Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reaction To ESPN's Franchise Player Draft; BTTN's Own Franchise Player Draft

Longoria's contract, bat, and sparkling defense
make him a player any team would covet
Yesterday, ESPN had 30 of its baseball employees take part in a one-round and as frustrating as the criteria were (Keith Law, selecting Longoria, clearly believes contracts should factor into the drafting, while Joe Mauer-love Jim Caple clearly does not), some of the selections were much more boggling.

I mean, it is ridiculous to think that Neftali Feliz, Wilson Ramos, and Buster Posey were actually drafted. Feliz could very well turn into a plus-starter, and Ramos could be a 4 WAR catcher, but none of them come close to Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, or even Josh Hamilton

It is unthinkable that Jay Bruce was nowhere to be seen. David Shoenfield was quoted as saying 

"Bruce is good, but let's not get carried because he just had the best month of his career. He's been great for one month ... he may be great for many more months, but he hasn't proven that yet." But Jay Bruce was Baseball America's top prospect (yes, #1 overall) in 2008, and has had some solid major league seasons since. The second he shows elite production, Jay Bruce should be vaulted to the top of franchise player rankings the world over.

Among other clear gaffes (decisions that are practically undefendable) are Amy K. Nelson's selection of Tim Lincecum at 5th overall, and Justin Upton falling to 29th. Lincecum's arm is, of course, going to fall off one of these years, perhaps after his changeup becomes ineffective due to his rapidly declining fastball velocity. Whine about Upton all you want, but the kid's a stud, and is well on his way to a 5 WAR season in 2011. I don't care about how much hype a prospect gets, you really can't be disappointed in a 4.8 WAR season at age 21, and a 5 WAR season at age 23. 

Thus, we at BTTN elected to carry out our own draft of any player in baseball, contracts (and any other real-life variables) considered. Team identities will follow the order of the 4th-50th rounds of the 2011 MLB draft, which would also be the first few rounds if compensatory selections were not awarded.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Evan Longoria, 3B
Longoria has easily the most favourable team contract in baseball, if not all pro sports, in addition to already being an elite performer at third base with room for a bit more growth.
2. Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez, SP
Why not? King Felix is a great fit for their ballpark, has a favourable contract, and is already one of the best pitchers in the game. A natural and easy selection.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Colorado's rival Arizona ends up selecting the franchise shortstop. Tulo has a lengthy contract that, let's face it, could turn into an albatross if Tulowitzki injuries keep piling up, but he's the best all-around shortstop in baseball at the moment for good reason. 
4. Baltimore Orioles: Jason Heyward, OF
Playing in the AL East, Baltimore needs a bona-fide superstar and boy, is Heyward that type of player. Displaying all five tools as well as the most-important trait that isn't one, patience, Heyward should provide the framework to the Orioles team for years to come.
5. Kansas City Royals: Justin Verlander, SP  
Verlander is your classic workhorse. He may not have a history of sub-3.00 ERA seasons, but he's the real deal. 
6. Washington Nationals: Jay Bruce, SP
Jay Bruce is ready to have a 40-homer season right now. Former #1 prospect in the game by Baseball America, he's ready to take that next step and become MLB's next superstar.
7. Cleveland Indians: Joey Votto, 1B
Nothing team-specific to point out here, Votto is the type of bat that can drive an entire team, and is a plus defender at first.
8. Chicago Cubs: Bryce Harper, OF
The Cubs will need to put together some serious talent to break their 100+ year streak, and Harper is the way to go.
9. Houston Astros: Robinson Cano, 2B
Second base is becoming one of those position where elite talent is hard to find. The Astros, like the Nationals, have the cash to pay Cano his favourable contract that runs through 2013.
10. Milwaukee Brewers: Mike Stanton, OF
Mike Stanton has probably the most raw power of any player in the Majors currently. With a bit more seasoning, he's likely to be good for 40+ home runs annually while not killing you in average or on-base.
11. New York Mets: David Price, SP
David Price is a franchise pitcher and being mechanically sound is fit to warrant this early selection, avoiding the notion that due to health concerns, position players are eternally more valuable than pitchers.
12. Florida Marlins: Mike Trout, OF
Mike Trout is a perfect fit for the Marlins. A great player development team, the Marlins won't be fazed by Trout's relative inexperience.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez, SS
Hanley may be having a sub-par 2011 (a pitiful 72 wRC+) but it's hard to overlook his fantastic past success.
14. Los Angels Angels: Justin Upton, OF
The Angels have trouble developing power in their prospects as Upton naturally falls to them.
15. Oakland Athletics: Jon Lester, SP
Lester is a great fit for the A's ideals, ballpark, and cost considerations. 

Stay tuned for the second half of the first round, to be released on BTTN in a few days!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brett Lawrie Hysterics In Full Force

As you probably already know, Brett Lawrie has been rumoured to be earning the call this Friday (via signs from both team employees and armchair conspiracy theorists alike) for the Blue Jays first game against the Baltimore Orioles.

The only doubt at this point is whether or not his recent hand-mashing against Tucson will push back his Major League debut a few days. Incidentally, in the game, fellow 51s took the blow to Lawrie as seriously as most diehard fans such as myself, as Lawrie's top prosect counterpart Anthony Rizzo was blasted by a heater during his very next plate appearance and left the game as well. 

Let's hope this chain of events will lead Major League Baseball to assign San Diego as the Blue Jays interleague 'rival', instead of the perennial powerhouse Phillies, starting in 2012.

Nonethless, what could Brett Lawrie do for Toronto this year? Will he have a Ryan Braun-like impact or take a few years to adjust to Major League breaking balls? Rookie of the Year or Bust of the 2008 Draft (interestingly enough, only Kyle Skipworth and Ethan Martin are among players drafted ahead of Lawrie's 16 that can be assigned as likely busts).

There's certainly no stead-fast way to tell; This instance of seeing how minor leaguers adjust to the majors can't definitively be predicted statistically. With his fast-improving approach and smart baserunning skills, I think he has the tools to make adjustments as necessary. But we'll just have to wait and see.