With the start of real spring training actually approaching and a bunch of free agents that are tied to draft picks still unsigned, you've likely noticed that Scott Boras has ramped up his rhetoric in the past week about how much teams are overvaluing late round draft picks as compared to the free agents that he represents. Beyond the hilarious hypocrisy of Scott Boras, of all people, arguing that draft picks have limited value, I think there's a pretty interesting converstion to be had here. Travis Sawchik wrote about it yesterday, including some of the key quotes that help to summarize Boras's argument.
It's relatively easy to hop on to Baseball-Reference, pull up the grand history of 24th overall picks in the draft, and conclude that Kendrys Morales is much more likely to help the Pirates than any player that they might draft in that spot. That's Boras's main argument. There is quite a bit more nuance to it than that, though. As we learned from the Mark Appel Situation, draft picks are more than draft picks now; there's also a financial-pool component to be considered. If the Pirates give up their 24th round pick, they may not necessarily be giving up a great player to be drafted at that spot, but they do give up the potential for more financial flexibility to cast a wider net in the later rounds. It's also true that many late first-round picks ended up being compensation picks in the last decade+ under the old free agency ststem, which I think is worth consideration for a few reasons (if the team has another, more expensive first round pick, if the team is a small market club with a small draft budget, etc.). It's just not quite as simpling as pulling that list up, pointing out how many of those players suck, and say that just signing Kendrys Morales is the way for the Pirates to go.
Anyway, in other news that's at least worth mentioning, the Pirates announced Francisco Liriano as the Opening Day starter yesterday. A year ago, Liriano was a guy with a broken right arm and no one had any idea what to expect from him. A year from now, Liriano will probably be a really rich human being wearing some uniform that isn't black and gold. For now, though, he's the guy that's going to walk out to the PNC Park mound on March 31st and throw the first pitch in what is probably one of the more anticipated openers in PNC history. I'll take that.
Finally, Tim at Pirates Prospects put an interesting article up about outfield shifts last Friday. The Pirates did quite a bit of this a few years ago (you may recall Lastings Milledge and then Jose Tabata being positioned rather oddly in left field), but certainly having Starling Marte and possibly Gregory Polanco on either side of Andrew McCutchen is a little bit different than having Milledge and Tabata out there. It means that the Pirates have an opportunity to do some amazing things with outfield defense if they focus a bit on positioning. I'm definitely interested to see where this goes.