Crapshooting 101: The 2010 MLB Draft and Team Needs
"With the first pick in the draft, the Washington Nationals select Bryce Harper." It is one of the few phrases I will be shocked to not hear on June 7th.
Drafting based on need is a strategy that is frowned upon by most experts, and for good reason. First round picks alone often fail to pan out, let alone selecting a second or third round talent for upside, and trying to fill a positional need with a player who will not be MLB ready for years. Myself, I fully agree with this view, and believe teams should worry about taking the best player available on the board, rather than trying to take a marginal second-third round talent in round one to fill a need.
However, viewing the draft in this perspective, one could take educated guesses at what every organization would like to end up selecting. Maybe the organization as a whole lacks quality pitchers. Maybe a team lacks a potential MLB caliber SS.
Whatever the need, here are all 30 MLB teams, and what their organization would most like (or should most like) to land in the 2010 draft:
Yankees: Shortstop. The ageless wonder Derek Jeter has to age eventually (and it is looking like the process is beginning). Also, the Yankees, according to Baseball America, lack any infielders in their top 10 prospect rankings (but 4 catchers, which makes a Red Sox fan cringe knowing they have 3 expendable pieces to include in trades). The Yankees would be well served to begin the hunt for a future middle infielder.
Red Sox: Catcher. The top 10, per Jim Callis at Baseball America, for the Red Sox minor league system consists of two 1st basemen, two 2B/SS types, four outfielders, and two pitchers (though the health concerns of Westmoreland and Tazawa could shake this list up). The Red Sox lack any in-system replacement for Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, and can use some of the Yankees' catcher stash.
Rays: First baseman. Generally a system loaded with talent, the Rays have shown this weakness in 2010 by being unable to produce a player to spell Carlos Pena during his struggles. While the Rays score runs fine without massive production from the first baseman, they definitely could use one going forward.
Blue Jays: Shortstop. Lack a middle infielder in their system's top 10, and unless you are totally mesmerized by Alex Gonzalez' power stroke in 2010 (myself, I cannot turn away from a .300 OBP), they could use a long term option at the position.
Orioles: Second baseman. The Orioles are not producing on the field in 2010, but they do have a good farm system. Brian Roberts is not getting younger, and while Ty Wiggington has filled in well, I am not banking on someone who's career best season of WAR is 2.4 to be a terrific long term option, either.
Twins: Left-handed pitcher. Only three of the Twins top 10 prospects are pitchers. Of those three, all are righties. While not terribly important to draft based on lefty/righty, it would be nice for the organization to have one viable alternative in the system.
Tigers: Third base. I will let it be known that I am actually a big Brandon Inge fan, as he is a spectacular defender who has excelled as both a catcher and third baseman who has earned his roster spot on the Tigers over the years. That being said, he is 33, he has an OBP of .296, and he is likely in the twilight of his career. The Tigers' system lacks corner infielders, but with Cabrera around, that becomes a non-issue at first. They could still use a third baseman, however.
White Sox: Pitcher. With Konerko aging, the White Sox could also use a first baseman in their system. That being said, Daniel Hudson is hit or miss, and outside of him, the White Sox are thin in the organization at pitcher. Grabbing one will help the team immensely.
Indians: Second baseman. One word for Luis Valbuena: yikes. Worse yet, he was part of the trade that netted the Mariners Franklin Guitierrez. While just 24, Valbuena does not look to be developing, and the Indians definitely could use another option at the position. Jason Kipnis (#10 in Indians organization according to Baseball America) is being converted into a Second Baseman as we speak, however, and a successful transition could negate this need.
Royals: Shortstop. Since it would be unbecoming of me to simply say the Royals could use a priest to perform a franchise-wide exorcism (or maybe I am just saving this punch line for the Astros), I felt the need to actually take the Royals front office seriously. Baseball America's projected 2013 Royals lineup (which takes talent in the organization exclusively) has Jeff Bianchi starting. Jeff Bianchi has not played in 2010. Needless to say, I am less-than-excited for the Royals about their shortstop situation. I would not be stunned, however, to see this team solve the problem by trading for David Eckstein three years down the road.
Angels: Third baseman. Is the Brandon Wood experiment going to be over soon? The AAA superstar has shown an astonishing inability to make contact, and combined with poor plate discipline and BB/K numbers, has been one of MLB's worst players in 2010. While he may turn it around, the Angels may be smart to look elsewhere for a solution at third.
Athletics: First baseman. Things look good for Oakland in the next few years. Real good. There is not a hole in their organization that does not look to be adequately filled already, except first base. Or, the Athletics could slot Chris Carter into the position, or Daric Barton can continue his renaissance, and even this will become a non-issue. Moneyball's hero is rising back to the top.
Rangers: Third baseman. Remember when this team was a laughing stock? Locked baseball best player into a long term deal, and proceeded to be laughably unable to provide quality talent around him. Signed power hitters, and then wondered why the team was unable to pitch or play defense. It is a whole new world in Texas, though, and the team looks poised to be strong for years. You are fooling yourself, though, if you think Michael Young is destined to be a key contributor to the 2013 Rangers at age 36.
Mariners: Pitcher. The Mariners' front office is skilled. Signing a whole lot of UZR is not working as they had hoped, but at least they have young talent on the way to help the team in the near future. The franchise, however, sorely lacks organizational depth at pitcher, and could use some more.
Phillies: Third baseman. Traded a lot of organizational talent for Halladay, and look poised to become what the Mets are now, a top-heavy organization with a poor supporting cast. With Polanco being only a decent option at third (and aging), and no organizational depth at the spot to begin with, now would be a good time to look into filling this gap.
Braves: Third baseman. The Braves have good young talent on the roster already, most notably Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson. Chipper Jones is declining, though, and the day will come that he will not be the starting third baseman for the Braves, as unfathomable as that sounds. That, plus Mycal Jones being listed as the projected 2013 starter at 3B (sorry if I am not sold on a player with a .288 OBP at age 23 in Single A), indicate a clear positional need.
Mets: Pitcher. While the Mets are being poorly run, one thing that cannot be said is that they lack in-house options in the near future, at least in the field. Brad Holt has stalled in AA, and Jon Niese has gotten his MLB career off to a weak start, and Jenrry Mejia is being handled by the crazy brigade that makes decisions in Queens. It would help the Mets greatly, going forward, to add an additional arm that could make waves in the majors.
Marlins: Pitcher. While Chad James has great potential, the Marlins, as a whole, are seeing not much of anything from their pitchers in the minors. Florida has plenty of power coming through the system, but unless they want to rely on an offense scoring 900 runs to compete, they should want additional help at pitcher.
Nationals: Bryce Harper. Not going to bother. Mike Rizzo should be fired if he does not pick Bryce Harper.
Reds: Shortstop. Zack Cozart looks like a utility infielder, not a viable MLB starter (especially as the Reds continue to push towards relevance again). Add in that no one sees Orlando Cabrera as a long term option at SS, and you would see why the Reds could use a good one in-house.
Cardinals: Shortstop. No long term alternatives in the system, and the light-hitting Brendan Ryan is not justifying his starting role in 2010. Could also be fixed via trade, as the Cards have pitching to spare.
Cubs: Corner outfielder. The system is not too great to begin with, and Josh Vitters' scary-bad plate discipline (.23 BB/K in the minors) is not what one would want from your pre-season #3 prospect. The Cubs also lack quality pitching in the system. The biggest hole, however, is in the corner outfield, where none of the organization's top 10 plays. Projected 2013 RF Kyler Burke is 22, and struggling in A+ Daytona, and the aforementioned Vitters is projected to start in Left Field. A poor situation for a $100+ million a year payroll team.
Brewers: Pitcher. A decent amount of talent in the organization already, but outside of Eric Arnett, nothing one would consider as a terrific option. The outfield situation is fairly bleak as well, but help appears on the way there.
Pirates: Pitcher. Their 2010 season has fizzled, but at least the Pirates finally have some decent minor league talent. Brad Lincoln looks ready to appear on the scene (or to just be left in AAA Indianapolis all season to avoid wasting his service time), but Tim Alderson looks to be a ways away. On that note, the Pirates would definitely want a more established college pitcher over a more upside-level high school player.
Astros: Third baseman. The Astros are, hands down, the worst organization in baseball right now. Their major league team is bad, and worse yet, their minor league system is depleted. Jason Castro is the only minor leaguer of note, and Baseball America's #2 player in the system, Jiovanni Mier, is sporting a robust .552 OPS in Single A Lexington. This team needs a lot of help. Looking to replace a "veteran presence" king in Pedro Feliz would be a good starting point.
Dodgers: First baseman. People like Joe Morgan love Loney, for some odd reason. However, he has provided a total of 3.7 WAR in his time with the Dodgers, and only 0.2 WAR in 2010. While Loney is not useless, his lack of power simply will not fly for a team that expects to contend annually. The franchise also lacks a good 1B option in the system already.
Giants: Second baseman. Looking at Baseball America's team page and the Giants 2013 lineup, I saw Nick Noonan penciled in at 2B. My first reaction, of course, was "who?". The former Giants first round pick has slowly moved through the Giants' system, and is impressing not many along the way (and with a .297 OBP in AA). Not someone the Giants should be relying on, going forward.
Rockies: Outfield. Carlos Gonzalez was supposed to be in right field, deferring center duties to Dexter Fowler. Fowler has not been the advertised fielder we thought, however, and CarGo looks poised to take over in CF. Given the Rockies are already deficient defensively in the corner OF w/ Hawpe, this weakens the situation even more. The Rockies could use another player capable of playing both CF and the corners.
Padres: Middle infielder. The Padres lack a quality option in the system here, and trying to turn James Darnell into a Second baseman could be disastrous. The Padres would be far better off trying to obtain real help here, instead of trying to manufacture it in San Antonio.
Diamondbacks: Pitcher. The franchise seems to have good hitting talent in the system, and a very good, potential #1 starter in Jarrod Parker. From there, however, it drops off. With Haren possibly on his way out, the Diamondbacks will need more pitching to compete going forward.
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