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Tanking alive and well in MLB

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DCTribefan

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Interesting article pasted below from Axios about how the orioles are following the Astros blueprint on building a champioship* team.


The Orioles are in the midst of one of the worst stretches in baseball history. In other words, everything is going according to plan.

The state of play: The O's have lost 18 games in a row (17 by double digits), while being outscored by 102 runs. They're the first team in AL history with two losing streaks of 13+ games in a season.

  • At 38-85, they're on pace to lose 108+ games in three straight full seasons. The last team to do that? The expansion 1962–65 Mets. Yes, those Mets.
  • Baltimore won 47 games in 2018, 54 games in 2019 and is on pace to win 50 in 2021, all while trotting out lineups that often resemble Triple-A squads.
The blueprint: This is all part of the Orioles' aggressive rebuild under general manager Mike Elias, who's hoping to replicate what Houston achieved last decade, where he was assistant GM.

  • The Astros stripped down the organization and rebuilt it from the ground up, investing in player development, acquiring stars with high draft picks, and spending very little money on big-league contracts.
  • The MLB team suffered, winning an average of 54 games 2011-13. This angered fans, but enough bought into the "just wait ..." narrative to sustain it. When the front office felt the team was ready to contend, they started spending money on players.
  • In 2017, six years after the rebuild began, Houston won its first World Series, making all those losses worth it in the eyes of many. And the Astros have remained a (scandal-ridden) powerhouse ever since.
mail
Mike Elias, the Orioles' executive vice president and general manager. Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
The carbon copy: The O's are currently at the "MLB team is a disaster but the future looks bright" stage. They're a laughingstock, but hey — they now have MLB's No. 2 farm system, per Baseball America, featuring the No. 1 hitter (Adley Rutschman) and No. 1 pitcher (Grayson Rodriguez).

"None of what is happening with and to the Orioles right now did not also happen first to and later for the Astros; this was and remains the entire idea. At some point, the Orioles might begin trying to improve instead of trying to make sure they don't. Sometime after that, they might actually start trying to win. At some point after that they might even manage to do it."
— David Roth, Defector (subscription)
The big picture: "Tanking" is synonymous with the NBA. But the concept of "not trying to win games" is just as prevalent in MLB — and it's a far more painful experience for baseball fans to endure.

  • When an NBA team tanks, they get a top draft pick and that player is on the court months later, giving fans a glimpse of a brighter tomorrow. Stars can transform a basketball team overnight, so the future feels within reach.
  • When an MLB team tanks, they get a top draft pick and that player then spends years toiling in the minors, mostly out of sight. The losing seasons are painful and long. 162 games is a lot, especially when you're out of contention in early May and have five months to go.
What to watch: Earlier this month, MLB owners proposed adding a $100 million salary minimum for teams, which would force non-contending clubs to spend and help prevent tanking.

  • For context, 40 individual MLB players will make more money this season than the entire Orioles 26-man roster, which is being paid a grand total of $19.5 million.
The bottom line ... It's a classic sports bar question: Would you rather your favorite team regularly contend for championships but never win one? Or be terrible for a long time then finally win a title?

  • Orioles fans have no choice but to embrace the latter mindset — which isn't so bad in the grand scheme of things. After all, the primary objective of pro sports is to win championships. Period.
  • Yes, but: There's a spectrum. Fans can only take so much. Losing records and no playoffs for years with a title at the end of the rainbow? Deal. 18-game losing streaks and historic ineptitude? Now you're pushing it.
P.S. ... Remember three weeks ago when the Orioles hit five home runs at Yankee Stadium and a cat ran onto the field? The O's haven't won since, and the Yankees are 16-3. The curse of Don Cattingly...
 
Interesting article pasted below from Axios about how the orioles are following the Astros blueprint on building a champioship* team.


The Orioles are in the midst of one of the worst stretches in baseball history. In other words, everything is going according to plan.

The state of play: The O's have lost 18 games in a row (17 by double digits), while being outscored by 102 runs. They're the first team in AL history with two losing streaks of 13+ games in a season.

  • At 38-85, they're on pace to lose 108+ games in three straight full seasons. The last team to do that? The expansion 1962–65 Mets. Yes, those Mets.
  • Baltimore won 47 games in 2018, 54 games in 2019 and is on pace to win 50 in 2021, all while trotting out lineups that often resemble Triple-A squads.
The blueprint: This is all part of the Orioles' aggressive rebuild under general manager Mike Elias, who's hoping to replicate what Houston achieved last decade, where he was assistant GM.

  • The Astros stripped down the organization and rebuilt it from the ground up, investing in player development, acquiring stars with high draft picks, and spending very little money on big-league contracts.
  • The MLB team suffered, winning an average of 54 games 2011-13. This angered fans, but enough bought into the "just wait ..." narrative to sustain it. When the front office felt the team was ready to contend, they started spending money on players.
  • In 2017, six years after the rebuild began, Houston won its first World Series, making all those losses worth it in the eyes of many. And the Astros have remained a (scandal-ridden) powerhouse ever since.
mail
Mike Elias, the Orioles' executive vice president and general manager. Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
The carbon copy: The O's are currently at the "MLB team is a disaster but the future looks bright" stage. They're a laughingstock, but hey — they now have MLB's No. 2 farm system, per Baseball America, featuring the No. 1 hitter (Adley Rutschman) and No. 1 pitcher (Grayson Rodriguez).

"None of what is happening with and to the Orioles right now did not also happen first to and later for the Astros; this was and remains the entire idea. At some point, the Orioles might begin trying to improve instead of trying to make sure they don't. Sometime after that, they might actually start trying to win. At some point after that they might even manage to do it."
— David Roth, Defector (subscription)
The big picture: "Tanking" is synonymous with the NBA. But the concept of "not trying to win games" is just as prevalent in MLB — and it's a far more painful experience for baseball fans to endure.

  • When an NBA team tanks, they get a top draft pick and that player is on the court months later, giving fans a glimpse of a brighter tomorrow. Stars can transform a basketball team overnight, so the future feels within reach.
  • When an MLB team tanks, they get a top draft pick and that player then spends years toiling in the minors, mostly out of sight. The losing seasons are painful and long. 162 games is a lot, especially when you're out of contention in early May and have five months to go.
What to watch: Earlier this month, MLB owners proposed adding a $100 million salary minimum for teams, which would force non-contending clubs to spend and help prevent tanking.

  • For context, 40 individual MLB players will make more money this season than the entire Orioles 26-man roster, which is being paid a grand total of $19.5 million.
The bottom line ... It's a classic sports bar question: Would you rather your favorite team regularly contend for championships but never win one? Or be terrible for a long time then finally win a title?

  • Orioles fans have no choice but to embrace the latter mindset — which isn't so bad in the grand scheme of things. After all, the primary objective of pro sports is to win championships. Period.
  • Yes, but: There's a spectrum. Fans can only take so much. Losing records and no playoffs for years with a title at the end of the rainbow? Deal. 18-game losing streaks and historic ineptitude? Now you're pushing it.
P.S. ... Remember three weeks ago when the Orioles hit five home runs at Yankee Stadium and a cat ran onto the field? The O's haven't won since, and the Yankees are 16-3. The curse of Don Cattingly...
The article asks a very interesting question at the end... would you rather your favorite team regularly contend for championships but never win one? Or be terrible for a long time then finally win a title? The Indians have been in the first part of that discussion ever since Tito took the reins here and while I certainly wish we would have won at least once (especially 2016!!! argh!), the sustained success is still very important. The 2009-2012 Indians were painful to stomach at 65-97, 69-93, 80-82, and 68-94... and that's still much better than the Os pace of 57, 54, and 50 wins. Since Tito took the helm 9 years ago, we're 734-580 (.559) and haven't had a single season under .500. Give me that any day of the week.
 
I'll take the Indians performance over the last 27 years.....even without the championship. Although I'd love one.

The Athletic had an interesting article as kind of a companion piece to this one(inadvertently). It made the point that while their top 2 prospects are a catcher and a Pitcher.....they don't have much if any depth in pitching potential in the minors, even with that #2 ranking for the system. They did make the point that the goal may be to develop the position players and trade for/sign pitchers. That's effectively what the Astros have done as well.
 
I'll take the Indians performance over the last 27 years.....even without the championship. Although I'd love one.

The Athletic had an interesting article as kind of a companion piece to this one(inadvertently). It made the point that while their top 2 prospects are a catcher and a Pitcher.....they don't have much if any depth in pitching potential in the minors, even with that #2 ranking for the system. They did make the point that the goal may be to develop the position players and trade for/sign pitchers. That's effectively what the Astros have done as well.
Yep, bingo. Greinke was traded to the Astros from the Diamondbacks. Urquidy, Valdez, and Garcia were IFA signings by them. Odorizzi was signed as a FA. McCullers was actually drafted by the team. And don't forget Verlander... the Tigers traded him. The bullpen was definitely more acquisition. We traded them Maton. Mariners traded them Montero and Graveman. Stanek signed a FA deal with them. Twins traded them Pressly.
 
Contention with no champ. If you’re good enough for long enough, you really should win one. If you don’t, you have the excitement of plenty of playoff runs, playoff wins and great players.

Fortunately Cleveland got the title monkey off its back with LeBron and will also be contending for years with the Browns, so if the Indians don’t win it’ll take the sting out.

They are a truly awesome franchise.
 
The article asks a very interesting question at the end... would you rather your favorite team regularly contend for championships but never win one? Or be terrible for a long time then finally win a title?

It's an odd question because it's asking you to evaluate those things as if you know them ahead of time, and so can choose the course you want knowing the end result as a certainty. But that's not how it actually happens. As you're living it, there isn't a fan alive who wouldn't choose consistent contention, and so the question is ultimately a rather shitty one.
 
There SEEMS to be a simple solution, but simple solutions are not always easy to implement.

Tax teams that consistently lose, as teams that consistently over spend...either thru a loss of revenue sharing, or the loss of draft picks, or the loss of money available for international signings, or some combination of all of the above.

Sounds simple, but...

Such losses only make it harder to become competitive.

We can debate whether owners turn a profit from year to year, but what is not debatable is that owners make a ton on the back end, when a team is sold.

Why not tax the owners where it is sure to hurt, when they go to sell the team? Set a standard for winning, lets say 62 games. A freak season, do to injuries or unexpected downturn in production happens...thru no fault of ownership. But once a team starts doing that consistently, its on the owner.

So, no penalty for one bad year. But after that, every additional 90 loss season costs a percentage of the eventual selling price. MLB can choose a set of numbers that really hurt the owner, but doesn't effect the org.

Lets use a 5% tax for every season under 63 wins. An owner has a team for twenty years, and has five horrid seasons. He then sells his franchise for $2 billion. His tax for being a lousy owner is 20%, or $400 million.

Even billionaires feel $400 million.
 
The article asks a very interesting question at the end... would you rather your favorite team regularly contend for championships but never win one? Or be terrible for a long time then finally win a title?

This is the Royals

Since winning the World Series in 1986, they have made the playoffs 2 times in the ensuing 36 years. Ironically they made it to the World Series in both years and won in 2015.
 
There SEEMS to be a simple solution, but simple solutions are not always easy to implement.

Tax teams that consistently lose, as teams that consistently over spend...either thru a loss of revenue sharing, or the loss of draft picks, or the loss of money available for international signings, or some combination of all of the above.

Sounds simple, but...

Such losses only make it harder to become competitive.

We can debate whether owners turn a profit from year to year, but what is not debatable is that owners make a ton on the back end, when a team is sold.

Why not tax the owners where it is sure to hurt, when they go to sell the team? Set a standard for winning, lets say 62 games. A freak season, do to injuries or unexpected downturn in production happens...thru no fault of ownership. But once a team starts doing that consistently, its on the owner.

So, no penalty for one bad year. But after that, every additional 90 loss season costs a percentage of the eventual selling price. MLB can choose a set of numbers that really hurt the owner, but doesn't effect the org.

Lets use a 5% tax for every season under 63 wins. An owner has a team for twenty years, and has five horrid seasons. He then sells his franchise for $2 billion. His tax for being a lousy owner is 20%, or $400 million.

Even billionaires feel $400 million.
Why would MLB owners agree to tax their own profits at time of sale? While I like the concept, in no way would this ever be implemented.
 
Why would MLB owners agree to tax their own profits at time of sale? While I like the concept, in no way would this ever be implemented.
You are right. No way the owners would agree to this.

Just another example that both sides have little interest in solving baseball's problems.

But if I'm the negotiator for the MLBPA, its one of the first things that comes out of my mouth when talk turns towards salary caps or quasi salary caps.

'We will be glad to seriously address the problems when you agree to address them.'

A salary floor for teams means nothing if it doesn't effect the owners in the only place it hurts.
 
Had zero clue until today that the Orioles are in the midst of an 18 game losing streak. Woof.
 
Had zero clue until today that the Orioles are in the midst of an 18 game losing streak. Woof.
The sad part is that they're the worst team by a decent margin...

Os at 38 wins, then Diamondbacks 42, Rangers 43, Pirates 44, Marlins 51, and Twins 54.
 
At least 1st round picks in MLB are somewhat likely to bust, more so than in NBA for instance.

Going from 2000 on you have Bryan Bullington, Delmon Young, Matt Bush, Luke Hochevar, Tim Beckham, Mark Appel, Brady Aiken, Mickey Moniak on one hand, Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Justin Upton, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson on the other.

Still that's about 50% success rate in finding really good to exceptional MLB players.
 

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