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Cards not scared off by Drew
Posted: Tuesday June 2, 1998 05:34 PM
ST. LOUIS (CNN/SI) - No guts, no glory. That's the tack the St. Louis Cardinals took Tuesday by selecting outfielder J.D. Drew in the first round of the baseball draft.
"Sometimes, you've got to step up and take a risk," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We're going to give it our best shot."
Last year, the Cardinals weren't scared off by the high price tag for high school phenom Rick Ankiel, choosing the left-handed pitcher in the second round and then signing him to a record $2.5 million bonus. Now comes Drew, who refused to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies after being the second pick of last year's draft.
Drew's controversial demand for a $10 million contract kept him from joining the Phillies, whose best offer was a $3 million bonus and a chance to earn $3 million more in salary. Neither that, nor the fact that Drew's agent is Scott Boras seemed to bother the Cardinals, who took him with the fifth pick.
"The thing you've got to remember is this guy has a very high ceiling," Jocketty said. "This guy, I think, is arguably the best player in this draft and may have been the best player in the last two or three drafts.
Boras represented Andy Benes in a spectacular failed deal last winter. Benes and the Cardinals agreed on a $30 million, five-year deal, but it was voided because it came an hour after the December 7 midnight deadline.
"Despite what happened in the Andy Benes negotiations, I've had a long, lasting relationship with Boras," Jocketty said. "I think that if you have a problem with one negotiation, it shouldn't really interfere with what you do in the future."
Jocketty cited the signing of Ankiel, another Boras client.
"We got the Ankiel contract done when a lot of people didn't think we would," Jocketty said. "We'll go about it in a very businesslike manner and try to get him signed."
Besides, said Jocketty, if the Cardinals didn't take Drew, one of the teams picking right after St. Louis would have.
"I had four conversations with him prior to the draft," Boras said, "and I advised him that I had conversations with three other teams who said they didn't think there would be a problem signing J.D. knowing what his demands were."
Drew, an outfielder who went to Florida State, played in the independent Northern League last season rather than sign. The Cardinals' scouting director, Ed Creech, took a look at Drew playing for the St. Paul, Minnesota, last week and reported that Drew only got better.
Jocketty said Drew could start in the St. Louis outfield next year and could hit 30-40 home runs a year very soon.
"He's got a chance to be a star player, a franchise-type player," said Jocketty.
The Cardinals also took a bit of a risk in the second round when they selected Stanford right-handed pitcher Chad Hutchinson, another Boras client who's also an NFL prospect after starting at quarterback for the Cardinal.
Jocketty said the Cardinals had considered taking Hutchinson in the first round if Drew had been taken, but believed he slipped to the second round because his signability was questioned.
What made it easier for the Cardinals to take those chances is they had two extra early picks as compensation for Dennis Eckersley signing with Boston in the off-season, and had four picks among the top 55.
Boras made clear that Drew is still seeking the same amount he wanted from the Phillies.
"J.D.'s position has not changed," Boras said. "While J.D. would be very happy playing in the big leagues, he's very happy playing baseball."
Jocketty also said the Cardinals were interested in picking up Hideo Nomo from the Dodgers to help their struggling pitching staff. Three Cardinals starters are on the disabled list.
The Dodgers designated Nomo for assignment on Monday in an effort to accommodate his wish for a trade. Nomo has slumped with a 2-7 record and 5.05 ERA after undergoing off-season elbow surgery and was booed by hometown fans in his last start.
Jocketty was flying to Los Angeles for the team's series with the Dodgers on Tuesday and said he would probably meet with Los Angeles general manager Fred Claire on Wednesday.
"It's something we definitely have to explore," Jocketty said..
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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