Looking at the top prospects from seven years ago

It’s the Major League Baseball Trade season. So it’s that time of year when teams overvalue their prospects.

Just for fun, let’s look at how the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system was graded and worked out. At the time, the Phillies were the best regular season team in baseball and most outlets had them as having a 10th to 15th best organization.

We’ll look at several outlets that ranked them, starting with personal favorite John Sickels. We’ll give you the name, their grade, their career WAR and the last year they appeared in the big leagues.

2011 Sickels – grade – WAR – last in Bigs

Dom Brown — A — (-.1) — 2015

Jon Singleton — B+ — (-.9) — 2015

Brody Colvin — B+ — never made it above AA.

Jarred Cosart — B — 4.2 — 2017

Trevor May — B — .2 — 2016

Jesse Biddle — B — .8 — rookie this year

Sebastian Valle — C+ — never made it above AAA

Domingo Santana — C+ — 3.3 — 2018

Vance Worley — C+ — 5.1 — 2017

Julio Rodriguez — C+ — never made it above AA

Baseball Prospectus — Grade — WAR — Last season in bigs (if player isn’t already listed)

1. Brown — five Star

2. Colvin — four star

3. Singleton — four star

4. Cossart — three star

5. May — three star

6. Biddle — three star

7. Jiwan James — three star — never made it above AA

8. Aaron Altherr — three star — 2.3 — 2018

9. Scott Mathieson — three star — (-.8) 2011

10. Valle

Now, let’s look MLB-wide from Baseball Prospectus:

Player — games played — All Star — WAR

1. Bryce Harper — 862 — 6 — 26.1

2. Mike Trout — 1,022 — 7 — 61

3. Jesus Montero — 226 — 0 — (-.3)

4. Dom Brown — 493 — 1 — (-.1)

5. Julio Teheran — 184 — 2 — 16.6

6. Aroldis Chapman — 476 — 6 — 16.3

7. Mike Moustakas — 927 — 2 — 13.2

8. Jameson Taillon — 62 — 0 — 5.3

9. Jeremy Hellickson — 217 — 0 — 12.1

10. Matt Moore — 158 — 1 — 4.4

11. John Lamb — 27 — 0 — (-1.7)

12. Eric Hosmer — 1,142 — 1 — 14.5

13. Will Myers — 580 — 1 — 9.2

14. Kyle Drabek — 43 — 0 — (-.1)

15. Shelby Miller — 130 — 1 — 8.5

16. Manny Machado — 860 — 4 — 30.9

17. Zach Britton — 305 — 2 — 11.3

18. Desmond Jennings — 567 — 0 — 13.4

19. Chris Sale — 280 — 7 — 41.8

20. Freddie Freeman — 1,120 — 3 — 30.9

21. Mike Montgomery — 136 — 0 — 5.5

22. Brandon Belt — 897 — 1 — 23.1

23. Jacob Turner — 101 — 0 — (-2.3)

24. Michael Pineda — 117 — 1 — 8.6

25. Dustin Ackley — 635 — 0 — 8.1

26. Mike Minor — 194 — 0 — 7.2

27. Manny Banuelos — 7 — 0 — (-.3)

28. Jason Kipnis — 940 — 2 — 21.0

29. Gary Sanchez — 240 — 1 — 7.9

30. Chris Carter — 750 — 0 — 2.5

Now, it’s not worthwhile to expect them the prospect prognosticators to have nailed all of these in exact order of WAR.

There are so many valuables. Some of these players weren’t going to hit the bigs for a few years. Others were on there way within weeks.

It’s worth noting that seven of the top ten prospects became all stars. Admittedly, one of those made who did earned it on the only hot month of his short career. It’s also worth noting Brown and Montero – two top five prospects – we’re out of the big leagues rather quickly.

It’s rare that a top 30 prospect gets traded. But we’ll see a handful of guys in the top 100. We can see that 12 of the top 30 prospects never became All Stars.

It is worthwhile to value your prospects and not toss them away. No one wants to give up Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson. But fans shouldn’t be outraged if their team gives up some big name prospects because there are no guarantees.

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Looking at the top prospects from seven years ago

If ever there was a day to stop relitigating the 2016 primary, yesterday was it

On a day in which the Republican President of the United States skated up to the razor’s edge of treason, a brief glance at the Twitter machine pointed out that the Democratic Party remains fractured.

That’s OK.

No, really. That’s 100 percent fine. If you’re still Feeling the Bern or With Her, that’s totally great. You be you. If you love Alexandria Ocasio Cortez or Joe Manchin, do so with pride.

Advocate for the policies you care about, whether it’s a $15 minimum wage, voting rights, criminal justice reform, closing the carries interest loophole or early education.

You’re needed.

You know what’s not needed? Thinking the entire party must share your agenda.

This is a giant nation with urban areas, suburban areas and rural areas. It’s got the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast. It’s full of the devoutly religious, the proudly atheistic and the don’t have time to take a side.

And arguing whether or not the Russia investigation or economic revolutions will earn democrats wins in November the next three years is a false choice. There are voters who care about both, one side or neither.

What’s needed, whether you care about busting Trump for collusion or raising the minimum wage, is chairmanships. No democratic goals can be accomplished without chairmanships in both the Senate and the House.

To get those chairmanships, the Democratic Party can’t be exclusive. It has to be welcoming to everyone. There can be no litmus test at this point. The reality is there aren’t enough democratic socialists or neoliberals to win without the other. Pro-choice and pro-life Dems need to vote. Maybe Joe Manchin’s flirtations with republicans drive you nuts. I know they drive me up a wall. But you’re not getting a Dem majority without him. Maybe you think Bernie Sanders is an egotistical child. You’re not winning without him, either. Or Maxine Waters. Or Connor Lamb.

Personally, the three issues I care most about are the environment, civil rights and health care. But I’m glad to see candidates with D’s after their name winning even though they aren’t 100 percent in agreement with my principles. I’m not a child. I get it that if the Dems don’t start winning elections, each one of the issues I care about will actually get worse.

It’s time to prove to the American people that the Democrats truly are the best chance at competent government. Not just for four or six years after this November, but for several decades.

If ever there was a day to stop relitigating the 2016 primary, yesterday was it

That was a doozy

The reviews are in. President Trump’s press conference with Russia’s Vladimir Putin was “a disaster,” “nothing short of treasonous.”

My god, a bipartisan reaction is quite damning.

Former CIA director John Brennan: “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

Former congressman and Republican talk show host Joe Walsh: “I am a tea party conservative, that will never change. But Trump was a traitor to this country today. That must not be accepted.”

Foxnews host Neil Cavuto: “It was disgusting.”

General Barry McCaffrey: “We are in trouble.”

Republicans strategist John Weaver: “Collusion right in front of us for God’s sake.”

CNN host Anderson Cooper: “…one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president..”

Republican congressman Justin Amash: “A person can be in favor of improving relations with Russia, in favor of meeting with Putin, and still think something is not right here.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “This is a sad day for America, and for all Western democracies that Putin continues to target.”

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “We just witnessed the President of the United States abdicate his national security responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief.”

That was a doozy

A Chase Utley story

I got into journalism because I desperately wanted to be a sportswriter. I wanted to cover a Major League Baseball team. To tell the fans what happened and who the players were and how the game changed.

I never fulfilled that dream of being a best writer. I did however, get to cover a handful of games and I cherish those memories.

In 2004, Towanda’s Nate Bump was pitching for the Florida Marlins while I worked for his hometown paper. Our sports editor went down to do a profile on him. I went with him on my off day and wrote a profile of former Red Barons manager Marc Bombard. I was able to interview pitching coach Rich Dubee, All Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, in the midst of his first full season.

Rollins was ebullient talking about his former manager, sharing stories. Chase Utley wasn’t like Rollins. He already had the image of a stoic. He was far from as press-friendly as Rollins, Jack McKeon or Dontrelle Willis had been. But he was far more professional than the likes of Josh Beckett.

Rollins was at his locker when we were talking and I asked him if there was anyone else I should talk to. He said Chase was close to Bombard. Another media member pointed out that Utley was in an off-limits area.

Rollins looked over to Utley and asked him if I could talk to him about Bombard. Utley nodded and pointed to a chair.

Utley never asked me who I was writing for or what my goal was, simply “What do you need to know?”

I asked the normal questions a cub reporter would ask in a profile and Utley was courteous. He offered normal comments. They would work in a story, but weren’t incredibly insightful. He wasn’t going to share intimate details with a stranger. When I was done, he shook my hand and I went on to the next source.

Later on, I was on the field, watching batting practice, the stadium fill up and feeling like a big league writer. Utley was walking by when he stopped. He asked me if I was the guy writing about Bombard. I was, I said. Write about his uniform, Utley said. I was puzzled. “What?” It gets dirty. Coaches uniforms don’t get dirty, he said. But Bombard’s uniform would get dirty.

Utley respected that. The grit.

Utley will announce his retirement today, having won a World Series ring, been a six-time All Star and likely become one of the most beloved players in Phillies history.

His uniform was often dirty.

A Chase Utley story

The most fascinating Supreme Court Justice you’ve never heard of

In 1945 Robert Jackson shocked his colleagues and walked away from the Supreme Court. It wasn’t a permanent leave; he was on sabbatical.

The former solicitor general, who also happened to be one of Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite poker buddies, was leaving the court to prosecute Nazis at Nuremberg. It wasn’t a popular decision with his colleagues.

In one of his myriad memoirs, associate justice and irascible non vivant William O. Douglas wrote:

I thought at the time he accepted the job that it was a gross violation of separation of powers to put a Justice in charge of an executive function. I thought, and I think Stone and Black agreed, that If Bob did that, he should resign. Moreover, some of us – particularly Stone, Black, Murphy and I – thought that Nuremberg trials were unconstitutional by American standards.

Truth be told, Jackson and Douglas were rivals. Though they were both democrats nominated by Roosevelt, they both fancied themselves at times of being of presidential timbre.

No matter what he thought of Jackson, Douglas admits Jackson handled himself well at Nuremberg.

Jackson didn’t just hold Nazis accountable, though.

When Korematsu came before the court, Jackson was a shining light. A brief recap of Korematsu: During World War II, President Roosevelt signed executive order 1066, which interred Japanese Americans. It’s a vile chapter in our country’s history. It was morally repugnant and based in rank political cowardice. Eventually, a case made its way to the court, where the court sided with the government.

Jackson was one of three justices to dissent, offering some memorable passages, including:

…(h)is crime would result, not from anything he did, said, or thought, different than they, but only in that he was born of different racial stock. Now, if any fundamental assumption underlies our system, it is that guilt is personal and not inheritable. Even if all of one’s antecedents had been convicted of treason, the Constitution forbids its penalties to be visited upon him. But here is an attempt to make an otherwise innocent act a crime merely because this prisoner is the son of parents as to whom he had no choice, and belongs to a race from which there is no way to resign. If Congress in peace-time legislation should enact such a criminal law, I should suppose this Court would refuse to enforce it.

The principled Jackson’s foray to Nuremberg came at great political cost, however. It tore at his family and it also possibly cost him a chance at being Chief Justice.

Roosevelt had long promised to elevate him to the role and he expected Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman, to nominate him.

We now know that other factors also weighed on Truman’s mind. Justice Black threatened to resign if his colleague was given the spot.

Black’s contempt for Jackson might only have been equaled by Douglas’. No doubt that hurt Jackson’s chances. And he wasn’t in the country to defend himself.

How influential was Jackson? One of his law clerks was William H. Rehnquist, who ended up becoming an Associate and Chief Justice.

Rehnquist’s nominations give us a final fascinating look at Jackson.

Rehnquist was Jackson’s clerk during Brown, probably the court’s most important decision of the 20th century. It ended up being a unanimous decision destroying Plessy V. Ferguson. Brown desegregated schools and is heralded as a high mark in the history of not just the civil rights movement, but of the court itself. During the deliberations on whether or not to approve President Nixon’s nomination of Rehnquist, a memo was found. Signed by Rehnquist, it said Plessy shouldn’t be overturned.

Rehnquist claimed that was Jackson’s opinion. However, considering Jackson’s previous writings on equality, his vote in the case and Rehnquist’s initials, that’s hard to believe. But Jackson was long dead and couldn’t defend himself.

Links from outside the den

Robert H Jackson Law Center

What if you found out in school that your dad was a major figure in an important civil rights case

In the den

More Writing about the court

The most fascinating Supreme Court Justice you’ve never heard of

The people I worked with

I love Mike, but there were times he drove me up a wall. I’d sit, staring at my computer trying not to walk over to his cubicle and scream at him and toss my drink in his face. You know the image of the dog with a bone, it’s shaking its head and not letting the bone go. Not now. Not for hours. That was Mike. But you know what, if I ever started a newsroom, he’d be one of the first people three people I called. And I’d put him high up in the newsroom. Because Mike will not hold back. If he’s reporting, he’ll get the information you need. If you’re stuck trying to figure out the ethics of something, he might have a different take then you, and you’re better off listening to him. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with him.

There are few people I respect more. Continue reading “The people I worked with”

The people I worked with

King’s letter is just as relevant today

Today’s suggested reading is one of the most well read letters in American History: Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

King’s record of nonviolence is one of the most commendable parts of American history. However, it is often conflated with conformity, nonaggression and civility.

No doubt, the protestors who followed in his footsteps felt they were being civil. But if you ask those at that time who opposed them, they were anything but.

When we think of great American writers or thinkers, King should be among the first to come to mind. Like Franklin, he offered wit and Wisdom. Like Twain, he offered honesty and vivid descriptions. Like Poe, Dickenson and Angelou, his words kept off the page with a graceful cadence. And like Madison, Hamilton or Lincoln, his ideas were well constructed and thoroughly advocated. And he had the earthiness of Lee and Faulkner.
We’ll start three paragraphs in:

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

He sets the reader up with his moral gravitas there.
There’s no escaping it. He’s not just telling you why he’s in the struggle, but why you must be as well. Then he nails you eith the rhetorical right hook.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

Oh, he will take no prisoners. Makes you think about today’s reactions to the Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ experience at the Red Hen restaurant.

After talking about the process of nonviolence, he brings up the issues African Americans faced in Birmingham, including unsolved church bombings. He takes the reader through all the steps that havd been taken.
That brings you to the gut punch.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.

The letter continues on after that. It is full of wisdom that is much needed today. Please give it a read.

King’s letter is just as relevant today