SI Mock Draft: Ben Reiter
Posted: Wednesday March 14, 2007 3:00PM; Updated: Thursday March 15, 2007 12:08PM
Thirteen of my 23 players are either younger than 24 or older than 33. Am I worried? Not particularly. After assembling a core of stars in their prime, it's worth it to gamble on players who appear to be on the verge of stardom, and on guys who might have more left than commonly believed. If they work out, you're brilliant; if they don't, you can quietly replace them on the waiver wire. My offense looks to be five categories deep -- I won't be punting anything. My pitching strategy was to go with young, upside-laden starters because none of the established guys besides Johan Santana thrill me. Anyway, you usually don't win a fantasy league by playing it safe.
1. Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets: I nearly pulled the trigger on either David Ortiz or Travis Hafner, but was guaranteed to get one in round two because both are only utility-eligible, so I picked up the best other player available.
2. Travis Hafner, DH, Indians: Pronk or Papi? Toughest decision of the draft. Pronk, because he's younger, hits for a better average and would have challenged Papi in homers and topped him in RBIs had a broken hand not ended his season on Sept. 1.
3. Bobby Abreu, OF, Yankees: His power's still down (beware the Home Run Derby), but he excelled everywhere else in 58 games with New York: .330 average, on pace to score 103, drive in 117, and steal 28.
4. Michael Young, SS, Rangers: I really wanted Hanley Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins, but will settle for a third straight .300-plus, 90-plus runs, 90-plus RBIs year from the steady Young.
5. Chone Figgins, OF, Angels: Quintong was going to grab him if I didn't. Disappointed last year with a .267 average, but still swiped 52 bases. I'll accept a repeat performance.
6. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals: No disrespect to Hanley, but this 22-year-old (.287-20-110) should have been last year's R.O.Y. Ability to perform under pressure (MLB-high 64 hits with runners in scoring position) could help him avoid a sophomore slump.
7. Cole Hamels, P, Phillies: Wait, we have to draft pitchers in this thing? Seriously, though, the 23-year-old lefty could be a legit ace, with 9.86 K's per 9 as a rookie (third in among players with 120-plus IP) and a sick final two months.
8. Dontrelle Willis, P, Marlins: I considered Scott Kazmir, but D-Train's just more fun -- and far less injury-prone. Also, for the little it's worth, he excels in odd-numbered years (36-16 and 2.90 ERA in '03 and '05, 22-23 and 3.94 ERA in '04 and '06).
9. Bobby Jenks, P, White Sox: I'm surprised he was the ninth closer off the board -- what's a little shoulder stiffness? I get that brushing my teeth. I guess I'm not asked to save major league games, though.
10. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: I love the guy almost as much as his pop loves cake. Thought about filling other needs first, though, and I should have (see below). The lesson: There are lots of good corner infielders, so don't overdraft them.
11. Josh Barfield, 2B, Indians: He should be just a little more productive hitting second in Cleveland than in front of the Padres' pitcher. Also will supplement Figgins's speed, and his and Prince's dad can sit together in the bleachers, talking about old times.
12. Tom Gordon, P, Phillies: Thirty-four saves last year on what should now be a playoff-caliber team. Yes, I know he's 39. That must mean he knows what he's doing ... right?
13. Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies: Here's why I shouldn't have drafted Prince in the 10th. Couldn't pass him up -- even though he hit only 20 homers last year, he's still Todd Helton -- but now my CI spots are full with Alex Gordon, Joe Crede, etc. still on the board.
14. Ivan Rodriguez, C, Tigers: Not too excited about him, but this is a two-catcher league and you have to get someone. Might as well wait till now if you don't get Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez or Brian McCann -- the last of whom, by the way, is the best of the three.
15. Austin Kearns, OF, Nationals. Hey, I've got the heart of the order of the worst offensive team in baseball! Might be a reach, but Kearns has to bust out one of these years -- right? -- and he does turn the magical 27 on May 20 (although I've already said we're not ageist here).
16. Anibal Sanchez, P, Marlins: Another youngster who put together a terrific last two months (6-2, 1.95 ERA), which included a no-no. Who can potentially help your club more: Sanchez or a fella like Javier Vazquez?
17. Jorge Cantu, 2B, Devil Rays: Could be a steal. Hit 28 homers with 117 RBIs in '05, spent much of '06 saddled by a broken foot. If he's 70% of his '05 self I'll have a tremendous middle infielder.
18. Joe Borowski, P, Indians: Cleveland is desperate for closer help after blowing 49% of its save chances in '06, and, with Foulke retiring, Borowski's the man. He does have seasons of 33 and 36 saves, you know.
19. Gerald Laird, C, Rangers: Performed well (.296, seven homers) in 78 games as a backup last year to Rod Barajas, and now starts -- as a 27-year-old! Expecting something, but not much.
20. Mark Prior, P, Cubs: The first of three straight picks that make the room gasp. Risk/reward ratio on him seems fine this late, though: If he's the Prior of '04 and '06, there are always dozens of starters in mixed leagues like this one to grab for nothing.
21. Ken Griffey Jr., OF, Reds: Were I in Vegas, it'd be 4:30 a.m. and I'd be down to my last sawbuck. He should be back from a broken hand by Opening Day, though -- if his kids stay away from him.
22. Pedro Martinez, P, Mets: Now the casino's kicking me out the service entrance after stuffing a Gamblers Anonymous card in my shirt pocket. Similar rationale as with Prior, though; I'll stash him on the DL until he returns or I need his spot.
23. Brandon McCarthy, P, Rangers: Really wanted to pick my main man Craig Breslow of the Red Sox, but McCarthy wins out. Next year, Bres.