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Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

So how did your draft go on Friday? You and I were drafting at about the same time on Friday - you in your big home league draft, me in Tout Wars. I've already written about my draft, and my misfortune about Curtis Granderson. We've got the Staff League Tuesday (auction) and Wednesday (reserve/minors), so stay tuned on Thursday to see who gets hurt next. Who did you end up with?


I wanted to take some time this week to talk about some of the guys that I've seen rising up the draft boards in my various leagues - the trendy players, if you will. I got to see a good sampling of leagues when I was at the NFBC, so while I didn't document each and every league, I've gotten a good sampling of leagues to observe. I'd like to get your take on these guys - are they for real?


Johnny Cueto - We'll start closer to home for me. Cueto got knocked around in his last outing, but he's been one of the huge stories of spring training. He's gone from being a guy that you could grab in the last round or in the reserve part of a draft to someone who you'll have to spend auction dollars on. In the NFBC (a 15-team, mixed league environment), he went from being a 28-30th (of 30) round pick in the satellite leagues to getting snagged as high as the 15th round over the draft weekend. I think that's probably too high for a rookie under the tender loving care of Dusty Baker, pitching in the Great American Ballpark, but you can see how much his stock is rising. I actually think he's a better prospect than Homer Bailey, though - certainly more polished, with a better track record at this point.


Manny Parra - I've helped fuel his run, taking him in a few leagues. I like Parra just a little bit better than Cueto for this year, maybe not for the long haul. I'd rather have the Brewers' offense backing him up, and frankly, any manager besides Dusty Baker handling him. Even with the news that Chris Capuano is out for the year, the problem for Parra is that his role isn't yet guaranteed. Once Yovani Gallardo returns from the DL, and all signs suggest that it'll be pretty soon after the start of the season, the Brewers are going to have a logjam among their starters. Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan and Gallardo are all guaranteed spots, so Parra will have to fend off David Bush, Claudio Vargas and Carlos Villanueva for one of the two spots. I think he's capable of doing that, but he's a little bit of a risk in that way.


Conor Jackson - Talk of the Diamondbacks batting him third sent his stock up in a few of the leagues that I've been in, but I don't know if his overall skill set has really changed. I still would like to see more power from him.


Yunel Escobar - I think that he's a much better real-life and simulation game player than he is a roto player. I'd like to see him either run more or hit for more power before I invest too much in him in a fantasy league, otherwise he's just a poor man's Placido Polanco. That's not bad, but not worth taking in the middle rounds of a mixed league draft.


Corey Hart - When he went late in the sixth round (6.11) of the RotoWire mock draft for our magazine, I joked that it was a bit of a homer pick because the guy that took him, J.P. Kastner from Creativesports.com, is from Milwaukee. He was actually a bargain, at least compared to where he's going now. He was on average going in the third round in the NFBC, and went as early as the second round in a couple of leagues there.


Lastings Milledge - Through the weekend, Milledge was hitting .327 this spring with six stolen bases. He's finally going to get the chance to play every day in DC, and he's gone far to lock down that center field job. It's the stolen bases that have caused a lot of owners to go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs on him; I'm a little skeptical that he'll hit for average this year.


What are your thoughts about these guys? Who have you seen rising up the charts? Or maybe you'd rather discuss the fallers? Or perhaps tell me some of your sleepers for the Staff League draft on Tuesday - I'm always on the lookout for the next sleeper.


----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2008 2:28 am
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging

I screwed it up. Well, not entirely - I could still have a good year, but I made a couple bone-headed picks which I don't usually do.

It's a 15-team mixed league, and I ended up picking 15th. On the first go-around, I took Ryan Braun and Ichiro. I thought about taking Grady Sizemore over Ichiro, but I guess I'm persuaded by Dr. Kenichiro Mogi that Ichiro has a very fine prefrontal cortex.

In rounds three and four, I took Chris B. Young and Joe Mauer, addressing the scarcity of the catcher position while making up for Young's batting average downside. At this point, I've got a dual-position player and power hitter in Braun, tons of speed, plenty of batting average and a catcher slot filled. So far so good.

In rounds five and six, I knew I was going to take one elite closer - I made up my mind to take Mariano Rivera, but I also wanted a solid middle infielder, preferably a shortstop. But all the shortstops through Miguel Tejada were gone at that point, and the guy I really wanted was Rickie Weeks. But as of Friday, Weeks not only had a terrible spring but he was slated to miss a few games with a sprained hand. Weeks has struggled with hand injuries in the past, and reading the note soured me. I thought about taking Joe Nathan - you almost never go wrong six rounds in with an elite closer - even if it's not part of your plan. But I had determined I'd take only one good one and a couple speculative ones later in the draft. All the first basemen through Paul Konerko were gone. Starting pitchers? There were a ton left, and besides I didn't want one until around Round 9 or 10. (The next pitcher to get drafted was Aaron Harang). And I had already resigned myself to rounding out my outfield late with Justin Upton/Adam Jones types.

So who did I pick? I looked at the list of shortstops, and two jumped out at me: Edgar Renteria - batting average, excellent lineup, some steals - or Julio Lugo - great lineup, plenty of steals, strong second half. I went with Lugo.

As soon as I made the pick, I knew it was foolish. Not that Lugo can't go 12-80-95 with 30 steals and earn his keep in the middle infield. It's that I knew he would be available four, maybe six rounds later. For some reason, I lost perspective for a second and got too locked into my plan. I should have gambled on Weeks, a true upside player or played it safe with a closer or Harang-level starter. It wasn't my fault that picking 15th in a 15-team league provided me with those choices - choices that made my initial plan virtually impossible to execute the way I'd envisioned it. But that's when you have to take a step back and adapt. Okay, so maybe I'd end up with Stephen Drew or Yuniesky Betancourt in Round 16, or if I'm lucky Lugo himself. (Renteria went in Round 11, which made me want to defenestrate). At that point, I needed to shift gears, and I didn't. And the Weeks concerns I think were legit. I had a bad vibe about it, so Joe Nathan was the pick I should have made.

Rounds seven and eight, I took Howie Kendrick and Carlos Delgado (another reach, given his poor showing last year and his age). I happen to think Delgado will provide reasonable value at that spot, but I think he, too, might have been around later. Of course, that's small potatoes compared to the Lugo pick.

Rounds nine and 10, I took two of my favorite starting pitchers - Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett. Both have plenty or risk but also huge upside. In 11 and 12, I took Yovani Gallardo and Aaron Hill. At this point, my plan's back on track - I have Lugo, Hill and Kendrick in the middle - three guys I expect to produce, and three strikeout pitchers to go along with Rivera. And my offense is pretty good, though a little light on power. Thirteen and 14, I take Fukudome and Adam Jones - more power/speed combos and good cheap fi


I screwed it up. Well, not entirely - I could still have a good year, but I made a couple bone-headed picks which I don't usually do.


It's a 15-team mixed league, and I ended up picking 15th. On the first go-around, I took Ryan Braun and Ichiro. I thought about taking Grady Sizemore over Ichiro, but I guess I'm persuaded by Dr. Kenichiro Mogi that Ichiro has a very fine prefrontal cortex.


In rounds three and four, I took Chris B. Young and Joe Mauer, addressing the scarcity of the catcher position while making up for Young's batting average downside. At this point, I've got a dual-position player and power hitter in Braun, tons of speed, plenty of batting average and a catcher slot filled. So far so good.


In rounds five and six, I knew I was going to take one elite closer - I made up my mind to take Mariano Rivera, but I also wanted a solid middle infielder, preferably a shortstop. But all the shortstops through Miguel Tejada were gone at that point, and the guy I really wanted was Rickie Weeks. But as of Friday, Weeks not only had a terrible spring but he was slated to miss a few games with a sprained hand. Weeks has struggled with hand injuries in the past, and reading the note soured me. I thought about taking Joe Nathan - you almost never go wrong six rounds in with an elite closer - even if it's not part of your plan. But I had determined I'd take only one good one and a couple speculative ones later in the draft. All the first basemen through Paul Konerko were gone. Starting pitchers? There were a ton left, and besides I didn't want one until around Round 9 or 10. (The next pitcher to get drafted was Aaron Harang). And I had already resigned myself to rounding out my outfield late with Justin Upton/Adam Jones types.


So who did I pick? I looked at the list of shortstops, and two jumped out at me: Edgar Renteria - batting average, excellent lineup, some steals - or Julio Lugo - great lineup, plenty of steals, strong second half. I went with Lugo.


As soon as I made the pick, I knew it was foolish. Not that Lugo can't go 12-80-95 with 30 steals and earn his keep in the middle infield. It's that I knew he would be available four, maybe six rounds later. For some reason, I lost perspective for a second and got too locked into my plan. I should have gambled on Weeks, a true upside player or played it safe with a closer or Harang-level starter. It wasn't my fault that picking 15th in a 15-team league provided me with those choices - choices that made my initial plan virtually impossible to execute the way I'd envisioned it. But that's when you have to take a step back and adapt. Okay, so maybe I'd end up with Stephen Drew or Yuniesky Betancourt in Round 16, or if I'm lucky Lugo himself. (Renteria went in Round 11, which made me want to defenestrate). At that point, I needed to shift gears, and I didn't. And the Weeks concerns I think were legit. I had a bad vibe about it, so Joe Nathan was the pick I should have made.


Rounds seven and eight, I took Howie Kendrick and Carlos Delgado (another reach, given his poor showing last year and his age). I happen to think Delgado will provide reasonable value at that spot, but I think he, too, might have been around later. Of course, that's small potatoes compared to the Lugo pick.


Rounds nine and 10, I took two of my favorite starting pitchers - Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett. Both have plenty or risk but also huge upside. In 11 and 12, I took Yovani Gallardo and Aaron Hill. At this point, my plan's back on track - I have Lugo, Hill and Kendrick in the middle - three guys I expect to produce, and three strikeout pitchers to go along with Rivera. And my offense is pretty good, though a little light on power. Thirteen and 14, I take Fukudome and Adam Jones - more power/speed combos and good cheap filler for my outfield - as planned.


In 15 and 16, I take Randy Johnson and Scott Rolen (before he broke his finger). More Ks, and my final corner spot. In 17 and 18, more Ks with Johnny Cueto and a safer bet in Scott Baker. All of the closers are long gone by this point. I was hoping to get Kerry Wood (before his back-to-back outings landed him the official role) or Jeremy Accardo who's filling in for B.J. Ryan indefinitely. Both were gone by Round 13. No problem - I'll go eight starters if I have to, rack up big leads in wins and Ks, and go four closers if need be in the second half.


In 19 and 20, I take Rafael Betancourt - Joe Borowski's been living on borrowed time for years now - and Justin Duchscherer - a converted reliever with great peripherals, though starting is always more difficult.


I rounded out my team with the suspended Mike Cameron (power and speed, and in a better lineup and ballpark than he's used to) and Gerald Laird (so much for getting a reliable catcher). At least he has some power upside.


In the end, I think the team will compete despite my gaffe. I have Lyle Overbay to fill in for Rolen while he's on the DL, and I have Jacque Jones and Jason Kubel to fill in for Cameron while he contemplates what he did wrong.


So that's the long answer to your first question.


As for Cueto - well, I took him with the first pick in the 18th and could see him doing anything from 190 Ks and ROY to spending most of the year in the minors. But it is still a mixed league (albeit a deep one), so the upside is worth it there. I wanted Parra, too - was hoping to get him in the reserve round, but he went in the 22nd. You can take a Cueto or Parra if you like, but once you have Randy Johnson and one of them, you can't fill you whole staff up with those guys. You need some Scott Bakers at the very least, and even he's more of a risk than an Andy Pettitte or Derek Lowe.


Conor Jackson went in the 16th, and that's part of the reason why I consider Delgado in the eighth to be a mistake. Of course, Jackson doesn't have as much power yet, but he'll almost certainly hit for a higher average. Escobar strikes me as Dustin Pedroia, and as such has a low ceiling. If he were a basketball player, he'd be Rip Hamilton. Points and percentages and not much else. I'm wary of Hart because he's so big. I just don't see him as a reliable base stealer. Take that away, and he's a streaky hitter with good power and a few steals. I'd rather have Chris Young despite the bad batting average last year. And I don't trust Milledge at all - what's he really done even in the high minors? Not a whole lot. There's upside certainly due to his tools, but I trust Adam Jones (look at his Triple-A numbers at age 21) far more.


How was Tout Wars? Did you let people know who the defending champ was?


-----Original Message-----
From: jeff@rotowire.com
Sent: March 26, 2008 11:43 pm
To: liss@rotowire.com
Subject: RE: Charging

There's nothing worse than the feeling after you've finished a draft thinking that you really botched it. OK, there's plenty of things in real life that are worse, but in our little nook of the world, that ranks pretty low. Looking at your draft, though, besides the two players that you mentioned uncertainties about, you've got a pretty good squad. It's a good thing that you went out and grabbed Howie Kendrick to balance out the potential batting average tank in Lugo and Delgado.

We talked about it a little last night on your radio show, but I've had a little more time to reflect on your draft. Taking Lugo there was a mistake, sure, but I think I like the Carlos Delgado pick even less. I don't think he's a 30-plus homer guy anymore - that last year might have been his true level. You need the power at that pick and maybe he was the guy most likely to give you 25 homers, but I'd have rather gambled later on one of the other first basemen on the next tier. I'm avoiding him in pretty much all of my leagues this year.

But I'm pretty optimistic about your team overall. I really like what you did after the Delgado pick, particularly rounds 9-14. Aaron Hill is one of those guys I'm finding on a lot of my teams, and probably is going higher than I expected in others. There's one level after his jump from last year - it's too bad his defense can't help you here, because he's fantastic there as well.

Tout Wars went well; I didn't have to flaunt the defending champ too often. All too often it was being tossed at me by Sam Walker at the auction, or by the filmmakers who were covering our draft. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's going to be my label in the documentary - there are certainly worse angles. Sure, on a few players I used the "he's got a ring" line during the auction, especially if I was trying to flog the bidding a little higher.

It's interesting talking to you about the draft - as you've actually filmed a documentary before, covering a fantasy league no less. Drafting while being miked up and filmed is certainly a different experience. The whole thing took a lot longer than usual - a combination of longer breaks (the league members were interviewed during the breaks) and league members hamming it up for the cameras conspired to drag it out. It went well over six hours.

My team is pretty good, not great. I've already lost Curtis Granderson for at least a couple of weeks, and he'll likely have a drop-off in power arising from the injury even after he returns. My gamble on Kelvim Escobar also looks like it will go down in flames. Neither injury is a death blow to my team, but it's as if I started off with $15 fewer dollars in my auction budget. I ran lucky last year - perhaps this is my payback, or perhaps it's just a hiccup. I'll need a couple of inspired free agent claims and/or trades.

----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:09 am
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging

I disagree about Delgado - he got off to a terrible start, but went .298/.383/.498 in the second half. And that's right in line with his 2004 and 2006 seasons (2005 he had a monster year). He'll be 36, but we're talking about a career .941 OPS guy who will likely finish with 550 HRs, health permitting. We're talking about a Hall of Fame candidate here whose biggest issue is being dinged up the last few years. But except for the first half of last year, it hasn't affected his performance much. In fact, he hit 38 homers in 524 at-bats in 2006. So I think Delgado's a good "last year's" bum, but my mistake with him is that he probably would have slipped. In other words, I like Lugo and Delgado, and I think people should target them. But not where I drafted them because there's no need.

I like gambling on injured hitters a lot more than injured pitchers. I wouldn't touch John Lackey or B.J. Ryan right now, either. Setbacks are so common, and it's harder to predict. The only exception might be a wrist or shoulder injury to a hitter which could sap his power after he comes back. Of course, I gambled on pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, but that's a knee injury, Randy Johnson (he's healthy for now) and Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett (who knows how long they'll last?). But I'd rather take my chances on an injury prone pitcher than an injured one who's due back. Actually Escobar was both.

One good thing about gambling on injury prone players generally is that you often get a bigger discount than you deserve. Consider that when you project at-bats for players like Jimmy Rollins or Alex Rodriguez, you give them a full season's worth. But when you project at-bats for someone like Delgado, you dock him 100. But Delgado could stay healthy all year - he's being docked 20 percent because there's a decent chance he won't. But there's *some* chance anyone gets hurt, and they're not docked at all. Let's say it's five percent for Rollins or ARod. So while the projections and rankings make it seem like the difference in at-bats is 20 percent, it's really more like 15. It doesn't sound like much, but if you gamble on three or four risky players who are healthy now, it can make a big difference in a tight race.

And I did shoot a fantasy football documentary, a clip of which is going up on You Tube in the next week or two. I actually edited out most of the hamming it up and kept it pretty straight. Which is what makes it hilarious - that these guys are serious. Hopefully, the Tout Wars version emphasizes who the man to beat is, excessive hamming by also-rans notwithstanding.

Article first appeared 3/27/08


There's nothing worse than the feeling after you've finished a draft thinking that you really botched it. OK, there's plenty of things in real life that are worse, but in our little nook of the world, that ranks pretty low. Looking at your draft, though, besides the two players that you mentioned uncertainties about, you've got a pretty good squad. It's a good thing that you went out and grabbed Howie Kendrick to balance out the potential batting average tank in Lugo and Delgado.


We talked about it a little last night on your radio show, but I've had a little more time to reflect on your draft. Taking Lugo there was a mistake, sure, but I think I like the Carlos Delgado pick even less. I don't think he's a 30-plus homer guy anymore - that last year might have been his true level. You need the power at that pick and maybe he was the guy most likely to give you 25 homers, but I'd have rather gambled later on one of the other first basemen on the next tier. I'm avoiding him in pretty much all of my leagues this year.


But I'm pretty optimistic about your team overall. I really like what you did after the Delgado pick, particularly rounds 9-14. Aaron Hill is one of those guys I'm finding on a lot of my teams, and probably is going higher than I expected in others. There's one level after his jump from last year - it's too bad his defense can't help you here, because he's fantastic there as well.


Tout Wars went well; I didn't have to flaunt the defending champ too often. All too often it was being tossed at me by Sam Walker at the auction, or by the filmmakers who were covering our draft. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's going to be my label in the documentary - there are certainly worse angles. Sure, on a few players I used the "he's got a ring" line during the auction, especially if I was trying to flog the bidding a little higher.


It's interesting talking to you about the draft - as you've actually filmed a documentary before, covering a fantasy league no less. Drafting while being miked up and filmed is certainly a different experience. The whole thing took a lot longer than usual - a combination of longer breaks (the league members were interviewed during the breaks) and league members hamming it up for the cameras conspired to drag it out. It went well over six hours.


My team is pretty good, not great. I've already lost Curtis Granderson for at least a couple of weeks, and he'll likely have a drop-off in power arising from the injury even after he returns. My gamble on Kelvim Escobar also looks like it will go down in flames. Neither injury is a death blow to my team, but it's as if I started off with $15 fewer dollars in my auction budget. I ran lucky last year - perhaps this is my payback, or perhaps it's just a hiccup. I'll need a couple of inspired free agent claims and/or trades.



----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:09 am
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging

I disagree about Delgado - he got off to a terrible start, but went .298/.383/.498 in the second half. And that's right in line with his 2004 and 2006 seasons (2005 he had a monster year). He'll be 36, but we're talking about a career .941 OPS guy who will likely finish with 550 HRs, health permitting. We're talking about a Hall of Fame candidate here whose biggest issue is being dinged up the last few years. But except for the first half of last year, it hasn't affected his performance much. In fact, he hit 38 homers in 524 at-bats in 2006. So I think Delgado's a good "last year's" bum, but my mistake with him is that he probably would have slipped. In other words, I like Lugo and Delgado, and I think people should target them. But not where I drafted them because there's no need.

I like gambling on injured hitters a lot more than injured pitchers. I wouldn't touch John Lackey or B.J. Ryan right now, either. Setbacks are so common, and it's harder to predict. The only exception might be a wrist or shoulder injury to a hitter which could sap his power after he comes back. Of course, I gambled on pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, but that's a knee injury, Randy Johnson (he's healthy for now) and Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett (who knows how long they'll last?). But I'd rather take my chances on an injury prone pitcher than an injured one who's due back. Actually Escobar was both.

One good thing about gambling on injury prone players generally is that you often get a bigger discount than you deserve. Consider that when you project at-bats for players like Jimmy Rollins or Alex Rodriguez, you give them a full season's worth. But when you project at-bats for someone like Delgado, you dock him 100. But Delgado could stay healthy all year - he's being docked 20 percent because there's a decent chance he won't. But there's *some* chance anyone gets hurt, and they're not docked at all. Let's say it's five percent for Rollins or ARod. So while the projections and rankings make it seem like the difference in at-bats is 20 percent, it's really more like 15. It doesn't sound like much, but if you gamble on three or four risky players who are healthy now, it can make a big difference in a tight race.

And I did shoot a fantasy football documentary, a clip of which is going up on You Tube in the next week or two. I actually edited out most of the hamming it up and kept it pretty straight. Which is what makes it hilarious - that these guys are serious. Hopefully, the Tout Wars version emphasizes who the man to beat is, excessive hamming by also-rans notwithstanding.

Article first appeared 3/27/08




I disagree about Delgado - he got off to a terrible start, but went .298/.383/.498 in the second half. And that's right in line with his 2004 and 2006 seasons (2005 he had a monster year). He'll be 36, but we're talking about a career .941 OPS guy who will likely finish with 550 HRs, health permitting. We're talking about a Hall of Fame candidate here whose biggest issue is being dinged up the last few years. But except for the first half of last year, it hasn't affected his performance much. In fact, he hit 38 homers in 524 at-bats in 2006. So I think Delgado's a good "last year's" bum, but my mistake with him is that he probably would have slipped. In other words, I like Lugo and Delgado, and I think people should target them. But not where I drafted them because there's no need.


I like gambling on injured hitters a lot more than injured pitchers. I wouldn't touch John Lackey or B.J. Ryan right now, either. Setbacks are so common, and it's harder to predict. The only exception might be a wrist or shoulder injury to a hitter which could sap his power after he comes back. Of course, I gambled on pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, but that's a knee injury, Randy Johnson (he's healthy for now) and Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett (who knows how long they'll last?). But I'd rather take my chances on an injury prone pitcher than an injured one who's due back. Actually Escobar was both.


One good thing about gambling on injury prone players generally is that you often get a bigger discount than you deserve. Consider that when you project at-bats for players like Jimmy Rollins or Alex Rodriguez, you give them a full season's worth. But when you project at-bats for someone like Delgado, you dock him 100. But Delgado could stay healthy all year - he's being docked 20 percent because there's a decent chance he won't. But there's *some* chance anyone gets hurt, and they're not docked at all. Let's say it's five percent for Rollins or ARod. So while the projections and rankings make it seem like the difference in at-bats is 20 percent, it's really more like 15. It doesn't sound like much, but if you gamble on three or four risky players who are healthy now, it can make a big difference in a tight race.


And I did shoot a fantasy football documentary, a clip of which is going up on You Tube in the next week or two. I actually edited out most of the hamming it up and kept it pretty straight. Which is what makes it hilarious - that these guys are serious. Hopefully, the Tout Wars version emphasizes who the man to beat is, excessive hamming by also-rans notwithstanding.




Article first appeared 3/27/08