I participated in another “expert” draft on Tuesday night, courtesy of an invitation from Grey Albright at Razzball. It was a 12-team mixed league straight draft, and it was a strange experience – without a doubt the shallowest draft I’ve played in several years.

About the only plan I had going in was to avoid the players I had taken in LABR’s mixed league – spread my risks around, if you will. I wound up breaking that rule, not once, but four times, with players who had been sitting at the top of my boards for a long time by the time I took them.

The most interesting part of the draft for me, though –  and not in a good way – was the physical toll it had on me. It was only about three hours, and I did the whole thing from the comfort of my office chair, but by the last few rounds I was sweating like I was in the Amazon, my stomach was a solid constricted knot, and my head was crossed between a solid compressional pain and a loopy lightheadedness that had me barely able to sit up. It gives me a lot of worry about how I’ll handle upcoming drafts, in person, away from my house, for six+ hours at a time.

I had the six spot in this draft,  a touch better than the 13 I drew in LABR – right in the middle of the pack, with a steady interval between picks. Braun, Cabrera, Trout, McCutcheon, and Cano went before me. I settled for Matt Kemp readily enough.  Those who know me know I tend to value pitchers more than most, so it should not come as a surprise that I took Justin Verlander in the second round (Kershaw had gone a couple of picks earlier, and I probably would have taken him if I could.)

The third round had me salivating for Adam Jones, who was taken right before my turn. Damn. (That was my only real non-self-inflicted Damn of the night, though, so that’s good). I reloaded with Jay Bruce instead, and when the fourth round got back to me I decided to take an infielder with Starlin Castro. The fifth round sent me back to pitchers, and I chose Craig Kimbrel – first closer taken, and with serious misgivings about how he’s looked this spring. Freddie Freeman is one of my favorite breakout guys for the season, and his spring numbers – .346 translated EQA in Florida games – hasn’t done anything to dissuade me. I got him in the sixth. I took Kris Medlen in the 8th – he wasn’t actually next on my list, but only because of my doubts about his endurance, giving me three Braves in a row.

My 8th round went to Carlos Gomez, and I’m not sure why – I seem to have had a sudden panic attack about stolen bases and just flipped his name out there. Number 9 for me was Sergio Romo, who I clearly like a lot better than any other site I’ve seen. Tenth I took the “catcher” who is least likely to catch any games at all this season, Victor Martinez. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from him, but I do love the lineup slot he’s got. Eleven saw me go back to the mound for C.J. Wilson; here’s looking at the minor surgery clearing up the problem that dragged him down the last couple of months of 2012.

Halfway through, and I make my first repeat in Danny Espinosa. I really should have taken Howie Kendrick here – they were essentially equal players on my draft sheet, and I like what Kendrick (.409) has done this spring a lot more than Espinosa (.232).  I think the physical issues were starting to come on and affect me. Went to Doug Fister for my 13th pick, Pedro Alvarez at 14 (there was a run going on 3b going on, and I was getting panicky about being stuck with an even deeper option). Decided to take on some age and get Torii Hunter in the 15th. For 16 I hit my repeat board again, with another player I love as a 2013 breakout – Brandon Belt.

At 17 I went for Jason Vargas, who had actually been atop my board for a couple of rounds – I do love the outfield he’ll be pitching in front of. Alexei Ramirez at 18 wrapped up my infield. At this point I went looking for a pitcher who’s forecast was tolerable – not necessarily the best that’s left, but someone who had value within the format – but was having a strong spring. And I came up Jeff Niemann. I decided to take Joaquin Benoit next – I’ve got Rondon in another league, so I should have a closer in at least one of them. I did sort of the same thing for hitters, bringing up Aaron Hicks and his likely seizure of Minnesota’s center field. Hmm. Probably not my best choice of words. That left one more spot on my roster, and I filled it with a repeat (ugh) of Drew Stubbs (ugh ugh).

I was able to wash that sour taste out of my mouth by taking the hottest of hot bats, Jackie Bradley, with my first reserve pick. I liked him a lot coming into the season – the straight output forecast gave him a .274 eqa and 3.0 WARP, which was the 3rd-best total amongst Boston outfielders (Victorino and Ellsbury were higher). I certainly don’t like him less with his spring. Found my way to taking Hyunjin Ryu, another repeat, next, but I love what I get from the Korean numbers. And with the last pick, I went with a guy whose spring numbers are even better than Jackie Bradley’s, and in an organization where there is a lot less talent blocking his path to the majors – Christian Yelich of the Marlins.

And so to bed.


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