A decent pitching staff is a banana peel slip away from uh oh; there goes our gold prospect (s) and yet, public relations departments play a torn rotator cuff like a smash hit 45 gold;
“Good for his arm; strengthens peripheral muscles; back in 17 months. He’ll be stronger than ever. We’ve only just begun.”
Saving face on franchise investments? Carpetbaggers. Or maybe it’s all true. Maybe the ulnar lateral ligament is a violin string plucked on purpose and Dr. Jobe was a 21st century bionic genius. Maybe the Brewers should encourage their young draftees to go under the knife.
But baseball is supposed to be a few jogs around the warning track; a bullpen session, bunting drills, and then off to Goldie’s lounge for beers, not the Gold Gym and hamster wheels and barbells for 17 months.
I’m surprised more pitchers don’t throw in the towel after hearing what mister MRI has to say; raise a toast to Steve Howe and another for Rube Waddel and then “Let’s take our signing bonus and buy a round of drinks for all of Lafayette County!”
I trust drunk poets as much as sabermetricians, especially the singing kind who insist pitchers are ghosts. All that tripping over sprinklers and countless other wacko injuries as if the horrid motion wasn’t enough. I spin an Atlas more out of frustration than wonder and suffer a freaking paper cut on my index finger pitching hand. The body is so damn unreliable.
The Brewers have next to no luck in drafting and developing pitchers; initially avoiding them altogether, but making up for lost time with 25 out of the franchise’s 55 first round picks being pitchers. They waited till their 6th year-1974 to draft their first-Butch Edge and followed him with two more; Richard O’Keefe and then Bill Bordley who in 1976 became the first to not sign, choosing USC over money.
Dan Plesac was the franchise’s first pitcher success story; 26th overall in the 1983 draft; enjoyed 7 years in the Brewers bullpen and is still the franchise leader in saves (133), hits per nine innings (7.9) and ERA (3.21). Then in 1988 the Brewers nabbed Alex Fernandez with the 24th pick, but he refused to sign; choosing the University of Miami. He was drafted by the White Sox a few years later and enjoyed a decent career before injuries got him.
Cal Eldred arrived the following year with the 17th overall pick. Best pitcher the Brewers drafted in the first round; up to that point. Eldred became an absolute horse; but probably an overused one; 36 starts and 258 innings in 1993 followed by one arm injury after another.
Then there was Kenny Henderson in 1991; 5th overall pick in the draft. Talk about sour grapes. Scott Boras and Bud Selig were involved in this soap opera drama. Kenny’s mom told Milwaukee 1 million or my son doesn’t sign. Bud Selig-the Brewers President at the time was apparently rude on the telephone and made the mother cry.
Henderson attended the University of Miami and later regretted having anything to do with Scott Boras so who knows the real story. He was later drafted by the Expos, rejected their offer too and returned to school; drafted again; this time by the Padres. He never reached the majors.
The last of the Brewer pitcher picks to never to sign was Dylan Covey; 14th selection in the 2010 draft. Brewers quickly discovered that he suffered Type 1 Diabetes. Covey attended San Diego University and played baseball anyway, was drafted by the A’s and is still in their minor league system so I’m not sure how the diabetes revelation impacted his not signing, but Brewer brass spun it that way to save face I suppose.
A supplemental pick is awarded to teams unable to sign 1st round picks. Pretty good deal considering management failed in their seduction efforts. Unfortunately, this produced very little for the Brewers as none of the four compensation picks reached the major leagues; not yet anyway.
Jed Bradley is the most recent; compensation for losing Covey in 2010. Bradley scuffled at AA Huntsville last season (106 hits allowed in 87 innings) but those numbers are hopefully misleading. He’s only 24 years young so still a chance to become the first supplemental Brewers pick to make it.
And who knows, maybe one day there will be a moment like June of 1999. The temperature skyrocketed on that year’s draft day because the Brewers scored Ben Sheets with the 11th overall pick and signed him! A few months later Brewer scouts must have melted while watching Sheets pitch a complete game shutout against Cuba in the decisive gold game in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney.
His career was cut short by a tired arm, but Sheets is without a doubt the best pitcher ever drafted in the first round by the Brewers. His name is still splattered across Brewer leader boards. I still get goose bumps thinking about Ben Sheets in 2004; has to be one of the most under rated seasons of all time. (264 k’s and 32 walks in 237 innings.
If you have 100 minute to spare, here’s Sheets upsetting Cuba in the 2000 Olympics.