The single most important aspect of sustaining a successful business is to distribute value equally amongst one’s assets.
The single most important aspect of sustaining a successful baseball organization is to distribute value equally amongst one’s assets.
Sense a similarity?
Jack Zduriencik is single-handedly proving that the “big-name free agent” is an inessential part of a winning baseball team. In fact, I would argue that GMZ is proving that the “big-name free agent” often causes more harm than good to a baseball team because by investing in one particular – and potentially spectacular – player, a high degree of risk is involved. Two problems are inherent in placing a significant amount of a team’s total value in one player.
___1) Injury: If the player gets hurt and has to miss a large amount of time recovering, the team as a whole loses a disconcertingly big amount of value (think ’09 Chicago Cubs).
___2) Sporadic lack of production: If the player suddenly stops being productive for one reason or another, you’ve just bought yourself an albatross, presumably for a regrettably long period of time. (Note: this phenomenon is generally due to some overlooked factor like age.)
Exhibit A (The 2009 Mariners): On June 21st, with the M’s in the thick of the playoff race, Yuniesky Betancourt decides to collide with slick-fielding Endy Chavez in midair, knocking Chavez out for the season. Ryan Langerhans, Bill Hall, and Michael Saunders step in and make us forget Endy ever existed in a Mariners uniform. Later in the season, Adrian Beltre misses 6 weeks, and M’s fans are ready to put themselves on suicide watch. Fortunately, Z pulls Jack Hannahan out of a hat, who turns out a Beltre-esque UZR and even adds a respectable .311 OBP to boot. Then, newly acquired Jack Wilson injures his heel. No problem: His “J Wilson” counterpart, Josh, produces at a similar level both offensively and defensively during Jack’s absence.
The Seattle Mariners are going to be a successful baseball organization for years to come because Jack Zduriencik spreads value amongst an entire team instead of clustering it in several outstanding players.