Buster Olney has an interesting column up today, talking about how the trade deadline has changed in the past several years. The upshot, with which I agree, is that whereas teams didn’t value their prospects as highly as they should have 15 or 20 years ago, trading them for rent-a-veterans all willy-nilly, these days they’re probably being too cautious. They overvalue even fringe prospects and lack the cajones to make a bold deal.
Supporting the column are quotes from some random, anonymous baseball executives. One says that given some past bad deals — Buster cites the famous Heathcliff Slocumb-to-Seattle for Varitek and Lowe deal — GMs are afraid to make a mistake. Another talks about how GMs pay more attention to contracts and money now than they used to. Another says that there is probably more media and fan pressure to make deals for their own sake than is warranted given a team’s competitive decision and the pieces it has available.
All of those make sense. As does the general idea expressed in a view of their quotes that media pressure and scrutiny from fans on the Internet affect all of this. But I think one guy Olney quotes — an “AL official” — is kind of off-base:
“I’d say one of the biggest changes has been the advent of Twitter and the impact it has had upon the coverage of the deadline and the game. Now there appears to be a race to be first — instead of being right — and to get it out there in 140 characters or less. Every rumor is quickly and widely disseminated, oftentimes without regard for its possible veracity. This causes many more potential deals and players’ names to be ‘out there’ and has created an additional element for teams to try to manage.”
Being charitable, I get the broad strokes of what he’s saying here — it fits with the media scrutiny thing — but what kind of a team is basing its decisions on Internet chatter? Do you think Ruben Amaro, Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman give a fetid pair of dingo’s kidneys what rumors are being tweeted around? Heck, I bet they spend more time laughing at how they could, if they wanted to, mess with all of us, than they do worrying about how what so-and-so is hearing might affect their trade strategies.
Show me a team that is “trying to manage the additional element” caused by Twitter, and I’ll show you a team that doesn’t have its priorities in the right place. Good teams set the narrative. They don’t react to it.