Ten things to know heading into your draft

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 money management.

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 - If you paid too much attention to wins, you would never select Felix Hernandez (13-12, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 232 Ks) and that would be a mistake.

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 - If your choice at No.5 is between Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, you must consider that if you pass on "Tulo" the next best shortstop is Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter or Jose Reyes, whereas passing up Votto still leaves you the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn or Justin Morneau.

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 Buster Posey at a reasonable price, wait until much later to select a backstop. Besides, they all tire in the second half anyway.

8) A closer on one of the worst teams in baseball will still get you 20+ saves, so why pay for an elite closer early in the draft?

Example - Seattle won just 61 games last season, but closer David Aardsma earned 31 saves. That's just two fewer than Hall-of-Fame closer Mariano Rivera collected last season, but Rivera is going to cost you a ninth-round pick (ADP 113) while Aardsma (ADP 231) is going in the 19th round.

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 - Arizona second baseman Ryan Roberts is batting .517 this spring (17- for-29) but come Opening Day, Kelly Johnson (.284, 26 HR, 71 RBI, 13 SB) will be the starter and Roberts will either be watching from the bench or in the minors.

10) Do have fun and get your up-to-date information and gameday stats from The Sports Network (shameless plug).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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