As many of you know, I am a fan of the Green Bay Packers. In recent years, the General Manager of the Packers, Ted Thompson, has turned into a wildly controversial figure in the Packers fan community. There is a large segment of the fanbase that hates Thompson, with much of that sentiment stemming from the Brett Favre situation. Even putting the Favre situation aside, many feel that he is too conservative in his decision-making, as he generally eschews free agency and focuses on building through the draft. The last major free agent the Packers signed was Charles Woodson, who inked a 7 year deal in April of 2006. I really cannot stress enough how much this has annoyed some Packers fans over the last few seasons, who felt that the team was a free agent or two away from contending in a number of those seasons.
I have a friend who, like me, is a fan of the Packers and Yankees, but he differed from me in his opinion of Ted Thompson. I think Thompson is a solid GM with a good eye for talent, while my buddy was in the “fire Ted Thompson” camp. This morning, I received the following text from him:
Starting to really like Ted Thompson. The Blackhawks gave away their whole future just to get Hossa who is now breaking down. Draft and develop, and sign earlier rather than later for cheaper is the way to go for any franchise not named the Yankees.
Packers fans across the country have echoed this sentiment, issuing mea culpas in the aftermath of the Packers Super Bowl victory. It is a shocking turnaround considering the fact that 7 weeks ago, after a loss to the Lions, most of these people called for Thompson to be fired. Perception changes rapidly in sports, and one spurt of success can erase 5 years of bad blood.
Similarly, Brian Cashman is getting battered from all sides by fans and media alike for what is perceived to be a terrible offseason. He has been unwilling to trade his top prospects for a quick fix, and this strategy has left him with a large hole at the back of his rotation. It seems fairly certain that the Yankees will be seen as one of the losers of the offseason, and that Cashman will be glossing over these last few months on his resume.
Yet, if in 3 seasons, the Yankees win the World Series with Manny Banuelos and Phil Hughes in the rotation, Joba Chamberlain and Dellin Betances in the bullpen, and Jesus Montero mashing in the middle of the order, we might look back on this offseason in an entirely different light. Much like the failed pursuit of Johan Santana was bemoaned at the time but has subsequently come to be viewed as an unqualified positive for the organization, Cashman’s unwillingness to trade the farm for anything but elite talent may undergo a similar reevaluation in the future. Instead of looking upon this offseason as the one in which Cliff Lee got away, we might remember it as the year Cashman held on to the next wave of Yankee stars. It may strike you as unlikely, but if Packers fans can embrace Ted Thompson, anything can happen.