Overall, I think the team can finish in the top 3 or 4 in runs.
Rotation - The rotation isn't great, but perhaps one of the deepest in the league, with Hudson 13GZ+2, Escobar 13yG+0, Vazquez 12xyLZ+1, Shields 10xLZ+1, and Batista 8+1. We took a risk with the two Ls, but we hope they were good value in the draft.
Bullpen - Hopefully a strength for the team, 5 of 6 relievers have an H. We selected Lee Gardner 20yHZ+0 as the highest rated H in the league, got Accardo 19xG+0 as a complimentary high rating, and Bobby Jenks 15xHZ+0 as another decently rated HZ to back the top two. I'm very happy with the back end of the bullpen all being 12HZ. Bradford 12HZ+0, Lindstrom 12xHZ+1, and Shouse L12yHZ+1 will provide a pretty large amount of innings and games of acceptable back end pitching.
Defense - The biggest plusses are Greene's SS9 and the OF9 of Crawford LF3.33, Sizemore CF3.30, and Markakis RF3.35. 1B4 Pena and 2B7 Cano are acceptable. Weaknesses are 3B3 Jackson and Blalock, and Posada's C8-2pb2 and Molina's C8+1pb3 behind the plate. Hopefully we can minimize the downsides, and I think it will still end up as an overall positive.
Bench - Coco Crisp (of3.31 D32 4.5) brings speed and defense to the outfield, Rafael Furcal (ss8 E31 4.4) will be Khalil's caddy, Daric Barton (1b3 10.9 18g) will provide Pena-level output for Pena's 14 sits. Akinori Iwamura (3b4 5.6 D24) has already earned a special place in my heart as the defensive/speed backup to my starting 3B platoon.
Best draft picks - Posada 5th, Gardner 6th, Jenks 11th, Cano 13th, Greene 14th, Molina 15th.
Biggest reaches - Vazquez 7th? Shields 12th? Kemp 16th.
Roster failing - May need another bat off the bench. Enough bullpen innings?
Prediction - Top 4 runs, top 4 run prevention, division title contender.
Offense - Low average, medium-to-high secondary average type of an offense (1st in the league, probably by quite a bit, in walks, however only midpack in isolated power due to low doubles hitters and midpack in homers & triples). Not heavy in SA0 ratings, either, so that will bring the batting averages down even more. We'll see if the gamble of relying on 5s and walks to move hitters around, despite drafting slower speed, low stealing guys, will work out. I probably will only score 95% of the runs I'll be creating and will continue the franchise's bane of yearly leading the league in LOB. Chipper should be among league leaders in batting/OBP/SLG, and hopefully will carry the club at times.
Defense - just ok. 9 at SS off the bench and a 60 game starter, 3 in the OF off the bench and a 40 game starter, 5 at 1B; beyond that, average guys at all positions. OF arms are not to be scared of, although the catching is solid enough with a +3/+2.
Overall - tough division will not help, existing with my preseason Prez Cup selection. Have had interestingly one-sided matchups with all 3 division mates in the past -- interesting in that it'll flip from year to year who dominates the series. Battle for the wildcard should be quite a scrum now that we are up to 11 clubs. This club reminds me quite a bit of my Sussex club, which was a low average, high secondary average, high platoon differential club on offense with a great bullpen, who got a Cy-caliber year from a mid-grade starter. Club came on very strong at the end of the year and won 79 games. Hopefully the manager has learned something between now and then.
Due mostly to the pitching & Chipper, I predict between 78-84 victories; high side will be needed for a playoff berth. If all 3 top starters are under 4 for ERA and Chipper over 8.4 in rc/g, I should be in the playoffs.
Pitching - Starters 13Z 11Z 10Z should be OK. 2 8 non Z will be a strain. Pen includes a high inning 19 supplemented with 16Z 15Z 14Z 13Z 13. Some HR control but not a lot - but HR's are down this season. I guess we will find out if that is a problem or not. The Z's should be somewhat helpful and could lead to a middle of the pack finish or really anywhere within the top 11. I don't have high expectations from this staff.
Defense - Matsui and Hill are a good 9/8 2B. Otherwise I have a lot of average fielding ratings on the team other than Loney or Beltran. 5 2 rated starting pitchers. Outfield arms are 34's from Beltran and Anderson and can be supplemented with Wilkerson 33. IF arms are good with A Rod and Jeter 36 with Hill and Matsui 35.
Poor selections. Passed on getting 4 quality starters or a 2nd high grade reliever while selecting Jeter in the 8th. Is this what will come back and bite me? And did I pay too high of a price acquiring Victor (3) and Shoppach (12)? I don't think so but we shall see.
Overall. I expect to contend within the division. The roster includes quality functional hitters from top to bottom - the pitching will be the deciding factor.
Optimistic prediction: Top 3 or 4 in runs. Realistic: 5 or 6.
Rotation - The rotation isn't great, but we have a solid 1-2 punch with Lackey 14GZ and Carmona 14G. Sheets 8YZ, Cain 9YG+1 and Pettitte 8G+1 aren't much to look at, but the majority of the teams in the league have at least two starters who are worse.
Bullpen - As with the rotation, pretty much everyone here has a G, with Seay and Cameron holding the H. Top 3 (Moylan 20YZG, Janssen 18ZG+2 and Seay 17XZH+1) should be very tough and I have a lot of games/innings to burn even though I only have 5 relievers with Owings as the marginal 6th. I took a risk trading the W for the higher ratings when I took Cameron 16YHW and Wilson 15XGW. I think it will work, but some smart managers went a different way. We will see what happens.
Optimistic prediction: Top 3 in ERA. Realistic: Top 5.
Defense - The biggest plusses are Cabrera's SS9 and Molina's 8+6 behind the plate. Aramis has the 4 at 3B and Winn the 3 in the outfield. Outfield arms are solid. I have some good late-inning guys in Matthews and Feliz. It is an average defense for my years in the league, but may finish below average only because I think a lot of teams ended up pretty good defensively.
Best draft picks - Bonds (4th), Hawpe (5th), Moylan (6th), Hamilton (9th).
Biggest reaches - Winn (12th), Cabrera (14th), Matthews (18th)
Roster failing - I have no pinch-hitters, just pinch runners.
Prediction - This is one of the better teams I have drafted, however, I do not believe the talent is as evenly spread out as in some years. I see 3-4 teams at 85 wins or above and 3-4 below 75. DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT EVEN KNOW HOW TO RUN A PREPLAY. I think I will finish 3rd, 4th or 5th in the league in wins. In my divison, 4th may not get me in the playoffs.
Rotation - Here is how I choose to view these guys. I have a 13, 12, 10 , 9 and 9 starting. I have done fine with worse, and have done worse with better, so who knows. I am confident in my ability to get the most out of poor starters. And 4 of them have G's, so maybe I can keep the home runs down.
Bullpen - After last year's travesty, this year I didnt get one until round 12. But I ended up with a 19, 16, 14, 14 13zz combo that should be fine. Somewhat similar to my '06 pen that performed above average. I have mostly G and mostly Z in my pen.
Defense/Bench- Up the middle very good. Rollins-Utley have 9-8, with Hunter as a 3 in CF. The rest is nothing to write home about, and we have gotten off to a horrible start, but there are many games left. But Olivo should have no problem leading the league in PB. Harris should be a quality fill at 2b and PR/3b. Murphy should perform capably in CF-RF for 40 games. Paul can throw, and McCann can hit (a little). Damon is a good PR man.
Best draft picks - Hmmmm. Nothing jumps out at me. People mentioned that they liked my 19th and 20th picks, but what does that say about my team?
Biggest reaches - I thought Gonzalez was good in the 15th, but maybe a reach. Rollins with his sub .300 obp may be questionable, although I don't think he would have lasted much longer. Cabrera in the 5th and Dunn in the 7th may be questionable as one dimensional players. Not enough space here.
Roster failing - Not much flexibility. No stud pitchers.
Prediction - Have already been shutout in 40% of our games so far. We probably won't make the playoffs if that continues. However, we should be in the top of the league in WP, PB, E and Stolen Bases allowed. We will either win the division or not make the playoffs.
Bench - I like the guys who will be sitting with me on the bench until needed. Laird is a decent enough back up to Rodriguez behind the plate and if he should get on can run at select times. Guillen is a good bat off the bench and PR for Helton late while staying in the game at firstbase. Phillips for Sanchez is a move I will not hesitate to make. Ward is a very good bat off the bench and to spell Stairs at DH for the 40 or so games. It's the Travis Buck and Bradley part that concerns me. While they'll be on the bench most of the time, it's not like they can come into a game at will. Bradley has 60 games but they'll all be starts. So when he's on the bench, I may as well bench him for the game. Keith will refer to it as "Is Bradley being "Durhamed" this game"? Buck has 85 games or so but he'll need them to spell Figgins and Werth. Outfield games are scarce. I'm hoping decent enough performances from the 3 who start will be enough during games.
Starting Pitching - I am not a believer in graded 10 starters or below. Not in Summer League at least. I was hoping for at least two grade 11 or higher starters and that's what I got in Penny and Buerhle. It's not a deep starting staff but for the starters I am counting on, it's fine. You'll here Neck Riskers fan calling out "Penny and Buerhle and yank Byrd, Baker and Glavine in a hurry."
Relief Pitching - Very strong. Not in terms of homerun ratings or moves to first but in terms of grades, control and innings pitched, this area is outstanding. I'll predict here that the Neck Riskers will have one of the better bullpens in Summer league 2008. Although the difference between the top 5 or 6 may not be all that great.
Defense - Fifth or sixth? Not great. Not bad. No 3s in the outfield or super arms but we'll be OK defensively. I like my middle infield flexibility. Such as bringing in Phillips and having Sanchez slide over to shortstop.
3 Best Draft Picks - Matt Stairs in the 8th round. Chris Young in the 17th round. Daryle Ward in the 23rd round.
My 1 Draft "Redo" Wish - With my 9th pick I was looking at a few players but the two who were really jumping out at me were Josh Hamilton and Hunter Pence. I took lefty reliver Okajima from the Boston Red Sox though and neither Hamilton nor Pence made it back to me. That lead me to selecting Bradley and Werth with my 9th and 10th pick. Travis Buck was the third outfielder being considered at that time and seeing how I selected him in the 26th round, I probably could've held off on Bradley and Werth at this time, also.
PLAYOFFS!? - I hope so. I respect the other 3 managers in my division greatly. Greg, Graham and Matt are three of our best. Team wise I'll stack my Neck Riskers against their teams confidently. The difference in our division is probably going to come down to the managers much more so then the other two divisions. Greg and Graham stormed into last years playoff picture late and may have made it if they started their surges about 10 games earlier. Matt made it all the way to his first Spit Cup. And the four of us have all experienced and want to once again feel the emotions that only playing for the Spit Cup can bring. Bad blood? For two or three of us it'll probably come down more to Should've, Could've, Would've in hindsight.
Rotation- Pitching smitching, this is to me, the most unscientific aspect of the game or at least the most inconsistant. I actually like my rotation given the fact they were igonored like a Bill's beef and cheese on southbeach. We may lack homer control and Z's, but we have a little of everything good in the rotation. The starters also help our +1 catcher as all but maddux bring a plus move to the mound. I am counting on the 2 lefty 12's to stymie some good left handed hitters in the SL, but we will see. Santana 12xyz, Kazmir 12xy, & Meche 11y are value pick starters that i feelwill be solid enough to compete as well as strike out those huge K guys. Thebottom of the rotation Maine 8x and Maddux 6zg are the bottom, and should see a quick hook, but could pitch well enough at times to get a decision or 2.
Bullpen- There are so many down there, i have to have them wear name tags. 8 relievers make up this pitching staff and none of them is particularly remarkable. There are ALOT of innings and games for that matter out there, and while there may not be a dominant guy, i should be able to throw enough arms at everyone that i hope to get the tough out and also be able to have a very short leasch on the starting 5 without freaking out about innings and games down the stretch.
Defense- I feel this team is solid defensively but especially so in the infield where 5's anchor the corners and roberts brings a 9 glove to 2B. Tejada and Guzman are 8's at SS, and this is adequate. Outfield defense has been under some criticism, but i dont think it will be a HUGE problem. VLad is a 1 but brings a big arm(37) when he isnt kicking it around in the corner. Pence and Swisher sharing CF are both Avg w/ratings of 2/32 & 2/33. Byrnes in left, while having a sub 30 arm at 29 is a solid 3, and we welcome you guys and all your 4's to "send em" on singles to left. At catcher for 151 games is Martin who at 8+1 isnt scaring a guy like me, but i did mention 4 of 5 starters, and 5 of 8 relievers bring a plus move to the mound to help him slowing your running game.
Bench- Offensively, the bench is a lonely place to be as most of the starting 9 only have a few games to sit during the season and the speed from top to bottom does not force me to pinch run late in games more often than not. I do have a Cf platoon of Pence 95 games in CF and Swisher, who will also Dh. Grffey was added late to swing from the left side and as a potential power source. Ryan Theriot is a jack of all trades and will fill in late if needed and will be expected to steal a big base as well as take the few games needed at 3b and 2b when Lowell and Roberts must sit the 6 & 8 games respectively. Guzman will play most of his 46 games available at SS for Tejada who must sit 29. Backing up Martin behind the dish is JR Towles whom i never heard of before and only is available for 14 games all season. That ought to be interesting.
Best Picks-The Pence/Swisher swing of rounds 10&11 seem to be value as well as Theriot in rd 16 (if used properly) and for value, Tejada being a starting SS in rd23 could be a good pick.
Biggest Reach- Pujols? Martin? Roberts? all those guys were probably too high, but they fit the style i was after, we will see if it works out.
Best Dead Guy- Joe Kennedy. Hands down winner in this catagory. Go Karma!
Prediction- I predict i have a beer during every series, if not 6, and a shot for every sweep, good or bad, and have FUN with my beloved team regardless
Z's, SA 3 ratings, and guys stealing home with a 38 yo near cripple. I also predict PAIN for steve's team, as the beanball order has already been sent.
Winning is a part of the plan, but all i really want to do is beat Steve, and maybe Greg, and probably Matt and most cetainly Dave. Happy Hunting boys,
meeting Chris at Jakes in 2 hours.
Pitching - If the pitching isn't in the top 4, I did something wrong. Staff modeled on the 2007 Santo Clause, we'll see if these Santos approach that success level.
Defense - Above the bad, below the good. Braun will be rotten, as will Keppinger in his many starts at 2B and 3B. Wing OFers not too strong, but I was prepared to play Sheffield there throughout most of the draft.
Bench - There is no bench. Only guys getting healthy scratches, or "Durham'd" as we like to say. Phelps and Blake could provide some measure of contribution, but, if I have ejections or in-game injuries, I'll pull the Norman Dale and play with 8 guys if needed.
Best selections - Betancourt. Hands down. Has to be a Cy Young favorite at this point. APBABaseballReference.com would point to John Smoltz 2004 as the most similar SLer to the numbers Betancourt will put up. One of Ken's emails to me before the draft started was the question of whether I was going to take Betancourt in the 2nd. Marmol also seemed to be ignored, ending up as a good value in my estimation in the 9th. Really thought Gregg would've taken him when he took Corpas in the 8th. Speaking of the 8th, I am quite excited about Cody Ross's card. Couldn't remember having a nearly half-time player with the 0 at 55. What a coup, I thought, until Dave took Owings at his power number at 15, putting me in my place.
Poor selections - Bud Selig was talking contraction around 2000, my wife (as well as the wives of most of my division-mates) was talking contractions in 2007, and after I scrambled to take Brian Schneider in the 15th round, I was talking SL contraction. My god, I took Schneider in the 15th?!?! I didn't much like the Sheffield pick at the time, but perhaps that was semi-appropriate. Hoffman was not a drastically bad selection, but I think I needed something different in the 14th. We'll see if Thatcher and Soto contribute enough to justify their selections.
Overall - My draft would have gone much better if I had scouted more. If I'm taking guys, like Schneider, in the 15th that I had estimated to be available 8 or 9 rounds later; 1) I should have scouted more, 2) I should temper my team's expectations, and 3) I should have pulled the Ace instead of the 6 on WM night. If I win half my games, I will be ecstatic. If I don't break the LaBatt's line, I will take it in stride and piece together where things went wrong.
Offense - I am lacking what I would consider a good APBA lead off hitter. I will start out using a Victorino/Willits platoon. Both have excellent speed and good on base #'s. I have several guys that I think could work well in the 2 spot, main guy there will be Kearns. The plan is to get on base before Big Pappi, Dlee and Rowand hit 3-4-5. I think that part of my offense should work pretty good. Derosa will typically hit #6 with some combo of Reyes, Castillo and Johjima hitting 7-8-9. I think the week link offensively will be Jose Reyes. Only two real slow guys in Ortiz and Johjima, everyone else has good speed.
Defense - Solid all around with strong arms in the outfield and behind the plate. Outfield is packed with 3's (arms 34-34-37). Johjima +6 arm behind the plate should throw out a lot of guys, especially when combined with many + pitchers moves. Reyes 9 at short also nice.
Bench - bench is filled with speed and good bats. Bruntlet and Willits have excellent speed, Izturis and Boone provide some flexibility.
Starting pitching - weak at best. Oswalt should be solid, but it's a crap shoot after him. Good thing I have a lot of innings and games in the pen. If I can get 3 or 4 innings out of the 2-5 guys I will be happy.
Relief pitching - I thought initially it was strong, packed with Z's. But then I noticed almost everyone has strong relief pitching with a lot of Z's.
Draft Mistake - Jose Reyes, I probably could have had him 7 or 8 rounds later. Not sure what I was thinking there.
Prediction - In a tough division filled with previous spit cup winners and seasoned veterans - I will predict a third place finish and a record of 82-80.
Prediction: Top half of the league in runs scored.
Rotation - I am pretty happy with the rotation even with a W (O Perez) and an L (Schilling, in what could be his SL finale. I would imagine that he is one of a handful of SL pitchers with 100 career SL wins.) Beckett 14Z and Bedard 13XY are a nice start to a decent rotation and should both record double digit wins. After waiting until round 12 to grab a 3rd starter I grabbed Schilling 9LYZZ and hope that he doesn't walk too many guys before giving up the jacks. I was pleased to get Perez 12XW as my 4th starter and will deal with the inevitable W blow up games that will occur. I took Francis in the 20th to complete the staff. 3 starters with Zs, 3 lefties, one L and one W with grades of 14, 13, 12, 9 and 7.
Prediction: This staff should finish in the top 3 or 4 in the league in ERA and IP.
Bullpen - I felt like Saito 24 XYZ was a great value pick in round 6 and coupled with Paplebon 21 XY should make a solid 1-2 punch out of the bullpen. The middle of the pen is shaky, but I feel like Ws can be had in this league and frequently offer good value. We shall see with FRod 16WXY and Feliciano 15WX. At least they strikeout some guys along with the walks. The back end of the pen will provide innings and should be decent with Meredith 11YGZ and Green 11YH.
Prediction: I am hoping that this group will finish in the top half, but there are a lot of deep and talented bullpens out there so we will keep our fingers crossed.
Defense - The biggest plus is Polanco 2B9 and the rest are only average or slightly above. Atkins/Renteria/Polanco/Hatteberg gives us a 4-8-9-4 infield which I am perfectly happy with. Two 8s behind the plate is nice, but Varitek will struggle to throw people out with a -1 arm. Ross will be a spot starter and frequent defensive replacement. 2-31, 2-34, 2-32 or 2-31, 3-32, 2-34 will be the starting outfield for most of the season. Once again, as was the case last year, no big arm in RF (or anywhere for that matter), but I think that group will be okay. Cuddyer will come off the bench to steal a base then head in to RF as a 3-37 to shore up the late inning OF defense.
Prediction: I am very happy with the infield D, but the outfield may struggle to throw people out.
Bench - VERY thin. Ordonez and Atkins 157 games, Polanco 142, Hart 140, Varitek 131, Thome 130, Upton 129, Renteria 124 and Hatteberg 116 are the best lineup I can put on the field offensively. Those players are short 232 starts, which means that Ross (31 starts), Lamb (83 starts at 1B, 3B and DH), Taveras (at least 64 starts in CF), Eckstein (38 games at SS) and Loretta (20 games at 2B) will all start a minimum of 20 games. This leaves the bench with Cuddyer (144 games) as an available everyday defensive replacement. Good thing, because he will be needed with our outfield.
Best draft picks - Saito 6th, Atkins 9th, Renteria 14th, Perez 16th, Hatteberg 22nd, oh yeah I guess Cuddyer 18th (just ask Bob)
Biggest reaches - Polanco 3rd, Ross 8th
Roster failing - May need some additional help off the bench and the outfield arms are the biggest concerns.
Prediction - If I can manage this team better than last years I see 85-77 and at least contending for the playoffs.