June 7, 2007

Best Available Player

That's all I'm asking. With the sixth overall pick in this year's amateur draft I want the Washington Nationals to select the best available baseball player. With 5 of the first 70 picks there's plenty of time to go with toolsy, projectable types. Hell, in the eighth round we can even get Trader Jim an "Endy v.6.0." But with the first pick I want the best available ballplayer.

I want Uncle Teddy, Cousin Mark, Stan the Plan and P.T. Bowden to belly up to the bar, pry open the change purse, and lay out all the cash required to sign a genuine, bona fide, electrified monor... err, prospect. I don't care if his agent is Scott Boras, Scott Proctor or Scott Speedman. I don't care if "slot" money is $4.5 million and this kid is asking for $8.5M and a white tiger. Don't care. Get it done. Best Available Player.

I'm behind "The Plan" in all its inscrutable, opaque glory. Staff up, invest in the farm, run the Nats like a season-long tryout camp. It's all good. But June 7, 2006 is the day when the rubber meets the road. If the team passes on the best guy on the board, one day after announcing the new stadium's substantially increased ticket price structure, we'll know we've been sold a bill of goods.

The kid wants too much money? So what?! You're not spending it on securing Tony Batista's long-term deal. The agent is a pain in the ass? So's Bowden. Lock the two of then in a room together, there's no potential bad outcome. The guy wants a spot on the 40-man roster? Simple calculation: Is he better or worse, right this moment, than Jimmy Levale Speigner.

When the number six pick rolls around, there will be a potentially great player on the board, be it Matt Wieters, Rick Porcello, Mike Moustakas or Smilin' Ross Detwiler. Take him. Or else.

UPDATE: Smilin' Ross Detwiler it is. Time will tell if he works out for the Nats, but it's a good, solid pick, and that's all I ask.

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