As a huge Red Sox fan, I naturally would like to fill up my roster with as many Red Sox players as I can.
For those of you who want to know when to start drafting guys, I am publishing limited results from a 10-team, 25-round mock draft offered by ESPN that I participated in earlier today so you can see when to start looking for your Sox.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Pedroia was taken with the eighth pick of the second round, or the eighteenth overall pick of the draft. Among second basemen, Pedroia was the first one to go off the board. While Pedroia isn't necessarily the best second baseman in the league, he started a trend of picking second basemen off the shelves.
After Pedroia was taken in the latter stages of the second round, this sparked more second baseman being taken. In the third round, Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler went off the board, and Brandon Phillips and Brian Roberts were taken in round four.
A fair spot to draft Pedroia is in the latter picks of the second round, or anywhere in round three. If Pedroia falls to your pick in the fourth round, you should pounce on him if you aren't in possession of a second baseman.
Jason Bay, LF
Jason Bay was drafted in the fourth round with the 38th overall pick in the draft. In the outfield, Ryan Braun, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Lee, Josh Hamilton, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro, Nick Markakis, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Manny Ramirez went before Jason Bay.
In the following round, Vladimir Guerrero, BJ Upton, Alex Rios, and Magglio Ordonez were picked after Jason Bay.
While there are certainly more viable options to go to before picking Jason Bay, as well as sleepers who could amount to be better who can be had in the later rounds, Jason Bay is a very solid option in terms of a dependable and consistent player. On the plus side, Bay isn't deteriorating in skills or injury prone like some of the outfielders will be as the draft progresses.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B
Youkilis was drafted with the 42nd pick overall of the draft, the second selection of the fifth round. Youkilis joins a slew of Sox who are reasonable draft choices in the first five to seven rounds of a fantasy draft. In the two previous rounds, the third and fourth, first basemen Prince Fielder, and Justin Morneau were selected.
Surprisingly, Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was picked after Youkilis. The next first baseman taken was Derrek Lee, in the seventh round.
Kevin Youkilis is a viable fifth round selection. While he isn't an elite first baseman, he puts up numbers that are better than average. Also to his credit, he has improved every year, and if he does again improve in 2009, his home run total will sit around 30 to 40. With all of this upside, you should not hesitate to draft Youkilis between the fourth and sixth rounds.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP
I myself had the luxury of selecting superstar Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to end the fifth round. This was the 50th pick of the mock draft, and I thought I was continuing a trend of grabbing all the closers at this stage, since that typically happens around rounds five and six.
I picked Papelbon, because with the previous pick, Joe Nathan was the first closer taken off the board. Afterwords, there was no closer rush. The next closer wasn't selected until the end of the seventh round, when Francisco Rodriguez was taken with the 69th pick.
I feel that I picked Papelbon at exactly the right time. Round five is when the elite closers (Nathan, Rivera, Papelbon, K-Rod) deserve to be taken, because there are only so many of these hot commodities. It is important to grab one of the better closers of the league in the fifth and sixth rounds, because if you wait too long to select a closer, you will be stuck in the later rounds deciding between closing-pairs like Corpas/Street, Ziegler/Devine, or Soriano/Gonzalez/Moylan.
Take this advice from me, if you're stuck with bad or no closers, your fantasy team won't be going far.
David Ortiz, 1B/DH
The Cookie Monster was selected in round six, with the 54th pick of the draft. While there aren't many players actually labeled DH in ESPN's player database, there were quite a few first basemen going off the board at this time.
In the next two rounds, third baseman/first baseman Chris Davis, as well as Derrek Lee, and Joey Votto were selected.
Since Ortiz has been declining and battling injuries the previous few years, I think this pick is a little too generous. In this context, the Ortiz selection neglected such power/speed hitters as Nate McLouth, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and Corey Hart. A better time to draft David Ortiz is in the eighth round, when there aren't as many home run hitters left.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Like Papelbon, I was pleased when at the end of the seventh round, I got to draft speedster Jacoby Ellsbury. At this time, mostly pitchers and first basemen were being taken. The only other outfielder taken in round seven was Bobby Abreu.
After Ellsbury, only two other outfielders were taken in the eighth round: Corey Hart and Torii Hunter.
This Ellsbury selection was definitely a fall from where Ellsbury should start being considered. Similar player, Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, was taken in the middle of the fifth round, while Ellsbury, who hit .280 and stole 50 bases last year, fell all the way down to the last pick of round seven. A fair time to draft Jacoby Ellsbury is anywhere between rounds five and seven. If he slides any later, he is a must-take player.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP
Dice K was selected to start off the ninth round of the mock draft. Prior to Matsuzaka, starters Felix Hernandez and Chad Billingsley were taken. This was a stage of the draft where not many starters were being taken, because most of the elite hurlers were gone.
After Matsuzaka, Cliff Lee, Edinson Volquez, AJ Burnett, and my selection, Yovani Gallardo were drafted.
This is a fair time to pick Matsuzaka. While he posts great W-L record and a low ERA, many managers will get down on Matsuzaka because he walks a lot of batters and doesn't strike out a slew of batters. However, this is good for the manager who wants Dice K, because you can really wait on him due to the low demand created by his control issues.
Josh Beckett, SP
Beckett, whose arm is no longer an issue, is going to fall to at least round ten due to his previous season. This was the case in my mock draft, where Beckett was taken with the 97th pick late in round ten. Beckett was the next starting pitcher drafted after the aforementioned starters (...Volquez, Burnett, Gallardo).
After Beckett, Zack Greinke was the next starter selected.
Due to a poor 2008 season, Beckett will be available around the tenth round, where he can be stolen. Since his arm doesn't appear to be bothering him any more, he should bounce back to something between 2007 and 2008 form, and he will be an elite starter once again. However, some will question his abilities and health status, so there is no reason to rush and get him any earlier than round nine.
Jon Lester, SP
After Beckett and Greinke, Jon Lester was the next starter taken off the board, with the 105th pick in the draft, smack dab in the middle of round 11.
After Lester, the next starter picked was Scott Kazmir, by me.
I believe that Lester was picked far too late. He posted phenomenal numbers in 2008 and only looks to build on that success. His health is no longer an issue, and it shouldn't get in the way as he looks to help the Red Sox get back to the World Series. I think where he should really be drafted is in the seventh or eighth round. However, if he is still on the board in round 11, there is no excuse to not draft him if you need to bolster your pitching (and who doesn't?).
Takashi Saito, RP
Saito was drafted in the bowels of the draft, in round 24, where all sorts of reach picks occur. Other pitchers taken around this time were Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, JJ Putz, Brandon Morrow, Jon Rauch, and Tyler Walker.
Afterwords, reliever Grant Balfour was taken in the 25th and final round.
While I wouldn't condone drafting Saito period, he isn't a bad idea to make a reach for if you're desperate for relief help. Saito boasts a career 1.95 ERA, so, if your roster is strapped for relievers, or if you just want a solid ERA guy who can collect a hold here and there, he is one of the better guys to reach for in the last three rounds of the draft.
Jed Lowrie, SS
Lowrie was taken with the second pick of the 25th and final round of the draft, 242nd overall. In the previous round, shortstops Christian Guzman and Elvis Andrus were selected, and Lowrie had the honor of being the last shortstop to go in the draft.
While Lowrie was a solid run creator for Boston in a short stint at the Majors in 2008, this is exactly where he should be picked: in the last round. Lowrie is only a rookie, and unless he pulls a Pedroia, he probably won't have a huge impact right away. However, if he does pull a Pedroia, which is the best case scenario, then you will be even more satisfied that you took him in the last round, as well as saving yourself the trouble of battling for him on waivers.