Thought Exercise: Mock Expansion Draft

Our pals at the Platoon Advantage have spearheaded something they call the Great 2011 Expansion Draft (complete with commentary from Keith Law), which assumes that two new teams will be added to MLB in 2012. (This is a thought exercise, so roll with it… as well as the assumption that Portland, which couldn’t handle Triple-A, is a suitable host for a big-league team. Stick ‘em in Vegas if that makes it easier for you to suspend your disbelief; whatever, we’re just having fun here.)

Anywho, a bunch of us served as representatives of current MLB teams charged with protecting players from said draft. I represented — and this will come as a shock — the Padres.

My instructions were to protect 15 players for the first round. Then, I could pull back three more players for the second round and three more for an abbreviated final round. At the end of the draft, two new teams would have 35-man rosters and the Padres (as well as the other existing teams) would be missing a couple of guys.

Here is my initial list of protected players:

  • Mike Adams
  • Kyle Blanks
  • James Darnell
  • Jaff Decker
  • Ernesto Frieri
  • Chase Headley
  • Nick Hundley
  • Casey Kelly
  • Mat Latos
  • Cory Luebke
  • Cameron Maybin
  • Clayton Richard
  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Keyvius Sampson
  • Tim Stauffer

We lost Will Venable in the first round. My logic behind exposing Venable, whom I still like despite his various maddening flaws, rested on two assumptions:

  1. He had gotten off to a horrendous start this season and just been demoted to Triple-A when we submitted our lists. I thought this might deflate his perceived value.
  2. The Padres could replace him immediately with some combination of Aaron Cunningham, Chris Denorfia, and Blake Tekotte if needed.

I then protected two of those three outfielders, as well as the guy I think will end up being the Padres third baseman in a few years:

  • Aaron Cunningham
  • Jedd Gyorko
  • Blake Tekotte

I may have made a tactical error here. With three outfielders available to replace Venable, we still would have had two left if one were taken here. Instead, I left a talented young player at a scarce position unprotected, and sure enough, Jason Hagerty got popped.

In this case, I’d hoped that Hagerty’s age (23), level (High-A), and defensive reputation would scare the expansionists away, but no dice. Switch-hitting catchers with power are a rare breed, and I should have kept him… even if he turns out to be the second coming of Mitch Meluskey.

And here are the final three I protected:

  • Anthony Bass
  • Logan Forsythe
  • Beamer Weems

These are all personal favorites of mine. I like Bass at the back end of a rotation, Forsythe as a utility guy, and Weems as… I don’t know yet. He was showing signs of offensive improvement when we submitted our lists but has slipped since; still, if he can post an OPS around 650 at the big-league level, his glove could keep him around a while.

I also protected Forsythe and Weems just in case one of the expansion teams took Jason Bartlett or Orlando Hudson. They didn’t. In fact, they didn’t take any more Padres.

So we lost Venable and Hagerty. I can live with the first one, but in hindsight, I probably should have pulled back Hagerty after the first round and left one of the outfielders exposed.

On the bright side, this ain’t happening. Still, it’s fun to ponder such things…

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11 Responses »

  1. Interesting exercise.
    I’m surprised you protected Clayton in the first round. Now that I thought about it, that make sense to have ML starter with this team since no one is ready to take his place if he’s taken, though, I still doubt an expansion would’ve had taken him in the first round.

    Losing Hagerty sucks only because it’d be great to see what he can do in the higher minor before deciding if he’s going to be anything, and position scarcity like you mentioned. Speaking of which, I was surprised to not see Galvez get picked or protected. Wouldn’t he be in the running for SS of the future with the Padres? And we know how sucky we’ve been over the years with developing talent for that position.

    How did the expansion team look? Was it build to content right away or to develop?

  2. I love the pitchers you protected up front: Stauffer, Sampson, Luebke, Richard, Latos, Kelly, Frieri, and Adams. Those are definitely guys to build a small market club around.

    This exercise shines a big spotlight on the organization’s needs at 2B and SS.

  3. Two 35-man rosters were filled and only 2 of our guys got picked off? The math isn’t WAY off, but that’s gotta say something about what others think of our system…

  4. They should really put an expansion team in North Carolina.

    Or am I focusing on the wrong part of this?

  5. You didn’t protect Gregerson? And I’m surprised no one wanted him.

  6. @Laowai: These are fantasy baseball fans, not major league front office people. They might have a different perspective than pro scouts and player development people with major league clubs. I’ve read a lot of fantasy baseball websites, and some of the proprietors are nuts. One guy, who called himself a guru, predicted that Heath Bell would bomb as a closer in 2009. After Heath got 42 saves, the guru admitted he missed, but doubled down, calling it a fluke, and predicted Heath would bomb in 2010. The guru curiously neglected to make a Heath Bell prediction for 2011.

  7. OT … a blogger unearths a sad chapter in Padre history … Jack Clark vs Tony Gwynn …

  8. @GY – Thanks for sharing. I am curious as to why Sampson was protected since he is still so far away?

    @Didi – I am on the Galvez bandwagon big time…. but, I think he ends up at 2b unless his fielding skills improve. Either way, very promising middle infielder. Juedy Valdez is under the radar, he could surprise.

    @Laowai – 70 players amongst 30 teams means an average distribution puts 20 teams with 2 players taken and 10 teams with 3. I think it says less about the Padres and more about the 10 teams that had 3 players taken.

    @Zach – Good point on Gregerson. Also, Brach and Spence. I think the logic would have to be that position players and starters are so much more valuable than relievers on average.

  9. @GY – Just thought I would point out that Sampson did not have to be protected since he was under 19 when selected in 2009 draft and Gyorko was drafted in 2010 so he did not have to be protected.

  10. @LF: Let’s just hope Heath doesn’t start his imminent implosion until we get some serious value for him sometime in the next few weeks.

  11. @Ray: NC would make sense, as would Nashville.

    @Zach: I have concerns about Gregerson, in a Cla Meredith kind of way.

    @Larry: The folks at Platoon Advantage aren’t actually fantasy baseball guys. Your overall point is well taken, just want to be clear that they don’t fall under that umbrella.

    @PF: Crap. If I didn’t need to protect Sampson and Gyorko, then shame on me for not understanding the rules. Now I feel even worse about losing Hagerty… and even better about not running the Padres.