How Free Agency Is Cheapening The "Team"

My problem with the Yankees' recent X-Mas shopping is that the team now favored to win the AL East in 2009 isn't really the Yankees; it's a bunch of guys the Yankees added because the team they had built wasn't that good.

Free agency can be a good thing. It gives a player who was drafted by a team he never wanted to play for a chance to have a say in where he plays, and where he lives, halfway into his career. But teams are supposed to build their team, their identity, through their farm system, using trades to fill holes or rebuild.

What free agency has done is to allow teams like the Yankees to artificially create a team they didn't build - to draft Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy and start C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, to fix offensive deficiencies created by poor player development and poor trades by buying Mark Teixeira. Few teams can do this, so everyone else has to draft and trade well, while a few teams can buy expensive "instant surgery" while the rest of the league resorts to 3-year programs of "health development" because it can't afford pitchingectomies and hitting-transplants. It's almost like our health care system, which hardly gets high ratings from the average consumer.

If you believe this is a problem it's a difficult problem to solve because it's nigh impossible to find any solution which is good for "baseball" that also meets the approval of both owners and players. I have a lot of complaints and few answers. The only one I can think of that doesn't directly impact salaries is to limit how many FAs a team can sign; after all, they weren't your players, so why should you get to sign an unlimited number of players you didn't develop or trade for?

I don't honestly know what "the answer" is, but I know I think it's a problem. Your team is supposed to be YOUR TEAM, and if you don't like your team you are supposed to fix the problem by fixing YOUR DRAFTS or trading YOUR PLAYERS. You shouldn't just be able to go out and buy different players because you don't care for the ones you have. And that's essentially what the "Yankees" have done, quotation marks to emphasize that they're not really the Yankees. I think this unlimited access to as many free agents as you can attract and can afford is cheapening the concept of building a baseball team. Do you agree?

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