Monday, April 20, 2015

Are the Tampa Rays in Collapse Mode? Because in MLB's new reality, that's how teams build

It's been a while since the Yankees owned Tampa. You could say it's been seven years - since Evan Longoria arrived on the scene. Before Longoria, the Devil Rays were lovable Yankee patsies, a stream of Jorge Cantus and Rocco Baldellis. Around 2008, they became a contender, thanks to Longoria and a seemingly endless line of young pitchers, most of them top picks in the MLB draft.

This weekend, they looked like the Hell-bound Rays of olden times at the hands of the mighty Retrieval Empire. It's too soon to call the 2015 season. But in MLB's new fiscal reality, to grow into a contender, a franchise needs to be terrible, awful, horrible for at least a year - and preferably several. Here's looking at you, Houston Astros.

To build a team, you must suck. Come in dead last. It took a while, but the Washington Nationals did it. So did the KC Royals. This could be the year of the Mariners and Padres - even the Pirates, Mets and Marlins. And let's not forget the Kings of Collapse - the Roller Coaster Redsocks, whose yard sale last year kicked their fans in the nuts - but who now look smart, because they grasp the new reality.

To build a team, you must suck.

Look at the poor Toronto Blue Jays, who have steadily fielded decent lineups, with nothing to show. If only the Jays had collapsed, rather than trying to win each year in a tough division, Toronto might have a ring. They just perpetually finish around .500, the ultimate curse of Wild Card contenders. Whatever you do, don't come in third. There's nothing there.

So should we rejoice over Bud Selig's final gift to his fellow Lords of Baseball. The owners have always envied the NFL for its parity, its cheap talent feeder system, its payroll caps... and most all, its lack of a New York Yankees.

Once upon a time, the Yanks beat the MLB reality with money. They bought pennants. (They did this because other owners were happy to sell them.) They still could do that, I suppose - the Dodgers are trying - but it means paying high "luxury" taxes, and that takes the fun out of it.

So the burning question is 2015 is this:

Will the Yankees allow themselves to suck? When the time comes, will they let this team collapse?

We won't know until the trade deadline. That's when Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner will either deal young prospects for horrible, terrible, long term contracts... or try to shed some of his own horrible, terrible long-term bloat on other teams. Will the Yankees try to float their old and creaky ship? Because this weekend, they got a glimpse of what happens when a team is on the wrong side of that talent curve. Evan Longoria looks old. Tampa might be returning to the Devil.


John M said...

Longoria looks like he's older than A-Rod. Kind of sad. Always had a soft spot for Eva.

Mets are 10-3. Whoo.

Tigers 10-2, and that's our next stop. And CC is leading the charge.

The mirage of greatness that was this past weekend should be dispelled quickly.

Alphonso said...

Your thesis is correct, but the Yankees do not have smart enough executives to saddle other teams with our cowbells ( long term contracts of players who are old, slow and close to the slaughterhouse).

We have to have a collapse that is so deep and so sudden that there is no time to react. The Mets, for example, lost so important players in one day due to broken bones. That organization, of course, has good young prospects. When they finished poorly, they drafted well.

We drafted Andy Brackman number one. That's when Cashman should have been jettisoned. Now they are all happy with muddle and mediocrity.

Leinstery said...

They could pick first every year for the next two decades and never successfully pick/develop anyone that amounts to anything.