How the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft Should Have Gone: With Hindsight

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst IMay 12, 2009

If we're talking drafts that teams wish they could redo, 2004 is the granddaddy of them all.

At least nine of the first 10 picks went awry in one form or another, and some pretty good players were found in the lower rounds. It all adds up to a spectacular re-draft!

1. San Diego

Who goes first in a draft that features Yovani Gallardo, Dustin Pedroia, Adam Lind, and Stephen Drew? Drew's price tag scared off the Padres the first time around and they settled on Matt Bush. That totally worked out. With five years of wisdom under their belt, the Padres get a redo and with the first pick of a solidly average, unspectacular draft they take Dustin Pedroia. In him, they get a franchise second baseman who can hit for power and average and plays excellent defense.

2. Detroit

Justin Verlander to the Tigers was just about the only pick of the top 10 that worked out. Given the chance, Detroit should go the same route, taking a franchise pitcher who could lead the Tigers' staff for a long while.

3. New York Mets

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The Mets took Phil Humber the first time and eventually shipped the stud righty off to Minnesota in exchange for Johan Santana. While Humber will never amount to the ace the Mets envisioned, he'll turn out to be a solid starter—just not worthy of this pick. Instead they take Yovani Gallardo, a top-notch starter.

4. Tampa Bay

The Rays struck gold in the later rounds of the 2004 draft with Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, and Andy Sonnanstine. They didn't do as well with their first-round pick, taking Jeff Niemann. He has the size to intimidate but only average stuff. Instead, they take Hunter Pence, an athletic power hitter with speed to burn, something the Rays love.

5. Milwaukee

The Brew Crew took righty pitcher Mark Rogers with the fifth pick the first time around, but this time around they take Wade Davis, the next in a long line of Rays super pitching prospects. Davis should make an impact as early as this year, fortifying an impressive rotation. He could be Gallardo's No. 2 man in Milwaukee.

6. Cleveland

Jeremy Sowers was a pretty safe pick in this draft, but instead of safe, the Indians take upside the second time around in righty hurler Homer Bailey. Once a highly touted prospect who lost his way, Bailey seems to have regained his prospect form and looks to rejoin the Reds' rotation sometime this season. Having him to pair with Cliff Lee would give the Indians at least two bona fide starters while they wait for Jake Westbrook to come back from injury and Fausto Carmona to regain his form.

7. Cincinnati

The Reds picked Homer Bailey the first time but aren't as lucky this time, as Bailey goes at six. As a consolation prize in the redo, the Reds pick up toolsy outfielder Dexter Fowler. With Jay Bruce arriving in Cincy this year, having Fowler to pair with him would give the Reds the most athletic outfield in the majors.

8. Baltimore

The Orioles got hosed big time with their first pick in the '04 draft when Rice ace Wade Townsend fell to them at No. 8. The O's tried to play chicken with good ol' Wade and lost out when he chose not to sign. In this version of the redo, they take a player who will sign, Stephen Drew. Drew provides the O's with a franchise shortstop. Although he's still trying to get his hitting on track, Drew plays good defense and hits better than any shortstop they've had since Ripken.

9. Colorado

The Rockies like athletic outfielders, too (see Dexter Fowler), and with the former being off the board the Rockies pick Michael Saunders. Athletic and super talented, Saunders gives the Rockies a polished hitter with power and speed. Saunders plays well at Coors, too, giving the Rox a 20-20 threat.

10. Texas

Texas could have done better taking just about anyone other than Thomas Diamond. Lucky for them, in this draft they get to. With said mulligan, they take Phil Hughes, a tall hard-throwing righty. In Hughes they get a solid major league starter who eats innings.

11. Pittsburgh

The Pirates took what they thought was a franchise third baseman in Neil Walker. This time around, they get a semi-franchise third baseman in Josh Fields. Time will tell with Fields, but he has shown serious power and excellent hitting ability. All of his abilities outrank Walker's, especially the fact that he's in the majors right now and Walker isn't.

12. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels were wise to take Jered Weaver the first time around, and wise enough to take him again. Nuff said.

13. Montreal/Washington

The Expos didn't take anybody worth mentioning in this draft and enjoy the mulligan more than anyone. As such, they take Adam Lind, a very talented hitter and serviceable outfielder. Lind has proved himself to be one of the best hitters so far in this young season, and the Nats could use an able-bodied outfielder to make their outfield rotation a thing of the past.

14. Kansas City

Only time will tell if Billy Butler can make as big an impact as he did in the minors, but given a redraft the Royals might take someone else. In this case that's Chris Iannetta, a franchise catcher who can not only lead a rotation and make it better but hit.

15. Arizona

The D-Backs lucked out getting Drew this far down the ladder. They don't this time around. They take Matt Tuiasosopo, a corner infielder with just as much power as Mark Reynolds but with a better batting eye and more plate patience. 

16. Toronto

The verdict is still out on David Purcey, the original pick. He's given the Jays only 17 starts over two years. Taking that into consideration, the Jays swap Purcey for current Twins lefty Glen Perkins. Coming off a 12-4 season, Perkins has been the Twins most effective starter in 2009 while Purcey was sent back to AAA where he has an ERA over 10.

17. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers took Scott Elbert back in 2004, and while he has been a heck of a pitcher in the minors he has yet to convert that success to the majors (9.49 ERA in 13 games). That said, the Dodgers pick up toolsy outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who is about to break into the majors with the Brewers. Cain has been a base stealer but recently added some pop to his game (11 homers in 2008). He would be a stellar play in center field sandwiched between Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez.

18. Chicago White Sox

Guess the Sox don't have to get rid of Joe Crede with Josh Fields out of the picture. Not only does Crede have job security, it also allows the Sox to use their pick on someone else, namely Lou Marson, the Sox franchise backstop. Marson has the skills on both sides, catching and hitting. He also gives the Sox a reason to excise team killer A.J. Pierzynski, all without sacrificing offense or defense. 

19. St. Louis

Pitcher Chris Lambert is wearing a Toledo Mudhens jersey, so clearly the Cards would like a do-over here. I'm sure Tony LaRussa would swap him for Reid Brignac, a hard-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop who has been blocked from the bigs by Jason Bartlett. Brignac would mean Khalil Greene wouldn't be needed, something I'm sure would please fans.

20. Minnesota

Deprived of Glen Perkins, the Twinkies take the best available arm on the board, Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez has spent the past five years tearing up hitters at every level. Now he's finally getting the chance in the bigs. Adding him to a rotation that includes Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, and Kevin Slowey more than makes up for the loss of Perkins.

21. Philadelphia

The Phillies thought they had the next best thing when they took speedy Greg Golson 21st overall. They knew he had speed, which he did, and hoped he would grow some power, which he did. But, they didn't think he would always struggle to make contact, which he has. So they ditch him here, and instead take Micah Owings. Not only do they get a reliable starter, they also get a pitcher who can hit, probably better than Golson.

22. Minnesota

The Twins thrive on having pitchers who throw strikes and work quickly. Glen Perkins fits that bill, but, like I said, he's long gone. They already got Gio Gonzalez, a potential steal if he works out, and here they take Andy Sonnanstine, a right-handed pitcher who has built his game on throwing strikes and having excellent control. He makes for a serviceable third or fourth starter in Minnesota's rotation.

23. New York Yankees

It's not like the Yanks would miss Phil Hughes . They would probably just plug his hole with some multimillion-dollar free agent. With their pick, however, they take catcher Tyler Flowers, a potential franchise backstop. The Yanks would groom Flowers to take over for aging Jorge Posada.

24. Oakland

Eric Chavez is a man who just can't stay healthy, so with the 24th pick and no intention of re-taking catcher Landon Powell, the A's pick slugging third baseman Mark Reynolds. Not only does his offensive output outdo that of Chavez but being in Oakland gives Reynolds the opportunity to pick up some tips on plate discipline from the Moneyball guys.

25. Minnesota

Man, Minnesota really has a chance to clean up with the hindsight that comes with a re-draft. Lacking a true franchise third baseman (Crede is still in Chicago, remember, with Fields in Pittsburgh), the Twins shore up that position by taking Neil Walker, a much more reasonable pick at 25 than 11.

26. Oakland

Jonathan Sanchez has some pretty serious potential, enough to be picked up and stashed away by the A's at 26. He would help fill out a very, VERY young, but very talented, rotation.

27. Florida

Rare to see Florida picking only once and so late. They took a reliever whom they thought would eventually take up the closer role. This time they do the same, but instead of Taylor Tankersley (I think they were preoccupied with his name's similarity to Eckersley) they tab Huston Street.

28. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers took infielder Blake DeWitt the first time around, and while he shined when given his shot last year, he was still a little green. Granted a redo, they very well might pick up DeWitt but probably a few rounds later. Instead, they take big guy Jeff Niemann and hope and pray that he puts his game together and figures it all out.

29. Kansas City

Passing on Billy Butler the first go-round didn't end up costing the Royals and they take him here at 29. Hopefully he gets out of his 2009 funk and goes back to crushing opposing pitching.

30. Texas

With many intriguing options still on the board (Greg Golson, Rob Johnson, Ben Zobrist, David Purcey, Jesse Litsch, Kurt Suzuki, and Sean Gallagher) the Rangers stick with the guy they think has better potential than any of them, Eric Hurley. The organization's No. 3 prospect heading into 2008, Hurley had all but assured himself a spot in the 2009 rotation before tearing his rotator cuff. He won't be back until mid-2010, but keep an eye on him when he does return.

I give you the 2004 Major League Baseball Re-Draft, making winners out of just about everyone but especially the San Diego Padres (no more Matt Bush), the Minnesota Twinkies (Gio Gonzalez, Andy Sonnanstine, and Neil Walker), the Royals (Iannetta AND Butler), and the Brewers (goodbye Mark Rogers, hello Wade Davis).


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