What a chaotic morning. It was one of those days when I was constantly on the defensive, just trying to put out fires and make sure that nothing was left hanging. Against all odds, I managed to get everything that people cared about done without getting shouted at and without having to show up in a room full of students completely unprepared (or less prepared than they were). I was just sitting back in my office, feeling a bit of satisfaction and thinking that I might spend ten or fifteen minutes reading a book, when my phone went off. It took me about a microsecond when I saw sunshine’s name on the screen to remember that I had only accomplished 999 of the 1000 things that I was supposed to do today.
So now I’m confronted by the need to come up with something while still floating through the dead zone that is the international break. I’ve never liked these things, and it’s only gotten worse since I started writing for this blog. Now there are two teams about whom nothing is being written for extended periods of time, instead of just one. I really envy people like Arseblogger. Even in the middle of the offseason there are still bits of Arsenal news to chew over. The MLS has not managed to insert itself sufficiently into the popular consciousness such that every conceivable bit of minutia is brought out into the open air. And so it is left to us, your dedicated correspondents, to try to dig around the bones and see if there is anything of substance left with which to entertain out.
All such complaints notwithstanding, I did see an interesting piece at the Stumptown Footy (yes, I do read the other major Timbers blogs) assessing the outcome of the Ricketts for Perkins trade. I was as shocked as anyone else when that whole thing went down and, as we now seem to have a reasonably large sample size on the basis of which to form judgments, I think SF’s discussion of this topic is apposite.
The range of grades given by the writers over there ranged from C- to D. Frankly, I can’t say that I disagree. I just don’t see any upside to this trade at all. Perkins made some bad keeping decisions over the course of his time here, and perhaps one might look at that and say that some new blood was called for. How Donovan Ricketts could have been seen as the answer to this problem, if problem it was, is as mysterious as the Bavarian Illuminati (who for all I know could be running the team at this point). Perkins had been about the most consistent performer on the team throughout this season. Certainly his distribution needed work, but that is the kind of thing that can (or could) be fixed on the training ground. He was just coming into the age range when keepers tend to find their footing and he had been reasonably healthy.
Ricketts, on the other hand, is old for his age and has had serious injuries. If the plan was to help get someone like Joe Bendik prepared in the longer term, I suppose you could say that the experiment succeeded, since Ricketts trip to the training table meant that Bendik got an extended view of life in the fast lane. In all honesty, I don’t really find either Ricketts or Bendik all that convincing. Something that is worth noting about the former is that has shorter tenure with the club hamstrung his ability to adapt to the changes in the composition of the defense. I strongly suspect that the confusion that afflicted our defense up in Seattle was, in part, caused by the need to pair a keeper with a group of defenders with whom he had no prior playing experience. In any case, it’s hard to see how the exchange of Ricketts for Perkins could be anything better than a push, and I think that there are very good arguments for the proposition that we got the short end of the stick.
I’m still trying to figure out what the background of Perkins’s departure was. It seemed like there was some pretty serious acrimony between him and the people running the show in the wake of his departure. That in itself is only to be expected. Getting traded all of a sudden and (apparently) without much warning is the kind of thing that a player can hardly take as anything but a critique of his performance. I can’t help feeling that there must have been something else brewing behind the scenes. I have scanned the media, talked to people, and even cut out the entrails of several chickens, but I have been unable to come up with any substantive information on the topic. What I do know is that this team has a lot of places where improvement is called for. Perhaps one might have looked at the keeping situation and identified it as one such place, although putting that at head of the list of necessary changes would be a hard sell for me. What really does not compute is how the desire to upgrade the squad could have led to a trade which essentially brought in a keeper of comparable ability but who was both older and more prone to injury.
Of all the alarming things that have gone on around the club this season, this is perhaps the most worrying. You could look at the Boyd situation in these terms, but I think it’s arguable that that had to play out the way that it did. Having made the decision to bring him in, a thorough and painstaking process of determining whether he could really help the club was in order. The Ricketts thing seems wholly needless. Either it was simply a bad bit of business, or it was done to cover up some other dynamic going on behind the scenes at the club. Neither scenario is particularly appealing. We have a long and, quite probably, painful offseason ahead of us. Perhaps then we will learn what was really going on.