The Baltimore Orioles are in Chicago to take on the ChiSox, who of course share a city with the Chicago Cubs. That would be a team that’s apparently hot for Manny Machado. Since the Winter Meetings last December, the Orioles have been willing to trade Machado…for the right price. They’ve yet to see that price.
That aside, selling Machado would indicate that the franchise is potentially looking to sell players off and start over. I really hesitate to use the word rebuild, because in a sports sense I’m not a fan of it. It’s one thing to “warm-over” your team. But are fans really going to stand for a true rebuild? You know, where you tear EVERYTHING down and build it back up?
I’ve always said that’s a tough sell to fans. You’re asking people to continually spend their money to come out to the ballpark and pay big league prices for what amounts to a non-big league roster. And while someone such as myself might see the benefit of becoming entrenched with a group of players from the get-go, I’m in the minority. Most people want that big league product, and they want it now. That’s why the Orioles have never committed to rebuilding over the years – because it’s a tough sell to fans.
But I’ve noticed something in the past few years that challenges that line of thinking. Heck, everything else I know to be true in baseball is getting challenged (including the concept of a nine-inning game), why not that also?! The 2016 Yankees were a veteran team and they decided to cut ties with several players mid-year. The haul they got back included the likes of a guy named Judge. They went on to contend for the wild card that year.
The Tampa Rays of this year sold off what few big name players they had in the off season. They wiped the slate totally clean. And they’re playing way over their heads. In general I’m not a fan of youth, because I don’t want to deal with the on and off-the-field mistakes. But are the current youth different than before?
The answer is mixed. Young kids are always going to mess up here and there. And in saying that I suppose I’m talking more off the field than on. I’m talking about things such as Sidney Ponson‘s various driving violations among other things. That’s the type of thing that neither the Orioles, nor the fans want to have to deal with. No matter how good the player could be.
However many of these young players are also able to provide a shot in the arm to teams. Again, look at the 2016 NY Yankees, and this year’s Tampa team. In terms of wins and losses, they’re actually better than they were with the vets. Why is that?
You might chalk it up to youthful exuberance, however I need something a bit more tangible than an emotional argument. The fact is that college baseball as an institution is getting much stronger than it was even 20 years ago. I don’t think it’ll ever reach the point of being as popular as football or basketball, but it’s growing in popularity. And that means that there’s better coaching out there, and skill.
Point being that players are more ready when they get to the big leagues than they previously were. They have a stronger skill set, because they have solid foundations – both from the minors and from college. That makes a world of difference.
I still say that a full rebuild is too tough a sell to a fan base. Because what if it doesn’t work? What if you exchange your talent for what turns out to be lemons? You’re kind of up a creek without a paddle – that’s what happens.