My mindset hasn’t changed, I still think the draft is for the worse teams to get better. If you look back through the history of turning franchises around, if the Mets weren’t able to sign Darryl Strawberry, then what happens to that organization? If the Mariners can’t sign Ken Griffey Jr, what happens to them? Roger Clemens? That’s the purpose of the draft, the best players go to the worst teams and the worst teams have a chance to get back to the top. What has happened recently is that you don’t always have the worst teams getting the best players because of “signabiliy”. Signability? What kinda word is that! To me, If someone is not “signable” then he doesn’t want to play baseball. At the end of the day, if you’re any good at all in this day in age, you are going to make $50-$100 million playing baseball. And everyone now thinks they’re supposed to make that right out the gate. There’s a reason that you have a three-year process of arbitration, a reason for free agency and a reason they’re getting paid the money they get paid because they’ve gone through all the trials and proven their worth. Part of that is putting people in the seats, part of that is having a following and part of that is taking an organization back up to the top.
Where are the Yankees if they don’t get to draft Derek Jeter? Where is Tampa Bay is they don’t get to draft many of the guys on their current roster? That’s the purpose of the draft. Sure, teams miss on some players. Injuries happen. But where are the Twins if Joe Mauer was not “signable”?
All of this leads up to this years draft and Strasburg being the #1 pick. All of a sudden there’s a price tag out there that is unreachable for the Nationals. Although they say they’re going to draft him and sign him for what I hear could be about $50 million, how can the Nationals justify that after they just signed one of their top players, Ryan Zimmerman for about $45 million AFTER he has established himself. That’s the most anyone has ever made in franchise history. I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, they’re not going to sign him at that price. Telling you now, it won’t happen. And at the end of the day he’ll be going somewhere else because someone’s going to say they can afford it and that’s the sadness of the draft.
It’s a great day with a lot of excitement but it’s meant for the worst teams to get the best players, and if the worst teams don’t get the best players then the draft has not been successful.
When I watch Jon Lester, I see a unique left-handed pitcher. Traditionally, most lefties are softer throwers and if you see a guy throwing 90 MPH’s it’s usually an exception to the rule. The traditional lefty is a guy who throws mid-80’s – look at guys now like Tom Glavine or Jamie Moyer and throughout history with guys like Bruce Hurt, John Tudor and Fernando Valenzuela – they relied on a change-up that floated away from right handed hitters or a fastball that tailed away. So when someone like Lester comes along it changes the whole mental approach of how to hit a left-handed pitcher. Now all of a sudden he’s coming in on your hands and sinking that fastball. He has changed how a batter approaches a lefty pitcher. And when you start throwing 95 MPH like Randy Johnson you’re getting into that category where you just haven’t seen lefties throughout history like that. When you throw 95 AND you can throw a cutter in on the hands and a slider like Lester does and still be able to hit the outside corner against a right-handed batter, you’ve got the complete package.
I think his unique ability – pinpoint control, assortment of pitches – set him apart from most pitchers in today’s game.