November 6, 2013

Do the Mets Overvalue Draft Picks?

Its a narrative that dominated much of last winter.  The Mets front office is at a minimum hesitant to forfeit their high draft picks as a consequence of signing premium free agent talent.  Last winter it may have been the largest reason they were unable to secure the services of Michael Bourn.  This year it may cost them an opportunity to solidify multiple portions of their lineup, as it was reported yesterday that the Mets were discussing whether any of the thirteen players would received qualifying offers would be worth losing their second round pick in the 2014 entry draft.

I get it, the notion is that the team must always replenish the farm system in an effort to consistently develop and promote promising cheap talent.  Having a farm system stocked with attractive talent can benefit the big league team in a multitude of ways.  In addition to providing a direct boost upon promotion, prospects can be traded away for proven major league talent when the time was right.  But here is my question, how is that any different than sacrificing one now?

The Major League Baseball Entry Draft is unlike any other draft in sports.  Guys taken in the first round represent no guarantee of Major League success.  They are often high school kids who scouts believe have the tools to succeed.  Three, four or even five years later they may threaten to break through with the big team, provided injury, better talent or plain life in general doesn't get in the way.

Assuming the best players are chosen in the first round, he is a look at the Mets first round picks over the past decade:
Phil Humber (2004), Mike Pelfrey (2005), Kevin Mulvey (2006), Eddie Kunz (2007), Ike Davis (2008), Steve Matz (2009), Matt Harvey (2010), Brandon Nimmo (2011), Gaven Cecchini (2012), and Dominic Smith (2013)
To be fair, the jury is still out on the most recent three as they continue the aforementioned lengthy maturity process.  However, with the obvious exception of Matt Harvey, none of these guys are a ringing endorsement for keeping draft picks.  Hell, two of these guys (Mulvey and Kunz) don't even play baseball anymore.  When you draft a player you're basically buying a lottery ticket or placing a bet based upon future success.

I don't mean to say that the Mets shouldn't make every effort to constantly replenish their farm system, but what I am saying is that I don't think they should avoid signing a proven major league quantity just so they can hold onto the hope of drafting a major leaguer.  Most draft picks don't turn into true prospects, and it seems even fewer prospects turn into quality major leaguers.  I don't see what's so hard about that math. The Mets have the opportunity to sign former all-stars who can help the major league team win baseball games now.  They shouldn't balk at that opportunity to draft a guy who might, might, might help the team some time down the road. 

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  1. Other teams are able to sustain success have a farm system develop players and sign free agents. The Mets simply fail at signing quality players and they have a deep history of poor drafts.

  2. Replenishing the farm can be accomplished several ways via trades, international signing and international FA, minor league FA and trades of veteran players for minor league players.