Overheard and Understood: Pirates Prepared to Pay in Draft
But that won't be the case.
General manager Neal Huntington wouldn't comment on last year's strategy or this year's intent, but he did say, "The amateur draft is always going to be a crucial part of our talent-acquisition process. We have been, and will continue to be, very aggressive in the draft and the international market. Now that we are done trading [veterans for prospects], that's our primary talent acquisition method."
Machado, a high-school shortstop from Miami, has agent Scott Boras as an adviser and will be seeking a huge signing bonus.
Drafting and signing him would appear a change from last year, when the Pirates bypassed a number of players that analysts had rated higher and took catcher Tony Sanchez (above) out of Boston College with the No. 4 pick. Pittsburgh signed Sanchez for $2.5 million -- less than five first-rounders picked after Sanchez.
It looked like an "overdraft" to save money.
But according to a Pirates source, the team liked Sanchez about the same or better than every player left on the board, despite where analysts had him ranked. While other players in the same tier (as far as Pittsburgh was concerned) were seeking $6 million or more, Sanchez was signable for less.
And the Pirates were able to use the difference between Sanchez's bonus and what it would have taken to sign, say, Jacob Turner (Tigers) or Tyler Matzek (Rockies) to sign lower-drafted players away from college commitments, such as sixth-rounder Zack Von Rosenberg and eighth-rounder Colton Cain.
In fact, Baseball America reported that Pittsburgh spent more than all but five teams in last year's draft.
And the Pirates know that this year, though, whomever they take second overall will need a lot of money to sign.
Around the Majors
• Dallas Braden, 4-5 for Oakland, has a chance to join Charlie Robertson (14-15 for the 1922 White Sox) as the only pitchers with a perfect game and a losing record in the same season. (Technically, Roy Halladay could join the list, too, but we're guessing not.)
• A scout's observation on the last-place Diamondbacks: "They play kind of uninspired, laissez-faire. They do OK, but you never see real spark from anybody. ... You get a little fire from [Justin] Upton, but that's just because he gets mad at himself."
• Toronto has six players on pace to hit 25 homers: Jose Bautista, John Buck, Aaron Hill, Alex Gonzalez, Adam Lind and Vernon Wells. That would tie the record set by the 2003 Red Sox (Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek).
• An official from another team said word going around is that Roy Oswalt would approve a trade only to the Phillies, Yankees or Cardinals.
• The Cubs have made 44 errors in 52 games, on pace for 137 -- which would be the franchise's most since 139 in 1999.
• How fast can a team get help in the draft? With the recent promotions of Giants catcher/first baseman Buster Posey and Cubs right-handers Andrew Cashner, there are nine 2008 first-rounders in the majors. Others are Orioles lefty Brian Matusz, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak, Mets first baseman Ike Davis and Tigers reliever Ryan Perry. And that doesn't include Detroit reliever Dan Schlereth, who has been in the majors with Arizona.
• Against Oakland on Sunday, Detroit's Max Scherzer became the first pitcher in big-league history to strike out 14 and get fewer than 18 outs. Kevin Appier had struck out 13 in 5 2/3 innings on May 25, 1994.
• Tampa Bay became the third team since the 1986 Mets to reach the 50-game mark with five five-game winners (David Price, James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis). The others were the 2006 Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Mike Maroth, Nate Robertson) and 1996 Braves (Greg Maddux, Steve Avery, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Denny Neagle).
• Atlanta's Tim Hudson has won four games in which he walked more than he struck out. No starter has had eight such wins in a season since Rick Waits of the 1979 Indians.
• In his past 162 games, with Cleveland and Washington, manager Manny Acta is 54-108.
• John Ely -- acquired from the White Sox in December in the Juan Pierre trade -- goes into Tuesday night's start 3-2 for the Dodgers, with a 3.00 ERA and just 33 hits (no homers) and six walks in 39 innings. Said a scout, "He's got some deception, but not very good stuff." According to FanGraphs, his fastball averages 87.4 mph and just 47.4 percent of his pitches are in the strike zone.
Ely on Tuesday can become the first to begin his career by allowing no homers in seven straight starts since Sean Burnett of the 2004 Pirates.
• The Padres and Yankees are both 31-20. The last time San Diego finished with a better record was 1992 (82-80 to 76-86).
• Last Thursday was the 15th anniversary of Tim Wakefield's Red Sox debut; Boston picked him up after Pittsburgh released him. Over those 15 calendar years, Wakefield pitched almost than twice as many innings for the Sox (2,760) as any other pitcher. Pedro Martinez was second with 1,383 2/3.
• Charlie Morton's 9.35 ERA for Pittsburgh is the worst through 10 starts since Sean Bergman had a 9.93 ERA after 10 starts for the 2000 Twins. Bergman, though, was 2-3 at that point; Morton, now on the disabled list, is 1-9.
• The Phillies became the first team in 38 years to get shut out in three straight games and strike out 27 times total in those three games. The last was the 1972 Brewers.
• Of the Yankees' final 108 games, one-sixth (or 18) are against the Blue Jays.