The 2012 MLB season has come to an end. Sadly, 153 days will pass before the first pitch of the 2013 season will be thrown. Some random thoughts today about the 2012 season.
Ignorant Cliché #1: Pitching Is Everything
Over the last few years “pitching is everything” has been written or spoken too many times by clueless souls who don’t understand baseball of the effect that PED’s had on the game.
While we will never fully understand the depth of the use or just how many players were using PED’s before MLB cracked down on their use, my guess is that we all underestimated and continue to underestimate how many players were utilizing them.
While I have NEVER bought into “pitching is everything”, I will concede that during the PED era that having good pitching was at an all-time premium. Now that a sense of normalcy has been returned to baseball? Hitting has never been more important.
The winning World Series rotation of the Giants, Cain, Vogelsong, Zito, and Bumgarner appeared overmatched by the Tigers rotation of Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez and Fister. The Tigers didn’t hit, the Giants did, end of story.
Ignorant Cliché #2: Playoff Baseball Is Random
I have to laugh at those who use the “random” explanation for everything that happens after every postseason ends.
This explanation seems to have really caught fire due to its popularity among jaded and bitter Yankee and Phillies fans from 2010-2012. I have witnessed the explosion of the use of this explanation for everything postseason after the 2010 season, when the dream rotation of the Phillies wasn’t good enough to beat the eventual World Series champion Giants while the Yankees lost the ALCS to the Rangers. By the time the Phillies and Yankees were both chased in the first round of the 2011 postseason, despite having the best records in their respective leagues, the use of “random” to explain playoff results had hit new heights.
I notice that Yankee fans never refer to their incredible dynasty that ended in 2000 as a lucky era which was completely random. Make no mistake about it, playoff baseball is NOT random.
While incredible flaws exist in the format of postseason baseball, there is nothing random about it. Managers like Tony LaRussa, Bruce Bochy, and Terry Francona have each won two World Series in the last decade despite not possessing what may have been the “best team” in the regular season. Girardi and Manuel have been blown out early with “the best team” twice while winning only one World Series apiece.
The same hitters seem to hit each year in the postseason, while a different group of hitters seem to vanish when the calendar turns to October. Teams who have at least one hot hitter, play good defense, pitch adequately and are managed well keep winning the World Series. Teams who don’t do those things get eliminated. It’s that simple.
Good GM’s Make Good Trades
While the development of good players through the farm system and good free agent signings have the largest impact on the success or lack of success by teams, good trades are still what define good GM’s.
A look at the rosters of the Tigers and Giants displayed players like Cabrera, Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, etc. who were all acquired via trade. Good GM’s make good trades. Bad GM’s make bad trades.
The development of a farm system has very little to do with a GM. The signing of free agents is largely the result of an ownership willing to spend what it takes to acquire a big name or the money that ownership makes available for a GM to spend on free agents. The most valuable skill that a GM can have is the ability to identify and execute a good trade.