Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Draft Day, 2009

Perhaps because of my friendship with Jason Churchill, I'd say this is the most informed I've ever been coming into a draft. To keep things in perspective, however, I'll definitely caveat that by saying I've still really got no clue. I have some opinions, and they're semi-informed, but my opinions aren't really worth much. Still, I'll take a few minutes and jot down my thoughts because I always like to look back years later to see what I was thinking and to provide context for future arguments that I know I'll have...

When building my opinion on players for the draft, I place a lot more value in scouting reports than in statistics. There are so many factors that influence statistics such that you can't really tell by the statistics what type of baseball player a draftee may become. Yeah, you can see some trends and some things in the numbers, but they're almost as meaningless as spring training statistics. Having said that, you can't ignore statistics all together. Obviously a guy who slugs .700 has some pop in his bat. Aluminum bats or not, that can't be ignored.

When the M's swept Oakland to end the season, they lost the shot at having the first overall pick in today's draft. That pretty much meant they're the bridesmaid in the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes. While it is sort of a bummer, I'm going to focus on the positives. Heh.

In general, pitchers are riskier than hitters. High school pitchers are riskier than college pitchers. That seems to be common knowledge. So, in that regard, I would be fine with the M's being the bridesmaid in this draft when Dustin Ackley is the "consolation prize." He's a lefty bat, with tremendous speed, decent power, good outfield instincts, and he should be a safe bet to be a decent player in the majors. I'm not going to name "comps" because that's just ridiculous, IMHO, but should his arm heal up enough to regain strength to throw from CF again, he will be a very good value. Interestingly, and somewhat unsurprisingly, Dave Cameron throws the idea up on FanGraphs that "there's a not-too-ridiculous case to be made that the Nationals should draft Dustin Ackley instead [of Strasburg]." I've been thinking that for quite some time (and not just because of wishful thinking that Washintgon passes on Strasburg).

Tanner Scheppers is a guy that's been talked a lot about, too. While there's legitmate concerns about his shoulder stuff (as there was with Morrow), his "stuff" is second only to Strasburg's (according to the reports I've read). There's a lot of risk with pitchers in general, so it'll be interesting to see what happens to him, even if the M's don't draft him.

Guys I've been following a bit are Rich Poythress, Matt Purke and Tyler Matzek. The latter two are prep pitchers -- left handers -- with excellent stuff. Poythress is a righty lumbering first baseman for Georgia. If any of those three fell to the M's at 27, I'd be excited. I doubt any of them will, however, even with outrageous bonus demands.

Guys I'm not very high on in this draft (where others are) include Grant Green and Brett Jackson. Green's got some legitimate concerns w/r/t fielding position, and Brett Jackson has questions about his bat. They're still both good enough to be considered first rounders in this current draft, however.

One thing's for certain -- about the only thing the M's DON'T need is a relief pitcher. Yeah, they have some depth at several positions, but I'm pretty confident that if they choose a particular player it won't solely be because they're drafting a guy to fill a need. Since Day One, Zduriencik has said it's all about filling this team with as much talent as it can get. Ryan Divish reports this morning that the M's aren't really concerned about bonus demands -- they're more focused on getting the "best player available:"

And according to McNamara, the Mariners are committed to getting the best players. Things like outrageous signing bonuses and difficult agents aren’t issues.

“Not an issue,” he said. “We’re lining them up and taking the best guys. We keep it to talent.

I'll believe that when I see it. Clearly the budget-conscious Howard Lincoln has given Zduriencik and McNamara a dollar figure. And that dollar figure is probably lower than what M's fans and draft followers think it should be.

If, however, Washington takes Cameron's advice and picks Ackley over Strasburg, then I'm willing to bet that dollar figure is increased just a little bit.

I'm with Zdurienck, Mac! Just get it right! I've been very disappointed with the M's choices in the most recent draft. Save for Aumont, they've pretty much gone in the direction I didn't want them to go in. This year, there are several options, and knowing that the M's aren't going to blow huge bucks on the draft (in spite of what Divish reports this morning), so long as they don't draft one of the guys I don't like ahead of one I do, I probably won't go too ballistic. There's talent to be had, for sure, and the only way I'm disappointed is if the M's go waaaaay cheap and pass up on highly-rated players for easy-sign overdrafts.

Just get it right.

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