|Jay Bruce will be counted on to provide power and run-production in 2013.|
(photo courtesy of Mike McCann's FIELD OF FOTOS)
I have been playing in a keeper league for the last 10 seasons or so. The League is Mardi Gras Madness. My team name: Black Hole Army named after the villains of this video game:
Sunday night was the draft from hell for my keeper league's annual draft. Aside from the fact that the league’s draft module kept breaking down on us, it seemed every time I was getting ready to draft somebody, another owner would swoop in and swipe that player out of my hands. So I ended up selecting a lot of players that I really was not excited to have on my team, but these will be the guys I will be going to war with in this 2013 season:
- Carlos Santana--C
- Edwin Encarnacion—1B
- Ian Kinsler—2B
- Ryan Braun--LF
- Allen Craig--RF
- Jay Bruce--DH
- Jason Motte--P
I actually like these players as they were the core to my run at the title last season only to fall short in the championship game. Santana is an elite backstop and still young enough to fulfill potential. Encarnacion and Craig had breakout years last season and their respective teams consider them part of their future. Kinsler is still one of the best 2B in all of baseball. Braun is arguably one of the best hitters in the league. Meanwhile, Bruce can supply points by the truckloads due to his power bat and Motte can rack up the saves because of his power arm. Unfortunately, Motte is expected to be placed on the DL to start the season with elbow issues—bummer. Recently picked up Mitchell Boggs off waivers to offset the Motte injury.
So coming into the draft, I have a few positions on offense to fill out, but I would have to focus on pitching, pitching, and pitching. Will this strategy pay off? It would have to because technically, coming into this draft, I have no pitchers. Here are the results:
- Martin Prado—3B
- Jordan Zimmerman—P
- B.J. Upton—CF
- Desmond Jennings—CF
- J.J. Putz—P
- Huston Street—P
- Brandon McCarthy—P
- Tommy Milone—P
- Tim Hudson—P
- Andy Pettitte—P
- Jedd Gyorko—3B
- Danny Espinosa—SS
- Gavin Floyd—P
- A.J. Griffin—P
- Ricky Nolasco—P
Clearly, other than Zimmerman (whom I was thinking of keeping instead of Motte until I read reports of ‘Z’ having issues with a “dead arm” earlier in the spring), a lot of the starting pitchers that I drafted this year are not my type of pitchers. But what can I do? All elite pitchers were kept by other teams coming into this draft. So I was stuck selecting pitch-to-contact pitchers with good control. Not very happy with the pitching staff, but I did what I could under the circumstances.
I’m also not very happy with being stuck selecting both B.J.Upton and Jennings, but in the 3rd and 4th round, they seemed to be the best and most explosive players available in those two rounds. I’m not high on either one of them, but hopefully the gamble on picking the low patience/contact rate hitters will pay off in the end.
As you guys should know by now, I really like Prado and I even attempted to trade for him in the offseason, but couldn’t make a deal in time to beat our league’s offseason trade deadline. So when I saw him available with the 11th pick overall, I did away with my “select nothing but pitchers” strategy and jumped all over the very steady, high patience/contact rate hitter. He also qualifies at LF so the versatility is an added bonus.
Putz and Street are two of my favorite relievers in the game and somehow, I’m always lucky enough to at least have one of these pitchers in one of my teams for the last three seasons. In my Yahoo! league, I had both of them on my team, en route to a championship game loss. I had Street in this keeper league last season as well. So I was more than happy to see these two closers available to bring some sort of respectability to my pitching staff.
Not happy with the Espinosa pick, but he was my “last line of defense”shortstop. I was actually going after Elvis Andrus in the 3rd round, but he was immediately grabbed in the middle of the 2nd round. Ian Desmond was my second choice, but somehow, he also got picked up in that same round as well. I was so desperate for a SS, I was even thinking of picking Derek Jeter, but our resident New York Yankee fan picked him up in the 13th round. Guess I’ll be keeping a very close eye on the waivers this season for another shortstop.
Before picking Espinosa, I rolled the dice and reached forGyorko. As you guys should know, I’ve been excited about Gyorko for awhile now. Whether I reached too early for him is debatable, but seeing how there were only a handful of players that I would consider selecting before him, I think I made the right choice going with Gyorko’s upside. And he will eventually qualify at 2B as well and I have Prado manning 3B for now so Gyorko will be riding my bench for awhile until he shows that he can handle big league pitching.
Not really happy with my team, especially my pitching staff, but the best part about it is that it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and go after pitchers I would have never considered drafting in years past. Last year, I did a good job in picking the pitchers that fit my paradigm as to what a fantasy pitcher should be. The result last season? I had the worst pitching staff in our league last year (I still don't know how I reached the championship game in 2012, but that's baseball). So hopefully, this change in thought will bring me different results and put me over the hump and help me earn that elusive baseball title.
I really like the batting lineup I have assembled: Encarnacion and Craig are not flukes, I feel this is Santana’s year to blow up, Gyorko and Prado at the hot corner, Jennings and Upton sharing duties in CF, Espinosa is a 15/15 guy, Bruce can light up the scoreboard with his power, and of course, they will all be led by Kinsler and Braun throughout the season.
So that’s my team—what’s yours?