Personal Draft Notes by Chris Klein

With no offense to Keith (he is in fact one of my three favorite brothers), I am giving my draft notes a personal flavor this year. While I am sure that most of the league doesn't care who I picked, why, or when, I am mostly writing this for posterity's sake, for myself. Maybe when it comes time to draft next year, I will be able to read what I am writing here, and perhaps not make the same mistake twice. I think what I am going to do here is attack the different phases of the game as a whole, rather than picking apart the draft round by round, because I can attack the latter while doing the former.

Starting Pitching

Obviously my first choice came in Round 1, take Kevin Brown or a dominant offensive player. I'll talk a lot more about this later, but I felt there was no choice at all, with Brown being a less than dominant 14. If one of the 4 guys in front of me would have taken a position player, I am pretty sure I would have taken Hampton, but that wasn't the case. Luckily for me, Cone was still available when the swing came back around in the 2nd. He isn't a great pitcher, but without him my "ace" would have been an 11. After Cone, I got Ritchie in the 4th. I wasn't real excited about him, but, he turned out to be my lone Z starter, and probably my starter in Game 1 of the playoffs. After this it got a little interesting. Except for Colon, my 3rd starter, there were no starters taken from picks 55 (Fernandez) until pick 102 (Sele). Right after Steve took Sele (a 9), I took another 11 in Parris. You can debate forever what is better, a 9Z, or an 11 no Z, but I went with the 11. His low games and innings may have let him slide also, but as he was going to be my 4th starter, I didn't have many expectations anyways. Six rounds later in round 18, I grabbed my 4th 11, Russ Ortiz. Obviously his W scared everyone off up until that point, but I thought he was the right man for me at that time (the next starter taken was Burba, an 8Y). While I knew the quality of starting pitching was by no means an asset (who would be scared of these guys?), the fact that I had a 13, and 4-11's gave me one of the deepest staffs in the league.

Relief Pitching

This may have been my strong suit in 99SL, but didn't work out that way this year. My top 2 then were 23Z, and 22Z, this year was a 21W, and 14Z, making for no comparison. Benitez I thought was somewhat of a steal in the 5th, if you consider his grade, and his quantity of games and innings pitched. I got Aguilera in the 10th, and already wasn't real thrilled with my bullpen. So after 15 rounds I had a questionable closer (because of the W), and a low grade Z. I got Wells in the 16th just to eat up innings, and I liked his +2 move. Then came Lloyd in the 20th. His L scared me a little, but I needed a lefty, and like Wells, he could eat up some games and innings. To close out my pen, I grabbed Grimsley, as he could go 2 innings per appearance, and I planned on using him as a mop-up guy/middle reliever.


With my first pick in the draft, I felt that I was setting the tone for both my offense, and my team. By drafting Chipper, and not a starting pitcher, I was kind of devoting myself to more of an offensive team than one of pitching. Certainly I could have made up for that by drafting pitchers in the next 7 or 8 rounds, but I always try for more of a balanced team, with no area that can be totally exploited, like having a weak bullpen, poor throwing catchers etc.. Why not McGwire? It was somewhat of a tough call, but with Chipper's stealing ability to go with his on base percentage, he was in a situation where he could bat 1st through 4th without hurting you by clogging up the basepaths like McGwire sometimes does. And it was too early in the draft to see what other kind of power I would have. In fact I was hoping to draft enough power so that Chipper could lead off. I really had my sights set on Abreu leading off, but Ken grabbed him right before me in the 4th. I got to round 9 and still had no leadoff man. While Larkin may or may not be the ideal guy for that job in the SL, he was head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the SS-9 available, so he turned out to be a no brainer at that point. In fact he was somewhat of a bargain, as ARod was the last SS picked before him (pick-42), and Larkin was still there for pick-77. At 1B, I was the last to take one, other than Graham, so the pickings were somewhat slim, but I felt that I still got a pretty good one, McGriff, in the 13th. Steve is always talking about trade-offs in the draft, and I felt that if I could fill a bunch of other positions, and still get a quality hitter like the Crime Dog, I was in good shape. At 2B, after Ken took Bush in the 14th, again this left just me, Dave, and Keith. Dave picked right after me in that round, so had I had jump on Velarde then. Did I have him rated too high? Or did my taking Velarde discourage Keith and Dave from grabbing one then? I don't have either answer, but I felt he was the right man at that time. An interesting note that totally muddles those questions even more; no regular 2B was drafted again for 6 more rounds.


Guerrero was my first outfielder taken, in Round 6. I think a lot of the reasons that I took him had to do with the success that I had with him in 99SL, where he put up MVP-type numbers. He also seemed like a good complement to Chipper. I then bounced right back with Bonds in the next round. Too early for a 100-game guy? Perhaps, but as Keith likes to say, maybe I am one of those managers that can pick a guy too early, but still make it work. And if you look at the smaller picture, he could play 3 games in every 5 game series, so the drawback would be that I would have to draft enough quality outfielders to cover his 2 missed games per series, and the DH spot. Which brings me to my next pick, Burks in the 11th. Another pick that was probably a bit of a stretch. So much so that I am pretty sure it was one of my worst picks in the draft. While you can't argue with his isolated power, and isolated-walk power, he does have some drawbacks (a 3 platoon rating, only a 32 arm, not good stealing). I wanted LGonzalez for that spot, but Bob grabbed him 3 picks previous. He too was adding to my games played woes, but could play in approximately 4 of a 5 game series. Three picks later Keith took Lofton (would I have been better with him?). Shortly after that I joked with Greg about how he and I be fighting over Finley, as he seemed to be the best CF left. Well, I passed on him in the 12th and Greg got him. At this point I decided to wait until late in the draft, and suffer with one of the CF-3 that can't really hit (Grissom?), and a good hitting backup. Some time during the next round or 2 I discovered Cameron, whom I must have overlooked earlier, and took him in the 15th. Not a great Cf, offensively or defensively, but he could provide some walks, some power, and some steals, while eating up 140-some games in CF.


In some pre-draft notes, I had Pudge as a top-20 player in the league. When it came time to pick with the 23rd, I had a tough choice to make. Would he slide to 32nd? I didn't think so. Should he be taken ahead of some high-impact players like Griffey, Giles, Abreu etc.? Again a tough call. Is there evidence to suggest that he wouldn't have been available with the 32nd pick? Well with the 24th pick, Ken took Lieberthal, so I am guessing he would have taken Pudge instead. Looking back, I am pretty happy with that pick. Ken may go on to set the all-time team steal mark this year (unbelievable considering the rule change since the last mark was set), and in that 10 game set I played with him, he ended up like 4 of 12 stealing. Also, my last series with Greg (the only one I won), he was like 1 of 6 off Pudge. He doesn't single-handedly stop another team from stealing, but he certainly reduces a number of straight steals to hit and runs. He certainly will make a manager think twice. Offensively in the majors last year he put up some numbers gaudy enough to make MVP, but they don't translate into great SL numbers (the guy never walks!). However he is still a bat you can count on, and batting 7th in the lineup, he certainly doesn't hurt you.


I guess my first part-time player picked was the now departed Jenkins in Round 17. At the time others hailed it as a good pick, yet others said, Don't you already have a DH?" (Guerrero). Well, subbing for Burks and Bonds, he would get 3 starts per series, and was a hot left-handed bat off the bench. In Round 19, I got GVaughn. Bob still bitches about the fact that I never play my "45 homer guy". I pretty much drafted him as a pinch-runner first, pinch-hitter second. After I traded Jenkins, that got Vaughn a few more starts than he would have had otherwise. Next came Grebeck in Round 21. He was my super-sub infielder that could start all the games that Chipper, Larkin and Velarde had to sit. Oh, and he hit .350. Through a trade with Steve, I got Drew and Taubensee in the 24th. They were to fill games for Pudge and Cameron. Drew was also a good pinch-runner, and Taubensee was a nice bat off the bench. Round 25 came, and I knew Keith and Dave still needed a good 2B. I wanted Easley as a pinch-runner, defensive substitute. So I traded up to get him. Keith promptly traded up to get Durham, and then Dave took Castillo. Was it much ado about nothing on my part? Probably, but I didn't think I gave up much to get him, so it was worth it. Finally , in Round 27, Austin himself got on-line and announced the Segui pick. At that time, he was a part-time starter and defensive replacement. Trading for Casey allowed me to not play Segui, except for defense, and I was happy about that.


Sure I have some weaknesses, but pretty much everyone does, in this era of SL parity. I can't quote Keith directly on this, but I think he would say if you have 4 good picks for every questionable one, you've had a decent draft. Only time will tell if my draft was any good.