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The baseball draft: Copying is allowed

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There are two ways to get ahead in life: Do your homework, or look at the other guy and copy what he's doing.

Let's face it; nobody likes homework. While I'm not against digging through data and scribbling notes until the interior of my cubicle resembles Dr. Nash's loony cabin from "A Beautiful Mind," I'll also admit to keeping an eye on the guy next door, too.

That's why mock drafts are so helpful. You don't have to let them dictate your actions, but they are a nice resource. Thinking of taking Mike Mussina in the fourth round? Maybe he'll slide to the fifth. How long can you wait before pulling the trigger on Kazuo Matsui? Are folks still taking a chance of Ken Griffey Jr.?

A few weeks ago I was invited to draft a team on behalf of Yahoo! Sports in a league set up by Krause Publications. You have to take the good with the bad when drafting this early. I like the fact that it puts a premium on knowing your prospects; you can't rely on spring training stats to find this year's breakthrough players. On the downside, somebody will get screwed by an injury. I just hope it's not me.

Last week I shared my roster. Many of you expressed an interest in viewing the entire draft, so today I give you the first 10 rounds. While these results will give you a good idea of where the experts rank your favorite stars, please remember that some picks may have been dictated by roster or scoring settings that differ from your league.

This league uses standard (5x5) rotisserie scoring. Each team drafts 23 active players (no reserves). The roster positions are: C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, DH, 9 P. Now on to the draft.

Round 1
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportslLine.com Alex Rodriguez, SS
2. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Alfonso Soriano, 2B
3. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Albert Pujols, OF
4. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Nomar Garciaparra, SS
5. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Vladimir Guerrero, OF
6. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Todd Helton, 1B
7. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Barry Bonds, OF
8. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Carlos Beltran, OF
9. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Manny Ramirez, OF
10. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Gary Sheffield, OF
11. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Mark Prior, P
12. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Pedro Martinez, P

Round One: No surprises in the first round? Guess again. Funston turns some heads by taking Nomar with the fourth pick. I like the boldness, but it will take a career year to justify the risk. Bonds and Ramirez are second rounders on my charts. I would have taken Sheffield four picks earlier, so I was happy to see him available when my turn came up.

Round 2
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Magglio Ordonez, OF
2. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Bobby Abreu, OF
3. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Curt Schilling, P
4. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Carlos Delgado, 1B
5. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Miguel Tejada, SS
6. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Sammy Sosa, OF
7. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Scott Rolen, 3B
8. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Eric Chavez, 3B
9. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Preston Wilson, OF
10. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Derek Jeter, SS
11. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Roy Halladay, P
12. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportsLine.com.com Kerry Wood, P

Round Two: Scott Rolen has never hit .300 and it has been six years since he topped 30 homers. I'd take Chavez over Rolen if only because he's been more durable over the past four seasons. No surprise to see these guys taken back-to-back, as we are a few reliable bats away from a big drop-off at third base.

Round 3
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportslLine.com Bret Boone, 2B
2. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Edgar Renteria, SS
3. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Ichiro Suzuki, OF
4. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Jim Thome, 1B
5. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Mike Piazza, C
6. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Jason Giambi, 1B
8. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Jeff Kent, 2B
9. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Eric Gagne, P
10. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Randy Johnson, P
11. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Juan Pierre, OF
12. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Javier Vasquez, P

Round Three: Johnson wasn't in my plans, but I couldn't pass on him at No. 34. Will he stay healthy? Will he get any run support? Why did I draft a guy with so many question marks? I have about 350 reasons, which is the number you'll find in his strikeout column if he makes 35 starts. A couple of scary middle infields have been assembled as Cockroft matches A-Rod with Boone and Berry pairs Soriano with Renteria.

Round 4
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Josh Beckett, P
2. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Garret Anderson, OF
3. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Jorge Posada, C
4. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Brian Giles, OF
5. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Jason Schmidt, P
6. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Richie Sexson, 1B
7. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Javy Lopez, C
8. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Rafael Furcal, SS
9. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Lance Berkman, OF
10. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Aubrey Huff, OF
11. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Andruw Jones, OF
12. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportsLine.com.com Vernon Wells, OF

Round Four: Beckett has never made 30 starts or won 10 games, but here he goes in the fourth round. I wouldn't draft him ahead of Schmidt, who carried his dominance over an entire season. Huff is versatile, but he won't start the season with eligibility at third base in Yahoo! leagues, so adjust your rankings accordingly. Tinker uses three of his first four picks on outfielders. Abreu and Pierre could help him corner the stolen base market, but what about the infield?

Round 5
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportslLine.com Mike Mussina, P
2. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Chipper Jones, OF
3. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Hank Blalock, 3B
4. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Billy Wagner, P
5. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Tim Hudson, P
6. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Orlando Cabrera, SS
7. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Ivan Rodriguez, C
8. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Miguel Cabrera, OF
9. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Kazui Matsui, SS
10. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports John Smoltz, P
11. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Troy Glaus, 3B
12. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Carl Crawford, OF

Round Five: We've officially reached the "anyone can go" rounds. I like Orlando over Miguel in the battle of Cabreras. Miguel has tons of upside, but he could also hit under .260 with 160 strikeouts. The closer run officially begins here and I like Funston's pick of Wagner. I add Smoltz to complement Schilling and the Unit and officially commit to an all-carbon-dated pitching staff.

Round 6
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Carlos Lee, OF
2. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Mike Sweeney, 1B
3. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Jose Reyes, SS
4. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Kevin Brown, P
5. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Jeff Bagwell, 1B
6. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Mark Mulder, P
7. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Keith Foulke, P
8. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Derrek Lee, 1B
9. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Mark Teixeira, 1B
10. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Mariano Rivera, P
11. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Shawn Green, OF
12. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportsLine.com.com Roy Oswalt, P

Round Six: Which Reyes did I draft? If I get the minor league kid with poor plate discipline and a corresponding on-base percentage, my team is in trouble. I'm hoping for the Reyes who hit .339 with 11 steals in 42 games after the break. Mulder is the second of Oakland's big three to be drafted. With Huddy, Mulder and Zito all going after the 50th pick, it's clear that fantasy owners aren't counting on much run support from the Tejada-less Athletics.

Round 7
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportslLine.com Rocco Baldelli, OF
2. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Barry Zito, P
3. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Marcus Giles, 2B
4. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Morgan Ensberg, 3B
5. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Phil Nevin, 1B
6. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Luis Castillo, 2B
7. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Johan Santana, P
8. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Bartolo Colon, P
9. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Jose Vidro, 2B
10. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Matt Morris, P
11. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Troy Percival, P
12. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Octavio Dotel, P

Round Seven: Every draft seems to have one round that you could easily pick up and drop about three rounds later and nobody would notice. We've reached that here. Can you really count on any of these guys as sure things? Zito and Castillo are most likely to deliver here.

Round 8
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Angel Berroa, SS
2. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Mike Lieberthal, C
3. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Luis Gonzalez, OF
4. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Brandon Webb, P
5. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Trevor Hoffman, P
6. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Kevin Millwood, P
7. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Esteban Loaiza, P
8. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Eddie Guardado, P
9. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Hideo Nomo, P
10. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Roger Clemens, P
11. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Ryan Klesko, 1B
12. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportsLine.com.com Jason Isringhausen, P

Round Eight: Berroa is a very nice pick this late. If he can get on base more and cut down on strikeouts, he should top 100 runs in an improved Royals lineup. Loaiza finally goes here. Sure he faced Detroit six times – he was also 7-3 against playoff teams. Twenty wins in the eighth round? Could be a steal.

Round 9
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportslLine.com Trot Nixon, OF
2. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Jim Edmonds, OF
3. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Andy Pettitte, P
4. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Wade Miller, P
5. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Johnny Damon, OF
6. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Larry Walker, OF
7. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Jake Peavy, P
8. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Hideki Matsui, OF
9. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Torii Hunter, OF
10. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports David Ortiz, 1B
11. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Michael Young, 2B
12. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Aramis Ramirez, 3B

Round Nine: Here we see how far Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker have fallen. Let's not forget that Edmonds hit 39 homers last year in just 137 games. Health will always be a concern, but in the ninth round he's well worth the gamble. Ramirez hit 15 homers after August 4 and should benefit from a full season at Wrigley. Great pick this late. Ortiz never delivered in Minnesota. Let's hope his first season in Boston wasn't a fluke.

Round 10
Pick Expert Team Selection
1. Scott Pianowski, Fantasyguru.com Shannon Stewart, OF
2. Brady Tinker, Fantasy Baseball Weekly TV Russ Ortiz, P
3. Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports Ray Durham, 2B
4. Nate Ravitz, The Roto Times Rafael Palmeiro, DH
5. Tom Kessenich, Fantasy Sports Magazine Jason Varitek, C
6. Scott Engel, CBS SportsLine.com.com Cliff Floyd, OF
7. Jeff Howard, Baseball HQ Craig Wilson, OF
8. Greg Ambrosius, Fantasy Sports Magazine Carlos Zambrano, P
9. Brandon Funston, ESPN.com Matt Lecroy, C
10. Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Armando Benitez, P
11. Matt Berry, Rotoworld.com Randy Wolf, P
12. Tristan Cockroft, CBS SportsLine.com.com Frank Thomas, 1B

Round Ten: Another 20-game winner goes late when Tinker grabs Ortiz. He always seems to get the most out of a decent ERA and poor WHIP. Will Atlanta be able to provide the run support this year? Durham scored 100 runs for six straight years before injuries limited him to 110 games a year ago. I'm not banking on 20 steals, because it won't happen, but with a hole to fill at second base, I'll take .280 and 110 runs.

So that's the end of part one. We'll take a look at rounds 11-23 next week as Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball draft season officially heats up.

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