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Archive for Friday, June 10, 2011

Baseball must stop draft nepotism

June 10, 2011

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Ozzie Guillen was the White Sox shortstop in 1993 when the team mocked the Major League Baseball draft in historical fashion in using its 43rd-round choice on then-general manager Ron Schueler’s daughter, Carey, the first woman ever selected.

Six rounds after drafting Schueler’s daughter, the Sox took infielder Placido Polanco. He returned to school because he was picked too low and went on to become a .303 career hitter over 14 big league seasons.

Imagine if they had Twitter back then.

So I can see why Guillen might have expected the same Sox organization he has come to define 18 years later to take a flier on his son, Ozney, late in the torturously long three-day MLB draft. I understand why fans and media might have similar expectations of a process that delivers an underlying message that family members receive special consideration.

Baseball teams routinely draft their favorite sons with throwaway picks, and that’s a problem Commissioner Bud Selig can’t ignore before next year’s Nepotism Seminar reconvenes.

Three major league managers saw the teams they work for draft their sons after the 42nd round: Mike Scioscia of the Angels, John Farrell of the Blue Jays and Bob Geren of the A’s, who was fired Thursday. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. drafted his nephew, Andrew, in the 47th round. Those are the most egregious examples but not the only ones.

If teams are going to be so blatant they really should move the draft to Father’s Day weekend.

Guillen downplayed any disappointment in the Sox not taking Ozney with a diplomacy for which he isn’t known. But Ozney’s debatable draft value was a source of dissension between Guillen and GM Ken Williams last summer after the Sox drafted Ozney in the 22nd round. It also could have sparked the inappropriate racial profiling of Sox draft picks by Guillen’s middle Twit-wit son Oney that put his father in another awkward spot.

To make everybody more comfortable, the league needs to impose late-round restrictions and shorten the draft — and not just to save the Guillens from acting like the baseball Kardashians every June. Tweaks in the rules also would ease the burden of baseball executives who likely feel pressure they never will acknowledge publicly to draft sons or nephews or buddies on the final day.

I bet GMs would welcome intervention so they no longer have to discuss the appropriate round to draft a relative; high enough so the valued employee’s not offended but not so low the family might be embarrassed. Those must be absurd conversations.

Is there really a demand for a supply of 1,530 drafted players over 50 rounds anyway? If you stopped at 30 rounds, how many people would notice? Cut it in half, down to 25 rounds, and see how many relatives get their once-in-a-lifetime phone calls. You know the draft is too long when super-agent Scott Boras’ two sons go in the 30th and 39th rounds, and the sincerity of the teams that selected each Boras boy — the Brewers and A’s — is doubted.

If the league insists on keeping it 50 rounds, then it must address the increasingly embarrassing nepotism issue exclusive to baseball with guidelines for when related prospects can be chosen.

Not every child of an executive or manager is limited to having his DNA the best thing about his professional baseball profile. Williams says he tried to talk the Sox out of selecting his son Ken Jr., in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, but scouts had baseball reasons for talking the GM into it. Similarly, the Tigers took Jim Leyland’s son, Patrick, in the eighth round of the 2010 draft to add a quality young catcher more than please the big league manager.

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