When Bud Selig says that Major League Baseball lost $500 million last year, you should believe him.
I would also like to announce that I won the Powerball Lottery last week, and will be take my winnings, purchase the Minnesota Twins, and sign Jason Giambi as a free agent. Also, Faith Hill, Drew Barrymore, and Jeri Ryan are all dumping their significant others tomorrow, and will be living with me on a secluded desert island. Even better, my wife approves.
Let's hit the mailbag.
Chris F. writes: I was just wondering how often your predictions suffer from the "Homer Simpson effect," where you make a prediction about a player (this guy is a Grade A moron, who's not going anywhere), only to say "Doh" a few years
later, when this guy redefines the meaning of great? Basically, how well do your predictions hold up?
I try to be accountable in what I write. Each year in the Minor League Scouting Notebook, I go back and review the Top 50 list from the previous year, to see where I was right and where I was wrong. Most of the lists turn out pretty well, though injuries have a way of screwing predictions up, especially for pitchers, and sometimes guys just don't develop the way you expect them to. In general, I have some good prospect calls to my name (Hank Blalock, Brandon Lyon), but I also have my share of misses (Ruben Rivera, Jimmy Haynes). Any time you deal with predicting the behavior of human beings, you'll find those who surprise you, in both positive and negative ways. But I do keep track of these things, so I can improve my ratings from year to year.
Corporal Josh L. of the United States Marine Corps writes: I was reading your Nov. 30 column and you are dead wrong about Xavier Nady. He is one of the best pure hitters I have ever seen. All he's done is succeed at every level he's ever played at; while as far as time tables go, I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a big spring training, and wind up earning a surprising spot on the Padres' roster in 2003. But I am curious as to why they moved him over from third base to second. Couldn't they have demanded a lot
more in a trade with the lack of depth at third base there is right now?
First of all, Corporal Josh, thanks for serving our country. Patriotism comes in many forms, but even those who disagree with certain aspects of domestic and/or foreign policy of any particular administration admire those who serve in uniform. Thank you.
Secondly, in looking back at my mention of Nady last week, perhaps it came across as more negative than I meant it. I like him as a prospect. As you point out, he's hit at every level. He has power and hits for average. But the point that I was trying to make was that he is older than Sean Burroughs, yet behind him in the organizational depth chart. He hasn't proven himself against the same level of competition.
Do I think he will? Yes. But he may be a .280, 25 homer type hitter, rather than someone who threatens to win batting titles. As for why they moved him, the Padres want Burroughs at third because he has a better glove. True, they could have left Nady at the hot corner, which may have increased his trade value as you mention. But I don't think they want to trade him. They see him as a part of their future, so they want him to get experience at the positions he is most likely to play.
Charles T. writes: I think the acquisition of Herbert Perry proves the Rangers intend to play Mark Teixeira at third base in 2003, and may give Hank Blalock a chance to make the team as a left fielder or right felder this upcoming spring.
Perhaps. I'm told that Blalock may indeed convert to the outfield, but that decision has yet to be made. Blalock is a better third baseman than Teixiera, but he is also a better athlete and more capable of conversion to another position. The great thing about all this for the Rangers is that they have flexibility. Mike Lamb/Perry can cover for a year at third base, whoever the eventual hot-sacker is. On the other hand, the Rangers recently decided to get first-base prospect Carlos Pena some time in the outfield, so perhaps he will be the one to make the conversion, not Blalock.
If the Rangers can manage to find any pitching at all over the next few years, they will be a massive force to reckon with.
B. Morse asks: I was wondering about two first-round picks the Orioles made a few years back, Mike Paradis and Keith Reed. When Paradis got drafted, there was a lot of talk about the Orioles pitching staff being so lackluster that Paradis could be pitching in the bigs in a matter of years, any truth to that? Reed, an outfielder, is one of the most athletic players this area (Massachusetts) has ever seen. He's a Five Tool player. Could he could be playing for the big club soon?
Paradis has been a big disappointment. He went 8-13, 4.71 last year in Double-A with a mediocre 108/62 K/BB mark in 138 innings. He has been unable to refine his fastball/slider arsenal, gets behind in the count too often, and has had injury problems. He still has a chance, but is far from a sure thing. Reed has great tools, but does he have baseball skills? Surprisingly, the Orioles haven't placed him on the 40-man roster yet, leaving him exposed for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. He hasn't developed as quickly as Baltimore hoped when they drafted him. He runs well and has some power, but his plate discipline is inconsistent.
John Sickels is working on the 2002 STATS Minor League Scouting Notebook. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com, or you can visit his homepage at hometown.aol.com/jasickels/page1.html.