- Why is MLB the only major sport that doesn’t allow teams to trade draft picks:
I’m not going to pretend I have any idea about any of the amateur players that are set to be drafted, but it seems as if Major League Baseball is trying to drum up NFL-style interest in the amateur draft. With that, it should be realized that one of the most interesting things about the other drafts is the wheeling and dealing that goes on between teams trying to jump ahead of other teams to get the players they want. Major League Baseball has a rule prohibiting the trading of draft picks, but why? I think it would be interesting to see how GMs with differing philosophies approached the draft if they had the opportunity to trade up and down the board.
Would the Yankees trade picks for established players? Would a team like the Rays that is suddenly in contention deal that top draft pick for a starting pitcher to help them now? How about a rebuilding team like the Royals who have useful veterans like Mark Grudzielanek; would they trade him for two minor leaguers and and a first round draft choice? It would really cause people (like me) who are more interested in what’s going on on the major league level to pay attention to the amateur players and the draft and how teams approach it and, like many of baseball’s archaic rules, there’s no justifiable reason why it’s not allowed. While I don’t want a MLB version of a self-styled, self-created “expert” like Mel Kiper Jr. telling me my business, it would add some spice to the draft and I think it should be part of the “obvious process” (as Brian Cashman would say).
- The Mariners should just swing the ax:
When a team has such a public series of earthquakes/aftershocks, there’s little left to do but start firing people. It wasn’t just a manager reaming his players in an expletive-laced tirade; a GM questioning his manager’s timing for said tirade; the team president ripping the coaching staff; or the players pointing fingers; it was all of these things happening in such a tight time frame that makes it worse. The entire episode is described in this story—-ESPN Story—-but it’s only a manifestation of the symptoms that have been presenting themselves in Seattle since early in the season. Nothing of consequence has been done to wake up this slumbering, slumping, disinterested, high-priced group and it’s time for someone’s head to roll.
The Mariners were one of the pre-season favorites to contend for a playoff spot, but have completely collapsed. John McLaren, in his first full time big league managerial job is having the finger pointed at him, but the GM Bill Bavasi is just as, if not more, responsible for this mess. Add in team president Chuck Armstrong for his share of the blame as well. When a GM is under the fire that Bavasi was before last season, he makes decisions that a GM in a more secure position might not make to try and win immediately.
The Mariners are strangely constructed and McLaren may be in the process of proving that there are some men who are better suited to being trusted lieutenants to good managers than being in charge of their own team. (Gene Lamont and Larry Bowa are good examples of this.) It also doesn’t help that their bullpen has not been as brilliant as it was last season and their vaunted starting rotation has struggled. Now guys like Carlos Silva—-who came from a stable, winning organization with the Twins—-has for the second time pointed out publicly that there are players in the Mariners clubhouse who simply don’t care whether or not the team wins or loses.
If the Mariners indeed are going to start a fire sale to dump some of those players (they may as well just release Richie Sexson), then Armstrong should just fire both Bavasi and McLaren and hire someone he trusts and gives the autonomy to them to do what he or she sees fit for the organization. They have players with value to deal—-Raul
Ibanez, Adrian Beltre and Miguel Batista come immediately to mind—-and if they’re going to blow things up, they certainly don’t want to give Bavasi carte blanche to do whatever he wants. There are qualified GMs with track records available—-Dan Duquette; Dan Evans; former Mariner Jim Beattie—-who would come in with a clean slate and start to retool. Bavasi’s right about one thing: McLaren’s tirade could (and probably should) have come a month ago. Now that this stuff is out in public, they should just stop wasting everyone’s time and swing the ax.
On the other hand, the Tigers are in the process of proving that it doesn’t matter how competent their GM is; or how successful a veteran manager they have; or how many veteran leaders there are in the clubhouse; a team still has to play well to win.
Even with their injured and shaky bullpen, I don’t think anyone expected the Tigers to have a record of 24-35 in early June. That relentless lineup and veteran starting rotation, along with Jim Leyland’s overall managerial skill were supposed to overcome a multitude of sins. Instead, they’ve been inconsistent and downright bad for pretty much the entire season. No one criticized the farm system-ravaging deals GM Dave Dombrowski made for Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria, but we’re now seeing the results of such moves if the veteran players don’t pay immediate dividends.
The Tigers had a plan before the Cabrera/Willis deal fell into their laps. The intention was to maintain their top prospects in Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, use Renteria at shorstop; Carlos Guillen at first; Brandon Inge at third; Gary Sheffield at DH and work their youngsters slowly into the lineup if they proved they deserved to play. This is not to fault them for making the deal for Cabrera and Willis, but the worst case scenario may not have been seen as a legitimate possibility and that’s exactly what’s happening. Jair Jurrjens, whom the Tigers traded for Renteria, is developing into a solid starter for the Braves and it’s unlikely, had the Tigers known they were going to get Cabrera and Willis, that they would have traded for Renteria.
Now Leyland, not one to sit on his hands and wait for things to play out before making a drastic move, has made several position changes for his players, dumped underperforming veterans like Jacque Jones and watched as Ivan Rodriguez has collapsed (does anyone doubt what was going on with his earlier career and
this sudden decline that coincides with certain rule changes/testing procedures?) and Gary Sheffield and Willis have been injured. Carlos Guillen is now on his fourth position in the past year and the team’s pitching is in shambles. The Tigers are proving that it’s not all management that’s responsible for a team’s success or failure. The
players have to perform.
The one thing they do have in their favor is that the AL Central is so bad and the Wild Card
will still be within reach once they do have a hot streak, but I don’t think scrambling for a playoff spot and making such drastic position changes from week to week was what Dombrowski and Leyland had in mind
when they put together what was supposed to be a juggernaut, but they still have time to save their season if their veterans start playing somewhere close to how they’ve played for their entire careers. Things could always be worse—-they could be the Mariners and have everyone attacking each other.