The 1982 Minnesota Twins went 60-102. They were bad. Even the Pythagoreans couldn’t help much (65-97).
The Twins that year did manage to get some at-bats and some innings for some quality rookies. Kent Hrbek at first base and Gary Gaetti at third base settled down the infield and gave the lineup some punch. Another rookie, Tom Brunansky (acquired from the Angels) helped out with the homers and played the outfield and they brought along a lefty pitcher who could throw a little named Frank Viola. They also introduced a solid young catcher in Tim Laudner and by the time Kirby Puckett arrived a couple of years later they were a young, dynamic offensive team in a weird new ballpark looking for a little pitching to put them over the top. By 1987 they had kicked the Pythagoreans in the nuts and won the World Series.
You can do that with baseball. The Tigers started their build to the 1984 WS about 7 years before that with guys like Lance Parrish, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris.
Each of those clubs suffered through painful seasons on the way to winning, and if you look at their rosters there were plenty of failed prospects along with the champions. Also, neither team won until their cluster had some real big league experience and that’s something to keep in mind for the next few seasons.
Still, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the Oilers have gotten a lot from this season. Cogliano, Gagner, Nilsson, Gilbert, Brodziak and Grebeshkov have emerged from prospect (or suspect in the case of Nilsson and Grebeshkov) to NHL player. In the future perhaps Ladislav Smid, Matt Greene and Marc Pouliot can join the party, or they may end up being Lenny Faedo.
The Edmonton Oilers can spend the spring and summer selling hope, “wait ’til next year.” They can even add the line “this time we mean it” this time.