On Sunday, the co-hosts of ‘Sports Counseling with The Doc and Slim’ did a live podcast of their 12-team NFBC Satellite Draft which you can listen to here. Now, having only been podcasting for the last four months, doing a live draft and a live podcast simultaneously was a new experience for me. Overall, it was a pretty good experience that I thought went well. We managed to draft a good team that we feel will challenge for a title this year.
Here are the rules of the league:
- Twelve teams, 30 roster spots. These are the starting spots: C x2, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF x5, UTIL, P x9, Bench x7.
- The minimum amount of innings pitched is 900. However, there is no maximum innings pitched and there are also no maximum games played per position. Typically, it is a 162-game max for position players and anywhere from 1200-1500 innings pitched. With no maximums, it changed our strategy a little bit.
- It is a full-year league with rotisserie scoring. There are no trades in this league but there is a waiver wire.
So, now that that boring stuff is out of the way, here is the strategy that myself and my co-host, Tony Mauriello, intended to use:
- We had the 11th pick in the draft. As a bit of an aside, this is one of the worst positions in a 12-team draft. Ideally, you’d like to be somewhere from 3-5 in a 12-teamer. In bigger leagues, the wrap or near-wrap pick at the end of the round is a good thing. In smaller leagues, it is about the studs and Carlos Gonzalez is no Ryan Braun.
- This pick gave us two options that we saw. If one of the “Big Three” first basemen fell to us – Joey Votto, Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols – we were going to go 1B/3B with our first two picks, pairing one of them with Adrian Beltre. If they didn’t, we were going to go OF/OF. This is because, as we see it, outfield is more shallow than people realize. With five OFs, a utility and deeper-than-normal benches, we wanted a couple outfield studs to anchor us if we couldn’t get the corner positions.
- With the typical power/speed combos gone from the outfield by the 11th pick (Braun, Trout, McCutchen, Kemp, Gonzalez), we decided to go for massive power and find speed later.
- We were going to wait on pitching but wanted to anchor our staff with two solid SP2-type pitchers. We figured we would probably have to have two starters among our first ten picks.
- After Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria and Aramis Ramirez, there is a pretty big dropoff at third base. I mean a dropoff in a sense that there is a lot of volatility and question marks relative to the talent. So if we didn’t get one of those five, there was one third baseman we were looking in particular that we wanted.
- We were going to target middle relievers late in the draft and not pay for closers, but with no innings cap their value is more limited. In this sense, we had to get a couple closers that we think we could rely on.
- We wanted to pair one high-average catcher with one power catcher. We felt this would give us the across-the-board stats we would need from this position without paying a high price (ahem, Posey).
- Finally, we wanted to fill our bench with high-upside options. The reason for this is that if you draft a high-upside player in the 27th round, there is little downside. The downside is that if they don’t perform, you drop them into the waiver abyss. If they perform well, you’ve gotten incredible value for that pick. There’s not a lot to lose.
So with that being said, this is the team we drafted, with their round and pick in parentheses beside them. Read through and I’ll explain our thought process for the picks:
C- Victor Martinez (7.11)
C – J.P. Arencibia (15.11)
1B – Billy Butler (3.11)
2B – Aaron Hill (5.11)
3B – Martin Prado (8.2)
SS – Alcides Escobar (12.2)
CI – Allen Craig (4.2)
MI – Jean Segura (20.2)
OF – Josh Hamilton (1.11)
OF – Jose Bautista (2.2)
OF – Carlos Gomez (10.2)
OF – Chris Davis (13.11)
OF – Dexter Fowler (17.11)
UTIL – Michael Saunders (19.11)
SP – Max Scherzer (6.2)
SP – Mat Latos (9.11)
SP – C.J. Wilson (14.2)
SP – Marco Estrada (18.2)
SP/RP – Shelby Miller (22.2)
RP – Greg Holland (11.11)
RP – Ernesto Frieri (16.2)
RP – Sergio Santos (23.11)
RP – Joaquin Benoit (30.2)
3B – Mike Moustakas (21.11)
2B/3B – Jedd Gyorko (25.11)
SS – Eduardo Nunez (29.11)
OF – Chris Young (26.2)
OF – Aaron Hicks (28.2)
SP – James McDonald (24.2)
SP – Jason Hammel (27.11)
None of the first basemen fell to us at #11, which meant that we were going to go OF/OF. It came down to three players for us; Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista and Giancarlo Stanton. Passing on Stanton became a point of contention a little bit later on Twitter from people chiming in on our team. We avoided Stanton for two reasons: he’s not a .290 hitter because he strikes out too much and there is no one around him. It is conceivable, if not likely, that Stanton mashes 45 HRs this year. It’s also conceivable, if not likely, that he doesn’t crack the 90/90 mark. So you’re getting decent R/RBI totals, almost no SBs, a below-average batting mark despite all the home runs. If there was a trade today that sent Jose Bautista to Miami and Stanton to Toronto, Stanton becomes a top-five pick. But without a lineup around him, his counting stats will not be at the level necessary to justify him being a top-15 hitter in fantasy. If we eat our words, so be it. But we don’t think we mis-stepped here.
We then went with Billy Butler and Allen Craig. Both are first basemen and it would help shore up our 1B/CI slots with hopefully a pair of .300 averages, 50 total HRs and 200+ total RBIs. We wanted production and we think we got it. Moreover, Craig has OF eligibility to boot.
We took Max Scherzer at 6.2 which we were thrilled about. We think he’s poised for a Cy Young-calibre season and wanted him. Aaron Hill at 5.11, however, is a risk. But we felt there was so much risk after him (Altuve was the only person left that we might have taken at second base) that we had to do it. Ben Zobrist was our real target for this round but went a few picks before us as did Jason Kipinis.
We took our first catcher at 7.11 in V-Mart. In a two-catcher league, you can’t wait too long on your first catcher. At this point, it was between him or Wieters. We wanted the high average and production so we decided on Martinez. We took Martin Prado coming around because he was the last third baseman left that we felt comfortable with all season long. With no trades, you can’t just go out and give up depth to fill a need. After Prado, we would have had to risk it on guys like Pedro Alvarez, Will Middlebrooks or Mike Moustakas and didn’t want to do that at this point.
To finish off our early picks, we got the second half of our staff anchor in Mat Latos and a power/speed combo in Carlos Gomez. We feel Latos is poised for a big year and grabbing him as the 26th SP off the board was a great steal for us. Carlos Gomez provides risk. But we feel we had enough high-batting average guys to make up for the .260 he’ll hit, because he has 20/30 upside. We also needed to start filling in speed badly and it started with him.
We took Greg Holland in the 11th round because there weren’t too many closers left on the board. Without the ability to trade for closers, there are only so many that can come out of the waiver pool. We feel Holland is pretty secure in his job and has high-K upside. At 12 we took Alcides Escobar. This is a guy I’m targeting in just about every draft I’m in. People need to realize something: He was a top-10 SS last year, ahead of Elvis Andrus, Danny Espinosa and Asdrubal Cabrera. He’s a 40-steal threat who can score 100 runs if he hits at the top of the Royals lineup. Although I’m not expecting it, he can be a top six or seven SS this year.
We grabbed our fourth OF in Chris Davis in the 13th. He was fantastic last year, hitting .270 with 33 home runs. Even if this drops off to 25 HRs, he’ll still return value and there is only room for growth in his counting stats. C.J. Wilson was taken as our third SP. We think this is about where he’ll perform and there is some upside to him. I don’t see a continued regression here *fingers crossed*. The way we see it, for at least two months of the year (April and July), Wilson will be matched opposite other teams’ 3rd starters and we like Wilson (in most cases) over most teams’ 3rd starters.
We took J.P. Arencibia as our second catcher. This is where my theory of “combined players” comes into play. Between our two catchers, they will probably hit a combined .275, 40 HRs, 180 RBI and 140 Runs. This makes each player a .270 hitter with 20 HRs, 90 RBIs and 70 Rs. Guess how many catchers hit each of those marks last year? Yep, one. And I shouldn’t have to tell you who it was. After that, we took Ernesto Frieri. The guy was a stud last year, finishing as a top-10 RP. Starting with the closer job this year, he should get lots of opportunities even if Ryan Madson comes back healthy (he should be limited at least). With Holland and Frieri with our closers, we are thrilled at this point.
Dexter Fowler and Marco Estrada were our next two picks. Fowler is technically our 5th OF even though he performed as an OF4 last year. Not to mention there’s a whole lot of upside in him after that. Marco Estrada is another guy I’m targeting in a lot of drafts. He’s going real late (as you can tell) and he’s posted excellent FIPs in AAA and the big leagues over the last few years. I think he’s going to be an SP3 this year.
To round out the top-20 picks, we took Michael Saunders of Seattle and Jean Segura of Milwaukee. Saunders was a guy that Tony really wanted and as a fellow Canadian, who was I to argue? He was one HR away from 20/20 last year and that’s crazy at the 19th round. We had two shortstops in mind to fill in our MI position; Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura. We were going to give the inside track to Cabrera because we feel he’ll get more playing time, but he went four picks ahead of our 19th round pick. So we waited and took Segura. I think he has 5/30 potential this year and can provide that cheap speed we were looking for.
It came to the 21st round and Tony and I were thinking “holy shit, we have one third baseman”. So we look at the list… Mike Moustakas is still there?! SOLD. He’s a power prospect who, yes I’ll admit will probably strike out too much and will be fortunate to hit anywhere over .260. However, he has the power to hit 25 home runs and that kind of power at any position is hard to find at this stage of the draft. Coming back, we took Shelby Miller. I know he’s not a lock to make the rotation out of camp but you have to figure even if he doesn’t, he’ll still get his starts later in the year. He’s a big arm who, if needed, could give the Cardinals 20 starts.
I had been preaching to anyone who would listen that I’m all over Sergio Santos in later rounds of every draft this year. He put together two very strong years in 2010/2011 for the White Sox before going down for the year early for the Blue Jays in 2012. In two seasons with the pale hose, he put up 148 Ks in just 115 innings. With Casey Janssen still not even facing live hitting, Santos could start in the closers role. Even if he doesn’t, I still think he takes over eventually. With James McDonald… it was seriously a mis-click. I know, rookie move. I had Jedd Gyorko in the queue and thought I was drafting him. I forgot I was looking at McDonald’s line from last year… Oops. It would be funny if this paid off.
Thankfully the mis-click didn’t cost us. We got Jedd Gyorko in the 25th. This is one of those picks where if it doesn’t work out, we can fire him into the waiver pool with little repercussions. If it does pay off, we have someone who will be eligible at 2B, 3B, CI, MI, UTIL (assuming he wins the 2B job in San Diego over Logan Forsythe). That’s pretty valuable flexibility. This is a guy who had back-to-back 30 HR seasons the last two years at different levels in the minors and hit over .310 both years. This could be our late round home run. With Chris Young in the 26th, we have outfield depth and he’s one injury away from everyday playing time. He’s only 29 years old and put up back-to-back 20/20 seasons in 2010 and 2011. I know the batting average sucks but that’s why he’s our 6th outfielder.
Believe it or not, the 27th round pick was the one we struggled with the most between us. We wanted another starter and at that point in the draft, good luck. Staying away from the AL East is generally a good strategy but I like Hammel. He has sharp breaking stuff, consistently sits 92-94 with his fastball and put up good FIPs in Colorado of all places; he had a 3.71 FIP in 2009, 3.70 FIP in 2010 before getting demolished in 2011 and he finished with a 4.83 FIP. He had an ERA in Baltimore last year of 3.43, higher than his FIP of 3.29. If he works out, he could be an SP4 that we just got for next to nothing.
Our proudest pick might be in round 29 with INF Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees. He had 11 steals in just 100 plate appearances last year, doesn’t strike out a lot (12% K-rate last year, 10.9% in 2011 with the Yankees in 338 PAs) and can chip in a home run every once in a while. With the Yankees lineup starting to resemble an old folks home, I suspect he will get boat loads of playing time. With the last pick, we wanted to go with Al Alburquerque from Detroit but he went just before our pick at the wrap. Side note: That guy (Big Mo is his team name) must have stolen 5-6 picks through the draft during his wrap picks. Very smart man. So we ended up with Joaquin Benoit. Your guess is as good as ours as to who closes in Detroit but hopefully old-man Leyland goes with old-man Benoit.
So that’s our team. We’re very happy with it and don’t see too many holes in our lineup. Because of the no-maximum games played rule, we had hoped for a third catcher at some point. But you can’t get everything you want in drafts and we’ll take the squad we have. Now the real work starts.