The past few days, my best baseball friend Nelson and I have been indulging in that old fantasy pastime: mock drafts. Yes, for-pretend draft, where delusional fantasy gamers believe they can sharpen their wares in preparation for the real thing in a few weeks or so.
The pressure is less, stakes lower. All mistakes are forgiven. Curtis Granderson in the seventh round is wiped from the slate as if it never happened; a crime committed in a bad dream.
But we take it no less serious.
We agonize over positional scarcity vs. overall production, the merits of forsaking common thought to select pitchers in the early rounds, whether Ryan Howard’s stock has truly dropped him to the “lowly” status of a third- or fourth-round pick.
While the rest of the baseball world rejoices over the first official congregating of full squads, we gauge how long we can wait before finally snagging hotshot rookie catcher Matt Wieters.
Don’t get me wrong — the ensuing month of inconsequential exhibitions, reports of weight fluctuations and the unfortunate injury are all necessary evils leading us to those fateful nights in March, when the whether is slowly turning toward the bearable and our rosters take shape.
Are there more productive ways to spend my ever-shrinking free time (which I’ve been complaining about more and more)? Yes. But somehow, calculus homework just doesn’t have the seem appeal as nabbing Han-Ram with No. 1 overall pick.
Here are some random observations after about five mock drafts the past few days:
– The shortstop market is impossibly thin. Get Hanley or Jose Reyes in the first round, if you can.
– Despite Chase Utley’s looming injury, the second-base market is deeper than you might think. Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Brian Roberts and Dan Uggla are all suitable options.
– There are a handful of interesting pitchers going in the late rounds due to obscurity or injury from 2008. Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow, David Price and Chien-Ming Wang can all be had in the late-teens or later.
– The flaky users in the mock drafts have been incredibly annoying. People are joining the draft, then disappearing before the first pick is even made, meaning the tracker keeps the user active for a full two-minute pick before recognizing him/her as inactive and doing an instant autopick. Seriously: Why join a draft if you’re not going to participate?
– There was a bizarre incident today in which one user (with a recognizable Jewish name) was attacked by another with anti-semitic remarks. Not cool.