Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let's revisit this idea again...

I wrote this post about fixing baseball about a year ago. Baseball still isn't fixed.

Real quickly, I'd like to summarize a point a made back then, largely in response to the latest Jeff Passan 10 Degrees column.

The rebirth of the draft within the last decade altered baseball, and so much for the better. After salaries exploded and payroll disparities spread during the 1990s, the chasm threatened to ruin lower-revenue markets.

How could they possibly compete with free-agency behemoths? Easy, we now know: The Rule 4 draft, held every June, this year a week from today. It is why five of the eight teams with the lowest payrolls this season sit above .500 right now, and why the other three – Kansas City, Pittsburgh and San Diego – could join them by next season. The smartest teams realized there is no greater (or cheaper) place to find talent than in the draft and Latin America. And those who treat amateurs as a priority will rebuild faster and with a foundation far more stable.

This is a fine column, but that opening idea is a total crock. The draft isn't some equalizer that is designed to give low-payroll teams a leg up. In fact, if anything, it's rigged against those small market losers.

Passan goes on to talk about the 2005 draft as being one of the best in history. It unquestionably was, as even Dave Littlefield could find a franchise player at the 11th pick. But here's the thing to note: Boston... WINNERS OF THE WORLD SERIES IN 2004 ... had five picks in the first round. FIVE. We had one, the (Devil) Rays had one, the Royals had one.

So far McCutchen has been worth slightly more than anyone the Red Sox picked up. But what would you rather have:

CF - 9.9 WAR


OF - 8.7 WAR
LHP - 8.3 WAR
SS - 4.2 WAR
+ two picks to mess up on.

I'll also remind you, that one of the junk picks they messed up on was Craig Hansen, a guy they packaged to us in exchange for Jason Bay. Upon letting Bay go to free agency, the Red Sox were comped yet another first round pick.

Whoever the Pirates do pick, he should help. And that, after all, was the point of the draft in the first place: lift up the afflicted.

Not even close, Jeff.

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