The 2011 MLB Draft is officially underway, and you know what that means -- 50-plus rounds of seemingly endless statistical analysis. All kidding aside, the MLB Draft, like any major sports league's draft, is a glimpse into the future. It's a way for fans to see what the future may bring for their favorite teams -- in a nutshell, draft day is about building new hope.
MLB Draft: Just another thing the Cubs stink at
I must admit, I have never taken much interest in the MLB Draft. It's too time consuming, and for the most part, the players are many years from being actual factors in the Major Leagues.
Maybe the other reason why the draft isn't of much interest to me is because the Cubs have been, well, just about as good at winning World Series' as they have been at scouting and drafting young talent.
Year after year, Cubs fans sit in bewilderment as to why teams like the rival Cardinals can piece together such long runs of contention while the Cubs simply get a year at the top once or twice per decade (less than that if you do the math). With the odds so heavily stacked against the Cubs, year after year, it's no wonder the most logical explanation for the Cubs World Series drought is a curse.
For nearly three decades, the Cubs have been a team operated much differently than the St. Louis Cardinals. Since the days of Dallas Green's run as Cubs' GM, the Cubs have been a team built on luring free agents at the expense of trading away young talent. While the St. Louis Cardinals, with the exception of a few free agents, have been much more of a homegrown franchise.
It's no surprise the Cubs have been forced to operate the way they have over the years, however. While the Cardinals have drafted quality players like Matt Morris, Dan Haren, Yadier Molina and, of course, Albert Pujols, the Cubs have drafted not a single all-star caliber player in the last 25 years.
Check for yourself.
Sure, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior flashed some brilliance, but their careers both fell incredibly short of expectations. The last true all-star caliber player the Cubs have drafted was Rafael Palmeiro in 1985.
Having said that, let me alter my statement a bit: The Cubs have not drafted a single, non-steroid-enhanced, all-star caliber player in the last 27 years.
In 1984, the Cubs drafted what is without question their best all-time draft pick -- Greg Maddux.
Even the players the Cubs have traded away for quality free agents haven't even been that great. Sure, Dontrelle Willis had a nice couple of years, but other than him, who else have the Cubs been missing? Khalil Green? Eric Hinske?
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been masters of player development. They have consistently been able to stock their Major League squad with quality starters and role players. Heck, they've traded away better players than the Cubs have had as starters.
Come to think of it, the Cubs may very well be the only MLB team that has never -- ever -- drafted a player who went on to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Over the past 30 years, the Cubs have had a total of three Hall of Famers -- Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux, with Maddux being the only one drafted by the Cubs, and only referenced to as a Hall of Famer because he hasn't been enshrined yet. Who else may have passed through the Cubs' ranks and slipped away only to have a phenomenal career?
Exactly. No one.
So, there you go. Another thing the Cubs are greatly inept in.
If you don't believe me, check out the careers of Brooks Kieschnick, Todd Noel, David Kelton, Ben Christiansen (yeah, the guy who hit another guy in the face while he was warming up), Bobby Hill, Andy Sisco, Bobby Brownlie, Ryan Harvey, Grant Johnson, and a slew of others.
From the looks of it, losing truly starts at the top and trickles all the way down.
But, here's to a promising future for the Cubs' 2011 first round draft pick, Javier Baez -- a small utility infielder with a good arm. You may have seen him the first time the Cubs drafted him, when his name was Alex Arias.
What a promising future for the Cubs.