Recently, I was invited to take part in a fantasy baseball league put on by The Hardball Times. Maybe it was all my constant plugging of their site that got me the in. Last night was our draft for the 12 team league that uses the typical 5×5 stat format. It was my first league in quite some time, so I was a little rusty. Here are my picks by round and some brief rational. I had the 10th pick and it was a snake draft.

1. Derrek Lee – In my mind, he’s just as good as Albert Pujols, but fell to me based on last year’s injury. He has a better lineup around him and seems like a major bargain to get him at # 10.

2. Carlos Zambrano – He says he can win the Cy Young and I believe him. No matter what, he should rack up the wins and strikeouts, which is 40% of the pitching categories.

3. Aramis Ramirez – Stop it right now! No, I did not draft all Cubs, but man did it feel good to do it in the first three rounds. This pick added another huge bat.

4. Bobby Abreu – He’s got to be able to rebound from that poor power performance right? I mean, he did go crazy in the homerun derby two years ago, and he does have a tremendous batting eye. I’m banking on him.

5. Dan Uggla – In my mind, this pick could kill me or propel me. If his 2006 was a fluke, I might be in trouble. I should probably draft a backup in case.

6. Mariano Rivera – Danget, someone drafted a closer too early and now I have to fear the run on closers. Better pick up one of the best and scrounge for a 2nd late in the draft or on the waiver wire. It doesn’t hurt that he plays for the Yankees either.

7. Mike Mussina – What am I doing? Two Yankees in a row? I had to do it. I wanted to get a legit second pitcher and with him pitching for the Yankees, it makes him a threat every year to win 20. Maybe this is the year he actually does it. Let’s just hope this isn’t the year his arm falls off. Better look at some backup plans.

8. Delmon Young – This one is a major reach, but I believe very much in his talent. If he turns out to be an attitude nightmare, I could be sunk, because OF spots are not as easy to come by as they once were. In 30 games last year with Tampa Bay, he got 126 AB. He hit .317 / .336 / .476 with 3 HR and 10 RBI

9. Jason Schmidt – At this point, I figured why not. He is not as injury prone as people believe and he could really benefit from the move to Dodger stadium which is a very nice pitcher’s park. Or is it? In 2001, Dodger stadium had a park factor for runs at .810, which put them as the 4 best park for pitchers. In 2006, they had a park factor of 1.046, which put them at 10th worst. Hmm, maybe I should have done my homework on this one. Hopefully it doesn’t burn me.

10. Freddy Sanchez – I needed a SS at this point and Freddy can do that as well as play 3b and 2b. He’s very valuable in a fantasy standpoint for that reason. He’s not gonna help in the HR category, but the average won’t hurt.

11. Magglio Ordonez – Good power and one of the best outfielders available in the draft. Still don’t have a catcher, but at this point, I can probably wait longer and pick up Michael Barrett, who is still on the board.

12. Ervin Santana – Another reach on this one, but for some reason I really like this kid. With 3 SP already on my team, I can afford to hope for a good turnout with this one. The offense behind him worries me a bit though. It’s getting late, I better draft Barrett when it swings back around to me. Still no Bonds or Clemens.

13. Ryan Dempster – Danget!!! Barrett was picked and so was Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Now I may as well hold out for a catcher and go with my favorite, Jason Kendall. I could probably pick his butt off the waiver wire, but I better not take that chance. When in doubt, go Cub. Dempster, please deliver.

14. Troy Tulowitzki – I had Rich Hill all queued up to pick and he went right before my turn. I called an audible and drafted a pure SS playing in Colorado. He’s a rookie, but we all know what Colorado did to Neifi Perez. He’s built an entire career off it.

15. Mark DeRosa – At this point, i’m more into the NCAA tournament game between Georgetown and Vanderbilt than I am in the draft. It’s moving like Molasses uphill in January and I panic when I see it’s my turn and draft Mark DeRosa. Can I get a mulligan?

16. Eric Byrnes – CRAP!!! I had someone else ready and clicked the suggest button it drafted Eric Byrnes for me. Two wasted picks in a row. Crap Crap Crap!!!!

17. Mark Buehrle – Well, you can never have too much pitching. Time to stock pile and hope to dominate that half of the 5×5 or have room to trade for spare parts.

18. Jason Kendall – Better take him before another Michael Barrett fiasco happens. Plus, i’m getting off track with this draft and making late mistakes. I would hate to forget to draft a dang catcher. Three Picks left.

19. Kei Igawa – If this guy turns out to be better than Dice K, I will be thrilled. Matsuzaka went in round three. From what I’ve heard, they were not that far apart in terms of talent in Japan.

20. Akinori Iwamura – Bring out your imports. Why not? Maybe he hits me 30 HR for when A-Ram goes down with a bad hammy.

21. Matt Murton – Computer picked this one for me, but it seems like a fitting end to my draft. It just goes to show you that it all starts and ends with the Cubs in my life.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail