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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Blame the Kids or Mainieri

BATON ROUGE - LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri has made some excellent points in his criticism of Major League Baseball the last several weeks as he lost two hugely talented signees from Louisiana to the Major League Baseball Draft and its subsequent contract negotiations.

The Aug. 17 deadline should be moved up to make it easier for all colleges who lose signees to MLB to recruit new players before school starts. The deadline should be Aug. 1. It wouldn't hurt MLB at all, and just a few more weeks would help colleges find new players if they lose some.

Right-handed pitchers Zack Von Rosenberg of Zachary and Brody Colvin of Lafayette each signed with pro teams in the last week or so after signing with LSU last November. Had they gone to LSU, they would have made LSU's staff like that great Rice staff of several years ago.

Each said they loved LSU and wanted to play for LSU, but in the end they decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively.

Neither kid should be blamed for their decisions. Each made a lot of money. Each could have also made a lot of money in three years if they had good or great careers at LSU, but that's not guaranteed. They could also reach the big leagues quicker by signing with the pros now, but that's not always the case. If they came to LSU and got hurt, they might not ever make the money they have already made.

It was a tough decision for both.

It was a tough final score for Mainieri. Coming off a national championship and two great seasons, he had a chance to sign two great homegrown products. He did not get either one, but you cannot blame him either for trying.

"If I don't sign them, and they go to Ole Miss, I still get criticized," Mainieri correctly said.

If huge prospects are from this state, the coach of the flagship institution has to go after them even if there is an unlikely chance he gets them. He has to try. And both of these were picked in the sixth and seventh round and were not seen as definites for MLB immediately. Mainieri took his best shot.

Any comparisons to former LSU coach Smoke Laval and recruiting coordinator Turtle Thomas are wrong. That staff continually signed high draft choices from around the country and lost them. Mainieri is much better at deciding what likely MLB draftees are more attainable than others. Von Rosenberg and Colvin were good bets, and they were from here. He had to go after them.

Mainieri will never lose as many players to MLB as the previous staff. Mainieri will continue to pick players well as he did this year, and he will continue to make high draft choices out of LSU players who were low draft choices from high school, which is how he built the program at Notre Dame and how he rebuilt LSU into a national champion.

Mainieri may continue to lose a player here and there, but he will also continue to get some of the best talent in the country and make it better.


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