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Anonymous AL official blames Twitter for the slow trade deadline

Jul 26, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

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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.

  1. mojosmagic - Jul 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Amoro doesn’t lack the cajones he shaves them.

    • halladaysbiceps - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      I hear Amaro Jr.’s cajones are as big as basketballs. Aquiring 3 aces in 3 straight years grow them bigger every year.

  2. bigleagues - Jul 26, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    I’ll echo the protestation of ALAnonymous on the any and all rumors gets published now because of Twitter.

    However, 100% agree with your final point Craig.

  3. xnumberoneson - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    I think the “additional element” this GM was talking about is managing the PR battle and tempering fan expectations. It’s more of a challenge in big, baseball-crazy markets where every Twitter rumor becomes the topic du jour on local talk radio in places like NY, Philly, Boston, SF, St. Louis, etc. For example, there has been a lot of talk about the Mets holding out for premium prospects in a potential Beltran deal. They are unlikely to land a big name prospect and might have to settle for a more modest return. Sandy Alderson is well aware of this fact and understands that it’s all part of the negotiating process. However, when Beltran inevitably goes for a package that does not include any household names, it will be viewed as a disappointment because names like Dominic Brown, Mike Minor and Gary Brown have been floating around on Twitter and WFAN.

    • halladaysbiceps - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      I agree with this. Spot on. Most of these fans that call up these sports talk shows raving about minor league players they have never seen play is laughable. It’s the product of media hype and not the product of sound baseball knowledge.

  4. JB (the original) - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    I do think the advent of “instant” worldwide distribution of information/rumors has teams playing things much closer to the vest in regards to talking to other teams ‘early and often’ in regards to possible trade scenarios. With anonymous ‘sources’ apparently on the inside of virtually every team it seems, I’m not sure much gets done without everyone else knowing about it ahead of time. That said, someone like Bill Smith should probably be listening to the chatter, because the moves he’s made to this point have been panned by the masses immediately upon occurance, and the masses have been correct…..

  5. yankeesgameday - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    The real problem with the slow deadline is that there just aren’t any significant difference makers available out there so teams aren’t jumping to give up the farm system for guys like Carlos Beltran

  6. 18thstreet - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    If teams are overvaluing prospects, that would present an opportunity to teams that have pretty good prospects to trade.

    There’s never going to be perfect information in the market for baseball talent. Blaming teams for “overvaluing” anything — veterans, batting average, toolsy players — is a crutch. Teams that don’t properly value talent are going to have a hard time making deals.

  7. luckynucky - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Do you really think that the average Joe can outsmart a GM? He knows what the player eats for breakfast, do you? There’s so much fanfare about ‘highly touted prospects’ making grass grow without water. Trades are supported by the need of the ballclub, but money and contracts make the deal. These are X’s and O’s we will never understand, not because we are ‘dumb, but because we don’t have the inside information of the financial aspects. RAJ (Amaro) has the biggest cajones because he thinks outside the box with like-minded associates. No big secret there!

  8. scatterbrian - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Twitter is actually ideal for trade rumors. By their nature, they’re unfounded, and once a rumor has veracity, it ceases to be a rumor. The speed or ease in which fans get them is irrelevant, except maybe killing talk radio topics or the suspense of tomorrow’s paper…

    • bigleagues - Jul 26, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Are most trade rumors “unfounded”? I would say almost certainlyyes.

      But you are asserting that ALL trade rumors are, ‘by their nature’, unfounded. And that is quite simply false.

      Once a rumor has veracity, it can still be a rumor, because it has yet to be publicly announced or confirmed on the record.

      BUT, you can bet pine tar to pitching mounds that whenever you hear a ‘rumor” preceded by “it is believed that team-X” or “speculation strongly suggests” or “team x is currently the leader to land player x” – it is almost certainly a big stinking pile of mid-summer manure being churned in mid-day heat.

      • scatterbrian - Jul 26, 2011 at 6:30 PM

        1. a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts: a rumor of war.

        In other words, a rumor is a rumor until it has veracity. At that point it becomes a story.

        Sources say the Mariners and Cardinals are working on a Colby Rasmus trade. = rumor
        Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik confirms the team is negotiating with St. Louis to bring Colby Rasmus to Seattle. = no longer a rumor

  9. hittfamily - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    “a fetid pair of dingo’s kidneys”

    OG is rubbing off on everybody.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 26, 2011 at 9:03 PM

      Remember, when faced with an avalanche of trade rumors,

      DON’T PANIC!

  10. bigleagues - Jul 27, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Courtesy of Joel Sherman of the NY Post . . . we now have: “most motivated”

    As in “team X is the “most motivated” to acquire player X”

    I can just see a panel of forensic psychologists sitting around a NY Post conference room, analyzing rumored discussions and trade scenarios in real time and feeding the sports department their professional opinions as to where Ubaldo is headed.

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