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   1. philly Posted: September 07, 2006 at 03:28 AM (#2170248)
Somebody can pull the numbers, but I'd say Buchholz pitched better than just "well" in Wilmington.

On the negative side you have to include Jed Lowrie who a lot of people thought was just a small step back from Ellsbury at the start of the year. Hansen was pretty poor even in AAA. And given the way Hochevar pitched in very limited time this year, I think you have to wonder about the Sox decision to pull the trigger on the tough sign college releiver from a bad confrence instead of Hochevar. Given that one of the themes of this season - embodied in Beckett - and this off-season - how much for Zito or Matsuske? - will be the ridiculously high cost of acquiring frontline starting pitching that decision in 2005 to go with Hansen over Hochevar is going to deserve a fair amount of scrutiny even if Hansen becomes a pretty good releiver.

I'd also put Egan as a pretty big positive considering there were rumblings that he wasn't even in camp this spring after his off-season problems.

And the Sox throwing thier money around in the draft was certainly a very good thing.
   2. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 03:47 AM (#2170260)
On the negative side you have to include Jed Lowrie who a lot of people thought was just a small step back from Ellsbury at the start of the year.

I originally had him as the first negative that I mentioned, but he had a very nice end to the season. Maybe he's just finally getting healthy or maybe he stinks.

As for Hansen, yeah, it's been a lousy year. I really thought he looked pretty special last year, but he just hasn't looked good in 06 (to me). It's hard to say with any certainty, but I wonder if those 4 inning appearances had any positive or negative effects? The seemed kind of screwy. Still wouldn't mind seeing him made into a starter.
   3. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 03:53 AM (#2170263)
BTW, Buchholz in A+:
16 IP, 10 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 23 K!

His 06 total:
119 IP, 88 H, 10 HR, 33 BB, 140 K.

Bowden's Year (incl 3 IP in A+):
112.2 IP, 100 H, 9 HR, 32 BB, 121 K.
   4. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 03:57 AM (#2170267)
Does MCoA still hate them with all the passion he can muster?
   5. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: September 07, 2006 at 03:57 AM (#2170268)
It seems to me that all the hope for Hansen si tied up in his college career.
   6. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:03 AM (#2170272)
Also, I wouldn't give up on Rozier just yet. He was pitching pretty well in Greenville before his promotion. I think the days of projecting him as a left-handed power pitcher are over. But he seems like someone who could still put something together. His rates stink, but he is a good groundball pitcher and he was fairly successful at limiting hard contact. I want to see him for one more year in high-A before I relegate him to 12th round talent.
   7. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#2170273)
Yes, Temple. If he were here, I'm sure he'd say:

They're mediocre pitchers giving up too many hits and way too many HR. Their best possible hope is to turn into Eric Milton but with more HR allowed. Bowden is especially awful because he's already showing his horribleness at such a young age.

They are both much worse than Hitler or Michael Kay... or Mike Crudale.
   8. philly Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:14 AM (#2170278)
BTW, Buchholz in A+:
16 IP, 10 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 23 K!


And toss in a 7 IP, 10K playoff start tonight. He really finished up with a bang.
   9. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:42 AM (#2170288)
Lets not sell his K/9 short, it was 6 IP.

The only ER came on a play in which Jed Lowrie inexplicably covered 2nd as if a pick-off play were on, and a groundball was hit right to where he should have been positioned. The only reason there was a runner on 2nd to begin with was because with a runner on 1st, a groundball was hit to Lowrie and instead of flipping it to the covering 2B he took it himself and lost the race to 2nd. As you can see, Clay Buchholz never does anything wrong.

Bowden starts tomorrow. This what Buchholz's last start of the season, no matter what, apparently. I don't know what all the concern is about in regards to his innings, he's basically matched what he put up last year.

BTW, Theo and Baird were at the game.
   10. 1k5v3L Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:52 AM (#2170292)
Going into the draft, Rozier was considered 3rd/4th round talent, and dropped to the 12th round due to signability. His big problem was that somehow between 2004 and 2005, he forgot how to pitch. According to his profile in the 2006 BA guide, his fastball dropped from 92-94mhp in '04 to the 80s, and his curveball became sloppy and slurvy. He can get by with mediocre stuff in the low minors, but unless he picks up velocity soon, he'll most likely fail to pan out.

Bed&Breakfast; certainly had memorable seasons. I'm looking forward to tracking their progress. Why doesn't MCA like them?
   11. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:55 AM (#2170293)
I still think Hansen will develop into a very good reliever. I think it was foolish to think he would be ready to get out big league hitters considering how weak his competition was in college, but I still see really good stuff when I've seen him pitch. Obviously his command is pretty piss poor right now, but a year in AAA without getting jerked around will do wonders, IMO.

What are reasonable ceilings for Bowden and Bucholz? I don't know a lot of them excpet they should both be top 5 prospects for the Sox, I'd guess.

Is Ellsbury supposed to be a Butler type or does he have some power?
   12. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 05:06 AM (#2170299)
Bed&Breakfast; certainly had memorable seasons. I'm looking forward to tracking their progress. Why doesn't MCA like them?
He was hesitant to call them future HOFers after their first 50 IP this year, so he was dubbed a hater, by me at least.
What are reasonable ceilings for Bowden and Bucholz? I don't know a lot of them excpet they should both be top 5 prospects for the Sox, I'd guess.

Their ceilings are probably as numbers 2's I guess, though it probably depends on your classification of what a number 2 is. Buchholz has only been pitching for a couple years now (he started pitching his sophomore year at Angelina JC, though BA says he could have been a top 5 round pick as a position player), so his age isn't as important relative to the league because he is so raw. He has a low-to-mid 90's fastball and breaking balls which have been drawing fairly positive reviews, including the Best Breaking Ball in the SAL by BA. He did have makeup concerns coming into the draft because of an A.J. Price-esque computer scandal in high school.

Bowden has the typical fastball, curveball, slider, changeup repetoire, with the curveball being his best pitch. His fastball sit 91-93 and he has good command of all his pitches. The Sox love his makeup as well.
Is Ellsbury supposed to be a Butler type or does he have some power?

No he doesn't have a lot of power. He is more of a slap-hitter, with occasional gap-to-gap power. If you look at Scott Podsednik's rookie year (.314/.379/.443, 43 SB's), that seems about right for his peak years. He also is considered a plus defender in CF.
   13. 1k5v3L Posted: September 07, 2006 at 05:08 AM (#2170300)
If Ellsbury can develop Johnny Damon type of power (which he can, I think), the Sox will be happy with him. I really felt the Red Sox had good drafts over the last two-three years; they really should have more prospects gathering media attention right now...
   14. 1k5v3L Posted: September 07, 2006 at 05:13 AM (#2170301)
He was hesitant to call them future HOFers after their first 50 IP this year, so he was dubbed a hater


Well, time to revoke his Sox Nation membership then. How dare he.

I think you're selling Ellsbury short, TempleUSox. Imho, he will develop decent power.
   15. Norcan Posted: September 07, 2006 at 06:14 AM (#2170325)
I'm with Temple on not giving up on Rozier just yet. He was repeating low-a but he did a good job of not giving up homers (0.56 hr/9) and actually finished with a fine hits/9 allowed rate of 7.80. When you have minor league defenders behind you receiving a fairly good rate of groundballs and you're also not getting bombed by homers, that hits/9 rate isn't all just the product of fortune. It's at least promising. Another promising note, even I though I'm really stretching it, is that for some reason he's shown better strikeout ability above a-ball. Maybe he gets a different edge of competitiveness, I don't know. It'll be interesting to see if he gets his k-rate into the 7s next year.

With the reports on his stuff, it doesn't look like he'll be a frontline or a midline starter but a backend guy is better than nothing. The problem with backend guys though is that, among other things, they usually bounce around before they get a chance to stick, often just because they're veteran-y. Teams just don't stick with young pitchers with okay-ish stuff who pitch like backend pitchers.
   16. Norcan Posted: September 07, 2006 at 06:36 AM (#2170327)
Something that bothers me about Dan Bard is how he usually struggled against the good teams in the ACC. I was going through his box scores and he always did a fine job of clamping down on the mediocre to bad non-conference or ACC teams but against the likes of Miami or Florida State or Georgia Tech, he struggled mightily. A guy like him, who has only one good pitch, I worry about his ability to finish off hitters, getting into high pitch counts because guys are always fouling balls off. It's frustrating to watch and not very good in the result column. And that's how he was, done before 4, having averaged 25 pitches per inning. I just get the sense that he'll be one of those guys who are very frustrating to watch and whom people are always saying that he has so much more potential.
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:17 PM (#2170362)
Does MCoA still hate them with all the passion he can muster?
I'm gonna go Shaughnessy position here. Look at Bowden and Buchholz's H and HR rates before I called them out as unimpressive, and afterward. I lit a fire under those two young men, and I'm not afraid to take my (large) share of the credit.

The main problem with Hansen seemed to be that this miraculous slider was not an out-pitch. He wasn't getting swings and misses. Now, the kid throws 95-96 easily, and so he's got a little time to find that second pitch or extra notch of command that'll make him a star reliever, but he was supposed to have it already. (Thus the MLB contract.) I agree with Philly that the Hansen pick doesn't look too good right now, though given that Hochevar didn't sign with the Dodgers, it's hard to say that Sox would have signed him.

Minor bright spots the minor league season -

Chad Spann. He's not gonna go anywhere with that K-rate, but he's young, he added significant power, and his glove seems good enough to play at 3rd. He might be a ballplayer by mid-2008 if we get lucky.

Dave Murphy. Darren mentioned that he's unlikely to be anything, and this is correct, but as of May, he was just about certain not to be anything. He seems to have the classic skill set of the fourth outfielder - lefty platoon bat, glove good enough to cover any OF spot, no huge holes in his game. Obviously the bat is still very much in question, but I think he could at least be a cheap contributor off the bench in the next few years.

Kason Gabbard. He had a real step forward this year, and he stayed healthy. He's no more than back-of-the-rotation filler, but his stuff seems much more likely than Lenny Dinardo's to translate into modest big league success.
   18. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:44 PM (#2170372)
How does Buchholz's age compare to A and high A? My sense is that he's old for the former and averagish for the latter. Is that about right?
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:58 PM (#2170377)
But, Darren, Buchholz only started pitching in Junior College! You have to think of him not as 22, but as, say, a nine-year-old. He's holding his own in A-ball and he doesn't yet quite understand what mommy and daddy did to make him.
   20. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2170412)
Excellent point! He's the next next Clint Nagoette!
   21. Kyle S Posted: September 07, 2006 at 04:44 PM (#2170571)
Man, that Nageotte/Papelbon comparison isn't looking as hot now as it did to some of us Sox haters pre-season, huh? Oh well, at least I don't have an actual prospect-hound rep to worry about ruining (unlike David C of USSM, who i think was another to make the comparison).

here's to some good luck in the future from bowden and buchholz. i've seen the braves churn out a bunch of these guys over the past few years (e.g. jake stevens, kyle davies, danny meyer, anthony lerew, macay mcbride, adam wainwright, "i'm" chuck james ",b1+ch!" , etc.) without much to show for it. developing pitchers is like making sausage: its messy, it takes a LOT of raw ingredients for even a small batch, and the end result looks completely different from what you'd have thought at the beginning.
   22. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#2170684)
Kyle,

I didn't know you made the Nagoette comparison as well. I was refering to Cameron's comment. It seemed to me that he was really bending the facts to his conclusion in that post.
   23. Sexy Lizard Posted: September 07, 2006 at 07:01 PM (#2170710)
developing pitchers is like making sausage: its messy, it takes a LOT of raw ingredients for even a small batch, and the end result looks completely different from what you'd have thought at the beginning.

And a lot of them are going to get smoked.
   24. Kyle S Posted: September 07, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#2170718)
d - i didn't _make_ the comparison, but i partially agreed with it. oops! also, so we're clear, my participation on this thread is me taking a shot at myself; i didn't think you (or anyone) would remember what i said on that thread, but _I_ do, and boy do I feel stupid these days :)
   25. OlePerfesser Posted: September 07, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#2170805)
Well, if we're getting excited about guys who did well in low-A ball, or in small samples of high-A, then I guess we can sum up the situation as "no immediate help in sight."

I know lots of the young talent is already on the ML 25-man (or DL), but somehow after 5 drafts by this regime I was hoping for considerably more depth, and at least a few eye-popping "hey, this is guy's a future star!" prospects.

The lack of stellar talent at Portland this season is pretty discouraging, really. I don't see Ellsbury as star-quality, and I'm not sure I see Spann as anything at all, given his low walk rate and high K rate; ditto Brandon Moss. And the SeaDogs didn't have a single pitcher with a K/IP rate > 1.0 this year (min 12 IP), though Hansen, Rozier, and Evert met that criterion in trivially small sample sizes.

This is a $100M development machine?
   26. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: September 07, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#2170822)
David Cameron also said Cano's ceiling was a slow 1B hitting .275/.300/.400 or so.

I think right now the Red Sox farm system is pretty weak, at least compared to what it was and the end of last year, but that's not really fair because they've graduated so much of their talent and of course traded some away as well. All the prospect hounds seem to love their last couple drafts, so as much as I hate to say it, I would guess they'll remain a top system for a while still. The only good news for me is the Yankees are finally flexing their financial advantage and improving their system a bunch, too.
   27. OlePerfesser Posted: September 07, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2170837)
Add'l note: of the young talent already up, Delcarmen, Gabbard, and Youkilis were, of course, inherited by the New Regime (ditto Edgar Martinez at Portland), while Pauley was a Pahds draft.

So the machine has given us Lil Papi, Lester, Pedroia, and Murphy so far. I'm lighting candles and saying prayers for the health of the first pair, crossing my fingers for the careers of the second.

Final note of pessimism: in '03 we spent our #1 on Murphy instead of Conor Jackson, Chad Cordero, Brandon Wood, Chad Billingsley, Daric Barton, or Carlos Quentin. Hindsight, of course, but...
   28. philly Posted: September 07, 2006 at 10:14 PM (#2170861)
I agree with Philly that the Hansen pick doesn't look too good right now, though given that Hochevar didn't sign with the Dodgers, it's hard to say that Sox would have signed him.

What do you mean this is the new "the Sox will sign everybody" era!

Hochevar supposedly wanted the now standard top college starting pitcher deal - MLB contract with ~3.5M bonus and a guaranteed total of 5.5M. That's more or less what he signed for this year. I think it's pretty safe to assume he would have signed for that last year from the Sox. If the choice is/was the lower pedigree college reliever for 4M or the higher pedigree college starter for 5.5M, I think the latter is worth the extra coin.
   29. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 10:15 PM (#2170862)
The draft included two picks with pretty large power potential; Place and Anderson.
   30. OlePerfesser Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:03 PM (#2170897)
I don't think Theo is far wrong about the 100 million talent machine comment

Well, I'm glad you're happier about the machine than I, kevin. I guess hell hath no fury like a Mr. Sunshine scorned. But my currently jaundiced eyes are simply not dazzled by the array of prospects above the A level.

Remember, 4 of the 9 guys on your list are elsewhere, 2 face daunting health crises, and the remaining three are far from certain to be regulars, much less stars. (Oh, and 4/9 of the list was inherited, meaning the New Regime is infusing a name per year.)

I need a little more to make me stop whimpering and uncurl from the fetal position, much less to get excited and Sunshiney again. Work with me here...
   31. Xander Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:28 PM (#2170914)
But my currently jaundiced eyes are simply not dazzled by the array of prospects above the A level.
Well there isn't much we can do about that since 4 of those guys just graduated to the majors. But Ellsbury is in double-A and whether you like him or not, he is going to be a top 50 prospect. What's more, there is a hell of a lot of talent in high-A and below. Taking 2/3 of the system out of the equation is going to make a lot of systems look bad, especially if they are bottom heavy. What's even more, Daniel Bard and Lars Anderson haven't even taken the field yet, and they were the two highest ranked players we drafted this year. There's a difference between being full of sunshine and being intentionally doomy and gloomy. The system is going to be ranked in the top 10 in baseball and we have had top 3 drafts each of the last two years. If you don't like it, it's on you.
   32. Darren Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:58 PM (#2170935)
Sunshine,

I think maybe there's a disconnect between your strategy and this FO. It seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that you're inclined toward taking the risks on star talent while this group is more focused on taking the safer bets at getting good, solid major leaguers. And at where they usually draft, that may be the best strategy to take.

In evaluating their drafts, I'd say you start with 03, their first full year under Theo. 03 produced 2 quality ML and some guys who could be something. 04 with no first rounder managed to snag what looks like an averagish middle infielder in Pedroia and a decent reliever in Meredith. Not much else. It's very early to judge 05, especially if you're going to eliminate the lower minors. But Ellsbury, Hansen, Buchholz, and Bowden look to make the draft at least good. If some of the longer shots like Wagner, Corsaletti, or Natale come through, it will be amazing.

Overall, I don't see how you could look at their drafting and call it anything but good, if not very good. Sure, there are going to be good players that you miss, but you can say that about every single team in every single draft. In the Murphy example you cite, 16 other teams also passed on the guys you liked better. Some of those guys weren't even picked first by the teams that picked them.
   33. philly Posted: September 08, 2006 at 01:04 AM (#2170972)
03 produced 2 quality ML

Is Murton the other one? He's still borderline for me. Might just be a short side platoon 4th OF type at this point. 2003 is pretty heavily dependent on Paps shoulder.

2004 draft just looks ok at best.

Those two draft fall well short of "very good". They're probably in the "soid to good" range, but Paps shoulder pops out again and they drop to below average. That's part of the problem when your best draft picks are pitchers.

The last two draft look very interesting, but a lot of that is because the players haven't had much of a chance to fail.

Still waiting for the Theo Sox to draft an All Star quality player which is what it really takes to have a very good draft. You know... somebody like Freddy Sanchez.
   34. Xander Posted: September 08, 2006 at 01:06 AM (#2170974)
Papelbon was on the All-Star team.
   35. philly Posted: September 08, 2006 at 01:21 AM (#2170987)
Relievers don't count. They're fungibe don't you know.
   36. Norcan Posted: September 08, 2006 at 02:03 AM (#2171039)
Not to pile on Cameron, well, maybe just a little, but I think he derided Ryan Howard as well. At the time, it looked reasonable. Howard was old for his level, had a risky body type and struck out a lot. It wasn't hard to see him going the way of Calvin Pickering for instance. But still, that's a pretty big whiff. I know Cameron is respected and all but does he ever see most of the players he deigns to give his expertise on? I know he has access to scouting reports via his scouting buddies but still, at least put a strain of humility in your analysis. When he wrote about Papelbon, I doubt he ever saw him pitch but that didn't stop him from sounding like an expert.
   37. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 08, 2006 at 02:32 AM (#2171068)
I know Cameron is respected and all but does he ever see most of the players he deigns to give his expertise on?


Yes, he does.

-- MWE
   38. Darren Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:01 AM (#2171092)
Still waiting for the Theo Sox to draft an All Star quality player which is what it really takes to have a very good draft. You know... somebody like Freddy Sanchez.

Call me when even one of his draft picks reaches age 28. :)

Is Murton the other one? He's still borderline for me. Might just be a short side platoon 4th OF type at this point. 2003 is pretty heavily dependent on Paps shoulder.

Almost any player from that draft has played so little so far that he cannot really be judged. Paps has dominated and his shoulder is apparently okay, and Murton's 24 and has managed a .280 career ERA. I'd say those guys are about as good bets for solid MLers as you're going to get 3 years out from the draft.

2004 draft just looks ok at best.

Did you back up your draft studies anywhere? I tried to use links from an old thread and it didn't work. I was hoping to go through and get a general sense of what kind of WARP the Red Sox should get out of each of the recent drafts. In 2004, I think that number would be very low because their first pick was #65, which is awful. By that standard, I think they did fine.

The last two draft look very interesting, but a lot of that is because the players haven't had much of a chance to fail.

But in the chances that they have had to fail, most of them have failed to fail.
   39. OlePerfesser Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:09 AM (#2171097)
It seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that you're inclined toward taking the risks on star talent while this group is more focused on taking the safer bets at getting good, solid major leaguers.

An interesting and provocative point, Darren. You're giving me credit for an underlying theory that I really didn't have; I was just reacting to the aggregate amount of talent infused over the last 5 drafts (or 4, if we want to say '02 was no one's). But your strategic distinction is one the FO really ought to have thought about.

And if they had, shouldn't their choice have been to go away from safer bets toward the highest-upside (but riskier) picks? Our team main rival is not afraid of $200M payrolls. Whenever we get into a head-to-head auction for the elite FAs, we lose (from Mussina and Bernie years ago, to Contreras, to Damon).

So if we want the elite players needed to make up a true championship club, don't we need to draft and develop them? Solid league-average types are much more abundant--and cheaper, given the non-linearity of players salaries. Why would we focus our drafting on them? Especially since we're hoarding picks by not signing our over-the-hill vets (Pedro, Damon, etc.), wouldn't that be consistent with a high-reward, high-risk draft strategy?

There's a difference between being full of sunshine and being intentionally doomy and gloomy.

Truer words were never spoken, Temple. I'm totally with ya there; as to the rest, I guess time will tell. ;-)
   40. OlePerfesser Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:16 AM (#2171100)
BTW: If we're not giving Theo's crew credit for '02, put Lester, Spann, and Moss in the "inherited" category.
   41. Darren Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:27 AM (#2171110)
And if they had, shouldn't their choice have been to go away from safer bets toward the highest-upside (but riskier) picks? Our team main rival is not afraid of $200M payrolls. Whenever we get into a head-to-head auction for the elite FAs, we lose (from Mussina and Bernie years ago, to Contreras, to Damon).

This is certainly one way to look at it. But there's also the fact that they a) the Yanks can outspend the Red Sox for the average players as well, b) in most cases, it seems like the superstars are the smart guys to go after in FA, and c) it is pretty darn hard to draft superstars when you're not picking in the top half of the first round. If the Red Sox do a very good job of churning out a bunch of cheap, average-to-good players, they can slot them in accordingly and have more to spend on the stud FAs. Like I said, I can see your concerns, but I actually think the strategy that I'm talking about works better for their position. Besides, it's lower variability, and everyone loves that! :)


BTW: If we're not giving Theo's crew credit for '02, put Lester, Spann, and Moss in the "inherited" category.

Theo wasn't the GM in 02, why would he get credit there? Either way, it's a fairly thin draft at this point.
   42. Xander Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:42 AM (#2171119)
So if we want the elite players needed to make up a true championship club, don't we need to draft and develop them? Solid league-average types are much more abundant--and cheaper, given the non-linearity of players salaries. Why would we focus our drafting on them? Especially since we're hoarding picks by not signing our over-the-hill vets (Pedro, Damon, etc.), wouldn't that be consistent with a high-reward, high-risk draft strategy?

This is basically what they have been doing. I don't really know where to find the article now, but the AP story after this year's draft had quotes from the scouting department saying that the first couple of years the organization wanted to fill a pretty barren system up with polished college players who could make an impact quickly. But in the last two drafts, the organization has trended towards high upside picks. This is supported by the fact that they took Buchholz (a JuCo player, but was considered raw), Bowden, and Egan last year and this year they selected Place, Clay, Kalish, Weeden, and Anderson. I think they are aware that they need more "impace" players from within. Hopefully a couple of these kids will pan out into that.
   43. Xander Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:48 AM (#2171127)
So if we want the elite players needed to make up a true championship club, don't we need to draft and develop them? Solid league-average types are much more abundant--and cheaper, given the non-linearity of players salaries. Why would we focus our drafting on them? Especially since we're hoarding picks by not signing our over-the-hill vets (Pedro, Damon, etc.), wouldn't that be consistent with a high-reward, high-risk draft strategy?

This is basically what they have been doing. This is from a Jason McLeod interview after this year's draft:
I think for us, this year, we finally got to a point where Theo [Epstein] felt comfortable with where we are [with] the talented players we had in our minor league system [that] instead of trying to address needs or trying to infuse college players that can come in and provide an immediate value for us this year, we [instead] came into the draft saying ‘Let’s look at who can add the most long-term impact to the organization.’ So the selection of Place and [Caleb] Clay [a high school pitcher from Alabama the Sox selected in the second round] didn’t have anything to do with them being high school kids. Just more so we felt that their upside and potential for impact was very good, so that’s why we selected them there.

This is supported by the fact that they took Buchholz (a JuCo player, but was considered raw), Bowden, and Egan last year and this year they selected Place, Clay, Kalish, Weeden, and Anderson. I think they are aware that they need more "impace" players from within. Hopefully a couple of these kids will pan out into that.
   44. OlePerfesser Posted: September 08, 2006 at 03:48 AM (#2171128)
Well, though Port was formally GM, everybody seems to think that Lucchino and Theo were the puppetmasters that year, too. After all, Theo had been the Player Development guy in S.D. Anyway...

Besides, it's lower variability, and everyone loves that! :)

Yeah, it seems like I'm contradicting my usual rant about low variance being a good thing.

But here, high variance is a virtue. You're not giving these guys multi-year guaranteed deals and committing PT to them. You get to discard your bad picks, and keep the ones that exceed expectations. You're looking for superstars, since damn few of them make it to free agency while they're still in their prime, and the Yankees vaccuum most of those up anyway. And hoarding picks supports that kind of high-risk, high-reward strategy.
   45. Norcan Posted: September 08, 2006 at 05:56 AM (#2171205)
Yes, he does.


Really? I thought he lived in North Carolina and I just can't imagine him going on roadtrips to the various leagues, to Pennsylvania and the Northeast, to California and Texas, so as witness firsthand the development of baseball players through his own scouting eyes. Not only seeing players for one year and leaving it at that, but folowing them level after level and compiling more information in his notebooks. If so, I commend his dedication and I hope he's compensated for his efforts.
   46. 1k5v3L Posted: September 08, 2006 at 06:00 AM (#2171209)
So, at what point of time in this thread am I supposed to cut in and kill all this fanboyism?

Callaspo!
   47. 1k5v3L Posted: September 08, 2006 at 06:04 AM (#2171210)
Btw, is Egan supposed to be any good? He's got the name to be a good catholic bishop if baseball didn't work out. And the Boston church will pay off all of his legal debt anyhow...
   48. Norcan Posted: September 08, 2006 at 06:38 AM (#2171227)
I don't really know where to find the article now, but the AP story after this year's draft had quotes from the scouting department saying that the first couple of years the organization wanted to fill a pretty barren system up with polished college players who could make an impact quickly.


Their strategy wasn't totally flawed. If they had guys like Carlos Quentin or Conor Jackson in mind, then it wouldn't have been a bad strategy. But unfortunately their execution of it was terrible. I just wished they had done a better job of balancing tools with polish. When they drafted Abe Alvarez, I think they were trying to behave like enlightened people. They weren't going to go ga-ga over traditional tools; they were going to take a more nuanced view about what comprises baseball tools and also used statistical models as an aid. And in turn they were going to hit and hit and hit, as if every draft has a large supply of future major leaguers. Meanwhile, while they were picking career minor leaguers or reserve outfielders, they were letting others teams hoard high ceiling players.
   49. Norcan Posted: September 08, 2006 at 06:43 AM (#2171229)
Well, though Port was formally GM, everybody seems to think that Lucchino and Theo were the puppetmasters that year, too. After all, Theo had been the Player Development guy in S.D. Anyway...


The demographic of the draftees changed so drastically after 2002 that I doubt the puppetmasters theory was valid.
   50. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 08, 2006 at 01:01 PM (#2171284)
The point Temple makes in 43 (and 44) is key. The Sox have switched things up in the last two years, and they've devoted a good number of top-round picks to higher-variance, higher-upside picks. It's not just (thus-far) successes like Bowden and Buchholz, but also (thus-far) failures like Scott Blue and Mickey Hall.

Buchholz, Bowden, Egan, Place, Bard, Clay and Anderson all have all-star upside, and all are quite a bit less likely to play in the majors than Alvarez was when drafted. They don't have upside like a Cameron Maybin or a Mark Rogers, but that sort of talent will just about always be gone before the 23rd pick.

I'm not sure I buy the "we needed to fill up the farm" argument. I mean, would an extra two or three picks thrown at high schoolers in 2003 really have ruined Sarasota's season? I don't see it. I think it's more likely that the Sox have changed their minds, and they now believe that thier earlier college-centric drafting and emphasis on skills over tools were not the best strategy. I tend to agree with them.
   51. OlePerfesser Posted: September 08, 2006 at 01:20 PM (#2171295)
That's an encouraging view, MCoA--Thanks. I'm OK with some whiffs if the hits are loud (per #s 40 and 45) and we're factoring in the higher risk by hoarding picks and going after guys with signability issues in later rounds. Swing for the fences and take a lot of swings, in effect.

I also hope Temple's right that, e.g., Ellsbury is a top-50 prospect, and that the lower-level guys will rate highly.

Once the season wraps and the experts start publishing their rankings, maybe somebody ambitious will collate the info and tell us how we rate vs. other systems. I'd say that to be "very good" or better, you have to significantly exceed a random distribution, no? Having just 1 top-30 prospect, 1 rated 31-60, etc., should be roughly the norm, on average (though there will, of course, be variance from year to year as guys get promoted, etc.).
   52. Hairps Posted: September 08, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#2171448)
A more frequent poster here than I recommended I share a quick look I took at minor league team defense:

2006 Minor League Team Defense

It's little more than a data dump at this point, but raises some interesting issues.

Anywho. I need to come by here more often (for my benefit, not yours!).

Thanks.
   53. philly Posted: September 09, 2006 at 12:10 PM (#2172008)
Did you back up your draft studies anywhere? I tried to use links from an old thread and it didn't work. I was hoping to go through and get a general sense of what kind of WARP the Red Sox should get out of each of the recent drafts.

No, they got toasted in the last of the many great SoSH crashes. I'm going to get them reposted this winter along with the two sections I never finished.

I still think the best and quickest way to look at the draft is not to focus on adding up the small expected WARP values for every draft pick, but to look for any players that exceed some minimum threshold like 40 WARP (maybe 30-35 for a pitcher). A team needs to get a player like that to have a good draft. Any combination of lesser players just doesn't push a team foward enough in terms of on field production.

And right now there's a pretty reasonable chance that the 02-04 drafts (not exclusively the Theo drafts, but the first 3 new owner drafts) won't produce a single one. Lester because of cancer and general difficulties as a pitcher. Papelbon because of his shoulder and his role in pen. It's really hard to hit 40 WARP as a releiver though with leverage the standard should be lower. And Pedroia because he just may not be that good. A run of three drafts with maybe one or none 40 WARP players isn't much of a farm revitilization.

And I'll throw out my general take on the "fill the farm with modest ceiling college draft pick" silliness. Not with the Sox because that's too touchy, but with Riccardi Jays who are now apparently ok to criticize for doing some of the same things the A's and Sox have done. Which is convenient in a lot of ways. ;)

Anyway, Riccardi's first two first round picks were safe, low risk college infielders Russ Adams and Aaron Hill. Both moves through the system quickly and were ready to start this year. Their expected cheap production in part allowed Riccardi to spend big money on Burnett, Ryan and Glaus. I expect both players to exceed the expected WARP of their draft slots. They are perfect embodiments of successful low risk collegiate draft picks.

Except Adams lost his job to John freakin McDonald and Hill might have as well if there were two McDonald's lying around. I'm in a strat league with a few vocal Jays fans and all year they've been screaming about how the Jays need a SS. I keep telling them that Riccardi successfully drafted two of them already, but they don't seem impressed with that kind of success.

Meanwhile project HS picks from the same draft that produced Adams are already in the majors and outproducing Adams. Is it still sabre orthodoxy to say that while Adams may not have a ceiling like Prince Fielder or Scott Kazmir or Cole Hamels or Jeff Francoeur, he's much less risky and subject to less performance discounting because he'll hit the majors so much quicker?

Amongst the dirty little secrets of the "fill the minors with safe college picks" mantra that is thankfully fading, is that college picks fail at a pretty high rate too and HS players, at least the real good ones, moves through the minors so fast that the time lag is overstated by the 3 year age difference.

I don't think I posted it, but when I looked at C vs HS players who have exceeded 40 WARP for thier careers I found that the HS players produced a bit higher WARP in their pre-FA years and only hit the majors 1.5 years later than their C peers. It's the lesser complementary players where C players have a more pronounced edge.

And lately, it's dawned on me that if you're not drafting potential core players, then you're ultimately forcing your team to try to bring in core players from outside the organization and those players whether they come from FA or trades are always quite expensive and often quite risky. Riccardi probably thought he was pretty smart drafting a cheap middle infield so he had the cash to go out and spend 55M on the supposed star pitcher on last year's FA market. But maybe if he drafted and successfully developed Scott Kazmir he wouldn't have felt obligafted to throw 55M at Burnett.

For years knuckleheads in the online community cheered when teams minimzed their risk in the draft, but what's the consequence of a successfully risk minimized draft approach like the one the Jays have employed under Riccardi? Well one possible consequence is that you smartly minimize the risk of blowing 1.5M on a first round pick so you take Adams over Kazmir and then you end up spending 55M in the FA market because a rotation of Roy Halladay and four guys like Dave Bush, Josh Banks and Casey Janssen (all successful, safe, command the strike zone collegeiate pitchers) isn't going to get you to the players.

Teams need very good players, not just risk minimized value players, in order to make the playoffs. If you don't draft and develop them you may end up feeling forced to spend 55M on AJ Burnett to get one.

Or if you're a smart team like the Sox you'll just have trade Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach and commit ~80M to Matt Clement, Josh Beckett and Coco Crisp.

It isn't easy or cheap or without risk to go outside the organization for core players. Any amatuer talent acquisition philosophy that makes it harder to develop them internally is ultimately short sighted even if you're staring at a barren farm system that could use some dafe C+/B- prospect depth.
   54. Darren Posted: September 09, 2006 at 12:33 PM (#2172012)
Isn't Kazmir on the DL right now? Doesn't that make him kind of a poor choice for the poster of the high school players, since that's one of the main reasons given for not drafting them?

Otherwise, interesting points above.
   55. Darren Posted: September 09, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2172019)
Philly,

Let's bring it back to the Red Sox, even though that might hurt the feeling of fanboys like me. Do you think the Red Sox could afford to bring up only decent/pretty good players through their system, then splurge on the stars in FA? I would think they'd be in a lot better position to do so because their payroll is so much higher than Toronto's. Their draft position, as I mentioned above, may also be more suited to this strategy. (Though I guess this is not really what they're doing now. More of a blended approach?)

And right now there's a pretty reasonable chance that the 02-04 drafts (not exclusively the Theo drafts, but the first 3 new owner drafts) won't produce a single one. Lester because of cancer and general difficulties as a pitcher. Papelbon because of his shoulder and his role in pen. It's really hard to hit 40 WARP as a releiver though with leverage the standard should be lower. And Pedroia because he just may not be that good. A run of three drafts with maybe one or none 40 WARP players isn't much of a farm revitilization.

It seems kind of early though, doesn't it? Couldn't you look at just about anybody's 02-04 drafts and say there's a pretty reasonable chance their guys won't pan out? as 40 WARP-ers? Papelbon has 90 PRAR, is that about 9 WARP? Isn't that a pretty good start? Murton's got 5.4 WARP and a .280 EQA at 24. I'm not sure how to handle Lester. Sure, pitchers are risky, but you can't really expect to anticipate cancer, can you?
   56. CONservative governMENt Posted: September 09, 2006 at 01:28 PM (#2172022)
Robinson Cano started off his major league career very poorly but was able to turn it around. Does Pedroia's major league time this year just serve as a 'feet wetting' for fans here with no real concern on performance or are some slightly downgrading his potential? I know Pedroia was projected to be a better major league player than Cano and he is 10 months younger (with added value as a back-up SS).
   57. OlePerfesser Posted: September 09, 2006 at 01:39 PM (#2172023)
Excellent post (#55), philly. Thanks. Of course, you're not exactly Sunshiney, either: so we were no better'n average in '02-'04, and we're hoping the subsequent change in philsophy bears fruit. OK, time will tell.

Digression: TSN's Stan McNeal has an interesting revelation about Theo. TSN's Exec of the Year Award is by peer voting, and back in '04 (which was a pretty good year for the boy genius, IIRC) Theo got exactly zero votes from his fellow execs. Zero. '04. Wow.

I'm starting to wonder if Theo's career path will, over time, start to look a lot like The Duke's. The latter was also a boy genius at one time who made a lot of dazzling moves but who lost the press and and lot of fans due to lack of interpersonal skills (or, at the least, inattention to PR and relationships-related issues). If anything, Theo's got some baggage, among Baseball Men, that Duquette (who came up through scouting) didn't: Theo's a stat geek/MoneyBall guy. Hopefully, the press grumbling will die down as he starts to right the ship this off-season. But again, time will tell.
   58. OlePerfesser Posted: September 09, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2172026)
Yes, ignore the first couple months of a prospect's ML career, Mulch. It indeed takes a while get your feet wet. I'm still thinking Pedroia eventually will be at least a league-average 2B, with most of his value concentrated in OBP. If "downgrading" is going on, it might just reflect unrealistic initial expectations more than anything else.
   59. 1k5v3L Posted: September 09, 2006 at 02:13 PM (#2172035)
If "downgrading" is going on, it might just reflect unrealistic initial expectations more than anything else.


Bingo. I think Pedroia will become a solid major leaguer in his prime, with his ability to play 2B and/or SS, display strong plate discipline and spray doubles and the occasional homer. Think Marcus Giles as his ceiling. Not the MVP quality player many expected him to become, but still pretty good.
   60. OlePerfesser Posted: September 09, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2172037)
How many of your peers would vote for that hotshot new guy who's still wet behind the ears as a superior performer to themselves?

Good point, kevin. The best defense I've heard for academic tenure is that without it, profs would never recruit/hire youngsters better than themselves.

Still... zero? Harsh.
   61. philly Posted: September 09, 2006 at 02:41 PM (#2172046)
Isn't Kazmir on the DL right now? Doesn't that make him kind of a poor choice for the poster of the high school players, since that's one of the main reasons given for not drafting them?

I agree completely. There is no perfect risk free way to build a 95 win team. The DRays are in trouble if Kazmir is going to spend a big chunk of time on the DL over the next couple of years. But at least he was making 325k while he was on the DL unlike Burnett whoe spent half of this year on the DL making 11M as the Jays fight to finish in 3rd yet again.

Do you think the Red Sox could afford to bring up only decent/pretty good players through their system, then splurge on the stars in FA?

In theory, but what happens when there aren't stars on the FA market in positions of need or you have to choose between financial flexibility and a frontline starter who wants (and may get) 5yrs/75M?

So far the only stars the Sox have gone after have been Foulke (cost depressed because he's just a releiver) and Schilling (cost nothing in trade and was willing to sign for just 3 guaranteed years because he wants to retire). Those situations are much different than snagging a Zito or somebody like that.

Now I don't know, maybe when Manny's contract is gone and more of the squad is cheap homegrown complementary players they'll go after the "right" FA for a huge deal and not worry so much about the length and flexibility aspects. But I'm always a wait and see person. Util they do that, we don't know.

Couldn't you look at just about anybody's 02-04 drafts and say there's a pretty reasonable chance their guys won't pan out? as 40 WARP-ers?

Yeah, but I'm mostly just trying to point out that the baseline expectations for these drafts is lower than the common perception, I think.
   62. philly Posted: September 09, 2006 at 02:50 PM (#2172048)
The latter was also a boy genius at one time who made a lot of dazzling moves but who lost the press and and lot of fans due to lack of interpersonal skills (or, at the least, inattention to PR and relationships-related issues).

In the last couple weeks - shockingly just as the team hit the skids! - I've noticed a real increase in snide aside from the press about post-gorilla suit Theo clamping down on the flow of information to the press.

Now when things are going well this will be a "Belichickean" lockdown, an annoying price to pay for a very well run organization.

When things are going poorly there is going to be some grumbling about how "Duquettian" the former PR intern is becoming even though the organization is still well run.

You can get away with not feeding the press when you win 95 games every year. The first time you win 85 they're going to let you know about it.
   63. OlePerfesser Posted: September 09, 2006 at 03:23 PM (#2172062)
That's exactly right, philly. (Theo's gorilla suit = Duke's "silly" dalliance with a meter-reading sabermetrician?)

In The Duke's case, I believe the PR-related problems accumulated over the years until the majority of the press corps simply decided they'd had enough and needed to run the guy out of town. The '01 late-season meltdown combined with the ownership change gave them the perfect window of opportunity. I read Gammons, in particular, very closely that Fall and Winter, and his print venom was harsh and frequent; I wouldn't rule out that his verbal communication with the new owners was harsher still.

Theo's got the advantage of having this precedent laid out before him, so he should be able to avoid repeating Duquette's errors. Plus, he's got a ring, Steinberg's around to manage PR on other fronts, and there's no figure quite like Gammons at the local level. He should rally nicely. I hope.
   64. karlmagnus Posted: September 09, 2006 at 07:16 PM (#2172198)
Alternatively they could bring Duquette back and admit they messed up letting him go in the first place. I'd forgotten that Hanley and Anibal were Duke picks; it's becoming clear that in addition to his other advantages the guy was a better spotter of truly elite talent than is Theo. (Pedro vs. Beckett --puhleeazze!) Yes, Theo may be better at the second line stuff, and got lucky with Ortiz, but I don't see any signings equivalent to Pedro or Manny in the coming offseason.
   65. Norcan Posted: September 09, 2006 at 07:50 PM (#2172228)
Another downside with drafting low ceiling college players is that their trade value generally isn't good. And if you draft them exclusively, then you have a static and boring farm trade pipeline.
   66. Darren Posted: September 16, 2006 at 02:37 AM (#2178464)
Since this is the current Minor League/Prosect thread, it seems like the right place for this. In looking at Sickels's Derek Jeter Prospect Retro and it struck me how much Jeter's last year at AAA looks like Pedroia's 06 at AAA. Here they are, side-by-side:

Jeter: 21 yo, ~547 PA, .317/.394/.422, 27 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 61 BB, 56 K.

Pedroia: 22 yo, ~444 PA, .301/.379/.421, 30 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 45 BB, 26 K.

Jeter's far more than a year younger, closer to 2 years, and he's got far better speed. However, Pedroia seems to have him beat in power, contact, and discipline. All in all, they're pretty darn close.

There you have it. Pedroia is the next Derek Jeter, only with actual defense!
   67. philly Posted: September 16, 2006 at 02:42 AM (#2178479)
B-Ref has Jeter at 6'3" and 175 lbs. It's possible Pedroia's AAA power advantage of -1 SLG may not hold.

Yeah, yeah, iso this. It's funnier that way.
   68. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#2178572)
Jeter's far more than a year younger, closer to 2 years, and he's got far better speed. However, Pedroia seems to have him beat in power, contact, and discipline. All in all, they're pretty darn close.

There you have it. Pedroia is the next Derek Jeter, only with actual defense!
Ergo, Dustin Pedroia is the MVP of the American League!!
   69. 1k5v3L Posted: September 17, 2006 at 01:55 AM (#2179204)
B-Ref has Jeter at 6'3" and 175 lbs.


So Jeter was a foot taller and a stone lighter. It's the brain that matters most, not the brawn.

Pedroia seems to have him beat in power, contact, and discipline.


Discipline, sure. Power and contact, not so much. Plus, Jeter debuted in '95 as a 21 year old and hit better over ~ 50 ab than Pedroia as a 23 year old over ~ 50 ab. Granted, 50 ab is just that. And granted, Pedroia did hit a homer, so he's bound to develop into a mini-babe ruth...
   70. Darren Posted: September 17, 2006 at 03:21 AM (#2179231)
That's ridiculous. I expect Pedroia will become a full-sized Babe Ruth.
   71. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 17, 2006 at 04:26 AM (#2179250)
Seeing how this is a minor league thread and I probably follow the farm system less than any of the Therapudlains here, I'd figure I'd ask this question here:

what are the age ranges that you can expect different grades of prospects to be at different levels of minor league systems? Okay, I know enough to know that a guy in AAA at 21 is someone special while my boss's nephew who is 30 and playing at Reading is just delaying adulthood; an athletic slacker, if you will. But this (age/level) seems to be something basic but I've don't recall having seen anything explicitly written on it. I have Sickel's '03 book and I can't find it there. BPro makes references to age/level with the assumption that their readers know what they mean. I may have read something about it in BA, but that was a long time ago.

TIA, philly (interesting post upthread, BTW), Darren, OleP or whoever answrs this.
   72. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 17, 2006 at 03:07 PM (#2179390)
My basic heuristic limits on prospects are that they be under 22 in A-ball, under 24 in AA and under 25 in AAA before I start considering them as much of anything at all. Under 21 in A and under 22-23 in the high minors is a heuristic for top prospects, though it gets a little more complicated with pitchers, since age isn't quite as big a determining factor with them as it is with position players.

(And these are just heuristics. Kevin Youkilis, for example, was always above my age limits at every level.)
   73. philly Posted: September 17, 2006 at 03:54 PM (#2179406)
I think you can probably use a 3 year range for each full season level with the idea that a player at the lowest level is on track to be a very good prospect (if performing well obviously), a player in the middle year can be a solid prospect and a player at the highest age better be playing extremely well and knocking on the doors for a mid-season promotion.

So something like:

lo-A: 19-21
hi-A: 20-22
AA: 21-23
AAA: 22-24

I know a lot of people are much more restrictive, but that kind of overlapping ranges makes more sense to me.

And as MCoA pointed out somebody who enters pro ball as a college senoir like Youkilis or who happens to be in a slow promote organization is going to end up pushing even the upper ranges.
   74. Women's Lib is Ms.Guided Posted: September 17, 2006 at 04:20 PM (#2179422)
It's the brain that matters most, not the brawn.

You're looking at his watch but his mind's really the diamond.

After this season (strong minor league, shaky major league) does it still hold that David Wright is going to end up a poor man's Dustin Pedroia?
   75. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 18, 2006 at 02:16 PM (#2180493)

And as MCoA pointed out somebody who enters pro ball as a college senoir like Youkilis or who happens to be in a slow promote organization is going to end up pushing even the upper ranges.


Thanks, philly and MCoA. How many draftees are college seniors? Are any of these guys redshirts?

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