Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Less Than Magnificent Seven

Another decade of baseball has ended, and despite cries that the Yankees buy the World Series every year and the Red Sox are no better, there has been a lot of distributed wealth in terms of post season success this decade.

8 different National League teams went to the World Series.

And while the Yankees and Red Sox did indeed represent 6 times this decade, teams like the Angels, White Sox, Tigers and Rays also pulled off unlikely pennants.

13 of the 16 teams in the National League made the playoffs this decade with 11 of those teams getting to the NLCS.

10 of the 14 AL teams made the post season and all of them played in at least one ALCS.

Small market clubs like the Marlins, Twins, A’s and Rays all made the playoffs with the Marlins winning it all in 2003.

The Big Market Red Sox missed the post season in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006.
The Yankees missed the playoffs despite a $200 million payroll in 2008.
The Mets proved that spending money doesn’t always equal success.

As decades go, this was pretty good in terms of parity despite the popular refrain of “the same teams win every year.” (That declaration is actually more accurate when looking at the NFL and the NBA, but I digress.)

So the new decade starts for baseball in about 5 months and the staff at Sully Baseball is putting seven franchises on notice.

Seven franchises missed the playoffs each and every year of the 2000s… and they had better get their act together for the 2010s.

Two franchises missed the playoffs every year of the 1990s and 2000s:

The Washington Nationals, whose only foray into October ball was during the split 1981 season when they were the Montreal Expos.

The Kansas City Royals, who haven’t played playoff ball since winning the 1985 World Series.

And five other teams have sat out the post season since the 20th century.

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t even fielded a .500 team since the 1992 NLCS. Damn you Francisco Cabrera.

The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t returned to the post season since Joe Carter’s home run ended the 1993 World Series.

The Cincinnati Reds last played into October in 1995 when they lost to the Braves in the NLCS.

The Baltimore Orioles, once the model franchise in the American League, have been an embarrassment since their 1997 AL East title.

And the Texas Rangers remain the only franchise in baseball history to have never won a playoff series of any kind. They last won a Division Title in 1999.

There are no excuses for these teams to miss an entire decade. None.

Don’t give me payroll.

The A’s, Twins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Marlins all made the post season and advanced to the League Championship Series with payrolls that ranked near the bottom of MLB.

Don’t complain about the Yankees and Red Sox spending money. Only the Blue Jays and Orioles play in the same division as those two teams… and both have bigger fan bases and access to more television money than the Rays, who leap frogged both teams to the 2008 AL Pennant.

Don’t complain about stadiums. The Pirates, Reds and Nationals all have brand new state of the art facilities open in the 2000s. They are sitting empty.

Take cues from the Rays and A’s and build teams intelligently through the draft.

Take cues from the Marlins and make sure that if you trade a veteran, get some value in return.

Take cues from the Twins and stress solid defense and throwing strikes, therefore cutting down on mistakes on the field and forcing the other teams to play fundamental baseball.

And also take a note from the Brewers and take a risk and go for it. I think trading Matt LaPorta for CC Sabathia was a brilliant move that helped the franchise in the long term. Sure the Brewers were eliminated in the Division Series and Sabathia ran off to cash the Yankees paychecks… but Brewers fans had something to cheer about for the first time since 1982.

I believe that each team should make at least one legit pennant run a decade, if for no other reason that to energize a fan base and give fans memories to build upon.

Keeping in mind my belief that you don’t really follow the ins and outs of a team until you are 7 years old, there are 33 year old Brewer fans whose only memories of a playoff team came from Sabathia’s pennant drive.

I’m sorry but that is worth Matt LaPorta.

So let’s get on it, you seven.

Draft better players. Make smarter trades. Hire better scouts. Play better defense. Throw more strikes. Push your chips into the center of the table.

You don’t want to let multiple decades pass without giving your fan base any reason to cheer.

And no, Nationals front office, the President Race doesn’t count as a reason to cheer.


  1. Do the Rays really get credit for "drafting smart"? What 10 straight years of having the #1 pick(a bit of exaggeration) but at least a top 5 pick every year. I am not sure that counts as drafting smart. Putting Toronto and the Reds on this list seems a bit harsh. Toronto has made runs over .500 and anyone that can finish ahead of either Boston or NY in the last 10 years cannot be lumped in with the Pirates. The Rangers are another pathetic case playing in a 4 team division, which until Artie Moreno bought the Angels had no big spenders...well other than the Rangers, there is no excuse for not making the playoffs. The Nats....well when the league sanctions the destruction of your franchise, it will take a while to rebuild.

  2. Let me address this point by point.

    1. Sure I give the Rays credit for the draft. Look at all of the high picks the Pirates have had over the years that have been busts. Look at Matt Bush with the Padres. It's one thing to have the picks. It's another thing to draft good players.

    2. It might be harsh to put the Jays and Reds on here, but the premise of this post was pointing out the teams that missed the playoffs in the 2000s. They fit the category. Harsh? Maybe. But kind of cut and dry.

    3. Yes the Jays made a few nice runs. They also made some horrific contract decisions and couldn't take advantage of down years from the Yankees or Red Sox the way the Rays did in '0. Sorry, a nice run isn't the playoffs.

    4. Sure Arte Moreno is a big spender, but the A's had 5 trips to the playoffs including 4 division titles. Wouldn't call THEM big spenders.

    5. Keep in mind the first two years the league owned the Expos, the Expos had winning seasons. The fans of Montreal actually enjoyed a Wild Card race into September of 2002.... which is more than we can say for the fans of Pittsburgh.

    Also they had a .500 record the last season of MLB owner ship. I am not saying the MLB ownership was a good thing, but the team had 2 winning seasons and a .500 record in the 4 full seasons of MLB ownership.

    That matches the number of winning seasons this decade as the Royals, Reds and Pirates COMBINED.

    In the three full seasons with owner ship they have three losing seasons including back to back 100 loss seasons

  3. This is a great sports blog that you have here man. I have two sports blogs myself and I'd like to exchange links with you and spread some traffic around. Let me know if this is okay.


  4. Sully,
    The blog looks great! I was happy to find it again after a long time.
    Those who whine about the Yanks, Red Sox, Mets and Dodgers' spending habits will always do so, no matter what, even as the owners of their teams take their cut of money that the "big market" teams give them and put it right in their pockets, instead of their teams. I do not feel sorry for them.

  5. Sully, I don't think the Twins get nearly enough of the credit they deserve. If they would "go for it" like the Brewers did in 2008, they could make things intresting. I like it when teams take chances and risk failure with the chance of a big reward. Nice read.

  6. Agreed James.

    Imagine if I told you the Twins would lose both Torii Hunter and Johan Santana in the same off season...

    And then the next two seasons they would finish their division tied for first, winning one tie breaker playoff.

    You would think I was insane

    They draft well, they develop players and play sound baseball.

    Let's hope the new stadium could lead to a few new avenues of dough

  7. Hi,

    If you want to maximize your draft and pick the best team possible, then there's one question you should ask yourself before every pick.

  8. I'm surprised that the Pirates haven't even had a .500 season since 1992. (But then again, who pays attention to the Pirates!)

    Back around 2000, both Pennsylvania teams were getting new taxpayer-funded stadiums so that they could "generate income" and "remain competitive" and be a "source of civic pride" and a "provider of jobs for the community".

    The Phillies have held up their end of the state!

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