The Albert Pujols Mock Draft

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If Keith Law were to travel back in time to 1999—before he became the unwitting victim caught in the crossfire in that rare moment of Michael Lewis being completely honest; was subject to the formative mind-poisoning of the diabolical J.P. Ricciardi; prior to turning into Mr. Smartypants who played semantical handball with the truth—where would he place Albert Pujols in his indispensable mock MLB draft?

Without getting into another rant about the negligibility of the MLB draft—that it’s not like the NFL or NBA; there are so many variables in a player making in and succeeding in the big leagues that the moneymaking aspect of the MLB draft has sabotaged all comprehension to its randomness—you can’t give the Cardinals credit for taking Pujols any more than you can blame other clubs for passing on him.

Most recently, the revisionist history of why teams missed out on Pujols and the Cardinals were able to snag him (if you consider drafting someone in the 13th round “snagging”) extended to Jonah Keri’s otherwise engaging book about the Tampa Bay Rays, The Extra 2%.

Keri spent an entire chapter using as a basis for the perceived ineptitude of the original Rays regime that they had a workout for Pujols and subsequently snubbed him even after he rocked line drives all over Tropicana Field.

It’s a shaky premise at best.

Every other team missed on Pujols; it was the Cardinals who selected him.

No one thinks that a 13th round pick is going to make it to the big leagues; will be productive; turn into an All Star; or evolve into this—the monster who hit 3 home runs last night and is the best pure right-handed hitter in baseball since Joe DiMaggio.

The excuses are far-ranging and, in a sense, viable.

He had no position. The competition he played against in junior college was mediocre. His grasp of the language was limited. He was skinny. They don’t know how old he was.

Some of them are still in question.

The PED aspect has and will forever hover around Pujols. Unless his name pops up somewhere in a quack doctor’s notes or some drug middleman’s plea deal, he’ll be innocent; but we can never be sure he’s entirely clean. That’s just the way it is today.

As for Pujols’s age, I still don’t believe he’s only about to turn 32.

Be that as it may, such a tremendous player sitting undrafted until the 13th round is a testament to Pujols’s determination to succeed; his latent talent that may have taken a few years to completely manifest itself; the opportunity to play…and the ridiculousness of the draft.

If Pujols had struggled at any point in the minors, he’d have been released or traded—such is the nature of a later round draft pick in whom little money is invested.

That too, is the way it is.

We can let slide some of the star-level names that were taken in the 1st round of that 1999 draft—Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett, Barry Zito or Ben Sheets; and we can discount the “tools” players like Mike MacDougal and Alexis Rios.

But Eric Munson? Corey Myers? Dave Walling?

And before anyone comes up with the egocentric idiocy of the Yankees “doing most of their damage” in the 20th round and above, they too let Pujols go sailing by; said myth of the Yankees being so astute that they selected star-level players like Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada past the 20th round of the 1990 draft is retrospective nonsense—they got lucky; maybe if Pujols had lasted until round 22, they’d have grabbed him rather than Chris Klosterman.

Would Pujols have been noticed had his name been Josh Pujols?

These factors are indicative of the capriciousness of the draft and no amount of woulda/shoulda/coulda is going to alter that reality.

Would-be MLB draftiks seeking to mimic the admirable Mel Kiper Jr., endeavoring to create a career where there wasn’t one before are ignorant that I could thumb through a copy of Baseball America a week before the draft and find a series of names that would shield me from criticism (and that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?) for taking a certain player over another without having the faintest clue as to whom he is or whether or not he can actually play.

Albert Pujols hit 3 homers in a World Series game last night; this is while he was enduring a savage media onslaught for daring not to speak to them after game 2.

Pujols has a tendency to shut people up the right way—on the field.

Complain all you want for his absence from the microphones, but do so while bowing to him as one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.

Such an appellation gives an automatic break for “unprofessional” behaviors.

He gets away with it because he can.

And he deserves to.

Because he’s the best.

Period.

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White Sox Hire….Robin Ventura?!?

All Star Game, Books, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, Movies, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Playoffs, Politics, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, Umpires

Baseball’s James Bond Villain, White Sox GM Kenny Williams, has seen his evil schemes in recent years turn out…well, like those of an actual James Bond villain, meaning that they didn’t work; in fact, they were overwrought (taking Alexis Rios‘s contract from the Blue Jays); expensive and miserable (Adam Dunn); and undermined by a treacherous second in command (Ozzie Guillen).

Now he’s done something for which “outside-the-box” doesn’t even fit by hiring Robin Ventura as the new White Sox manager.

In theory and as a person, Ventura would be a fine managerial candidate; but he’s never managed anywhere and only joined the White Sox as special assistant to director of player development Buddy Bell last June. The understated, thoughtful and happy-go-lucky Ventura is the opposite of the manic and combative former manager Guillen. The media at large will be pleased in the sense that they won’t require a translator or repeated re-typing of their stories to counteract spell-check trying to manufacture Guillen’s quotes into something intelligible. (Yes. That’s what he really said! It’s supposed to be: “I didn’t know nothin when I brung Floyd off ‘da game.”)

Ventura’s never managed at any level, but we see managers all over the place with loads of experience who do endlessly ridiculous things, so what’s the difference? He’ll handle the media, be respected in the clubhouse and if he gets a veteran bench coach who preferably has managerial experience, it could work.

There are things to be concerned about. He’s never done it, so he might not like it; and the strategic issues cannot be ignored. But the White Sox are decisive in their maneuverings and they decided that the former White Sox star player Ventura was the guy.

Why not? Give it a shot and see. If it doesn’t go well, they’ll get someone else.

On another note, former Mets GM and connoisseur of interns and underlings for sexual thrills Steve Phillips, said that he doesn’t feel as if Tampa Bay Rays bench coach and suggested candidate for several managerial jobs including that of the White Sox, Dave Martinez has the “presence” to be a big league manager.

I’m not sure how Phillips would know this, but it’s a bit irresponsible for the man who hired Art Howe—not exactly Mr. Personality—to run the Mets in replacing the larger-than-life and ego as big as Neptune Bobby Valentine to be publicly denigrating someone he doesn’t even know.

But with Phillips there’s always an agenda and presumably there’s one at work here.

He hired Howe because the club’s first choice, Lou Piniella, was going to cost compensation in terms of players and, more importantly, would’ve usurped Phillips’s power. Howe wasn’t going to do that.

The funniest bit about that whole episode was Valentine’s reaction when told he was fired by the Mets; referring to Phillips he said, “And he stays?!?” in disbelief.

Yes. He stayed. Until May the next year when Phillips was fired too.

Maybe it was his presence that was the problem. The Mets didn’t want it around anymore and they made it disappear early the next season.

Valentine must’ve been amused.

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