I stocked up on Coke Zero, figs, and rye matzah yesterday and spent the afternoon in a conference room at the TSN Radio 690 for the annual Irrational League draft and bitchfest.
I took an unusual tack with my keepers this year in two respects. I kept no pitchers. Any pitchers I would have kept would have been barely equal in value to my hitter keepers. Since hitters are more reliable than pitchers, it’s an easy decision to keep the bats and cut the arms loose, even if it is Mat Latos.
The second thing I did differently was to pay at least a little attention to positional scarcity. My decision on my last two keepers came down to three choices: Starling Marte; Aaron Hill; and Yadier Molina. I kept the infielder and catcher even though Marte has a higher ceiling.
Ultimately, I kept Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Hill, and Molina. I went into the draft hoping to grab the first drafted pitcher with my #3 pick. That’s how I ended up with Roy Halladay. It’s a calculated risk.
This is a transition years for NL-only leagues, since we lost two teams. Yes, two. The Astros are in the AL now and so are nearly all the decent Marlins. It was deep into the draft before any of us drafted a Marlin besides Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek. The loss of the Astros takes 5400 AB out of the league, or roughly 6% of the available total. I’m not sure enough teams compensated for that in the draft.
I’m happy with my picks, although I have no real first-baseman for a few months. My roster and predictions:
C: Yadier Molina: .285, 15 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB
C: Devin Mesoraco: .245, 10 HR, 30 R, 30 RBI
1B: Logan Morrison: .255, 15 HR, 55 R, 55 RBI
2B: Aaron Hill: .270, 20 HR, 80 R, 65 RBI, 10 SB
SS: Chris Pennington: .255, 5 HR, 40 R, 40 RBI, 10 SB
3B: David Wright: .280, 20 HR, 75 R, 75 RBI, 10 SB
CI: John Mayberry: .250, 15 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Darwin Barney: .270, 5 HR, 60 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .290, 25 HR, 95 R, 95 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .285, 30 HR, 90 R, 100 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .260, 35 HR, 85 R, 100 RBI, 5 SB
OF: John Jay: .290, 10 HR, 70 R, 60 RBI, 10 SB
OF: David DeJesus: .265, 10 HR, 80 R, 50 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Denard Span: .270, 5 HR, 75 R, 45 RBI, 15 SB
UT: Collin Cowgill: .255, 10 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 10 SB
I have Jerry Hairston filling a roster spot while Logan Morrison mends. Yes, that’s the Astros effect. Other than that and John Mayberry, everyone else at least starts with a full-time job.
Last year, I predicted totals of .270, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. I wound up with .280, 228 HR, 908 R, 865 RBI, and 130 SB. I earned 37 points instead of the predicted 46, which I thought was optimistic – but Matt Kemp missed a third of the year with injuries.
This year, I’m looking forward to .270, 230 HR, 985 R, 950 RBI, and 110 SB. My projections tell me that’s good for clear first-place finishes in runs and RBI, strong second-place finishes in average and home runs, and a middle of the pack finish in stolen bases. I’m going to be conservative and estimate 42 points.
Despite going into the draft with no pitchers, I came out with a fairly strong pitching staff. I have solid starters and nobody too terrible to ruin the year, which is a big problem on some other teams. I snagged some familiar names. Latos, Estrada, and Fiers finished the year with me last year.
SP: Mat Latos: 13 W, 165 K, 3.80 ERA; 1.25 WHIP
SP: Roy Halladay: 13 W, 145 K, 3.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
SP: Marco Estrada: 12 W, 150 K, 3.65 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Mike Fiers: 12 W, 145 K, 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Edwin Jackson: 13 W, 160 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Juan Nicasio: 10 W, 120 K, 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
RP: Chris Capuano: 6 W, 70 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: J.J. Putz: 30 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Jason Motte: 25 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 2.80 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Mark Melancon: 5 Sv, 3 W, 55 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Waiting for injuries to heal are Francisco Liriano and my man-crush, Corey Luebke. I also have Taylor Skaggs (another Angel refugee from last year) for those who believe in pitching prospects. I only believe in them when the option is Jason Marquis.
Liriano when healthy will replace Nicasio, I suspect, unless there’s an injury.
My projections give me good but not great WHIP and ERA in the second to fourth-place range. Let’s call that two third-place finishes for 16 points. I should expect 90 wins, 60 saves, and 1,140 Ks. Normally that’s middle of the pack in saves and upper third in wins and strikeouts. This year, the cumulative stats will be harder to come by, so I may finish slightly better than that. Call it fifth, second, and third respectively. Pitching points total to 39.
Hmmm, 39 and 42 points sum to a league championship, as long as I only suffer the standard injury losses. We’ll see.
Bonus cleaning tip:
Ever burn sugar or milk in a pot so badly that you think of throwing the pot away? I was reducing some balsamic vinegar when it turned on me and carbonized, welding itself to the inside of a saucepan. Online hints told me to try Tide or bleach. Neither worked and neither did generic CLR. I had an idea, though, and that worked: use spray-on oven cleaner! Let the pot soak in for a few hours and the mess wipes up easily.