My 1977 Pittsburgh Pirates, who were 40-80 at the 120 game mark, will have first pick in the 1978 draft, plus the 11th pick in that round due to a trade. We also have two second round picks if I have this right.
But the 1978 draft seems to me one of the most difficult to select for. Granted Paul Molitor, a 3B and sometimes 2B is a first among equals, but even he has some great years and some off seasons when he is merely very good.
The front row of players in '78 lines up like this:
3B: Paul Molitor (2B officially that year), Carney Lansford, Bob Horner
2B: Lou Whitacker and we can add Glenn Hubbard, perhaps at the tail end of this talent group but a great fielder
SS: The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Ozzie Smith, and Alan Trammell
C: Lance Parrish
Throw in a Wille Wilson (perhaps the fastest man in baseball history) in the OF and even Dwayne Murphy plus a number of talented pitchers among whom Bob Welch is, like Molitor among position players first among equals, but not necessarily a no-brainer as there are also Scott Sanderson, Ed Whitson, Don Robinson.
In short, under any circumstances this is not the easiest of seasons to pick someone, no Jimmy Foxx or Willie Mays/Mickey Mantle etc.
Now, one way to go is what the team needs. As my team's record for 1977 indicates it could be seen as needing everything, but that is also somewhat misleading: I did trade a few top players for good draft picks but knew that I had at least presentable players to replace them and in fact the team has been above .500 since the wave of trades.
Plus, while any of the above players are better than those I currently have at their positions, I don't have any real holes. The current bunch, going into 1978:
C: Milt May and Alan Ashby
1B: Andy Thornton (who will be out of commission for 1980 and not full time again till 1982,but then is good for some years.
2B: Rich Dauer
3B: Doug DeCinces
SS: Dave Chalk
so the infield has stable, decent major league players with no glaring holes, though it is weakest at SS where Chalk is nothing to write home about and will not be even close to full time again after 1978.
The OF has Jerry Mumphrey, Dave Collins, and a who's who of DHs and jigsaw puzzle pieces of the late 70s:
Dan Meyer, Leon Roberts, Willie Horton and Rico Carty - though a number of these have very good years in 1979 and Meyer covers first base while Thornton is out.
I also have Lee Lacy, the most ill-defined but good player of the era.
The team is also not short on good pitching:
For now Randy Jones a leads the staff, with Mike Caldwell, Scott McGregor, Mark Lemongello, Rick Langford, Spaceman Bill Lee, Marty Pattin, Pat Zachry and Tom Buskey (DL in '78).
So no shortage for the coming seasons, and therefore while I can use one of the first rounders to get a good SP, it is not a desperate need.
All of which means: there is an opportunity to lay the basis for a very strong rebuilding effort and even a successful team in the next few seasons, but wise choices are important here and harder to make given the relatively democratic distribution of talent among the potential draft picks and on my roster.
I am also concerned that sentiment may lead me to err: it is hard not to love Ozzie Smith, and Bob Horner is my preferred kind of 3B, my favorite position on a baseball team. But are these really the good choices ? Parrish is one of my favorite WIS catchers but while neither Ashby nor May are in his league, catching is covered for most of the next decade by these two. If it ain't broke don't fix it ?
So, knowing that here there are clear-headed, less sentimental than I am WIS players, I ask that the floor be opened:
What would your priorities be given the number one overall choice in 1978 and the 11th overall first round pick?
What would you do given this particular roster and two first round picks with two second rounders ?
My keepers list currently has us needing 4 picks and we have no 3rd or 4th round picks, as those went in some of the trades.