This is my final self-centric draft posting, I promise. I'm done picking teams. Now you can all settle in for a long season of rooting for my players. Your support is appreciated.

The team listed below represents the fruits of my labor at the annual Van Lingle Mungo Memorial League draft Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. The VLMML is a 12-team, 5x5 NL auction keeper league in its ninth year. I'm an eight-year member, one-time runner-up. It's a smart bunch. Or I'm a lousy owner.


Starting pitching was particularly thin this year, with nine of the NL's top 10 starters protected, and top hitters went for premium prices. I came into the draft with five players - Austin Kearns, Dontrelle Willis, Aaron Harang, Brian Fuentes and Chris Reitsma - under contract. Six hours and several ill-advised bids later, this is what I came away with:

C - Brian Schneider $6
C - Sal Fasano $1
1B - Albert Pujols $46
2B - Dan Uggla $5
3B - Wilson Betemit $4
SS - Jimmy Rollins $28
CI - Brad Eldred $1
MI - Junior Spivey $2
OF - Pat Burrell $26
OF - Austin Kearns $21
OF - Jeremy Hermida $21
OF - Jose Guillen $19
OF - Victor Diaz $7
UT - Ben Johnson $1
P - Dontrelle Willis $20
P - Jon Lieber $14
P - Jae Seo $10
P - Aaron Harang $4
P - Josh Johnson $1
P - Juan Cruz $1
P - Aaron Heilman $5
P - Chris Reitsma $7
P - Brian Fuentes $10


R - Corey Hart $7
R - Dustin Nippert $5
R - Jason Stokes $3

I wanted to come away with some big bats after putting up some embarrassing offensive numbers a year ago. I vowed to go to $45 on Pujols, then threw in an extra dollar to make it happen. The next highest-price players were Bobby Abreu at $38 and Jason Bay and Miguel Cabrera at $37, so maybe I overpaid a bit. I don't care. For the best hitter in the game, it's worth it.

I was thrilled to get Rollins at $28, though I didn't back him up with much speed. And the outfield is formidable - I'm hoping Hermida is someone I can hang on to for a few years. Also, I'm thrilled to have Fasano, who hit 11 homers in 160 at-bats last season. I'm hoping he can put up similar numbers in Philly without killing my batting average, making him the ideal $1 backup catcher.

I spent too much money on a few select hitters, then panicked a little in trying to fill spots near the end. The overpaid for Betemit when third basemen became scarce and reached for Eldred when I couldn't come up with a better CI option. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken someone different with that pick. Schneider at $6 isn't much of a bargain, but there weren't many good catchers left at that point. Spivey at $2 seems like a bad buy right now, since he's in Triple-A, but I don't mind it. I think he'll earn more than that, and I can use his speed. I could also use a replacement while he's in the minors - anybody know a good middle infielder? Seriously.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun