Tagged: The draft

The Tigers haul…

I must start, first, with a serious round of applause for my friend Jim Gulliver, who the Tigers drafted in the 20th round of this years draft.

What Jimbo went through to get to where he is is epic, Steven Soderbergh-type stuff.
As a senior in high school he suffered a torn ligament in his throwing elbow and spent his entire freshman year at Eastern Michigan rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, watching his teammates play.
About eighteen minutes before his sophomore season was slated to start he tore his ACL during a pickle-drill.  Season lost.
To go from two career-threatening injuries to drafted, by his hometown team no less, is pretty cool.
Congratulations Jimmy, I’m friggin’ proud of you.
As for the rest of the draft…
I think the Tigers made out pretty well.
I won’t go into detail about every guy they took, but I’ll have a look at the first few guys.
Jacob Turner seems like he projects well.  Big and tall righty, hard thrower, the only thing that makes me shake my head is that he was born in the 90s.  My sister was born in the nineties and I remember her crawling around on the carpet in a diaper.
So weird.  
But he looks like he can project well.
Oliver, their second pick, I remember from his issue with the NCAA and his hiring (not hiring?) an agent.  But his heavy duty fastball from the left side looks good.
The other two guys that I liked were Austin Wood and Daniel Fields.
Wood is that guy who threw about fourteen million pitches over thirteen innings for Texas against Boston College.  Gotta like the stones on that guy.
Fields was the best player in Michigan available and, ala Prince Fielder, was hitting dingers at age twelve with a wooden bat while his Dad was the hitting coach for the Tigers.  
Other than that, like most years, it was a crapshoot.  If two of these guys get to the Show than its a successful draft.
I like that it went top-flight pitching heavy, with very few top level position prospects, but those few guys I mentioned earlier I’m impressed with.
It’ll probably be a few years before we know how well this draft went, but I’m pretty certain that the Tigers did better than Washington…

Final thoughts about the Draft…

Alex, I apologize for being absent for a while, and seeing as you’re a large share of my readership (33.33%) and I have been inspired to expand on your idea/notion about the draft and comparing it to the use and recruitment of South American players.

I gotta say, to fix the draft problem, either eliminate the whole thing, like my esteemed co-counsel mentioned, or, as I would like to see, include the latin players and eliminate the free agent signings of 16-year old kids.
I mean, Strasburg will probably haul in 50-million bucks, and like the Verlander comparison from my previous post, Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez right handed pitchers for the Reds, combined, won’t earn a million bucks this season (through their salaries, I can’t speak for their endorsements, etc).
And those guys are not only good, they’re good and established as such.  
Both were signed at the age of 18 out of the Dominican Republic.  I doubt they got any sort of bonus for signing other than the opportunity to leave a third world country and get paid to do so.
Which brings me to my point.  
At the risk of being insensitive (and I realize and almost didn’t write it) the only difference between the current use of Latin players in MLB and that of slavery is that there is money involved that reaches the labor.
And nobody murders you if you don’t do the work.
Unless you’re failing in Philly, those fans are nuts.
Look at the disparity.
First round draft picks are set for life before they even play a single inning of professional baseball (as long as they aren’t complete morons ten million dollars-Prior’s bonus-is enough to ensure you never have to get a real job again in your life), while guys plucked from the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, etc, not only aren’t set for life from the outset, even when they get to the big-time aren’t rolling in dough (by MLB standards, anyway-I’d love to make 390,000 bones a year).
So what is fair about that?
Forget about fairness to ownership or GM’s who are forced to try and draft guys based on signability (which I looked up and is not a word or eligible for use in a game of scrabble), how is that fair to the players?
For example.
Hanley Ramirez, the shortstop for the Marlins and the best player most people have never heard of, was signed at age 17 by the Red Sox and has since gone on to star with the Marlins.
Stephen Drew, the shortstop for the Diamondbacks, was drafted out of Florida State with the 15th pick in 2004.
Hanley Ramirez’s bonus was the opportunity to leave the Dominican Republic.
Drew’s bonus was 4.5 million bucks.
Their careers aren’t even close thus far.  Drew might be a better defender, but Ramirez is head and shoulders better than Drew (which isn’t to say that Drew isn’t good, he is, he just isn’t Ramirez).
In fact, Ramirez is routinely at the top of lists of who would be the best player to start a franchise with.  Drew is not.
Because Drew was drafted he made more money last year in salary than Ramirez has made in his entire five year career.
One was signed as a poor kid from a third world country for peanuts.
The other went to a big time college program (I assume on a scholarship and therefore without having to pay a dime for his college education).
Of the two who actually would need a giant signing bonus it isn’t the kid who got a free education.
Its the kid who if he fails goes back to wearing one pair of shoes for a decade and sleeping on dirt.
But then again, nothing is fair from who signs free agents to how the draft actually works.
So, to fix it, it should be either all inclusive or non-existent.

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.
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.
I also think the other drafts are broken and stupid, too, not just MLB’s.