I stumbled across this today... very interesting:


Draft Rules
Draft order was selected at random.

Player salaries based on 2009 salaries. For those involved in arbitration cases at the time of the draft, the midpoint between what the player wanted and what the team was offering was taken. Players with 1-plus year of service time but not eligible for arbitration were given 10 percent raises from their 2008 salaries; those with 2-plus were given 15 percent. Those with 0-plus were given the 2009 minimum of $400,000.

Seeding for the tournament will be based on payroll -- No. 1 payroll vs. No. 4 payroll; No. 2 vs. No. 3.

Each team must carry 11 pitchers.

Each will act as a National League team -- so, no DH.

The economy is impacting everyone, baseball included. Teams are looking to build more cost-conscious rosters. But how? Is it doable? Are there enough talented, relatively inexpensive players to build a competitive roster for, say, $40 million, which is roughly the payroll the San Diego Padres hope to operate at in 2009?

Well, ESPN.com put four of its experts on the case.

Over a recent five-day stretch, Baseball Tonight's Steve Phillips, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and Rob Neyer drafted their own 25-man rosters.

All this week, we reveal their selections -- and their thoughts on each other's selections. On Monday, Feb. 9, the four teams will begin going head-to-head in seven-game series conducted by ImagineSports.com, which provides online simulation baseball games, using its Diamond Mind Baseball software.

One semifinal will take place on Monday, another on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the winners will face off to determine a champion. Then, on Thursday, Feb. 12, our ultimate general manager will pit his budget-conscious team against the deep-pocketed New York Yankees in a seven-game series.

1. Rob Neyer selects Dustin Pedroia (2B, Boston Red Sox, $1,500,000)
2. Buster Olney selects Tim Lincecum (P, San Francisco Giants, $460,750)
Steve Phillips: OK, so what's the story with the first pick coming at 12:34 a.m. and the second pick at 1:17 a.m.? Do you guys sleep? I ran 50 mock drafts and didn't want to find myself in this position. I expected Pedroia to go, but I had Buster pegged to Longoria because of the lack of depth at 3B. So now I need to regroup. Jayson, who are you taking with the fourth and fifth picks? That would help me decide where to go here at 3.

Jayson Stark: There's a rumor I'm going to take A-Rod, but I can't confirm it.

Buster Olney: I think there might be a mystery team involved, whenever Jayson is involved.

Jayson Stark: My whole team is a mystery!

Steve Phillips: OK, after much painful consideration and discussion with my front office staff
3. Steve Phillips selects Jon Lester (P, Boston Red Sox, $484,725)
Steve Phillips: I wanted either Lincecum or Lester -- or both -- within my first two picks. I didn't have the courage to wait for my second pick, figuring Jayson would have taken Lester next with pick No. 4 or No. 5. Tough to pass on Longoria here, but I had to.

Jayson Stark: I was all over Lester, you bum. Why'd you have to go and fake me out with all that Longoria talk?

4. Jayson Stark selects Josh Hamilton (OF, Texas Rangers, $456,354)

5. Jayson Stark selects Evan Longoria (3B, Tampa Bay Rays, $550,000)
Jayson Stark: I can't believe they were still on the board!
6. Steve Phillips selects Hanley Ramirez (SS, Florida Marlins, $5,500,000)
Steve Phillips: If I am going to spend the money I am going to spend it on the most talented player in the NL.

Steve Phillips: Just for my knowledge, was anyone else going to take Hanley?

Buster Olney: Talk to me after the draft, Sparky. Did you and Cashman share trade secrets at noon on July 31?

Jayson Stark: What? We have to disclose all our drafting strategies now? Is this how collusion worked? An e-mail information bank?

Steve Phillips: What's collusion? All I wanted to do is compare our most inner thoughts and strategies. And to share how we are going to spend our dollars. Is that so wrong?

Steve Phillips: Let me show you guys how this works so far I wanted each of the players you have taken. There, I said it.

Jayson Stark: Congeniality has always been one of your strong suits, Steve. I take it all back. Yeah, I thought about him. Is that revealing enough?

Steve Phillips: I am not sure you realize it or not but my team is playing with an $80M payroll.

Jayson Stark: But of course, you always were a big-budget kind of guy.

Steve Phillips: OK, so I am a guest reader at my son's second grade class today. Big 7th birthday. So I am rolling my personnel board into my car and will have to do this from my BlackBerry. My staff is out heating up the car now and clearing a path through the snow-covered drive. Buster who you picking next?

Commissioner: Is it possible Steve's operating budget for his front office might exceed his payroll?

Jayson Stark: You mean kind of like Rickey Henderson's season with the Newark Bears, when his rent exceeded his salary?

Buster Olney: You're relentless with the information-gathering, Steve. Did you do an internship under the great Syd Thrift?

Steve Phillips: In tough economic times I believe in cutting player payroll and not executive payroll. I may run for office on that platform.

7. Buster Olney selects Geovany Soto (C, Chicago Cubs, $441,400)
8. Rob Neyer selects Grady Sizemore (OF, Cleveland Indians, $4,600,000)

9. Rob Neyer selects Brian McCann (C, Atlanta Braves, $3,500,000)
10. Buster Olney selects Edinson Volquez (P, Cincinnati Reds, $432,000)
11. Steve Phillips selects Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers, $745,000)
12. Jayson Stark takes Cole Hamels (P, Philadelphia Phillies $4,350,000)

13. Jayson Stark selects Chad Billingsley (P, Los Angeles Dodgers, $469,500)

Jayson Stark: You guys can't want any part of playing my team now, can you?

Rob Neyer: I certainly don't. For some reason I figured that nobody would be working off the same draft list as me but Jayson, you seem to have nailed it exactly.

Jayson Stark: More proof that great minds look alike.

Steve Phillips: Wait a minute what does that make me and Buster?

Jayson Stark: We should all join MENSA. Is there a baseball division?

14. Steve Phillips selects Carlos Quentin (OF, Chicago White Sox, $440,000)
15. Buster Olney selects Joakim Soria (P, Kansas City Royals, $1,000,000)

Steve Phillips: Buster you splurged. You big spender. Darn it. I wanted him. Buster needs to spend more money. This isn't fair. He is taking all the low money guys I wanted after taking the expensive guys. He's messing up my plan.

Buster Olney: Oh, I'll be spending money, all right. Just you wait, good sir I was looking at the list of closers and didn't want to spend big dollars on the position.

Steve Phillips: I know he is going to draft A-Rod with the last pick. I know it.

Rob Neyer: Would you gents like to help an apprentice BBWAA member who doesn't know what he's doing? I've already spent $9.6 million on three fine young players. Now I want to spend (approximately) $4 million on another fine young player. Is that just incredibly stupid, this early in the draft? I wish I were better with the figuring

Buster Olney: I picked the Indians to win the World Series last year. I have no advice worthy of offering.

Jayson Stark: Wasn't one of us an actual GM? That's your guy. I can't even balance my checkbook.

Steve Phillips: I would just recommend avoiding Mo Vaughn, Roger Cedeno and Kevin Appier.

16. Rob Neyer selects Zack Greinke (P, Kansas City Royals, $3,900,000)

17. Rob Neyer selects B.J. Upton (OF, Tampa Bay Rays, $473,815)
18. Buster Olney selects Joba Chamberlain (P, New York Yankees, $429,000)
19. Steve Phillips selects Ricky Nolasco (P, Florida Marlins, $2,400,000)

Buster Olney: D'oh! I was hoping to snag Nolasco down the line.

20. Jayson Stark selects Ian Kinsler (2B, Texas Rangers, $3,000,000)