Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ringolsby: Houston has always been cheap, and stupid

Nothing like kicking you when you're down. Tracy Ringolsby takes some time in Baseball America to discuss the draft, and specifically the 1992 draft, which AC has discussed. What happened in 1992? That was the non-Jeter draft, but we get some insight as to how that went down.

When Derek Jeter became the all-time Yankees hits leader in September, it underscored the failures of other teams.

Jeter was no secret. He was not a matter of the Yankees outbidding anybody else. He slipped to the Yankees because four other teams did not understand the value of the investment they could have made in drafting Jeter.

If the late Hal Newhouser, a Hall of Fame pitcher turned scout, had gotten his way, the Yankees would have never had the chance to draft Jeter. Newhouser was an area scout for the Astros in Michigan in 1992, when Jeter was drafted out of high school.

The Astros had the No. 1 pick in the draft. Owner John McMullen set a $700,000 limit on the signing bonus. While the word among scouts was that Jeter, who had a scholarship to Michigan, would take $1 million to sign, Newhouse lobbied for the Astros to draft him and claimed he could sign Jeter for $750,000.

That was $50,000 over the Astros' self-imposed limit, so they instead drafted Phil Nevin, prompting Newhouser to quit.

Nevin became a solid big league player—though after the Astros essentially gave up on him. No knock on that. But Jeter has evolved into an eventual Hall of Famer, a team leader in addition to an excellent shortstop with offensive ability.

And he would have been an Astro if the organization had been willing to invest in adding the best young players available. New­houser knew that. Nobody in Houston, however, would listen.

Weep, friends.