Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ho Hum, Barry Wins Again

Anybody who is surprised to hear that Barry Bonds won the MVP yesterday probably is lost, and stumbled into this blog on his or her way to a blog about curling or cricket. But the rest of us are so unsurprised that I find it hard to even write about it. He's done this for half a decade now. The real story is that 8 voters actually voted for somebody else. How do we ensure that these people will never vote again? Adrian Beltre had a great, great season, but anybody who thinks that he was better, more valuable this year is either insane, isn't paying attention, or is so irretrievably biased against Bonds that he could take the Giants to the world series with a team full of high school kids and they still wouldn't vote for him.

In other Giants news, as you've certainly heard, they signed Omar Vizquel to a an albatross of a contract. In so doing, they gave their first round pick to the Indians. They did the same thing last season with Michael Tucker. It has become an organizational policy that first round picks cost too much to sign and should be avoided. It's already been said by many people, some much smarter than me, that this is at best a curious strategy, and at worst it is self-destructive. This is the classic pennywise, pound foolish approach. The farm system is the source of cheap talent, and every player you produce for your team gives you 3-6 years of below market value salary. This kind of decision can only happen in an organization (like the Giants) that has made consistently bad choices in the first round for a decade or more.

In the end, losing high draft picks is a move that will come back to bite you. In the last decade, losing first round picks has been a primary factor in the decline of farm systems in the Yankee, Red Sox, Mets, and Mariner organizations. Meanwhile, extra first round picks have been a primary factor in the resurgence of Twins, Indians, and A's farm systems. To me a better idea would be to hire a better scouting director and make better first round choices.

They won't have to worry about losing their first round pick for a few years once Barry retires though. Without Barry, their team will surely slide into the bottom half of the league and their first round pick will be protected. And as of yet, there's no mechanism to trade first round picks.

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