I’ve been thinking about this lately, and there’s something weird in this season’s extension of Melvin.
In early May, the team was in a lot of trouble. Melvin had a two-year deal, and after season one, they didn’t extend it — they waited until the team had stumbled badly.
The team reacted to rumors his job might be at risk that early in the season by giving him another year. Now, at the time they gave us a whole set of reasons why, some of which didn’t make sense:
– Bavasi wanted to wait until he’d seen enough of Melvin to make a decision (why such a short time? why not wait out the rest of the contracted year for more information?)
– Vote of confidence in the whole team: “In terms of timing, this sends a strong message from our ownership group and front office to our fans, the media and our players that we are 100 percent behind Bob Melvin and this team.” — Howard Lincoln. Don’t worry, fans, we’re confident this is a blip.
– Confidence in Melvin specifically. “But I did sense when I started seeing things in the media that suggested Bob was at risk, and knowing how highly we think of him, it was very appropriate that we do this now.” (Lincoln again) Also some player comments about how important it is to know that Melvin would be there the whole year– even though he was signed for the whole year anyway — seem strange.
Here’s what’s weird about this in retrospect is that this seems to be another of the organization-over-Bavasi moves. Bavasi said the right things at the time, but it’s notable that in re-reading the quotes from news stories at the time, it seems like Lincoln’s doing all of the talking, and Bavasi’s kind of left acting dumb. Lincoln gets to talk about timing, showing confidence in the team, and so forth, while Bavasi has to say “Uh, I like shiny things.”
It makes me think that there was a discussion that went
Lincoln: The fans are restless, and the team’s losing. We need to show the fans we know what we’re doing. Wait, I’ve got it — we’ll give Melvin an extension.
Bavasi: Well, we’re only paying him 500 a year, and we can still fire him… sure, I guess.
So set aside Bavasi for a second. What the ownership group, and in particular Lincoln, thought when the team was starting to go down, was that the fan base would be reassured by an extension to Melvin. I don’t even know where to start with this, but it’s bugged me the more I’ve thought about it. But two things:
First, that public confidence in Melvin was the problem that needed solving
Second, that extending his contract would solve that problem
It makes me wonder about what happens this year if the team starts to tank again. Will they announce an extension of Bavasi, or the PA announcer (who doesn’t deserve it, as long as I’ve brought that up), or the Moose?
It’s a bizarre mix of misdirection and wrong direction, all at once.
“Hey, Mariners, you’re headed off that cliff.”
“No we’re not. Here, I’ll accelerate to make you feel better.”
And yes, I recognize that we need some hard news around here.