Duck season! Rabbit season! Baseball season!

Yesterday was the annual six-hour crankfest known as the Irrational League draft. This year’s was a standard draft and I think I did well. My batters are all starters except for the catchers, both of whom are backups, but with a bit of oomph in their swings. I have no Jack Wilsons this year, but Cristian Guzman comes close. Guzman was the only batter pick that made me cringe.

I left Jamie Moyer on the table slightly too long and he was drafted a few spots before I would have grabbed him to complete my pitching staff. Instead I had to go with either Mike Hampton (ugh), Zach Duke (double ugh), or Joel Pineiro (more double ugh). I went with Hampton under the assumption that he has the most chance of being good, even though I think they will all disappoint.

My keepers were Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Matt Kemp, and Ryan Ludwick. I wasn’t happy keeping Ludwick, but he was the best option. Now, my team, with my projections….

C: Ramon Castro: .265, 11 HR, 30 RBI
C: Yorvit Torrealba: .260, 5 HR, 35 RBI
1B: Lance Berkman: .300, 30 HR, 90 RBI, 10 SB
2B: Luis Castillo: .275, 40 RBI, 20 SB
SS: JJ Hardy: .275, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB
3B: Ryan Zimmerman: .295, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB
CI: Nick Johnson: .295, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Edgar Renteria: .285, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB
OF: Carlos Beltran: .275, 30 HR, 95 RBI, 20 SB
OF: Ryan Ludwick: .265, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .276, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 30 SB
OF: Randy Winn: .285, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Cody Ross: .255, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Cristian Guzman: .290, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Skip Schumaker: .275, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 10 SB

I think the team will reach a .280 average and 255 HRs – probably good for second or third place. I expect to finish near first in RBIs with about 1035. Steals should top 140, which will also rank fairly high, say third or fourth. Figure 33 points in hitting. I have three shortstops for trade bait, although I did last year, too, and no one wanted them.

My pitching is both better and worse than last year. It’s better in that I have three bona fide closers whereas last year I had one, plus a wannabe. My closer choked and lost his job (Manny Corpas) and my wanna be came through. I had better starting pitching last year. This year’s starters are all injury risks, but should be good enough to help we win the rate categories. Wins will donate the fewest points to my score.

SP: Rich Harden: 12 W, 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
SP: Chris Carpenter: 10 W, 3.55 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
SP: Randy Johnson: 12 W, 3.70 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Dave Bush: 13 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
P: Braden Looper: 13 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Mike Hampton: 10 W, 4.50 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
RP: Kevin Gregg: 33 Sv, 3 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Heath Bell: 25 Sv, 3 W, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Chad Qualls: 25 Sv, 3 W, 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
RP: Josh Kinney: 4 Sv, 2 W, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

I figure I’ll end up 85 saves (top three finish), 81 wins (sixth, maybe fifth place), 3.80 ERA (top two), and a WHIP of 1.24 (top two). Split a few hairs and that grosses me another 33 points or so, to give my team an expected 66 points overall – and that total is money in the bank. Of course, the starters’ health has to hold up.

My reserves are OF Matt Holliday (yes!), 1B/2B Jeff Baker, SP/RP Cha Seung Baek, and RP Will Ohman. Impending free agent Holliday is a gamble on next year (I think the A’s will be in the race long enough to keep him the whole year), and the others are all useful plug-ins. Between Schumaker and Baker, the only position at which I’m without a back-up is 3B, and I expect big things from Zimmerman.

I’m more confident this year than I was last year.

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