Sunday, July 28, 2013

Diary of a Drafter III

You sit down at the draft table looking at nine guys who, you fear, know as much or more than you do and your job is to out-draft them.  Suddenly you have a flash back to high school finals and are convinced that you haven’t studied enough.  Thank god you wore pants so this doesn’t dive into another common nightmare.  But then you remind yourself, “I have a plan.  A strategy.  A plan of attack, if you will.”

So now you’re sure you can compete with the table, but then the Twin Killers bring up Donovan Solano.  You think, “Solano, right.  Wait?  Who?!”  Then you’re convinced you didn’t prepare enough – until Stranger Danger pays .16 for Ike Davis.  “Ok, at least I didn’t do that.”

You have a strategy, but you have to be prepared to change on the fly lest you really have a bad draft.  If your plan was to draft a big name starter but all the studs went for a higher price than you expected, you have to decide if you want to get a second-line starter or focus on relief pitching.

Or perhaps you wanted to get some power hitters.  If they’re all gone, do you overload on speed and hope to make a trade or go for a diamond in the rough who may get some power or could just as easily flame out.

The key is you don’t want to make a mistake.  So how do you avoid a mistake?  By research, gut feeling and trusting your eyes.  You read the websites, listen to the experts, check past performance (really, really not indicative of future results) and decide to play it safe by getting a “Sure Thing”.  But he won’t come cheap.

There are no “sure things” you say?  Sure there are.  Death, taxes and Matt Cain, or Cole Hamels, or Hanley Ramirez, or Tim Lincecum are about as sure as they come.  Until they’re not.

Hanley Ramirez 2011 (.49 Dem Rebels)  10 homeruns, 45 RBI, 20 SB

Matt Cain 2013 (.33 DoorMatts) 4.79 ERA, 12 QS

Cole Hamels 2013 (.39 Revenge) 4.08 ERA, 1.248 WHiP

Tim Lincecum 2012 (.37 Twin Killers) 5.18 ERA, 1.468 WHiP
These are just a very, very few of the purchases made over the years that didn’t pan out.  The thing is, on Draft Day no one knows it’s not going to work out.  Based on past performance, all three pitchers look fairly priced or even relative bargains.  **


**  Great quote from the Revenge in 2011 on the bidding for Hanley Ramirez.  “I let you have him for .49 but I just couldn’t say ‘.50’.”
So you do the best you can based on all the information you have around you.  And while research and planning is essential (the Copperfields didn’t win 11 championships because they guessed better than everyone else all those years), there is a definite “luck” component.  A player having a career year (hopefully unaided by PEDs), avoiding a season ending injury to a star player, an unexpected major contribution from your Reserve List, all come into play to develop the former and future CFCL Champions.
But at the draft, you are focused on acquiring the best players for the best value and not making any mistakes that will be legendary (see "The Ramon Martinez Incident" or the "The Brett Barberie Incident")
The draft ends, handshakes all around with promises that THIS will be the summer that we all get together for some event.  Then it’s the Drive of Shame when you try to convince yourself that all your marginal players will have breakout season.

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