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I was just about to rush to Childs' defense, but turns out he can stand up for himself. Good to know. But his draft does illustrate how values can vary from league to league. In a league like this, go by the book and you can book a spot near the bottom of the standings. If the league pays for offense, at some point you're going to have to pony up. If you don't, you'll end up looking for Jeromy Burnitz and Ryan Klesko to carry your offense. Take it from someone who's been in similar situations in the past – it's not a happy place.

I like what you've got to work with. Time will tell if Todd Helton was the right bat to bid on. I've soured after paying $40 for him a year ago, then watching him go in the tank – along with the rest of my sorry squad – in the first half. But word is his back is feeling better, and a strong second half certainly provided some reasons for optimism.

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The offense should be solid, especially in batting average. Carlos Beltran is due to bounce back, and Matt Holliday is going to arrive in 2006. His second-half splits (.318, 15 HRs, 64 RBIs) promise big things. I appreciate that you've kept Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal together, even though free agency tore them apart. They always were a great middle infield combo. And somehow I knew you'd come away with Brian McCann. Can't fault that pick at all.

Pitching-wise, you're in fantastic shape; helps to have Jake Peavy, John Patterson and Eric Gagne all locked up for a mere $19. Tomo Ohka is a strong sixth starter, though I prefer to limit my starting staff to five and go with four relievers. I've found that back of the rotation starters generally drag down your ERA and WHIP. Claudio Vargas falls into the category, though he likely wasn't in the rotation when you drafted him.

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I'm headed out of town for an NL auction draft this weekend, so I'll post that team as soon as possible next week. It's a league with more moderated salaries – lower at the top end, but with few bargains near the end. It will be interesting to see how my team stacks up. Maybe Childs and I can play a little two-team roto for fun as the season goes on. My league's made up of 12 teams, but I'm willing to spot him a little handicap.

Also, I'm planning to do some Orioles analysis and stat projections before I get out of town. After all, they are the home team, though you wouldn't know it from all this NL chatter.

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