“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” — Sun Tzu, Art of War
Baseball, perhaps more than any of the other major sports, is a game of information. The season is longer, which allows for more compilation of data. The stop-start nature of the game allows for the analysis of data from a whole host of scenarios. The changing of outcomes based on the handed-ness of players causes data fields to double in size.
Then add in that baseball has the most robust minor leagues of the four sports and you can start to trendline the future performances of players over the course of their 3-5 years in the minors.
When you take all this into account, a baseball team would be remiss to not know every intimate detail of their division opponents’ operations. Once you know your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, both short and long-term, you can prepare your own team with a better certainty. Knowing whether or not your opponent has a rich farm that will supply cost-controlled talent for the next 5 years may determine if a team feels they need to tear down a team and shoot for another window, or load up and make a run while a team is on the ropes.
I will be examining each of the 5 NL Central opponents of the Pirates over the next few weeks to determine the nature of our “enemies”. The areas that I will be presenting will be:
- Committed payroll 2011 – 2014 (this does not count arbitration or min-scale players)
- Estimated payroll 2011 only (this does account for arb and min scale players)
- Bad contracts on the books
- Historical payrolls from 2005-2010
- What should the team do this offseason
- What will the team do this offseason
- Potential minor league help from their farm system
- Is the team Trending Up, Trending Down, or In Flux
The goal is to get the reader to feel, not like an expert on the team in question, but perhaps more attuned to the team. Plus it will make you seem smarter to your friends.
Up first: The Houston Astros