I remember back in the 80's when the Chiefs were a terrible football team, the same question kept coming up. Should they lose more games to garner a higher draft pick, or try to win some in the name of pride?
That same question is now being bantered about with this year's Royals. Currently, the Royals have the fourth worst record in all of baseball, and the second worst in the AL. I'm hearing some folks say that since this is a lost season anyway, the Royals should continue to lose at a blistering pace to guarantee a high pick in the draft. And now that the Royals have gotten of to a good start in the second half of the season (they just took 3 of 4 from the Twins), the arguments are really heating up.
Personally, I think they need to win games. Having a high draft pick is nice, but it's not as critical in baseball as it is in other sports. In football, for example, high picks typically to turn into players who can contribute rather quickly. In baseball, it's much more difficult to know whether a pick will become a productive player. Even the best picks are usually at least 2 years away from making the big league club. And some real gems can be found in the lower rounds (see Albert Pujols). Another problem with the Royals in particular is that they typically cannot afford the signing bonus of the big name high draft picks. In fact, it's pretty well known that in the years before the Glass family purchased the team (and they were without an owner), the Royals were drafting based solely on signability - in other words, can we get him cheap?
For the 2004 Royals, I think the team is in position to build for next year, and building should include learning how to win games. I would love to see the Royals play around .500 ball the rest of the way, giving the young players a taste of winning and making them all hungry for a more successful 2005.