Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
"Battle is a highly fluid situation. You plan on your contingencies," said John Travolta's character Major Vic Deakins in the 1996 movie Broken Arrow.
And a draft is like a battle...all the pre-draft planning you do is nice, but war is messy and I guarantee you things won't go as predicted in your draft either, so BE FLEXIBLE is the No.1 idea I want to convey to you.
2) Do all the reading, make all the lists you want, but don't bring too much material to the draft. Rifling through millions of pages can disorient and confuse you. I prefer to come to the table with a maximum of two sheets of paper with my rankings of all available players.
3) Do get involved in a mock draft prior to your most important draft. It helps you get a grasp of what other owners are thinking.
4) Do try an auction draft. There are many advantages, particularly if you have a favorite player. He might already be drafted ahead of your pick in a "snake" draft, but in an auction draft he can be yours with just a little patience and planning.
5) Don't look for Wins, look for Ks and good WHIP (pitchers don't control wins - teams do). Look for guys who are difficult to hit - that's the guy you want in your rotation.
Example - St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter posted a 1.01 WHIP and a 2.24 ERA in 2009, yet is ranked just eighth among starting pitchers with an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 50.2. Selecting him in the fifth round could turn out to be a better bargain than selecting San Francisco "ace" Tim Lincecum with a late first-round pick.
6) Your next pick isn't the proverbial "best player available," it's the one with the greatest difference between the player you draft and the next ranked player at his position.
Example: Assuming that the top-five at each position have already been taken, while the No.6 TSN first baseman Kevin Youkilis should have better numbers than the No.6 third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, I would take Zimmerman before Youkilis because the difference between Zimmerman and No.7 third baseman Aramis Ramirez should be more than the difference between Youkilis and the No.7 first baseman - Joey Votto.
7) The difference between the fourth-best catcher and the 12th-best catcher isn't enough to make me reach for a pick just to complete my starting lineup - sort of like NFL kickers. If you can't get Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez or Brian McCann, wait until late to select a backstop. Besides, they all tire in the second half anyway, even Mauer (Pre-All Star OPS 1.069 vs. Post-All Star OPS .998)
8) A closer on one of the worst team in baseball will still get you 20+ saves, so why pay for an elite closer early in the draft?
Example: In 2010 the Yankees' Mariano Rivera will cost you the a No.87 pick while Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman will cost you the 161st pick. Rivera had 44 saves last year, Hoffman collected 37. A closer primarily helps you in just one category because he doesn't pitch enough innings to have a large effect on Ks, ERA, WHIP or Wins. Don't use early picks for saves.
9) Don't pay too much attention to spring training. Except for injuries, there is nothing you will learn when your pitcher goes up against the Florida Southern lineup or a soon-to-be-sent-to-AA hitter.
Example: Washington pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg had an ERA of 2.00 and 12 strikeouts (just one walk) in just nine innings of work. He'll start the season at AA Harrisburg after being sent down yesterday.
Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez leads the majors with five home runs in spring training. And of course, barring injury, he won't be starting when the season begins for the Rays on April 6th. The Tampa Bay starting second baseman is Ben Zobrist (.297, 91 runs, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 17 SB).
10) Do have fun and get your up-to-date information and gameday stats from The Sports Network (shameless plug).