PI: Bavasi’s job security

DMZ · February 16, 2006 at 8:44 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Another article on the axe sitting next to the sharpening wheel in Armstrong’s office.

Bavasi denies there’s anything additionally stressful about having to win this season:

“I don’t think there’s extra pressure,” Bavasi said. “I know that it’s natural for people who haven’t been in this game and who haven’t worked in this game to think about it and ask the question.

“I get it. But there’s a way to build a sound organization from one that was not. There are not a lot of shortcuts. There are no magic bullets.”

While this is a spring training storyline, it’s not going to be resolved for a long time yet — they’re not going to fire anyone until at least a couple months into the year, if it happens.

More good stuff from Kirby Arnold at the Everett Herald: only Mike Hargrove has lost weight. Everyone else is bigger and buffer. Morse, suspended for failing a steroid test last year?

“Mike Morse is huge,” [Hargrove] said of the team’s 6-foot-5, 225-pound infielder/outfielder. “He was a big kid before and he’s a bigger kid now.”


84 Responses to “PI: Bavasi’s job security”

  1. Evan on February 17th, 2006 9:37 am

    Keeping his flexibility is key. Remember how Ruben Sierra bulked up and became a skill-less behemoth.

  2. Steve Nelson on February 17th, 2006 9:51 am


    What do you do if Jones is looking great in the spring batting .400+ against Major Leaguers and covering CF with ease?

    What do you do if Clements crushing the ball AND batting .400+ against Major Leaguers?

    That never happens. By its nature, spring training is not competition against major leaguers; it’s spring training. Even those players who are bona fide major leaguers are not playing at a major league level. Some are still working on conditioning. Pitchers might still be working on specific pitches, throwing lesser quality pitches at times they would use their best stuff in real competition, just so they can practice the lesser pitch under game conditions. And for most of spring training the rosters are not major league rosters.

    Then, once you get past those considerations, you have the issue of small sample size. Spring training is simply not long enough to draw any kind of conclusions about players. Couple that with the inferior competition, and you have the accurate conclusion that spring training stats mean nothing.

    Most teams recognize that. That’s why every year guys are sent down to the minors after having totally dominated spring training.

    The 1000 or more ABs a player has logged in the minor leagues, playing a full season under the daily scrutiny of coaches and team personnel, is far, far, far more significant that what a player does in spring training.

    Going into spring training, teams have already decided what roster positions are set, which ones are open, and who the candidates are for those open spots. A guy does not force his way onto an opening day roster with a torrid spring unless he was already considered a contender for a roster spot.

    If a guy isn’t a contender for a roster spot, the most he can hope for from spring training is to raise his profile in the organization, and perhaps get slotted to a higher minor league club than he would have otherwise. If he sustains his performance at that higher level, only then do you raise your assessment of him.

    So what do you do if Clement and Jones are doing what you hypothesize? You give them their minor league assignment and tell them to keep it up.

    ‘Cause if the guys really have taken a step forward, they’ll show it in their new assignment. But if the spring training outbreak was a fluke (as are virtually all of those scorching spring performances), reality will reassert itself, you won’t have burned an option on a guy needlessly, and you won’t have damaged the guy’s self-confidence.

    The only reason to ever change the assessment of a player during spring training is when a guy comes in and unequivocally demonstrates that he is a different player than what he has previously shown. For example, a guy who has had all of the tools and a decent track record, with the big knock being that he hasn’t developed power yet. So he comes to spring training carrying about 20 more pounds and starts showing the power he wasn’t projected to have for two or three more years. Or a pitcher shows he has developed complete command of his breaking ball and that has been his previous limitation. In those types of cases you might change your thinking based on a spring training performance. But that happens very rarely.

  3. Lauren, token chick on February 17th, 2006 9:54 am

    Speaking of steroids, a funny bit from one of Ron Judd’s Seattle Times columns on the Olympics, about the first athlete this games to be disqualified for doping:

    “The disgraced Pyleva was immediately signed to a minor-league contract by the Seattle Mariners, who will use her for middle relief.”


  4. Karen on February 17th, 2006 10:23 am

    Well, Ron Judd is the only one who laughs at his jokes…consider the source.

  5. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 10:31 am

    I’m well aware of the tinkering that all players do in the spring. I was not talking about any player who has not put up the numbers in the minor leagues to show that he can play. Clement is far from 1000 AB’s, but I would hope, for the M’s sake, that thier #3 pick never logs 1000 AB’s in the minors. These are 2 legitimate candidates for starting positions in the Majors for the future and the biggest reason to keep them down (both need work on defense) wasn’t mentioned by anyone. They have track records. They’ve shown the skills. I’m not talking about a non prospect. I’m talking about players that it would be disappointing to NOT see them put it together. Adam Jones or Carl Everett…Are you serious the decision comes that quick for you?

  6. Evan on February 17th, 2006 10:34 am

    Wow that Judd column was absurd. Are there still people who aren’t aware that male figure skaters are disproportionately gay?

  7. Dave on February 17th, 2006 10:35 am

    There’s no decision to make. There’s zero reason to even give Jones or Clement an illusion that they can make the team out of spring training. They’re clearly not ready, and no amount of rooting for their talents will make them more ready.

    Starting them off in Seattle would be a disastrous decision. If you’re not sure why promoting talented players prematurely is a bad idea, go look at the recent history of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  8. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 10:37 am

    I’m always glad to hear a player learned to take his profession more seriously and work harder than previously to have the best tools to work with. Morse may do well in the majors if his power and batting eye develop more. Has his batspeed increased? That’s more pertinent than size regardless. I would assume that working with a personal trainer has made him more flexible than he was before.

  9. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 10:41 am

    Come on DMZ go look at Pujols…There’s no 100% right answer for player development in this case.

  10. Dave on February 17th, 2006 10:44 am

    I’m not DMZ. And seriously, you need to stop comparing every player to the one-in-a-million-historical-outliers. If you think that Albert Pujols development path is any kind of guide for how to handle talent, than I don’t what to tell you.

  11. PFK on February 17th, 2006 10:44 am

    From his history of digs at the Mariners, I suspect Ron Judd has never attended a baseball game he enjoyed….

  12. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 10:51 am

    Sorry Dave…didn’t double check.

    You’re right about tendencies, but there’s exceptions. The Mental make-up is the biggest factor on promotability beyond the #s. Probably the best case for either coming up this year is by putting up good numbers through AAA and waiting for an injury or Everett explosion. Hargrove has shown in previous years that he’s of similiar mindset to you on bringing players up. That’s how it’ll probably go, but the transition is mostly mental and it depends on the players coping and adjusting abilities how they make it. Ask Betancourt (signed last January with no minor league experience) how fast you can go through a system. Obviously Felix comes to mind, but he’s a rarer bird than maybe even Pujols.

  13. Dave on February 17th, 2006 11:00 am

    I’m not convinced that either Jones or Clement should even start the year in Tacoma. I’d probably send both to San Antonio. Jones is ticketed for Tacoma, so the M’s disagree with me there, but the idea that either one should be expected to put up good numbers in Triple-A and then appear in the majors this year just lacks understanding of how slowly prospects develop.

    Go look through the recent years of top prospects and look at their development cycles. For every Jeff Francouer, you’ll find 30 Franklin Gutierrez’s. You’re putting way, way too much hope in the idea of exceptions. There aren’t nearly as many as you think.

    And Betancourt’s a totally different animal. He’s a defensive wizard who made the majors in spite of the fact that his bat clearly wasn’t ready for the show. Defensive performance progresses almost 180 degrees from offensive performance. It gets worse as a player ages, and most players hit their defensive prime in their early twenties. In other words, Betancourt’s already as good as he’s going to get defensively, and that’s what got him to the show.

    Jones and Clement have to hit their way to the show, and I don’t think you realize just how far either one has to go before they’re going to be ready. The M’s should be thrilled if either one is ready by the 2007 all-star break.

  14. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 11:07 am

    It will be said of the next player to fly through a teams system that they’re not Pujols, or Griffey or whoever. Clement played 3 years of college. One of the top players there and some compare college to AA. He’s been developing for 3+ years already and who knows what he put together in the offseason. Wouldn’t surpise me much to see him offensively ready when position players report. I’m sure that the Mariners development could use more positive wellwishing in the collective faith of thier young players abilities. It may be the effect of the clouds that are usually over our heads on our personal psyche’s reflecting on our beleif of a local sports team catching any breaks that has kept our minor league system from developing healthy talented players. Faith is powerful. I have faith that they’ll develop players just fine and that’s the best way I can support the team.

  15. Dave on February 17th, 2006 11:13 am

    So you’re willing to rush every single high draft pick hoping to find the next Albert Pujols, and you believe that your faith will help them succeed?

    Okay, got it. I’ll stop arguing now.

  16. eponymous coward on February 17th, 2006 11:19 am

    Let’s compare Adam Jones to a former Mariner CF who DID rocket through the minors:

    Ken Griffey’s minor league stats:

    1987, age 17: Bellingham, short-season rookie ball: .313/.449/.604
    1988, age 18: San Bernadino, high A ball: .338/.429/.575
    1988, age 18 (cup of coffee): Vermont, AA: .279/.338/.492

    Griffey’s triple crown stats in the minors (130 games): .318/27/92. Griffey’s minor league OPS’ are around .950.

    Adam Jones, meanwhile, has a lifetime .779 OPS in more than TWICE as many minor league games. He also has one less home run, and Griffey had almost as many walks in the minors as Jones (Jones leads, 90-83).

    My conclusion? It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between someone who’s ready to play before they can legally purchase beer (Griffey) and someone who isn’t (Jones). I have zero issue telling Jones to go to Tacoma come the end of March, even if he’s hitting .400.

  17. eponymous coward on February 17th, 2006 11:27 am

    I would also say that, the same way that Dave might start Jones in San Antonio and work up to Tacoma, I could see Clement starting at Inland Empire. and working his way up to San Antonio.

  18. msb on February 17th, 2006 11:46 am

    #56–Wow that Judd column was absurd. Are there still people who aren’t aware that male figure skaters are disproportionately gay?

    they are? disproportionately?

  19. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 11:48 am

    I agree with you except that it’s mostly mental makeup and work ethic that decides how a player will adjust to advancement. The 2 players we’ve been discussing have shown they make adjustments well. I don’t think either should advance like Griffey or Pujols or even Betancourt. I don’t think that Jones has that level of ability. I haven’t seen Clement play, but he may be close to that level from what I’ve read. No I didn’t want to see Ryan Anderson making the team in any year, until he overcame his serious control issues. I’m not talking about advancing someone just because they’re a high pick. There has been one high pick in 20+ years that I have advocated promoting and hoped for thier advancement. I didn’t even argue for A-rod or Cruz and certainly not Christianson. A-rod was eventually ready after several callups, Cruz made Ibanez look like a good fielder and I can’t wait to watch Clement in the spring. I don’t think either of them are ready for mainly defensive reasons. Jones is adjusting to a new position and that’s the most anyone should expect him to adjust to right now. Clement may not be ready for AAA defensively or offensively.

    I guess it did seem that I was comparing them to Pujols and Griffey, but that was not my intent. I made a direct connection of Jones to Everett, not Griffey. If I was to compare either to Griffey for any reason it would be the high draft pick who may finally replace the lost LH power from Griffeys departure. I was getting a 100% you don’t advance answer for all minor leaguers and responded with ‘there’s no 100%’. That’s where the comparison came, though it is in discussion about Clement and Jones.

    For the record: I again agree that they won’t make the team out of the spring, but if they did show readiness in the spring I’d still lay groundwork for deals to open that spot after sending them down to see if it continues. They both should have more of a future than Everett, which is the comparison I’m talking about.

  20. Dave on February 17th, 2006 11:53 am

    The best way to make terrible decisions about talent evaluation is to pretend that we know how to interpret a player’s mindset.

    Noting personal, but I don’t think you or I, or Bill Bavasi for that matter, have any idea how Adam Jones or Jeff Clement or anyone in the system would respond mentally to being promoted to the major leagues. We can try to convince ourselves that we know, but in the end, we just don’t.

    Evaluate on talent, and leave the mental gymnastics to other people.

  21. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 12:00 pm

    Neither may be ready until 3 years down the road, but I’ll wait to watch them play this spring to make that assessment for myself. After watching thier skills closely is when the staff decides where they’ll go, though it is mostly decided by minor league coordinators before ST opens.

  22. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 12:01 pm

    Again Dave…I’m not saying to promote them

  23. Steve Nelson on February 17th, 2006 12:11 pm


    Neither may be ready until 3 years down the road, but I’ll wait to watch them play this spring to make that assessment for myself.

    As I mentioned above, a player’s development status should be determined from his performance over the course of a full season of play at a level appropriate for his development level. Spring training just doesn’t provide an environment suitable for evaluating player skills.

    Let’s say that you see a guy in spring training who looks as if he has made a significant advancement over where he was last year. You still shouldn’t conclude that he has made that advancement until he has shown he can sustain that level of peformance for a longer period and under real game conditions.

    You’re placing way too much importance on what happens in spring training.

  24. eponymous coward on February 17th, 2006 12:11 pm

    Jones isn’t ready. He’s had one good year with the bat, and it wasn’t THAT great- it was good, but not “OMGWTFBBQ!!111ONEONEONE”, where he’s outclassing the league.

    To put this another way- Jose Lopez was clearly ahead of Jones at a comparable age (Lopez had better numbers in tougher leagues)…and he’s not exactly set the world on fire his first 400+ MLB plate appearances.

    As for Clement…he’s had a grand total of 34 minor league games in pro baseball, and his primary position is blocked by someone who’s arguably the best free agent the M’s signed. The secondary positions he could reasonably play are blocked by FA acquisitions the M’s have made over two years. Really, he’s not going to make the team, and it’s OK.

  25. Smegmalicious on February 17th, 2006 12:14 pm

    What the hell is the point of rushing Clement at all right now anyway? Didn’t we just sign our new starting catcher? If there’s any risk of hampering his development right now we should avoid it. We’ve got catcher covered for the moment, we’ve got a backlog of DH/1B/4th OF types too so where exactly is he supposed to fit in?

  26. msb on February 17th, 2006 12:19 pm

    stray note… “Lions ace Daisuke Matsuzaka wanted to make an impression in his final days at Seibu’s spring camp in Nango, Miyazaki Prefecture, throwing 333 pitches in the bullpen on Friday.”

  27. LF Monster on February 17th, 2006 12:25 pm

    I’d rather see Clement DHing next year than an Everett DHing. I admit I’m a bit overzealous about seeing him in the lineup because of what he could be. Like I said I want to see him play in the spring, not look at his stats in the spring. You can learn alot about a team by the way they’re playing in the spring, but really you’re right that the numbers don’t mean much.

  28. Dave on February 17th, 2006 12:27 pm

    You can learn alot about a team by the way they’re playing in the spring, but really you’re right that the numbers don’t mean much.

    No, you can’t. You really can’t.

  29. msb on February 17th, 2006 12:35 pm

    IIRC, the ST record for the 2001 M’s was something like 13-19…

  30. Steve Nelson on February 17th, 2006 12:58 pm

    #77: You can learn alot about a team by the way they’re playing in the spring, but really you’re right that the numbers don’t mean much.

    By all of the accounts I heard from ST 2005, the Mariners looked vastly improved over the 2004 model. The play was crisper. The workouts were planned and organized in more detail and more thoroughly. Players were responding well to the transition to Hargrove after the Melvin years.

  31. eponymous coward on February 17th, 2006 1:59 pm

    The Yankees were NOTORIOUS for mailing it in in spring training during the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s…while they were owning the American League.

    There really isn’t a lot of correlation between spring training and the regular season- the pitching and lineup changes are preplanned and not meant to really represent ingame situations, plus you’re using a carload of players who aren’t on the major league roster come Opening Day.

  32. westfried on February 17th, 2006 4:19 pm

    Regarding the Ron Judd column… Evan, could you please be a bit more clear when you post something like that? Your post makes it sound as if Ron Judd is out of line, when he was really blasting the low-brow Tribune journalist who created the issue.

    Might not be what you intended, but given the tendency of eduated fans here to critique the Seattle sportswriters, it really sounded as if you were taking him to task – enough so that I sought out the article to see what he wrote.

    Let’s be clear – Ron Judd was very graceful in implying that Johnny Weir’s sexuality is in no way anyone else’s business. He went out of his way to describe Johnny’s classy responses to classless reporters. Whatever else Ron Judd may ever write, he handled a very sensitive subject with class and dignity, and he should be applauded for that.

  33. John D. on February 18th, 2006 12:24 am

    STEALING & TEALING (See # 34 & # 35) Nice going, # 35. About time someone seized on one of these errors (like “Sound fare”?).
    IMO, this blog could use some levity now and then. Some of us should heed the words of John Riggins, “Lighten up.”

  34. terry on February 19th, 2006 6:40 am

    I remember being crucified on blogs last fall when I argued that catcher was one blackhole the M’s should definately attempt to fix this offseason given the the availability of Johjima/Molina/Hernandez and the extremely thin talent at all other needs positions in the market. Alot of people had stars in their eyes concerning Clement.

    Dave’s and eponymous coward’s recent posts sum up the reality of the M’s system extremely well (humming an old Triumph song, “It takes time, baby it takes, it takes time, baby it takes time…..”. It’s probably easier to jump the snake canyon in a rocket bike than jump from a 30 game stretch in A ball to a starting catcher’s gig in the majors (for the record, Evil crashed and burned in his attempt to jump the snake canyon and im sure Evil had faith he was going to make it).

    I think there were only two signings that may outshine the Johjima one (Loaiza and Giles). Bavasi probably didnt have a chance at Giles (hometown discount) but there was no reason that I know of that the M’s couldnt have been competitive for Loaiza. Also, im a little miffed that Bavasi allowed the Rangers to pick up Padilla for a bag of popcorn. While admittedly a a bit of an enigma, Padilla would easily be a number 3 or 4 in the M’s rotation. Not having a chance at him is pretty inexcusable. Given the cost of his acquisition (or lack of cost since the Phils practically gave him away) and his salary, Padilla may turn out to be the bargain of the off season.

    On another note (Gillick-related), who in their right mind jettisons Padilla to make room for Franklin?

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