One of the best ways to prepare for your fantasy baseball season is to do some mock drafts, which are essentially practice drafts that you can do for free anytime on ESPN.
With the delay to the start of the 2020 season, mock drafting can be taken to the next level. Here are some tips so you’re more than passing time when mocking.
Find a group of serious drafters
Obviously, mock drafting
Tim Kurkjian’s Baseball Fix – The day Mike Schmidt realized it was time to go
You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.
ON THIS DATE IN 1989, Mike Schmidt retired.
Schmidt had played in 42 games that season, he was tied for second in home runs (six) by National League third basemen at the time, and he was the active career leader in homers, RBIs, runs scored and total bases. But, at age 39, his recent play had been unacceptable to him.
“We were on the bus, leaving [San Francisco’s] Candlestick [Park] for the airport to fly to San Diego,” said Bob Dernier, then a Phillies outfielder. “Mike was in the back of the bus with Chris James, Bedrock (Steve Bedrosian) and a few others. Mike looked at us and said, ‘I think that’s it, I’m done.’ Chris James started bawling. He said, ‘No, no, Mike, you can’t!’ Mike told me, ‘I can’t catch. I can’t throw.’ He was embarrassed about his defense. Defense was so important to him. He used to tell me that the All-Star team should be the Gold Glove team. He valued that more than anything, even when he was leading the league in home runs.”
Schmidt won 10 Gold Gloves; only Brooks Robinson (16) won more at third base. Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times, which remains an NL record. He finished with 548 homers, most by a third baseman. His combination of power offensively and grace and skill defensively was breathtaking; indeed, he could play the piano and move it, too. Schmidt won three MVPs, including back-to-back years, and finished third two other times. By most measures, he is the greatest third baseman ever.
And yet it was never enough for Schmidt; he was constantly fretting about his swing. Nearly 30 years after retirement, he told me, “When I was struggling, if you had told me that I should set up in the box with my back to the pitcher, I would have tried it.”
Schmidt was hitting .203 at the time he retired. So he accompanied the team to San Diego that night, and officially announced his retirement the following day. It was so emotional. He broke down several times.
“As soon as Mike said he was done, Bedrock and I started planning the celebratory party,” Dernier said. “We were going to get Harry [Kalas, the club’s legendary play-by-play broadcaster] to speak, we were thinking about getting some Heinkens on ice. We had a great party. We were all so sad to see him go, but he had so much pride in his play, who was I to argue with that? I saw him do some amazing things. Mike was just mesmerizing.”
Other baseball notes for May 29
In 1981, Ellis Valentine was traded from the Expos to the Mets. In 1982, Valentine pointed his right pinky finger in my face and said, “I have more talent in this finger than most players have in their entire body.”
In 2010, Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game. He won the NL Cy Young Award that year. He had a replica Cy Young made for his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, because, Halladay said, Ruiz had so much to do with his success.
In 1941, Joe DiMaggio struck out for the third time all year. He would finish the season with 30 homers, 13 strikeouts and a 56-game hitting streak. I wrote that stat 35 years ago, and a radio guy got a little mixed up, saying, “I just read the other day an amazing stat: In the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 homers, he struck out only 13 times.” Yikes.
Biggest needs and best fits — 2020 MLB draft guide for all 30 teams
The 2020 MLB draft, to be held June 10 and 11, will be unlike any other. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the draft will be conducted remotely and limited to just five rounds, down from 40 in 2019. Teams will be able to sign an unlimited number of undrafted players, at a price of $20,000.
Additionally, college and high school prospects had their spring seasons cut short or eliminated altogether, leaving MLB teams with much less information on the players than they typically would have.
Here is a guide for all 30 teams, with each organization’s greatest needs, the best fits in the draft, each team’s typical approach, a list of its picks this year and more.
What sweeping cuts mean for minor league baseball and its players
News came out Thursday that hundreds of minor league baseball players were cut and hundreds more are expected to be released in the coming days. While many of these moves typically would have come at the end of spring training in March had baseball not shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, the numbers appear to be significantly higher than usual, and all of them coming at once was jarring.
We asked ESPN baseball reporters Jesse Rogers and Bradford Doolittle to try to make sense of it all, asking what this means for the players in the short and long term, and what it says about the future of the minor leagues in general.
Is there any chance there will be minor league baseball this season?
Jesse Rogers: No, but there are a few diehards still holding out hope. Teams are beginning to release dates for games so they can use their stadiums in other ways. Some will host youth travel tournaments or be used as drive-in theaters. Minor league teams will simply try to squeeze a few dollars out of their facilities in a lost season.
Bradford Doolittle: Not a chance, unfortunately. Teams are trying to figure out different ways to generate revenue using their facilities, like hosting collegiate wood-bat leagues, and have cut back on staff. The protocol seems to be to wait for MLB and the MLB Players Association to declare their intentions before the plug is officially yanked. Lower-level teams are just trying to figure out how they will continue to exist, or given the contentious negotiations underway for a new Professional Baseball Agreement, if they will even have the option of continuing to exist.
What do the prospects do if there’s no 2020 season?
Rogers: Spring facilities will be used for some of them, while others might be part of that extra group of players who are around the big league team — but not on the initial roster — in case they’re needed due to injury. It simply won’t be a season like they’ve ever had before. The top prospects will be handled with kid gloves, but many lower-tier players will be let go if they haven’t been already.
Doolittle: Depending on how far things open up on the pandemic front, top prospects could get some work in some form of the Arizona Fall League. They also could get in work at MLB spring training facilities. Some will be needed for expanded MLB rosters and the proposed taxi squad. Whatever happens, it’s a lost year for players in the age range during which they are most apt to improve. Lesser prospects and non-prospects, as we saw Thursday, are being set adrift and will wait to see what the professional baseball landscape looks like a few months from now.
Minor league players literally have had no voice in any of these talks and some teams have done a better job of communicating than others. Beside the $400 per week stipend that teams have been paying — and most will continue to pay beyond the end of the month, with only the Oakland Athletics ending that policy at the moment — there is also the question of minor league service time. Will players who have been working toward Rule 5 eligibility be given some kind of credit for staying ready this season, even if there are no games? It might be low on the list of talking points between MLB and the MLBPA, but it sure matters to those whose futures are affected by this question. And right now, it’s unclear whether it has even come up.
This looks really dramatic, but if a lot of these guys would have been cut in March anyway, is this really a big deal or does the timing make it seem worse than it is?
Rogers: Yeah, it definitely looks worse now but, who knows, maybe guys cut in March would have been able to find jobs on other minor league teams. That can’t happen now. It really is as dramatic as it sounds. And the thought of some careers ending in this fashion is hard to fathom. Players don’t always get to go out on their own terms, but this takes things to another level.
Doolittle: The scope of cuts seems to be more than the typical levels of moves that take place between the end of spring training and the end of May, according to the initial reporting by Baseball America, but BA is also being guarded with its language in that report. If, as Jeff Passan reported for ESPN, the hundreds who were released Thursday are only the first wave of more major rounds of cuts, then we’re well beyond the bounds of normal end-of-spring releases. Also, let’s remember, with the upcoming MLB draft cut back to five rounds, if we were going to have a full group of minor league teams operating later this summer, those lower-level rosters wouldn’t be filled out by new draftees. However you slice it, the picture is ugly for minor league teams and players.
Did the minor leagues just shrink for good? There had been 160 affiliated teams. How many will there be in 2021?
Doolittle: The negotiations between MLB and minor league baseball have more or less been kneecapped by the pandemic. The political momentum that MiLB helped create with its public airing of grievances is kaput — politicians have bigger fish to fry right now. The solidarity message preached by the MiLB league office now rings hollow to some owners hoping not only to withstand a season of zero revenue, but to stand up to the reality that MLB could simply walk away and form a new system. Minor league baseball — which collectively ended last season as a wholly vibrant operation, with nothing but clear skies ahead — has had its guts ripped from it over the past six months. We’ll be sifting through the fallout for years. But to answer the question: MLB wants an affiliated system with 120 teams, so that’s what’s likely to happen.
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