Thursday, September 29, 2011

An O.N.Thug's Perspective: Episode III - Eating Popcorn, While the Cheese (Sandwich) Stands Alone, Part I

This is the first of a 3-part review of the 2011 UPL Baseball season, and given the exciting finish, I'll start at the end.  In a nutshell, this is UPL Keeper Era: 3 seasons, 3 champions, 6 teams on the podium, with only 3 teams repeating podium performances.  Things have not settled like you may have figured a keeper league would.  And a lot of it was on display last night, when for the 2nd season in a row, game 162 in real-life baseball changed the fortunes of UPL Baseball.  And this is what this post is about.  But first some context.

About 6 or 7 weeks ago, Westy made a trade with Pauly, sending Craig Kimbrel to Hats for Bats, in exchange for Michael Pineda.  Most of the audience thought that it was a reasonable trade, moving a closer to get a live, young SP who had been pretty good through his first 4 or 5 months.  Rupert begged to differ, posting one of his classic messages about how he had been offering much better deals, and bemoaning the fact that Westy had settled on trading Kimbrel for a "cheese sandwich."  More on cheese sandwiches later.

The other prominent feature of the final weeks of 2011 UPL Baseball was popcorn.  Back in late June, Greg, in another of his subtle-so-as-to-not-be-subtle jabs, was commenting on how the O.N. Thugs were being uncooperative in his efforts in acquiring Clayton Kershaw, and how that it was clear that the Thugs were pushing for a Hats for Bats championship.  And before I had the chance to respond, the conversation was continued by Westy and C-Lauff, and Greg threw in this gem:

Passive-aggressive.  It's what's for dinner.  That and popcorn.

In any case, at this point, Hats for Bats were dominating the league, flying over the 140 mark.  And the O.N. Thugs were about 3 weeks into their annual comeback efforts, having moved from about 80 points up to about 95 points.  And mind you, the Thugs were in 5th of 6th place at the time (though it was better than the 7th or 8th place they were in at the start of June).  Naturally, the Thugs found reason for confidence.  And of course, there had to be a reply. 

 The latest in UPL icons: Greg enjoying popcorn, while I remind people to never get in a land war with China.

As an aside, I've been proud of how little explicit vulgarity I've been using in my trash talk. 

For the first couple months, the Thugs were publicly quiet about their 2011 team, but privately, they liked the squad.  After all, the disastrous May/June that led to the mediocre results had to be the worst-case scenario (Dunn being awful, Jeter looking old, Carpenter getting smacked around, Volquez getting demoted, Kershaw not hitting his stride, yet).  In conversations with OD and CJ, the Thugs would explain how things were trending upward, how they still had the best pitching staff in the UPL, and how Pauly was going to come back to earth, as Bautista and Weaver came back to earth.  The thought was that there was too much variance in Pauly's pitching for this to keep up.  And in these conversations, OD and CJ would just say "uh-huh" while rolling their eyes.  To paraphrase OD, "Uh, yeah.  I was pretty sure that you were talking out of your ass."

By any fair assessment, back in June, an O.N. Thugs victory would have been uber-Sisyphean.

Of course, this is how an O.N. Thug (or any other delusional person) sees the world.

But at the end of June, the Thugs went public by co-opting O.N. Thugs icon, Terrell Owens, and telling everyone who wasn't going to be involved (like Greg and Westy) to just sit back and enjoy the show (despite the fact that the Thugs well back in the standings).  But by the time September rolled around, the O.N. Thugs had moved all the way up to about 110 points, pretty much passing Greg up in the standings, to be in 3rd place.  And at the same time, C-Lauff had made a run, and was emerging as a winner in the duel w/ Pauly for first, with both teams running around 125-130 points.  So the O.N. Thugs had the task of making up 15-20 fantasy points, and jumping 2 teams.  Clearly, the O.N. Thugs had the title in the bag :-)

And amazingly enough, the picture of the UPL was sort of like this, through Game 161, out of 162, as the O.N. Thugs were in 1st place on the penultimate standings, with 123.5 points, with Pauly and C-Lauff just behind.

 Generally, in situations like this, you bet on Rock.  Paper and Scissor are generally afterthoughts.

But like Dr. Jones, the Jabrones make an epic escape, aided by two cheese sandwiches.

If you've ever played in a poorly designed head-to-head league, one of the features is the churning of pitchers.  Basically, you pick up and drop pitchers so you can use them for a given start.  Generally, a keeper league will dissuade you from doing that too much.  However, the last few days of the season end up being like those head-to-head leagues - you figure out who your keepers are, and anyone who you know won't be kept may get dropped so that you can pick up an SP to get an extra start or two in the hopes of chasing an extra W or getting a miracle bump in ERA or WHIP.  Similarly, you may start to try to find a random HR or SB with an offensive player that would hurt your OBP or SLG in the long run, but may be a quick miracle cure.  From an aesthetic standpoint, it's sort of an ugly way to win - much like hitting your opponent with a steel chair while your manager distracts the ref.  From a practical standpoint, you have to do it, because it maximizes your chances, and if you do it right, can steal you a point or two at the end of the season. 

In anticipation of the churning, the Thugs evoked some of Rupert's imagery:

Channel your inner Homer... mmm... cheese sandwiches...

Now, I have to admit that when I posted this, I knew that I had an advantage.  First of all, I was up by one W on both Pauly and C-Lauff.  And more importantly, I wouldn't get hurt by an L, as I was 3 L's behind Pauly.  So I had some room to work with.  And in fact, I sort of wanted Pauly and C-Lauff to stretch.  My logic was that the Fantasy Gods would punish anyone who was going to start a cheese sandwich, if not with an L, but at least with a bad ERA/WHIP.  And Pauly and I were dueling over both ERA and WHIP, and C-Lauff was at risk in WHIP (with, ironically, Cheeseheads).  My thought was that the churn could easily take a turn for the worst, and hang them with 1 or 2 L's (which would be worth 0.5 to 1 points), and that they could backfire in ERA and WHIP.  And the second thought that I had was that I had a guy who wasn't a cheese sandwich (Carpenter) who had a pedigree, who was on a roll in September, and who was playing in a must-win game.  I liked my chances w/out churning an starter, especially when I looked down the list.

Wade LeBlanc didn't look bad starting in SD, but the Cubs felt like the sort of team that may go off and hand a dozen runs on a team when the game is meaningless.

Ted Lilly looked reasonable, but I had bet against the D-Backs twice with Tim Lincecum, and gotten bit both times.  Basically, I didn't feel like messing with the D-Backs with the season on the line.

Christ Volstad against WAS wouldn't be terrible, but he was going up against Stephen Strasburg, who was looking solid.

And really, that was about it for me.

When I saw that Pauly got Miguel Batista, my first thought was that "Pauly's an idiot.  Miguel Batista died years ago."  But I looked closer, and it turns out that Batista was, in fact, alive, and starting for the Mets against my Reds.  My Reds who finished 2nd in the league in runs scored.  So my thought changed to, "Pauly's crazy - he's about to give me that point in WHIP, too."  It was at that point that I decided that I was going to start Volquez, as well (I did check to see if OD, who I was tied with in W, had starters going, and saw that he had 2).  I figured that I needed to give myself a chance to stay ahead of OD, in case he got a W.  That and it would be fitting for me to let Volquez atone for his fantasy baseball sins.  So I had one cheese sandwich going, and it was one that had a high ceiling.  So I felt that I was in a stronger position than either C-Lauff of Pauly with my pitching.

So the morning comes, and I roll out of bed.  I see that Volquez was pitching well, but the Reds were down 1-0.  Eh.  Whatever.  Then I notice that Volquez gave up a 2-run HR.  Uggh.  Oh well.  At least the Reds will get to Batista and punish him eventually, right?

So I get showered, and roll out to lunch.  And I see this show up on my Blackberry.:

 Sometimes there's no justice :-)  Also, Pauly had that icon before Sheen had his #DuhWinning meltdown.

Really?  And sure enough, Volquez gets stuck w/ the L, though his line of 7 IP, 3ER, 6H, 1BB, and 5K is actually pretty decent.  But at this point, my grip on ERA had slipped, so that I was percentage points behind.

And a little while after, I see this on my Facebook feed, from Tom, White Sox fan, one of Mikey's old roommates, and former UPL Football dim-wit turned finalist (Tom was the guy who didn't look at the rules and drafted Pittsburgh DEF early in the first round, presumably because "defense wins championships," and was labeled as Tweedledum [or Tweedledummer, I don't really remember] by myself).

Tweedledum (or dummer) as the bearer of bad news.

Of course, I thought to myself, "Sucks to be Greg (who owned Sergio Santos).  Sale just tossed 1 2/3 last night to get the SV.  He's young, and they're going to build up his arm strength to be a starter next season.  There's no way they're going to jeopardize that."  And then I realized that this was the White Sox we were talking about.  The same White Sox that seem to botch player development and had everything go wrong this season.  So I just had to check.  And sure enough, somehow it was Chris Sale on the mound.  At least he didn't blow out his arm (I don't think).  But the damage was done.  1/3 IP, 2ER, 2H, 3BB.  I don' t know exactly how close it would have been. But I lost a point in ERA to Pauly after the Volquez and Sale debacle, and it didn't look like I could get it back (I was then at 3.20, while Pauly was down to 3.17).  Happily, the 2 L's didn't factor into it.  And in all honesty, I probably would not have been gutsy enough to start Volquez had L's mattered.

At that point, Pauly was in first, I was behind, and C-Lauff had lost ground. I still had hope because I had other avenues to victory (namely by scoring some runs on offense, swiping a few bases, or racking up some OBP).  And there was plenty of play left, as Pauly still had one more cheese sandwich, and C-Lauff had 2 cheese sandwiches to eat.

Which set the stage for the exciting finish to the season, where the UPL championship wasn't won until the last pitch was thrown.

More on that in Episode III, part II.

-Chairman (aka O.N. Thugs)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Evan's Stolen AK

Like some in the UPL, I'm in a couple of different leagues each fantasy season.  One of those leagues is run by my buddy Pat, and Roland once described it as having some of the craziest scoring of any league he'd seen.  How so?  Well...  take a gander:

Offensive Positions:

Offensive Scoring Categories:
R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, K, AVG, OPS (BB scored by most, K by least)

Pitching Positions:
SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, P, P, P

Pitching Scoring Categories

So...  yeah, there's a lot of things that can go right, or wrong, or screwy at any given time.  Add in 5 bench spots, and a 10 team league, and you get a few different strategies that could emerge all of which would be driven by a combination of factors such as draft, waiver watches and luck.  My draft, as you'll see, was a bit of a mixed bag, which led to me being much more active on the waiver wire than I would've liked to have been.  I drafted 7th, and these are my results:

1.  Miguel Cabrera
2.  Alex Rodriguez
3.  Buster Posey
4.  Josh Johnson
5.  Jay Bruce
6.  Mike Stanton
7.  Jered Weaver
8.  Elvis Andrus
9.  Matt Thornton
10.  Gio Gonzalez
11.  Gordon Beckham
12.  Craig Kimbrel
13.  Brett Gardner
14.  Aroldis Chapman
15.  Johnny Venters
16.  Jon Sanchez
17.  Joel Hanrahan
18.  Manny Ramirez
19.  Luke Scott
20.  David Ortiz
21.  Edwin Jackson
22. Chris Sale
23.  CJ Wilson
24.  Gavin Floyd
25.  Jim Thome

So, obviously, my team at the end of the season doesn't really resemble that at all.  Manny was busted for steroids and out by the end of the second week.  Posey exited early with a season ending injury.  Josh Johnson was dominant, then hurt.  Luke Scott flashed the kind of inconsistency that drives me insane as a fantasy team owner.  Thome was hurt and ineffective early.  And my plan to have the closer/setup guys for teams that I expected to do well only half-worked, as Thornton and Sale struggled early and both were dropped by week 4.  Veneters / Kimbrel were lights out, though, and Hanrahan did well while fill-ins Rauch and Isringhausen provided clutch saves before falling off.  The following players were longtime contributors to the Stolen AK, picked up off free agency:

SP.  Michael Pineda
SP.  Derek Holland
SP.  Matt Harrison
SP.  Brandon McCarthy
2B.  Dan Uggla (post All Star Break)
3B.  Brett Lawrie
3B/OF.  Alex Gordon
OF.  Logan Morrison

I also was somewhat active on the trade front, executing 3 key trades:

3B Alex Rodriguez for 2B Dustin Pedroia (June 4)
2B Dustin Pedroia and SP Jered Weaver for 1B Prince Fielder and SP Mat Latos (June 17)
3B Alex Gordon for OF Brett Gardner (June 24)

The only clear "win" trade for me was the A-Rod for Pedroia trade.  In both of the other two, I traded productive players (dominantly productive, one could say) for players who were on a hot streak that was unsustainable.  In the end, though, Prince Fielder's power and Brett Gardner's speed provided enough of a boost to carry me over in key stats during the Championship week.

That's right kids, its time to crown Evan's Stolen AK's ass. 

Now if only I could carry this over into the Jimmy Dix Longballs' 2012 incarnation. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Worst Draft Ever?

My debut post here on The UPL Blog chronicled my Draft Day Dilemmas. Seeing as how now we're in August, I've gone back and looked at the draft. It's actually quite stunning to see how poorly I did. In fact, I probably shouldn't be doing anything to bring attention to this embarrassment, but here goes:

Round 1 - Ryan Raburn (2B/OF) - Some people thought Raburn was ready for a breakout season, putting up 20+ HRs at the weak 2B position. Well, those people are never to be trusted again. We're well into August and Raburn has only 10 jacks, 35 RBI, and a paltry .266 OBP. 32 2Bs are rated ahead of Raburn.

Round 2 - Chris Sale (RP) - Sale got his chance to close just as I had hoped. But then he promptly went on to prove that he can't close. He struggled mightily early in the season with an ERA of 5+ and WHIP of 1.6+ through May.

Round 3 - Luke Gregerson (RP) - He's been injured for much of the season; and when he hasn't been injured, he's been mediocre.

Round 4 - Mike Minor (RP) - Last name says it all. With a 1-2 record and ERA of 4.59, he's right were he belongs: The minor leagues.

Round 5 - Alcides Escobar (SS) - With a .287 OBP, I have no idea what I was thinking when drafting him. I also have no idea what he's currently doing on Westy's roster.

Round 6 - Marlon Byrd (OF) - Normally when an outfielder has 6 homers and 2 steals heading into the 2nd week of August, I'd make fun of him. But at this point, Byrd rates as one of my best picks.

Round 7 - David Murphy (OF) - His 5 homers and 6 steals make him my team's "Draft Pick of the Year." Not bad for a part-time player.

Round 8 - Eric Young (OF/2B) - After spending nearly the whole season in the minors, Young got his big break and has even been batting leadoff for the Rockies. He also has an OBP of .308 and SLG of .225, which probably means the Rockies can't wait to send him back down to the minors.

On the bright side, from here there's nowhere to go but up!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Evan's Stolen AK: The Story of my season so far...

"I'm not out of it yet..." I remember saying, "but I'm definitely not in it at the moment."

This season could've easily started off in a much worse way than it has, but at the same time I've caught a bunch of bad breaks early. I made the choice in the "preseason" to trade Cliff Lee, BJ Upton and Sergio Santos to Roland before the keepers were announced for a definite keeper shortstop, Brandon Morrow's strike-throwing young arm and potential closer Johnny Venters. If Cliff Lee continues to age well, it means that I'm trading 3+ years of elite pitching away but hopefully right at the point where he has the most value (assuming a bit of age-related decline since he's in his early 30's). Upton had underperformed last year, as he had the year before, but still provided some pop and speed in an outfield slot. And Sergio Santos, whose name will come up again later, had been a lockdown reliever in his rookie season with the White Sox. One of the open secrets of last season was strong pitching teams using these high K, low ERA relievers such as Daniel Bard, Matt Thornton, and Kuo to lower their team ERA's to augment the results from their starting pitchers. A mediocre outing from a starter that lasts 5.2 innings with a no-decision due to a few earned runs doesn't have the same negative impact when you add a reliever who goes an inning with 2 K's and no earned runs - and maybe a win for the cherry on top.

Looking at my team going into the draft, I thought that adding strong starting pitching was the most critical task, unless an uber-prospect dropped my way. Sadly, I got distracted in the first round when I noticed that Ricky Nolasco was available, and whiffed it on the chance to pick up Mike Trout, who fell to Roland (much the same way that Aroldis Chapman did last year). I end up going with the pitching inclination twice, going Nolasco and Edwin Jackson. Then went Ackley as a superprospect for the future, Luke Scott for power production, Montero as a value superprospect, Justin Masterson and Phil Coke. A few moves were immediately necessary, as Brandon Morrow and Brad Lidge started the season on the DL.

And then the season started, and I had two things happen that have just crushed me: Matt Thornton proved ineffective in his new role as closer and Evan Longoria got hurt immediately. Instead of starting out the year with Thorny in his usual unhittable, potentially big save position, the White Sox defense has crapped the bed repeatedly and Thornton's made mistakes, leading to big runs and losses. Longoria, on the other hand, was my MVP, a strong offensive Third Baseman and the waiver wire is amazingly devoid of true talent. Can my team survive without saves and with an offensive void at Third? I'm skeptical. While I did make a quick pickup of Jed Lowrie, and nabbed the Marlins' setup guy, it might be time to get creative.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Feeling Drafty

Since our newest contributor of the UPL Blog has posted his take on the 2011 UPL Baseball Draft, I feel compelled to do the same. Although, I have to be honest, my levels of preparation for these things are really dropping.

Basically, I like my team going into the draft. I've got 8 slots to fill up. I go in there with the goal of finding a couple young guys to hang on to. I'm willing to have 1 (maybe 2) roster spots devoted to guys with late 2011 (or even 2012) ETA's. But I'm of the belief that you should use the guys on your roster to win now, if your team's got a shot.

Obviously, the pitching is a strong part of my team. I pulled off a useful trade before the draft, to get Cliff Lee. In addition to Lee, my rotation is Lincecum, Kershaw, Carpenter, Volquez, and Peavy. My RP are Soria, K-Rod, and Bailey. Assuming that I get about 200 IP out of those 3, I've got about 1250 IP to use up with my SP. I know that Peavy is hurt, but there's a reasonable chance that some of the guys go more than 200 IP. So, really, SP isn't a priority. I know that Bailey is on the DL to start the season, so I need to get some cheap SV, so I think about a couple possible RP to pick up. But it's nothing too pressing. I figure that worst case, I can trade for a RP at some point. But getting 2 cheap RP in the draft is what I'm thinking.

On the hitting side, there are a few holes. Obviously, 2B, since I don't actually have a 2B on the roster. And I'm giving up games at C, with only Posada on the roster. So at some point I'll need to get a 2B and a C. And last year, there were problems with power, so figuring out how to get some more power in there was important, as well. So, I can go with some potential power.

As far as who I'm thinking about, there were a number of possibilities.

For getting offensive production, there were a number guys who were dropped that had pedigrees: Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Carlos Beltran, Chipper Jones, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui, Jason Kubel, James Loney. And some hyped prospects that had lost luster: Alex Gordon, Dexter Fowler, Travis Snider, Adam Jones. The younger guys were all reasonable choices. Of the veterans, I was most interested in the guys that had been injury risks, since there was better chance that the decline was injury-based, and not from loss of skill. And the younger guys were all intriguing, but seemed to carry more risk than I wanted. Furcal and Thome were two familiar faces to the O.N. Thugs. Beltran and Chipper were two players that I though were interesting, as well.

At 2B, things are always tight. Prado would have been the best choice, but he's probably not getting to me at the 11th pick. Juan Uribe had a productive season last year, but he has such a low OBP, that he's a little scary to me. And Chone Figgins has put up decent rate stats in the past, though not last year, and would be good for about 45 SB. Neil Walker put up a .810 OPS last year, and would have been intriguing, as well. Ryan Rayburn qualified at 2B, and had produced, though wasn't a full-time player. And I actually had Omar Infante last year at some point. And the Japanese dude Nishioka was going off in drafts, as well, and was going to be the starting 2B in MIN. I figure that I'd have time to get one of those guys in the first few rounds. And if not, there would be someone I could get in free agency, after I put some guys on the DL. Good ol' Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson, or Skip Shumaker. But I wanted to get someone in the draft, since I did need to fill that spot in the roster.

At C, there was actually more playable depth. Two familiar faces were Russell Martin and Ryan Doumit, two former O.N. Thugs. Arencibia got some hype last year. Ruiz, Hernandez, and a few other names could have been passable, as well. But this was a lesser concern. I figured that I had at least 110 games from Posada (maybe even more now that he was DH'ing). This could wait until free agency, if it needed to.

As far as RP goes, there weren't many true closers there, save for Brandon Lyon, who's a little problematic to own because he's not good. Brandon League and Matt Capps were probably going to get a couple saves early on, as Aardsma and Nathan got into the swing of things, and could have been a temporary option. Either Contreras or Madson was going to get a few saves in PHI, and one of the Blue Jay pitchers had to get saves, I figured. And after that, you had some set-up guys, ranging from younger guys like like Sale, Meek, and Walden to older guys like Farnsworth, Motte, and Uehara. None of these options looked particularly sexy to me.

With the prospects, I figured that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout (the consensus #1 and #1a top prospects this year) would be gone by the time I was drafting in the 1st round. A number of the top prospects were already on rosters (Hellickson, for example). There were a number of names that were certain to be picked at some point in the draft: Domonic Brown, Mike Minor, Brandon Belt, Desmond Jennings, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Drabek, Mike Moustakas, Julio Teheran, Jhoulys Chacin, Jose Tabata, Michael Pineda, Freddie Freeman, and Jesus Montero. My goal was to get to two of these guys, ideally one of whom was going to be a 2011 contributor.

So the draft starts up.

And Bryce Harper goes #1. No surprise. Jeff had actually e-mailed me about my thoughts, and I told him that I'd be very surprised if Harper or Trout would get to him in the 2nd round, since I'd be 99% to draft them at #11 and 100% to draft either at #16 overall. Then Prado goes off at #2. Again, sure. Zambrano goes off at #3. I almost kept him, before I pulled off the Cliff Lee trade (and thought about keeping him as a 7th SP). Then Neil Walker goes at #4. So my options at 2B look worse at this point. Probably waiting another round or two before I go down that road. Then Brandon Lyon goes at #5, and I laugh a little, because I figure that he'll go over like Dotel did for Greg last year.

Initially, I was figuring out if I liked Beltran at the #10 slot, and was talking myself into it. But after Lyon goes off, I start wondering if Trout may fall to me, like Aroldis Chapman did last year. I figured that there was no way, since CJ was picking at #10, and had indicated that he'd go young this draft, and that he'd lock down either Trout or Harper if they fell to him at #11. But I wondered.

Adam Jones and Rafael Furcal go off at #6 and #7. Again no surprise. Then Ryan Rayburn goes off to Greg at #8. That was a bit of a surprise, since he's got other needs. And C-Lauff's picking at #9. I start heckling him with Ricky Nolasco, since he was his guy last year. And CJ chimes in on the chat, saying for me to shut up. At that point, I remember that CJ was also targeting SP, and was interested in Edwin Jackson. And evidently Ricky Nolasco, as well. All of a sudden, I wonder if Mike Trout was going to be an option for me.

C-Lauff goes with Figgins at #9. CJ quickly grabs Nolasco at #10, and I fall into Mike Trout. Happy outcome for me. Particularly since Rup and Pauly lay off Beltran, and he's there for me to grab at #16 overall. As the draft continues, it comes to me in the 3rd (37 overall), and I realize that it's either draft Infante now (or maybe wait until my 4th round pick - #42 overall), or wait until FA to get a 2B. Decide that I shouldn't risk having Rup or Pauly randomly grab Infante (though it was a small chance), and just pick now, figuring that Chipper (who I was debating) would be there in the 4th. It worked out OK, and I ended up with Infante as my 2B (eh, needed a starter), and got Chipper as my 2nd offensive lottery ticket. So, I'm pretty happy. I get my prospect, get 2 offensive lottery tickets, and get a 2B with my picks.

Here, the RP situation looks to be tightening up, to the point of looking ugly. So I'm thinking about just ignoring it, and taking more offensive lottery tickets and prospects. And I set my sights on Domonic Brown, Jesus Montero, and Mike Moustakas. Brown and Moustakas go off in the 5th round. But meanwhile, I had sort of gotten bored of the draft. I'm off on Facebook or Twitter or something, and checked back in to see that Hisanori Takahashi had been selected, so I made some joke about the tsunami of Japanese players being selected, and then I went back to goofing around on the internet. I had Montero set up in my queue, and figured that I had time to figure out who I was going to take in the 6th.

But sure enough Montero gets picked up by CJ at the pick right before mine. Only I don't notice this. So I end up with like 20 seconds left on the clock, and I'm looking around for who to select. I do a quick check of the Blue Jays team, looking to see their RP situation, and have Arencibia catch my eye. So, I decide that if I couldn't get Montero, I'd still go with a prospect C. And as I'm about to click "draft," my time runs out, and I get an auto-pick.

Koji Uehara. Japanese guy. Part of the tsunami of Japanese players :-) Whoops. So there was extra irony in that pick. Later CJ commented that he thought that pick was deliberate after I made the tsunami joke. My first thought is, "Who the hell's Koji Uehara?" The screen told me that he was a RP with BAL, and my next thought was, "Dammit. I have an Orioles RP, this can't be good." But I looked at his stats from last year, and saw that Kevin Gregg was their closer, and I figured that there was a reasonable chance that he turns into gold this year. So I was less annoyed.

So, I queue up Arencibia for my pick in the 6th. As I'm figuring out who Koji Uehara was, the draft continues. And again, my guy gets picked right before I'm going to draft him, as Pauly gets him in the 6th. And again, I don't notice until there's like 45 seconds left on my clock. At this point, I'm horribly bored, and knew that it was too early to get after prospects who probably weren't going to be drafted. Since I had looked at the Blue Jays team information, I just stick with one of the RP on that staff. Figured that there was some karma at work somewhere, and I go with Octavio Dotel, particularly after I had made fun of Greg last year. So I pick him up.

And at this point, I'm just guessing, as most of the prospects that I had on my radar had been picked up. In retrospect, I didn't realize that Brandon Belt was still available, and had I noted that, I wouldn't have gone Dotel. But since I didn't catch that Belt was available, and since I had just read about the Blue Jays, I pick up Kyle Drabek in the 7th. Then Belt goes to Pauly right afterward, and I'm instantly annoyed at myself for how badly I had botched the last 3 rounds because I got bored. I do manage to get things under control, and was happy to get my guy Russell Martin as my last pick, hoping that the change of scenery to NY would do him well.

As I look back, things have worked out OK so far with the late picks. Dotel's been hurt, which I knew. Uehara has tossed well, Martin has hit a HR and has a SB in his new role as the starting C in NY, and Drabek had a stud outing in his first start. As for the early picks, Trout's in the minors, Beltran and Infante have had slow starts, but Chipper looks to be back to his old self. As I look back, I'm pretty happy with the draft because I filled the slots I needed, and got a couple good prospects and lottery tickets. Obviously, I've gotten a little lucky with the results of my Uehara and Drabek picks. On the other hand, I'm back to the drawing board at 2B, as Infante has been bad so far. I've picked up Jose Lopez, who doesn't qualify for 2B for a few more games, but that's not exactly the next coming of Joe Morgan.

In any case, the season is off and running. We'll see how everything plays out.

-Chairman (aka O.N. Thugs)