In other words, it's a conundrum to which A's general manager Billy Beane and any other homeowner certainly can relate. And no, this has nothing to do with his property in Danville.
Rather, this has to do with the baseball team he partially owns and, despite his sudden affinity for the European-styled pitch, fully operates (or so those around him say). You see, the A's team he built has lost much of the shine it had on move-in day; the question only he can answer is where does it go from here? Patch work or full-scale remodeling?
Of course, coaxing an answer publicly from the architect of four division winners, one wild-card participant and three other second-place finishers over the past nine years is generally fruitless. For one, Beane has never made his sketches an open book. For two, he's likely still trying to gain clarity on a definitive resolution himself.
But as he has said both publicly and privately, the time will come when the A's as we have come to know them will need to be ripped apart and rebuilt from the foundation up.
And it's at least worth wondering if that time isn't now.
You certainly can make the case that it isn't. One glimpse of the standings is argument aplenty. The A's enter their final four weekends needing only a mini-run of 12-9 to finish at least .500 for the ninth straight season. That would leave them a shot, if left with the same basic exterior, to go where the A's franchise has never gone. Namely, a decade without a losing season.
Thus, the easy thing would be to count heavily on Rich Harden and Eric Chavez and Huston Street and some of the other key figureheads who have been waylaid by injuries the past two seasons. Simple to pawn off the 37 usages of the disabled list and 2,650 combined games missed since 2006 as buzzard's luck. Safe to assume a resurgence of the bullpen once Justin Duchscherer returns and Kiko Calero's shoulder gets six months of rest.
All those things fall into place, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton stick around to do their thing for another season, and Nick Swisher takes a step forward, and sure, the 2008 A's probably would smoke right past 81 wins.
Which is all fine and dandy until you consider a) those four division winners, one wild-card and three other second-place finishes don't add up to even one World Series appearance, and b) what would have to take place after 2008.
You see, that's the thing about home improvement. You can only ignore it for so long.
The questions thus posed, then, are several.
How long, for instance, will the A's wait for Chavez to become the embodiment of Miguel Tejada, the man they couldn't afford to keep (or so they said) because Chavez was deemed money better spent (at only a $1 million per year less)? Whispers around the A's organization still insist he can be an MVP someday, but that day usually doesn't first arrive after you have surgery and turn 30.
None of which even addresses the topic of Bobby Crosby, whose promise made Tejada expendable but whose play since his rookie season of 2004 has inspired a long list of inquiries, not the least of which is, "What were they thinking?" Crosby may indeed deserve just a little more slack (but not much) because since then, he's missed 192 games with injuries, at least three of which were freak ones. On the other hand, when Crosby has played, he hasn't exactly made us forget Tejada.
Then there's Swisher, whose star is still rising even though he has seen all his power numbers -- home runs (35 to 17), RBI (95 to 64) slugging percentage (.493 to .426) -- dwindle significantly from last year to this. Is this what he is, or is 2008 when he becomes the 30-dinger, 100-RBI guy he's been projected to be? As for Harden, wake us when he makes 10 uninterrupted starts.
Anyway, the debate could rage all day about all things, and you'd certainly hope Beane is waging it. He's already shown a competency for renovation, having crafted a model organization from the ruins of a decade ago, then producing a partial refurbishing that started with the trades of Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder in December of '04.
But like anything, all good windows -- in this case, the one that offers the ability to win a championship -- become worn down at some point, only adding to the eyesores that already exist. Wouldn't be a bad thing for Beane to think about the next time he mows his lawn.
Contact Rick Hurd at firstname.lastname@example.org.