SO IT GOT ME TO THINKING ....
[August 16th] -- The Nats' Nation is content today. A year into the Lerner regime, Nationals' fans were ready to support - or turn their backs on - the team based on what happened to Jack McGeary. As it turns out, all that yackity-yack about reducing payroll and spending it "elsewhere" turned out to be true.
That wasn't a wind that swept across the city this morning; that was a collective sigh of relief.
We're on the right track.
That got me to thinking. We know that the Nationals farm system went from one of the best in the major leagues to one of the worst under the stewardship of Bud Selig and his merry minions. The team was under strict orders to not spend a dollar over slot value on drafted players. Add that to a skeleton scouting staff and therein lies your recipe for disaster. Not enough scouts, and not enough money leads to poor choices.
Take 2002 for example. The Montreal Expos, with the 5th pick in the draft, took Texas schoolboy Clint Everts. Prior to the draft, ESPN.com provided an analysis of the the forty or fifty players thought to have a chance to be taken in the first round.
Everts was nowhere to be found. He was drafted by the Expos because 1) he was signable and 2) a less-than-accurate assessment was made of his abilities.
Take a look at other first round picks who were taken after Clint Everts:
- #6 - Zach Greinke (KC) ... 19-33, 4.92 in 4 seasons
- #7 - Prince Fielder (MIL) ... .279-66-479 in 3 seasons
- #9 - Jeff Francis (COL) ... 43-30, 4.69 in 4 seasons
- #11 - Jeremy Hermida (FL) ... .266-10-36 in 79 games this season
- #12 - Joe Saunders (PHI) ...13-3, 4.41 in 3 seasons
- #13 - Khalil Greene (SD) ... .251-66-262 in 4 seasons
- #15 - Scott Kazmir (NYM) ... 31-27, 3.69 in 4 seasons
- #16 - Nick Swisher (OAK) ... .254-35-95 in 2006
- #17 - Cole Hamels (PHI) ... 22-13, 3.86 in 2 seasons
- #19 - James Loney (LAD) ... .311 in 3 seasons
- #22 - Jeremy Guthrie (CLE) ... 7-4, 3.22 this year
- #23 - Jeff Francoeur (ATL) ... .260-29-103 in 2006
- #24 - Joe Blanton (OAK) ... 37-32, 4.16 in 4 seasons
- #25 - Matt Cain (SF) ... 19-25, 3.79 in 3 seasons
- #28 - Mark Teahen (OAK) ... .274-30-173 in 3 seasons
The other rounds weren't much better. The Expos took Darrell Rasner (2) instead of Brian McCann, Larry Broadway (3) instead of Curtis Granderson, John Fefoldi (4) instead of Lance Cormier, Chad Chop (6) instead of Scott Olsen, (though Mike O'Connor was a good choice in round 7). No question, not every one of these poor choices can be attributed to money and bad scouting. But there is a pattern, a pattern that destroyed the team.
The funny thing is, the team is still making unusual choices. The good news is, however, these days it's for the better. Jack McGeary in the 6th round? Every other team believed that the kid was going to go to Stanford and were unwilling to take a chance. Everyone but the Nationals. Chris Marrero was projected as a high first rounder last year but a "disappointing" senior year allowed him to drop to #16. This year, it was Michael Burgess that dropped because of a sub-par senior year and the Nationals took him at #49.
Remember, Burgess comes from the same high school as Doc Gooden and Gary Sheffield. Burgess' coach at Hillsborough High in Tampa said that Burgess and Sheffield were similar players "except Burgess had more power than Sheffield." In June of 2006, Baseball America listed Burgess as the 4th best hitting prospect in the entire draft. But he tinkered with his swing and he didn't live up to his press clippings.
So, the Nationals really ended up the draft with the equivalent of FOUR 1st round players (Detweiler, Smoker, Geary and Burgess). Based on 550 at-bats this is how Marrero and Burgess' numbers would look based on this year's production to date:
- Marrero: .281-30 doubles-28 homers-106 RBI's
- Burgess: .325-22 doubles-31 homers-135 RBI's
In the last two years, the Nationals' farm system has gone from barren to blossoming. I've decided it's much more fun to watch a flower grow in your yard rather than to buy one from the store and plant it.
The plan. Don't watch baseball without it.
No Mo Wily Mo? Looks like the Boston Red Sox have designated-for-assignment Wily Mo Pena. Now, this should be interesting. There is no doubt that Jim Bowden sees him self as Dr. Frankenstein and his old Reds' team as the monster, and not a day goes buy without the good doctor trying to put the pieces back together again. Is Wily Mo one of the parts that still works or has is he too decomposed to do any good? Well he's still young (25), but his numbers continue to decline. He hit 26 homers in 2004, 19 in 2005, and just 11 last year. He's hitting just .225-5-17 in 2007, leading to the DFA.
Thanks, but no thanks. I think we've seen enough of players in their mid 20's who should have begun a very promising career, but haven't.
Time for our guys to get the chance. I'd rather see what Chris Marrero can do in September rather than Wily Mo Pena.
That said, it is Jim Bowden we're talking about here ......
05/24/2002 4:31 pm ET
Texas teammates set for draft
Kazmir and Everts on verge of making history
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
This is the second in a series of stories detailing what three people in baseball will go through as they prepare for the First-Year Player Draft. MLB.com is profiling high school pitching prospect Scott Kazmir, Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield and Padres scouting director Bill Gayton.
HOUSTON -- They look like a pair of typical teens you'd find on any high school campus in America but Scott Kazmir and Clint Everts could be on the verge of making history.
If the predictions by various scouts and publications like Baseball America are accurate, next month the two high school classmates could become only the fourth pair of prepsters in history and the first duo from the state of Texas to be drafted in the first round of baseball's First-Year Player Draft.
The Lone Star state has produced dozens of high school first rounders over the years, from Brenham shortstop Jack Heidemann in 1967 (Cleveland) to Spring's Josh Beckett in 1999 (Florida). A left-hander from Houston Westchester High named David Clyde was the first pick of the draft in 1973 (Texas). Texas high schools have produced numerous other players who went on to the college ranks before turning pro, including Roger Clemens, Greg Swindell, Glenn Wilson, Chuck Knoblauch, Jeromy Burnitz, Lance Berkman, Kip Wells and Jose Cruz Jr., to name a few.
Despite all of that talent, however, Texas hasn't produced two players from the same high school that were selected in the first round of the draft in the same year.
Kazmir and Everts could change all of that.
"Everything we're hearing is that it's certainly possible that could happen," Cypress Falls coach Brent McDonald said. "Wouldn't that be something?"
Kazmir, a left-hander, and Everts, a right-hander, have been scouted by virtually every Major League team plus the Major League Scouting Bureau. Kazmir is expected to be taken within the first five picks. Everts is projected as a probable mid- to late-first-round pick.
"They are very, very special guys," McDonald said. "And I don't mean they're special only because of their talent. I've watched them as much if not more than anybody and they way they carry themselves, the way they work and handle themselves and handle adversity, it's obvious they are extraordinary young men."
The scouts have been scrutinizing these two every time they play. Kazmir and Everts have been weighed, measured, clocked and observed. They are watched in games, they are watched in practice. The eyes never leave them, even when they're in the dugout getting a drink of water or taking a breather. With millions at stake teams are trying to learn as much as they can about these two, and so far being under the microscope hasn't fazed either one.
"(The scouts) are everywhere, it's hard not to notice (them)," Everts said. "You just try to go about your business and do what you're supposed to do."
"At first it was kind of cool, it's like, 'wow,' " he said. "But you get used to it after a while. And you don't want to get distracted because it can cause problems for you during the game and that wouldn't be good."
Kazmir and Everts have led Cypress Falls to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Kazmir throws in the 94-96 mile-per-hour range (in 60.2 innings he fanned 144 batters, falling nine short of Beckett's state high school record) and has a decent curveball and developing slider. Everts has an outstanding curveball but doesn't throw as hard as Kazmir. Both have ERAs under 1.00.
"I've seen Josh Beckett, Justin Thompson and Chris George, and I'd say Kazmir is as good as any of them," said the coach of an opposing team, Langham Creek High's Armando Cedeno. "Everts is an outstanding pitcher, too."
Since both are still teens the theory is both will add even more velocity as they mature. Both are also being courted by colleges but those plans, especially in Everts' case, were made before it became clear that he might go higher in the draft than he anticipated last summer.
As for where they go in the selection process, Kazmir and Everts said they aren't worried.
"To me it's just a dream to play in the Major Leagues, I want to pitch in the historic places like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, so wherever (he's drafted) I'm not going to be upset, I just want to play baseball," Everts said.
Kazmir added: "I try not to think about (where he'll go in the draft), you don't want to set up expectations that if they don't happen you're disappointed. I'll be happy if I go in the first (round)."
Chances are, both will. These two back each other up on and off the field. When Kazmir pitches, Everts starts at shortstop. When Everts is on the mound Kazmir plays center field. Being a part of Texas schoolboy trivia/history would be something else for their already impressive resumes.
"That would be really cool," Kazmir said. "I'm pulling for him (to go in the first round) and he's pulling for me, and if it happens, that would be really cool."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Any opinions referred to here are not necessarily those of Major League Baseball.
06/04/2002 2:27 pm ET
Everts becomes Expos' first pick
By J.S. Trzcienski / MLB.com•
MONTREAL -- In keeping with the long-standing team philosophy that you can never have enough arms, the Expos on Monday selected right-handed pitcher Clint Everts of Cypress Falls High School with the fifth overall selection of the June First-Year Player Draft.
"We got the player that we liked," said Dana Brown, Montreal's director of amateur scouting. "We had our players pretty much ranked according to how we wanted them. He fell in our lap, and we were excited to get him because of the stuff that he has."
Everts, 17, was a superior athlete at Cypress Falls, seeing time both as a shortstop and pitcher. A teammate of fellow Golden Eagle Scott Kazmir -- a southpaw who was picked 15th overall by the Mets -- Everts went 9-3 with a sparkling 1.30 ERA over 81 innings, striking out a ridiculous 157 while walking only 28 in 2002. From an offensive standpoint, he led his team in walks with 14, ranked second in stolen bases (five) and had the third-best on-base percentage (.394).
Those offensive numbers will likely go down, for Everts will become a pitcher with the Expos. He has a high three-quarter delivery with a power, "fall-off-the-table" curveball that has late bite, along with a good feel for a deceptive circle change. Overall, Everts is viewed by scouts as having a tremendous upside that is complemented by an excellent makeup.
"We felt that he had the best curveball in the draft," Brown noted. "We also felt that he was the most athletic pitcher in the draft, so that made it a little easier for us to make that decision."
Having already entered into preliminary discussions with Everts -- who has signed a letter of intent to attend Baylor University -- Brown is confident the Expos will be able to sign him and get him started in Rookie ball in short order.
"In terms of signability, what we did was we spoke to the kid and we just talked to him about the Expos' situation to see if he was uncomfortable with the talk of contraction," Brown explained. "The kid just wanted to play baseball, and we let him know that coming on with Montreal would be just like signing on with Major League Baseball in a sense, because a lot of players that are drafted end up with other teams anyway. He didn't have a problem with it, and we were excited to get him."
J.S. Trzcienski covers the Expos for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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