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The RMOG Blog "A Philosophical Change in MLB & Some NFL Week 10 Reactions"

November 14th 2012 22:46
Yesterday the Marlins sent pretty much all their assets to the Blue Jays (I literally just wrote the Yankees, simply based on instinct, and then erased it) in exchange for a handful of prospects. And everyone's up in arms about it -- "Miami has deceived their fans... How could they do this... They're just greedy fucks who don't care about trying to win..."

Now, on the surface, it's tough to argue with this stance, as the move would appear to be a basic salary dump. Which is nothing new in baseball. But I'm wondering if it speaks to a larger change in the philosophy of MLB franchises.

To explain what I mean, let's look at the past 12 World Series Champions; basically, since the Yankees reign of titles from 1996-2000....
2012 - Giants (homegrown pitching, not a lot of high priced star power)
2011 - Cardinals (besides Pujols and Carpenter, mainly no-names)
2010 - Giants (see 2012)
2009 - Yankees ($$$)
2008 - Phillies ($$$)
2007 - Red Sox ($$$)
2006 - Cardinals (see 2011)
2005 - White Sox (homegrown pitching, not a lot of high priced star power)
2004 - Red Sox ($$$)
2003 - Marlins (more stars than usual, but did it mainly with pitchers like a young Josh Beckett)
2002 - Angels (a bunch of scrappy overachievers. Vlad wasn't even there yet)
2001 - Diamondbacks (they rode Schilling and Johnson and just filled in a roster around them)

By my count, that's 8-4 in favor of "the little guy." The other thing to consider here is the now infamous term "moneyball." We've all read the book and/or seen the movie and what it basically boils down to is -- winning on a budget (in a nutshell).

When Billy Beane first tried to do this with the Oakland A's, it didn't go so well. But then it did. And other teams saw the success of Beane's philosophy and tried to copy it. And who can blame them? Why not try to win without breaking the bank? But as the A's cooled off in the mid 2000's, and the bigger market teams started winning World Series' again (see above list from 2007-2009), the feeling was that moneyball can't work long term; it was a fad that came and went.

Since that point, look at what's happened...
- Yankees signed A-Rod to a 100 year contract and now he's useless
- Red Sox built a super team with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzales that went up in flames
- Marlins built a super team that just finished 69-93 and they had to blow it up
- Angels brought in Pujols (whose contract will be an albatross in a few years), Zach Grienke and CJ Wilson and failed to make the playoffs
- Orioles and A's made the playoffs this year, playing in big money divisions
- The Tampa Bay Rays have been arguably the most competitive franchise in baseball since 2008, while spending no money and playing in the AL East
- Dodgers took on all the Red Sox high-priced "talent" this season, only to see the Giants win the division, and their 2nd World Championship in the past three years

Now, certain teams will always be what they are. The Yankees (and now the Dodgers apparently) can afford to pay these huge ransoms, because their feeling is, "If it doesn't work out, oh well. We'll just keep buying high until we strike gold." Conversely, Oakland and Tampa simply can't afford to spend big, so they have to be smarter than everyone else.

But if you're a middle-ish club like the Braves, what do you think when you consider the past twelve years? You just saw the Red Sox (anything but middle-ish) say, "Screw it, we're hitting the reset button." Same thing with the Marlins. And I think you're going to see more and more teams follow suit. MLB isn't the NBA. You don't HAVE to have superstars to win. You don't HAVE to mortgage your franchise by giving guys ten year deals. Remember, for every CC Sabathia and Miguel Cabrera, there are ten Kevin Browns and Carl Crawfords.

So let's bring this back to what Florida Miami just did. Are they really giving up or are they just being smart? Maybe these prospects they acquired will be really good. Maybe dumping their big-money guys wasn't so stupid. Regardless, I don't think we've seen the end of these "mega-trade / super-salary dumps." Because throwing money at free agents just doesn't seem to be working anymore, and frankly hasn't worked for a while now. I'll be very interested to see how high clubs go on Josh Hamilton this offseason.

Now onto some NFL talk...

What a weird week it was. There always seems to be one or two a season that make you shake your head and say, "How the hell did that happen." I mean...
- Dolphins get creamed at home by the hapless Titans
- The 49ers lay an egg, and need OT just to somehow salvage a tie, at home, off a bye, against STL
- The Patriots, at home, off a bye, barely get past the Bills
- The Giants get beat down on the road (where they love to play) by the 0-for-their-previous-4 Bengals
- The Steelers need OT to beat the Chiefs in Pittsburgh on a Monday Night (KC was giving them a game even before Big Ben got hurt)

While these 5 games reeked havoc on pick 'em players and gamblers everywhere, they didn't mean much in the grand scheme. The 49ers will be fine, especially when Alex Smith comes back. The Giants/Eli are still great when they/he feel(s) like it. NE still can't stop anyone, but no one seems to be able to stop them. And PIT's making the playoffs, they just need to get their QB healthy.

There were however a few meaningful games from Week 10...

HOU winning in CHI -- There have been 3 really impressive wins so far this season in my view:
- SF pounding Green Bay in Lambeau to open the season
- NYG hammering the 49ers in Frisco
- And this one...
I know there's a bit of an asterisk on it, because of Cutler's injury. But if crushing Baltimore two weeks ago left any residual doubt as to who the team to beat was in the AFC, this win solidified the answer. It's the Texans. A victory at Soldier Field, in the Sunday Night game, against THIS Bears team, is incredibly impressive; Cutler or no Cutler.

INDY wins to advance to 6-3 -- I realize that a victory over Jacksonville is nothing to write home about. But the Colts won 2 games last year, and were 0-14 at one point. Now Luck has them at 6-3. 10 wins will almost guarantee you a playoff spot in the AFC and INDY still has BUF, DET, TEN and KC on their docket.

N.O. knocks ATL off it's perch -- I don't think it's a huge surprise when Drew Brees and that offense win in the Superdome. Especially against a division rival. So to me, the bigger story here is that the Saints have crawled back into the hunt. They probably won't make the playoffs, just because 4-5 is almost insurmountable in the NFC. But at least we get to care about the "who-dats" again. As for ATL, I think we all saw it coming sooner or later.

DEN keeps rolling, right over CAR -- Carolina kinda sucks this year, but they're still a dangerous team. So to dispose of them, as easily as the Broncos did (36-14), I would say makes Denver the 2nd best team in the AFC. And now at 6-3, with a cupcake schedule the rest of the way, Denver's right in line to get a 1st rd. bye and host a playoff game. Good luck beating Manning in a playoff game at Mile High when he has 2 weeks to prepare.

I suppose that's it for the positive stories. On the negative side, the J-ET-S, Eagles, Chargers and Cowboys are all disasters (Dallas did at least win, but they're not making the playoffs). But none of these teams are worthy of much discussion until they do something interesting -- fire Andy Reid (he's earned the right to not be fired mid-season), fire Norv Turner, give the ball to Tebow... Do something.

We're getting into crunch time with SUICIDE POOLS. If you're fortunate enough to still be alive, here are my picks...

I don't really have any "stay away from" games this week, so here are the ones I "like but don't love"...
- ARZ losing at ATL: I suspect ATL will win this game, since they just lost. But I hate to pick against a team who is coming off their bye week
- CLE losing at DAL: I just don't trust the Cowboys to win ever
- SD losing at DEN: divisional rivalry games are a little tricky, and this is the perfect "do just enough to stay moderately relevant and keep Norv's job" type of game for the Chargers

I love...
- JAX losing at HOU: zero reason the Jags should win this game
- INDY losing at NE: The Pats generally win shootouts, and Indy's a dome team

You can follow me on Twitter at - Really Long Link


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