Signing Jon Lieber was not a bad move. Offering arbitration to Placido Polanco was not a bad move. Had everything fallen into place, the Phillies would have forfeited their first round pick - 17th overall - to the Yankees for signing Lieber, but would have gotten a first round pick from another club when Polanco rejected arbitration and signed elsewhere. Instead, teams backed off of giving up a draft pick to sign Polanco and he accepted arbitration to return to the Phillies. A perfectly figured plan showed a flaw and the Phillies are without a first round pick.
So, who might the Phillies have taken if they did still have their 17th pick? Here's a look at some of the potential candidates who will now go elsewhere:
Ryan Braun is a University of Miami junior who hit 16 homeruns and posted a .422 average with the Hurricanes this season. He's got a bit of a funky hitch in his swing and some scouts are worried about how that will work with a wood bat. Others believe Braun has enough athleticism and the right attitude to have his mechanics tweaked. The Phillies love Miami, having gotten Jason Michaels and Pat Burrell in previous drafts.
High school shortstop C.J. Henry might have interested the Phillies with the 17th pick. Henry has power (13 homeruns), hits for average (.481) and can run (21 stolen bases). The Phillies aren't truly desperate for shortstops, but it wouldn't have hurt to add a young prospect to the mix. Henry might have been a bit of a gamble, since he also excels in basketball and figures to pursue a college hoops career.
Oregon State junior Jacoby Ellsbury has a nice stroke from the left side of the plate. He reminds some scouts of Johnny Damon and has a lot of good tools. He is viewed as a guy who could get on base and let the bigger bats drive him home. He's got a good head on his shoulders and seems willing to let others be the stars while he does all of the right things to help his team win.
Ricky Romero from Cal State Fullerton may be the best left-hander in the draft. It's likely that he would have been gone by the time the Phillies picked, but they certainly would have been watching him. They would have also kept an eye on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, but he too will probably go before the Phillies would have picked.
The Phillies aren't afraid to draft high school pitchers and right-hander Chris Volstad and left-hander Mark Pawelek could have been targets to join the Phillies organization. Both have good command and dominated in high school ranks this season. Volstad posted a 0.41 ERA in 69 innings and Pawelek was unscored upon in 51 innings.
Again, signing Lieber and offering Polanco arbitration weren't necessarily the wrong moves. The way things worked out though, the Phillies are caught without their first round pick, adding some concern to an already squeezed minor league system.