Expansion draft set to unfold: Iowa has first pick

It’s not that difficult to find a dozen decent players available among the unprotected players for the first round of the I-75 League Expansion Draft.

But sorry, expansion teams, only one of those players can come from the Springfield Isotopes. That goes for all of the other existing teams too.

Therein lies the challenge in the next phase of the league’s expansion from 12 to 15 teams, which unfolds Tuesday night with the first round commencing at  8 p.m. ET.

Managers will make their selections on the Google documents Draft Board (see link at left).

Iowa will be followed by English, Michigan and Satellite Beach; the selections then serpentine back in the other direction, and pass forward once again for a total of 12 players selected, with each expansion team gaining three players.

Once an existing team loses a player, its roster is frozen for the round. Thus if you have you eye on Player B from Springfield, and another team selects Player A from Springfield, you’ve essentially lost Player B as well. Each existing team will lose exactly one player.

Existing managers (except Detroit) will then have to act quickly to protect two more players, as Round Two of the Expansion Draft comes up Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. (Deadline to retain your two additional players will be announced.) UPDATE: Deadline has been set at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Here are some of the top players that draftees might be looking at:

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Demo Dogs dispersed to four expansion teams

Justin Upton was the first selection of the Detroit Demo Dogs dispersal draft, chosen by Steve Nieroda’s Satellite Beach Brawlers.

In a draft that moved at lightning pace and was over by 8:06 p.m. ET, the four new clubs took turns snapping up the best goods available at Detroit’s yard sale.

Rick Lackey’s English Pig Dogs chose to build up the middle, grabbing SS Starlin Castro, C Yadier Molina and 2B Neil Walker.

Iowa’s John Renbarger went for pitching, grabbing Tim Lincecum and Ricky Romero, and then finding slugger Ryan Howard still available at No. 10.

Michigan’s Ken Crawford built up a solid left side of the infield by claiming Adrian Beltre and J.J. Hardy, along with starting pitcher Tommy Hanson.

Complementing Upton in Satellite Beach are P Ervin Santana and C Wilson Ramos.

Here’s how the draft went, pick-by-pick:

1. Satellite Beach: Justin Upton
2. Iowa: Tim Lincecum
3. English: Starlin Castro
4. Michigan: Adrian Beltre
5. Michigan: Tommy Hanson
6. English: Yadier Molina
7. Iowa: Ricky Romero
8. Satellite Beach: Ervin Santana
9. Satellite Beach: Wilson Ramos
10. Iowa: Ryan Howard
11. English: Neil Walker
12. Michigan: J.J. Hardy

Where in the world is Homer LaMont?

Our very own Dave LaMont will be broadcasting major college football action nearly every weekend this fall, and then transitioning to college basketball after that.

Click here for a map that will show you where you can find him.

Countdown is on to submit protected lists

The deadline is rapidly approaching for teams to submit their 10-man expansion draft protected list. The deadline is 1 p.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 15. To submit your list, click on the Draft Board link in the left-hand column of the Web page, and move the 10 players you want to keep from the top roster area to the middle section below it. The draft board saves automatically.

Here are the other important dates coming up (all times ET):

Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.: Demo Dog Dispersal Draft in online chat room. (RESULTS)

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 8 p.m.: Expansion Draft, Round One, online chat room. (RESULTS)

Thursday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.: Expansion Draft, Round Two, online chat room. (RESULTS)

Monday, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.: Expansion Draft, Round Three, online chat room. (RESULTS)

Mid-December: Waiver draft.

The 540 club: Less pain this year

Oh, the agony of watching one of your star players fall just shy of the 550-at-bat mark that would make them unlimited in I-75 League play.

A year ago, Joey Votto was Captain Unfortunate, falling short by just three at-bats at 547 and ultimately leading Savannah manager Steve Hart to trade him to Margaritaville. But Votto still had 96 at-bats left in him heading into October play.  Masher Miguel Cabrera has had his 548 at-bats nursed by Superior manager Mike Renbarger, and Cabrera came into October with just 41 at-bats to play with in the heat of a divisional race.  With 543 at-bats available to the Bushwood Gophers, Hanley Ramirez has found himself batting ninth in the order a lot to protect his plate appearance count. He had 72 at-bats going into October.

But going into the 2012 season, the close-but-no-cigar list is marked by several players who are not having impact years offensively (Chatfield’s Alcides Escobar, 548 at-bats, hit .254; Wisconsin’s Casey McGehee, 546 ABs, hit .223; Superior’s Kelly Johnson, 545 ABs, hit .222). The noteworthy exceptions and qualifiers on this year’s hard-luck list are:

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Which division looks loaded in 2012?

If you put any stock in the Yahoo! fantasy standings as a predictor of future I-75 league success, then you may be interested in seeing where the league’s powerhouses will reside under the 2012 alignment.

(If you don’t put any stock in those standings, then don’t bother reading this post.)

If the tentative division alignment holds, Division B will feature three of the top seven teams in this year’s 12-team fantasy league. Division A only has one of the top eight teams in the Yahoo! fantasy standings. Six teams will make the playoffs; which six has not been determined yet. 

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Here we go! Races aplenty with 20 to play

Our 32nd I-75 League season is coming down to the wire with dramatic races on multiple fronts:

* Atop the South Division, Margaritaville and Wisconsin are deadlocked with 78 wins. At stake is not only a division title, but a treasured first-round bye in the playoffs. The two clubs will face off in a five-game series on Wisconsin’s turf.

* Atop the North Division, Bushwood has closed the lead on Superior, trailing by just one game with 20 to play. But they will not meet head-to-head this month; instead they have four common opponents: Hickory and Chatfield at home; Bismarck and Springfield on the road.

* Unless it pulls off a 17-3 month or a 6-14 month — which it has already proven itself capable of doing — the Hickory Nuts appear to be a lock for third place in the North. But in the South, Savannah holds just a two-game margin over Applegate for the third playoff spot, with South Grand Prairie lurking merey three more games back. Savannah and Applegate will knock heads directly this month, and they have South Grand Prairie and Margaritaville as common opponents. But Applegate has Detroit (already played, with the Clips taking 3 of 5), while Savannah has Wisconsin, for one of its series.

Managers are encouraged to update the league with progress of their series as they are played in October, by inputting series results into the Google document on the left (where it says “Input series records here”), or by e-mailing the league.