Many of you play fantasy baseball and may find the following post fun while the rest of you may find it, as Crash Davis might say, self-indulgent crap.
Tuesday night I took part in an auction draft with the likes of Eric Karabell, Tristan Cockroft, Chris Harris and a bunch of others from the games department and ESPN.com. Matt Lawrence has won this league the past two years, which is akin to the Rays beating out the Yankees and Red Sox twice in a row -- a pretty amazing accomplishment since some of these guys make a living doing this stuff. Anyway, I somehow finished fourth last year thanks to team MVPs Joey Votto, Angel Pagan and Mat Latos.
The league is an 18-team non-keeper auction league, traditional 5x5 with 23-man rosters, and $260 in fake money to spend. Albert Pujols was the second player off the board at $49, Hanley Ramirez went for $44 and Roy Halladay was the top pitcher at $38. Here's how my draft went (special thanks auctioneer extraordinaire Paul Augeri, who managed to slip in some well-timed jabs while keeping the draft running smoothly):
1. 2B Robinson Cano, $39: I rarely spend over $30 on a single player, preferring to aim for depth over superstars, but with middle infield looking weak this year, I had a goal to get one of the big guys. If Cano repeats his 2010 MVP-caliber campaign, I'll be happy.
2. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, $42: I passed on Votto at $39 (which hurt), but surprised myself by spitting out "forty-two" for Gonzalez. I did want to land a slugging first baseman and Gonzalez should pile up a ton of RBIs in the middle of that Red Sox lineup. The risky part here is I spent $81 for four-category guys, since neither one runs much.
4. 3B Chipper Jones, $10: After spending early, I had to sit quiet for a spell. Obviously a lot of risk here with Chipper's age and health, but I didn't overpay. For the most part, however, I wanted to stay away from the injury risks (especially pitchers) since I got burned with Grady Sizemore last year.
5. P John Danks, $16: Solid, consistent, durable. There would end up being some good bargains later on with pitchers, so this ended up being few dollars too high, but I like him.
6. OF Shin-Soo Choo, $29: After we took a break, I decided there were two guys I wanted: Choo (because I needed a five-category outfielder ... well, actually I needed any outfielder and a lot of the big names were gone) and Jered Weaver, the 2010 AL strikeout leader. Sure enough, two of the first guys called after the break were Choo and Weaver.
7. P Frank Francisco, $7: The early closers like Mariano Rivera and Joakim Soria had gone for around $20, and there was a crazy run on the second-line guys like Brandon Lyon, and they went nearly as high (Lyon for $16, Craig Kimbrel for $17, Kevin Gregg for $16). I couldn't force myself to overpay for those, and held out hope one of the remaining guys would fall. Francisco, if healthy, should be the closer for the Jays.
8. P Jered Weaver, $23: He had a quiet spectacular season, similar to King Felix's, right down to the 13-12 W-L record. Price was OK, although CC Sabathia and Ubaldo Jimenez had gone for the same number.
9. P Clay Buchhholz, $15: Sat on my hands a long time. Wanted to get one more good starter and I was surprised to get Buchholz at this price. No, he won't post a 2.33 ERA, but I expect his strikeouts to improve and he'll win a lot of games with that offense.
10. P Colby Lewis, $10: This was a mistake. I threw Lewis out at $10 and nobody else bid. That's because pitchers of his level were starting to go in the $7-$9 range. I guess nobody expects him to repeat his fantastic 2010 numbers. Maybe I'll get the last laugh.
11. MI Brian Roberts, $10: Another healthy risk, but I'm starting to get desperate for stolen bases by now and I don't have a lot of money left. Let him run, Buck!
12. P Rafael Soriano, $3: The Yankees are pretty protective of Rivera (only 60 innings pitched last year), so I think Soriano will get some save opportunities and could sneak in 7-8 wins as well.
13. OF Nyjer Morgan, $2: By this point, I had $45 left for 13 players. And still didn't have much speed. So, no, I don't feel good about this pick, but maybe Morgan can pick up 25 steals in a fourth outfielder role.
14. UT Luke Scott, $6: In our league, Scott only qualified as a DH, so I had to slot him in the utility position for now. But he'll be playing left field for the Orioles and become OF-eligible after a couple weeks. Anyway, he was 14th in the majors in OPS in 2010. Too bad OPS isn't one of our categories.
15. OF Alfonso Soriano, $8: He's no longer a 40/40 guy. Or a 30/30 guy. Or even a 20/20 guy. I guess that's why he only cost $8.
16. P Ryan Madson, $6: More dumpster diving for saves. Madson (or maybe Jose Contreras) will start as Phillies closer with Brad Lidge. Still, I'd rather pay $13 for Francisco and Madson than $16 for Kevin Gregg (no offense to whomever took Gregg; saves makes us all do crazy things).
17. C Ramon Hernandez, $2: A lot of teams running out of money by now, so instead of waiting for a $1 catcher, I took a $2 catcher.
18. P Mike Adams, $2: This gives me four relievers among my eight pitchers so far, which is probably one too many. I can always sit on Adams on my bench and hope he becomes the closer if the Padres trades Heath Bell.
19. OF Jeff Francoeur, $1: I may have waited too long to fill out my outfield. But if you think about it (attempt at self-defense here): 18 teams times five outfield positions equals at least 90 outfielders getting drafted. Somebody was going to Frenchy.
20. SS Yuniesky Betancourt, $2: Yuck. But at least defense doesn't matter.
21. OF Rick Ankiel, $1: The Nationals' starting center fielder ... and now No. 1 in my heart as long as he stays healthy, hits 25 home runs and drives in 70.
22. P Dallas Braden, $1: Yes, I'll take the starter with a 1.15 WHIP and please pass the mustard.
23. 1B/3B Brandon Belt, $1: I sat for an hour keeping my first-third slot open, hoping nobody would bid on Belt. By now, only a few owners were left filling their rosters, so Belt was mine, all mine. I may end up writing a lot on Brandon Belt this year. Just warning you.
Bench player draft: UT Hideki Matsui, 3B Brent Morel, P Jeremy Guthrie, OF Milton Bradley, IF Brendan Ryan, OF Matt Young. Once Scott qualifies for the outfield, I can slide Matsui into the utility slot. I probably should have taken another pitcher instead of Ryan. Young could end up getting a lot center field action in Atlanta if Nate McLouth struggles and he can run a bit.
Final assessment: I like my team, but I think everybody does the day after the draft. Stolen bases are a concern, so I may have to swing a deal there at some point. I'm not going score high in saves, but hopefully I can scrounge enough together to not finish near their bottom. Otherwise, I think the offense is pretty solid, especially if Chipper and Roberts stay healthy. The starting pitchers are all good-WHIP, solid-ERA guys who will strike out some hitters and have good health histories.
I also landed a bunch of guys who are just fun to watch -- Cano, Gonzalez, Choo, Posey, Chipper, Danks, Weaver, Braden, even Frenchy ... I love watching all those guys.
I will not profess, however, to enjoying watching Yuniesky Betancourt play baseball.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.