Boss not satisfied with winning

A team can survive but actually thrive with a replacement level (or worse) player at one or even two positions.

Updated: October 20, 2003, 10:41 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
If George Steinbrenner had owned the Chicago Cubs in 1906, he probably would have replaced Joe Tinker, the team's shortstop and the first leg of the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance double play trio. Why is that? Because even though the team won 116 games and posted the best winning percentage since 1900, Tinker had the weakest season among regular players and, as we know, Mr. Steinbrenner likes to have as many superstars on hand as possible.

And, regardless of what happens in the rest of the 2003 World Series, he will be looking to perfect his roster even further in the coming offseason. There is a strong suspicion that he will make a big play for free agent Vladimir Guerrero to correct the team's weakest link: right field.

With a budget that appears to have no upper limit, there are no financial reasons why he can't have what he wants whenever he wants it. If that means having an all-star-caliber player at every position, then so be it. Is that trip necessary, however? Can't a team not only survive but actually thrive with a replacement level (or worse) player at one or even two positions? Of course it can. It is not only possible to have a blemish in the lineup and still succeed it is actually standard operating procedure. The Yankees need look no further than their own history to see that this is so.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at