RotoWire OFBC Squad

My draft for the RotoWire Online Fantasy Baseball Championship took place Wednesday night. With the second overall pick in the 12-team mixed league format, I came away with the following squad (commentary below):

C - Joe Mauer (5.2)
C - Yasmani Grandal (24.11)
1B - Ike Davis (9.2)
2B - Brandon Phillips (6.11)
SS - Derek Jeter (13.2)
3B - Miguel Cabrera (1.2)
CI - Adrian Beltre (3.2)
MI - Jose Altuve (7.2)
OF - Jose Bautista (2.11)
OF - Melky Cabrera (8.11)
OF - Cameron Maybin (14.11)
OF - Torii Hunter (16.11)
OF - Dexter Fowler (17.2)
UT - Juan Pierre (20.11)

P - Cliff Lee (4.11)
P - Roy Halladay (11.2)
P - Dan Haren (15.2)
P - Jeremy Hellickson (18.11)
P - Anibal Sanchez (19.2)
P - Ricky Romero (22.11)
P - Derek Holland (25.2)
P - Mariano Rivera (10.11)
P - Addison Reed (12.11)

R - Ryan Ludwick, OF (21.2)
R - Tyler Colvin, 1B/OF (23.2)
R - Stephen Drew, SS (26.11)
R - Welington Castillo, C (27.2)
R - Dillon Gee, P (28.11)
R - Patrick Corbin, P (29.2)
R - Gerardo Parra, OF (30.11)

To say that I was surprised when Bautista was available at 23rd overall would be an understatement. Given the improvement to the lineup in Toronto, he could be primed for a huge year if the wrist issues are no longer a factor. Based on his heavy workload in Grapefruit League play, my lean is that they are.

I was expecting Beltre and Heyward to go 24th and 25th, but Yoenis Cespedes was paired with Heyward and it was a no-brainer to fill my corner-infield with the Rangers' third baseman. With the top three starters going off the board in Round 2 (Clayton Kershaw at 13, Stephen Strasburg at 18 and Justin Verlander at 21), I didn't feel it was necessary to take my first starter at this point.

Since this is a more shallow format, I elected to pass on Craig Kimbrel at 47 and 50, option to get my last remaining top-five starter (Cliff Lee) and first catcher to help anchor batting average in Joe Mauer. Fortunately, my Mauer selection induced a run of sorts in the position before my pick in late Round 6 came up, as Wilin Rosario, Victor Martinez, Carlos Santana, Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters were all selected in a span of nine picks before I landed Brandon Phillips.

With a very heavy power base, I wanted to begin addressing stolen bases and I felt Jose Altuve would be a great option there to build up depth at a light position and avoid waiting too longer to fill the middle-infield slot. Eric Hosmer was a consideration, but ultimately I wanted more bags without the burden of several one-category players later, hence the decision to go with Altuve.

Coming back in Round 8, my queue was slaughtered. CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey, Johnny Cueto, Shin-Soo Choo and Austin Jackson were lined up, but all five players were taken in the nine selections before my Melky Cabrera pick. With Anthony Rizzo going to close out Round 8, I felt less comfortable waiting longer on a first baseman and elected to take Ike Davis over Elvis Andrus. Had I gone with Andrus, there's a reasonable chance I would have had Andrus and Justin Morneau instead of Davis and my eventual shortstop pick, Derek Jeter. All things considered, their earn values could be very similar, but the Andrus-Morneau combo would have been a better fit for me with the added steals from Andrus. Consider it a calculated risk that did not work out perfectly, but hardly something that I am distraught over.

Andrus nearly made it back at 10.11, but was taken just before my pick. With many teams already in possession of a closer, I was very pleased to land Mariano Rivera here before getting my second starter with Roy Halladay in Round 11. Plenty of pitchers have issues with dead arm and reduced velocity at this time during spring training, and Halladay's steeply discounted price made it an easy decision. For reference, Tim Lincecum went immediately after Halladay at 11.3.

At this point, the mother of all closer runs ensued as seven relievers were taken off the board in the next 20 picks, prompting my decision to take Addison Reed in Round 12. Still in need of a shortstop, I had Jeter and Alcides Escobar as the by-far best available at the position and I was confident at least one would be left after 12-13 turn. It ended up being Jeter, which is perfectly fine with me in that spot.

The primary focus from here was starting pitching (I only had two after 13 rounds) and speed, as my power categories and batting average were in very good shape. Cameron Maybin has had a few minor injuries already this spring, but I could take on his batting average risk for a chance at 35-40 steals and a surprising number of runs scored.With Dan Haren's move back to the National League and returning velocity this spring, I felt he was a good fit in Round 15.

Neither Torii Hunter nor Dexter Fowler are going to be overwhelming contributors in the stolen-base department, but their team context and in Fowler's case, park factors were favorable enough that I considered them both to be good values. I don't expect Fowler to hit .300 again this season, but as long as he doesn't get traded, he'll reap the benefits of Coors accordingly.

Doug Fister was on my target list as I looked to build out my rotation, but he was taken at 17.4 and Alexi Ogando was plucked at 18.3. I had two pitchers I rank nearly equally available in Jeremy Hellickson and Anibal Sanchez and fortunately, I was able to land both. Perhaps Hellickson will never reach the lofty expectations from his days as a top prospect, but I'm buying into a guy who showed improvement in his K/9 and BB/9 a year ago, and benefits from a pitcher-friendly home park and elite defense behind him. Sanchez has been surprisingly consistent over the last three season, and he should be primed for a much-improved win total after collecting just nine victories a year ago.

From Round 20 on, it was just a matter of plugging spots. Juan Pierre at this stage was a cheap source of 30 steals assuming he keeps a near everyday job. Ryan Ludwick (Round 21) and Tyler Colvin (Round 23) afford me some flexibility for injuries in the outfield (or in the cast of the latter, first base as well) and should mix and match well. Ludwick in particular, could be utilized in weeks where the Rockies have two series outside of Coors Field and I want to sit Fowler.

I've made my case for Ricky Romero (Round 22) as a strong rebound candidate in a few places already this spring. Maybe there's more injury risk there than I'm willing to admit, but what has changed about his actual skill set from this time last year when he would have easily gone 10-12 rounds earlier?

In a shallow league like this, I think it's wise to find an injured or suspended player that is significantly undervalued to stash on the bench. Having missed out on a few of my other second-catcher targets, Yasmani Grandal was an easy choice in Round 24 and Welington Castillo (Round 27) should be a viable short-term replacement.

My final three starters have all flashed interesting skills at some point ? Derek Holland (Round 25) needs to overcome making half of his starts in Arlington, but a big leap forward could still be on the horizon. Dillon Gee (Round 28) was much better than people realize last season before a blood clot ended his season prematurely, and Patrick Corbin (Round 29) is often overshadowed by the other talented young starters in Arizona. Corbin has been touching 95 mph with his fastball this spring while taking the lead in the battle for the D-Backs' fifth starter spot.

With a second baseman (Altuve) filling my middle-infield spot, I grabbed Stephen Drew in Round 26 as insurance for Jeter. His numbers in September were an encouraging step in the right direction after he struggled in his return to the big leagues with Arizona before getting shipped to Oakland. I would not be surprised if he eventually moves out of the bottom third of the order in Boston.

Gerardo Parra was my final selection in Round 30. Most likely, he'll be cut during the first FAAB period, but the chance at an increased role could be presented to him if Cody Ross open the year on the disabled list. Even if that happens, he's a matchup-option with a good chance of a quick release onto the waiver wire.

All things considered, I believe I have a strong balance over all 10 categories. Like most teams in this format, a third closer in season will go a long way in helping my squad make any sort of push in the grand prize standings. Depending on a few breaks, steals and RBI might be slight weaknesses on the hitting front, but not to the point where the waiver wire won't offer enoug help to correct it accordingly.

If you're interested in competing in the RotoWire Online Fantasy Baseball Championship, you can sign up here.


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