December 7, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Saturday, November 17, 2012
Twenty years ago today, Major League Baseball had its expansion draft for its two newest franchises, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies had first pick and spent it on the creature least likely to succeed in Denver, a pitcher. David Nied became the answer to a trivia question when he became the first player selected in the expansion draft. He spent a few years with the team but never had too much success.
That set a tone for the early Rockies picks. They weren’t all terrible picks, and they found some useful players, but there was no one taken in those first rounds to really build a team around. Their fifth pick, left fielder Kevin Reimer, never even played for them—or for any team ever again—after Colorado picked him.
A lot of Colorado’s most high-profile players were people past their prime, like Cubs catcher Joe Girardi. Many of those taken were hurt by injuries, such as Reimer, or pitcher Andy Ashby, who had been and would again be a good starting pitcher, but in 1993 managed just nine starts in his only year in Colorado.
The Rockies made some nice picks. Early on they landed second baseman Eric Young. A Dodger rookie in 1992, Young had his first full season as a Rockie in 1993 and played for 15 years for various major league teams.
The draftee who had the most celebrated tenure with the Rockies was infielder Vinny Castilla. Taken from the Braves, Castilla took to the thin Denver air, and from 1995 to 1999 he averaged a little under 40 homers per season.
Colorado also picked a minor league catcher named Brad Ausmus. He never made it to their major league club; they didn’t need him with Girardi. The Rockies traded him to San Diego (with Ashby) in mid-1993. Ausmus would play around the league until 2010.
Oh, they also picked future manage Eric Wedge.
In all, it wasn’t a terrible haul, but you can see why expansion teams like the Rockies often have lousy starts to their existence.
The Marlins did a better job identifying future stars with their drafting, but they didn’t always get the star years from their players. Their fourth player taken was Reds minor league reliever Trevor Hoffman. He had a better career than anyone the Rockies took, but he had it with San Diego, as Florida would trade him there.
The Marlins also landed Jeff Conine, and he did become a fixture for their franchise. They also took Carl Everett and David Weathers, two players who would have decent careers for themselves—just not with Florida.
One neat wrinkle the Marlins had in their strategy was to land big-name veterans and then immediately trade them. Florida took pitchers Danny Jackson and Greg Hibbard in the draft, but by the end of the day those players had been dealt to other teams for prospects not available in the expansion draft. Alas for Florida, those prospects didn’t pan out.
Florida looks like it had a better day, but the Rockies got more out of the expansion draft. Either way, the draft was 20 years ago today, on Nov. 17, 1992.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-verrsary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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