Don’t Say Mid-Market Like It’s A Bad Thing

Theo Epstein spoke today, and like all times when Theo has something to say, it’s generated some buzz.

“A million here, a million there, that’s what we can afford.  We’re not in position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency. But if we can do it in that (international free agency) market, we might as well try to monopolize it as best we can.”

That line from Theo has started the “mid-market” talk among fans and media, alike.  Patrick Mooney put out a great piece which explicitly called the Cubs just that.  Then again, knowing the Cubs’ history of flushing money down the crapper and how the landscape of baseball is changing with the new labor agreement, is that such a bad thing?

At the risk of repeating myself, the way the Cubs are going about their business is the best way to do it.  Free agency is not going to produce a team that goes from the bottom of the division to the top after just one winter, like the Cubs managed to do between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.  There are no quick fixes.  So spending “a million here, a million there” on international free agents and by acquiring a load of talent to retool from within is the last best option.  Minor league talent is currency.  Teams can develop and field that talent when it reaches the point major league ready (unlike the Cubs have…see Patterson, Corey; Pie, Felix) , or they can use it to acquire established players…which is the “new free agency.”  Teams who are selling off veterans like the Cubs have the last couple of seasons are essentially teams of free agents who can be had if the price is right.

Drafting and development hasn’t been a strength of the Cubs in the past.  Bleacher Nation had a piece yesterday that should make the former front office want to huddle in a corner and cry.  You think the team we’re watching is bad?  Take a look at that roster.  It makes me cringe.  The good news is, the article BN referenced is linked, showing all 30 teams…including the Red Sox, which was led by Theo Epstein.  In a weird, mid-market sort of way, a number of the major pieces of what made the Red Sox good over the second half of his tenure were homegrown…like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholtz, and Jonathan Papelbon while players like Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez were used as currency to obtain other useful parts.

The era of big market supremacy has passed.  In all reality, it never really existed.  Even the Yankees in the ’90s were mostly homegrown with some complimentary free agents sprinkled in.  It is time to embrace the “mid-market” philosophy of spending wisely and developing players…because it works.

2 Comments

Couldn’t agree more. The Cubs are building the right way and won’t spend through FA until the absolutely need that last piece or two and even then they will do it very reluctantly. The CBA has changed the FA market- teams are less willing to lose a 1st round pick; under 30 FA are almost impossible to find; and the few good ones available want contracts that are guaranteed to bite the signing team by demanding (and receiving) an expensive and overly long contract.

Theo is building a team with contracts that will not become albatrosses and stock piling propect value that can be used to trade for the right players.

Cubs approach to free agency is probably not going to change. They will go after complimentary pieces to put around their core group of players. Remember, David Ortiz was one of Theo’s “scrap heap” acquisitions.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

World Series Dreaming

Upbeat Discussion for a Beaten Down Fan Base

Born on Third

Cubs, an all encompassing trip

Bleed Cubbie Blue - All Posts

Upbeat Discussion for a Beaten Down Fan Base

Cubs Vine Line Blog

The Official Blog for Chicago Cubs Vine Line Magazine

Reed Between the Lines

The official blog of outfielder Reed Johnson

Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

Upbeat Discussion for a Beaten Down Fan Base

MLB.com Blogs Central

Welcome to the MLB.com community blog! See other people's designs, post comments & questions, get tips and see if you made the Latest Leaders at the big-league home for baseball bloggers!

The Byrd's Nest

The official blog of center fielder Marlon Byrd

Muskat Ramblings

MLB.com's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.

Cream City Cables

Sober Reading for A Hungover Brewer Nation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 614 other followers

%d bloggers like this: