Yesterday I lamented the loss of potential GM Michael Girsch, among many other candidates. I also complained about the incompetence of our current front office situation. And I finished off saying we need an Andrew Friedman-type GM. Yesterday on Twitter I was interacting with Padres’ beat writer Corey Brock, and he brought up an interesting point to me:
Trying to win games. That’s always the priority. RT @jamesEkrueger: Trade value is higher with a controlled pitch count, though
— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) July 13, 2014
I’m going to lead off by saying Brock is a fantastic reporter, and his timeline is stuffed full of gems of baseball info. He’s witty, smart and loves beer which pretty much completes my criteria for a great beat writer. And I say these glowing words about him now, because this tweet, which is an isolated incident from his otherwise outstanding work, is just absolutely dumb.
There is no earthly reason for us to be winning. I know it sucks to hear that as a fan, but think about it. Do you want to win 75 games this year? There’s only a moral victory there, and we aren’t contending for a playoff spot with the Dodgers and Giants playing how they have. My notification folder filled up rapidly with responses talking about how we should keep Kennedy, and how we still need to win.
But why not lose? Let’s get a top five draft pick, a bona fide star prospect (and since Byrnes is gone he won’t draft Jameis Winston). We can get a huge international free agency budget, so we can bring back an actual inspiring prospect from the Central Americas, not a group headlined by a borderline top 30 IFA whose most optimistic projection is a second division catcher with no plus tools. Ship off stars who aren’t returning for prospects, like Chase Headley and even Ian Kennedy. We are not at the point of the win curve where trying to win anything helps us.
Maybe this sounds like a far fetched idea still, so I’ll give some examples. Look at the well regarded GM of the Houston Astros, Jeff Lunhow. He took over a team with no farm and few players of talent at the majors and told the city look, we’re gonna be terrible for a few years before we can get better. Bear with the bad and reap the benefits later. And it’s working. The Astros have arguable the best farm system in baseball and it’s not by chance. They sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, then borrowed a crowbar and sold everything else.
Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman were huge fans of selling off stars when they took over the hapless Rays about ten years ago. They also never spent on bullpen arms, because they knew the best way to get better was to draft high, and good bullpen arms will only point them away from that. They understood it’s easy to find ‘pen arms from the scrap heap, so they waited until they got good to fortify the late innings.
Theo Epstein took over the Cubs after Boston’s “heartbreaking” 2011 collapse (hard to feel bad for the second highest payroll). He followed suit of the other two listed teams, but he also went and found himself reclamation projects. He turned pitchers with no value like Jason Hammel, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Feldman into legitimate prospects, and is working on the same process with Jake Arrieta. Hey, the Padres have someone just like that! Yeah, Ian Kennedy.
Look, we aren’t making playoffs this season, probably not next season and maybe not the year after. But as our talented farm system grows full and fuller, the future gets bright and brighter. But the current players won’t be around to see that. If we trade Kennedy, we can get a top 100 prospect back. Trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner? Now we’re talking top 50, maybe more. Joakin Benoit and Huston Street could bring back intriguing minor leaguers for a team desperate for bullpen help (hello, Detroit). Even Carlos Quentin could be appealing for a team that wants some power off the bench, or an AL team making a push with no DH (can you say Seattle?).
All this starts with the right front office. We need a great GM. But more importantly, we need to lose. Stock up on young talent. Build for the future. Don’t worry about winning 75 games instead of 73, worry about how big our draft bonus pool is. Let’s lose because the path to success is easier that way. Let’s lose because we need more impact prospects.
Let’s lose because if we do, we can finally win.