Just when I firmly changed my mind about
the ideal number of starting pitchers to protect, I’ve changed it back. Two reasons: 1) the new rule which does not
allow Scoresheet’s “short relievers” before the 4th inning and 2) the realization that baseball
teams have further separated the roles pitchers have. There are fewer spot relievers right now than ever in the history of
the game. These days, when a team needs a spot start, someone will likely go on the D.L. and a genuine starting pitcher will
be called up from AAA. Furthermore, Scoresheet may be using stricter standards for placing a reliever with the group of pitchers
who are not “short relievers”. There is no question the list of short relievers has grown larger over the years,
while the number of relievers who are eligible to start (and now relieve before the 4th inning) has dwindled to
just a handful. Therefore, it is probably no easier to draft one of those guys as it is to draft a inning eating 4th
or 5th starter, who you have equal confidence will last the season in the Majors.
I would still avoid those young 5th
starters who are most likely to be yo-yoed to and fro the minor leagues – unless they have great potential and your
team is an a building mode. Using the 2012 A.L. draft for an example: Felipe Paulino would be a better choice as an 8th
starter than Danny Duffy for a seriously contending team.
Some years all the decent starting pitchers
disappear in the first couple of rounds. Some years you can find a post-stardom-but-still-fine Mike Mussina or a pre-stardom-post-hype
Cliff Lee available deep into the draft. Knowing which round to draft which players is highly dependent on your league and
the players who happen to be available in a specific season.
Ideal 35-45 man roster in
a 10 team A.L. league with 2 cross-overs allowed and unlimited rookies:
2 starting catchers
1 back-up catcher with R37 in late April
2 starting third-basemen
2 starting shortstops
1 starting secondbaseman
1 utility infielder who, at least, plays 2nd and, hopefully,
1 starting firstbaseman
5 starting outfielders
1 more 1B or OF or anyone who can hit well to DH
1 extra emerging player who can potentially fix your weakest position
R42 pick for someone to help fill in for an injured or off year player
8 starting pitchers – go for veterans over optional youngsters,
if deep in draft
– a reliever
who qualifies as a starter as your 8th is fine, if possible
– ideally, two of your 6th – 8th
or 9th starters are lefties
3 top notch relievers – it is not critical that one be a
lefty, just preferable
3 good relievers you cleverly drafted in later rounds or protected
- including 1 or
2 more relievers at R36 and R38 – unless you need to replace an injury
2 more relievers who might still qualify as rookies next year R43, R45
2 other prospects who might be ready for the upcoming season
2 more top notch prospects who won’t be ready for the upcoming
2 more top notch prospects at R40 & R41
1 lesser prospect who might be a rookie worth keeping next year R39
1 R44 for more October help or a prospect surpassing expectations
in 2nd half.
I have always advocated for trying your hardest
to sell off your excess keepers for extra draft picks or two-for-one deals. (See Protection List Preparation.) If you have more picks, you can’t go wrong loading up on relievers or young players with potential at
your weakest positions. Keep in mind, relievers get injured more frequently than other players, so load up on them well. The
more relievers the fewer AAA innings you are likely to need – especially if one or two of those relievers qualify as
starters. On the other hand, relievers are generally the easiest to trade for in August.
Extra prospects are a good thing, too, if
you are comfortable with your depth. I’m not a fan of protecting many prospects, but they make best trading currency,
if your league-mates don’t mind loading up on them. In August, it is easy to trade a decent prospect for a good reliever.
I do know one manager who loads up on prospects and does very well. However, I have found most managers who protect 7 or more
prospects every year never get out of their ruts. The example above is a dynasty maintenance roster. I like to have a chance
to win it all every year – and do unless I have picked up a 2nd team just for the fun of turning it around.
Fresh protectable talent – even impact talent comes from previously cut players as much as from forever protected prospects.
To discuss this article with John, you can
join scoresheet-talk and bring it up. I go by “Hoot John Carter”.