Whats wrong with the M’s?

Dave · April 24, 2006 at 8:28 am · Filed Under Mariners 

After getting swept by the Tigers, at home, and looking inept for most of the weekend, the local dailies have busted out the doom and gloom.

Steve Kelly’s latest ramblings.

Another Awful April, from John Hickey.

Art Thiel writes off the M’s.

They’re all basically the same article. The M’s suck, it’s the same as always, the young kids aren’t ready, we miss Lou, yada yada yada.

None of it actually looks at why the M’s are 7-13 and struggling to score runs consistently. So, as a service to those who care about the answer more than hearing themselves complain, here’s what is actually wrong with the Seattle Mariners:

Ichiro, .253/.333/.313
Sexson, .227/.293/.400
Beltre, .186/.279/.200

That’s it. That’s the extent of what’s wrong with the team. The wailing and gnashing of teeth about how terrible these guys are and how awful this season is boils down to three former all-stars hitting like middle infielders.

If you think Ichiro, Sexson, and Beltre are all going to be the worst players in the league at their position, then yes, this team is terrible, and everyone deserves to get run out of town.

But I’m pretty sure that no one believes Ichiro, Sexson, and Beltre are going to hit this badly all year long, and the rest of the team has been just fine.

Calm down, local media.


82 Responses to “Whats wrong with the M’s?”

  1. TorturedSoul on April 24th, 2006 11:57 am

    I don’t disagree. But the difference is that the losing bothers some players more than others.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to say our guys are lazy and unmotivated. But many are underachieving. Clearly they’re frustrated and want to do better. I like this group, with exception of a few; there’s a future with most of these guys and that’s excited. I just don’t see how Grover is helping us. And I don’t see a future for him wearing an M’s uni.

  2. JIMINEDMONDS on April 24th, 2006 12:53 pm

    Having watched or listened to every inning of this so-far moribund season, I have had the same gnawing feeling that we have seen this ineptitude all before. And, you know what, we have! It is time to come to the realization that the Mariners have for years over- evaluated their talent, from Ryan Anderson to Gil Meche and Travis Blackley (gee, remember last year that we were even told that Jeremy Reed projected out to a 15 home run a year man), and that the teams that they have fielded in 2004, 2005, and now are just not major league, especially in their hitting. You could role Miller Huggins, Sparky Anderson, and Joe Torre into one, and still not have a manager that could turn this sow’s ear of a team into gold. It is time to clear the decks of this sinking ship, from top to bottom, and start over.

  3. Rain Delay on April 24th, 2006 1:02 pm

    Interesting little tidbit.

    Over the past 6 games. (Tex&Det)

    YuBet is leading the team in hitting: .429|.429|.571, he’s K’d twice and picked up a steak.

    Second to YuBet: Ichiro! .400|.464|.400, 2 steaks, 1SB, 10 hits.

    On the other end of the scale: Joh in the same span: .111|.200|.167

  4. deltwelve on April 24th, 2006 1:11 pm


    Good for YuBet. He’s been looking a little malnourished. I hope Ichiro got some pure Kobe, the good stuff.

  5. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 1:17 pm

    The problem with “clearing the decks” right now is this: if Bavasi goes right now, so does Bob Fontaine, and probably a bunch of Fontaine’s scouts. This would mean you’d lose your senior scouting staff at the WORST time of the year to do that, right before the June draft. Unless the idea of Frank Mattox running the draft gets you excited (and if it does, please seek therapy for this), this is a crappy time to switch horses, right in the middle of the deepest part of the stream.

    If anyone’s going to get themselves fired come May, it’s going to be Hargrove, who’ll get swapped out for Rohn. Come October-November, it will be time to evaluate the senior management in the front office after 3 years of the Bavasi regime, and I think that’s a reasonable time to decide if Bavasi is what you want in a GM (and I think the argument is he’s not- he’s done OK at the talent accumulation side in the minors, but there’s more to that job than that), and then you can figure out what to do about losing and replacing Fontaine. But right now is a TERRIBLE time to start blowing up the front office.

  6. lokiforever on April 24th, 2006 1:49 pm

    #53 Rain Delay – Interesting

    Which hitter has been replaced by a pinch hitter the most during the same stretch? I’m going to bet it’s Yubet

  7. rick m on April 24th, 2006 1:59 pm

    I loved that first caller on yesterday’s KOMO’s post game show. Not only does he think it’s time to put Bloomquist at 3rd, but it’s also time to call up Mike Morse and put him at short.

    But actually, if Beltre spends this next week not hitting (and I suspect he won’t), I wouldn’t mind giving 3rd base to Bloomquist for a couple weeks. Playing Beltre night in and night out for 1 plus seasons hasn’t helped. Try something new. Let him sit on the bench and watch someone else for a while.

  8. Evan on April 24th, 2006 1:59 pm

    If only Grover would stop platooning in CF, YuBet’s performance would have rendered WFB completely irrelevant. YuBet is already a better defender than Willie, and is now demonstrating that he’s a better hitter than WFB. He has more speed, a stronger arm, a slicker glove, hits for more power and average. YuBet beats Willie on all 5 tools.

  9. dw on April 24th, 2006 2:04 pm

    Bavasi built the Angels system into one that produced the parts that got them that 2002 World Series. And Bavasi comes packaged with Bob Fontaine.

    OTOH, Bavasi’s big Achilles heel in Anaheim was signing talent for well more than what the market dictated. Mo Vaughn, for instance. (Though, they were smart enough to offload him and his monster salary to the Mets just as his knees finally gave out.)

    All things considered, I want to let Bavasi and Fontaine go through 2007 and then decide whether to keep or toss. The minors need to finish their overhaul, and honestly no one thinks this year’s M’s team is going to set the world on fire. Outside of the need to jettison Hargrove, I think there’s every reason to show some patience.

    Sportswriters, though, can’t write about patience. That doesn’t sell papers the way “Griffey said he might come back” or “Why haven’t we traded for David Bell” does.

  10. msb on April 24th, 2006 2:04 pm

    #57– so you think Beltre will hit this week, and stop hitting next week?

  11. rick m on April 24th, 2006 2:06 pm

    60 – no, sorry – I don’t think he’ll hit this week.

  12. Xteve X on April 24th, 2006 2:41 pm

    Re: 57, you would have loved what I just heard on KJR. Some homer emailed the Groz saying the Ms need to trade Ichiro for a #1 starter because WFB can provide “everything Ichiro can at the leadoff spot.”

    Your enlightened Seattle fanbase, gentlemen. 😀

  13. jtopps on April 24th, 2006 2:51 pm


    To be fair, the average Mariners’ fan doesn’t read multiple baseball blogs daily. They occasionally listen to Rick Rizzs and Hendu on the TV and read the local papers. Is it any surprise that they would be misinformed about Willie Ballgame’s baseball ability?

    That said, this person emailed a sports show with this suggestion, so it was probably just Willie’s mom.

  14. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 2:52 pm

    Bavasi built the Angels system into one that produced the parts that got them that 2002 World Series. And Bavasi comes packaged with Bob Fontaine.

    That being said, the Angels were essentially a .500 team that got tremendously lucky in 2002.

    Don’t believe me? Look at their record from 2000-2003. Look at their record from 1994-2003. You get 2002 (three years AFTER he leaves, which is a bizarre way to rate a GM, IMO), two second place finishes while he’s there, and a bunch of under .500 seasons.

    Bavasi may be a nice guy, and Fontaine may be a hell of a scouting guy, but Bavasi has exactly ZERO first place finishes in 8 years as a GM in a four team division, and has never had a team even win 90 games in a year while he’s been a GM. A 99 win season that was surrounded by below-.500 seasons before and after, three years after he was dismissed as GM does not strike me as convincing evidence that he’s a superior GM. Like I said, he’s done a nice job in accumulating talent in the minors, and that’s a good chunk of a GM’s job… but it’s not all of it, and the counter to your argument is that he’s basically turned over a quarter billion dollars in major league payroll (from 2004-2006, cumulative) into a .420 team and attendance that’s on pace to be down over a million during his time here. That’s not a very defensible record as a GM.

  15. msb on April 24th, 2006 2:52 pm

    sigh. the trouble with a weekend like this, and the flurry of articles that follow, is that you then have to listen to a similar flurry of idiotic phone calls on the same subject. Let’s see, earlier today we had:

    They need to spend more money, and they shouldn’t have let any of their talented players go but instead paid them the money like Steinbrenner would have.

    They need ‘fire’; some feel that would come from a manager with ‘fire in the belly’ who would not let them lose, some think it is lacking through-out the system.

    (One apparently can ignore that with said players & a manager with fire in the belly they still did not win the big one.)

    They have nothing in the farm system (some say it is Gillick’s fault, some blame Bavasi), and apparently never will have.

    I then stopped listening.

  16. terry on April 24th, 2006 3:44 pm

    [not so much anymore]

  17. Calderon on April 24th, 2006 3:52 pm

    All things considered, I want to let Bavasi and Fontaine go through 2007 and then decide whether to keep or toss.

    Bill Stoneman should get the real credit for the Angels Championship but that’s another debate. Fans shouldn’t feel strong-armed into thinking that a Mariners Franchise without Bill Bavasi at the helm, would automatically mean that Bob Fontaine Jr. is out the door. When Gillick departed he could not take Bob Engle with him, and he wanted to. Our old Scouting Director Roger Jongewaard certainly remained at his position despite seeing GM’s come and go.

  18. dw on April 24th, 2006 4:19 pm

    That being said, the Angels were essentially a .500 team that got tremendously lucky in 2002.

    There’s no such thing as luck in baseball. Well, OK, in the playoffs.

    How many wins did the Angels have in 2002?

    A 99 win season

    Thank you. Remind me again how many teams with 85 or fewer wins have won the Series, much less gotten there?

    I would not argue that Stoneman isn’t a better GM than Bavasi. But without Bavasi’s minor league rebuild, it’s hard to see how the Angels would have been made the playoffs.

    But the Mariners aren’t going anywhere for the next couple of years. To think that firing Bavasi will change that fact is foolish. The only way back to the top is through a youth movement. And we have one right now, even if no one will admit it publicly. Youth movements mean you have to draft well and teach well. In case you haven’t noticed, under Gillick we did neither. Under Bavasi, the Angels did both quite well.

    Of course, those same Angels threw a lot of money away on very bad contracts, and you can blame almost every one of them on Bavasi. And gee, the same thing is happening right now. The Mo Vaughn contract just about killed the Angels; Stoneman was a genius in convincing the Mets that the Mo Albatross accessorized their gold chains so well.

    In short, Bavasi is not a long-term solution. But for our needs the next two years, he’s the best solution we have available right now. We can hand him a box in October 2007 and go get whatever 30 year old MS Excel wunderkind is coming out of Sloan.

    The minors cupboard was beyond bare in 2004. Two years on, we have prospects again.

  19. John in L.A. on April 24th, 2006 4:19 pm

    #61 – I believe what he meant was that Beltre HAS been hitting well this week, not will he.

    Beltre over the last seven games = .333 .407 .375

    Not his 2004, but also not his 2005.

    Beltre has stunk… but he’s not at the moment.

  20. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 4:23 pm

    Youre wrong and I’m right.

    So what color is the sky in your world, the one that considers Felix to have “performed above (him)self” with an ERA around 4.50?

    Really, the rotation hasn’t performed as well as it can- Piñeiro, Washburn and Moyer are all “meh” (expected), Meche is bad (expected), King Felix is having struggles that are typical for power pitchers in April before they go on an asskicking tear for the rest of the year. I fully expect King Felix to bounce back and thus improve the rotation. Why shouldn’t he?

  21. Evan on April 24th, 2006 4:27 pm

    dw – I would say the 2002 Angels were lucky. The team was built on high batting averages, something that we know fluctuates wildly from year to year. Batting average just contains too much noice to trust a single year of data.

  22. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 4:51 pm

    OK, so Bavasi built a team that has 99 wins in 2002, that, if you squint and ignore Bill Stoneman being a whole lot more proximate to 2002 than Bavasi, you can argue was a good team.

    Let’s compare win totals for Teams A, B and C:

    Team A: 91, 116, 93, 93
    Team B: 91, 102, 103, 96
    Team C: 82, 75, 99, 77

    We all know which teams they are, right? Here’s my argument- Bavasi didn’t build a particularly impressive team in historical context, compared to Gillick and Beane (ignoring what Gillick and Mattox did to the farm system). Anyone with a lick of sense, not knowing the details of what happened in the postseason crap shoot or wild card races to those 3 teams is going to pick Team A or Team B as the better 4 year stretch (and the better shot in the playoffs at a championship) than over Team C.

    And don’t even go into Bavasi’s record with the Angels. As I said- this is a guy who in 8 years as a GM in a 4 team division who does not have a team with a single-season record that would win 90 games. Bavasi’s record with his teams is as a complete zero as a GM. Hell, Jim freakin’ Bowden has come up with a team that’s won 96 games in a year (1999, Cincinnati).

    To put it another way; OK, so the Angels won 99 in 2002. The White Sox won 95 games in 2001, surrounded by a bunch of “blah” years, much like the Angels. And Ron Schueler was the same GM who’d been with the Sox for years, so he even can claim considerably more responsibility than Bavasi can for 2002. If the Sox had won out that year instead of flopping to the Mariners in 3 games, would make you want to hire Schueler? Or do you think we should evaluate GMs on more than things that happen in one year with their former team, three years after they are fired?

  23. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 4:53 pm

    Er, the Sox won 95 games in 2000, not 2001.

  24. dw on April 24th, 2006 5:04 pm

    The team was built on high batting averages, something that we know fluctuates wildly from year to year. Batting average just contains too much noice to trust a single year of data.

    That seems just a bit simplistic. If batting average had “too much noise” then hitters would be as fungible as closers.

    Troy Glaus played 156 games in 2002, 91 in 2003. Tim Salmon showed he was in decline. Scott Spezio stopped taking a walk.

    Only Adam Kennedy really had a fluke year, but it wasn’t like he had an extra seeing-eye single every three games. For that matter, he had an almost identical OBP in 2003 — and more homers.

    The Angels weren’t lucky in winning 99 games. They won 99 games with pitching and power. If they were lucky, it was in October.

  25. eponymous coward on April 24th, 2006 5:16 pm

    Right, and they won 75 and 77 games the years preceding and succeeding their 99 win year. So why is “Bavasi built a team that turned into a World Series winner” even a legitimate argument- considering a 3 year record averaging 84 wins is not exactly a big deal as GM records go? Like I said, there’s a LOT of GMs who have their teams win 95+ in a particular year while being crappy for stretches around it. Why are the Angels impressive in doing what the Reds did under Bowden or the White Sox did under Scheuler- especially since Bavasi wasn’t even THERE in 2002- aside from rolling a lot of 7s and 11s in the playoff crapshoot?

  26. dw on April 24th, 2006 5:56 pm

    So why is “Bavasi built a team that turned into a World Series winner” even a legitimate argument

    Anderson, Glaus, Molina, Spezio, Erstad, Washburn, Percival. All drafted/signed under Bavasi. All major parts of the 2002 team.

    What did Stoneman do? Turn Jim Edmonds into Adam Kennedy, dump Mo Vaughn for Kevin Appier, and flesh out the bullpen. In essence, Stoneman had the parts; it only took someone with a clue about roster construction to figure out how to turn it into a playoff team.

    And once they won and Disney finally got the team sold, he had Arte Moreno’s blank checkbook and Vlad Guerrero on speed-dial.

    Why are the Angels impressive in doing what the Reds did under Bowden or the White Sox did under Scheuler


    WE. DO. NOT.

    One more time:
    Let Bavasi bring in the parts. We can bring someone else in later to assemble the parts correctly and flip the spare ones. He is not the solution. He is a means to an end. We are not winning the Series this year. We are not winning the Series next year. We are not winning the Series under Bavasi. But the Angels had a functioning minor league system that kicked out major league quality players on a consistent basis. Under Gillick, the best homegrown position player we produced was… Bloomquist.

    Patience. Let the chicken lay its eggs before you kill and fry it. That’s all I’m saying.

  27. terry on April 24th, 2006 6:49 pm

    Three arms in the rotation have ERAs significantly below pecota weighted means, one arm is about right where predicted and one arm is significantly above pecota projections. Three arms in the rotation have histories of injuries suggesting you should expect missed starts during the remainder of the season.

    The greatest probability is that the staff wont be able to maintain their current level of performance. Folks, they’re gonna get worse.

  28. Rain Delay » Some #’s to Chew on on April 24th, 2006 7:07 pm

    […] So in a discusion over at the USS Mariner, about what was wrong with the M’s, and that our 3 all stars are hitting like crap and they are. […]

  29. eponymous coward on April 25th, 2006 2:15 am

    Anderson, Glaus, Molina, Spezio, Erstad, Washburn, Percival. All drafted/signed under Bavasi. All major parts of the 2002 team.

    All major parts of the 2000, 2001 and 2003 teams that didn’t win jack, either, and weren’t even close to being in a pennant race. You keep evading this point. If this collection of talent is TEH AWSOME MINOR LEAGUE PRODUCTION, why didn’t the Angels win THOSE years, or even sniff the pennant race?

    If you think that a minor league system that makes you a contender three years after a GM is fired, for a grand total of one year before falling down again, is a measure of success a GM, Brian Balderson and Woody Woodward must be super-geniuses compared to Bill Bavasi (the M’s farm system in the 80’s and 90’s blows Bavasi’s record away), and Billy Beane and Walt Jocketty must be nigh-upon godlike, since, you know, they don’t actually have to leave for other jobs before their teams produce talent AND win pennants.

    I simply think that Bill Bavasi is what his 8 years of GM history have shown- a mediocre GM who is going to get his head beaten in by the Beanes and Jockettys of the world when it comes to making it to the playoffs, except for those random years where magic fairy dust alights upon your franchise. There’s no reason a franchise that can spend 90 million in salary needs to settle for mediocrity- and Bavasi has basically blown 250+ million dollars on non-coontending teams, which is inexcusable, regardless of non-productive farm systems. It’s not impossible to find GMs who CAN walk, chew gum, have good scouting systems, and make good talent decisions on the major league roster, all at the same time, and I don’t see why we have to wait until 2008 to find one. If it means Fontaine walks in November… well, don’t hire a dumbass to replace him, but I simply don’t accept “It’s OK to settle for a nice guy who’s funny at USSM feeds and has a great scouting director, but keeps pratfalling down the stairs when it comes to his main job function, winning games and drawing in fans”.

  30. Celadus on April 25th, 2006 4:30 am

    Alluding to a previous comment, I believe that if you rolled Joe Torre & Sparky Anderson into one manager you’d have Hargrove. I don’t know enough about Miller Huggins’s style to have an opinion.

    Put Hargrove on the Big Red Machine, the 1980s Tigers or the present-day Yankees and Hargrove would win pennants for you–all those teams had players with clearly defined roles who were also very good players. Anderson & Torre didn’t have to do a lot of managing and whatever they did, high percentage or not, smart or dumb, it would all work out in the end because Johnny Bench or Lou Whitaker or Derek Jeter would do something to bail them out.

    With the Cardinals, who didn’t have superior talent at the time, Torre appeared clueless. He is good at not getting in the way of his players, and if his players are excellent, that is a winning line. Hargrove is also good at not getting in the way of his players.

    However, for the Mariners at this time, Hargrove is a terrible manager because, for the moment, the team has a bunch of players not playing well and Hargrove isn’t nimble enough to enough to intelligently use those who are playing well to cover for them until they improve.

  31. BelaXadux on April 25th, 2006 6:00 am

    I’ll second e-coward on both his these here:

    The offensive problems with the ’06 Ms go well beyond Ichi, Sexy, and Adrian. Too many guys just don’t get on base. I’m tremendously impressed by Lopez and Betancourt when they make contact, but they don’t walk, and it’s a real problem, since so many other guys on the team won’t either. This is a major problem with roster construction which lands squarely back on Bill Bavasi’s desk: he’s built a team that doesn’t get on, unless they’re hitting a lot of singles, which they only do in streaks, which means ugly streaks when the bases stay empty. This has something to do with why the Ms are starting games off so poorly, too, I suspect. This problem with an unwillingness coupled in many cases with an inability to walk and build up a player’s OBP will only be solved by subtracting some players on the roster, and replacing them with other players.

    Bill Bavasi has never won anything of note as a GM, and he’s going to keep that record intact this year as well. He’s not a dunce, but he doesn’t build teams that win. One of the reasons is that he doesn’t build teams geared to get guys on base. Pat Gillick does by contrast, which is a major reason Gillick has been able to win everywhere he’s gone. Bill B.s choices here in Seattle have been forced to a significant degree; not all the problems he has are of his making. He was told to move certain guys. At certain times he was told to sign guys, and had to do so from those available. Still, the team we have now is his construct—and it ain’t no winner, neither. I can’t dislike him, but I have no expectation at all that things will improve here significantly until someone else is doing his job. Which should be after this upcoming draft, please, and probably not until the off season.

  32. eponymous coward on April 25th, 2006 10:45 am

    I also have to point out that Bob Fontaine worked for the White Sox while Bavasi worked for the Dodgers- so it’s not as if they are completely joined at the hip.

    Something where a Mariner executive goes “Hey, Bob, we’d like to keep you for a year while we groom someone to come in, since we don’t want to blow up the whole organization- you have anyone in mind who you think deserves a shot?” doesn’t strike me as completely unreasonable.

    Personally, I would like to see changes through the entire organization (*coughArmstrongcoughMattoxcough*) if Bavasi is going to be defenestrated come November. There really isn’t any excuse for spending 250-300 million on major league payroll for this set of results, and there will still be landmines ahead for the next GM (I think Sexson and Washburn have decent odds of being Boone-sized roster albatrosses at the end of their contracts).

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