Skip Schumaker

Redoing the 2001 draft: picks 21-30

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Here’s the third and final segment in the 2001 MLB draft redo. Click for parts one and two.

21. San Francisco Giants
Actual: Brad Hennessey
Redo: Ryan Theriot (78th pick, Cubs)

As sad as it is to say, of the 20 pitchers drafted in the first round in 2001, only five have had better careers than Hennessey, who went 17-23 with a 4.69 ERA in parts of five seasons with San Francisco. The Giants have been hurting in the middle infield for the last five years, so Theriot seems like a nice fit here. Just him being his usual self would have been an upgrade on most of the second basemen and shortstops the Giants have employed since 2007.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks
Actual: Jason Bulger
Redo: Nick Blackburn (857th pick, Twins)

And, with a 4.33 ERA in 125 relief appearances as a major leaguer, Bulger had either the sixth or seventh best career, depending on where one wants to put Jeremy Sowers. Despite a miniscule strikeout rate, Blackburn was an above average starter for the Twins in 2008 and ’09, and it looks like he has a chance to be one again this year. I’m not sure he’d have been quite so good elsewhere — the Twins have rare luck with pitchers like him — but the Diamondbacks have certainly had need for innings eaters.

23. New York Yankees
Actual: John-Ford Griffin
Redo: Noah Lowry (30th pick, Giants)

The Yankees lost their first-round for signing Mike Mussina, but got another pick in return because the Mariners inked Jeff Nelson. They used that on Griffin, a Florida State slugger. He was actually wildly successful in two brief major league stints, going 7-for-23 with two homers, three doubles and nine RBI. Unfortunately, he was a born DH and no one ever thought he was worthy of an extended look. In his place comes Lowry. He was a quality pitcher for just 2 1/2 years before injuries ruined his career, but he could have helped the Yankees in the middle of the decade.

24. Atlanta Braves
Actual: Macay McBride
Redo: Zach Duke (594th pick, Pirates)

McBride didn’t have the arsenal to make it as a starter, but I think he would have ended up as a pretty good reliever if he could have remained healthy. Of course, he didn’t. The Braves get Duke instead. Sure, he’s just 47-73 in his career, but the Braves probably would have gotten more out of him than the Pirates did. And if not, well, it’s not like the Braves are really missing out on anyone else here. The 2001 draft bottomed out awfully quickly.

25. Oakland Athletics
Actual: Bobby Crosby
Redo: Aaron Heilman (18th pick, Mets)

Speaking of bottoming out quickly… Crosby, the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year, was a useful player for just a year and half. Those mid-decade A’s teams had solid bullpens, but someone like Heilman would have helped out quite a bit. He had a 3.27 ERA in 281 innings for the Mets from 2005-07, and perhaps the A’s could have tried him as a starter after trading Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.

26. Oakland Athletics
Actual: Jeremy Bonderman
Redo: Jeff Keppinger (114th pick, Pirates)

The much repeated story is that A’s GM Billy Beane was so upset about the Bonderman pick that he threw a chair. Bonderman was traded to the Tigers just a year later in a three-team deal that sent Ted Lilly from the Yankees to the A’s. Of course, Bonderman is long gone here. There’s really nothing but role players left to give the A’s, but Keppinger is a pretty good one, and he would have been nice to have around to cover for Mark Ellis’ various injuries. He’s a career .284/.338/.392 hitter in 1,824 at-bats.

27. Cleveland Indians
Actual: Alan Horne
Redo: Jim Johnson (143rd pick, Orioles)

Horne went unsigned by the Indians and enjoyed a nice career at Florida before getting picked by the Yankees in the 11th round in 2005. I gave Luke Scott to the Indians with their earlier pick in the first round, so bullpen help seems appropriate here. Maybe the boring name has something to do with it, but Johnson has been one of the game’s more underrated setup men. Throwing out the one start he made as a rookie, he has a 3.15 ERA in 183 relief appearances for the Orioles.

28. St. Louis Cardinals
Actual: Justin Pope
Redo: Skip Schumaker (164th pick, Cardinals)

Pope turned out to be a fine minor league closer after washing out as a starter with the Cardinals, but he never did get a look in the majors before retiring after the 2008 season. I’m replacing him with the Cardinals’ own fifth-round pick, Schumaker. He was never highly regarded in the minors at all — he didn’t post even a .700 OPS at any stop in his first 2 1/2 years in the St. Louis farm system — but he’s now in his fourth year playing pretty regularly for St. Louis.

29. Atlanta Braves
Actual: Josh Burrus
Redo: Casey Kotchman (13th pick, Angels)

Burrus was drafted as a shortstop, but he ended up in left field just a couple of years later and he didn’t have anything close to the bat to be useful there. Let’s put Kotchman here instead and on the sole basis that maybe if the Braves had him, they wouldn’t have traded Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira in July 2007. Of course, the Braves got Kotchman in return when they decided they couldn’t re-sign Teixeira and sent him packing to the Angels a year later.

30. San Francisco Giants
Actual: Noah Lowry
Redo: Bobby Crosby (25th, Athletics)

The 2004 Giants had Deivi Cruz and Neifi Perez at shortstop, and while Cruz was surprisingly solid — he hit .292/.322/.431 in 397 at-bats — the AL Rookie of the Year would have been an upgrade for a team that ended up losing the NL West by two games. Of course, Crosby was pretty worthless after 2004; he had a good half-season while healthy in 2005, but nothing else. Still, that’s not bad compared to some of the alternatives.

Here are the best of the rest:

Jonny Gomes (529th pick, Rays)
Kelly Shoppach (48th pick, Red Sox)
David Bush (109th pick, Blue Jays)
Ryan Raburn (147th pick, Tigers)
Scott Hairston (98th pick, Diamondbacks)
Rajai Davis (1,134th pick, Pirates)
Chad Tracy (218th pick, Diamondbacks)
Gabe Gross (15th pick, Blue Jays)
Mike Fontenot (19th pick, Orioles)
David Pauley (240th pick, Padres)
Dan Johnson (221st pick, Athletics)
Brooks Conrad (236th pick, Astros)
Jack Hannahan (87th pick, Tigers)
Jeff Mathis (33rd pick, Angels)

And that’s pretty much all of there is to show for the 2001 draft.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Did you know J.A. Happ is in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race? Of all the contenders, he may be the biggest surprise, even ahead of Drew Pomeranz. Happ leads the league with 17 wins and only has three losses to go with it. He’s holding a 3.05 ERA and a 133/44 K/BB ratio in 150 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Happ was struggling to stay in a starting rotation. In 2011, his first full season with the Astros, he finished with a 5.35 ERA. In 2012, he put up a 4.79 ERA with the ‘stros and Blue Jays. The next year? 4.56 followed by 4.22, both with the Jays. Then, with the Mariners, he continued the mediocrity with a 4.64 ERA before he was traded to the Pirates.

Under the tutelage of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Happ turned his career around. In 11 starts in Pittsburgh, the lefty had a microscopic 1.85 ERA. That came with significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. Even the ERA retrodictors like FIP and xFIP, which had so often agreed with his uninspiring ERA’s, agreed that he had thrown like an elite hurler. So that’s how we arrived at J.A. Happ, Cy Young Award contender.

Among AL starters, Happ is fifth-best in ERA behind Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Aaron Sanchez, and Steven Wright. However, his 17-3 record is equaled only by Rick Porcello. As there are still a significant number of voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America who consider won-lost record, Happ is sitting in a good position and will be even better if he can cross the coveted 20-win threshold. He’ll get a bit of a boost as well if he can help the Jays return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.

Happ’s Jays will host the hapless — and Happ-less — Angels on Thursday evening. He’ll take on veteran Jered Weaver in a 7:07 PM EDT start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 7:15 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta), 8:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo), 8:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EDT

Let’s play the “how long has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?” game!

1908 Cubs
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It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:

Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:

And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:

And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:

And, for that matter . . .

Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.

Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.

Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.

In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.