The MLB season is well underway. Small sample sizes and confirmation bias are hitting on all cylinders in the early going. The Angels are falling fast (strongly striking my confirmation bias), the Rays can’t hardly swing a bat collectively (striking the confirmation bias of many others) and some top prospects are playing like organizational depth instead of future stars. So let’s use this opportunity to highlight how some of us, as fans, think differently than those front office execs that are in control.
This is the first of a new series I hope to do from time to time for each and every sport that I can. The idea here is that I will take some thoughts I hear around fan bases that I don’t think are very representative of what is actually going on or ideas that are clear overreactions and see what a GM that thinks that way would do/want to do and what it would take to execute those ideas. Without further ado…
If GMs thought like fans, Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels would immediately fire himself for trading 1B Chris Davis to the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 and the incumbent replacement would trade 1B Mitch Moreland, SS/2B top prospect Jurickson Profar and change to get Chris Davis back in Texas. Chris Davis currently has a triple slash of .349/.463/.860 with 6 HR in 54 PA. WHEN Davis keeps up that pace, he will clearly have 70+ HR (close to his entire career through 5 years) with 200+ RBI. His BABIP actually isn’t that high, .360, compared to HIS MLB career where he is often around .320. Plus, since Jon Daniels re-signed SS Elvis Andrus to a roughly 40-year contract from the sounds of it, there is zero need for a talented, switch hitting middle infielder with a slick glove. His small sample size, minor league average is only .281 with 10 strikeouts and he only hit .176 in his call-up in 2012. The new GM has to sell high on this #1 prospect in all of baseball and get the power hitting first baseman that Jon Daniels insanely traded away in the Koji Uehara trade back to Arlington. Chris Davis is the missing link in Texas and would be the run-away MVP if they brought him back.
If GMs thought like fans, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations (defacto GM) Theo Epstein would get rid of 1B Anthony Rizzo for two reasons, he has started slow with a .174/.296/.413 triple slash and 16 strikeouts, and the Cubs have two power hitting 1B prospects down in Low-A Kane County with Rock Shoulders and Dan Vogelbach. Rizzo clearly has reverted back to his San Diego Padres days where he batted .141/.281/.242 in the majors and if the Cubs want to compete any time in the next 100 years they need to maximize his value and get rid of him, preferably for a 50 save closer and a SS because Starlin Castro has zero chance of improving his defense now that he is as old as most college graduates. Rock Shoulders and Dan Vogelbach both project for massive major league power and they are sure to be an improvement on the overrated Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs could probably steal Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons from the Braves for Rizzo and some combination of Marmol and Schierholtz (who is obviously reaching his vast potential now that he is a full time player). Theo & Co. are being much to conservative with their rebuild of the loveable losers and if they don’t do this, the fans are right, they never will win a championship.
If GMs thought like fans, Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane should re-sign Coco Crisp to a new 5+ year deal. The man formerly known as just a great defensive CF that could steal a bag with the best of them has transformed himself into a power hitter just like the great Willie Mays-Hayes of Major League fame…or dare I say Chris Davis. He has already slugged 4 HR and with that pace he is going to hit over 40. You can’t let that kind of power get away, especially when you’re the Oakland A’s and you find every underutilized talent in the MLB. Billy Beane could obviously sell Crisp on this and get him for below market value because no one else thinks it will keep up, but Billy surely knows it will. Crisp is finally going to be the middle of the order power hitter that we all thought he would be early in his career. He never did hit enough home runs to be of much value, thankfully that has all changed now.
If GMs thought like fans, then Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers should value hard-nosed grittiness and a Kirk Gibson-like approach above all else and trade any talent that doesn’t fit that mold. Justin Upton is soft and last year showed what he really is, trade him for…wait, I’m being told this DID happen. OH…and he is hitting .340/.404/.900 with 8 HR and is on pace for 95+ HR. Well good thing we’ve all seen that those numbers can’t keep up, he’ll regress…all the way back to a .280 hitter with 15 HR power…right? RIGHT?! Well ya, but no as well. Some GMs do buy into the fan side I guess.
Best of the rest
-Mike Trout was severely overrated last year and not only will he regress to the mean, he won’t be much better than the average player.
-The Minnesota Twins are beating the Angels, most pundits World Series pick, that means they should mortgage the farm and go all in on this year.
-The Atlanta Braves should trade Jason Heyward, he is off to a slow start and Justin Upton is the new hotness, they don’t need Heyward anymore.
Remember, it is early, there is little to no real information out there yet. Beware of confirmation bias, beware of small sample sizes. Hot streaks and cold streaks exist in baseball, and they exist all year, beginning and end. There is a reason that GMs often seem out of touch with the fan base because they have to look at it in a big picture view that the fans don’t specifically need to. If GMs thought like fans, the beginning of the season would be absolutely insane. Hope you enjoyed these ideas and that you’ll come back for the next If GMs Thought Like Fans.