Let's try this theory out for size:
The amateur draft in baseball is the most important draft in all of the major professional sports. It's more important than all the hoopla associated with the NBA and NFL drafts and it's certainly more important than the NHL draft. Sure, those other drafts get much more hype than the baseball draft simply because the casual fan has heard of all the top players, but as far as sheer impact on an organization goes, nothing has a greater effect than the baseball draft.
Tomorrow the Phillies will entrust director of scouting Marti Wolever, assistant GM Mike Arbuckle and their scouts and baseball people to shape the organization for (hopefully) the next decade. Gripped with a dearth of prospects in the minor leagues, Wolever and the gang can really replenish the system during tomorrow's draft because they have seven selections in the first 136 picks.
"It's the first time in 16 years we have this many picks that I can remember," Wolever said. "It's real significant. We have a chance to impact the system by putting some quality players in."
The Phillies have to wait until the 24th overall pick on Thursday afternoon to make their first pick, but after that they come quickly. The Phillies also have the 34th, 51st, 71st, 102nd, 110th and 136th picks. The 34th selection is a compensation pick from the Giants from when they signed free agent Aaron Rowand away from the Phillies.
Nevertheless, the reason why baseball drafts are so important is because the player/prospect becomes such an integral part of the organizations' plans. Certain prospects, like Cole Hamels was, are deemed "untouchable" in things like trades or potential Rule 5 drafts. Because of that, guys like Hamels are earmarked spots in the rotation well into the future, which causes the team to act accordingly. Why would a team like the Phillies make a deal for a pitcher if they have someone like Cole Hamels down on the farm?
Additionally, baseball players spend a long time in an organization. Teams invest time, money and resources in developing ballplayers even if they aren't labeled as "prospects." After all, baseball organizations are more than just one, Major League team. Instead, they are chains of teams located all over the hemisphere that need players, coaches, trainers, scouts, etc., etc. in order to function. They are, indeed, franchises that need a lot of different moving parts.
Therefore, the players selected in the draft matter.
What's more, certain prospects not labeled as "untouchable" are perfect for helping teams over the short term. In fact, it's difficult to find significant trades in baseball that do not include prospects because every team covets them. So in order to land a player that could put a contending team over the top during the stretch run, a prospect or two might be the cost.
Before the 2000 season the Phillies thought they were a team that would be in the mix for a wild-card spot if they could get another starting pitcher to compliment Curt Schilling. In thinking veteran right-hander Andy Ashby was the pitcher they needed, the Phillies dealt away first-round draft picks Adam Eaton and Carlton Loewer to San Diego.
It was a controversial deal at the time, but with the aid of hindsight it appears as if the trade were a push. Injuries wrecked Loewer’s career, Eaton came full circle and back to the Phillies, while Schilling and Ashby were both traded away during June of 2000 when it was clear the Phillies weren’t contenders.
So yeah, a good draft pick can help out a team now or later.
On Thursday, Wolever is hoping for both. However, based on the team's drafting strategy, the down-the-road part appears to be the best analysis - at least in terms of the pick joining the Phillies. See, Wolever likes to target "high-ceiling" players, which means the Phillies often select high school players as opposed to more polished college prospects in the draft.
Still, Wolever has selected four college players with the team's first pick dating back to 2000.
"You can't take all high-ceiling players," Wolever said. "When you need to reach down into Triple and Double-A and he's still in [Single-A], that doesn't help."
At least not yet.
Regardless, the Phillies will take a big step toward shaping their future on Thursday afternoon. Tune in to hear about players you'll be talking about a lot a few years from now.
I just have some clerical things today, mostly because I don't know if I have the energy to wax on about the Cardinals' stunning, $4.25 million deal with right-handed pitcher Kyle Lohse.
Does the Phillies' shunning of Lohse and his reportedly high contract demands mean that the team is ready to go with Adam Eaton and/or Kris Benson at the back of the rotation?
How does one get a red stain out of a white shirt?
Perhaps we will never know...
Anyway, we will (and by "we" I mean I) be working on a number of projects over the next few weeks. Namely, there will likely be a semi-regular podcast produced, hosted, edited, coded and posted by moi ready to go in the coming week or two. The hope is for it to be a weekly thing complete with somewhat topical interviews, musical interludes and probably guests, but I suppose that was assumed when I mentioned the part about interviews.
Then again, I'm sure no one would put it past me to talk to myself.
Also, the weekly Phillies column-y type thing will return from a four or five (or six) year hiatus next Friday. The plan is for it to be a multi-media extravaganza instead of just a bunch of words... however, I like words. Sometimes they say just what I mean.
Since this is an Olympic year and sports of that ilk will be in the forefront of the American consciousness when the Beijing Games open in August, there will be a few stories about that kind of stuff on local folks hoping to go to Eugene for the Olympic Trials and China for the really, really, really big dance.
The final appeal in the Floyd Landis case will be heard next week in New York City, too. Surely some news or a few stories will come out of that... meanwhile, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the ridiculous story by Martin Dugard on Floyd in something called "Orange Coast Magazine." Surely Dugard's fanboy and jock-sniffing ethics have been unabashed if not questionable, and in this one he buries the ultimate lede... 15 grafs and perhaps three years too late.
Look, I think writing about writers is terribly tacky and hacky, but I'm sure I'll wade in over the next few days. In the meantime, Joe Lindsey of "The Boulder Report" pretty much nails it.
Also: his book Chasing Lance sucked.
Finally, Opening Day is approaching, which is always really, really mind numbing. I'd say Game 77 of the 162-game season is more important and exciting as Game 1, but whatever. No sense of me ruining people's fun just because they like all that Field of Dreams crap and Opening Day.
Tonight's pick for the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas is the great and heroic Billy Bragg. I think we all remember where we were and what we were doing the first time we ever heard Billy.
Meanwhile, word is The Pogues showed up for a gig in Philly last night. I haven't heard from anyone whether or not McGowan made it through the show upright and under his own power.
Finally, since I have a bit of bitch-fest going here, check out my entry into my daily running log:
Friday morning - 1st run: 13 miles in 1:22:59 Ran reasonably uptempo and was going to hit the last 5 in 29 until some idiot took her dog off a leash and allowed it to run me over. The damn thing slammed into my right knee, took out my legs and send my sprawling onto the Baker Field grass landing on my left hip.Needless to say, I wasn't too cool when I got up, especially since I was moving a little bit and there were at least THREE signs posted that dog owners had to keep their animals on a leash (as well as clean up the shit off the grass, but they don't do that too well either). Look, I owned dogs all of my life and I'm certain that the animals never ran over anyone. I never thought it was too difficult to be responsible about respecting certain rules as well as other people who may or may not want to be run over by dogs.
Here's a question and answer based on what I gleaned from most dog owners in my neighborhood:Question: What is the only creature more stupid than a dog?Answer: A dog owner.When the signs read, "Keep your dog on a leash," it really means, "Yes, even YOU have to keep YOUR dog on a leash."See, most dog owners can't even read.Idiots.splits:
1st 5: 32:58
2nd 5: 30:34 - slowed by dog attack
last 3: 19:27