There are some broad guidelines a GM would use when constructing a team that can advance deep into the playoffs. Of course input from his scouting department and field manager are important but the GM should understand what makes for a quality playoff contender.
Good players are simply not enough. Most playoff teams have plenty of talent or they wouldn't be a playoff team in the first place. The eventual champion usually doesn't have a major deficiency ie; power, speed, bench, rotation or bullpen, and their manager and coaching staff have instilled a team philosophy that promotes heads up play that the players buy into.
When assessing the 2008 Chicago Cubs, it was fair to say that they didn't have a major deficiency. But the lineup wasn't balanced and the manager didn't have a game plan. Hitters were undisciplined and the pressure of the moment seemed to affect key personnel, including the manager.
Much of these shortcomings were a result of not having a game plan and team philosophy. If these little things that have nothing to do with talent were stressed during the season, players incapable or unwilling to adhere to the game plan could be replaced. The team then would be better able to handle the postseason pressure knowing if they were off their game, another teammate is more than capable of stepping in and doing the job.
It's that team philosophy and belief in the manager's game plan that inspires the confidence our 2008 Chicago Cubs seemed to lack.
Posts in the future will address the team's coaching staff, pitching and position players. So I encourage all of you to start formulating your own opinions and telling me where you agree or disagree.