There are two basic ways for an organization to handle baseball's amateur draft. You either take the best players or you take the best ones you can sign cheaply. Those woeful Kansas City Royals appear to have been doing it the latter way under owner David Glass, which partly explains why they are baseball's worst team.
At one point this season, with David DeJesus and rookie Shane Costa on the disabled list, the Royals didn't have a single player on their 25-man roster from the draft during the six-year reign of former general manager Allard Baird.
Under the highly skilled Art Stewart, the draft was what made Kansas City such a strong franchise in the 1980s.
Glass declined to address the Royals' emphasis on signability when interviewed by the Kansas City Star, referring questions to the current scouting director, Deric Ladnier.
"No players were taken for signability purposes," Ladnier said of this year's draft. "I'm just taking the best players."
When the Royals bypassed North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller to rescue former Tennessee right-hander Luke Hochevar from independent ball with the first pick, some eyebrows were raised. But it looked even worse when Ladnier selected high school shortstop Jason Taylor (Kellam High, Virginia Beach, Va.) with their first pick in the second round, the 45th pick overall.
Taylor wasn't listed among the draft's best 200 prospects by Baseball America, the publication that long has been the last word on the draft.
"Baseball America has their scouts, and we have our scouts," Ladnier said. "The kid we took in the second round, Taylor, we love his bat. He's not a shortstop. He will have to go to third base."
Plans on hold
Having missed four of the last five All-Star Games, Ken Griffey Jr. figured there was no way he would be in Pittsburgh for the July 11 contest. Instead he planned to spend the break cruising around the Bahamas on his boat with his family and its invited guest, Adam Dunn.
Oops. The most recent returns for All-Star balloting had Griffey third among National League outfielders, only 20,000 votes behind second-place Carlos Beltran.
"If you go to Pittsburgh, I'm still going to the Bahamas on your boat with your family and I'm going to call you four times a day," Dunn said.
Replied Griffey: "If I don't go (to the Bahamas), you don't go either. In fact I may insist you come with me to Pittsburgh."
There's little doubt the Brewers are going to trade Carlos Lee before the July 31 deadline. He should bring a high return with a lot of teams, including the Yankees and prospect-rich Dodgers, looking for hitting. ... Hard to believe San Diego outfielder Mike Cameron entered the weekend with only one home run and an extra-base hit every 19.4 at-bats.