First off, on a conceptual level I admire the Red Sox and wish the Orioles were more like them. They are well-managed, well-coached, and actually play the game "the right way" (which is markedly different than the Tim McCarver/Joe Morgan version of "the right way"). On an organizational level they really have it together with good scouting, good player development, and fairly wise spending on the free agent market. I realize J.D. Drew didn't have the best year, but the guy put up solid numbers for his career, so I don't fault them that much.
Anyhoo, watching the Red Sox made me wonder about state of the Major Leagues in general. More to the point, how many truly gifted athletes play baseball anymore? Look at should-be rookie of the year Justin Pedroia. I admire him as a player, but he's obviously not the most gifted athlete in the world. It's hard for me to imagine he would get much traction in the 1950's or 1960's when the best athletes in North America were playing baseball. The same is true for the Red Sox in general. They're a terrific team, but I doubt many of those guys were the best athletes in their high schools.
What do you guys think? How many top athletes are making the decision in high school or college to play baseball rather than football or basketball? I don't think it's that many and the obvious departure of black American players from baseball makes me suspect that many of the guys who are playing now are the people who wouldn't have a shot maybe 20 years ago. If that's the case, then it might be we're watching the JV squad these days.