Greetings From Camelback Ranch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 17:49

Camelback Ranch Stadium and complex is just west of University of Phoenix Stadium, and is home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

As with most shared complexes, the first two games of spring training are a real home and home series, so on Wednesday the White Sox were the visiting team and the Dodgers the home team with that being flipped on Thursday. In Wednesday’s game, Chicago’s #3 SP Jose Quintana had a very quick two innings, with six Dodgers in a row retired, two by strikeout.

On offense, shortstop Alexei Ramirez led the way with three RBI on a single and a double, but Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, and Avisail Garcia all contributed hits against starter Erik Bedard and relievers Juan Nicasio and Carlos Frias. Nicasio can’t blame Coors Field any more – he just gives up too many hits.

The lone bright spot in the Dodgers starting lineup was DH Joc Pederson, who was 2-for-2 with a single and a double, scoring a run.

Both Wednesday lineups looked like in-season lineups but Thursday saw a wide array of subs as Clayton Kershaw was pitching for the Dodgers and Manager Don Mattingly found at-bats for Scott Van Slyke, Justin Turner, A.J. Ellis and Matt Carson while Yasiel Puig, missing from Wednesday’s lineup, started in right field.

The Dodgers scored a run in the first on a single by Joc Pederson, a double by Darwin Barney and a ground out by Yasiel Puig. Kershaw was, well Kershaw – six up, six down with three strikeouts, two called.

And not much changed. The Dodgers added five more runs, including a two-run homer by Kyle Jensen, and the White Sox got off the schneid in the ninth on a round tripper by Courtney Hawkins.

Now the two teams will see some new opponents.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 10:02
Camelback Cactus Opener: White Sox 6, Dodgers 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 10:35

jocpDust and cobwebs were wiped clean Wednesday, as the Dodgers and the White Sox kicked off their Cactus League tours with a contest that found the White Sox the victors in the end, 6-4.

An auspicious first pair of innnings by Jose Quintana, who whiffed a pair, surrendered nothing, and threw 20 of 26 pitches for strikes, the game was similarly highlighted by the spring debuts of vaunted L.A. rookies Joc Pederson and Corey Seager.

Pederson comported himself as well as Quintana, singling his first at-bat, scoring the first spring run, then doubling before Seager came on to DH. Seager's single in the ninth scored Darrell Sweeney and brought on a save chance, but the Dodgers fell short off journeyman Logan Kensing and that was that.

Other highlights included O'Koyea Dickson, subbing for Adrian Gonzalez, clubbing his--and the team's--first dinger of the season.

On the Pale Hose side, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia and Alexei Ramirez each bagged a couple of hits to provide the team's offense.

Both Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson each manned second, with Sanchez starting (0-for-3) and Johnson spelling. The team's hope is Sanchez--or Johnson--can cull the keystone spot during the spring, leaving Gordon Beckham (0-for-3) relegated to the utility gig he pretty much deserves.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 21:22
Mock Draft: Experiment #4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Saturday, 28 February 2015 12:45

Rules: Snake, 12 teams, NL-only, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

After several dozen mixed league mock drafts, Fantasy Alarm’s Mock Draft Army held National League and American League only mocks this week. See the nearby article by Lawr on the same topic. Single league drafts are tough, especially NL ones. NL does not have a sufficient number of hitters with a full-time job to fill a team roster. At least AL has the DH. Not so in NL.

In my opinion, the issue of playing time is an important one. No at-bats, no points. It’s as a simple as that. You must avoid being stuck with the reserves in the last rounds. But that’s easier said than done. Sure, you could pounce on those free agents who pop up along the season. There is plenty of pitching turn-over to draft with that in mind, but getting home runs is much harder.

What’s one to do? One solution is to have your real draft as close as possible to the beginning of the season when position battles are mostly resolved. That still does not solve the main problem. With 12 teams, each with 23 players, a lineup requiring two catchers and, if you choose so, three closers, problems abound.

It turns out that the key preparation for an NL-only league is the end game. I know, it is much less fun than dreaming about the top tier players. Experts keep reminding us that we lose with an injury to the first pick and that we win with the bottom portion of the draft. NL-only leagues help you prepare for the later rounds. You ought to know, say, who is going to have more at-bats, Chris Coghlan or Chris Denorfia? Is there a fourth outfielder lurking in the dugout ready to take over a full-time job? Where will injuries strike? How to do that?

I suggest starting with MLB team’s active rosters. Follow by consulting Mastersball’s Color Coded Tiers spreadsheet. This spreadsheet, ideally intended for auctions, distinguishes players with a positive dollar value from the players who are marked as reserves. End by prioritizing the players based on the AB at-bats ( column F) and NL 5x5 (column AA) of the Hitters and Pitchers Projections spreadsheets even if your draft uses the snake method.

Here are a few additional items to consider:

  • Catchers: Will you pick two primary catchers, one primary and one backup, or refuse to pay for the catchers and select two back-ups at the end of the draft? I go with a primary/back-up strategy meaning that I must be prepared to know who the potentially valid secondary catchers are.
  • Closers: Same considerations. I like to anchor my team with one top tier closer and draft the remaining two at the very end, that is, in Rounds 22 and 23. I figured that by doing so I have solved the dilemma of the last rounds when others pick from the bottom of the pile.

It did not work in this particular mock draft. By Round 17, it was already slim pickings. See the draft result HERE. I had the first pick. Is Travis Ishikawa going to help my team? I doubt it.

I must say that this mock draft was an excellent preparation tool for the CBS Analyst NL-only auction league. My goal was; a) do not exceed Color Coded Tiers by more than $1, b) get one top tier closer and c) have enough money to avoid being stuck with $1 part-time players at the end of the draft. My highest paid player is Craig Kimbrel at $25. It worked as far as we can tell this early in the season. What do you think? Check out the league HERE.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 March 2015 14:01
Mock Draft: Experiment #3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:48

Mock Draft held on 2/9

Rules: Auction, 12 teams, mixed league, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

I prefer auction to snake draft. When this opportunity from Rotoworld came, I accepted the invitation immediately. Auction mock drafts are few and far between, probably because they are time consuming and the auction software is complex. If you have never drafted via auction, a mock would be a great way to start. Do not worry about running out of money. Auction draft software will not let you; $1 is dedicated to each undrafted slot.

Strategy: Never pay more than $30 for any one player; have a 75%/25% ratio hitters/pitchers budget.

   That said, I was willing to go up to $45 for Mike Trout; he went for $50. Never mind Trout. However, while $50 may seem too much to me, getting a star like Trout at any price may be a valid strategy. In a league with 12 teams and a full complement of players to draw from, the end of the draft is going to have bargains, that is, players who could be picked up for $1 or $2.

Objective: verify conclusions reached by participating in other mock drafts. That is, spend maximum money on a top C, SS, 1B and 3B and one or two OFs. The lack of top tier CI guys was confirmed by Todd and Lawr when they picked Anthony Rizzo at FSTA (see their article on the topic). Spending 25% of the budget on pitching may seem excessive in a 12-team league, but you do not want to be left picking up from the bottom of the pile and end up ruining your team’s ERA and WHIP.

My team:

C - Buster Posey - $30

C - Carlos Ruiz - $1

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $20

2B - Aaron Hill - $1

3B - Adrian Beltre - $30

SS - Ian Desmond - $26

CI - Mark Teixeira - $2

MI - Erick Aybar - $5

OF - Jacoby Ellsbury - $24

OF - George Springer - $26

OF - Nelson Cruz - $15

OF - Coco Crisp - $4

OF – Khris Davis - $5

U - Chris Carter - $4

P - Jeff Samardzija - $14

P - Carlos Carrasco - $9

P - Trevor Rosenthal - $6

P - Cody Allen - $7

P - Cliff Lee  - $8

P - Anibal Sanchez - $7

P - Jacob deGrom - $7

P - Tyler Clippard - $3

P - Hyun-jin Ryu - $6

    Objectives were met, with $67 total spent on pitching and the planned maximum $30 on Posey and Beltre. The apparent bargains of Coco Crisp ($4), Khris Davis ($5) and Chris Carter ($4) told me that one could wait on respectable outfielders in a 12-team league. At that price, these three players are going to return a profit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 22:26
Mock Draft: Experiment #2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Friday, 06 February 2015 14:48

Mock Draft held on 2/4

Rules: Snake, 15 teams, mixed league, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

Strategy: Get Clayton Kershaw in the first round

  I must say that I am not fond of getting a pitcher this early, especially in the second spot. Paul Goldschmidt or Andrew McCutchen would have been preferable. However, having committed to experiment with the early Kershaw strategy, I took this opportunity to go for it. I may not get another chance. Up to now, Kershaw has been typically the fourth or fifth pick overall.

  The biggest dilemma when drafting Kershaw in the first round is how many rounds one should wait before acquiring the next pitcher. In my opinion, when to get the second hurler should depend on the players the other teams select. This particular draft was pitcher heavy, as ten top starters were gone by the end of round four. When Jeff Samardzija became the 21st pitcher to go off the table, I decided to jump back in, and in round six, I drafted Julio Teheran. Overall, my team’s pitching is competitive. You can see the results of the draft HERE.

  Has spending my first round pick on Kershaw affected my hitting? I think so. A couple of observations: the first is about catchers, the second about corner infielders. I was eyeing Buster Posey in the second round. When he went two spots before me, I selected Jonathan Lucroy, the next best catcher. Lucroy’s projected overall performance in a standard 5x5 Roto league is similar to Posey’s, so I was OK with it. But, who and when to pick depends on how a draft is going. In this particular one, catchers were selected late. It appears that only Posey is highly regarded. Beyond him, one could delay drafting catchers until the fourth or later rounds.

  Which brings me to the CI’s. Third tier CI's are plentiful, but the top tier ones are scarce. After missing on Goldschmidt in round one due to drafting Kershaw, a better alternative to Lucroy in round two would have been to grab the next best available 1B, which in this case was Freddie Freeman.

  The nearby article written by Perry about his NFBC draft confirms the above observations.

  In conclusion, the early mock drafts that I participated in this season told me that we should not delay picking pitching as some of us have done in the past. It appears that a safe strategy would be to acquire a top pitcher in the third round. Then continue by getting the next one in the sixth. That said, it all depends on the flow of the draft, but all things remaining equal, that’s what I will attempt to do in my next snake mock draft.

  I want to thank Howard Bender from Fantasy Alarm and his Mock Draft Army for organizing the mocks. Should you be interested in joining, please refer to my article posted on this blog on January 20.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 08:46
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