So let’s say you’re the assistant GM of a big league team that won the World Series five years ago. They threw the team a parade, bid your boss a fond farewell into retirement and handed you the keys to the kingdom. You had one of the best young aces in the game, a strong lineup in its prime and the whole of baseball stretched out before you.
Since then you’ve locked a great power-hitting first baseman into Top-5-in-baseball money through his late 30s and watched his ability to hit lefties, field and stay healthy fall off the face of the Earth; you’ve paid hand over fist in dollars, prospects, or contract years for guys like Danys Baez, Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence and a declining Jimmy Rollins; you watched what Michael Young did in Texas last year and thought not only did you need his bat in the lineup but his glove at third base every day and your tenure, in one simple graph, can be defined by the plummeting arc of losing the World Series, then losing the National League Championship Series, then losing the National League Divisional Series, then missing the playoffs. And that kingdom you inherited? You sacked it and sold it off piecemeal to acquire aging superstars, lineup patches and half-year quick fixes just to keep the decline as gradual as it was.