Disclaimer: I don’t believe I put focus on anything except for the players drafted. Any moves made since the draft should not have been included in this review, although it is possible I have included someone after taking a peek at your teams. I realize some of you may have already addressed weaknesses, if so…ignore what I’ve got to say. That’s your right either way.
Note: I would like to see some commentary regarding this post either here or on the SLB league page. It takes a long time to write this thing up and at seven pages and nearly 4,000 words it’s a lot of f’n work. So please make me feel like it was worth my time and effort. Thanks.
Without any further adieu…
10: Sea Bass v4.0
Keepers: Carlos Quentin (OF-CHW), Mark Teixeira (1B-NYY), Brandon Webb (SP-ARI)
First Pick: Matt Holliday (OF-OAK)
Last Pick: Ted Lilly (SP-CHI)
Best Pick: Brad Hawpe (OF-COL) [Rd11] — Although he earned the nickname “The Salmon League Slut” in 2008 by bouncing from team to team, Hawpe is still a solid contributor in fantasy baseball. The past three years he’s average 25HR/95RBI/.289avg/.384obp and plays in the midst of what is seemingly a perennially strong lineup in Colorado. Getting that type of production as a FOURTH outfielder in round 11 is just tad ridiculous.
Worst Pick: TIE: Joe Mauer (C-MIN) [Rd2] and Russell Martin (C-LAD) [Rd3] — Catchers…this early, really?! Here’s the thing. Taking one catcher this early is insane…and the insanity spread when it appeared Craiggers was looking to collect the entire set and the rest of the top tier jumped off the board way too early. I realize Craiggers wanted a top flight player at the position, but drafting a DL-ridden Mauer in the second round was nuts. To follow it up with Martin to be the temporary replacement and eventual third baseman was even worse. Catchers get the least at-bats on average of any position because of the days off they need. They also have the greatest risk of injury. Taking two of them (one of whom is already injured) in the first 25 picks of the entire draft is a little nuts. Craiggers plan to move Martin to 3B after Mauer returns is equally as wonky because his production, when put up against other 3B would be — at best — middle of the pack. Craiggers has mentioned that he plans to move one of the catchers when they are both active, a wise move if ever there was one.
Weakness: Pitching. On paper, Craiggers has a solid rotation and a serviceable bullpen. In reality he has an injury prone rotation that could blow up in his face and require major reconstructive surgery via trades and free-agent acquisitions…two of Craiggers weakest points as a general manager. He is known for holding onto players too long and this rotation features a bunch of guys who fit the mold. Huge potential to be great or destroy a fantasy team. The bullpen is going to need at least one more top-flight closer to counter balance the less-than-stellar peripherals of Brian Wilson and the injury-risk of Kerry Wood. The most obvious trade partner is G-Doggy who has a plethora of 3B types and closers and would love an upgrade at catcher.
Strength: Offensive Balance. Although weak on the left side of the infield, the rest of Craiggers offensive unit is pretty balanced. He’s got a plethora of guys who can hit 20-30 bombs and a bunch of guys with double-digit steal potential. If healthy and effective his rotation will be solid. Note: That’s a big ole “IF.”
Summary: Craiggers draft is by no means bad, but in a team where less than 200 players are drafted no one’s team is going to be bad. I do think he left a ton of talent on the table by reaching way too early for catching, let alone two of them. His pitching doesn’t instill a bunch of confidence. I think if Craiggers can get over his penchant for zoning in on players from past teams and his unwillingness to make moves in favor of waiting on comebacks he’ll be in good shape. Craiggers has had three very distinct years in the Salmon League. He’s come in middle of the pack. He’s been in the championship game and he’s finished dead-last. Hopefully this year we’ll see what he’s really made of.
Keepers: Miguel Cabrera (1B/3B-DET), Carlos Beltran (OF-NYM), CC Sabathia (SP-NYY)
First Pick: Alexei Ramirez (2B/SS/OF-CHW)
Last Pick: Hank Blalock (1B/3B-TEX)
Best Pick: Hank Blalock (1B/3B-TEX) [Rd16] — Blalock has proven to be a fantasy force when healthy and as recently as three years ago was a top 15 pick in this very league. His dual-position eligibility, plus power and position within a very solid lineup should prove a big boon for G-Doggy as the season progresses, especially with Blalock set to be the Rangers’ primary DH in an attempt to keep him healthy this season.
Worst Pick: Miguel Tejada (SS-HOU) [Rd 2] — It was just way too early to jump the gun on Tejada, especially after acquiring Ramirez to be the team’s primary shortstop in the first-round. This pick received a veritable “ooohhh” from the rest of the general managers. This could logically be deemed the worst pick of the draft.
Weakness: Lack of Depth. G-Doggy drafted way too many closers. I don’t know what the logic behind the move was, but no team is going to trade away top talent for the most volatile position in the game. Closers are usually additions to bigger trades, not deal-makers. As a result of loading up on all the closers the team was weakened in other areas. The most glaring of which will come on the base paths. Clearly the team needs to add some more speed as currently Coco Crisp, Beltran and Ramirez are the extent of his wheels.
Strength: Bullpen. Needless to say, G-Doggy should be a lock to win saves every single week. Granted, he may not win any other category as a result, but clearly his bullpen–despite having NO set-up men for holds–is his biggest strength coming out of the draft.
Summary: G-Doggy put together a solid team overall. The pitching staff of Sabathia, Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo is formidable, but needs more depth. Trading or dropping one (or more) of his closers to provide more offensive help and a deeper rotation would be a wise move. The offense could use a little work and more balance overall. With a few smart moves this team could surprise.
Keepers: Dustin Pedroia (2B-BOS), Albert Pujols (1B-STL), Roy Oswalt (SP-HOU)
First Pick: Carl Crawford (OF-TB)
Last Pick: Shin-Soo Choo (OF-CLE)
Best Pick: Alex Gordon (3B-KC) [Rd15] — Gordon is a serious post-hype sleeper who appears primed to finally live up to his massive potential. Two years ago, Gordon was the can’t-miss prospect in baseball when he made the jump from Double-A to the pros…he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, but offseason adjustments to his stance and swing figure to pay large dividends this season for Gordon, the Royals and ZIMA.
Worst Pick: Shin-Soo Choo (OF-CLE) [Rd16] — This isn’t based on the player picked, it’s based on the fact that in a league with 3 bench spots, it seems unwise to use a final pick on a fifth outfielder. This pick undercut the team’s overall depth and further overloaded ZIMA’s bench with what is by far the easiest position to fill in fantasy baseball.
Weakness: Depth. The pitching staff has no players on the bench and the offense has too many outfielders. ZIMA would be wise to add a middle infielder to the bench in case of injury to either Pedroia or Derek Jeter. In addition the pitching staff consists primarily of starting pitchers, leaving a seriously depleted bullpen in a league that puts heavy emphasis on a good bullpen.
Strength: Offensive Balance. The offense has a handful of guys with a legit shot at 20/20 or better this season and beyond that boasts plenty of players with 30 homer abilities. This team figure to contend on the back of its offense.
Summary: ZIMA General Manager, Collin Brand, is brand-new to the league and surprised many people with some of his selections especially keeping Dustin Pedroia instead of Jimmy Rollins. It is hard to gauge what type of season Brand will have in his league not knowing how he will adjust to the current weaknesses of his team and/or how he’ll play on his strengths. His team is primed (offensively, at least) for a solid run.
7. j’s team
Keepers: Ryan Braun (OF-MIL), Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY), Zack Greinke)
First Pick: Roy Halladay (SP-TOR)
Last Pick: Casey Kotchman (1B-ATL)
Best Pick: Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY) [Supp] — None of General Manager, Jay Christiansen’s other picks really stand out above the pack (a common occurrence at either end of the draft), however, making the decision to land A-Rod in the Supplemental Round despite knowing he’d miss a month or better was a wise move. Many tabbed Rodriguez as falling into the late first or early second round of this draft. Jay now has a top-tier Keeper going forward and should be in a serious power position with both Rodriguez and Aramis Ramirez in his lineup come May.
Worst Pick: Matt Wieters (C-BAL) [Rd10] — This pick didn’t make any sense. When you’re stuck at the end of the draft [and complaining endlessly about it] why would you waste a pick on a guy who may not be able to help your team until the All-Star break?! The top catchers were off the board the logical thing to do at this point was to wait until late rounds to fill in the position. Jay chose to jump on a hot prospect who can’t help his club (in theory) for months. If Wieters gets the call earlier than anticipated this pick doesn’t look nearly as bad, but given Jay’s place in the draft and the talent on the board, it didn’t make much sense at the time.
Weakness: Speed. Jay has only one player who swiped more than 18 stolen bases last year and that is Ichiro Suzuki who is in the midst of his decline-phase. Jay does boast plenty of power and shouldn’t struggle to find a trading partner for a slugging 3B once Rodriguez comes off the DL.
Strength: Starting Pitching. For what is probably the first time in history, Jay has one of the top staffs in the league; anchored by war horse Roy Halladay and followed up by young fireballers Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke.
Summary: Jay has a pretty solid team and definitely figures to contend in an attempt to defend his title. An infusion of speed would help drastically as would solid showings from a potential questionable bullpen. Jay will have ample opportunities to improve his team via trade, if he doesn’t play the trading game incorrectly as he did last season.
6. cracker jack
Keepers: Jimmy Rollins (SS-PHI), Grady Sizemore (OF-CLE), Francisco Liriano (SP-MIN)
First Pick: Alfonso Soriano (OF-CHI)
Last Pick: Lastings Milledge (OF-WAS)
Best Pick: Pablo Sandoval (C/1B/3B-SF) [Rd13] — When you can snag a player with high upside and position eligibility a weak position you do it. General Manager Justin Kunkel did just that when he acquired Sandoval (who figures to get the bulk of his starts at 3B) to play catcher for cracker jack this season.
Worst Pick: John Lackey (SP-LAA) [Rd6] — Don’t get me wrong here, Lackey is a bonafide ace who pitches on a winning ballclub, it’s not easy to find players with that kind of pedigree, however, when they’re injured and slated to miss an entire month of season…drafting them in the sixth round is a bit of a stretch.
Weakness: Starting Rotation. The rest of the squad looks pretty solid and evenly put together. The starting rotation, however, contains numerous injury risks and gambles. If Lester continues to improve, if Chamberlain stays healthy, if both Myers and Cueto can avoid their up-and-down starts and both Lackey and Smoltz come back healthy this will turn from weakness to strength, but that’s a whole lotta ifs!
Strength: Offensive balance. The lineup features half a dozen guys who can crush 30+ long-balls and roughly the same number that could logically swipe 25+ bags. Barring and sort of injury this offense figures to be a tough one to contend with all season long.
Summary: There are numerous question marks in the starting rotation, the rest of the team looks solid. If healthy the rotation figures to be neck and neck with the rest of the league, if not some major moves will need to be made that could cost some of the offensive balance. Currently this team figures to make the playoffs, but the starting rotation cannot be relied upon heavily at this point.
5. Shamwow Snuggies
Keepers: Ryan Howard (1B-PHI), Carlos Lee (OF-HOU), Carlos Zambrano (SP-CHI)
First Pick: Brian “Bip” Roberts (2B-BAL)
Last Pick: Glen Perkins (SP-MIN)
Best Pick: David Price (SP/RP-TB) [Rd12] — Although he’ll start the season in Triple-A, Price has shown that he can absolutely dominate hitters when given a chance. He figures to be the fifth starter for the Rays before the All-Star break and when combined with the Snuggies already daunting rotation of Zambrano, Adam Wainwright, Scott Kazmir and Dan Haren figures to be a big force for the Snuggies down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Worst Pick: Jason Kubel (OF-MIN) [Rd14] — The Snuggies already have a full outfield and a back-up in perennial 25/25 candidate Delmon Young. Adding a fifth outfielder who figures to get spotty starts given the depth in the Twins lineup is a questionable move.
Weakness: Speed and Bullpen. The lineup boasts only two players with double-digit steals in 2008 (“Bip” – 40 and Young – 14) something that may hamper the team late in the season; especially if the big bats struggle. The bullpen lacks any real lights out options between Chad Qualls and oft-injured closer Troy Percival. A trade or acquisition will probably be necessary sooner rather than later.
Strength: Starting Rotation. General Manager John Kunkel drunkenly assembled one of the best rotations in the league on draft day and when David Price finally lands in the bigs for good he’ll be downright unstoppable. That depth allows him to make a move to improve an area of weakness.
Summary: Johnny boasts one of the stronger teams he’s assembled in years. A move to upgrade at third and/or the bullpen would benefit him greatly other than that he’s in good shape for a competitive season. Adding some more speedy guys to a powerful lineup would also be in his favor. If his roster lives up to its potential he could crack the playoffs for the first time in years.
4. The Dominators
Keepers: BJ Upton (OF-TB), Josh Hamilton (OF-TEX), Edinson Volquez (SP-CIN)
First Pick: Manny Ramirez (OF-LAD)
Last Pick: Jorge Cantu (1B/3B-FLA)
Best Pick: Bobby Abreu (OF-LAA) [Rd10] — Very rarely does an outfielder with the pedigree of Abreu land at pick 100 overall in a draft. The dude is a near lock for .300/20/100/100/20. Those types of numbers don’t grow and trees and they rarely make it past the first five rounds. To snag this level of production in round ten is a downright steal.
Worst Pick: Manny Ramirez (OF-LAD) [Rd1:Pk1] — I want to emphasize the fact that Manny was the first official pick of the draft, because it shows a few things. First it shows that Steven overvalued a player with a spotty history of showing up for his team all season long. It also showed that Steven’s plan was to fill-in his outfield first. In a ten team league with three starting outfield spots, it seems more than a little ridiculous to have three of your first four players be outfielders, but that’s what Steven did. As a result his infield is much weaker than it need to be and could leave Steven struggling to make up for that error all season long.
Weakness: Starting Rotation. When Edinson Volquez is your safest bet, things aren’t pretty. Volquez, whose overall career numbers and second-half numbers in 2008 are nothing to write home about, figures to be the ace of a staff that has proven to be injury-prone (Chris Carpenter), shaky in regards to peripherals (Daisuke Matsuzaka ) or simply middle-of-the-pack (Oliver Perez). A trade or free-agent pick up will definitely be necessary to create any level of confidence in this staff.
Strength: Bullpen. You don’t draft Joe Nathan and Francisco Rodriguez and not have a top-flight bullpen. Neither has any recent injury history and despite diminishing peripherals from Rodriguez, neither figures to drop-off to badly in 2008. Huge save numbers and solid K-rates are figured to be locks. Huston Street and Rafael Perez are both waiting in the wings as guys who figure to contribute both as closers and set-up men this season.
Summary: Steven may be in love with some of his boys, but second-half drops by both Hamilton and Volquez (both of which were predicted) last season doomed him a season ago and figure to do the same in 2009 unless they can both make major adjustments. The rotation and infield aren’t as strong as they could have been and the immense outfield depth may eventually be needed as trade-bait to improve other areas.
3. Genies in a Bottle
Keepers: Hanley Ramirez (SS-FLA), David Wright (3B-NYM), Johan Santana (SP-NYM)
First Pick: Brandon Phillips (2B-CIN)
Last Pick: Chris Ray (RP-BAL)
Best Pick: Chipper Jones (3B-ATL) [Rd 12] — A gamer like Jones shouldn’t be around in round 12. Period. He was the 32nd ranked offense player in 2008. That should make him a borderline keeper or early round pick. Having this level of talent–albeit injury-prone talent–fall this late in a draft is a complete steal. Half a season of Jones’ top-tier talents at that price would still make him worth every penny.
Worst Pick: Chris Young (SP-SD) [Rd 13] — This one is not necessarily a bad pick in general, it’s simply a bad-pick because Young figured to go undrafted and many players with a higher ceiling were available in the same position. If Young returns to his pre-2008 numbers, it’ll look a lot better come season’s end.
Weakness: Pitching depth. Normally the Genies have a minimum of two top-flight aces on staff and two top-tier closers. This year, pitching was at a premium during the draft and top closers and pitchers flew off the board at a pace that left too much offensive talent that couldn’t be passed up. As a result, the Genies boast one of the weakest rotations and bullpens in recent years, however, a few savvy trades or pick-ups could change all of that.
Strength: Infield. Without a doubt, the Genies have the best overall infield in the league. The Hanley Ramirez/David Wright combo on the left side is rivaled by no one and the exciting Brandon Phillips and powerful Adrian Gonzalez anchor the right-side. With JJ Hardy serving as the understudy to Ramirez and Jones to Wright this team has infield depth rivaled by few others.
Summary: The Genies once again appear poised for a solid season in the Salmon League. General Manager, Jeremiah Graves, is known for being a shrewd competitor and businessman in this league and probably has some trade targets up his sleeve as we type this report. Expect the Genies to be in the mix well into late September.
2. money grubbers
Keepers: Evan Longoria (3B-TB), Ian Kinsler (2B-TEX), James Shields (SP-TB)
First Pick: Nick Markakis (OF-BAL)
Last Pick: Derek Lowe (SP-ATL)
Best Pick: Brian McCann (C-ATL) [Rd3] — By this point in the draft three catchers were already off the board and by the end of the third round five total catchers would be gone, yet somehow McCann managed to make it all the way to Mike in round three. McCann is primed for a huge year in Atlanta and has looked strong in the early goings. Considering the unusually early run on catchers, it’s a shame other catcher-hungry owners let the best of the bunch slip this far.
Worst Pick: Justin Verlander (SP-DET) [Rd10] — Normally Verlander is a solid fantasy contributor, but last season he was a train-wreck. His first outing of 2009 was an utter disaster and as such he has already been cut from the money grubbers. The reason this ranks as Mike’s worst pick is because Verlander could have been snagged much later.
Weakness: Bench. Mike has no bench. Injuries–the kind that don’t land a guy on the DL, just out of the lineup–and off-days could prove quite problematic for Mike. Luckily he has enough pitching depth to make a move or to simply pull a drop and add to boost his options.
Strength: Starting pitching. As is his forte Mike didn’t target aces in the draft, he looked at building a pitching staff with a strong core of top-of-the-rotation guys without overpaying for aces as some teams in the draft are known to do.
Summary: Mike has a solid team positioned for another strong run. His outfield is one of the best in the league and combines plenty of power and speed. If Markakis, Granderson and Kemp all continue to make strides forward and both Kinsler and Longoria show last season was just a taste of what they can do, Mike will be in the mix until the bitter end.
1. Captain Jack Sparrow
Keepers: Chase Utley (2B-PHI), Jose Reyes (SS-NYM), Tim Linceum (SP-SF)
First Pick: Jake Peavy (SP-SD)
Last Pick: Torii Hunter (OF-LAA)
Best Pick: Dan Uggla (2B-FLA) [Rd12] — When you have Chase Utley as your second baseman you don’t have much to worry about. Although given his offseason injury-woes it only made sense to have a reliable backup. After an early run at the keystone corner it seemed as though only lower tier options would be available, yet somehow Dan Uggla, one of the only power hitting options at the position remained available. A total steal for one of the few players at the position who can legitimately his 30 homers year in and year out.
Worst Pick: Chris Perez (RP-STL) [Rd10] — Perez is slated to start the season in the minors and the Cardinals management has shown that they don’t quite trust him enough to slate him as the closer of the future. Unfortunately, General Manager Travis Morfitt took him in a panic leaving many closers still on the table.
Weakness: Bullpen. With first-time closer Heath Bell and non-closer Chris Perez it was wise of Travis to also add set-up man/spot closer JJ Putz to his bullpen. This rag-tag crew may require the addition of another closer and/or set-up man depending on how everything shakes out, but currently this is Travis’ most glaring weakness.
Strength: Offensive Balance. Two guys with 50+ stolen bases. Six guys with 25+ home runs. This offense will give opposing teams fits all season long. Period.
Summary: Travis has put together a pretty solid roster, yet again. He has power and speed covered. He has two top-flight pitchers anchoring his rotation and he has one of the best benches in the league. With the exception of his spotty bullpen he could logically be the favorite coming out of the draft. Assuming he puts in the same amount of time and attention as he has previously, expect Travis to finish in the upper-tier once again.