Today's news is a head-scratcher. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. I am referring to the Dodgers signing up a mammoth TV advertising contract with Fox ("MLB team's ‘dangerous' big money deal" - Yahoo news, Nov 27, 2012, by Jeff Passan). According to past experience and comments in this article, the whole economics of MLB baseball is going to change in favor of the "rich teams", making it harder for small-market teams to compete.
Of course, my first considerations were about the A's. Seems like there are few proven means of "keeping up with the big boys", and the a's have already tried them all. The problem is that they tried these means in succession, rather than simultaneously. I would contend that, tried all together, the whole range of measures might be able to stand up to massive $ investments - the way it happened, granted - on occasion, with Steinbrenner's Yankees.
One immediate measure would be to be opportunistic and sign up (or trade for) the best possible players, whenever there is such a chance, and before those "big boys" do it. Granted, the chance of that is slim, unless there is agreement among small-market teams on doing such [trades], deliberately bypassing the big-market teams. At this moment, there is such a specific opportunity for the A's trading for Wil Myers of the Royals, as discussed in today's BWH's Fan Post "Tradin' with Kansas City." Until I saw the Dodgers' news, I was not too sure to trade, for example, Anderson for Myers - after all, the A's OF is complete.
However, now I think this is a must deal, even if the offer is something like Anderson + Peacock + Smith. Such a deal would be akin to getting Cespedes - investing into the future.
The other simultaneous means of competing with the rich-getting-richer teams would be, I believe,
A) Invest relatively small money into international scouting, to copycat the going-out-on-a-limb signing of Cespedes. This effort has to be all-out, not the tentative dabbling into the Caribbean market via a Dominican proxy! I would go for Ausie, Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese prospects - study them, study their personalities and legal systems - after all, those are different cultures, where one cannot expect to just sign up mentally ready "American prospects for dollars."
B) Continue doing as good a job of First Year drafting as the one this past June. Here the A's will have to avoid the "Sophomore jinks," too. I am deliberately trying not to be superstitious, but an initial success followed by a drop-off is characteristic of many people, young people in particular. Traditionally this was called "resting on one's laurels," and there is nothing to be superstitious about it - it is just a psychological phenomenon, where some people, after an initial success, redouble their efforts, while others just "rest."
C) Do the "under the radar" trading for promising prospects at lower levels, accumulating as many as possible, before their team become attached to their futures. This accumulation, I think, would provide the key to a continuous competitive ability on the MLB market.
Probably there are other means of keeping up the competitive pressure. The key is to use the all SIMULTANEOUSLY and, this time, purposefully - elbow grease is the only advantage the little guy can have in this world.
By the way, if anyone is missing the data, here are a few Draft-related sites: