Saturday, April 01, 2006

The morning after

I spent the hours between 8:00 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. at CFCF studios (Montreal's CTV affiliate) last night. I had my laptop and stacks of notes, for this was the annual fantasy baseball draft of the Irrational League.

The ten teams in the league draft only NL players, 15 position players and ten pitchers, along with four reserves. Scoring is 4x4, for those that know the jargon.

We met at CFCF because several media types manage teams. From CFCF, we have Frank Cavallaro and Randy Tieman. Jeremy Zafran from 940 News is league commissioner. CJAD's Rick Moffat also participates, allegedly - he's an absentee landlord most of the time. Some owners live out of town: Darryl Henry from Toronto's EZ Rock, for example.

So once a year, we spend six hours at CFCF and the non-locals join us on MSN chat. We kibbitz, we trashtalk, and we all make fun of Frank. It's a blast. Frank deserves it. He calls three times a week with ridiculous trade offers, and some owners succumb to the pressure.

I won the league in 2004 with a powerhouse team. Frank finished second that year. Last year, I was seventh, and Frank was last. Both years were successes - as long as I finish higher than Frank, a season is a success. I think that's a consensus. We all won last year.

Our league mandates four keepers. I went into last night with Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera, Lance Berkman (go Owls!), and Andruw Jones. Good hitting for sure, but only second-best among the teams. Eight of the other teams kept pitchers.

As is my usual weakness, I overdrafted pitching. I don't think I have quite enough power despite my keeper boost, and speed is adequate for middle of the pack. I have far and away the best starting pitching, but the relief is shaky with the two weakest closers in the league and no back-up.

I have much positional flexibility to compensate for injuries, and several outfielders and middle infielders who may be primed for bigger years than expected, like Corey Hart or Victor Diaz.

Here's what I'm starting with:

C Brian McCann ATL (the best catcher in the league, I think, and chosen fifth or sixth in the position)
C Miguel Olivo FLA (always nice to get two starting catchers)
1B Lance Berkman HOU
2B Todd Walker CHI (a late pick; no one knew he was annointed the Cubs' starter)
SS Edgar Renteria ATL
3B Miguel Cabrera FLA
CI Scott Hatteberg CIN (a rebound year would be nice)
MI Luis A. Gonzalez COL
OF Carlos Beltran NYM (a better year is expected)
OF Andruw Jones ATL (I'll settle for 40 HRs)
OF Eric Byrnes ARI
OF Cory Sullivan COL
OF Brad Hawpe COL (a monster of a man who could explode for 30+ HRs)
UT Anderson Hernandez NYM (let's hope he swipes some bags with painless batting average)
UT Corey Hart MIL (great potential)

SP John Smoltz ATL (my first pick)
SP Ben Sheets MIL
SP Odalis Perez LAD
SP Brad Penny LAD
SP Greg Maddux CHI (amazing how far he fell in the draft)
SP Woody Williams (I'm hoping he'll throw some relief this week and quallify as a reliever)
RP Chris Reitsma (sketchy saves)
RP David Weathers (sketchier saves)
RP Matt Wise (solid ability, if few wins or saves)
RP Joey Eischen (my last pick)

My reserves:
2B Kaz Matsui NYM
OF Victor Diaz NYM
OF Jeff DaVanon ARI
SS Damian Jackson WAS

It's not easy deciding who gets to play each week among my reserves. Until somebody wins a full-time job, it will be tough to rotate folks in and out of the lineup each week. And are the steals and power languishing in my reserves more valuable than Scott Hatteberg's mediocre contributions? Hard to say at this point, but Hatteberg at least plays every day, so he's in.

Bonus advice from the "Ask Webs" consumer column:

If you put a Kingston USB memory stick through the laundry cycle, it will still work. Plus, it comes out nice and shiny.


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