Writing about baseball in one capacity or another for the better part of five years, I have come to learn one thing – many baseball fans don’t care about the World Series. At all. I don’t know that this makes baseball fans any more provincial than other sports fans but the bulk only watch if their team is involved.
While the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox both have very, very large fanbases, there exists a deep-seated antipathy towards these clubs and their collective fanbases from a vocal segment of other fans. As such, the just-finished World Series was greated with a disheartening mix of indifference and outright hostility.
But no more. The World Series is over and the Boston Red Sox are champs. But now begins the most favorite season for all baseball fans, transactional conjecture season.
Former Getting Blanked editor Dustin Parkes and I discussed a strange phenomenon on twitter a little bit yesterday, and other baseball types chimed in to agree – in terms of web traffic, December is generally the busiest month of the year. Casual fans especially love the idea of their baseball team getting better or improving through trades and free agency more than they actually like baseball.
The rumors and innuendos of baseball’s Winter Meetings drive interest in a way the actual, tangible results on the field never can. Just last season, the immense trades made by the Toronto Blue Jays spiked traffic on theScore’s family of sites in a very real way. That so many Blue Jays fans spent the season embittered and personally hard-done-by their team’s struggles speaks to the frenzy that was whipped up in hot stove season.
The previous year it was the gigantic names of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder on the free agent market that kept any club with two pennies to rub together dreaming the impossible dream. “What if we overpay?!” they wondered hopefully.
The free agent class of 2013 is a little shorter on star power than recent years. A few free agents improved their stock with strong 2013 performances while others either stumbled or already re-signed with their existing team. No franchise gamechanger lurks in the Boras thicket, ready to emerge as a fully-formed savior. Not this year and, realistically, not ever. You cannot remake your team in free agency.
You can, however, greatly improve your team in free agency. We need not look any farther than the team currently celebrating a World Series title, the Boston Red Sox.
For all the “modern” baseball thinking about the perils of free agency and the widely assumed truth that signing This Guy is An Overpay and God No Whatever You Do Please Do Not Overpay for Players on the Free Agent Market, there are always opportunities to legitimately improve your team with a key free agent signing or two.
The Red Sox were in the enviable position last winter of possessing ample financial freedom to pursue top free agents while building around an existing core that was established and talented. Plugging holes in free agency might just be the best way to address a roster shortcoming, even if it means you — gasp — give a guy an extra year or a few million extra dollars.
But if you are a bad team looking to get good overnight, I wish you the best of luck. The path to greatness is littered with the bodies of general managers who thought they could circumvent the team building process and just buy their way into contention. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.
That said, I have a suspicion that the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs might be big players on the free agent market this winter. Both teams cleared the decks nicely and have money to spend. The Mets have enviable pitching depth coming through their pipeline and will not let losing Matt Harvey for the season deter them.
The Cubs are smart and loaded with high ceiling prospects and a few interesting players at the big league level. Watch out for them to make a splash that cut down their time to contention by at least a few years.
Other than that, who knows? Embrace the mystery teams and Winter Meeting madness and inevitable head-scratching trades. For many, this is the best part of the year. In a sport flush with cable bucks, we are about to see just how different the landscape has become. Expect the unexpected as all our previously held notions of costs and values get blown out of the water.
Most readers surely noticed a change in the way things were done here on Getting Blanked over the past five months or so. If so, congratulations, you are very observant. Things are different at Getting Blanked and will continue to be different into the future.
All the buzzy videos and newsy tidbits are now found on the main site, which is undergoing a major change under the surface (and will emerge to the public soon.) We have a great staff of people working ’round the clock bringing you all the latest and greatest MLB news as it happens.
The best way to get this news is follow the main @theScore account on twitter or download theScore app to your mobile device and tablet. All the stories feed into the MLB news section there, including our terrific story “stacks” that are constantly updated as stories and games develop.
If you like what I do, good. You are a person of impeccable taste and style. I’m not going anywhere, as I’ll post one or two pieces a day here (as I have all summer long) as well as jumping into some of the stories on the MLB feed to offer my take when the situation demands it.
That’s it, that’s all. Make sure you follow some of the great people who cover baseball here at theScore on twitter for the latest:
- Nav Vaswani
- Steph Rogers
- Jonah Birenbaum
- Blake Murphy
- Katie Flynn
- Kyle Smith
- and of course the mothership
There are more too but this as good a place to start as any. Thanks for your continuing patronage of Getting Blanked and all your support over the years. It is appreciated more than most of you know!