Draft Notes '97®

With an impressive beginning, Joe captured Griffey (hailed as the best position player by one scout) and McGwire (the number two position player according to another scout). Nearly every pick following, unfortunately, was deemed questionable by those 'in-the-know'. Joe's early pitching selections illustrated his lack of knowledge of how harmful a 'W' can be in this league, which cost him later. His fellow drafters will always remember Joe for 'the Steinbach penache' draft-style.

As in his first attempt in '96, John drafted a solid team. He took his lumps for selecting Galarraga ahead of his time, but the larger problem with John's draft was his failure to deliver a contender once the playing started. Was Grissom worth a 7th round pick if he was going to sit? Was Gilkey worth an 8th round pick? Should a 26th round pick like Tino, whose worthiness to be in the league is subject to debate, get 500 plate appearances? These are but some of the questions John's GM most certainly has for John's manager.

I won't debate Caminiti or Robby Alomar as the 8th and 9th pick. I could write a book, though, on Steve's next swing.

Steve taking Buhner as the 24th pick was no crime; there were other high-talent outfielders still out there (JuGonzalez, Ramirez, Finley), but Buhner had different talents than this group made him a fair pick. Steve not playing Buhner in favor of guys like John Mabry was a crime.

Steve's motive was to limit the platoon disadvantage Buhner (SA-2) had versus righties. But this managerial decision made the pick itself unsound. If a GM invests highly in a player, a manager must give that player an opportunity to put up the numbers.

In the case of Steve's next pick, 25th selection Charles Johnson, a GM must be able to foresee what numbers can be put up and weigh every other variable.

I'll preface this by saying Johnson was not the worst pick in the draft; taking a 9+6, 120 games catcher at the 25 spot will never be wrong in a league where the running game is at a premium. In selecting Johnson, Steve set a pattern he could never recover from; GM Steve never compensated for a poor offensive selection and balanced his team.

After taking Chuck J, Steve got caught in a middle round run on pitching that left him with, after his 14th pick, an average staff, three of the league's weakest 3,4,5, hitters in Alomar, Caminiti, and Buhner, a good field, good average, nuthin' else hitter in Mark Grace, and 100 games good field, good average, not-much else hitter in Renteria, and Chuck J, the worst hitting regular in the league.

With the opportunity to right himself with a meat-of-the-order/impact hitters like Reggie Jefferson, Jose Canseco, and Tony Gwynn, Steve passed for more ordinary hitters like Dante Bichette, Julio Franco, and Brian McRae. Again, these picks individually weren't bad, but in the whole scheme, they prove the GM was hoping to win with slow-pitch stars in a fast-pitch league.

In the end, Steve's greatest draft-related accomplishment was that he drafted a team that won a modest, but respectable 72 games, several of which helped decide the Taterka Division.

Top to bottom, Chris had a good draft. Chris's weakness was pitching. He was the last GM to take a starting pitcher and the last to take a reliever. Any SL observer will be quick to tell you, all the offensive clout won't win you a title without pitching support.

Keith got an earful for taking Pudge at number 5. (Some of the criticisms seems unfounded; a 9+6, 152 game catcher in this league is a defensive god. Offensively, Pudge was one of the better hitting catchers--not as threatening as Hundley or Santiago, but his 152 games and good offensive numbers make his team's offensive production at catcher at the top of the league. But how can you draft a number 8 hitter so early? With a balanced draft, Pudge in the number 8 slot is not be an issue. If you press the subject, you may also find that Pudge was the best number 8 hitter in the league.) Keith screwed up by waiting too long to pick a thirdbaseman, which ended up costing Keith Reggie Jefferson and his 23rd round pick.

When is enough, enough? Ken took DH-types in Rounds 6,7,12,16, and 27, then traded for another DH-type in Thome. Enough pitching is never enough, thirty Helen's agree, which makes Biggio's 2nd round pick all the more intriguing. Ken could have had a staff of Brown, Guzman, and Pettitte (or Hentgen), but instead went for a good field, above-average secondbaseman in Biggio. Biggio's offensive value wasn't that high for a secondbaseman, much less a 2nd round pick. Ken did draft from Kansas City in rounds 2 through 9, so I'll stop persecuting him.

Greg went an entire draft making well-thought out picks, quality picks. He did well to draft to his managerial style. His 23rd rounder won some MVP votes, again. Kudos to you, mr. nims.


Draft opinions of Keith Klein 9.11.97