Scott Boras is, in many ways, the archenemy of all Major League Baseball owners. His job is to persuade them to spend their money by signing his clients. He is very good at his job. Let’s be clear; when Boras says MLB is being destroyed by the “rebuilding” approach, he says that with the goal of getting fans riled up so they put more pressure on the owners to go out and spend.
Boras is correct. The idea that, in January, we can already eliminate a third of the teams from title contention is a major issue. The point, however, is not his to make.
Boras is clearly stoking the flames of what’s been a disappointingly quiet “hot stove” season. Anyone reading his comments knows who Boras is and can see right through the smokescreen. Our focus shifts from what he is saying to why he is saying it. Our minds automatically begin working to discredit his theory. From that perspective, Boras is actually doing himself, his clients, and the issue of “tanking” a disservice by speaking out on it.
There’s a reason no one else has said much about this. The rebuilding phenomenon has officially taken over thanks to the recent successes of the Cubs and Astros. It’s hard to argue with a strategy that has delivered the past two World Series championships. It just makes sense. If you’re confident that you’re not going to win now, then why overpay for a big bat to anchor the lineup? Even if that bat generates 100 runs and becomes an essential part of the team’s makeup, chances are it won’t do the same in three years when you’re actually ready to win.
I don’t file this lack of spending under the category of not trying. I think of it as intelligently aligning your finances so that, when the team does have enough talent to seriously contend, you still have the extra money needed to make the signing or trade that can make all the difference. The Astros trading for Justin Verlander is the perfect example.
Boras is essentially saying that MLB owners should spend more money because they have the ability to do so. That’s easy to say when it’s not your money we’re talking about. I don’t need to call my financial planner to figure out that spending for the sake of it is bad business. Try to empathize with the owners here. Yes, they have exponentially more money than any of us. Still, that doesn’t mean they should spend it recklessly.
Do you know what happens when your team’s owner does spend his money without considering the long-term repercussions? You’re likely to end up in the same position the Tigers are in now. Was spending the past decade as a perennial front-runner for the American League pennant fun and exciting? Absolutely it was. But now we’re stuck with a roster full of players who may or may not deserve to even be in the bigs. We just don’t know yet, and now we have to try them all out the hard way, on the fly, all at once.
The Tigers could’ve been much better prepared for the impending rebuild had they embraced the idea before it became painfully obvious they were never going to make it to the Promised Land with that crop of players. Instead, here we Tigers fans are, without much hope for the coming season, or the next one, or the one after that. We have a lack of foresight and a continuous disregard for the future to thank for what we’re about to be subjected to.
Rebuilding is a necessary evil in baseball. Otherwise, you end up being a middle-of-the-road franchise that never really wins anything. (See: Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners.) Ask those fans, and I bet they’d tell you they’d much rather go through the ups and downs, as opposed to knowing they’ve got a good team that’s just not quite good enough. Ask fans of the Cubs and Astros. I guarantee they’ll say all the losing was worth it to get that World Series championship.
The fact that about 10 teams in any given year are more or less non-competitive is, of course, no fun for those 10 cities. Unfortunately, the alternatives are much worse. Postponing the rebuild only prolongs it. Denying it’s coming makes it all the more real. By trying to compete above your capability this year, you cripple your team’s future.
The way I see it, rebuilding is only a problem while you’re in the midst of the process, and when your job is greatly helped by all 30 franchises deciding to chase an elusive championship at all costs.