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.

Advertisements

First Round Conundrum: The Tale of the 2013 Draft

2013-firstrounddraft

The journey to the 2013 Salmon League Draft is officially under way.

Following on the heels of Saturday’s official keeper announcement, we’ve got a lot of interesting free agents sitting atop this year’s draft board. In fact, eight of the top nine players available are all former keepers and all are legitimate top 25-level talents.

On the surface, this appears to be one of the deepest first round classes in recent history.

Here are the top 14 free agents available heading into the draft, as determined by Yahoo! pre-season rankings.

Top 14 Free Agents in the Draft

01. Adrian Beltre – 3B – TEX
02. David Wright – 3B – NYM
03. Justin Upton – OF – ATL
04. Yoenis Cespedes – OF – OAK
05. Ian Kinsler – 2B – TEX
06. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – WAS
07. Matt Cain – SP – SF
08. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – BOS
09. BJ Upton – OF – ATL
10. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – ARI
11. Allen Craig – 1B/OF – STL
12. Matt Holliday – OF – STL
13. Billy Butler – 1B – KC
14. Yu Darvish – SP – Tex

On paper this is one of the best draft classes we’ve seen in quite some time. In recent years, there has been one, maybe two, players worthy of keeper-level status sitting in the draft. This year, however, half of the first round could qualify as keepers in any given year.

Talented fantasy studs like Beltre, Wright, Upton, Kinsler, and Zimmerman could be very desirable to many of the teams with high-draft priority this season.

Mike Kunkel and Travis Morfitt—who have the first and second draft priority slots, respectively—are renowned strategists, but with this type of top-heavy talent expected to jump off the board, one has to wonder if they’d be willing to sacrifice overall draft positioning to ensure the acquisition of a third keeper-level offensive juggernaut for their roster.

This may be one of the first seasons wherein teams are fighting one another to acquire the top draft spots rather than jockeying for spots in the middle of the draft. Rest assured, with talent like this on the board throughout the first round, no one should be unhappy at the end of round one.

The real question figures to be how the later, less star-studded, rounds treat those teams that jump for early draft positions in round one.

matt holidayIn 2011, Radioactive Rush General Manager, Grant Morfitt jumped the gun and went for the first overall pick to snag Matt Holliday, widely-considered the top player in the draft and a would-be keeper at the time. In doing so, Morfitt essentially took a hit the rest of the way throughout the draft due to his positioning and was ranked 12th out of 14 teams to start the year. He went on to finish the regular season and playoffs in eighth place.

In 2012, Sea Bass General Manager, Craig Denny followed suit and took the top overall spot in the draft to ensure he added five-tool outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to his stable. In doing so, he too sacrificed elsewhere in the draft and was ranked 13th out of 14 teams on Mike’s rankings system and 12th out of 14 teams on my rankings system. He would go on to miss the playoffs finishing the regular season in eighth and landing in tenth place after the consolation playoffs.

It should be noted that since we started doing live, offline drafts in 2006, no team has ever won the pennant or a championship after drafting in the number one slot. In fact, there has been very limited success of any kind (in regard to pennants and championships) for early drafters throughout the history of the offline draft era.

In fact, here’s a list of where past winners drafted each year (total teams in parenthesis):

2012 (14 Teams)
Pennant – 14th
Championship – 12th

2011 (14 Teams)
Pennant – 11th
Championship – 11th

2010 (12 Teams)
Pennant – 6th
Championship – 12th

2009 (10 Teams)
Pennant – 2nd
Championship – 8th

2008 (10 Teams)
Pennant – 8th
Championship – 5th

2007 (10 Teams)
Pennant – 9th
Championship – 7th

2006 (8 Teams)
Pennant – 5th
Championship – 8th

It doesn’t take a scientist to note some patterns.

The most obvious pattern being that nearly every championship winner of the offline draft era has drafted in the final third of the first round. Only Jay’s magical, pitcher-loophole-fueled run in 2008 stands out as an exception to that rule.

Nearly all of the regular season pennant winners have done their damage in the middle-to-late half of the draft as well. The lone exception being my pennant won during the 2009 season from the two-hole in the draft (Brandon Phillips with the #2 pick? Yes please!).

There’s enough concrete evidence to see that drafting early has rarely paid off for a general manager, but there has rarely been this level of talent available in the early-goings of a draft.

This conundrum leads to a serious catch-22 for a number of teams as we approach draft day.

Needless to say, there is a big decision to be made by the teams with high draft priority. Do they go for the early first-round superstars and risk weakening the rest of their draft or do they learn from history and look for a draft slot nestled somewhere in the mid-to-late half of the draft?

There’s less than week until draft day and there’s no doubt that Mike Kunkel probably knows exactly where he’s going to draft (he’s probably known since October) and Travis Morfitt probably has a good indication of where he wants to sit at the table as well.

Beyond those two, however, everyone else is either a wildcard or at the whim of everyone in front of them on the draft priority list.

What will win out: the allure of top shelf talent or the lessons of past?

I guess we’ll all find out on Saturday.

Official 2013 Keeper Announcement

mlb-players001

The 2013 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 2013 Salmon League keepers:

High Cheese

Draft Priority – 14
Official Keepers:
Jason Heyward – OF – ATL
Josh Hamilton – OF – LAA
Cole Hamels – SP – PHI

j’s team

Draft Priority – 13
Official Keepers:
Ryan Braun – OF – MIL
Evan Longoria – 3B – TB
Zack Greinke – SP – LAD

The Dominators

Draft Priority – 12
Official Keepers:
Mike Trout – OF – LAA
Robinson Cano – 2B – NYY
Felix Hernandez – SP – SEA

Genies in a Bottle

Draft Priority – 11
Official Keepers:
David Wright – 3B – NYM
Hanley Ramirez – SS/3B – LAD
Jay Bruce – OF – CIN
Jered Weaver – SP – LAA

InSaNeAuDiO

Draft Priority – 10
Official Keepers:
Miguel Cabrera – 3B – DET
Jose Reyes – SS – TOR
CC Sabathia – SP – NYY

cracker jack

Draft Priority – 09
Official Keepers:
Matt Kemp – OF – LAD
Ben Zobrist – 2B/SS/OF – TB
Jordan Zimmermann – SP – WAS

Radioactive Rush

Draft Priority – 08
Official Keepers:
Adam Jones – OF – BAL
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – LAD
Matt Harvey – SP – NYM

Dome Dog

Draft Priority – 07
Official Keepers:
Troy Tulowitzki – SS – COL
Brett Lawrie – 3B – TOR
Justin Verlander – SP – DET

S.L. Disappointment

Draft Priority – 06
Official Keepers:
Jose Bautista – OF – TOR
Starlin Castro – SS – CHI
Cliff Lee – SP – PHI

ZIMA

Draft Priority – 05
Official Keepers:
Albert Pujols – 1B – LAA
Prince Fielder – 1B – DET
Clayton Kershaw – SP – LAD

Sea Bass

Draft Priority – 04
Official Keepers:
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – COL
Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – TOR
Yovani Gallardo – SP – MIL

38 MPH Heaters

Draft Priority – 03
Official Keepers:
Gincarlo Stanton – OF – MIA
Dustin Pedroia – 2B – BOS
David Price – SP – TB

Captain Jack Sparrow

Draft Priority – 02
Official Keepers:
Buster Posey – C/1B – SF
Bryce Harper – OF – WAS
Stephen Strasburg – SP – WAS

money grubbers

Draft Priority – 01
Official Keepers:
Joey Votto – 1B – CIN
Andrew McCutchen – OF – PIT
Madison Bumgarner – SP – SF

Disclaimer: As always, it’s important to remember that you can still change your keeper between now and draft in the event of an injury that occurs between the draft 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.

MLB News Could Impact SLB Keeper Selections

breakingnews001

As we continue to draw closer and closer to the SLB Keeper Deadline – we’re less than two hours away as I write this – there are still a number of factors that could play into the keeper decisions for a handful of teams.

Yesterday, I submitted my last minute keeper predictions for the league and a couple weeks ago, Steven gave us his projected keepers, based on average draft position.

Today, however, is when predictions go out the window and General Managers must make their official selections.

Some teams have an easy job on keeper day as they possess a trio of no-doubt, slam-dunk, keeper-level players. Other teams are struggling to determine which member of their existing roster has the most breakout potential. Then there are a select few who are combing through the headlines and getting very, very nervous as the deadline approaches.

Here are two interesting bits of MLB news hitting the wires today that could have a major impact on this evening’s announcements.

We’re going to hit the what (is the news) and the who (is impacted):

davidwright001

What: David Wright Injured, Expected to Miss Opening Day
Who: Genies in a Bottle
Sources: MLB.com, New York Post, & Yahoo! Sports.

Wright appears to have strained his intercostal muscle and will be shut down for 3-5 days and re-evaluated. His status for Opening Day is in doubt and given that Ian Desmond missed roughly five weeks with a similar injury last year, it’s not hard to imagine Wright missing a big chunk of April with the injury.

Wright is no stranger to these types of injuries. In addition to the two months he sat out in 2011 with a fractured back—yes, a fractured freakin’ back—Wright missed significant time last spring with a strained left abdominal muscle. That injury eventually required a cortisone shot. An injury of this sort could certainly impact his power when he returns to an already thin Mets lineup.

The Genies—already in a bind over which keepers to go with—are now in a very tough place as the Keeper Deadline looms. Wright is a top tier 3B and easily a top 25 player when he’s healthy, but if the injury lingers and impacts him beyond April, the risk vs reward equation may no longer be in Wright’s favor.

ryanbraun001

What: MLB Ready to Crack Down on Biogenesis Clients
Who: Genies in a Bottle, J’s Team, The Dominators
Sources: Big League Stew, TJ Quinn of ESPN via Twitter, & NESN.

In January, the Miami New Times ran a story linking a number of Major League Baseball players—primarily Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera—to Biogenesis an “anti-aging clinic” in Miami. The belief was that Biogenesis was a front for PED distribution. Since the story broke, a number of additional players have been named outright or linked to Biogenesis.

Thus far MLB has tried, rather unsuccessfully, to get information from the Miami New Times but has yet to punish anyone involved in the situation. That all changed yesterday when minor leaguer Cesar Carrillo was suspended for 100 games (50 for being on the Biogenesis list and 50 for lying to MLB).

It’s now believe d that Major League Baseball is ready to crack down in a big way on the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal and that includes a small handful of potential keepers; the most obvious being Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, and Gio Gonzalez. Other players named or implicated at this point include: Rodriguez, Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, Danny Valencia, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Everth Cabrera, Fernando Martinez, and the aforementioned Carillo among a smattering of other players.

Gonzalez passed a number of tests immediately after the story broke and has been very adamant that he was never a client with Biogenesis, so he may be okay. Cano has mostly been linked to the story by association rather than any hard evidence, so—barring any new information—he should be in the clear. Braun and Rodriguez (both recent keepers for j’s team – coincidence?) figure to be the top two targets in this investigation and could both be in for a long, uphill legal battle if MLB does come out guns-a-blazin’.

Last Minute Keeper Predictions

fantasy-stock-image001

There are less-than-24 hours until the official 2013 Salmon League keeper deadline.

At that point, everyone’s keepers will be revealed and we’ll all know who to scratch off our draft sheets and perhaps it will help some teams start planning how they want to utilize their draft priority this season.

As we count down the hours until the deadline and the anticipation continues to build, I’ve taken a wild stab at who I think each team will be keeping. Some of these are obvious and some are legitimate question marks where I had to choose between a few guys.

Every year someone surprises the league with a pick from out of left field, so it’s possible one of the “obvious” choices might end up a free agent on draft day. That’s all part of the fun, right?

Kill some time and read over my lazily-written (seriously, I’ve been working on these for more than week now) keeper predictions and let’s see how I did when the official announcements are made. While you’re at it, make it a point to go back and look at Steven’s predictions as well. Perhaps we can determine which one of us is more prescient .

highcheese001

High Cheese

Draft Priority – 14

Predicted Keepers:
Jason Heyward – OF – ATL
Ian Kinsler – 2B – TEX
Cole Hamels – SP – PHI

The Commissioner’s Take: Logic dictates that Levi would want to keep Josh Hamilton in this situation, but if we’ve learned anything about Levi in his brief tenure with the Salmon League, it’s that logic can suck it. He traded off most of his keeper-worthy assets in a playoff push his first year and worked his way into some amazing moves in his second year; all of which netted him a championship.

He’s wanted Heyward for a long time and now that he’s got him, I don’t foresee him letting go; so that one seems self-explanatory. Ian Kinsler, despite a dip in production last year, remains one of the top fantasy players at a relatively shallow position and he is entrenched at the top of the ever potent Texas Rangers’ lineup. He seems to have shaken the injury bug that haunted him earlier in his career and could be in for a big bounce-back campaign in 2013.

Cole Hamels has established himself as the ace of one of baseball’s best rotations. The left-hander is a no brainer when it comes to selecting your staff ace and Levi should ride this horse all the way to the postseason.

j001

j’s team

Draft Priority – 13

Predicted Keepers:
Ryan Braun – OF – MIL
Evan Longoria – 3B – TB
Zack Greinke – SP – LAD

The Commissioner’s Take: Part of me is always expecting Jay to toss out some sort of curveball, but he’s usually very conservative with his keepers, so I’m expecting a repeat of last year’s trio, despite various warning flags surrounding all three.

Ryan Braun is coming off yet another MVP-caliber season, but he’s also coming off another offseason riddled with PED allegations. There is currently no hard evidence or warning signs that Braun—or anyone else named in the BioGenesis records—will be punished, but that risk—albeit slight—is still out there. Losing Braun for a 50-game stretch could very quickly tank this offense.

On the flip-side, Jay’s second offensive keeper is no stranger to missing time himself. Longoria is entering his age 27 season and his sixth year in the bigs. Despite that, he’s only cleared 500 at-bats twice, and not since 2010. In fact, he’s 117 games in the last two years combined. He’s a legit gamer when he’s healthy, but there has been little in the way of guaranteeing his health the past couple of years.

Zack Greinke became the highest paid right hander in baseball history (for roughly a couple of weeks) this offseason when he inked a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Greinke has been good, but not great, since his Cy Young win in 2009 and could thrive with the move to the pitcher-friendly environment of Dodger Stadium and the NL West. He is, however, already suffering from some elbow issues and may start the year on the DL. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious enough to make Jay change his mind, but it could definitely have an impact if lingers more than a couple weeks into the regular season.

the dominators

The Dominators

Draft Priority – 12

Predicted Keepers:
Mike Trout – OF – LAA
Robinson Cano – 2B – NYY
Felix Hernandez – SP – SEA

The Commissioner’s Take: Steven’s keepers are good. They are very, very good.

He is banking a lot of his success this year on Mike Trout being able to recapture the magic of his run last season and although it’s hard to expect anything similar to that level of production, I would have said that was impossible before last season started too. So you never know what to expect in this game. That makes it very, very hard to doubt Mr. Trout. Personally, I’d expect some regression. I think his speed is for real, but his power surge came out of nowhere. He’d tallied a combined total of 28 home runs between four year in the minors and his brief stint in the bigs in 2011. He’s still, like, 12-years-old so he can definitely get stronger, but I think Steven’s vision of 40+ HR/60+ SB might be a pipe dream.

Robinson Cano is playing for a free agent payday, but he’s also doing so in the middle of a line-up that—despite being old and brittle a year ago—has gotten very thin, very quickly. Injuries to lineup anchors Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter could make the New York lineup a one-man show until everyone gets healthy. The pressure got to Cano late last year; it may do the same again in 2013.

Felix Hernandez is better than you. Period.

geniesinabottle001

Genies in a Bottle

Draft Priority – 11

Predicted Keepers:
David Wright – 3B – NYM
Jay Bruce – OF – CIN
Gio Gonzalez – SP – WAS

The Commissioner’s Take: Admittedly, I’m still very on the fence about where I’m going with my keepers and they change roughly every half-hour or so. David Wright is pretty much one of the most consistent weapons in the game. It appears as though his days of 30+ home runs are gone, but OBPs around .390 with ample doubles, 20+ HR, and double-digit steals looks real nice coming out of a fairly thin position. He suffers a similar fate as Giancarlo Stanton, however, as the cupboards are pretty bare in New York beyond Ike Davis.

Jay Bruce is blossoming into a superstar. His home runs have been climbing every year and the Reds offense—with a healthy Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, a full-season of Todd Fraizer, and the addition of Shin-Soo Choo looks to be pretty nasty on paper. This could be the year he surpasses 100/40/40/100 with ease. His OBP leaves a little to be desired and when he’s off, he’s WAAAAY off, but damned if he can’t carry a club when he’s locked in.

Gio Gonzalez could still very easily get dumped for Jered Weaver or Kris Medlen. These guys are all driving me nuts right now. They all project out very, very well this season. Right now, I’m giving Gio the edge, because I think he’s playing for the best team of the three, but he’s also coming off a big workload and pitching in the WBC has been a proven red flag for guys in the past. This one will likely come down to the wire.

insaneaudio001

InSaNeAuDiO

Draft Priority – 10

Predicted Keepers:
Miguel Cabrera – 3B – DET
Jose Reyes – SS – TOR
CC Sabathia – SP – NYY

The Commissioner’s Take: Miguel Cabrera is the new Albert Pujols. He’s a flawless ball-klling machine. He should be taken in one of the top three spots of every draft. Period. What makes him even more valuable than Pujols ever was is his 3B eligibility. Sexy stuff. The only thing missing from his game is speed.

The lack of speed from Cabrera is where Reyes comes into play. He is a dynamic top-of-the-order threat who will be plying his trade north of the border for a very potent offensive attack in Toronto. Hitting in front of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and the rest of the Blue Jays attack figures to net Reyes some very sexy numbers. The big question is whether or not his hamstrings will hold up to playing on the turf day-in and day-out this season.

CC Sabathia isn’t the unstoppable warhorse he once was, but he’s still a very valuable fantasy asset and can pile up the counting stats and the percentages in a big way to help bolster a fantasy rotation. He’s also really the only logical choice. The next best starter on G-Doggy’s roster is Tommy Milone who figures to be available about ten rounds later than Sabathia would as a free agent.

crackerjack001

cracker jack

Draft Priority – 09

Predicted Keepers:
Matt Kemp – OF – LAD
Ben Zobrist – 2B/SS/OF – TB
Jordan Zimmermann – SP – WAS

The Commissioner’s Take: I really like this set of keepers. Everyone has a crush on Ben Zobrist this year as he’s got the coveted 2B/SS eligibility combo (anyone using him in an OF spot is either blessed w/ an amazing middle infield or horrendously inept at fantasy baseball) and figures to hit in the heart of the Rays lineup all season long.

Matt Kemp is Matt Kemp. The dude is a phenom who, if he can stay healthy, could easily win an MVP every single season. He’s got the ability to hit for major power and steal bases like a total bad-ass. He’s struggled with the health a bit, but should be good to go this season while he hits at the heart of a revamped Dodgers lineup that’s loaded with offensive firepower.

Jordan Zimmermann is probably going to regress a bit this year, but he’s still a very solid fantasy pitcher and he’ll be anchoring down one of the front three rotation spots for what is arguably the best team in all of baseball. He’s got electric stuff and when he’s on, he’s an under-the-radar ace.

radioactiverush001

Radioactive Rush

Draft Priority – 08

Predicted Keepers:
Adam Jones – OF – BAL
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – LAD
Matt Harvey – SP – NYM

The Commissioner’s Take: Probably the weakest group of keepers in the league. Adam Jones is very good and prepared to continue his ascension to the top of the league, as I predicted he would a couple years too early, but when he’s your anchor the team looks like it’s going to be playing catch up. His ceiling seems to be in the 25-30 HR range w/ 15 SB speed and while he’ll hit for some extra bases, he’s not selective enough at the plate to get beyond a league average OBP. He’s very good, but he’s not great.

Adrian Gonzalez is a great ballplayer who actually had a pretty damn good year in Boston. The question is whether or not his power stroke will ever return to his pre-surgery form. If not and he’s a 20-30 homer guy instead of a 35+ homer guy, his value definitely changes in a big way; especially with the move from a ballpark tailored to his swing to the cavernous confines of Dodger Stadium. I still expect good things, but I feel like he’d be a mid-to-late first round pick if he weren’t a keeper.

Matt Harvey is probably going to be a great pitcher. Hell, the dude could win some Cy Young awards down the road too. You know what he’s not going to do? Get drafted in the first handful of rounds. This is why he’s not a good keeper. Yes, his K/9 was insane and he looked great, but it was in less-than-sixty innings pitched. His minor league numbers aren’t nearly as dominant and indicate some serious regression. A quick peek at Radioactive Rush’s roster from last year, however, indicates that the only two options beyond Harvey are Jaime Garcia or Ian Kennedy. Yuck.

domedog-alternate

Dome Dog

Draft Priority – 07

Predicted Keepers:
Troy Tulowitzki – SS – COL
Brett Lawrie – 3B – TOR
Justin Verlander – SP – DET

The Commissioner’s Take: Adam’s keepers seemed like a slam dunk until roughly a week ago when Curtis Granderson broke his forearm. This injury figures to cost him at least two months and could impact his power all season long. That leaves Adam looking elsewhere for a second offensive keeper. I wavered between Carlos Santana and Brett Lawrie as they both play at relatively shallow positions. Ultimately, I went with Lawrie under the expectation that he’ll take a step forward this year and get closer to a 20/20 season with a plenty of XBH to go around.

Tulowitzki, injury-prone or not, basically won Adam his Salmon League championship single-handedly a few years back. Adam is going to ride this guy into the ground before he gives up on him. Verlander is one of the top three starters in the game AND he dated Kate Upton. Total no brainer on this one.

sldisappointments001

S.L. Disappointment

Draft Priority – 06

Predicted Keepers:
Jose Bautista – OF – TOR
Starlin Castro – SS – CHI
Cliff Lee – SP – PHI

The Commissioner’s Take: Jose Bautista is healthy. That means that Jose Bautista is a very, very bad man. A keen batting eye and pitchers who are scared shitless to give him anything hittable makes for an OBP machine (I’m predicting .390+) and he’s got arguably the second best raw power in the bigs behind Giancarlo Stanton. Add in the upgraded offense surrounding his bat and he’s in for a monster year. The only knock on Bautista is that he’s lost his coveted-3B eligibility this year and is relegated to just OF status. Granted, if he puts up the numbers he is capable of, GM John Kunkel probably won’t care which position the stats are coming from as long as they keep coming.

Starlin Castro continues to improve and is working through some immaturity issues to become a top flight shortstop. If he’s not already in your top-tier, he’s undoubtedly just below it. His name needs to be alongside the likes of Tulowitzki, Ramirez, and Reyes when it comes to fantasy assets at shortstop. He should take some steps forward this year and post numbers similar to last year with a league average OBP, 15+ HR, 25+ SB, and 30+ 2B. The dude is slowly blossoming into a Derek Jeter for the new era with consistent numbers year in and year out. It’s almost time for it to all click, but I think we’re still a year or so away.

Cliff Lee is the bomb. His numbers got jobbed by a shitty Philly team last year and I have no doubt he bounces back in a big time way this season. I bet he hooks up with your mom too, because he’s that f’n baller.

zima001

ZIMA

Draft Priority – 05

Predicted Keepers:
Albert Pujols – 1B – LAA
Prince Fielder – 1B – DET
Clayton Kershaw – SP – LAD

The Commissioner’s Take: These keepers are too good. I call shenanigans.

That’s it. That’s my entire analysis. What the hell else can you say about this squad? He’s got two of the best, most consistent hitters in all of baseball who hit in the middle of good lineups and he’s got one of the best young starters in the game locked up as his fantasy ace for another decade.

Oh yeah…and Collin got to work for the Twins and now for FSN. The dude has it all. Total motherf’n shenanigans.

seabass001

Sea Bass

Draft Priority – 04

Predicted Keepers:
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – COL
Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – TOR
Yovani Gallardo – SP – MIL

The Commissioner’s Take: Craiggers took a gamble with the top overall draft priority last year and went with the first pick to secure the services of stud centerfielder Carlos Gonzalez. It caused him to stretch elsewhere in the draft, but he locked down a legitimate, young fantasy keeper for the first time in a very long time (perhaps ever?!) and that was worth it for Craiggers. He has a solid foundation of speed and power to build his team around going forward.

One of Craiggers late round gambles last year came courtesy of the fella drafting beside him who recommended a former top prospect turned bust who had shown a little power in 2011 and still had 3B eligibility. The fella who made that recommendation would spend the entire season kicking himself in the nuts knowing he could have just kept his mouth shut and drafted Encarnacion a few rounds later as he’d intended and it may have won him a championship. Encarnacion, must like his Toronto long-ball partner Jose Bautista, has lost his 3B eligibility this season as well. E5 as he was “lovingly” known when he played the hot corner is now just another slugger at a very deep first base position. I think Craiggers takes the gamble on his power sticking around and hopes Encarncion continues to blossom in the retooled Toronto lineup.

Gallardo vs Shields is a tough call. I know Craiggers is partial to “Big Game” James and many ranking systems have Shields higher than Gallardo, but I can’t in good conscience imagine a world where Gallardo, whom I’ve had a crush on since I drafted him years ago—only to lose him to injury almost immediately—isn’t a keeper-level pitcher. Crushes die-hard, y’all.

38mphheaters001

38 MPH Heaters

Draft Priority – 03

Predicted Keepers:
Gincarlo Stanton – OF – MIA
Dustin Pedroia – 2B – BOS
David Price – SP – TB

The Commissioner’s Take: Although it was rumored earlier in the offseason that General Manager Morgan Lux was looking to take two pitchers, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he lets an offensive sparkplug like Pedroia out of his grasp. Pedroia figures to be slotted in the catbird seat in Boston between Ellsbury and some combination of Ortiz, Napoli, Gomes, and Middlebrooks. If he’s healthy, Dusty is going to be worth every penny and there will be plenty of starting pitching lurking late in the draft.

Stanton is a lock with his out of this world power, but it’s entirely possible that he sets the new single-season record for intentional walks this season given the dearth of talent around him in the Miami lineup. A year ago, the opening day roster boasted a number of former all-stars and run producers. As of today the next three highest profile players on the active roster are Juan Pierre, Logan Morrison, and Placido Polanco. So, uh, yeah…the counting stats could take a dip this year, but that OBP should be sky-high.

David Price is the go-to guy here as he’s undoubtedly pitching to ensure himself a big payday in the near future, likely after his inevitable exodus from Tampa Bay. I’d like to say more about him, but he’s a bona fide ace pitching on a very good ball club. What more needs to be said?

captainjacksparrow001

Captain Jack Sparrow

Draft Priority – 02

Predicted Keepers:
Buster Posey – C/1B – SF
Bryce Harper – OF – WAS
Stephen Strasburg – SP – WAS

The Commissioner’s Take: GM Travis Morfitt had a ton of success in his first stint with the Salmon League thanks to a very strong core of relatively young keepers. When he left the league (like a jerk) after winning his championship, Grant dismantled that core and salted the earth where a hearty bounty had once grown. Since returning Travis has been working to rebuild the core, but struggled mightily. Last year he went all in to ensure his youth movement was underway by drafting the Nationals two young prospects alongside Buster Posey.

Travis is currently set-up with a future star in the outfield, on the mound, and a current star (and reigning MVP) behind the plate. He’s obviously in this for the long haul knowing that he could probably get better present day production out of alternative keepers, but in two or three years—assuming all three avoid major injuries and continue to progress as they have—Travis will have the most dominant set of keepers in the league, perhaps in the history of the league.

As of right now, I’d say they’re very, very good…but not top of the heap. Posey figures to regress a bit due to the workload last season. Harper is probably a lock for a 15/15 season, maybe even 20/20…but that feels like a push for a guy who looked completely lost for long stretches last season. Strasburg still scares the shit out of me. The dude is another Tommy John surgery waiting to happen, but in between visits to the surgeon, he’ll probably snare himself a Cy Young award and 250+K.

moneygrubbers001

money grubbers

Draft Priority – 01

Predicted Keepers:
Joey Votto – 1B – CIN
Andrew McCutchen – OF – PIT
Madison Bumgarner – SP – SF

The Commissioner’s Take: Another very easy to peg set of keepers.

Joey Votto is probably the best pure hitter in baseball. He gets on base at an AMAZING clip. He hits for power. He hits for average. He can even run a little bit. The issue has been keeping him on the field and in the lineup. If he can play a full season and get 600+ plate appearances there is zero reason that he’s not hitting 40+ HR with a .400+ OBP and winning an MVP award. The dude is just scary good.

Andrew McCutchen has received oodles of praise from me in the past, I believe I basically committed an illegal sexual on him via draft recap a couple years ago, so it should come as no shock that I think he’s in for another big year and ready to take another big step forward. He’s one of the most under-the-radar studs in the game today, likely a result of playing in Pittsburgh, but I think he is ready to make himself a nationally-known star this year. Expect big, big things from “Cutch.”

Madison Bumgarner has been one of Mike’s big crush guys for a couple years now and he’s now officially the guy who ends Roy Halladay’s run as a keeper in the Salmon League. At just 23-years-old Bumgarner looks like an ace in the making. He’s got nasty stuff and if he’s able to curb his recent trend of declining velocity late in the year, he’ll be in for a monster year. Mike may regret giving upon Evan Longoria for one year of Roy Halladay, but with this assortment of offensive talent and Bumgarner ready to step in and replace Doc, I don’t think he regrets it all that much in the long run.

2013 Preseason Power Rankings

Steven's 2013 Pre-Season Power Rankings

By: Steven Kunkel

I’ve recently heard grumblings about my original Power Rankings article that I wrote on March 5th, 2013.  Mainly, they centered around the fact that I only used three different set of criteria that were all pretty unreliable metrics of a team’s power within the league.  Also, because one certain team ended up a bit higher than everyone imagined – I agreed with these people’s sentiment.

So, I wanted to provide an update using a couple more data points.

So without further ado, here’s the Salmon League’s Updated Power Rankings.

Because I don’t tend to care about anyone’s feelings (just like you don’t care about mine), I figured I’d take the time to update what I feel are the Salmon League’s Power Rankings.

In 2011, we did a pretty similar thing to what I’m about to accomplish to help determine our divisions and we came out with the following rankings.

Rankings Rankings
1. Genies in a Bottle 2. money grubbers
3. j’s team 4. The Dominators
5. cracker jack 6. Dome Dog
7. High Cheese 8. ZIMA
9. Radioactive Rush 10. Sea Bass
11. Captain Jack Sparrow 12. 38 MPH Heaters
13. InSaNeAuDiO 14. S.L. Disappointment

 

I thought this was a pretty fun way to not only determine where each team sat in the consciousness of the league as far as talent goes, but also to give a good representation of whether or not you’re currently doing well.

Personally, I thought me landing at #4, looking back on it, was a bit shocking.  Not only that, but I followed-up that #4 ranking by finishing a whopping 11th in the league in 2011.

So, I wanted to take another crack at this to not only see where divisions might shake out after two more complete years of service, but also to give an update of where we all currently stand.

To bring out a point about the above, Travis wasn’t actually ranked 11th.  I’ve replaced Gleason’s team that we voted on with Captain Jack as he purchased Gleason’s team from him at the draft table.  The above is a disservice to the team, but it’s what I have to work with at this time.

I figure I can provide my current SLB Power Rankings based on five criteria: how you finished last year, where your “projected” keepers rank, how you finish in the playoff era, where your average regular season finishes, and my rankings of each individual’s team.

Let’s figure it out:

Recent success seems to be a solid barometer of whether or not a team currently has the league figured out.  In 2011, we went through some change moving from 12 teams to 14 teams and it took some teams a short while to adapt to this changing atmosphere.  Taking last year’s finish seems to be a solid barometer to start with.  Below is where everyone shook out.

Rankings Rankings
1. High Cheese 2. j’s team
3. The Dominators 4. Genies in a Bottle
5. InSaNeAuDiO 6. cracker jack
7. money grubbers 8. Captain Jack Sparrow
9. 38 MPH Heaters 10. Sea Bass
11. ZIMA 12. SL Disappointment
13. Dome Dog 14. Radioactive Rush

 

Last year was a fun year for some and a not so fun year for many.  A couple of our usual powerhouses didn’t make the playoffs and a couple wild cards slid in.

While I’m not saying that recent success is the greatest use of a metric, I would say that it is pretty indicative of having a solid drafting and waiver wire strategy that might be able to be repeatable moving forward.  If so, these teams might have continued success.  If not, then the Power Rankings would obviously be updated next year.

To move on, I recently did an article that pit how each one of your projected keepers’ selection fell on the spectrum of combined ADP using mockdraftcentral’s ADP guide at the time.  I know a couple weeks have passed, but because I’m unwilling to re-do this at this time, I’m just going to go back and utilize those ADPs to help rank where each team falls in line with their currently projected keepers.

I did hear some criticisms in regards to mockdraftcentral’s ADPs after I listed these.  Namely Morgan was upset that Matt Cain was rated so low and Henning was surprised his keepers are still high.  I’m noting this concern, but mockdraftcentral has been used as a drafting guide by several SLB members in past years and I believe it can be used to accurately determine a player’s value.

Currently, based on the article I wrote a couple weeks ago, this is where each team placed in regards to their current “projected” set of keepers.

Rankings Rankings
1. ZIMA 2. Dome Dog
3. The Dominators 4. Captain Jack Sparrow
5. SL Disappointment 6. money grubbers
7. Sea Bass 8. High Cheese
9. j’s team 10. Genies in a Bottle
11. 38 MPH Heaters 12. cracker jack
13. InSaNeAuDiO 14. Radioactive Rush

 

Zima takes this metric with his combination of Pujols, Fielder, and Kershaw.  It is interesting to note that ZIMA has had this set of keepers for a couple of years now, but has not yet been able to crack the playoffs.  So, again, it might appear that this metric isn’t the greatest use of a team’s Power Ranking, but keepers do indicate a team’s strong points going into the season.  For example, who wouldn’t want Justin Verlander as their pitcher heading into a season?  Who wouldn’t want Miguel Cabrera as a keeper heading into the following year?

It can point to a positive direction for a team if their combined keepers tend to be strong.  It means they have more to build on and, in a way, less to worry about.

Next, we should look at a team’s overall playoff success.  Obviously, long-term success is a major part of a team’s Power Ranking.  How has everyone done in the long run of the Salmon League?  Jeremiah has made the playoffs every year since 2005, their inaugural year.  Levi has made the playoffs his only two years in the league.  Outside of taking home the golden trophy at the end of the year, making the playoffs is the first thing we all set out for at the beginning of each new SLB season.

Recently, I compiled stats that showed where each of us finishes after the postseason is complete.  Those stats showed that Genies in a Bottle has had a ton of long-term success over the long-haul of his franchise and Radioactive Rush, when in the consolation playoffs, tends to fall flat.

Below is where each one of you shook out in regards to your average playoff finish since 2005.

Rankings Rankings
1. Genies in a Bottle 2. High Cheese
3. money grubbers 4. Captain Jack Sparrow
5. cracker jack 6. j’s team
7. Dome Dog 8. The Dominators
9. Sea Bass 10. InSaNeAuDiO
11. 38 MPH Heaters 12. SL Disappointment
13. ZIMA 14. Radioactive Rush

 

However, as Jeremiah likes to attest, one can just get lucky in the postseason, right?  Did Henning actually have the best team in 2010?  Probably not.  He had the hottest hitter on the planet in Troy Tulowitzki and he walked home with the trophy.

No, in order to see a good long-term progression, you need to look at a team’s strength in the regular season.  After all, it’s the regular season that gets a team into the playoffs.  Teams aren’t just destined to make it, they have to show they can make it through grit and active management.

To be continuously successful over a year is not only difficult, but to do it year after year is so difficult it’s almost laughable.  Yet, we have had some teams that just dominate year in and year out.  Below is a current snapshot of where each team’s average regular season finish is compared to their peers.

Rankings Rankings
1. Genies in a Bottle 2. Captain Jack Sparrow
3. money grubbers 4. High Cheese
5. cracker jack 6. j’s team
6. The Dominators 8. Dome Dog
9. ZIMA 10. InSaNeAuDiO
10. Sea Bass 12. Radioactive Rush
13. SL Disappointment 14. 38 MPH Heaters

 

Lastly, I figured I would provide a small little rundown of where I believe each one of us currently lands on the Power Ranking spectrum within the Salmon League.  This is, obviously, pretty biased, but I feel like it is likely agreed upon by several within the Salmon League.  I don’t have a lot to go on, except my own personal feelings of each team and whether or not I would want to play them at a certain point in the year.  Per the below, obviously seeing money grubbers come up on the schedule scares me a bit more than seeing Radioactive Rush.  The nice thing about the below is you can always prove me wrong.

Rankings Rankings
1. Genies in a Bottle 2. money grubbers
3. cracker jack 4. Captain Jack Sparrow
5. High Cheese 6. j’s team
7. Dome Dog 8. The Dominators
9. SL Disappointment 10. ZIMA
11. Sea Bass 12. InSaNeAuDiO
13. Radioactive Rush 14. 38 MPH Heaters

 

So, to sum it up, after averaging out each team’s overall number above to come up with 2012’s power rankings, we have a final showing of each team’s current fear level in the Salmon League. 

Let’s check it out…

*trumpets blaring*

Rankings Rankings
1. Genies in a Bottle 2. High Cheese
3. money grubbers 4. Captain Jack Sparrow
5. The Dominators 6. j’s team
7. cracker jack 8. Dome Dog
9. ZIMA 10. Sea Bass
11. InSaNeAuDiO 12. SL Disappointment
13. 38 MPH Heaters 14. Radioactive Rush

 

Genies in a Bottle enters the 2013 season atop our power rankings!  We all now know who we need to aim to beat this year as Genies is our current cream of the crop!  It’ll be a long season, but I can bet it’ll be a great one!