Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crow's a Cat

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Aaron Crow has signed with the Fort Worth Cats, an independent league team.

The article includes the only public quotes I've seen from Crow and his agent. They seem quite pessimistic about the chance of a last-minute deal with Washington.

It's certainly possible that this is just posturing, and it seems pretty smart from Crow's perspective. He has very few if any sources of leverage, but this gives him some. And there's some precedent for the Cats playing this role in the past. In fact, Max Scherzer actually pitched three games for them before signing with the D'Backs just before the deadline.

But this means that if Crow doesn't pitch for the Nationals, he will not be a college pitcher. He will pitch in pro ball, which I would also think is a better path for him to prove himself and elevate his trade value. Look at it this way, if Crow pitches great, he will go higher than 9 next year. But the Nationals have very little if any chance of getting someone as good as Crow with the 9A compensatory pick (at best the 10th pick overall next year). So maybe the kid has some leverage after all?

Here's the full article:
Fort Worth Cats sign major-league draft pick Aaron Crow


Pitcher Aaron Crow, who was selected ninth overall in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft by Washington in June, signed a minor-league contract with the Fort Worth Cats on Wednesday.

Crow was the Big 12 pitcher of the year at Missouri last season. He was 13-0 in 2007 with a 2.35 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 107 innings.

All signs point to Crow officially being a member of the Cats after Friday’s 11 p.m. MLB signing deadline for draft selections passes.

Discussions with Nationals general manager Jim Bowden have stalled, Crow’s agent, Randy Hendricks, said.

“We wouldn’t have had him sign with the Cats if we thought he was going to sign with the Nationals,” Hendricks said. “The last I talked with Jim Bowden, he didn’t think there was anything more to talk about. I didn’t disagree.”

The stalled contract talks are what led Crow to being in Fort Worth on Wednesday evening to sign with the Cats.

Hendricks said Crow took some time off after finishing last season with Missouri, but has been working out for about a month in anticipation of returning to the mound soon.

The question, though, has been where will he play.

After negotiations with Washington came to a standstill, Crow said one reason he’d like to play for the Cats is the presence of family in Fort Worth.

“I have an aunt and uncle who live down here,” Crow said. “I’m looking forward to spending some time with them.”

He added, though, that his pitching future “remains to be seen.”

Hendricks seemed more confident that Crow would be pitching for Fort Worth as soon as possible after Friday.

“Our real focus is on Aaron pitching for the Cats and entering the draft next season,” Hendricks said.

Crow is the third high draft pick to sign with the Cats in recent years.

Luke Hochevar, the 40th pick in the 2005 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, signed with the Cats and pitched in a few games, then re-entered the 2006 draft and was selected No. 1 overall by the Kansas City Royals.

Max Scherzer, who also played at Missouri, was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft by Arizona. He started three games in Fort Worth. However on the eve of the signing deadline, he reached an agreement with the Diamondbacks.


Mike said...

I don't know that Crow really stands to benefit from this as much as Hochevar did. He moved up from 40th to the number one spot, Crow has to hope he moves up higher than 10. I'm not sure that's a given. So, he's going to be risking injury for the chance to move up nine spots.

Steven said...

Yeah, that's true. But the Nationals aren't in that strong a position either--that's my point. We're not going to get a Crow with 9a next year. He could improve or at least maintain his standing, we won't.

Mike said...

I don't disagree that the Nats are in a bad position. I apologize if I gave that impression. I just meant that this is a pretty risky move on his part when you weigh everything out. I could see it being more beneficial to him if he had gone lower.

The bigger issue, without knowing how much he's really demanding, is what does this mean for next year. Not only will they likely have one of the top three picks, but now they'll have two in the top ten(unless other players don't sign). That's a lot of bonus money that will have to be paid out. Will this mean they start making picks based on signability?

Anyways, sorry for the confusion with my post.

Steven said...

I don't know. I'm really starting to cringe. To me, the draft is the absolute cheapest possible way to get championship talent. If we won't pay what it takes to get these guys, then really I'd have a hard time coming up with a reason to care.

Steve Shoup said...

I honestly can't understand what Crow and his agent are up too. The reason Hochevar and Schezar went to indy ball was it allowed them to pitch but still maintain their eligiblity to get signed by the Dodgers and D-backs respectively. The signing deadline before last season was a week before the next draft not August 15th. By playing indy ball they were able to showcase themselves right before the deadline (in late may) since they decided not to return to college. For Crow he wouldn't get the same benefit b/c he'd pitch the rest of this summer but would have to sign again and pitch when indy ball starts up in the mid spring. If he had gone back to Mizzou he prob would have faced some better competition though non wooden bats. In my opinion college ball there would be better competition granted the players are younger but some of those players are Major talents and will be drafted in the next few years, most of the rest prob. could play Indy ball.

As a side note I read where Fields (the M's 1st round pick) isn't restricted by the signing deadline b/c he's a college senior I wonder if there are any loop holes for a non senior and if this may be one. Since like Fields, Crow gave up his eligibilty. I don't know but it will be interesting to hear what Crow does from here if he doesn't sign b/c I can't see him improving his stock THAT much. Remember Andrew Miller was consided the best pitcher in the 2006 draft but wanted an ML deal and more money the Royals went with Hochevar instead b/c he'd take less.

Steven said...

He's thinking he's worth way way way more than slot, that the slot system itself is a bunch of crap, and that if the Nationals just told him that there's no reason to even talk about anything above slot, he needs to find another line of work. He's right on all 3 counts.

He probably thinks the pro ball helps his stock somewhat, but you may be right. Seems negligible. Or maybe he just is sick of college. Or maybe he really does want to be nearer his aunt or whoever it was who lives in TX. Or maybe he just wanted to do something, anything to show he's not a chump.

Regardless, I still feel way more sympathetic to Crow. I hate that it's my team that's getting the shaft, but I can't honestly say for one minute that I'd do any different in his shoes.

Steve Shoup said...

Jim Callis of BA speculates that by doing this Crow backs the nats into a corner some b/c they can't say anything to the effect of "well Crow really wanted to go back to his teammates or stay in college" anything like that. Though my point is if he really wants to be a professional so bad why not take a 7 figure deal, instead of what I can only imagine to be a LOW 5 figure contract.

My personal take is it will take 4 million and a ML contract. I can't believe Posey got 7.5 thats crazy.