Screwed Up Draft Incentives Could Create a New Strategy, Remembering Glenallen Hill, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Screwed Up Draft Incentives Could Create a New Strategy, Remembering Glenallen Hill, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The State of Ohio is opening up places to get haircuts starting on Friday – with precautions in place, including masks – and I will be hitting one up this weekend, with a healthy tip ready. I don’t care *that* much about getting a haircut, even though my hair is the longest it’s been since I tried and failed to look “grunge” for about four months in middle school. Mostly I care about practicing what I preach: following the rules and guidelines established by trustworthy experts, getting compensation back in the hands of folks who have had to shut down for so long, and doing only the things we can do safely when made available.

Ohio has been exceedingly cautious throughout this process, guided solely by medical and epidemiological experts, so I’m comfortable following their lead. Goodbye, mop top.

•   It’s well known now that Glenallen Hill, by his own admission, used performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career, and I think it’s up to everyone to individually determine what they want to do with that kind of thing when it comes out. But, much as it would be with any other Cubs outfielders who decide to speak publicly about what went on, chemically, during that era, I personally choose to still enjoy the bonkers moments:

•   Again, I mean it when I say you can do with your memories whatever you want. I’m not going to moralize in either direction. I just like now, with the passing of time and a better understanding of the context of that era, to enjoy the memories. Hill freaking raked for the Cubs in the second half of that great 1998 season, which mostly went unobserved because he was not actually hitting a lot of home runs on a team that featured half of the great 1998 Home Run Chase. Bonus fun fact? The Cubs got him back that year because the Mariners *waived him* despite the fact that he was posting a .290/.332/.521 slash line at the time (117 wRC+). The Mariners had Edgar Martinez at DH, so Hill had to play left field, where he was rough. But still – the Mariners went on to replace his spot with a 23-year-old prospect named Shane Monahan. He didn’t hit that year, and was out of the big leagues for good just one year later.

•   Keith Law on the impact of the dramatically smaller draft (and the $20,000 bonus limit on undrafted signees):

•   Not only does the setup for 2020 risk a guy like Paul Goldschmidt becoming a future CPA rather than a future MLB star, Law highlights the serious impact this could have at the college level, particularly for disadvantaged groups:

There’s a big ripple effect from players who expected to sign going back to school or going to college from high school. Division I schools have only 11.7 scholarships per team, and coaches plan to distribute those under the assumption that some juniors will not return for their senior years and that some of their top recruits will never reach campus. Some members of both groups will now be at school, fighting for the same playing time and the same limited scholarships, which will squeeze some players out of lineups, out of scholarships or off rosters entirely ….

Any change to the draft or college scholarship availability will disproportionately hit players from disadvantaged backgrounds, reducing their choices, their opportunities to play and their potential return if and when they are drafted. It’s great to talk about increasing diversity in youth baseball and to try to get more young players of color into the sport. You have to back that up with real money, however, and this appears to work against those goals — if you’re cutting bonuses and opportunities, your talent pool will consist only of players who can afford to make little to no money while they play. Players who need incomes, or who might have been able to use a six-figure signing bonus to get by while they played in the minors, might end up leaving the sport for other careers.

•   When you artificially limit access to your sport, and when you force struggles upon your development pipeline (i.e., colleges), you squeeze talent out one way or another. That’s the simple reality, and why so many of us who care about the long-term health of the sport are frustrated by the short-term decision made by MLB (and accepted by the players).

•   Meanwhile, Law points out another eye-popping possibility in this year’s draft: without a normal period to evaluate prospects, and with the ability to receive a comp pick the following year for failing to sign a pick in the first three rounds, might some teams decide simply to punt on the top of this year’s draft? They’ll know that they will have a deeper pool to select from next year, plus (likely) a more normal player evaluation process. The only costs in doing so is that the comp pick is one spot lower than this year and you have a big one-year gap in your player development pipeline, but the tradeoff – in addition to the extra scouting – is that you get to save all that money this year (deeply important to some teams, apparently) *AND* you get to goose your bonus pool for next year when the draft might be so packed that having extra picks and extra dollars to go over slot later in the draft might be all the more valuable.

•   I kind of hate that the decisions about this year’s draft might make it an actually-compelling draft strategy to do the following: pick the guys you want, but offer your top three picks only 40% of their bonus slot (the minimum required to recoup a comp pick if they don’t sign). If they take it, great, you just got an absurd bargain. If they don’t, great, you get all the benefits mentioned in the previous bullet. Heck, you would arguably be best served selecting prospects you strongly suspect WOULDN’T take your 40% offer, like tip-top high schoolers with strong college commitments. When a strategy like this starts to look like a good idea or a competitive advantage, you know that the system screwed up somewhere.

•   Among the deals today at Amazon, miscellaneous wall chargers, including one of the lightning fast ones from Anker. I believe I’ve said this before, but the quarantine has made it explosively more true: I have to purchase *and then hide* my own chargers, because the other people in this house find them, move them, and lose them or break them. I don’t think I have lost or broken a single charger in my entire life, and yet I’ve had to secure about FIVE OF THEM for myself over the past few years. It’s madness. (LOVE YOU GUYS!) #ad

•   The mighty Lotte Giants are no longer undefeated, just now losing their first game of the season. At least they had this:

•   Cool, cool, cool, co [sees Sunday] oh:

•   Team masks:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.