June 7th, 2013
by lisagray

Today is D-Day the Astros picked homeboy Mark Appel.  (I actually WAS gonna say – picked a fight with Boras, but I have a feeling that as long as they offer Appel more than the Pirates last year, they will git er done because Appel, I am sure, does not want to have to pitch for the Fort Worth River Cats or the Skeeters…) They COULD pay him 7 something mill if he got slot, which wouldn’t leave em real too much for the rest of the rounds. OR perhaps, because he’s a senior, he’ll be stuck with a much lower price tag. He doesn’t have to sign by the July 15th deadline, however, so he CAN interfere with the Astsros getting other picks signed if they don’t know how much they are going to have.

Last time the Astros had a first pick pitcher, it was Bogusevic, back in 2005. What a waste of the poor guy’s career.

Ah well…

The picking of pitchers as the first pick hasn’t gone real too well over time.

Very first pitcher to be picked first in the draft was homeboy David Clyde, LHP, by the Rangers in 1973, who basically took an 18 year old and let him rot. He was basically treated like crap by the veteran players, who, I guess, felt that treating newcomers who just might could improve your team, like something that crawled out of the sewer, was fun and right. For as much as O(ld Timers talk about BITGOD , one good thing is that no number one pick would be left on his own with a bunch of sadists in the majors. And people scream about teams coddling players.

1976 – Astros pick LHP Floyd Bannister who pitched for 16 years in the bigs – what I remember him for is being the father of Brian Bannister, a stat loving pitcher for the Royals, who failed in the Bigs and went to Japan. Anyway, the best thing Floyd did for the Astros was to get traded after 2 years for Craig Reynolds. He threw 253 innings, 88 and a 69 ERA+ in 1977 and 1978. He ended his career throwing 2388 innings of 102 ERA+ baseball. He did, to my surprise, actually have 10 solid years, in which he missed time in only 1 year and was selected for one ASG. He did not, however, have the stats expected from a #1 pick. But a 16 year career in MLB is nothing to sneeze at neither.

1981: Mariners picked RHP Mike Moore. (the first guy I actually remember and I remember him from the WS winning Canseco Athletics years.) He was called up for the start of the 82 season, pitched 6 years for the Mariners (not a good W-L record, but the Mariners were a last place team while he was there) starting 217 games, relieving in 10, and an ERA+ of 97 over 1457 IP. Kind of a Brett Myers without the wifebeating part. He signed with Oakland, helped pith them to a WS Ring, and came in #3 in the Cy Young voting, posted ERA+ of 142, 79, 129 and 90 – didn’t miss a start, threw 33 games/year minimum – 137 games total and 847 IP. That is value, even if he was only ace-like for one year. He then had 3 lousy years with the really lousy Tigers. Pretty decent career. Not an ace, certainly not a HOFer.

1983 – Twins pick Tim Belcher, RHP, who did not sign, and was picked AGAIN as the first pick in the January 84 draft (they used to do it twice a year) by the Yankees, signed, and was taken by the Athletics as Free Agent Compensation – interesting, I didn’t know they used to do the FA compensation thing that way. He was traded to the Dodgers midway thru the 87 season for reliever Rick Honeycutt, who turned out to be a critical piece of the bulpen for the As for several years. The Dodgers put him into the rotation later in the year and he threw 5 good games. He was an important part of the World Series team the next year – everyone remember Orel Hershiser and the consecutive socreless inning streak, but Belcher therw 170 innings of 112 ERA+ ball and won 2 WS games. He stayed with the Dodgers to the end of the 91 season – had a 118 ERA+ and threw 802 innings over 118 starts and 19 in relief. He never did that well again. He was traded to Cincy for Eric Davis (I remember that – it was him and Darryl Strawberry Coming Back Home, gonna create years of Champeeeens – um, no…) AAnyway, he spent the next 8 years as a journeyman, pitching for Cincy, KC, Angels, White Sox – had a career improvement late in his career for the Royals in 96 at age 34 – must have been steroids, hunh? and threw 238 innings of 128 ERA+ ball. All in all, not a bad career, came in 6th in the Cy Young voting in 88, no All Star appearances, NOT an ace, most certainly not a great player.

1988 – Padres pick Andy Benes, RHP. Another player who was a solid major leaguer, but certainly not an ace or a HOFer. He was called up the year after he was drafted, came in 5th in ROY voting. He pitched for the Padres over parts of 7 seasons, threw 182 starts (and 6 in relief) of 104 ERA+ ball, and was traded to the Mariners midway through the 95 season for their first Run To The Pennant – rememebr that? I actually do – it was Randy Johnson and Jay Buhner and Edgar and Junior Griffey and Alex Rodriguez (before he was hated for being Greedy) and threw 12 games of 82 ERA+ ball, but won 7 of the games because he had an incredible offense and defense behind him. He then signed as a FA with the Cards, and the usual Cards Magick with Old Pitchers came on and he had 2 really good years – 109 and 135 ERA+ ball over 230 and 177 innings, and  came in 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 97. He then signed on with Arizona in 98 back when they were buying every FA in sight, had 2 lousy years, went back to Saint Looey had 1 good, 1 lousy (injured) and 1 excellent finishing up his career year. He neded up throwing 2505 innings of 104 ERA+ ball over 387 starts with 16 games in relief. All in all, not a bad career.

1989 – Orioles pick Ben McDonald, RHP – oh man, I remember when he was picked. I remember 88 was the year of the Zer-OOOOOOOs with the 22 straight losses to starat the year. Ben McDonald was supposed to be the best college pitcher like EVAH. He pitched a few innings that year, was in the rotation in 90. He had a 157 ERA+ over 112 innings that year, but the next, had some injury and only threw 21 games. He was a full time starter the next 3 years, posting ERA+ of 94, 132, 123, but then the injury bug bit in 95, although he did post a 115 ERA+ again. He signed with the Brewers as a FA, threw 221 innings of 133 ERA+ ball, in 97, threw 21 games of 115 ERA+ ball, then blew out his shoulder and was OOB. He ended up with 1291 innings of 115 ERA+ ball, but never got a Cy young vote or an All Star bid. Of course, his W/L records were nothing to write home about because he always played for bad teams, but we all know that Wins got nothing to do with run support or fielding. He appears to have been a much beter pitcher than any of the earleir guys, but had a shortened career due to injury. Youneverknow…

1991 – Yankees pick LHP Brien Taylor, who is infamous for destroying his shoulder ina bar fight before he could pitch. He supposedly is the best pitcher who ever walked, according to Yankee legends Mystique and Aura.

1994 – Mets pick RHP Paul Wilson – his #1 comp on bbref is Tim Redding. Which tells you about his career. I don’t even remember him before he came to the Reds in 03, but he was highly touted, along with Jason Isringhausen and someone else whose name escapes me, as the Mets’ New Generation of Tom Seavers. He was called up in 96, did really lousy, was hurt for years, then dumped on the Rays for Bubba Trammell and Rick White. He threw 50 good innings in 2000, a bunch of mnediocre innings in 01 and 02 for a bad team, then signed with the Reds as a FA in 03 – threw 896 innings of 86 ERA+ ball over the next 3 years, and achieved his greatest hour of fame by charging the mound and getting his butt kicked by Kyle Fransworth. He really never recovered from all his injuries early in his career, and he did pitch for 6 years, but they certainly weren’t representative of what any first round pick should be, let alone the first pick. No ROY, All Star or Cy Young votes, naturally. He was a 5th starter on bad teams.

1996 – Pirates pick RHP Kris Benson, who was more famous for his loudmouth stripper wife than his pitching. He was called up in 99, did very well  2 years straight on a very terrible team – threw 197 and 211 innings of 113 and 121 ERA+ ball. UNfortunately, he blew out his elbow and really never recovered. He returned in 02, but was no longer sharp – and only had one year in which he pitched 200 innings again, 2004. He had 5 years between Pittsburgh, the Mets and Baltimore through 2006, was out for 2 years with more injuries, tried to come back with Texas in 09 and Arizone in 2010, but couldn’t. Who knows how good he could have been without injuries? Youneverknow…

1997 – Tigers pick RHP Matt Anderson, RH closer from Rice (yes, Berkman’s team.) First time a closer had been picked like this. Times change, hunh? Got called up in 98, did very well throwing 50 innings of 145 ERA+ ball, then ML hitters started hitting his straight 100 MPH FB and hitting it hard. It ain’t the speed, it’s the motion. It’s the location and ML hitters hit FB down the middle very hard and very far. He also had injury problems from 2002 on, and was up and down and on and off the DL, missed 04, tried and failed to come back with Coloroado in 05. FAIL. Drafting a closer as your FIRST PICK? Cmon, it’s not like there wasn’t any other decent player to be had. 

2002 – Pirates pick RHP Bryan Bullington (massive FAIL). Called up at the end of 05 and pitched 1.1 innings giving up 2 runs. The ONLY reason teams kept picking him up is because he was a first round pick – he had a couple of lousy innings with Cleveland, Toronto and KC before leaving for Japan in 2010, where he has done pretty well.

2006 – Royals pick RHP Luke Hochevar, who although he has been in the majors for 4 years, has, to put it mildly, really stunk up the joint. Even bigger FAIL than Bullington, because he has taken a roster spot that could have been given to someone who, like, doesn’t completely suck. He was originally picked in the 1st round of the 05 draft, but the Dodgers wouldn’t meet his demands, so he went and played indy ball, then the Royals picked him first, don’t ask me why. Boras was his agent and I remember all the, uh, negotiations. He had a cup of coffee in 07, then was put in the rotation in 08. He got sent down a few times as well over his first 3 years, but has spent most of his time int he majors. Here are his innings/ERA+ since 2008: 129/78; 143/68; 103/87; 198/87; 185/72. This year, they did not have to sign him as he is arb eligible, but for reasons known only to God they signed him to a 4+ mill contract and he’s thrown 21 innings in relief over 16 games in middle relief, and done quite well. 4 freaking mill a year for a 29 year old middle reliever. The pick was a FAIL. The signing him to this year’s contract was EPIC FAIL.

2007 – Rays take LHP David Price. So far, he’s the best pitcher taken first. Came up in 08, helped win them their first pennant in September/October, mostly in relief. Started 09 in AAA to delay the arb clock, then came up, joined the rotation, 23 games, 98 ERA+ ball over 128 innings. He’s been an All Star in 2010, 2011, 2012, Was #2 in the Cy Young voting in 2010, won it last year. Posted ERA+ of 149, 104 and 145 over 208, 224, 211 innings. Lost both games in the 2010 ALCS. Has been hurt and has not done well this year and has been on the DL for the past 3 weeks with “triceps strain” whatever that is – as of yet, he’s not been headed northwest to Dr. Andrews.

2009 – Nationals pick RHP Stephen Strasburg. Now I know all yall want to say that he’s the bestest. I will say that he had the most fuss, that is fer sher. Came up to a kabillion cameras in 2010, packed the parks, threw 12 games with an ERA+ of 129 over 68 innings, but no ROY votes, interestingly enough. You notice that this isn’t even 6 IP/GS. But the screaming was relentless. He got hurt and blew out his elbow after only 5 games in 2011 – Rob Dibble got hisself fired for insisting that Strasburg was a weenie who wouldn’t pitch with an owie. So he goes off for TJ, comes back in 2012, and the Nats have This Plan they’ve concocted with Scott Boras to only let him pitch 160 innings, then shut him down, no matter what. So they shut him down at 162 innings of 129 ERA+ ball, right on the nose, and insisted that no big deal, we got this great team, we gonna be winning year after year, no Stras in the playoffs, no Beeg Deal. Well, they didn’t et anywheres near the pennant, losing the NLDS, and this year, WITH Stras, who, by the way, is back on the DL with an owie in his side, they are a game under .500 and 8 games behind Chris Johnson and the Braves. Will be interesting to see if Stras turns into another Ben McDonald. Or maybe exceeds David Price. Youneverknow.

2010 – Pirates pick RHP Gerrit Cole, now age 22. He didn’t play in the minors at all in 2010 because he signed 1 minute before the deadline, so lots of $$$ but no playing baseball. He advanced thru AA last year, is doing fine at AAA – 12 GS with a 2.91 ERA/1.06 WHIP over 69 IP. BUT, he’s not averaging even 6 IP/GS. With the injury to Wandy, it is possible he might could get called up earlier than the Pirates had hoped, unless Charlie Morton pitches well after his rehab ends next week. Youneverknow…

As for Appel, all my scouty friends tell me he’s damm lucky because next year, he certainly wouldn’t be in anyone’s top 5. I’m hearing all kinds of stuff about how he’s gonna be in the rotation next year. Well, if he is, it’s because he’s good, not because Scott Boras demanded it as part of his contract – no major league contracts for draftees any more.

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