Russell Promotion Continues Cubs’ Roster Transformation
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Bane shows no fear while running his first draft
by Jim Callis
CHICAGO--Eddie Bane doesn't believe in wasting time.
The 11th pick in the June 1973 draft out of Arizona State, Bane took the mound for the Twins in his pro debut. Minnesota owner Calvin Griffith saw how No. 1 overall pick David Clyde had boosted attendance for the Rangers and decided Bane could do the same.
Bane did draw a franchise-record 45,890 fans and left with a 2-1 lead over the Royals after seven innings before his bullpen blew the lead. He didn't earn his first big league victory until 1975 and totaled just seven altogether.
After his playing days ended, Bane did some coaching for the Sun Devils and in Rookie ball for the Dodgers before becoming an area scout for the Indians in 1984. A year later, he was swiftly promoted to national crosschecker, though Bane jokes that was only because he was stupid enough to accept the $16,000 salary that came with it.
Last October, Bane became a scouting director for the first time when the Angels hired him. With his first choice, he could have gone the safe route and taken someone who would sign quickly and be out playing at Mesa, Ariz., or Provo, Utah, within a week.
But Bane has made a career of driving for the green instead of laying up in the middle of the fairway, and he didn't change while running his first draft. He went straight to the Scott Boras catalog and chose the most expensive item: Long Beach State righthander Jered Weaver.
"I guess you could say I jumped right in," Bane says with a laugh.
'The Right Thing To Do'
During the weekend before the June 7 draft, Bane thought the No. 12 overall pick would give him an outside chance at one of three prime high schoolers (Homer Bailey, Matt Bush or Chris Nelson) and targeted a fourth (Philip Hughes) as a fallback. But he also began to realize that Weaver, who two months earlier had seemed a lock to go to the Padres with the top choice, might be available.
Weaver continued to dominate college hitters all spring, but talk that he wanted an eight-figure major league contract wouldn't go away. On the morning of the draft, Bane presented Weaver as an option to general manager Bill Stoneman. Stoneman talked to owner Arte Moreno and gave Bane the go-ahead two minutes before the draft began.
Bush went first to San Diego, and Bailey and Nelson went off the board seventh and ninth. Three picks later, Bane took the plunge with Weaver, knowing that he didn't have second- and third-round picks (both forfeited as compensation for free agents Vladimir Guerrero and Kelvim Escobar) as a safety net. His rationale was simple: "It looked like the right thing to do."
Bane realizes Weaver isn't going to sign quickly, and that doesn't bother him. Weaver worked 144 innings for the 49ers and threw 137 pitches in his final start, so missing what could be his first pro summer may even help him. Bane is content for now to give Weaver some time off while the Angels take what he calls "baby steps" with Boras.
"The neat thing about it is that Bill Stoneman and (assistant GM) Ken Forsch both threw no-hitters, and Forsch was an all-star," Bane says. "I pitched in the majors, though not at that level. We've all been there. We know what's important to pitching. We have really good instructors in the minors and Mike Scioscia managing in the majors. If a pitcher is ever going to be protected, it will be here."
More Risks, More Reward?
Bane kept rolling the dice after choosing Weaver. He landed two more first-round-caliber arms in rounds 14 (Maryland high school righty Nick Adenhart) and 18 (California prep righty Mark Trumbo). Adenhart's impending Tommy John surgery and Trumbo's reported $1.5 million price tag didn't deter Bane, not when he considered the talent typically available in those rounds.
Bane's second choice (fourth round), Alabama high school outfielder Patrick White, says he's committed to honoring a scholarship to play football at West Virginia. Massachusetts prep righty Adam Crabtree (15th round) will be tough to lure away from Boston College.
Chipola (Fla.) Junior College righty Alan Horne (30th round) and Florida high school righty Bobby Cassevah (34th) would have gone much higher if they weren't recovering from elbow reconstructions in 2003. California prep righty Erik Davis (47th) had a disappointing spring and is set to attend Stanford, but Bane wanted to take a stab at him.
The Angels quickly wrapped up two reputedly tough signs, thanks to legwork by area scout Chris McAlpin. Most clubs figured Middle Georgia righty Ryan Aldridge was too costly after he turned down the Yankees as a draft-and-follow, but McAlpin knew what it would take and got a deal done. That was the same story with Georgia high school outfielder D.T. McDowell, a quarterback who planned to attend Nebraska on a football scholarship before the Cornhuskers switched from an option offense to a pro style.
"I'm not looking forward to telling anyone I drafted Trumbo or any of these guys and I didn't sign them," says Bane, who figures to be negotiating late into the summer. "That's not the point. I'm the only guy who can sign them this summer. That's the reason why we did it. That's what's neat."