Dome Dog] drafts who [Dome Dog] likes.” In essence, Dome Dog’s GM drafts not draft based on ADP or stats or any statistically measured thing. Dome Dog drafts who his favorites are.

So far, it’s helped him to the tune of a four year winning % of .538 and a SLB trophy on his mantle. The deal is, it’s scary to give 18 : 1 odds to anyone who drafts who they like. Sometimes, that gets you 13th place. For anyone who takes this bet, I say good luck to you.

But then again, Dome Dog will likely be holding a 2nd SLB Championship by the end of 2014 once you doubt him.

High Cheese

Grade: B+
Odds: 12 : 1

Reasoning: High Cheese did something so miraculous it needs to be rewarded. After 6 weeks of a 22 week season, he was buried. Dead last. So far behind I was already calling the morgue. Then he did something amazing. In the next 16 weeks he hardly lost. In the second half, he rattled off a winning % over .600. His team came back from the dead and surpassed the, surprise team themselves, 38 MPH Heaters.

His rating here may also come from the fact that in 3 years, High Cheese’s GM hasn’t yet missed the playoffs. He’s built a team to a 3 year winning % of .532. He’s got a good chance to pull away with a top 5 SP in the draft in David Price, who by all accounts, looks like he’s about to get traded either this offseason or at the trading deadline.

High Cheese has all the talent in the world to win his 2nd Championship and this B+ rating is completely warranted.

money grubbers

Grade: A-
Odds: 7 : 1

Reasoning: Money grubbers has been fighting what appeared to be a never-ending problem. Except for total Championships, he was always in Genies in a Bottle’s shadow. He’s been working to build out of that for years and Genies may have finally thrown him a bone by missing the playoffs. Not only does money grubbers have a 14 year winning % of .524, he’s also only missed the playoffs once in 9 years – that’s a ridiculous 8 playoff appearances. Not only that, but money grubber’s last Championship in 2007 came on the heels of The Dominators’ Championship in 2006. It’s not a stretch to think it can happen again.

Money grubber’s GM has built himself a fine set of keepers. He’s done everything he needs to be billed where he’s at in these odds to earn the A- grade. In fact, perhaps the only team that might keep him from jumping Jeremiah for best-run franchise sometime in the future might be the team that’s next in line, cracker jack. We will see, but money grubbers, with 4 championship appearances in the last 8 years and only 1 championship, is certainly hurting for one.

cracker jack

Grade: A+
Odds: 5 : 1

Reasoning: Cracker jack is amazing. Since 2005 he has built only one team that missed the playoffs – that was 2007. Even more remarkably, he’s done it by adjusting how he wants to play this game. He’s also done it by always being, relatively, mediocre. As mentioned, cracker jack’s GM has made the playoffs 8 out of 9 years, but his career winning % of .506 is below even the Dominator’s winning %. I fear this may be the year that finally changes. With, as mentioned, an outrageous amount of talent sitting in the 1st round, this appears likely to be the year that cracker jack finally comes through with his big 3rd Championship. With a ridiculous first round and cracker jack’s propensity to make the right moves during the season, he’s already on track for something big.

Cracker jack, like money grubbers, also has history on his side, cracker jack’s first championship, in 2004, came immediately after The Dominator’s 2003 championship. So money grubbers holds no wins with karma in this case.

Will this be the way 2014 plays out, we’ll see if cracker jack holds that magic trophy or not.

Overall, every team in the SLB has something to offer. Every team has had a bought of success and its amazing how each year plays itself through its own progression. I’m excited to call myself a league member with each one of these guys as I truly do believe that the most challenging thing I’m presented with each year may be this league – a ridiculous amount of my time is wrapped up in it & I couldn’t be happier about it.

Remember, the above aren’t final rankings, they aren’t who the best team is or who the best team will be. This is only an idea built on an idea about which team, going into the 2014 year, appears to have the best chance of winning an SLB Championship.

Our 15th year is going to be a fun year! Good luck!

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Filed under Analysis, Keepers, Predictions, SLB

Steven’s Way Too Early 2014 Draft Predictions

Predicting the SLB's Future
Originally posted on the Salmon League Baseball message board by 2013 Salmon League Champion, Steven Kunkel…

I’m pulling more of a “season ends right this second because of an asteroid and us 14 guys and all of the major league baseball players are the only people who live through it” (because it makes me feel good in a world that’s still 3 days away and might not happen) approach to this fun I’m about to have that only I’m interested in.

Draft Priority:

1) Collin
2) Grant
3) Morgan
4) Jeremiah
5) Jay
6) Jesse
7) Craig
8) John
9) Justin
10) Adam
11) Levi
12) Travis
13) Mike
14) Steven

Projected Keepers & Rank:

Collin: 3
– Prince Fielder
– Robinson Cano
– Clayton Kershaw
Reason: Has a TON of keeper options, but none that match these two. Unfortunately, Cano is aging, but he still has the power needed. Zima is left looking for speed in the 1st round.

Grant: 2
– Paul Goldschmidt
– Adam Jones
– James Shields
Reason: Harvey decides to go under the knife &, no, it’s not worth keeping him if that happens. Goldschmidt & Jones make up the best hitting combo keepers in the league. It’s a no-brainer.

Morgan: 8
– Dustin Pedroia
– Eric Hosmer
– Yu Darvish
Reason: Lots of talent here. Could go Myers, Stanton, Mauer , Pujols. Price, & Iwakuma. Gives Pedroia his last spin around the keeper block and settles in on the 23-year-old 1B of the future in Hosmer.

Jeremiah: 14
– David Wright
– Matt Holliday
– Gio Gonzalez
Reason: Because what else does he have?

Jay: 7
– Evan Longoria
– Ryan Braun
– Zack Greinke
Reason: Cupboard is a little bare. Could gamble on Rizzo, but it’s not worth. These were written in stone before the year began.

Jesse: 12
– Miguel Cabrera
– Allen Craig
– CC Sabathia
Reason: Should have tried to flip CC early. He’s stuck with him one more year to try and get some return. Lets Reyes walk this year. His injury history just isn’t worth the headache anymore.

Craig: 1
– Carlos Gonzalez
– Edwin Encarnacion
– Max Scherzer
Reason: Love the guys, love the keepers, not a lot to argue here.

John: 13
– Jose Bautista
– Hunter Pence
– Cliff Lee
Reason: If it wasn’t for Pence John’s keeper options would have made me really sad.

Justin: 10
– Matt Kemp
– Carlos Gomez
– Mat Latos
Reason: Justin has some options, but none of them are great. He’s kind of like this season’s Jeremiah. Lots of average 30 ADP guys. No elite guys. These two offer the most potential.

Adam: 9
– Troy Tulowitzki
– Yasiel Puig
– Justin Verlander
Reason: Tulo – great. Yasiel – viciously great. Verlander – great. 3 greats don’t make a wrong.

Travis: 4
– Hanley Ramirez
– Chris Davis
– Stephen Strasburg
Reason: WAY TOO MUCH TALENT ON ONE TEAM!!! These selections are bound to be wrong. In fact, the only reason I’m choosing Hanley for him is because he told me in trade negotiations that he was thinking about it. Those negotiations fell through.

Levi: 11
– Freddie Freeman
– Manny Machado
– Cole Hamels
Reason: Machado doesn’t have a torn ACL. Freeman doesn’t just give hugs, he hits baseballs real hard too. Hamels is the only logical pick THIS year. Levi could regret that logical pick years in the future though.

Mike: 5
– Andrew McCutchen
– Jason Kipnis
– Jose Fernandez
Reason: He hasn’t dropped Fernandez for a reason. Votto is 31 & McCutchen is ridiculous.

Steven: 6
– Mike Trout
– Jay Bruce
– Felix Hernandez
Reason: Could think about Desmond, but the picks are pretty much in stone. Trout brings the Runs, SBs, and OBP, Bruce the HRs & RBI.

1st Round Draft Pick:
1) Jesse – Bryce Harper
2) Jeremiah – Giancarlo Stanton
3) Grant – David Price
4) Craig – Joey Votto
5) Morgan – Justin Upton
6) Collin – Jacoby Ellsbury
7) Jay – Jose Reyes
8) John – Jean Segura
9) Adam – Adrian Beltre
10) Justin – Wil Myers
11) Travis – Matt Carpenter
12) Levi – Chris Sale
13) Mike – Ian Desmond
14) Steven – Albert Pujols

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Filed under Analysis, Draft, Predictions, SLB

Draft Review and Rankings 2013 (Part I)

South_Park_Baseball_Team

The unveiling of the annual draft review and rankings has become a tradition in this league. Part of that tradition is people bitching at me to get it written so that they can then turn around and bitch at me about their ranking…it’s a hoot.

Much like I did in 2011, I’m breaking the rankings up into three parts. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, I’m nowhere near being done with the entire write-up; like, seriously, nowhere near done. Second, it seems to be much easier to digest in smaller chunks than when it is one gigantic rambling tome.

What we have here today is the first of three parts. In this portion I rundown the five teams that I thought had the worst drafts and will, based on my incredibly flawed logic and rationale, inevitably be missing the playoffs.

As I find important to stress every year, no one should be taking anything I say here personally.

These rankings are based entirely on my admittedly 100% subjective and often biased opinion. I’m not really looking at average draft positions in the way that Mike does with his annual write-up. I’m not digging into any serious projections or past statistics, just the stats/projections that catch my eye as particularly interesting. I’m just basing it on my personal gut feelings about players and picks. It’s all opinion and my opinion in this league doesn’t mean any more than anybody else’s.

That having been said, let’s dive right in with the bottom five in this year’s draft:

Yu Darvish

14) 38 MPH Heaters

Draft Pick 7

2012 Rank: 11th
2011 Rank: 14th
2010 Rank: 10th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Dustin Pedroia (2B – BOS), Giancarlo Stanton (OF – MIA) & David Price (SP – TB)

First Pick: Yu Darvish (SP – TEX) [Pick 7]
Last Pick: Ross Detwiler (SP/RP – WAS) [Pick 231]

Best Pick: Ross Detwiler (SP/RP – WAS) [Round 17 – Pick 231]

Summary: Many teams did a fine job of finding value in the final round of the draft this year, in fact, in terms of overall upside, the final round may prove to be the most valuable in a lot of ways. Detwiler is no exception. This club had a solid starting core in David Price and Yu Darvish and a couple of question marks in Anibal Sanchez and Alex Cobb coming into the final round, the acquisition of Detwiler should help this club a lot.

Detwiler is not a 200+ K monster like the top of this rotation, but he is pitching for arguably the best team in baseball with a solid defense behind him and a lights out bullpen to ensure his wins. He’s got good ratios and assuming he can display the same skill he showed down the stretch last season, he could prove to be an incredibly valuable asset to this rotation and perhaps provide more return on investment than Cobb and Sanchez combined.

Worst Pick: Wil Myers (OF – TB) [Round 11 – Pick 147]

Summary: This one probably doesn’t require a bunch of exposition, so I’ll just get right to it, you do not, under any means draft minor leaguers this early in the draft; especially minor leaguers who play for a team renowned for its penny-pinching. Myers has an impressive minor league dossier, but there’s little indication—barring the finalization of a long-term deal—that the Rays would call him up early enough to give up a year of team control, potentially not even until they’ve ensured they can push back his “Super 2” eligibility date. That would put his arrival time in June.

It’s a ballsy move drafting minor leaguers and sometimes it works out and sometimes (read: more often than not) they end up gobbling up a valuable bench spot for a few weeks until you have to drop them. If Myers still had catcher eligibility, this stash would be more defendable. If this stash came about five rounds later, it would be more defendable. In round 11 when there were a number of solid outfielders (who are actually on Major League depth charts) still available, it’s a pretty bad pick.

Team Strength(s): Power & Potential

Power: Every member of the starting roster (I’m excluding Myers and Profar here) hit double-digit home runs in the big leagues last year. That’s pretty impressive. All but one player (Curtis Granderson) had at least 22 doubles and the bulk of the starting offense had 75+ RBI last year. This team can most certainly mash.

Potential: I feel like if I went back and looked at old write-ups for Morgan’s team, potential is always a factor. Thus far it has yet to work out for him, but this could be the year. There are a number of players ready to have breakout seasons on this roster in Montero, Hosmer, Stanton, Jackson, Darvish, and either of the two minor leaguers (if/when they get promoted). That’s obviously all speculation at this point, but if they all live up to their considerable hype and talents, this could be a great year for Morgan.

Team Weakness(es): Bench (or a significant lack thereof) & Bullpen

Bench: I assume Morgan has already heard plenty of this since draft day and he’ll continue to hear it until he rectifies the situation, but right now he’s got no bench. He has two minor leaguers who can’t do jack to help him out. If there’s a nagging, non-DL injury or merely an off-day, he’s screwed. You cannot win without flexibility, period.

Bullpen: Much like the comment above about potential, I know for a fact that I harp on Morgan’s bullpen strategy every year and then he comes out and goes the same route. Holds are a fun category that most leagues don’t use. That doesn’t, however, make them the end-all, be-all of important stats. Holds vary wildly from week-to-week and even a team with multiple setup men can go a lengthy stretch without recording a single hold. Piling up on volatile middle relievers and going light on actual closers (or bench players) is not a winning solution. I will, however, say that this is the first time that I recall Morgan taking a legit top-tier closer. So that’s something.

Final Summary: In keeping with tradition, Morgan’s draft ranks in the bottom third of the league yet again. The obvious argument against this team being successful is the decision to draft two minor leaguers and three—count ‘em THREE—holds guys. This move left Morgan with no bench and almost no flexibility. Neither Myers nor Profar has an immediate path to the big leagues (barring injuries, trades, and/or long-term deals) and that creates a serious logjam for a roster that can’t afford to be handcuffed.

The pitching is very top-heavy and is relying on a Cy Young winner, a top-flight closer, and a lot of guys who could go either way. Darvish has the best chance of anyone to contribute in a big way, but he’s coming off a 3.90 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, hardly ace numbers and the ballpark he plays in will never be in his favor. The lineup intrigues me, but could crater if the bad versions of Hosmer, Alvarez, Hardy, and Jackson reappear this season.

All-in-all, it’s a pretty good club, but clearly near the bottom of the pile. Morgan is once again on the spot to prove his mettle in this league. Last year’s late trades showed he’s willing to adapt, the question is how big of a step forward can he take as a manager or is this simply what we’re going to get from 38 MPH Heaters year in and year out?

Paul Goldschmidt

13) Radioactive Rush

Draft Pick 6

2012 Rank: 13th
2011 Rank: 12th
2010 Rank: 12th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Adrian Gonzalez (1B/OF – LAD), Adam Jones (OF – BAL) & Matt Harvey (SP – NYM)

First Pick: Paul Goldschmidt (1B – ARI) [Pick 6]
Last Pick: Emilio Bonifacio (2B/OF – TOR) [Pick 230]

Best Pick: Glen Perkins (CL – MIN) [Round 10 – Pick 135]

Summary: Perkins stayed on the board much, much longer than he should have in this year’s draft, especially for a draft full of Minnesota homers. Since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2011, Perkins has averaged a 2.52 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and 9.8 K/9. Perkins saved 16 games last season in roughly half-a-season as the Twins’ official stopper. Those numbers look pretty sexy when projected over a full campaign. It’s also important to note that in addition to his already excellent control, Perkins saw his velocity increase after he took over the closing duties last season. Given the always steep price teams pay for closers, Perkins in round ten was an absolute steal and one that figures to reap big returns all season long.

Worst Pick: James Shields (SP – KC) [Round 3 – Pick 34]

Summary: There were a number of picks I could have gone with here (see: Rutledge, Josh or Frazier, Todd or Perez, Salvador) but this one strikes me as the most glaring of the bunch. “Big Game” James has a reputation for piling up strikeouts and pitching a lot of innings. His numbers over the past couple of years have been stellar. There’s no denying that, in fact, I think this pick was right in his wheelhouse on just about every ADP report out there.

That having been said, we’re talking about a 30-year-old pitcher who is moving out of a dome and into a park that is less forgiving and he’ll be doing it in front of a less stellar defense than he had in Tampa Bay. Shields has a very good 3.33 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 pitching at Tropicana Field. Once you take him outside of the dome, however, his numbers plummet to a 4.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 7.3 K/9. Those are some pretty hefty drops in production simply by taking him out of the controlled elements of Tropicana Field. More proof he’s not going to be the same guy he was in Tampa Bay is found in his career stats at Kauffman Stadium, his new home, where he sports a career 6.38 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, and a meager 5.6 K/9 (note: albeit in a very small sample size).

Grant clearly paid for the 2011-2012 versions of Tampa Bay Shields and is very, very unlikely to get a return on investment with Shields doing his work in Kansas City. Given the talent pitching still around at this point, this looks like a tremendous overpay.

Team Strength(s): Power & Bullpen

Power: This club shouldn’t struggle to hit home runs or net extra base hits. The club is jam-packed with players capable of clubbing double-digit home runs and five of the nine offensive starters netted 39 doubles + triples last year. That’s some pretty sexy numbers to see up and down the lineup.

Bullpen: It’s not a high-profile bullpen by any means, but it figures to get the job done. Boggs, Perkins, and Parnell should all do a fine job of locking up saves early in the season while Venters—if his elbow issues prove to be minor—could take care of locking up numerous holds in front of uber-closer Craig Kimbrel. Once Jason Motte returns in St. Louis, Boggs can slip back into the setup role and this club should still be in good shape from the 7th inning onward.

Team Weakness(es): OBP & Starting Pitching

OBP: This roster has a lot of offensive talent. What it does not have is guys who know how to get on-base. Looking at the roster, I see maybe three guys who can be reliably counted on to post above-average on-base percentages. I see just as many who could completely negate those other three and potentially drag the lot down even further. This club might need to swap out a little sizzle for some substance to avoid getting obliterated in OBP week-in and week-out.

Staring Pitching: I said my piece on Shields above and despite what I said, he’s still probably the second best starter on this roster. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a complete mystery and could either blow up in Grant’s (and the Dodgers’) face or he could surprise everyone and quickly adapt to the American game. Mike Fiers is good, but was thisclose to losing his rotation spot before the season ever started. Given the influx of potential starters in Milwaukee he might not be long for the starting five if he falters. Homer Bailey has been one of the most up and down pitchers in the game for years. Josh Beckett—much like Ryu—could either bounceback and have a surprising year or he could continue to be a steaming dumpster pile on the mound. Matt Harvey, the club’s ace, is super young and pitching for a pretty mediocre Mets squad. He’s got some serious K/9 potential (although I highly doubt he keeps it at the absurd levels from his debut) and that’s awesome, but he’s also pretty much the only pitcher here I’d want on my roster and I’d have wanted him right around the place Grant took Beckett.

Summary: I loved the Goldschmidt pick in round one, I think he’s a very dynamic player and could pay huge dividends, but I also thought that—for the second year in a row—Grant should have been targeting pitching in the early rounds. Instead he waited until round three and dropped the ball by going after James Shields. His offense isn’t as daunting as it should be, despite his attempts to boost the lineup rather than the rotation. I felt like he reached on a number of players and left a lot of talent on the board.

The rotation is one of the least imposing in the entire league and I have some serious doubts about a number of the players plugged into this offense. I think that Choo could have a monster year in Cincinnati and Goldschmidt, Perez, and Perkins are all set for breakout years, but elsewhere it’s a big pile of “meh” up and down the lineup card.

Naturally, Grant will be involved in the trading game and I suspect he’ll be feeding most of this talent off to Travis by Memorial Day so I shouldn’t even have put anytime into this review, but where it stands right now, I’m not anticipating this club to do anything different than we’ve seen in Grant’s brief tenure with the league – compete for a short period and then come back to earth when Grant is forced to actually manage the roster.

Jacoby Ellsbury

12) Dome Dog

Draft Pick 9

2012 Rank: 2nd
2011 Rank: 4th
2010 Rank: 8th
2009 Rank:N/A

Keepers: Troy Tulowitzki (SS – COL), Brett Lawrie (3B – TOR) & Justin Verlander (SP – DET)

First Pick: Jacoby Ellsbury (OF – BOS) [Pick 9]
Last Pick: James McDonald (SP – PIT) [Pick 233]

Best Pick: Mike Napoli (C/1B – BOS) [Round 5 – Pick 65]

Summary: This was exactly where I was pegging Napoli and given the way other catchers were flying off the board, this was a solid value pick. According to most draft sheets he was an ADP darling in round 5 and he’s one of those wonderful blessing-in-disguise plays where he’ll get the bulk of his starts somewhere other than behind the plate. It may be his last season of catcher eligibility, depending on how the Sox use Napoli and his janky hip this year. If that’s the case, Adam is in for a fun ride.

Napoli has a career batting line of .306/.397/.710 at Fenway Park. That is good enough for a 1.107 OPS. That includes 7 HR and 17 RBI in just 62 at-bats. Sure it’s a small sample size, but from a personal perspective, I’ve seen the dude hit here a number of times and he absolutely owns Fenway Park. The Green Monster is his bitch in every possible way. If he can keep that up for a full-season and gets 500+ at-bats by playing first base instead of catcher, look for a monster debut campaign in Beantown.

Worst Pick: Julio Teheran (SP – ATL) [Round 8 – Pick 104]

Summary: When the biggest Braves homer in the draft tells you that you went way too early on an Atlanta player, you should know you’ve made a grave mistake. That was the case when Adam stretched waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down his draft sheet to land Teheran in the eighth round. It’s another case of a player being drafted in a place where he needs to perform way over his head to even get close to matching his draft cost. Adam probably could have waited another half-dozen rounds or so and still gotten Teheran and still been reaching a bit.

Good player, bad pick.

Team Strength(s): Speed & Potential

Speed: This roster is built to burn. Ellsbury and Jennings could swipe 30+ each. On top of that Ruggiano, Marte, and Lawrie could add on another 20+ apiece and there is always the potential for Ackley and (a healthy) Tulowitzki to tack on 15+ apiece as well. Heck, even Jedd Gyorko and Mike Moustakas showed glimpses of speed in the minors and could conceivably reach double-digit steals if given the green light. This team should have no struggles in the stolen base game in 2013.

Potential: The most obvious thing about this roster is that it’s comprised of many young players and many young players who once were (or currently are) highly-touted prospects. This lineup is a veritable who’s who of “future stars” in the game. Chris Sale, Dustin Ackley, Brett Lawrie, Desmond Jennings, Starling Marte, Mike Moustakas, Julio Teheran, etc., etc…this club could bust out and run away with the league if all of these guys take big steps forward in 2013. It’s a big if, but one that could be the difference in this league.

Team Weakness(es): Injuries & OBP

Injuries: While this roster reads like a who’s who of future stars of the game, it also reads like a who’s who of DL stalwarts from recent years. Mike Napoli had his monster contract blown up due to a degenerative hip condition, Justin Morneau has been a physical train wreck for the better part of three years, Brett Lawrie has suffered a number of maladies in his short career, Troy Tulowitzki is made of porcelain, Jacoby Ellsbury is always one freak injury away from a lengthy DL stint, Chris Sale is this year’s poster boy for the Verducci Effect, Roy Halladay may or may not be held together with duct tape and copper wire at this point, and Bruce Rondon is probably going to spontaneously combust from all of the heat he throws. It’s a dangerous lineup.

OBP: I wasn’t’ sure if I wanted to go after power or OBP, but OBP seems to be the bigger issue as the power could take a step forward, OBP rarely makes monster leaps. As it’s currently comprised, that’s exactly what this lineup needs, a monster leap in OBP. This lineup has two, maybe three, guys that I’d say can be counted on to post above average OBPs and after that it gets rough in a hurry. This lineup has six guys projected to produce OBPs below .330…four of those six are expected to post a .316 or lower OBP. Not pretty.

Summary: This was a classic case of reachitis. The club has a lot of talent, especially young talent, but Adam left a ton of talent on the table going after some of the young studs he was clearly locked into on his draft sheet. If they all have big, breakout years he’ll be in good shape. If they struggle as young players are wont to do, he’ll be in a rough way for most of the 2013 season.

The bullpen has a lights out closer, the best setup man in baseball (and eventual closer in LA), and a dude who isn’t likely to make the big league club with his erratic spring training showings. The rotation has some serious fire, but Sale is an injury and regression risk waiting to happen and Teheran needs to pitch like an ace to justify his draft value. Halladay bouncing back would be optimal and prove to be a huge value and AJ Griffin is a bit of a wild card coming into the season.

The biggest factor that will dictate the season for Dome Dog is the overall health of this ball club. There are a ton of potential injury risks on this roster and if a couple of those key players suffer injuries, this team is going to struggle to stay competitive into the (Dome) Dog days of summer. If they all stay healthy and the kids produce, however, this team will be virtually unstoppable. It’s a tough call placing the club this low, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the injury risks and the kids, I couldn’t justifiably go much higher.

Ian Kinsler

11) Captain Jack Sparrow

Draft Pick 4

2012 Rank: 14th
2011 Rank: 7th
2010 Rank: N/A
2009 Rank: 1st

Keepers: Bust Posey (C/1B – SF), Bryce Harper (OF – WAS) & Stephen Strasburg (SP – WAS)

First Pick: Ian Kinsler (2B – TEX) [Pick 4]
Last Pick: Sean Marshall (RP – CIN) [Pick 228]

Best Pick: Michael Young (1B/2B/3B – PHI) [Round 14 – Pick 193]

Summary: Young is one-year removed from hitting .338/.380/.474 with 41 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, and 106 RBI in Texas. He’s also proven to be one of baseball’s most reliable superstars having played in 155+ games in 10 of the last 11 seasons.

Is it asking too much for a 36-year-old to have a bounce back season? Maybe. We are, however, talking about a guy who is notoriously an odd-year stud and is moving to another hitter’s haven in Philadelphia and he won’t have to deal with distractions about his position and/or playing time and he won’t have to fight the Texas heat for half of the season. He may not replicate some of his monster numbers from the past, but with multi-position eligibility and a round 14 price tag, his value figures to exceed his draft day price.

Worst Pick: Hanley Ramirez (SS/3B – LAD) [Round 4 – Pick 53]

Summary: Don’t get me wrong, I love Hanley Ramirez more than anyone. The dude has been my keeper for years and up until the injury just before our draft, he was slated to be my keeper once again. The thing is, however, that he is injured. Ramirez went under the knife to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is slated to miss at least two months. There’s no guarantee he’ll come back that quickly or regain his 20/20 form when he does come back.

Ramirez’s numbers have been in decline for years and this figured to be a make-it or break-it season for him in the heart of a potent lineup. Now it’s looking like he’ll miss time and could be relegated to third base permanently upon his return, thus hampering his value going forward. He was slow to recover from shoulder surgery a few years ago—some might say he’s yet to fully recover—and this could prove to be more of the same. In round four, the risk factor is just too high for this gamble.

Team Strength(s): Balance & Breakout Potential

Balance: Looking at this roster, there’s a good mix of guys who can hit for power and handful of guys who could swipe 20-30 bags pretty easily as well. A full, healthy season of Brett Gardner—especially in a power-depleted Yankees lineup—could swipe 50+ in 2013. One of my favorites from last year, Chris “Crash” Davis took a big step forward in 2012 and could be primed for his big-time breakout year this year and easily pop 40 home runs hitting in Baltimore. The pitching has some high K guys and, with the exception of Garcia and League, a slew of guys who are prime for solid years and have established roles on their big league clubs.

Breakout Potential: Bryce Harper had an amazing year last season and figures to build on that in 2013. I don’t know if I’m ready to prime the pump for a 30/30 campaign like so many others, but I think 30+2B/25+HR/20+SB seems completely realistic. If he can pump up his OBP above league average, he’ll be a veritable force. Stephen Strasburg has “no limitations” coming into this season and could be in line to run away with the NL Cy Young award. Jon Lester made some tweaks to his mechanics and is primed for a bounce back campaign. The aforementioned Davis is one of my favorites for a breakout season after the showing he had in 2012. Adam Eaton could prove to be a big-time OBP/SB/R machine in Arizona when he gets healthy. Kris Medlen gave everyone a taste of what he can do last season and although his numbers figure to regress, a full-season of Medlen in the rotation will be a boon for Atlanta and Captain Jack.

Team Weakness(es): Current Injuries & Injury Potential

Current Injuries: Travis clearly drafted for upside in going after a number of injured players and hoping to get better long-term value out of them. The problem is in taking the banged up Pablo Sandoval in round two and the DL-bound Hanley Ramirez in round four, he passed on getting and “sleeper value” out of these injured players by passing up on talent that can help him right out of the gate. Getting future DL-bound players such as David Ortiz and Adam Eaton in rounds 11 and 13 made more sense, but not when you’ve already compiled a roster full of the walking wounded.

Injury Potential: Only four players on this roster got to 550 at-bats last year and one of them—Ramirez—is already on the DL. Garcia, Gardner, Ortiz, and Sandoval all misted significant time with injuries last year. Buster Posey is coming off an increased workload once again and figures to regress a bit behind the plate. Ian Kinsler is only a couple of seasons removed from being counted on for an annual trip to the DL. Adam LaRoche has a history of back problems. Stephen Strasburg is a second Tommy John surgery waiting to happen. The potential for injury to ravage this team is just devastatingly high.

Summary: It’s really tough for me to look at this roster and know how to feel about his club. There are a slew of injuries and guys who are injury prone up and down the roster. There’s also a veritable pile of potential breakout superstars here. This team will need some work—and obviously some reinforcements as it currently has no shortstop—but it could contend.

The low ranking is based on the draft itself and the strategy (and risk). I really didn’t like Sandoval in round two (dude hasn’t had 500+ at-bats since 2010) and is already banged up. Following that up with Ramirez in round four was a stretch, but then to add two more DL-bound guys in Ortiz and Eaton was just ridiculous.

Much like previous low rankings for Travis, I’m not worried about his club over the long haul. He’s a shrewd manager and will make the appropriate moves to get his club on track and move onward if his injury gambles don’t work out.

Matt Cain

10) j’s team

Draft Pick 13

2012 Rank: 10th
2011 Rank: 6th
2010 Rank: 7th
2009 Rank:7th

Keepers: Evan Longoria (3B – TB), Ryan Braun (OF – MIL), & Zack Greinke (SP – LAD)

First Pick: Matt Cain (SP – SF) [Pick 13]
Last Pick: Jason Vargas (SP – LAA) [Pick 237]

Best Pick: Aramis Ramirez (3B – MIL) [Round 3 – Pick 41]

Summary: Sometimes you just can’t pass up a good thing. That’s the position Jay was in as the draft looped back toward him at the end of round three. Despite third base’s reputation as a thin position, Aramis Ramirez, one of the game’s most steady presences at the hot corner was still on the board. Jay already had Evan Longoria entrenched at 3B, but Ramirez’s offensive contributions were too good to pass up – especially with Levi waiting to draft a third-sacker of his own with the next pick.

In 2012, his first year with the Milwaukee Brewers, Ramirez scored 92 runs, hit 50 doubles, wreck 27 home runs, drove in 105 and posted a .360 OBP. Not bad for an “over-the-hill” 35-year-old, huh?! In the past five years (despite missing significant time due to injury in 2009 and 2010) Ramirez has averaged 30+ doubles, 25+ home runs, 75+ runs, 90+ RBI and a .356 OBP. Call me crazy, but that’s some solid value at the end of round three, especially at a thin position.

Worst Pick: PLAYER (POS – TEAM) [Round # – Pick #]

Summary: This is another case of the pick being far worse than the player. I think Anthony Rizzo is a very solid young prospect with a bright future ahead of him in Major League Baseball. I also think that Jay reached taking him at the top of round two. There were a number of far more valuable players on the board and Jay went after one of the deepest positions in the game. I think similar (or better) value could have been landed by drafting Ike Davis, Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko, Chris Davis, Nick Swisher, Adam Dunn, Todd Frazier, or Adam LaRoche anywhere from two to four rounds later.

I think Rizzo could still have a solid year, but I’m not ready to go full-in an expect the 30+ HR/40+2B/100+RBI/.350+OBP that a lot of other experts are this year. I think that in another full go’round of the league, he struggles a bit. I’m anticipating something closer to 25-30 homers, 25-30 doubles, 70-90RBI and an OBP closer to the league average if not below it given his penchant for strikeouts.

Team Strength(s): Balance & Cool Last Names

Balance: This offense could be pretty potent. It’s got some serious speed candidates in Crawford, Escobar, Braun, and—if his legs don’t fall off—Ichiro. On the flip side, Braun, Ramirez, Longoria, Rizzo, and Doumit could all provide some solid power numbers to keep things copacetic on that side of the ball. All-in-all, it’s a pretty tight looking offense.

Cool Last Names: Seriously, the only common last names on this roster are Parker and maybe Cain. If you want to hit the foreign names, Suzuki, Ramirez, and Escobar are all pretty common, but beyond that, it’s a wild collection of last names. Longoria. Greinke. Vargas. Clippard. Papelbon. Lincecum. Doumit. Rizzo. Lucroy. …it’s madness I tell you, pure madness!!

Team Weakness(es): Bullpen & Bad Juju

Bullpen: Fernando Rodney is a piece of garbage.

Coming in to 2012, he had a career 4.29 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and a 1.69 (read: garbage) K/BB ratio. Despite all this he had 87 career saves and the Rays gave him the closer’s role when Kyle Farnsworth was injured to start the season. Out of nowhere he posted an absurd 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and a 5.07 K/BB ratio…all while sealing up 48 saves (read: more than half his career TOTAL after NINE full big league seasons).

He. Will. Implode.

Bad JuJu: Honestly, I don’t know what it is about this squad, but it doesn’t really do much for me. I look at it and I see some serious talent, but nothing about this particular ballclub says “potential champion” to me.

Summary: I don’t know if it’s just sour grapes over the Ryan Doumit pick or if there’s more to it, but honestly, I just can’t get into Jay’s squad. I look at this roster and I see plenty of talent and lots of potential, but nothing about this team excites me or makes me think he’s going to make another run at this third trophy.

I see lots of potential implosions in the rotation from Rodney to Lincecum to Greinke to Vargas. I see some serious injury potential in Longoira, Beltran, and Crawford. I see some regression candidates in Niese, Escobar, and Lucroy.

Again, it’s hard to explain my issues with this club. I think it’s a fine club with some real potential to compete, but overall it just strikes me as underwhelming. I see one great keeper, one very good (and potentially great if/when healthy) keeper, and an overrated pitching keeper and a lot of what strikes me as “filler.” Jay will ultimately dictate how this story ends, but right now, I don’t see this club getting him back to the postseason.

 

…and so ends Part I of this year’s Draft Review and Rankings. Look for Part II: Teams 9-5 coming soon!

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Justin’s Draft Rundown

I chose this photo in hopes of publicly shaming Justin for his awful White Soxian ways.
By: Justin Kunkel

The players listed below were chosen to be the eventual 2013 Most Valuable Player, Cy Young winner, and “Best Return on Investment” for each team. The only caveat was that Justin chose only from non-keeper players in an effort to keep all of the focus on the draft itself.

Justin’s original terminology “I was totally expecting this much value when I drafted him” was revamped to be “Surprise MVP,” but then I decided to go with “Best Return on Investment” as these are the guys who are most likely to provide more value than was anticipated on draft day.

Without any further ado, here is Justin’s analysis of each team:

Genies in a Bottle
MVP: Matt Holliday
Cy Young: Gio Gonzalez
Best Return on Investment: Asdrubal Cabrera

Dominators
MVP: Ryan Howard
Cy Young: Josh Johnson
Best Return on Investment: Wilin Rosario

High Cheese
MVP: Freddie Freeman
Cy Young: Brett Anderson
Best Return on Investment: Brandon Belt

Sea Bass
MVP: Yoenis Cespedes
Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Best Return on Investment: Kendrys Morales

Money Grubbers
MVP: Jason Kipnis
Cy Young: Jeremy Hellickson
Best Return on Investment: Paul Maholm

S.L. Disappointment
MVP: Hunter Pence
Cy Young: Ian Kennedy
Best Return on Investment: Jesus Montero

Cracker Jack
MVP: Ike Davis
Cy Young: Matt Moore
Best Return on Investment: Kevin Youkilis

InSaNeAuDiO
MVP: Shane Victorino
Cy Young: Ryan Vogelsong
Best Return on Investment: Michael Cuddyer

j’s team
MVP: Anthony Rizzo
Cy Young: Matt Cain
Best Return on Investment: Carl Crawford

ZIMA
MVP: Joe Mauer
Cy Young: Mat Latos
Best Return on Investment: Domonic Brown

38 MPH Heaters
MVP: Austin Jackson
Cy Young: Yu Darvish
Best Return on Investment: Alex Cobb

Radioactive Rush
MVP: Shin-Soo Choo
Cy Young: Homer Bailey
Best Return on Investment: Josh Beckett

Captain Jack Sparrow
MVP: Ian Kinsler
Cy Young: Jeff Samardzija
Best Return on Investment: Jon Lester

Dome Dog
MVP: Justin Morneau
Cy Young: Chris Sale
Best Return on Investment: Dustin Ackley

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10 Important Draft Day Reminders

10 Important Reminders

In preparation for the 2013 draft, I’ve come up with 10 important reminders for draft day.

Read them carefully. Study them. Commit them to memory. Act upon all of them.

That is all.

1) Bring $40 cash to pay your league dues. Bring exactly $40. Last year, I had people who didn’t have the full amount and I had people paying with loose change. That’s horseshit. You’re all adults. You all have jobs. You all know how to use an ATM. ATMs give out $20 bills. Get two of them and then hand them to me. It’s that simple. If you cannot handle this, you are the royal emperor of fuckuppery.

2) I’ll have your draft sheets ready and waiting for you. I’ll collect them at the end of the draft and enter all of the rosters into Yahoo! Naturally, some of you may want to be at the ready to scramble and pick up free agents afterwards. Don’t rush me, I’ll punch you in the nuts and wait three days to confirm the rosters.

3) Bring coolers, pillows, blankets, air mattresses, etc. for Craiggers’ place. The fridge will not be the beer vessel it was two years ago as the house will still be in use as, well, a house and not a modern-day frat den during our stay. Coolers and ice will prove important.

4) Bring some extra cash to pay for things like food, beer, ice, etc. as we’ll probably need to makes a couple of runs for these essentials. No one wants to get screwed over on the costs on any of this stuff. All too often the host ends up paying out the most simply by default. Host does not equal provider, it simply means host.tp

5) Bring a roll of toilet paper.

This applies to everyone. Grab one from your bathroom on your way out the door. Throw it in the passenger seat. The place has two poopers and if history repeats itself, they’ll both be in use…a lot.

6) Towels? Deodorant? Air fresheners? Etc…it’s a basement full of dudes who have been drinking and likely eating buffalo wings or pizza or charred animal flesh. It’s gonna be unpleasant. Period. Come prepared to shower and/or at the very least keep yourself respectable.

7) If you don’t bring your own list of players, no one should provide you with one. This is the punishment you deserve. You have brought this upon yourself. Draft from memory of who plays in the big leagues. Good luck with that.

(Note: This rule does not apply if the airline loses my notes. Naturally, I am exempt from any rule that involves punishment.)

8) Rumor has it the weather is going to be shitty and we’re going to spend a lot of quality time indoors. If you’ve got some cool board games or card games or something, this would be a fine weekend to bring them along. Hell, we could do a long, multi-hour Strat-O-Matic draft to kill time if we really wanted to keep things lively.

9) Do not, under any circumstances, poop in the sock drawer.

10) I’d like someone to take Mike’s pen away from him before every one of my draft picks. You can give it back after the next person has picked. I assume that will give him sufficient time to cool down and avoid trying to blind me with an ink-filled projectile.

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