Last night I participated in Mock Draft Central's first Live Expert Mock Draft for 2009.
To get the results of the mock, CLICK HERE .
To get live coverage and analysis of the draft by Lenny Melnick, Paul Greco, and Tony Cincotta of Melnick & Greco Fantasy Sports and to hear Paul mis-pronounce my name all 23 times, CLICK HERE . It's "Kuch-Era" .... Paul! Ask Lenny, he knows!
Anyway, the draft last night was cake and typical of an expert draft! Jump on the top guys early, a few surprises too early on the young guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, etc., a late closer run, and waiting on SP's (I got Brandon Webb in round 5!!). Sometimes these expert dudes like to make statements with their early picks of youg players with potential superstardom powers. I just like to pick the best available players to load up on cats and positions.
I feel like I did myself justice with the team I ended up with. As many of you know, I am big on drafting for categories more than just looking for good value or position scarcity. Sometimes I get an itch to just start loading up on everything! Being that HR's we down so much in 2008, I feel that loading up on the best power hitters early is smarter in 2009 as I can pick up cheap steals later, and I think I proved this during this mock which I will analyze below. So take a look at the mock by clicking the link above and see some of the big names in this draft like Yahoo's Brandon Funston, MLB.com's Alex Cushing, and of course the great Geoff Stein of Mock Draft Central who is a legend around these parts. Those are only a few of the fantasy baseball masters in this draft.
So let's take a look at the roster of the top dog of them all, me, The Fantasy Man! You know what it is, I just feel good because I feel like I managed a great draft. That's it. I'm on my own high horse at the moment. Okay, maybe not. You guys all know how modest I am, but here is a peek at my thoughts and my plan as I went through this draft....
My Plan: To be honest, I didn't have one. I didn't get home from work until about 20 minutes before hand and Prison Break was on at 9pm, so my mind was wandering! I had the 5th pick so I was guaranteed one of A-Rod, Hanley, Pujols, Reyes, or Wright. I was hoping for Reyes or Pujols. That was my plan. I figured once I knew who I was getting, I could build from there. Overall plan though, load up on either power early or speed early and then take care of the other later. Simple as that. I'm a simple man. When I didn't get the first guy I really wanted (Reyes), I was on to Plan B. When I missed on Santana in round 2, I was on to Plan C when Prince Fielder ended up in my lap, and the rest is history.....
R1 - Albert Pujols - .330+/35+/100+/100+/10sb/.400+, what else do I need to say!
R2 - Prince Fielder - I was hoping for Johan Santana or B.J. Upton with Fielder third on my queue. Santana and Upton were both taken and even though Manny Ramirez was still available, I went with the younger Prince Fielder and decided I was going to load up on the power categories and hoard them all to myself. The drop off is huge for big time power guys so I am glad I made this decision. I was figuring in the third round I'd either take David Ortiz and stash in my DH spot or hop that Carlos Quentin would last as I want to take up all the power I could. Also, Ortiz has been slipping into the 4th round in a lot of drafts so my new plan after Fielder was to grab Quentin and then hope for Ortiz in the 4th.
R3 - Carlos Quentin - Well, Ortiz was choosen 3 picks later, so I jumped on Quenti who I believe can be a .300/35+/100+/100+/10 type of player. Oops! What? That looks a lot like what I am expecting from the guy in my #1 spot minus some batting average.
R4 - Adrian Gonzalez - Paul and Lenny gave me a hard time about this one. Lenny felt that since the Padres are looking so weak on offense, Gonzalez is going to have a down year! I know I can't scream through the speakers but since when did Adrian Gonzalez ever have any lineup protection? Who protected him last season when he had a great year? He still has Kevin Kouzmanoff, he has Chase Headley who is supposed to be solid (just unproven), Brian Giles still at the top of the lineup and the rest is the norm. The Padres didn't have much at 2B last year, Khalil Greene at SS was a bust, the Pads never have a solid catcher, and CF never really had anyone worth adding to your fantasy team. So what about 2008 says that Gonzalez will have a down year in 2009? The guy hits .280/25+HR (35+ potential anywhere else but Petco)/100+RBI/90+R/and .375+ OBP. The guy K's a lot but that obviously doesn't affect him much. So, with all of that being said, I am expecting AGone to have a year like last year and in the 4th round with Pujols, Fielder, and Quentin already enlisted, Gonzalez just solidifies my chances of having the most power in the draft no matter what happens later on. Problem is, now I need steals. At this point, after 4 rounds, I'd be lucky if Pujols/Fielder/Quentin combined gave me 25 SB's. Lucky for me, they all steal a few every year.
R5 - Brandon Webb - I had Papelbon ready but he was taken a few picks before me. Johan, C.C., Lincecum and Hamels were all taken and I couldn't believe my eyes when Webb and Jake Peavy were still available at this pick. It was a toss up but I went with the sure thing in Webb. Peavy obviously has a bit more flash but with the way experts wait on starting pitchers, I wouldn't have been surprised if Peavy lasted another round, so I went with the consistentcy in Webb.
R6 - Derek Jeter - So I had my power, I had my 1B, CI and DH locked up and it was time to look at the middle infielders. I could have taken Rafael Furcal. I could have taken J.J. Hardy. I could have jumped on Stephen Drew. All 3 of those guys are risky. Hardy seems like a half year type of player, Furcal is a huge injury risk, and Drew hasn't lived up to potential yet. So I picked Jeter. Paul Greco can call it "homer-ism" if he wants (To be honest, Jeter is my favorite real life player), but Jeter is a smart move here for me whether Lenny Melnick agrees or not.
1. Jeter is a .300 hitter and will be in 2009.
2. Jeter's numbers were only slightly down last season, but so was every other Yankees' numbers!
3. Yes, Jeter is on the decline, but he's only 34. He still has 2-3 more productive seasons I think.
4. This was my chance to pick one of the most durable and consistent players in the game and pick up 15-20 SB at the same time. Simple as that!
R7 - Dan Uggla - I was thinking about Bobby Abreu here because he's another guy who could get me a durable and consistent .290/15/100/20sb, but I took a risk and hoped Abreu would last another round as I saw all the SP's starting to fly off the board. I went with Uggla because I saw a chance to load up on 25-30 more HR at the 2B position. He won't steal many bases but I felt like I can still make them up later. I also was thinking about solidifying my pitching staff.
R8 - Bobby Abreu - Pitching staff still on hold, I couldn't believe Abreu was still there. Add another 20 SB to this team. My goal is 125 total projected from this squad. So far I project about 60 at this point between my top 4 and Uggla (25), Jeter(15), and now Abreu(20). That's not good.
R9 - Francisco Rodriguez - 9th round??? I can't believe it! You know what K-Rod? If no one wants you on their team, it's okay, don't worry, The Fantasy Man will make room for you! Unbelievable!
R10 - Cliff Lee - What? I thought K-Rod in the 9th was unbelievable. I debated in the 9th whether to let K-Rod go so I could take Lee instead but glad I did it this wait! Lee in the 10th is a steal. I know these experts love their K's and I believe that's why they let Lee slip. They're loss I guess. This is my favorite pick!
R11 - B.J. Ryan - I took advantage of the unusually low ranking MDC gave Ryan and I jumped on him to solidify my closer situation. Now I don't need to think about Saves and crappy ERA/WHIP situations with all the risky closers out there.
R12 - Pat Burrell - Totally against my philosophy, I went with value and went for Burrell. I though I could load up on more power, which I did, but then I realized who I really wanted to pick and that was Rick Ankiel. Problem was, at that point, I only had two OF slots open and I still need steals. I was saving these 2 spots for guys like Carlos Gomez, Michael Bourn, Willy Tavares, Cameron Maybin, etc.... I went with Burrell for the .275/30/100 potential and consistency each year ending up with those types of numbers, but if I was going to do that, I would have much rather went with the maturing Rick Ankiel who is in a contract year and has as much or more power potential in 2009 than Burrell. Still a solid pick here, but I should have taken the younger potential star in Ankiel.
R13 - Orlando Cabrera - I don't normally panic in drafts as I can always find great value later, but SS is way too thin this year and I still need a middle infielder and steals. Cabrera gives me an instant 20SB which brings me up to about a projected 80 steals. There is still work to be done.
R14 - Chen-Ming Wang - How can you pass up a 17+ game winner for sure if he stays healthy this late?
R15 - Matt Garza - Has a ton of potential, surprised he was still here at this point!
R16 - Cameron Maybin - Now it's round 16. I need 2 Catchers, a 3B, 3 SP and 2 OF and I still need about 65 projected SB's to reach my goal. Carlos Gomez is gone and I don't want to get stuck drafting Juan Pierre or Michael Bourn. Lucky for me, I can take some risk here so I went with Maybin who I believe can steal 30+ if he gets 500AB in 2009, which it looks like he will! That puts me at about 95 projected SB.
R17 - Willy Tavares - BOO-YAH! Let's say Tavares drops down a bit in 2009 and steals 50, I just put myself past my goal of 125 projected SB to about 145. Plus, Tavares can certainly hit .280, hit a few dingers and score 100 runs so I think I made a nice score here. I drafted so much power early and then again with Uggla and Burrell that I could afford to take Maybin and Tavares back to back.
R18 - Kelly Shoppach - I waited on catchers but if he can get 400+ AB again and hit 20+ HR, then I am find shoving him in my lineup. If he gets traded to a team where he can start, then I hit the jack pot!
R19 - Fausto Carmona - Time to take a risk and Carmona could be a super solid SP agan in 2009. It's a risk and the talent is there, but he's kind have been a forgotten man in drafts lately.
R20 - Dallas McPherson - Still needed a 3B. Could have went for Troy Glaus but again, I took another risk and still have the potential to load up on more power.
R21 - Gavin Floyd - A young SP on the rise. Was glad he was still available as I look at his name on my roster and comfortable with Floyd at the bottom of my rotation because there is still a lot of upside.
R22 - Mike Pelfrey - See Gavin Floyd!
R23 - Taylor Teagarden - What's funny is that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Teagarden and the Max Ramirez all went consecutively in that last round. Question is..... who will be the odd man out? Or, will any of them be left out? If the Rangers can trade Hank Blalock, 1B or 3B will be open, Chris Davis plays the other, or maybe they can stick Max Ramirez in the OF. Should be interesting to see how it turns out....