Baseball is a game of strategy, on and off the field. How you build your roster will determine the outcome of performance on the field. However, are today’s MLB General Managers getting away from what builds a World Series team? Have they forgotten the importance of the June MLB Draft and their farm system, that is oh-so-valuable? Maybe these GMs need to take a look at recent World Series champions and what their ace pitchers all have in common. Let’s take a look:
In 2013, Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. Red Sox ace pitcher Jon Lester was drafted by Boston in 2002. The Cardinals game one pitcher, Adam Wainwright wasn’t drafted by the Cardinals, but he was traded for while still in the minor leagues as a prospect.
In 2012, the San Francisco Giants featured Tim Linececum, their 2006 10th overall pick. Their oppoents, the Detroit Tigers had Justin Verlander, who was a second overall pick back in 2004.
Now, we come to 2011. Again, the Cardinals, but this time they featured Chris Carpenter in game one. Sadly this doesn’t help my case, because Carpenter was acquired from the Blue Jays at the age of 28. Carpenter was a reclamation project after he was let go in Toronto due to arm issues. However, this will help my case; Their opponents the Texas Rangers had C.J. Wilson on the mound. Wilson was a 2001 fifth overall pick by the Rangers.
The year 2010 had two guys already mentioned; The Giants had Linececum and the Rangers with Wilson.
Is my point getting across?
We can look at the 2009 New York Yankees and say, well C.C. Sabathia wasn’t drafted by the Yanks. No he wasn’t, he was signed as a free agent. Also the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t draft their game one starter, Cliff Lee. Okay, point taken, but remember the Phillies game three starter Cole Hamels was drafted by them. Also, Hamels is probably an ace on almost any other team in the league back in 2009.
A teams farm system is that valuable. Even if a team isn’t featuring a pitcher that came through their farm system, one of their top three pitchers did. The ’13 Cardinals had Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly. The ’11 Cardinals had Jamie Garcia. Don’t forget the ’09 Yankees had hall of famer to be, Andy Pettitte, a 1990 draftee by the Yankees.
That’s how important a teams farm system is. Yeah, go ahead and spend. Pick up the right pieces through free agency and trade to get over the top, but it all starts with how you draft and how you progress your prospects through the minor leagues.
The Toronto Blue Jays, who were pre-season favourites to win the World Series last year, had a top three pitchers who were all traded for. What came out of it? A last place finish.
Los Angels Angeles ace Jared Weaver, they drafted him, but what comes out of the rest of their rotation? A free agent signee, a 30th round pick by the Chicago White Sox and two undrafted free agents.
Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, two of baseballs best players just got massive contracts. Fair for the Tigers, because they have Verlander and Max Scherzer atop their rotation. The Angels again, their offensive spending is great, but it isn’t resulting in wins.
Cleveland Indians just gave catcher Yan Gomes a 6-year $23 million contract extension for half a season, but their pitching rotation? You guessed it. It doesn’t have a single pitcher who came out of their farm system.
Then we come to the Tampa Bay Rays. The best team at drafting in the league, no arguments allowed. They just handed pitcher Chris Archer a 6-year, $25.5 million contract. Fair, because the Rays payroll restrictions hamper the chances of keeping their players once they hit free agency. Foul, because Archer still hasn’t done anything to earn that money and the Rays most likely have more pitching talent waiting in line.
I’m done complaining about the money GMs are spending. If you have the money, spend it, but spend it with caution. Now, coming back to my earlier question; Have the GMs forgotten about the importance of the June Draft? It seems to be. With money coming in from TV deals and revenue sales teams are rushing to sign free agents and trying to build a Championship team with money, but it just isn’t working. Recent years prove that pitching wins championships and your pitching better come out of your own farm system. So maybe it’s time to put some money towards scouting instead of the big bats. It’s a trend of past years, but pitchers are becoming that much more valuable and so is the MLB Draft.
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