Originally, I was a little disappointed on Christmas morning to discover that one of the requests on my free agent wish list, Carlos Delgado, was not fulfilled.
On the contrary, it turns out that Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is saving up for an even bigger gift—a winning baseball team.
Adding Delgado to the lineup would not automatically make them a contender next year. In fact, I don't think there's one sole player who could propel the 2010 Blue Jays into the playoffs. And if there was, they just traded him to Philadelphia.
Yes, bringing back Delgado would rekindle the fires of nostalgia to a better era. Fans would love to see King Carlos reclaim his throne once again. If he were still around, I could totally see former GM J.P. Ricciardi signing Delgado to a one-year contact. It would have been great to have him back for a while.
Unfortunately, just as with any flame, it eventually flickers out.
It's a strategy that's been used by general managers in the past, and it has worked to an extent—distract the fans from the on-field product by bringing back a fan favourite. The problem is that fans can only be distracted so many times before the front office realizes that the villagers are ready to burn them at the stake.
The Anthopolous strategy could argue that a signing like this would be counter-productive. Signing Delgado to an incentive-laden contract would be a short-term gain and frankly, Anthopoloulos has a solid long-term plan that almost certainly doesn't involve any 37-year-old sluggers.
The way that A.A. has talked about "young, controllable players," I'm sure he would much rather use $5 million to pay a portion of the reported $16 million 2010 draft costs or pump the money into the scouting system, rather than giving it to Delgado.
In this business, sometimes you have to think with your brain rather than your heart. Appealing to the fan's emotions only keeps them happy for a little while. In the long run, fans would much rather have a winning franchise instead of pinning all their hopes on one small piece of a former winning franchise.
And that's why we won't see Delgado back in Toronto any time soon.