Washington Nationals v New York Mets

Is draft nepotism really a big deal?


I hate nepotism. I’d probably still hate nepotism even if I ever had a relative who could do me a favor, which I didn’t (damn). I’d probably still hate nepotism even if my first job in the law hadn’t been working for a guy who hired his son a couple of years later and treated him like a full partner while I reviewed documents all day.

Nepotism is bad for institutions because it favors relationships over competence. Or, when the relative just happens to be competent anyway — which does happen, you know, because not all nephews and favored sons are simpletons — it’s not fair for the relative because no one else will ever believe they earned what they got.  And of course, nepotism is totally depressing for non-nepotees.

The subject of nepotism has come up in connection with the baseball draft for years, as teams have frequently drafted sons and — in at least one case a daughter — of team executives and dignitaries. It happened this year, with a couple of teams drafting sons of favorite sons and, depending on who you believe, the White Sox’ not drafting Ozney Guillen bent Ozzie Guillen’s nose out of shape.

Against this backdrop, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes the following:

Baseball teams routinely draft their favorite sons with throwaway picks, and that’s a problem Commissioner Bud Selig can’t ignore before next year’s Nepotism Seminar reconvenes … To make everybody more comfortable, the league needs to impose late-round restrictions and shorten the draft — and not just to save the Guillens from acting like the baseball Kardashians every June. Tweaks in the rules also would ease the burden of baseball executives who likely feel pressure they never will acknowledge publicly to draft sons or nephews or buddies on the final day.

My above-stated stand on nepotism notwithstanding, this is silly. This is certainly a problem Bud Selig can ignore. It’s almost the perfect definition of that which is ignorable. “To make everybody more comfortable” is the standard for new rules now?  If that’s the case, boy howdy, do I have a list of demands, because I know from comfort.

Baseball teams can and should draft whoever they want. I’d love if the Braves took me in the 49th round next year simply so I could say I was unhappy with my bonus and decided to go to junior college.  I hope the Rangers find some long lost relative of Mickey Rivers and pick him on day three.  There are a zillion rounds and a zillion non-draftee signings after that with which teams can stock their system.  If a team executive wants to burn a pick on junior simply so he can have some inside joke/memento to share with relatives next Christmas, who are we to judge?  Well, we can judge, but why should we care?

Let ’em draft who they want to draft. If the organization is so dysfunctional that a pick or a non-pick is going to upset team morale, there are likely other, much bigger problems swirling around the front office. If a team is drafting poorly with its legitimate picks, the GM is going to be out of a job soon enough anyway. As long as the guy isn’t picking his sister’s kid while leaving a solid middle infielder with good on-base ability on the draft board, I can’t think of anything I care less about.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
1 Comment

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Leave a comment

After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.