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AL Robinson Draft Analysis Rounds 28-35
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including protected prospects . . .

The last 8 rounds of the winter draft are generally very specific to each team’s needs. However, analyzing who was drafted and why should be fun for comparison purposes and might lead to some new ideas.

 

The managers in my league obviously did their homework this year lapping up the most useful or promising players still available. Here is our entire 2009 winter draft: AL Robinson Draft Grid. Here are the protection lists. Here are our dynamically updated rosters. The players below are listed in the order of last year’s finish – opposite the drafting order. Again, Art is a Red Sox rooter, George has a penchant for Royals, I have an emotional connection to the Tigers, but all of us live in southern Ontario. Players flagged with an asterisk (“*”) are protected prospects.

 

Gil - Team 3 - Dancin' Demons - As he has throughout the draft, Gil made conservative championship defending selections. His most impressive pick was his last on round 31 when he picked up the incredibly useful shortstop-outfielder Ben Zobrist, who happens to be having a heck of a spring and will likely start the season as a starter until BJ Upton is healthy enough.

 

Gil’s first pick of the night was David Murphy. Apparently, he beat out Marlon Byrd and Andruw Jones for a spot in the Texas outfield, but is that going to last the season? He is the youngest of these guys by a few years. Let’s toss out the historically fallen Jones. Murphy has a little more pop in his bat than Byrd, but Byrd still has better range and walks more often. Overall, it is very close. That doesn’t make Murphy a weird whim. He should be a more productive outfielder than any of the other equally tentative available starting outfielders: Jose Guillen, Juan Rivera, Endy Chavez, Dewayne Wise (or especially Jerry Owens). However, I rated Gary Sheffield a notch higher, because the Tigers would not consider benching him and he still swings his bat with third-baseman killing force. With an outfield of Sizemore, Markakis, Wells, Nelson Cruz, and Swisher, Gill didn’t need to worry about Sheffield’s complete lack of range. Of course, being 40 years old with its associated risks of injury and decline is, however, a legitimate concern.

 

This week, in addition to looking at the players drafted, I am looking at the potential usefulness of the prospects protected in lieu of these picks – as one manager Glen didn’t have a single pick this phase. In Gil’s case, everyone has Trevor Cahill* and Bret Anderson* high on their prospect lists. I’ll give Gil a pass on Canadian Nick Weglarz* due to national pride, but Gil is in my opinion repeating a late round mistake he made last year by protecting Gio Gonzalez*. Sure, he has high potential, but he just isn’t developing fast enough to help out a Scoresheet team. All he gave Oakland last year was 34 innings of 7.48 ERA. That is about Scoresheet’s AAA Pitcher quality. He will likely lose his rookie status this year and the expectation that he will out pitch the likes of Nate Robertson this year, who is still available, is in my estimation small.

 

* protected prospects

 

Gil's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Chamberlain*, Thornton R29

Worse whims (R28-R35): Gio Gonzalez*?, Joel Peralta (R28), Denorfia R30

 

George - Team 7 - Wrecking Crew – George’s only pick is Josh Outman who appears to have made the A’s starting rotation by default. Gio Gonzalez has a tight shoulder. Jerome Williams has struck out only 1 batter in 11 innings. Edgar Gonzalez has a 12.75 ERA. And, the A’s would rather have their top arms Anderson and Cahill develop into stars before starting their service time clocks. George could have taken his chances as I would have preferred with Robertson or Jose Contreras or Brandon McCarthy, but Oakland pitchers are generally a good bet.

 

There is no controversy regarding the worthiness of Snider*, Porcello*, Feliz*, and Moustakas*. Snider might begin the impact portion of his career this year – and Porcello will likely be starting games for the Tigers soon, if not immediately. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Feliz and Moustakas in the majors before September. Because Andrus* has a starting job this April, we can’t question his legitimacy as a protectable prospect either. However, because Carlos Truinfel* is so far away from the majors, fallen to 89th on Baseball America’s  Top 100 list, and fallen off Baseball Prospectus’s list, I declare that George could have put his 29th pick to better use – especially on the team with league’s best record and a division title to defend. Meanwhile, Max Ramirez*, who had a surprising call-up last year, may not be as lucky this year. He’s still behind Saltalamacchia and Teagarden on the catchers depth charts and has been pushed out of the DH opportunity by Blalock’s shifting to that role (which made room for Andrus). I’d want more for my 30th pick – and I let go of Ramirez last winter.

 

George's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Gavin Floyd R28, Feliz? R32

Worse whim (R28-R35): Tony Pena R31 – proves starting players can be worse than useless.

 

Goff - Team 2 – Balls R Us 2 – Goff’s first four picks this phase were brilliant. First, he snatched a defensively above average shortstop and second-baseman Ramon Santiago whose O+S last year was .870. True that was in only 156 PA, and he still doesn’t have a starting job – or does he? Adam Everett sprained his ankle. Then Goff snatched up 28 year old outfielder Mark Teahan who hit .874 in ’06 and is being converted to second-base. And, by the way, Teahan is hitting an absurd 1.624 this spring! That enabled Goff to select 23 year old Aaron Cunningham with his R30 – who has good range and a more earthly impressive .902 O+S in spring training. You have to bet Oakland will have a place for him soon. His fourth pick of the night was Clay Rapada – a lefty in Detroit with 6 strikeouts in less than 7 innings and only 1 walk this spring – and no runs. Rapada struck out 12 batters per 9 innings for Toledo last year. He was less impressive after his call-up in the second half of the season, but his ERA was a serviceable 4.22.

 

Was Goff in Lakeland this winter? Casey Fien (R32) was nearly as impressive this spring as Rapada, but didn’t make the cut north. He wasn’t expected to, however, as he spent most of 2008 in AA. He’ll be back. There are plenty of useable relievers still available in our league – and there will be even more by the time the supplemental drafts start - that this pick gets my classification as weird.

 

Goff followed his predecessor Stephane’s foot steps by protecting no prospects. The funny thing is, he could have protected Rapada, thereby costing him his R35 instead of his R31.

 

Stephane's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Tallet R31, Mahay R32

Worse whims (R28-R35): Morse R28, Mendoza R29, Donnie Murphy R30, Barfield R35

 

Blair - Team 9 - Huron Hornets – Having to sort through the staggering sorrow and responsibilities relating to a family tragedy, Blair managed to make it to our draft and came prepared. He took the best presumptive starting shortstop and second-baseman (Betancourt and Callaspo) off the board with his first two picks. In R31, with no starting catchers available, Blair nabbed probably the one back-up catcher Michael Barrett who has a chance to be a number one.

 

Blair’s best pick last year during this phase was Chad Bradford. This year, he took him a couple rounds later at R30. The reason he was available is that he will be recovering from elbow surgery until mid-season. That classifies as Blair’s only weird pick. Understandably, he may have missed that bit of news. Playing the prospects market, Blair selected Jordan Walden with his R32. Personally, I wouldn’t draft a pitching prospect this low in the minors (split between A levels) unless he was among the Top 20 prospects in all of baseball. (Although, I have a long history of being suckered into taking lower rated pitching prospects with irresistible AAA stats.) Although, listed as the Angels’ top prospect, Walden appears on the BP Top 100 at 63, but misses the BA list.

 

It looked as though Adam Miller* was finally getting a chance this year to show the promise that made him one of the top pitching prospects in baseball a few years ago. Then another injury has put his career in jeopardy yet again. Jeremy Hellickson* is a good pitching prospect in an organization with suddenly a fair amount of success in developing pitchers. Hellickson is showing more promise than James Shields or Andy Sonnanstine did at a similar stage in their careers. However, Hellickson has only a half season of AA, and was not dominant. I had his equally hyped

team-mate Jake McGee and cut him loose. Their ERAs were identical: 3.94.

 

Blair's 2008 most rewarding risk (R28-R35): Bradford R28

Worse whims (R28-R35): Moseley R30, Rowell*

(Let’s rate Miller* and Buchholz* later.)

 

John - Team 8 - Slick Silk Sox – In the final phase of picks, one has the most time to give the most thought towards which available players would best suit your team. I essentially got just those players. My weakest position is first-base. However, with Anderson, Hosmer and Smoak long gone, I took the next best available prospect. No, not Cooper, not Carter: Daric Barton. Yes, already having lost prospect status, he’d have to step it up a great deal to become protectable, but he’s had a very good spring. It’s a long season. From ’05-‘07 Aaron Heilman averaged 94 innings and a 3.27 ERA. Suddenly last year, he was a different pitcher – a lousy one. Although, his strikeouts soared, his walk rate more than doubled. From what I can tell by his spring stats, he may have found his way back to excellence. As I wanted another good reliever, I thought he was easily the best bet available – and had been overlooked only because of his odd circumstances of being a National Leaguer who was on an A.L. team the week the player lists froze, then immediately traded back to the N.L. Perhaps, though, I overrated the difference between Heilman and the equally off-yeared but older Betancourt or the steadier-in-his prime Veras or the potentially up-and-starring Coke and the man I drafted a few rounds later Ryan Perry. In the same echelon is the lefty reliever I took with my last pick: Bobby Seay. Perhaps, C.J. Wilson is more reliable, but perhaps, he isn’t – and he’s not a Tiger.

 

Old players are sometimes nice bargains in the late rounds. That’s what I am hoping I found in Gary Sheffield. However, while perusing the nuanced advantages of Heilman, I missed out on the one remaining starting catcher Miguel Olivio and he happened to be having a fine spring slugging in the .700s. However, as Matt Wieters’ owner, I always assumed I would end up with Greg Zaun as he is far more valuable to me than anyone else. I was just about to draft the preferable Olivio, however, when Brent, who was drafting just before me, snatched him away. With the possibility of Wieters starting the year in Norfolk, I felt it was too risky to let Zaun go another round.

 

Of course, Matt Wieters is expected to be the most prized player in the league who is costing his team only a third phase pick. My other two protects have a much more marginal value if any at all. Outfielders Ben Revere and Desmond Jennings are both among the Top 50 (BP) prospects, but are they really going to end up worth protecting once they blow their prospect status? I could have drafted the Seattle platoon of Endy Chavez and Vladimir Balentien instead – with the latter of the two still young enough to turn into a keeper himself. Every team should have a couple of decent prospects, though. Starting pitchers make the best trade bait early in the season. Prospects are easiest to sell late in the season – if you are looking to boost your play-off run. Outfield prospects should be the least risky.

 

John's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Longoria*, Clement*, Thames R30

Worse whims (R28-R35): Bale R28, Andy Marte R30, Borowski R31, McGee*

 

Art - Team 5 - T.O. Mainahs – Art had just one pick. He has no reserve OF/DH/1B in the Majors. He also had just five starting pitchers expected to begin the season in a rotation – including the Twins’ 5th starter Glen Perkins. Perhaps, later in the season he will be able to start Phil Hughes and John Smoltz. Art selected Bartolo Colon. He could have taken Outman, Contreras, Robertson, etc. but my guess is Art figured he might as well go for the highest upside instead of the surest bet, which I would agree the 2005 Cy Young winning Colon has (along with Brandon McCarthy). Vultures are already circling the Mainahs for their first injury.

 

Art has a better excuse for sacrificing his bench in order to protect 7 prospects than George, but I have a little more trouble justifying some of his choices. I can’t argue against Wade Davis, Lars Anderson or Greg Halman, although I’d rather have any 3 of George’s top four. Arencibia has a clear path to the Jays backstop despite their very poor record of developing highly touted catching prospects - unless you count Carlos Delgado and Jason Werth. Think of Gulliermo Quiroz, Kevin Cash, Josh Phelps, Joe Lawrence, and Angel Martinez – each of whom were once catchers on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list. And, Curtis Thigpen was just traded cheaply this week. He might have made the top 100, if the Jays didn’t have such a poor record with catchers. Michael Inoa has the scouting world in a tizzy, but Art is going to have to give up a draft pick each year for several years until the 17 year old is ready for the big time. Then there will be the cautious years, while Oakland slowly increases his workload. That’s going to cost Art a few full protection spots before the kid brings him the impact expected of him – IF everything goes smoothly along the way. Neither Beau Mills nor Julio Borbon made either BP’s or BA’s Top 100 prospects list. Mills may have been close and Borbon not too far away, but with so many other prospects hogging rosters spots, their protection earrns my certification of weirdness.

 

Art's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Lowrie*. Masterson R30, Wade Davis*?

Worse whims (R28-R35): Juan Rincon R28, De Los Santos R31, Hurley*

 

Brent - Team 4 - York County Lumber – Brent had the most picks this phase – 9 including the one he traded for. It was evident Brent did not waste them as some managers in our past have at this stage. He put considerable thought into his picks this phase - based on the evidence that they closely matched who I thought were the best players available. As mentioned he snatched Miguel Olivio R30 just before I would have. Jose Contreras R31 appears healthier than expected making him the most reliable starter available. Brandon McCarthy R33 was the starter most likely to break out with an excellent season. Getting a healthy full time shortstop Cesar Izturis with a + 0.06 range and hits better than some (Everett, Andrus) with a last round pick is incredible.

 

Brent’s only weak pick was R32 Joquin Arias. It makes some sense for Brent, though, having Ian Kinsler, however, I’d be very worried that he doesn’t even make the Rangers – with these 13 man non-pitching rosters teams use now. Omar Vizquel would be the primary back-up middle infielder. Add Byrd, Teagarden, and either Catalanotto or Andruw Jones and you have your 4 man bench. The point, I suppose, is that if Kinsler did go on the D.L., they’d call up Arias to play full time, but then they might prefer veteran minor leaguer German Duran!

 

Brent's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Eveland R28, Seay R30

Worse whim (R28-R35): Monroe R32 (too soon to tell: Tabata* & Max Ramirez*)

 

Jim - Team 10 - Grey Royals – Jim came into this last phase with only four solid starters for his rotation. He had three candidates for a 5th spot. One of them Nick Adenhart appears to have won a job. Another – good ol’ Bag Of Clement – has already been given the thumbs down by his real team. Rowland-Smith is really Seattle’s 6th starter, but the other five are as fragile as any team’s rotation in baseball. In fact, Brandon Morrow is already down. Speaking of fragile, that accurately describes Jim’s bullpen. So, Jim’s last picks of the winter include the Angels’ 6th starter Dustin Moseley R28 who is already slated to stick around for April while Ervin Santana recovers - and the Rays 6th starter Jason Hammel R31, who may get pushed down to 7th in line once David Price is recalled, but will, at least, be a good bet to stick around to mop up innings from the pen. Yes, these men have been passed by the more highly touted Adenhart and Jeff Niemann this spring. My favourite pick of Jim’s final phase was his last pick R32 Phil Coke, who could be Mariano’s eventual replacement. He is a good bet to, at least, shore up Jim’s pen right now.

 

There is much to like about Jim’s other picks. R29 Jeff Mathis, once a highly rated prospect, will start the year as a regular while Mike Napoli recovers from his shoulder operation. R30 Sean Rodriguez is a 24 year old utility infielder who hit a mountainous 1.042 O+S last year for Salt Lake City. Neither player any longer has prospect status, but both have had excellent springs this year. The problem is, Mathis will almost certainly go back to the bench when Napoli returns, and there is no roster opening for Rodriguez. Still, considering how far Jim’s team needs to come towards contention, at this stage he was wise to draft young players like these rather than the Nomars and Sheffields that I drafted. You never know when an injury, trade, or a strongly evident change in superiority opens a fortuitous opportunity.

 

Adenhart is a Grey under prospect status. Josh Reddick just slips into the BP Top 100 list. Bobby Wilson is a 25 year old AAA catcher and based on my sources clearly the weirdest prospect protected. According to Baseball Prospectus he’s not even among the Angels’ top 14 prospects. Sorry, Jim, but didn’t Eric Duncan win this award last year?

 

Jim's 2008 most rewarding risk (R28-R35): Sean Green R28, Adenhart*?

Worse whims (R28-R35): Owens R29 (what do Jim and Ozzie see in this guy?) and the rest. Although, Sean Green was terrific, this year’s final phase should be much stronger for Jim.

 

Ryan Wagman - Team 6 - Tao of  Bureaucracy – With only four picks, Ryan picked up a player to shore up his three thinnest areas: outfield, rotation, and pen. The anticipated position switches of Brandon Inge, Mike Young, and Alexei Ramirez give Tao enough versatility that their infield should have ample depth – especially if and when Gordon Beckham is recalled. The fourth pick was used to grab one last irresistible prospect Derek Holland, who BP and BA agree was by far the best prospect left.

 

Protectee Jeff Niemann seems to have earned himself a surprise place in the Rays rotation. Jose Tabata probably has another year to go. He could break the A.L. Robinson record for most years protected as a prospect.

 

Michael's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): Rowland-Smith R29, Niemann*?

Worse whims (R28-R35): Fukumori R28, Mayberry*

 

Glen Dundas - Team 1 - Thunder on the Mountain – Glen left not a single pick for this round. That’s not fun. Does he have enough players to avoid starting the season in a big hole? Only if Bonderman and Bedard are healthy and Hochevar makes the Royals rotation, will Thunder have five starters – at least until David Price is recalled. Some of the other young starters may crack their rotations in the second half. McGowan could be healthy by then. The outfield should be OK, if Maybin sticks. If not, it will be extremely thin until BJ Upton returns and Joyce is healthy and up. There is a hole right now at third base, where Chavez is recovering from an injury. If Brandon Wood returns to the minors, Macier Izturis may be all Glen has to put at the hot corner.

 

All five of Glen’s pitching prospects show up on, at least, one of the two major Top 100 lists. David Price is no. 2 behind Matt Wieters on both lists. Chris Tillman is in the top 25 on both lists. Michael Bowden is 31st on the BP list, but didn’t make the BA list. (The Baseball America list, I think, is more about ultimate potential and less about realistic chances.) Bret Cecil appears in the 2nd half of both lists. Daniel Cortes makes it on that BA list, but not the BP list. Maybin, Teagarden and Brignac are the others. Maybin is very high on both lists, Brignac is low on both. Teagarden is on neither, but rated as a protectable keeper due to his having a fair shot at a starting job this year.

 

Glen's 2008 most rewarding risks (R28-R35): J.P. Howell R30, League R29

Worse whim (R28-R35): Barton*

Pending: Maybin*, Teagarden*. Brignac*, Wood*

 

Let the games begin!

John Carter