COMMENTARY | It's time for the Major League Baseball draft, and that means it's also time for all the experts to expertly guess which players each team needs to build for its future -- but more likely just to squander millions of dollars on.
However, before we can look forward, we have to look back. And the history of any major league team is strewn with failed draft picks whom at one point were thought to be "franchise saviors" or, at least, not "a complete and utter waste."
As if things couldn't get any worse for the struggling Los Angeles Angels, this year they don't have a first-round pick because they signed Josh Hamilton as a free agent. As if things couldn't get any worse for having signed the struggling Josh Hamilton.
Taking a peak at past Angels' first-round draft choices, there are great picks like Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus and Mike Trout, but the rest are a veritable Who's Who of "Who the Heck is That?"
And these are some of the biggest misfires:
5. Seth Etherton (pitcher, 1998, 18th pick)
Draft busts are not just about picking a player who turned out to be a waste of time and money. They are also about what player you could have gotten instead. Two picks after the Angels selected the wildly disappointing Etherton, the Milwaukee Brewers chose CC Sabathia. Sure, it would have cost the Angels more at the clubhouse buffet, but it would have been worth every penny.
4. Michael Wacha (pitcher, 2012, 19th pick)
Okay, so this wasn't actually a pick by the Angels. But this was the pick that the St. Louis Cardinals got as compensation for the Albert Pujols free-agent signing. So, the Angels are stuck with Pujols' terrible contract, plus they lost out on this quality pitcher whom has already been promoted to the Cardinals' big-league club.
3. Brandon Wood (shortstop, 2003, 23rd pick)
The topsy-turvy world of minor-league prospect rankings has had its fair share of errors. At one point in his professional career, Brandon Wood was a highly regarded offensive-powerhouse middle infielder in the mold of Alex Rodriguez. It was stunning how fast this "untouchable" trade asset became "uninteresting" and then "unemployed."
2. Joe Torres (pitcher, 2000, 10th pick)
Just a few picks in the draft after left-hander Joe Torres was selected, the Philadelphia Phillies snatched up five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Chase Utley. Yikes. Joe never made it to the majors for the Angels or anyone else for that matter. I mean, Chase Utley! Yikes.
1. McKay Christensen (outfielder, 1994, 6th pick)
It's one thing to guess wrong in the first round and miss out on a stud player. But it's another matter when you waste your pick and miss out on Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko, Jason Varitek and seven or eight other major leaguers in the first round alone. Besides, "Christensen" is a Danish name. Great pick if you need butter cookies or a yodeler, or you have a windmill that needs tending -- but a bad baseball move.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball.
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