Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why Even Talking About Trading Matt Kemp Is Ridiculous

Michael Baumann tried to write a long-form piece over at Grantland that came out as medium form. Still, in talking about the trade deadline, how perverse the MLB salary dump discussions are:

Money is a huge consideration in sports, and since it would be naive to ignore its impact on team-building and player movement, I don’t begrudge fans for being aware of its impact on the quality of their team. However you came to love your chosen team, you want it to do well, and because money buys players and players produce wins, you want your team to spend its resources wisely.

The problem is, that’s how Matt Kemp, an OK player who isn’t as good as he was three years ago, gets talked about in trade gossip like he’s an outstanding debt. That’s how Philadelphians have turned on Ryan Howard, a lifelong Phillie, model citizen, and cornerstone of the best era in franchise history, and how they’ve begun treating anyone who suggests that Howard’s life might be frustrating right now the way the people of Salem treated John Proctor. That’s how Twins fans think the inexplicable things they think about Joe Mauer. Money is the resource that determines everything else, and that resource is finite, and fans are invested in their team winning. So, they don’t want an inordinate amount of that resource tied up in someone like Kemp, who’s not producing as much as his salary would suggest, or in someone like Howard, who isn’t producing anything at all.

That’s the story and that’s largely the national mind-set, because it’s easy to view players as the problematic end of baseball’s money issue, since they play a child’s sport for more coin than most of us could credibly imagine making. It’s also a lie, or at the very least a delusion that owners and their allies are in no hurry to disabuse us of.

I still don't like sentences that end in prepositions. But jettisoning Matt Kemp at the deadline would be a greater transgression.