Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dodger Blues

So I had a friend who had a bottle of wine. It was a really good bottle of wine, and whenever we talked to him about drinking it, he'd say, no, I'm saving it for a special occasion. So he'd put the special bottle of wine back on the rack, and go out and overpay for a Fetzer chardonnay or something, and drink that, or he wouldn't drink it, but he'd buy it and have it and decide that since he had that and he'd already paid for it, he should open it and leave the bottle of good wine be for the moment.

Mind you, this anecdote is completely fictional, and I'm not sure how to end it: either he dies and never gets to drink the wine, or he finally does open it after years and years and it's turned into paint thinner. The choice there is really up to Frank McCourt - it depends whether he fires Ned Colletti before he breaks down and plays the kids full time, or lets him stick around while the Andy LaRoches of the world rot on the vine. The early returns - signing Pierre, signing Jones, not setting Garciaparra on fire, paying any attention at all to what Jeff Kent says, and now trading for Casey Blake - are not promising.

And the Blake trade may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Hidden under the guise of "Going For It", Colletti picked up a 35-year old corner guy having a career season and erected yet another roadblock in front of one of his most valuable assets. This is not new; he did the same to James Loney, to Andre Ethier, to Matt Kemp, to Chad Billingsley. All have seen their prospect status, and thus their value to the team, take at least temporary hits as a result.

Even in the eminently winnable NL West, it's time to sell off or sit the overpaid, underachieving vets and play the kids. You get no points for not trading the prospects if you never do anything with the prospects; the whole point is that you maximize their value one way or the other. If you've got a hole at third base and you have a good third base prospect, say, LaRoche, you play him to maximize his volume. If you're not going to play him because you've got an aging, fragile veteran you have an irrational attachment to, then you trade him while other teams still perceive him as having upside. You don't bench him, you don't yo-yo him, you don't make him look bad and thus less appealing to potential trade partners - you find a way to get the maximum for him. So I'd bench or dump the Nomars, the Andruws, the same-old same-olds, and see what the kids can do. You can have Pierre and Jones and Garciaparra and Kent; I'll take Ethier and Kemp and LaRoche and Hu and the over.

Because frankly, the kids are better. The kids are cheaper. The kids are more likely to win.

And if you don't do something with them now, they're not going to be worth anything to you when you need them.
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