It was the day for the annual draft for our APBA baseball league. League play having wrapped up before the following MLB season started was a fine thing. :)
My team seemed a little weak last year, finishing tied for fifth out of eight teams in the full-league half of the computer season, then finishing tied for second in the computer division for the second half of the season, giving me a total record just under .500 and tied for fifth overall, falling just short of the playoffs. After checking the tiebreakers, I ended up with the better draft position, third of the eight teams in the league.
The prognosis for the upcoming season was not good. Although I had a good complement of strong starting pitchers (Kershaw, Greinke, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Martinez) plus enough lesser pitchers to get by (Wacha, Taillon, and Gausman), the three best hitters on my team (Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, and Carlos Correa) had each suffered nasty injuries that had cost them around a quarter or more of the season. Couple this with the fact that my attempt to grow some fresh outfielders had pretty much failed egregiously -- oh, and that the bullpen needed to be rebuilt, which can almost always be done, but sucks up draft picks -- and it seemed clear that it was time for rebuilding.
Due to an unusual confluence of circumstances, there were six quality starters available in this year's draft before we would hit our pitching cap. This was twice as many as last year; certainly far more available starters than we had seen in a long time.
Aaron Judge was taken with the first pick in the draft; Carlos Carrasco (a pitcher) with the second. This brought it to me. I could have taken Cody Bellinger who had had a fine rookie season and would have provided a lot of useful at bats, but he would likely play nothing but first base this year and I already had Freddie Freeman, which meant that he would probably not get much playing time in future years (barring annoying injuries). So I decided to take the best available (IMO) starting pitcher, the Yankees' Luis Severino. Bellinger was drafted immediately thereafter. :)
In the second round, it was time to do outfield repair and I drafted new Cardinal Marcell Ozuna -- not because he is a Cardinal, but because he can field the position and has enough at bats to be allowed to play every day. Oh, and he can hit quite well enough.
In the third round, I dove in and drafted Ozzie Albies, the young Atlanta second baseman who can back up Jonathan Schoop for me. This was about the right time to draft him, as another manager let me know that he would have taken him later in the round.
I was going to need a minimum of three relief pitchers in the draft. The relief run started at the very end of round three; I joined it in round four by selecting Anthony Swarzak.
The relief run slowed down and I paused to consider what the team needed. I didn't really want to start Byron Buxton or Albert Almora (two good prospects who I had planned to hold over). I failed to make a trade for Christian Yelich (whose manager was not enthralled with him, but was a bit perplexed by how much interest there was in him and decided, as a result, to keep him). So I ended up grabbing Dodgers' center fielder Chris Taylor to fill in a big chunk of at bats.
To my surprise, in the sixth round I was still able to get another high-quality relief pitcher, adding Ryan Madson to the bullpen. He will actually be my closer, so getting him in round six looks really good.
There were a number of reasonable non-quality starting pitchers available (that is to say, not restricted under the cap). I could have had Darvish. I could have had Lester. They have great names. Instead, I dove down in round seven to pick someone from the pitching staff I know best, Cardinals rookie pitcher Luke Weaver. We will see if this was a clever maneuver or a gross error.
So here I was in the eighth round, studying the situation. I had Xander Bogaerts to back up Carlos Correa at shortstop, but Xander Bogaerts had played through an injury and had ended up with a card that didn't hit much and couldn't field at all. I didn't want to get rid of him, but neither did I want to play him. And apparently there was so much shortstop scattered about the teams in the league that no one wanted Paul DeJong, the Cardinals rookie shortstop who had hit 25 home runs in 2/3 of a season and who had played competent (if not stellar) defense. Well, if no one else wanted him, I did. :)
Down to the ninth round and I really needed some competent backup at bats for Freddie Freeman at first base. It was now time to grab something at first base and an old first baseman who could hit was the apparent right answer, so I grabbed Ryan Zimmerman.
Round ten: I decided to embark on a bit of an experiment. Since I'm playing the computer game for the entire season, the pitching grading is a bit different than it is for the folks playing the basic game face-to-face with cards and dice. Specifically, the pitching is much more finely graded in the computer game, so you can have a strong B who is almost as good as a weak A. Also, the computer game allows for home run suppression, while the basic game does not. One of the other managers had cut Alex Colome who was the strongest possible B reliever with control and the strongest possible home run suppression. I decided that he had a place in my bullpen. :) We'll see how this experiment goes. I could have had any number of weak A relievers without control, so I will look dumb if this fails.
Which led to round eleven, where I exchanged a weak left-handed B reliever with control and more appearances for a strongest possible left-handed B reliever with control and fewer appearances. Well, it's a theory. Sean Doolittle, come on down! (And back onto my team, which he had been on a few years back.)
Round twelve and I am pretty close to done. The only question is whether I should exchange Brandon Drury, who I had drafted as an emergency outfielder last year, for something else. Well, he wasn't qualified to play outfield any more. He wasn't that good a hitter, although the card was cute. And I was covered at second and third base. What I could use was a left-handed hitting outfielder with a bunch of at bats and a competent hitting card. It would have been nice if he could field, but that simply wasn't happening by round 12 (he said as he kept looking at Kevin Kiermaier and shaking his head no). Corey Dickerson, you'll do.
And that was the end of my draft.
Other returning players not yet mentioned: third basemen Alex Bregman and Manny Machado; catchers Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy (would have liked another catcher; didn't happen); reliever Daniel Otero; and outfielder Gregory Polanco, who I keep hoping will have that breakout season that everyone keeps expecting.