Friday Forum: The Team We’d Own

And we’re back! Today’s topic, in recognition of Magic Johnson saving L.A. from the terrible clutches of Frank McCourt: “If you could own one team, but had to take its current GM and manager with it, which one would it be and why?”

Here’s what we had to say:

Jason: New York Yankees

Telling you that I’d like to own the Yankees is like telling you that I’d like to lie on my back in the sun on an 85-degree day and have helpers feed me grapes. Nobody doesn’t want this, except maybe for the people who are allergic to grapes. The Yankees print money: the Forbes franchise values may come with large error bars, but they’re so far out in front on value and revenue that it’s not even funny. If you’re like, “Hey Jason, want to be rich?” I’m totally like “Yeah, man.”

Of course, the best part about the Yankees is that they’re in just as sound a situation in baseball operations as they are on the business side. Brian Cashman has been running the team since 1998, during which time the team’s season-low in wins was 87. (They won the World Series that year.) They’ve finished out of the playoffs once. There have been mistake contracts and mistake draft picks, but please, MLB GMs, step right up here and shake my hand if your record is pristine. Cashman has built run-scoring squads (many of the most famous Yankees teams of recent years have bludgeoned their opponents into submission) and run-prevention squads (despite the park, the Yankees allowed the third-fewest runs in the American League last year).

As for having to keep the field manager, Joe Girardi’s not so bad. He’s a bit over-active, perhaps, ranking the Yankees near the top of the league in both sacrifice bunts and intentional walks handed out, but those are issues at the margin. Frankly, I might be a bit biased toward Girardi, given that his most famous attribute is His Magic Binder Of Strategy — give me a manager working from a binder over one playing his gut and instincts any day of the week. (If it’s the binder that’s causing all those sacrifice bunts, well … I just have to keep the GM and the manager. Nobody said I couldn’t print out my own strategy pages for the manager’s book.)

Chris: Chicago Cubs

As the proud owner of a Choke shirt and a life-long, albeit casual Brewers fan, it pains me to choose the Cubs in this exercise. However, it is more legitimate than my first idea of picking the Orioles (let’s see how many international incidents we can incite!). My goal as a hypothetical owner would be to win as much as possible while maintaining a positive income flow from the team. Assuming I have infinite funds, (and why not, I’m not Dwight Schrute) I believe the Cubs would give me a great chance to do this. We will also create our own regional television station, similar to YES and NESN, eventually using this as another huge revenue stream. Current GM Jed Hoyer and Manager Dale Sveum are forward-thinking individuals, who can embrace unpopular, yet successful strategies of team-building and game-playing. President Theo Epstein is staying too. With their baseball expertise, my money, the popularity of the Chicago Cubs franchise and the overall weakness of the NL Central, we will be making the playoffs for years to come and will break the Curse of the Billy Goat.

TCM: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Chris took The Common Man’s answer, the stupid jerk, so TCM will go to the other huge-market club run by a very smart GM, the Anaheim Angels of Anaheim, located in Anaheim, at a big ballpark with a huge A out front that stands for Anaheim.

Jerry DiPoto has already demonstrated a willingness and skill to leverage the team’s broadcasting windfall, bringing in CJ Wilson and the clearly done Albert Pujols (sarcasm!), trading for Chris Iannetta and getting rid of Mike Scioscia’s favorite toy in Jeff Mathis, and signing useful players like Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar to reasonable extensions.  There are already solid talent and vibrant fan bases in LA, with an incredibly strong rotation locked up beyond 2012, and various useful trade chips in the Majors and the Minors.  Plus, he’s been willing to jettison Bobby Abreu and limit Vernon Wells’ playing time to get uber-prospect Mike Trout back up to the Majors.  With the new restrictions on the draft and on international free agent signings, it seems likely that the Angels will be able to devote a lot more of their revenue to the dwindling pool of free agents on the market, while offering a great location for players to live and work.

Also, The Common Man would only have to put up with Torii Hunter until the end of this year, then would get the distinct pleasure of kicking him out on his ass and dumping the contents of his locker on the sidewalk.  Bonus!

Bill: St. Louis Cardinals

I picked last of everybody, so, oh, okay, I guess I’ll take the defending World Champs, who have started off 2012 at 16-8. My hands are tied! 

Seriously, I’m not a fan of the team or anything, but I think the Cards are the easy pick here, and I’d have taken them if I’d chosen first. John Mozeliak is a smart dude, and he’s surrounded himself with a whole bunch of other, even smarter dudes (and non-dudes, one would hope). From the outside, their front office seems to be — a bit like in the Branch Rickey days — just deeper than, broader than and way ahead of just about everyone else’s. So that’s a lot less for me to deal with, at least in the short term.

The manager? I don’t know a thing about Mike Matheny. The Cardinals are right in the middle of the pack in both sacrifice hits as hitters and intentional walks as pitchers, so I can live with that. He’s young and eager and, I hope, malleable — not at all to say that I know more than he does about how to run the team, but I certainly want a manager who will heed the front office and our organizational philosophy in terms of roster usage and general approach to field tactics, and Matheny seems as likely as any to be that guy. And if not…well, it didn’t say how long we had to keep them. 

So that’s good with me, and the team is excellent, and the fans are, to me, about the best fans can be — really, really invested, but not overwhelmingly whiny or demanding (the crazy Pujols reactions aside). That’s the team for me.

Cee: Texas Rangers

I’m largely disgusted that at age 28 Jon Daniels was working his dream job of being the General Manager of a Major League Baseball team. In fact, I’m approaching my 28th birthday and I’m still buried under mountains of student loan debt, working in a less than ideal job screaming profane things about the economy. So, I suppose in this fantasy I would take over ownership of the Texas Rangers, so I could see Jon Daniels everyday and remind him a) that I’m younger than him b) that I assumed an ownership position before my 28th birthday. My smugness would be appreciated, because Daniels seems like a reasonable man–which is the larger reason I’d like to work with him and Ron Washington.

Now, taking over the Rangers would mean that Angi is in and Ryan is out, but I feel it would be important to keep him in some capacity with the organization, since he’s been the face of the franchise for so long. Ryan would have a few options of roles he could take with the organization, and we’d pay him (I’m the ownership, so I make these decisions) $3,757,000 a year, which was his salary his final year in the majors, to do one of the following:

  • Run the booth where kids can throw baseballs. He’d operate the radar gun and if the kid fails to reach 95 mph, Ryan would be obligated to berate that child and put them in a Venturaesque headlock until their performance improved.
  • Ryan could work as a mid-reliever, replacing whichever pitcher has the highest ERA in the rotation on that day. That means if Ryan wanted today, he could replace Scott Feldman.
  • Ryan could dress as a cowboy to keep Rangers’ mascot Captain the Palomino horse company. He could carry a gun, but I hear that’s customary in Texas.

Of all 30 organizations, taking over the Texas Rangers just makes the most sense. There seems to be a certain synergy in the decision-making, and their efforts are getting results. Sure, there have been laughable trades over the years–Chris Young, Terrmel Sledge, and Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and Billy Killian comes to mind– but largely Daniels is making good short-term decisions and even better long-term ones.

In 2007, Daniels made what is perhaps one of my favorite trades in baseball– Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that led to the success, but Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz from that trade have become main-stays in the Rangers organization (the other is Beau Jones, who is now in Marlins AAA) leading me to believe that Daniels knows what he’s doing.

Plus, owning the Rangers would mean working with Ron Washington, who is not only competent, but charismatic. The Rangers won their first franchise playoff series in 2010 under Washington, and he took the team to the World Series in 2010 and 2011, though they lost both times. More than anything the reason I want to own the Rangers is because they want to be winners. They are playing well, they are looking to finally win a World Series, and I have no doubt that the Angi-Daniels-Washington combination could make it happen. It also seems likely that the Ryan-Daniels-Washington combination could also win a World Series, especially with their stacked lineup, but this is all just a fantasy that I want to be part of. Plus, something tells me that Yu Darvish and I would be friends instantly, what with my love his pitch arsenal and j-pop.


About Bill

Bill is an employment lawyer and baseball geek. Also a comedy geek, and just a geek generally.