As I write, players have begun reporting to their respective camps.
In fact, my friend Jane Lee tweeted the world that Brett Anderson came into camp 25 pounds lighter, and ready for his first bullpen session Monday (that would be later today).
So, I guess it is spring, and that means the Hotpage is almost back to regular. Once March arrives, we will indeed be back with with my first impressions of Spring Training, and maybe even a little information on the LABR draft that occurs March 4, for me, as I switch to the National League this year.
I also happen to own a National League franchise in my favorite league, the MidWest Strat-O-Matic League, and we are just completing our Rookie Draft, I thought I would take a little time to discuss my picks, and rational.
As with anything, this does need a back story. The MidWest League consists of 30 very competitive teams, broken into the National and American Leagues. Since we simulate play from the previous season, we each have a home ball park, and since mine is ATT Park, I am in the National League West, the same as the Giants who call the yard home.
Our tech wizard, Dean Peterson, then programs our season to literally replay each major league team schedule, so in 2012, I will play at home and away exactly like those Giants. Except, for my games against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, I am playing Todd Zola's "Fat, Drunk, and Stupid" team.
We did build our initial squads via the draft, and from year-to-year, can freeze up to 24 players and five uncarded players (players who had previous major league experience, but not enough in the previous year to merit a card for game play). There are no salary caps, and players can be frozen in perpetuity, and each year at this time we hold each league's rookie draft.
This year, the American League teams went first, selecting players among the players who first received basic playing time in 2011. The likes of Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, and Dustin Ackley were all picked.
Well, in trying to win last year--a plot that failed as 90 wins were not enough to win my division--I traded some of my top picks for this draft. I did have a 36th round pick in the American League, but otherwise a second round (#27) selection in the National League, and then not again until the fourth round with pick 61.
I did look at who was available, and if I had a need, it was up the middle, for my shortstop, Hanley Ramirez will be a third sacker next year, and my second baseman, Mark Ellis, is getting long in the tooth.
So, I offered up Jose Tabata to Dean, along with some of my fifth round picks (#78 and #80) along with my third round pick next year, for Aaron Crow, Eric Young, Jr., along with Dean's #34 and #43 selections this year.
Now, my thinking in this move and these picks is truly looking more towards 2013 than 2012, for I believe I have had too many players coming off down years this time around, so, my approach is to move forward with the bulk of a rebuilt infield, and someone at third between Ramirez, and Ryan Zimmerman (probably Hanley) to swap for something of serious value before the draft a year from now.
In the mean time, here are my selections, in order, with the reasoning and theoretical path forward. Note, that vitually all of these players should be available for drafting for your team this year, although the bulk--if they do pan out--they it might not be for another year. If then. For, picking the prospects right is just as hard as it is for the prospects to make it at the Show.
Aaron Crow-(#30, AL Draft)-Dean took him, though I was hoping Crow would fall to me, six picks later. Crow, a first round pick of the Royals in 2009, made the team as a set-up man last season, going a fine 4-4, 2.76 over 62 innings, his first major league campaign. With 30 walks, Crow does have to adjust to the major league strike zone a tad, but the right hander was brought along as a starter, going 12-10, 5.26 as a starter over 33 minor league games (with one more as a reliever). He should get a chance at starting this year, and by 2013, as the Royals youngins start to coalesce, I am betting Crow will be settled in the rotation for both the Royals and my Berkeley Liberators, who call ATT home in the MidWest league.
Trayvon Robinson (#36, AL Draft)-I had traded Tabata--who was to be my left fielder for a few years to come--so I needed some potential as my outfield with Andruw Jones, Shane Victorino, Laynce Nix, and Aubrey Huff is not getting any younger either. So, Robinson becomes my left fielder of the future, platooning with Huff (and Bill Hall) this year, hopefully becoming a full timer next year. Robinson is just 24, despite six pro years, and had hit .293-26-71 at Albuquerque last year before being dealt to Seattle as part of a three-way swap that netted Erik Bedard for the Red Sox.
Eric Surkamp-(#27, NL Draft)-I did manage to hang onto my second round pick in the N.L. The Giants 6th round pick in 2008, Surkamp was a terrific 26-13, 2.85 in the minors over 398 innings (67 starts), allowing 345 hits, 111 walks (1.14 WHIP) and 470 strikeouts. After going 10-4, 2.02 at Double-A Richmond, last yar, the Giants advanced the lefty to ATT where he was 2-2, 5.74, over 26 innings and six starts. Surkamp actually pitched better than his numbers, turning in four good starts before tiring out his final two appearances. I think Surkamp's presence allowed the Giants to swap Jonathan Sanchez, and I have enough confidence that between Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, Surkamp will have time to move into the rotation full time by 2013. Which suits me fine.Jimmy Paredes-(#34, NL Draft)-Truth is first I wanted Zack Cozart (#17, by Dean) and then Brandon Crawford (#23, and I probably would have taken Crawford over Surkamp), then decided upon Paredes as I know he will get a chance this year, and the talk is he will play shortstop. I do get to take advantage of the 168 at-bats (.286-2-18), and this might mean a real log jam at third next year if Paredes does stay at the hot corner, but that means I can trade some of my surplus for some serious scracity.
Chase d'Arnaud-(#43, NL Draft)-Insurance against Paredes, d'Arnaud seems to be a year away, especially with Clint Barmes now in tow with the Pirates, but that is ok. For, between Hanley this year, with Paredes next, I am guessing I will be ok at short, or will be able to swap, or draft for one just in case. In the interim, I can wait for d'Arnaud to blossom (I hope).
Collin Cowgill-(#61, NL Draft)-Since Cowgill played for the Diamondbacks last year, he was restricted to the N.L. draft, even though the outfielder is now part of the Oakland mix. Again, thinking the near future, for I have enough bodies and at-bats to cover this season, and based upon the excellent .354-13-71 totals, with 30 swipes, he earned last year at AAA over 395 at-bats, with 51 walks to 63 whiffs, the 26-year old has everything I could want from a potential outfielder. All he has to do is play his game.
Taylor Green-(#63, NL Draft)-Green was up for just a bit (12 games, .270-0-1) last year, playing some second and third. Rumor has it Green could get time at third this year, but with Mat Gamel on board, and Rickie Weeks injury prone, seems like he could get time at both spots again this year. I am guessing he will settle at second eventually, when Weeks has become too expensive for the Brewers. I love his .336-22-91 numbers last year, with 55 walks to 75 whiffs. Like Cowgill, he is 26.
Josh Lindblom-(#72, NL Draft)-For now just some help in my pen which is actually pretty good anyway, so, I am hoping that either the 25-year old right hander will give me some good relief for next year (60-plus innings) and maybe even get a chance to close. Between Triple-A and Dodger Stadium last year, Lindblom whiffed 82 over 72 innings, allowing just 24 walks (1.04 WHIP).
Eric Young, Jr.-(in exchange for #80 and #82, NL Draft): Worth the trade gamble, with excellent speed, and again, the chance to shore up second or the outfield in the future, Young is too good for AAA (.363-2-28 with 17 swipes over 223 at-bats) but not quite good enough for Coors fulltime (.247-0-10 with 27 swipes over 198 at-bats). I love his 65 walks to 74 whiffs last year over both levels.
Dave Sappelt-(#80, NL Draft)-My last pick was looking again towards the outfield, this time with the former Cub (traded for Sean Marshall), who turned in Triple-A totals of .313-7-29 over 293 at-bats, then .243-0-5 over 107 more for the Reds. 37 walks to 56 whiffs and five swipes for the 25-year old also bodes well. In fact, I tried to keep all my picks as young as possible, giving them maximum time and opportunity.
So, we can check back in a couple of years, and see just how close to the dartboard I came.
By the way, if you have thoughts or questions, you can now get me on Twitter.