Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Kernel Defeats Buckeyes

Monday, January 5th, 2009

A Cedar Rapids Kernel defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in tonight’s Fiesta Bowl.

Leave a comment if you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s Root, Root, Root for the Rays

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Baseball is a great game, it’s playoff season, and I’m on the Rays bandwagon.

Yes, I’d have preferred to still be rooting for the Cubs, I’d like to have seen the Angels beat the Red Sox, and I’d hoped that the Twins would best the White Sox.

But since I don’t have strong feelings about any of the teams that are still left, how can I decide who to root for? Well, I have a few guiding principles to help me:

  1. Never root for a team with devil or demon in its name.
  2. Never root for a team from San Fransisco.

And, what do you know, my principles came through! Until last year, the team from Tampa Bay was known as the Devil Rays. According to my tightly held principles, I was obliged to root against them.

But this year, the team has dropped devil from its name, and is known as simply the Rays. My principles not only allow me to now root for them, but encourage me to do so. Wouldn’t it be cool for the Rays to succeed in the year that they dumped the devil?

Tatis In the News (Again)

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

I previously wrote a trivia (not trivial) article featuring an amazing feat by Fernando Tatis. My coverage of this nearly forgotten player spurred additional attention. :) Tatis has lately been in the news again, and it’s a good story. Read about it in the New York Times or at Yahoo Sports.

MLB On XM Update

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I recently wrote about the loss of our St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcasts in Cedar Rapids, and my thoughts about buying XM Radio in order to listen to the Major League Baseball (MLB) games.

Shockingly, only one of the legions of faithful readers had any experience or advice to share. One reader wrote of second hand knowledge that signal repeaters did, indeed, allow a radio with a home to receive a signal.

Well, I decided that there were better things to do than buy an XM radio, several necessary accessories and a $12.95 per month subscription.

MLB Radio But I didn’t give up. Instead, I purchased the Gameday Audio package from Major League Baseball ($15.00). This service streams the radio broadcasts of all the MLB games, with my choice of the home broadcast or the away broadcast, to my PC. No, I can’t listen in the car, but I’m not in the car much. Yes, I co have to have a live Internet connection, but I almost always do (except when I’m in my car, I suppose).

It doesn’t yet work with my iPhone via WiFi, though I’m hopeful that it will by next season. And I had a few minor problems getting it to work on a Mac (I needed to download the latest audio application), but so far, I’ve been very happy with the reasonably priced service.

MLB on XM

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I wrote over a year ago about the diversity in baseball radio broadcasts available in our area. Today, I am sad to report that the corridor is not as diverse as it once was. And since we all know that a diverse community is a good community, our community is now a bit diminished.

AM 1360 The Fan, one of our local radio stations, inexplicably no longer broadcasts the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. Previously a member of the Cardinals Radio Network, the station must find that local hockey and high school games are more profitable. While there might be those who listen to local hockey and high school football games, I’ve not yet met anyone that does (at least, not that does on purpose). While it’s not easy to imagine more fans of local hockey than of the Cardinals, it is easy to imagine that the broadcast costs of a local hockey game would be much less than the cost of broadcasting a Major League Baseball game. So, I assume that the decision was made not to attract more listeners, but to reduce the cost of the programming. If you’d like to see the Cardinals returns to AM 1360, I encourage you to do as I did and email the program director, Randy Lee.

As my faithful readers already know, I enjoy listening to baseball games on the radio. Though we’ve lost the Cardinals, I can still listen to many of the Cubs and White Sox games, with an occasional Rockies game. However, I do miss the Cardinals broadcasts.

So, I’ve been considering MLB on XM satellite radio. XM broadcasts all of the MLB games, making previously unavailable games available. This is very intriguing.

However, two things have held me back:

  1. I spend most of my time indoors, not in my car. Satellite reception indoors is typically a problem. However, Delphi has addressed this problem with an antenna and signal repeater. If an indoor location can be found where the signal repeater can receive a signal from the satellite, it can then broadcast the signal to interior locations that do not receive the satellite signal directly.
  2. Most of the XM receivers are intended for cars, which provide a sound system. I, on the other hand, want the receiver to be more like a portable transistor radio (as if there were still transistor radios). I’d like a sleep timer and battery power, so I can easily move it from room to room (as I do my AM radio). However, the best that is available appears to be a receiver and a sound system or boom box, none of which (yet) appear to approximate the ease of use of a portable AM radio.

Do you have any experience with XM radio, and especially with bringing XM radio into your home? If so, what has your experience been and what advice do you have for me?

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Friday, May 16th, 2008

As I’m working this afternoon, I’m also listening to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo call the Chicago Cubs baseball game on AM 800, KXIC. While my experience with radio announcers is limited to the Cardinals, the Twins, the Rockies, the White Sox and the Cubs, and even though I am a Cardinals fan, I freely admit that Pat and Ron are the most entertaining radio broadcasters of those who I have the opportunity to hear.

But that, as interesting as it no doubt is, isn’t the topic of this article.

One endearing feature of a Cubs radio broadcast is hearing the traditional Take Me Out to the Ballgame “sung” during the seventh inning stretch, often by a “famous” guest.

And as I listened today, it struck me just how few of these guests can sing on key. Most, though not all, go up and down in pitch at many of the appropriate places, but rarely get close to actually singing the actual melody in any actual key. Have you noticed that, too?

The Most Underpaid Player

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

“Hopefully I go out there and make myself the most underpaid player in the game for the next four years.”
— Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright signed a four year, $15-million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals rather than opting for more lucrative earnings as a free agent.1

1. As reported in World Magazine

2008 Hot Wheelers

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The 2008 Iowa Farm League draft, excellently comissioneered by my friend Brian, was held this past Saturday. The Iowa Farm League is a fantasy baseball league with 12 teams, all with local (Cedar Rapids) ownership. We all get together once a year for a live auction draft, then settle in for a season of excitement.

I really like fantasy baseball. I enjoy the draft, the strategy, the numbers, almost everything about it! My first experience with it was in the summer of 1981 or 1982 when one of my college friends (apparently with nothing better to do) didn’t mind keeping score by hand, using information from a weekly USA Today newspaper. Of course, now the computer and the availability of statistics make this game much less mathematically strenuous, but no less engrossing.

In the mid-90′s, my friend Brian and I started a league with friends from Parsons Technology, where we both worked. Following the long slide and eventual dissolution of that company, the league went dormant until Brian revived it again. I missed a few years of the new league, but 2008 marks our fifth consecutive season back in the league.

Even though at least a few of the other IFL owners occasionally read this blog (you know who you are — I’m glad you’re here — please leave a comment to say hello when you read this), I don’t think I’m giving away any strategic secrets when I write that there are two primary components to a team’s success: the draft, and the day-to-day management. A team needs both to be successful. So, while the draft isn’t the end of the story, it is an important part of the story. This is one reason that I like it so much — a good draft can make a good year possible.

I’ve always believed that a successful draft requires flexibility, and this year bore that out. We had a general draft strategy going into the draft, but made adjustments based on what the other teams were doing. For instance, this year, I began the draft with these four strategies:

  1. Do have a strong corner infield, as there’s more scarcity on the corners than in the outfield.
  2. Do not overspend where quality is scarce ( catcher and middle infield).
  3. In fact, do not spend more than $1 for catcher.
  4. Do not overspend on starting pitching and certainly not on middle relievers.

You can see that one of our strategies going into this draft was to avoid high-priced pitchers. I thought of having a few starters (enough to not finish last in wins and strikeouts), then fill the staff with a closer and quality middle relievers. Since pitching is hard to predict, and since there are always some pitcher statistics to be found on the free agent list, it didn’t make sense to spend a lot on pitchers. Additionally, in our league, it’s almost always possible to trade a good offensive player for a good pitcher, but rarely possible to talk another owner into trading a good batter for a good pitcher.

However, that strategy changed as the draft unfolded. Why? It started early when one of the owners bought three pitchers for premium prices:

$23 - C. Zambrano
$27 - J. Peavy
$21 - C. Hamels

It was an unexpected strategy. (Unexpected, but not one that I would employ.) Two other owners continued the $20+ acquisition of top starters.

$21 - A. Harang
$21 - J. Smoltz
$21 - B. Webb

Then, I noticed that at least two other owners were avoiding pitchers all together. They were applying my current strategy, or something close to it.

I concluded that this could result in the opportunity to buy quality (though not elite) starters at a discounted price earlier in the draft, rather than later. I thought that the big-spenders might dial back for the next few available pitchers in an effort to conserve, but that the wallets might open again later in the auction. It also muddied the cost of middle relievers, who might be in higher demand toward the end of the draft (raising the price), or might be being avoided all-together (lowering the price). It definitely encouraged me not to wait until the end of the draft to address pitching needs. Finally, I concluded that my pitching strategy wouldn’t work over the course of the season, if it was followed by too many other teams. To be successful, it needed to be unique.

Thus, mid-draft we adjusted our strategy to abandon middle relievers and seek value buys in the quality (but not top-tier) starters.

The following table shows our acquisitions as the draft developed. (We had a total of 260 pretend dollars to spend.)

Pos  Cost  Player Notes
SS $14 H. Ramirez Our league allows two players from the ending roster from the previous year to be brought back for another season, after applying 15% salary inflation. Two years ago, we drafted Ramirez as a rookie for $10. We kept him last year for $12 and again this year. This price of $14 is a significant bargain and gives us an advantage over some of the other teams which don’t have as a good a value for their keeper.
P $2 O. Perez Perez was a $1 pitcher last year that contributed more than $1 in value. We opted to give him a chance again this year.
1B $34 R. Howard I expected others to bid more, but was happy to get him at this price.
P $9 K. Wood This was a surprise. I expected a $10 bid from another player and was just trying to run up the price. However, I’m OK with Wood at $9, as he has the potential for a good year. $9 isn’t too much to risk. It also allowed me to layoff any closers that were going for a high price.
C $1 M. Barrett This was a small mistake. It was our turn to make a $1 bid, and we called out a catcher. Since we wanted others to bid up the price, since no one else bidded, we were stuck with him for $1. We had expected to spend only $1 on our catcher, but I’m not sure Barrett is the one we’d have picked. However, with few exceptions, catchers are very unexceptional. We’ll keep Barrett, or replace him with another unexceptional catcher as the season develops.
1B $36 M. Teixeira Teixeira was high on our want list going into the draft, so I overspent on him. However, this purchase began to put the squeeze on other teams at the 1B position, and allowed us to back-off bidding for an elite 3rd baseman. In comparison, Pujols was bought for $32. Howard at $34 and Teixeira at $36 are both safer buys.
P $14 Y. Gallardo At this point in the draft, several of the top pitchers had been purchased for $20+. Gallardo will start the season on the DL and miss 2 to 4 weeks. However, he should be a solid #2 starter upon his return.
P $3 W. Rodriguez This was a bargain buy that began to solidify our change in pitching draft strategy. Several starting pitchers had drawn high prices, so we looked for solid starters at value prices. After all, two solid pitchers are as valuable as one elite starter and a scrub. I still hoped to buy one of the elite pitchers, but hoped to spend less than $20.
P $21 C. Young And here’s our elite starter. He was the last one available, which pushed us over the $20 mark. We now had four solid pitchers on our staff and a suspect closer with a potential upside.
OF $13 K. Fukudome Fukudome was also on my pre-draft want list. I think the Cubs will have a good season, and Fukudome should be a solid contributor with the possibility to exceed expectations.
P $13 A. Wainwright Our new pitching strategy is in full swing, with the acquisition of the Cardinals #1 starter. It will be a down year for the Cards, but Wainwright could still have 14 to 15 wins.
P $12 D. Lowe Our next acquisition was yet another pitcher, and another good one. This gave us 6 quality starters and a suspect closer with potential upside. Since it’s not unusual for middle relievers to be available on the free agent market, we were now able to commit to not spending more than $1 each for the three additional pitchers that we needed. It’s unusual for us to nail down our pitchers so quickly. While the draft strategy had changed dramatically during the draft, I was happy with how it was turning out. Unfortunately, the offense still had lots of holes.
OF $34 A. Dunn Dunn was one of the few elite hitters still left, and high on our list. However, I suspected (correctly) that he was also high on Brian’s list. Sure enough, when he was introduced into the draft, Brian also wanted him. As you can see, I was willing to go higher.
OF $8 B. Giles Oddly, the acquisition of Brian Giles — an average player with declining skills — for $8 was the acquisition that made me begin to feel good about our offense. At this point, we still need middle infielders and a third baseman, but we had four of the top offensive players and a solid starting staff.
P $1 J. Cruz One of our $1 pitchers.
OF $8 F. Pie A winning team can usually look back at the play of a rookie that exceeded draft expectations. Pie could be that player.
P $1 M. Mulder One of our $1 pitchers. Mulder starts the year recovering from shoulder surgery. If this surgery correct the problem, then Mulder could be a huge contributor later in the season and a keeper for next year. If not, then we didn’t really lose anything.
OF $18 C. Maybin Interest in Maybin was higher than we expected. However, at this point of the draft, the available talent was thin; third baseman Mark Reynolds had sold for $25. Though we still needed players, it was clear that there wasn’t any established talent at middle infield and third base still available. So, we were able to outbid on Maybin. Like Pie, Maybin could be a rookie that catches lightning in a bottle. However, it’s likely that he’ll start the season in the minors (and potentially spend the season there).
P $1 M. Clement One of our $1 pitchers. My goal here was to snag some one that could have value, but mostly to not call out a holds pitcher that some one might bid more than $1 from. In other words, by not calling some one that could attract attention, I made it more likely that that person would stay on the free agent market. Our pitching staff was now full. We still needed a 2B, MI, 3B and bench selection on offense.
2B
SS
3B
$3 B. Ryan This utility player from St. Louis gave us flexibility. While we won’t start the season as a starter, his position eligibility gave us draft flexibility. Since we had two strong first baseman, I wasn’t worried about having a part-time player at our 3B position.
2B $3 A. Kennedy Kennedy had an awful 2007 season but has had a good spring. He has potential for some rebound. Matt and Kylere, my draft assistants and advisors, both think that he’s a steal at $3. Most of the other owners think we were foolish to pay as much as $3 for him. We are weak at these last few positions, but these positions are not strong in the NL. In other words, instead of buying a second baseman for $25 due to position scarcity, we opted to invest elsewhere. However, if we didn’t get Kennedy, we were in real trouble at 2B. So, we had to watch the wallets of the other owners until it was safe to make our move.
2B
SS
3B
$6 T. Abreu Here’s another rookie that may rarely play, or could earn a starting position and have a good year. Worth a risk at this point.
OF $1 S. Schumaker Skip will be a starter in the St. Louis outfielder, and may even bat near the top of the lineup. Selecting an outfielder for our bench gives us some flexibility if Maybin doesn’t start the season in the majors.

This makes our opening day roster:

C - M. Barrett
1B - R. Howard
2B - A. Kennedy
SS - H. Ramirez
3B - B. Ryan
MI - T. Abreu
CI - M. Teixeira
OF - A. Dunn
OF - K. Fukudome
OF - B. Giles
OF - F. Pie
U - C. Maybin
B - S. Schumaker
P - C. Young
P - A. Wainwright
P - D. Lowe
P - Y. Gallardo
P - W. Rodriguez
P - O. Perez
P - M. Clement
P - J. Cruz
P - K. Wood
B - M. Mulder

So, how did we do? Here’s my analysis.

  • I have two strong first basemen in Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira.
  • Third base is very weak, but could improve if either rookies Ryan or Abreu get playing time. I’m not too concerned, as this situation isn’t different than having a strong first baseman, a strong third baseman, and a substitute at corner infield.
  • In my ranking system, I have three of the top ten players (Howard, Dunn, Ramirez). Add Teixeira, and I have four of the top seventeen.
  • Middle infield is a weakness, but the players I have could perform better than most expect them to.
  • I have four quality rookies, each with lightning in a bottle potential. (Or the potential to be a complete duds.)
  • I have only three players that are not locks to be in the starting lineup, and two of them could still be starters at the beginning of the season or not long into it.
  • I’m not wild about our catcher, but there’s only two catchers that I would be wild about. Neither of them are available for $1.

Bottom line: I’m very happy with our team.

Jaw Breakers

Monday, March 17th, 2008

For several years, Matt and I have played in the Iowa Farm League, a fantasy baseball league managed by my friend Brian. I really like fantasy baseball. I enjoy the draft, the strategy, the numbers, almost everything about it!

I’m still doing the IFL this year, but my friend Otto and I also started another league for, um, educational purposes. I wanted to experiment with AL players — the AL currently has a talent advantage over the NL — and with a draft instead of an auction. We also thought it would be fun to play with only a few teams, so that each team was fully loaded with talent. We recruited some unsuspecting rubes good friends and relatives and formed our new league with five founding members.

Due to the Andrew Peterson concert on Saturday, we met this past Friday for our draft. We decided on a serpentine draft, where the draft order proceeds like this:
   Round 1: 1 2 3 4 5
   Round 2: 5 4 3 2 1
   etc.

Then we drew numbers for the draft order, and got started. Without (yet) identifying my team, here are the results.

Round Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
1
A
Rodriguez
M
Ordonez
M
Cabrera
B
Upton
C
Crawford
2
V
Guerrero
D
Jeter
J
Beckett
E
Renteria
G
Sizemore
3
J
Morneau
I
Suzuki
D
Ortiz
E
Bedard
C
Pena
4
I
Kinsler
J
Verlander
C
Sabathia
V
Martinez
C
Granderson
5
N
Markakis
P
Konerko
M
Ramirez
F
Carmona
J
Lackey
6
B
Abreu
P
Polanco
R
Hallady
C
Kotchman
S
Kazmir
7
F
Hernandez
J
Shields
V
Wells
C
Figgins
D
Matsuzaka
8
H
Matsui
J
Dye
J
Vazquez
D
Young
T
Hunter
9
J
Papelbon
A
Rios
O
Cabrera
R
Ibanez
C
Guillen
10
J
Nathan
F
Rodriguez
J
Putz
G
Matthews
T
Haffner
11
J
Peralta
M
Napoli
J
Mauer
M
Teahen
M
Rivera
12
D
McGowan
J
Chamberlain
C
Wang
K
Escobar
R
Cano
13
J
Bonderman
J
Fields
N
Swisher
R
Betancourt
T
Jones
14
G
Sheffield
A
Burnett
D
Willis
J
Accardo
J
Blanton
15
P
Hughes
J
Thome
D
Pedroia
S
Downs
M
Lowell
16
H
Street
M
Young
F
Liriano
J
Hamilton
R
Garko
17
A
Gordon
R
Sexson
H
Blalock
A
Beltre
M
Ellis
18
E
Longoria
B
Jenks
S
Marcum
G
Meche
J
Weaver
19
S
Shields
R
Harden
K
Youkilis
C
Patterson
H
Okajima
20
A
Hill
J
Guillen
S
Linebrink
Z
Greinke
A
Pettitte
21
C
Buckholz
J
Contreras
M
Cuddyer
J
Lewis
J
Posada
22
J Salta-
-lamacchia
T
Wakefield
B
Crosby
M
Stairs
B
Roberts
23
J
Garland
R
Perez
F
Thomas
G
Sherrill
J
Borowski

Now, I have two questions for you.

  1. Knowing that three of the teams are managed by first-year managers, can you identify my team? I’m pretty sure that my friend Brian will easily narrow my team down to two teams, and maybe even pick my team out of these five.
  2. Can you explain my team’s name: Jaw Breakers?

Join Me for March Madness

Monday, March 17th, 2008

In recent years, my friend Otto and I have had a friendly March Madness competition. The loser bought lunch for the winner, and I bought many lunches for Otto.

My tradition of friendly March Madness competition with my friend Brian goes back even further. We semi-regularly exchange lunches anyway, so the only award for winning was bragging rights. I don’t recall Brian earning bragging rights as often as Otto, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he could brag more.

Last year, instead of filling out our brackets by hand, I switched to a free Yahoo league and invited some others to join us. Given my history of abysmal performance, I named the league “Beat Jeff Again.” And wouldn’t you know, last year I won it all!

The tournament brackets have been announced, so it’s time once more for the Beat Jeff Again league. Since calling me a casual college basketball fan would be a bit of a stretch (something that I am occasionally known to do), if you are even a mere casual college basketball fan, your chances of beating me are pretty good.

Want to give it a try? Join us and sign up here. The only things I ask are that you let me know who you are (via a clever team name, for instance, or an email) and that all discussion be rated G.

Ballparks I Have Known

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

While watching the one game playoff last night between the Rockies and the Padres, Lu had some questions for me:

  1. Q: Did I like the Rockies uniform vest?
    A: Yes, but not as well as I like the Reds’ vest. The Reds wear red sleeves and a white vest. The contrasting colors are very sharp.
  2. Q: What color was the Padres’ road uniform?
    A: Tough question. Tan? Light gold? It was certainly an odd color, but I liked it.
  3. Q: Who was I rooting for?
    A: Even though I’d had some Padres on my fantasy team, the Hot Wheelers, and didn’t have any Rockies on my fantasy team, I was rooting for the Rockies.
  4. Q: Why?
    A: I’m not really sure. Perhaps because they are a younger team, but also perhaps because I’d been to their stadium. They therefore seemed more like “my” team than the Padres.

So that got me thinking and remembering … what MLB stadiums had I been to?

Here are the stadiums that I’ve been to more than once, listed from most frequently attended to least frequently attended:

  • Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals 1
  • Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
  • Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City Royals
  • Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minnesota Twins
  • Oakland Coliseum, Oakland A’s

Here are the stadiums that I’ve been to only once:

  • Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners
  • Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs
  • Arlington Stadium, Texas Rangers 2

I’ve attended only one NFL game (Seattle), one NBA game (Golden State), and one NHL game (San Jose).

Notes:

  1. I have been to the old Busch stadium many times, but have not yet attended the new Busch stadium.
  2. This was the older ballpark prior to the current Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Cardinal Sin

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

At our church league softball game last night, I committed the Cardinal Sin — making the second out of an inning at third base.

It was the top of the last inning, and we were down by more than just a few runs. I led off the inning with a jam shot to short. It was weakly hit, on the skinny part of the bat. But the throw to first was dropped by the first baseman. By the time the ball was picked up again, the first base umpire called me safe.

After a heated argument between the pitcher and the umpire, the call stood. (Our first base coach later told me that I was out.)

One out later, Peter had a solid hit to left. The left fielder didn’t make a clean catch and was dawdling around with his back to the infield. So, I rounded second and took off for third. Not quite half way there, I began to think I’d made a mistake. The third baseman (a woman) was catching the ball as I approached. Since I both didn’t want to slide and didn’t want to slide into her, I ducked around her to the home plate side. Her sweeping tag missed me as I dove back into the bag. I thought I was safe and our third base coach agreed. The pitcher, still upset that I’d been safe at first, voiced (err, “yelled”) his opinion that I was out. The umpire, standing at home plate, agreed.

So there it was… the Cardinal Sin… making the second out of the inning at third base.

Baseball Trivia

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

In 1999, this Major League Baseball player became the first to hit two grand slams in the same inning. Even more astounding, he hit the grand slams against the same pitcher.

  1. Can you name the player?
  2. Can you name the teams involved?
  3. Can you name the opposing pitcher who gave up both grand slams?
  4. Can you do it without using google?

Baseball Choices on the Radio

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Within the past few years, Cedar Rapids has turned into a thriving community with baseball diversity.

As a Cardinals fan, I’ll choose the Cardinals broadcast over the others. However, I must admit that I enjoy Pat Hughes and Ron Santo — the great broadcasting duo for the Cubs. It’s great to have so many choices.

Since we all know that a diverse community is a good community, this kind of diversity on the radio is most welcome. Now we just need local affliates for the Twins and the Royals!

IFL 2007 Draft

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

The Iowa Farm League draft was held this past Saturday. Starting at 8:00 AM and ending around 2:00 PM, owners for 12 teams gathered to spend an imaginary $260 in an auction to acquire players. Since our draft format is an auction, it’s important for our draft strategy to remain fluid. That is, supply-and-demand dictate changes to strategy as the draft progresses.

As the defending league champions, Matt and I entered the draft with a plan to pass on Pujols, generally considered to be the top player, and acquire three strong corner players. Since there are only a few elite outfielders in the NL, we didn’t want to spend for an elite outfielder. Instead, we wanted to have average to above-average outfielders at each position.

It didn’t work out that way.

Instead, we did acquire Pujols and an elite outfielder, Jason Bay. We also acquired Chris B. Young, a much-touted rookie from Arizona. (Hopefully he’ll live up to expectations.) Nook Logan, another of our outfielders, is an unknown. Our outfield isn’t as strong as I’d like. Apart from Hanley Ramirez and Pujols, the infield looks to be pretty average. The saving grace for the infield may be that the players we acquired are all expected to be starters.

Our starting pitching is characterized by youth who could be really good, or not. In previous years, closers often attracted a premium price, but not so much this year. As a result, we ended up with three potential closers — definitely not a part of our draft strategy.

Here’s what we ended up with.

Position Player Salary Notes
C Yadier Molina, StL 4 We think Molina will have a better-then-generally-expected offensive year.
1B Albert Pujols, Stl 44  
2B Kelly Johnson, Atl 12  
SS Hanley Ramirez, Fl 12 Ramirez was our position keeper from last year’s team.
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD 13  
MI Cristian Guzman, Was 1 One of our last picks
CI Wes Helms, Phi 10  
OF Jason Bay, Pit 31 A quality player for a little more than we wanted to pay.
OF Chris B. Young, Ari 19 We wanted to draft Young, but this was more than we’d hoped to pay. Will this rookie pay off?
OF Nook Logan, Was 7 Hopefully he’ll earn a starting spot.
OF Jose Cruz, Jr., SD 1 The best available outfielder near the end of the draft.
U Todd Linden, SF 3 Could get a fair amount of playing time.
Bench Nick Johnson, Was 2 Starts the year injured with no specific time table for his return.
P Cole Hamels, Phi 17  
P Adam Wainwright, StL 13  
P Matt Cain, SF 10 Cain was our pitching keeper from last year’s team.
P Anthony Reyes, StL 8  
P Oliver Perez, NYN 4 Our last pick, he was the best starting pitcher still available.
P Randy Flores, StL 1 Could be a bargain holds source.
P Scott Schoeneweis, NYN 9 Another source for holds, his price was run up near the end of the draft.
P Jason Isringhausen, StL 17 In contrast, Billy Wagner went for $22. Saves didn’t demand the high price this year that were demanded in previous years.
P Jose Valverde, Ari 13 Which explains the acquisition of Valverde.
P Jorge Julio, Fla 9 And Julio.

We spent 61% on position players, and 39% on pitchers. That’s about the right mix. We certainly wouldn’t want to spend more than that on pitching. In fact, a 70-30 mix isn’t out of the question. The most dedicated to position players was 73% (perhaps a bit high) and the least was 58% (probably low).

One of our goals was to maximize the value of the players purchased for our $260 budget. Since there’s not enough money in the league to pay the actual salary “deserved” by each player, the value of the player is often higher than the actual auction price. We try to take advantage of this by maximizing the value compared to the auction price. According to the draft projections and valuations that we use, we succeeded at this goal. Team valuations ranged from $330 to $518, with our team being valued at $518. Of course, this valuation depends entirely on the accuracy of the data that we used, but it does indicate that we executed that strategy based on the data.

Our draft software also projects the finish, based upon predicted player performance and assuming no roster changes throughout the season. Of course, those aren’t safe assumptions, but it is another measure to use to judge the draft. Again, we fared well, with the software projecting our squad as the league champion.

Another measure is that we have three of the top seventeen NL players (according to the Sporting News) — Pujols, Ramirez and Bay. That’s not bad.

So, I look at our draft results and see that we have a lot of reliance on rookie talent with a few anchors players. That’s a good recipe for a winning team — the champion almost always needs lightning to strike in the form of a rookie exceeding expectation. Pitching is hard to predict, and though we don’t have a number one starter, our starters do each have potential to exceed expectations. That’s a good position to be in. I know that our lineup will undergo many changes throughout the year, but I think we’re off to a good start.


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