Hello World Champs

On March 31 and April 1 the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves will play a two-game exhibition series at Turner Field. While mainly scrubs will play these games, this will be the first time that the Sox will appear on a major-league field since winning the World Series in Houston. I just happened to get the MLB-issued World Series DVD last week as a birthday present. I almost forgot how close all those games were. A lot of things had to go right, and I’m glad that they did. It will be nice to see the team, even if a bunch of minor-leaguers take the field.

I took a trip into my past when I received John Sickels’ 2006 The Baseball Prospect Book. I used to pore over minor-league stats when I collected baseball cards in the early 90s, hoping to find the next hidden gem and ending up with a lot of Todd Van Poppel and Steve Avery cards gathering dust in my closet. Sickels used to write for espn.com and now is on his own, running a nice site called http://www.minorleagueball.com. I will undoubtedly spend too much time reading over the book, especially perusing the poor lot of White Sox prospects. The team did let go three of their top guys in the trade for Jim Thome, but lately Kenny Williams has been good at trading away the prospects that never develop. One reason that I got the book is I’m thinking of putting together a dynasty fantasy baseball league like my Zealots football leagues. There’s just so much potential in a dynasty baseball league because of the minor leagues. You can’t duplicate that in football unless you draft college players, and that’s not the same.

The first offseason in a dynasty league is always interesting. In z34 there have been a lot of trades. That’s because most dynasty teams are pretty equal after the first year. Starting in year two there is some separation. I noticed that in my other dynasty league, z17, where there were about five really good teams and some stinkers. After picking up Michael Clayton for a 2nd-round rookie pick, I panicked and dumped him for Chris Cooley and a 5th-round rookie pick. Most experts believe Clayton’s rookie numbers rather than his injury-plagued 2005 campaign. I don’t know. I had jack (Jeb Putzier) and squat (Jermaine Wiggins) at TE, so Cooley is a real upgrade. I also don’t have to spend my remaining two second-round picks on tight ends.

I also traded Billy Volek for Chris Simms. The guy who took Volek was a Bucs fan who couldn’t stand to have Simms on his team after the first-round playoff loss. I’ll take a young starting QB over a never-will-be like Volek. The guy’s 30 and breaks something every time he gets a starting opportunity. I picked up Edgerton Hartwell for a late draft pick. He’ll bounce back in a big way in 2006, and my linebackers generally suck.

I recently decided to look back at my inaugural dynasty draft (boy, it sure seems like I’ve had a lot of free time lately). I went RB-heavy, which in theory should give me lots of trade options in year two. Julius Jones (first round) looks like a solid RB2. I could have done worse. I got lucky with Larry Johnson in the third (traded the second-round pick) and traded up to get my only good wideout in Torry Holt. In the fifth I did well with Warrick Dunn but whiffed with Ashley Lelie. I traded up for Ben Roethlisberger in the 6th (note to self, I didn’t have to and knew it at the time), and while I got a lot of crap at the time he’s looking like a fantasy starter. The danger of falling in love with players is ending up with someone like Nate Burleson in all your leagues. I blew it by waiting for a TE (Eric Johnson in the 13th) and not getting a single linebacker to break out, although Jason Babin is intriguing. I did get top DB Charles Tillman in the 43rd round. I dumped 46th round pick Nathan Vasher and didn’t get to pick him back up.

Speaking of running backs, I took four with my first eight picks and my first three rookie picks were RBs. Because of that I have a gaping hole at WR2 and my second-highest scoring linebacker was undrafted (in our league) rookie Kirk Morrison. Even though I have Jake Plummer and Roethlisberger at QB, I wouldn’t mind taking Matt Leinart or Vince Young with my fourth overall rookie pick. Did I mention that I went 5-8 last year? I at least put in enough time to be one of those teams that pulls away from the pack a bit next year.

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