Monday, July 22, 2013

Diary of a Drafter - I

The draft is almost always held the weekend before Opening Day.  But that’s not when the draft begins.  Not when you’re in a competitive league like the CFCL.  The draft begins shortly after the last out of the World Series (if not before).

To say the Draft starts the Saturday or Sunday before Opening Day is like saying the wedding at noon on Sunday started at noon.  Not true.  There’s a lot of planning involved.

Once the season ends, most owners have already figured out who they want to cut and whom they want to keep.  We already know which players on other CFCL teams have played out their contract and will be available at next year’s draft.  Some owners will also go to the depths of looking at the remaining rosters of each owner and guesstimate who will be kept and who will be cut so they can start planning their Draft Day budget.  And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet - with visions of the Copperfield Trophy dancing in our minds.  That beautiful, elusive trophy.

The first thing a CFCL owner will do is try to find a “nugget” or an unknown.  You have heard from our former owners in the Q&A sessions that the CFCL is highly competitive.  Finding an unknown is almost impossible.  Not since 1986 has anyone really believed that they could slip someone through the draft.  In 1986 the Copperfields thought they could “backdoor” Will Clark.  Dem Rebels thought they could do the same and another Rebel/Copperfield bidding war began.

But 1986 also marked a major turning point for the CFCL.  Aside from a few vile, despicable scum that we made the mistake of accepting, we also had the Bald Eagles and David’s Ruffins join.  The minute Bob and Dave entered the league, the CFCL IQ went up exponentially.  Sneaking someone through the draft was an impossibility; though an owner can still dream.

So to be competitive at the draft, you need to put in your time preparing.  You can read magazines and websites, but there are two problems, as a CFCL owner, with that.  First of all, when a website or magazine says Albert Pujols is awesome and you should make every effort to draft him, the CFCL is a keeper league.  There is a very good chance that Pujols is already on a team.  There is an off chance that Pujols’ contract could have expired last year and so he’s available, but a CFCL owner doesn’t need a magazine to tell him that Pujols is awesome.

Second problem is that a lot of these sites and periodicals will point out the up and coming prospect.  “Bryce Harper could make a big splash in the National League if he breaks camp with the Nationals.”  Fine, but Harper has been in the minor league system of one of our teams for a few years already.  Snagging an up and coming star as they are about to hit it big is almost impossible.  They’ve been grabbed in our rotation draft years before.

If you want to build a farm system in the CFCL you need to scour the A level, not Triple-A.  You need to grab the talented player in Japan or Cuba who is rumored to be coming to the U.S. in the next year or so.  You need to gamble and draft the uber-talented college player and hope that a National League team drafts them.

You make lists and line-up combinations and strategies.  Focus on pitching and scramble to put together an offense?  Go with all closers and get just a couple of starters to reach the minimum IP requirement?  Load up on speed and plan to trade during the season to get your power?  Between November and February you will at some point decide to do each of these.  And then Spring Training starts.

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