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Thread: '02 decision haunts club

  1. #1
    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    '02 decision haunts club

    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.d...2/1082/SPT0102

    It was about this time four years ago when the Reds gathered their baseball brain trust in Cincinnati to do a little comparison shopping.

    They held the third pick in the 2002 draft. They were going to pick a pitcher - one who hopefully could develop into the No. 1 starter the franchise so desperately needed.

    They zeroed in on two high school pitchers: right-hander Chris Gruler and left-hander Scott Kazmir.

    The decision they made - to pick Gruler over Kazmir - was arguably the worst the franchise has made in the last five, or maybe the last 10, years.

    Kazmir is the ace of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' staff. He is 7-3 with a 2.86 ERA. He has pitched 691/3 innings this season.

    Gruler has pitched 77 innings total in his four years in the Reds' minor leagues. He's currently in extended spring training trying to rehab from shoulder problems. He threw a two-inning stint the other day is Sarasota, Fla. His fastball topped out at 86 mph.

    The decision to pick Gruler ultimately was made by then-general manager Jim Bowden.

    Bowden, as was his style, made a show of the decision. He brought both Gruler and Kazmir in to throw. And he brought a crowd to watch them.

    "There must have been 20 people out there watching," said Mark Berry, then the bullpen catcher, now the third base coach. "Johnny Bench, Jim Bowden, Bob Boone. All the big scouts."

    Berry caught Kazmir and Gruler.

    Both were impressive.

    "You couldn't go wrong with either one," Berry said. "Gruler was a big, strong kid, a live arm."

    Bench said Gruler's changeup and curveball were better than Tom Seaver's.

    "Kazmir had a quick, electric arm," Berry said. "He was a smaller guy. I remember somebody saying if he doesn't work out as a starter, at worst he's a Billy Wagner type."

    Grant Griesser, the assistant director of player development, saw Kazmir but not Gruler.

    "He was impressive," Griesser said. "Great arm."

    Both Berry and Griesser remember the split being about 50-50.

    "Guys I respect were mad we weren't taking Kazmir," Griesser said. "It was split. Jim made the final decision."

    Adam Dunn was shocked when the Reds didn't pick Kazmir. Kazmir, like Dunn, grew up in the Houston area. Kazmir's father, in fact, worked for Dunn's dad.

    "I thought we were going to take him," Dunn said. "When you get a lefty that throws 95, 96 ... From a player's standpoint, I couldn't see how they could pass him up."

    The Reds took Gruler, and Kazmir slipped all the way to 14th. Money issues were part of that.

    Gruler signed quickly for $2.5 million - still a Reds record.

    "We felt Gruler and Kazmir were the two best pitchers in the draft," Bowden said at the time. "We were split as an organization on who to take."

    Bowden went on to say the Reds took Gruler because they thought he had a higher "ceiling," baseball talk for long-range potential.

    "A philosophy I've had in the draft is that we want the player with the highest ceiling, biggest reward: Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Chris Gruler," Bowden said. "This guy has a chance to be a No. 1. And it's so hard to get a No. 1 in this game."

    The Mets ended up trading Kazmir to Tampa Bay.

    He seems destined to be a No. 1 for a long time. His name and the Cy Young Award have been mentioned in the same sentence.

    Gruler is a long way from even pitching in the minors again. There are a lot of people in the Reds' organization who think he was hurt when they drafted him, although his first year in the system was the only one when he was reasonably healthy.

    He made 11 starts in 2002, the year he was drafted. He has made only nine since. He had major shoulder surgery in 2003 and had another shoulder surgery last year.

    He has been on perpetual rehab the last four years.

    If he finishes the season with Single-A Dayton, it will be considered a victory.

    Would things be different if Gruler hadn't gotten hurt? Sure. But it's impossible to say if he would have been as good as Kazmir.

    But you can say with a great deal of certainty that if the Reds had picked Kazmir, they wouldn't still be searching for a No. 1 starter.
    This is the Cal Ripkin Jr. of typos.

    If you ask me to join your fantasy baseball league and I select Legolas in the first round, don't be angry at me. It's not my fault I've read up on the players and you haven't.

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  3. #2
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    If we had drafted Kazmir he probably would have been the one to get hurt and Gruler would have become a stud.

  4. #3
    "So Fla Red"
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Mets fans ought to be the ones the most upset. Heck they just traded for Dave Williams.

    Look at the bright side, at least the Bengals took Palmer over Terrence Newman.

  5. #4
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by Caseyfan21
    If we had drafted Kazmir he probably would have been the one to get hurt and Gruler would have become a stud.
    Exactly, we just kill pitchers in Cincy
    Go Gators!

  6. #5
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    It should be added that absolutely no one outside of the Reds organization thought Gruler compared to Kazmir. BA had four pitchers listed between Kazmir and Gruler on its top prospects list.

    Gruler appealed to the Reds because they were afraid of the bonus Kazmir might command and they talked themselves out of picking him (which a lot of other teams did too).
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

  7. #6
    Resident optimist OldRightHander's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    Gruler appealed to the Reds because they were afraid of the bonus Kazmir might command and they talked themselves out of picking him (which a lot of other teams did too).
    A rather popular way to make decisions for so called "small market" teams.

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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Give it another year or maybe less and we can repeat this whole conversation over again but it will be discussing the draft with Jeremy Sowers. He is an absolute stud for the Indians right now, their number one pitching prospect but I'm glad for him, the curse of the Reds pitching prospects probably would have claimed him as well.

  9. #8
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    It should be added that absolutely no one outside of the Reds organization thought Gruler compared to Kazmir. BA had four pitchers listed between Kazmir and Gruler on its top prospects list.

    Gruler appealed to the Reds because they were afraid of the bonus Kazmir might command and they talked themselves out of picking him (which a lot of other teams did too).
    You're definitely right. One of the things I remember a lot of people saying at the time was that Gruler was the proverbial "safe" pick. A guy with a good arm and talent who projected to be a solid starter but not really someone too special. Kazmir was unquestionably the potential ace, but people were too scared of him not being able to handle all the innings because of his frame. Combine the money aspect, and it's not really all that surprising that the Reds went with Gruler and then spent roughly a year defending the pick to no avail.

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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by Caseyfan21
    Give it another year or maybe less and we can repeat this whole conversation over again but it will be discussing the draft with Jeremy Sowers. He is an absolute stud for the Indians right now, their number one pitching prospect but I'm glad for him, the curse of the Reds pitching prospects probably would have claimed him as well.
    Sowers is a different kettle of fish. The REDS drafted him when they had the chance but he went on to college. By the time he came out again someone else ahead of them got it. No use crying over spilt milk. Whats done is done. The REDS need to move on.

  11. #10
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by Caseyfan21
    Give it another year or maybe less and we can repeat this whole conversation over again but it will be discussing the draft with Jeremy Sowers. He is an absolute stud for the Indians right now, their number one pitching prospect but I'm glad for him, the curse of the Reds pitching prospects probably would have claimed him as well.
    I also think Sowers is the kind of guy who needed to go to college. Bright kid. He'd have probably been forever wondering "what if" if he hadn't gone.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

  12. #11
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    I thought the deal with the Sowers pick was the Reds knew they had no chance to get him away from Vandy and drafted him to save cash on not having to pay a 1st rounder?
    Go Gators!

  13. #12
    Member smith288's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Chalk it up to "darn it all, anyhow." kind of luck. Nobodies got future goggles and if they did, we would have ruined Kazmir instead.

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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed
    I thought the deal with the Sowers pick was the Reds knew they had no chance to get him away from Vandy and drafted him to save cash on not having to pay a 1st rounder?
    Yeah, that was the point I was making, you just put the words together a little better.

    I believe that we were in a position that year where we didn't have much money in reserve for the draft so Bowden took Sowers knowing he wouldn't sign when there were other players available. I agree we should move on but to think we could have had 2 more high first round draft picks made on players that could be impact pitchers (instead of taking Sowers and Gruler) just pains me to think about.

  15. #14
    Making sense of it all Matt700wlw's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    It'll be interesting to see how DanO's drafts pan out, and how Krivsky's pan out.

    Hopefully one (or both) of them will have made better choices than good ol' leather pants.

  16. #15
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: '02 decision haunts club

    Dan O's drafts look ok right now because the players haven't torn anything

    yet
    Go Gators!


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