I had my draft Sunday for the fantasy baseball league that I’ve been in the longest. Unfortunately, it’s also the league I’ve had the least success in. And I’m already starting at a disadvantage because we keep three players every season, and my keepers are absolute garbage.
I’m trying to reverse season after season of bad decisions, decisions that seemed good at the time but backfired, injuries, and just about any other form of bad luck that can inflict a fantasy baseball team.
I think I did a better job than last year, but looking back at last year’s draft, I am amazed I didn’t finish in dead last. What a shit show. What the hell was I thinking with some of those picks?
Without further ado, I present the 2011 Ticketless Basterds:
Round 1 (keeper): Josh Johnson, SP, FLA: Johnson is the only one of my three keepers who could remotely be considered someone who might be selected in the first three rounds. I traded for him late last season with an eye toward keeping him, and he proved that he belonged on my team by immediately being shut down for the rest of the season. All reports indicate that he’s healthy. He’s a top-level pitcher. Can the Marlins score enough runs when he pitches?
Round 2 (keeper): Alex Rios, OF, CHW: Rios has power and speed, but he is by no means a player who belongs in the first three rounds. Neither was my other keeper (below). My team was so bad last year that, Johnson aside, I was basically choosing from the best cat turds in the litter box.
Round 3 (keeper): B.J. Upton, OF, TB: If potential ever became reality, he would be a legitimate keeper. He has great speed and has shown some power. I’m hoping that being surrounded by a decent Rays lineup will help, and that he finally takes that last step to stardom.
Round 4: Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Welcome back, big fella. Players can be kept for three seasons in this league, and I had Howard for almost three, as I traded him late last season. His power numbers will always be there, but, as I’ve learned with Howard, you have to really pay attention when he starts slumping, and you can’t be afraid to bench him. When he hits one of his two-week ruts, they are really, really bad ruts, and production is nonexistent. But when he’s hot, he can carry both the Phillies and the Ticketless Basterds.
Round 5: Jered Weaver, SP, LAA: I have never had elite pitching in this league, and one of my goals coming into this draft was to change that. Johnson and Weaver represent a formidable one-two punch, with strikeouts galore.
Round 6: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT: I probably took him about two rounds too early, but according to my value sheet, he was the only decent third baseman left. He showed a lot in a half-season with the Pirates last year, and I’m banking on continued progress.
Round 7: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS: Ellsbury, Rios, and Upton should keep me at the higher end in the stolen base category. Ellsbury doesn’t bring too much else to the table, but I really didn’t like the other outfielders available here. As evidenced in my other draft this season, I seem to be allergic to drafting outfielders.
Round 8: Kendrys Morales, 1B, LAA: I generally don’t like taking another player at a position I already have covered (Howard), but he was by far the best player left on the board. I just hope that when Morales added an “s” at the end of his first name, he also added the common sense to not break his fucking leg by jumping into the celebratory pile after a walk-off home run. He’s a great power hitter, and I will plug him into my infield or utility slot, as well as using him to replace Howard when he slumps.
Round 9: Clay Buchholz, SP, BOS: I wanted a strong rotation, and this pick was a big step toward achieving that goal.
Round 10: Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL: His spotty health scares me, but I needed a second baseman, and 75% of Roberts was better than 100% of anyone else left on the list. Of course, he’s already hurt.
Round 11: Phil Hughes, SP, NYY: I didn’t think any of the remaining shortstops or catchers were worth burning a pick for, and I am a big fan of Hughes and believe he gets better with every start.
Round 12: Joe Nathan, RP, MIN: The inevitable run on closers began, and the healthy elite closers were gone by the time I picked, so I opted for gambling on a previously elite closer returning from an injury, rather than a closer with a spotty hold on the job.
Round 13: Josh Beckett, SP, BOS: Beckett cannot possibly be as bad as he was last year, could he? I thought a pick in round 13 was worth finding out.
Round 14: Starlin Castro, SS, CHC: I had him during the latter part of last season, and he was a surprisingly strong producer on a scuffling Cubs team.
Round 15: Joel Hanrahan, RP, PIT: Some reports have him closing, while some lean toward Evan Meek. I needed a second closer, and he was the best of what was left, as long as he gets the job.
Round 16: Edwin Jackson, SP, CHW: He put up very solid numbers last season, and I was surprised he was still available. Granted, he’s not a big-name guy, but I was very happy to get him this late in the draft.
Round 17: Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN: His talent is unquestionable, but this pick could backfire because it doesn’t look like he’ll start or close. But if he throws a bunch of innings out of the bullpen, the strikeouts will come, along with an occasional win or save.
Round 18: Grady Sizemore, OF, CLE: A pick in round 18 was totally worth gambling on this guy getting healthy. He’s likely starting the season on the DL, but I’m not concerned, yet.
Round 19: Kurt Suzuki, C, OAK: Another returnee who performed very well for my squad last season.
Round 20: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B/SS, MIN: I made this pick based on potential (his only stats are from Japan) and on the fact that I can plug him in for Roberts or Castro. I just hope he’s more like Ichiro and less like Kaz Matsui.
Round 21: Austin Jackson, OF, DET: More steals, and a solid backup outfielder.
Round 22: Koji Uehara, RP, BAL: Another potential closer, and his numbers were excellent last season.
Round 23: Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC: How the mighty have fallen. I remember when he was actually in the mix for No. 1 overall pick. With Sizemore starting off the year on the DL, I wanted some power to plug in. Hell, it was round 23!