As we talked about in the Seeds of Success post the other day, there are a lot of organizations that are moving forward with efficient, highly successful philosophies and are putting their teams in a great position to win a lot of the games in the future. Which teams are doing this better than others?
Here is my take. This is based on management personnel and organizational cohesion, not on field talent or recent success. Essentially, this is my opinion of which organizations have laid the strongest foundation between their ownership, baseball operations department, and coaching staffs to insert a winning DNA into their baseball teams. I included a grade with the numerical ranking because, in a lot of cases, there’s no real difference between a few spots on the list.
Rank Organization Grade 1 Cleveland A+ 2 Boston A 3 Tampa Bay A 4 Milwaukee B+ 5 Oakland B+ 6 NY Yankees B 7 Detroit B 8 San Diego B 9 Arizona B- 10 Atlanta B- 11 NY Mets B- 12 Anaheim C+ 13 Colorado C+ 14 Minnesota C+ 15 Florida C 16 Chi. Sox C 17 Washington C 18 Toronto C- 19 Chi. Cubs C- 20 Los Angeles C- 21 Texas C- 22 Pittsburgh D 23 Seattle D 24 Philadelphia D 25 Kansas City D 26 St. Louis D 27 San Francisco F 28 Cincinnati F 29 Houston F 30 Baltimore F
No surprise here – I’ve been calling the Indians the best run organization in baseball for about four years, and that hasn’t changed. Boston is perfecting the big market, high salaried bully approach in contrast to Tampa’s load-up-on-cheap-talent philosophy, but both are the correct direction for their organizations to go in, considering their relative financial positions. The Brewers are quietly putting the pieces together to dominate the NL Central for the next decade, Billy Beane keeps doing his thing in Oakland while waiting for a new stadium, and the Yankees have transformed themselves into an organization with foresight, planning, and rationalization to go with their $200 million payroll. Scary.
On the other side of the coin, there’s a couple organizations that are going head first off the cliff at full speed. The Baltimore Orioles have a meddlesome owner, a front office that lacks necessary power, outdated analytical techniques, and, oh yea, they play in the A.L. East. Barring a one season fluke where everything just breaks right, I’m not sure Baltimore makes the playoffs in the next 10-15 years. If you’re raising a child near the nation’s capital, make them a Nationals fan.
Houston’s not a whole lot better, honestly. Meddlesome owner? Check. Retread failure of a GM? Check. Completely ignoring the farm system? Double Check. The Astros spent a mind-boggling $600,000 in signing bonuses in the first 11 rounds of this summer’s draft – combined. Houston spent about as much on the draft as the Mariners did on Matt Mangini. With some aging, overrated players tied up to long term contracts and no help on the way from the farm system, Houston’s poised to be terrible for a long, long time.
The Mariners come in 23rd, buoyed by their strength in amateur scouting and ownership’s commitment to giving the front office a payroll advantage over most of baseball. The front office? Well, we’ve covered their flaws in detail. Under Bill Bavasi, the Mariners have done a good job of resurrecting what was a horrible farm system, but their major league transactions have been brutal, and there isn’t a winning organizational philosophy in place.
So, if you’re a fan of the Indians, Devil Rays, Red Sox, or Brewers, you should be pretty happy with your club. If you’re allegiances lie with Baltimore, Houston, San Francisco, or Cincinnati, well, you might want to find something else to do with your summers for the next ten years or so.