Thursday, June 6, 2013
Time gets in the way of draft rebuilds
By Buster Olney
A smart baseball executive talked the other day about how difficult the new rules have made it for teams to build through the draft. Under the old rules, organizations could divert funds into their draft spending and aggressively pay players in the later rounds -- usually talented high schoolers who had thoughts of going to college -- and build their pool of prospects.
But under the new rules, with a slotting system, that really isn’t possible anymore without rule-bending. And remember, there are also new restrictions on signing international free agents.
“The teams that already have a good group of prospects are in an incredibly strong position,” said the executive, naming the Cardinals, Rays and Pirates among those clubs. “But on the other hand, if you don’t have that kind of talent in your organization, it’s become much more difficult to get it.”
Which is saying something. It has taken Pirates GM Neal Huntington many years (and many losses) to rebuild the organization through the draft, and similarly, Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore took over the Royals in the spring of 2006. The Royals are perceived to have a good group of prospects, in spite of this year’s results in the big leagues, but think about that: It required six or seven years to get there, and that's under the old rules.
So while the day of the draft provides hope, it is also a sobering time for teams that are talent-starved and face a long, long road to rebuild in the way they want to -- a journey probably lengthened by the new rules.
The Brewers don’t even have a first-round pick today. Neither do the Angels. Same for the Nationals.
It’s really easy to say you’re going to devote time to rebuilding a franchise through the draft, and through development. But that strategy doesn’t guarantee success, and requires a sustained effort over a period of time that may span more than one general manager.
• Keith Law talked about the draft, how negotiations take place and who might get picked where in Wednesday’s podcast. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer spoke about the team’s work on the second overall pick on Tuesday’s podcast.
• The likelihood of the Cubs taking Mark Appel is growing, writes Paul Sullivan.
• The Astros will start the dominoes tonight, when they pick the first guy in the draft.
• The Rockies may get third baseman Kris Bryant in the draft, writes Patrick Saunders.
• The Pirates have two picks near the top of the draft. They’re looking for impact guys.
• The Rays hope to change their draft stories, writes Marc Topkin. They have a strategy, writes Roger Mooney.
• The Marlins are going back to their roots today with their draft approach, writes Clark Spencer.
• Pitching is a focus in the draft, writes Zach Braziller.
• First-round picks are crucial to building a winner.
• The Royals are striving for organizational balance, writes Dick Kaegel.
• Roch Kubatko writes about the Orioles’ draft.
• Athleticism is a high priority for the Diamondbacks in this draft, writes Steve Gilbert.
• The Mariners must be creative in the No. 12 spot, writes Todd Dybas.
The latest scandal
• Torii Hunter called the latest PED news “a witch hunt,” but I really think, after talking with some players Wednesday, that Hunter’s opinion is in the minority. Players are saying privately -- and even some publicly, such as Matt Holliday -- that they wanted cheaters rooted out, and that they feel no allegiance to cheaters.
Which is how it should be. I’ve written this here before and it’s worth repeating now: In 1995, the players used as replacements during the MLBPA’s strike were treated as scabs thereafter, because they were perceived to be a threat to the union’s stance, and to the other players’ ability to make a living. Well, in 2013, players who choose to take performance-enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage over other union members are a far greater threat than the replacement players ever were, and worthy of much harsher treatment from their brethren. Because the players who choose to cheat have effectively chosen to try to take jobs and money illicitly from other union members.
Alex Rodriguez is the sizable shadow that won’t go away for the Yankees, writes Tyler Kepner. The response within the Yankees organization to the latest news was basically one collective shrug: They have no control in this situation, almost certainly no ability to get out of the onerous contract despite Rodriguez’s past transgressions, no real way to know what Rodriguez might be as a player as he comes back from a second major hip surgery, and above all else, A-Rod’s actions continue to perplex many of them. From Kepner’s story:
“I think it’s embarrassing,” [Mark] Teixeira said, speaking generally about the report. “This is all speculation, but if it is true, then I don’t think it’s good for the game. We’re supposed to be good examples for kids, for fans. It’d be one thing if we didn’t have a policy. We’ve had a very tough policy for a long time. If that many guys are still cheating, it’s just very disappointing.”
From the Yankees’ perspective, Joel Sherman writes, why worry? Rodriguez’s biggest allies will be his lawyers, and not players, writes Bob Klapisch. Rodriguez declined to pay Tony Bosch, reports the Daily News.
The conversation on drugs will never end, writes Sam Mellinger. This is a short-term pain that is a long-term gain for baseball, writes Richard Griffin. I agree with him completely.
It seems like Bud Selig’s work is never done, writes Patrick Reusse. The union says judgment should be withheld.
Losing Nelson Cruz could cost the Rangers the AL West, writes Tim Cowlishaw. Bartolo Colon is back in the center of the PED storm, but he won. Clint Hurdle says he’s not going to worry about it. Tom Haudricourt wonders: Is Tony Bosch going to be credible enough to take down Ryan Braun and others?
If Major League Baseball officials entered into their agreement with Bosch without having some sense of whether he could provide corroborating evidence, it would be a major mistake. But I don’t think that’s the case; I think they know most of what they’re going to get, and would never have made their deal with him without knowing they are going to get a lot of stuff from him, whether it be FedEx receipts, hotel receipts, surveillance video, text messages, emails, phone records, etc.
Braun was out of the lineup because of a thumb issue.
• Cargo and Tulo put on a show, as Troy Renck writes.
From Elias Sports Bureau: Carlos Gonzalez hit three home runs and Troy Tulowitzki went 5-for-5 with two homers in the Rockies' win over the Reds. It's the first time in major league history that one player had a three-homer game while a teammate had at least five hits including two homers in the same game.
• How desperate were the White Sox to win and end their losing streak Wednesday? Enough so that closer Addison Reed threw 55 pitches over three innings.
The Mariners rallied from five runs down in the 14th inning, incredibly, only to lose. What a crusher.
Elias: The Mariners-White Sox game is the first game in major league history in which each team scored 5-plus runs in a game that was scoreless through nine innings. Kyle Seager is the first player in MLB history with a game-tying grand slam in extra innings.
• Watching Julio Teheran pitch Wednesday, I thought he was going to finish his no-hitter. He had tremendous stuff, and the Pirates seemed to be a little sluggish, in a day game after a night game.
From ESPN Stats & Information, how Teheran dominated:
A. Teheran threw a career-high 41 sliders, a pitch he just added to his repertoire this season. Pirates hitters put only 3 of the 19 sliders they swung at in play and none left the infield.
B. Teheran induced 22 swings-and-misses, nine more than any other start of his career and the most by a Braves starter in the last two seasons.
C. All 11 of his strikeouts were swinging (five fastball, four slider, one curveball, one changeup). There have been 52 double-digit strikeout games this season, but Teheran's is only the third in which all strikeouts were swinging.
D. Teheran started 23 of 28 (82.1 pct) hitters with a first-pitch strike, the highest percentage of his career. Ten of his 11 strikeouts came after getting ahead 0-1.
E. Teheran’s no-hit bid lasted 7 2/3 innings. That is the most no-hit innings by a Braves pitcher since Kent Mercker completed a no-hitter in 1994.
• It turns out Yasiel Puig is not going to get two or three hits in every game. But as long as he continues to produce, he will continue to play, even after Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from the disabled list. At this stage, with the Dodgers well back in the standings, they don’t have any choice but to play their best lineup every day, regardless of salary or resume.
• CC Sabathia continues his march toward 200 career victories.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Yadier Molina dropped his appeal, writes Rick Hummel.
2. Anthony Rendon started at second base.
3. Roy Oswalt could be promoted soon.
Dings and dents
1. Johnny Cueto has a sore arm.
2. Mitch Moreland hurt his hamstring and it didn’t look good.
3. Daniel Hudson had a setback, as Nick Piecoro writes.
4. A Dodgers pitcher is having Tommy John surgery.
5. Stephen Strasburg landed on the disabled list.
6. Jake Peavy may not be able to pitch again before the trade deadline, as Mark Gonzales writes.
1. After home plate umpire John Hirschbeck went down, so did the Marlins.
2. The Rays rallied for a nice win.
3. A strong outing by Joe Kelly was wasted.
4. Alexi Ogando was "the man" for the Rangers.
5. R.A. Dickey bounced back.
6. The Orioles were blasted.
7. Jason Marquis flirted with the first no-hitter in Padres’ history.
• Jim Leyland raved about a Rays reliever.
• For a night, Koji Uehara disappointed.
• The Royals’ long nightmare is over.
• The Tigers are concerned about Avisail Garcia’s habit of lunging to the first-base bag, writes Tom Gage.
• Chris Perez is subject to a drug investigation, as Bud Shaw writes. A package sent to his home was intercepted.
• The Indians were shut down by CC Sabathia, and swept.
• Six Astros -- count 'em, six -- hit home runs against the Orioles, as Jesus Ortiz writes.
• The Braves continue to be in a strong position relative to the Nationals, writes David O’Brien, in a June 1 post. This race feels like an NBA game: At some point, you figure that the Nationals will make a strong run, and we’ll see how the Braves respond to that.
• A Marlins rookie made his little brother cry, writes Joe Capozzi.
• Marlon Byrd clubbed a couple of homers.
• Davey Johnson shaved his beard.
• For the Nationals, the struggles continue, writes Amanda Comak.
• Cole Hamels rebuilt his confidence, and Domonic Brown clocked another home run.
• The Cubs lost, but are hopeful today for other reasons.
• Pete Kozma got a needed day off.
• Starling Marte tried some added protection, then opted to ditch it.
• Paul Goldschmidt: Ridiculous.
We’ll have him on the podcast Friday.
• A trombone player was arrested outside of Turner Field.
• Giants fans are not hypocrites for booing Melky Cabrera, writes Henry Schulman.
• Vanderbilt could have a bunch of players taken in the draft.
And today will be better than yesterday.