If there was ever a reason as to why you DO NOT trade off all of your chips for one or two years of above .500 ball, that reason is the 2003 Kansas City Royals. Sparked on by a promising first half of the season they made a few deals, DIDN'T trade some key players and came in with a record of 83-79. respectable, but by no means world beaters. Since that year they have had exactly 0 winning seasons, and have had 90 or more loses seven(!) times. With 64 loses already this season, they seem poised to have yet another 90 loss season. They have not been able to retain any home grown talent, nor have they been able to scout particularly well (its taken 8 years for them to get back to having a solid farm system), two things that as a small market team with thin pockets you must be able to do effectively if your going for sustained success. This is what the Pittsburgh Pirates are going for, and this is what they absolutely must do if they are to consistently finish both above 500 and in the hunt for the playoffs year in and year out. Which coincidentally they are doing both right now (!!) if I'm not mistaken. The Pirates right now have a very solid farm system, some ranking it as high as a top ten system, some at 13. Either way, they are well on their way towards that sustained winning thing. With arms like Cole and Jameson Taillon, and position prospects like Sanchez, Bell, Hanson, and Polanco; the future is burning magnesium bright. Add in that Cutch is locked down long term, Petey continues to be right in front of that Headley guy for the homerun lead by third basemen (and the rest of the nl for that matter), and Starling Marte, there is a sick amount of talent within the club at all levels.
The sky is falling the sky is falling and in case folks haven't noticed, the Pirates have dropped a whopping three in a row. Now while I'm sure the folks over at Smizikistan are fuming over dropping three in a row, to what they feel is a lesser team there is a lot to NOT be concerned about. The leading contender for things to not be concerned about is Cutch, followed by Walker, and then after that I'm sure there is some debate to be had. Sure there are things to be concerned about, like the bullpens propensity to give up runs in all shapes, forms, and fashions. Theres the total collapse of Jmac, Wandy being iffy since coming over, petey slumping, and so on. But thankfully cooler heads prevail within the FO than can be found amongst the populous here in Blogosphere. For those of you who are screaming to bring up Gerrit Cole, We should'a traded for Chase Headley, we shouldnt have dealt Brad Lincoln, we should have traded for Shane Victorino. I would like to make people aware of what exactly a small market team is and how exactly you win with one.
Then, there is the curious case of the Tampa Bay Rays. Here is a team lodged firmly in the AL East, with two teams that have shown a propensity to outbid themselves on talent. Yes I'm looking at you Red Sox and Yankees. They don't particularly draw well, never finishing above 9th in attendance (behind the aforementioned Royals)and their payroll has never eclipsed $73 million. Most of the time, its hovering between 30 and $60 million. With all of that said, what exactly have they been able to do? Well good reader, I'm glad you asked because since they developed their internal baseball infrastructure they have had exactly 0 losing seasons since 2008 and made the playoffs(?!) three of those four seasons. While people will say "yeah but they haven't endured what the pirate fan has endured, guess what? Prior to that 2008 campaign they had never placed higher than 5th in their own division, with every single season being at least of the 90 loss variety. As a franchise the rays have 1,013 wins, 1,034 loses good for a whopping .494 winning percentage.
"Well OTH09, they made great trades!" Yes they did and the best trades they made were trades that were never made. Guys like B.J. Upton, David Price, Evan Longoria, James Shields, Matt Moore, and Jeremy Hellickson are all of the home grown variety, and while I'm sure there were suitors for each and every one of them at some point in their development they weren't dealt, or even being considered to be dealt at or prior to that 2008 season when they finally broke through.*final edit here:*
For those of you citing this same Tampa Bay team as the bar for bringing Gerrit Cole up, here are the facts:
David Price pitched at every level in 2008
David Price in the following year had an ERA in the mid 4's, with a FIP in the high 4's, and an xFIP that was virtually identical to his era. His HR rate was 11%
In that 2008 push where David Price was called up he had EXACTLY 1 hold. 2010 and this year have been banner years for him, the rest not so much
So BD I ask you, would you rather have the Kansas City Royals idea of longevity and success, or the Tampa Bay Rays? Lets all step back from the ledge, This is a three game skid that should have never happened but for some questionable decisions by Hurdle. It could go as high as 10 or 15 games, but I don't think it will; and I'm pretty sure most of you don't either. Normally I wouldn't take the time to look up each and every stat that is contained in here but I have had just about all I can take of the "Oh Noes NH has no clue what he is doing FFS!" talk. Rushing prospects, dealing prospects that have a high ceiling, and otherwise doing Ned Coletti type moves is the quickest way to end up BACK in the cellar for good.