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Hey all! My thanks to both Rudy and Grey for allowing me the opportunity to ramble for a bit on one of my favorite off-season topics, the fantasy mock draft. It’s the beginning of January and this would be the perfect opportunity to commence that 2009 preseason fine tuning. The start of spring training is still several months away and taking advantage of that “break” between seasons can make a huge difference in those final 2009 results. Sure the honey-do list can be shortened, but please remember guys don’t set the bar too high. Taking too much of a break can lead to over-bonding, which then creates a false sense of illusion when spring training gets rolling, and you and the PC get rejoined at the hip for another six months.

In a standard 12 team league, assuming you have a 23 man roster with a six man bench, your season, all six months of it, is led out of the gate by a scant 43 minutes and 30 seconds, or as we like to call it the draft. Don’t get me wrong here, 2009 fantasy baseball rankings and 2009 fantasy baseball projections are both crucial and essential components in preseason preparation, but the ability to mold those projections into a cohesive and winning team is another very important skill set, and an art all unto itself, that should not be overlooked.

Most mock drafts allow for a fifteen or twenty minute window prior to the actual draft, much the same as your actual league drafts. I know we all like to chat it up with the old gang and practice the ritual trash talk, but use at least a portion of this time to identify some of the key players you will be targeting. Draft day is the wrong time to be sorting through for the first time the actual mechanics of the “player queue.” I personally like to list sleeper picks, high risk/high reward types and the slew of closer wannabees that can be used to attempt to vulture cheap saves near the end of the draft. This whole process takes maybe five-to-ten minutes and still allows ample time to socialize.

The ability to be constantly monitoring the players that are still available by position is an invaluable skill. I am constantly monitoring player movement by position, especially the positions that I know can lead to trouble down the road like catcher, shortstop and this year first base. Knowing constantly what is available is a necessity when looking forward into the middle and latter rounds of a draft.

Monitor other teams’ rosters as they draft. Look for trends and strategies that might have serious implications further on into the draft. The art of scanning rosters with everything else that is going on in a draft is a challenge to say the least, but if you want to be ready for opportunity to knock you better be prepared to do the work it takes as well. You’re looking at a 17th round pick and doing the old, “Should I make a move now or wait another round,” and lo and behold a quick glance reveals that the teams picking before your next pick have all those slots filled. Makes that decision a bit easier now doesn’t it?

Work on different strategies and picking from different draft slots. Remember the goal is to work towards gaining that extra edge come draft day, and picking fourth in a mock for two months because you like the options available there isn’t really going to help you a whole lot on draft day when you end up in the ninth slot. It’s all about knowing the potential and probable outcomes and the ability to react in a positive manner when confronted by them. Try taking starting pitcher’s early, or letting them slide into the middle or latter rounds. Build a team based on those big power bats. Draft speed early or try and procure it late. Forgo the big stolen base threats and build your stolen bases from a balanced approach. Practice starting player runs, and understand the implications of getting caught in one.

There is a lot going on, in a very, very short period of time in a draft. The skills required to identify, analyze and react on the fly require many hours of practice. If one is comfortable with the actual draft mechanics in January, it certainly leads to the potential to be a dominating force with the commencement of league play in mid-March. The ability and skill-set to “control” the draft and your destiny, rather than accepting it as one’s fate gives you a huge edge over the competition come draft day.

I will be running a weekly Sunday night mock over at Mock Draft Central starting January 11th at 8:00 pm EDT and I’d like to extend an invitation to all Razzball readers that might be interested in practicing the craft. Head on over and join me for some invaluable practice and discussion as we head into spring training. Thanks again to Rudy, Grey and all the Razzball readers and here’s wishing you a Razztastic fantasy filled 2009!

(Besides wearing shorts two sizes too small, Tim also contributes at Rotorob.com.)

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    I should add that I’ll be taking part in one (or more) of Tim’s mock drafts in upcoming weeks. Not sure which yet, but I’m sure Tim has me pegged for some wonderful mock.

  2. BigFatHippo says:
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    Wow,cool. Count me in fellas.

    I’m ready to mock kick your mock butts.

  3. Steve says:
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    Bummer. I still can’t connect to MDC :-(

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: Did you contact Geoff?

  5. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Yeah. No joy unfortunately. Must be something to do with the connection to my network.

    Tried fiddling with all my Firefox settings. Nada.

  6. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    I did a mock draft this morning. It was an NL only draft, which took me completely off my game.

    The Cubs signed Milton Bradley today, I’m sure you’ve all heard by now. 3years/30mil… Not sure what this does to Bradley’s fantasy value, but I’m assuming that he’ll score fewer runs, and hit fewer homeruns at Wrigley than he did in Arlington. I bet you’ll do an analysis of this and the Burrell signing, right Grey?

  7. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: Eh, that stinks.

    @IowaCubs: I’ll go over it for tomorrow. What do you think of the signing from a Cubs fans’ perspective?

  8. sean says:
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    Gonna participate in a 12/5×5 mixed mock tonight @ 9. There are still 9 spots left

  9. Steve says:
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    @sean: Is that at MDC?

  10. sean says:
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    @steve: yeah mdc #424

  11. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Grey: You should check out the comments at Bleed Cubbie Blue today. I’d say that 60% of the fans hate the move or else they slightly don’t like it. The rest either think it’s okay or very good.

    These are the same fans who were drooling over their tempura when they signed Fukudome without ever seeing him in action in MLB. My feeling is that Bradley is a very valuable and talented player capable of posting another .900 OPS season IF he can stay healthy. He has a track record of having a very solid bat and an average glove. IF he stays healthy and plays 120 games, then the Cubs lineup becomes roughly as dangerous as it was last season, but not much more.

    I think that in light of trading away DeRosa, they got basically the same offense he offered out of a guy 3 years younger and bats from both sides, meanwhile strengthening their minor league pitching depth. I have the feeling that the Cubs signed him to get themselves ready for the coming of Josh Vitters in two years or so, when they’ll have to find a replacement 1B for Lee.

    Here’s my biggest fear… This could be one hell of an injury plagued team with Soriano, Bradley, Harden, etc. all possibly facing DL time. Hendry got a steal with Harden when the Cubs treated him with kid gloves, so perhaps that’s what they’ll do with Bradley, giving him every 5th day off or something.

  12. ess says:
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    Ive done about 30 so far i think. these freakin drafts are like crack to me. be careful though and dont get into a habit of trying to win the projections– which are pretty lame. what else.. yep, first base aint as deep as it use to be. Sorry, but i just cant get excited about choosing one of Huff, Loney or Delgado as my top guy. Ill tell you one thing i have taken from doing so many mocks– keep in mind i only do yahoo style drafts which makes a difference– but if i can get a combo of reyes/pedroia or rollins/kinsler or even hanley/pedroia in the first two rounds my whole drafts seem to play out so much better. Maybe take a top closer in the 6th/7th. Pretty much wait on Sp. Pedroia and Kinsler are big x factors this season in my opinion.

  13. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @IowaCubs: That’s a great take. Thanks for that. From a strictly baseball perspective, I agree with you 100%. You’re a smart man, IowaCubs.

    @ess: Surprising to hear that your draft plays out better when you have a combo of Pedroia or Kinsler and someone. I totally agree with you about the lack of depth at 1st base. I don’t think there’s the amount of hitters at any position that we’ve grown accustomed to in the past.

  14. Freak says:
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    Man, Iowa…I’m gonna hire you to be my designated Cubs talker.

    Only thing I’m worried about is Aaron Miles getting a bunch of playing time because of the injuries. What they had last year of moving DeRo to the OF and plugging in Fontenot is >>>> plugging in Miles/Johnson/Fukudome.

  15. Tim says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Looking forward to it Hippo!

    @Sean: I’ve got my first league draft tonite at 8 so have to pass. Good luck with it!

    @ess: I’ve been a big proponent of drafting speed early for years. The combos you’ve mentioned all allow you to establish a solid speed base thus allowing you to look at guys say like Kouz, Hawpe and Nady in mid to latter rounds for that power boost while others are looking at the Figgins/Tavares one dimensional speed. I think in early mocks/drafts is prudent to grab a stud closer as there is a high degree of uncertainty in the position this early.

    @grey: agreed on the first base situation. After the top 4-5 go early there is a rather large gap into that second tier. High risk in the Swisher/Delgado/Loney/Konerko types and they’re whats out there after about the third round. Now Votto is a guy I like and am targeting tonite but probably a 6th/7th round reach.

  16. Pops says:
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    Great article. Great website. Just looking back on my draft last year, what an unbelievable clusterf*uck that was. If I only knew last year what I know now. Keep up the good work!

  17. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Pops: Thanks! Hope to see you around.

  18. BigFatHippo says:
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    @sean: Sorry, I tried. Made my first 6 picks from my q but kept getting booted, then went to autopick. Hope to get this prob fixed.

    @Tim:@Grey: Great site but my browser keeps locking up, any suggestions?

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Your browser keeps locking up where? At Mock Draft Central?

  20. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Yeah, I put players in my prepicks then get booted. Got all the players I wanted through first 8 picks or so but got tired of logging off and logging back on.

  21. BigFatHippo says:
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    I’ll bring the laptop home sunday so should have no worries.

  22. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Not sure, what that’s all about. Weird. Since I’m really computer-stupid, I have no advice for you on that.

  23. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Yeah I know, me too. Got a slow connection speed or something. Happened during Iowa’s draft too. Couch Managers worked better for me since we did a slow mock. Got booted there too but had plenty of time to get back.

    Anyway, picks went like this.

    Utley
    Tex
    CC
    Hamels
    Abreau
    Dunn
    then autopick took Pence
    Peralta
    Beltre
    now auto from here out

    first 6 picks went quite well I think.

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Yeah, your team’s real solid. Too bad you have to pick about 15 more or so guys.

  25. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: That’ll blow up the whole team.

    Same thing might happen if I get drunk at our real draft : )

  26. BigFatHippo says:
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    Interesting that Tex fell to the 2nd round. Think he went 7 overall in our slow mock.

  27. BigFatHippo says:
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    10th

  28. Steve says:
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    @BigFatHippo: @Grey: An indication of position scarcity at 1B or people getting a woody over him going to the Yanks?

  29. Steve says:
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    @Grey: @BigFatHippo: By that of course I mean, are those high picks for Tex (insert my previous post here)

  30. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: 11th is about where I’d start thinking about Tex.

  31. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Steve: I think Tex is a top 15 player. I might overpay for him if I don’t get Arod or Pujols in my auction.

    1B is not real deep anymore. The thing I like about Tex is you’ll get solid production without an average drain like you would with Howard or Fielder.

  32. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Yeah. It seems he’s a genuine first-rounder now, but just not as high as he’s been going.

    What Hippo got there is a great 1-2. I can remember grabbing Tex off the wire in ’03. Went deep in his first at-bat on my team. Had a man-crush on him ever since.

    @BigFatHippo: I’m often prowling around Couchmanagers (I can’t connect to the MDC draft app), if you ever want to jump in a draft, time zones permitting.

  33. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Steve: I’ll check now and then, post on here what draft you’re in and I’ll get in, time permitting.

    We may need a new guy in our auction league if you’re interested. Might be a hard sell to the others and would have to do it by phone, obviously. It’s a money league, but if you want in I’ll see what I can do.

  34. Steve says:
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    Wife and kids permitting, I should add.

    Be easier when i go back to work next week. ;-)

  35. Tim says:
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    @pops: Thanks Pops!

    @Big Fat Hippo: I’m not computer-smart either but one suggestion I do have is to shut everything down when doing mocks. I found in my case if I have IM and 14 sites open it tends to give me more grief. Since I’ve been doing this have had minimal problems. Hope that helps.

    @Steve: Just an FYI, but Tex went 13th tonite in my draft.

  36. ess says:
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    have the results been posted anywhere

  37. Steve says:
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    @BigFatHippo: I normally jump into one of the 12-team quickies if I can find one that isn’t all computer picks. Do you ever have GMail Chat on?
    @Tim: Hmmm. I may have been getting a bit carried away when I said he was a genuine first-rounder. I guess I meant that’s it’s not a total shock to see him go at the end of the first now, but 13th feels about right too.

  38. BigFatHippo says:
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    @ess: They’re posted on MDC.

    @Steve: See comment 33 again, you interested? We need a good active player in a league that’s been going on for 6 years.

    re: GMail chat, never checked it out but I will.

  39. Steve says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Yeah, saw that. I’ll send you an email.

  40. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Steve: Good idea.

    FYI, don’t ever let a real draft go to autopick. I got Varitek with my last pick, what the F??????

    Even an inanimate object oughtta know I don’t want that schmohawk.

  41. Tim says:
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    @BigFatHippo: LOL, agreed on Varitek. For whatever reason MDC has Flores sitting buried in their rankings and I think he’s a much better option as a last round pick in two catcher leagues.

  42. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Tim: Fortunately, I won’t have to worry about two catcher leagues. I punt catcher every year anyway. And yes, Flores would have been my pick there.

    Welcome to Razzball by the way. Grey and Rudy have assembled quite a little following here. We all have Pablo Sandoval Buddha statues on our mantle. I tried to make him my avatar but he used up all my disc space, whatever that means.

  43. Tim says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Tks! I have my autographed Pedro and DiceK but am sure can make room for a Buddha.

  44. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    When I do mock drafts, I always ask somewhere in the chat box “hey… do you guys read Razzball?” and usually get a variety of interested people.

    I’d suggest to you guys to do the same when you mock to help boost the readership here.

  45. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @IowaCubs: I like that, Iowa. You’re making me smile. How about all of you go and bring back five people?

  46. Steve1 says:
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    Curious as to why you would think Delgado is necessarily a risk. He’s aging but it’s not really showing, not to mention he’s only had one bad season in the last five. It’s looking like more of an anomaly than anything.

    BTW Tim, your team looked great in the MDC draft that was posted on the Cafe. Getting Markakis in the fifth is flat out thievery for example. One question though: did most of the drafters take it seriously? There are multiple picks that make my tummy hurt. Like all of Swanay’s picks.

  47. Steve1 says:
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    BTW I am not the Steve that has been commenting on this thread. I just realized there was another one. My fault.

  48. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve1: Imposter! Joking. I changed your name, so it was clear. If you want a different one, I can change it again. Just let me know.

  49. Tim says:
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    @Steve1: Tks for the compliment. I liked my effort in that one as well. I’m big on hoarding sb’s early and when Sizemore went had to step outside my comfort zone a bit and go with a more balanced approach, but seemed to work out. I think that the guys do take their mocking seriously, I know I do. It is out there for the world to see and most of us use the exercise as a source of info for our readers to peruse. Nothing like a good trend analysis I say.
    @grey: I’ve found by signing into mocks with my site affiliation it has been a great bonus. Generally stimulates some interest and great conversation. Ended up in one last week with 3 fellow bloggers and turned into a great bull session from which all the participants gained some great knowledge and contacts.

  50. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tim: Always the helpful one, you.

  51. @Grey: Grey, I think spending time proselytizing Razzball in mock draft forums would be more helpful than all the time you spend in those AdultFriendFinder forums. Just b/c you have a ‘stache doesn’t mean you have to swing. Cust kayin’

  52. Steve says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yeah – that ‘All Greybright’ username didn’t fool me either.

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