Who will the Padres take?

The MLB draft is tomorrow, televised on MLB Network at 4 PM PST. The San Diego Padres select ninth in the first round and then not again until 59th.

The Mock Draft: Attempting to predict what all 30 teams are going to do in the first round. Generally fun, generally sort of useless and hard to do. Good for discussion, though. Below, I have listed, from difference sources of various credibility, a few mock drafts:

Source Player
Keith Law Karsten Whitson, RHP, HS
Baseball America Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State
Kevin Goldstein Nick Castellanos, 3B, HS
Minor League Ball Michael Choice, CF, UT-Arlington
Jon Heyman Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas
MLB Bonus Baby Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State

There are more at the Mock Draft Database.

The name I’ve heard most is Kolbrin Vitek, the 2B from Ball State, but that surely doesn’t mean the Padres will take him. If they do, it sounds like a position change is a no-brainer, and that he will be targeted for center field.

From what Jed Hoyer and company have said, and based on their track records, it appears that the Padres are going to take the “best player available.” Not a bad philosophy when, you know, the idea is to get a good baseball player. In all seriousness, I have a lot of faith that the front office is following a good process here. We will have to wait and see if the results follow.

Matt Bush sighting

Tom Krasovic notes in his recent column that Matt Bush is trying to make a comeback with the Tampa Bay Rays:

Rays personnel say they wouldn’t be surprised if Bush, one of the most disappointing top picks in draft history, rises to the major leagues later this season. Now in Single-A, Bush has thrown only three innings but clocked well into the 90s. Time will tell if Bush’s comeback from alcohol abuse will hold up, but the Rays are encouraged by the 24-year-old’s overall progress. Baseball’s answer to Ryan Leaf, Bush was drafted first overall by the Padres in 2004 and quickly found trouble off and on the field.

After being selected first by the San Diego Padres in the 2004 draft, as Kras mentions above, Bush struggled mightily in the Padres system, hitting .219/.294/.276 in 812 MiLB PAs. You probably know the story. The first pick never reached AA ball. The Padres attempted to convert Bush to a reliever in 2007. It started well – 16 strikeouts in 7.3 innings – but ended abruptly, with Bush needing reconstructive elbow surgery.

With the draft fast approaching, what have we learned from the Matt Bush pick?

  • It is hard to evaluate young players and project what they will become. While Bush was not the consensus top pick, he was still a highly regarded prospect, who probably would have went somewhere in the early-to-mid first round had the Padres not taken him. In the minors, Bush didn’t just struggle, he completely fell on his face.
  • Don’t let money get in the way. While completely ignoring signing bonuses would be silly for a small market team – or a rational team – it is dangerous to select a player and bypass better prospects, especially early in the draft, just so you can save a few bucks.
  • Top picks get many chances to succeed – or fail. Bush struggled with the bat, then had arm troubles on the mound, then had troubles with alcohol and the law. While it is great to see him get another chance, it also shows that top picks get many opportunities. Imagine if he was drafted in the 15th slot; he’d probably be out of baseball right now.

Friars From Afar

The Following is a guest post by Jeff Caldwell, a lifelong Padres fan who lives on the East Coast.

I’ve heard the rumblings of dissatisfaction coming from Blogistan concerning this year’s San Diego Padres broadcast team; some would say it’s the inevitable product of a youth movement, that when 85-year old Jerry Coleman moves out for a brash upstart like 75-year old Dick Enberg, there are going to be some hiccups. I’m somewhat removed from the controversy, though, as a life-long Padres fan who lives on the East Coast and gets his coverage via mlb.tv and Extra Innings, which seem to show the other team’s broadcasters about 95% of the time. I’ve spent more time with Kruk, Kuip, Vin, Dibs and Gracie than Dick and Mark and, to be honest, I often have the sound down as I watch the games early the next morning Eastern time, my wife asleep and my dog staring at me, impatient for a walk.

I did, however, watch and listen as the Pads hosted the Mets for a tense and ultimately very satisfying series. Ron Darling and Gary Cohen provide the coverage for SNY, along with the obligatory cheeky lad named Kevin, who does the free-range mockery. He obsessed over the guy who leads the “Simon Says” games in the Petco sandbox (“very intense”) and the healthiness of the queso on the nachos in the Western Metal Supply Building (“absolute filth”—I guess the offerings at Citi Field are all macrobiotic). While I expect a certain amount of homerism in broadcasters, and supposedly a lack thereof is one of the problems with Enberg, the New York guys aren’t exactly that way—it’s more that they were openly derisive of the Padres’ players, park, city and culture.

Having lived in the New York metro area for over ten years, I’m used to the annoying “greatest city in the world” claptrap as well as the converse, the sneering “New York City?” hostility in the heartland. It’s all tiring and stupid. There are good and bad things about every locale. It was a little surprising, however, to hear Darling, Cohen and the Kid be so condescending. Two or three times in the first innings of Game 1 they laughed about the Padres outfield specifically and team generally being filled with “no-names,” no-names who would shortly drop an 18-spot on the “names.” I think we’re all aware of the budget constraints we’re dealing with which began with the Moores’ difficulties, but maybe when a team has the best record in the NL almost a third into a season, you might want to get off your overpaid hineys and do some research and learn the no-names’ names. Later, they focused on a shot of Tony Gwynn, Jr., in center field consulting a card which he pulled out of his back pocket which was presumably filled with tendencies of hitters or some such data. This crippled them with laughter. Apparently, the ban isn’t only on themselves, no one’s allowed to do research. Most tired-making, they managed to squeeze in the ultimate hackneyed dig at laid-back Southern Californians—“they call it the ‘marine layer’ because ‘clouds,’ well, that would just be too negative.” Get it? We’re all super-positive New-Agey doofuses! You spilled fish taco filling down the front of my shirt? Whatever’s clever, Bro!

To be fair, Darling does provide some interesting insights on pitching and, as the Mets found the going difficult even in the game they won, the SNY team was decidedly more subdued by Game 3 (“Simon says, ‘watch Adrian circle the bases'”). Still, it was a pretty startling display. Say what you will about Enberg’s fumbles, he’s professional enough to leave the locker-room, towel-snapping gags to the players.

Is Chase Headley Really A Better Hitter When Playing Third Base?

Chase Headley had a nice start to the season.  In April, Headley had a 0.364 wOBA, boosted mostly by a 27.8 percent line-drive rate, which helped him achieve a 0.322 batting average.  Many attributed his success at the plate to a greater comfort at third base, and speculated that perhaps Kyle Blanks’s slow start to the season was due to discomfort in the outfield.

In May however, things started to go sour for Headley.  His line-drive rate for the month was only 13.5 percent, and his BABIP for May (0.280) was over 100 points lower than in April (0.394).  His batting average for the month dropped to 0.250, as did his wOBA (0.250).

Headley’s strong line-drive rate in April covered up some other distressing statistics.  He was walking less (6.2% BB rate in April compared to 10% in 2009), and his power was almost nonexistent (0.100 ISO).

In May, Headley did not improve his walk rate, and actually hit for less power (a miserable 0.086 ISO). Combined with his decrease in line drives, the result was a miserable offensive month.

Headley’s season numbers are nothing special.  He has a 0.317 wOBA, a 6.5% walk rate, and a 0.089 ISO.  He is hitting for almost no power, and is not getting on base enough to compensate or that lack of power. Headley’s minor league statistics suggest he should be hitting for more power, and drawing more walks, and it is something he will need to do to have sustained major league success.

As for now, I do not think there is any evidence to suggest Headley hits better when playing third base than he does when playing left-field.  He is a more valuable player at third due to positional scarcity and because he is a better fielder there than in left-field.  But his batting does not seem to have improved due to a switch to third.

Note: Splits data courtesy of Fangraphs

Nearly perfect

While the  San Diego Padres were beating the Mets in exciting fashion, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was going for a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. Galarraga, a not so exceptional pitcher (career 4.62 ERA, 5.19 FIP), was apparently on, as he retired the first 26 Tigers in order.

The fateful play was a groundball (the 14th that Galarraga had induced) hit towards first base by Indians shortstop Jason Donald. Galarraga covered and took the throw from first basemen Miguel Cabrera. It was a bang-bang play. Upon further review, however, it is clear that Donald was out.

There were a few issues I wanted to cover. Dave Cameron, via Twitter, said this:

Wondering if anyone on earth would object to MLB just retroactively revoking the call and crediting Galarraga with an official perfect game.

While I respect Cameron’s opinion tremendously, and my earthly residence may be in question, I certainly object to his scenario.

First off, I’m not sure if it is worth retroactively “getting it right.” I understand that we want to record what actually happens, and Donald surely was out, but is it worth it after the fact? A game happens, and then it is over. We can’t, nor shouldn’t, go back and change things around after the fans have left the ballpark or turned their TV sets off, and the players have left the field.

Secondly, and more importantly, umpires are part of the game. Just like players, they make mistakes, and just the Bill Buckner, sometimes they happen at the most inopportune times. We can further extrapolate on the Bucker example, saying that, for example, that groundball that famously shot under his legs should have been an out 95% of the time. Then 95% of the time the Red Sox *should* have won the World Series in 1986.

Of course, comparing a player’s gaff to one of an umpire is, to a large degree, apples and oranges. Players play the game, and their mistakes are meant to have an impact on a game’s outcome. Umpires are merely present to enforce the rules of the game and ensure fair play. However, we can’t expect them to be perfect. Perhaps on the call Jim Joyce missed, the first base umpire nails correctly 95% of the time. This time, Joyce missed it. If it happened in the 5th inning of a normal, 5-2 game, nobody would have noticed. Like Bucker, Joyce chose precisely the wrong time to make his mistake.

Further, on twitter (and blog posts), people were, once again, clamoring for instant replay. I guess I’m in the minority amongst the sabermetrically-inclined, but I am not a big fan of instant replay.

First, the practical issues. Does each team get a certain number of replay attempts, like the NFL? Is there an official replay umpire that reviews every call? Can every single call be reviewed? What about balls and strikes? Regardless of the actual process, the game would undoubtedly be slowed even further.

More so than that, however, consider the philosophical issue touched on above. When I’m watching a football game, there’s nothing more frustrating than a clear touchdown that needs to be reviewed, just in case the ball didn’t break the plane. Sure, the idea is to get it right, but I don’t want to hedge my celebration because an inevitable replay is forthcoming.

What I’m trying to say is that a game happens in real-time, I want my results in real-time. On every close, game-deciding call at first base or home plate, I don’t want to have to wait for replay to tell me what happened.

Umpires have been part of the game since its inception. I understand that technology is advancing, and the baseball should too. The equipment has changed, the fields have changed, the style of play has changed. But it has always been played by humans (it, at times, chemically advanced ones), officiated by humans. The umpires, just like the players, have been making mistakes for years. They are part of the game.

The baseball gods allowed Armando Galarraga, a middling pitcher who, let’s face it, has no place throwing a no hitter in the Major Leagues, get within one out of perfection — immortality. Perhaps fittingly, they took it away when Joyce missed a close call at first. Galarraga was locked in, probably like never before, showing that anything can happen when humans play baseball. Joyce responded by missing a call that he probably gets right most every time, showing that anything is possible when humans umpire baseball.

Eckstein leads Padres to series win

Don’t miss Ben’s chat with Denis Savage below.

There was high drama in the finale of the San Diego Padres-NY Mets series at Petco. Thanks to FanGraphs for the graph:

game

The excitement started in the bottom of the 9th, with the Padres trailing 1-0, when Tony Gwynn Jr. started things off against Francisco Rodriguez with a line drive single to right. Gwynn got a big jump and stole second, getting the tying run into scoring position. Gwynn’s single and steal brought the Padres Win Probability from 17% to 41%. K-Rod settled down, however, striking out Matt Stairs and Jerry Hairston Jr., lowering the Padres chances considerably (back down to 13%).

David Eckstein was the last chance for the Padres, and after falling behind, grounded a single up the middle, just past Jose Reyes to tie the game. Huge moment, and who else would you want up in that spot? Okay, Gonzalez, and maybe someone else, but Eckstein’s contact rate is a huge plus, especially against a guy like Rodriguez.  The Padres win probability jumped to 56%.

Adrian Gonzalez followed with a line drive down the left field. The ball was played by Jason Bay and Eckstein was sent home. A perfect relay by Bay and David Wright nailed Eckstein at the plate. Certainly, a defensible move to send Eck there, with two outs and K-Rod on the mound. It took a perfect relay, and the Mets executed.

The Padres bullpen, led by Ryan Webb, shut the door on the Mets for five innings, after a solid performance from Clayton Richard. Ho-hum. In the bottom of the 11th, Gwynn again started things, this time off Raul Valdes, with a double down the left field line. Jon Garland, however, failed to get Gwynn over as he was thrown out on Garland’s sac bunt attempt. Jerry Hairston followed with a single and Eckstein was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Adrian Gonzalez with one down.

With the outfield drawn in, Gonzalez crushed a Valdes offering, and the only question was what kind of walk off hit it would be. The ball cleared the fence easily and the Padres were 5-1 winners. The WPA leaders:

Players WPA
Eckstein .44
Gwynn .42
Webb .23
Gonzalez .18

Tough luck for Gonzalez. He hits a walk-off grand slam and is fourth on the team in Win Probability Added. Of course, it makes sense. When he stepped into the box in the 11th, the Padres, with one out and the bases loaded, already had a 82% chance of winning. And a walk or single would have the same impact on the game’s outcome as a grand slam. Eckstein and Gwynn’s heroics came when the Padres trailed in the 9th, and had little chance of winning.

On the Road with Madfriars – Fort Wayne

Denis Savage is the publisher of MadFriars.com, a webzine that covers the San Diego Padres’ minor league system. Along with John Conniff they both visit the various affiliates throughout the season. We caught up with Denis for one of their first trips of the year to get his impressions on a team that this year resembles a T-ball team because of their youth; the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the low-A Midwest League.

1) How much of a concern is Jonathan Galvez’s defense? He committed his 15th error in only the second week of May and from listening to games it doesn’t seem like there is much improvement. Is there any chance they move him to second sooner rather than later?

Denis Savage: No way they move him to second base right now. Obviously, they will get him some reps over there, as they have with all of their shortstop prospects, but his position remains at short. Watching him play, you can see the grace in his movements. He really is fun to watch and has grown recently. Impopssible throws he tried early in the year are now being held. It is part of the process with Galvez. He has a penchant for being flashy but is really learning his own limitations and growing from that. Most of the errors are throwing errors. He understands he rushes his throws and is working towards slowing the game down. It isn’t as big a concern as one might believe.

2) The three Dominican starters, Edison Rincon, Rymer Liriano, and Galvez have all struggled immensely offensively this season. While the season is still early, are these young hitters just pressing as they enter their first full professional season? If not is there something mechanically different with their swings, or are they just being overmatched?

Denis Savage: Believe it or not, this was expected. It would be easy to say they are pressing, but the reality is that they are young players experiencing cold weather for the first time. The average temperature in Fort Wayne during the month of April was 56.5 degrees. At night, they saw 10 days where the temperature was in the 30s. By contrast, the average low in the Dominican Republic is 73 degrees in April. Being a New Jersey native, I could handle this. Now that I have been in San Diego for 10 years, I am not so sure. My hands would be like ice. Gripping the bat would be only because it might warm me up. Each time I swung, I would fear getting sawed off because my hands would go from shaking to rattling. John is more adept at swinging in the cold now; John’s problem is he can only hit a ball thrown by a third grader, underhand.

Now, pressing may actually come from this as the weather warms. If they create bad habits because of the lack of success, than your assessment later in the year will be more accurate. As of now, all three are on the right path. Rincon is still a pure hitter. Galvez is prone to having mental lapses. Liriano still susceptible to the off-speed. They have growing to do and expect the second half to prove they are capable of playing at this level.

3) With Donovan Tate, Keyvius Sampson, and James Needy all starting the year in extended Everett Williams is the only high school draftee to make it to Fort Wayne. With all eyes on him to represent the new “approach” to drafting, how has Williams looked both offensively and defensively? Is there a reason why he has only 3 stolen base attempts all season?

Denis Savage: His offense has come a long way since I last saw him. He looks like he has a clearer understanding of his own strike zone. He swings too hard at times but this kid has a feel for hitting that will only improve over time. He has natural power and smokes balls that he hits. It is pretty rare to see weak contact. And he has become a battler in working the count of late. That bodes well for his future, as his baseball acumen has made great strides in a short amount of time.

His defense was, in a word, horrific. I was honestly shocked at how bad his routes are. Remember the kid who was taken last in softball and thrown out in left field, praying no one would hit the ball to him (sorry if this was you or John Conniff) – Williams fits this description. He gave up on balls out there – got turned around several times and has a long way to go before I believe he can play a capable center field. It was the most surprising thing I saw during my time in Fort Wayne. The good news is I expect him to get a lot better. Heck, there is really no other way to go but up.

4) For the past two years the TinCaps have been blessed with an 8th and 9th inning tandem of Jackson Quezada and Bryan Oland in 2008 and Alexis Lara and Brad Brach in 2009. Unfortunately this year the bullpen looks like a hot mess. The TinCaps have used twelve different relievers already in the season, and while most of the ERA’s are respectable the TinCaps went through a five game span earlier when they blew four saves. Is there any consistency beginning to form with the back of the bullpen? If so what guys should we keep an eye on? Rafael Arias?

Denis Savage: Well, everyone should keep an eye on Arias, but he may miss the rest of the year after experiencing shoulder and elbow pain. The bullpen in Fort Wayne does have a bunch of guys who are transitioning from starting roles. That is a challenge for some. Having said that, Jeff Ibarra and Nick Schumacher deserve a look. Ibarra has a wicked slider but needs to fill out and return to health from a concussion. Schumacher has a tremendous cutter but his fastball isn’t mid-90s so his command must be on. Daniel Sarria is interesting but appears to be groomed for more of a starting role since he has as many as six pitches at his disposal. He is a backwards pitcher. I actually believe Nick Greenwood has a chance to live a long life in the majors as a lefty reliever, although he is starting today. Miles Mikolas has a new arm slot that hides the ball better and a great curveball. His fastball velocity needs to return.

5) Pitcher Dexter Carter was voted one of the Top 20 prospects in the Sally League last year. Unfortunately after the trade to the Padres he was more suspect than prospect. This year his numbers have been better, but still nowhere near the numbers that one would expect from a top prospect. Is there any reason to explain the differences in stats? Is Dexter Carter a suspect or a prospect?

Denis Savage: I saw Carter for the first time in instructs and came away thinking there is something there. I liked his breaking ball and his fastball has movement. I thought the changeup needed quite a bit of work. Carter said he has committed to throwing it and the changeup is now his best pitch.

One thing that is interesting: a lot of scouts I have spoken to say the difference in the quality between the Sally League and the Midwest League is huge. They all said it was like going from short-season to Low-A – that big of a jump. It surprised me.

Today, Carter’s biggest problem is location. He has the pitches to be successful but spotting them well has been an issue. He will also nibble rather than pitching to contact. Mechanically, he does not get a very good downhill plane, despite his size. He has this cross-body motion that he is trying to eliminate and falls off to the third base side. That messes with his command.

The second half of this season will tell us the real answer. Has he learned and adapted? He has some mental hurdles to jump over, as he is his hardest critic. It is a blessing and a curse. You have to be realistic. He has such high expectations that when he fails to reach them, it can continue to affect him into his next start. He must mature in that area.

Idle thoughts: Fastball velocity

The general consensus is that a four-seam fastball is thrown with less movement and more velocity than a two-seamer. Check the San Diego Padres rotation, using 2010 PITCHf/x data from FanGraphs:

Pitcher Four-seam MPH Two-seam MPH
Garland 88.8 89.4
Latos 93.5 92.8
LeBlanc 86.4 82.8
Correia 89.9 89.5
Richard 91.4 91.3

Yeah, check that rotation. Prior to looking up the data, my theory was that the four non-Clayton Richard (since we’ve already looked into the data on him) Padres starters would have four-seam fastballs that registered a few MPH faster than their two-seamers. Instead, we see not only Richard averaging the same velocity with each pitch, but also Garland (a faster two-seamer, in fact), Correia, and Latos (within one MPH). LeBlanc, the only one who has a clear difference between the two pitches, uses his two-seamer sparingly (less than 2% of the time).

What gives? Well, we have (at least) three possible explanations:

  1. The Padres employ a staff that just so happens to throw both of their fastballs (ignoring the cutter, for now) at similar speeds. Perhaps they just happen to be on the same staff together or maybe it has something to do with pitching coach Darren Balsley or the Padres organization in general.
  2. We are again encountering problems in classification, by Gameday, and are not witnessing real differences in the two pitches, rather difficulties in properly classifying them.
  3. I’m crazy, and four-seamers and two-seamers are generally thrown at the same speed.

I think we can rule out choice three, as Dave Allen says here that four-seamers are indeed thrown faster — “about 1.5 mph faster than two-seam fastballs and 3.5 mph faster than cutters.”

My guess is that it is some combination between one and two. But, frankly, I have no idea what the correct answer is and whether or not it is significant. Any thoughts?

Looking For New Contributors

We are always looking for ways to improve the site.  Perhaps the most obvious way to do that is to upgrade the content.

With that in mind, we would love to add some new contributors to the mix.  We are open to adding people on either a “guest post,” arrangement or a more permanent basis.

We do not care if you have lots of blogging experience, or no blogging experience.  We just want to add more quality content.

If you have a desire to contribute to Friar Forecast in any capacity, please contact me by sending an email via the “contact” button on the top menu.

Draft always critical for Padres

Though the rule 4 amateur draft may not receive as much national publicity as, say, the NFL variety, its importance is certainly understood in baseball circles. In an age where massive payroll disparities exist between franchises, the easiest way for financially-challenged teams – like the San Diego Padres — to compete is to out-draft, and out-develop, the big spenders.

Developing home grown talent is vital because a players first six years are spent under team control, at a tremendously discounted rate. Let us take, for example, an average player and estimate how much surplus value he’ll accrue in his first six years under team-control:

Year WAR Est. Salary FA Salary Surplus Value
2012 2 WAR $.4M $9M $8.6M
2013 2 $.5M $10M $9.5M
2014 2 $.6M $11M $10.4M
2015 2 $4.8M $12M $7.2M
2016 2 $7.8M $13M $5.2M
2017 2 $11.2M $14M $2.8M
Total 12 $25.3M $69M $43.7

To clarify, we have an average (2 WAR) player. His Free Agent salary is estimated by multiplying his WAR by the marginal value of a win (~$4.5M in 2012 and escalating $.5M each year). His actual salary is estimated by near-minimum totals for his first three years, and then using the 40%-60%-80% scale, which models how much arbitration-eligible players are paid, when compared to their FA value.

So, if a team can draft and develop an average player, not at all a superstar, it is looking at $40+ million in surplus value over the players first six years – in other words, a tremendous asset to the organization. This is a player that will provide three years of average play for peanuts, and then another three years of average play at 60% of his market value. Overall, this club gets $69 million worth of production for $25.3 million. Add in a signing bonus, minor league salaries, and some developmental fees, and you’re still looking at a great value.

If a team can draft a star player like Evan Longoria, well, it is that much better off. Longoria has already netted the Rays some $50+ million in surplus value in his first two seasons. The Rays went on to sign Longoria to an extension that could be worth $44 million over nine years. They have their cornerstone player locked up at a very reasonable price, thanks to the draft and MLB’s salary dynamics.

Dollars and sense

The draft might sound perfect for its efforts in leveling the playing field between big market and small market franchises. That is its intent, but there is at least one small problem. There is no slot-requirement, and some players that may be top talents are bypassed by small market teams because of signability issues – teams are concerned that, after drafting the player, they won’t be able to sign him to a deal.

A good example is the 2007 draft. Back in the infancy of this blog, as Rick Porcello continued to go unselected (due to aforementioned $ concerns, not talent) , I was hoping the Padres would pick him at #23. The Padres passed, taking Nick Schmidt, who signed at estimated slot money — $1.26 million. Porcello fell into the hands of the Tigers five picks later, who signed for $3.58 million — $2.4 million above slot-recommendation.

Of course, I understood that the Padres were unlikely to take Porcello. After all, they weren’t the only team that passed on him, and they didn’t exactly have that kind of money to throw at a prep pitcher – even, a very good one. However, my theory went that, yes, they would be spending a few million dollars more than desired, but the potential value Porcello could provide later on would be well worth it.

Porcello debuted with the Tigers last year and, conveniently for this article, delivered a league-average season (1.9 WAR). He was worth approximately $8 million in surplus value. He has struggled a bit this season, but his peripheral numbers actually look fine (sans the K-rate), and the Tigers have a solid pitcher locked up under team-control.

It doesn’t work like that every time, kid

The draft is an inherently risky process. Trying to evaluate young players and project what they will become in four or five years is both art and science – and a lot of headaches. Sure, there’s a correlation between draft slot and WAR, but it isn’t a great one. There are no-brainers (A-Rod, Longoria, Strasburg), but there are also countless busts (ie, no-brainers that didn’t work out). The obligatory Matt Bush mentioned comes now.

The Padres may very well have thrown $3.6 million Rich Porcello’s way, if they knew exactly how he was going to develop. But, perhaps their analysis concluded that there was, maybe, a 40% or 50% chance that he wouldn’t give them any MLB value. In the end, maybe he was too risky. Nobody wants $3.6 million to go to waste, especially when there are plenty of other attractive options to choose from.

The draft is critical for all teams. But if the Padres – and other small-mid-level market teams – want to compete, it is almost essential that they draft and develop well. Producing home grown players would give the Padres a (cheap) core to build around, allowing them to add to it with some good trade acquisitions and solid free agent signings. The past era of Padres baseball has been filled with a mixed bag of drafts – some good, a lot not so good. But overall, they missed out too many times when they had a plethora of high picks.

It is critical that this regime not only evaluate talent well, but also not be afraid to spend the extra dollar. If the Padres are confident in their ability to evaluate a draft class – and they should be, with all the brainpower in the front office – then they shouldn’t be worried about spending that extra money. In the long run, it will be money well spent.

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