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Another gem from the boys at I Remember Dome-Dogs:
We’re about to start a series against the best team in all of MLB right now, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite only having been in existence for a decade, the Arizona Diamondbacks should serve as a lesson to this team, which will soon be undergoing a rebuilding process that will spell success or dismal failure for this team for many years to come. After their meteoric rise to World Champions in 2001 and a second division title the following year (2002), the Diamondbacks declined to a awful 51-111 in 2004 to be THE worst team in MLB. The cause is one that should be all to familiar to Houston Astros fans at this point: being unable to get out from under free agent contracts that hamstrung the teams financial capabilities. However, after trading away most of their unwieldy contracts and maintaing one of the most fertile farm systems around, the Diamondbacks are poised for success for the next few years.
This June, the newly remolded front office will conduct its first amateur draft and it has a lucrative #10 pick, followed by the #52 pick (click to see the full draft board). The draft marks an important step in trying to rebuild our utterly barren farm system and it’s our highest draft pick since Chris Burke in 2001. There is already a lot of speculation going on about the draft (though thank God it’s not the asinine degree to which ESPN hypes the NFL draft...). Jim Callis of Baseball America recently answered a mailbag question about how the Astros should utilize their first two picks and I liked what he had to say (if you actually click the link, you’re going to have to scroll down to the bottom). Essentially he said take the highest available talent with the 10th pick and then try to find a value college-pitcher with the 52nd. I like this for two reasons: By taking the top talent, we’d add some value to our farm system, which could be used to produce home-grown talent or as a trade chip later down the line. Secondly, by taking a undervalued college pitcher in the second round, we’d be getting an arm for our team that is far more proven and seasoned than a high school pitcher -- also much less cost then the high school pitcher. Meaning we’d hopefully get a talented arm up to the majors in as little as 2 1/2 to 3 years (if he can survive the injury nexus that is). Callis feels that Drayton will not break with the MLB’s slotting guidelines and as such will not pay big money to sign talent that falls due to its asking price. I cannot think of a worse mistake we could make in the draft than to let the best available talent go because of some gentlemen’s agreement and a few hundred-thousand dollars. Hopefully Ed Wade, et al., will be able to persuade Drayton to pony up some cash and step on some feet, or else we could be in for a long five-six years.
As you see the likes of Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, and Chris Young take the field over the next few days, pray that our farm system can produce such talent in the next three to four years. June 5th, 2008 will be a monumental date in the Astros’ franchise history, it can either be for good reasons or utterly depressing reasons; let hope the next three days might be a preview of our future.