Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rios, Peavy help Sox now and in the future

(Let me preface this post by apologizing to Krone: I'm sorry. I am a Sox fan. They are the team I follow, and thus are the team I'm most likely going to have something to say about. Also, I just find this topic interesting and want to write about it. Please disregard the following the paragraphs, sir.)

Alex Rios debuted for the White Sox in right field yesterday. With the heavily-awaited arrival of Jake Peavy from the DL, the Sox are beginning to look like a playoff team. However, I don't think these past two moves were made with a 2009 World Series in mind. Sure, our two new studs will definitely give us a better chance at going deep (if we get there), but the moves are more about equipping the team to compete consistently in the future. 

Our new guys are not rent-a-players. Peavy and Rios have contracts for three and five more seasons, respectively, and both have options for another year. Sox GM Kenny Williams is trying to build for the future, while competing in the present. For example, the Sox are developing Chris Getz and Gordon Beckham--both in the their first major league season--as well as youngsters John Danks, Carlos Quentin, and Alexei Ramirez. At the same time, they have veterans Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye on the team to bring experience. Williams' recent moves are important, because those three veterans, as well as Jose Contreras, all have contracts expiring this fall. With Peavy and Rios, the Sox have the opportunity to let a couple of those guys go and continue building the team for the future. Both payers are 28, but are proven enough to step into the role of the exiting veterans. 

This is a strategy Williams has used for years, and I've always liked it. It's great to be able to go into each season excited about the team and still know that the future looks bright. On top of that, it has been relatively successful. Williams created a team that won the World Series in 2005.  Following that, we won 90 games the next year, won 89 games and the central division last year, and are contending for the division this year. This mindset allows the team to continually develop players and plug them into their places, while never taking a year to rebuild. Also, you never see superstars come through for half a season, only to sign somewhere else the next year.

If you look at the Florida Marlins, they are the best example of a franchise that patiently builds their teams. The fish had a losing record for the first four years of their existence, followed by World Series in 1997. After their title, the Marlins shipped practically their whole team out of town. Then they experienced another four-year batch of losing seasons, to win it again in 2003. And now, for the last five seasons they have failed to make the playoff once. 

On the one hand, it's hard to argue with two championships in 16 seasons. On the other hand, in the last 10 seasons the Marlins have ranked no better than 14th out of 16 National League teams in attendance. Granted, there are other major factors that play into attendance (the Sox deal with their own issues in that arena), but I can honestly say that I would rather root for a team that competes every year than a team that has a couple of championships among a slew of losing seasons. 

However, I am different. There are probably a lot of people out there who feel the only thing that matters is how many rings a team has. I could also be wrong about the wisdom of the Sox management strategy. Feel free to post with your thoughts on franchise management. 

1 comment:

  1. I do like the moves that Kenny is making. I feel like baseball is more about the ride, throughout the season and competing for a playoff spot than the actual World Series ring. Of course if the Cubs won one I might feel differently.


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