With the First-Year Entry baseball draft coming up Thursday, I decided to take a peek into what the Red Sox need to do with their picks.
Naturally with winning the Series, they have a low first round pick and low picks in the other rounds. But fourtunately the Sox have five picks in the first 104 picks, so the future definitely looks bright.
So where are their needs?
Shortstop-Right now, on the big league club, this is EASILY the most glaring weakness. Lugo just hasn't cut it, and Lowrie has some potential. Short has increasingly become a huge part of a baseball team. Too bad they had to give up Hanley Ramirez for Beckett.
Right Field-This is the only other real weakness in the starting lineup. J.D. Drew has redefined mediocrity and inconsistency in his roller-coaster career—his only consistency is the fact that he is making you scratch your head and wonder what's going to happen next. So this brings us to the draft and hopefully some fresh blood.
Relief Pitching-Right now, the relievers on the team are fairly strong. However, the possibility of Papelbon moving into the rotation at some point still looms—but gets less and less likely as the team succeeds in the current situation. That being said, farmhand Craig Hansen has looked fairly good and might be able to fill in the role nicely if it becomes vacated.
That being said, I do want to add a certain caveat. The baseball draft is much different than other major pro drafts—football and basketball contribute players ready to compete at the highest level, while in baseball you will be lucky to have a handful of guys make it to the big club in the same year as the draft.
This creates two problems. First, projections and potential have the tendency to be much more volatile and many players don't pan out to where they where drafted. And two, drafting on need is much harder to do as the needs of your team can, and most likely will, change once players from a certain draft are ready to play.
This means a team must draft in a much wider spectrum of talent and most likely get at least a few guys at each position. However, you can still draft partially on need, especially if you want to go the fast track route.
The Sox also have age issues at a few positions, left field and third base come to mind. But this might be better addressed more heavily when the possible problem comes into the forefront.
With the needs now being addressed, how should the Sox go about their picks?
I think they need to start by not worrying about slot recommendations. They are becoming more and more of a joke—with slot numbers actually decreasing from '06 to '07 and teams deciding to not follow them, the Red Sox being one of them.
Talent shouldn't be foregone in lieu of a few bucks, relatively speaking.
A good balance of high risk, high reward high schoolers and low risk college players is always a good way to go, especially when many kids forego the draft and head to college.
The Sox also have the luxury of being patient with their farm system and letting them develop out of the spotlight, so this shouldn't be a concern when drafting a guy to rush him to the bigs.
Hopefully the team finds a new bunch of studs, and I have little doubt they'll find only a few.