A Quick Fix for when your opponents are trying to be richer and smarter than you

Jonathan Daniel

In the 1980's you could always rely on the bad guys to identify themselves by being rich, overconfident and ultimately hindered by their stubbornness. Not anymore.

You know what's tough, is when you're a small market team, looking to win using small market strategies and then big market teams look and are like, "Oh hey... Let's start doing that too". It's like we're the hipsters of baseball and free agency is like listening to the Beatles and building a farm system from within is like Bon Iver. Maybe we should start listening to the Beatles again. Or the Doors... Or something...

Anyway, a couple of links to prove my point... That we should listen to more Beatles.

LINK NUMBER ONE: Posnanski: Epstein’s Cubs on winning track — just not yet - Joe Posnanski- NBC Sports

Remember when we were all super in love with Theo Epstein Jed Hoyer that one dude... because he was young and handsome and smart and from Boston, but from San Diego, but from New York (any proper hipster's most lovable blend of backgrounds), and all that jazz? Remember how he used to go on and on about how you had to build a team from within to truly find success? It's like he was the baseball equivalent of Tom Cruise or Yoda. He's apparently still preaching that over in Chicago, even though they obvi have more money than the Padres. Like hey we're rich, but we should be frugal and smart.

This makes me think of a quote from myself:

"Freedom isn't free. And neither is a free agent." - Dex, Gaslamp Ball

And a quote from Theo (emphasis mine):

"Forbidden fruit," Epstein says of free agency and he shrugs. "We just didn’t have the patience to make it across the gap without giving into temptation. … Free agency is where you get your worst return on investment. It’s really that simple. The draft and the international market, that’s where you get your best return, dollar for dollar. And free agency is the worst return on investment."

Not only that. Let's take it to the extreme:

"If we are really, really, really good at our jobs in scouting and player development," Epstein says, "we’ll never have to sign a single free agent.

Never sign a free agent!? But how is Cubs Fan supposed to know the name of the players they're rooting for if they haven't already played for somebody else!? Players are only as good as the paychecks they earn and the National League Central teams we've poached them from!*

It's a horrible thought that the Cubs, who have historically acted pretty dumb with their money and cried Curse, are now coming around to the idea that they should try something else. But it's just them, right? The Cubs can't be the only rich team wanting to act all grunge, can they?

LINK NUMBER TWO: Rangers Can Spend, but They Would Rather Be Smart - NYTimes.com

"It’s almost like we’re a big-market club with big-market resources, but you try to have a little bit more of that smaller-market mind-set and discipline," [Rangers' GM Jon] Daniels said.

"Because, really, that’s why we were good in the first place," he said. "We had a $65-70 million payroll in 2010. It was making good baseball decisions. We just don’t want to do anything that’s going to short-circuit our ability to win long-term."

Ugh. Come on, dude. It's bad enough that we don't have the money to compete with people who have money. Now you're telling me that people who have money and a sh_t ton of resources are going to compete like they don't have money either? It's like some sort of strategic pity move. You can't have it both ways, Rich Teams. You're either the Cobra Kai or you're Daniel. You're either David or you're Goliath. Imagine if Goliath was all crafty and charming and had access to missile weapons like David. That's right, David gets f_cked. What if everybody in Cobra Kai got all clever and learned how to Crane Kick and Wax the Car instead of messing around with Sweeping the Leg? That's right, Daniel is cut up into five separate pieces and sent to all the corners of Reseda, never to be heard from again. But what's worse... People would cheer because the Cobra Kai made like they were smart and crafty like Daniel even though at their hearts, they were at fancy posh country clubs with real nice knitted kimonos like the Cobra Kai.

They'd be like the charming rich super talented, but also very smart guy that you can't help but like even though they have everything you'd like.

They'd be like Justin Timberlake. Or The Rock.

This is what happens people when the rich and evil have access to the things that the good guy, poor underdogs have access to. You get Justin Timberlake and The Rock.

So what's a Padres Front Office to do? That's right... Overspend in free agency! Brewster's Millions. That's the movie we're going to run with for a while.

If all of the rich teams are going to avoid free agency because it's where the overconfident suckers go (overconfidence normally being the downfall of any proper 1980's villain), then the only logical way for a proper underdog to behave is to do the opposite and even more overconfidently overspend in free agency! I know this goes against a lot of what I've eschewed here on this blog, but I live according to no other rule more so than the rules that dictate 1980's movie protagonist/antagonist relationships... and the Bible. That's the Good Book, to you and me people.

Overspend in free agency. That's the motto around these parts now.

(and before I get yelled at on Twitter by people who only come to this site when somebody else tells them, "Gaslamp Ball is saying something stupid again", I absolutely don't believe that's actually what we should do)

*disregarding players acquired through amateur drafts who are under fixed contracts and team control for a set number of years prior to being eligible for arbitration (or schmucks who are overpaid).

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