Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Brackets, Sox, & Fantasies

BUSTED BRACKETS:

I pick two number four seeds for the final four (Texas, Maryland) and they both get knocked out in the first weekend. Well, I guess that saves me from being glued to the March Madness telecasts on TV anymore. As usual, I went with my heart over my head (I picked Texas to win it all, but in truth, they had no shot), and as always I lose. Yet another good reason why I keep my gambling to a minimum. Wah-wah, I lose again, no one cares. OK, I get it, time to move on to a new topic.

OF DICE (K) AND MEN:

Tom Verducci, in case anyone missed it, filed a great piece on SI.com about Daisuke Matsuzaka and his potential impact on major league baseball. The most interesting (at least to me) point he made:

Matsuzaka is a potential agent of change. It's his throwing regimen, rather than his place of birth, that makes him the ultimate foreigner to major league baseball. If he succeeds in the U.S., he could transform the accepted industry practice of overprotecting pitchers. The system guarantees diminishing returns: Despite advances in medicine, nutrition and training, teams work pitchers less than ever before and yet pay them more.

The babying of pitchers is a point of contention of mine since I was oh so much younger. Why with all the advances Verducci mentions, why are pitchers not pitching MORE innings MORE frequently? I can tell you. They do not throw enough often enough. If every pitcher threw a couple hundred pitches a day, would their arms fall off? Is there a limit to the number of pitches they can throw? I think the only way to build the proper arm strength is to continually pitch. Heck, I saw kids in little league being thrown to the wolves on an almost daily basis to throw a couple hundred pitches a day, why is it these millionaires can only throw a hundred pitches a week?

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DRAFT DAZE:

While the NFL draft is right around the corner (five weeks away), I had my first of two drafts for fantasy baseball (two teams are more than I can handle). As usual, I fell prey to the allure of starting pitching (a HUGE weakness of mine) as well as the fervent hope of finding that proverbial diamond in the rough (who usually hits .150 and is in the minor leagues again on May 1). Anyway, I had the first overall pick in the league (I call it the Dan league to differentiate from other league I play in, the Rickles league), and after much soul-searching took Albert Pujols instead of Johan Santana. Whether I made the right choice is yet to be determined, but last year I spent a first round pick on Derrick Lee in one of the leagues only to watch him miss three-quarters of the season due to injury.

My picks:

Round
Pick
Player
Position
1
-1
Albert Pujols
1B

2
-26
Jimmy Rollins
SS

3
-27
Ichiro Suzuki
OF

4
-52
Ryan Zimmerman
3B

5
-53
Félix Hernández
SP

6
-78
Rocco Baldelli
OF

7
-79
Dan Haren
SP

8
-104
Erik Bedard
SP

9
-105
Curt Schilling
SP

10
-130
Kenji Johjima
C

11
-131
Tadahito Iguchi
2B

12
-156
Adrián Béltre
3B

13
-157
Brian Fuentes
RP

14
-182
Marcus Giles
2B

15
-183
Brian Giles
OF

16
-208
Adam Wainwright
RP

17
-209
Jon Garland
SP

18
-234
Kenny Rogers
SP

19
-235
Rafael Soriano
RP

20
-260
José Contreras
SP

21
-261
Ryan Shealy
1B

22
-286
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Util

23
-287
Bill Bray
RP

24
-312
José Guillén
OF

25
-313
Luke Scott
OF

26
-338
Orlando Hernández
SP

Not that anyone really cares, but I will tell you my thought process anyway. Oh yeah, it is 5x5 mixed league non-keeper with a dozen teams:

At #2, Jimmy Rollins was the obvious pick over Jeter (I have a strict no Yankees rule) as I love getting production out of the shortstop position. Ichiro was my top-rated player on the board, and I figure it is far easier to find home runs later on than someone scoring runs, stealing bases, and having the high batting average.

Zimmerman and Hernandez were both taken a little earlier than I would have liked, but I love their upside potential and knew that 25 picks later they both would be gone.

At picks 78 and 79 I realized that everyone I wanted just disappeared in the last ten picks. Baldelli is value, and I expect Tampa to trade him and reap the benefits of him eventually batting third or fourth wherever he ends up. Haren is under-rated in my mind, and should win 15-20 games with 175 strikeouts or so, so I had to grab him in round seven. Ditto for Erik Bedard, and to find Schiling in round nine was a pot of gold.

I then panicked in round ten realizing I had no catcher and grabbed Kenji Johjima. Needing some love for the middle infield, I scooped up Tad Iguchi and hoped he would be better to me than he had been in the past. The next two picks were better value, as Beltre had a great second half last season so I could not pass on him, and with a desperate need at closer, I scooped Brian Fuentes up as well.

Rounds 14 & 15 were when things got silly, and I pulled out my Brigstah Tribute picks, going back-to-back with the Giles brothers. With middle infield and outfield needs, they both fit well and should contribute enough to be decent mid-round picks.

Rounds 16 through 26 were then all about getting whatever value I could, picking some closing sleepers (Adam Wainwright if the Cardinals get desperate, Bill Bray who should win the closer job in Cincy, and Rafael Soriano who should be closing in Atlanta), mules to eat innings (El Duque, Jose Contreras, John Garland and Kenny Rogers), some iffy guys to bounce back (Jose Guillen and Luke Scott) and I also grabbed my usual couple of prospects (Ryan Shealy and Kevin Kouzmanoff)

All-in-all, the team needs some work, and after April 1 I expect many moves will be made, but I have to say it was a good draft, there was good, intelligent banter on the draft chat board, and I likely will burn up all my allotted innings pitched by the end of August as I always tend to do.

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