So I gave folks a teaser yesterday on the concept of team building, and now I’m following up…! To review, is it better to be passive or aggressive? Most fans I think are going to say aggressive. However let’s also remember that there’s no right or wrong answer. The Tampa Rays have in effect taken the passive approach for years. Evan Longoria is one of the only big names that’s been on the roster consistently (James Shields being another, now former-Ray). And obviously they’ve made it work in some manner.
The Baltimore Orioles on the other hand can’t quite figure out if they want to be an aggressive or passive team in a sense. In retrospect, the moves to acquire the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Chris Tillman, and others were fairly aggressive. However as I said yesterday, it’s somewhat unfair to judge those moves based on the result. At the time he was acquired via trade, Jones was an unproven minor league player (albeit with a huge upside) that had a cup of coffee in the bigs. But that aside, I’m talking more about moves such as New York acquiring Mark Texeira and Alex Rodriguez, or even Boston signing Shane Victorino last year. If anything, the closest the Orioles have come to making a move as such (and for the record, this isn’t even comparable with Texeira or ARod) might be the O’s trading for J.J. Hardy a few years ago. Hardy was a bona fide big league shortstop for sure. I suppose you can also look at the resigning of Adam Jones last year as a fairly aggressive move, and perhaps even resigning Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis years ago.
Fans of course are going to say they’d rather the team do whatever it needs to do to win as opposed to adding players just to add players. However let’s keep in mind that contracts such as that of Mark Texeira and Alex Rodriguez are literal deal weights on New York’s’ books right now. The same could have been said for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford last year with Boston. That handicaps the team(s) from making other moves that could have a direct impact, unless of course you find a team such as the LA Dodgers that’s willing to bail a team like Boston out.
All of that aside, the fact is that teams who are willing to be aggressive in building themselves up put themselves in more of a position to succeed. If you assemble a dream team of sorts, the only thing that can go wrong (besides injuries) is an issue with team chemistry – ask the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. However they also put themselves at more of a risk of failure, and for many of the reasons I just mentioned (regarding team chemistry). My favorite football team is the Washington Redskins; in 2000 they brought in a bunch of overpaid veterans and added them to a team that was coming off of a division championship. None of them meshed well together, and eventually the “good guys” on the team started to resent the “bad guys.” Closer to home, look at what the New York Yankees are going through right now with Alex Rodriguez – almost the same thing, albeit for different reasons.
I suppose if you had to pick the right way of doing things, the Tampa Rays/Oakland A’s approach is probably the most cost efficient and the
best for winning. And the good news for Orioles’ fans is that the Birds look like they’ve built something that somewhat resembles that model. The Orioles have hit on several players (Machado, Tillman, Jones, Hardy, Davis, Wieters, and a few others), some of whom have been home grown and others which have not. So I suppose that the true test comes when those players potentially hit free agency and the team has a decision to make. Obviously that decision is already made on Adam Jones for the time being. However the big spenders are probably salivating at the thought of Matt Wieters hitting the open market. So again, aggressive or passive? I suppose I didn’t really answer that per se, but when it comes to players that are already on your team I say be as aggressive as you need to be in order to keep them.