(The rest of the podcast is well worth the listen too--all about breaking down the trade deadline deals, though sadly no mention of the Nationals, oh well. I recommend all their podcasts really. Go ahead and subscribe on I-Tunes and if you are interested in fun, smart chatter about prospects, you won't be disappointed.)
JJ: The Rays have this year have shown, there is no excuse out there for any team--not that you're going to be good all the time--They talk about this topic a little more, with examples of how to do it and how not to. They talk about the Orioles for a while. But this was the key portion.
JJ: But the economics of the game are now--
John: To have a window.
JJ: This is not--if you wanna say 1995 they were not there--it's not that way now. If you draft well, because if you're bad you're going to have high picks. If you draft well, and you draft with the willingness--we're not talking about spending $50 million on a player, if you draft with the willingness to spend $4 million or $8 million if you need to to get the top talent in the draft and then if you trade with the eye on not, "hey we're going to win 10 more games this year and get up to 81 wins," but trade with the idea of three years down the road we want to be a 90-win team the pieces are there for you to do that. The Rays have shown it's possible.
John: It's absolutely possible.
JJ: Without spending a lot of money.
John: And there is no excuse. Now maybe you won't be able to keep Johan Santana when he blows up. But guess what, if you prepare, you can trade Johan Santana, not even get any really return for your big league team, and still compete. I mean, the A's have done it for years I mean they could have kept competing this year, they chose to punt, that's a whole other podcast.
JJ: But the thing about it is, being bold is actually... there's a lot better possibility of success with being bold than timid. If you want to describe what the Pirates have done in the past regimes.
John: Oh, timid is one of the words, yes.
JJ: Timid is the word because, basically.
John: Brian Bullington was a timid draft pick. No offense to Brian Bullington, but he was a timid pick, when B.J. Upton would have been bold. Scott Kazmir that year would have been bold. He was the best talent in the draft. If you want to take a pitcher, you would have taken Scott Kazmir, and look how much better off they'd be with Scott Kazmir.
JJ: But look how many years they went with, "you know what, we're going to take the safe bet, who's closer to the..."
John: Yeah, Brad Lincoln, I wouldn't say timid, but he was the safe pick. Tim Lincecum would have been the bold pick.
JJ: Right, and we'll say, hindsight's easy.
John: Yeah but we had Lincecum as the #2 guy in that draft...
There's so much here that I totally agree with and that speaks to why we aren't further along in our rebuilding. Trading with an eye not to winning 90 games but to help a bad team win 5-10 more games (Soriano, Guillen). Not drafting well (how do you draft well when you give away your second and third-round picks for the likes of Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman?). The timidness--trading Nick Johnson or Brad Wilkerson in 2004 for prospects would have been bold. Trading Chief at his peak value would have been bold. I'm not sure it's fair to call the Zimmerman pick timid (I'd be interested in what John would say about that), but certainly right now it appears that we took the safer, very good player and passed on the riskier player with the higher upside (Braun, perhaps).
And for all the people who go on about what a victim Bowden has been with payroll, where's the example of the Johan Santana whom he drafted or developed and then lost to free agency? If Bowden had some long list of great players who were pillaged by the Red Sox to win in '04, then I'd be saying, "yeah, he really got screwed by the payroll." But I can't think of a single Reds or Nationals stud player of significance who was lost for purely economic reasons like Manny or Giambi or Santana or Curt Schilling. Not one. Really, payroll isn't his problem. The ability to identify and develop talent is.
Like they said, hindsight is easy, so I don't want to get bogged down in just, "they should have drafted this guy not that guy." But the overall approach that this team had pre-Kasten was absolutely the Pirates' approach of just trying to get to .500. And never really committing to the long, hard work of building a contender. Same can be said of Bowden in Cincinnati in the later years after he no longer had the top-tier payroll that he had in Cincinnati for his first 4-5 years there.
Some I'm sure will read this and say, "but WE'RE NOT THE PIRATES!! WE'RE A BIG MARKET!!" And that's true, but the two points aren't mutually exclusive. You can both think that well run teams with small budgets can win, that there's NO EXCUSE for Bowden's failures here and in Cincinnati, and at the same time you can believe that the Lerners should be spending more on this or that, which is a topic for a different post.
Anyway, download the podcast if you like, and listen to the whole thing. It's well worth it for your treadmill time or whenever you want to listen to smart baseball chatter.