Delaying a “real” post for yet another day with, what else, three random things bouncing around my brain of late. I mean, what’s the point of having your own site if you can’t post your own meandering, disjointed thoughts from time to time? And tell me you aren’t intrigued with some stranger’s random draft musings after seeing THIS:
After the jump, cartoons, big leaguers, and, of course, draft-eligibles…
1. TMNP – Teenage Mutant Ninja…Pitchers?
The Baseball Draft Report hasn’t been in existence all that long, so this may not be that bold a statement, but is that not the lamest intro to an idea yet? We’re making an ideal pitching prospect, but there are some catches. First, the only players that can be used are draft-eligible college guys. Second, no repeating players – sorry, there goes the joke that the ideal pitching prospect with parts from the best players in college would all come from Stephen Strasburg. Third, wait a second, what? I get the mutant part, kind of. And pitchers is self-explanatory. But teenage? Most college juniors/redshirt sophomores are just out of their teens. What a crock. We won’t even go into the ninja part…I mean, how does that even make a little bit of sense? Who writes this stuff?
Ahem. Anyway. My hastily slapped together first edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Pitcher would have the following parts:
- Fastball: Stephen Strasburg
- Change: Mike Minor
- Curve: Blake Smith
- Slider: Kyle Gibson
- Command: Mike Leake
- Control: Scott Swinson
I couldn’t decide on a good name for mechanics/delivery. Any thoughts? I was also stumped when it came to picking the best bat of the draft-eligible college pitcher bunch. Mike Leake and Blake Smith were the obvious choices, but after I picked them for other things I was too lazy to swap someone new in to free them up. Strasburg’s slider should really be on there, but then I’d need a new fastball…man, this was hard. The only three I have true confidence in are Minor’s change (great pitch), Leake’s command, and Strasburg’s whatever you choose from him. Incidentally, Minor and Leake are two of my favorite prospects in the 2009 draft. Hmm.
2. Defense is the New Offense
Big league teams are finally getting wise to the importance of defense. Evidence suggests that we are in the midst of a major shift in philosophy regarding the relative value of catching the ball consistently. What evidence am I talking about? So glad you asked. For one, saving a run is as important as scoring a run. Yeah, anybody who has ever watched any game with a ball could tell you that. Heck, it’s common sense. However, the ability to finally isolate good defenders from, umm, less good defenders has crystallized the importance of run prevention through the perpetuation of statistical analysis. We have new ways to quantify how important good defense can be, so it is easier to see the actual having defenders who can help take potential runs off the board can be. It was one thing to say Player X is a “good” defender; it’s entirely different, and far more meaningful, to say Player X makes up for his average bat with a glove that makes him 15 runs better than a competing player.
Secondly, the market for all bat, no glove outfielders was extremely sluggish this offseason. Ramirez, Burrell, Bradley, Dunn, Abreu, and Ibanez are all players cut from the same gigantic cloth – big hitters, scary bad fielders. Of course, not all players are created equal. It’s as much a stretch to call Ramirez a big hitter (he’s way better than that) as it is to call Ibanez a big hitter (he’s way worse than that), but the general point remains – the market was flush with players known for what they do with their bats and not their gloves. Free agency began and…nothing happened. All but one of those players have signed deals as of today, but, assuming we can believe the contract demands floating at the beginning of the signing period, only one of the group (ironically enough, the worst player of the six) can honestly claim to be happy with what they’ve received. In previous years, it’s easy to envision these 30-homer, high OBP (again, save Ibanez) jumping off their diving boards into Scrooge McDuck-style pools of money right about now. Lead gloves have held them back. I’m not about to bury my head in the sand and say that their poor defense was the only factor, but I do see it as the primary cause. What impact the downturn in the economy has on the sports world bottom line is not easily known, but it would be foolish to chalk up the bargain signings on the recession/depression/megasupersad economic collapse alone.
Thirdly, and it somewhat ties into the last point, good defense is a little cheaper to come by than good offense. This is changing by the day, but good defense can still be had very cheaply if you know where to look. I mean, how in the world is Ryan Langerhans not guaranteed a spot on a big league club? We know that real world economical shifts always lag behind the theoretical shifts. In baseball terms, we are seeing the application of basic Moneyball principles (defense, an undervalued asset to this point, is the one that smart teams will target) evolve right before our very eyes.
Why do I bring all this up? Well, this is a draft website, right? I hope it comes as no surprise that all this talk about valuing defense is something that could have an enormous impact on individual team’s draft boards this spring. The name I always come back to is Grant Green. He is everybody’s number two and the heavy favorite to wind up in Seattle. However, his defense, though improved over the years, is still not a real strength of his game. Maybe I’m putting too much stock into some firsthand reports I’ve received (consensus seems to think I am), but I have legit concerns that his current defensive skills combined with his sturdy frame could result in subpar defensive play at the position sooner rather than later. Of course, it is still better than likely that Green winds up as a league average defensive shortstop; that would be a wonderful thing and make him very worthy of a very high pick, assuming his bat is what we think it is. I just find it funny that the team at the forefront of the “holy crap, defense is realy important!” movement (Chavez, Gutierrez, Ichiro! outfield as proof) is the one that many believe will wind up with a questionable defensive college guy at the top of the draft.
Yes, I realize I had Green to Seattle in my first mock. I’ll probably have him going to Seattle in my next mock, too. I’m a great big hypocrite…how is that news?
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