Fresh off the heels of Ned Yost defiantly standing behind his struggling players, scientists today from the Agricultural Department of the University of Missouri announced a shocking breakthrough.
"We have created a kind of tree that grows replacement players," explains Dr. John Otis, head of the department. "You can plant this tree in any random city that has a Major League or Triple-A baseball team, and out starts popping replacement players. It's quite remarkable."
The concept of a replacement level player has long been known, but until now it was unknown just how easy it was to find one.
Dr. Peter Piniella, who led the research project, hopes this great discovery will lead to a change in the way baseball teams conduct their operations. "For a long time, certain teams have insisted on repeatedly playing players who fall below replacement level, incorrectly assuming it would be too difficult to find anybody better. It is my hope that our invention will put those fears to rest."
Dr. Piniella continues, "For example, if a team would have, say, a third baseman that that is playing far below replacement level, they can now go to any of the roughly 60 replacement trees planted around the country and pick some random third baseman, and they have an instant upgrade in that position. Granted, it's not a major upgrade, but it still is an upgrade."
"And it's not just third baseman. Our tree works for any position. Do you have a below replacement player at, say, right field? You no longer have to play him day after day. Instead, you can pick any random right fielder off of a replacement tree, and you have improved your team."
Critics of this new discovery argue that it can't be that easy, and besides, what they are looking for are All-Star players, and those sure don't grow on trees.
Dr. Otis counters, "Sure, we have yet to develop a tree that grows All-Stars, although during development and testing the tree did come close a few times. But let's say, hypothetically, that you're a team that has gone all in for this season after 27 consecutive years of missing the playoffs. With our invention, you no longer have to play sub-replacement level players at 3 or 4 positions. Sure, you can complain that we aren't giving you All-Stars, but if you are really aiming for the playoffs, why not try for an upgrade?"
It is unknown how this development will impact the way general managers and managers construct there rosters, although with any major discovery, it may take time before it catches on.
Dr. Piniella offers his concluding thoughts, "Yes. All Star players don't grow on trees, but replacement level players do. In today's world, there is no excuse to play one, let alone multiple, players who are below replacement level. Our research and discoveries are available to any team that wants to take advantage of them, but who knows if they will."