Monday, April 09, 2012

NL King - Breaking Bad, The NL King's Draft

I completed my NL only 5X5 auction draft last week on March 30th. This  
is the 21st year of our keeper league. I went into  
the draft with Votto (40), Headley (12), R. Weeks (23), Hairston Jr (1),  
Morgan (8), L. Nix (1), Karstens (3), Brothers (1) O'Flaherty (1).  
My plan going into the draft was to bring back Clayton Kershaw, get a  
good closer for a reasonable price (I was targeting Jason Motte for  
around $20) and then hit the board with as many quality but not  
superstar players between the low and upper teens. I was zero-ing  
in on were Wilson Ramos, Marco Scutaro, Jason Kubel, Jose Tabata,  
Jamie Garcia, and Johnny Cueto to name a few.

The Kershaw Factor:
In my league, per the auction, the team that finished last gets to bring  
up the first player (then it goes to the team who came in 2nd to last,  
and then 3rd to last etc, etc). That first owner announced Kershaw.  
I was very happy because my Plan A draft plan focused on Kershaw.  
There were a lot of starting pitching options available but I felt  
that for the elite numbers that Kershaw brings he was worth the extra  
dollars to land him. I had budgeted $38 for Kershaw. I felt this was a  
good break that he was called out first because if he went too  
high, I had every other pitcher still on the board. I had all the  
options available. When the smoke cleared I got Kershaw back at $39  
just $1 more than I budgeted. I believe this worked out well because  
of the available starters in my draft Halladay went $41, Lincecum $34,  
Hamels $33, Kennedy $30, Gallardo $29. So for the few extra dollars I  
got a stud in every starting pitching category.

When an unexpected good thing happens, don't hesitate:
I was quiet after Kershaw for a number of picks and memory serves  
correct, early in the 2nd round Jay Bruce came up. I thought in my  
draft Bruce would cost between $32 to $34 and be out of my budget. I  
was high on Bruce as I think he is a lock to be a $30 player and to me  
has a very good chance of the 2012 being his break out year and  
becoming a 40HR type of guy. So when the bidding was in the high 20's  
I sensed an opportunity to land Bruce and I did at $29. Adding Bruce  
at that junction to go with Joey Votto and Rickie Weeks gave me three top tier  
hitters. I felt that was a very good way to start my offense. So  
lesson here is doing research on everyone because you cannot assume  
anything in your drafts and a player that you think can't afford you  
might be able to. Also you must be willing to adjust your draft plan  
when an opportunity comes along. My plan was to add Jason Kubel as a  
power bat between $16 - $18 (he actually went $20 in my draft) instead  
I jumped on Bruce and scratched Kubel off my list.

Dealing with a Nightmare:
I do not know why but the closers in my draft all went for ridiculous  
prices. In my league for whatever reason we tend to pay more for  
pitching be it starting pitcher or closers than most drafts you see on  
line or any kind of league. Again every league is different. But the  
last 3 years the prices on closers for our league had been trending  
downward. In fact going into the draft a lot of the owners in my  
league felt that there was not enough hitting but there was a lot of  
starting pitching and their were 12 of the 16 opening day closers in  
the NL available. No one in my league thought in million years that  
the closers on draft day would go insane prices. But that's what  
happened, after a few guys went off the board such as Jonathan Papelbon &  
Kimbrel for $30, Storen for $22, Wilson for $23, Bell for $25 I knew I  
was going to have to pay a lot more than my budgeted $20 for Jason  
Motte. Well when Carlos Marmol went $20 I knew I was deep trouble.  
Long story short I did get my target Jason Motte but at $29. An owner  
in my league who had a lot of money left and Papelbon on his roster  
got into a bidding war with me from $23 on up. At that point the only  
closers left were Street, Francisco and Myers. I was getting Motte and  
just going to deal with the consequences. Bottom line is you have to  
secure the talent sometimes and throw value out of the window. The  
closers is like a game of musical chairs when the music stops the  
bottom line is you have to have a chair and a chair that you like. But  
because of this and over extending my power bat budget on Bruce I was  
just about $20 behind my original plan. It was time to scramble like  
Tim Tebow (Go J-E-T-S !!!!).

I am behind the 8-Ball Now What?
At this point, I had $73 and needed 11 players and needed to add  
another really good starting pitcher to my team and then add as many  
solid players after that. I was quiet for a while and then Wilson Ramos  
came up who I targeted as my number 1 catcher. I was hoping I could  
get him for a little less than $15 and won the bidding at $13. Step in  
the right direction. Then I really wanted Marco Scutaro to be my  
shortstop I pushed it as much as I could for someone who had just $60  
left but winded up having to settle for Furcal at $9. I hope he has  
something left in the tank. Then Danny Espinosa came up and I got the  
sense early in the bidding people were saving their money elsewhere  
and everyone was afraid of that .236 batting average. I saw a young  
guy who nearly went 20-20 last year and can improve and if he can hit 
.250 would be a huge asset to my team. I jumped on Espinosa I won the  
bidding at $16. Okay so after Bruce I added Ramos, Furcal & Espinosa  
at this point I had $35 left and had to focus on pitching. I tried and  
tried to land a front end guy at good value but the prices kept going  
high. Finally Cueto came up and the starting pitching list was  
dwindling. I won Cueto at $20 and then a few picks later even though I  
am not in love with him because of his ratio I landed Trevor Cahill  
for $7. Thought that was pretty good value. That left me $8 for 6  
players. Yikes

End Game:
When I get down to the very end my plan is to literally wait almost  
everyone out. Once teams fill up their roster they can't bid anymore.  
There were still good end game guys left on the board and when it was  
my turn I kept bringing guys I knew I had no chance of getting and  
getting the other owners to finish their rosters. In the end I landed  
for my last 6 spots Clayton Richard at $2, Joe Saunders at $1, Roger  
Bernadina at $1, Eric Young Jr at $2, Tyler Colvin at $1 and McKenry  
at $1 (not in love with that pick). Most of these guys I researched  
and targeted them as end game possibilities. In the reserves I added  
Aoki, Lannan, Overbay, Dolis and Travis Wood. I had targeted Aoki  
having Nyjer Morgan and thought Dolis could have possibilities come  
the 2nd half of the season.

Final Analysis:
Quite honestly a lot of unexpected things happened and for a good  
portion of the draft I had to scramble. This is where researching the  
players is huge but having said that the bottom line is while I have a  
lot of top shelf talent I do need my cheap players to make  
contributions. They do not have to be superstars although that would  
be nice, but what I need from my $1 to $3 players is for 2/3 to give  
me $7 to $10 years. If enough can do that and if the Votto's & the  
Kershaw's of the world do their thing then I can have a team that  
challenges for the crown. I hope you guys enjoyed this article in  
breaking down the draft and using me as the guinea pig

NL King - C.Lizza

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