Based on comments I have received, the general perception seems to be that the Cardinals may have substantially fewer early selections in this coming June's draft because of loss of higher-profile Type A free agents such as Mike Matheny and Edgar Renteria during the previous off-season.
Actually, the difference isn't all that great year-to-year. This time around, the Cards received three compensation picks for Matt Morris and Abraham Nunez and didn't forfeit any of their own. As a result, they have five selections in the first two rounds: #30, #42, #54, #74 and #76.
Not that they would ever admit it, but I have often wondered whether part of the consideration to not offer arbitration to Reggie Sanders and Julian Tavarez was to avoid collecting "too many" early picks, where large signing bonuses are pretty tightly regimented by MLB based on what all teams should be paying for any player take at a particular spot in the draft. This process is called "slotting" and to me, feels very collusion-like. And remember that in baseball, draft picks cannot be traded.
When people get upset at the Cardinals for not spending more on the major league player payroll, they sometimes forget other expenses that are also incurred and escalating each year. Granted, all teams have to deal with it, but the more early draft picks a team has collected, the more the cash outlay it will take to sign them.
In June, 2005, the Cardinals had six picks in Rounds One and Two and spent over $4.5 million in the process, just for those six. Here is another way to look at it. The Cardinals dropped more in bonuses for these unproven players than they are paying for their probable starting major league corner outfielders Juan Encarnacion and Larry Bigbie combined this season.
They were: 2005 pick #23 (Colby Rasmus - $1,000,000), #30 (Tyler Greene - $1,100,000), #43 (Mark McCormick - $800,000), #46 (Tyler Herron - $675,000), #70 (Josh Wilson - $515,000) and #78 (Nick Webber - $425,000).
Here is the overall draft order for 2006:
1. Kansas City
3. Tampa Bay
10. San Francisco
17. San Diego
18. Philadelphia from Mets for Billy Wagner (Type A)
21. Yankees from Philadelphia for Tom Gordon (A)
22. Washington from Oakland for Estaban Loaiza (B)
25. Angels from Cleveland for Paul Byrd (B)
26. Dodgers from Angels for Jeff Weaver (A)
28. Boston from Yankees for Johnny Damon (A)
29. White Sox
30. St. Louis
31. Dodgers for Jeff Weaver
32. Baltimore for B.J. Ryan (A)
33. San Francisco for Scott Eyre (A)
34. Arizona for Tim Worrell (A)
35. San Diego for Ramon Hernandez (A)
36. Florida for A.J. Burnett (A)
37. Philadelphia for Billy Wagner
38. Atlanta for Kyle Farnsworth (A)
39. Cleveland for Bobby Howry (A)
40. Boston for Johnny Damon
41. Yankees for Tom Gordon
42. St. Louis for Matt Morris (A)
Second Round (changes only)
7. Atlanta from Dodgers for Rafael Furcal
9. San Diego from Baltimore for Ramon Hernandez
10. (54) St. Louis from San Francisco for Matt Morris
12. Cleveland from Texas for Kevin Millwood (B)
13. Cleveland from Cubs for Bobby Howry
14. Baltimore from Toronto for B.J. Ryan
26. Washington from Angels for Hector Carrasco
28. Atlanta from Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth
30. (74) St. Louis
31. Cleveland for Scott Elarton (C)
32. (76) St. Louis for Abraham Nunez (C)
Third Round (changes only)
7. Boston from Dodgers for Bill Mueller
10. Arizona from San Francisco for Tim Worrell
13. San Francisco from Cubs for Scott Eyre
14. Florida from Toronto for A.J. Burnett
Fourth Round (changes only)
13. Minnesota from Cubs for Jacque Jones
Note: Last June, Baseball America ran a very informative series on the history of draft bonuses. link
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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