Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Whatever That Kid's Name Is

I'm old.  I don't have time for trivial details...

So we drafted a guy who's very likely to need Tommy John surgery, and we're supposed to hail this as some great pick with no real downside.  I get it.  If healthy, he's a great value.  If healthy, Nick Johnson's a Hall of Famer.  If healthy and ripped, I'm winning Mr. Universe too.

To get it out of the way: I'd have made the pick.  In the middle of the draft, it's as good a pick as any.  There's a metric tonne of upside.

But what's frustrating me about what I'm seeing is no mention of the potential downside.

It's exemplified by this tweet:

Really?  That's the worst case?   I mean, yeah, he could argue that he wasn't talking about quality of performance, just their ability to recover, but...

It's assuming that the only thing wrong with him is TJ.  That TJ is 100% effective (it's not.).  And that there aren't any other injuries set off by him trying to compensate for a UCL that's made of silly putty.

The pick (while right) is full of downside... full of opportunity costs.  Such as:

the 'costs' of missing out on others the Nats may have been able to draft there.
if he signs for above slot (as likely to do) the 'costs' of signing lesser players to compensate with other picks.  (magnified by the greater risk of getting zippo from him)

In the slotting system that exists, if he goes belly up (and there's a higher risk here than many other players) then it ruins the rest of the draft because it'll have limited their ability to pick the best players (due to $) with their other picks.  They're robbing from Peter to pay Paul... only the Peter they're robbing is some lame one like Pete LaCock.

Anyway... again, it was a good pick.  But there IS a pretty big downside.  By committing to him, the Nats have made this a Whatever That Kid's Name or bust kind of draft.

Hopefully in 10 years, with a new bionic elbow, we'll all laugh this off.


  • Boz said it best. 70% of no.l6 drafts never make it to the majors. The upside is huge, the downside is, yeah, you might have signed some other (lower-ceiling) player with a 30% chance of making it, and making it as what--a .250 hitter or a middle reliever?

    That's what happens when you pick at 16.

    By Blogger NatsLady, at 6/05/2012 10:59 AM  

  • So just throw our arms up and not make any pick at all then.

    If you believe in your talent evaluators -- and the Nats keep telling us they have one of the top staffs in baseball -- they'll have a higher than average chance of picking a decent, usable player there.

    Besides, the real probability isn't of that specific pick, but of the range of potential options from 16 to, say, 25.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/05/2012 11:03 AM  

  • Nats gambling on higher ceiling with higher risk of flameout. Other picks are lower risk of flameout but lower ceiling

    Rule of thumb is best player available. If Giolito is the BPA then you pick him. And if you believe in your talent evaluators, they'll have a higher than average of finding decent usable players later as well

    By Blogger Brian, at 6/05/2012 11:09 AM  

  • All good points on downside. It's more than possible that Giolito never pitches in the majors. The reason it was the right pick is the value that comes from the upside.

    Six cost-controlled years of a guy with ace-upside are worth tens of millions of dollars to the team in salary, not to mention the value in wins. Drafting and controlling a lesser player, even if he reaches his full potential, isn't that much more valuable than buying the right free agent.

    It's the incredible value of the upside that makes it worth the (admittedly very large) risk.

    By Blogger jcj5y, at 6/05/2012 11:11 AM  

  • I wonder if the Nats could be thinking this way:

    1)Draft Giolito, pay above slot
    2)Still draft for quality later, go above allotment.
    3)Finish high in the standings in 2012.
    4)Lose 1st round draft pick next year, which will be in mid to late 20s.

    I bet they are not thinking that way, but a case could be made for it.


    By Blogger Positively Half St., at 6/05/2012 11:12 AM  

  • "Drafting and controlling a lesser player, even if he reaches his full potential, isn't that much more valuable than buying the right free agent."

    I dunno... you draft a major league regular... someone who's basically dead average at their position, and that's a HUGE savings over that price in the FA market.

    Even someone like John Lannan has returned huge value to the team.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/05/2012 11:13 AM  

  • Agreed on Lannan point, but teams that are successful do both. It all comes down to BPA, in the MLB draft you always always always should take the BPA early in the draft

    By Blogger Brian, at 6/05/2012 11:16 AM  

  • Lannan returned value for the first three years of his control, but once he hit arbitration, he's been a drain. They're paying him $4 million this year to be a AAA insurance policy.

    Of course, it all depends on exactly how "average" the player is, but the arbitration system is essentially the anchor for a lot of free-agent salaries. Maybe I should have said "buying the right free agent or bringing up another player from the team's system."

    By Blogger jcj5y, at 6/05/2012 11:28 AM  

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