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Starting Over Again (04/11)

April 11, 2007

BP Kings Update

Draft Recap

by Ben Murphy

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AL Kings TeamsNL Kings Teams
  1. Kevin Goldstein
  2. Jeff Erickson
  3. King Kaufman & Rob Granick
  4. Steven Goldman & Andrew Baharlias
  5. Rob Neyer & Dave Mlodinoff
  6. Jacob Luft & Albert Chen
  7. Nate Silver
  8. Dave Cokin
  9. Rico Brogna
  10. Sam Walker & Nando DiFino
  11. Peter King
  12. Eric Karabell
  1. Jenn Sterger
  2. Jeff Ma
  3. Will Leitch
  4. Joe Sheehan
  5. John Perrotto
  6. Mike Ferrin & Dave Kaplan
  7. Jeff Passan & Mark Pesavento
  8. Cory Schwartz & Mike Siano
  9. Anonymous Front Office Person
  10. Ben Murphy & Ian Lefkowitz
  11. Josh Levin & Steven Ehrenberg
  12. Rany Jazayerli

Kevin Goldsteinback to top
Charity: Planned Parenthood
Draft Strategy: With the first pick in the draft, I consulted many experts; half said Joe Mauer, half said Johan Santana. I went with my gut and took Santana. I think I had my eye on a handful of elite hitters, but because of the snake draft I had to wait forever to select again, and when my turn came up, they were all gone. My super-secret charts said the pitchers were the best bet, so I listened to the super-secret charts. With my next picks I was eyeing Delmon Young and Rocco Baldelli, who then were selected with the two picks directly before mine--so more pitching. Later I added Adam Loewen, who is basically my sleeper of the year. So I have the best pitching staff in the league, but quite possibly the worst offense. I guarantee I will lead the league in fewest total runs in games. Basically I need some surprise seasons from the batters, a major step forward from Rickie Weeks, and the pitchers to stay healthy. I'm going to win a lot of 3-2 games, but I fear I'm going to lose a lot of them as well.

Jeff Ericksonback to top
Charity: The Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Peter Gammons' unfortunate incident focused the spotlight on cerebral aneurysms, but my connection is more personal. My mother had a cerebral aneurysm rupture way back in 1977 and was fortunate to survive.
Draft Strategy: Be strong at scarce positions offensively, avoided the dreaded Pitcher-AAA as always, and work on building a better bullpen to compensate for the lack of early starting pitchers. I sort of strayed from that strategy by taking John Lackey relatively early, and I might have a problem at second base if Jose Lopez doesn't pan out. I wanted to build a good core under the age of 30, and I did a fairly decent job of that. One of my harder decisions was my first one--Grady Sizemore vs. Joe Mauer. The consensus seems to be that I went the wrong with Sizemore--the consensus could be right, but I get the idea that three years from now Mauer won't be catching as often, to preserve his knees. Maybe that's too far forward to look, but at the same token, I see Sizemore as basically being risk-free.

I participated in the Mock Draft in the Scoresheet newsgroup, and because of that I expected the draft to be a little more prospect-heavy early-on. With the notable exception of Nate Silver, it wasn't, which suits me fine. I'm happy to have Brignac and Adam Miller among my top prospects.

King Kaufman & Rob Granickback to top
Charity: Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
Draft Strategy: Our only real strategy was to get big bats with the first few picks, then turn to pitching. Other than that, we basically reacted to the draft. We had the third pick, and in a league with an obvious top three, that made things easy. The one who's left is your guy, and that was Joe Mauer, whom we were happy to have. When Vernon Wells fell, we felt, to us at No. 22, we had our theme for the early part of the draft: Young, studly up-the-middle guys.

We made several value picks, taking a guy we felt had fallen too far whether we specifically needed him or not. We took Rocco Baldelli in the fourth round, Jorge Posada in 10 and Mike Piazza in 15. We decided to be the ones who took Francisco Liriano to stash him for a year, which we did in 6. Having waited on pitching, we tended to go for high risk-high reward types, starting with our top starter and reliever, Rich Harden and K-Rod, who we've heard the injury warnings about. We didn't make much of an effort to draft prospects. We thought about it a few times, but the guy we were targeting was either gone by the time our turn came or we just decided to go elsewhere. Also, last year we drafted way too many Kansas City Royals. This year: Not a one.

We think our team will hit, and it's a good fielding team. If we can get a decent performance out of our pitchers, we think we can be pretty damn good this year and for a while.

Steven Goldman & Andrew Baharliasback to top
Charity: Our charity is Heifer International, which is dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. Heifer provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially disadvantaged families around the world. Root for us, because if we win, a family may get a sheep. If you've never given a sheep, you've never experienced true joy. We invite all to follow us and vicariously feel the wool sprout in their souls.
Draft Strategy: We've never played in a Scoresheet league before, so we simply relied on the tried and true strategy of drafting for strength at positions of scarcity and making frequent recourses to the art of divination through the casting of pigeon entrails. We put this aside for our first pick, Alex Rodriguez, because we had been led to believe that negative charisma was a scoring category. Finally, we elected to make our character a bard because of the to-hit bonuses that come with high dexterity. King Kaufman may get killed by an Ochre Jelly, but not us!

An early example of our "strategy" in "action" came when we dealt Victor Martinez to Nate Silver for Robby Cano and the secret location of the plans. We then converted our next pick into Ken Johjima, who spells his name a number of different ways. An argument as to whether we'd drafted the right Johjima, or even if there is a right Johjima, was referred to the rules committee. They left for lunch some three weeks ago and we have yet to hear back from them. The basis of any successful romantic relationship is mutual respect, followed by affection, lust, and a desperate fear of being alone. And that is why we drafted Carl Pavano.

Rob Neyer & Dave Mlodinoffback to top
Charity: We're playing for Northwest Animal Companions of Oregon, a wonderful organization dear to the heart of co-owner Dave Mlodinoff.
Draft Strategy: If we went against conventional Scoresheet Geek Wisdom, it was by drafting so many starting pitchers and not getting a bunch of quality relievers instead. While having an elite pen is admittedly a great playoff strategy, you still have to get to the playoffs, which obviously is no easy chore in a league like this. We just don't think you can have too many starters in Scoresheet, since an "extra" starter can serve as a reliever, trade bait, or injury insurance. Also, having extra starters gives you match-up options beyond your two or three top starters.

Of course, we're hoping that our top guys, Jeremy Bonderman and Dan Haren, give us a solid 1-2 punch, that Bartolo Colon is eventually healthy enough to help, and that the rest of our starters give us enough innings to avoid the dreaded Pitcher AAA (if you haven't played Scoresheet before, at some point this season you're almost sure to discover just how dreadful that guy is).

Our outfield needs its own medical staff: Kotsay and Mench are already hurt, while J.D. Drew, Brad Wilkerson, and Rondell White are just waiting their turn. It's impossible to avoid taking some real risks in the draft, and our big one was with the health of our outfield.

Perhaps our biggest decision was what to do with the fifth overall pick, once Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Grady Sizemore, and Alex Rodriguez were taken. Despite our love of pitching, we felt that it was too early to grab a starter, so we narrowed our choice down to David Ortiz and Travis Hafner. We opted for Ortiz simply because, given the two players' histories, we thought that Ortiz has a better shot of playing in September, when the games count toward the Scoresheet playoffs.

We tried to draft as many Twins as possible--because we like to think of ourselves as not only co-owners, but also giant players shaking hands across the Mississippi (I'm St. Paul, Dave is Minneapolis)--but ended up with only six. The left side of the Devil Rays' infield (Akinori Iwamura and Ben Zobrist, who have 183 combined MLB at-bats) will be starting for us. If this gamble doesn't work out for us, we'll probably spend this season just trying to keep pace with the real Rays.

Jacob Luft & Albert Chenback to top
Charity: Baseball Assistance Team

Draft Strategy: I think all three of us brought a different focus and I think the team benefited overall from that. Personally, I (Jake Luft) wanted old guys, proven veterans whose numbers you can write in stone before the season starts. My feeling was we could take advantage of the keeper league setup by taking some underrated veterans that fell through the cracks. (That pretty much happened with Mariano Rivera, Gary Sheffield and Johnny Damon.) Chris and Albert wanted younger guys approaching the traditional prime years. I think we ended up with a pretty good mix, especially on offense. We almost took Carl Crawford with our first pick and he was still there for us in Round 2, so we were thrilled with that.

Nate Silverback to top
Charity: Union of Concerned Scientists. Same as last year. Global warming is the single biggest threat to our quality of life for the next 100 years, and it isn't close.
Draft Strategy: I decided to look at basically a five or six year time horizon. This was for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the upside rankings that PECOTA uses are looking at a 5-7 year window. That made it easy for me to use PECOTA as a basis for my draft rankings without making too many tweaks, which is good because I'm lazy. Secondly, five or six years seems like a pretty good guess for the lifespan of this league.

Keeping that in mind, it's important to remember that young talent only does you good if you're able to protect it from season to season. And the structure of Kings, with the soft-10 keeper format, is such that there's a real premium on very good young talent, but not much of a premium on guys who might happen to be young but probably aren't going to be good enough to protect. Of course, you can also start going young again toward the end of the draft, since we're able to protect unlimited prospects.

Accordingly, I went through about three distinct phases in my draft. The first phase, lasting for the first seven picks, was to draft premium young talent. And I think I did pretty well by picking up Gordon, Sabathia, V-Mart, Kendrick, and so forth. The second phase, lasting from about rounds 8-20, was shifting to treating this as a one-year league, perhaps with selected fliers on young talent where I felt like I was stuck. Thus the picks of Andy Pettitte and Frank Thomas and the trades for Takashi Saito and Moises Alou. If you look at my team, there's basically a lot of 27-and-under talent and a little bit of 35-and-over talent, and not much of the "expensive" talent in between. The third phase was supposed to involve picking off a bunch of prospects, but the prospects I was really interested in were going faster than expected, and I felt like Phase II had gone better than expected, so I sort of shifted gears and continued to draft for near-term depth. You don't take Darin Erstad and Steve Trachsel unless you're pretty serious about taking a go at things in 2007.

The draft lived up to about the 80th percentile in terms of my expectations. In other words, I was happy. Things sort of came together in the middle stages as I was able to arbitrage the two-league format of Kings. Guys like Alou and Saito and even Wes Helms are going to be pretty important to my chances this year. The one pick I'm sort of unhappy with in retrospect is B.J. Upton, who violates my tweener rule since he won't qualify as a rookie. If I was going to go young with that pick, I think I'd have been better off going with someone like Cameron Maybin instead.

Dave Cokinback to top
Charity: I'm hoping to manage the Las Vegas Red Sox to a second straight BP Kings title, and my charity this year will be Heaven Can Wait, a Las Vegas sanctuary for orphaned and rescued animals.
Draft Strategy: I really didn't have much of a clue as to how to put together a Scoresheet team last season, and drafted a team based mostly on my Roto projections. Thanks to somewhat unexpected career years from a pair of Mariners, Raul Ibanez and JJ Putz, plus a very solid bench, I squeezed into the playoffs, and then almost my entire team got hot at the right time. The World Series was a dream, as it matched up the Red Sox vs. the Red Sox. Wow, talk about fantasy baseball!

I think I did a pretty good job with this year's draft. I have two potential aces, and the back of my rotation has a chance to be pretty good, although it could also be awful. I didn't draft a pure closer, but you really don't need one in this format from what I can tell. As for my position players, I should field a lineup that will pose problems for most righthanders, although I could be vulnerable against quality southpaws. I was also able to latch onto some solid prospects I expect to blossom in coming seasons. I feel as though I'll have a decent chance to contend again this season.

Rico Brognaback to top
Charity: The charity of choice is one that I have been involved with throughout my Major League career. It is the Ankylosing Spondylitis Association of America. A.S. is an organization that is trying to raise funds to help find a cure for this arthritic disease that challenges millions across the globe. The work is noble and necessary and I am motivated to help in the cause. I thank Baseball Prospectus for the opportunity to bring awareness and a possible donation to this wonderful charitable organization.
Draft Strategy: This adventure in fantasy baseball is quite the intriguing ride. I am both excited, anxious, determined and, quite simply, psyched to be a part of this competitive league. BP Kings, although fairly new, has gathered a fantasy baseball following so it is both humbling and an honor to be a part of. Being involved already in professional baseball as a professional scout should give me an advantage, right? Wrong! Not to take the pressure of winning off (because real pressure comes from within), but I know the competition is very stiff and each and every team owner is capable of running away with the 2007 prize. I got back into baseball professionally after a few years coaching prep and collegiate football, so my player knowledge has a little catching up to do. Yes, I have a background in the game, but I am still being educated in this fantasy game along with refining my player knowledge and statistical analysis for baseball. But I am confident that through thorough research and continued education, I will find myself in the hunt, at least through opening day 2007.

My draft strategy was fairly simple and didn't involve any complex formulas or gathering of M.I.T. graduates. I did however, put in a lot of hours of prep work going into the draft. I wanted to initially get value for my top picks. I was looking for production at the top; to go along with that, I figured that a durable player meant more reliability. Reliability in this game is hard to come by so taking a player that crosses the white line every game was essential. Mark Teixeira was the just the player to match my number one pick profile. Production, durability and youth, seeing that this is a keeper league, were a foundation that I could build upon. After that, I wanted to get more everyday players, ones I felt I could rely on week to week to give my team a chance to stay in games and enable my pitching staff, bullpen included, to keep us there until the go ahead run could cross the plate late in the game. After the position players, it was time for starting pitching. The rock of reliable starters is also essential, coupled with a matching bullpen, I felt that through them I would have a chance to survive at least through the first half of the season. I did not make trades early, rather, I wanted to get players that I wanted and then let the early season dictate any possible moves that I could make later on.

Sam Walker & Nando DiFinoback to top
Charity: We will take silent pride in the fact that a $1,000 donation to the March of Dimes rests not in the prognostications of our good friend John R. Mayne, but in the effects of a humidor on the velocity of Jeremy Affedlt's pitches.
Draft Strategy: Last year, just after we'd drafted our first team in BP Kings, John R. Mayne, the Deputy District Attorney for Stanislaus County in California, posted a few choice comments about our team in a scathing, staccato review of the first-ever BP Kings draft.

He predicted that the Street Walkers would finish 72-90 and be "beaten like Ashlee Simpson at a chess tournament."

Mr. Mayne did not care that this was our first year playing Scoresheet or that only a few months before, neither of us had anything but a foggy notion what Scoresheet was. We were like four-year-olds who'd been handed a fishing rod and asked to catch a giant tarpon. But this King of Stanislaus didn't care. He'd announced his intention to set up a lawn chair next to the dock and laugh hysterically at the spectacle.

One could only imagine our sense of pride when, at the end of the season, we sat atop the standings in our division, eating metaphorical caviar and sipping virtual champagne. Granted, our record was 80-82 and we sported the seventh-best team record in a league of twelve, but we were in the playoffs nonetheless. Instead of hooking the back of our pants, we'd somehow caught a 5-pound trout.

The first order of business, then, was to make sure that the right honorable John R. Mayne was well aware of our accomplishment. We considered taking out an ad in the Stanislaus County Times just to mock him, or at least his mockery of us. But before we could formulate a plan we were brutally eliminated by one of the fifty teams, it seemed, sporting the name "[insert name of city or town here] Red Sox."

This morning, nearly a year later, we received an e-mail from fellow league owners Dave Mlodinoff and Rob Neyer, pointing us to the Scoresheet discussion on the Yahoo groups site. John R. Mayne, it turns out, is not a fan of our team this year, either.

We were crushed as we read the words. "Painful to watch," "offense figures to be outright bad," "hazardous," "I really love a good quiche." Had John R. Mayne learned nothing from our performance last year? Apparently not. Did he not know that Nando works at Court TV as a producer, and that these snarky comments just squashed any chance he has of being a special guest?

One thing we will say about John R. Mayne is that the man did nail our strategy.

"Crisp? Looked good going into last year; got hurt, stock's down. Cantu? Looked great going into last year; got hurt, stock's way down. Crosby? Looked possibly good going into last year, got hurt, stock's down to near-zero. Gomes? Looked good going into last year, got hurt, stock's down."

It's really pretty simple. When you're playing in a league where you're still trying to figure out the meaning behind all those numbers next to the catcher on the draft sheet, the only way you can console yourself is to settle on some form of ideology and stick to it as if your life depended on it. The best one we could come up with was to buy low on some of the forgotten guys from last season and pray for the best.

And who's to say it won't work? Consider these examples:

Sammy Sosa. He's #5 all-time on baseball's home run list and could be the DH who plays half his games in one of the better hitters parks in MLB. We found it hard to believe that a guy who was looking to pass Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds for homerun supremacy just two seasons ago would have much of a problem passing Jason Botts, Scott Feldman, and John Rheinecker for a roster spot, even if his workouts are powered by nothing more than high-protein granola raisin bars.

Nick Swisher. He played the second half of the year while battling mono. We missed three weeks of class when we had it in college. Swisher was facing fastballs from the likes of Jeremy Bonderman and he still managed to hit 35 homers. Hey, wasn't there another young phenom who had a rough first full year in the majors then rebounded spectacularly? We think the kid's name was Jason Morneau or something.

Josh Hamilton. We actually selected him BEFORE he went on that home-run barrage in spring training. And we did this even though his Scoresheet number is the ominous "666."

Jorge Cantu. He's bad defensively, yes, but he can hit homers, and we can platoon him (once we figure out exactly how to do a platoon in Scoresheet) with Kaz Matsui.

The bullpen. This happy group consists of some key cogs (Scot Shields, Chad Gaudin, Juan Cruz, Francisco Cordero), two major injury gambles (Kerry Wood, Chin Tsao), a couple comeback possibilities (Jeremy Affeldt, Edwin Jackson), and a fireballing rookie (Craig Hansen). We may sink with the last five, but any one of these guys could post elite numbers, too.

Jeff Mathis. There is a chance Jeff Mathis could be the starter in Los Angeles. Although Nando roots for Mike Napoli just because of his Italianness, he's also a guy who eats mozzarella sticks from McDonald's, so he's not exactly a cultural purist. Jeff Mathis, then, is the dollar menu mozzarella sticks of fantasy baseball.

The mystery pick. Rany owes us his 35th round pick for a trade that happened so long ago, we now forget who was included. If John R. Mayne has any brilliant suggestions for us, we will listen. sam@fantasylandthebook.com, Nando@fantasylandthebook.com.

So what good will come of this Stanislausian feud? For one, our willingness to do anything to prove John R. Mayne wrong, including actually reading the rules of Scoresheet this year before play begins, will drive us to become a much better team. And on another, more heartwarming note, this drive will, in some way we would hope, benefit the March of Dimes, to whom we have decided to donate our winnings.

In a couple months, when Nate Silver writes his "Checking In" article, and muses on how the Street Walkers somehow picked "every breakout star of 2007," we'll puff our chests with pride. And then when August rolls around, and Rany wonders how the Street Walkers, "could have somehow managed to pick every second-half bust of the year and implode before our very eyes," we'll…uh…we'll look forward to another 80-82 division championship!

We shall see you all in October!

Peter Kingback to top
Charity: Habitat For Humanity, New Orleans
Draft Strategy: My strategy was pretty simple: get as many proven major-league hitters as possible, then fill the roster with:

a. a great closer. I got Joe Nathan.
b. starting-pitcher marginalia who throw at least 190 innings (my theory is you can never rely on non-Johan Santana pitching). i got Chien-Ming Wang and a bunch of schmoes.
c. setup guys who can eat innings, along with two situational lefties.
I have no idea how I'll do. It probably depends how many games I can win 11-9.

Eric Karabellback to top
Charity: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Draft Strategy: This is my first time playing Scoresheet, but I figured I'd follow a similar strategy to fantasy baseball, which is rely on offense over pitching, stick with durable players if possible, and try to have fun. I did pay attention to defense, track record and a strong middle relief corps, but it was clear early on I wanted as much offense as possible. With a lineup that features walkers like Abreu and Giambi, power in Tejada, Morneau and Glaus, I'll enjoy the experience. Yeah, this isn't the youngest team I've ever chosen, but I'd prefer to see some immediate success and worry about building for future years later. I also made sure to have enough depth in case of injuries. Of course, I have no idea how it will all play out, but I'm sure it will be an interesting ride.

Jenn Stergerback to top
Charity: Ronald McDonald House
Draft Strategy: Jenn was too busy taking care of business with her multiple writing gigs and gobs of fans, but judging by the emails her co-owners wrote during the course of the NL draft, her strategy involved stealing players away from other would-be owners at the last second.

Jeff Maback to top
Charity: We are playing for the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Draft Strategy: Without having too much knowledge of the intricacies of Scoresheet we attempted to find young players with upside, players that had a good chance to outperform expectations. Also, we attempted to grab enough mediocre starting pitchers with the hopes that one of them would have a surprise bust out season. Offensively we thought with a cornerstone of Cabrera, Dunn and Holliday we would be in a good position to score some runs.

Will Leitchback to top
Charity: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
Draft Strategy: My initial goal was just to stockpile starting pitching. This was my first time in a league like this, so I figured, well, just get a good rotation, and I'll be all right. I felt good about this for a while until, all of a sudden, everyone started trading with the American League teams. I had no idea what was going on, and I eventually became helplessly lost. Someone offered me the 183rd pick in the AL in a trade, or something like that, and I honestly didn't have the foggiest idea what they were talking about. Jeez, I have no idea what's going on in the AL draft; I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with my own. Once the trades became too complicated to understand, everything just cascaded on itself; by the 19th round, I was picking people who had the same last name as people I went to high school with. (Like, say, "Biggio.") My draft sheets were destroyed. I think I took Barry Sanders with my last pick. Which, considering I still don't quite understand all the rules of Scoresheet, might actually be a good choice: I really don't know.

In other words ... I'm gonna kick everybody's ass.

Joe Sheehanback to top
Charity: I'm playing for the American Lung Association.
Draft Strategy: My main concern going in was getting enough playing time, especially enough pitching, which has been a problem for me in Scoresheet leagues.

Very quickly--I think in the third round--I decided to take the tack of not drafting anyone over 29. With the trade of Roy Oswalt, I don't believe I have anyone over 28. This is something of an artificial goal, but it's also fun.

John Perrottoback to top
Charity: American Diabetes Association
Draft Strategy: Like Chuck Noll used to always say, take the best athlete available. I did lean toward taking pitching in this leagues since it's a sim league rather than a straight roto league.

Mike Ferrin & Dave Kaplanback to top
Charity: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Draft Strategy: Well, first, here's how little we know about this...combined, Kap & I have played in 5 fantasy leagues...if you were to take me out of the equation, we would have played in, well, 5 fantasy leagues. I've never been interested in it, just because I could never wrap my mind around the idea of cheering for Albert Pujols to drive in 7 against the Cubs on the last day of the season. (Not that MLB ever schedules the Cubs and Cards for the last weekend of the season...I mean, that'd make sense, right?)

What I am, is a big "Sim" fan, whose favorite computer games of all-time are Radio Baseball, a game so cool, it didn't actually have any graphics, and Earl Weaver Baseball and its appropriately named sequel, Earl Weaver Baseball II (And not just because you could make "Earl" come out and kick dirt on the umps.)

In recent years, Kap & I had both played in Whatifsports.com Baseball Leagues and had decent success...

But enough about us...Our Draft Strategy was pretty simple...What are the old clichés? "You win with Pitching and Defense," "Build a team with Power at the Corners and Speed and Defense up the Middle." We tried to incorporate both those ideas. Our decision early on was to grab 3 good pitchers and a slugger early. Because of the premium on Power Hitters, those went next for us, then speed and defense, then the bullpen. We also lucked out, because there were some "starting" position players available in the late teen rounds, so we could build a little depth. It, hopefully, insulates us a bit, in case we want to make a deal, or a guy has a bad year. Plus, we don't need to worry about their egos, so we can keep them on the bench.

We realize we took a gamble too on three pitchers who had high ceilings but uncertain pasts (because of injuries or downright lousiness). But, in real life, we've learned how injuries can derail a team (Did I mention we're Cubs fans?) and felt like we needed a little bit of depth, just in case.

We're definitely in a win now mode. Hopefully we're in it down the stretch and can deal what little youth we have for that extra juice.

Biggest Draft surprise: That we actually tried to trade up, because we were afraid we might miss out on Ronnie Belliard. Yeah, that Ronnie Belliard.

And that Jenn hasn't filed a restraining order

Jeff Passan & Mark Pesaventoback to top
Charity: Gabriel M. and Michael A. Rieke Memorial Scholarship Fund, which Rockhurst High School in Kansas City gives out every year in honor of Jeff's wife's brothers.
Draft Strategy: Since Jeff finished last in his auction league among non-baseball friends last year, listen to nothing he says. In that spirit, heed the advice of an anonymous front-office person (no, not the Anonymous Front Office Person) from a recent World Series winner who, when asked how he would assemble a franchise from scratch, responded something like this: "Go strong up the middle and at the back end of the bullpen. Get an ace, two innings-eaters and a starting-pitching prospect. Treat defense like it's a necessity, not a luxury. Don't bunt and do pray." Amen.

How'd that go? Well enough, it seems. Our American League brethren helped us with the ace (Matsuzaka) and the fielding (Chavez and Castillo) while our first- and third-round picks (Beltran and Drew) solidified us up the middle. Our starters are a little thin, though we should have Clemens, Hampton and perhaps Bailey by June. And all of this sounded nice and peachy until the last bit of advice from the executive: "Just when you think things look good, they're probably not as good as they look or you think."

Memorable Draft Moment: When a steaming-mad Jeff e-mailed Will Carroll and accused him of letting Jenn Sterger know we were interested in drafting Mark Prior in the 10th round. She took him, and even though Will said he did not tip her off--and we believe him--we still have to say: Thanks, dude.

Cory Schwartz & Mike Sianoback to top
Charity: New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund (http://www.nypfwc.org/)
Draft Strategy: This is the first time we've ever done a Scoresheet league, so rather than trying to get too bogged down in the complexities of unfamiliar territory, we stuck to two basic maxims that apply in any format: Hitters Hit, and Flags Fly Forever. The first dictates that we emphasized offense over pitching in our draft strategy, and tried to make up for a relatively weak rotation with a deeper bullpen. If we can't outpitch teams, we'll try to outslug them. We were fortunate enough to grab some viable defensive replacements and platoon players later on, also, to assist in this goal. The second maxim means we want to win the NL Kings league this year and worry about the future and keepers later on. We ended up with some good young talent (Reyes, Atkins and Olsen in particular), and drafted a few prospects later in the draft on speculation, but we'll gladly put up with some rebuilding seasons if they are preceeded by a championship. Think '97 Marlins here!

Favorite Draft Moment: Once the interleague trading frenzy (and mild controversy) settled down, we really feel we took advantage of the opportunity to get better players from the AL than were available at a comparable point in the NL draft: Tadahito Iguchi (2nd base was all gone in the NL), Jason Kendall (a decent OBP later complemented by platoon mate Brian Schneider), 1B/OF insurance and top pinch-hitter Jay Gibbons, and others.

Anonymous Front Office Personback to top
Charity: My charity is the Humane Society.
Draft Strategy: First, let me state for the record that although I work in a major league baseball front office, I am not in the Baseball Operations department proper. I'd like this to be known so that when I post a .350 winning percentage in the league and my secret identity gets out, it is not a poor reflection on the organization for which I work.

I chose 9th out of 12 teams in the draft, so many of the big boppers were going to be off the board. I chose instead to employ a pitching and defense strategy--going for young position players with good defense and high OBP, and established pitchers who I was pretty sure would give me innings (the phrase "young pitchers will break your heart" is equally meaningful to fantasy owners as it is to traditional baseball fans). I was targeting Beltran or Jose Reyes with my first pick, and of course they were drafted 7th and 8th right in front of me--so I took Chris Carpenter.

I was quite happy with my infield until it was pointed out last weekend that I drafted a first baseman with a broken leg (Nick Johnson, whoopsie), and this set me into a small scramble mode that caused a few probable draft blunders. I was offered Ben Johnson for Ted Lilly to fill my 1B hole, which I agreed to but then realized that I had no left handed starter, so I traded Bronson Arroyo for Doug Davis and an extra pick to make sure I had a lefty. Someone in my baseball ops department then berated me heavily for trading Arroyo, so I hope he performs more like the second half of the year than the first to justify my bad move.

I know I've made a few decent moves as well--I've had owners trying to pry both Rolen and Orlando Hudson away from me but I won't budge because I want to see if my infield defense strategy has any value. I also had a report of an owner openly weeping when I took Adam Everett ahead of him later in the draft--this has to be a good sign, right?

The downside to my overall strategy is that it my outfield looks pretty weak on paper--I'll probably need some young players to make "the leap" to avoid my outfield dragging my team to the cellar. We'll see. This being my first Scoresheet league, I'll be happy with a .500 record.

Ben Murphy & Ian Lefkowitzback to top
Charity: Same as last year, we're playing for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. For those unaware, MS is a disease that has hit close to home for the BP family, as Keith Woolner's wife, Kathy, has been dealing with the effects of MS for a decade. The Woolners are active in fundraising for MS research, including participating in the MS Walk in RTP, North Carolina. I strongly encourage everyone to check out their group's website, Dessert First, and please consider pledging a few dollars by following the link.
Draft Strategy: After injuries and inexcusable trades (Josh Beckett will break out, I swear!) drove last year's preseason favorite into the ground, we've hopefully learned a few lessons for this go-round. While we hewed pretty closely to the PECOTA projections to determine player value, we emphasized flexibility and depth this year to try to forestall injury concerns.

Our general ideas about drafting were to focus on young and elite talent early, useful older guys in the middle, and talented prospects later. We also had to address some concerns about depth in the outfield and in the rotation, so we took fewer prospects than originally planned in the later rounds.

We were able to land David Wright with the 10th pick overall, which was exciting, and at the time, a very tough decision between him and Jake Peavy--we were surprised that either player was available. Naturally, we were shocked when Peavy fell to our second pick. Then, in the third round, we had picked out a few players we wanted, and all but one of them were taken before our pick, so we were happy to have Chris B. Young. Coming back, we stayed balanced, grabbing Dontrelle Willis. Our next two picks, Russ Martin and Tim Lincecum, might have been reaches, as the alternatives we considered lasted quite a while (it seemed like Chris Iannetta was there forever), and we might have been better off grabbing a decent bat, like Carlos Delgado, or another pitcher, like Zach Duke, instead.

It was around this point, after the young and elite talent was gone, that we decided to employ our (controversial) key strategy: trade down as often as possible. To that end we've picked up more players than any other team, 43 players total. This strategy gave us the chance to try to build both a competitive team this year and at the same time aim high for the future with two factions of youngsters. One faction is led by guys already on the Major League level, like Matt Kemp, and rookies like Evan Longoria, Andrew Miller, and Tim Lincecum--players that could make a significant and immediate impact, even in a soft-10 keeper league. We also have a group of players in the lower minors, including our 2011 outfield, Cameron Maybin, Jose Tabata, and Jay Bruce--guys who can be kept at the mere cost of a 35th round pick until their rookie eligibility expires.

This year's team, while missing half a pitching rotation and a second big bat behind David Wright, also features flexible up-the-middle backup defenders, such as Juan Uribe, who will in practice become a hypercharged Chone Figgins, and Ray Durham, who was projected to outslug all the first basemen left on the board at the time he was selected. Our outfield is running two platoons around Chris Hitter Young, with several backup platoon candidates behind them. Did I mention that we dig platoons?

As for our pitching, we have a couple of aces in the bullpen, Eric Gagne and Rafael Soriano, and in the rotation, the aforementioned Peavy and Willis. For the rest of the staff, we'll be substituting quantity for quality. That is how the saying goes, right? Either way, we'd do anything to avoid the dreaded Pitcher AAA.

Josh Levin & Steven Ehrenbergback to top
Charity: New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund
Draft Strategy: I was slightly reluctant to join this league because I have a problem controlling myself when it comes to fantasy baseball. In an attempt to divide the labor, I brought on a trusted pal, Steven Ehrenberg, as my co-VP of player personnel. Rather than save time, this codependency has driven us both into madness. Not content to sit back and enjoy the draft, we have traded up to draft Arizona's presumptive fifth starter and a part-time (at best) Reds outfielder. We have swapped picks to the American League to draft middle relievers. We have drafted several Chicago Cubs. I am not proud of any of that, nor am I particularly thrilled with our starting rotation (Hill, Cain, and pray that Josh Johnson doesn't have permanent nerve damage). Steven and I do think that our Killer B's lineup (Berkman, Bay, Burke, Byrnes, Brad Hawpe, Bedwin Bencarnacion) will keep us in a lot of games. We are also irrationally happy about our catching platoon. (Just look at Bengie Molina's splits!)

Rany Jazayerliback to top
Charity: Camp Discovery, created by the American Academy of Dermatology to provide a free, week-long summer camp experience to children with serious and debilitating skin diseases.
Draft Strategy: Like last year, my first priority was to amass enough playing time to avoid the dreaded Player-AAA as much as possible. Hopefully, I did a better job of avoiding players that get hurt than I did last year, when my lineup was so depleted early in the season that Josh Paul was roaming my outfield. I particularly emphasized up the middle positions, and when I thought that people weren't taking catchers quickly enough I didn't hesitate to grab Josh Bard and Ronny Paulino to go with Brian McCann.

Not wanting a reprise of last year, when I took shortstops (Jhonny Peralta and Derek Jeter) with my first two picks, and then could not trade either one all season, I quickly moved McCann for Roy Oswalt (who I would have taken with that pick if McCann had been gone) and future considerations. I still have Paulino and Bard, which gives me a nice trading chip if and when one of my competitors find themselves down to Henry Blanco and Eric Munson behind the plate.

I grabbed a ton of starting pitching, and was happy to snag Matt Morris and Jamie Moyer late--guys who throw 200 innings, even 200 mediocre innings, are very valuable as hedges against injuries or the inevitable disappointments of youth (Chad Billingsley already looks like he's lost his rotation spot, for instance.) I also wanted to grab guys going into their contract year (which is why I took Andruw Jones with my first pick) and guys moving over from the AL to the inferior league. Freddy Garcia fits both criteria, which is why I think he could prove to be my best pick.

I also tried to grab prospects who should be in the majors by 2008, but who wouldn't exhaust their rookie status this year, allowing me to use slots at the end of the draft to protect them next year, instead of one of my 10 keeper slots. I thought Andrew McCutchen was a steal where I grabbed him, and a year from now him and Colby Rasmus could be among the 10 best prospects in the game.

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