Minaya, DePodesta and Ricciardi MLB Draft Review

An article by posted on May 9, 2011

This contribution was borne out of several discussion this offseason in our MMO chat room in which many have heaped praise on Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi for their player evaluation skills and success in the draft, while knocking the Mets farm system and the player evaluation skills of Omar Minaya.

I wanted to compare the three as fairly as I possibly could, and I thought the best way to do that would be to start at 2000 and look at the the top ten draft picks for all three GM’s or Assistant GM’s up until 2008. I chose to stop at 2008 because it’s still too early to evaluate the last two Amateur Drafts of 2009 and 2010.

I’m not happy with how some are choosing to portray Minaya in a poor light when it comes to player evaluation. You want to say he was a bad GM, that’s your prerogative, but in my opinion he was on his way to being a great GM until 2006 happened. That one post season took him off course and he steered the Mets right off the map of his original well conceived master plan for the franchise. He should have stayed true to himself and his five year plan.

Minaya has always been and still is a great evaluator of talent. Too many have forgotten that one of the reasons Minaya was hired in the first place was because of his eye for talent — he scouted and signed several star players including Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez and Jose Reyes. He was also the Assistant GM when the Mets drafted David Wright, a fact too many forget.

I gave Ricciardi and DePodesta credit for their time as Assistant GM’s with Oakland just so we could look at a good long body of work

I also decided to leave out the glory years for Minaya where he was responsible for the success stories I already mentioned. Basically, I wanted to keep it fair, but also as current as possible.

So let’s see how all three of these executives fared in nine years worth of draft data. Keep in mind that I will also point out instances where a player who was selected may have been flipped or traded for another player because that’s all part of the game too. Click the following image for the full version of their draft records from 2000-2008 or click here.

 Year By Year Draft Summary

2000

DePodesta and Ricciardi can’t boast much success with this draft. Only two players even made it to the Major Leagues; Freddie Bynum .234 BA, and Marcus Gwyn 11.81 ERA. Omar Minaya on the other hand, netted six major leaguers in the first ten rounds, none however were star caliber players, but in this analysis there is strength in numbers.

Edge: Omar Minaya

2001

The Dynamic Duo fared much better in 2001 with seven players reaching the majors, three of them stuck around for more than a couple of years. Bobby Crosby won the Rookie of the Year with a .239 AVG and 141 K’s, but never reached such lofty numbers again because he was rendered a part time player the rest of his career. Jeremy Bonderman was also drafted in the first round, but was traded after as the player to be named later in a deal to acquire pitcher Ted Lilly. Lilly would only play one full season for the A’s before hitting free agency. Other guys who made it to the majors included Neal Cotts and Dan Johnson. Nobody from this 2001 haul is currently an active major leaguer.

Omar Minaya hit the jackpot in 2001 when the Mets selected perennial all star third baseman David Wright, and relief pitcher Aaron Heilman. Both are still gainfully employed. Third rounder Lenny DiNardo also made it to the majors and actually ended up pitching three seasons for, you guessed it, the Oakland A’s.

Edge: Omar Minaya by a landslide.

2002

Ricciardi is now running the show for the Blue Jays and four of his ten picks made it to The Show, the best of them being pitcher Dave Bush. However Bush was traded to the Brewers for Lyle Overbay before he got his feet wet as a Blue Jay. Ironically, the only other player he selected who had a few years in the Bigs was Russ Adams. Yes the same Russ Adams who officially retired as a Mets minor leaguer yesterday.

Depo had seven first round picks! Of those seven, notables included Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton and Mark Teahen. Swisher and Blanton are solid and have had some good seasons, Teahen not so much, but he was a part of the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to the Astros. The other eight rounds weren’t as fruitful.

Omar is now in Montreal working for MLB and being a caretaker for the cash-strapped Expos. Not being able to go over slot really hurt, and only Mike O’Connor is still around and was recently called up by the Mets.

Edge: Paul DePodesta

2003

Two years ago I would have told you I loved Aaron Hill, but he’s looking more and more like a one-year wonder for Ricciardi who selected him in the first round. However, Shawn Marcum was a nice find for J.P. in the third, but is now having a stellar start to the season for the Brewers. This was Depo’s last hurrah with Oakland and the one and only  player from this draft class to crack the major leagues for good was Andre Ethier, who would be traded 18 months later for Milton Bradley before he ever got at-bat with the A’s. Meanwhile, 2005 All Star and saves leader Chad Cordero racked up 20 wins, 128 saves, a 2.18 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP for Omar and his Expos before disaster struck and Cordero was felled by arm injuries.

Edge: Tied between Paul DePodesta and Omar Minaya 

2004

J.P. Ricciardi found himself a decent power hitting first baseman in the third round in Adam Lind, but that’s about all that came out of it for the Jays. The Dodgers were able to get utility infielder Blake Dewitt in this draft, but again nothing else to get excited about. Depo’s best pick was in the 19th round when he selected a 17 year old left-hander from Tennessee, but the kid decided he wanted to go to college. He resurfaced 4 years later when the Rays selected him with the number one overall pick. His name? David Price. Sorry Paul, you only get credit for those you sign. Omar probably couldn’t wait to get out of dodge in Montreal and his draft produced a few major leaguers in Ian Desmond, Collin Balester and Billy Bray, or in other words a whole lot of nothing.

Edge: J.P. Ricciardi

2005

I love Rickey Romero, who Ricciardi took in the first round. He’s a solid left-hander who had a good season last year and seems to be building on it this season. He’s racked up 67 starts for the Jays with a 3.90 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. So far, none of the other top ten rounds have yielded any major leaguers. DePodesta drafted Luke Hochevar with his first pick, but alas he snubbed the Dodgers for the second time and didn’t sign. But have hope Dodger fans, his second pick that year was Ivan DeJesus who is getting his cup of coffee as we speak and is batting a non robust .179 with a .320 OPS. Third baseman Josh Bell also got a cup of coffee in 2010, but the Dodgers decided they saw enough and he wasn’t invited back for the 2011 season after an ugly .214 AVG and .525 OPS. The Mets didn’t strike gold in 2006, but they did fare better than the Dodgers and Blue Jays garnering two-fifths of their starting rotation with Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, a hard throwing reliever in Bobby Parnell, their starting catcher Josh Thole, and even Pedro Beato was selected, but didn’t sign.

Edge: Omar Minaya

2006

The Blue Jays selected Travis Snyder with their top pick in 2006, the only player from their draft to make it to the majors. Snyder is still getting regular time as the Blue Jays left-fielder, but if he don’t improve on his .184 BA and .540 OPS, he may soon find himself back in the thin air of Las Vegas where numbers tend to be bloated as we saw with Brad Emaus. DePodesta didn’t draft in 2006, having been curbed by the Dodgers before the start of the season. As for Omar and the Mets, it’s a little complicated… You see, the Mets didn’t have a first round pick this year, but they did select Kevin Mulvey in the second round. So what right? Wrong, Mulvey was the jewel to the package that landed the Mets Johan Santana. The Mets also reaped an Irish lad by the name of Murphy who now lays claim to the second base job. Joe Smith who was the Mets second pick is carving out a nice career as a reliever for the Cleveland Indians.

Edge: Omar Minaya

2007

The Blue Jays did very well in selecting Brett Cecil who has become one of the key starters in their rotation and won 15 games in 2009, had a solid season in 2010, and is on his way to a good season this year. They also got a starting catcher out of the deal as well. Not much to brag about for Minaya or DePodesta in this draft, neither have anyone worth mentioning.

Edge: J.P. Ricciardi

2008

Depo is still waiting for someone to get to the majors from this draft class. His first pick was Allan Dykstra who was still struggling in Single-A when the Padres finally gave up on him and traded him to the Mets last month for Eddie Kunz. Dykstra has a 30% strikeout rate and a .234 professional batting average. The Mets front office, where Depo now resides, decided that Dykstra was worthy of a promotion so he now flails in Binghamton, where they could use a stiff breeze this time of the year. Ricciardi hasn’t had any major leaguers come out of this draft class either. In 2008, the Blue Jays had the #17 pick in the draft and they selected David Cooper. You know him right? He’s the player that was selected right before the Mets took… Ike Davis. Oh yeah, Omar Minaya hit pay-dirt in 2008 and the Mets have been reaping the benefits of this draft for well over a year now and may have even found themselves a core player who may supplant the chosen one, David Wright. In addition to Ike Davis, the Mets have a few other highly regarded prospects on the way in Reese Havens, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Brad Holt.

Edge: Omar Minaya

The Tale Of The Tape

Omar Minaya: 5 W – 3 L – 1 T

J.P. Ricciardi: 2 W – 6 L – 0 T

Paul DePodesta: 1 W – 7 L – 1 T

Final Thoughts

According to my scorecard, Omar Minaya blew away the field. In the final analysis, Omar Minaya drafted more Major League players than J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta combined since 2000. Omar Minaya has netted twice as many All Star players as Depo and J.P. combined. The mythology that prevails in the MMO Chat Room is just that, mythology. The new guys are not better talent evaluators than Omar Minaya and never have been. Maybe some day they may match the accomplishments of Omar Minaya, but we won’t know that until they first have at least 4-5 successful drafts. The Draft Record is there for you to see for yourself.

This Fan Post was written by and contributed by Met Maniac.

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