My Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived yesterday, an occasion which always brings some measure of joy.
I'll admit, though, that I don't generally dive right in and devour whole chunks. Oh, I suppose I should read the reports on every team's No. 1 prospect, just so I can claim to know something of the subject this spring. But I use the Handbook mostly as a resource, an encyclopedia of sorts, when prospects get off to hot starts in the spring, or get traded in the summer. Then, it's nice to know what everybody was saying about them last winter.
One thing I do do every winter? Look at the team rankings. Here are this year's top five:
5. Red Sox
A list of top front-office personnel on these clubs includes about Andrew Friedman and a dozen people who have worked for the A's or Red Sox within the last five years.
Meanwhile, the Braves drop to 29th in the rankings, just ahead of the last-place Tigers:
With four consecutive AL Central titles, it's hard to argue with the Tigers' methods. GM Dave Dombrowski's penchant for shipping away prospects hasn't bitten the Tigers yet, but there's little impact talent or immediate help coming from the farm.
The thing is, they'll probably make it five straight titles this year. The Tigers, of course, are fortunate to play in a division with three low-revenue franchises and a fourth that just hasn't been real smart lately. But one of these years, the Tigers will suddenly seem very old and they won't have nearly enough young talent in the pipeline. And before you say it can't happen to this franchise, please recall that just two years after losing the 2006 World Series, the Tigers went 74-88 and finished behind the White Sox, the Twins, the Indians, and the Royals.
Like I said, it probably won't happen this year. But a reckoning is coming. Again.