Thursday, June 5, 2008

When Building an Organization...

The parts of the game I believe should be focused on the most are: The Rule 4 and 5 drafts, waiver claims, player development and international scouting. As I wrote here  , free agency is becoming less and less important because players are aging faster now. If you build your team like the D-Backs or the Brewers are you won't have to make any free agent signings and only make a few trades. If you build your team like Kevin Towers in San Diego you only make waiver moves and smart trades(Scott Hairston, Adrian Gonzalez). This is why in my mind Omar Minaya, Ned Colletti(LA) and Jim Hendry(CHI) are bad GMs. They don't develop any homegrown talent and they practically only sign old, expensive veterans who aren't so good to play for their teams.

The Rule 4 draft is extremely hard to predict and that is the reason why many teams go with college players instead of high school players. College player's numbers are closer to what their number will be like in the pros than high school player's numbers because college baseball is at a higher level and college players are closer to filling their "potential". High school players only have a lot of "potential" because they are far away from their peeks so if you go see a player in high school and he is a great athlete you'll think to yourself, this guy reminds me of Jimmy Rollins, and you'll draft him but in 7 years from now you might find that this player can't hit at all and then you'll have to cut him and wonder why you didn't draft Kevin Youkilis(just kidding). This is what makes the amateur draft very hard to asses.

The Rule 5 draft is made up of all eligible players who aren't on their team's 40-man roster. If a player is picked he must stay on their major league team for a whole season or be returned to his previous team. There are a lot of diamonds in the rough in the rule 5 draft and in waivers. There are some GM's with a knack for finding these kind of undervalued young players. Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and Fernando Vina are just some names of players that were undervalued and therefore drafted in the rule 5 draft. Scott Podsednik was claimed on waivers by the Brewers the year he was great and all the Padres relievers were also waiver claims.

Now comes the hardest part, developing young talent. No team in baseball has prospered in this field yet. Most prospects are drafted high or 16 year olds from Latin America, not a lot are developed while in the organization. What is the best way to develop players? It is not known, but I have an idea. You have to surround all your players with good teachers and influencers to produce the perfect product. You also need overseers to make sure everything is going as expected on every level of the Minor Leagues. These two things along with terrific managers will boost players development immensely.

International scouting and player development are very expensive but once teams stop spending on bad free agents and the prices of players in the amateur draft go down they'll become more affordable. International scouting can produce tons of prospects and MLB players, just look at the Mets with Jose Reyes, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez and much more coming. These players have a lot of "potential" because they're only 16, so what I would do is acquire your "potential" guys through international scouting while taking the safer bet in the amateur draft with college players.