We just had our fantasy draft. There are 16 teams in our league and I had the 11th pick. There are 25 spots on each roster. Before I list my team, here are the categories that we have in our league:
Hitting categories: R, H, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS
Pitching categories: W, CG, SHO, SV, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP
Round 1: Ian Kinsler 2B – Kinsler does it all and even drives in runs out of the leadoff spot (71 RBIs last season). He hits for a high average and steals bases.
Round 2: Lance Berkman 1B – He’s got a great bat as he can hit over .300 and get you over 100 RBIs and possibly 30 homeruns.
Round 3: Roy Halladay SP – The first starting pitcher I took. All the other studs were gone. I thought getting him was a bargain in the third round due to the fact our league uses complete games and shutouts as a category.
Round 4: Joe Mauer C – Catcher is a thin position. So I went with Mauer. Despite injury potential, you cannot argue with over a .300 batting average.
Round 5: Chris Davis 1B/3B – If you read my blog, you know that I’m all about this kid. He’s a big lefty and can hit and he had a great half a season last year. And especially in this lineup, he will drive in runs.
Round 6: Joakim Soria RP – I seemed to be at the end of the stud closer run and Soria was the last one left. I’m just hoping he can reproduce his 2008 totals.
Round 7: Rich Harden SP
Round 8: Chris Young OF – Young has that rare combo of power and speed.
Round 9: Mike Aviles SS – I’m hoping Aviles can build upon the great rookie campaign he had in Kansas City. (.325/10HR/51RBI)
Round 10: Josh Johnson SP – Did a nice job last season in his 14 starts (7-1).
Round 11: Clayton Kershaw SP – Would this be considered taking a gamble?
Round 12: Mike Gonzalez RP
Round 13: Adam Lind OF – This is another one of those players that, if you follow my blog, you know I like them. I assume he will be in the middle of this Blue Jays lineup this year.
Round 14: Joey Devine RP – Now, I’m hoping that Devine wins the closer job. Even if he doesn’t, we get points for holds — so I can’t be too concerned. I was suprised Devine went this late as well. Ziegler was drafted only a few picks before this.
Round 15: Jack Cust OF – I follow up one Oakland A with another. I needed some more power and production (even if Cust doesn’t post the average).
Round 16: Chris Dickerson OF – I’m hoping Dickerson will get at least some starts. He can steal and has been doing well this spring.
Round 17: Chase Headley 3B/OF
Round 18: Matt Thornton RP – He should help in the hold category (although I think the hold is a rediculous statistic — it exists).
Round 19: Casey Kotchman 1B
Round 20: Matt LaPorta 1B/OF – With so many roster spots — why not?
Round 21: Ryan Madson RP – The “bridge to Lidge” should get me some holds.
Round 22: Elvis Andrus SS
Round 23: Mark Teahen 1B/3B/OF – He’s eligible all over.
Round 24: Seth Smith OF – He probably isn’t drafted in some leagues but I like him.
Round 25: Josh Willingham OF – Finish this team off with “the hammer.”
I feel pretty good about my team considering the fact there are sixteen teams in the league. Last year I won, so let’s see if I can repeat.
Season Preview: Washington Nationals
Projected MLB Rank: 29th — NL Rank: 16th — NL East Rank: 5th — Record: (64-98)
Don’t worry Nats fans. One year you will get to see your team finish over .500, that year just isn’t this one. Not since the the Montreal Expos moved to Washington to become the Nationals have the they broke the .500 mark. Their first season in the nation’s capital was their best when they finished at 81-81 but they still occupied the bottom spot in the NL East that year. Tough luck. The Nats are the weakest team in this very tough division. Once again, tough luck.
The lineup is talented as they’ve added some pop with Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn. Most of the positions are set in stone but the only questionable one where there is some competition is second base. Anderson Hernandez is the expected starter followed by Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris. Hernandez can hit for .300 and will steal you a base every so often. Belliard has more pop and is a nice veteran option if Hernandez doesn’t pan out as planned.
The big question about the projected everyday starters is health. Ryan Zimmerman spent some time on the DL last season with shoulder and throwing hand problems (106 games in 2009). Willingham has been known to get injured year after year (102 games). Those two bats will most likely protect lefty Adam Dunn in the batting order, so it’s essential for them to stay healthy.
The biggest weakness for the Nats is pitching. Their rotation is borderline atrocious and the bullpen isn’t much better. Southpaws John Lannan and Scott Olsen are the par brightspots in the Nats rotation. With righthander Daniel Cabrera, it depends on the day. He is very erratic (career 5.05 ERA) due to the fact that he can get rocked in four innings if he doesn’t have his stuff but he can also take you the distance (2 CG last season). Jordan Zimmerman (the other Zimmerman) is the Nationals top pitching prospect and will look to break the rotation in ’09. The 22 year old has been impressing coaches thus far in spring training.
The bullpen looks shaky as of now. Former starter Jason Bergmann has been moved to the ‘pen and will be considered a mid-reliever after a bad 2008 performance. Steven Shell had a very nice year last season with a 2.16 ERA in 39 appearences. Righty, Saul Rivera, lead the team in relief appearences last year with 76 while harnessing a 3.96 ERA.
The closer appears to be 27 year old Joel Hanrahan. He notched nine saves after he picked up the role last season when Chad Cordero went down with an injury and big righty Jon Rauch was dealt. In the ninth inning, Hanrahan held hitters to a .219 average last season. He has the typical closer arsenal of fastball/slider and he also is working on a changeup.
The Nats always seem to be on the up, but the established veterans that they have aren’t going to stay at the same talent level they’re at now. It seems like it may be hard for this team to compete, not just this year, but for a few years to come.
Bobby Abreu has signed a one-year deal with the Angels, reportedly at five-million dollars plus incentives. Abreu will be 35 years old on opening day and may have lost some pop and production but his career numbers don’t lie.
Abreu will fit nicely into a lineup that boasts of veteran right-handed power and the Angels desperately needed to replace at least a chunk of the production they lost when Mark Texeira signed with the Yankees.
The signing of Abreu moves Juan Rivera to the DH spot and Abreu, with his speed, will assume left field. Abreu at age 34 stole 22 bases last year for the Yanks. Abreu can be placed anywhere between the three-hole and the five-hole in the Halos lineup. Free agent Garrett Anderson had plenty of success hitting behind slugger Vlad Guerrero so expect expect Abreu’s usual 100 RBIs and maybe high teens/early twenties in homeruns.
The only question I have to the Angels is why another outfielder? You are outfield heavy. Heavy. They’re already paying Vlad $15.5 million this year, Torii Hunter $16.5 million, Gary Matthews Jr. $9.4 million, and they also have Juan Rivera and Reggie Willits. I understand the desperate need for a lefty and a producer–but now they have five outfielders who could legitimately be starters (with the exception of Willits).
If they all stay healthy and start the season looking good, I could see the Angels dealing one of them.
Another productive lefty signed recently as well. Big six foot six inch Adam Dunn takes his powerful bat to the nation’s capital as he signed a two-year twenty-million dollar deal with the Nationals
It was a good move for the Nationals and it makes the already competitive NL East, even more competitive. I still do not see the Nationals contending but maybe they’ll produce 70 wins (still a stretch, I know). They can’t do much worse than the dismal 59 wins they squeezed out in 2008 and Dunn will be a big contributer.
Dunn, 29, has hit atleast 40 homeruns in each season since 2004. He has 278 career homers and 672 RBIs over his 8-year career (mostly with Cincinnati). The Nationals after reportedly preparing huge offers to Mark Texeira and Manny Ramirez, clearly had money and they needed to bring in some kind of production to avoid another 2008. Dunn is their solution. They are also given the option of possibly dealing first-baseman Nick Johnson for some pitching help because I assume Dunn will play first because of Josh Willingham, Lastings Milledge, and Elijah Dukes in the outfield.
The Nats still do not have the pitching to compete and still may be missing some offensive pieces, but they are taking steps in the right direction.
Location: Washington, DC
Seating Capacity: 46,382
Last review I gave you one of my favorite ballparks. This time, I bring the cookie cutter that I am glad is no longer the Nationals’ home. RFK Stadium. I went to one game there on a warm Saturday, October afternoon in 2005 to see the Phils in the nation’s capitol. Utley and Howard each homered and combined for a bunch of RBIs and the Phils won behind Brett Myers. But that’s beside the point.
RFK was, no offense, awful. It was a 4pm game and we sat on the third base side, right in the sun. So that didn’t help my opinion of the game, even though it isn’t like the stadium can change the weather conditions or ask the sun to move, it wasn’t a pretty sight either.
It was huge, too huge for the Nats. It looked as if the baseball field was awkwardly placed on top of a soccer field. Little did I know that the DC United played there as well. There was a sign at the top of the stadium, advertising the Nats and the United, each with equal space on the sign. It was sad to see that the Nationals were equally treated as the city’s soccer team. A sport that will never be as popular as it is in the rest of the world, just ask David Beckham.
The concourses were wide and concrete and it was clear that they had plans for a new ballpark and I could not thank them enough for moving. They’re in a new beautiful ballpark which I have not been to yet, but intend to go to.
What to do in the city before the game: Check out the National Mall and our nation’s most picturesque monuments. It is something you can really make a few days out of. But if you’re there for the day the Smithsonians are free so if you have to get to the game, you don’t feel like you lost any money leaving. The monuments and memorials are awesome and if you want to stay out of the city before the game, either go to Arlington National Cemetary or Alexandria, Virginia and get a bite to eat.
What to do when the gates open: Watch batting practice. Now that the stadium is gone, you can go check out the Nats new park but if RFK was still their home, I would say to spend as much time in checking out the city before the game.
Where to sit: I sat on the third base side lower level.
Player to go watch: Go to their new park to watch Josh Willingham. When he’s not injured, I’m a huge fan of him. He’s got some pop, I’ve seen him hit countless homeruns including a grand slam when I was in St. Louis.
If you couldn’t figure it out, I didn’t like the ballpark as a whole. It is my least favorite major league park that I’ve ever been to.