Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Left Stranded (Part II)

Just to continue my previous post, Donnie McLaughlin is no stranger to juvenile detention. No stranger to courtrooms, judges, and attorneys. No stranger to having his Miranda rights read to him. And obviously no stranger to tattoo and piercing shops.

But as Carson will quickly point-out, he's an incredible talent that will no doubt excel at the next level. Easily a top 5 round pick. He's made it through the first semester of junior college with just enough GPA to keep him on the playing field. No arrests since he turned 18 years old last October. To him it's glaringly obvious that he's turned it around and is headed in the right direction. We'd be crazy not to draft him.

I call this condition of Carson's, Five-Tool Blindness. Simply put, you're blinded by the five-tools and their superiority. You don't want to look at anything else. You spend countless hours trying to find someone of his caliber and when you find him, a little voice inside starts to convince you that he's turned away from his checkered past and all will be just fine and dandy going forward.

You see, under his tilted cap and countless tattoos and body piercings, is a boy who just doesn't get it. He mopes around between pitches. Slumbers his way into and out of center between innings. He looks lazy. Disinterested. Arrogant. But when he wants to turn it on he most certainly does. You have to wonder how good he would really be if he always kept it on.

But then comes the issue of controlled substances. Two of his arrests were for possession.

"So what? Put him in rehab from the get go," announces Carson, still blinded.

I can't help but shake my head. Just ask the D-Rays about Josh Hamilton, the first overall pick in the 1999 draft. And the list could go on and on. I asked Carson a simple question. If he was with the D-Rays front office back in 1999 and actually knew of Hamilton's issues (I'm not saying that the D-Ray's knew anything), would've he rather drafted Josh Beckett, Ben Sheets, or Barry Zito, instead of taking a $3.96 million dollar chance on Hamilton? Beckett, Sheets, and Zito were all drafted in the first round in 1999. Of course, the question was completely unfair but I just wanted Carson to start thinking about risk management and building a team with an eye towards character. And I recognize my question can totally be turned back on me with other players like Mickey Mantle, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, etc. Questionable characters can win ballgames and World Series titles.

But I'm not ready yet to throw seven figures, six figures, or any figures at a kid with questionable character. Let me put it this way, I'm not willing to risk my job on it. I can hear the coaches in our minor-league system thanking me profusely for drafting such a problem child. The chances of failure are just too great. I'll move on and find another five-tooler. Take a longer-term perspective. A perspective that would honor the game. In the long-run, the game will thank us.

And after that monologue Carson says plainly, "So how about we look at taking him in the 40th round or later?"

"Or later," I respond.

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