Archive for the ‘The Draft’ Category

Number Ones

June 10, 2009
Aaah! I guess that’s the face most college batters gave him. Monkey see, monkey do, I guess.

Let’s see which one of these guys Stephen Strasburg becomes:

1965 –> Rick Monday – 19 seasons, 125 OPS+, 98/189 SB
1966 –> Steve Chilcott – 7 minor-league seasons, .248 BA
1967 –> Ron Blomberg – 8 seasons, lots of injuries, first DH ever
1968 –> Tim Foli – 16 seasons, worse OPS than Jeff Francoeur, 64 OPS+
1969 –> Jeff Burroughs – 16 seasons, 121 OPS+, rough Ten Cent Beer Night
1970 –> Mike Ivie – 11 seasons, 110 OPS+, lost pinky in hunting accident
1971 –> Danny Goodwin – 7 seasons, 84 OPS+, first player to be picked first twice
1972 –> Dave Roberts – 7 seasons, 84 OPS+, not the guy with the famous steal in that ALCS game
1973 –> David Clyde – 5 seasons, 81 ERA+, first pitcher as number one overall pick
1974 –> Bill Almon – 15 seasons, 83 OPS+, best season was a strike-shortened one
1975 –> Danny Goodwin – here he is again
1976 –> Floyd Bannister – 15 seasons, 102 ERA+, son is Brian Bannister
1977 –> Harold Baines – 22 seasons, 120 OPS+, January 9th is Harold Baines Day in his hometown
1978 –> Bob Horner – 10 seasons, 127 OPS+, first number one pick to win ROY Award
1979 –> Al Chambers – 3 seasons, 72 OPS+, 57 total games
1980 –> Darryl Strawberry– 17 seasons, 138 OPS+, 8 straight All-Star Games
1981 –> Mike Moore – 14 seasons, 95 ERA+, 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 5 postseason games
1982 –> Shawon Dunston – 18 seasons, 89 OPS+, fun to say his first name
1983 –> Tim Belcher – 14 seasons, 101 ERA+, first pitcher with a winning record for career
1984 –> Shawn Abner – 6 seasons, 65 OPS+, brother taken 5 rounds later
1985 –> BJ Surhoff – 19 seasons, 98 OPS+, father played in NBA and brother was reliever
1986 –> Jeff King – 11 seasons, 99 OPS+, AL Player of the Month in June of 1997
1987 –> Ken Griffey Jr. – 21 seasons, 137 OPS+, first Hall of Famer?
1988 –> Andy Benes – 14 seasons, 104 ERA+, brother Alan also pitched
1989 –> Ben McDonald – 9 seasons, 115 ERA+, bad shoulder
1990 –> Chipper Jones – 16 seasons, 145 OPS+, second Hall of Famer?
1991 –> Brien Taylor – 7 minor-league seasons, 5.13 ERA, Steinbrenner threatened to shoot someone if they didn’t draft him while he was suspended
1992 –> Phil Nevin – 12 seasons, 112 OPS+, 209 2B and 208 HR
1993 –> Alex Rodriguez – 16 seasons, 147 OPS+, thinks Madonna’s kind of cute
1994 –> Paul Wilson – 7 seasons, 88 ERA+, has my birthday
1995 –> Darin Erstad – 14 seasons, 93 OPS+, second fastest to reach 100 hits in a season (2000)
1996 –> Kris Benson – 8 seasons, 100 ERA+, hot wife (or is it ex-wife?)
1997 –> Matt Anderson – 7 seasons, 88 ERA+, went to my high school
1998 –> Pat Burrell – 10 seasons, 118 OPS+, hit .209 in 2003
1999 –> Josh Hamilton – 3 seasons, 130 OPS+, awesome Home Run Derby last season
2000 –> Adrian Gonzalez – 6 seasons, 130 OPS+, most underrated player?
2001 –> Joe Mauer – 6 seasons, 135 OPS+, most valuable player in the game?
2002 –> Bryan Bullington – 4 seasons, 88 ERA+, 13 appearances
2003 –> Delmon Young – 4 seasons, 94 OPS+, Dmitri is better
2004 –> Matt Bush – 4 minor-league seasons, .219 BA, biggest bust ever?
2005 –> Justin Upton – 3 seasons, 110 OPS+, just getting better
2006 –> Luke Hovechar – 3 seasons, 78 ERA+, still only 25
2007 –> David Price – 2 seasons, 205 ERA+, just getting started
2008 –> Timothy Beckham – doing better in the Sally League

So, if you didn’t believe all the caution being thrown out there about not expecting too much, here ya go. Granted, most of these picks ended up being fairly decent ballplayers, but you don’t spend all that money for just acceptable players. 3 Hall of Famers by my count. We’ll have to wait on the more recent guys.

The Draft

June 8, 2009
The draft will keep his bonus down, too.

In case you hadn’t heard, baseball used to be different from what it is today. One of the primary reasons for that is the use or disuse of the draft. Before the draft existed, teams signed the amateur players. Early on, this wasn’t a big deal. Scouting was completely different. Teams didn’t dedicate millions of dollars to sending scouts out to check out high school and college games. Most players were signed because of tips from people from the area of the player. A scout came and checked them out. Otherwise, the teams mainly stayed in the area and made the occasional jaunt out to an amateur league to check out an outstanding player. However, as leagues and college games became more formalized and information spread more quickly, the free-market became a problem.

Well, at least for small-market teams. Wealthier teams such as the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals, the main perpetrators, could outbid everyone else for any prospect they wanted. You might get angry when they sign free-agents, but being able to use their vast resources to sign any young player they wanted is a much bigger advantage. In fact, since the institution of the draft, the Yankees have only won 7 of their 26 World Series and the Cardinals have only won 2 of their 10. The competitive balance was completely changed by the creation of the draft.

But how exactly did it come about? As I said, certain teams could outbid others. One team would find a player, and the wealthy teams would also hear. They came in and upped the offer. It continued to grow until the wealthy team won. In 1947, a formal rule was implemented. Any team paying a player over $4,000 could not join a minor-league team for 2 years. The player went on the major-league roster or was released as a free-agent. Seems good, right? Well, then certain charges were brought against the Kansas City Athletics. Teams believed they signed players, kept them on the team for 2 seasons, traded the player away, and received under the table money from a wealthy team. Clete Boyer is the best example. The Athletics eventually admitted to doing it.

During the Winter Meeting in 1964, teams knew something had to be done, but not everyone thought that way. The St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers tried to persuade the rest against creating the draft, but it didn’t work. A draft was controversial. A Yankee executive equated it with communism in the 1950’s, and he wasn’t alone in believing a draft was against good, old-fashioned American values. Others believed it was the same thing as the slave trade where players were auctioned off. In the end, the desire for competitive balance won out, and in the final vote, only the St. Louis Cardinals voted against the draft.

The original draft in 1965 was quite different from today’s. College players were eligible as sophomores, but most picks went to high-school players. Originally, there was no limit to the draft, but in 1998, the MLB decided 50 rounds were enough. There were also three drafts. One was held in June and was for college and high-school seniors that had just graduated. Another was held in August for players in amateur leagues. The last was held in January for students who graduated in the winter. The August one was dropped in 1966, and the January draft was dropped in 1987. Finally (well not finally; the draft has changed in a lot of ways), teams could sign drafted players until a week before the next draft (draft-and-follow players) until 2007.

The impact of the draft was obvious. Rick Reichardt was signed for $205,000, ignoring an unwritten rule to not go over $100,000, in 1964. Rick Monday, the very first draft pick ever, received $104,000. In addition to simply affecting American players, Latin American players also saw some drawbacks. They had increasingly come to the United States to play, and teams liked that they could sign them for much cheaper. With the draft, this wasn’t as necessary. When free-agency came, teams went back to Latin America.

Puerto Rico was added to the draft in 1989, and four years later, Canadians were added.

As for the one-year rule on trading prospects, Pete Incaviglia decided that he didn’t like not getting as much money as he thought he could. Montreal tried to work with him, but after 5 months, they traded him later in 1984. A year later, no teams could trade a player so soon after drafting him.

Today, the draft continues to suppress signing bonuses. On one hand, it’s not really fair for players to lose out on money that teams would be willing to pay them, but on the other, dropping the draft would probably kill any competitive balance in baseball.