Thursday, July 2, 2009

Settling the Romero/Tulowitzki draft argument

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The day was June 7th, 2005; a day that up until this year had haunted the members of Blue Jays management because it was the day that they let Troy Tulowitzki get away. That was ... until Ricky Romero skyrocketed his way through the minor leagues and on to the Blue Jays 40-man roster.

Four years later, that decision to go with the pitcher from Cal State Fullerton rather than the shortstop from Long Beach State is looking more and more like the correct one.

With the recent success of Ricky Romero at the major league level, the die hard J.P. Riccardi naysayers have been forced to admit that in hindsight, it wasn't such a bad idea after all to draft Romero. For the past few years, J.P. Ricciardi has been scrutinized over and over for choosing Ricky Romero ahead of Troy Tulowitzki in the 2005 MLB Draft.

Just like in a fantasy baseball draft, the Blue Jays were probably criticized and turned a few heads by drafting a pitcher so high at the number six position ... especially with a very talented young middle infielder like Tulowitzki still available. But I'm sure there were many logical reasons why they chose
Romero instead of Tulowitzki.

Although Blue Jays management were aware of the wide talent pool in the 2005 draft, I highly doubt that Troy Tulowitzki was even on their radar. If you take a look at the 2005 Blue Jays roster, they already had a young franchise player at shortstop in Aaron Hill. But interestingly enough, Hill was actually moved to the second base position the following season after the Blue Jays traded Orlando Hudson. Barring that Aaron Hill didn't work out at shortstop, the Blue Jays contingency plan was to use Russ Adams as a future starting middle infielder.

Who's to say that even if the Blue Jays did draft Troy Tulowitzki that he would put together similar numbers playing at home in the Rogers Centre? Being at home in Colorado where fly balls sail for home runs probably helped contribute to Tulowitzki's numbers in 2007. Put Troy in a Blue Jays uniform and have him play 80 or so games inside the concrete cavern in Toronto and the numbers might not even be close.

Obviously the Blue Jays scouts saw something they liked in Ricky Romero, so that is why they chose him as the number six player in the 2005 MLB Draft. His success with the Cal State Fullerton Titans was instrumental in helping them win the 2005 College World Series and the Blue Jays took notice of this and signed him accordingly.

While Ricky Romero's path to the major leagues hasn't been as rapid or as glamorous as Troy Tulowitzki's, that doesn't mean it was the wrong choice to draft Romero. Although it's taken a few more years for Romero to settle in at the major league level, it has certainly been worth the wait.

6 comments:

  1. I know Keith Law brings this up often, since JP went against almost all his scouts to draft Romero over Tulo, the scouts' consensus. Looks like JP is a much better GM than the casual fan will give him credit for, just like all those Gibby bashers.

    Who am I kidding, JP sucks! Cito sucks! Jays suck! LAYOFFS!!!1

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  2. It just goes to show that it takes years for the dust to settle.

    Ricciardi for life.

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  3. I still buy the "the draft is mostly crapshoot" belief and so I've never though that you can criticize based on single comparisons. Otherwise a bunch of GMs would be deemed completely useless based on certain high-end picks that flopped or that were slightly risky. Overall, if the trend shows that you are not turning your drafts into reasonable players at a similar rate to others, then you have a problem. JP has been fine, Romero is awesome, and here's hoping Adams becomes ... well ... anything.

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  4. BK - I know, I never thought I find find myself defending the actions of J.P. Ricciardi, but here we are. Thanks for throwing that "JP sucks" comment in there ... I was just thinking a few days ago that we haven't heard many "Fire JP" comments lately. It's very odd, isn't it?

    EyeB, O-Dogg said it best when he said J.P. is a P-I-M-P.

    QJays, heindsight is always 20/20 right? If Romero didn't work out, Ricciardi would be chastized forever about that decision. Luckily it's worked out so far. You never know what you're going to get from the draft. Mark Prior - need I say more?

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  5. I think there's also some room for consideration that Clint Hurdle absolutely destroys young talent. Assuming Tulo hasn't been lost, it will take him a while to get rid of his bad habits.

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  6. Good point about Hurdle, Chris. I can't really think of any players that have flourished in Colorado under his managing.

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