WTNYSeptember 15, 2003
Left Disappointed
By Bryan Smith

There are not many baseball publications I look forward to reading more than Sports Weekly and Baseball America. But this weekend, these two sensational magazines left me more than disappointed.

On Friday, I looked at the Baseball America Player of the Year award. Again, the 10 candidates were:

1. Josh Barfield- 2B- Padres- High A- 20 years old

2. Travis Blackley- LHP- Mariners- AA- 20 years old

3. Bobby Crosby- SS- Athletics- AAA- 23 years old

4. Prince Fielder- 1B- Brewes- low-A- 20 years old

5. Zack Greinke- RHP- Royals- high-A/AA- 19 years old

6. Joe Mauer- C- Twins- high-A/AA- 20 years old

7. Dallas McPherson- 3B- Angels- 23 years old

8. Greg Miller- LHP- Dodgers- High-A/AA- 18 years old

9. Jeremy Reed- OF- White Sox- High-A/AA- 23 years old

10. Alexis Rios- OF- Blue Jays- AA- 22 years old

The condition of having a prospect win the award was a need for Baseball America, taking out players like Fernando Seguignol. But, all these ten players are prospects, so shouldn't the winner go to the player with the best numbers?

Here's my pick vs. Baseball America's choice

Wait 'Til Next Year Choice:
High-A (222AB): .333/.431/.477 4HR/52RBI 41BB/17K 27SB
AA (242AB): .409/.474/.591 7HR/43RBI 29BB/19K 18SB
Notes: Led minor leagues in average, made 3E playing CF, RF

Baseball America Choice:
High-A (233AB): .335/.395/.412 1HR/44RBI 24BB/24K 3SB
AA (276AB): .341/.400/.453 4HR/41RBI 25BB/25K 0SB
Notes: Threw out 57% of potential base stealers behind plate

So, Jeremy Reed (Wait 'Til Next Year's selection) won out in AVE, OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, BB/K, and SB, but lost? Granted, Joe Mauer, the official 2003 Baseball America Player of the Year, has great defensive value, but very subpar numbers. Surely, Baseball America took this into account.

No, they just wanted to give their #1 prospect in all of baseball another award for his shelf. This seems like in Little League when the All-Star teams are made up of coaches' sons rather than the best players. Jeremy Reed had the best season of anyone in the minor leagues, but he wasn't chose because Mauer is Baseball America's favorite player.

Moving on...

In the September 10-16 edition of Sports Weekly, the magazine gave their final Organizational Power Rankings. These are supposed to dictate teams' farm systems, but they also include the progress of rookies into the rankings. The magazine's list follows, with an occasional comment from the magazine:

1. Cleveland Indians- "Some conspicuous failures, but ample successes too"
2. Texas Rangers
3. New York Mets- "Lower levels indicate a return to the glory days of great pitching"
4. Kansas City Royals- "Lots of right-handers...recent first-rounders doing well"
5. Toronto Blue Jays- "The best upper-level talent"
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Milwaukee Brewers- "Nearly all of their blue-chippers...performed well"
9. Baltimore Orioles
10. Oakland Athletics
11. Minnesota Twins
12. Atlanta Braves
13. Anaheim Angels- "One more year before the good ones arrive"
14. Houston Astros- "Decent progress among prospects"
15. Florida Marlins- "Trades cut into an already-thin talent corps"
16. Seattle Mariners- "Top-heavy on pitching"
17. Chicago Cubs- "Some terrific young arms"
18. Philadelphia Phillies
19. Colorado Rockies
20. Los Angeles Dodgers- "Pitching on the way, but that's it"
21. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
22. Montreal Expos
23. San Francisco Giants- "but their top-pitchers...weren't as successful"
24. San Diego Padres
25. Boston Red Sox
26. Cincinnati Reds
27. Detroit Tigers- "There was a ton of talent at low-A West Michigan"
28. St. Louis Cardinals- "Star-quality players aren't apparent"
29. Chicago White Sox- "A few semi-breakouts, but much more of the opposite"
30. New York Yankees- "Injuries, trades, overhyped disappointments and infighting have decimated a system"

Now I have yet to complete a final list, so I'll probably make some ignorant comments too. Why I thought thought those comments were bad:

- You mean to tell me the best thing they could say about their top choice was they had "ample successes" to go along with "conspicuous failures"? While I agree the Indians have a deep farm system, I don't think this was a banner year.
- They say the Royals recent-first rounders are doing well? Yes, Zack Greinke had an amazing season. But Colt Griffin, Mike Todolka, and Kyle Snyder remain disappointments.
- And the system that has "The best upper-level talent" only checks in at five? You can be sure the Blue Jays will be in my top 2.
- My number one choice will likely be the Milwaukee Brewers. If "nearly all of their blue chippers...performed well" then why are they all the way down at 8? You mean Palmisano, Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Hart, Krynzel, Parra, and Jones isn't enough for you?
- "One more year before the good ones arrive." That seems to be an optimistic statement, and I think the Angels have a ton to look forward to. Of my top prospect lists, they had a catcher, first basemen, and third basemen in the top 2, with a second basemen and two pitchers also in my rankings. Their system will be in my top 5 for sure.
- "Decent progress among prospects" and "Trades cut into already thin corps" were still AHEAD of systems that were touted to be "Top-heavy on pitching" and having "some terrific young arms." The Cubs and Mariners are DEFINITLY above the Astros and Marlins.
- "Pitching on the way, but that's it." About the Dodgers? I think Koyie Hill, James Loney, and Franklyn Gutierrez all are solid players. In fact, Loney and Gutierrez can make arguments for being two of the top 30 sluggers in baseball.
- If any level of your system has "a ton of talent", you probably shouldn't be twenty-seven. Granted, the Tigers won't be too far up on my own rankings, but I won't complement their talent to justify my position.
- The White Sox and Yankees are too low. A few semi-breakouts, but much more of the opposite. Yes, Corwin Malone and Joe Borchard fell out of favor for the Sox. But Jeremy Reed, Ryan Wing, and Emencio Pacheco broke out, and that doesn't begin to talk about Kris Honel and Aaron Miles.
- It says that trades have hurt the Yankees system? Yet in fact, they received more prospects in Raul Mondesi and Robin Ventura than they paid for Aaron Boone.
- Finally, the Cards are last. Its true that "star-quality players aren't apparent." Well guess what? Jeremy Reed, Kris Honel, Dioner Navarro, and Rudy Guillen are all better than any Cardinal prospect.

Enough complaining. I'm really working on my own organizational rankings, but I can't agree on a final copy. I'm shooting for some time this week, but I have a lot planned this week.

I should say that while I'm truly disappointed by these two magazines, I will still be an avid reader of both. And you'll see me referring to Baseball America a lot on this site.

And don't even get me started on the Billy Beane chat...