Note: This column appears in the 3/13 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/14 issue of the Peoria Times
Last Friday evening was my annual fantasy baseball draft. Going into this particular draft, I felt that I possessed a distinct advantage, as I have been furiously scouting various major league teams during spring training. Granted, by “various major teams” I am referring to, pretty much, the Padres, who, until last Friday, I had seen play a grand total of one time in 2008. And my distinct method of scouting involves watching several players (on the Padres) play baseball for two innings during a meaningless spring training game, and making general assumptions based on this small sample size of performance.
So with the draft fast approaching, I decided it would be a good idea to get in one more cram session, bringing my grand total of scouting cram sessions to two. On draft day, Friday, the Padres were facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, which would give me some great insight into yet another major league team. I arrived with my trusty (not very trusty) fantasy baseball magazine, and planned on comparing their scouting reports to my own, which would be based solely on this game (and, okay, maybe some acquired knowledge as well). For anyone out there who plans on playing fantasy baseball this year -- and are in one of those rare leagues that only uses Padres and Diamondbacks players -- feel free to use these notes.
Doug Davis, D-Backs. Davis started on Friday for the D-Backs. My magazine says this: If you can handle the ups and downs, Davis is a decent back-of-the-rotation fantasy starter. My own analysis is this: Not really. And while I’m pretty sure I can handle the ups -- his strikeout totals are pretty decent -- the downs tend to be very, very down. Keep in mind that I wrote that last sentence before the first pitch of Friday’s game, which was a home run off of Doug Davis. Two more runs followed.
Chris Young, Padres. My magazine has Young ranked as the 10th best fantasy starting pitcher. My magazine also has an ad for a fantasy baseball trophy called “Jingle Jugs,” which is a pair of fake boobs on a plaque, so I have to take these rankings with a grain of salt. That said, Young was magnificent during Friday’s game, tossing three innings of no-hit ball, which was duly noted.
(And I later found out that Young was pitching after just having a baby, a major league first! From Sports Illustrated's website: San Diego Padres starter Chris Young pitched three hitless innings and scored all the way from first on a double, sliding in ahead of the throw. Imagine what he could have done if he wasn't worn out from spending the last three nights changing his newborn daughter's diapers. Hmmm, I am imagining that, were it not for having to change diapers, Chris Young would have pitched a perfect game and hit four inside-the-park home runs. That sounds about right. Stupid daughter!)
Eric Byrnes, D-Backs. If being a crowd favorite earned you fantasy points, I would draft him first overall. And Byrnes did hit an RBI single, steal a base, and score a run in this game. Although he’s definitely a solid player, I just personally think Byrnes has gone from underrated to overvalued, both in fantasy leagues (the magazine has him ranked ahead of Lance Berkman) and real life. There, I said it.
Dude, is Lance Berkman this chill? Didn't think so.
Mark Prior, Padres. Surprisingly, Prior is injured, and did not participate in Friday’s game. In fact, he may not be ready until May, which in Mark Prior years is 2012. My magazine has him ranked 51 spots behind Doug Davis. Yikes.
Chris Young, D-Backs. My magazine compares Young to Mike Cameron, which I’m not sure is praise or an insult. Regardless, Young made a fabulous catch in center field -- zero fantasy points -- and I really, really like him as a player. Which is why...
That night, I actually did end up drafting, among other players, both Chris Youngs -- and yes, Young the pitcher’s performance on Friday did influence my decision -- and the Diamondbacks’ Micah Owings, who did not pitch in Friday’s game, yet managed to out-perform Doug Davis. I also took Prior with my last pick, which was either influenced by alcohol, boredom, the year 2003, or a combination of all of the above.
I was happy with my draft, and I couldn’t have done it without Friday’s scouting session. Well, I probably could have, but still. Nevertheless, while the Padres and D-Backs continue their preparation for the 2008 season, I spent the remainder of the weekend clearing room on my living room wall for a certain pair of Jingle Jugs.