Excellent, in-depth piece from Evan Grant in Sunday's DMN, on the importance of the 2007 draft, and the issues with the lack of continuity in the scouting department leading up to this point.
I'd encourage folks to read the whole thing, because there's a lot of good stuff there, but some excerpts...
"It's an opportunity this organization hasn't had in some time," general manager Jon Daniels said. "For a variety of reasons - injuries, trades, attrition and some players graduating to the majors - the farm system is not where we want it to be. This is a chance to add a whole lot of premium talent in a two-day period."
This draft bounty is not just happenstance. This was at the crux of Daniels' plan for building the organization when he took over for John Hart after 2005.
The idea was delicate and two-fold: Try to maintain competitiveness at the big league level while retaining the ability to stockpile draft picks. The hope was the Rangers would win in 2006 and still put themselves in position to rejuvenate the farm system quickly.
And if they didn't win, they'd still have the draft bounty as a fallback. The plan was only enhanced when the Rangers traded Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix to Milwaukee for soon-to-be-free agent Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. If Lee helped them overcome the AL West, great; if not, they'd get two picks among the top 40 as compensation.
"Part of what we talked about was putting together a self-contained, self-sustaining system," Daniels said. "We want to have different waves of players that move forward together and graduate to the majors."
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If there is one area in which a lack of continuity and stability has most hurt the Rangers, it may be amateur scouting.
Since 1995, the organization has had six scouting directors, each with a distinctively different taste.
And then there was 2004, when a showdown between Grady Fuson and John Hart became a palpable part of the process, and 2005, when Hart, manager Buck Showalter, player personnel director Dom Chiti and current scouting director Ron Hopkins all jockeyed to make selections. Neither of the Rangers' top two pitching selections from that draft have won a game above the Arizona Rookie League.
* * *
Ron Hopkins, scouting director: The selection of players is ultimately his responsibility. That wasn't always the case. In 2005, the first-round selection of John Mayberry Jr. was made by general manager John Hart. Last year's draft was his first real draft as scouting director.
A lot of really good info on the changes Daniels has implemented, and the guys involved in making the decisions next week.