Friday, March 27, 2009

Boz Don't Know Jack about Prospects

Just one thing I would add to Brian's dismantling of Boz re: Strasburg. Tom Boswell may do some things well. He's a good writer. He's got a great historical perspective on baseball in DC and Baltimore especially. He really loves the game and that comes through in a charming way.

But he really, truly, all due respect, makes little to no effort to pay any attention at all to prospects. If you read his chats regularly, it's obvious that he doesn't really learn players' names until they've been with the major league team for at least half a season. I would guess that he couldn't name off the top of his head more than 7-8 Nationals minor leaguers and couldn't offer an intelligent analysis of any of them.

If you doubt it, check out this from his most recent chat:
In '93, I'd heard pelnty about the overpowering pitcher at Wichita State named Darren Dreifort. When a high school kid was taken No. 1 overall, one pick ahead of Dreifort, I said, "Who the heck is Alex Rodriguez?"
OK, so in fairness, this was 16 years ago and maybe Boz is mis-remembering. But if he truly had never heard of Alex Rodriguez at the time he was drafted, that's an incredible indication of how little he pays attention to amatuers and prospects.

When ARod was drafted, he was described by Baseball America as "the best high school prospect in years." He was a highly sought-after 2-sport star who was being heavily recruited by the University of Miami to play baseball and quarterback for the Hurricanes. He played for the U.S. Olympic team that year. In terms of hype, ARod was like a high school version of Strasburg--a pretty memorable talent. It's hard to imagine him even misremembering given how much hype surrounded ARod at the time.

I'm not any kind of prospect maven either, but I know enough to know that Boz is way out of his depth on this one.


Steve Shoup said...

I totally agree with your premise, I think Boz is a major league guy and thats about it, but in all fairness no one followed the draft 16 years ago. At least not the way they do now. Now with all the websites and blogs dedicated to it, with youtube videos and with it being televised everyone knows something about the draft. Back then only people like Baseball America followed it and they weren't nearly as widespread as they are now. Now this wasn't always the media's fault. MLB would "leak" the first round or two but wouldn't release the rest of the picks until after the draft was completed. So in this case I don't think its Boz's fault if he didn't know ARod at the time (maybe if the O's had the top pick that year and Boz didn't do his homework) since probably most people in the media didn't know who he was.

sid bluntley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sid bluntley said...

All I know is that all Boz could talk about when Nats Park went up was that you could see the "verdigris dome of the Library of Congress." He mentioned that over and over and over again. He needs to pay less attention to what skyline you can see from Nats Park and more attention to say, ball players.

Steven said...

Come on now Steve. He could have read about it in the New York Times:

Steve Shoup said...

Yeah but that was after the draft and even that article talks about how Driefort was the pick "more likely to make it to the majors faster" and that the Mariners were torn between the two. I also like at the bottom of the article it talks about how baseball wouldn't release the draft order of the rounds past the 1st.

Steven said...

If it was you or me or some casual fan, maybe I'd be as generous. He's paid to cover baseball. If he'd never heard of ARod, that's a shocking indication that even back before he was the part-timer mailing it in that he is today, he still didn't know anything about evaluating prospects.

Michael said...

My sister has long been a slightly-more-than-casual fan of baseball beyond the just the Orioles most of our lives, and I can remember her telling me about A-Rod right after he was drafted, saying how she read he was going to be the next huge star in baseball (mind you, we heard the exact same thing about Ben McDonald a few years before that). As journalism major trying to get me to read more, she gave me a couple articles about him to read, including a huge story on him in Sports Illustrated; that was the first time I read his favorite players were Cal Ripken and Dale Murphy, who were two of my favorites as well (speaking of Murphy, I always felt bad for him that the Braves and Phillies both went the World Series the season after he left). But I digress...

My point is that A-Rod was a huge enough story when he got drafted that unless Boz's memory is going to pot, he being a sports writer should have known at least as much as my sister did.

While it's true that the draft was not as big a deal (mostly because Scott Boras wasn't invented quite yet), "the next big thing" was not uncommon baseball news. Again, Ben McDonald is another example. Todd Van Popple anyone?

Boz is pretty good, if a bit forced, wordsmith, but his analytical skills as a baseball writer are lacking. Maybe he could ghost write for a sabermatrician? Perhaps one day in the future when stat geeks rule the baseball culture, we'll wish we had more baseball romanticists like Boz. Honestly, that's sounds like a problem I'd like to have. Anyone get instant feelings that Boz attempts to evoke simply by going out to the ballpark. I'm way too busy these days to compare stats in any meaningful way and would love to have a journalist do it for me. Blogs like this and (more and more) Chico's column are what I wish there was more of.