Teams Should Be Allowed To Swap Amateur Draft Picks
ALSO: FANS SHOULD NEVER PICK ALL-STAR LINEUPS
IBWAA members love to write about baseball. So much so, we've decided to create our own newsletter about it! Subscribe to Here's the Pitch to expand your love of baseball, discover new voices, and support independent writing. Original content six days a week, straight to your inbox and straight from the hearts of baseball fans.
Did you know…
Did you hear about that 0-0 pitchers’ duel in Coors Field last Friday night? It was the first nine-inning scoreless game in the history of the Denver bandbox. Max Fried yielded no runs on two hits but got a no-decision in a 3-1, 10-inning Atlanta win over the Rockies . . .
Now that Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) and Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) are back after long layoffs, what impact will they have on the title chases? . . .
The Twins have seven starting pitchers sidelined, including Kenta Maeda after Tommy John surgery . . .
Although his bat is finally showing signs of life, 2021 NL RBI king Adam Duvall slumped so badly this season that he lost his arbitration battle with the Braves . . .
Cy Young, the biggest winner in baseball history, averaged just 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings — 3.4 !!! . . .
Yu Darvish had more hit batsmen (3) than hits allowed (2) in his 7-0 win over the Mets . . .
Newly-signed Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa, always dogged by injuries, gas missed 11 games with a bruised finger and eight more after testing positive for Covid-19 . . .
Kumar Rocker, no relation to John, is pitching with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League a year after he was the first-round amateur draft pick by the Mets and can sign with any club . . .
Former slugger Pete Incaviglia is Rocker’s manager . . .
With the notable exception of Aaron Judge, the universal humidor has wreaked havoc with this year’s power stats. Ask Joey Gallo, still mired well under the Mendoza Line.
Another June, Another Lost Opportunity For The MLB Draft
By Sean Millerick
As the calendar turns to June, many fans are getting pumped up for what they consider to be the most exciting part of the baseball year: trade season.
Rumors will run rampant right up to the Trade Deadline, which for reasons known only to Rob Manfred will be on August 2nd this year as opposed to the traditional July 31st date.
Fan bases will brace for either the departure of longtime stars or the arrival of reinforcements for a deep playoff run. Prospects will be studied, salaries shuffled, and Twitter incessantly stared at from now until deep into summer. All leading up to a glorious week where any true baseball fan will be unable to put their phone down until the deadline expires.
And completely independent from all of this, the MLB Draft will also happen. It really is quite the disconnect. What’s more, it’s a disconnect that is completely unnecessary and has a very simple solution:
MLB needs to allow teams to trade draft picks. Particularly first-rounders.
Without question, the biggest problem with the MLB Draft isn’t the lack of trading picks but the slow-burning return on investment from those draft picks.
Maybe not every player picked in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is going to the Pro Bowl this season, but barring injury, almost every one of them is taking meaningful NFL snaps this season.
NBA first-rounders? Nearly all will be knocking down some shots in 2022.
Baseball though? You won’t see any of the players drafted this summer in the majors until 2024 at the earliest, and most of them won’t ever be seen in the majors at all.
Throw in the fact that most MLB fans don’t follow these players in high school and college to nearly the same extent basketball and football draftees are, and it’s very likely the MLB Draft will always be finishing third behind the NBA and NFL.
However, it doesn’t have to be nearly this distant. And trading draft picks is the simplest and most direct way of closing that popularity gap.
It’s obvious that MLB wants the draft to be more interesting. The length has been trimmed. It has been moved back from its traditional date in June so that it could be part of All-Star week in July. But if you’re already moving it that much closer to the Trade Deadline, why not make it a much more consequential part of all that Hot Stove League action fans love?
Who wouldn’t have wanted to see a draft day trade for Jack Leiter last season? For Adley Rutschman? Why not allow the Marlins or the Phillies to trade their first couple picks in 2022 to the Red Sox for Xander Bogaerts? Is all of that somehow bad for baseball?
Clearly, the answer is no. Which begs the question, why was this prohibition on trading picks ever put into place to begin with?
Once upon a time, the answer was a really good one: MLB thought teams were too stupid to be trusted. The league believed that allowing the trading of top picks would disrupt competitive balance. And once upon a time, that almost assuredly would have happened.
Now, though? Unlikely. Because if you wanted to sum up the entirety of MLB’s problems in a single sentence, it would be that teams are now too smart for their own good. The league is now having to limit mound visits, limit pitching changes, crack down on sticky substances, navigate elaborate sign-stealing scandals, and outright ban innovations like the shift.
The three true outcomes game of 2022 is the product of years of advancement and study. As is the growing unrest amongst the middle class of baseball’s player pool.
Teams are willing to pay up for the truly elite, but otherwise are eschewing paying sizable contracts to veterans in favor of maximizing the value of much lower paid prospects.
In short, there’s a mountain of evidence to suggest that teams know the value of prospects — and the draft picks needed to acquire them.
Which isn’t to say that there wouldn’t be that handful of trades involving those coveted first-round draft picks every July. Just the same as there is a handful of trades every April for the NFL draft, and every June for the NBA.
Not enough to wreck the league, but enough to add spice and excitement for fans…and give teams another tool to improve their rosters.
It’s a needed and necessary change. One that if MLB is truly serious about boosting interest in their annual draft it needs to make as soon as possible.
Sean Millerick is a diehard Miami Marlins fan but still finds cause for hope every Spring Training. He currently writes for @CallToThePen. You can find him on Twitter @miasportsminute.
Fans’ “Voting” For All-Star Lineups Starts But Definitely Deserves To Be Scratched
By Dan Schlossberg
The Atlanta Braves are shamelessly marketing their players to fans in an effort to stack the National League’s starting lineup for the All-Star Game.
That, my friends, is a travesty.
Instead of showing short videos in movie theaters throughout the Southeast, the Braves should spend their money on pitching help.
The whole thing was predictable: allowing fans to pick the starting lineups for the All-Star Game not only compromises the integrity of the Midsummer Classic but also results in more commercials both in the ballpark and on the air.
Ever since blustering Bowie Kuhn returned the vote to the fans in 1970, the results have been ridiculous — and sometimes abysmal.
Under the current system, fans can vote five times with any 24-hour period — and presumably as often as they like ad nauseum. Mike Pence won’t certify those results for sure.
Consider the facts that mitgate against fan participation:
Mike Schmidt was once elected a National League starter in a season he didn’t play; he had actually retired from the game!
Luis Aparicio had the same experience in the American League but fans picked him anyway because they recognized his name.
And how many years was an over-the-hill Ozzie Smith picked because people remembered his somersaults at shortstop?
Detroit catcher Bill Freehan once admitted he didn’t deserve to go. Neither did Davey Lopes, elected to start with an all-time low batting average of .169, or even Reggie Jackson, who was also under the Mendoza Line at .199.
For far too many years, Major League Baseball and its franchises have encouraged votes to vote early and vote often. The only problem with that formula is that MLB does not live or operate in Honduras. Baseball should not operate like a banana republic, though it so often slips on its own peel.
When players, coaches, and managers voted, the system was fair. They were not allowed to vote for teammates or vote more than once. Then the 30-somethings in the Office of the Commissioner got their mitts on the process and created the concoction that exists today.
Beyond the voting, the All-Star Game should be played during the day on a Sunday afternoon, as it was after the 1981 player strike ended. Tuesday nights are bad because the game starts too late, lasts too long, and loses more than two-thirds of its audience (those who live on the East Coast and have to get up early for work the next morning).
The All-Star Game used to be a showcase event before add-ons like the Home Run Derby polluted the product. It’s time MLB rolled back the clock and considered the original intent of Chicago sports editor Arch Ward, who conceived the All-Star Game as a Depression antidote in 1933.
Just the game, please. And just the best players, not necessarily the most popular ones.
We should be seeing the guys with the best numbers this year, not blasts from the past. That means letting managers pick the rosters and letting fans enjoy the results much more than they do now.
The 2022 All-Star Game is scheduled for Dodger Stadium on July 19.
Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been covering baseball since 1969. The author or co-author of 40 books, he will be signing in Fair Lawn’s Cozie Cafe at 10 a.m. on Father’s Day, at the Baseball Hall of Fame at 1 p.m. July 6, and at the Level Hotel in L.A. at 4 p.m. on July 17. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Some pitchers throw out of a crouch, others throw straight overhand, some are underhanded. Big D threw out of a rage. You had the feeling that guy up there with the bat had just made a nasty remark to his mother or threw a brick through his church window or voted Communist.”
–Jim Murray on Don Drysdale
Ted Williams accused Don Drysdale of throwing him a spitball during the 1959 All-Star Game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the first Midsummer Classic on the West Coast . . .
The only pitcher to start two All-Star Games in the same season (1962), Drysdale won the first but lost the second . . .
Fired as Yankee manager after losing the 1960 World Series, Casey Stengel still showed up at the first 1961 All-Star Game – to throw out the first pitch . . .
The just-retired Ted Williams threw out the first pitch before the second All-Star Game . . .
The 1959 All-Star Game was part of Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial celebration . . .
All-Star closer Josh Hader of the Brewers blew a save this week by throwing consecutive gopher balls against Philadelphia . . .
Names to remember: Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson, who won his first seven decisions, and Blue Jays catcher Gabriel Moreno, a slugger with imposing AAA stats.
Name to forget: Joan Adon, the Washington rookie who led the majors in losses (10) and walks before he was mercifully returned to the minors.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.