Thursday, November 2, 2017

Congratulations Astros!

The Astros finished of the Dodgers last night to complete a very exciting World Series. For their fans, it meant the chance to celebrate the first World Championship in franchise history. 

For fans of other teams, it meant a chance to go completely overboard trying to mimic the way the Astros achieved their success.

Heard a radio caller today actually say that this win clearly shows that the only way to win is by drafting good players. Obviously that means Dombrowski needs to go, because he's only interested in winning. To get the good draft picks, the Sox need to lose. Lose a lot. Lose for a long time. Then and only then will the team be stocked with enough talent to win the whole thing.

The hosts didn't hang up on the caller.

But, of course that's an irrational oversimplification of the Astros plan. Even assuming that having four straight 100-loss seasons is actually a goal worth exploring, the thing that pushed the Astros over the edge was adding a pitcher at the deadline with a salary so huge every other team let him pass by on waivers. Because I don't remember hearing Justin Verlander's name being called by the Astros on draft day. 

Beyond that, the plan gets even trickier. There have to be players available to draft while you're losing all your games. Look back at the last few drafts. Well, probably should start a few years ago. See many all-stars listed? Not really a ton. Even in the years the Astros were terrible. And they weren't all taken first overall. It's not as easy as "Finish last, draft MVP". If it was, the Rays would be cleaning up right about now. Remember, JD Drew was far and away considered the best player in two consecutive drafts. As good as his career ended up being, was he ever a franchise cornerstone?

People like to think there's a winning strategy or formula that if followed will lead to success. And, sure, there are definitely guidelines that are better than others. But, you need to know when to go outside. Theo was the master of the farm system. But, won two World Series titles with Manny Ramirez and his enormous contract. He won a third when he handed nine figure deals to Jon Lester and Jason Heyward, and gave John Lackey $30 million.

After Theo left, the Sox fell in love with their own plan a bit. The farm system was hoarded beyond all usefulness. It didn't matter if they had three third basemen of the future. The kids were the answer, and were not to be touched. It stopped the Sox from filling needs when they presented themselves. They stagnated...and finished at the bottom of the league.

Which is why the Sox seem to be doing things pretty well now. Draft the best players you can from where you're drafting. Keep the best ones, trade away others for something even better. Spend the money when you need to to get the thing you need the most. It's the "a little bit of everything" plan. 

And, as usual, it's the best one.

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