Saturday, April 18, 2015

McDaniel on Brady Aiken

Kiley McDaniel, lead prospect guru at Fangraphs, just published his early primer for the 2015 Rule 4 Draft.  His comments on Brady Aiken, who he ranked number 24, were particularly interesting.  Quote:
"Aiken is a massive question mark at this point. He has that #1 overall ability in him and he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, so many fans just assume he’ll go from a top 3 pick to a top 10-15 pick and that’s that. There is persistent, consistent and detailed buzz coming from many sources that there is more to Aiken’s injury than just a clean surgery like Erick Fedde, Jeff Hoffman or Lucas Giolito from recent years  
"I won’t repeat the specific rumors, but the worst versions of it say there are career-threatening issues at play, while others say it’s merely an increased risk of further injury going forward.  All 30 teams will get Aiken’s medical before the draft, the details will likely leak to the media and the answers that no one has at this point will come out before decisions have to be made. Either these rumors are bunk and Aiken will go 7th-10th overall as some expect, or he’ll get taken off a bunch of draft boards altogether and I’ll be forced to rank him somewhere around 40, with no telling where he’ll go or how much money he’ll get. I decided to split the difference and put him him in between those two possible scenarios."
This represents another data-point in what we think may have been behind the decision to renege on his contract.  Aiken's UCL was not damaged at the time of the draft; he was able to physically have Tommy John Surgery; the said surgery was reported to have been successful; but another anatomical problem may exist which means that Aiken may not ever get back to throwing how did prior to the draft.  

McDaniel seems to think that the details of what happens will probably become clearer prior to the draft.  I am a little less sure - from my much less knowledgeable position, that is.  Aiken's camp will probably fire off favourable medicals to interested teams, but medical ethics being what they are, confidentiality agreements will restrict the flow of information going to teams outside of what Aiken's camp provides.  Aiken's camp could troll the medical profession for reports that minimise or lessen the scale of the problem, if they wish.  Anyone who leaks any significant piece of detailed information that comments on the extent of the problem would be liable to be sued.  The amount that could be paid in damages would range from the amount of money that Aiken would miss out on in the draft to something approaching the cost of a fairly lucrative contract.

The ultimate determination of whether the Astros were justified in doing what they did is still years away from being clear.  But in the Court of Public Opinion, they have already been convicted and sentenced via portrayals that they are simply an evil organisation that was only interested in saving a million or two.  As I have said before, few retractions from the more critical of the commentators are likely to be published.   This whole situation was a nightmare for all concerned - especially Aiken - but the Astros have taken a bath in the public eye, and I don't think that was necessarily justified.