CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: Ju... (07/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: 2013 Fut... (07/11)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday M... (07/16)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (07/16)

July 16, 2012

Future Shock

The Nats Are Geniuses! Appel Is Stupid! Not So Fast

by Kevin Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Even with the new signing system, this year's draft deadline had far less drama than previous years did. Nonetheless, the two biggest stories in the first round did end up lasting until that Friday, 5 p.m. Eastern deadline. Mark Appel, the eighth overall pick by the Pirates, did not sign. Lucas Giolito, the 16th overall pick by the Nationals, did. The general reaction seemed to come pretty quickly: the Nationals are geniuses and Appel is dumb. It's an easy narrative, but worth pointing out that in these scenarios the players are never called brilliant. Only teams are brilliant, and only players are dumb. But I digress. The point is that the Nationals might be geniuses, and Appel might have made a foolish decision, but you can't judge yet. Nobody can. So you shouldn't.

Make no mistake, the Giolito signing is potentially a steal, but that's the key word: potentially. In March, before he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending elbow injury, Giolito was the top talent in the draft. He was touching triple-digits with his fastball and throwing quality secondary pitches. He was in many ways like Dylan Bundy, only with a much more traditional power pitcher's frame. He could have been the first high school right-hander to ever go No. 1 overall, so if he gets back to that status as a player, it's highway robbery.

The assumption that he's just going to automatically make it all the way back there is where the mistake lies, though. He might, but it's not a sure thing. Because how quickly we've forgotten about Matt Purke. Just a little more than a year ago, Purke was the guy people thought could be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Then—as with Giolito—injury struck. In Purke's case it was a shoulder and not an elbow, and he rested and then tried to pitch through it, but his stuff was well below what was seen during his incredible 2010 campaign, when he went 17-0 as a freshman at TCU.

Purke's bonus demands remained high, dropping him to the third round, where the Nationals took him and signed him to a deal at the deadline with a total package worth more than $4 million. The reaction at the time was similar to the general consensus on Giolito: Mike Rizzo got his man. The Nationals just turned a third-round pick into a top-ten talent, and they're brilliant. So much of that is true. It was a good pick, and it was a good risk. It's the pretending that there's no risk, that Purke will just automatically return to form, where mistakes are made. Cut to the present and Purke is still dealing with arm problems, still showing sub-par (for him, certainly) stuff during the rare times he takes the mound, and he has a career that consists of just 15.1 innings nearly a year into his professional life. Still a genius move by the Nationals? Debatable.

And this isn't the first time. The year before Purke, we had Anthony Ranaudo. A potential No. 1 pick, an elbow injury, a drop to the supplemental first round, a $2.55 million bonus, and praises all over for finding such a great talent so low. Two years later, and he's thrown just 37.2 innings this year because of a groin injury and has a 6.69 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Portland. You see a pattern here?

That's not to say Giolito is doomed. One of the first gambits of this kind was a rousing success. Eight years ago, Maryland high school righty Nick Adenhart was the top high school player in his class before snapping his elbow ligament in a May start, requiring Tommy John surgery. The entire industry assumed he would attend North Carolina and work his way back to a team after three years, but the Angels took a flyer on him in the 14th round, and ultimately signed him to a bonus just north of $700,000. The ironic thing was that at the time, there was a lot of criticism of the selection, but he made a full recovery and turned into a bright young starting pitching prospect before being killed in a tragic auto accident at the age of 22.

Giolito could be the next Purke or Ranaudo, or he could turn into a Cy Young candidate. All possibilities are in play, which is why we can't judge the pick yet. Nobody can.

The same goes for Appel. The easy narrative is that he's a jerk and the Pirates offered him a ton of money and, by turning it down, he made a huge mistake and is a selfish, spoiled brat. Oh yeah, that Boras guy is a jerk too. Yet, none of those is true. This is like a no fault divorce, if anything.

The Pirates certainly did nothing wrong. They went into the draft with no idea that Appel would fall to them, and he was clearly the top talent when their pick became available. They offered every cent they could, around $3.8 million dollars, without sacrificing a pick, which was certainly a reasonable decision.

And while he's taking a lot of heat, Appel had every right to say no, as well as a legitimate reason to. He went into draft day expecting to be the top pick, or at least one of the top three, but instead, he landed with a team that had an assigned bonus pool with the pick that was more than 60% less than Houston's pool at No. 1. Based solely on slot assignments, he thought he was in line for somewhere between $6-$7 million, and the Pirates just couldn't meet the price.

Now he enters next year's draft as, once again, the top pitcher in the draft. If he gets drafted high, and gets that $6 million or more, is he still stupid? Is he still selfish? Yes, he delayed his professional career by a year, and yes there is some chance that delays his free agency down the road by a year, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. For the overwhelming majority of players drafted, their bonus check will be the largest pay day of their baseball careers, and Mark Appel has every right to try to maximize that value. It's a risk, as he could get hurt and/or not pitch well next year, but he's not stupid, and he's not selfish. If anything, he's the first player to pay the harshest price of a new draft system that doesn't allow every team to pay players what they are worth. You want to blame someone? It's not Appel, it's not the Pirates, and it's not Boras. It's the owners whose strange obsession with the draft has created a system that punishes players by protecting teams from themselves.

Appel might have made a mistake, and he might have done the right thing. And the same goes for the Nationals in terms of signing Giolito. You can't judge a draft after three years, and you certainly shouldn't do it three minutes after the signing deadline.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  2012 Draft

81 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

skelton

Far too rational, Kevin. Let's hear Skip and Steven A settle this once and for all.

Jul 14, 2012 13:47 PM
rating: 25
 
HalfStreet

Skelton - Before I respond to the article, that was brilliant.

Kevin - But I want to believe that Rizzo is brilliant. The story for my Nats has to be all destiny for greatness. Still, I do get the point, given that Anthony Rendon has been a first-year bust, just like Purke. It makes sense to take chances, but I am still waiting for Jack McGeary.

I am just grateful that the draft isn't the biggest story of baseball in DC anymore.

+1/2St.

Jul 14, 2012 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

To be clear, I'm a big fan of taking chances. I'm just trying to see I'm not a big fan of rushing to judgement.

Jul 14, 2012 14:49 PM
 
Lindemann
(852)

As a fellow Nats fan, I'm just glad we're rolling the dice and thinking creatively about ways to get better talent than might otherwise be available at the spot in which we are picking. Not every one of these picks has to work out for the strategy to be right-minded.

Jul 14, 2012 16:24 PM
rating: 1
 
Todd Herr

I'm not sure it's fair to call Rendon a bust; for me, that word connotes poor performance, and Rendon's just had a lost year due to injury.

Jul 16, 2012 10:31 AM
rating: 0
 
edwardarthur

The Giolito signing also points out that Appel's downside risk may not be as large as it seems. If he hurts his arm or has a bad year, he's not down to eleventh-round money; he probably just gets a smaller number of millions.

Jul 14, 2012 15:19 PM
rating: 3
 
pfe1223

I am more interested in how this plays out next year. Will Boras clients be so bold as to ask teams to forfeit future picks? Will teams take a flyer on signability guys? Teams and players are trying to learn how to work the system to their advantage. What will the take away be from this draft?

Jul 14, 2012 15:25 PM
rating: 2
 
Leg4206

Selfish would not have crossed my mind. Stupid is way too harsh. Does seem to be a poor judge of risk though. The whole idea floated throughout the year, and still in his and Boras' head, is that he was heads above everyone else. He never was, and won't be next year either.

The same economic/draft rule forces that dropped him this year will be there next year. That is, assuming he stays healthy.

Overall, a lot of downside for a very modest upside.

Jul 14, 2012 15:38 PM
rating: 6
 
sitdancer

Any chance Appel's decision was less based on money and more on organization? Not that I think he shouldn't want to go the Pirates, but maybe he is hoping for a different landing spot if he has to take the pay cut associated with not being picked in the top 3.

Jul 14, 2012 15:52 PM
rating: 1
 
gilgamesh

It's the owners whose strange obsession with the draft has created a system that punishes players by protecting teams from themselves.

Yep. This draft salary cap is a joke.

Jul 14, 2012 16:48 PM
rating: 0
 
jtwalsh

I believe the draft was collectively bargained between the owners and the MLBPA. Why no critiism for the players bargaining away the rights for the next generation? Seems to be a national trend.

Jul 15, 2012 09:44 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Every suggestion for draft changes came from the owners. EVERY one. And of course that's where the players will make concessions.

Jul 15, 2012 10:25 AM
 
jtwalsh

Kevin,

Desiring changes in the draft was not a new phenomenon with this CBA. MLBPA previously rejected those changes. This new system would not be in place without the players consent and approval (and perhaps desire).

Jul 15, 2012 10:32 AM
rating: -1
 
Behemoth

Clearly, the players approve of the whole package. That doesn't mean that they like every element of it. This is very likely one of the parts they don't like, but it's a bit silly to expect the union to sacrifice the interests of its members to help people who currently aren't union members. The draft and the way it operates is very much the design of the owners, and it's foolish to suggest otherwise.

Jul 15, 2012 15:26 PM
rating: 0
 
danteswitness

I would actually guess that the players don't really care about wrecking a draft process that none of them will ever go through again.

Jul 16, 2012 07:27 AM
rating: 3
 
Drakos

This is my thought. I'd say that most union members care more about themselves and other current members than future members.

Jul 16, 2012 08:11 AM
rating: 0
 
Leg4206

That, and I doubt there is much sympathy (from the players or owners) for paying large sums to players who haven't contributed jack squat to wins for the parent club. The commonly held belief that "you should earn what you get paid" runs counter to paying new players huge sums.

Jul 16, 2012 09:13 AM
rating: 0
 
Brian

I still wonder if/when we will see a team completely ignore their bonus pool amount, draft/sign the best available and forfeit first rounders in the next two drafts.

Think of it as bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

If a team assesses that the two subsequent drafts are significantly weaker than the current one (like 2011 was in relation to 2012 and reportedly 2013). A team could then draft four to six of the best available guys in the first six rounds, do what it takes to sign them and then sit out the first round of the next two drafts.

Would a team rather get the best guys now and get them in the system to develop in a less competitive market (assuming no one else is trying the same thing) rather than get one really good guy each of the next three years?

Jul 14, 2012 18:00 PM
rating: 5
 
Richard Bergstrom

The intriguing part for me is that the Pirates have had enough success the last two years where the inability to sign Appel hasn't resulted in a lot of bad PR.

Regarding Giolito, even a Top 10 pick with a healthy injury history can go down in flames from injury or ineffectiveness. Look at the Royals pitching prospects. It's hard to argue that they should've taken someone different. They've just been unlucky. That's why it makes sense to roll as many dice as possible in the hopes that one of the people you took a chance on works out.

Jul 14, 2012 18:55 PM
rating: 0
 
eliyahu

My sense of the Appel non-signing is that Boras is trying to demonstrate to teams that "his guys" that fall will insist on teams forfeiting a draft pick, and will not flinch. Teams that take Appel with the #8 pick will be reluctant to do that, as it's debatable whether Appel will deserve to be meaningfully better than #9 next year, not to mention the other pick they'd give up.

A team like the Yankees, OTOH, who would be forfeiting two picks near the end of the first round had Appel fallen to them, would likely have been more amenable to giving up the picks.

In short, Boras is trying to get his guys to fall to teams who would not forfeit high picks, and Appel was the sacrificial lamb this year to get the message across.

Jul 14, 2012 19:07 PM
rating: 4
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think you're right about Boras's intentions, and it's actually a good plan of his.

So let's say its next year with a stronger draft class and a team like the Yankees takes a high school rookie phenom like a Bryce Harper type. If he signs, the Yankees just got premium talent with a low pick. If he doesn't sign, the Yankees have a "extra pick" with which they can try the same gamble the next year.

Does anything really prevent the Yankees and other "winning" teams from just taking high school seniors every round with their late picks and accumulating a bunch of extra picks because of it?

Jul 14, 2012 21:52 PM
rating: -3
 
tannerg

You've got to be kidding. Sacrificial lamb?

Boras isn't trying to do anything for "his guys" other than get them what they ask for. Boras works for Appel, not the other way around. It boggles my mind the way people characterize Boras as some sort of nefarious cult leader who brainwashes people into following his agenda.

Jul 15, 2012 06:53 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I agree with this. Boras is an agent. Remember Jered Weaver. Weaver wanted to stay in LA, and Boras worked out a deal. He would have made more money in free agency, but he told Boras where he wanted to stay and Boras did a deal for him.

Jul 15, 2012 10:26 AM
 
Behemoth

It always amazes me how Boras makes otherwise sensible people become lunatics simply by doing what he's supposed to do.

Jul 15, 2012 15:28 PM
rating: 4
 
eliyahu

Tannerg and Kevin,

I think you are both ignoring the dynamics of a not-yet professional signing with Boras. Someone who has been with Boras for a while (like Weaver) who makes a decision, after an established relationship exists, that he wants to settle for less than open market value....well of course the agent is going to oblige. However, it is eminently reasonable for Boras to tell a brand new client that his approach is X and that if the player wants Boras to represent him, then player has to be willing to live with Y. If said new client is uncomfortable with this, it is perfectly reasonable for Boras to tell him that then he can (and should) find other representation.

The established, elite professional services firms do this all the time; that is, they pick their clients. Once an existing client has a change in approach or philosophy, any reasonable lawyer/consultant/banker or agent will adapt to his client. But the dynamic is decidedly different at the outset, which is why comparing the Appel situation to Weaver is, in my view, inappropriate.

Jul 15, 2012 22:08 PM
rating: 3
 
Behemoth

Ot alternatively, you could come up with some evidence that Boras somehow forced intelligent adult Mark Appel to refuse to sign for the Pirates when he really wanted to. I suppose just shouting BORAS!!! EVIL MONSTER BORAS!!!!1!! is easier.

Jul 16, 2012 02:36 AM
rating: 0
 
eliyahu

No one here is suggesting that, Behemoth. What I am suggesting, is that Boras is completely within his rights -- morally and professionally -- to tell prospective new clients that he positions his firm a certain way, and that anyone who wants to retain him needs to understand that. Given that, I think it's perfectly understandable for Boras to tell someone like Appel something along the lines of "I'm happy to represent you as one of the best players in the draft. However, it's important for you to know that my firm is known for X and I intend to demand that a team forfeit draft picks for a player of your talents. If you are uncomfortable with that, you're probably best served by seeking other representation."

(In fact, I'd be surprised if a conversation along these lines did not take place.)

Does this make Scott Boras evil? Does this mean he brainwashed Appel into not signing? No and no. In fact, I would contend that Boras was well within his rights to do that, and that there is nothing at all untoward about this. Moreover, this would make it very clear that Appel knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up with Boras.

However, I agree with the majority sentiment which seems to be that, in a vacuum, Appel likely made a mistake which cost himself millions down the road. From Boras's perspective, though, he was likely very upfront from the get go, and if Appel is uncomfortable with Boras's approach to new clients, he should not have retained him.

This is, of course, different than an existing client of many years telling Scott to do something else (e.g. reach a deal at below-market rates) because of other considerations.

Jul 16, 2012 04:24 AM
rating: 4
 
Behemoth

This is the thing with Boras. There's no evidence to suggest that he had a conversation like that with Appel at all, but everyone somehow decides that he's used his secret magic powers to stop/influence Appel away from signing. Appel seems to me to be an intelligent young man who is entirely capable of making his own decisions.

My own view is that short of a catastrophic shoulder injury, he'll get a very good offer next year as well - Giolito got almost $3million and has a fair chance of needing Tommy John over the next few years. Purke ended up with a very good deal, even with shoulder concerns (I know this was under the old system, but it still shows that someone will take a risk on upside), and there's a fair chance that Appel will go in the top 2-3 picks next year. I think people are significantly over-estimating the risks involved in Appel turning down the offer.

Jul 16, 2012 08:37 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

The new draft makes for some strange occurances. The Mets had enough money left on deadline day to give second-rounder Teddy Stankowicz a little more than slot money. They refused to offer him more than 90% of the slot allowance. No one will ever know why.

But why would you even draft a kid with the 73rd overall pick, if you weren't even interested in offering slot?

Baseball America had Stankowicz as a third or fourth rounder, so they reached, but why would you even take the guy there?

Kudos to the Nats, btw.

Jul 14, 2012 19:08 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

Do the Pirates get more of a pool of money next year, now that they have an extra pick?

Jul 14, 2012 21:47 PM
rating: 0
 
Brian

Yes, they will. They'll get a pool amount for the compensation pick plus a pool amount for their normal first round pick

Jul 15, 2012 04:36 AM
rating: 1
 
JoshC77

That's a great question....I'd like to know the answer to that too...

Jul 15, 2012 04:39 AM
rating: 0
 
JoshC77

Wishing I could edit our posts since the answer came up as I was reading....oh well.. :)

Jul 15, 2012 04:40 AM
rating: 1
 
werdnassiew

Could not agree more with the premise of the article. I have always wondered why the Nats never employed the same intelligent buckshot approach to international players. For the same dollars they spent on the previous two drafts they could have bought several villages in the DR and elsewhere and two or three prospects could have hit from that large a group. Are those odds any worse than taking chances on damaged players with high pre-injury rankings?

Jul 14, 2012 19:39 PM
rating: 0
 
HalfStreet

I also am disappointed with the Nats' pathetic approach to international signings. "Smiley Gonzalez" happened several years ago now. Get over it. The new cap on international signings limited the risk, so I have no idea what is holding them back.

+1/2St.

Jul 16, 2012 06:49 AM
rating: 0
 
Daddyboy

KG, who are you lecturing? You know the owners don't read this, don't you?

Jul 14, 2012 21:46 PM
rating: 4
 
ofMontreal

To be honest, baseball was last sport not to have rookie/first year slotting. I don't think the slot values skew too low either. The way rosters are constructed, the value of position players that consistently play will now only go up. It's not as if this was a unilateral decision, the union agreed to this because it drives up the value of regulars because teams will spend most of what they can afford to spend.

And I agree that Appel stands a good chance of playing better next season and securing a higher slot. It's a totally reasonable response to the situation. He is/will be a Stanford grad you know.

Jul 14, 2012 22:30 PM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

Who cares about the guys in round 4-10? There's a 98% chance they amount to organizational filler with 4th outfielder upside. Pay Appel 5 slots worth of money and offer the rest a box of donuts.

Jul 14, 2012 23:16 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Appel has talent, but no one saying he's an amazing, groundbreaking, earthshattering, guaranteed to pitch 20 years in the majors talent. Why risk losing future picks, especially for a team like the Pirates that's still trying to restock its system?

Jul 15, 2012 02:00 AM
rating: 0
 
Asinwreck

My one surprise in this draft was that Appel was the only first round pick to go unsigned. A survey of agents and front office personnel on how they were surprised/delighted/dismayed by the first year of the new system would be a good column, and an interesting benchmark for next year's draft.

Jul 15, 2012 04:39 AM
rating: 7
 
Behemoth

+1 to this. I think that could be really interesting.

Jul 15, 2012 15:32 PM
rating: 0
 
dwinning

My question is what kind of dynamic this creates for teams looking at Appel in next year's draft. Say next season he does what he did this season and is basically the same guy that 7 teams passed on this year. Six of the teams that passed on him this year will be picking at the top of the draft again next year - Minnesota, Houston, Seattle, KC, Chicago, San Diego. If those teams didn't want to deal with Boras/didn't think Appel was worth what he was asking for this year, why would those same teams decide to give him huge money next year, especially now that they know he won't sign for $3.8m and (allegedly) turned up his nose at $6m? Seems like in order for the gamble to pay off, he has to transform himself into a no-doubt 1.1.

Jul 15, 2012 06:25 AM
rating: 4
 
Richard Bergstrom

Technically, teams could offer him the same $3.8 million next year since, unless Boras has some trick up his sleeve, he would've lost all his leverage as a college graduate.

Jul 15, 2012 23:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Llarry

At least some of those teams likely passed him over because they liked who they got better, and not simply about the $$. There's a good chance that if he can remain essentially the same player, that given a different mix of candidates, a team will be glad to pick him and give him the higher slot money.

It's certainly on him to be as good, or preferably (from his perspective) to be even better, but don't assume that a team that passed on him once will be sure to do so again.

Jul 16, 2012 13:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Lagniappe

Fine article, Kevin. The other factor is the Appel decision is that Appel will now have a degree from Stanford, which over a lifetime will be worth more than the bonus and it vulnerable to sore arms and pulled groins.

Jul 15, 2012 06:49 AM
rating: -2
 
SaberTJ

Appel would have been able to go back to Stanford for free after his career was over regardless. All players taken in the draft are given $$$ to go to college when baseball is over.

Jul 15, 2012 10:15 AM
rating: 5
 
MaineSkin

I totally disagree with Appel. How about the $ he would make in endorsements, especially right now while the Bucs and McCutcjen are on the front page of ESPN. Plus, your stance on Appel follows a paragraph about how pitching prospects fail more than they succeed mainly because of injuries. How can you turn down $4M for a chance to make maybe $2M more when there's no history of success past his prior year? This kid hurts his "arm" and Boras just robbed this kid of being a
Millionaire and the chance to live off of 400K a year while never roughing the original $4M. Yes, Appel is not selfish bc he's listening to his agent, but I will fully say he is being guided buy $ rather than love for his passion. You do not turn down $4M in this era where players are replaced so fast just to make a possible 50% more.

Jul 15, 2012 07:26 AM
rating: 2
 
SaberTJ

Appel turned down the money, not Boras. Boras can tell him he can do better next year, but it is Appel's decision. It is never the agents.

Jul 15, 2012 10:17 AM
rating: 0
 
David Jackson

He prayed on it, so technically it was Jesus's decision.

Jul 15, 2012 13:12 PM
rating: 12
 
SaberTJ
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Apparently you don't understand how ones relationship with Jesus works. Your comment could not be more incorrect.

I see that this comment got a lot of positive feedback, but as someone whom is a Christian it is offensive (regardless if it was in jest or not).

Jul 16, 2012 05:35 AM
rating: -4
 
dwinning

Yeah David Jackson, Jesus sure isn't going to "advise" Mark Appel if he's not getting a management fee.

Jul 16, 2012 06:06 AM
rating: -1
 
R.A.Wagman

Jesus sure works in funny ways. Some guys (ie. Daniel Norris), he tells to sign. Other guys (Appel), he says to wait another year (or three). Maybe he has the extra 2%.

Jul 16, 2012 06:57 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

Can you explain to me how one's relationship with Jesus should work so I know how to comment about Jesus and praying correctly?

Jul 16, 2012 12:38 PM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

Richard,

I have no idea if you're being sarcastic or not, but I don't want to bombard this forum with Christian doctrine.

You can find your answer in the first 4 books of the New Testament in any Christian Bible.





Jul 16, 2012 14:37 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

SaberTJ,

I had read the first 4 books of the New Testament and a good portion of the old.

That's why I was a bit surprised you were offended when David acknowledged the power of praying to our Lord and Savior to inform our decisions and that other people were giving him a +1, affirming that presence in our lives and the ability to reach out in prayer to get guidance.

So I asked an honest question in deference to your sensibilities about what is an appropriate way to acknowledge Jesus's role in a person's career decisions at a baseball comment thread.

If I was being sarcastic, I would have said something like "I understand Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball"... or admit to "ROTFLing" from dwinning and Ryan's comments. But I didn't do that, did I?

Yet, I digress.

Perhaps the offense is just due to a difference in denomination. For example, a Catholic baseball player does not technically pray to Jesus directly but would have to use a priest as an intermediary whereas a Baptist baseball player might have to get their head dunked into water first. Though, I'll also admit that nowhere in the Bible or the CBA does it indicate if the priest/pastor/reverend has to be a sports agent or vice versa in terms of who talks to who and who dunks who.

In any event, people who believe in Jesus speak to and about Jesus in different ways. To borrow from "The Name of the Rose", some think laughter is a sin because it means some don't take God seriously. Others think of laughter as a celebration of life and creation. Some pray in church on bended knee with a rosary in hand and others pray for a fastball down the middle.

Though we've both read the same book, you and I seem to interpret it differently, so I was honestly asking what you thought was appropriate, just so I didn't offend you. I asked the question because you seemed unsettled enough about the comment to "knowingly" declare that another person's relationship with Jesus is incorrect. Unfortunately, Jesus didn't give me the power to read minds (or hit curveballs) so unless you educate me and others on what you personally prefer, then please don't be offended if we unknowingly step on your proverbial toes.

P.S. That last sentence was a little sarcastic, intended to be a little bit funny to diffuse the situation, and trying to send the message that just because my answer and your answer is in the first four books of the New Testament doesn't mean that our answers (or David, if he considers himself a Christian) agree.

Jul 16, 2012 22:20 PM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

I am non-denominational. It is a Christian faith that derives its practice purely from what is in the Bible.

Let me start off by saying that all of what you will see below is based on the following: if one prays to Jesus and you believe in the Gospel this means you are Christian regardless of denomination.

The reason I found the original comment offensive is this.

First of all, we have no idea what Appel prayed or even if he prayed to Jesus (we don't even know if he believes in Jesus coming down to earth and fulfilling the Gospel). We don't know what religion he is or how strongly he holds to his faith. So to just insert Jesus (like DJ did in his comment) is to use Jesus' name as some catch all used for any person's prayers. DJ could have inserted Jesus in his comment because when DJ prays, he prays to Jesus (which is a good thing), but that doesn't mean Appel believes in Jesus.

Secondly, regardless if one asks Jesus for help with life's decisions or not. Jesus does not make those decisions for anyone. It is that individual's person decision every time.

A person on earth that is Christian should be aiming to make the decision that will best glorify Jesus' name during his or her walk in life. When Jesus created Mark Appel in his mother's womb he gave Mark the athleticism and intelligence to have a chance to make this decision some day. At the time of the decision to go back to school or sign with the Pirates it was Mark's decision alone. If Mark was unclear what to do, the only thing prayer might have done was to fill Mark's head with words/experiences he had in the past that would help guide him.

Whether or not Appel finishes Stanford or signs a contract w/ the Pirates doesn't matter to Jesus. Jesus is concerned about Appel's heart. Did Mark make this decision based on finances/earthly possessions or based on doing what would best grow his faith and glorify Jesus? For example, if Mark becomes a professional athlete is he going to use that forum to let others know about Jesus (like a Tim Tebow) or is he going to use his fame and fortune for sinful purposes?

To say that because one prays to Jesus about a concern, and to simply state "then it was Jesus' decision" is wrong. This misrepresents the way how praying and having a relationship with Jesus work (according to the Bible). Many humans ask Jesus for something in their prayers. This does not mean that Jesus will give it to them. Jesus does not answer to us. We answer to Him.

Because this is a baseball forum I will not be commenting on this topic in this thread any longer. If my answer does not suffice to any of you, I can be found on twitter via the same username.


Jul 17, 2012 06:25 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

We do have an idea he prayed to Jesus. I wouldn't call Google miraculous, but it is useful. As follows:

"
To say he’s never looked back would be insufficient in describing the impact the decision to attend Stanford has had on Appel’s life in terms of his development as a both a ballplayer and a young man eager to contribute to society. And the decision also reaffirmed his strong religious faith.

“The people that I’ve met here and the relationships that I’ve made have really been great for me as a person,” Appel said over the telephone on Tuesday (Feb. 7) shortly before he was to take part in a bullpen session with his Stanford Cardinal baseball teammates.

“I’ve been meeting with a spiritual mentor and my relationship with Christ has grown so much more,” he said. “I can definitely attribute all the success I’ve been having here at Stanford and in my life to my relationship with Christ.

“All the great things that I’ve experienced I’m so grateful for, and I know that if I didn’t have Christ I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.”
"

http://www.perfectgame.org/articles/View.aspx?article=6553

Jul 17, 2012 07:05 AM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

Thank you. I tried to check before hand, but my search didn't prove as useful as I had hoped.

My second reason still applies.

Jul 17, 2012 07:39 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

It wasn't a very easy search since the first few links all referred to the recent press release, so I can understand the difficulty. I'll also admit that I was taking Appel at face value when he said he prayed before researching whether he was actually Christian or not.

As far as the second reason goes, I read "Jesus's decision" as "Jesus's guidance" and nothing more. I doubt Appel thinks Jesus forced him into a decision and I'd also like to think Appel won't blame Jesus if he blows out his arm in the next year. Still, whether it's a burning bush or a warm fuzzy feeling to do one thing instead of another, I'll think optimistically that Appel was sincere and his heart was telling him to return to school. Even his terse press release after the Pirates selected him suggested that his heart or soul or what not wasn't into being drafted.

Jul 17, 2012 12:45 PM
rating: 0
 
mbyrnes
(354)

Maybe Pittsburgh will take him again next year (and draft a third round type cheap sign with their comp pick so that they can go way above slot).

Jul 15, 2012 07:46 AM
rating: 0
 
JoshT

Pirates can't draft him unless Appel agrees to allow it. Will he? I don't know. Probably not unless they came to a pre-draft deal.

Jul 15, 2012 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
John Lowe

If Appel gets his degree from Stanford he will have a chance to be a millionaire even if he never plays baseball.

Jul 15, 2012 10:05 AM
rating: -3
 
Mr. Cthulhu

Does anyone here know what degree Appel is getting at Stanford? People seem to assume that he will be a financial success just because he has a Stanford degree (a sentiment held outside these comments as well). A degree from Stanford does not guarantee financial success. Sure his degree will compare favorably to those earned from a lesser school, but it still matters what he studied. I really doubt everyone with a four-year degree in art history from Stanford is a millionaire.

Jul 15, 2012 15:34 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Per the Stanford media guide: "majoring in management, science & engineering"

Jul 15, 2012 16:17 PM
 
JoshT

David Byrne called. He wants you to stop making sense.

Jul 15, 2012 15:47 PM
rating: 0
 
dREaDS Fan

What get's lost in the "Appel is greedy / Boras is pulling the strings" hyperbole is that it's simply appears a poor economic decision on their part to not sign. When you factor in the time cost of money for the $3.8m bonus and delaying albeit low probability free agency payout by a year, he'll need to make much more with next year's bonus to come out ahead. Making much more in next year's bonus means getting drafted much higher, which is risky, and also converting that draft selection into a corresponding bonus, also risky given he'll be a senior sign.

Jul 16, 2012 04:33 AM
rating: 3
 
jrbdmb

And if you believe that he could have had $6.0M or more from the Astros, it becomes more of a head-scratcher, as it would take a very fortunate set of circumstances to repeat as a consensus 1st pick next year and get the same or better bonus offer.

I hope Mr. Appel does well in the coming year, but I'd say the odds favor that he will regret turning down $3.8M (or potentially $6.0M) this year.

Jul 16, 2012 05:09 AM
rating: 3
 
SaberTJ

Very well thought out. Nicely said.

Jul 16, 2012 05:36 AM
rating: 0
 
ncooke

Is it a poor economic decision, though? We can't know. If Lucas Giolito and his popped elbow were picked eight picks later and signed for $4M - isn't that Appel's most likely downside? Because from this article (I haven't read much more), that's still better than the $3.8M he turned down. Especially since he's living and eating for free in beautiful Palo Alto for that extra year.

Sure we'd have all likely gone with the bird in the hand and $3.8M, but that's a personal, subjective risk appetite question. If anything, his choice implies a lower risk appetite over the long term: he has more confidence in his ability to pitch well for six more months than in his ability to reach free agency as a star in 2020-ish. That seems pretty rational to me.

He'll be proven right or wrong in hindsight and will live with the choice forever. But there's no objective evidence to say his decision was poor in the time he made it.

Jul 16, 2012 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

His downside is not $4 mm. First of all, he doesn't have the raw talent of Giolito, so if he is similarly injured he will still be worth less. Secondly, he could suffer a torn labrum or something else more serious than an elbow injury. Thirdly, he could just wear down or generally lose effectiveness, sliding him down draft boards (keep in mind he was a borderline 1.1 in a terrible draft class). Fourth, the draft class around him could prove stronger, also pushing him down the board. And finally, he will have no leverage as a college senior, so it's hard to imagine him having a strong hand in negotiations.

I think about it this way. How many ways are there for him to do better than $3.8 mm under this same draft system next year? Very, very few - basically he has to maintain or improve last year's performance while avoiding injury and hoping the surrounding draft class doesn't push him down the board. Although that may be the "base case," the risk is almost entirely to the downside, as there are myriad ways for him to earn a smaller payday.

Jul 16, 2012 13:58 PM
rating: 2
 
Behemoth

Initial indications suggest that the 2013 draft class is no better than this years, and I've seen suggestions that it could well be worse.

Jul 17, 2012 03:28 AM
rating: 0
 
eliyahu

This isn't getting lost; this is the reason people think Boras is pulling the strings! Appel did something that is very likely to cost him money in the short and long term, so that Boras could send a message that his players that fall will not capitulate.

Put it this way: this is very likely to cost Appel, yet there is long term benefit to Boras if he's able to successfully communicate that the Appels-of-the-future will need to fall to teams that pick low enough in the draft to make giving up two picks worthwhile.

Jul 16, 2012 19:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

And this is the problem. You are assuming that Appel is some sort of idiot who can't make a rational decision for himself, due to Boras-magic.

It seems much more likely that Appel has made a decision based on a variety of factors - that he feels he can get more next year (and the downside is probably significantly over-emphasised as can be seen from cases like Giolito and Purke), and potentially some non-monetary factors - maybe he doesn't want to pitch for the Pirates, maybe he wants to complete his degree with his friends and classmates, maybe he wants to play more college ball.

Jul 17, 2012 03:35 AM
rating: 0
 
tannerg

Why wasn't everyone claiming that Andrew Luck was greedy and stupid for not declaring for the 2011 NFL draft after his junior year?

Jul 16, 2012 05:16 AM
rating: -1
 
mrdannyg

Because this is a baseball forum?

Jul 16, 2012 08:48 AM
rating: 8
 
ofMontreal

Because Andrew Luck is a far better talent/bet in football than Appel is in baseball. Luck was a no brainer #1 both seasons and actually became slightly more valuable after staying the extra year.

Jul 16, 2012 09:48 AM
rating: 3
 
bheikoop

Appel has a zero chance of getting injured and then punting his $3.8M next year?

I can't understand the logic that says a maximum of $3.2M (probably closer to $2.2M given this years top bonuses) is worth the risk of whatever can occur over the next 10 months.

So let's be completely fair, Appel not signing is less about the dollars and more about the chip on his shoulder that grew when he wasn't taken #1 overall.

Jul 16, 2012 07:22 AM
rating: -1
 
JW

While I do 100% agree with Kevin's point that the player certainly has the right to pass this up, has anybody done a study of how well it works passing up first round money? It seems like baseball is such a fickle sport (especially for pitchers), I just don't know if I would take the chance to pass up several million for the potential to earn a little more.

Granted, this is much easier said than done and I have zero talent so this wasn't even an issue for me, but it seems like if I was confident enough to go back to school to move up a couple of picks, instead I'd apply that confidence to getting to free agency a year earlier (maybe) and thus earning more with my next contract.

Jul 16, 2012 08:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Leg4206

Moving up or down in picks in the past doesn't have the same effect that moving up or down would under the present rules. Therefore, studies of the past may not yield much.

Jul 16, 2012 09:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Tommy Fastball

I don't think this was the right time to be waving the "Boras defense" flag. By all accounts, Boras/Appel gave up the $6m bonus by over-playing their hand and then it seems like just being stubborn sent him back to college despite a rational analysis probably pointing toward accepting the deal. Boras does what Appel says, but it's Boras' job to guide him and it seems like the whole effort ended far more badly than needed.

Jul 16, 2012 12:47 PM
rating: 1
 
cmaczkow

Is the marginal value of that extra +/- $2 million worth the risk of not getting the original $4 million? Appel has to decide that for himself...but Matt Harrington would probably suggest signing.

Jul 16, 2012 12:52 PM
rating: 2
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: Ju... (07/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: 2013 Fut... (07/11)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday M... (07/16)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (07/16)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Quarter-Season Odds Report
West Coast By Us: Day 2: Taco the Town
Going Yard: The Near Perfection of Pederson
West Coast By Us: Day 3: Nice
BP Boston
West Coast By Us: Day 4: There Are Two L's I...
BP Bronx

MORE FROM JULY 16, 2012
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Scherzer's Unique Season
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Second, Short, and Catcher for ...
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: To Platoon or Not t...
The Week in Quotes: July 9-July 15
What You Need to Know: Monday, July 16
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, July 16
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Monday, July 16

MORE BY KEVIN GOLDSTEIN
2012-07-17 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: Minor League Update: Game...
2012-07-17 - BP Podcast: Episode 99: Are You Sipping On S...
2012-07-16 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
2012-07-16 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Nats Are Geniuses! Appel I...
2012-07-12 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: Minor League Update: Game...
2012-07-11 - Premium Article Future Shock: 2013 Futures Game Rosters
2012-07-06 - Future Shock Blog: Minor League Update: Game...
More...

MORE FUTURE SHOCK
2012-07-23 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
2012-07-18 - Premium Article Future Shock: Top False Trade Values
2012-07-16 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
2012-07-16 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Nats Are Geniuses! Appel I...
2012-07-11 - Premium Article Future Shock: 2013 Futures Game Rosters
2012-07-05 - Premium Article Future Shock: Don't You Forget About Me
2012-07-02 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
More...