Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 Draft Post-mortem

The 2008 draft is now over and I am generally happier with my team than I was at this time last year. Prior to the draft, I extended Fausto Carmona at $5M and James Shields at $4M. The good news was that set my starting pitching. The bad news was it left me short on funds to fill other holes. So, I was looking at going into the draft, I had only around $18M or so to work with to fill 5-6 roster spots. Specifically, I had needs at C, 2B and CL. I had secondary needs for another OF, a SU/MR and/or another SP. Not liking the outlook, I pursued trade possibilities by dangling Carmona. I ended up with a couple of serious offers, one of which I took. The other was a 1 for 1 swap of an emerging OF that I really wanted to accept BUT, since the money would work out relatively evenly, thought it was a luxury I could not afford at the time. So I ended up sending Carmona and 2 prospects for C. Billingsley, J. Hermida and E. Encarnacion. This allowed me to plug Billingsley into my starting rotation and gave me a 4th OF that really came on in the 2nd half of last year. Encarnacion gave me some depth at 3B that I thought might come in handy later. I still felt good about my SPs, had filled a secondary need with Hermida and had not incurred any additional costs. This left me with now needing 4-5 players for the same $18M.

As the FAB started, I threw out Mariano Rivera for my first "First Offer" and received a green "2" for his minimum bid of $3M (1 year), which is what I got him for. This filled a need at CL for less than the $4M-$4.5M I had to spend per player. The timing was based on an observation over the last couple of years that Rivera had gone undrafted in 4 FABs I had participated in, though his minimum bid was higher. Knowing that, I thought I could sneak him through and not have to get into a bidding war later that I probably could not win for a closer. Yeah, I know its a bit of a gamble given his age but his peripheral numbers actually were better than the year before, especially if you take out his rough start. So, I think its a worthwhile gamble. I was pretty much on the sidelines the rest of the first round. Others had more $$$ to spend. It was best to let them come down to me somewhat for Wave 2.

Each FAB has a life of its own. In this case Wave 2 ended up being the key time for me. Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson were among the players at C and 2B respectively that I had targeted but was unsure if I had enough $$$ to sign them. They both ended up receiving first offers from other teams. With the use of 2 NT's, I was able to sign both for $4M and $3M respectively. Both should be huge upgrades for me from last year waiting for Michael Barrett and Josh Barfield come around, which they never did. And, again, I was able to fill those C and 2B holes at or below the $4M to $4.5M per player budget. Wave 2 also landed me Manny Delcarmen as a SU for a minimum bid of $0.5M. I was kind of surprised to get a green "2" and have it stay that way until his signing. I thought as a member of the Red Sox plus Francona's recent comments that he and Okijima would be setting-up Paplebon and that he could be in line for some vulture saves since the Red Sox monitor Paplebon's work load carefully would have created more of a market for him. But, I was glad to take him at that price. I also fell into Scott Olsen after initially getting a red "0" for my bid that later turned to a yellow (or green, don't remember exactly) "0" later when another team apparently rescinded an offer. Obviously he was a bust last year and the Marlins are rebuilding again but at $0.5M if his head and arm are right, there is upside there that could be useful. I can live with him initially as a 5th starter.

By the end of Wave 2, my major needs had been filled but there were still some good players out there. I tried to work a trade with Encarnacion for cap relief but could not get anything done so with 3B options for other teams growing more limited as the FAB continued I decided to try waiving him at $3M figuring I could use the $1.5M immediately and had a decent shot at having him claimed so I would receive the remaining $1.5M as well, which is exactly what ended up happening.

Wave 3 had its ups and downs. I decided I could use some OF depth and tried to add J. Dye. I thought given his off year, I probably would not have a problem getting him. It looked that way initially but in the end I was outbid by another team with a lot more $$$. That left me scrambling a bit. I thought I could also add Pat Burrell without much difficulty. Again, it started out that way until another team got involved. I did end up winning that one. Burrell has his faults but he's consistent, plays in a hitter's park and has a great line-up around him so despite having to pay a little more than I had originally planned, he's a good addition. The remainder of Round 3 left me on the outside looking in as I was outbid on a handful of other players I had hoped to add for depth purposes.

At the end of the day, I definitely like my hitting and pitching more than this time last year. I'm confident that barring major injuries, my line-up from top to bottom will be more complete with McCann and Johnson replacing Barrett and Barfield. The real question for the season going in is whether the pitchers as a group can perform as well as they did last year when I was lucky enough to take a flyer on Carmona as a $0.5M end-pick in the FAB and added Lincecum later in the year after he came up from the minors before the prospect draft.

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