Saturday, July 02, 2011


The draft went reasonably smoothly this year, but there were some things I wasn't too pleased with. Way too many time violations, for one thing. Some of the early ones--maybe all of them--were my fault, as the last-minute test I ran caused the pre-draft lists to reset. But after that, it was simply a matter of setting up a valid list for the next pick as soon as the last one was made, and too many didn't do that.

We also could have done a better job of explaining the contract rules to the newcomers. I don't think it was made clear that the players listed on the Free Agents page of the roster sheet (URFAs who didn't get a bid) had to be signed to a U contract if drafted.

As always, there wasn't much available for any team in need of immediate help. It would have been worse if we were allowed three AMs instead of two; guys like Boesch, Moreland and Jaso would certainly have been stashed last year. Now that the third AM has been voted in, you'll see the effect in the draft after next. I hope that at least we go back to our traditional early May time frame for the draft, so that a couple of players have the chance to come out of nowhere without being snatched a year early.

The one position you can usually find plenty of help at in the draft is relief pitcher, but that wasn't the case this year. Most years you can build a serviceable bullpen from scratch in the draft, but this time around the only guy who was effective over a more than a few innings was Jonny Venters.

The first round:

1. Eric Hosmer, Andover - In a non-DH league, a first baseman shouldn't go first overall unless he's the next Pujols. When drafted, Hosmer looked like he might be all that and a side of onion rings, but he's been pretty ordinary lately.

2. Mike Trout, Southtown - Hard to argue with this one; Trout is behind only Bryce Harper on BA's list of prospects. If the draft had been held a week earlier or later (before Hosmer came up or after he cooled off), Trout would almost certainly have gone first. The only quibble is that he might tie up an AM spot for another year, while Pineda will definitely get a card.

3. Michael Pineda, Chuckanut Bay - Not the top available name on the BA list, but his performance in MLB makes this an obvious pick. I'd have probably taken him #1 if I'd had that chance.

4. Shelby Miller, Maine - Not sure why Miller was picked ahead of Wil Myers or Jameson Taillon, both of whom outrank him on the BA list. Then again, I don't research the AMs as well as I should, which is why I drafted one last year who'd had brain surgery two months earlier. BA does project Miller to arrive a year ahead of Taillon, which is important when you have only two AM spots to play with. (We didn't find out until later that we'll have three next year.)

5. Manny Machado, Belmont Park - Also ranked behind Myers and Taillon, but he's a shortstop, which has considerable value.

6. Brennan Boesch, Lancaster - I think this is the first time we've gone five picks without a carded player being taken; whether this reflects the quality of AMs available this year or the lack of quality carded players, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure his bat is quite good enough to carry his glove this high.

7. Jonny Venters, Portland - It really doesn't pay to draft a reliever this high unless he's going to be a starter someday. But if any reliever was ever going to be worth it, this is the year and Venters is the guy.

8. Matt Moore, Duluth-Superior - See Miller, Shelby. Moore's projected to arrive the same year as Taillon, but coming up with the Rays instead of the Pirates has to be a marker in his favor.

9. Colby Lewis, Madawaska - If you're looking for immediate rotation help, the list starts and ends here. The only problem is, he has to be signed to a U contract. He's certainly worth it this year, but you have to decide now how long to commit, instead of being able to go year to year like you could if he was a Y1.

10. Mitch Moreland, Meridian - This may still be too high to take a first baseman who's a good-but-not-great hitter. But Moreland has improved his numbers, is getting much more playing time, and has added positional flexibility by playing some outfield.

11. Brandon Beachy, Hoth - If Beachy hadn't been on the DL when the draft started, he'd have deserved to go ahead of any of the AM pitchers except Pineda; he was doing better than any of them could reasonably be expected to do when they arrive, and he doesn't tie up an AM slot. Now that he's healthy and picking up where he left off (two runs in 12 innings, 3 walks, 20 strikeouts since his return), this pick is highway robbery.

12. Travis Wood, Green Bay - OK, Colby Lewis isn't the only decent starter in the pool; Wood is about as good, albeit in half as many innings. He's getting knocked around this year, though, so who knows which is the real version?

13. Jordan Lyles, Montgomery County - Good performance in MLB this year gives him a big boost from his prospect ranking.

14. Alexi Ogando, Plainsfield - Should have gone much higher; he gives you a nice relief card this year, doesn't use up an AM, and has been lights-out in the Rangers' rotation. I was starting to think he might fall to me. . .

15. Jake Arrieta, Andover - He gives you some innings, and he's in a major-league rotation, but first round? Meh. However, if you look at my summer league's draft, and consider only the players who were available in both draft pools, he went 16th.

16. Zach Britton, Inyo - I started second-guessing this pick the moment I made it. I had an open AM slot, and I wanted to use it on someone who was already in the majors, as my other AM (Aaron Hicks) doesn't look like he's arriving any time soon. Britton's doing OK, but his K/W stats don't inspire confidence going forward, and anyway, what I really need is a catcher.

17. Danny Espinosa, Montreal - If all Espinosa does is maintain his 2010 rate stats over a full season, this is a very good pick. If he keeps up the improvement he's shown so far in 2011, it's a great one.

18. Wilson Ramos, Montgomery County - This is who I should have taken. Or Arencibia, or Lucroy, but Ramos is doing better than either of them so far this year.

19. John Jaso, Franklin - And this is who I should have taken last year, instead of brain surgery patient Ryan Westmoreland. Not so sure he's such a great pick for the Kites, since he's tanking in real life and they're flush with catchers. It does put them in a position to dump Russell Martin's salary.

20. Philip Humber, Plainsfield - Coming into last season, Humber had pitched 29.2 innings over four brief MLB trials, giving up 37 hits and 17 walks. But history is full of pitchers who were that bad or worse, found a new pitch or new delivery or something, and turned it around the way Humber apparently has. One red flag: his strikeout rate this year is only 5.5 per nine innings, and success at that level can be fleeting.

21. Jordan Walden, Belmont Park - The usual caveats on first-round relievers apply, plus is Walden a better pick than Craig Kimbrel? Their performances this year are close enough that for me, the deciding factor would be the extra 6 innings on Kimbrel's card. Then again, since both are M0's, you might not get to use all those innings. (I note with amazement that the proposal to allow players like this to be signed to Y1 contracts instead of M0 failed handily. Why would anyone oppose this?)

22. Dillon Gee, Ashland - He's in a rotation, pitching well, doesn't tie up an AM, and his card is good enough to take over a spot in a BRASS rotation when he comes up in February. Why didn't I take him instead of Britton? Damifino.

23. J.P. Arencibia, Duluth-Superior - In a non-salary keeper league, you'd probably take Lucroy ahead of Arencibia, since he has a usable card this year. The BRASS contract system makes Arencibia an arguably better pick, since the extra Y year he'll give you later should be more valuable than Lucroy's current card. The Dukes could have used Lucroy this year, as the catchers they had don't cover the position full time, but they picked up Humberto Quintero later to cover that need.

24. Brandon Belt, Diamond - There were definitely better ways to use an AM slot. That's not hindsight talking; Belt was on the DL when the draft started, and had hit .211 with a .609 OPS to that point.

The rest, by team:

Alexandria (Atchison, Collmenter, Herndon, Mortensen, Nava, Ryal, Ty. Walker; reclaimed Pierre) - With no picks until the third round, the Dukes did about as well as could be expected. Collmenter was a nice find (who never would have been picked if we'd drafted in May), Mortensen and Herndon are doing OK in the majors, but neither inspires confidence going forward. Nava has a nice pinch-hitting card.

Andover (Kimbrel, Nova, Perkins, Pestano, Revere; reclaimed Bard, Coffey, Milledge, Thames) - Kimbrel was the first pick of the second round, and could easily have gone in the first. He and Pestano will certainly upgrade the bullpen next year. Perkins too, but in order to get that from him you have to commit to at least a U2 contract. If Perkins tanks in the second half, the entire contract's a waste. Personally, I'd have passed on Perkins and gone for someone without the contract baggage. Daniel McCutchen, whom I picked later the same round, has (in real life this year) a better WHIP and more innings than Perkins, and a Y1 contract.

Ashland (Atilano, J. Castro, C. Coleman, Herrmann, Hultzen, Penny, S. Rodriguez, Texeira, Valaika, R. Valdes) - I like Rodriguez, even though he hasn't shown he can be anything more than a utilityman on a good BRASS team. The rest. . . not so much. I don't think it's a good idea to use an AM spot on a new MLB draftee like Hultzen unless he's in the Strasburg/Harper class. I suppose the innings Penny's munching this year are worth a fourth-round pick and a U contract.

Belmont Park (Baxter, Bourjos, D. Carpenter, Cousins, Craig, De Aza, Gentry, St. Hill, J. Hoffpauir, Mathieson, C. Nelson, Nieves, Br. Petersen, Slama, Stavinoha, D. Sutton, J. Turner) - Lots of back-of-the-draft roster fill, but a nugget or two as well. Bourjos is hitting just enough to be worth playing for his glove, Craig was hitting enough to force a team to find a place for his glove (before he got hurt), and Gentry has the kind of role which could produce a 150-PA supercard by sheer luck.

Chuckanut Bay (Ambriz, A. Burnett, Conrad, Donaldson, Duda, Kohn, Mathis, A. Oliver, Sogard, Ru. Tejada, Valencia; claimed Bonine) - I sure hope Valencia is better than he's shown this year; I have him in another league. Duda is supposed to be a hitter, but hasn't proven it yet. Tejada might turn out to be real good, since he was playing last year at age 20.

Diamond (Deduno, S. Duncan, Guzman, Jansen, An. Laroche, Monasterios, Sale, B. Thomas) - Pretty nondescript lot, not that the Gems need much help. Sale and Jansen will be ace relievers if they ever live up to their hype.

Duluth-Superior (Halman, L. Hughes, R. Lopez, Pauley, Repko, Trumbo, Jo. Wilson, Wise; claimed Quintero) - I don't think Trumbo was such a good idea. For tying up an AM slot, you get one year of substandard 1B production, after which he goes back to the minors when Kendrys Morales returns. Halman might stick, and this year he's on pace for one of those 100-PA flukes.

Franklin (Berg, R. de la Rosa, Goldschmidt, B. Hayes, Laffey, Tr. Miller, Miranda, Moehler, Nippert, Ondrusek, Rhymes, Rodney, H. Rodriguez, S. Shields, Joe Smith, J. Wright) - It's not as bad as last year, when Everth Cabrera went #1, but. . . Fernando Rodney? With the 25th pick overall?? Despite that, there's some upside here. De la Rosa and Rodriguez are 100-MPH throwers, Goldschmidt could make Chris look like a genius (or an idiot), Miranda has a regular job, and Rhymes has a cheap, useful card even if he never gets another. Shields, however, wouldn't have been taken by anyone familiar with the contract rules. If you're short of innings (which is the only reason to touch him at all), you wait until secondary free agency and put in a minimum one-year bid, or even month-to-month, and save yourself more than half a million.

Green Bay (Blevins, Braddock, Kipnis, Lincoln, Morel, Moseley, J. Russell; claimed R. Perez, Sheets; reclaimed Ad. Laroche) - Kipnis is certainly a prospect, but I don't know if it was a good idea to take him when Lonnie Chisenhall was still available. (Chisenhall went on the very next pick.) Chisenhall was rated well above Kipnis by BA, and seemed more likely to get a callup this year (which in fact just happened), thereby freeing up the AM slot next year. Morel and Russell are still being given chances by their respective Chicago teams, but aren't doing much with them.

Hoth (Cain, Dobbs, Enright, D. Hughes, Kotsay, D. Norris, Parra, Sanabia; reclaimed M. Ramirez, C. Young) - It can't be too long before Cain is a fixture in KC; not when the alternative is Melky Cabrera. I don't know what the Marlins have planned for Sanabia, but what he did last year at age 21 is encouraging. Dobbs is another one who could end up costing more than he's worth; you have to give him a U2 and hope he doesn't turn back into Dobbs 1.0 in the second half. Parra. . . I guess if you're short on innings he's worth a U1 contract. Barely.

Inyo (Bray, W. Castillo, Cishek, Escalona, B. Hicks, Jay, Lillibridge, D. McCutchen, Do. Murphy, S. Santos, Viciedo, C. Wells, E. Young; reclaimed Buehrle, Figgins, Franklin, Howell) - Sure enough, all the good catching prospects disappeared before my second round pick: Arencibia, Lucroy, even Conger. So I took a scattershot approach, picking up anyone who's young and either has known potential or is having a good year in MLB this year; toward the end, young was enough. The exception was Donnie Murphy, who has a fluke card and will hopefully win me a couple of games with pinch hits.

Lancaster (Albuquerque, Butera, M. Carpenter, Feldman, Hawksworth, Tomlin; reclaimed T. Buck, C. Carter (Mets), E. Chavez, Encarnacion, Kendall) - A lot here I don't like. Tomlin and Hawksworth don't strike out enough people to sustain the success they're having, and figure to regress. Albuquerque does, but it rarely pays to use an AM slot on a reliever. The other AM pick was Matt Carpenter, and I don't see any reason he got the call ahead of several dozen others.

Madawaska (Beimel, Capuano, Kalish, Litsch, Cr. Martinez, Mesoraco, C. Tatum, R. Thompson, Tolleson, Ja. Turner, Weinhardt, B. Wilson, D. Worth) - You don't hear much about Kalish, but someone in my summer league thought enough of him to take in the first round. If nothing else, he and Worth bolster the defense this year. Capuano gets a U contract, but his card and his performance this year are good enough to warrant it; you just have to decide whether to roll the dice and go for three years. (Patrick settled for two.) Mesoraco and Turner are good choices for the AM slots, and it was good strategy to wait until the 7th round to fill the second one. Once everyone else has filled theirs, you've got your pick of what's left no matter how long you wait.

Maine (Burrell, C. Guillen, Hendrickson, Iglesias, Ka'aihue, Talbot, W. Valdez; claimed A. Moore, R. Paulino, Ro. Tejeda) - With all the U players and free agent claims, Maine might have taken on more salary than any other team. At least none of them are dead weight, except maybe Hendrickson. And that's about all the Lobs are getting out of this draft; I don't think any of the cheaper players are going to make it, other than first-rounder Shelby Miller.

Meridian (L. Anderson, Bourgeois, Lecure, Mayberry, McGee, Plouffe, A. Sanchez; reclaimed Garland) - I like the Anderson pick. He's young, was once a high-rated prospect who's been forgotten; last year in my summer league's draft, that formula got me Neil Walker in the 9th round. For McGee, see the comment on Albuquerque above, plus McGee hasn't actually done anything in the majors. I don't think the Astros want to give Sanchez the shortstop job, but Barmes may force them to. As for Trevor Plouffe. . . has there ever been a worse baseball name? It belongs on a hairdresser in a Mel Brooks movie, fercrissake.

Montgomery County (C. Carter (Oak), B. Davis, W. Harris, D. Kelly, Lugo, Lyles, Manship, E. Nunez, Resop, C. Rosa, Salas, Jor. Smith, Tim Wood, Del. Young) - Salas and Resop will put a big charge in next year's bullpen, and nobody's giving up on Carter yet.

Montreal (Br. Anderson, Donald, Gillespie, Morse, W. Myers, Br. Snyder, Es. Vasquez, Walters; claimed J.D. Martin; reclaimed Navarro) - Wil Myers should be a real good AM pick; he's higher on the BA list than several who went before him and was called the best hitting prospect in the Royals' system even while Hosmer was still there. Lately it seems that every year, one banjo-hitting utilityman breaks out with a big year. Two years ago it was Zobrist, last year Betemit, and now it's Morse's turn.

Plainsfield (J. Bell, R. Cedeno, G. Holland, J. Johnson, Lucroy, Moscoso, Y. Navarro, C. Ramos, Renson, Rizzo, Ty. Ross, Sizemore, Worley) - One reason Kevin wins every year is that he stockpiles high draft picks (two in each of the first 3 rounds this year) and uses them wisely. He and I took turns picking players the other one wanted; he got Ogando and Lucroy, I took Santos, Viciedo and Lillibridge. I'm not crazy about his AM picks, because one's a first baseman and the other hasn't played pro ball yet, but as I've said before, you disagree with Kevin's judgment at your peril. Bell has been a bust so far, but the same could be said about Neil Walker two years ago.

Portland (Cortes, Demel, Germano, Je. Gomez, Jeffress, Marinez, O. Martinez, Sano, Sborz, Taillon, Veras) - Don't see much upside here, except for the AMs. And they're both at least a couple of years away, so those spots will be tied up. At one point it looked like the Marlins might move Hanley Ramirez to the outfield and put Ozzie Martinez at short, but that ship would appear to have sailed.

San Jose (Andino, Cole, Descalso, Ellis, Estrada, J. Herrera, Maya, An. Miller, Pagnozzi, Paul, Sipp, Stewart) - David says he was drafting for need, and there's some immediate help here in Ellis, Herrera and even Andino. I stayed off Ellis because my need for a catcher is next year and beyond, and Ellis was in the minors when we drafted, but the Dodgers just called him up. Sipp was a nice grab in the fourth round, as he's lights-out in MLB this year and has a good enough card that a U contract isn't a waste.

Sierra Nevada (W. Aybar, Barney, Ceda, M. Dunn, Dyson, G. Infante, Luebke, McClendon, Presley; reclaimed J. Guillen) - No picks until the third round, so getting Barney and Luebke there wasn't bad. Hard to believe, but this team is so short at firstbase that it made sense to draft Willie Aybar.

SoCal (G. Blanco, Carlin, Chisenhall, Conger, Inglett, Maxwell, McCoy, A. Russell, Schneider, Slaten; reclaimed Nathan) - Conger was my last hope for a real catching prospect, and Chisenhall is a solid AM who just came up to the majors. The rest of these are among the more useful cards in the draft; spotted properly, Blanco, Maxwell and McCoy add up to a very good outfielder. Don't look for much down the road, though.

Southtown (Doubront, B. Wood; claimed Lind, Zumaya; reclaimed 10(!) free agents) - Who's hoarding all the first basemen? There should be way more than enough to go around, but here we have two teams drafting stiffs to cover the position. (Lind won't be a stiff next year, but he also won't be a Miser, unless Henry outbids everyone.) Doubront has as good a chance as anyone to be a rotation starter eventually, but Wood is at the Last Chance Saloon.

Washington Crossing (T. Bell, Denorfia, Giambi, Harrell, Kirkman, B. Logan, W. Lopez, McKenry, Nicasio, Matt Reynolds, Fr. Rodriguez(LAA), M. Rogers, R. Santiago) - Denorfia went more than a round after my pick of Jon Jay, and I could easily wind up regretting that. But I think Dave will regret using an AM slot on a pitcher who isn't one of BA's top 100, isn't one of his own team's top 7, and isn't exactly tearing up the majors.