Sometimes, hit those base runs: Keep your ambitions in check – Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals):
Of course, sometimes you do need to hit that homerun. The trick is to mix em up. And sometimes good papers start from the base hit ideas. I have seem lots of good papers started by people who are teaching PhD courses, and need to figure out some point in the paper they are teaching.
One of my more frustrating projects kept aiming for the sky. The paper was good, but I am not sure that it really was worth it. Though in the end, it did lead to some other good projects.