Thursday, April 3, 2008

Baseball: Trainwreck Free?

Newsday's Ken Davidoff notices that, for the first time in a long time, baseball doesn't have any teams that are total disasters a la the New York Knicks:
For Selig, this is a case of, "Better him than me." For while Stern deals with the Knicks, Major League Baseball appears to be enjoying an outbreak of widespread competence.

To put it less politely, when you scrutinize all 30 teams' ownerships and front offices, the idiot quotient is virtually nonexistent.
I think Davidoff gives way too much benefit of the doubt to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, but I agree that there is, generally speaking, more competence floating around today than at any other time in living memory.

UPDATE: The commenter below believes that the Orioles should definitely not be lumped in with San Francisco and Pittsburgh:
As an O's fan, I would have agreed with you until MacPhail jumped on board and started to turn things around. We now clearly do have a plan. He's executed well on a number of trades. (2 good prospects from the Cubs for Steve Trachsel?! Adam Jones!) He made the no-brainer move that many front offices would stupidly not make--cutting loose Jay Gibbons even though he's owed a bunch of money. So give the O's some slack. I can't speak for the Giants or Pirates, but I don't see the same evidence of a plan for the future there.


Know what? I think he's right. My assessment of Baltimore was too glib and ignored the fact that they have done several things right since the end of last season. MacPhail may very well have done what his predecessors have not, and that's take the final decision making out of Peter Angelos' hands. Make no mistake: it's going to be a grim season in Baltimore. But, if an Orioles fan like my commenter has reason for hope, we should give his team the benefit of the doubt because hope has been the one thing distinctly absent around the Harbor for the past decade.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an O's fan, I would have agreed with you until MacPhail jumped on board and started to turn things around. We now clearly do have a plan. He's executed well on a number of trades. (2 good prospects from the Cubs for Steve Trachsel?! Adam Jones!) He made the no-brainer move that many front offices would stupidly not make--cutting loose Jay Gibbons even though he's owed a bunch of money. So give the O's some slack.

I can't speak for the Giants or Pirates, but I don't see the same evidence of a plan for the future there.

Anonymous said...

APBA Guy-

When I first got my license many years ago one of my first unauthorized road trips in the family car was to Baltimore (from Nothern Virginia) to watch the soon to be 1970 World Champion Baltimore Orioles play in the thick of an August pennant race. Growing up watching the Oriole Way being executed to perfection for over a dozen years, one is naturally skeptical of one or two hints (cutting Gibbons loose, etc) that the Orioles are no longer racked with gross incompetence, a la Pittsburgh or SF. One hopes, but I'm not prepared to go so far as to say with certainty that the Orioles of Angelos are anything but inept. Ten years of evidence suggests the verdict is solidly one of ineptitude.

Now that I live in SF I have a front row seat to ineptitude. And right across the Bay I can see the very opposite. When I think of "plan" and "baseball" I think of Billy Beane.

Does Baltimore really have a plan? Maybe, they've had them before. The question has always been, will the owner permit the plan to be executed?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they've had plans before but now there is evidence that:

a) it is a good plan; (a real rebuilding effort and not trying to paste together a mediocre team with guys like sammy sosa and aubrey huff)

b) it is being executed; Veterans with value are being traded for decent prospects. If MacPhail isn't getting enough, he's sitting tight until the time is right. (Roberts)

c) Angelos is staying out of the way. See Gibbons.

After 10 years of futility, however, I don't blame any O's fan for remaining a skeptic.

Bobby S said...

I would agree with anonymous if Angelos was not still on board. The Tejada and Bedard trades were excellent, but they should have traded Roberts as well. I have faith in Angelos that he will find a way to screw MacPhail's plans up.

As for Pittsburgh, they seem to be on the way back. Their new GM is sabermetrically inclined and locking up Snell was excellent.

I think San Francisco is the only current trainwreck. Sabean is a disaster. Their farm system at the lower levels is surprisingly decent, but the major league roster is an absolute nightmare, with no help on the way in the near future.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't necessarily give too much credit to MacPhail for taking advantage of Bavasi.

ndubya said...

I wouldn't necessarily give too much credit to MacPhail for taking advantage of Bavasi.