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George McClellan, Dayton Moore, and the Kansas City Royals

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General George B. McClellan, by Christian Schussele, 1862.
General George B. McClellan, by Christian Schussele, 1862.

My Dear McClellan:

If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.

Yours respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln


I have been thinking more about the big James Shields/Wade Davis/Wil Myers/Jake Odorizzi trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals. While contemplating the issue, my eyes wandered (as they often do) to the shelves full of books in my office. Something caught my eye: George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon, by Stephen W. Sears.

That got me thinking about the historical enigma that was McClellan in the Civil War. He was a brilliant organizer and trainer of troops, who essentially built the Army of the Potomac from scratch. Even those who hated McClellan admitted that his achievement was an outstanding feat of organization and administration. Yet when it came time to put that army to use and take the field of battle against the Confederacy, McClellan hesitated, hemmed and hawed, and overestimated the strength of the enemy. In combat, he would deploy his troops piecemeal and had problems concentrating force. His command failures in the field drove more aggressive officers, and President Lincoln, to distraction.

McClellan was eventually relieved of command, yet without his organizational contributions, the war may not have been won.

So I was thinking about that. Then I started thinking about how I'm a terrible fantasy owner. In every baseball fantasy league I've participated in, I build this really sweet farm system, but my actual active roster usually stinks. I have problems converting the base of talent and youthful assets into on-field production. I always seem to be in rebuilding mode.

Then the two streams of thought came together in my mind. In fantasy baseball, I'm too much like George McClellan. I probably would be in real baseball, too.

Dayton Moore is trying to avoid being McClellan. He's got the farm system built up, the army trained and organized. He's good at that. Now he's taking the field of battle and deploying those forces. That's admirable.

Of course, what's the next part of the story? Is Moore going to turn into an aggressive, brilliant field commander like Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman? Will he be cautious but effective like George Gordon Meade? Mercurial and erratic like Joe Hooker? Or will he be the well-meaning but dangerously inept Ambrose Burnside? The suicidally aggressive John Bell Hood?

And are the Glass family taking the Lincoln role, gently but firmly prodding their general forward, or are they a bunch of meddling, counterproductive Jefferson Davises?

We'll have to turn the page to see.