Monday, May 26, 2008

The draft

There's a huge Q&A on the PG today with Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington about the upcoming draft and it's pretty enlightening. You should really read the whole thing, but here are some key excerpts:

Huntington on the importance of this draft:

And it's not the second pick in the country that's going to be our only focus, either. There's a lot of attention to that pick, but our energy and attention is aimed at all 50 picks and on making sure we have the systems in place to have quality drafts for years to come. We need to have multiple major-leaguers come out of this draft and the same out of the next draft and 2010 and so on.
Coonelly on the slotting system:

As I've said before, I do believe in the recommendations the commissioner's office makes to the clubs. And, really, the whole term 'slotting' is not new. What it really means is what a certain space in the draft typically has meant. The whole program was just a way to put all the facts and figures before the club to provide additional information for their decisions.

Having said that, we're going to make our own judgments as to the value of players we select. We're going to take into account the recommendations we receive but, if we value a player above that slot, we'll go over it.

Coonelly on signing a player to a big league contract right out of the draft (aka, on drafting Alvarez):

The preference is to sign any amateur player to a minor-league contract. It gives the club more flexibility. With a player signed to a major-league contract right out of the draft, you have to use an option immediately to get him to the minors. If he has a minor-league contract, you can have him for three years in the minors before having to use an option.

Does that mean I'm saying the Pirates would never consider that? No. We would if there were a unique set of circumstances.

There are a lot of weasel words in what Coonelly says throughout the interview. Over and over again he says stuff like, "Well, we want to take the player that's going to be the best player for us." That's great, but it's also the line of thinking that got Danny Moskos here instead of Wieters or LaPorta.

The situation that Coonelly and Huntington likely find themselves in, and this is all speculation, is that they're given a certain budget to spend however they see fit. Littlefield was concerned with keeping his job at the appearance of contending, so he never spent money on the draft. That's why it was "Littlefield's choice" to pick Moskos. If these guys are trying to rebuild the team (and they seem to be), they'll put more towards the draft. The question still boils down to one of money. Do they think Alvarez is worth $8 million? Do they think he's worth $4 million more than Beckham? Will they be able to have a deeper draft if they don't spend $8 million on Alvarez? These are the key questions that are going to have to be answered.