After the storm

Dave · December 15, 2006 at 7:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I avoided the blog yesterday. I didn’t post, didn’t comment, and didn’t read. It wasn’t for lack of things to say, but I decided I just wanted to take 24 hours and pretend like the Mariners didn’t exist. I don’t think avoidance is one of the approved twelve steps, but sometimes, you just need a break. I collected my thoughts, let the emotions simmer, and now, hopefully, can give you a rational take on what the Vidro trade really means for the Mariners.

This trade doesn’t hurt the Mariners that badly next year. Most of the positive things Jeff said the other day are still true. This move didn’t make Felix’s arm fall off or send Ichiro to a planet far far away. This was a .500-ish club on Wednesday morning, and it’s a .500-ish club today. Even if the prayers of the saints go for naught and Jose Vidro passes his physical, it will still be a .500-ish club tomorrow.

The visceral reaction we all had to this trade isn’t because we believe it ruined the 2007 season or that we had dreams of Doyle winning the MVP award and carrying the team on his back. In reality, the team with Vidro isn’t much different than the team with Snelling and Fruto. We understand that the team is making moves it believes need to be made to contend, and that Bavasi and Hargrove would rather not lose their jobs because they staked their career to the continued health of Doyle.

The series of moves the Mariners have completed in the past 10 days aren’t the end of the world from a talent-on-field perspective. The team’s future hasn’t been sacrificed beyond repair, and the core of an eventual contender is still in place. But, in the past week and a half, we have been given conclusive evidence of one indisputable conclusion that cannot be avoided, cannot be waved away with talk of the volcanic market, and is a depressing fact to have to face as a fan. This management team is best described with one word:

Incompetent. Literally, they are legally unqualified, inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose, lacking the qualities needed for effective action, and unable to function properly.

I’m not using the word as an attack on their intelligence out of an emotional reaction or as an insult to try to make myself feel better. I’m describing the baseball operations department as incompetent because the dictionary definition of the word fits the organization to a tee.

They are not ignorant, as they don’t lack information. They have access to better research, data, and reports than any of us could dream about. They just don’t understand how to apply the knowledge they have at their fingertips. They have unlimited resources and, with their appealing geographic location, they could easily obtain help from some of the best and brightest minds in the baseball world. Instead, Bill Bavasi, Dan Evans, and the staff of consultants continue to evaluate players with the same tools their mentors used 20 or 30 years ago.

It’s physically impossible to use any kind of analytical thinking and arrive at the conclusion that Jose Vidro, as a designated hitter, is worth $6 million a year. Even if you assign no value to Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto, you still have to completely misunderstand the amount of talent available to fill a DH position to decide that Jose Vidro is your best option.

This isn’t an isolated incidence. It’s Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago. It’s a three year deal for Scott Spiezio, non-tendering Mike Cameron, a four year deal for Jarrod Washburn, settling on Carl Everett as your 2006 DH, trying to pass Francisco Cruceta through waivers, trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez, and now, selecting Jose Vidro as the 2007-2008 DH and giving up actual talent for the right to overpay a below average player.

Incompetence – lacking the qualities needed for effective action. I like Bill Bavasi as a person (though after this post, I doubt the feeling will be mutual), but if he doesn’t like the label, take it up with Merriam Webster, because there’s not a better word in the English language to describe the abilities of those currently running the Seattle Mariners.

They all deserve to lose their jobs. Antonetti in ’08.

Comments

184 Responses to “After the storm”

  1. BrianV on December 15th, 2006 7:37 am

    I feel so conflicted about this team. I can’t root for them to succeed because it will mean prolonging the tenure of Bavasi and Hargrove. I can’t root for them to fail, because it might mean losing Ichiro. I’m having trouble deciding what the best possible realistic outcome for the Mariners next year is. I can’t find a solution – there’s literally nothing good that can come of 2007. It makes me sad.

  2. Hooligan on December 15th, 2006 7:43 am

    Sad but true.

    These are the kinds of moves that take away hope. It’s tough for a fan to get through August and September when the boys are out of the division race, but we manage to stay loyal and optimistic with that cyclical bit of faith: It might look bad for us now, but we still have the off-season to rebuild. We’ll get ‘em next year.

    That faith is gone.

  3. urchman on December 15th, 2006 7:45 am

    I can separate my generally favorable feelings for the Mariners as a team and their players from my unfavorable feelings for the Mariner management team. Bavasi, Hargrove, and the rest are terrible, and I think Dave’s description of them as incompetent is appropriate.

    Dave (and others), I’ve read why you’re endorsing Antonetti as the next GM, and from what you’ve written, he seems like a reasonable choice. However, I haven’t read anything about who you’d endorse as Hargrove’s replacement, though I might have missed something. Any thoughts on that?

  4. bat guano on December 15th, 2006 7:47 am

    Well said Dave.

  5. terry on December 15th, 2006 7:47 am

    The team’s future hasn’t been sacrificed beyond repair, and the core of an eventual contender is still in place. But, in the past week and a half, we have been given conclusive evidence of one indisputable conclusion that cannot be avoided, cannot be waved away with talk of the volcanic market, and is a depressing fact to have to face as a fan.

    Yes dammit. My hope has been stolen (and the security alarm began blaring when Hargrove was given his vote of confidence last September)….

    A haiku:

    Hargrove Bavasi
    Faces of a proud franchise
    Some reasons it fails.

  6. BrianV on December 15th, 2006 7:50 am

    Haikus are easy
    But sometimes they don’t make sense
    Refrigerator

  7. urchman on December 15th, 2006 8:05 am

    Trading for Vidro
    Should be Bavasi’s last move
    If there is justice.

  8. Ralph on December 15th, 2006 8:06 am

    There is nothing “positive” about anything that has happened this offseason. It’s just been more of the same, lateral moves that don’t help the team get better. Bavasi makes every move as if it were 3 years ago. A team with the resources of the Mariners should be able to make at least one trade that improves our team on the day that it’s made. Not maybe, someday down the road. And no, Guillen for 8.5 million doesn’t count as a good move either. This is the second year in a row when the best thing that people can say about a Bavasi signing is “This is the kind of player who can be traded at the deadline for prospects.” It’s inexcusable.

  9. phil333 on December 15th, 2006 8:06 am

    Keeping Hargrove proved to me that Bavasi had serious issues. How anyone could let Mike Hargrove keep his job after the awful performance last year is beyond belief. I think we win 5-6 more games last year with a competent manager than w. Hargrove, mostly through really poor bullpen usage early in the season when he continued to trot out Every 7th Day Eddie to lose games for us.

    The Soriano/Doyle trades have just been icing on the cake, sadly.

  10. OscarTehGrouch on December 15th, 2006 8:07 am

    I’m a casual fan but would Joe Girardi be a bad choice for the M’s in ’08?

    This is assuming the FO has some semblance of sanity left and will fire Bavasi and Hargrove.

  11. TheEmrys on December 15th, 2006 8:09 am

    They have access to better research, data, and reports than any of us could dream about. They just don’t understand how to apply the knowledge they have at their fingertips.

    These two lines are representative of what generally bothers me about people in positions of power. It lends credenct to the entire argument of “from your standpoint, it may seem like is the best course of action, but if you knew what I know.” I hate and despise when people cop out to this. But its such a common occurance, if Bavasi ever goes to another Feed (would he be invited? lynched?), I’m sure this is what his response would be.

  12. philosopherking on December 15th, 2006 8:10 am

    Dave,

    This positition is correct only under the assumption that the purpose of management’s job is solely to put out the best possible baseball team, both now and in the future. I don’t think it’s overanalyizing things to say that that’s not that case, and that their purpose might equally be defined as not putting out the worst possible baseball team, both now and in the future. In fact, their real goal is assuredly to make as much money as possible, and the question then becomes which approach is the best to take to achieve that end.

    To me, then, this discussion should really shift to the role of creating a successful team in making money. Is the single-minded pursuit of creating the best team the sole means of making the most money? If there is more complexity, and I think there must be, then management’s competency shouldn’t be analyzed based on just one factor.

  13. Dave on December 15th, 2006 8:13 am

    He doesn’t need a feed to say that. From today’s times:

    Asked if he was concerned about negative fan reaction, general manager Bill Bavasi replied: “I’m the one dealing in the market. I know what the market is. I know what’s available. The reaction is probably a whole lot different if I drag you with me for a month, and you see what it’s like.

    “That’s not an excuse, just a fact. … To say I’m not concerned [about fan reaction] is just rude. That’s not the way I am. But is it going to color the way we try to manage a payroll and try to manage a roster? God, no.’ “

    It’s true to an extent – we don’t have the same information he does. We don’t know if Mike Piazza or Frank Thomas would have been willing to come here, or if Ben Broussard has told them he hates Seattle and doesn’t want to stick around. He has access to information that we don’t.

    But he’s not the only source of information, and every other team in the world was able to find a DH better than Carl Everett last winter, just like every other team in the world will find a DH better than Jose Vidro for $6 million this year. Having access to information doesn’t excuse using that information to make horrible decisions.

  14. Safeco Hobo on December 15th, 2006 8:14 am

    At the beginning of the offseason when Bavasi wasn’t a part of the craziness of the Soriano, Eaton, or Pierre type contracts, I thought ‘wow, I think the M’s management has finally understood not to get caught up in attempting to sign overvalued players to organization killing contracts’. I now realize that Bavasi was actually just the fat girl at prom who desperately wanted to be out there on the dance floor with all the other GM’s, but never found a partner(s) to dance with.

    Reading some of the quotes from yesterdays press conference for the Batista signing, I can see a GM who is beaten, over his head, and hoping that all of these 30-somethings that he has acquired can patch together 400 to 600 league average PAs.

    Incompetent is the only word i can think of too. I believe it starts with his core baseball beliefs that have doomed him from the start. His inability to evaluate talent, his desire to send all of the prospects as fast as humanly possible through the system to see if they break, and his love of acquiring mediocre older declining players.

    I stuck with you Bill for as long as I could, now the only thing I look forward to for this team is to see what kind of pieces the next GM can get for your Guillen’s, Vidro’s, and Batista’s.

  15. Manzanillos Cup on December 15th, 2006 8:15 am

    there’s literally nothing good that can come of 2007

    Awwww, turn dat frown upside down.

    1. We still have one of the most uniquely awesome pitching prospects ever to come into MLB.
    2. Yuniesky. Betancourt. Defense.
    3. Ichiro! in center.
    4. Come on, it’s baseball!

  16. terry on December 15th, 2006 8:18 am

    Ichiro! in center.

    woohoo!!!!!!

  17. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 8:25 am

    I completely agree, but I’ll play devil’s advocate for a minute. Clearly, Bavasi has been careful with handing out big contracts and has protected what he views as the core of the team. We might disagree on Snelling, and we know he’s got no sense of good value on the trade market, but he’s done a pretty good job of playing it safe and putting a team on the field next year, which considering the holes we had in our rotation is pretty solid. I hate the way a lot of it has happened, but at least he has been able to put a product on the field without costing our most valuable young players or handing out huge contracts.

    The scary part is that we’re going to be paying the combination of Sexson, Washburn, Batista, and Vidro about $37 million in 2008 for what is likely to be total mediocrity. That’s very upsetting. But I’m wondering about how tradeable these contracts will be. I mean, how good of a year, really, does Vidro have to have to become a tradeable commodity? How about Washburn? Batista? I guess if they have good years, we’ll just get excited and keep them. But if the FA market is insane next year, 2 years of Washburn and Batista might look pretty good to somebody.

    Hmmm…Nope, never mind, that somebody will be us. Damn. It’s not like any of our young pitchers will be knocking on the door at that point, probably. Well, maybe if we get a new GM, he’ll be able to expoit that opportunity, assuming we don’t have another offseason where the new GM doesn’t have real power yet and Lincoln and Armstrong just handle the offseason.

    That’s the scariest part of firing Bavasi, to me. Do we get another 03-04 offseason where the business side ruins everything?

  18. The Ancient Mariner on December 15th, 2006 8:29 am

    Incompetent? At the major-league level, yeah — that’s really the bottom line. It’s rather sad, since Bavasi’s done good things for our scouting at the amateur level, but when it comes to acquiring talent to help the big club win, then (as Bill James said of the Royals when they dealt Sean Berry) the man and his assistants don’t know a ballplayer from a hot-air balloon.

  19. vj on December 15th, 2006 8:31 am

    Incompetent. Literally, they are legally unqualified, inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose, lacking the qualities needed for effective action, and unable to function properly.

    I’m not sure, if the word ‘legally’ belongs there. I presume, there’s no law that defines the required qualifications for Bavasi’s job.

    Philosopherking: Bavasi is responsible for baseball operations, the product that’s being put in the field, not for the overall profitability of the franchise.

  20. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 8:33 am

    Oh now that we’re trying to be optimistic, maybe in 2009, Feierabend, Morrow, Butler, and Tillman all become legit ML starters and we have a practically free rotation + huge extension for Cy Young Felix and the prospects we get from trading Washburn and Batista to teams desperate for SP help. That could happen, right? I just hope we’re going to be able to re-sign Ichiro by appealing to his sense of loyalty, making him feel loved, paying him lots of money, etc. Because I don’t see the on-field product this year convincing him to stay.

  21. philosopherking on December 15th, 2006 8:40 am

    Re: 19

    Bavasi’s job is defined by his superiors, not by a dictionary definition of “general manager.” Those superiors’ job is to make money. If the only way in which they define his job dscription is “go make the best team possible” then he’s incompetent, but that seems too simplistic.

  22. atait on December 15th, 2006 8:43 am

    It’s official. Bavasi is knowingly sacrificing the team’s future to win now.

    “We’re trying to build a club that is ready to win a lot more games than the last couple of years,” he said. “To do that, I don’t think we can completely bet on kids.”

    And yes, I am taking this quote out of context, but it’s still telling:

    “We’re always wrong,” he said. “But we’ve never been this wrong. That was frustrating. There were a lot of clubs flush with money, and they’ve used it.”

    Incompetence? Check.

    Blatant disregard for the future? Check.

    Last-place finish in 2007? Check.

    Ichiro bolts after 2007? Check.

  23. Tek Jansen on December 15th, 2006 8:45 am

    In the Times article about the official signing of Batista (I thought he had been signed for weeks!) Bavasi makes a reference to the need to win more games this year than they did in the past few years, and that they (I assume Grover is part of “they”) felt more comfortable with veterans (Vidro) rather than kids (Snelling). it should be noted that Bavasi did not refer to the proposed Vidro trade, but we can all read into it. I don’t necessarily agree with the logic, but at least there is a logic. Unfortunately, I believe that this logic is born out of pressure from the management that surrounds Bavasi, although I do not let him off the hookby any means. If those above him (Lincoln) and those below him (Grover) felt that Snelling would do just fine in the majors this year, I doubt that Bavasi would have dealt him.

    While we may have conflicted feelings about Lou, who will now not replace Grover (hooray, no more Pinella rumors in the threads), Lou would have never let Snelling go.

  24. Eleven11 on December 15th, 2006 8:46 am

    Dave’s right on this one. Vidro wasn’t an accident or a last minute thing that popped up and looked good. The M’s targeted him, pursued him and spent a week talking him out of refusing the trade and to make sure he agreed, they vested him on his option year. Dh’s are free. There are hundreds of guys who can hit but cannot field or aging guys who want one more year and will accept a minor league deal (Ex. Petagine) High quality ones cost more but bring value with them (Bonds, Ibanez, etc.) Vidro was a good player in his day but when your legs go, you are done. His legs are gone. Idiocy.

  25. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 8:49 am

    Philosopherking,

    This only makes the Vidro/Snelling trade that much more ridiculous. Snelling was a huge fan favorite and one of not that many guys on the team who had that kind of transcendant quality that really made people want to root for him. He’s a great story, a great interview, all of that. He should be our Eckstein, not Bloomquist.

    Also, I can’t believe we made all these mediocre moves and didn’t improve our OF defense, the easiest way to improve this team. DHing Ibañez and putting Snelling in LF with Reed backing him up in case of injury would be a much, much better scenario on a defensive level. And if Snelling and Guillen both get hurt, there’s still Jones in Tacoma. What happens if Guillen gets hurt now? Ichiro to right, Reed to center? Ibañez to RF, Reed to LF? Jones called up? We’ve replaced injury prone upside and versatility with injury prone mediocrity and complete lack of versatility. It’s nuts.

  26. msb on December 15th, 2006 8:53 am

    #22– I likes Stone’s description at the start of the piece:

    Batista … also used the term “dynasty” to describe the outlook for his new club.

    But such a prosperous future doesn’t coincide with the conclusion of
    many fans and analysts, who have panned the team’s winter remodeling
    job.

  27. msb on December 15th, 2006 8:54 am

    dammit. that pretty much sums up the way the morning has gone so far.

  28. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 8:57 am

    Tek, I agree. This is all on Bavasi’s head, but it does make me wonder how much autonomy he really had. I always got the impression that Bavasi was a big Snelling supporter, and while he might been afraid of the injuries, I have a feeling he is executing an organizational philosophy to a large degree. The fact that Hargrove is still the manager is no accident; he’s the kind of guy this organization likes. I think Bavasi’s smarter than that.

    It doesn’t make me think we should consider keeping him around, but it does provoke (not beg) the question: How much autonomy would Antonetti have as GM here? DMZ said it a few posts back:

    I’ve felt for a long time that Bavasi was the best GM Lincoln might hire (and I mean that in the nicest way to Bavasi possible), and that in a lot of ways, we’ve been lucky to get him, because the organization as a whole is a lot better off today than it was a couple years ago.

    We might not agree with that now, but has that much changed in this regard? Or would Antonetti be possibly even more strongarmed by the Armstrong and/or Lincoln into doing baseball their way? I’m not sure either way, but I’m worried.

  29. bermanator on December 15th, 2006 9:00 am

    Dave is right in saying that the one place Bavasi does have more information than anyone else is regarding players’ desire to play in Seattle. It’s easy for people here to talk about signing guys like Giles instead of trading for Vidro, but we don’t know if Giles had any desire to play in Seattle at any (reasonable) price.

    It’s possible that these trades are coming out of Bavasi making strong pitches to free agents, being turned down flat, and coming to the conclusion that top free agents won’t sign in Seattle right now so any improvements need to come via trades.

    So I would cut him slacks for the moves he hasn’t made. As for the moves he has made … well, that’s another story.

  30. philosopherking on December 15th, 2006 9:01 am

    Re: 25

    This is a good point, my only direct response would be that Vidro is a pretty neat guy as well, and a former all-star. But looking at it more broadly, Vidro’s downside is far less than Doyle’s. Of course, any player’s downside is getting hurt in preseason and not playing at all, but given Doyle’s history it would be reasonable for management to conclude that the chances of that happening to him are higher than for Vidro. If the management’s goal is to avoid collapse, thereby keeping fans at least somewhat interested, then they’re better off with Vidro. This isn’t a knock-down argument, but it’s a reasonable one, and I don’t think it’s incompetent to conclude as such.

    The question of whether their goal should be to avoid collapse is a completely seperate one, one that I don’t think has been discussed enough.

  31. Tek Jansen on December 15th, 2006 9:03 am

    That’s my feeling darrylzero. Bavasi is not the best GM, or maybe not even a good GM, but would the M’s actually hire one willing to stick with the Snellings, Reeds, and Choos and get rid of the Grovers?

  32. Ed Tsantamount on December 15th, 2006 9:03 am

    I don’t think the day off changed yours or anyone elses opinion about the trade or the capabilitiies of the Mariner executives.

  33. vj on December 15th, 2006 9:03 am

    Philosopherking, you seem to agree that the trades did not improve the team. Can you come up with a job description for Bavasi that would explain the trades and makes sense from a financial point of view, bearing in mind that Vidro is significantly more expensive than Snelling?

  34. vj on December 15th, 2006 9:13 am

    re 30, ok now I see your point. Note that neither Vidro nor Ramirez have a very strong recent health track record.

  35. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 9:15 am

    Wait, am I wrong about this? Isn’t Vidro just bad? Replacing the chance of collapse (and replacement with Reed or Jones) with someone we already know isn’t any good doesn’t help anybody. I mean, Vidro seems like a phenomenal human being, and I hope he gets a little bit of that power stroke back. I’ll be happy to root for him as a Mariner; I would be hoping he did well either way.

    But is there any reason to he’ll bounce back at all? That his injuries are behind him? People keep pointing out his road splits over the past two years, but all the people who use that to support the possibility of him doing well don’t mention all the GBs… He looks like a horrible, horrible DH to me. Is that not accurate? I hope it’s not, but I can’t see him being a valuable hitter.

  36. philosopherking on December 15th, 2006 9:16 am

    Re: 33

    I think the trades did not improve the team if we define what’s best for the team as what gives us the best possible chance of winning the world series. But I think I outlined in #30 why the Vidro trade does help the team if we define what’s best for the team as avoiding putting out the worst possible team.

    Unfortunately I have to leave internet access for the next few hours, so let me sum up: the recent trades make it clear that the current management’s strategy is risk-avoidance. As fans who want a World Series, we’re better off critiquing that approach directly instead of assuming that their goal is something it’s not and demonstrating how they’re not doing a good job achieving a goal they never had.

  37. dw on December 15th, 2006 9:17 am

    Dave is right-on. I actually feel pretty good about the future, because Bavasi has been able to reconstruct the minor league system. But to me, it’s like a guy who spends all summer growing a garden, then takes all the produce and barters it for magic beans and skunked beer, because that’s what he values more than a decent tomato or fresh corn.

    Outside of the Garcia trade, it seems like every trade has either been for long-shot gambles or salary dumps. That sounds like Bowden’s MO, which makes all the more ironic that Bowden got Bavasi to take Vidro.

    Changes need to happen, and soon, before the M’s turn into the West Coast version of the Pittsburgh Pirate.

  38. Spanky on December 15th, 2006 9:19 am

    Way back when…it seems like a year ago now…when the market was starting to show how overpriced free agents were going to be this year, I stated I would be fine if the M’s didn’t do anything crazy this year and wait until next year. Fill out the rotation with short risk players, find an affordable bat, give the youngsters another year of seasoning.

    For a while, I thought the M’s were going to do this. Now though, I realize I was naive to think they wouldn’t break the bank to save their jobs. How wrong I was.

    I’m not so upset about seeing good players leave. I never though any of them individually would “save” the M’s from last place. However, what is maddening is that now we have added additional mortgage to our future! We won’t be able to make moves next year without trading contracts and of all the albatroses we have, the only one that is moveable is Washburn (anyone will trade for a pitcher…especially lefthanded with playoff experience…at the trade deadline).

    Sexon…going down once.
    Beltre…going down twice.
    Vidro…drowned!

  39. Cynical Optimist on December 15th, 2006 9:21 am

    Vidro’s downside is far less than Doyle’s.

    I don’t think this is accurate. If both players are injury-prone, and that seems to be a point of little debate, then the worst case scenario downside for both is that they play 1 game and then sit the rest of the season. However, the player with the greater downside in those scenarios is the one who costs $6 million this year, not the one who costs $1 million.

  40. seagood3 on December 15th, 2006 9:22 am

    From today’s PI article

    “It’s frustrating,” Bavasi said of the offseason. “That has happened every year for the last 20 years. Whatever people think the market’s been, we’re always wrong. But we’ve never been this wrong. This is as wrong as we’ve been. That was frustrating. There were a lot of clubs flush with money, and they used it.”

    I think this tells jives with what you are saying Dave. Wow.

  41. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 9:25 am

    39, yeah but he’s talking about likely downside, and I think it’s a reasonable enough point. Snelling probably is more likely to either get injured or completely fall apart as a player somehow. I just think he’s underestimating the chance of Vidro being absolutely terrible in a much more ordinary mild-decline sort of way.

  42. Jon on December 15th, 2006 9:26 am

    Bavasi’s quote this morning is troubling.

    We all understand that every team has to decide whether to relaod, rebuild, go for it now, build for the future, etc. And many of us have been concerned that the M’s would either lurch from one philosophy to the other or would get perpetually caught somewhere in the middle, and in either event would never succeed in either the present or the future.

    For whatever reasons, many of the young players the M’s had horded and refused to part with never turned out to be the producers we all hoped for. So I can now see that Bavasi et. al. could have concluded that Soriano and Snelling, to name two, were such risks that it the team should learn from past mistakes, i.e, holding on too long, and get something in return that should fill a need now.

    Unfortunately, nobody thinks the M’s will really be better now or later by these moves. And past history suggests the current management won’t really have the courage of their convictions (as those change from year to year). So what happens if the M’s fade early this year? Will they make trades to restock? Will they take take hot prospects from contenders? Bavasi’s quote today suggests “NO”.

    Who the heck believes the M’s will do anything right at this point?

  43. David on December 15th, 2006 9:27 am

    but we don’t know if Giles had any desire to play in Seattle at any (reasonable) price

    Not that I would rather have Marcus Giles, but Giles would come to Seattle for 6 million a year. I guarantee it.

  44. bermanator on December 15th, 2006 9:29 am

    43-

    What do you base that on?

  45. David on December 15th, 2006 9:31 am

    44-

    He is considering San Diego for 4 Million.

  46. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 9:33 am

    Jon, to be fair, Bavasi has protected what he sees as the core of the future very well. I think he’ll be honorable enough to fall on his sword if the team really stinks this year. The danger is if we’re two games back again but not actually that likely to make the real playoff push. That’s what scares me the most, and I think it’s actually a pretty likely scenario.

  47. Dave on December 15th, 2006 9:34 am

    His brother plays there, he’s from San Diego, he’s a National League player, and the Padres would offer him a second base job.

    But here’s the thing – good teams don’t sign second baseman and convert them to DHs. It’s stupid.

  48. nickpdx on December 15th, 2006 9:36 am

    Anybodi in ‘08.

  49. Cynical Optimist on December 15th, 2006 9:36 am

    41 – I would concede that I was exaggerating to make a point but I don’t see how we can say its reasonable that one injury-prone player is more likely than another to stay healthy. Unless there’s a forecasting system for injuries that I’m unaware of, I think you’d have to consider them equally likely to miss time.

  50. bermanator on December 15th, 2006 9:36 am

    45-

    He’s from San Diego, they need a second baseman, and his brother plays there. I’m sure that’s a big factor, and San Diego is counting on him taking a hometown discount to play there.

    But the point is that you can’t “guarantee” it. A player’s desire to play in Seattle (or any city) is a factor in free agency, and on that count I do trust that Bavasi has more information that you do.

  51. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 9:38 am

    49, fair enough.

  52. Cynical Optimist on December 15th, 2006 9:38 am

    I guarantee it.

    I don’t think this means what you think it means.

  53. bermanator on December 15th, 2006 9:38 am

    Posted my previous comment without seeing Dave’s thoughts at No. 47 … and I do agree that it’s pretty foolish to acquire a 2B in order to convert him to a DH.

  54. David on December 15th, 2006 9:38 am

    Point taken.

  55. Peebs on December 15th, 2006 9:41 am

    Boo F-ing hoo.

    1- Listen to what youre saying: Even if the Mariners are good you wont be able to watch them because you’ll still be pissed at Bavasi? Dude thats wack.

    You want them to fail! You have made your feelings so personal towards Bavasi that you wouldnt even be happy if they were a great team! Seattle fans are fairweather fans…and maybe its because of your non-fair weather that you have such gloom and doom perspectives.

    You are totally overblowing whats happened. They traded away oft-injured players for…well…other oft-injured players. Will they be better next year? Yeah, I bet they will. Will they be significantly better? Probably not.

    Im sick of all this “Im not buying my season tickets” talk. SHUT UP! Its baseball man. Have a beer, mellow out, and enjoy your day at the ballpark.

  56. Eleven11 on December 15th, 2006 9:44 am

    Bavasi’s comment about other clubs flush with money is a joke. We were flush with money until we tied big long contracts to Sexson and Washburn and probably over paid Beltre. Now we’ve added Batista and Vidro, gee Bill, why is it others are flush with money??? Oh, resigning Ichiro for less than $15M leave us with what now?? Incompetent is correct.

  57. strong silence on December 15th, 2006 9:50 am

    The demons of ambitions continue to haunt Seattle. There is, here in our town, a quality that inspires pathos.

  58. Ralph on December 15th, 2006 9:58 am

    True, the offseason is already a failure, and that’s before the inevitable Ichiro extension/robbery and the yearly San Diego trade. What kind of garbage are the Padres going to dump in our ballpark this year?

  59. Steve T on December 15th, 2006 9:58 am

    Bavasi is full of it. “Inside information”, yeah, right. There is NO INFORMATION IN THE WORLD that makes Vidro a good player to acquire. Leaving alone the question of giving up Snelling and Fruto: Vidro would have been a bad acquisition for this club at the major-league minimum. Period.

    At $6 million, he’s a joke. The Mariners are a laughingstock. This is like 1984 all over again.

  60. Tek Jansen on December 15th, 2006 9:59 am

    I don’t consider Hansen for Huber a bad deal that dumped garbage in our ballpark.

  61. carcinogen on December 15th, 2006 10:10 am

    Dave, great quote in comment 13…So, Bavasi basically said: “I’m the decider. I get to decide, not you…”

    Seems as if I’ve heard that somewhere.

  62. terry on December 15th, 2006 10:26 am

    #61: seriously though….it works best that way….

  63. Manzanillos Cup on December 15th, 2006 10:28 am

    This may sound harsh, but “You can’t critique me, because you don’t know what I’m working with” is a loser excuse in every walk of life. The elite in any field tend to succeed; no matter what cards they are dealt, always taking responsibility for their actions. I’m into corny motivation stuff like this since I’m a salesman, so it pisses my off to no end when people in positions of, oh, say general manager of a half billion-dollar corporation can just be so amateurish.

    The Mariners have been in last place for three straight years, and we annually get our ass handed to us by a team with far fewer resources. The fruits of Bill Bavasi’s “labors” are a testament to his incompetence. Him calling us ignorant is sooooooooo ironic.

  64. elliottday on December 15th, 2006 10:36 am

    P-I:

    “It’s frustrating,” Bavasi said of the offseason. “That has happened every year for the last 20 years. Whatever people think the market’s been, we’re always wrong. But we’ve never been this wrong. This is as wrong as we’ve been. That was frustrating.”

    From the horse’s mouth…

  65. Evan on December 15th, 2006 10:38 am

    The worst part about this is that the team got worse this off-season, even though we moved Ichiro to CF. In CF, Ichiro’s conceivably top 10 in the AL in VORP. Ichiro in CF makes the team better.

    And yet, somehow the rest of the team got damaged badly enough to erase that and more.

  66. BoneFan on December 15th, 2006 10:47 am

    The M’s had two perceived needs to address this off-season: front-line pitching and a bonafide OPS. That was nearly unanimous. There were various theories about how to acquire it and how to spend for it. Pet players were slotted (Snelling) and pet peeves dealt (Sexson), all hypothetically. In the real world, the team’s needs never changed. Nor were they addressed.

    The M’s swung-and-missed at every player who legitimately fit either description, for reasons related to what I think we all accept was an incredibly difficult market to operate in (rationally, especially).

    In the effort to get SOMETHING/ANYTHING, the F.O. began acquiring players who nobody really thinks adequately address either need. In the process, they bartered away players most on this board esteemed (as cheap for their skill sets), and maybe created new needs (in the bullpen, e.g.).

    Some on this board have begun to ask, I think reasonably, “Wouldn’t it have just been easier to go overspend for two players who obviously addressed the major needs — say, Schmidt and Alfonso Soriano?” Even if it cost us $40M/yr, we would A) have them, B) not have Guillen, Batista, Ramirez, and Vidro, C) still have Soriano, Snelling, and Fruto for cheap.

    Obviously — to Bavasi’s point — this was easier said than done. But let’s not forget that the M’s have autonomy in the market and could have adjusted to the crazy market at any time in myriad ways. They did so in ways that nearly everyone finds inadequate. Shocked at the inflationary price of bread, they starved. There’s not much virtue in that.

  67. terry on December 15th, 2006 11:16 am

    Some on this board have begun to ask, I think reasonably, “Wouldn’t it have just been easier to go overspend for two players who obviously addressed the major needs — say, Schmidt and Alfonso Soriano?”

    Guess I don’t fall into the *some* category…

    The scenario in the quotation would be about as distasteful to me as the reality of last couple weeks.

    At this point, all I’m asking is that someone in a power position somewhere within the organisation just display evidence of a brain…

  68. Steve T on December 15th, 2006 11:19 am

    Look at it this way: if Bavasi was shopping an old, broken-down 2B whose only remaining skill, hitting, was fading away, and snookered somebody into taking him and his huge salary, we’d all be ecstatic. If they threw in a couple of warm bodies, we’d be even happier. If one of those warm bodies was Chris Snelling, we’d be partying in the streets, and if there was a 22 year old kid with a live arm too, our hangover would last three days. Bavasi could be mayor.

    Ah, to be a Nationals fan….

  69. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2006 11:22 am

    “We’re trying to build a club that is ready to win a lot more games than the last couple of years,” he said. “To do that, I don’t think we can completely bet on kids.”

    I’m just stunned at the stupid that quote reveals. Clubs that take dramatic leaps forward usually do so BECAUSE they add young talent via kids. Even the 2000-2003 Mariners had players like Freddy Garcia, Joel Piñeiro, Carlos Guillen and “rookies” like Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki- who weren’t properly free agents.

  70. Steve T on December 15th, 2006 11:23 am

    “Adjusting to the reality of the market” is a different issue than this. The market does not excuse Vidro’s acquisition. First of all, he’s not cheap. And most importantly, he’s NOT GOOD. There are equal or better players available all over the place for free.

    The marketplace argument goes like this: “all these other teams have made incredibly stupid deals this winter; why shouldn’t we?” It’s as if we’re competing for LAST place. If the Angels sign Mathews to a retarded contract, that’s an opportunity to move AHEAD of them, not seek out a like deal (though nowhere near as bad).

  71. bookbook on December 15th, 2006 11:30 am

    Antonelli in ’08?

    What are we waiting for?

  72. strong silence on December 15th, 2006 11:37 am

    Nepotism to die and egalitarianism to take its rightful place.

  73. strong silence on December 15th, 2006 11:43 am

    thank you for deleting those. There is a thread at BTF for this topic. Cameron is there now.

  74. Eli Cash on December 15th, 2006 11:45 am

    I don’t think avoidance is one of the approved twelve steps…

    Maybe not, but denial is the first step in the grieving process, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I cycle through these stages about thrice daily being a Mariners fan.

    Mariners ’07, the Bavasi/Hargrove Farewell tour

  75. Edman on December 15th, 2006 12:16 pm

    Snelling, a HUGE fan favorite? Give me a freakin’ break. He’s a big BLOG favorite. More legend, than reality. But PLEASE, give it a rest that somehow the very reason for coming to a game has been stripped from the team.

    I’m a huge Snelling fan, but unlike some here, you don’t get that this board is in the VAST minority of the total fan base. Ma Kettle, in Ravensdale, who buys her 20 game plan every year, wouldn’t know Snelling from Snailing.

    I’m a little disappointed, but as big a fan of Chris’ as I am, I KNOW he can’t be relied upon to hold down RF for a full season.

  76. Dave on December 15th, 2006 12:20 pm

    I’m a little disappointed, but as big a fan of Chris’ as I am, I KNOW he can’t be relied upon to hold down RF for a full season.

    Knowing what you can’t know is just as important as knowing what you can know. And, since none of us can predict the future, there’s no way for you to know that Chris Snelling can’t play a full season in 2007.

    We can deal in probabilities, and we can say it’s likely that Snelling would get injured next year, and that the attached risk brings down his value. We’ll all agree with that.

    There’s risk and reward associated with every player. The point of roster construction is to build a team with as much reward as possible and minimal risk. Sometimes, it makes sense to take a little less reward in exchange for lower risk.

    That’s what the Mariners tried to do here. Unfortunately, they don’t understand player evaluation, and they took on about the same amount of risk, lowered the potential reward, and paid an extra $12 million over the next two years and gave away a live armed reliever for the right to make a lateral move.

  77. strong silence on December 15th, 2006 12:25 pm

    Well said.

    If he has one, is Bavasi’s forte restocking the minor league system?

  78. darrylzero on December 15th, 2006 12:29 pm

    Edman, moreover, since I think it’s my comment that you’re referring to…

    I guess you’re right that I don’t really know how big of a fan favorite Snelling actually is. I don’t live on the West Coast now, and I haven’t for a while, so I could be totally missing the boat on that. I do know that he’s a great story and extremely marketable, so I don’t think my comment is too far off either way, though.

    But as far as saying some huge reason for attending games has been washed away, I suppose you’re mostly talking about a cumulative effect of posting, because I don’t actually really feel that way. The point I was trying to make is that I think from a marketing standpoint it was a foolish trade, as well as from a talent-on-the-field standpoint. I may not be exactly right, in that regard, but I don’t see the point in trading away a player with a large fanbase for someone who is no better and has no local fanbase.

    I still think it’s bad on both counts, regardless of whether or not he’s much more popular among bloggers and statheads, or whatever, than among the general Mariners fanbase. He’s still young, charismatic, has overcome a tough injury history, has been in the organization forever so he has name recognition… I don’t think this was smart no matter what rationale you apply to it. Not a disaster either, but definitely not smart.

  79. rcc on December 15th, 2006 12:34 pm

    Gosh Dave…..can you tell us how you really feel? Excellent post, and why this is the best baseball blog….period!

    It is hard to be a fan of any team, in any sport, when that team is run by incompetent idiots. Probably the same feeling I get when thinking about the current administration in the other Washington.

    Besides the Mariners I have become a big fan of the Oakland A’s, because you count on Billy Beane to make moves to actually improve his ball club. It is certainly more fun to follow a team that is doing interesting things then to wallow in the incompetence of the Mariners.

  80. Salty Dog on December 15th, 2006 12:35 pm

    #76: I think another factor to consider is Bavasi’s apparent desire to trade a young player when he’s blocked, even if it means sacrificing value.

    It’s not good for the club, to be sure, but just in terms of letting guys find a way to get on the field when they’re ready, it’s noble, in a self-flagellating kind of way.

    Guys like Choo, Snelling, and Fruto are going to get a chance to play full time in the majors on their new teams. That’s awesome for them.

    I sometimes think Bavasi does it just so he can rub Hargrove’s nose in the “what an awful trade” articles, as if he were a bad puppy that had wet the carpet. Kinda a “hey, dumbass, maybe we shoulda played that guy” type move.

  81. John D. on December 15th, 2006 12:38 pm

    MOVING SNELLING – In an earlier column [Winter Meetings Predictions, 12/3/06], USS MARINER suspected that JEREMY REED might be traded because BAVASI has a heart of gold, and wants Reed to have an MLB career–which Reed wouldn’t have in Seattle.
    (“One of Bill Bavasi’s personal beliefs is that players deserve a chance to have a career, and he’s consistently bent over backwards to trade players in an effort to give them a better opportunity than he can offer.” ]

    Maybe it’s the same with Snelling and the VIDRO trade.

  82. gwangung on December 15th, 2006 12:38 pm

    #76: I think another factor to consider is Bavasi’s apparent desire to trade a young player when he’s blocked, even if it means sacrificing value.

    Well, if you hold on to them too long, without using or trading, you DO sacrifice value.

    That said, I still think this was a bad trade.

  83. Colorado M's Fan on December 15th, 2006 12:42 pm

    I simply can’t justify the latest trade, so I won’t even try. However, I do appreciate the fact that Bavasi had an incredibly difficult job this offseason and if were going to bash his brains out we should at least acknowledge he was running a double black diamond. We overpaid for Ramirez, but adding a pitcher like Ramirez made sense. Ditto for Batista. Signing Guillen made a lot of sense. Vidro would have made a lot of sense 3-4 years ago, but on the bright side, he’s a proven 350+ OBP guy that can fill our #2 hole, and to be bluntly honest, on paper he’s a safer bet to play 140+ games in 2007 and thats why the move was made. Doesn’t mean its not a terrible trade, but I “get it.”

  84. eric on December 15th, 2006 12:46 pm

    Edman,

    Take Snelling (and Fruto) out of the equation. If Vidro were completely free it would be a stupid move:

    Lets see the Ms need a DH. Does anyone actually think the way to fill DH is to find a 32 year old 2Bman with little to no power, one who has been hurt the last 3 years (with basically the same injury recurring each time) Let alone paying him 6 mil/per for 2 (or 3 years unclear about the option)? How many DHs get paid more than 6 mil? Ortiz, Thomas, Thome, probably a couple more that I can’t think of off the top of my head. Of course they all have the common trait of being among the best hitters in baseball. Even if Vidro miraculous bounces back to be the player he was 4 years ago, that isn’t a plus bat at DH, at 2B, yeah, but DH’s are truly a dime a dozen. Finding a Petagine or a Bucky Jacobson isn’t that hard, and that is a worst case scenario.

    And Salty, even if Snelling was never gonna play for the Ms (which I debate, Hargrove played him in all but 6 games after his call-up) He is still an asset and part of a GM’s job is to maximize the return. Vidro was a salary dump that the Nats couldn’t give away.

  85. Graham on December 15th, 2006 12:46 pm

    But he blocked Snelling in the first place…

  86. eric on December 15th, 2006 12:48 pm

    How is he a safe bet to play 140 games? IIRC he’s done it 4 times in a 10 year career, guys with chronic knee problems don’t generally miraculously get healthy as they hit their mid 30s

  87. strong silence on December 15th, 2006 1:00 pm

    Hargrove blocked Snelling.
    Hargrove will continue to block Snelling in 2007.
    Bavasi isn’t allowed to fire Hargrove.
    Barasi trades Snelling.

    All figured out?

  88. Dave in Palo Alto on December 15th, 2006 1:04 pm

    I agree with you Dave that Bavasi is incompetent. I have held that view from the first self-inflicted wound to the present.

    Everyone can, I suppose, argue the merits of trades. But nobody could argue that throwing away something of value, i.e., Bobby Livingstone, is anything but gross incompetence. It took the Devil Rays (of all clubs) about all of a nanosecond to see that there was a market for Mr. Livingstone’s services. You’d think the self-proclaimed market nomad, Bill Bavasi, might have picked that up. In the world of corporations, giving away an asset for no value is called waste and establishes a breach of fiduciary duty.

  89. Jeff Sullivan on December 15th, 2006 1:07 pm

    Mike Hargrove never blocked Snelling. I don’t know why so many people believe this to be true.

  90. terrybenish on December 15th, 2006 1:08 pm

    # 37 “Dave is right-on. I actually feel pretty good about the future, because Bavasi has been able to reconstruct the minor league system.”

    This is really the big lie about Bavasi and Fontaine. There maybe new bodies down there, but its not loaded with high quality prospects. BaseballAmerica rates the Ms farm system as the worst in Baseball.

  91. DrJ on December 15th, 2006 1:32 pm

    90 – Hey, the M’s aren’t ALONE at the bottom of the farm heap (ew)…there’s healthy competition for that spot right now. We’re only the worst in the American League.

    How about the Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies, Nationals, or Padres? Mmmm, empty farm systems!

    Still, the current regime inspires very little confidence even in terms of its handling of restocking the minors, and thus I would agree with your overall point.

    Any of you readers NEW to this feeling of rooting for accidental good moves by a completely clueless (or Dave’s word, “incompetent”) organization with problematic management, you now have a hard-earned glimpse into the collective consciousness of we Mariners’ fans during George Argyros’s and Jeff Smulyan’s time as owners. It’s like we’ve gone back in time. In a bad way.

  92. stoyboy on December 15th, 2006 1:45 pm

    #66- Right on. The FO committed +- 22$M annual salary on Vidro, Ramirez, Guillen and Batista. If they would have spent 3/48 on Schmidt and even get Huff(OF,1B,3B and DH) for 3/24 we would have genuinely improved the club for 24M annual committed. Then you can trade Sexson’s contract for another starter and pocket some change in the process(then move Ibanez to 1B, DH or whatever shifting you wanted).

  93. Paul B on December 15th, 2006 1:45 pm

    There’s been so many examples… Bavasi and Hargrove think one thing (e.g., C-Rex will be a good DH, Vidro will be a good DH) when almost everyone here can see it’s completely wrong simply by looking at a few numbers.

    And yet, there are posters like #55 that rant against strawmen in order to get an excuse to state the M’s have improved and are going to be better. As long as there are enough #55′s, the Lincoln’s of the world will prosper.

  94. Dave on December 15th, 2006 1:46 pm

    This is really the big lie about Bavasi and Fontaine. There maybe new bodies down there, but its not loaded with high quality prospects. BaseballAmerica rates the Ms farm system as the worst in Baseball.

    Farm system rankings are like attendance – they don’t show up until after a few years of hard work. The M’s system is poor, compared to most others, because the few talented players acquired during the Gillick regime are already in the majors and no longer considered prospects, and the guys the Bavasi regime have acquired haven’t had time to develop into notable prospects on the national scale. You can’t ignore the talent brought into the organization, from the big names like Clement and Morrow to the lesser guys like Butler, Lowe, and Triunfel, just because they’re not classified as elite prospects.

  95. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2006 1:57 pm

    And yet, there are posters like #55 that rant against strawmen in order to get an excuse to state the M’s have improved and are going to be better. As long as there are enough #55’s, the Lincoln’s of the world will prosper.

    Depends on what you mean by “prosper”. The Mariners are going to spend $90 million in salary on a roster that’s probably going to win 75-85 games (barring a bunch of career years or catasrophic injuries/setbacks). That probably doesn’t increase attendance very much. This is a point I’m getting very tired of making, but Lincoln knows the difference between 3.4 million attendance (2001-2002) and 2.4 million attendance (2006), and those are real dollars taken off the bottom line.

    My guess is that based on the increased revenues in baseball that are driving things like Gil Meche’s signing by the sad-sack Royals, the M’s will make money- but they’ll also leave a HUGE amount of money on the table by not being a competently run organization, because you can’t sell out in Seattle by being a “eh” club, as the Sonics and Seahawks (and Mariners) have amply demonstrated. This isn’t the Cubs at Wrigley, where they’ll pack them in even if the team’s terrible.

  96. gwangung on December 15th, 2006 2:32 pm

    Depends on what you mean by “prosper”. The Mariners are going to spend $90 million in salary on a roster that’s probably going to win 75-85 games (barring a bunch of career years or catasrophic injuries/setbacks). That probably doesn’t increase attendance very much. This is a point I’m getting very tired of making, but Lincoln knows the difference between 3.4 million attendance (2001-2002) and 2.4 million attendance (2006), and those are real dollars taken off the bottom line.

    Lincoln et al are not stupid. They know quite well that you need to win to make money.

    It’s just that they are, as Dave says, incompetent in knowing how to win. Knowing how to evaluate players. Knowing what risks are smart and which are dumb. Knowing when to pay $1.10 on the dollar to get that last piece to get over the top.

  97. Plim on December 15th, 2006 2:46 pm

    Farm system rankings are like attendance – they don’t show up until after a few years of hard work. The M’s system is poor, compared to most others, because the few talented players acquired during the Gillick regime are already in the majors and no longer considered prospects, and the guys the Bavasi regime have acquired haven’t had time to develop into notable prospects on the national scale. You can’t ignore the talent brought into the organization, from the big names like Clement and Morrow to the lesser guys like Butler, Lowe, and Triunfel, just because they’re not classified as elite prospects.

    I agree with this, the problem as I see it is that the other teams in the division are doing just as good if not a better job of drafting and adding players to their systems. Oakland, Anaheim and to a lesser degree Texas all garnered praise from various sources on their drafts last year.

    Things are definitely getting better but it’s not like the Ms exist in a vacuum, the other teams are getting better too.

  98. scraps on December 15th, 2006 2:57 pm

    I don’t know that M’s management is good at making money from this franchise. One hopes of course that they’re good at something; it’s even more discouraging to think that they might be bad at winning and at making money (notwithstanding that the best way, by far, for a sports franchise to make money is to win); if they make bad baseball decisions, it some small solace to be able to say “well, they’re businessmen, making business decisions,” as though it follows that they must be good businessmen making good business decisions. Outside of their apparently successful exploitation of the Japanese market, though, I can’t see any reason to think they know what they’re doing as businessmen, either. It just takes a while to tarnish a product as good as this team was. They’re one more disappointing season away from a precipitous attendance plunge, I’d guess.

  99. geofftoons on December 15th, 2006 3:01 pm

    With the moves this last week, let the Ichiro jumping ship articles begin!

  100. gwangung on December 15th, 2006 3:03 pm

    I don’t know that M’s management is good at making money from this franchise.

    I think that’s an interesting argument to make. One could argue that there are two main drivers of the Ms revenues. One is SAFECO. The other is that they happened to luck onto 116 wins, at the time when they were renegotiating TV contracts. And once could argue that the latter factor helped the former.

    I think that if the Ms continue a mediocre season, then it’s going to depress revenues even futher and make people skeptical even when the team actually is doing well.

  101. Choo on December 15th, 2006 3:09 pm

    In referene to Lincoln, Bavasi, et al, and attendance:

    According to Baseball Almanac, the Mariners averaged about 13,000 fewer fans per game compared to their first two seasons at Safeco for a total of about 1,045,690 empty seats in 2006. As we all, know, that’s a bunch of crap because there is no way the Mariners averaged 30,000 fans per game last season, regardless of what they reported. But to avoid any speculation, let’s just say the average attendance at Safeco really was 30,626.

    The average cost per person to attend a game at Safeco is roughly $44. That includes one ticket, a hot dog, a soft drink, half a beer and half a program. That figure does not include voracious eaters/drinkers, money spent at the team store, or bail for the guy who runs across through the outfield wearing nothing but a pennant.

    1,045,690 unsold tickets x $44/per fan = $46,010,360 of lost revenue.

    When the interest of that lost revenue is compounded during the 6 months of its acquisition (at a meager 3%, or about equal to a standard savings account) the figure grows to $46,704,843.

    Again, this figure is very vanilla. It does not take into account:
    1) Attendance was actually less than reported,
    2) Lost sales from the team store and concourse vendors,
    3) Fans as a whole eat and drink more than the base average used,
    4) The actual interest gained from cash flow reinvestment,
    5) Opportunity Cost,
    6) And much, much more.

    If I had to guess, the Mariners probably missed out on about $60,000,000 of potential revenue due to the empty seats alone, which is a cyclical result of winning and losing, which is directly tied to all of those other things, like the decisions made by the front office. The payroll is more than adequate. The facilities are top shelf. There are questions about player development at the lower levels, particularly in regards to pitching, but it’s the decision makers at the organization’s highest level that are to blame (obviously).

    In every other business, a person or team of people who can be blamed for the missed opportunity to create and additional $60,000,000 worth of income would be fired without hesitation. Why baseball is so much different is beyond me. And again, this is only money lost through attendance. This does not include trading away resources (cheap, young talent and cash) for negative net future gains and the ridiculous spending on poor contracts.

    Why, for the love of baseball, is this allowed to continue? How far off base am I?

  102. Grizz on December 15th, 2006 3:22 pm

    Well, the team only gets a portion of the amount paid for food, drink, programs, and other secondary items. The prices also reflect the cost of the items themsevles, labor costs, overhead, the vendor’s profit, and probably a few others. There would be a similar breakdown for ticket prices too.

  103. Choo on December 15th, 2006 3:42 pm

    #102: Hmmm. Good points. Who knows though. There is so much number fudging in baseball when it comes to profit & loss, it could be real close or it could be way off.

    The point of my argument remains the same however. And moreso, the current regime is not only losing money for the ballclub, but also for those who depend on the success of the franchise for their own respective businesses.

  104. gwangung on December 15th, 2006 3:43 pm

    Why, for the love of baseball, is this allowed to continue?

    ‘Cause you aren’t Howard Lincoln or Chuck Armstrong, who drew an inside straight and think they’re great pla-yas…..

  105. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2006 3:47 pm

    Uh, Grizz, he said “revenue”, not “profit”.

    I don’t think Choo’s very far off base at all. That’s why Bavasi’s toast after 2007 if the team doesn’t do well- because the M’s chief beancounters might be so incompetent at baseball talent and performance evaluation to think we need more productive outs from WFB, but they sure as HELL can tell the difference between the revenue they were getting from attendance in 2001-2002 and now.

  106. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2006 3:58 pm

    Also: the operating expenses for Safeco are largely fixed, outside of things like vendors (you have to use electricity for lights if there are 5 people in the stands of 50,000), so you make more marginal profit from the 3 millionth fan than the 2 millionth fan.

    Let’s also recall that BOTH other franchises in Seattle (the Sonics and Seahawks) went from the pinnacle of success in their sport, local ownership and excited fan bases to being this far )( from moving vans and setting up shop in other cities, and the 80′s Mariners are of course another example of that. Both Lincoln and Armstrong were around for those days.

    I doubt they will be TOO complacent as the franchise attendance implodes, and it’s hard for me to see that Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro, Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez are the sort of offseason signings that will build enthusiasm- I think even the sports radio types are going to notice the pitchers have lousy ERAs and win totals, and the offensive players have extensive injury histories or other factors (like Guillen being on his tour of the AL and NL) that make them unimpressive. It’s going to be hard to sell people that these are impact signings on the level of Schmidt, or a trade for Manny, or even Sexson/Beltre in 2004. Thus, I expect season ticket sales to be down… again. That means the team HAS to get hot not to have attendance regress yet again, even if they go 82-80 and claim “progress”.

  107. Choo on December 15th, 2006 4:19 pm

    If we could each make an accurate estimate of the various profits & losses associated with running a major league baseball team, we would all have some pretty sweet jobs. But alas, it’s impossible for civilians like us to guess with any precision how the profit sharing percentages break down for vendors, or how much rent is paid by them to set up shop and operate. Or how much is charged for the printing and distribution of tickets. Or how much is spent on overhead and salaries. Or how to account for the 20,000 other beaks that get dipped into the great pool of money that ebbs and flows thanks to us, the fans.

    But revenue is fairly straightforward. And I’m sure if we had access to some very classified books, most of us could unearth millions upon millions of more dollars we hadn’t considered.

    With the right numbers, my trusty HP 10BII calculator and my knowledge of investment property, I could tell you within minutes what the Mariners cash flow per month, or per season. But profit & loss? Even once I got past the shark repellent, boiling it all down to a few numbers would be a project of epic proportions; i.e. the kind of thing billion dollar investment firms are hired to do over the course of 12 months.

  108. Grizz on December 15th, 2006 4:21 pm

    Uh, Eponymous Coward, the concession stands are not operated by the team, but by vendors. The vendors receive the gross revenue from sales, not the team. Out of the gross revenue, the vendors have to cover the aforementioned costs, plus provide the team its cut pursuant to the applicable vendor agreement.

    Choo was essentially suggesting that if 1,000,000 more $5 hot dogs are sold at Safeco Field, the Mariners increase their revenue by $5,000,000. That is simply not true.

    Choo is right that the M’s are certainly missing an opportunity to make more money due to the declining attendance, but his $60 million figure is off, especially if he intended it as a representation of net revenue (also known as “profit”).

  109. argh on December 15th, 2006 4:34 pm

    As previously noted, however, fixed costs of running a baseball team are significant. Therefore, revenue declines at the margin magnify impacts on profits and there would be almost no cost savings generated by such marginal revenue declines. Either owning a baseball team is insanely profitable, to the point that such lost profits are insignificant, or the opportunity to hang out in the locker room with young (or in the case of many of these new Mariners, middle-aged) athletes is simply irresistible to the owners.

  110. Choo on December 15th, 2006 4:36 pm

    Again, none of us can speculate net revenue or net anything. There are just too many factors that we don’t have access to. Everything regarding revenue in my post was in reference to gross revenue.

    If I knew what percentage the Mariners reaped from concession sales (probably a higher percentage than any of us would guess) and what the vendors and restaurants paid them for rent, I would re-cook the numbers. In fact, I would love to re-cook the numbers as attaching a growing negative figure to each face of the current regime would help me hate them even more.

  111. Ralph on December 15th, 2006 5:16 pm

    The almost hilarious thing about all of this, is that when faced with the task of filling the DH role on the team, Bavasi traded for a middle infielder. That’s bad enough, even without considering that this particular middle infielder is fat, and can’t outrun 8 out of 10 random Safeco Field season ticket holders.

    I’m guessing that Bavasi looked at the stats and saw that the fat, slow Vidro has more doubles than Ichiro in the last 3 years and figured 6 million was a relative bargain.

  112. John in L.A. on December 15th, 2006 5:26 pm

    Again, none of us can speculate net revenue or net anything.

    Well, I can speculate to this extent: they are going to get less revenuve from me this year. I’m done. I was about 80% of the way there after they declined to fire Hargrove. Now I am all the way there. So that’s proabably a grand or so they don’t get next year.

    I’m just sick over all of this ineptitude.

    I haven’t spent much time over the years thinking about the intangible loyalty that keeps me a fan of a team, even after I have left it geographically, but I am today. Why the hell should I put myself through this? If they can’t be bothered to maintain a minimum level of competence, why do I want to show them an iota of loyalty?

    So I need a break from these bozos. There are enough idiots that I have to deal with to make a living… no need to depend on more of them for my recreation.

    When I get to the point that I hope Ichiro does leave, so that I can actually root for him to succeed, it means I need to take a break.

    Because I hope the Mariners lose a hundred and twenty games next year. No amount of historical loyalty can make me want this kind of incompetence rewarded.

    I’m going to root against them like they’re the Yankees.

    I hope Doyle wins the batting title and Hargrove and Bavasi, et all, lose their first forty in a row… then maybe I can root for the team again by June or so.

    I know no one could could care less about fan expatriotism posts, and that’s why I haven’t said anything for a long time.

    But “After the Storm”, I feel like posting it. I’ve been playing out rope for three seasons and I’ve come to the end of it.

    I can only imagine how this feels to people that devote so much of their energy and time to a team. I’m just a fan… I can step away from Extra Innings easy as pie… if I had a site to maintain for these jokers, I’d probably just sit in a corner and cry.

  113. terrybenish on December 15th, 2006 5:27 pm

    “You can’t ignore the talent brought into the organization, from the big names like Clement and Morrow to the lesser guys like Butler, Lowe, and Triunfel, just because they’re not classified as elite prospects.”

    If Clement makes it, and his trip to Hawaii suggests that’s an open question, then it won’t be as a catcher. Morrow needs more than 9 innings for anyone to feel optimistic. Three other guys do not equate to a “re-stocked” system.

  114. khardy on December 15th, 2006 5:39 pm

    How bad of a start do the Mariners need to get Bavasi fired by mid-season? Obviously Hargrove may get canned fairly quickly, but what will it take to give Bavasi the boot?

    God this sucks. I mean I want the Mariners to do well, but maybe a really horrible start to the season will do the organization some good. Then maybe by the trade-deadline we can start to see a light at the end of the tunnel…

  115. Uncle Ted on December 15th, 2006 6:07 pm

    That other less refined site that fancies themselves to be statheads is throwing out a Todd Coffey rumor, presumably in a trade for Broussard. Any thoughts?

  116. Steve T on December 15th, 2006 6:16 pm

    The thing about bad starts is, you never know. The M’s could bust out of the gate 30-20 or something, and still be just as bad in the long run. There’s a lot of random in baseball, and there’s a lot of deferred pain and deferred glory. The damage of this trade isn’t about April and May 2007; it’s about 2008 and 2009, and most importantly it’s about what it SAYS. If a poker player bets huge on a pair of nines every time, that tells you he doesn’t understand the game, even if he’s not actually losing much money on those hands.

  117. terry on December 15th, 2006 6:59 pm

    That other less refined site that fancies themselves to be statheads….

    ahhhhhhh, but there are so many that fit that description…

  118. terry on December 15th, 2006 8:15 pm

    Jeff just put up a great post thats on target over at lookout landing…

  119. terry on December 15th, 2006 8:19 pm

    now the baseball gods are toying with us…. This from rotoworld:

    Jose Vidro has been unable to get to Seattle to take his physical, putting his trade to the Mariners on hold through the weekend.

  120. AQ on December 15th, 2006 9:07 pm

    #119 – Does this mean I still have time to buy/make a Vidro voodoo doll?

  121. argh on December 15th, 2006 9:08 pm

    Jeff’s LL post is indeed great but if you don’t have time to read it and need the Reader’s Digest version, here it is.

    an unthinkably retarded trade

  122. dkulich44 on December 15th, 2006 11:39 pm

    I’m wasted and I miss Chris Snelling, although I get to see him in Philly like 9 times next year (you know I’ll have a sign and jersey and hopefully talk to the man).

  123. Bender on December 16th, 2006 1:38 am

    Yeah, the trade being on hold is on the propoganda site. They say it’s due to transport problems, and they include this little gem:

    Once Vidro passes his physical, the trade between the Nationals and Mariners will be official. Vidro has two years left on his contract, and Seattle will pick up $12 million of the $16 million remaining. He is expected to be the Mariners’ designated hitter.

  124. Bender on December 16th, 2006 1:43 am

    Not much hope there.

  125. EnglishMariner on December 16th, 2006 2:34 am

    You know, I saw that headline this morning and clicked on the link expecting to see that the USSM/LL community had staged some kind of protest outside SAFECO that had forced a rethink on the trade. Wishful thinking…

  126. Tak on December 16th, 2006 3:09 am

    bye bye Ichiro…

  127. mln on December 16th, 2006 4:21 am

    “But, in the past week and a half, we have been given conclusive evidence of one indisputable conclusion that cannot be avoided, cannot be waved away with talk of the volcanic market, and is a depressing fact to have to face as a fan. This management team is best described with one word:

    Incompet… D-UMB.”

    Fixed it for you.

  128. Typical Idiot Fan on December 16th, 2006 4:56 am

    I’m going to do a little “in-between-the-line” reading here.

    “We’re trying to build a club that is ready to win a lot more games than the last couple of years,” he said. “To do that, I don’t think we can completely bet on kids.”

    Why does this sound more like Hargrove then Bavasi? Even if the Mariners organization decided to retain Hargrove, that doesn’t mean that Bavasi wanted to. Lincoln and Armstrong were the first ones to mention what was going to happen with Mike, not Bavasi. It’s not as if the FO-heads have to come out and say it, especially in what definately felt like a “submarine” maneuver via a mass e-mail to the season ticket holders.

    So going back to this, we know that Bill Bavasi is a fan of Chris Snelling. He’s said so, publicly, on record, that his ideal outfield would have been Reed / Ichiro / Doyle. How does someone who puts TWO kids in his ideal outfield circumvent himself to not being able to “bet on kids”?

    We’ve seen this before. We don’t know for sure, but have it on at least decent supposition that Hargrove was the one who wanted Carl Everett, the veteran, the “leader”, the “clubhouse presence”. And it was Hargrove who gave Everett nearly 400 plate appearences before Everett was dumped by Bavasi.

    We also know that Bavasi, despite what he has recently said, has tried to rebuild the farm system. He didn’t bring Fontaine in to piss around grabbing fringe talents in the first and second rounds. He brought him in because he’s a good friend of his and because Fontaine is one of the best scouts in the business. If there is one thing a former manager of player development knows, it’s how to build a farm system to at least be able to supply the main ballclub with spare parts.

    In short, none of this shit makes sense. Here’s the most telling comments:

    “I’m the one dealing in the market. I know what the market is. I know what’s available. The reaction is probably a whole lot different if I drag you with me for a month, and you see what it’s like.

    “I” am dealing with the market. “I” know what the market is. Then later:

    “That’s not an excuse, just a fact. … To say I’m not concerned [about fan reaction] is just rude. That’s not the way I am.

    “I” am concerned about fan reaction. The way “I” am.

    But is it going to color the way we try to manage a payroll and try to manage a roster? God, no.’ “

    Then it switches to “we”. How “we” manage a payroll. How “we” manage a roster.

    “We’re always wrong,” he said. “But we’ve never been this wrong. That was frustrating. There were a lot of clubs flush with money, and they’ve used it.”

    “We” are always wrong. But “we” Have never been this wrong before, and that was frustrating.

    I know Bill Bavasi has a team of consultants, scouts, informants, and whosits and whatsits to assist him when the offseason plan is in the works. But is that who he is referring to when he says “we”? I recall somewhere around the beginning of the Winter Meetings when Lincoln dropped us a bombshell saying that his job is on the line as well. Most of us hadn’t considered that possibility, because the original Chuckoward letter only implied that it was the manager and general manager who were being held responsible. What changed? Along with it, what changes were made to the offseason plan?

    I don’t believe Lincoln is the kind of man who sits back and lets his destiny be decided by others, especially his underlings. So the “win now” philosophy, is it entirely predicated upon Bill Bavasi’s job being on the line, or is it because someone else’s job is on the line that he has done a total 180 on his usual baseball organization philosophies? Sure, he and his team haven’t exactly torn up the baseball world with talent evaluation and roster construction, but generally their trades have involved grabbing more potential talent (especially in the necessary arms area) and giving up logjammed trade bait (Ad-Cab, Choo, etc) instead of giving up talent he was high on (Snelling, Fruto).

    Let’s go back a few here. Dave says he’s established a pattern of behavior regarding the incompetance, but it seems as though we’re selectively forgetting some details here.

    It’s Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago.

    Details on this one have been sketchy for years. On one hand you have an upset / disastisfied Carlos Guillen who didn’t want to be here anymore after his party buddy, Freddy, got traded away. On the other hand you have this happening at the tail end of the Gillick era, where the “special consultant” may or may not have still had a lot of influence on what happens where. I think I’ve even seen speculation that Bavasi didn’t really have any leverage in trade here. Is this an example of incompetance? Perhaps.

    It’s a three year deal for Scott Spiezio

    In what started a different Bavasi trend: familiarity with players in former organizations. Spiezio, Washburn, Jake Woods, Luis Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre… this isn’t coincidence. Again, is this incompetance? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s part of a greater sense of loyalty, which can be worse, especially in the case of Spiezio and Washburn.

    non-tendering Mike Cameron

    Got nothing here. I’ve never understood this move except the speculation that it was money related, and trading away Cameron during the season where you were still slated to win 90+ games and maybe make the playoffs would have been worse. I don’t know enough about this situation to comment. But I don’t think it’s incompetance either.

    settling on Carl Everett as your 2006 DH

    Again, how much of this is Hargrove? Bavasi did a rather good job in the 2006 late offseason of raiding some interesting, relatively cheap talent in acquiring Petagine, Lawton, and Borchard, all of which could have done a better job then Everett in the DH role. Sure, it wasn’t who WE wanted, but we all had to admit it wasn’t bad for dumpster diving. We HATED Everett so much, even to this day, that we’re blinding ourselves to the real target of this travesty, and while Bavasi could have certainly had more balls to remove Everett sooner, maintaining a “good” political relationship with your chosen team Manager was possibly of greater concern to Bavasi then anything else. Maybe that’s incompetance, maybe it isn’t.

    trying to pass Francisco Cruceta through waivers

    Pretty dumb, yeah. Tho rampant speculation was that the Mariners didn’t care if he was gone because they were convinced he wasn’t going to amount to much, though it wasn’t as if the Mariners wanted to lose him either. Nothing leads me to believe this wasn’t a bad decision, and therefore incompetant.

    trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez

    I’m still saying everybody’s overreacting to this.

    and now, selecting Jose Vidro as the 2007-2008 DH and giving up actual talent for the right to overpay a below average player.

    Right, so how does this fit into everything else Bavasi does?

    It doesn’t.

  129. Typical Idiot Fan on December 16th, 2006 5:21 am

    Just to backpeddle, because I wanted to mention it in the above post but didn’t:

    I’m not exactly arguing with Dave. I agree with him that Bavasi needs to go. So does Hargrove and so does Lincoln. And take Chuck with you. I’m not a fan of the front office and haven’t been for a while. I agree the talent evaluation ability of this team sucks. I agree we’d be better off going in a different direction.

    I’m just not sure we’re still thinking straight and unfairly throwing blame around instead of fixing the problem. See, I’m all for the Japanese method of handling things. Find out what’s fucked up, and fix it. We want to throw blame around because it makes us feel better to have a single target, an organization, or an idea to hate. But it really doesn’t get us anywhere.

    This also means that if the current algorithm doesn’t work, select all, delete, and rebuild line by line until it works again. Replacing one (Woodward for Gillick, Gillick for Bavasi, Lou for Hargrove) at a time hasn’t done squat for this team. Even if you consider the improbable 2001, how much of that was a reflection of the front office and how much of it was the players and blind stupid luck?

    Tear it down, rebuild it. That’s about all I’ll accept at this point. All our nothing. Nuke it.

  130. Russ on December 16th, 2006 6:40 am

    “We’re trying to build a club that is ready to win a lot more games than the last couple of years,” he said. “To do that, I don’t think we can completely bet on kids.”

    If I recall correctly…and I do.

    Mike is uniquely equipped to lead a young team. His experience in developing and dealing with young players is one of the reasons we hired him in the first place. And we have watched as Mike has kept all his players – veterans and young players alike – focused and playing hard every day of the season.

    So which is it? If Grover is so uniquely equipped to lead a young team, why do we get older, slower and less talented with each trade?

  131. terry on December 16th, 2006 7:34 am

    cuz thats not rain dripping on your head….

  132. Otto on December 16th, 2006 8:46 am

    Rotoworld has a Great blurb on the Zito front.

    The Mets, Rangers and Giants seem to be the only teams trying for Zito. The Mariners were supposed to be in the mix, but who needs when Zito when you have Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez?

  133. seagood3 on December 16th, 2006 10:08 am

    This is from Keith Law. It is ESPN insider so I won’t post the entire article but here is a snippet of it.

    Braves steal Soriano from Mariners

    The Braves picked up their probable future closer in exchange for a player whom they almost certainly would have non-tendered next week. The Mariners made themselves worse for no apparent reason other than fear.

    Kick us while we are down why don’t you.

  134. Graham on December 16th, 2006 10:26 am

    TIF, just thought I’d point out that Guillen was traded away -before- Freddy was.

  135. Colorado M's Fan on December 16th, 2006 1:11 pm

    #86, I can barely bring myself to argue, since the more I think of it, the more I can’t stand the Vidro trade. Vidro has only 4 seasons with 140+ games, but that is 4 more than Snelling. Of course, thats unfair, as Snelling is really still a prospect, having only played 69 games in three seasons. On the field, Vidro will be a completely inferior player to what Snelling would have been. But Vidro is more likely to play more games in 2007, which is the “logic” behind the move. Vidro may have a bad knee, but his injury woes aren’t even near the same league as what Snelling went through.

  136. bermanator on December 16th, 2006 1:15 pm

    The problem is that the front office has put Bavasi and Hargrove in a situation that’s untenable if the goal is to build a system rather than a team.

    If you’re going to tell the GM and the manager that they have to win now to keep their jobs, they are going to do whatever is necessary (within reason) to get that done. That means sacrificing prospects who aren’t obvious studs and who won’t impact the team in 2007 for guys who have a better chance at producing this particular season.

  137. Coach on December 16th, 2006 2:58 pm

    The situation the FO has created is even worse than that, I’m afraid. I fully expected the following sequence of events:

    1. FO will caution the media to hold off judgement on the winter moves until it plays itself out (Spring Training).

    2. Lackluster ST will be passed off as “it’s only ST; Team is just beginning to find itself”; etc.

    3. Slow start to season will be spun as just a difficult stretch in the schedule; wait til we start playing team “X,Y,&Z” in warmer weather.

    4. Mid May results will probably reveal the handwriting on the wall. However, we all know that it would not be wise to have an organizational shake-up right before the June Draft.

    5. Repeat #4 and substitute “Trade Deadline” and then “Non-Waiver Trade Deadline” for “June Draft”. Rinse and repeat.

    Not only does this portend for extended agony this year, talented candidates from other contending organizations will probably not be available for serious negotiations as they will be involved with their own clubs long after our season is effectively over.

    Then we can look forward to lowered expectations for 2008 since the new regime will need time to get their feet under them. Isn’t this fun?

    Making a proactive change in an organization is always the most difficult thing to sell, since you can’t prove how bad things are going to get if you do nothing.

  138. terry on December 16th, 2006 3:26 pm

    Mid May results will probably reveal the handwriting on the wall.

    Pretty much Hargrove’s vote of confidence was the handwriting on the wall….

  139. Coach on December 16th, 2006 4:20 pm

    Agreed, it set a lot of this in motion. It actually hit me much earlier. When they didn’t fire Dudley after the disasterous road trip, I began to accept that the rescue ship was not going to come. Then Bavasi made comments during the vote of confidence to which you refer that made me realize he (Bavasi) didn’t think a rescue mission was in order.

    Most of us have been waiting for that series of moves that would give some context to the plan. What we appear to have seen are just more symptoms of a seriously dysfunctional group.

  140. stoyboy on December 16th, 2006 4:22 pm

    What kind of money can this Ownership spend to actually obtain players that will “improve this team”. Do they have the capital to actually play/bid with the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs and Dodgers or is it the FA’s don’t want to play for the Mariner organization because of the possible FO shakeup after the 07 season? I know the FO/Ownership is incapable of good personnel choices but do they really have the capital to compete for a championship?

  141. Ralph Malph on December 16th, 2006 4:29 pm

    do they really have the capital to compete for a championship?

    That is the root of the problem: they are facing a two-way crunch in coming years. They will have a sizable chunk of money tied up in declining veterans, while their available revenue is likely to decline with attendance and falling TV/radio ratings (when are their TV/radio contracts up anyway?) It seems like a train wreck to me with no good solution until they flush the team and start over.

  142. msb on December 16th, 2006 5:05 pm

    from the Small Favors Department:

    Royals acquired first baseman Ross Gload from the White Sox for LHP Andrew Sisco. Awful. At least Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez could be justified by the not quite non-existent chance that Ramirez could somehow be a No. 3 starter in the AL

  143. bermanator on December 16th, 2006 5:41 pm

    Wow. Kansas City just gave Sisco away.

  144. argh on December 16th, 2006 7:51 pm

    It’s the spirit of the season apparently.

  145. Slippery Elmer on December 16th, 2006 9:38 pm

    Re: TIF in #128–

    Your common-man reaction is oddly refreshing and a great example of coutnerpoint. While I can’t personally disagree too much with what Dave says in the opening monologue, I also tend to agree with your less-condemnative read on some of Bavasi’s moves.

    I agree with that Bavasi’s “familiarity with players in former organizations” has contributed to a number of the moves he’s made; however, that’s only natural. Didn’t Lou Pinella influence in Tampa inform their signings of more than a few ex-M’s? My speculation is that he’ll lure at least one or two to come to Chicago within a year–(Mike Cameron and Ron Villone, anyone?) Anyway, it’s only natural for a GM to try to pick up guys with whom he’s familiar. Unfortunately for Bill Bavasi his previous acquaintances have proven somewhat lacking in the efficacy department, likely due to their shared tendency towards relative career maturity and/or overvalued role-playerness.

  146. Calderon on December 16th, 2006 10:09 pm

    I actually feel pretty good about the future, because Bavasi has been able to reconstruct the minor league system.

    That’s a common misconception, and the cookie cutter excuse that fans have rationalized for Bavasi keeping his job in the past.

    When in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bavasi and Fontaine are seperate entities.

    The following players were acquired before Bavasi’s reign of terror began in 2004 under Frank Mattox and Bob Engle’s International Scouting (set in place by Pat Gillick): Adam Jones, Chris Snelling, Shin-Soo Choo, Jose Lopez,Emiliano Fruto, Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Feierabend, Bryan LaHair, Wladimir Balentien, Mike Wilson, Joe Woerman, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Michael Garciapara, Luis Valbuena, Casey Craig, Craig James, Gerardo Avila, Juan Ramirez, Eddy Fernandez, and Ron Garth.

    Bavasi has not reconstructed the minor league system. His trades and signings of Jesse Foppert, Nathaneal Mateo, Mike Flannery, Marcos Carvajal, Mike Morse, Luis Gonzalez, and the countless NRI’s have been a disaster.

    Bavasi hired Fontaine, and that’s it. Fontaine’s positional players have fizzled into huge question marks. For example Jeff Clement, Matt Tuiasosopo, Mike Saunders, Rob Johnson, Brian Sabatella, Ronnie Prettyman. Pitching is Fontaine’s strength right now and when you draft predominantly pitchers in the draft your chances for success greatly increase.

    Let’s think twice before spreading the “Bavasi has revamped the farm” stories when he’s actually poured gasoline on the crops and flushed prospects down the toilet for old veterans.

  147. Matthew Carruth on December 17th, 2006 12:06 am

    You forgot to list Felix for under the old regime.
    Also, Jeff Clement hasn’t fizzed. He’s played one year and don’t forget he tore up AA ball.

  148. Gomez on December 17th, 2006 12:23 am

    What’s funny about the title of your post, Dave, is that the day before you posted this, there WAS an actual torrential wind and rain storm in Seattle that flooded the city and knocked out power for literally 1,000,000 people.

    That said, I’ve gotta agree completely. The sad thing is that much of MLB’s management shares the same incompetence. Smart front offices sadly are the exception, rather than the rule.

    Let’s try something different, Mariners, and let’s hire Antonetti for GM in ’08, eh?

  149. CCW on December 17th, 2006 12:57 am

    #128/129:

    Tear it down, rebuild it. That’s about all I’ll accept at this point. All our nothing. Nuke it.

    You’re exactly right. This organization has a lot more wrong with it than Bavasi, and firing him is not going to make a big difference. Chances are, if Antonneti were hired, he’d spend a few years trying to unbury himself from the hole Gillick and Bavasi dug and, just about the time he started to get things turned around, he’d be canned.

  150. Calderon on December 17th, 2006 2:55 am

    if Antonneti were hired, he’d spend a few years trying to unbury himself from the hole Gillick and

    Here’s the hole Gillick left Bavasi with:Felix Hernandez, Adam Jones, Chris Snelling, Shin-Soo Choo, Jose Lopez,Emiliano Fruto, Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Feierabend, Bryan LaHair, Wladimir Balentien, Mike Wilson, Joe Woerman, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Michael Garciapara, Luis Valbuena, Casey Craig, Craig James, Gerardo Avila, Juan Ramirez, Eddy Fernandez, and Ron Garth.

    I know it’s out of habit from reading for so long how Gillick left the M’s in ruins. However, it’s hard to dispute the facts above no matter how much you may dislike Pat Gillick. Yes, Pat didn’t win any rings in Seattle, but he put the teams he had in a position to win a title nearly every season. I sure wish we had those chances the past four miserable years under Bavasi.

  151. mln on December 17th, 2006 5:01 am

    As mediocre as the Mariner organization is, there is one slight consolation: at least they are not the New York Knicks.

  152. terry on December 17th, 2006 6:07 am

    Tear it down, rebuild it. That’s about all I’ll accept at this point. All our nothing. Nuke it.

    Nope, no way, notta……

    That’s kind of the reason behind the frustration with Bavasi isn’t it? This team has a solid enough core for the next several years. Just with a decent off season which addresses certain issues, perhaps in a bit of a stick your neck out if your the GM on the hot seat fashion, there would be legitimate hope that the Ms could be a contender for the division. Certainly if the last two off seasons were approached differently, then certainly this team couldve been rationally hoped to win 90 games.

    Nothin’ needs tore down….the foundation and floor plan ain’t too bad and the plumbing works just fine…its the interior decorator that’s keeping the house from selling…

  153. schmicky on December 17th, 2006 9:48 am

    Hope is all quickened
    Bavasi and Hargrove
    I fall on my face

    Yes all hope is alive after the season, awaiting whats to come next spring.
    then Hargrove and Bavasi strangle the hope we have as fans
    know wonder we are frustrated with thier antics!

  154. Jerry on December 17th, 2006 10:52 am

    RE #129,

    I agree with the argument that the M’s need to go through another rebuild.

    In the past three years, Bavasi has saddled the club with enough overpaid, old, mediocre players that a rebuild is in order.

    Obviously, the M’s are going to have to start from scratch like a normal rebuilding club. They are not in the same situation the organization was in back in 2003-2004. There is a core of good players in Felix, Lopez, Betancourt, Jones, and Putz. You can build around those guys.

    But the new GM is going to have to spend some time clearing the roster after taking over for Bavasi and friends.

    I am hoping that a change happens mid-season, so that the club can get a jump on rebuilding. It sucks to say this, but I am actually hoping that the M’s fall way back in the standings by June. As Dave points out, this front office is not capable of running the organization in a coherent or capable manner. If another season of non-contention is what it takes to foster radical changes, then so be it.

    One reason why Antonetti would be a great candidate to replace Bavasi is becasue the Indians clearly understand the importance of a good housecleaning. Their fire sale a few years ago was brilliant. And, judging by the Coco Crisp trade, they are not afraid to look into the future even when they are not in full rebuild mode. That is what we need.

    Regardless of who takes over, I hope that the change takes place before the trade deadline next year. That way, the M’s could try to move guys like Sexson, Washburn, Guillen, and Vidro off the roster before next offseason. If Ichiro isn’t resigned by then, they could get something for him before he hits free agency. Ibanez and Batista could also be moved, depending on the clubs situation, although I think both could be useful parts beyond 2007.

    The M’s don’t need to completely tear apart the roster. But they do need to ditch several of the horrible contracts like Vidro, Washburn, and Sexson. Otherwise, there will be no money left to add really good players for 2008 and beyond. Hopefully, the M’s make that change before mid-season, so that Bavasi’s successor can get started on fixing this mess before next offseason.

  155. schneidler on December 17th, 2006 11:35 am

    #150 – I agree that we all do tend to dump on Gillick a little too much. He helped bring a lot of wins here. But I don’t know about your defense of his management of the farm system.

    Here’s the hole Gillick left Bavasi with: Felix Hernandez, Adam Jones, Chris Snelling, Shin-Soo Choo, Jose Lopez,Emiliano Fruto, Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Feierabend, Bryan LaHair, Wladimir Balentien, Mike Wilson, Joe Woerman, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Michael Garciapara, Luis Valbuena, Casey Craig, Craig James, Gerardo Avila, Juan Ramirez, Eddy Fernandez, and Ron Garth.

    I’m a baseball nut (although not a huge prospect guy), but I’ve only heard of maybe 2/3 of these guys, and of those only a few have contributed to MLB. It seems to me that it is an indictment of Gillick that 3 or 4 years after leaving our system has produced so few regulars. And none of these guys came in the first year or two, right, so the upper parts of the system were really unproductive. Am I wrong?

  156. Mr. Egaas on December 17th, 2006 12:06 pm

    As mediocre as the Mariner organization is, there is one slight consolation: at least they are not the New York Knicks.

    Hoops roster construction is hilarious like that. Tank a few years, score some high draft picks, trade for some expiring draft picks, make a few deals, and blam, you’re the Cleveland Cavs led by LeBron James.

  157. Ralph on December 17th, 2006 12:59 pm

    The good news is that Vidro just may fail that physical. The bad news is that Bavasi can still target Mark Grudzielanek, Ronnie Belliard, Tony Graffanino, or Ian Kinsler as our next great DH of the future.

    If you look really carefully, you can see the dried teardrops on DMZ’s latest offering.

  158. Calderon on December 17th, 2006 2:11 pm

    And none of these guys came in the first year or two, right, so the upper parts of the system were really unproductive. Am I wrong?

    I won’t say you’re wrong as you have a right to a difference in opinion.

    A lot of kids you haven’t heard about were 16-17 year olds when they were signed and were planted as seeds in the farm before Gillick left. Mattox focused on drafting positional tool players. I’d bet Mattox wouldn’t be too shabby if he focused soley on pitching in the drafts with high school kids if Fontaine left.

    Pat Rice was glowing about Ramirez on the radio a week or so ago, and Eddy Fernandez arguably is better than Ramirez and they could both be in Wisconsin this year. Garth and Casey Craig were Mid West All-Stars this year and they have good ceilings.

    Producing few regulars in the majors? You may want to check our 40-man roster. Julio Mateo, George Sherrill, J.J. Putz, Cha Seung Baek, Jose Lopez, Feierabend, and O’Flaherty are all projected to be on the opening day Major League roster. All players acquired under Gillick, and he’s been gone since 2003. Snelling and Choo would be on the M’s M.L. roster if it weren’t for bad player evaluation and incompetence ny Bavasi.

  159. DMZ on December 17th, 2006 5:05 pm

    I’d bet Mattox wouldn’t be too shabby if he focused soley on pitching in the drafts with high school kids if Fontaine left.

    Uh, didn’t we see the results of Mattox drafting a ton of high school pitchers? Particularly tall, left-handers? He took a thousand of those kids and none of them turned out.

  160. terrybenish on December 17th, 2006 6:41 pm

    # 147

    “You forgot to list Felix for under the old regime.
    Also, Jeff Clement hasn’t fizzed. He’s played one year and don’t forget he tore up AA ball.”

    You should catch up on Jeff’s winter season in Hawaii where he hit .125 and couldn’t throw any one out.

    If he makes it it’ll be as 1b or dh

  161. shaunmc on December 17th, 2006 7:09 pm

    156: Because LeBron James types come around so often, huh? ;)

  162. Calderon on December 17th, 2006 7:47 pm

    He took a thousand of those kids and none of them turned out.

    Well, you are right for one thing in that he did draft many pitchers over six years that didn’t turn out. But some did turn out. Frank didn’t do a good job, but as we all know in drafts many don’t ever turn out. The following pitchers below were drafted by Mattox.

    Drafted by Mattox in 6 years:

    Eric O’Flaherty-LHP
    Ryan Feierabend-LHP
    Joe Woerman-RHP
    J.J. Putz-RHP
    Matt Thornton-LHP
    Rich Harden-RHP

    O’Flaherty is a Major Leaguer now, and Feierabend and Woerman are currently protected on the 40-man roster with Feierabend is highly probable on making the MLB roster this spring. Putz is a stud, and Thornton was a late bloomer for the Chi-Sox, and we couldn’t sign Rich Harden despite Lincoln having banks of overflowing cash.

    I’d say having only five pitchers he did sign in six rule 4 drafts isn’t spectacular for Mattox. I’d like to forget the ’98 and ’02 draft ever happened. However, if Mattox focused on pitching and drafted as many if not more pitchers than Fontaine did this year, the odds would favor landing some more fish. Heck if Antonetti’s man drafted mainly pitching he hook more bites.

    Keep in mind in ’04 Fontaine busted out on pitching with the exception of Mark Lowe. He also drafted tons of arms and they haven’t panned out either.

    In ’05 Kahn and Varvaro are the only potential decent grabs out of tons of arms he drafted. ’06 is Fontaine’s masterpiece, and is it a coincidence that he drafted 34 pitchers in that draft alone?

    Clearly Fontaine is the better guy, but the step down might not be as steep as many think. If Mattox or Antonetti’s guy drafts 34+ pitchers in a draft they might land more than one legit prospect like Fontaine did this year.

  163. Steve Nelson on December 17th, 2006 9:37 pm

    One area where Bavasi does have more information than us is on the amount of money that teams have to spend on player payroll; specifically he and his fellow GM are best positioned to know when there are new sources of revenue that are likely to add to payroll. I’m not talking about one or two owners opening their pocketbooks; I’m referring to situations such as we’ve seen this season when almost every team appears to have more money to spend.

    In that context, smart GMs put that information to work and anticipate that the market is going to ratchet up. Smart player agents also track that information and anticipate the market. Other GMs are caught by surprise, and find themselves being outmaneuvered by other GMs and by player agents.

    ******

    IMHO – Bavasi’s statment that he was caught by surprise self-impeaches him.

  164. DMZ on December 17th, 2006 10:00 pm

    I think this Mattox v anyone debate’s been hashed over repeatedly here, and deserves more space than I think we can give it in the post-150 comment point in a thread. I’m happy, at least, you’re willing to concede that Mattox is behind Fontaine, even if I’m a little surprised at the size of the gap you’d put between the two.

  165. Matthew Carruth on December 17th, 2006 10:36 pm

    160

    Yeah, 53 at bats in Hawaii definately means Clement is a busted prospect. What was I thinking? /rolleyes

    And just so you know, Jeff hit .179, not .125 and it doesn’t look that bad if you took the time to, you know, investigate instead of just spouting off the crap you heard elsewhere, and found out that the entire league batted just .235.

    But again, I’m in way too far, we should clearly give up on Jeff Clement because of those 53 at bats.

  166. msb on December 18th, 2006 8:17 am

    IMHO – Bavasi’s statment that he was caught by surprise self-impeaches him

    Kevin Towers: “We had a pretty good idea of the clubs that were flush with money, but it’s also a soft market, with not a lot of great inventory. Because of the lack of impact players, that’s driving up costs. But it’s not the dollars being handed out as much as the years that gets me. We’re back to seeing six-, seven-year deals. I just never thought we’d see that kind of contract ever again. I never thought we’d ever see anything beyond five years ever again. Shame on me. I was wrong.”

    Jim Bowden: “I’m surprised at the stultified dollars that have been spent on mediocre players. It’s just amazing to me, because even with the revenues being as high as ever in the game, there’s not enough to support the type of signings that are being done.”

    Ken Williams … “insists they aren’t giving up on the 2007 season but are reacting to a runaway marketplace. “There’s a strategy to all of this. I think the free agent market is out of control. A lot of us were shell-shocked to the money being spent.”

  167. Steve Nelson on December 18th, 2006 8:57 am

    #166:

    That merely means that Bavasi was not alone. Other GMs clearly had the money and were willing to spend. Other GMs may have seen it coming and locked up players before the FA market hit (e.g., Purpura and Oswalt).

    Boras saw it coming and advised Drew to opt out of his contract.

    ***

    The information was there, and smart observers noted it and acted accordingly. Others did not recognize and were caught unawares. Bavasi is in the latter group.

  168. gwangung on December 18th, 2006 9:41 am

    The information was there, and smart observers noted it and acted accordingly. Others did not recognize and were caught unawares. Bavasi is in the latter group.

    I think this is true. There are various responses to these circumstances, some of which are not blogosphere blessed (but still decently rational)…but I don’t think Bavasi or the front office (particularly the latter) had any of them in mind.

  169. msb on December 18th, 2006 9:44 am

    there is knowing that money is going to be spent, and guessing that stupid money was going to be spent. Can you think of anyone who predicted Eaton would get paid what he got paid?

  170. PositivePaul on December 18th, 2006 9:53 am

    Can you think of anyone who predicted Eaton would get paid what he got paid?

    Uh, yeah. The same folks that predicted the M’s would free-fall into oblivion in 2004. Yeah, there were a lot of pessimists that saw the M’s stinkin’ somethin’ smelly back then. But even they didn’t see ‘em fallin’ THAT far…

  171. Calderon on December 18th, 2006 10:30 am

    Yeah, 53 at bats in Hawaii definately means Clement is a busted prospect. What was I thinking? /rolleyes

    There were pro scouting reports that Clement may not hit for average prior to being drafted. It is a fact and not opinion that the M’s sent hitting coach Jeff Pentland in the middle of the Hawaiian Winter League season along with other executives to assist Jeff.

    And it is a fact that Jeff in 116 games and 428 at bats has hit 12 homeruns. I haven’t read anywhere above where anyone called him a bust prospect. However, he has fizzled and hasn’t gotten of to a good start for a first round #3 pick overall. Take a deep breath Matthew.

  172. Steve Nelson on December 18th, 2006 10:55 am

    #169: there is knowing that money is going to be spent, and guessing that stupid money was going to be spent. Can you think of anyone who predicted Eaton would get paid what he got paid?

    All you need is to know that there is extra money sloshing around in team pockets that will get spent in the current offseason. Then look back and see what occurred the last time that happened, such as in 2000.

    With the money in hand, a number of GMs will act recklessly; it’s predictable.

  173. Choo on December 18th, 2006 11:35 am

    Does anybody know the terms of the Marcus Giles deal in SD? I’m just curious; even though will bet it’s for less he’s really worth. When healthy, Giles has all the grit of WFB with 10x the offense and good range at 2B.

    I’m not suggesting we needed another 2B, but signing Giles would have allowed Bavasi to trade Jose Lopez, Adam Jones, and cash to his man-crush John Schuerholz for Tanyon Sturtze and a breakdancing dancing midget.

  174. msb on December 18th, 2006 12:20 pm

    Gile took a one-year deal in a park where he will hit like crap so that he could be in SD with his brother.

  175. JI on December 18th, 2006 1:06 pm

    Settle down, “Calderon.”

    In the English language fizzle means to fail after a strong start. I would hardly classify him as a failure after 116 games.

    Perhaps you could tell us what you definition of “is” is.

  176. JI on December 18th, 2006 1:07 pm

    Stupid tags.

  177. Choo on December 18th, 2006 1:26 pm

    #174 – Marcus is a bit of a free-swinger, and PETCO is the worst park he could be going to, but when has 45 doubles, 15 homers, 15 steals, and a .855 OPS ever been considered crap from a second baseman? That’s about what he averaged during the three years prior to last season’s injury-plagued statistical aberration.

  178. msb on December 18th, 2006 1:34 pm

    ‘hit like crap’ was a bit of hyperbole …

  179. msb on December 18th, 2006 1:36 pm

    dammit. the trade is official.

  180. Otto on December 18th, 2006 1:43 pm

    #179 this trade still smarts after a weekend to stew over it.

  181. Choo on December 18th, 2006 2:00 pm

    #178 – I should have guessed. This damn head cold has turned my mind into hendu.

  182. Ralph on December 18th, 2006 3:16 pm

    Regarding post #175, why is blatant racism like that allowed here? Hopefully it was just an oversight.

  183. JI on December 18th, 2006 5:31 pm

    Don’t worry, “Calderon” and I go way back. Come to think of it, i was being too harsh, this is the most lucid argument he has ever presented.

  184. Calderon on December 18th, 2006 9:45 pm

    Settle down, “Calderon.”

    In the English language fizzle means to fail after a strong start.

    I can’t comprehend why you would speculate I don’t speak the English language. It’s grossly inappropriate and obviously based on the ethnicity of my last name.

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