March 24th, 2016, 18:48 ET. Day 1 of the Webb-Albers Championship Draft.
“What do we have on Breslow’s status?” I asked, scanning the list of names on the board for the thousandth time. Portraits of Ryan Webb and Matt Albers, effortlessly finishing games in non-save situations, flanked the board on either side.
“Nothing formal yet, but we’ve got a source telling us that he’s going to make the team,” replied Paul, clicking his pen over and over as he leaned back in his chair.
“Reliable?” Paul just nodded, with a half-smile. “Alright. Let’s leave him up there. He’s got enough of a track record to be very useful if he does.” I continued checking the names and numbers, although it was irrelevant at this point, because I already knew everything up there. I knew all of their games finished totals and bullpen roles. I knew their average leverage index and the tendencies of their managers. I knew their contract details, their injury concerns and every relevant detail about the team they were on, or – like Breslow – hoping to make. Behind me, a phone rang and an intern (Ben? Sam? I’d learn their names at some point) answered and almost immediately started waving their hand frantically.
“Yes…you’re sure? Ok…thanks.” Ben (or Sam) hung up, looking grave. “The Twins are sending Graham down.”
“Jesus, kid,” laughed Paul. “I thought you were going to tell us Albers needed TJ.” I walked over to the board and removed Graham’s name from the lower reaches of the list. We hadn’t expected to get that far down anyway, so it was hardly the catastrophe the intern’s reaction suggested.
“Ten minutes, everyone,” called Andrea. Paul and I convened next to the board, speaking in hushed tones.
“So are we really doing this? I know he was great last year, but who knows what’s going on with that ‘pen.” Paul’s eyes flickered nervously from the top of the board to me and back several times as he said this.
“No-one’s even mentioned his name for the role. They don’t even want to confirm he’s making the team! And they should lose a ton again.”
“All I’m saying is there’s uncertainty there. There are situations we could focus on where we know who the closer is.”
“Fine,” I relented. “I’ll think about it. And hey, there’s a good chance we won’t even have the option.”
Nathan’s voice came over the conference call as the room fell silent. “With the fourth pick of the draft, we select…Josh Collmenter.” Everyone exhaled simultaneously. Collmenter was on the board, but not near the top; he was more in our ‘safe’ category of reliable playing time guys that couldn’t hurt us. What’s more, none of the other three taken were priorities for us, and one wasn’t even on our board. We were up, and I exchanged a glance with Paul as I leaned over and took us off mute.
“With the fifth pick, we select…” I looked over at the board, back at Paul, and then my eyes drifted over to last season’s trophy. “…Jeanmar Gomez.” I grinned as Paul couldn’t help but smile, even as he shook his head. We had last year’s GFWAS superstar, at a bargain fifth pick.
What could go wrong?
May 10th 2016, 21:39 ET. Proven Finishers front office, location undisclosed.
“Come on, come on…” I muttered under my breath as Gomez pitched to Kelly Johnson, with the Braves down one run in the ninth. Freddie Freeman had already cut the lead with a homer to lead off the inning but now Atlanta was down to their last out. Johnson would oblige with a single to left field, bringing up Reid Brignac. Great. This was not the best team to root for.
“Sir?” Sam (Ben?) stuck his head round the door tentatively. “Mr Austin is on the line…”
“Would he like to know why his team’s first round pick is about to get his twelfth save of the season?”
“Uhhh…something like that. With…um…more expletives.”
“So would I. Tell him I’m out.” I threw my hands up in exasperation as career .219 hitter Reid Brignac flew out to Odubel Herrera to end the game. “Oh, and one more thing.”
“See if you can find out what the Phillies would want for Gomez.”
The Webb-Albers Championship is a fantasy league based purely on games finished without a save. You can find last year’s introduction here, the current standings here, and Ben Lindbergh’s Grantland piece about the eponymous relievers and the GFWAS record here. Despite the remarkably accurate depiction of a front office preparing for a draft in this piece, this story is fictitious (except for the part where I drafted Jeanmar Gomez with my first pick in the league, and the part where Jeanmar Gomez leads MLB in saves, both of which I just wish were fictitious).Next post: BttP Podcast 53: Ortiz, Strasburg, Scherzer, MLB Plus
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