Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cardinals Pitchers Getting No Love?? - A Question from My Inbox..

Hey Mikey,
Why are the Cards pitchers (namely Wainwright and Reyes ) getting NO LOVE in the drafts this season? I think they will forget Marquis, Weaver and Suppan very quickly. The Cardinals are the equivalent in Hockey to the Detroit Red Wings......they FIND new and better pitchers to replace the average guys!
- Aceman

Fantasy Man Email Response: Not sure! I certainly am giving them love!!! I think Wainwright will be fantastic this season! I mean anyone who has seen him pitch on television during the postseason or has seen him pitch this spring, should know that he is going to out perform the expectations of "other experts" which are close to 11-13 wins, 4.00 ERA, 150K, 1.30WHIP in 150 IP. There is one magazine, who will remain nameless, that published its magazine in February for a March release and projects Wainwrights numbers as 7W, 8SV, 82K, 3.28ERA, 1.22WHIP. I would think if he turned out to be the closer, he would be a 30SV guy and if he turned out to be a starter, he would attract more than 7 wins as a projection. I think people just have not actually sat down and watched this guy pitch, including some "experts" and magazine publishers. He's simply looks in mid-season form and has great poise on the mound. I think the Cards want Wainwright to be their rock behind Carpenter finishing surprisingly to the tune of 15 wins, 3.50ERA, 175K, 1.25WHIP in 180IP with more upside potential.... that is The Fantasy Man's modest projection!

On a side note, don't leave Braden Looper out of the mix either. Here are their springs stats at the moment... ..

Wainwright: 16.2IP, 1.08 ERA, 6K, 4BB, 2ER, 12H, 0HR - Fantasy Drafts: Gone by 15th Auctions: $5 - $10
Reyes: 10IP, 0.90ERA, 6K, 2BB, 1ER, 2H, 1HR - Fantasy Drafts: Can be had after 14th Auctions: $1-$5
Looper: 14IP, 3.21ERA, 6K, 3BB, 5ER, 17H, 1HR - Fantasy Drafts: Going Undrafted Auctions: $1 if Drafted

Point here is that these guys deserve a bit of lovin'. We all know that we should take spring stats with a grain of salt, especially early spring stats. These next two weeks are the key. If these guys continue this spring tear, then you have some mighty sleepers to look out for. It is known that in the beginning of spring training, most pitchers are pitching against minor league players and that's why we have to be careful when looking at early stats. T the same time, most pitchers are working on new pitches, mechanics, or just getting their bodies ready, so we cannot get crazy about bad spring stats from guys like Kazmir, Cain, and Bonderman for example. Isn't it funny that when a star player has a bad spring, its because he is working on things, but when a young player is doing well, its because he is not facing Major Leaguers. Just some food for thought. Anyway, these last two weeks we will see more and more of the everyday starters and is the true test for most before the season starts. if you have a draft one or shortly before April 1st, you have a real advantage to catch up on your spring stats and have an effective draft.

Thanks for the great question Aceman!

Fantasy Baseball Express

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Draft Mania

There are three days I look forward to every year. The first is my wedding anniversary, thats a no brainer. Second, is that first day when I get to wake up early in late March or early April and trot over to the ball field in town and participate in that first baseball/softball practice, as I still play both at the "break-out" age of 27. My third favorite day involves me waking up at eight in the morning, turning on the computer and participating in 4 fantasy baseball drafts which consume my entire day. I love this day because A.) I get to play fantasy baseball all day B.) When I get a 30 minute break, I can run down the street to Wendy's and the wife cannot stop me (because I'm working) C.) I get to feel like the true Fantasy Man....fantasy baseball all day long baby ......WHOOOOOO!!

So today I present to you, Draft Mania! You've heard the Mock Draft Mania series on my podcast, The Fantasy Man Show, but today I wanted to do something different for all those people who do not have the opportunity to listen to my podcasts. Here, you can read step by step on how I approach and handle a fantasy baseball draft as I go. This is one of the $50 Fantasy Man Keeper League Drafts that I am hosting here on Fantasy Baseball Express. Below I have listed the basic details.....

- 12 Team Keeper League (1st Season)
- Snake Draft
- Roto - 5 X 5 (HR, RBI, R, SB, AVG - W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP)
- 23 man active roster - 30 Total (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5OF, 2UTIL, 9P's, 7Bench)

- Team Fantasy Man landed the 2nd pick!

Since this is a keeper league, my thought here is that I want to draft a team to win this year, while still thinking about next year too. My plan in the beginning to is to go with position scarcity early, load up on pitching, and then make smart upside keeper picks late in the draft. I want to cover my categories early with players who can be "the rock" for a category and then build off of that. I will be writing this "live" as I do the draft, so hopefully it will make sense. The draft is about to begin, let's get started, shall we! ...........

Round 1: The Fantasy Man, that is me in the third person lands the 2nd pick at random. With Pujols gone there is a 3-way tie between ARod, Reyes, and Soriano. Each of these picks would me a different overall strategy. With a #2 pick, ARod would leave me feeling unfulfilled with speed in the beginning as there is no guarantee I can land Hanley Ramirez late in the second round. I would also most likely shy away from Jeter because two Yankees on my first two picks could be dangerous. Its okay to have players from the same team, but I do not like to do this early. Soriano would be ideal because of the 40/40 potential, but outfield is extremely deep this year with sleepers and potential keepers. So my choice here is Jose Reyes. I figure I can hold off on speed until later in the draft since Reyes will solidify me the speed category. I wanted to go with position scarcity first since I feel that SS is the weakest this year late in the draft. Plus, his potential allows him to be great in each category. The gravy will come if he hits 20+ homers and 75+ RBI! Regardless, the fact that he covers every category at an above average level, make Reyes the smart 1st round #2 pick for me!

Round 2: With the most exciting player in baseball already on my team and my SS position filled, my goal here is to grab a top power player. I am sitting here hoping for Teixiera, Hafner, Holliday, Mourneau, someone with legit 40HR potential, but am sorely disappointed as all of them are now off the board. Since I have the 2nd slot, I have the privledge to get another quick pick so I decide to go with Miguel Tejada. Again, SS is scarce after the first few but his 25+/100+/.320+ potential is intriguing and is a great pick for my middle infield slot. My overall strategy to start is to go position scarcity which means I'd want a top catcher with my quick 3rd round pick, but then I realize that this leagues calls for only 1 catcher per team, so I think I will wait and grab Ronnie Paulino or Gerald Laird late in the draft so that I can have the opportunity to grab another big 40+HR bat.

Round 3: So now I fold the position scarcity idea and I go for power. That is how quickly a plan can change in a fantasy baseball draft. Players are selected differently in every draft and its almost impossible to predict which managers will pick certain players. That is why we all need to study our opponents before a draft! I explain more of that in The Fantasy Man's 2007 Master Plan. Anyway, I still need a 40HR potential player and I go with Aramis Ramirez at 3B. My thought here is that I will still have a corner infield slot and two utility slots to fill later and those are slots I want to fill with power, since I missed out on big power in the first two rounds making Ramirez here a no brainer.

Round 4: Now I am thinking I want more Average. I have speed with Reyes and I have some power with Aramis and Tejada. So I am here hoping for Garratt Atkins or Robinson Cano with my 4th pick. I know it could be a bit early for Cano, but this is a keeper league. I plan for both Atkins and Cano to hit .315+ at the very least. Unfortunately, by the time my pick arrives, both players are taken. Now, I am in a "tizzy", not sure where to go from here as both were picked right in front of me. I panic for a second, then I realize I am The Fantasy Man, and I never panic during a draft. I decide yet again to go in another direction.....stock up on pitching!!! I have a nice 1-2-3 core of hitters who contribute in all categories, Reyes for speed, Tejada for average, and Ramirez for power. I always like to draft a strong pitching staff so with my choice of Oswalt, Halladay, Webb, Peavy and Zambrano, I pick Carlos Zambrano with my 4th pick because he is my pick to win the CY Young this season! I hate using the phrase "Pitching is soooo deep this year"! Bah! Pitching is not as deep as people think. You are not drafting many sub 4.00 pitchers late in the draft, period!

Round 5: This is where I get myself into trouble. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge, I rub my hands together and I have the feeling like I want to be greedy and sometimes at this point my emotions are all out of whack. I decide to be a bit daring, I mean after all, I am in 27 leagues this season. So since I have all my hitting categories covered and a top pitcher already accounted for on my staff, I go for the gold and snag Jake Peavy. I wanted Oswalt here but he was picked before me and although Halladay was available, I took Peavy because of the park he pitches in and his 200K potential and he doesn't have to face the Yankees, the Red Sox or Albert Pujols on a daily basis!

Round 6: Now I am at a point where most of the top hitters have flown off the board and most pitchers are just starting to become popular. With Zambrano and Peavy already snagged, I was thinking of following them up with a Scott Kazmir or a Felix Hernandez and really load up on pitching, but I did need to get some hitting so at the last second, I took Carlos Delgado. He was the last top power guy available that would not kill my average. Now with Delgado and his 35+/100+ potential, I can go off and concentrate on builing my pitching staff and outfielders little by little. If I win this league, this is the pick that puts me over the top.

Round 7: With the swing pick and this being a keeper league, I took another gamble and grabbed Rocco Baldelli. Assuming he stays healthy, he'll put up numbers slightly better than Grady Sizemore 5 rounds later.

Round 8: I really thought now that I had good hitters, I can continue to load up my pitching staff and selected Jered Weaver. Now I am aware that Weaver will be sidelined until mid April possibly, but his talent potential is worth the risk. Plus, I will make sure I use up a few picks in the very near future for top quality starting pitching.

Round 9: I am starting to think that maybe its a good idea to draft a closer before the most of the good closers are off the board. Jenks is the only sure-shot 40 save guy left so I took Bobby Jenks without having to think. So now that I have a closer, I want to get back to hitting.

Round 10: I wanted to get back to hitting and maybe start alternating hitting and pitching if I could at this point. I needed at least one more strong outfielder so I got lucky and snagged Mike Cuddyer here in the 10th. This worked out well because I got someone I wanted at this particular time so I felt I could move along with my current plan and take a pitcher.

Round 11: All went according to my new plan and I took Chris Young.

Round 12: By this round, most of the good 2nd Basemen were gone including Weeks, Kinsler and Uggla so I decided to go with Brandon Phillips who has 20/20 potential and is having a killer spring with 4 homers and 8 RBI.

Round 13: Now that I got my 2nd Baseman out of the way, I want to start filling my utility spots with good solid talent, yet again, abandoning my hitter-pitcher-hitter-pitcher strategy. Mark Teahen is on the board with Joe Crede, Lyle Overbay and Morgan Ensberg. I am going to take Teahen I think and hope I can grab some of these guys next to fill in my CI and my other utility spot. Yes, Mark Teahen falls to me. I am hoping for a .300/25/100 type of potential season from Teahen based on what he showed us last season.

Round 14: Just what I was hoping for, Morgan Ensberg slipped back to me, so I made Ensberg my corner infielder. Now I want to fill other utility spot.

Round 15: I am about to fill my last utility spot but I get a sudden urge to solidify my closer situation. I have Jenks but I feel that I need at least two to compete, so I make a quick decision to take Octavio Dotel. He is a bit risky but projects to be better than some of the leftovers that are still available.

Round 16: At this point in the draft I am waiting to fill C, 3 OF spots, 4P spots, and my bench. So my basic strategy now is to just start filling holes. There is a ton of sleeper 3B's out there along with OF's, so I'm confident I'll have that covered. In this 16th round, I'm taking Chen Ming Wang if he falls to me. My idea here is that I have plenty of strikeouts with Zambrano, Peavy, Weaver and Young so I can take a shot at Wang and his low strikeout rate. What I am looking for here is this 20 win potential and decent ERA and WHIP. I get Wang.

Round 17: As I am scrolling up and down the Yahoo! Rankings, I notice something odd. I could not believe my eyes. Could it be? No, it can't be, but wait, it is! Its Eric Byrnes just sitting there waiting for me to scoop him up. I knew I could wait for outfielders but a guy like Byrnes with 20/20 potential still sitting there, I had to take him!

Round 18: I had yet another unique opportunity staring me in the eye. Joe Crede was still on the board and I have a utility spot open. If only I can hold off for 2 more picks. Yes, got Crede! 30 homer/100 RBI potential in the 18th round, not too shabby. So what if he has back issues, he's hitting .400+ this spring....I'm sure he'll be fine!

Round 19: In an attempt to solidify my last two outfield slots I take Shane Victorino. I also needed the potential 30+ stolen bases. I am also waiting at this point for a catcher. I am hoping for Ronny Paulino but we'll see what happens.

Round 20: Well, I was hoping to grab another pitcher, but a mini catcher run has started, so I am taking Ronny Paulino with my 20th pick. Just what I predicted in the beginning. He's hitting .500 this spring and has upside so I am comfortable with this pick. Again, this is a keeper league so its ok if I take some risk.

Round 21: Now, at this point, I am still filling holes, however, I have an open outfield slot and Ryan Shealy is still available. So what I want to do is take Shealy and stick him on my bench right now and once Mark Teahen becomes eligible, I can use Shealy in the utility slot that Teahen is in now. So I picked Ryan Shealy, and I have some keeper outfielders in mind for that last spot. I'm hoping for Dave Dellucci, Jason Kubel, Chris Burke, etc.

Round 22: There are still plenty of outfielders left but I need to fill my last two active pitcher slots. I take Oliver Perez here and hope he can dominate once again. He has been great so far this spring, I its a good gamble for me here.

Round 23: I am still thinking along the same lines as Round 22 and I take another chance on Carl Pavano.

Round 24: At this point, the draft is getting pretty unexciting! I do not have any back up middle infielders so I take one of my favorite sleepers in Kaz Matsui. He has the opportunity to hit 15+ homers and steal 20+ bases this season with renewed life Colorado.

Round 25: I am at the point where I an choosing bench players although I still have an active outfield slot open. There are still plenty of sleeper outfielders I like so I want to wait a bit. I select Casey Kotchman who is also having a great spring and seems ready to take over the first base job in Anaheim.

Round 26: I finally feel its time to take my last active outfielder and I'll go with Jason Kubel. Kubel is off to a hot start this spring so my hope is that he can hold down the last outfield slot until Teahen qualifies for outfield. At this point, I have a few young power potential options to play around with. Puts me in a nice position to start the season.

Round 27: Now I am filling the rest of my bench. I go with Boof Bonser who is havinga tremendous spring and filled in nicely late in the season last year after Francisco Liriano went down. As you can see, at this point, I am using spring stats to help me make up my mind between players.

Round 28: Looking for yet another power bat for my bench. I like the potential of Wes Helms and he is also having a decent spring. So I took Helms.

Round 29: Here I am looking for a decent starting pitcher with some upside so I took Brandon McCarthy who has the potential to be a star and is the definite 3rd starter in Texas!

Round 30: Finally! Last pick here. Since this is a keeper league and I only have 2 closers, I figure this is as good a time as any to take a sleeper closer, so I pick Juan Salas. He's almost a lock to make the team out of spring training in the bullpen. If McClung falters, Salas will be there waiting in the wings!

So that concludes Draft Mania. I wrote this article as I was doing the draft so please read this with an open mind. I did not go back to edit it other than misspellings so that you could get the feel of what I was thinking as I went through the draft. This is much harder to do than podcasting my thoughts, that's for sure.

Overall, I think I did well. I covered all my categories, have lots of upside potential for keepers, stud pitching, closers, speed....its all here! I would be shocked if I finish below third place, but I feel like I have a first place team!

Great draft for to those who participated in this Fantasy Man League Draft. Good luck to you all! Feel free to comment on my team!


Monday, March 12, 2007

1st Annual "Battle of the Fantasy Gods" Expert Auction League

Tout Wars? Mixed Nuts? HA! Although these leagues are probably great and full of knowledgable old school experts, there still seems to be no place for some of us new school experts........ so I decided to take matters into my own hands and host the first annual Battle of the Fantasy Gods here at Fantasy Baseball Express.

I dug down deep and invited 12 of the freshest personalities in the Fantasy Baseball Advice industry. I came up with 12 experts, writers and fantasy baseball website owners. It was quite the experience getting these guys together and after three weeks of planning, I finally pulled it off, no thanks to a few mishaps that almost derailed the whole thing. A big thank you goes out to Fantasy Auctioneer where we held our auction for giving us the platform for this draft but also for helping us in a pinch. You see, five minutes after the draft started, one guy, who will remain nameless decided he wanted to bid $45 for Albert Pujols, but it appeared that someone else got a $45 bid in first but a winning bid of $46 actually won the the services of Pujols. The next player out, Miguel Cabrera, was flowing along with a flood of bids and then bam, like a punch in the face, this same guy throws a $45 bid on Cabrera, almost $10 more than the current bid at that time ( we think. We were all flabbergasted! A minute later, this guy logged out of the software and was no where in sight. Where did he go? Did the software crap out on him? Computer crash? The answer is neither. Apparently, when he realized he "accidentally" bid $45 on Cabrera, he bailed leaving us all there in the room with our "pencils between our fingers". So here we are with 11 experts in the middle of a 12 team expert auction.... thanks buddy! Anyway, first, Tim Dierkes at Roto Authority put up an ad for another player, and we found one in no time. He was a non-expert but at this point, we would take anyone who was breathing and had a clue. At the same time, I got the guy who runs Fantasy Auctioneer on the phone and we were able to troubleshoot and get this new guy into our draft, which was still paused. Man, what a mess! After about 30 minutes, luckily everyone else stuck around, we were able to continue the auction....thanks guys! I found out later that the guy that crapped out on us, an "expert" with his own fantasy baseball website, said that a fight broke out behind him that he had to break up......unsuccessfully, he told me in an email later that next day. My question is....... where is this fantasy baseball "expert", who runs his own website, doing an expert draft anywhere near a place where a fight could break out??? So interesting.

It was a night to remember! I went crazy at one point and got teased for winning the bid on a $16 Delmon Young only to then steal Johnny Damon at a mere $1 more at $17. At first I was like "okay, maybe I got out of control with Young being that it was a bidding war with me and one other guy since doller ten, but when Brad Stewart of MLB Front Office bid $13 for Chris B. Young, I felt much better about my $16 Delmon Young.

Overall, the auction was a success. Below is the lineup of fresh experts for the first annual Battle of the Fantasy Gods.....

1. Mike Kuchera -
2. Paul Greco - FantasyBaseballGuy.com
3. Tim Dierkes - RotoAuthority.com
4. Joe Ribando - InsiderBaseball.com
5. Jon Williams - Advanced Fantasy Baseball
6. Tim McLeod - The Fantasy Baseball Guide
7. Knox Bardeen -
8. Brad Stewart - MLB Front Office
9. Heath Shaffer - RotoChamps.com
10. John Lubic - FantasyPlayMakers.com
11. Snugs (yes, that's the name he wants to go by) - Non-Expert - Last minute fill-in**
12. Sweet Lou -
Sweet Lou's Baseball Lab

Best Underpriced Player(s): $12 Carlos Guillen, $15 Gary Sheffield, $12 Mike Cuddyer ( I can't decide)
Worst Overpriced Player: $21 Adam Dunn (have fun with a < .245 average) Cheapest Sleeper: Carlos Quentin in the Reserve Draft

As for Team Fantasy Man, my initial goal was to shoot for position scarcity and put together a nice solid pitching staff. This was a normal $260 budget, 23 man active roster with 2C's, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5OF's, DH, 9P's, 5x5, roto, mixed league. As we began drafting, my main thought was to spend money on two of the top 3 catchers in Mauer, Martinez and McCann and other big money on my middle infield. Turns out, all three catchers came out pretty early and all went for more than $24 and more than I intended to pay. I was hoping for the $19 - $23 range. At that point a snagged Jose Reyes for $42, Miguel Tejada for $25, Matt Holliday for $34 and Garratt Atkins for $24. So right there I clogged up my middle infield and took care of some position scarcity right off the bat. I also decided to spend on Atkins and Holliday even though 3B and OF are deep because I did not want to pass up their average/power potential combination. I had seemed to spend big early but I was able to land some nice bargains late like Morgan Ensberg for a buck, Cole Hamels for $12, Jorge Cantu at $2 and Lyle Overbay at $7. My favorite pick was a $13 Scott Kazmir which is extremely undervalued! My worst pick at the time was Carlos Zambrano as he was the 5th player I picked, but then when I stole Kazmir for $13 and Hamels for $12 late in the auction, I am now actually happy with my $26 Carlos Zambrano.

So overall, I could not stick to my plan with position scarcity with the exception of Tejada and Reyes but I did in fact whip up a nice pitching staff while finding some nice bargains in other positions. Overall I have speed, I have a decent amount of power, I have saves, K's, wins and best of all, I have a ton of high average hitters which is something I feel every team needs. High averages normally translated into more runs, homeruns and RBI. If I need anything, I could use possibly one more power hitter.

The first annual Battle of the Fantasy Gods initial auction was a complete success! Now the fun part comes..... playing out the league! Good luck to those participating and I invite anyone reading this to check out the auction above and leave your comments!

Good Luck to all this season!

Mike Kuchera
Fantasy Baseball Express