May 2009

Ready for the 2009 MLB Draft

I’ve been preparing for our coverage of the MLB Draft: June 9-11 – so I wanted to take you inside my books and share some research with you.

 

Texas Rangers:  Over the past 3 years, 8 of their first 12 picks have been pitchers.  In 2007 – the club had 5 first round picks and drafted 4 pitchers including Tommy Hunter.  8 players taken by the Rangers in the past 5 years have made it to the show.  Travis Metcalf was selected 321st overall – his first MLB hit was a home run off of Tom Gorzellany.

 

New York Yankees:  In the 2005 draft – one of the best classes in history – the Yankees chose Carl Henry at #17 – ahead of Red Sox draftees Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, and Michael Bowden – all of whom have played in the majors.  Henry is out of baseball. 

 

Florida Marlins: 9 draft picks over the past 5 years have made it to the majors.  The 2005 draft featured 5 first round picks and the organization chose 5 pitchers.  Chris Volstad led that group (#16) – Ryan Tucker pitched in 13 games for Florida in 2008.  Gaby Sanchez went in the 4th round and earned a September call-up last season. 

 

Cleveland Indians: Expect this organization to change their draft philosophy and take a risk on some power armed high school kids with bigger upside than some college pitchers – also, a need for speed at the big league level should lead them to not just focus on power bats in the draft.  The Indians did draft Tim Lincecum in the 42nd round of the 2005.  That was the year the club also drafted Trevor Crowe in the first round and Jensen Lewis (David Price’s college roommate at Vanderbilt) in the 3rd round.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks: The club has 7 of the Draft’s first 66 picks.  For reference: The Brewers had 6 of the first 62 picks last year.  The Moneyball draft of 2002 for the A’s consisted of 8 selections in the first 68 spots which produced Nick Swisher (#16), Joe Blanton (#24), and Mark Teahen (#39).  Arizona currently has 4 of their top picks on their roster: Daniel Schlereth (2008 – was called up as I’m typing) Scherzer (2006), Upton (2005), Drew (2004).  Of 15 of their last first and second round picks, 12 have been pitchers and 10 of those were college arms. 

 

St. Louis Cardinals: 8 of their picks from the 2004-2006 drafts have played in the bigs.

 

New York Mets:  Their top picks between 2000 and 2004 are no longer with the organization, but have all played in the majors.  Billy Traber – part of the Roberto Alomar deal.  Aaron Heilman – part of JJ Putz trade.  Scott Kazmir (Victor Zambrano) – Lastings Milledge: traded in 2007.  Phillip Humber – involved in the deal for Johan Santana.

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Top pick from 1990-2004, overall pick is in parentheses, players who made it to the bigs are in bold.

Mike Lieberthal (3) – Tyler Green (10) – Chad McConnell (13 – OF, Creighton University) – Wayne Gomes (13) – Carlton Loewer (23) – Reggie Taylor (14) – Adam Eaton (11) – JD Drew (2) – Pat Burrell (1) – Brett Myers (12) – Chase Utley (15) – Gavin Floyd (4) – Cole Hamels (17) – Tim Moss (85 – no 1st or 2nd round pick) – Greg Golson (21)

 

Make sure to check out the MLB.com Draft page – and the coverage on MLB Network and MLB.com – I’ll be hosting the post-draft show LIVE on Day 1 with Jonathan Mayo (our Mel Kiper, just without hair) – and will be hosting Day 3 of the draft (1130am-330pm) http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2009/reports.jsp

 

Video Draft links – Top 5 Outfielders:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4768703

Top 5 College Pitchers:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4757177

Top 5 Prep Pitchers:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4757153

Top 5 Corner Infielders:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4736997

 

 “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”- Benjamin Disraeli (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)

Getting To Know You

He doesn’t eat chocolate, but still served it at his birthday parties because everyone else liked it. He chose rice cakes instead. After reading the sports page in the New York Daily News, he catches up on politics. For his Kindergarten interview at Village Community School in Manhattan, he was asked to draw a picture – so he took his crayon and wrote “I’ll do this later” and handed it to the supervisor. He was accepted on the spot.


Zach sits 15 feet to my left, on the backside of the structure that houses Major League Baseball’s Instant Replay booth. He turns 25 on May 23rd – sharing his birthday (not the year) with the Senior Producer who sits 5 feet to my right. He grew up in Manhattan – his parents met at Brooklyn College in the late 1960’s and have been married for 26 years. Zach’s a fairly private person when it comes to his life-changing experience at age 8 – but he’s not shy talking about his first time walking into Madison Square Garden to see his Knicks on March 4th, 1993. There are certain days that we remember everything about and March 4th is one of those for him. “Knicks beat the Jazz 125-111,” he told me. The Knicks won that game as part of a season-long 9 game winning streak – a season that saw them fall in the Eastern Conference Finals in 6 games to the Bulls. He liked Patrick Ewing on the court, but not as much off. His favorite player was John Starks – “just seemed like a regular guy. He went from bagging groceries to playing the NBA,  easy guy to like,” he recalled. Starks hit 4 three-pointers that night scoring 22 points after suffering a broken nose in the first 2 minutes of the game only to return early in the 2nd quarter with a facemask. Starks said after the game, “It didn’t hinder my play at all. In fact, I think it enhanced my play.” Easy guy to like is right.


Zach (or Z-Bo as I call him after former Knick Zach Randolph – the two Zach’s have zero in common) doesn’t keep a journal anymore – but he stomached a few fourth quarter collapses from his team this season which was always the topic of our discussions over the Winter.


After graduating from Friends Seminary in New York City with a class of 62 – he was ready to live in the dorms and have the college experience while staying close to home. He co-hosted “Cheap Seats” – a sports talk show on NYU’s student radio station – and his ultimate goal is to get back into broadcast journalism. He graduated with high honors in December, 2006 with a 3.7 GPA and after a few months of enjoying not having to go to class or the dining hall – he landed a paid internship with MLB.com and has been here since.

And he’s a fan of Life Cereal.
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“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Managers of a Lifetime

Major League Baseball began handing out the AL and NL Manager of the Year Award in 1983.  From Lasorda to LaRussa, Sparky to Dusty, Whitey to Zimmer – the best on the bench have been recognized for their contributions over a single season.  2 years before MLB started this tradition, 2 managers started their careers on exactly the same day – my parents.  With both of them turning 60 in a span of 10 days – Dad last Thursday, Mom on Saturday – and with their 35th wedding anniversary on the same day Heath Bell turns 32 and Ken Macha reaches 59 – it’s time that these two managers of my life picked up their award.

 

I could read a box score before Cat in the Hat.  I learned how to dribble a basketball before my ABC’s – ok, that’s an exaggeration – but the point is, my parents let me follow my passion from day 1.    Grades always came first – as did please and thank you, and Mr. and Mrs. – which all led to me never doubting my parents judgment and decision making as I witnessed first-hand how they treated others and how others treated them in return.  To say I’m fortunate would be like saying Albert Pujols is a decent ballplayer – it’s an extreme understatement.  Since this is blog is hosted in the MLBlogs community – let me take you to the little league fields, the basketball court, the hockey rink, and to Thanksgiving Day football field.

 

I’ll start at Old York Road Hockey Rink because that’s the quickest story of them all.  I was 5, my brother Max was 8 – and it was time for our first ice skating lesson.  45 seconds into the lesson, I determined this would be my last and that was that.  My feet were freezing.  We weren’t moving yet, but I didn’t care to stand on the ice anymore.  All I wanted to do was go home and take off the 6 pairs of sox I was wearing.   It was a fight my parents were not going to win.  Of course I should have listened as they suggested that I stay, but my mind was made up.  I regret that decision to this day as I didn’t put on skates again until last winter in Central Park.  They were right – “once you get moving, you’ll be fine.”

 

Starting in 2nd grade, my dad on the bench coaching my basketball team.  He was on the bench for 5 of the 6 championships (1st title came in 1st grade playing for the Bucks – didn’t miss a foul shot all year, and even jumped center once) – including a 3-peat.  I was always in the backcourt with my best friend growing up with his dad next to mine as the coaches.  My mom never missed a game or a moment to cheer.  There was never a doubt whose voice was above the rest when our team scored a basket, blocked a shot or won a game – but Mom also cheered for the other team when one of my friends contributed.  I used to wonder why she clapped for an opponents’ success, but I came to understand that despite it being a competition, it was all just a game in the end, and as much as she wanted my team to win, she never wanted to see someone that upset over a loss, and neither did I.  Neither one of them ever raised their voice at me during the game – but my dad and I did both get technical fouls on the same play during high school.  I went to the basket when my defender stuck his knee out to try to force me to lose my balance – he didn’t – I scored and called out “get him off me!” after the whistle blew for the And-1 situation.  Another whistle quickly followed with the ref giving me a T and Dad popped off the bench, his chair hit the floor, and without swearing at the official, he made it clear that the official better get his act together before someone gets hurt.  That’s when I somehow heard the third whistle over my mom not yelling, but just raising her voice enough so that the man in stripes understood what he was in for.  They always had my back, and still do.

 

Thanksgiving day football game at Rydal Elementary School in 1999 produced a short, but classic story.  After counting 5-Mississippi, I rushed the passer and his left elbow came through and hit me square in the front teeth.  If Mom found out anything happened to her baby, that would likely mean no turkey for dad.  And holding out the turkey on Dad isn’t a smart idea.  My front right tooth was slightly chipped in the middle and a doctor suggested that when we get home to take a nail file and smooth it out – and that’s just what we did.  Mom was walking the dog when we got home, so we hustled upstairs, got her nail file, stood in my bedroom and dad filed my tooth.  Problem solved.  Well, until right now when my mother reads this. 

 

I started going to my Dad’s softball games when I was 3.  At the time he wore the number 4 – but not for very long.  He played in a modified fastpitch league with a doubleheader every Sunday morning and still plays once a week wearing the number 29 for their wedding date.  The games were a family outing.  Mom was always willing to have a catch while Dad took batting practice – and of course Mom had snacks for the entire team of grown adults.  Those guys were my Sunday family and now, just like Dad, I pitch in the same type of doubleheader league every Sunday in New York.  Aside from those games – we spent lots of time down at Veterans Stadium – especially on fireworks nights in July.  My father grew up in Pittsburgh – a lifelong Pirates fan who was at Forbes Field for Bill Mazeroski’s World Series winning home run in 1960 and who has the physical box number hanging at home from his seats at the stadium.  Some of the first stories I remember him telling me were those of Roberto Clemente – the ballplayer and the man.  Mom finds it incredible that Dad remembers details from the 1959 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, but not what she wore yesterday – but I understand.  My parents never pushed me towards playing baseball, or any sport, but always supported me when I showed the interest.  Mom would put on her glove after dinner and roll me grounders in the yard with the bug zapper working overtime – and although she used to say “I know I’m not as fun to do this with as your father” – I never saw it that way. 

 

My parents deserve the manager of the year award every season – all 4 seasons – and for many more seasons to come.  Happy Birthday.

 

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“Men are respectable only as they respect” – Ralph Waldo Emerson