March 14, 2007

1. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees: I think A-Rod is easily a top-five pick as he will bounce back and put up MVP-caliber numbers in 2007. He has nine straight seasons of 100-plus RBIs, 11 straight seasons of 100-plus runs and nine straight seasons of 35 or more HRs. A-Rod will quiet the boo-birds this year, at least through the regular season.

2. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: We drafted the first two rounds via e-mail and I'll admit that in the confusion I had David Ortiz already taken. He would have been the perfect pick here. But I'll take Jeter and his .300-plus average, 30-plus steals, 115-plus runs and the solid power numbers at a key position.

3. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies: Rollins should be a top 20 pick as he provides good power, good speed and a solid batting average. I had no trouble filling up my middle infield spot with this selection and making the other owners start scrambling for shortstops, which happened quickly after this pick.

4. Andruw Jones, OF, Braves: With so much speed and high batting average obtained with the first three picks, I could afford Jones's .262 average with power. As he heads into free agency, I expect Jones to be especially focused on a big season, and I'll still be able to handle the weak batting average.

5. Billy Wagner, P, Mets: It was time to jump on a top closer before the closer run took off, and grabbing Wagner and his 40 saves and 90-plus strikeouts was too good to pass up. This is a solid anchor for my bullpen as I wanted three closers in the draft.

6. Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets: I still needed more power at this point in the draft and I believe that Delgado will hit closer to .290 than .265. No way will he hit .226 at Shea again. The big power numbers that Delgado will provide in 2007 now makes my team pretty dangerous.

7. Felix Hernandez, P, Mariners: If SlimFast can make Dan Marino feel better, it has to do wonders for a 20-year-old like King Felix, right? I think the weight loss will help Hernandez have a bust-out sophomore season. I also think he learned a lot from last year's rather humbling rookie campaign. He's not the ideal ace for a fantasy staff, but I think he will do just fine and provide 14-15 wins and 170-plus strikeouts.

8. Jeremy Bonderman, P, Tigers: I'm going with youth and lively arms in my starting rotation. Bonderman finished 2006 with 14 wins and 202 strikeouts. I believe he can repeat those numbers in 2007 and maybe even top them on a solid team.

9. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: Second base was getting picked clean and it was time to dive in. Like my other youngsters, I believe that Weeks has solid upside, and he's capable of 20 homers and 30 steals if he can stay healthy for a full season. I know that's a big "if," but I have faith that this will be his breakout season.

10. Richie Sexson, 1B, Mariners: I'm starting to compromise batting average a bit, but the 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs were just too much to ignore. Besides, he has hit .264 and .263 the last two years and I think I can still finish with a batting average in the .280s if my last picks are strong.

11. Francisco Cordero, P, Brewers: Cordero was solid for the Brewers after he was acquired in late July, converting 16 of 18 saves with a 1.69 ERA. As my second closer, he'll be more than solid.

12. Mike Cameron, OF, Padres: He was one of the top fantasy players in 2006 after he came off the DL, hitting 22 homers with 83 RBIs, 88 runs and 25 stolen bases in 141 games. I'm pushing the team batting average again, but a 20-20 player in the 12th round is too good to ignore.

13. Erik Bedard, P, Orioles: Bedard was 10-10 with a 2.91 ERA over his last 22 starts in 2006 and I trust he'll be strong this year as well. As my third starter, I'm looking for 15 wins, 170 K's and a 3.80 ERA.

14. Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners: I don't expect Ibanez to hit .289-33-123 again, but I need a little help in batting average and the additional power is going to be nice, too. Ibanez always falls in mixed league drafts, but over the last five seasons he has been one of the most consistenty productive fantasy outfielders in the game.

15. Rich Hill, P, Cubs: Over his last 12 starts in 2006 Hill went 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. He has the talent to be a staff ace, and if he gets off to a fast start this year I think he could top 15 wins and 180 K's.

16. Javier Vazquez, P, White Sox: I'm gambling here with his high ERA and WHIP, but I liked the 184 strikeouts last year and the potential for more than 11 wins. It's a bit of a gamble, but I'll take it in the 16th round.

17. Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox: Can his back hold up for a whole season? I'm not sure, but this was too much of a value pick in the 17th round to pass up, even though it locked up my utility spot a bit too early. Crede hit .283-30-94 last year and anything close to that this year would be sweet.

18. A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: O.K., I've waited way too long on catchers, but I can use a little help on the batting average. Pierzynski fits perfectly, until the Cubs come to the South Side.

19. Octavio Dotel, P, Royals: I didn't say I was going to get three quality closers, just three closers. I'll ride this one for a bit and drop Dotel early in the season if he doesn't pan out. But for a third option in saves, I could have done worse.

20. Jacque Jones, OF, Cubs: My outfield isn't filled with star names, but each player has the potential to top 20 homers and 80 RBIs. Wrigley Field was good to Jones last year and I trust it will be again.

21. Jason Jennings, P, Astros: Forget about his days at Coors Field. Jennings has top talent and last year he finished with 142 strikeouts and a 3.78 ERA in Colorado. I know that pitching in Houston isn't much easier, but anything is better than pitching at Coors Field. I like his upside on this team.

22. Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies: This is a gamble, but isn't every second catcher a gamble? I'll take this Colorado rookie as my second catcher and hope that last year's audition is a sign of things to come. He should start behind the plate and hold the job all season long.

23. Kenny Lofton, OF, Rangers: While looking at my roster, it was apparent that I was still a little short on stolen bases. Lofton should help early on, and I can always cut him during the season for more power. Besides, I needed someone closer to my age on this team.

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