Monday, December 7, 2015

What’s the Plan?

People don’t like thinking. 

It’s not just baseball fans. It’s everyone. They want things to be black or white, with no grey area allowed for interpretation. If they need to lose weight, they don’t want to follow a balanced diet requiring careful consideration of fats, and calories, and grains, and proteins. They want one where they just eat nothing but grapefruit every day for a month. That’s black and white. No wondering if their piece of chicken is three ounces or four. Just avoid the chicken. 

Baseball fans do it too. Moneyball was never about collecting players with high OBP.  It was always about acquiring players with skills that are undervalued in the market, whichever skills those might be. But, that requires thinking. So, people just said teams need to acquire high OBP’s.

Now people have turned their attention to the Red Sox. What’s the plan? Are the Red Sox going to win with prospects? Are they trying to outspend the world on veterans? Which is it?

Of course the answer is, as it should be, both.

I’ve said it before. There’s only one good plan. To get the best players when you can get them. It doesn’t matter how. It doesn’t matter where they come from. If they’re the best, go get them. Sometimes, the best shortstop is already in your organization. You can see him develop, and know he’s a guy to keep. So, you leave Xander’s name out of any trade discussions (unless they get really silly). Sometimes, the best closer is on another team. So, it’s a time to use your stash of prospects to make a trade. You give up some of the youngsters to get Kimbrel, if that’s what it takes. Sometimes the best is a free agent starter. If that’s the case, you open up the wallet and give David Price all your money.

People don’t like that. They can’t pass on Lester, but sign Price! That wasn’t their plan. They need to stick to their plan! Do they even have a plan anymore! Disarray everywhere!

In actuality, it’s commitment to a plan that’s often the problem. Cherington loved his prospects. Treated them like they were made of gold. His plan was to build the team from within. Cheap young talent. That was his plan. Then, the Sox ended up with 36 young outfielders, and no pitching. But, he stuck to a plan.

So, I’m actually glad the Sox veered from their stated plan. I’m glad they decided that adding a true ace was too rare an opportunity to let slip by. After all, I’m guessing “grab former Cy Young Award Winner” is probably too obscure to actually be written into anyone’s plan. Sometimes you just have to go off page. 

They may keep doing that. Or, they may revert back to a more conservative approach. As long as they continue to keep all their options open, I’m happy with either.

The best plan may be many plans.

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