Around the League: Tanking is an Appropriate Strategy, According to Bud Selig

Social Navigation

Around the League: Tanking is an Appropriate Strategy, According to Bud Selig

Chicago Cubs

emperor seligIn news that will not go without celebratory fist pumps from a variety of corners, Tim McCarver has announced that he’s going to hang up his broadcasting shoes after the 2013 season. No word on Joe Buck’s plans, or on Fox’s plans to replace McCarver with Joe Morgan.

  • Although the dispute pre-dates Kyle Lohse signing with the Brewers, his deal doesn’t really change the debate: Scott Boras says the new draft pick compensation rules were a nightmare for free agents, and he made sure to criticize the system in the most level-headed, non-hyperbolic way. “Before, teams never minded giving up a first round draft pick [to sign a top free agent],” Boras told USA Today, “because they still had the money to sign their players in the lower rounds. Now, you’ve taken away the structure of the scouting and developing. They have stolen our youth. They have kidnapped our children in this system.” Stolen our youth! Kidnapped our children! Where’s Antoine Dodson when you need him? It’s a shame that I agree with Boras, because I know he’s just fighting the system from the perspective of an agent who doesn’t want free agent salaries or draft pick bonuses driven down. That said, in the aggregate, the new system funnels MORE money into big league salaries than ever before, so maybe Boras isn’t as biased as we might think.
  • Relatedly, the Commissioner is taking some heat this week for sanctioning* the Houston Astros’ rebuilding plan, which pretty much consists of tearing the team down to the studs, picking up as many prospects as they can in the process, and reaping the benefit of top draft picks (and top draft money and international money). In other words, some say the Astros are simply tanking. Here’s what Bud Selig had to say, per the Houston Chronicle: “I do trust the organization. Look, every organization goes through certain phases. They have chosen the path with some very qualified people. And the only way you can really build a solid organization, a solid team, is through a very productive farm system. And I think they’re doing it the right way. There’s no question in my mind …. (The Astros are) getting good draft choices. They’ve drafted very well and wisely. And I think Houston fans have a lot to look forward to. If their rebuilding program is as good as I think it is and they think it is, they’re going to create a lot more great memories.”
  • I don’t like the idea of intentionally tanking for all of the obvious “integrity” reasons (which is not to say I wouldn’t approve of the Cubs doing it in the right circumstances … like last year). But, under the current system, if you plan to spend money on the back end of your tanking seasons, and if you’ve got a great front office, it seems like a plan that can work very well. Sure, you might lose fans in droves for that three or four year horror stretch, but most of those types will come back when the team is good again (and the Astros are going to be good – you’ll see). It simply requires an ownership willing to stomach the pain, and Jim Crane – the new guy on the block in Houston – seems willing to do it.
  • Although I don’t know that Cubs fans can throw stones, as the Cubs are at risk for not selling out the home opener for the first time in a long time, but the Marlins are Groupon-ing their Opening Day game. Oh, you citizens of Miami and you legitimate Marlins fans … I feel for you.
  • The Mets have the best butt dialer in baseball.
  • Bill James has torn into what he believes are myths about the attractiveness of groundball pitchers. He thinks they are neither effective, nor durable, particularly when compared to the best of the best. There are counter-examples, but it’s an interesting assertion that challenges some things we believe. FanGraphs responded to the durability part, explaining that groundball pitchers do not appear to be more likely to suffer injury than their non-sinker counterparts.
  • Baseball Prospectus offers a fascinating piece on whether an all-bullpen rotation could actually work, and maybe even work on the cheap. Russell Carleton, the author, however, sums up my problem with this kind of rostering plan, even if it might otherwise work: “Then there’s the biggest problem of all. Unless baseball changed the way in which pitching wins are awarded (or got rid of wins altogether), this one might be a tough sell to free agents. The first guy out would likely not get a win, but he could get tagged with the loss. Like it or not (and I am definitely in the “not” camp), won-loss record still means a lot in baseball. Even among potential draftees and international signings, a team couldn’t keep secret the fact that they were switching to such a plan. Would pitchers steer away from our experimental team (as much as they were able) if they knew that they’d be pigeonholed into this three-inning role?” Right now, the answer is yes – they would steer away in droves. But you still might be able to build a staff on the cheap, using swing guys, wash-ups, and bullpenners that don’t otherwise have any starting options.
  • Dan Shaughnessy says the Red Sox/Yanks rivalry is dead because both teams suck. That’s not at all short-sighted.

*Sanction – I love this word. It’s the only word of which I can think whose two definitions are the opposite of each other. On the one hand, sanction – as used here – means to approve of something. On the other hand, sanction means to punish someone for doing something bad. What the hell, English?

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.