Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why didn't Tampa Bay take Buster?

It seems baseball scouts/executives/general managers were against the idea of taking Buster Posey because he did not have the upside you would want from the #1 overall pick. I heard Posey compared to Bengie Molina - and the question was asked, "Would you spend the #1 overall pick on Bengie Molina?" It is believed by most experts that if you have the #1 overall pick, you must use it on someone with the upside of a superstar.

Most scouts concurred that he could be as good as Molina in 2-3 years - quite a rise through a minor league system for a position player - especially a catcher. But what is the problem with using a 1st round pick on a guy that you can plug into your lineup every day as the #5 or #6 hitter and be productive? The baseball draft is so hit and miss, you would think a team with the top pick would take the most certain "hit".

If you look back on the draft of 10 years ago, the number of picks that never made it to the big leagues is not as alarming as the number of below average players that it produced. Of the 30 players that were 1st round picks that year, 8 never made a big league debut (including 4 of the top 15). There were 8 more that barely sniffed the big leagues, making 16 of the 30 1st round picks big time busts.

Five position players had slightly below average careers and were never able to consistently perform in an everyday lineup (Felipe Lopez, Corey Patterson, Jason Tyner, Sean Burroughs, and Adam Everett).

That leaves 9 players that turned into consistent everyday players that you could plug into your lineup everyday or send to the mound with no worries.

Three guys are position players: Pat Burrell (#1), JD Drew (#5), and Austin Kearns (#6). All 3 have had somewhat similar career - solid power numbers, but never made an all star team or been the "superstar" calibur player he was projected to be. Kearns and Drew had some injury problems and all 3 have had 1 or 2 big time seasons, but not much other than that.

Three pitchers have had pretty solid careers: Mark Mulder (#2), Kip Wells (#16), and Jeff Weaver (#14). This is essentially 3 #3 starters taken in the 1st round with only Mulder having a season or two of pitching at what is considered necessary for 1st round selection (Cy Young runner up and 2 AS games).

So, our 3 best players to come out of the 1998 draft: CC Sabathia (#20), Brad Lidge (#17), and Carlos Pena (#10). Sabathia came out of Vallejo HS and blossomed into an ace for the Tribe and is the reigning Cy Young award winner in the AL. Lidge is a front line closer out of Notre Dame and has been dominant. Pena took a while to develop as an everyday player but knocked 50 HR's in 2007. That makes 3 players, or 10% of the 1st round that developed into the all-star calibur players that clubs look for early in the draft.

That takes us then to Posey, who was deemed not having a "high ceiling" and not worthy of a #1 pick. If he is indeed a Molina type player in 2 years and has seasons similar to Bengie (averaged .284 - 18 HR - 70 RBI the last 3 seasons), why not take that guy #1? Plus, catcher is a premium position and Posey is projected to be solid defensively.

Not to mention Posey is currrenly .468 - 24 HR - 86 RBI while playing in a very competitive ACC this season. It just seems strange to me that Tampa Bay would roll the dice with a HS shortstop when a much more polished, less risky Posey is there as a catcher.

Remember the #1 pick just 4 drafts ago, Matt Bush? He was a shortstop out of Mission Bay HS and is currently out of baseball. Posey doesn't have a high enough ceiling? I'd be more worried about a high school shortstop with a floor too low.


Beezbo said...

Matt Bush did beat the crap out of that bouncer when he was only 18.

Jeff said...

2nd greatest "biter" of all time after Tyson