Steve Garvey

There are a lot of legacies in this year’s draft


I’m not really a draftnik. Amateur baseball players are a far flung lot and it’s not easy to keep track of them unless you’re Keith Law or someone and it’s your job to keep track of them.  With the exception of the Bryce Harpers and Stephen Strasburgs of the world, I usually begin to get to know prospects after they’re drafted, not before.

But I do always have fun hearing those familiar names:

Bloodlines run strong in the Grand Old Game, and this year’s Draft has an intriguing group of young thoroughbreds champing at the bit to hear their names called in the big leagues’ favorite June post parade, which will be held from June 6-8.

The names jump out at any baseball fan who’s been paying attention over the past decades. From Bichette to Bonilla, from Boras to Bream, from Dunston to Garvey to Guillen to Pudge (well, Rodriguez), you’re going to see serious big league progeny over the rounds of this year’s draft.

Dwight Smith, Jr., the son of former Cub Dwight Smith, may be the headlining legacy case.  Lateral moves are present as well, with the son of Wayne Gretzky also in the pool this year. Steve Garvey’s son Ryan is another notable, but save your jokes: Ryan is the son of Steve and his wife Candace Garvey and was born after all of that ugly business that popped up in the wake of his first wife’s autobiography. A shame, really.

I think the most fun, though, is Shane Boras, son of Scott.  I don’t know how much of a prospect he is, but it would awesome if he were a stud, got drafted high and then held out until the 11th hour for a big bonus, represented by his dad, who kept dropping sound bytes about how awesome he was.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.