The Baseball Winter Meetings start today in Orlando, Florida and rumors will fly, deals will be made, and frantic phone calls will be placed to double check that “pay per view movie titles really don’t appear on the bill, right?”
What you might not know is that there’s a lot more going on at the winter meetings than just a bunch of GMs wearing out cell phone batteries and kissing the asses of agents.
It’s a convention, first and foremost and it’s similar to the ones we all get dragged to as part of our soul-crushing, everyday, jobs.
There’s a trade show where companies that make everything from bobbleheads to foam fingers to team-branded commemorative bags of glass try to convince Major and Minor League teams to buy thousands of them to give away to their fans.
There’s a job fair where people with real college degrees (well “sort of” they probably have degrees in useful things like English, history and philosophy and have figured out that even in a good economy there are no jobs for them, much less now) try to land jobs as high paid minor league front office workers.Â Hope you like to get yelled at in Spanish, help pull the tarp during every rain delay and like to eat Ramen noodles, boys!
And, of course there are conference sessions that even baseball’s biggest muckety-mucks have to attend.
Thanks to our connections with the Cubs (they love us there) we were given the highlights of the session Jim Hendry is going to give to new GMs tomorrow morning.Â The most interesting part is his list of important things…his “postulates” for being a successful general manager and building winning teams.
The Hendry Postulates
1. If you can’t find a great player who is willing to take your money, just find a good one and pay him more.Â That makes him a great player!Â How can you go wrong with an $18 million a year left fielder?Â You can’t!
2. If a player’s agent demands extra years OR a no-trade clause, play it cool.Â Act like you don’t care if you give him either.Â Let him know you are the boss and you’re going to give what you are willing to give and nothing more.Â Then, give him both.
3. If a player who you really want seems to be waffling over your offer, fake a heart attack to get his sympathy.Â If that doesn’t work, actually have a heart attack.Â That one never fails.
4. Chemistry in the clubhouse is very important, but so is size displacement.Â I was on a scouting trip to Cambodia a few years back when I met a wonderful prostitute named Feng Shui.Â Ever since, the Cubs have had a policy that our maximum combined height and weight of our middle infielders cannot exceed 185 inches or 400 pounds for three players.Â We have a cramped clubhouse in Chicago, and that really helps give the rest of the guys more usable space.
5. Scouting is crucial, but so are things called “advance metrics.”Â Did you know there are statistics you can track that will actually provide you a way to more accurately predict the success of players?Â It’s true.Â You just have to know which ones are just for show and which ones are for “dough.”Â I think it’s obvious that the most important ones are batting average and strikeouts.Â The more strikeouts the better.Â I haven’t really looked at the ones for pitchers yet.
6. Irregular = more value!Â My favorite stores are the outlets, and here in Florida you can’t drive three miles without running into an outlet mall.Â They’re great because you can find great deals.Â Maybe a shirt should cost $40 but one arm is an inch longer than the other?Â Get it at the outlet for only $8!Â All you have to do is kind of slump to one side and it’ll make it look like the sleeves are the same length!Â Same goes with baseball players.Â Medicine’s a great thing and there’s literally nothing that a player hurts that a great doctor can’t fix.Â So we stock up on guys who have Tommy John surgery or their labrums stitched back on, hell our backup catcher had to have his fingers sewn back onto this throwing hand!Â You know what that means?Â A third of the production at only half the price!Â Winner is you!Â Get out there and stock up on post-op freaks!
7. Structure salaries responsibly.Â I’m going to leave you with this.Â When you do multi-year deals, make sure to give yourself the most flexibility possible.Â By that, I mean backload the shit out of those deals.Â If you give a guy four years and $40 million, see if he’ll take most of that money in the last two years.Â Why?Â Because you have more money to work with in the first two years, and why not?Â GM’s get fired all the time, win now, let some other sap worry about how to build a team with all that dead weight on the payroll.Â Now, if you’re like me and you don’t get fired, well it’s a pain in the ass, but you’re only three or four new backloaded deals from more short-term payroll flexibility!
And all this time you didn’t know what you were really missing at the winter meetings, did you?