Tagged: Justin Verlander

The Draft

Strasburg went number one.  

Thank God, otherwise all the hype would have been for naught.
I’ve written about Strasburg before, and I’ll do it again for just a moment, but the majority of this post doesn’t have much to do with him, per se, but more of the draft and its process.
I’ve seen Strasburg, not extensively, of course, but two starts on ESPNU during the regular season, and his loan start in the post season (which he lost), and I have to say, yeah he’s good.  He is not, however, Tom Seaver, or for a position player comparison, Al Kaline–guys who were Major League-ready their first day on the job.
Nope.
And his fastball isn’t 103 mph either.  Its a helluva fastball, for sure, sitting at 95-99 into the seventh inning at time, but it isn’t 103.  I don’t think Joel Zumaya actually hits 103 mph, either, but thats beside the point.  
But he is good.  I can’t take that away from him, and wouldn’t try, but for god sakes, he just put up video-game like numbers against (ahem) college students.
I’m good friends with a great deal of division one college ball players, and I can say, half the team at any given time for mid-major (to borrow from football) conferences, aren’t all that good.  And further, aren’t going to be playing much after their days on campus are concluded.
So, first, The Aztecs of San Diego State play in the Mountain West, by definition, a mid major.  They played hardly anybody any good all season.  The “hardly” would be teams like Cal State Fullerton (twice) and UCLA (twice).  Playing a bunch of kids from UNLV who are looking forward to beer-pong-a-palooza after the game (win or lose) is significantly different from pitching against grown men who’s livelihood depend upon their success–and their failure.
I don’t need to site Todd Van Poppel, or more recently, Mark Prior, but I just did, and I’m sure you get the picture.  Lights-out as amateurs, flame-outs as pros (though I wish we could at least find out what it is exactly that happened to Prior).
I hate to keep ripping on the kid, but for crying out loud, thats what he is, a kid.  The problem with potential is that it has paved the road to Durham, Toledo, Wilkes-Bar, and Pawtucket, and with the hype, pressure, and expectations of Strasburg, he can go nowhere, but, unfortunately, down.
If he doesn’t sign tomorrow and do his best Mark Fidrych impersonation and win at least 19 games in a shortened season, he’s a failure.  Not by my estimations personally, but because for the monetary demands he’s rumored to be seeking (and with his agent, the anti-christ incarnate, the rumor is probably true) are going to elevate him to a place he isn’t ready to be in.
Which brings me to my next point.  The draft of baseball has been a crapshoot for ever, with the first round being the most reliable, but most after that a hit-or-miss endeavor.  How many guys got drafted ahead of Mike Piazza again?
But now that Major League Baseball is trying to make the draft something it isn’t, and shouldn’t strive to be, it’s also bringing about the same problems the other drafts have: money.
Which is not to say that money wasn’t a problem before, but now with the draft becoming some sort of entertainment spectacle its just becoming more of a public problem, and therefore a harder problem to combat.
No slotting system (good or bad, I dunno) combined with the ***-backwards view of what exactly the draft if for are creating a situation in which the draft is just going to be a joke, an after thought.
And my feelings on the players and they money they make have been documented, and I’m not saying that players do not deserve to get paid, because they do, and I’m not saying owners should have to fork out slave-wages, because they shouldn’t.
But who deserves fifty million bucks?  A player who has played exactly zero innings professionally, or a guy who has won the rookie of the year, MVP, and a pair of home run titles?
Or if Ryan Howard isn’t a valid comparison, how about a guy who has won a Cy Young, led the league in strikeouts (and thats the National League, not the Mountain West League), and has won 30 games in the Show?
Lincecum deserves 50 million bucks before Strasburg does.
The draft isn’t where players earn their money.
The draft is supposed to be where players get their shot at making money.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but free agency and arbitration is where players get their money, where they get what they deserve.
Not the draft.
Justin Verlander has won more than fifty games in the show in his five years in the bigs and he hasn’t made four million dollars in his entire career.
To give a guy who has thrown exactly zero pitches in the Show a kings ransom is ridiculous on a level thats hard to fathom.
Like when our President once said, “that depends on what your definition of ‘is,’ is.”  
Fix the draft or else it’ll be just the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and Dodgers drafting all the good players because they’re the only ones who can afford them.
The draft is for lousy teams to rebuild, not for the rich, and successful, to reload with youth.
–RM
PS
I also think the other drafts are broken and stupid, too, not just MLB’s.
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The All-Star Game

I was asked the other day who I was voting for, Ramirez angst-aside, for the All Star Game.

Hmph.  I gotta say, I’m not much of an NL guy, so that particular squad might not be exactly what most people might think, but gimme a break, I don’t see too much of the NL.
But here’s my AL squad:
Catcher: Joe Mauer
– I know, I know, he’s been banged up and didn’t start the season, yadayadayada, but in his almost ninety AB’s (just about the same number of AB’s Ramirez has too, by the way) he’s hitting a robust .425 and he’s already got 11 dingers.  His career high is 13.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera
-.370 with 10 dingers, and he has the added benefit of playing for my hometown team.
Second Base: Robinson Cano right now, but this could easily be Ian Kinsler, too.
Short: uh, Jason Bartlett?  Its a question because I can’t believe there isn’t another AL shortstop who has put some distance between himself and the rest of the pack.  Bartlett’s 7 dingers is good for third among ALL short stops and is tied for first among AL short stops.  And, to further add to that question mark is that Bartlett is hurt.
Third: Evan Longoria.  Really though, who else would it have been?
Right: Nick Markakis.  Kid’s hitting .313 with & dingers and has an absolute missile for an arm.  That and I’m tired of seeing Ichiro.
Center:  Eck, Torii Hunter.  I say eck because like Ichiro I’m sorta tired of seeing him too.  But with the numbers he’s put up offensively combined with his glove work, he’s a legit all star.
Left: Carl Crawfod.  At one point I thought he might break Ricky’s single season steals record in one single weekend series against Boston.  That alone makes him an All-Star.  And I would love to see him play his entire season running against Brad Penny–you can time him to the plate with a sun dial.
And since we’re in an NL park there is no need to pick a DH.
And with pitchers I’ll just select three starters and two closers for the sake of time.
Starters:
Justin Verlander.  His ERA is a little high at 3.55, but considering it was close to nine after four starts thats a little misleading.  He’s been lights out since going 0-2 through his first four starts; 5-0 and he’s only given up four earned and has struck out 60 batters during those six starts.
Zack Greinke.  He’s the reason Verlander hasn’t been talked about much thus far.  His ERA is still video-like at 0.84.  He’s probably going to start the All-Star game.
Joe Saunders.  Nothing fancy, just winning.  And he handed (huh, “handed”) Greinke his first loss, out-dueling him in a 1-0 win.  Roy Halladay honorable mention.
Closers:
Jonathan Papelbon.  I don’t much care for him, but he’s been dominant and All-Star worthy.
George Sherril.  He’s got so many saves and Baltimore only has so many wins to save.  Sorta like Todd Jones a few years back with the Tigers.
Now for the NL.
Catcher: Yadier Molina.  Sorta like the AL short stop problem… sorta.  There aren’t too many real good two way catchers in baseball, let alone the NL.  With Martin and Soto struggling, and Molina being the best defensive catcher in the world, his .268 average is forgiveable.
First: Albert Pujols.  Just write his name down from now until the day he retires.  Honorable mention though: Adrian Gonzalez.
Second: Orlando Hudson.  All he’s done is hit since he signed with the Dodgers.
Short:  Hanley Ramirez.  Again, write his name down until he retires, or gets too big to play short and moves.
Third: David Wright.  The best third baseman in New York City, the NL East, the NL in general, and probably baseball.  What else is there?
Right: Justin Upton.  Looks like he finally put it all together.  .335 with 9 dingers is hard to argue.  Though I can’t say for certain that he plays right field, but I’m pretty, sorta, sure.
Left: Raul Ibanez.  If there was ever a guy who would benefit from Philly’s home field, its this guy.  17 dingers and 44 ribbies.  And its not even hot outside yet.
Center: Carlos Beltran, as much as I hate to say it.  He’s putting up great numbers thus far, and he’s a gold glover.  
So, starters:
Sigh.  Johan Santana.  Seven wins, great ERA, what more you want?
Chad Billingsley.  6 wins and an ERA at 2.82.  
Matt Cain.  If for no other reason than he’s pitched better than Lincecum and has gotten still far less ink.
Closers:
Heath Bell.  Probably the only Padre representative, if the first base position is loaded like usual and Gonzalez stays home.  And he’s pretty good too.
Jonathan Broxton.  Young, throws hard, and is dominating.  And I refuse to vote for K-Rod.
I got the AL winning this thing, like I do each year until, well, they lose.
I have to say I think the All-Star game as a means to deciding who gets home field advantage is one of the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. 
Considering the starters are voted in by morons like me.  I’ve written three times that I just don’t want to vote for somebody–regardless of whether they’re deserving or not.  You’re lucky I didn’t say Brandon Inge for AL third basemen.
So, with the idiocy that is fan voting, and as unpredictable as we can be, how can Bud, with a straight face, make that game the factor in deciding who would get game seven of the World Series?  
Using a popularity contest?
Because that’s all the ASG is, really.  Otherwise Cal Ripken wouldn’t have been chosen for two decades.  Jason Varitek would never be.  Derek Jeter either.  And Manny Ramirez wouldn’t even be in a discussion.
If people stop watching the ASG even with “everything on the line” what next?  Using the home run derby winner’s respective league for determining home field advantage?
Just let ’em play for exactly what the game means: squat.
–RM