Friends and Family: Post-draft Q&A

Brandon Funston

The eighth annual Yahoo! Friends and Family League draft took place last week. Last year, Rotowire's Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss battled to the bitter end, with Erickson taking home the league title, 2.5 points ahead of Liss. It gave the "Friends" its third F&F championship, one behind the "Family" tally of four F&F titles.

This year's list of F&F contenders (same as last year minus Michael Gehlken) include a Yahoo! contingent of myself, Andy Behrens, Scott Pianowski, Brad Evans, Matt Romig and Matt Buser; and for the "Friends," RotoWire's Erickson, Liss and Dalton Del Don; Wall Street Journal's Michael Salfino (and partner, Rob Steingall); The Hardball Times' Paul Singman; Baseball Prospectus' Derek Carty; and Razzball's combo pack of Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble.

Here's a complete list, by team, of the Y! Friends and Family League draft results.

After the draft, I asked each participant two pointed questions about their draft and also which pick(s) they deem to be the biggest reach and steal of the draft. And, not to be left out, I had colleague Andy Behrens fire a couple questions my way.

At this point (or earlier), you might be asking yourself, "Why would one want to read about a bunch of so-called experts talking about their drafts? Isn't this just another case of fantasy expert narcisism gone wild?" My response: While there may be some validity to that, there are also pearls of wisdon to be gleaned from this vanity fare. Just take a look at some of the prophetic quotes from last year's Q&A column:

On Michael Pineda: "If I had to guess on a projection, I'd say 160 K and an ERA around 3.80."

On J.J. Hardy: "I believe Hardy … is ripe for a turnaround … I'm cautiously optimistic he will again regain his 20-HR stroke."

On Alex Gordon: "Finally, he's set as a starter, and at age 27, I think he'll finally break out."

On Giancarlo Stanton: "I'm thinking 35-40 homers given his once-in-a-generation raw power and insane work ethic."

On Jose Bautista: "I'm a Bautista believer this year, if not in a 50 HR repeat, at least in a 35-40 HR performance."

On Mike Napoli: "I realize this (Round 8) might seem a little early to some, but I actually had a hard time not pulling the trigger earlier on Napoli."

On Michael Morse: " … he should get around 450 at-bats and hopefully I'll have a .280 BA, 25 home run guy on my hands."

On Starlin Castro: "We're not a believer in Castro's power (free Cuba!) but can see a .300/ 90 Runs/10 HR/20 SB season."

Note: For the curious, here's the link to last year's Q&A.

Alright, with that, let's get on with the clown rodeo experts Q&A:


Yahoo! – Brandon Funston (Previous F&F finishes: 9th, 7th, 5th, 9th, 7th, 9th, 1st)

Q: As we all know, you're a die-hard Seattle fan, dating back to the glory days of Bruce Bochte and Larry Milbourne. Thus, it was no surprise that you drafted Jesus Montero (and in a decent spot, with overall pick No. 140). What are you expecting from him in his debut season with the Mariners, and how quickly do you think he'll gain eligibility at catcher?

A: Mariners bias? Nah, no way, never. This all about the player. Montero is one player that everyone seems to be missing on. The Mariners plan to play him about a third of the time at catcher, which means he'll be getting his catcher card in Yahoo! leagues sometime before the end of the first month of the season. The other two-thirds of the time will be spent at DH. Considering how badly the M's need his bat in the lineup, there's a very good chance that Montero will play 150-plus games, assuming he stays relatively healthy, which he should given that he's playing very few games in the field. People aren't thinking about his likely .280, 20-plus HR return in the catcher context. If they were they wouldn't be letting him fall to pick No. 157 in average Yahoo! drafts, or pick 140 in this F&F draft.

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What can a healthy David Freese do for you? (Getty Images)

Q: If, hypothetically, David Freese were to avoid injury and play 145 games this season — I think we all know he won't, but let's just say — then what sort of fantasy stats might he deliver? Do you have any tips for responsible Freese ownership? (I ask because I noticed that you have four players on your roster who qualify at 3B, so it's not as if you're relying on Freese).

A: I ended up taking Freese at No. 166 overall because I still needed to fill a CI spot and I liked Freese better than any of the first/third basemen left. And because Hanley Ramirez will quickly pick up 3B-eligibility and I have Erick Aybar to fill in at SS if I need to use Han-Ram at a CI spot ever, I really don't have to rely on Freese's health, which is really the best advice I can give for any prospective Freese owner – don't put yourself in a situation where his health makes or breaks you. I really like the idea of what a 28-year-old Freese can do this year, IF he can stay healthy. When I evaluate last season, I include his 21 postseason games, which gives him a line of .313, 15 HR, 76 RBI and 53 Runs in 118 games, which starts to look a lot like the gaudy numbers he's posted in the minor leagues. For the sake of looking back at this for next year's column, I'll predict that Freese plays 140 games and hits .290 with 18 home runs, 84 RBI and 69 Runs.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: B.J. Upton, No. 40

SOD: Brian McCann, No. 125

Yahoo! – Andy Behrens (Previous F&F finishes: 3rd, 5th, 3rd, 7th, 1st)

Q: Can you please justify Starlin Castro at pick No. 27 overall?

A: Castro actually finished as the No. 52 overall fantasy asset last year and the fourth-best shortstop, in his age-21 season. Even if he simply holds his value and delivers the same fantasy line (91-10-66-22-.307), I won't feel terrible about the pick in September. If he improves even slightly — and most observers think there's greater power here, plus batting crown potential — then he'll turn out to be wise investment.

We start three middle infielders in the Friends & Family league and my hope going into the draft was to snag at least two reliable, rock-solid MI performers at the draft. I definitely landed one in Castro, and, depending on your opinion of 33-year-old Jimmy Rollins, I may have found a second. Also, please keep in mind that I was dealing with a 24-pick gap between selections, so the occasional reach was pretty much inevitable.

Q: You seem to have a thing for players named Adam with something to prove. Based on where you landed them, which Adam (Wainwright at No. 104; Lind at No. 157; Dunn at No. 183) do you feel most confident about in terms of ROI?

A: I don't think I have much to fear from Adam Wainwright, a 30-year-old pitcher who was an elite starter in 2009 and 2010. At this point, there's really nothing too exotic or terrifying about Tommy John surgery. Wainwright's recovery seems to have gone well, as he's allowed only two hits and one run (unearned) in 9.0 innings so far this spring.

To me, Dunn is a much bigger question mark. He's coming off a disgusting season, one of the worst in memory. I actually have a difficult time imagining a partial bounce-back season from Dunn (and even if he's, say, 40 percent better, he'd still be terrible. That's how bad he was in his first season in the AL) My feeling is that he'll either return to his old form, delivering 38-40 homers, or he'll confirm fears that's he's completely cooked, unable to perform at the major league level. His spring performance has been solid, so there's clearly hope. I'm done drafting him, however. I now own him on two teams, and I think that's the limit for my fantasy portfolio.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Ichiro, pick No. 73

SOD: Delmon Young, pick No. 182

Yahoo! – Brad Evans (Previous F&F finishes: 11th, 14th, 10th, 10th, 4th)

Q: Your options at the hot corner are Pedro Alvarez and Chipper Jones. Obviously, you'll be hanging on every Angels lineup card, hoping that Mark Trumbo quickly attains 3B eligibility. Any regrets about reaching for Paul Goldschmidt at No. 83 overall when you could have taken Aramis Ramirez at that spot (he went with the next pick)? And how concerned are you about your hot corner situation?

A: Without question, the hot corner is the most frigid position on my team. Counting on a whiff-happy Bucco and a fragile, over-the-hill Brave with a visible baby bump was not on the original blueprint. Chances are strong Alvarez will get a quick hook and Chipper will snap a tendon on opening day.

Aramis was weighed heavily at that pick, but because Goldschmidt would likely not have survived the next time around, I had to extend the go-go-gadget arm to acquire the Snake's services. His power upside was too enticing. In hindsight, I may have done things slightly differently, but nabbing Trumbo several picks later put my mind at ease. If his horrendous defense doesn't impact his offense, the Halo should be a top-15 level 3B capable of 25-30 homers with 80-plus RBI – more than serviceable.

Q: You took two of the biggest unknowns in this year's draft class, selecting both Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. What are your expectations for both players?

A: As CEO of Team HUEVOS, I'm not afraid of taking risks. Both imports have shown flashes of potential brilliance this spring and are locked in to regular gigs. Darvish's unsavory BB/9 in Cactus League action is disconcerting, but he misses a ton of bats and routinely draws weak contact. He's regularly hit 96 mph on the gun and offers a smorgasbord of pitches. If he can hone his command, the Yu-haul could finish inside the SP top-20.

Cespedes is a bit more adventurous. He has K'd numerous of times this spring, but has also showcased mammoth power. It's highly doubtful he'll stroke an average above .270, but he remains a legitimate 20/20 candidate. His reliable glove should also keep him in the lineup virtually everyday. At his Round 15 (Pick No. 187) price point, he's a low-risk, high-reward commodity.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Mark Reynolds (No. 116)

SOD: Freddie Freeman (No. 143)

Yahoo! – Scott Pianowski (Previous F&F finishes: 4th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 6th, 2nd)

Q: Your fellow Yahoo! colleagues have time and again pointed to Elvis Andrus as overrated based upon his ADP and the fact that shortstops like Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio and Erick Aybar can deliver a somewhat similar stat line for a much cheaper price. By taking Andrus at No. 39 overall, you seem to be scoffing at that notion. Can you please explain the pro-Andrus argument?

A: No one seems to like the Andrus pick – the readers in the Roto Arcade blog have been questioning it all week. In retrospect, I wish I had taken Evan Longoria instead of Dustin Pedroia at 14, and then come back with Brandon Phillips with my fourth pick (I shied away from Phillips since I already had a second-base fill). But we can't live these things backwards, we have to walk through frontwards, deal with the uncertainty.

That said, I see Andrus as somewhat underrated in the expert community. Very quietly, he improved in almost every meaningful category last year. Batting average, runs scored, steals, OBP, slugging percentage, stolen base percentage, homers, RBIs, contact rate, it's all on the upswing. And unlike some of the other rabbits he's compared to, Andrus won't be a total zero with RBIs – he did drive in 60 last year, after all. Having the No. 2 batter in Arlington sounds good to me. There's no pedigree, or long-term guarantee, if you go cheap at shortstop and play the Bonifacio card. If my team falls short of expectations this year, I doubt it will be because I slightly reached on Andrus.

Q: For a supreme waiver wire saves hawk, you set yourself up extremely well in the closer department (John Axford, Jose Valverde, Huston Street, potentially Greg Holland). Given that you've always had so much success addressing saves in-season, why did you feel the need to overstock on closers in the draft?

A: There's an urban myth circulating around that I'm the czar of the waiver wire and everyone else is fighting for scraps. It's simply not true. Sure, I'll be one of the busiest traders and transaction jockeys, and I openly admit it's fun to cycle players at the bottom of your roster, but overall the Friends & Family League has become a much more aggressive exercise. Consider this: in the first F&F League, back in 2005, the 11 owners combined for 397 moves. Last year, the 14 of us combined for 1200 moves. The days of sitting on your hands are long gone; no one slowly adjusts to the new season anymore. We're all trying to beat each other to the punch. Heck, we've already seen a flurry of pickups this year.

I was patient on saves last year at the draft and it bit me: I got closed out by some mad closer runs and as a result I was chasing the stat all year. Given that we only have three bench spots to work with, it's a less-than-ideal path. I hate wasting valuable roster space on someone who might be a closer in a few weeks. This is not a league where you can wait for closer roles to change before you actually make the pickup; you have to point and click before the news happens. With that in mind, I made it a priority this year to try to get a solid saves foundation on draft day, without hopefully paying too much for it. This is one goal I was able to accomplish; now I can go back to worrying about the other problem areas.

I had a secondary reason for attacking the bullpen this year: I made starting pitching a non-priority at the draft. With the low innings cap (1250) and the wealth of starting pitching that's constantly available on the wire, I think I can make this work. Strikeouts aren't really a cumulative/counting stat in this league; the innings max turns this into a K/9 league. I feel good about the K/9 base I'm getting from my relief staff; now the goal is to find some reliable starters (in addition to C.J. Wilson) to carry the baton the rest of the way.

Last year I was hunting for saves and the pickings were always slim. This year I'll hunt for starters, and at least there will be credible options available (even if I'm playing the streaming card all year, short-term parking). Maybe I can pull off this staff-on-the-cheap strategy, maybe it will go over like a lead balloon. I like trying new things.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Paul Goldschmidt, No. 83; Alexei Ramirez, No. 124; Dustin Ackley, No. 103.

SOD: Francisco Liriano, No. 213; Daniel Hudson, No. 147; Edwin Encarnacion, No. 191.

Yahoo! – Matt Romig (Previous F&F finishes: 14th, 10th, 13th, 5th, 9th, 7th, 7th)

Q: David Wright (No. 24 overall) is dealing with an ab strain. Did you have any reservations taking him near the end of Round 2 given that concern?

A: I knew I was going third base-pitcher with my second and third picks and there were enough options at both positions (Wright, Zimmerman, Beltre and Kershaw, Halladay, Lincecum) that order wasn't imperative. Perhaps foolishly, I let the .300/20/20 upside (and Citi Field, now with shorter fences!) guide me to Wright first, accepting whichever ace fell my way in the third round. Injuries are a crapshoot. On draft day, I was (and still am) buying the "ready for opening day" promises. Don't let me down, David.

Q: Along with Wright, you also have an injury concern at 1B in Ryan Howard. How confident are you in your CI contingencies (Brandon Belt, Mike Carp, Jed Lowrie, John Mayberry) if Wright and Howard don't overcome their health issues in a timely manner?

A: Injury concern? I'd call Howard's injury a flat-out problem given the limited history of players coming back 100 percent from Achilles tears. Come Round 13, I figured I'd take a shot that he's something like the Howard of old by mid-June. And unlike drafting a prospect and stashing him on the bench waiting for a call-up, I can DL Howard almost immediately and sign a replacement. The problem, as you pointed out, is that I had to burn a few picks later in hopes of buying a bridge to Howard's return. I liked what I saw of John Mayberry last season in limited action – his tool set screams "let's find this guy at-bats" and here in the Bay Area they're dying for the Giants to give Brandon Belt everyday at-bats. Those kayakers in McCovey Cove aren't out there paddling for their health. Mike Carp was an upside flyer with the added bonus of tweaking the commissioner. Jed Lawrie is in a nice hitter's park in a don't-worry-nobody-is-looking environment and he carries MI/CI eligibility, so I figured what the heck on that pick.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Dee Gordon: 5.4

SOD: Francisco Liriano: 17.5

Yahoo! – Matt Buser (Previous F&F finishes: 8th, 6th, 7th, 2nd, 12th, 2nd)

Q: Was it your plan to go back-to-back starters in Rounds 2-3, or was that just a product of Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay falling to those spots?

A: I hate to say it, but I immediately regretted not taking Adrian Beltre with pick 25. Coming away with Beltre plus any one of the top three SP would have set up the rest of my draft much better. That said, I opted for Halladay in Round 3 because of back-to-back finishes in the top 10, and I wanted the best available player.

Q: If Nyjer Morgan doesn't hold down a regular spot in Milwaukee, you could be seriously hurting in the SB department. Any concerns there?

A: I've got plenty of concerns, and speed is one of them. I need Zack Cozart, Dexter Fowler, and Morgan to overachieve if I'm going to be competitive.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Ichiro, pick 73

SOD: Josh Johnson, pick 128

MEET THE FRIENDS – Chris Liss (Previous F&F finishes: 2nd, 9th, 1st, 6th, 3rd, 1st, 9th)

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At 36, does A-Rod have another big year left in him? (Getty Images)

Q: With the selections of Alex Rodriguez,Carl Crawford,Joe Nathan,Justin Morneau and Chase Utley, you might want to consider Brokedown Palace as your team name. Are you at all worried that you might have taken on a greater amount of health risk than is prudent?

A: In a 13-team league, each team has a 7.7 percent chance to win. (I probably have a 35 percent chance, but either way, the odds are against me). So the biggest risk you can take is to avoid risk and finish in seventh place. This isn't like an investment portfolio where doing so-so is much better than doing terribly. Most leagues reward success far more than they punish failure, and so high-risk, high-reward picks have the best overall strategic utility.

Moreover, with the league going from 14 to 13 teams, having such a low innings cap and only three bench spots, it has become very shallow. That means replacement value is high, and only stars are real difference makers. That means (1) there's no reason to invest a mid-round pick in someone with modest upside; and (2) if your high-upside, middle-round, injury-prone guy goes down, you can recoup 80 percent of his draft slot off the waiver wire. That covers late-round picks like Utley (Round 16) and Morneau (Round 15). And if Crawford misses a month, I can easily sub in a decent player and add that month to Crawford's five-month stats. As for Nathan, he's two years removed from Tommy John, and that makes him about the same risk as any pitcher. A-Rod is the only real risk at his slot, but he's healthy now, is an inner-circle Hall of Famer who's still only 36 and qualifies at 3B.

Q: With Chase Utley likely to start the season on the DL, you'll be rolling with utility infielders Tyler Greene and Sean Rodriguez as starts in your SS and MI spots. What are you expecting out of these two?

A: As long as they play everyday – and it looks like they're slated to, 20 SBs for each is a given with upside for more, and both actually have a little bit of pop, too. Greene is 28 and Rodriguez is 27, both prime years, and Rodriguez has had 908 career at-bats. In my opinion the sweet spot for a breakout is between 700 and 1,000 career at-bats. It's often when players "get it.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: I don't love Carlos Santana in Round 4 or Mike Napoli in Round 5. You can get a 15-20-HR catcher with your last pick.

SOD: Liked Hanley Ramirez at No. 17, thought about him at No. 8. – Jeff Erickson (Previous F&F finishes: 1st, 13th, 11th, 12th, 8th, 10th)

Q: You were a wallflower during all of the closer runs over the course of the first 11 rounds, then opted to take Kenley Jansen as your first foray into the relief arena, even though Dodgers incumbent Javy Guerra, who converted 21-of-23 in save opportunities last season, was still on the board. Please explain your reasoning behind that decision, and are you worried about saves with only Grant Balfour and Matt Capps currently slated for ninth inning duties?

A: I erred with the closers, for the second time in three years. This time I saw it coming, yet still opted to ignore the signs. It all started with the pick of Brian McCann in the 10th – I couldn't let the bargain pass me by, fully realizing the consequences. I had not intended to take one of the top eight catchers, but the whole league went that way, almost to an extreme. I also passed up a closer in the 11th, thinking I could get either Brandon League or Jason Motte on the way back, or at worst, Rafael Betancourt or Huston Street. Alas, that never happens in this league, and I should have known better.

Once I got to that spot, without having a closer already, it was necessary to swing for the fences and go with the best reliever that might end up closing even without the job right now, and possibly end up being a top-10 reliever, than settling for the 23rd and 25th best closers. Jansen's 16-plus strikeouts per nine innings are gold in this league (and I know, no, he won't repeat that rate – but even with a massive regression, he's going to be well above average), which is essentially a K/9 league and not a strikeouts league given the innings cap. It's not a perfect situation, but the gamble was necessary. But I'll need some luck on the waiver wire to get at least middle of the pack in the category, as you can't count on claiming a guy, not with so many other vampires hovering around the waiver wire in this league.

Q: You drafted Nolan Reimold as one of your starting outfielders. He's hit .235 in his past 383 ABs with the Orioles and is well below the Mendoza Line this spring. What are you hoping to get from Reimold this season?

A: The spring numbers don't really matter all that much, unless he's in danger of losing his job. I think he'll get more ABs this year and end up getting 20-plus homers. If not, the easiest thing to find on the waiver wire are outfielders (aside from SPs, that is). The bottom 10 spots on your roster in this format should be fairly fluid, so I'm willing to take some gambles in the pursuit of getting a score in a category or two.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Carlos Santana, 4.12

SOD: Greg Holland, 16.1 – Dalton Del Don (Previous F&F finishes: 5th, 2nd)

Q: Did you mistakenly think that this was 5x4 league, with saves omitted as a category? If not, can you explain your reasoning for drafting only one closer, Kyle Farnsworth? Are you confident that the two set-up guys you drafted, Glen Perkins and Santiago Casilla, will find their way to a closer role eventually?

A: Coming away from the draft with just one closer was a mistake, which is especially bad considering I did the same exact thing in this league last year. Because of the 1,250 innings cap, closers go quicker in this league than any other, and I once again failed to react properly. As a result, I'm going to have to make a decision early – either trade away Farnsworth or trade for another closer. Having just one for any length of time will do me no good. There's no question this was a tactical mistake on my part.

Q: Based on '11 numbers, you have some issues with your outfield, specifically Jason Bay, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios? What kind of a rebound are you envisioning for each of them?

A: It wasn't by plan, but I ended up addressing outfield last, so that's going to result in some ugly players like Bay, Wells and Rios. But just because they were bad last year doesn't mean they can't bounce back. Bay is 21-for-22 on the base paths in limited playing time over the past two years, and Citi Field is moving the fences in. Wells has one of the worst contracts in all of baseball, but he's one year removed from a 31-homer, 88-RBI campaign and could hit behind Albert Pujols this season. As for Rios, according to the Yahoo! season-end rankings, he was the 27th most valuable fantasy player in 2010, so he seemed like a decent gamble at the end of the 13th round.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Dustin Ackley, No. 103

SOD: Daniel Hudson, No. 147

Wall Street Journal – Michael Salfino (and Rob Steingall) (Previous F&F finishes: 7th, 11th, 12th)

Q: You were undeterred by Ryan Braun's PED situation, opting to take him at No. 4 instead of Matt Kemp or Jose Bautista. Is this to say you have full confidence that he'll pick right up where he left off last season?

A: Ryan Braun is innocent! Seriously, who knows about that and what happened there except that it was something screwy. Rob and I discounted it completely. So Braun to me is the best player on the board as a true five category guy given that his stolen base percentage rate is so high that you can reasonably bank on at least 25 steals, if not last year's total. Kemp has only been great one year. Bautista had 12 homers in the second half. Cabrera needs a catcher's mask and chest protector to play third base; it's like having your daughter out there if you own Cabrera – – you just hope he doesn't get hurt, forget about making the play cleanly.

Q: Let's say Craig Kimbrel goes on the 60-day DL in April. How confident are you that you'll be able to stay in the contention in saves with speculative picks Jonathan Broxton and Fautino De Los Santos? And, need I remind you that you'll be forced to breach the Great Wall of Pianowski if you hope to secure any emerging closers off the wire.

A: I turn around for five minutes and you have Kimbrel on the 60-day DL? Look, we're not confident that we can stay in contention in saves even with Kimbrel healthy. Broxton is someone we both hated, but this league went closer crazy and shunned starters (strategies that do make sense in an innings-capped format). That's why we drafted Aaron Crow (quick trivia – – name the Royals' lone All-Star representative in 2011). I do think that De Los Santos will be saving games quite shortly because Balfour to me is strictly a middle reliever at this stage of his career. But Rob figures that even if I'm wrong, De Los Santos is the perfect guy for this format – – a flame-thrower with a ridiculous K-rate who could compile 100-plus Ks if he throws 80 innings even in middle relief.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Coco Crisp on our team was a reach, but we needed speed. I would say Brett Gardner was a little more of a reach. It's going to be really hard for him to keep his OPS high enough for him to be a viable corner outfielder on a big-market team like New York. Plus Gardner is streaky and speed isn't supposed to slump. I'd rather have Crisp, still a bad pick about 20 slots later.

SOD: I like Gio Gonzalez at 132 to Buser as a steal in this format given the odds that his K-rate spikes into elite territory now that he has the tailwinds of the NL at his back.

Baseball Prospectus – Derek Carty (Previous F&F finishes: 13th)

Q: You took two of the biggest batting average liabilities in fantasy in Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds. Do you feel you have enough BA juice across the rest of your lineup to offset those Mendoza Line concerns?

A: Those guys will definitely be a batting average drain, but I feel like they come cheaper than they're actually worth because people tend to be scared of these guys who will only hit .230. They do enough aside from that average, though, to make up for it. Plus, I think they're offset a bit on my team by guys like Ellsbury, Holliday, and Bourn, who could hit near .300.

Q: James Shields has never before come close to posting the kind of numbers he produced in '11. By taking him as the No. 90 overall pick, you are putting a lot of faith in him being able to deliver at least something close to a repeat. Given that his luck factors (BABIP and LOB%) clearly were in his favor last season, where are you deriving confidence for a Shields repeat?

A: Well, I'm certainly not buying into James Shields as a 2.82 ERA pitcher, but as something like a 3.25-3.50 guy, sure. That's about where his fielding independent metrics put him over the past few years, plus he has a favorable home ballpark and an excellent defense supporting him.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Nelson Cruz (31)

SOD: Ryan Dempster (249)

The Hardball Times – Paul Singman (Previous F&F finishes: 12th, 4th, 4th)

Q: You didn't draft a starter until the 11th round (Michael Pineda), and four of the five starters you ended up with hail from the AL. How do you feel about your starting staff, and are you worried at all about your ratios given that you are swimming against the current a bit with the AL-heavy representation?

A: Yeah, I purposefully did not make a big investment in starting pitching so my staff is admittedly one of the weaker ones. Of the six starters on my team however (don't count out Juan Nicasio), I'd still be fine if three, or hopefully four have good seasons. I might have to trade for a pitcher later in the year and be active in picking up free agents, but I feel my guys can keep me competitive in the pitching stats regardless.

Q: You drafted three players that stole 40 bases last season and another player, Jose Altuve, who has that kind of speed upside. Any concern that you might have overdrafted in the speed department?

A: I came into the draft with team goals of around 250 homers and 175 steals, which is simply based off what it took to earn about 11 points in those categories in previous years. With rough forecasting I project my team to have around 225 homers and just over 200 steals. So, yeah, I'm currently +1 Brett Gardner and could instead use another middle-of-the-order bat to balance things out. Fortunately we have a a pretty active trading market. I think I've made at least two trades every year since joining, so I'll look forward to that once games get underway.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Adam Jones, No. 59

SOD: Brennan Boesch, No. 194

Razzball – Grey Albright/Rudy Gamble (Previous F&F finishes: 10th, 3rd)

Q: You took Andrew McCutchen (No. 20 overall) and Adam Jones (No. 59) about as high as I've seen anyone take them. What do you envision their upside potential to be this season?

A: We were set to take Stanton at No. 20 but he went the pick before us. Grey had McCutchen as the best available player based on his rankings. I had several pitchers as best available but we agreed we didn't want to take a pitcher in the second round. The only position players ahead of McCutchen based on Rudy's Point Shares were Reyes, Napoli, Teixeira, and Jay Bruce but we had a 1B (Votto), didn't want any part of Reyes and Napoli, and have Jay Bruce in too many leagues. I think Adam Jones was also our highest available non-catcher by the time we picked him.

Andrew 'Dread Pirate' McCutchen:
Likely: 95/20/75/.25/.270
Upside: 100/25/90/.30/.285

Adam 'Don't Call me Pac*Man' Jones:
Likely: 75/22/80/10/.275.
Upside: 80/25/90/12/.285

Q: You nearly let the pick clock time out on your Brandon Beachy selection at No. 85 overall. Was that because you had reservations about pulling the trigger on him that high? Any thoughts about Matt Moore, James Shields, Yu Darvish or any other starter at that spot?

A: For SP, we were debating between Beachy and Latos. If there were 30 more seconds, we might've drafted Drew Storen instead (which, based on recent news, might be a blessing). We are both enamored with Beachy's K and BB rates which, combined with playing in the NL East, we feel will lead to better ERA/WHIP/K than Moore, Shields, or Darvish.

Q: Among all drafted players, who do you think were the ROD (reach of the draft) and SOD (steal of the draft)?

ROD: Starlin Castro, No. 27

SOD: Mat Latos, No. 112