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D’Backs, Angels, Get Their Men Without Panicking

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Scott Boras has a reputation for squeezing every last penny out of clubs when it comes to free agency and the draft. So other teams were thrilled when the Diamondbacks and Angels held firm in negotiations with their 2004 first-rounders, Boras clients Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew. Even while coming within minutes of the May 30 midnight Eastern signing deadline, Arizona and Los Angeles held firm to offers that had been on the table for months. In the end, Drew and Weaver decided to turn pro rather than take their chances in the 2005 draft.

Minors | #2005#Column

Hochevar Doesn’t Get Past No. 17 In Our Draft

Jim Callis -Premium Content

With 30 scouting directors putting their opinions on the line in the first-year player draft, it's time for me to do the same. I've put together my own 10-round mock drafts since 2003, based on BA's scouting reports and signability information. This year, I randomly drew the 17th slot in each round. Because the supplemental first round lasts 18 picks this year, I decided I should get in on that action with the No. 35 selection.

Minors | #2005#Column

Upton Stays Behind To Work On Glove

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The Devil Rays have no doubts that B.J. Upton will be an impact hitter at the major league level. But they wanted him to start this season in Triple-A to hone his defense, and he has remained in Durham all year, making him eligible for a return trip to the Futures Game in July.

Minors | #2005#Column

Crazy Eights Compelling In Own Right

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The first round of the baseball draft hogs most of the attention. The most talented players go in the top 30 picks and command the largest bonuses. But when the first round is completed, there still are 49 rounds and nearly 1,500 picks remaining. And some of those rounds can be just as enthralling. Take the eighth round, for instance. The best-ever eighth-rounder was the stunningly gifted Eric Davis, followed by Charlie Hough. There must be something about the eighth round and knuckleballers, because Tim Wakefield (selected as a first baseman) went there as well.

Minors | #2005#Column

GM Searches Ignore Impact Of Talent Evaluators

Jim Callis -Premium Content

If I were running a team and looking for a GM, the No. 1 attribute I'd value would be the ability to judge talent. When it comes time to make the call on player moves, I'd want my GM to have the knowledge and experience to make intelligent, confident decisions. Yet four of the five clubs who filled GM vacancies this offseason passed on attractive in-house candidates with a proven track record of talent evaluation. None of them got beyond a perfunctory interview, if even that.

Minors | #2005#Column

Talent Goes Beyond Top 10 Lists

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Here's our annual all-star team of prospects who weren't quite good enough to make the National League Top 10 lists that have run in these pages. Last year's version included Cubs outfielder Matt Murton, who hit .343 in the minors and .321 in the majors, plus Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins and Pirates infielder Freddy Sanchez, who had solid debuts as big league regulars.

Minors | #2005#Column

Sifting Through Round Table Reactions

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Baseball America's debate between two scouts and two statistics analysts, the second installment of which begins in issue 0503, could be seen to concern high school pitchers, Double-A hitting prospects, the modern confusion between DIPS and dip. But that is only a smokescreen. It is about humility. Constructiveness. Debate. These are the fibers that, braided together, will lift these two groups from the muck of obstinacy and contempt into an air more healthy and breathable—and, ultimately, sharable.

Majors | #2005#Column

A Different Kind Of ‘next Year’ In Boston

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

No doubt, the Red Sox' 2004 championship came along just when New England—as well as the thousands of fans across the country who now wear their B hats in public—was about to blow. No professional sports franchise, for so long, so determined the mental state of its populace, whose release from psychological bondage required memoirs to confirm the separation, just before they started eating each other's limbs.

Majors | #2005#Column

Going Deep: Barry Zito

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Barry Zito's career is at a crossroads. Two years after his 23-5 record for the Athletics won him the American League Cy Young Award at age 24, Zito spent last season devolving into an average starter with an 11-11, 4.48 record. And as he prepares for 2005, with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder traded, Zito finds himself the sole remaining member of the A's vaunted Big Three, an old man on a rotation rebuilt with youngsters Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and Dan Meyer. In this first installment of Going Deep—Alan Schwarz' new column in which he will regularly sit down with a baseball newsmaker for a one-on-one interview—Zito discusses his fall from stardom, his approach to 2005, and being "a prisoner of my own mind."

Majors | #2005#Column

Going Deep: Mark Prior

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Considered a possible (if not probable) Cy Young Award winner coming off his 18-6 breakthrough performance in 2003, Mark Prior spent the season's first two months on the disabled list with a mysterious Achilles strain and then balky elbow. Even when he returned, the once picture-perfect pitcher looked anything but, his suddenly sketchy control leaving him oddly hittable and with a final 6-4, 4.02 record. The most promising pitcher in years had lost a lot of his luster. Prior enters 2005 comparatively under the radar, trying to reassert himself on a Cubs team that enters the post-Sammy Sosa era relying on their rotation more than ever before.

Majors | #2005#Column

James Adds Insight As Insider

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

When the Red Sox hired Bill James as a consultant several years ago, some complained that allowing an outside stathead influence over player moves would run the club into the ground. They don't seem to be complaining anymore. James' moving from the outside to the inside has had other effects, though—including a recent essay that repudiates some of his theories.

Majors | #2005#Column

Alderson Returns To His Roots

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

It was a good day for San Diego, a bad day for baseball as a whole. Sandy Alderson's exit from Major League Baseball in early May, to return to his club roots as president of the Padres, comes after seven exemplary years of getting baseball's house in order: fixing the umpire mess and the strike zone, restoring some order to the amateur draft, speeding up game action and more. The longtime Athletics executive, Alderson brought intelligence and pragmatism to MLB's central office and substantially improved the modern game. On one of his final days with MLB, Alderson sat down to discuss the Padres, the work he did (and couldn't do), and what lies ahead at MLB.

Majors | #2005#Column