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A Week's Worth of Astro-Related Links

There were many, many posts last week, but we never got around to discussing these excellent articles posted by Jonathan Mayo. First, he discussed whether the draft should be internationalized (which I did link to in the Aroldis Chapman piece). Then, he discussed whether draft picks should be traded. Lastly (and most controversially) Mayo talked about the draft slotting system.

Now, I'm of many opinions on these issues and most of them came down on the opposite side of the articles. Why exactly should the players agree to an international draft? I can sure see why the teams want it, since they'd have a little more control over player ages from Latin American countries and the spending on baseball academies would be curbed to some extent. Still, this is purely a move to save owners from having to spend MORE money on teenagers who probably won't pan out.

As for trading draft picks, you don't see either the NFL or NBA directly hurt by the trading of draft picks. Sure, every blue moon some Mike Ditka will trade an entire draft for Ricky Williams, but this will not lead to the Yankees and Red Sox owning every high draft pick. At least, they won't have any more of a competitive advantage than they do now. Teams will still have to get value for top picks and will still have to pick the right players. You can't tell me that the Pirates wouldn't have benefited from picking up a second or third round pick last July for the right to trade down five spots and still draft Tony Sanchez. Just doesn't make sense.

If there is anything I can't stand, it's this slotting system. The reason I dislike it so much? Because teams don't have to abide by it. It was not collectively bargained, so it's not even official. The only ramification for breaking slot to sign a player is a stern phone call from Bud Selig. That's why teams like Detroit can do it so willingly, even though they don't have the same payroll flexibility as the bigger spenders. I don't mind the concept of a rookie salary scale. It works well enough in the NBA, but you can't have it both ways. MLB either needs to set up a collectively-bargained rookie salary scale or they need to free owners of these senseless guidelines. Is it really that bad for Stephen Strasberg to want 50 million? Or that he got 20? I promise the world wouldn't end with a free market in the draft.

I railed enough about Houston's spending in the draft, but these don't seem like good fixes to me. The problem isn't the scope of the draft (important note: scouts have since the draft moved to Puerto Rico, the talent there has dwindled dramatically. Causal? Probably not, but interesting to watch). No, the problem is how teams view the draft. It's impossible to justify giving big money to a kid who might not see the light of day for three to four years. That's not good business. There has to be a balance between the owners and players best interest but that middle ground probably lies somewhere outside these three suggestions.

Onto more links:

  • One of the more clever defenses of statistics-based analysis that I've seen lately.
  • Have you seen the Matt Capps bidding? It's apparently down to Washington and Chicago. The Astros-related question here: which team, upon losing out on Capps, would be more likely to move onto Valverde? Is it Washington because Valverde could close? Or do the Cubs make more sense because they have a bigger payroll?
  • How many former Astro catchers are there floating around the major leagues? Can anyone find out and leave the answer in the comments? I bet there's at least 10 different backstops currently active who have played for Houston. Someone back me up (ha, get it?).
  • I'm really fascinated by the stuff put out by the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC?). This article talks about player valuation, which is hard to do in basketball. In baseball though? Don't we have pretty good methods for determining how good or bad a player is? With all the statistical data? Or is there still something we miss in all those numbers?
  • Have to give a shoutout to one of our own, clack. His article was quoted and linked to by Derek Carty over at the Hardball Times, in an article about whether Bill James' projections were too optimistic. Kudos all around.
  • Huh, this is not a truism that I had ever heard of before. Do people really think that the American League throws less fastballs? Are there any other bizarre bits of collective wisdom I'm missing?
  • Another breakdown of the Astros top 10 prospects. I'm sure Baseball America will roll theirs out soon and Minor League Ball should have an Astros system writeup coming soon. My question to you is this: could I interest you in a Crawfish Boxes Top 10 prospect list? Maybe written by the tag-team of farmstros and me? Or do you want to read from the experts? Think about it and I'll get back to you.
  • There may still be time for that one last present for the special baseball fan in your life. One of these books may be your answer. I've read three of the six and they're quite good. I hear Posnanski's latest on the Big, Red Machine is also great, but haven't gotten a chance to read it yet.