In the famed “Moneyball” draft of 2002, the Oakland A’s selected Joe Blanton with the 24th overall pick (in the first round). They got this pick from the Yankees as compensation for New York signing free agent Jason Giambi. With the next pick in the draft, the San Francisco Giants selected Matt Cain – who had been pitching at a High School in Germantown, Tennessee.
What happened next? Simply put: Matt Cain has gone on to become one of the best young starting pitchers baseball has seen in recent years.
Clearly, the A’s screwed the pooch here taking Blanton over Cain. But, did the Yankees also screw this up – signing Giambi and losing the pick that could have grabbed Cain? Well, the Yankees did need a first baseman after 2001…or so they thought. And, at the time, Giambi was an offensive force.
However, the Yankees also had Nick Johnson – also a first baseman – ready to play in the big leagues in 2002. So, did they really need Giambi that badly? Didn’t they know what they had in Johnson? It’s an interesting question to consider…looking back at it all now.