Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cubs to Draft Answer to Future Obscure Trivia Question in First Round

Some folks are very interested in the MLB draft that happens today starting at 5:00 PM Central time. The Cub Reporter has some interesting information if you care at all about who the Cubs might or might not take when they choose with the 31st pick.

But seeing whoever the high school or college athlete is that the Cubs draft tonight ranks just barely above my interest in learning to crochet.

It's strange that I am usually very interested in watching the NFL draft, and I usually will take notice of what the Bulls are doing (especially if they have a lottery pick), but I have rarely been interested in what the Cubs will do on draft day.

The last time I remember being interested was in 2001 when the Cubs were picking second overall. They were essentially picking first, because the top two players in the draft that year were Mark Teixiera and Mark Prior. The Minnesota Twins, who owned the first pick, knew that they would not be able to afford the gargantuan signing bonuses commanded by either of the Marks, so they went ahead and targeted catching prospect, Joe Mauer.

That fact was known well ahead of time, so the Cubs knew they would be on the clock with their choice of whichever of the top two prospects in the land they chose. They, of course, picked Mark Prior. Obviously, we don't need to dwell on how that pick has since worked out for the Cubs except to say this, it's actually one of the better picks the Cubs have made in my memory.

No other first round pick of the Cubs has set foot in the majors since Mark Prior. In 2002, the Cubs had four first round picks: Bobby Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, and Matthew Clanton. Only Brownlie made it as far as AAA where he posted a career 5.82 ERA and he was last seen in the Washington Nationals system last year.

Ryan Harvey and Mark Pawelek, the 2003 and 2005 first rounders (there was no 2004 first round pick) were both released this offseason. Harvey made it as far as AA and has picked up in the Rockies farm system. Pawelek never got out of A ball and appears to be done.

2006 first rounder, Tyler Colvin, has bounced between A and AA for a couple of years now. Somehow his .683 OPS in A ball at Daytona was good enough for a promotion back to AA Tennessee. After nine games, he has a .920 OPS so I'm sure Vineline will be writing a puff piece about him at any time.

On the positive side, Josh Vitters, the 2007 pick, is actually killing the ball down in A level Peoria so much that Lou is starting to get questions about whether the kid could make the jump to the big club to help fill in for Aramis. To which, my reply would be: Lance Dickson.

Lance Dickson was the Cubs first round pick in 1990. He was a nasty lefty from the University of Arizona, so he was already "seasoned" with experience at the college level. As a result, he shot through the Cubs farm system, posting a 0.53 ERA with Rookie League Geneva, 1.51 with Peoria, and 0.38 in AA at Charlotte all before August of the same year. The Cubs promoted him with much ballyhoo and fanfare and he made three August starts and posted a 7.24 ERA at a time when ERAs above 4.00 were considered crappy (expansion brought about the existence of the serviceable 5.00 ERA pitcher). He became derailed by injuries and was done in baseball by 1995.

In 1997, the Cubs picked Jon Garland and he has become a serviceable starter, but he has hardly set the world on fire. He is best known by Cub fans as the prospect traded to the White Sox for Matt Karchner instead of Randy Johnson in 1998.

Kerry Wood certainly was phenomenal at times, but he never has won more than 14 games in a season, and his ability always outshined his results. Corey Patterson, Luis Montanez, Brooks Kieschnick, Jon Ratliff, Kevin Orie, Derek Wallace, and Doug Glanville were other first round picks in the 90s that never had more than fleeting success. Glanville and Kieschnick at least managed to have careers as journeyman level players.

Other first rounders in the 90s include Ben Christiansen, who is best known for almost killing an opposing player with a ball because he was in the on-deck circle timing Christiansen's warm-up pitches, Todd Noel, who was traded for Felix "But He Has a Live Arm" Heredia, and Jayson Peterson, who it appears did actually exist, though no one cares.

In the 1980s, the Cubs made 14 first round picks and only three of them are worth noting: Rafael Palmeiro, who only became great when he started doing steroids, Shawon Dunston, who unfortunately had the misfortune of being the Cubs #1 overall pick in the same draft as Dwight Gooden, and Joe Carter, who contributed heavily to the Cubs by being traded for Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.

Before Joe Carter, the only names that stand out to me are Scot Thompson and Randy Martz because they were members of the late 70s and early 80s Cubs teams that I first learned about, and not necessarily because of anything they did on the field.

I know that not all of the players I have mentioned are at fault for their relatively crappy careers. Some were genuinely talented players who got hammered by injuries, but when you look at the list of players taken by the Cubs since 1965 and Mark Prior is one of the high points, you have a draft history that is downright deplorable.

So I hope you understand why I could really give a damn about whatever poor soul gets chosen by the Cubs tonight. Chances are excellent that it won't matter in the slightest.


Cubs drafted Brett Jackson, CF out of University of California in the first round. This allows the Cubs to save some money by simply cutting and pasting all the old Vineline stories about Corey Patterson and Felix Pie into new issues with only minor edits.

In the second round with the 79th pick, the Cubs chose David LeMahieu, another middle infielder from LSU in case they lose either Theriot or Fontenot under the couch cushions. At six-foot four, LeMahieu is taller than Theriot and Fontenot even if they stood on each others shoulders.

With the 109th pick, they took lefty high school pitcher, Austin Kirk from Owasso, Oklahoma. I don't have a joke for that and its getting kind of late.


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