If you have not checked out www.TheAtheletic.com (it’s a pay site), you should. It’s got some great writing. As an example, Peter Gammons wrote a great piece yesterday:
“Want a parade? The surest way to get one is to rebuild the right way. Here’s how it’s done”
I can’t reproduce the whole article here, because of the paid content, but Gammons starts here:
When baseball unraveled the draft and international signing rules in 2012, the goal was to give smaller markets better access to the best talent. The idea was to limit teams to assigned signing pools, so that big market clubs such as the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees couldn’t draft players in later rounds, players who would ordinarily be high picks if they weren’t committed to college, and entice them to reconsider by signing them to big, early-round money. In 2007, for instance, Boston selected highly-regarded Anthony Rizzo in the sixth round, paid him well above the suggested slot to buy him out of his commitment to Florida Atlantic, and signed him.
Even with all the good intentions, the larger signing pools for the teams with the worst records (and, hence, the highest picks) invited cheating. The same has happened in the International market, and two teams — the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves — have thus far been punished for various violations. Tanking is now a part of the sport’s lexicon, even as Pablo Sandoval homered on the last day of the season to cost the Giants the first pick in the 2018 June draft.
The last three world champions have been won by teams that hit bottom, were razed and rebuilt. Quietly, the Royals, under Dayton Moore, did it in a small market with budgetary restrictions. From 1994 to 2012, the Royals had one winning season, got high draft picks and selected players such as Eric Hosmer, made critical trades, won 86 games in 2013, followed with 89 as they went to Game 7 of the World Series in 2014, then won it all in 2015.
Theo Epstein and Jeff Luhnow took over the beleaguered Cubs and Astros, respectively, in the fall of 2011. The Cubs won 61 games in 2012. Last place. Then they won 66 in 2013, 73 in 2014, and 97 in 2015, advancing to the National League Championship Series. Of course, in 2016 they won 103 games and the World Series that was baseball’s V-E day, bringing Eddie Vedder and George Will to a like moment in time, place and belief.
The Astros lost a combined 218 games their first two seasons with Luhnow running the show, improved to 70-94 in 2014, then made the post-season in 2015. In 2017, they lifted hurricane-devastated Houston by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series.
Gammons talk about the many different teams who have or are rebuildng by “blowing it up” like the Padres, White Sox, Red Sox, Cubs, Marlins, Royals, and the latest darlings – the Astros. He concludes:
The rebuild concept sounds good and logical and promising, and you can hand out free copies of Baseball America to everyone coming through the turnstiles. But what the Royals, Cubs and Astros did took time, took creativity, took a lot of investment in scouts and infrastructure and coaching up and down the organization. Study the Padres. They’re doing it the same way.
Conspicuously absent from that article are the Dodgers who have rebuilt another way. They did not tank or blow it all up. They tried to buy their way out while building the farm and infrastructure in some innovative and incredible ways. THE TRADE has been argued by many to be part of that plan, but you already know how I feel about it. Whether or not THE TRADE was a boom or a bane doesn’t change the fact that no team in recent history has rebuilt “on the fly” while winning the division all the while, like the Dodgers.
Part of that “tanking process” gets you one of the TOP 2 or 3 players in the amateur draft every year for two or three years. That’s what the Cubs did – so did the Astros, but the Stros did botch a couple of years drafts, like when they took Mark Appel over Bryant in 2013 and Brady Aiken over a player like Kyle Schwarber, Can you imagine Schwarber and Bryant on the Stros? Where would the Cubs be without Bryant?
It also takes some luck and the Dodgers go lucky with Chris Taylor and a couple of others. Truly, what the Dodgers have done and are doing is re-loading while winning, not re-building. Will it work? It has until now… and I think it will continue. The next few days hold a lot of promise. I can see the Dodgers packaging Alex Verdugo, Joc Pederson, Jordon Sheffield, Yadier Alvarez and Matt Kemp, along with $28 million to the Marlins for Christain Yelich, Brad Ziegler and Starlin Castro. The Dodger would then have to trade Castro or Forsythe to remain below the Luxury Tax Threshold.
Matt Kemp would entertain the fans with some Home Runs. Ziegler is a comeback candidate (when you are 37 years old, it’s likely hard to play for a team like the Marlins). Yelich would be the new Left-Fielder and Castro would likely start at 2B. He is a candidate to get into better shape and under Ward, he could be a force. The next few days will tell the tale. Dream about this:
- Taylor CF
- Seager SS
- Turner 3B
- Bellinger 1B
- Yelich LF
- Castro 2B
- Puig RF
- Barnes/Grandal C