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Tuesday

26

November 2013

46

COMMENTS

Of Strasburg and Rose… and Windows

Written by , Posted in General

There is a fair amount of BS in talk about professional sports. The vast majority of player interviews are the same meaningless clichés we’ve heard a million times. At the beginning of every season, every team that has no real chance of winning, including the most recent Cubs teams, talk about how every year is sacred. There is little truth or meaning to learn from these conversations.

But one recent figure of speech is true in the world of big money sports: windows. A window is a period of time that a team legitimately competes for a title. Windows close when teams can’t afford their good players anymore, or their good players get old, or they will go over the salary cap. The franchise quarterback in football can make windows last the better part of a decade, but even those end. The lack of a salary cap in baseball can allow big spending teams to keep windows open a long time, but even the Yankees are likely to be facing a rough couple of years. Sometimes a window closes much more quickly than expected due to injury.

And yet, in just over a year, a team and a player have spat on their windows. In 2012, primed for the playoffs and arguably the best team in baseball, the Washington Nationals front office decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg, one of the best pitchers in baseball and their ace, for the last month of the season and the playoffs. The internal thought was that the Nationals were on the front end of their window, and would be right back in the playoffs in 2013. The Nationals got off to a bad start, and missed the playoffs. Their window remains open, they have the resources to keep it open, but they gave up their best chance at a World Series to this point.

Last season, the Chicago Bulls knew they would be without Derek Rose, one of the best players in basketball, for most of the season due to a torn left ACL in the first round of the 2011-2012 playoffs. The Bulls surprised in the season, gaining the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and getting to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the eventual NBA champions, the Miami Heat. Team doctors cleared Rose to play late in the season, but Rose chose to sit out the whole season, not fully confident in his abilities coming off the knee injury. The Bulls would make one more run with their current core this season, the clear last year of a four year window. Then, in the twelfth game of this season, Rose tore the medial meniscus in his other knee, and he was declared out for the season after surgery Monday morning. The Bulls’ current window is closed, and they’ll likely have a couple years of retooling around Rose before they can make another run.

So what does this have to do with the Cubs? The entire Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer plan is to open up a long window through the establishment of one of the best farm systems in baseball. While the window is closed, the Cubs can take their time with player development and injuries. Once the window opens, though, the cliché becomes truth. When the window opens, every season becomes sacred because that window can close very, very quickly.

  • I’ll defer to our resident window analyst. CAPS can tell us, often down to third string roster detail, when each window has closed since the Sandburg era.

  • I’ll defer to our resident window analyst. CAPS can tell us, often down to third string roster detail, when each window has closed since the Sandburg era.

  • Good stuff, Noah.

  • Good stuff, Noah.

  • Doc Raker

    Sometimes windows open before you expect them to. I bet most people thought the Red Sox window had closed after the 2012 season.

    Strasburg should of pitched in 2012. The club should of limited his pitches in Aug and Sept and then cranked him up in the playoffs, they did the opposite of what Nolan Ryan/Texas Rangers would of done which is why I will root for Texas before those pansies in Washington.

    • Hey Raker…I noticed your avatar has gone missing. i tracked one down for you that I feel is more accurate. http://www.heaterpitchingmachine.com/Qstore/uploads/deuce_pitching_machine_vs.jpg

    • Hey Raker…I noticed your avatar has gone missing. i tracked one down for you that I feel is more accurate. http://www.heaterpitchingmachine.com/Qstore/uploads/deuce_pitching_machine_vs.jpg

      • Doc Raker

        I get an error message on this link. I will trust you are mocking me for Seymour’s amusement.

      • Seymour Butts

        I do hope so… you are just so… mockable.
        Alas, I too received an error message.

      • Worth a second look… http://swantron.com/raker.png

      • Seymour Butts

        That’s similar to the one I have in my basement.

    • Noah_I

      This is true, and also applicable to the 2012 Nationals. The Nationals were expected to still be a year away from 2012, and they failed to change a preseason plan to shut Strasburg down that would have been fine if they were an under .500 team, but destroyed their post season chances.

      Sometimes the windows open earlier than you expect. Of course, one of the challenges for a team that has been rebuilding and has a hot first half is that you have to make your decision to buy, sell, or stand pat before you know if your team actually is that good. But that wasn’t the issue the Nationals faced.

      I agree, the Nationals would have been much better off having Strasburg skip a few turns in August.

      • PLCB3

        We can say that having the benefit of hindsight, but could you have predicted it at the start of the season? I don’t think so. Perhaps you could have altered the plan from the get-go and skipped him once a month so he’d be available come October, but now say you don’t make it to October, you haven’t used up his bullets and now the issue carries into 2013.

    • Noah_I

      This is true, and also applicable to the 2012 Nationals. The Nationals were expected to still be a year away from 2012, and they failed to change a preseason plan to shut Strasburg down that would have been fine if they were an under .500 team, but destroyed their post season chances.

      Sometimes the windows open earlier than you expect. Of course, one of the challenges for a team that has been rebuilding and has a hot first half is that you have to make your decision to buy, sell, or stand pat before you know if your team actually is that good. But that wasn’t the issue the Nationals faced.

      I agree, the Nationals would have been much better off having Strasburg skip a few turns in August.

    • PLCB3

      But the Red Sox re-tooled. They didn’t come back with the same players.

      • Jedi

        They came back with WORSE players. Their 2013 Opening Day roster was LESS likely to win the WS than their 2012 Opening Day roster. The point is, people would’ve left them for dead as a team whose window closed the day they traded their team to the Dodgers. But their management didn’t look at it that way – they tried to get good in the short-term with cost effective options that didn’t pillage their future. Behold, they won a title.

        The Cubs have NOT tried to get better; right now they are essentially the house-flippers of the MLB. They acquire reclamation projects that they hope to deal for something slightly better in 4 months…

        There are a LOT of people who think the Red Sox should’ve taken that same tactic after dumping their big names on the Dodgers. And if they had, they wouldn’t have won a title because they’d have effectively closed their own window for them.

      • PLCB3

        But the Red Sox had a better farm system than we do. The farm system was barren when he took the job. Theo is talking a big game, and if these prospects he is touting go belly-up, then I will join in with your bitching.

      • Jedi

        That was a non sequitur.

      • AC0000000

        But the Red Sox had a better farm system than we do. The farm system was barren when he took the job. Theo is talking a big game, and if these prospects he is touting go belly-up, then I will join in with your bitching.

      • Jedi

        That was a non sequitur.

    • AC0000000

      But the Red Sox re-tooled. They didn’t come back with the same players.

  • Seymour Butts

    Sometimes you think a window is open, you rush headlong into it and… (note the use of the ellipsis) SMASH, you hit the screen. It’s funny when a cat does this.

  • Seymour Butts

    Sometimes you think a window is open, you rush headlong into it and… (note the use of the ellipsis) SMASH, you hit the screen. It’s funny when a cat does this.

  • Jedi

    The Cubs philosophy seems to be that if we leave the window shut long enough, people will stop expecting it to ever open.

    • Jedi

      I take it all back – the Cubs philosophy right now is actually to nail, superglue, and bolt the window shut then hold on for dear life to be sure that nothing pries that window even slightly ajar. They want nothing to do with an open window.

  • PLCB3

    How about a situation where the owner has the resources to build a winner but destroys it, like Mark Cuban did in Dallas? He decided not to bring back several key players from the 2011 championship team even though they still had a few years where they could have competed for the championship.

    • Jedi

      I think the key there is championship team. You’re ridiculing a guy who won a title. We’re Cub fans, we don’t have that luxury.

      • PLCB3

        So if Dallas didn’t win the title and he made those moves, it would be dumb, but since he won the title, it was okay? The team that won the title had a 3-5 year window to win a few more.

      • Jedi

        You seem to have a hard time reading today…moreso than usual.

        “How about a situation where the owner has the resources to build a winner but destroys it”…he won a freaking title. You act like he pillaged the team as the Marlins have done after each of their titles.

        If the Mavs hadn’t beat the Heat – and if Cuban had then followed up by resigning all those guys, what would you say then? Would you still be pimping this “keep the team together” notion? Doubtful. You’d be arguing that what they needed was new blood, better players, and Cuban was stupid to resign all that garbage that only won them the Western Division.

        He’s the architect of the only team to beat LeBron’s Heat in a playoff series. His best player is now 35-years old. The Mavs “window” probably closed the second they won the title…along with everyone else in the NBA.

      • PLCB3

        “If the Mavs hadn’t beat the Heat – and if Cuban had then followed up by resigning all those guys, what would you say then? Would you still be pimping this “keep the team together” notion?”

        Yes because that team was built to be a title contender for 3-5 years, and there was no in-fighting to destroy the team. When the Lakers lost the 2008 Finals, should they have got rid of Odom, Bynum, and Ariza? No. Keep them and go for it again. And it worked. They won 2 titles. Miami didn’t blow up the 3 stooges after losing to Dallas and they won 2 titles. They could have gotten rid of role players like Mike Miller or Udanis Haslem but they didn’t.

        Caron Butler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, and most importantly Tyson Chandler were all huge contributors on the title winner, and Cuban let all of them go. Especially killer was letting Chandler go. He was the final piece to winning in 2011. He put them over the top. Dallas’ window had 3-5 years left when they won.

      • Jedi

        You’re comparing radically different situations. There’s really no comparison actually. The Mavs were hamstrung and couldn’t simply keep everyone. Plus, Barea, Stevenson, Butler – that’s the DEFINITION of role players.

      • PLCB3

        I’ll give you Berea and Stevenson but if he had brought back Chandler and Butler he could have still had the team in title contention

  • AC0000000

    How about a situation where the owner has the resources to build a winner but destroys it, like Mark Cuban did in Dallas? He decided not to bring back several key players from the 2011 championship team even though they still had a few years where they could have competed for the championship.

    • Jedi

      I think the key there is championship team. You’re ridiculing a guy who won a title. We’re Cub fans, we don’t have that luxury.

      • AC0000000

        So if Dallas didn’t win the title and he made those moves, it would be dumb, but since he won the title, it was okay? The team that won the title had a 3-5 year window to win a few more.

      • Jedi

        You seem to have a hard time reading today…moreso than usual.

        “How about a situation where the owner has the resources to build a winner but destroys it”…he won a freaking title. You act like he pillaged the team as the Marlins have done after each of their titles.

        If the Mavs hadn’t beat the Heat – and if Cuban had then followed up by resigning all those guys, what would you say then? Would you still be pimping this “keep the team together” notion? Doubtful. You’d be arguing that what they needed was new blood, better players, and Cuban was stupid to resign all that garbage that only won them the Western Division.

        He’s the architect of the only team to beat LeBron’s Heat in a playoff series. His best player is now 35-years old. The Mavs “window” probably closed the second they won the title…along with everyone else in the NBA.

      • AC0000000

        “If the Mavs hadn’t beat the Heat – and if Cuban had then followed up by resigning all those guys, what would you say then? Would you still be pimping this “keep the team together” notion?”

        Yes because that team was built to be a title contender for 3-5 years, and there was no in-fighting to destroy the team. When the Lakers lost the 2008 Finals, should they have got rid of Odom, Bynum, and Ariza? No. Keep them and go for it again. And it worked. They won 2 titles. Miami didn’t blow up the 3 stooges after losing to Dallas and they won 2 titles. They could have gotten rid of role players like Mike Miller or Udanis Haslem but they didn’t.

        Caron Butler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, and most importantly Tyson Chandler were all huge contributors on the title winner, and Cuban let all of them go. Especially killer was letting Chandler go. He was the final piece to winning in 2011. He put them over the top. Dallas’ window had 3-5 years left when they won.

      • Jedi

        You’re comparing radically different situations. There’s really no comparison actually. The Mavs were hamstrung and couldn’t simply keep everyone. Plus, Barea, Stevenson, Butler – that’s the DEFINITION of role players.

      • AC0000000

        I’ll give you Berea and Stevenson but if he had brought back Chandler and Butler he could have still had the team in title contention