Fantasy Draft Numero Dos

This year, I also took on the commish role for a second league. It’s a standard head-to-head points league, with some nonstandard rules and points. The draft went OK, but not great for me. Here’s a recap draft in order of round (plus the thoughts I put down just after I drafted each, in some cases censored, as this is a family blog :) ):

  1. Hanley Ramirez (2): With the second pick, this was tough. Mauer or Hanley? (Pujols was the first pick). I ended up going with Hanley, on the off chance that Mauer either gets hurt or has a major reversion to the mean.
  2. Ian Kinsler (23): To my mind the best 2B in the draft. He’s hurt, which is why he fell to me. With some extra DL slots in the league, it can’t hurt to wait on him.
  3. Matt Holliday (26): Holliday raked in the NL last year, and he should do as good or better. I’d expect him to have fewer steals, but man, I’d take 117 RBIs and 15 HRs any day from a guy who’ll hit .310+.
  4. Scott Baker (47): This was my biggest reach of the night, but he was the next on my draft list that hadn’t been taken. Also, he was significantly better last year than the next best pitcher when the rules of the league were taken into account.
  5. Derrek Lee (50): Lee scares me a bit, because he’s getting a bit old and he has been sort of fragile. However, he’s still a top-10 first baseman, and should be good for almost .300 with high 20′s home runs.
  6. Matt Cain (71): I had no honest idea going into the draft of the value of Matt Cain, especially given the weakness of the Giants’ offense this season. However, he’s still a top-20 pitcher who averages about 8 k/9. I’ll sure take it.
  7. Denard Sapn (83): Span has eligibility for LF, CF, and RF this season, which adds a ton of value, since I can fill any of the spots with him. Also, will hit for a ton of average and hopefully the steals will go up again this season.
  8. Jair Jurrjens (95): Did anyone think Jurrjens would be left until the 8th round? I really didn’t, but I was quite pleasantly surprised that he was still available when my turn rolled around again.
  9. Asdrubal Cabrera (98): He was much lower than this on my draft order, but I realized I was gonna need a decent player that I could put in for Kinsler until he got of the DL. Cabrera has the positional flexibility to help long past his usefulness as a backup.
  10. Chipper Jones (119): I’ll take the chance that the brutal slump at the end of last season was just an aberration. Chipper is one of the best when he’s on, and he should be on again this season.
  11. Kevin Slowey (122): I took Slowey only 115 spots lower than Thrylos98 took him at the first draft.  I agree that Slowey, if he stays healthy, could be a legit Cy Young candidate.
  12. James Shields (143): Banking on a bounce-back year by one of the best in the Majors in 2008. 2009 was certainly a down year, but he should improve across the board this year. Or so I hope.
  13. Chad Qualls (146): Qualls is one of the few constants between my two fantasy teams this season. If he stays healthy, he’ll be probably my best saves-getter.
  14. Jeff Francoeur (167): I had a good reason for making this pick, but I can’t remember what it was in hindsight. I must have been betting on the fact that he simply couldn’t do worse this year with the Mets than he did the first part of last year with the Braves.
  15. Brian Fuentes (170): I needed another closer, and they were going very fast.
  16. Kurt Suzuki (191): I’m happy with what’s probably the worst of the second-tier catchers in this year’s draft. My strengths are elsewhere on this team.
  17. Chase Headley (194): For the record, I don’t know what exactly I was thinking with this pick.
  18. Garrett Jones (215): I think this one will prop up the Total Awesomeness Factor of the team and fill my “Ex-Twins Players” quota. Yeah, that’s right, I believe in quotas.
  19. Marlon Byrd (218): Byrd’s stats of last year had better not have been totally due to the band box at Arlington. If so, I’ll be sad.
  20. Mike Gonzales (239): Underappreciated. Assuming the Orioles ever win, he should pick up enough saves to make my numbers in that area not terrible.
  21. Miguel Tejada (242): This was the first of two picks that I was attempting to use to corner the market on the remaining decent SSs. I did this because I noticed that two of the teams hadn’t yet selected a starting SS. Maybe I can prompt a trade for something decent.
  22. Brian Matusz (263): Wow. He fell a lot. Again, expecting him to go in the 15-18th rounds. I think Matusz is my new bicycle: I plan to ride him to the playoffs.
  23. Alcides Escobar (266): More cornering of the SS market. I think he will eventually be something special. The question is whether eventually happens this year or later.
  24. Adam Kenned (287): Positional flexibility and a good value for the round.
  25. Anthony Slama (290): Well, I’ll be honest. Slama was a placeholder/good luck charm. I think I’m going to drop him for Branyan, who I will throw straight onto the DL and then fill the spot with Podsednik.

That’s that! This is a great group of friends and bloggers in the league, and everyone should go visit the bloggers’ sites, if you haven’t already:

Louie Schuth – Hitting the Eephus

Jordan Tuwiner – Oriole Prospects

Ben Collin – That’s Twins Baseball

Andrew Bryz-Gornia – Off the Mark

Good luck to all of the above, plus non-bloggers Kyle, Bobby, Jeff, Nathan, Taylor, Adam, and Megan.

Baseball and Life

I thought I’d take a few minutes to draw a few parallels between baseball and life (and the outside world). As baseball is America’s pastime, there were surprisingly many. Here are some I came up with. Add yours in the comments, and, as always, follow me on Twitter at @calltothepen.

  1. In life, you generally lose more battles than you win. In baseball, a batter who gets a hit one of three at-bats is a superstar.
  2. In baseball, as in life, the season starts with training. Then, you finally get into the game. Unfortunately, most people are out of the game by the time the season is two-thirds over. Then they coast to the finish.
  3. That even the best strike out more often than they hit home runs.
  4. Every journey starts and ends at home.
  5. There are 365 days in a year and you probably encounter a million or more people a year, yet you see relatively few people with regularity. In this era of the unbalanced schedule, teams see all thirty teams, but really only spend a significant amount of time with the three to five other teams in their division.
  6. As George Will put it: “In life, as in baseball, we must leave the dugout of complacency, step up to the home plate of opportuniy, adjust the protective groin cup of caution and swing the bat of hope at the curve ball of fate, hoping that we can hit a line drive of success past the shortstop of misfortune, then sprint around the base path of chance, knowing that at any moment we may pull the hamstring muscle of inadequacy and fall face-first onto the field of failure, where the chinch bugs of broken dreams will crawl into our noses.” (actually, I doubt George Will ever said this)
  7. In life, there are work supervisors and the justice system to tell you when you’ve messed up. In baseball, there’re four guys wearing blue shirts.
  8. In life, the person who doesn’t drink is a designated driver. In baseball, the player who doesn’t field is the designated hitter.
  9. Focus on what you have control over. In life, you can’t control how other people will act. In baseball, pitchers can’t control what happens once the pitch leaves their hand.
  10. As Yogi Berra famously stated (or may not have stated, depending on who you believe), it’s not over til it’s over.
  11. In life, we use baseball terms to describe how our dates went (i.e. “I struck out”)
  12. In real life, oftentimes you just can’t communicate with other people, especially if you don’t know the jargon. In baseball, your fate is determined by a man who communicates only with ambiguous hand gestures and shouts of something that sounds like “HROOOT,” which he fails to explain. (H/T Dave Barry)
  13. In baseball, there is the infield fly rule, which states that when there are two or more baserunners with less than two outs, a fly ball determined to be catchable within the infield is immediately designated as an out, with the runners allowed to advance at their own discretion. In life, we have the United States tax code.

Pitchers and catchers have reported! Play Ball!

Top Prospects 10-1

Alright, I’ve been putting this off long enough. At the conclusion of the last blog, I had reduced the number of prospects in contention for the top 32 list from the original number of 73 down to 42. 42 is 10 more than I included in the top 32, obviously. I used approximately the same criteria I used to rank the top 32 in order to reduce the final 10 prospects: consensus among other respected bloggers, stats, ceiling, rankings, etc. Basically, a holistic, semi-arbitrary choice. You’ll have to forgive me for not being able to give much more information than that. A lot of other bloggers have created numerical algorithms to get past that, but I think for a lot of people it does honestly come down to an arbitrary summation of a lot of factors, including some of those intangibles most of us love to hate. So, yeah.

So, now that that’s all out there, why did I limit myself to 32 players? There are many more quality prospects that have a shot to make it to the majors in the Twins system (there are just a few more than 73 that have a legitimate chance, to my count). The first, and most basic reason, is that once it got down to ranking about 35 up until 50, I would have been making much more of a judgment call than I would normally like to in a space like this. The other reason is that, in a post I wrote in January, I limited myself to 32 basically on a whim. Who am I to make myself a liar?

Anyway, here’s the last 10 prospects on the list, below the fold. As always, follow me on twitter @calltothepen.

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Top Prospects 11-15

Right now I have a stupid cold and my head feels like it is the size of a moderately large watermelon, so in the interest of keeping the prospect countdown going, I’m going to delay my explanations by a day and just post the list. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better tomorrow and I’ll have more up then.

Until then, I’ll just try remember these words of wisdom: I may feel like crap, but I could be the Mets.

Cheers, all.

You can follow me below the fold for the list and remember to check me out on Twitter at @calltothepen.

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Top Prospects 16-20 and How do you solve a problem like Shooter Hunt?

The countdown rolls along, as does my rationale for ranking the top prospects in the Twins system. Last time, I went from 61 almost-sort-of-kind-of-quarter-finalists to 48 slightly-more-sort-of-kind-of-quarter-finalists. This left me with the 48 prospects with the highest pre-draft ceilings and evaluations and that were not total outliers based on their performance in the Twins system. However, I ran into a problem:

Shooter Hunt.

Shooter Hunt was the Twins’ sandwich pick in the first supplemental round of the 2008 draft, which was compensation for losing Torii Hunter to free agency and the moneybags in California/Anaheim/Los Angeles/wherever the Angels say they are from now. He came into the Twins system in 2008 and pitched 4 games (19 IP), giving up 1 ER on 4 hits and 6 BB in the Appy League. Walks a little high, but who’s going to argue with a .47 ERA? Well, Hunt immediately showed why exactly we all should have been arguing. In Beloit, he appeared in 7 games, giving up 27 walks and 21 ERs, against 34 strikeouts and ONLY 2 HRs. Sad when you have to look to home runs allowed to find a bright spot, especially when that number is as not-so-good as 2 in 31.1 innings. Not terrible, but surely nothing to write home about. The 2009 season was an unmitigated disaster at both the GCL Rookie Twins team and back at Beloit (why in the world did they send him back there after he posted 25 walks in 15 innings?). Well, in Beloit, he gave up 33 walks in 17 innings, and his season was over; he was sent to extended spring training and then was shut down. I’m assuming this was due to ineffectiveness, not due to injury, as I couldn’t find any clippings about it.

Basically, he was really, really bad.

So how do you rank a player like Shooter Hunt? I chose to deliberately base my top 32 on concrete numbers, and I guess I am not alone, as Nick Nelson excluded him from his top 50, and Josh Johnson ranked him at number 48 (which, in fairness, is exactly where I would have put him, based on my own system). I had, at this point, 48 prospects left, and Shooter had unambiguously the worst season of the lot last year. To be fair, great Twins-oriented minds (Nick and Josh’s; I’m certainly not a great mind) can differ, as Aaron Gleeman ranked Hunt as the 26th best prospect in the Twins system (it appears largely based on potential, not on numbers), but noted that “right now his 2010 season should be considered a success if Hunt can simply show some semblance of command, regardless of whether he gets knocked around in the process.”True dat. If hitters knock Hunt around, it means that they were tempted by his offerings, which is much better than 2009.

At this point, it is important to note that I was still flying by the seat of my pants, not having made a top prospects list before. So, I decided to give some more weight to the numbers my prospects put up last year and the year before. This took me down to 42, after knocking out six prospects that simply did not perform very well during their time in the Twins system. It also cleared out Shooter Hunt, whose mental makeup/lack of control made him outside what I would consider the top 32 prospects in the Twins system.

Next time: I make the final cut to the 34 prospects in my top 32 plus 2 HMs.

Also, remember, you can follow my semi-baseball related tweets at @calltothepen.

Follow me past the fold to the Call to the ‘Pen 2010 Top Prospects 16-20…

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Top Prospects 21-25

Welcome back! Click on the links to see numbers 26-30 and 31-32 (and HMs). Now I return to my (brief) explanation of how I came by the list I am now posting. Yesterday, I gave the info on the first two cuts I made, starting from the entirety of the Twins minor-league system, down to 73, down to 61. Today, I’ll explain how I got from 61 down to 48.

After having eliminated those players that I considered to be half-decent (or maybe a quarter-decent) prospects, but that still had no shot to crack the top 32, I was down to 61 players, which is still almost double what I was looking for. At that point I looked at two things: where in the draft they were taken (or where they came from, if not the draft) and their pre-draft experience (where applicable), using the handy-dandy tools at Scout.com (in order to get access, you must be member) and Rivals.com (again, where applicable), as well as whatever news stories and video clips I could find. If none of these sources panned out, I just used whatever numbers I could find. There were six players that clearly weren’t thought of nearly as highly as the others, and seven that had no scouting reports and crappy performance. This took me to 48.

At this point, however, was when I realized that I needed to pay a bit more attention to numbers (cough Shooter Hunt cough) since joining pro baseball. That’s my next step. Join me tomorrow for my second-to-last cut.

Remember, yada-yada-yada Twitter @calltothepen.

Follow me past the fold for numbers 21-25…

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Prospect list 26-30

I got a twitter response asking me how I ranked the list. So, I’ll come out with it. I read a lot into ceiling, tools, the last year or so, draft placement, scouts’ evaluations, etc. I also had a large amount of intangible built in, which basically adds up to 20% of my ranking coming down to a gut call (I don’t do the advanced stats so well, so gut calls are about as good as it gets). So I’ll break down the process itself over the next few days as a bonus for reading.

So here was the process (roughly, not revealing all my secrets, mostly because I don’t think they’ll make any sense to anyone but me):

First, I grabbed what I viewed to be the top 75 or so of the Twins prospects (I think I ended up playing with 73 when all was said and done). While many of the prospects were clearly not going to be in the top 32, I think of those 73 there were about 50 that I felt legitimately could have been included in the top 32. So the first thing I did was eliminate the total outliers, read: the ones that had a snowball’s chance in hell of making the top 32. This first step was based almost entirely on the last two years’ numbers and my gut feeling based on scouting reports. That took me down to about 61 prospects. When I’m done with the top 32, I might give the eliminated names, just in the interest of transparency.

Tomorrow: How I went from 61 to 48.

Remember, you can follow me on twitter at @calltothepen.

Here’s the list so far:

32: Alex Burnett

31: Jorge Polanco

Follow me past the fold for Numbers 26-30…

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The Official Call to the Pen Top Prospect List #32-31 and HMs

Hey all!

As I noted about a month ago, I have been working on the Official Call to the Pen Top 32 Twins Prospect list. Well, I finally finished it. THe deal is that I totally underestimated the amount of time it takes to make a list of top prospects. Also, I like to have my own little gimmick, so rather than simply summarizing the player’s last season or giving a prediction about their future, I decided to come up with what I think is the Real Question(TM) regarding their future growth and future with the Twins. Some of the Real Questions(TM) are snark, some are useless, but I think most of them are helpful when it comes to evaluating the prospects.

Of course, if you think you have the answer to one of my Real Question(TM)s, answer down in the comments. Please find, below the fold, the Honorable Mentions (which are not necessarily numbers 33-35) and numbers 31-32. I will be counting down five at a time once a day until I am done!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @calltothepen.

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Jose Morales to Undergo Surgery and other Stories

So says Lavelle. The surgery is for a strained tendon in his right wrist. He’ll miss six to eight weeks. My thoughts on this and other matters:

  1. This is a very simple procedure, and the only real remaining question is how long it will take him to strengthen the wrist so that he can grip and throw the ball with power and accuracy. Hopefully it will be by April 5, but since Drew Butera is already on the 40-man roster, there’s really no rush.
  2. However, Butera is a defensive specialist not known for his hitting. He’ll be an okay substitute for Mauer, but his presence in the lineup likely means Mauer is DHing in order to prevent too large of a dropoff. Morales hits for a ton of average, so he should hurry and get back so Mauer can get more days off.
  3. Willem Dafoe is a creepy man.
  4. Today Mike Redmond signed with the Indians. I wish him my best, except for the 18 games he plays against the Twins. Hopefully we’ll see him in a Twins coaching uniform in a year or two.
  5. Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the Athletics today, so we won’t be seeing him in a Twins uniform. Honestly, this is a bit of a relief, because I grimace at all the potential misspellings of his last name.

In other news, I have finally given in, and am on Twitter. If you’re interested, follow me at http://www.twitter.com/calltothepen.

2009 List of Ten Most Likely to be Mispronounced by Dick ‘n’ Bert

As everyone who watches the Twins on television on a regular basis realizes, the Twins announcers regularly do a godawful job pronouncing the names of opposing (and occasionally minor-league or recently-called-up) players. This led me to think about the potential major-leaguers of tomorrow that would wreak havoc with Dick n Bert’s commenting. I had planned to do a list based on all players in the minor leagues, but it simply was too big an undertaking, so I limited it directly to Twins minor-leaguers (I also stayed out of the DSL, as very few of those players will be seen in the majors). Here are my criteria:

  1. Likelihood to see the majors
  2. Confusion on the interwebs or TV about pronunciation and/or spelling
  3. How many syllables the name possesses
  4. How common the name is
  5. Whether the name is foreign-sounding

Honorable Mention – Miguel Angel Sano / Miguel Jean

I don’t include the uberprospect in the below list because no one really disputes how to pronounce his name. The problem is that no one seems to be sure what to call him. Everyone has known him as Miguel Angel Sano for the last many months, as his name was constantly in the news, but after he signed, several news outlets reported that he wanted to be known as “Miguel Jean.” No word on what to do with the “Angel.” Simply put: I expect this to all be figured out by the time he reaches the majors, but until it is…

Follow me below the fold for the list

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