The following is a review of a 12-team mixed public mock draft I was invited to participate in by my friends at Mock Draft Central. But before that, one of the great things about now communicating in blog form is I can go tangentially off-topic once in awhile, though truth be told, back on the old Mastersball site, I was blogging before the format was invented in my weekly column entitled “Let Me Speak on This”. Anyway, I just wanted to take a second to express how happy I am that Jason Pliml and Geoff Stein have carved out a successful niche in the industry with their MDC site. Jason had a vision, and combined with the necessary support, patience, ability, demeanor and intuitiveness to carry out his business plan, he now runs a great site, at a time when it was very difficult to make your mark. This was my second year doing their kick-off public mock draft. I really enjoy doing it as if you can’t already tell, I like sharing my opinions and the appeal of this draft is viewers can pose questions to the participants and I am not shy about answering. I don’t tipe vrey well when I am ansrwing questions on the fly, so pleas accept my aplogies, but here is the link to the chat transcript that took place during the draft:
And here is a link to a podcast with Lenny Melnick and Paul Greco doing the commentary:
Okay, without further ado, from the 1-hole…
1.01 Hanley Ramirez: It is rare one gets to take the first overall pick and still have the potential for UPSIDE, but such is the case with Ramirez. I am leery about a drop in power as well as tempering steals if he remains batting third all season, but a baseline of .300-25-100-100-35 from a shortstop is well-deserved of the top pick. This leaves him an upside of 10 HR and 15-20 SB. I’ll take it.
2.12 Brandon Phillips: While I have not crunched the 2009 numbers yet, it is my expectation that the effect most call positional scarcity is minimal, but yet still existent in the 12-team mixed format so I am quite pleased to be able to fill my 2B/SS without having to reach for either player. Phillips had a down 2008 as compared to the previous season, but there are sufficient signs that it was as much bad luck as anything, the skills are still very much intact, so I expect a bounce back campaign.
3.01 Carlos Lee: .314-28-100 is a career year for many; Lee did it in only 115 games. There is no reason to expect any lingering effects from his fractured pinkie and at 32, his skills should not yet be in decline.
4.12 Shane Victorino: I am going to be completely honest; I am not enamored with this pick. It is justifiable, but in retrospect, I wish I had gone in another direction, which I ended up doing in another draft, details to follow. Basically, I am calling the 4th and 5th rounds “the dead zone” as there are no hitters that really stand out and I have not yet refined my player pool analysis to favor one position over another. As such, I called upon my resistance to chase a stolen base specialist in 12-team mixed drafts and took Victorino, so I would also get double digit homers with my 35+ steals. This should allow me to accrue ample stolen bases without needing to take a Willy Taveras or Michael Bourn type and I was fairly certain Victorino would not make it back to me at the 6/7 swing.
5.01 Jonathan Papelbon: I am going to save the analysis of this pick for its own posting, as I am going to introduce what I affectionately call “The Papelbon Plan” into the fantasy baseball vernacular.
6.12 Rafael Furcal: A healthy Furcal is historically a 3rd or 4th round selection, but he slipped because he is coming off of a back injury, and once you hurt your back, you are forever considered injury prone. There is also some residual hesitation as many felt as though they were burned by Furcal last season with the frequent reports of his imminent return, only to be saddled with a zero for the week as he was not activated. That said, he looked great in the playoffs and as a free agent, his medical reports could be requested by any organization and he was aggressively courted by multiple teams, so that is a good sign with respect to his health.
7.01 Jermaine Dye: Pretty much a pick based on needs, specifically power as Dye should continue to knock 30-something out of the yard.
8.12 Felix Hernandez: The King’s selection was buoyed by the Papelbon Plan. As will be explained, it did not HAVE to be Hernandez, just a pitcher of his ilk. The good thing is he has some untapped potential over and above what is to be expected out of a pitcher taken at this point. If he can get his walk rate back to 2006 and 2007 levels, the improving Seattle defense should benefit his hits allowed on balls in play, pushing him into the lower portion of the top-tier of starting pitchers.
9.01 Carlos Pena: Power still needed to be addressed and I was quite pleased to welcome Pena to the fold, albeit with some trepidation as my batting average would now be at a little risk if either Ramirez or Phillips has an off-year.
10.12 Ricky Nolasco: With apologies to Neil Diamond, “I’m a Believer”. The Monkees may have covered it, but trust me, Diamond wrote it. Anyway, there is definitely some cause for concern as Nolasco pitched 212.3 innings following a lost 2007 where he was shelved with elbow issues working only 55 innings in the Majors and Minors. His K/BB is excellent, though as a fly ball pitcher, he is prone to the long ball.
11.01 Chris Young: I’m a believer, part 2. I probably should refrain from drafting Young to gauge how others slot his value. When healthy, I believe Young has the goods to be a top-10 fantasy performer. The issue is health and goes beyond the horrific accidental line drive he took to the face off the bat of Albert Pujols.
12.12 Bengie Molina: As a teaser to what I did in subsequent drafts in the “Dead Zone”, I am not thrilled with the back-end catching options as opposed to previous seasons where I always seem to have a few guys I like late. As such, it was time to draft the requisite Molina, and I was fortunate enough to get the best of the bunch. Bengie should help bolster my fledgling batting average as well as chip in with some welcome pop.
13.01 Mike Napoli: Napoli is going to be the sexy catcher pick come the spring. He has 20+ HR potential and will swipe some bases. His average is volatile, but last year he was a victim of bad luck, hence the real low mark.
14.12 Matt Capps: Pretty much a classic Zola pick – a middle tier closer with the job. Capps can get anywhere from 25 to 40 saves and I would not be surprised. But he has the job, though he is a candidate to be moved to a team that would use him as a set-up guy.
15.01 Alex Gordon: Showing signs of finally reaching the potential many predicted and the dual 1B/3b eligibility is nice. In addition, the recent focus on power means a little more help in steals is needed, and Gordon will swipe 15 or so.
16.12 Paul Konerko: Screw batting average. While Konerko is on a 4 year tailspin, he is probably at the point where the production levels, if not improve a tick over last season.
17.01 Nick Swisher: Truth be told, these back-to-back picks of declining cornerman was an effort to hit on one of the two, figuring corner and/or outfield is plush enough a position to backfill from waivers.
18.12 Jair Jurrjens: There is no truth to the rumor that Jurrjens has requested a restraining order from me. As the saying goes, what’s not to like? An acceptable K/BB and he keeps the ball in the yard, the perfect recipe for a 4th or 5th fantasy starter.
19.01 Randy Johnson: Why not? Pitchers at this point are fungible and I am treating the draft like you have the ability to shift players on and off a reserve list.
20.12 David Dejesus: Basically looking to add some batting average while still adding something to the counting stats. Not flashy, but solid. Though, come to think of it, why didn’t I take the poster boy for this description, Randy Winn?
21.01 Ryan Theriot: Theriot is being undervalued, or maybe I am overvaluing him, as I see a decent batting average and 20 SB from shortstop. You’ll see his name a lot in the next few days as I review other teams.
22.12 Jeremy Guthrie: Guthrie is one of those guys that many avoid as his K-rate is not to the level most like, but has had a string of successful seasons because of a low hit rate, sort of like Jon Garland a few years ago. If Guthrie has been lucky and struggles, I will drop him.
23.01 Manny Corpas: Obviously, closing speculation is very difficult in December, but Corpas has the skill set to be useful even if he doesn’t close as he can be used during weeks the starting pitcher matchups are not attractive.
C B Molina, Napoli
1B/3B Pena, Gordon, Konerko
2B/SS Phillips, Reyes, Furcal
OF C Lee, Victorino, Dye, Dejesus, Swisher
SP F Hernandez, Nolasco, C Young, Jurrjens, R Johnson, Guthrie
RP Papelbon, Capps, Corpas
Your turn, what do you think?