Phantasy Philes: Strategy & Most Valuable Phillies

Since many fantasy owners are about to draft their teams in the coming weeks, now would be a good time to go over what could be some useful draft strategies. Also, we'll go over the Phillies that I would pass on tickets to Opening Day for, just to have on my fantasy roster. Well, maybe not tickets to Opening Day, but tickets to a Philadelphia Soul game for sure.

There is really just one question fantasy owners should ask themselves before they select their squad in a draft, and no, it has nothing to do with the meaning of life, or if Tony Soprano will hook up with Dr. Melfi. All a fantasy owner really needs to ask themselves is "Who do I want on my team?" Of course you won't get every guy you want, but going into the draft with a list of guys you would really like to have should keep the nail biting to a minimum when the pick swings around to you. So, in order to get your list making juices flowing, here's a few Phillies that are on my wish list.

Though it may be surprising to some, the top Fightin' Phil is not Jim Thome. Instead of going for the big time home runs right off the bat, I like to go for a more well rounded offensive threat. With a guy like Bobby Abreu, you're not going to get a ton of help in any single category, but he'll do his part just about it everywhere. Think of your fantasy teams in terms of a stock portfolio. Instead of buying stock in a bunch of companies all in one sector, you're going to diversify and buy one or two in a handful of different fields. It's the same with fantasy baseball. If you draft a guy who will give you a ton of homers, then another guy who will give you a ton of steals, and so on, you're setting yourself up for a major risk. What if your power guy goes down for the season? That's 40 or 50 homers that you counted on, going right down the tubes, which pretty much kills you for that category. Now, if you had instead gotten a few guys who will give you about 20-30 homers and 20-30 steals, and one of them goes down, you're not in such a bad spot. You can make a trade or search the waiver wire and find a player or two that can help fill the smaller holes in those categories. Make sense? Well, that's the logic I go with when I take guys like Abreu or Carlos Beltran in the early rounds of a draft, instead of a Barry Bonds (on a side note, remember, his batting average isn't as helpful as it may appear because his at bats are cut down thanks to all those walks) or Jason Giambi.

What might be even more surprising than Jim Thome not being tops on my list, is the fact that he isn't on my wish list at all. That's right, I said it. Think about it, why would I waste a second or third round pick on Thome's 40 plus homers and 120 plus RBI when I can get similar numbers from a Richie Sexson or Jeff Bagwell two or three rounds later in the draft? I wouldn't, so I don't. When you draft Thome so early, you're really just paying extra for the name brand soda, when the generic brand tastes exactly the same and costs a few dollars less.

If my wish list doesn't have you completely confused yet, just wait until you read this next name. Though he may not be on many dream rosters, Pat Burrell makes mine. Trying to comprehend how Thome can be left off, and Pat on it could cause your head to explode within the next five seconds, so allow me to explain. Simply put, I'm counting on Pat to return to playing more like he did two years ago. With that in mind, combined with the fact that Burrell is being drafted around the same time as guys like Alex Sanchez and Kenny Lofton, and I should have a late round steal on my hands. Since so many fantasy owners aren't even considering drafting Burrell until the 15-16th rounds, if I grab him in the 14th, then I'm setting myself up for a large reward with very little risk. Who else am I going to get that late in the draft with so much upside?

Moving on to pitching, the smart owners will probably cross Brett Myers off their lists, since there's bound to be a couple guys in every league that will be a little too high on Brett and select him too early on. Sure Myers would be nice to have, but you don't want to go nuts on a guy that could potentially have a sophomore slump. I'm not saying it will happen, just that if you're going to spend an early round pick on a starter, you better know exactly what you're getting from him. In the bullpen, I'd love to get Billy Wagner, especially since saves are at such a premium in most fantasy leagues. You never want to be the last one in on the closer run that happens in every draft.

Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla are the two starting pitchers on my list. Both are usually a little underrated come draft day, especially for a couple of guys who have proven track records. Thanks to the stronger bullpen, both will probably see a few more wins added to their totals, and when you add that to their strong ERA, WHIP and strikeout numbers, you've got a couple of solid starters to throw in the middle of your team's rotation.

Now that I've shared so many of my draft secrets for you, I think it's time to close out this edition of the Philes. So until next time, I'm out like Martha Stewart.

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