The deal not made

I had a minor epiphany this weekend. It was no apple-on-the-head moment. It was simply a methodology for completing tasks that have been vexing me. Step one is to plan. Step two is to act.

You have to believe that your favorite sports team has a plan. After getting waxed twice by the Indians, Yankees fans have to assume that there’s a plan for “fixing” Chien-Ming Wang. It’s not often that a starting pitcher gives up 8 runs in an inning in consecutive starts.

The more I delve into the pre-draft scouting process, the less I know. I do understand that prospects come in two generic flavors. They’re either finished or nearly finished products or projects. Last year the Falcons knew what they were getting in Matt Ryan. He was a polished college quarterback. He turned out to be more than expected.

I listened to a few of the excellent footballguys.com podcasts while shopping today. It’s interesting to understand the changes that are occurring in the game. A switch to 3-4 defenses means that a lot of top college defensive ends are converting to outside linebackers, and personnel directors are dreaming of the next James Harrison. A player must fit the team’s system, be coachable, not have off-the-field concerns, and ideally a will to improve. No wonder GMs aren’t getting a lot of sleep these weeks. When it comes to scouting, what you won’t know is how the player will react to being a professional football player. You can guess, but looking at draft results from the past ten years, you can tell that the guess is often wrong.

I had a plan going into my fantasy baseball season. I wanted to make the playoffs, not necessarily win the regular-season title, and have players who would be peaking in September, not falling off. That’s why I just traded for two players who will not help me immediately. I traded Jose Valverde, a good closer on a bad team, for David Price, currently in AAA, and John Smoltz, currently on the DL. At least with Smoltz I can get an active player while he gets back into mid-season form. Ideally Price will get between five and ten minor league starts and slide into the Rays’ rotation. It’s possible that he’ll run into his first professional struggles and help me not at all. Smoltz is old and injured, but he plays for a good team and might be perfect if he only has to start 20 games in the regular season. Valverde closes. Closers in baseball are kind of like team defenses in football. Even the best aren’t worth much.

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