As the draft gets closer I’m reading a lot of different things. Baseball America has the Mets drafting Stephen Drew at number three with the Padres getting Jared Weaver and the Tigers taking Jeff Neimann. Jayson Stark had in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings article that the Padres will draft Jared Weaver, the Tigers drafting Justin Verlander, and the Mets taking Philip Humber.
Now, neither one is what I was expecting. I was sure that Verlander or Neimann would end up being drafted with Weaver as a long shot if he somehow did not get signed because he will be demanding too much money. Then Drew and Humber got thrown into the draft. I guess it really depends on which direction the Mets want to go.
Philip Humber combines with Jeff Neimann, Wade Townsend, and Josh Baker to make what many call the best college pitching staff ever. They have three pitchers likely to go into the first round and another to get chosen by the end of the second round. Humber is a guy who would be a safe pick and someone that will most likely be ready to pitch in the majors within a year or two. He will not cost as much as Drew, Weaver, or Neimann and would not have as high of a ceiling as a guy like Verlander, but is more refined.
I basically have no issues with Humber, Weaver, Neimann, or Verlander and obviously two of them will be available. The idea of them picking Drew does not make sense to me. They do not exactly have middle infield depth in their system, but with Reyes and Matsui, it does not exactly seem to be a need. Drew could be ready by the time Matsui leaves, but from what I read in various articles, scouts are not thrilled by him and call him a Todd Walker like player. Is that really worth a #3 pick? He may not even go until the end of the first round. When you pick this high, you go for the best available. There are no impact “can’t miss” position players like Mark Texeira, B.J. Upton, or Joe Mauer, so I say go with the drafts strengths. You can never have enough pitching and there are several college arms that will be able to make a big league contribution soon. It just does not make sense to not go in that direction since that is what is of the highest quality. It is so hard to project players in the baseball draft, it is probably the hardest sport to try and project stars, which is why you pick the best available talent and worry about the rest later.
Besides, doesn’t pitching win championships and not oft injured short stops rumored to have motivation problems?
When the Mets make their pick, it better be a pitcher, or else it would have been a wasted pick. The past two drafts, they had a mid-round pick. They got Kazmir and Milledge because they dropped down in the draft for whatever reason, but where legitimate top 10 pick talents. Now that they have the third pick, they might be the team that passes up on the top tier talent for whatever reason and allow the teams behind them to pick up better players. If Verlander is on the board when they pick, how do you pass up a guy with two plus pitches and routinely hits 99 mph on the gun?
Ultimately, I think they will go with pitching. The lack of impact position players really necessitates this move. I would personally love to see Weaver drop back for whatever reason, even though he does not project as #1 starter in some eyes. He could be in Shea 2005 with Peterson and Keppel with Kazmir and Pettit in the waiting for what would could be a devastating rotation and unbelievable success for a long time. Oakland has the big three, maybe we have the big five. I believe a good second baseman is more likely to be had than good young cheap pitching. Danny Garcia proved that he will at least be able to hold down that position and not be a detriment to the team if Matsui ends up not in Met uniform after his contract is up. With Reyes, Wright, Matsui/Garcia and Piazza/Phillips (and in the future Brazell, Bladergeon, Harper, and Davdison) I just do not see a specific need for Drew at this time since the infield looks set for the foreseeable future. For the most part, all of the pitchers I mentioned above will most likely not pan out into stars. Hitting is much easier to predict in the majors than pitching, which is why you can never have enough strong arms in the system.