The Roto Arcade Pro-Am

Last weekend, while lounging on my floral-print mattress and staring into a giant mirror, I said to myself, "You know, hotness, right now a draft would just feel so...delicious."

Then I stretched and purred like a kitten. Finally, after considering the shirt/no-shirt decision for several minutes (ultimately deciding to go midriff) I created a PLUS league.

Thus was born the Roto Arcade Pro-Am. It's a fairly standard 16-team mixed configuration, and we're using Tout-style rosters: 23 active players, including two catchers, five outfielders, one middle infielder, one corner infielder, one utility spot and nine pitchers (any flavor, SP or RP). We drafted a total of 432 players, so the free agent pool is sketchy.

Let's meet the participants, beginning with several spectacular writers who insist on being labeled "pros":

Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble, Razzball
Jackson Broder, East Windup Chronicle
Scott Swanay, Fantasy Baseball Sherpa
Tom Herrera, FanHouse
The Knife, Fantasy Baseball Geeks
Eric Hinz, Fake Teams
Marco Fujimoto, The Hardball Times
Brendan Horton, Rotodatabase - East Coast Bias

The "ams," who will very likely finish first through seventh, are a mix of badasses from Fantasy Baseball Cafe -- Mugrila, Raiders Umpire, Big Pimpin -- and Arcade commenters of distinction -- Carlor, a-mak15, ickyatzona, this dude (warning: parental advisory).

It's a competent group. If you're any kind of fantasy sports voyeur, please continue reading for full draft results, with commentary from everyone. Or, if you're IceBerg, this would be the appropriate time to scroll down to the comments section and type, "Too long; didn't read." Because this thing is definitely too long.

Draft positions were randomly selected, so naturally the league commissioner had the first overall selection. That's not actually my preferred position in a league of this size; the 30-pick wait is painful and often costly. But it's bad form to complain.

Here's the draft order:

1) Behrens, Secret Treasure Loaf; 2) Herrera, FanHouse Finaglers; 3) Hinz, Oscar Meyer Wieters; 4) FBC raiders_umpire; 5) Knife - FB Geeks; 6) Carlor, Bullies & Beauties; 7) Fujimoto, WillieMayesHayes; 8) a-mak15; 9) FBC Mugrila; 10) Horton, Rotodatabase ECB; 11) ickyatzona, Dirty Scottsdale; 12) Swanay, The Sherpa; 13) ForWhomJayBellTolls; 14) Grey and Rudy, Razzball; 15) FBC Big Pimpin; 16) Broder, EWC.

We'll get through this thing team-by-team, beginning with the early pickers...

My roster is full of players that we've been hyping here, and it's oddly Marlin-dependant. The only pick that really felt wrong was Laird (No. 321 overall). But if you're drafting Wieters, you'll need to find a harmless placeholder for a month or two.

Let's get to the Q&A with other participants:


Q: So you pulled off a fairly subtle move during the draft, for which you should be given full credit. Very early in chat you ripped both the Seattle and Detroit closer situations. Then, beginning in Round 20, you targeted closer candidates from both teams. You ended up with Batista and Corcoran on your roster, and I'm pretty sure you cussed out Marco when he drafted Fernando Rodney. I guess this isn't a question, really, so much as it's a tip of the cap. Well played, sir.

A: Yes, I did. It was intentional. I then cursed into my Dunkin Donuts latte when both Fernando Rodney and then Leo Nunez (who could be line for some saves in Florida) went off the board. Those were my next two targets. I'm hoping one of the two Seattle shmucks I picked up winds up panning out to give me two closers. Otherwise, I'm scrambling like everyone else. With such a deep league, it was tough even getting two reliable closers on your roster.

Q: You drafted a pair of anti-buzz starting pitchers, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carlos Zambrano. What are your projections for those two?

A: In a 16-team deep league, it's awfully tough to find prototypical fantasy aces if you don't take the plunge early (which I don't like to do for pitchers). Obviously I'd much rather have someone like John Lackey than Carlos Zambrano, but when Lackey got snagged, I decided to go the anti-hype route and I'm OK with that. Not to put too much stock in the WBC, but Matzusaka was damn impressive. While I don't think he's going to manage an ERA below 3.00 again, something around 3.40 with 170 strikeouts and 16-18 wins is good enough to anchor my staff in a league this deep.

As for Zambrano, I have a gut feeling this is the year he'll be undervalued. He's coming off back-to-back 3.90-plus ERA seasons and many fantasy owners look at him more like a No. 2 or No. 3, and rightfully so. But he certainly has the upside to put up No. 1 numbers again. He still has the arsenal that made him so successful two years ago, and I think he's matured a bit by coming into the season in better shape. Big Z should finish with similar numbers to Dice-K with less wins.

In general, I thought the draftees were very high on youngsters (Matt Kemp is so dreamy!) and shuffled aside the "less sexy" names (typical), which is how I got possible cheap pop with Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield late in the draft. Curmudgeons are welcome on my squad.

Fake Teams

Q: First of all, you name your team "Oscar Meyer Wieters," and then you draft three catchers who aren't Matt Wieters. In many leagues, you'd be fined for that. Give me a projection for Wieters in '09, please.

A: With a name like that, I knew there'd be pressure to grab the sure-fire Hall of Famer, but I dug deep for the strength to resist expectations. Assuming Wieters stays healthy and does not get off to a low start in Triple-A, I can envision a Jorge Posada-esque effort -- say .280/.350/.450. The question is whether that is produced in five months of work or three months.

Thank God the Orioles would rather save a year of control six years down the road than put a product on the field people would pay to see. The temptation to over-draft him would have been too strong to resist otherwise.

Q: Also, don't you have about 35 steals too many? Are you shopping stolen bases yet, or are you planning to wait for the early power returns from Votto, Ethier, Kemp and Jacobs?

A: Starting off with Jose Reyes and Matt Kemp made my selection of 2B Brian Roberts somewhat unnecessary. However, I was drafting to protect AVG and afford the opportunity to draft whoever was available in the middle and late rounds, without concern for loading my team with full-time .270 players. That's a too-common occurrence for me.

It just happens I couldn't resist taking OF Carlos Gomez on the upside reward of double-digit HRs and 40+ SBs. I knew it was wrong, but my willpower had been depleted resisting Wieters. Then I was outflanked by my Yankees homerism and took a flyer on OF Brett Gardner late in the draft ahead of remaining power luminaries like Marcus Thames, Lyle Overbay and Eric Hinske.

My fingers are crossed that a 16-team mixed league with four bench positions and four DL spots will create category scarcity rarely seen in a typical 12-team mixed league. I just hope the other 15 teams recognize the same. Otherwise, I'll be apologizing to Mssrs. Thames, Overbay and Hinske for my rash words.

Fantasy Cafe, Raiders Umpire

Q: Any hesitation on Alex Rodriguez? Were you mildly surprised that he fell to pick No. 30? For a few seconds there, Secret Treasure Loaf was thinking he'd open the draft with Hanley-Rodriguez-Kemp. Alas.

A: No hesitation on A-Rod at all. Even if I miss six weeks of his bat, I think at pick No. 30 he's well worth it. It also helped that the next-ranked outfielders are extremely close, so why start the run there when I can get the "leftover" just six picks later? In the end, I ended up grabbing Quentin in Round 3. My preference would have been Kemp, but I have Kemp, Quentin, Rios, and Bay all close and was extremely happy with Quentin.

Q: You waited until Round 15 to take your 2B, MI and both of your catchers. Was that by design, or was it just indifference to the names that were on the board after the top tiers were gone?

A: Waiting on catchers was definitely by design. I am not reaching for Brian McCann and definitely will not pay the price for catchers two through 10, either. MI was also by design as I knew my team was weak on speed and Casilla and Bartlett can both help me. Bartlett has some awesome lefty splits to platoon, and Casilla has always showed great speed in the minors. Second base just worked out to be a position I passed on during the draft, as players I valued a little more were available. I missed on Uggla by a few picks in Round 5, and I thought that was too early for Robinson Cano and Chone Figgins. I did have my eyes on Jose Lopez for Round 10, but missed him by a few picks as well. Once I missed on Lopez, I knew I could wait another 4 or 5 rounds and grab Aaron Hill and hope I get another showing like his 2007 season.

Fantasy Baseball Geeks

Q: If you would, please describe your extraordinary draft circumstances.

A: Well, my draft setting was a bit ambitious (idiotic?). Due to circumstances outside of my control, I found myself on the DC-NYC $10 Bolt Bus (“Free Wireless! Travel in luxury! Bolt Bus!”) and conducted my first while-in-transit fantasy draft ever. And my last.

It’s not like I needed the added challenge. In addition to being decidedly “am” in this “pro-am” league, I was also quite new to the 16-team, five OF, two C model, which left me drafting players that I’m not even sure I’d sign to my real team, much less any fantasy team. If my drafted team is from a fantasy, it exists in the fantastical sixth circle of hell.

Things started well enough. Draft started at 7 pm after a 6:30 pm push-off from Washington, D.C. I embarked on my hitting-heavy (wait on pitching) strategy of 2009. Loved starting off with Grady Sizemore, Justin Morneau (from whom I expect big things), and my boy Nick Markakis. And this is where my expectations for when to take certain players broke down due to this enormous league. Stephen Drew in the 4th round?! That doesn’t sound right. Oh well -- I’m takin' him, abdominal strain and all. Then Behrens completely trashed my positional scarcity plan with the steal of Dan Uggla right from under me, leaving me with the dreaded Howie Kendrick as my next best available 2B. Sadly, after having sworn an oath not to draft Kendrick for the third season in a row, I abandoned the No Pitching Strategy and took Francisco Liriano. Roll of the dice.

At this point, the Bolt Bus Wireless Gods intervened and made things interesting -- which led to no-connection autodrafts of Edwin Encarnacion, Ben Sheets (after re-connecting, this discovery caused me to swear audibly enough for the entire bus to hear), and Hong-Chih Kuo. Unfortunately, I cannot blame lack of the Interweb for my actual selections of Orlando Hudson in the 13th or David Dejesus in the 19th. These are guys I just think -- due to circumstance or time -- may do something special this year.

All in all, it was a hilarious and really fun experience. Community drafting on a bus -- across the aisle from a man who was snoring so loudly he was attracting verbal attacks from other riders -- is not something I would advise. But hey, fantasy waits for no man, and I was not about to give up the Yahoo! pro-am league dream, especially when I could represent Fantasy Baseball Geeks. Now, I just have to figure out a way to purge Carl Pavano and Homer Bailey from my roster…

One final note -- did I mention my fiancé was next to me the entire ride? Oh man, do NOT try this at home.

Q: Tell me how many innings you're expecting from Price, please. And what will they look like? He was really a no-doubt pick at No. 188, even though he was sent down earlier in the day.

A: Despite being from Tampa, I can’t call this a homer pick. David Price has gone a bit from overrated to underrated in this year’s drafts. Because he’s Triple-A bound, many drafters looked at it as a demotion rather than for what it was (an innings-limiting move), and when he fell to pick No. 188 this time, I took him. With Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann vying for the fifth starter role, my opinion is that neither is equipped to hold that spot for more than a month with a talent like Price cooling it in Durham. I expect an early to mid-May callup with a final innings count of about 140–150, along with a 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and about 125 Ks.

Wins? Your guess is as good as mine. Let’s shoot for 10 and I’d be happy with that. I think those are relatively conservative projections, and if he can surpass them, I could have something great on my roster.


Q: You're a Texas fan, and you narrowly missed out on a few Rangers of interest. For that I'm sorry. While Josh Hamilton was in free-fall, were you thinking you had a shot at pick 27?

A: After about 12 picks, I couldn't believe that people weren't taking Josh Hamilton and I started to think, "Hey, I may have a shot at him." I was starting to doubt the integrity of the drafters when Manny was taken at 22 and Ham Slamwich was still on the board.

Q: The second the draft ended, you did two things: 1) changed your team name, and 2) updated your trading block. At what point did you start planning for a post-draft trade, and how did that affect the choices you made?

A: Two hours into the marathon, I knew I had certain needs that could not be fulfilled with my next 10 picks, so I started thinking about who was expendable. I came to the conclusion that Phillips had the best value, so the moment the draft ended I put him on the block and asked for HRs (badly need those). I also realized that I needed outfielders and subsequently drafted five consecutively. I don't like to go too early for OFs since they seem to be plentiful and good ones seem to come from nowhere. I wish I would have gone after Cruz, Murphy, and Byrd earlier though. I was robbed when it came to Cruz....Chris Davis too!

I was looking out for Rangers but I really couldn't land any. Neftali Feliz seems good, but I can't trust any home-grown Texas pitchers. Can you think of any good ones? (That is, that didn't get traded away i.e. Chris Young, Danks, and Volquez).

The Hardball Times

Q: Discuss the Tejada-or-Aviles choice if you would, please. Most of us have Aviles a notch higher in our SS rankings, but it's always close.

A: The reason I took Tejada over Aviles is because I actually have Tejada ranked slightly ahead of Aviles. Its not by much, though. But Aviles' .325 average from last year will most likely come down since his BABIP was so high (.359), and I also have Tejada projected to hit for a little more power. If I remember correctly, I was planning/hoping to take Aviles in the next round, so I do have them ranked pretty closely with each other.

Q: Also, you have the two most heavily buzzed Rangers, Davis and Cruz. Care to project those two in '09?

A: First off, Cruz's AVG is almost certain to come down. He batted .330 last year, but that was over a fairly small sample size (115 at-bats), and his BABIP of .388 indicates that he was a bit lucky. However, I (as well as other projection systems) seem to think that he'll hit around .270-.280, which is perfectly fine with me. So the drop-off might be large, but its relative. As for the rest of his line, I am projecting somewhere around 25-30 home runs, 90 RBI, 80 runs and 10+ SB's. Not too bad for a third outfielder.

I don't expect Davis to hit .300 either, but I also don't expect him to be another Adam Dunn. While he strikes out a fair amount, Davis hits the ball extremely hard, so I don't expect much of a decrease in batting average (despite a seemingly high BABIP). His power is definitely legit, and I project somewhere around 30+ HR, 100 RBI, 85-90 runs.

Q: Finally, what's your plan to add saves? Trading? Preemptive adding? Abducting Manuel Corpas?

A: Wait, what? Saves is a category? Son of know, that would've been useful to know about two days ago...

In all seriousness, this is part of the draft that I definitely screwed up. I usually wait until the end to draft closers, and am usually content with only drafting two, but I waited a bit too long this time. I will be lucky if I start the season with one, if Street can somehow hold off Corpas or if Lindstrom starts the season injured. I'm not *that* concerned, since the closer role probably has the most turnover during the season of any position. So, I suppose that one of my strategies (which holds true for just about every league I ever join, only moreso this time), will be to hit the waiver wire and jump on any newly appointed closer. An issue with this is that I am in league with 15 other "experts," whose social lives are probably as non-existent as mine.


Q: You collected a few guys who are in various states of disrepair: Hafner, Chipper, Bedard, Gallardo, Nomar. Are you not worried? Did you go into the draft thinking that any or all of these guys would be discounted, and thus good values?

A: How Jones, Hafner and Garciaparra managed to miss 246 games in 2008 is beyond me. Hafner was purely a speculation add. Truthfully, the only thing I expect from him is disappointment. Nomar has seemingly broken everything in his body, once. He'll add some flexibility, though he seems destined for the waiver wire. Bedard was one of the last remaining strikeout pitchers left on the board and at pick No. 168, I'll roll the dice every time. I see him exceeding his ADP. In a perfect world, Chipper would be David Ortiz (curse the fantasy deity!) but he'll bring an exceptional batting average to a hitter-heavy format nonetheless. Injuries are a part of the game, and I've done a great job so far cornering the market, now it's up to these frail pushovers to man up and play some ball.

Fantasy Cafe, Mugrila

Q: It's kind of unfortunate that Yahoo! puts catchers at the very top of the roster page. Sorry, man. Do you have a plan to upgrade from Brandon Inge and Gregg Zaun, or are you going to wait for a free agent and/or prospect to emerge?

A: I don't plan on making a move for one unless it is a part of a package deal for someone else. I'll be trolling the waiver wire and looking out for any new faces to come along.

Turns out that I have a question for you as well. How is it that Howie Kendrick spends most of the year on the DL, posts only three HRs in over 300 ABs, and moves up your draft from last year? ;)

The Qer's A: I'm not ready to throw Kendrick on the Nick Johnson pile just yet. He's only 25 years old, he's hit .306 in 945 major league at bats, and he was a career .360 hitter in the minors. Three-six-zero. Kendrick's primary job on my team is to offset whatever damage Uggla is going to do to my average. He had double-digit power in the minors, too.

And, well...I just can't quit him.

Rotodatabase - East Coast Bias

Q: Three crazy value picks just fell in your lap: Josh Hamilton at R2/P23, Travis Ishikawa at R20/P311 and Kenshin Kawakami at R21/P330. Do things like that happen to you all the time? Do people just walk up and hand you money?

A: I couldn't believe Hamilton fell to me at 2.23. I was actually checking Rotoworld to make sure he didn't break his arm earlier that day, and almost missed my 90 second time limit.

[Ed.'s note: Even if it's not what you really did, couldn't you just pretend you checked his Yahoo! player page instead? Play the game, Horton.]

In short, I was thrilled to get him in Round 2. As for Ishikawa and Kawakami, there's still so many question marks with them that I felt where I got them was justified at least. Fifty homers from Ishikawa and 20 Wins from Kawakami isn't over-projecting too much, is it? Ideally Ishikawa will settle into the heart of that Giants order and Kawakami will be a mainstay in Atlanta's rotation, which would make them both really valuable where I got them. There's a fair amount of risk involved with both, although that late in the draft, who doesn't have downside?

Q: How concerned are you about your team's batting average? If you get 1700 combined at-bats from Howard, Gordon and Cameron, how do you offset that? Or do you foresee significantly better individual AVGs from any of those three?

A: I think we get a .270 or so Howard this year; certainly not the .250 version I had last year, and I'm hoping for some more progression with Gordon -- by the time I took him 3B was really thin. Cameron is a lost cause with AVG, this much I know; but I'll stomach it as long as he can push 25/25. I'm actually more concerned with the power outage that my team has after Howard and Hamilton, since scrimping on HR and RBI really cost me last season.

Dirty Scottsdale

Q: So you've drafted three high-end pitching prospects. Two of them have a decent chance to pitch in April (Cahill and Zimmermann), and the third might be the best of the group (Hanson). What are you expecting? How long will you wait if they struggle early? And will you start them immediately?

A: After solidifying the front of my rotation by drafting Webb and Billingsley, I knew I had allowed myself to gamble on some high-ceiling prospects. Also, with four bench spots, I knew I could be patient with these guys. At this point in the draft, it was either take high-end relievers with solid peripherals who could eat some innings or high-end prospects. Knowing that solid relievers would be available throughout the season, I went with the latter. Overall, as a result of the solid 1-2 Webb/Billingsley punch, I have the good fortune of really not having to expect anything from these guys.

Hanson, although already sent down to the minors, is too good not to hold on to for the immediate future in this deep of a league. Both Zimmerman and Cahill are looking like locks to make their respective rotations. Zimmerman has been mentioned many times (a la Farm Aid). His spring numbers are fantastic, we all know the upside. While I don’t expect Cahill to dominate, he is very mature for his age and I do expect him to be the most reliable/effective of the bunch because of his ability to mix up pitches and keep the ball down. I will not be shy to start either immediately as hitters are not yet used to their repertoires. With that being said, I certainly won’t be shy to sit them based on matchups. If one of the three meets and/or exceeds expectations, my gamble will have paid off.

Fantasy Baseball Sherpa

Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, Scott, but you have a POSITIONAL SCARCITY 4LYF tattoo on your neck, don't you?

I did not expect you to go SP-OF-OF to open the draft. Of course, the three guys you picked have all been reliable players over several seasons. Was this a case where you were thinking about floor early, then scarcity?

A: The tattoo is actually located further down on my anatomy, but that's probably more information than you want...

I define position scarcity as the relative drop-off in fantasy value between the top-rated options and the mediocre options at each position. I also factor in a player's Average Draft Position (if available) when ranking players to make sure I don't take a player any earlier than I need to.

Hanley Ramirez was the top-ranked player from a position scarcity standpoint, but picking 12th in a 16-team league, I obviously wasn't going to get him. Jimmy Rollins was my fifth-ranked player, but he went the pick before mine. I thought for a moment about picking Dustin Pedroia or Alfonso Soriano, and hoping that Santana, my highest-ranked remaining player, or Sabathia would still be there in the second round. However, with eight picks between my first and second round picks, I decided not to risk losing Santana.

In the 2nd round I abandoned my position scarcity rankings and decided to take the best remaining hitter (Matt Holliday). I had Pedroia, A-Rod, and CC Sabathia ranked ahead of Holliday from a position scarcity standpoint, but decided that after taking a pitcher in the first round, I needed as much offense as possible from my second round pick.

I went back to relying on position scarcity rankings starting in the third round -- my choice was between Kevin Youkilis (if used as a 3B) and Vlad Guerrero. There was more of a drop-off between Guerrero and my next highest ranked remaining OF (Jacoby Ellsbury) than there was between Youkilis and my next highest ranked remaining 3B (Garrett Atkins), so I took Guerrero. That decision turned out well, as I was able to take Atkins, who like Youkilis has dual 1B/3B eligibility, in the fifth round.

Although you didn't ask me about this, I also tried to employ your strategy (or at least a strategy you've written about in the past) of picking potentially valuable contributors who are currently injured, and stashing them in the four DL spots we have available. I did this with my picks of Duchscherer, McGowan, Hudson, and Westbrook. I came out of our draft light on SBs and saves (although with both Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, I figure to have the Indians' closer when Wood goes on the DL, as he almost surely will at some point), so having the four extra roster spots to play with should allow me to pick up some players who can help me in those categories.


Q: So that's a lot of pitching you've got there. Was that the plan going in, or did the right names simply fall? And are you planning to hold them all indefinitely? Also, do you have a platoon plan for Murphy and Byrd?

A: Once I found out my draft slot was 13 out of 16, my strategy did sway a bit more in favor of pitching. I wanted a top tier ace and I wasn't sure I would be able to get one by the time my third pick came around. So Tim Lincecum made sense to me with my second I also really like wool-knit caps. Halladay and Burnett came later but at the spots I drafted them they just seemed like they had great value. Often times my queued up hitters were being snagged right in front of me as well, but don't tell Roy or AJ that. I wouldn't want to make them feel unwanted and go all Jay Cutler on me.

Answering your second question, yes, I do plan on holding all my pitchers indefinitely. Except for Tim Lincecum, because unfortunately I am no longer allowed within 500 yards of him. But if you mean holding them all indefinitely on my fantasy team, I would say I'm very open to trade offers. In fact Andy, I may be willing to deal you Oliver Perez in exchange for a Portillo's Italian Beef sandwich and one of those little hats they wear when they cook there. Murphy and Byrd should be a productive platoon (Dafoe!) if that little experiment works out the way I'm hoping. Their combined numbers last year made for a pretty good starting fantasy outfielder.

Here is one last thought for you fantasy players from the text of that great war book I spoofed my team name from: "To make war all you need is intelligence. But to win you need talent and material."


Q: It's always nice to see evidence of experts targeting the players they claim to like. Nicely done. If Razzball wins the league, Rounds 10 through 15 will probably have a lot to do with it. Care to offer projections for Maybin and Reynolds in particular?

Your draft really felt like the first 15 picks were scripted, and we didn't do much to stop you. Please tell me that's not true. Lidge in Round 5 was something of a surprise, though. For one thing, was Round 5. And secondly, he went ahead of Rivera, Soria and K-Rod. Do you guys see a drop-off after Lidge that's worth paying for?

A: Our draft was anything but scripted. I tend to have a general strategy for the first 9 rounds that we did end up following. It was the first time that we tag-teamed on a draft and we just tried to take what the draft board was giving us. The biggest departure from our typical draft was taking two catchers so early (McCann in third, Sandoval in the eighth) but that's where we saw the biggest value. Lidge was an easy pick in the fifth round, as we could sense a closer run about to occur with Pap and Nathan already off the board. We liked him than the alternatives who all went in quick succession in the sixth round (K-Rod, Mo, Soria, and Broxton).

We were happy with a lot of our picks in Rounds 10-15. Maybin was by far the best OF on the board as the 147th pick. We project him at 85/15/60/30/.261. I don't think we held out breath for a pick as much as Mark Reynolds, as he's solid in four categories and there were a lot of teams at the time with an empty 3B slot (at least two had taken two 3Bs). Our projections for him are 80/25/80/7/.260. We feel a lot better with him than some of the other late 3B picks like Kouz, Mora, Crede, and Lowrie.

Fantasy Cafe, Big Pimpin

Q: People constantly ask me, "Andy, how should I pimp?" And I've always told them to pimp big, or don't bother pimpin'. Kudos to you, sir.

You began the draft with BJ Upton at 15, then Soriano at 18. Do you typically go for power/speed guys at the top of a draft, without regard to position? Was the Soriano choice tricky? Hamilton was on the board, as were Lincecum, Fielder, Lee and others.

A: Thanks again for having me, Andy. As far as how I start the draft, it really just depends on the draft and league. Typically in a roto league I try to get some balance out of my first few picks, although I have taken Teixeira in the first this year as well. The common denominator in my leagues this year has been my willingness to grab BJ Upton, as I think he's primed for a huge year. I would have been happy with several guys on the way back, so BJ was an easy pick.

The second round pick was indeed a little tricky. I still have my doubts about Lincecum and Hamilton (they're good, sure, but I need to see it more than once before I take them that high), so they were out. The guys under consideration were Soriano, Lee, Fielder, and to a lesser extent Holliday. I figure that Soriano has just as much power potential as Lee and he'll chip in some more steals too, so I went with more balance (when in doubt, I do go balance). It worked out pretty well for me because Haren and AGon dropped to me for my next two picks, and I couldn't have asked for a better scenario than that. The other thing I would add is that I don't think OF ends up being real deep when you have 16 teams starting five each, so going with two great ones off the bat isn't a bad way to start a roster.

East Windup Chronicle

Q: In draft chat, you posited the existence of an important mathematical constant, something that tells us exactly when we've reached the point where selecting a catcher no longer matters. We were debating whether it should be named for Shoppach or Pierzynski, but it almost certainly exists. Care to describe the circumstances that led to this thrilling, game-changing idea?

A: Well basically I scanned the remaining available choices and realizing that there really isn't much difference between Kurt Suzuki, Chris Snyder, Jesus Flores, or Jarrod Saltalamacchia statistically (as humans they're probably quite different). I couldn't bring myself to draft any of them in middle rounds/middle-late rounds when there were viable options at other positions.

I see the Pierzynski Theorem -- though a mathematical truth -- also almost as a kind of existential revolt against the tyranny of the deterministic/fatalist backdrop of set positional requirements in the game. It is almost like Mersault's last act of defiance in L'Etranger, where he lashes out against the absurd theatre of tribunal and wishes the angry mob that has condemned him to death to greet him with cries of hate at his execution. I am stuck with Ronny Paulino at catcher. This is my fate. I turn to it, I embrace it.

Q: Also, you drafted Arredondo, Balfour and Howell in Rounds 16, 18 and 20. Is your strategy to go with low-ratio middle relievers, or is that a indication that you don't have much confidence in either Brian Fuentes or Troy Percival?

A: I've been reading that Fuentes' velo is down in the spring and I don't have a lot of confidence in him. Percival is always an injury risk. I think it's kind of a win-win situation with those top setup guys. They have low WHIP/ERA numbers and get sneaky wins, and if the situation pans out you can end up with a closer. Not so much in Howell's case; I picked him because he's a sneaky source of cheap Ks. But Arredondo could end up closing.

In any fantasy league in which I've enjoyed success, I've had a lights out bullpen. I've never understood why anyone would draft mediocre starters when you can just as easily combine the stats of two easily attainable relievers with good ERA/WHIP and K/9 numbers and create elite starters out of them. Combine Howell and Balfour's numbers over the last season and you have an elite starting pitcher. This is especially useful in this league setup since there are not SP or RP designations.

Q: And finally, what the heck is it with you and Juan Pierre?

A: Well, when you draft as poorly as I did and have no steals and you're in the later rounds of the draft, the options are pretty thin. Like Pierre himself, it's like a symbolic act. It's unlikely he'll be on my team for very long. But we have such an illustrious past together -- he was really a clubhouse leader during the initial season of Kingman -- that I just can't say no.

[Ed.'s note: "Kingman" refers to a private league that we shall not discuss. Unless you want to talk about 2008. But we will not discuss 2006 or 2007.]


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