Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Now About That Draft

The first 2.4 million rounds done with more to come today. And it's hard to argue with the results. (Part of that, of course, is that none of us really know what the hell we're doing, and the other part, of course, is that even among the people who do know what the hell they're doing, they're wrong more often than not anyway.)

That being said, you can look at the bigger picture. Baseball America's Jim Callis ran an updated first-round prediction yesterday morning. The Nationals first four draft picks (two first rounders and one second and third rounder) were all projected to go in the first round. Pretty damn good, eh? Sure, we're not going to know whether this was a good draft until the end of time, but with the equivalent of four first-round talents (in an admittedly weak draft), you've gotta believe that at least one of them will prove to be a major league regular. And really, that's all you can ask.

I'm of the mindset that you don't draft a Pujols. You get lucky. If they knew that Pujols was Pujols, they wouldn't have let the jerk last until the 13th round!

Regardless, the farm system is leaps and bounds above where it was a week ago.

Now, it's imcumbent upon Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten to step up and get these guys signed. One of the problems with High School players is that they can go to college instead, and the minute they attend their first class, you lose rights to sign them. For the most part that shouldn't be a problem but Federal Baseball notes that second-round pick Sean Black is likely to go to college -- to that baseball powerhouse, Seton Hall.

Now that could change if the Nats throw big money at him, but that's also where a bit of a problem occurs. MLB itself issues signing recommendations for each draft position and each team is expected (but not required) to stay within those bonus recommendations. A second-round pick isn't going to get the money that a first-rounder would, and Black clearly wants first-round money. How will the Nats deal with the pressure from MLB to keep their money within the slot recommendations? How will Kasten, who's clearly a hard-liner on budget issues (and his war against player's agents is bullet point #1), balance the needs of the franchise with this?

Lots of questions for sure. But the commitment to the farm can't just be in words. It needs to be in actions. And in sports, actions are dollars.

I've been a bit wary of some of the comments that Kasten and Lerner have uttered, and have a nagging suspicion that they're going to try and do things on the cheap -- or at least not run the team like the large market it is. This is going to be another bellwether.

  • One more thought, and this is something that's been nagging me lately. Lots of fans, especially at BPG, have been praising Stan Kasten and talking about how important Stan Kasten is to the franchise's on-field success. They even went so far as to give him credit for yesterday's draft. Say what?!?

    The person who deserves the most credit (or blame!) is Dana Brown, the Scouting Director. It's his shop that ran the draft, and it's his shop that did the dirty work.

    People have pointed to the Braves success and attributed that to Stan Kasten. I don't see that, really. Sure, he put people in place to help run a successful franchise, but he wasn't picking players. He wasn't scouting kids. He wasn't teaching curve balls. That was John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox.

    I could be way off base here, but I've always thought that the Team President oversaw the entire organization and, as such, was just as focused on off-field issues as anyone else. Kasten did a helluva job getting Turner Field up and running and he certainly ran a professional organization, but giving him credit for drafting Chipper Jones is crazy. Sure, he ran a successful business operation, generating plenty of revenues to allow Schuerholz more leeway than the Royals, but I seriously doubt that he was that heavily involved in who was actually on the field -- especially at a time when he was running three different franchises at once.

    Does Tony Tavares get credit for the players that won the World Series for the Angels? Probably not. Does anyone know who the Yankees Team President is?

    I'm not saying that Kasten wasn't a vital part of the Braves' success. He was just part of it, and assuming that he poos gold because of his time there is probably a bit much.

    I am confident, though, that he's going to run a professional, organized business. And that he's going to give his VPs (to include the GM) the resources they need to succeed. And that's really what the Team President's job is.

    The second he's poking his nose in the dugout or scouting the hot young arm in Iowa, he's Dan Snyder. And we know how well that works, eh?

  • Philly Inquirer article on Black's desire to go to school.

    --Fredericksburg's draft recap article.

    --Federal Baseball's look at the draft and Black's situation.

    --Farm Authority has a good roundup of many other draft stories, including some local papers covering their hometown kids done good. They also covered yesterday's press conference.

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