Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Draft Night Revelations, Part II
Dustin Pedroia: G Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

"I survived the 29-round 'AL Roto Challenge' draft ... and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"

If you ever ran a marathon, read War and Peace ("War? What is it good for?") or sat through the duration of For Keeps, the forgettable 80s movie starring Molly Ringwald ... then surely you can empathize with the mental and physical torture associated with an unbelievably long American League-only fantasy draft -- like the one I had on Tuesday night. From the first pick (Detroit's Miguel Cabrera at roughly 8:31 p.m. EST) to the 290th pick (Boston catcher George Kottaras -- to whom the Red Sox released two weeks ago) at approximately 11:42 ... the whole experience left me mentally fried and sweating more than Ted Striker during the final crash-land sequence in Airplane. (deep sigh)

But I'm a better man for the journey; and hopefully, I'll be fantasy champion in this high-stakes league come September. You be the judge:

Round 1 (No. 7): 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (Ian Kinsler went one pick earlier)
Round 2 (No. 14 overall): OF Carl Crawford, Rays (passed on Nick Markakis)
Round 3: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (Fanball mag's No. 1 AL-only outfielder)
Round 4: SP James Shields, Rays (are you sensing a Boston/Tampa Bay theme here?)
Round 5: OF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
Round 6: RP Kerry Wood, Indians
Round 7: RP Frank Francisco, Rangers (the closers were flying off the shelves)
Round 8: SP Matt Garza, Rays
Round 9: C Joe Mauer, Twins (obviously a high-risk/high-reward pick)
Round 10: SP Scott Baker, Twins
Round 11: 3B Josh Fields, White Sox
Round 12: SP David Price, Rays (the obligatory high-end rookie reach)
Round 13: OF/1B Kendry Morales, Angels (coming off a monster spring)
Round 14: C Taylor Teagarden, Rangers (computer froze -- would have preferred David Murphy)
Round 15: OF/DH Luke Scott, Orioles
Round 16: 2B Chris Getz, White Sox (Joe Pesci would say: "Whatever you want ... Chris Getz!")
Round 17: SP Kyle Davies, Royals
Round 18: RP Ryan Perry, Tigers (obligatory high-end rookie reach, part deux)
Round 19: SS/3B Brandon Wood, Angels
Round 20: RP Scot Shields, Angels
Round 21: OF Rajai Davis, Athletics (a lock for 30 steals)
Round 22: RP Juan Cruz, Royals (could be Setup Man of the Year -- if such an award existed)
Round 23: RP Rafael Perez, Indians
Round 24: SP Jason Hammel, Rays (wouldn't mind him being traded to San Diego)
Round 25: OF Lou Montanez, Orioles
Round 26: 1B Daric Barton, Athletics
Round 27: 3B Brian Buscher, Twins
Round 28: C Max Ramirez, Rangers (I own two-thirds of the Rangers' three-headed monster)
Round 29: OF Trevor Crowe, Indians (dumped him after the draft for Santiago Casilla)

What I Liked: The first four picks were straight out of central casting when building a viable AL-only team: High-end middle infielder (Dustin Pedroia), two Tier I outfielders (Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury) and an undisputable ace (James Shields) to anchor the reliever-heavy fantasy staff through the good and bad times. My only hangup: I really, really, really wanted Ian Kinsler at No. 7; but then again, the differences between Kinsler and Pedroia (former teammates at Arizona State, by the way) are essentially negligible.

What I Loved: In deeper AL-only drafts, you have to take chances on upside every now and then ... and I believe the sky's the limit for David Price (Round 12) and Kendry Morales, who had a big-time spring (.400 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBIs, 53 total bases) in filling the very-large 1B shoes of the departed Mark Teixeira. As far as Price goes, he'll have a sub-2.50 ERA, sub-1.15 WHIP and a high K/9 ratio from the second he takes the mound for Tampa Bay.

What Makes Me Nervous: I'm literally putting my "catcher" eggs in the basket of an ailing star (Joe Mauer) and two bona fide prospects (Taylor Teagarden, Max Ramirez) who are stuck behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia in Texas.

What Makes Me Nervous, Part II: Based on CBS Sports' projections, I don't have one hitter who's a lock for 25 homers (although four are slated to hit at least 19). That concerns me to a point ... but then again, I'm a tradeaholic, meaning I'll climb out of that hole sooner than later.

Of course, that also means I'll be digging up a new hole in another category.

In Case You're Wondering ...

Here are the first two rounds (20 picks) of Tuesday's AL-only, roto-style, weekly-league draft:

1. 1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2. OF Grady Sizemore, Indians
3. 1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees
4. OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
5. OF Matt Holliday, Athletics
6. 2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers
7. 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
8. 3B Evan Longoria, Rays
9. SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
10. OF B.J. Upton, Rays
11. SP CC Sabathia, Yankees
12. 1B Justin Morneau, Twins
13. RP Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
14. OF Carl Crawford, Rays
15. OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
16. SP Josh Beckett, Red Sox
17. OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox
18. OF Nick Markakis, Orioles
19. 2B/SS Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
20. OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

The Obligatory A-Rod Question

Where did Alex Rodriguez end up in this AL-only draft, you ask? Well, he slipped all the way to No. 30 overall, the last pick of Round 3. This was a little surprising, given his No. 37 overall ranking in mixed leagues, and the fact that he's ready to "ramp up his workouts" (whatever that means) while rehabbing in Colorado. Nevertheless, had he fallen four more slots, I may have grabbed A-Rod (instead of James Shields) at No. 34 -- even though I neither want nor need the day-to-day aggravation of charting his progress on ESPNews. In other words ... crisis averted!

The Price Is Still Right

Here's a message to all fantasy owners of the highly emotional ilk: DO NOT OVERREACT to the news of David Price getting sent down to the minors before Opening Day. The way I see it, Price is a lead-pipe cinch to be a permanent fixture in the Rays' staring rotation come April/May -- and should still be treated like a top 25 pitcher in AL-only drafts. The same goes for Orioles catcher extraordinaire Matt Wieters -- even if the ageless Gregg Zaun should land the starting role in two weeks. Bottom line: Price (12-1, 2.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 109/32 K-BB ratio in his 2008 minor-league season) and Wieters (the only top minors prospect with a .600-plus slugging percentage and more walks than strikeouts in '08) will be fantasy idols this season -- even if they have to wait until mid-May for their celebrity close-ups.

Rank & File

Here's my revised list of the top 20 first basemen in 5x5 American League-only drafts (HRs, RBIs, batting average, steals, runs).

1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2. Mark Teixeira, Yankees
3. Justin Morneau, Twins
4. Chris Davis, Rangers (also 3B-eligible)
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
6. Carlos Pena, Rays
7. Victor Martinez, Indians (also has C eligibility -- duh!)
8. Kendry Morales, Angels
9. Mike Jacobs, Royals
10. Paul Konerko, White Sox
11. Aubrey Huff, Orioles
12. Billy Butler, Royals
13. Hank Blalock, Rangers
14. Daric Barton, Athletics
15. Russell Branyan, Mariners
16. Jason Giambi, Athletics
17. Ty Wigginton, Orioles
18. Jeff Larish, Tigers
19. Ryan Garko, Indians
20. Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays

Rank & File, Part II

... And here are the top 20 first basemen in 5x5 National League-only drafts (HRs, RBIs, batting average, steals, runs).

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals (stunned? I'll give you a minute to catch your breath)
2. Ryan Howard, Phillies
3. Lance Berkman, Astros
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
5. Prince Fielder, Brewers
6. Joey Votto, Reds
7. Derrek Lee, Cubs
8. James Loney, Dodgers
9. Adam LaRoche, Pirates
10. Casey Kotchman, Braves
11. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
12. Carlos Delgado, Mets
13. Jorge Cantu, Marlins
14. Chad Tracy, Diamondbacks
15. Conor Jackson, D-Backs (Arizona's starting left fielder this season)
16. Nick Johnson, Nationals (you'd think Adam Dunn would be perfect at that position)
17. Todd Helton, Rockies
18. Travis Ishikawa, Giants
19. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
20. Logan Morrison, Marlins

Tiers Of A Clown

In auction drafts, fantasy owners seldom haggle over a buck or two when plotting their pre-draft strategies. Instead, they rely heavily on the tier system to get through the exhaustive process of bidding for talent. So, in deference to these way-too-patient experts, here are the six classifications of first basemen in mixed leagues:

Tier I
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Tier II
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Ryan Howard, Phillies
Justin Morneau, Twins
Lance Berkman, Astros
Prince Fielder, Brewers
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Chris Davis, Rangers
Joey Votto, Reds
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox

Tier III
James Loney, Dodgers
Carlos Pena, Rays
Paul Konerko, White Sox
Carlos Delgado, Mets
Todd Helton, Rockies
Victor Martinez, Indians
Hank Blalock, Rangers
Adam LaRoche, Pirates

Tier IV
Casey Kotchman, Braves
Mike Jacobs, Royals
Chad Tracy, Diamondbacks
Kendry Morales, Angels
Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks
Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Jorge Cantu, Marlins
Aubrey Huff, Orioles
Nick Johnson, Nationals

Tier V
Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays
Ty Wigginton, Orioles
Jason Giambi, Athletics
Daric Barton, Athletics
Billy Butler, Royals

Tier VI
Logan Morrison, Marlins
Travis Ishikawa, Giants
Kevin Millar, Blue Jays
Russell Branyan, Mariners
Jeff Larish, Tigers

The Almighty 'Autopick' Dilemma

On Thursday, we had the & Friends fantasy draft (featuring Clicks readers Mike Bernaiche, Tim Dwyer and David Katz); and for the most part, the 14-team, 25-round online draft went smoothly -- except that fellow SI.commer Lonny Krasnow got booted from his home Internet connection just seconds before the event ... and had to settle for's merciless "autopick" feature for all 25 picks. Lonny's situation, while unfortunate, is a common occurrence in fantasy drafts, which begs the following questions:

**In a league where there's a common thread of association (aka ... "friends" OR "friend of a friend"), should the other owners each sacrifice one good player to the disgraced manager -- in this case, Lonny -- who had a legitimate reason for fielding a miserable team? (His autopick team was NOT pretty)

**Should a draft be postponed, in its entirety, when an owner has a certifiable reason for missing the draft -- and cannot find someone to draft in his/her stead? (For drafts, the commish cannot draft for another owner -- unless he's logged in as the absentee)

**And what is the disgraced owner's responsibility in a friends league -- knowing that he/she likely has a bottom-feeder club to start the season? Should he/she feel obligated to make the necessary trades and free-agent pickups ... in the name of fielding a competitive team? Should the other owners care if he/she just "tanks" the season, thus neglecting a team for which they, technically, never drafted?

I wouldn't mind some Clicks feedback on this discussion ... or any other fantasy topic that crosses your mind.

Radical Reconstruction

If your fantasy league allows for pre-draft trading of actual picks -- not just slots -- may I suggest a radical path to an unprecedented roto-style championship -- tailor-made for those owners, like me, who steadfastly refuse to take a pitcher in the first four rounds of a 10-team mixed-league draft: Trade picks in Rounds 1, 2 and 4.

The Strategy
Step I -- Trade Round 1 (No. 5 overall) AND Round 16 (No. 156) picks to the owner in the 9th slot ... in exchange for his/her picks in Rounds 5 (No. 49 overall) and 6 (No. 52).
Step II -- Trade Round 2 (No. 16 overall) and Round 14 (No. 136) picks to the owner in the 2nd slot ... in exchange for his/her picks in Rounds 6 (No. 59 overall) and 7 (No. 62).
Step III -- Trade Round 4 (No. 36 overall) and Round 12 (No. 116) picks to the owner in the 10th slot ... in exchange for his/her picks in Rounds 7 (No. 70 overall) and 8 (No. 71).

The New Bounty
**Fifteen high-value picks between Nos. 25 and 125
**Three picks in Round 6
**Three chances for quick-turnaround picks in Rounds 5/6 (49, 52), Rounds 6/7 (59, 62), Rounds 7/8 (70, 71)
**Two picks in Round 5

Meet Your Core (courtesy of Mock Draft Central's ADP rankings)
#25: OF Carl Crawford, Rays
#45: SP Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks (my No. 1-ranked pitcher)
#49: RP Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (my top-ranked closer)
#52: 3B/1B Chris Davis, Rangers (a top-10 pick in 2010 drafts)
#56: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (pardon the pun ... what a steal!)
#59: OF Nate McLouth, Pirates
#62: 2B Dan Uggla, Marlins (a mortal lock for 30 HRs, 95 RBIs)
#65: SP James Shields, Rays
#70: RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees
#71: 1B Joey Votto, Reds
#76: SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners
#85: C Joe Mauer, Twins
#96: OF Jay Bruce, Reds
#105: SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
#125: SP Javier Vazquez, Braves (enjoy your latter-round fantasy gold)

Verdict: Tell me you wouldn't kill for that team right now, huh? I thought so ... and you're welcome!

It's All About The Slot: #6
Matt Kemp: Lisa Blumenfield/Getty Images

The No. 6 pick in a 12-team mixed-league draft sounds really boring, doesn't it? Wait. Pick. Wait ... Wait. Pick. Wait ... -- the dance seemingly never ends when toiling in No Man's Land. But hath no fear or ambivalence ... because here's a time-tested, mock-approved look at your options from the sixth slot (and beyond) in 12-teamers (just don't fall asleep between picks):

Round 1, Pick 6: Motive -- Best power-hitting infielder or best outfielder
1st option: 1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers ... 2nd option: OF Grady Sizemore, Indians

Round 2, Pick 19 overall: Motive -- Best infielder or No. 1-ranked pitcher
1st option: 3B Evan Longoria, Rays ... 2nd option: SP Tim Lincecum, Giants

Round 3, Pick 30 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder
1st option: OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers ... 2nd option: OF Carlos Lee, Astros

Round 4, Pick 43 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or top-end pitcher
1st option: OF Jason Bay, Red Sox ... 2nd option: SP Jake Peavy, Padres

Round 5, Pick 54 overall: Motive -- High-end catcher or top-ranked closer
1st option: C Brian McCann, Braves ... 2nd option: RP Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox

Round 6, Pick 67 overall: Motive -- Top-ranked closer or best infielder
1st option: RP Joe Nathan, Twins ... 2nd option: 3B Chipper Jones, Braves

Round 7, Pick 78 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF Jay Bruce, Reds ... 2nd option: SP James Shields, Rays

Round 8, Pick 91 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or power-hitting infielder
1st option: SP Jon Lester, Red Sox ... 2nd option: 1B Joey Votto, Reds

Round 9, Pick 102 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or top-end closer
1st option: SP Cliff Lee, Indians ... 2nd option: RP Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers

Round 10, Pick 115 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or best available middle infielder
1st option: OF Torii Hunter, Twins ... 2nd option: SS Mike Aviles, Royals

Round 11, Pick 126: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or best corner infielder
1st option: SP Javier Vazquez, Braves ... 2nd option: 3B Alex Gordon, Royals

Round 12, Pick 139: Motive -- Top-end closer or best starting pitcher
1st option: RP Francisco Cordero, Reds ... 2nd option: SP Ricky Nolasco, Marlins

Round 13, Pick 150: Motive -- Best outfielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF Jayson Werth, Phillies ... 2nd option: SP Scott Baker, Twins

Round 14, Pick 163: Motive -- Best relief pitcher
1st option: RP Matt Capps, Pirates ... 2nd option: RP Brian Fuentes, Angels

Round 15, Pick 174: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or power-hitting outfielder
1st option: SP Kevin Slowey, Twins ... 2nd option: OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers

Round 16, Pick 187: Motive -- Best outfielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF Elijah Dukes, Nationals ... 2nd option: SP Erik Bedard, Mariners

Round 17, Pick 198: Motive -- Best middle infielder
Only option: SS/2B Yunel Escobar, Braves

Round 18, Pick 211: Motive -- Best infielder/outfielder
Only option: 1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers

Round 19, Pick 222: Motive -- Best relief pitcher
1st option: RP Frank Francisco, Rangers ... 2nd option: RP Heath Bell, Padres

Round 20, Pick 235: Motive -- Best rookie outfielder or infielder
1st option: OF Travis Snider, Blue Jays... 3rd option: 3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Woodstock Ain't Just A Place In New York

Spring Training may seem like an endless, pointless charade to most baseball fans. But there's a reason why Major League Baseball tracks such meticulous statistics from all these games. To wit, here's a list of the Grapefruit/Cactus leagues' best RBI men (through April 1):

1. 1B Micah Hoffapauir, Cubs -- 26 RBIs
2. OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 25 RBIs
3. 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 22 RBIs
4. 1B Mike Jacobs, Royals -- 20 RBIs
5. 3B Chris Colonel, Rockies -- 18 (sorry, I'm fresh out of "mustard" jokes)
6. OF Chris Duncan, Cardinals -- 18
7. OF Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals -- 18
8. OF Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies -- 18
9. OF Mike Wilson, Mariners -- 18
10. 3B Wilson Betemit, White Sox -- 17
11. 1B Russell Branyan, Mariners -- 17
12. 3B Matt Brown, Dodgers -- 17
13. 1B Prince Fielder, Brewers -- 17
14. SS Khalil Greene, Cardinals -- 17
15. OF Mitch Maier, Royals -- 17


On the flip side, here's a list of spring training's top strikeout guys (through April 1):

1. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks -- 29 Ks
2. Matt Cain, Giants -- 28 Ks
3. Derek Lowe, Braves -- 26 Ks
4. Josh Johnson, Marlins -- 25
5. Chan Ho Park, Phillies -- 25
6. Francisco Liriano, Twins -- 24
7. Micah Owings, Reds -- 24
8. Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies -- 23
9. Robinson Tejada, Royals -- 23
10. John Danks, White Sox -- 22
11. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- 21
12. Russ Ortiz, Astros -- 21 (admit it, you thought he was out of baseball)
13. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals -- 21
14. Joba Chamberlain, Yankees -- 20
15. Gavin Floyd, White Sox -- 20
16. Zack Greinke, Royals -- 20
17. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays -- 20
18. Joel Pineiro, Cardinals -- 20
19. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays -- 20
20. Kevin Slowey, Twins -- 20

Spring Fielding Percentage Leaders

Hahahahaha ... like you care about that in fantasyland. Happy (belated) April Fools' Day!

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