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How about the Mets imagining Strasburg as the long-term 1-A to Johan Santana and putting together a package fronted by Mike Pelfrey and Fernando Martinez. The Yanks, the Red Sox, the Dodgers. All the big boys would have to weigh in.

You know what you would have: Some must-watch TV and a must-follow event.

2. Move the draft. MLB is the only major league that drafts in-season. The amateur scouting apparatus is 100 percent fixated on the process. But the general managers and their staffs are distracted by, you know, the actual baseball season.

Make a Combine part of the November GM Meetings and the draft as part of the December Winter Meetings. The Combine would allow teams to summon, say, the top 200 prospects for accurate reads on height, weight, speed, sight, strength, agility, drug testing and psychological evaluations. The MLB Network could televise the event, which would allow the prospects to become more known to the public.

An expert could, for example, say, "Here is Stanford center fielder John Doe. Look at his body type and swing. He reminds you of Grady Sizemore." That allows the public to get excited on draft day: "Hey, my team just took a Grady Sizemore clone."

The short-season leagues, which usually start around June 1 and are stocked with the June draft picks, now can start May 1, have a few more games, but also more off days in what is currently a jam-packed schedule, which would make the transition to pro ball less strenuous.

3. Make current professional players available in the draft. Here is how: Every team can protect 25 players from their whole system (players with no-trade provisions must be protected). Drafting teams can then take either an amateur or an unprotected player. But if, for example, the Mariners, with the No. 2 overall pick, take an unprotected Met, the Mets then move into the No. 2 slot and have a chance to take an amateur or an unprotected player.

A team can lose just one unprotected player per round and two in total. For the second round, teams can protect 35 players, and in the third round,

45 players, and after that this phase is done.

This was the concept most executives were against because they were protective of their systems. But, again, they should think big picture. First, if they are doing a good job of scouting, they also can pluck from other organizations. But, more important, think about the interest this would evoke. Everybody would be doing mock 25-man protection lists. Hey, if you are the Mets, do you protect John Maine or Jon Niese? Last offseason, perhaps, the Yankees could have drafted an unprotected Mike Cameron rather than an amateur. Or maybe they take a player off of the Red Sox to hurt their top rival?

Imagine all of the strategy. Arizona, for example, has the 16th and 17th picks this year. So the Diamondbacks can use one for an amateur and one for an unprotected player, or maybe because now picks can be traded, they bundle those two picks for a higher pick. Maybe the Yankees trade the 29th overall pick and Melky Cabrera for the Braves' seventh-overall pick to specifically draft an unprotected player of need (the team that lost the unprotected player would be given a supplemental pick after Atlanta picked 29th). And because the draft is now part of the Winter Meetings, whatever holes are created can be addressed through free agency or trades, making that process more intriguing.

Now you have players you have heard of who can be drafted. Plus there is the kind of wheeling and dealing and strategizing that would bring great interest up to the draft and make the draft a must-watch event. Think of the analysis between each selection.

Trading picks, drafting known players and doing it all in primetime in December. We just made the MLB draft interesting.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 3, 2009

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News » How to make the MLB draft more interesting

How to make the MLB draft more interesting

How to make the MLB draft more interesting
Let's applaud the NFL. It knows how to make a large board meeting known as the draft intriguing. The event has become so huge that reporters -- who don't know if the left guard on the team they just watched play 16 games had a good season -- will do a mock draft to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of a left guard from Texas Tech they never have seen.

The NFL Draft is so successful that the league is now contemplating stretching it over three days -- the first day to be televised in primetime. This success got me to thinking about what could be done to enliven the major league draft, a.k.a. The Most Boring Show on Earth.


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Baseball starts with inherent problems, some of which can be changed (no trading of picks, being the only major sport that drafts during its season) and some of which cannot (as opposed to basketball and football, the players are mainly unknown and are about to disappear further into the minor leagues).

The biggest hurdle, however, is that change in baseball moves slower than Jose Molina. Any alteration to the draft must be collectively bargained and negotiations always are tied up with major financial matters, making the draft a low priority. For example, to get the union to accept a draft slotting system, management almost certainly would have to make a major concession elsewhere. Almost no shot.

Change also comes slowly because most executives protect their turf and have the imaginations of a soda can. Twenty officials responded to some ideas I had for altering the process and most reacted as if I were suggesting we reverse the rotation of the Earth. For the NL chief of player personnel who said, "I love every one of these concepts," here is what I have to say: The bourbon is in the mail.

One last thing before I tell you the stuff that will reverse the rotation of the Earth, keep in mind that the draft already is a rigged event. After all, the top-ranked person in Harvard Law School does not go to the worst law firm; that person goes where the offer is most attractive. In sports, the idea has been to try to send the best amateurs to the worst teams. So because the event already is rigged, why not rig it further to elevate interest? Here are my three main ideas:

1. Allow picks to be traded. The fear is that without a slotting system that would predetermine a price for each pick, agents (from here on referred to simply as Scott Boras) would manipulate the draft to force small-market teams to trade high picks to big-market teams. But that is happening anyway. Rick Porcello was, perhaps, the most talented player in the 2007 draft, but lasted to Detroit with the 27th pick because teams were (rightly) concerned about signability. At least a trading team can recoup something in return for not taking a Porcello.

This year, for example, Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State is considered an historic prospect. Washington picks first and Boras is hinting at a $50 million price tag to sign Strasburg. Wouldn't a team with as bad a farm system as the Nationals be better off if it could consider turning the pick into a bidding war? The Padres have the No. 3 overall pick and Strasburg is from their backyard. Wouldn't they have to consider trading that No. 3 selection and a couple of prospects?

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