The guys over at The Platoon Advantage conducted a mock expansion draft this week, with bloggers from all 30 teams acting as general managers whose job it was to protect players from their respective organizations. I did the White Sox for the exercise, and will offer up explanations here.
- No player drafted in 2011 or 2010 could be selected, and players who were drafted in 2009 under the age of 19 were automatically protected as well.
- Impending free agents need not be protected. For the White Sox, that meant Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Jacob Petricka, etc. were all protected.
- For the first round, 15 players can be selected by each team to be protected. Three additional players will be protected in both the second and third rounds.
- Only one player per organization could be selected in each round.
That's the quick-and-dirty explanation of what's going on here. Bill and TCM used the same rules MLB enforced for 1997 expansion draft involving the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays.
And now, on to who I protected, starting with the first round.
The no-brainers: Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Carlos Quentin, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Sergio Santos, Dayan Viciedo, Jordan Danks, Jared Mitchell
All these players are rich in surplus value, or could potentially provide that all-important surplus value down the road. Quentin and Danks will earn progressively more through arbitration and Floyd will see a pay increase through his contract, but all are still fair bets to be worth more than their respective salaries until free agency. While Jordan Danks isn't a great prospect, he's all the Sox have in the system in case Alex Rios was to get hurt. Mitchell's growth has been stunted by his ankle injury suffered in spring training of 2010, but he still has a ton of talent and was certainly worth protecting.
Were going to be protected, but thought a little: Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Philip Humber.
Konerko would've been a no-brainer if not for his contract and age. There was no chance Konerko would be left unprotected, especially with a farm system as thin as the White Sox have. Humber could be a flash-in-the-pan, but that's a risk I'm willing to take because he comes so cheap. And then there's Dunn, who I could've taken a gamble with but chose to protect without a second thought. Yes, Dunn is awful right now, but he still has 3.5 years to get his act together and be a steady offensive presence that's sorely needed by the Sox. So he's protected, despite his 2011 struggles and large contract.
Getting thin: Matt Thornton
He very well could be regressing and his contract isn't altogether favorable, paying him at least $12 million for the next two seasons. But, again, the thin minor league system keeps Thornton on the White Sox.
One I want back: Jesse Crain
I regret this one. As soon as I saw the first Sox player go off the board, I knew I should've left Crain unprotected. He's doing fine now, but two years and $9 million later, the Sox could have a less-than-favorable contract on their hands. Few non-elite relief pitchers are worth contracts of three-or-more years.
First-round loss: Eduardo Escobar (Bill's explanation below)
A team needs a shortstop, and my team needs a 22 year old Gold Glove-caliber shortstop who won’t cost us any money for a long time. Kevin Goldstein loves this guy, despite the total lack of offensive performance so far (he’s currently at .243/.289/.388 at AAA, which is about what his past lower-level performance suggested), saying he “could be a good everyday shortstop with more than enough bat to easily play every day.” I’ll be happy with “everyday shortstop,” or with a Rey Sanchez-like super defensive sub if the bat never develops (or another shortstop does).
Escobar, right now, has no place in the majors with the White Sox except as a bench guy. While Beckham and Morel have struggled, he's not going to leapfrog either of them with that low an OBP. That being said, he's still young at 22 and could have some offensive growth in him, although his track record doesn't indicate that. But in a farm system that's incredibly thin, especially up the middle, keeping Escobar would've been smart. Plus, the more I think about it, Escobar could be used to acquire a Crain clone in a trade who may be a bit cheaper. Oh well. That's on me.
These guys aren't big-name prospects and none play above Single-A, so I wasn't concerned with losing any of them in the first round. I actually didn't have to protect Thompson, who was 18 when he was drafted in 2009, but I guess that speaks to how thin the Sox farm system is that it really wouldn't have mattered. The 23-year-old Rienzo has ran into some control issues with Winston-Salem that may end up costing him a promotion to Double-A this season, which isn't a great prognosis for his future development. Regardless, he's one of the better pitchers in the Sox system—again, not saying much, but worth protecting. Gonzalez is a 20-year-old catcher who's barely hit his weight in Single-A, but I trust Larry at South Side Sox's evaluation of him as being more talented than he's shown. He was a fairly easy choice to protect at this stage.
Second-round loss: Tyler Flowers (TCM's explanation below):
Flowers keeps getting pushed down the depth chart, and for AJ Pierzynski no less. He’s our de facto starter until he can’t handle it.
Here's another one I would like to have back, but I'm not exactly kicking myself over it. Flowers has a solid stat line with Charlotte, but his 35.5 percent strikeout rate is a gigantic red flag. He's always been a high-strikeout hitter, but it's been much more pronounced over the last two seasons in Charlotte. That being said, if I didn't mess up and erroneously protect Thompson, I probably would've gone with Flowers as a guy to protect in the second round.
Third-round protectees: Brandon Short, Charles Leesman, Dan Remenowsky
Actually, I probably should've protected Short in the second round, but it didn't come back to bite me. I'm not sold on Short given he's built a lot of his success in the minors with a poor K/BB ratio, but he has yet to stop hitting all the way through his current stint with Birmingham. Leesman has some serious control issues he has to correct before he can be considered a decent prospect, but to beat a dead horse, it's a weak system. Remenowsky, despite being a 25-year-old with questionable stuff in Double-A, has a fantastic 5.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He's more intriguing than anything else, so he ended up being the last guy protected.
Third-round loss: Nobody. Ten picks were made for the third round, and the White Sox did not have a player pulled.
Players left unprotected: Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Mark Teahen, A.J. Pierzynski, Tony Pena, Will Ohman, Ramon Castro, Brent Lillibridge, Brian Bruney, Gregory Infante, Anthony Carter, Lucas Harrell, Josh Phegley, and a bunch of other minor leaguers
Peavy, Rios and Teahen represent "take my player, please" guys who I figured had no chance of being snatched away regardless. Pierzynski isn't the ideal catcher, but losing him wouldn't be a big deal so long as the Sox could find an alternative in the offseason. Pena and Ohman aren't super expensive, but they're highly expendable. Castro and Lillibridge are both reserves who were unlikely to be selected, so despite the solid job each has done off the bench, neither were protected. Bruney, Carter, Harrell? Expansion teams aren't that bad. Infante was a guy I risked not protecting and probably should have. The same could go for Phegley, although he hasn't inspired much confidence in Double-A this season.
Final thoughts: I should've protected Escobar, Flowers and Infante instead of Crain, Thompson and Remenowsky. Those were three mistakes I made, but at the same time, it's hard to see both Escobar and Flowers coming back to bite the Sox with good performances in this hypothetical situation.
Links from the draft: ESPN's Keith Law reviewed it and didn't mention any stupidity from the White Sox end, which I'm going to take as either 1) a compliment or 2) an indication the Sox don't have many players worth taking.
For a full list of the drafted players, click here.
For a full list of protected players, click here.
Again, thanks to Bill and TCM for conducting this—it was a great mental exercise. Having to comb the Sox farm system for players to protect was eye-opening; I knew the system was bad, I didn't realize it was that bad. I'm glad I didn't have a talent-rich organization to deal with, although it would be nice given it'd mean a brighter future for the Sox.