By John Kruk

Page 2

I hate June. And it's for one reason and one reason only: the "amateur" draft.

The Padres had the No. 1 pick going into the draft earlier this week, and all the experts and analysts had them picking pitcher Jered Weaver or SS Stephen Drew. They didn't.

Why? One word -- signability.

The draft has become a ridiculous game between GMs, players and agents. It's all about who wants to go where, who will go where and -- most importantly -- for how much.

The worst team should have access to the best players. That's why the draft is set up the way it is. But of course, like most other things in the game, it's been totally screwed up by the agents.

Padres GM Kevin Towers told us he wasn't going to touch Weaver, or any of Scott Boras' other clients. They just don't want to deal with the guy. Not at this level, anyway.

Now that brings up a pretty damn good question: Is Boras doing right by his clients?

According to him, he is. He claims that despite falling to the middle of the first round, his clients will still get first-pick money. Yeah? Then we have a problem, because that means this draft is a joke.

If these kids are half as smart as they think they are, maybe they should tell their agents to back off the demand for the Mark Prior money so they can just go play.

But we all know they won't. A couple years ago, there was one guy in the draft from South Carolina. He dropped to the 16th round or something like that. I guess word got out about his "signability."

Well, the Dodgers took a chance and finally picked him up. They gave him a call to welcome him to the family, and were basically told that if they weren't offering first-round money, then 'see you later.'

Hey, diva, face some real pitching, then we'll talk. I don't need to see your highlight reel, where you're hitting 400-foot homers off 15-year-olds. This guy probably hasn't even held a wooden bat in his life.

I've said it before, but bear with me: You should never be a millionaire before you even step on the field.

Does a guy coming out of medical school get paid millions up front because he's going to be a great surgeon? No way. He's got to earn it like everyone else.

What the hell is going on with these kids? Maybe they have too many agents in their ear.

That's another thing. Isn't this the amateur draft? What the hell are all these kids doing with agents? They call them advisors, but I've got news for you -- they're agents. You think Boras is giving his advice for free? You think that when Weaver signs, Boras isn't getting his 5 percent? If you do, you're crazy.

Hell, if I were a coach facing Weaver in the Super Regionals (Weaver's Long Beach State team plays Arizona for the right to advance to the College World Series this weekend), I'd call the NCAA. How can these guys be eligible when someone is negotiating a contract for them?

By the time the College World Series ends, the starting pitcher might be worth more money than the umps and coaching staffs, combined. All for something they might do.

I know high school and college kids leave early for the NBA and the NFL. But most of them don't play right away. Sure, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony played right away, but what about the rest? Where are they while they get ready for their pro careers?

I'll tell you where: They're practicing with an NBA team every day. They're being coached by an NBA coach every day. They're not in some minor league system. They're at the highest level in the game. Same with the NFL.

Say what you want about the talent in college baseball and American Legion leagues. It isn't MLB. Not even close.

You wonder why they say a kid isn't coachable. Why he's a clubhouse cancer? Well, if you tell a kid at 18 that he is going to be the greatest player in the game, and if you give him millions of dollars, do you honestly think he's going to listen to anyone?

I've been in dugouts in the minors where bad players are getting chewed out by a manager, and the player asks, "Hey, how much did you get paid last year?"

Oh, right. I forgot. When you get millions of dollars, you also get a brain. I can't believe I forgot that.

From sports to Hollywood, you have teenagers who are millionaires. So of course, now they know things like proper fundamentals, proper conditioning, how to hit a curve and what we should do to cure cancer and save the rain forests.

On behalf of all non-multimillionaires out there, I want to thank you guys for sharing with us dumb folk.

I don't know when these kids are going to learn. Potential is about the future. Someone needs to tell these kids that we're living in the present.