Note: This is a continuation from Wednesday’s article about the Alphabet Soup League draft. Please read that article first – it will make this one make a lot more sense.

In round 6, I nabbed Indians outfielder Chin-Soo Choo, who provides a nice mix of power and steals. I also nabbed Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz, who is a rising star in baseball. The only question is whether he starts the season in the Rangers rotation of bullpen. He hasn’t pitched a ton of innings in prior years, so the Rangers will likely take care to limit his innings, and big workload increases often result in injuries in the subsequent year. My final pick in this round is Omar Infante. Infante is not a great player, but I is a very shallow letter, and he does provide position flexibility.

In round 7, I had letters P, D, and E. P was pretty straightforward. I still needed a first baseman and Carlos Pena was on the board. I snapped up C-Pain. D was a more difficult choice. Did I want pitcher Justin Duchscherer, who has combined good skills with injuries? Outfielder Elijah Dukes, who has a lot of talent, but suspect decision-making skills? I toyed with several possibilities before finally going with Rockies pitcher Jorge de la Rosa, who pitched very well at times last year. I’m tinkering with the possibility of only playing him during road trips. E is another weak letter, and I took a flier on reliever Scott Elbert.

In round 8, I filled out my outfield by picking up Brave Nate McLouth who, like Choo, provides a bit of speed and a bit of power. My other letter is T, which doesn’t have as much talent. I go for Willy Taveras. Taveras is a one trick pony, bringing only steals to the table. My plan is to stash him on the bench and plug him into the lineup when the matchup makes it appears as if I can win the steals category with fast Willy’s help.

After making round 8 selections and awaiting everyone else’s pick, I still had holes at shortstop and third base. I’m hoping for Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart (a young player with good power but a low batting average) slips to me in the 9th and Alexei Ramierez of the White Sox slips to me in the 10th.

When the 9th rolls around, I am pleased to be able to snap up Stewie. I don’t actively seek out my favorite players in the draft, but I really need a third baseman, and I’m running out of time. I also need a shortstop, and could pick up Marco Scutaro for my shortstop and Aramis Ramirez or Mark Reynolds as my third baseball, but I roll the nice with Stewart and hope that Alexei Ramirez is still alive in the 10th. Stewie has gone from hot prospect (30 homers in the minors fresh out of high school), to a bust, to a once again valued player – and he’s still just 24.

My other letter is N. Ugh. N is an awful letter. I grab another catcher, Dioner Navarro. I don’t really need a third catcher, and Navarro will probably get cut when I pick up some free agents after the draft.

In the 10th round, I’m please to see that Alexei Ramirez did indeed drop to me.  I’m hoping that Alexei bounces back a bit from last year.  It’s worth noting that Ramirez was shifting back to shortstop in 2009 after having played second base in 2008.  In any case, at this point, I’m in desperate need of a shortstop.  My other letter is J.  As I look down my roster, I realize that I don’t have an adequate bat for the utility role – my bench hitters are pretty bad.  Nick Johnson, the oft-injured DH for the New York Yankees, joins the team.  He’s unlikely to rack up a lot of at bats, but should contribute a good on base percentage.

This is how my roster looks after the 10th round:

C: Matt Wieters
1B: Carlos Pena
2B: Howie Kendrick
SS: Alexei Ramirex
3B: Ian Stewart
OF: Carlos Quentin
OF: Chin-Soo Choo
OF: Nate McLouth
Utility: Nick Johnson

Bench: C Miguel Olivo, 2B/3B/SS/OF Omar Infante, OF Willy Taveras, C Dioner Navaro

SP: Justin Verlander
SP: Josh Beckett
SP: Tim Lincecum
SP: Felix Hernandez
SP: Yovani Gallardo
SP: Jorge de la Rosa
P: Neftali Feliz
RP: David Aardsma
RP: Scott Elbert

One thing quickly jumps out at me.  We play 9 pitchers, and while I have very good top end talent (6 of the top 20 starting pitchers in baseball, including 3 of the top 7, according to Yahoo’s fantasy guide), I have exactly 9 pitchers – I’d be short a guy if there is an injury.  We have a bonus round upcoming.  This is basically a waiver process conducted vua email.  We can pick any remaining player.  It makes sense for me to pursue another pitcher – particularly one from the letter Y or Z, since they would be elgible without having juggle the roster.

How did I do? Obviously, my hitting is a bit weak, as I sacrificed hitting in order to build an elite pitching staff. I like my position, though. I should be able to pick up win in Wins, ERA, WHIP, and Strikeouts nearly every week. I have Aardsma, so I’m not completely punting saves, and may win that category once in a while. I have some solid hitters and hope to pick up at least 1-2 wins on the hitter side each week. I can always trade pitching for hitting if I need to.

That’s not to say that the strategy wasn’t without risk. Leaving the shortstop until the last round is not a very safe strategy and could have easily backfired – and some might say that it DID backfire, since Alexei Ramirez isn’t a world beater. But I set the strategy early, stuck to it, and avoided major potholes in the road.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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