Sunday, April 03, 2005

Hershiser on the Ranger drafts 

Orel Hershiser was miked and being interviewed by the booth during the Rangers pre-season television broadcast today. These things are usually pretty bland, but Hershiser made a pretty surprising comment when he termed the Rangers last couple of drafts "disappointments", and said that management expected that the drafts would be better going forward.

This is surprising because it seems to be a pretty direct shot at former assistant g.m. and farm director Grady Fuson, who had the amateur draft as his own personal fiefdom from 2002 through 2004. John Hart was reportedly at odds over Fuson's drafting strategy, which emphasized college players and pitchers who could pitch over high school players and high-ceiling hard-throwers, and that apparently led to Hart's insisting that Tom Hicks clip Fuson's wings last summer -- which, of course, led to Fuson's getting fired.

The 2002 draft has been pretty barren, with first rounder Drew Meyer being a bust thusfar, and Fuson's decision to pick him over Khalil Greene (a ROY candidate for the Padres last season) was supposedly a big part of the case Hart & Co. used to organize his ouster. But the 2002 draft was also decimated by Hart's forfeiting four draft choices -- the Rangers' 2nd through 5th rounders -- to sign Chan Ho Park, Juan Gonzalez, Jay Powell, and Todd Van Poppel, in what is one of the biggest collection of free agent disasters ever assembled in one offseason. Meanwhile, later round selections Kam Loe and Erik Thompson have established themselves as legitimate pitching prospects, and Sam Narron was considered a decent prospect before he was senselessly lost to waivers this offseason.

The 2003 draft, meanwhile, was heralded as the second best in baseball that year by Baseball America. It has featured John Danks, Vince Sinisi, John Hudgins, Ian Kinsler, and Matt Lorenzo, among others. And the 2004 draft is looking good already, as well...

So Hershiser's comment is curious, to say the least, but is at least a refreshing change from Hart's mealy-mouthing about how he wanted Grady Fuson to stay and how Grady just wanted to move on. Give Orel credit for having the balls to say that they thought Grady did a lousy job...

As much as I agree it's nice to hear something other than Hart's politician-speak, it also points out the main problem with Rangers management. They still believe that they are doing a good job when they clearly are not. It is obvious that Hershiser has a very good chance of being the next GM and if he is "learning" from Hart I shudder to think what will happen to this organization in the years to come.
The only thing I'd take issue with there is the '04 draft. I'm not ready to classify is as a good one yet. If a few of Hurley, Schlact, Rogers and Herren show much this season, I'll feel better about it. But right now, it's Diamond, Nickeas (who I think might be being overrated by some right now), and a bunch of HS guys for whom the jury is still out.

On the other hand, for one of "Hart's guys" to criticize this draft is curious to me, since it is doubtful that all those HS pitchers were picks straight from Grady Fuson.
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