Jul 8, 2011, 10:00 AM EDT
21. San Francisco Giants
Actual: Brad Hennessey
Redo: Ryan Theriot (78th pick, Cubs)
As sad as it is to say, of the 20 pitchers drafted in the first round in 2001, only five have had better careers than Hennessey, who went 17-23 with a 4.69 ERA in parts of five seasons with San Francisco. The Giants have been hurting in the middle infield for the last five years, so Theriot seems like a nice fit here. Just him being his usual self would have been an upgrade on most of the second basemen and shortstops the Giants have employed since 2007.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks
Actual: Jason Bulger
Redo: Nick Blackburn (857th pick, Twins)
And, with a 4.33 ERA in 125 relief appearances as a major leaguer, Bulger had either the sixth or seventh best career, depending on where one wants to put Jeremy Sowers. Despite a miniscule strikeout rate, Blackburn was an above average starter for the Twins in 2008 and ’09, and it looks like he has a chance to be one again this year. I’m not sure he’d have been quite so good elsewhere — the Twins have rare luck with pitchers like him — but the Diamondbacks have certainly had need for innings eaters.
23. New York Yankees
Actual: John-Ford Griffin
Redo: Noah Lowry (30th pick, Giants)
The Yankees lost their first-round for signing Mike Mussina, but got another pick in return because the Mariners inked Jeff Nelson. They used that on Griffin, a Florida State slugger. He was actually wildly successful in two brief major league stints, going 7-for-23 with two homers, three doubles and nine RBI. Unfortunately, he was a born DH and no one ever thought he was worthy of an extended look. In his place comes Lowry. He was a quality pitcher for just 2 1/2 years before injuries ruined his career, but he could have helped the Yankees in the middle of the decade.
24. Atlanta Braves
Actual: Macay McBride
Redo: Zach Duke (594th pick, Pirates)
McBride didn’t have the arsenal to make it as a starter, but I think he would have ended up as a pretty good reliever if he could have remained healthy. Of course, he didn’t. The Braves get Duke instead. Sure, he’s just 47-73 in his career, but the Braves probably would have gotten more out of him than the Pirates did. And if not, well, it’s not like the Braves are really missing out on anyone else here. The 2001 draft bottomed out awfully quickly.
Speaking of bottoming out quickly… Crosby, the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year, was a useful player for just a year and half. Those mid-decade A’s teams had solid bullpens, but someone like Heilman would have helped out quite a bit. He had a 3.27 ERA in 281 innings for the Mets from 2005-07, and perhaps the A’s could have tried him as a starter after trading Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.
The much repeated story is that A’s GM Billy Beane was so upset about the Bonderman pick that he threw a chair. Bonderman was traded to the Tigers just a year later in a three-team deal that sent Ted Lilly from the Yankees to the A’s. Of course, Bonderman is long gone here. There’s really nothing but role players left to give the A’s, but Keppinger is a pretty good one, and he would have been nice to have around to cover for Mark Ellis’ various injuries. He’s a career .284/.338/.392 hitter in 1,824 at-bats.
27. Cleveland Indians
Actual: Alan Horne
Redo: Jim Johnson (143rd pick, Orioles)
Horne went unsigned by the Indians and enjoyed a nice career at Florida before getting picked by the Yankees in the 11th round in 2005. I gave Luke Scott to the Indians with their earlier pick in the first round, so bullpen help seems appropriate here. Maybe the boring name has something to do with it, but Johnson has been one of the game’s more underrated setup men. Throwing out the one start he made as a rookie, he has a 3.15 ERA in 183 relief appearances for the Orioles.
28. St. Louis Cardinals
Actual: Justin Pope
Redo: Skip Schumaker (164th pick, Cardinals)
Pope turned out to be a fine minor league closer after washing out as a starter with the Cardinals, but he never did get a look in the majors before retiring after the 2008 season. I’m replacing him with the Cardinals’ own fifth-round pick, Schumaker. He was never highly regarded in the minors at all — he didn’t post even a .700 OPS at any stop in his first 2 1/2 years in the St. Louis farm system — but he’s now in his fourth year playing pretty regularly for St. Louis.
29. Atlanta Braves
Actual: Josh Burrus
Redo: Casey Kotchman (13th pick, Angels)
Burrus was drafted as a shortstop, but he ended up in left field just a couple of years later and he didn’t have anything close to the bat to be useful there. Let’s put Kotchman here instead and on the sole basis that maybe if the Braves had him, they wouldn’t have traded Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira in July 2007. Of course, the Braves got Kotchman in return when they decided they couldn’t re-sign Teixeira and sent him packing to the Angels a year later.
30. San Francisco Giants
Actual: Noah Lowry
Redo: Bobby Crosby (25th, Athletics)
The 2004 Giants had Deivi Cruz and Neifi Perez at shortstop, and while Cruz was surprisingly solid — he hit .292/.322/.431 in 397 at-bats — the AL Rookie of the Year would have been an upgrade for a team that ended up losing the NL West by two games. Of course, Crosby was pretty worthless after 2004; he had a good half-season while healthy in 2005, but nothing else. Still, that’s not bad compared to some of the alternatives.
Here are the best of the rest:
Jonny Gomes (529th pick, Rays)
Kelly Shoppach (48th pick, Red Sox)
David Bush (109th pick, Blue Jays)
Ryan Raburn (147th pick, Tigers)
Scott Hairston (98th pick, Diamondbacks)
Rajai Davis (1,134th pick, Pirates)
Chad Tracy (218th pick, Diamondbacks)
Gabe Gross (15th pick, Blue Jays)
Mike Fontenot (19th pick, Orioles)
David Pauley (240th pick, Padres)
Dan Johnson (221st pick, Athletics)
Brooks Conrad (236th pick, Astros)
Jack Hannahan (87th pick, Tigers)
Jeff Mathis (33rd pick, Angels)
And that’s pretty much all of there is to show for the 2001 draft.
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