Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where are they now: Brien Taylor

This is a few days old, but what an interesting tale. The sad story of Brien Taylor, from high school phenom to Exhibit #1 of "What happens if your draft pick is a bust":

He was 6-foot-4 and not fat and not skinny. He looked like a man. He swaggered like one, too, when he was on that mound, all presence and intimidation and fear. Batters started the walk to the plate with a chrysalis in their stomach, and by the time they saw that fastball, it metamorphosed into a full-on butterfly. Lord, that fastball. They swear it tickled 85 when he was 12, and Willie "Ray" Taylor, his daddy and catcher, remembers the sting when it caught the mitt's heel. Like a thousand bees at once.

I've been through 28 drafts," Scott Boras says, "and Brien Taylor, still to this day, is the best high school pitcher I've seen in my life."
More than a tale of woe, it's an fascinating review of how the Yanks tried to lowball Taylor compared to Todd Van Poppel, with accusations of racism tossed in, and how this changed the tactics for agents thereafter.
The offer was also $900,000 less in guaranteed money than Todd Van Poppel, the ballyhooed Texas right-hander, had signed for in the previous draft.

They had the attitude that these poor black people from the South were stupid and didn't know any better," Bettie says. "And we were. But, let me tell you, we learn quick."

From June 3, the day the Yankees chose Taylor, Bettie drew the line of demarcation: Pay him Van Poppel money or he's going to college. The Yankees raised their offer to $650,000. She said no.

When I went in, I told them what I wanted," Bettie says. "And I wasn't going to budge from that."

Along came Boras, who Bettie had read about. She knew he wrangled the Van Poppel deal, and she was going to need help. Major League Baseball had sent in a representative to kindly ask the Taylors to accept the Yankees' offer. The scene resembled a mafia sitdown, and Bettie wouldn't have been surprised if a dead fish showed up on her windshield.

Single-handedly she was changing how baseball did business, empowering the players who, for so long, had been stunted by a rigid bonus structure.
It was not about the money for me," Bettie says. "I told them what I expected, and it was a matter of respect and equality and pride."
Ya know what, I believe her completely, and you know I rarely believe people who claim it's not about the money...

We can only wonder what might have been had he not turned his shoulder into spaghetti.


Ron Rollins said...

Just curious. Did you look at this minor league numbers?

If I remember correctly, they were nothing to get excited about. Which is what lead to the fight to begin with. I might be remembering this wrong, but it's been a few years.

If I remember right, he wasn't doing anything at all in the minors and some redneck got him about it and the money he signed for.

e-5 said...

HIM remembers he went to back up his brother or another buddy and the other guys hadn't read his press clippings...

Josh said...

When I was a kid my Dad and I had season tickets to the Albany/Colonie Yankees (these were the AA affiliates back then). Brien Taylor was one of the most pretentious ego driven players I ever watched as a kid.

He was so full of himself that when I finally got his autograph (I was in the 8-10 age region and was collecting every Yankee on that team) he made a point to smudge it with his thumb. He signed his name, then smeared it across the baseball card. He then looked at me and told me it would be worth something someday.

Maybe he wants it back?