Win… Or Go Home

Dave · May 21, 2007 at 7:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s May 21st. The season is seven weeks old, and the Mariners have only played 25% of their season schedule to date. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played. Or, as you’ll hear people say all around the country, its early.

In most cities, that’s true. Not in Seattle, though. The Mariners struggles over the weekend while the Angels surged ahead have put them squarely at a crossroads. At 19-20, the M’s stand five games behind the Angels, and while five games doesn’t sound like a lot, it is a big lead. It would be one thing if the Mariners were clearly the most talented team in the division or had a hall of fame pitcher building up arm strength in Double-A while waiting to join the rotation. But that’s not the Mariners – this is a flawed team with issues hitting right-handed pitching and no answers in the back of the rotation.

This team can’t afford to dig any kind of significant hole. They are teetering on the edge of putting themselves into a situation that they can’t get themselves out of.

Cool Standings gives the Mariners a 4% chance of making the playoffs. The BP playoff odds report is a little kinder, putting the mark at 11%. Either way, that’s a veritable longshot.

This Mariners team isn’t good enough to run down a better Angels team late in the year. This Mariner team needs to keep on the Angels heels the entire year. The M’s simply have to begin winning ballgames starting today. With back to back series with Tampa Bay and Kansas City after the one game interlude in Cleveland, the M’s have a chance to make up some ground before they travel to Anaheim. They need a 5-2 or 6-1 east coast swing before they come back west to face the Angels, because a 4-3 or 3-4 trip against some easy opponents is only going to serve to put the M’s down 6 or 7 games in the standings and give the Angels a chance to drive a nail into the coffin of the M’s playoff hopes.

It’s only May, but it’s not early. The M’s need to win, and they need to do it this week.


92 Responses to “Win… Or Go Home”

  1. Doc Baseball on May 21st, 2007 10:57 am

    I hear what you are saying that there is not much that can realistically be done, but what would a Billy Beane do with this situation? What would a Dave Cameron do with the challenge of winning intelligently this year given this current reality?

  2. Beniitec on May 21st, 2007 10:59 am

    Sorry, I don’t already know this. But does anyone here have the number of 1 run games the Mariners have won/lost in the past couple of years. How about the number of come from behind late inning wins that haven’t been won with a home run? To me that’s a big part of where a manager’s credentials should come from, is the ability to use his team to win ballgames. I don’t see Hargrove doing that. I wanted him out the first two months he managed the M’s because of that. This last one run game just killed me inside. We had SO MANY opportunities to score the tying run…and actually win the game. But the way that it was managed was bad. Just bad.

  3. Dave on May 21st, 2007 11:02 am

    Alternatively, a trade for a potentially legit #3 — again perhaps under the radar but a legit MLB middle of the rotation pitcher? Like Jason Hirsh or even a Shaun Marcum?

    Why would Colorado trade Hirsh or Toronto trade Marcum? Neither of those teams is exactly overflowing with high quality major league pitching.

    I hear what you are saying that there is not much that can realistically be done, but what would a Billy Beane do with this situation? What would a Dave Cameron do with the challenge of winning intelligently this year given this current reality?

    Try to acquire some rotation depth with some guys who are being underutilized by their current clubs – Angel Guzman, for instance – and hope you get lucky with one of them turning into a legitimate option for the rotation. And, other than that, do a lot of hoping.

  4. eponymous coward on May 21st, 2007 11:02 am

    This team is not that far away from being good.

    No, actually, it needs some fairly heavy roster retrenchment to really have a sustained run. The M’s don’t really have any internal candidates to play power positions (1B/DH/LF) that desperately need replacing, but the players who ARE in those positions are under contract past this season, and the rotation is woefully underpowered behind King Felix, with a fair amount of money tied up in two overpaid, back of the rotation guys (Washburn and Batista) who are also stuck around these parts for a while. Oh, and several of the M’s best hitters right now (Ichiro and Guillen) are short-timers.

    BTW- my guess at the guy who gets flipped in July if the M’s are out of it? Jose Guillen. Perfect scenario- short term contract with the upside of a second year if the team he’s traded to WANTS to keep him, not an icon like Ichiro or Raul, and if he keeps hitting like he is now (.273/.350/.461), a credible upgrade… plus my guess is Adam Jones will be judged “ready” by the All-Star break.

  5. eponymous coward on May 21st, 2007 11:07 am

    The only button to push is to fire the manager.

    Yeah, but the problem is the GM is almost certainly going to be fired in the offseason, and as we saw with Bavasi and Melvin, the GM brings in his own guy anyway.

    My guess is, again, that the Mariners didn’t fire one of Hargrove’s best friends (Ron Hassey) and bring in John McLaren just because. I suspect McLaren becomes an interim field manager if the team stumbles, and presides over another “let’s look at the kids” session come August and September.

  6. joser on May 21st, 2007 11:09 am

    Makes a lot of sense EC, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bavasi does that. What would surprise me is if he gets back anything like the value he should.

  7. bakomariner on May 21st, 2007 11:15 am

    in my opinion, the best way to create winning is by drafting well…often times, you overpay for free agents that are past their prime, and trading usually only helps in the short term…so it might be a couple more years before we win the division…

  8. CP on May 21st, 2007 11:15 am

    Is Beltre and asset that can be flipped to balance the lineup? Given the lack of tradeable assets, Beltre may be our only moveable piece. I shudder to think of moving Vidro out to 2nd and Lopez to 3rd, but could moving Beltre net us anything we would want?

  9. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 11:16 am

    Mike Hargrove is a bad manager IMO because he is comfortable with losing. Winning is not his highest priority. Hargrove dogmatically uses the same players in the same situations, even though it is not the best move.

    Look at his use of the bullpen. He is married to the idea that for the 7th he uses Sherill/Reitsma, Morrow pitches the 8th and JJ is the closer. I doubt we will see a different deployment pattern for his bullpen unless he juggles the roles of the members of the pen. Still Bavasi gave Hargrove a good bullpen so this area is about as Hargrove proof as any area of the team.

    The real difference between Hargrove and Lou is not something that is easy to define, but it’s real. Does anyone really think that Lou would have tolerated Jeff Weaver for as long as Hargrove did? Lou wants to win and is willing to step all over a players feelings to do that. Would Lou have let Roberto Petagine rot on the bench while Sexson and Everett struggled?

  10. PositivePaul on May 21st, 2007 11:16 am

    To Bavasi’s credit, I’m not convinced that this team’s plague of bringing in players based on personality is entirely his doing. That just reeks of Chuck and Howie. If anything, having Bavasi around has helped them actually warm up to the thought of bringing in a guy, in spite of his perceived negative personality.

    Now if we can just get the right, talented ‘manholes’ on the team, the M’s might actually get somewhere…

  11. Nuss on May 21st, 2007 11:17 am

    29 — Where did you get those quotes? I’d love to see the source story. My opinion is that they’ve already lost the fans … they just don’t realize it yet.

  12. scraps on May 21st, 2007 11:18 am

    The problem with trading Beltre is that he’s simultaneously overpaid and undervalued, if you know what I mean. Teams will hesitate to take on the big contract, and it’s generally underestimate how good he is, IMO, which means we’re likely to get less value on the field in return than Beltre gives us.

  13. Doc Baseball on May 21st, 2007 11:19 am

    It’s frustrating to think there is no path out. The issues that lead to Dave’s (and so many of our’s) angst is that the M’s problems: Vidro, Sexson, Ibanez, Batista, Weaver, even Ramirez — are untradeable. And dumping them is essentially untenable, for differing various reasons.

    But it just seems to me that inteligently eating some salary and taking some losses combined with trading with clubs who are losing and want to re-build or are winning and want a veteran if we eat salary could put us in a position to win this year.

  14. coasty141 on May 21st, 2007 11:21 am

    Its a mystery to me that with 100 million plus payroll this team doesn’t have someone who can put up an 900 OPS against RHP. with 75% or so of the picthers being right handed it is a big deal. Good teams can hit righties.

  15. scraps on May 21st, 2007 11:25 am

    I seriously doubt that Hargrove’s problems have anything to do with being “comfortable with losing”. (WHY is that kind of mind-reading so popular?) He’s just not well informed about game or roster construction strategies, and is extremely set in his ways.

    Does anyone really think that Lou would have tolerated Jeff Weaver for as long as Hargrove did? Lou wants to win and is willing to step all over a players feelings to do that.

    I doubt this too. Wasn’t Lou well liked by most of his players? What do you imagine Lou would have done about Weaver? Replaced him two starts earlier? And how much of a difference would that have made?

    Hargrove needs to be replaced because he’s bad. All this psychological and attitude analysis is beside the point. And when Hargrove is replaced, the team will still be bad.

  16. dw on May 21st, 2007 11:25 am

    Cleveland’s other problem is the Cavs. Season ticket money that would have gone to the Indians now flows straight into LeBron’s pocket. And with the average income and population that metro Cleveland has, it’s going to be a slog to get back to 2.5M.

    Cleveland’s situation is similar to Denver’s. When the Rockies debuted, Nuggets ticket sales cratered. Then the Avs came to town, won a Stanley Cup, and chipped away at the Rockies, who were bleeding players and generally sucking. And then came Carmelo.

    The one difference between Cleveland and Denver is that Denver’s economy continues to grow while Cleveland’s stagnates.

  17. scraps on May 21st, 2007 11:26 am

    To put it another way, if Lou won’t tolerate bad play, how did players keep their jobs in Tampa?

  18. Dave on May 21st, 2007 11:28 am

    One of the great complaints about Piniella from the fanbase while he was here was that he stuck with his veteran guys way too long. I don’t know how many thousands of times I heard the “Does Bobby Ayala have pictures of Lou with a goat?” joke during the 1990s.

    Same deal with Norm Charlton. Lou was extremely loyal to his guys, just like Hargrove is.

  19. bakomariner on May 21st, 2007 11:29 am

    i hate watching losing, but i might honestly be alright with a fire sale, liken to the marlins…it would pay off in three to five years, and at least when we lost, we’d have an excuse…it wouldn’t be with a bunch of “proven veterans” that have just not gotten the job done…

  20. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 11:32 am

    scraps #65

    Being set in your ways when you are losing and have been losing for the past 3 seasons is a sign that you are comfortable with it. Or at least comfortable enough that you aren’t willing to try anything drastic to start winning again.

    Lou was liked by his players because he would try anything to win. Complaints about him were that he was too intense, which rubbed people the wrong way. He also wasn’t very tolerant of failure. If I was a major leaguer, I’d love that kind of manager as well.

  21. bakomariner on May 21st, 2007 11:32 am

    i admire loyalty, and respect it…but sometimes it just needs to end…like with eddie last year…sentimentality is nice and all, and it’s great to see players stay on one team and such, but it usually doesn’t add up to a lot of on-field success…

  22. Beniitec on May 21st, 2007 11:34 am

    Loyal maybe… but below the mendoza line for this long? I’m not sure he would have tolerated that.

  23. coasty141 on May 21st, 2007 11:34 am

    -5 points for bringing up bobby ayala.

    and yes i do believe that bobby had pictures of lou and a goat. or something much worse

  24. scraps on May 21st, 2007 11:36 am

    etowncoug, Hargrove believes he knows how to win — since his early success with Cleveland — and he’s set in his ways because he “knows” that if he sticks to his guns, things will turn around, assuming the talent is there. And changes mean “panicking”. He’s wrong, but it has nothing to do with “comfort” with losing. There’s no need to attack his character like that. You aren’t inside his head.

  25. Beniitec on May 21st, 2007 11:38 am

    73 – ROTFLOL…

  26. billT on May 21st, 2007 11:38 am

    Despite all of his ‘fire’, Lou had his share of losing seasons in Seattle, and beyond that he failed to even make a world series when given a roster that had three sure-thing HOFers, one guy who probably would have gone in had he not been ignored during the early part of his career, and a pretty good supporting cast.

    Managers don’t really matter. This team won’t win until they’re spending their $110 million on people who can actually play well enough to help a team win.

  27. hcoguy on May 21st, 2007 11:41 am

    I theorize the M’s would win (over a large enough sample size) the same number of games with Hargrove as well as without any manager at all. They would just democratically vote on lineups, bullpen calls, and strategical maneuvers. The players know who is good for situations and who is not, as long as it was a silent, private vote, no one would have their feelings hurt directly.

  28. joser on May 21st, 2007 11:53 am

    It’s infuriating to watch Hargrove not do everything to maximize the team’s chances to win, but ultimately it is the team that wins or loses, not Hargrove. With a low-talent team, a manager might be the difference between 60 wins and 65. With a highly talented team, a manager might be the difference between 90 and 95 wins. With the team the M’s have right now, Hargrove might be the difference between 80 and 85 wins. Which certainly is the difference between being over .500 and under it, but probably doesn’t win or lose the division (not if the Angels remain on their current trajectory).

  29. msb on May 21st, 2007 11:54 am

    Lou wants to win and is willing to step all over a players feelings to do that.

    not according to his players.

    29 — Where did you get those quotes? I’d love to see the source story

    sorry, I forgot the citation: Seattle Times, Oct. 2, 2005

  30. Jim Thomsen on May 21st, 2007 12:55 pm

    Loyalty is a serious character flaw in almost every walk of life. It’s what people resort in decision-making when they choose not to think and evaluate, and act accordingly.

  31. Jim Thomsen on May 21st, 2007 12:56 pm

    resort TO

  32. Tom on May 21st, 2007 1:24 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the regular starting 9 is gone by August 1st if the losing ways continue, and that sadly would include Ichiro. I could see 2 of the starters leaving as well.

  33. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 1:29 pm

    Loyalty for Lou Piniella was sticking with Bobby Ayala and Norm Charlton. Both pitchers threw hard and were able to strike batters out (Ayala was k’ing close to a batter an inning throughout his time in Seattle, Charlton has striking out batters at a decent clip until the very end when walk rates went up and K rates went down, still in 2001 he was a good pitcher so maybe Lou was right in 1997 that Norm still had something left in the tank).

    From a numbers standpoint, I’m not sure what was wrong with Ayala. If you took away his W-L record, his ERA and his name and asked if you would take a relief pitcher with his K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 I think a lot of people would.

    Hargrove loyalty is different.

  34. gwangung on May 21st, 2007 1:33 pm

    Hargrove loyalty is different.

    For one thing, Grover has some competent alternatives…

  35. Gomez on May 21st, 2007 2:02 pm

    I dunno, for someone who apparently couldn’t care less if he loses, Hargrove’s seemed pretty pissed post-game over the last couple days.

  36. Grizz on May 21st, 2007 2:17 pm

    Hargrove might not care about losing games, but he cares about losing his job.

  37. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 2:59 pm

    I don’t think Hargrove likes losing, it does seem to irritate him. It’s his actions based on his dislike of losing that show that winning is not his top priority.

    Think of a person who says and acts as though he/she dislikes his or her job. If this person is really unhappy with the job, a new job will be found. Someone who really desires change, because current circumstances are completely unacceptable will go to great lengths to change.

    Hargrove says that he dislikes losing, but based on his actions I can only conclude that it really doesn’t bother him. You do have to give the guy a little bit of credit for starting to tinker with the lineup though, but it might be to little to late.

  38. scraps on May 21st, 2007 3:29 pm

    Hargrove says that he dislikes losing, but based on his actions I can only conclude that it really doesn’t bother him.

    I’ve already responded (in post 74) to your insistence that Hargrove’s actions prove that losing doesn’t bother him; I can only conclude that you are unwilling or unable to consider alternative conclusions that fit the facts just as well as your ungenerous mind-reading. Obviously we’re not going to come to an agreement about this, but I think it would broaden your understanding of human behavior considerably if you could find it within you to consider more charitable explanations for people’s failures than lack of caring.

  39. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 3:41 pm

    Scraps- you say I am an ungenerous mindreader yet you offer the “charitable” explanation that Hargrove is either ignorant or incompetent.

    I find it hard to believe that a major league manager wouldn’t have easy access to information like the stuff we can get on the blogosphere.

    Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that Hargrove should be removed from his position and replaced with someone who can be an asset to the organization.

  40. PositivePaul on May 21st, 2007 4:02 pm

    Well, and putting Bloomquist in LF tonight over, say, Ellison, sure reeks of incompetance or ignorance in Hargrove. I mean, heck, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants to win, don’t we?

    Don’t we?


  41. etowncoug on May 21st, 2007 4:05 pm

    Yeah Paul,

    If you call me incompetent, ignorant or say that I don’t care about winning, I would take all three as an insult.

  42. scraps on May 21st, 2007 4:19 pm

    Incompetence we can demonstrate. Ignorance we can infer. Apathy requires mind-reading.

    I’m not preferring to call Hargrove incompetent and ignorant. I’m pointing out that they are justifiable conclusions, more defensible than mind reading, and that for some reason I can’t understand, you insist that Hargrove not caring is the only conclusion you can reach. Forget generosity; it shows a lack of imagination on your part.

    I admit that while I can’t stand Hargrove as a manager and want him to GO, I don’t feel compelled to conclude that he’s deficient in character, except in the very human way of calcifying around a set of beliefs that he’s probably always held.

    It seems to me that the worst professional thing you can say about a sports person is that he doesn’t care about winning, and that such a serious slam requires some solid evidence.

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