Look at that car in the window. Yes, that one. The used one with the flames on the side, the full entertainment system, the engine more powerful than one of a jumbo jet. It’s beautiful. It’s also pricey and has a history of not being reliable. You take it anyways. But will it ever work? The answer, is almost always no. As it turns out, car buying is not unlike assembling a baseball team.
Every year, some team tries to make something destined to fail work. They’ll see incredible talent available – either for trade or for purchase. They’ll take it all in, pay the big bucks. They’ll assemble the dream team. In preperation for the 2012 season, the Marlins bought it all – SS Jose Reyes, P Mark Buehrle and P Heath Bell. Added on to Josh Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano, plus manager Ozzie Guillen, the Fish looked unstoppable.
The Marlins went 69-93 that season, finishing in fifth place in the NL East. Johnson, Bell, Buehrle, Reyes, Guillen, Ramirez and Zambrano left the Marlins by the trade deadline or the offseason.
The Blue Jays traded for Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, and a few others, added Melky Cabrera and… they ended up with a 74-88 record in 2013 – the worst in the AL East.
The Boston Red Sox bought the dream team in 2011 – OF Carl Crawford and 1B Adrian Gonzalez were guaranteed to be in team control until 2017 and 2018. Terry Francona, Jon Lester, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were sure-fire picks to lead the Red Sox to the World Series title. That is, until the chicken and beer appeared, the 9-game cushion collapsed, and the postseason dreams died.
Crawford and Gonzalez were gone by the next year’s trade deadline – Francona was gone by the offseason, and the Red Sox finished in third in the AL East in 2011, and last in the AL East in 2012, going 69-93.
If you haven’t gotten the theme yet, it’s that the teams assembled throwing talented players around here and there don’t do well. So why would any team attempt to create a successful season using this method?
The Padres have revitalized their entire lineup. They now lay claim to James Shields, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Brandon Maurer and Will Middlebrooks. That adds to an already talented pitching staff and promising lineup. Sound familiar?
What has to be the catalyst to end this era of so-called “superteams?”. The chemistry is never apparent, the wins never come, and the teams end up no better- in fact, most end up in a worse position than they started in.
Chemisrty cannot be bought. The easiest solution for most general managers is to buy their way to the top, but every day, it seems more and more clear that cash doesn’t buy wins. Teams can look incredible on paper, but it doesn’t matter on paper. What’s most important can’t be measured.
The Padres have put themselves into a situation not unlike those of the Red Sox, Blue Jays, or Marlins. So that leraves one question; does whoever is making the decisions in San Diego really know what they’re doing?