Well, last night was the Expert League draft for the FSIC AL-Only league. First things first, I am honored to be a part of the league and it's going to be a ton of fun.
Now, second things second... CBS' draft software is nowhere close to the quality of ESPN and Yahoo. It is not intuitive, it's buggy, it freezes, and it's very limited in capability. It is so far behind the other two that I want to call it an objective fact and not a subjective opinion, though I suppose by definition it is merely my opinion. So, your mileage may vary. But, if you are forced to draft on CBS please do some mock drafts first.
Let me also say that one of my football leagues is on CBS and I don't mind it nearly as much. It is still well behind ESPN and Yahoo, but I can deal with the football version. And, it has never frozen on me. (And we do that draft in-person with laptops, beer, food, jokes, and good-natured insults. Draft in-person when you can, my friends.)
Okay, one last thing about the software before I tell you about the team. On Saturday I had my 20-team auction draft on Yahoo. I was using two laptops and could have both of them logged in at the same time for instant failover redundancy. Awesome! I tried this with CBS and everything but the chat room froze. Okay, so it just so happened that the commissioner of the league drew pick #1 and someone made a crack about him using all of his time (2 minutes per pick) and us getting started late... So, about 10.5 minutes in my screens are still frozen and because of the crack on the commish I'm thinking that he just hasn't hit the "start" button or something. We're just starting late for some reason, right?
Someone posted in the chat that autodraft means that everyone else is going to be fighting for #2 in the pitching categories. And I'm all like, "Yeah, that's one way to go. LOL."
It was me. My screens were frozen and I didn't know I was up and it timed me out and put me on autodraft. It picked my two wheel picks rapid-fire... So, the #10 and #11 picks for me were Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez. Curses!
Not the end of the world, but I had to change my entire strategy on the fly. For the record, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre would have been my picks. I would have then found value with some undervalued starters in the middle rounds.
Later in the draft it was frozen several times. I was not able to select John Danks and ended up with Hector Noesi. I think Noesi will be very good this year, but I like Danks better. I couldn't have him. The software wouldn't let me. I posted the software screwups in chat and totally sounded like sour grapes. It was just so frustrating. I didn't want to sound like sour grapes. I wanted to sound like having-fun-guy-new-guy-just-happy-to-be-here-guy-Dave.
My pitching turned out pretty well: Verlander, Hernandez, Noesi, Wei-Ying Chen, and Tyson Ross plus Greg Holland, Matt Thornton, Aaron Crow, Hisanori Takahashi, and Fautino De Los Santos. I feel like that is a very good staff for an AL-Only league. I like every pitcher that I took, even though I reached on the ones I mentioned above. (Especially Noesi.) I don't think that Broxton will get too many save chances in Kansas City and I think Holland and/or Crow will have that job. The other will still have nice stats. I think Takahashi will produce well and vulture some wins and De Los Santos is the most talented reliever in Oakland. Hopefully he'll win the job. Thornton is the man on the southside. I waited on reliever big time and I feel like I did okay. If I get most of the saves for KC and the ChiSox I should be ahead of the curve.
Hitters. Crap. I am basically all upside hope with this group with big downside risk. This is not the way I'd like to go... I would have liked to have laid a solid foundation with Fielder and Beltre and then add some risky guys in later. I may still have taken Carl Crawford with the first pick of the 6th round, and I would have felt much better about it.
I am relying on Kendrys Morales, Jason Kipnis, Shin-Soo Choo, Erick Aybar, Crawford, and Brett Gardner to carry my team. Every single one of those guys (except maybe Aybar) has more risk than I am comfortable with.
Look, there is room for hope. Morales is supposed to be back to normal. Same with Choo. Aybar is an everyday player on probably the best offense in the AL. And, I love Gardner this year... He's my biggest breakout candidate in the AL, so I'm glad I got him.
I also did the math on outfielders and decided that I had to invest heavily. With 14 teams in the AL there are 42 starting outfielders, plus a handful of guys starting at other positions who qualify for the OF. This is a 10-team league that starts 5 outfielders. They were going to be at a premium. Choo, Gardner, Crawford, Matt Joyce, Nolan Reimold.
All of that said, I'm in big trouble. My corner infielder is Carlos Pena and my catcher is J.P. Arencibia. Fantastic power, but those guys will double-handedly drop my team batting average by 15 or more points. I just had to have the power.
My middle infielder is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yuniesky Betancourt!! Ugh. My utility is a platoon of Wilson Betemit versus righthanders and anyone else when the Orioles face a southpaw. Third base? Lonnie Chisenhall. Starting at third base! What?!
Plus, I drafted Ben Revere. Pretty early, too. He might not have a starting gig since Josh Willingham will be the left fielder. Revere just doesn't have the arm for right field. If he's a starter I like him for 50 steals. If not, I won't ever know when to start him on my team. Curses. C'mon, Brett Gardner!
Okay, so what have we learned? Solid foundation early, invest in outfielders, pitching bargains in the middle rounds, take a few gambles where you have to. Did I do all of that? Errmm... not so much.
We'll play it out and see how it goes. I feel like I'm a decent in-season manager, so we'll see if I can navigate around some of the other experts. A tall order, that.
Big props go out to Jesse Sakstrup of Roto Summit (http://www.rotosummit.com). His team is terrific. Robinson Cano (who I would have taken #1 overall), Adrian Beltre, Asdrubal Cabrera, Dustin Ackley, Mark Reynolds (good value)... John Danks, James Shields, Grant Balfour, Mike Adams (will get the job before long), Vinnie Pestano (might not give the job up). It's a quality team.
There are a few other good teams in the league. I like Jessica and Timothy Polko's team. They are from RotoHelp (http://www.rotohelp.com/). Their corners: Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion, and Billy Butler. Very nice. They couldn't have dreamed of getting Fielder in the middle of the 2nd round.
I'm in for some stiff competition.
My team might have the most upside in the whole league, though. And the most downside. We'll see.