Monday, October 24, 2005

Shallow Center

I must confess that the wind and rain from Wilma spooked me last night. I couldn't wait to pick those guys up, drop them off and get back to my hotel room. As it was, I was nearly 20 minutes late thanks to a rubber necking t raffic jam on the Beeline Expressway. As I pulled up to "Arrivals," I spotted my boss, Toby Bradford in the distance, shrugging like he was being reprimanded without cause. That's when his boss, Donald DeSear, came into plain view. DeSear looked as sour as a man going through an IRS audit. Not that I would know what that looks like, of course. After a few niceties and helping them with their luggage, we were off to their hotel.

"I guess now's as good a time as any," DeSear announced as he looked back towards Bradford in the back seat.

"Fine with me," Bradford replied.

I cringed at what might be coming. 31 years in baseball had to count for something.

"The front-office," DeSear said, "has decided to drastically cut the player development staff."

"How drastically?" I asked.

"By about half," he answered.

The big glob in my throat thickened making it difficult to breath. I tried to swallow but to no avail.

DeSear continued, "We had to make some difficult decisions. I've been trying to meet face-to-face with those who will be affected."

I shook my head. I've never been fired before. Never. "So do I at least get some sort of--"

"Relax," interrupted DeSear. "The club decided to eliminate the area supervisor role. Instead of firing Bradford, we let Manny and Rhett go this morning. You and Bradford will be working Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. But quite frankly, this wasn't my decision. If it were up to me, I would've given Rhett some more time."

How's that for a nice vote of confidence from your new boss? Gone are the days where I could simply hang my hat on the household names I brought to the Big Show during the late 80's, early 90's. Luckily for me I must still have some friends up in the front office.

"To be honest Cutter, you're track record here lately isn't too pretty. Out of our fifty draft picks last year, eight came from your area. Three are draft and follow, three decided to enroll in a four-year college, and two are unsigned. Let's face it, the signability of your kids stink. That brings me to Russell Reed. "

Ah, Russell Reed. The silver spoon, five tooler from Isleworth. I convinced our national cross checker that the only way we could sign him was if we picked him in the second round. I can still remember DeSear calling me just seconds before he had to announce his pick. What could I tell him in less than 10 seconds that he didn't already know? We needed a blue chip prospect in center field. He was the best available at that given moment. DeSear pulled the trigger. Reed's father then befriended a pain-in-the-butt agent (or maybe it was the other way around) who's been nothing but trouble. Countless deals have fallen through. All involving the signing bonus, of course. What a shame. Now the kid's just sitting around in his father's mansion playing MVP Baseball 2005 instead of playing pro ball.

Anyhow, DeSear continued to rant about Reed and his agent. He went on to explain that both he and Bradford are meeting with Reed, his father, and the agent at their home tonight. The plan would be to sign him and get him into winter ball down in Puerto Rico. But unfortunately they are still miles apart in their negotiations.

As for me, he wants me to go see Diego Gutierrez, one of our draft and follow prospects just up the road at Wekiva Community College. He's playing a practice game tomorrow at a field in Lake Brantley against a local AAU team. Fortunately for me I have a couple kids on the AAU team that I wanted to get a good look at. This will give me an opportunity to do both.

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