Draft blog: Bryce Harper taken first overall by Nationals

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Nationals selected catcher Bryce Harper with the first pick in the 2010 draft.
The consensus No. 1 might not remain behind the plate; his own agent, Scott Boras, sees him as a corner outfielder and the Nationals announced him as an outfielder. Such a move would likely speed Harper’s arrival in Washington, and it’d make more likely to reach his vast offensive upside. Harper doesn’t even turn 18 until October, and he’s coming off a junior-college season in which he hit .417 with 21 homers in 51 games. If he lives up to the hype, he’ll have some 35- or 40-homer seasons in the majors.
Pirates selected RHP Jameson Taillon with the second pick in the draft.
Widely viewed as the top high school pitcher available, Taillon stands 6-foot-7 and throws in the mid-90s consistently, touching 98 mph. His slider also draws raves, while his changeup is promising but lacks polish. The Pirates will have to buy him away with Rice, but they wouldn’t have gone this route if they weren’t prepared to ante up with what will probably be the second-biggest bonus of the draft.
Orioles drafted high school shortstop Manny Machado with the third overall pick.
Some wonder whether Machado will get too big to play shortstop in the majors, but the Orioles have done OK with big shortstop and he has pretty good range right now and a terrific arm. His line-drive swing could produce 20- or maybe 25-homer seasons someday, but there will be a learning curve as he tries to deal with quality breaking balls. He probably won’t move especially quickly.
Royals selected Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon with the fourth pick.
The first mild surprise of the draft. Colon is rather slow for a shortstop, but he’s a very solid fielder and decent pop. He profiles a lot like Bobby Crosby did as a prospect, and while that seems like a negative, Crosby had a chance to be a nice long-term regular before injuries struck. The Royals are desperate for a long-term shortstop, and Colon could be an option as soon as 2012.
Indians took LHP Drew Pomeranz with the fifth overall pick.
The 6-foot-5 Ole Miss southpaw throws in the low-90s with a power curve that should give him big strikeout numbers in the majors. However, there are concerns about his mediocre changeup and subpar command. He should arrive in the majors soon if he can keep his walk total down, but he might be more of a future No. 3 than a top-of-the-rotation stud.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?