It's easier to write when your team is doing dumb things. Rail against the extension to Dayton Moore who has produced a single winning season in his surprisingly long tenure. Shake your head in bafflement at the Mets pursuit of Bronson Arroyo who wants a 3 year deal. Or express your resignation at the Twins signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to multi-year deals.
Instead, we're just past thanksgiving and John Mozeliak has adequately, if not convincingly, addressed the the Cardinals biggest need with the best free agent on the market. He's turned aging assets with diminished value into younger assets with rising value. He's done that without sacrificing any of the talented young arms stockpiled via the draft. Short of a Ty Wigginton signing, the team looks poised to ... well, not do dumb things. That's half the battle some offseasons. The Cardinals are winning that battle to the dismay of local writers and fans.
The Cardinals have shown what depth can do. Lose your aging ace before the season and a young left hander, no big deal. Watch your closer blow his elbow out, yawn. Have your first baseman injure his leg during a playoff push, just insert this other first baseman you had lying around. Having those above replacement level depth pieces within the organization makes it far easier to survive and even thrive through ill-timed injuries. Think of the bloggers, John. We need you to be dumb and dumber.
That is part of what makes Mozeliak's offseason so fascinating: the ability to fill in gaps at reasonable cost while retaining depth. Consider that the Minnesota Twins who were in dire need of some pitching for their rotation. They finished 27 games out of first place in their division last year. 46% of their starts when to a pitcher who ended the year with 0 or negative WAR. They had one starter cross the 2 WAR threshold. Contrast that with the Cardinals who had just 11% of their starts go to a pitcher with negative WAR (looking at you Jake Westbrook) and three starters who accumulated 2 WAR or more.
So the Twins had a really bad rotation as part of a really bad team that was only out-badded by the lowly White Sox. In order to shore up their rotation, they gave a 4 year, 49M deal to Ricky Nolasco and a 3 year 24M deal to Phil Hughes. That will be approximately 20M next year spent to secure 3 WAR (using Szymborski tweeted ZiPS). Given that the pitchers they replaced are likely below replacement level, we can generously say the Twins are actually going to improve by 4 WAR next season. Now we can call the Twins a .450 winning percentage team instead of a .400 winning percentage team.
Those lucky Twins bloggers. That last paragraph basically wrote itself. Insert some internet rage faces and you're done for the day.
Or take Royals fans. Their team handed out an extension to Dayton Moore this week. Dayton Moore is entering his 8th year as a GM but would have been a lame duck. Here are KC's winning percentages during his tenure: .426, .463, .401, .414, .438, .417, .531. Clearly, the club has turned a corner. I credit the Wil Myers for James Shield trade. It says something about your GM when the extension is justified by an article whose logic is that we gave the GM an extension so he wouldn't f*ck the team too badly in the short term. Can't let that moral hazard get too high for Dayton Moore or he might ... trade Wil Myers again?
I envy Kansas City writers. Rany Jazayerli almost has an aneurysm every day but there is so much hate fodder for writing.
There's also perennial favorite
Nick Brian Sabean out west to sign players to massive deals as they enter (or continue on) the decline of their career. Sabean struck early with a 2 year $35M deal this offseason to secure the rights to Tim Lincecum. That is the same Lincecum who has averaged 2 WAR over the last three seasons. The same Lincecum who has lost 4 miles off his fastball since 2007 and 2 miles off his fastball since 2011. Clearly in high demand, Sabean pegged the going rate for WAR among pitchers around $10M for this contract. Again, for a team that finished below .500 and 16 games out of first place.
San Francisco, I envy you. Not for your modern mass transit but for the stupidity of your local GM.
Instead, I am forced to contend with Mozeliak and the Cardinals. Have they handed out any dumb extensions this offseason? No. Have they massively overpaid for any free agents? No. Have they traded away youth for a veteran? Again, to my dismay, no.
Who can save us? Who can bring an end to this rational, cautious approach to the offseason? Who will be that hero for St. Louis to run a young player out of town? Does anyone have La Russa's number? I just want to call him. I miss his arrogance and entrenched conventional wisdom. I miss his habit of playing bad veterans or going to the same broken bullpen arm repeatedly. Where's Walt Jocketty at -- oh right, he's signing Skip Schumaker to a multi-year deal in Cincinnati. See, those Reds fans are so lucky.
Curse you Mozeliak for your chronic competence. Curse you all the way to another post season berth.