Reaction From the Scribes

Dave · September 28, 2007 at 8:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The day after the announcement, the local writers weigh in.

Larry Stone: Mariners Go for Stability.

Stone writes a straight news story instead of the opinion column, getting some solid quotes from all involved.

“John McLaren stepped in, and he led the team to a winning season,” Lincoln said. “He certainly has the confidence and trust and respect of our players. That’s extremely important. So I think he deserves another season.

Mariners record under John McLaren: 40-41. So, apparently, you can lead a team to a winning season while simultaneously losing more games than you win.

“In Bill’s case, Bill has produced a winning season. That was the first challenge. He didn’t get us to the playoffs, but I think he deserves to continue on as the general manager. It’s so disruptive to an organization to change general managers…

He’s got a point here – we really don’t want to disrupt this good thing we have going in Seattle. After all, we just had a winning season, our first in four years, despite outspending 80% of other teams in payroll. Can’t mess with that kind of success.

“Certainly, in baseball you cannot please everybody,” he said. “I fully expect some people will support this decision, some people will not. But somebody has to make the decision. And somebody has to figure out what’s in the best interest of the franchise. And that’s my job.”

The faction they’ve chosen not to please – the people who want to see this team win.

Said Armstrong: “No matter how you slice it and dice it — and we are disappointed with falling back — we’re still over .500. We’ve made great improvement. We are appreciative and greatly impressed at the job McLaren did coming in at a very difficult time, right before the All-Star break, and keeping this team together. They never quit. They’re not quitting now.”

Do you think that Chuck Armstrong is aware that the Mariners have been outscored by 27 runs this year? They didn’t have to quit – they were beaten instead.

Geoff Baker: M’s celebrate in win over Indians.

Baker gets some of the player’s perspective in his game wrap-up. Jose Guillen, Baker’s personal quote machine:

“Hopefully, we got the right man for the job, but we’ll see,” Guillen said. “We’re going to have to wait and see next year what kind of manager he’s going to be.

“He’s too nice to everybody. I want to see him get tougher and get mean to a lot of people. That’s what I want to see from him, and I told him. I don’t care. That’s what I want to see from him.”

Amen, Jose. Amen. Hopefully, John McLaren can learn how to be a manager, and not the veteran’s best friend, by next spring.

“I think he did a great job,” Ibanez said. “He’s got great qualities as a leader and he’s a stand-up guy. He looks you in the eye and tells you the truth. What you see is what you get with him and I really appreciate that, not just as a boss but as a human being.”

Great qualities as a leader = He lets me do whatever I want. Asking Ibanez if he likes McLaren is like asking the eight year old who is eating chocolate cake for dinner and playing video games til midnight if he likes his babysitter.

“Since Bavasi’s been here, the record’s gotten better,” (Sherrill) said. “Hearing you [media] guys talk, some people out there aren’t real happy with how we run stuff but I think our record speaks for itself.”

Winning ~85 games while being outscored by your opponents on a $110 million payroll does indeed speak for yourself. It just doesn’t say what you think it says, George.

“You’re managing people,” Ibanez said. “Twenty-five different personalities. You’re managing different people than in other industries. You’re managing personnel. Intense, driven. There’s an obsessive drive with that. So it’s not an easy job to come into.”

The moment a manager thinks his job is more about managing people than winning baseball games, he’s lost. Managing people is certainly a huge part of his job, but it absolutely cannot come at the expense of the primary goal. That’s something the Mariners have just failed to grasp.

John Hickey: Bavasi, McLaren to return for 2008 season.

Here’s Hickey’s version of the story with a few different quotes.

As always, the Mariners need starting pitching, but Bavasi already made it clear he will not trade the players he considers his best prospects in exchange for pitching. Outfielder Adam Jones and catcher Jeff Clement will not be dealt, Bavasi said.

Wladimir Balentien, on the other hand, should start packing his bags right now.

“When all is said and done, we had a good year,” McLaren said. “We got into the final week of the season in contention for the wild card. I think we’ve come a long way.”

Only in McLarenville is “if the Yankees lose every game the rest of the way, the Tigers don’t get hot, and we win eight straight to end the season” a definition of contention.

“We didn’t finish quite the way we wanted,” Washburn said. “But we’re in position now to have solidarity going into next season.”

Oh, well, hold your horses – the team is going to have solidarity next year. That should make up for the lack of talent.

Larry LaRue: Standing Pat to Standing O.

A few quotes here that only LaRue worked into his piece.

“We are not at all happy with the big collapse at the end. But when you look at the overall, big picture we finished way above anybody’s expectations,” Washburn said.

“So we’re disappointed that we didn’t get to the playoffs. … But I think we exceeded everybody’s expectations, and it’s pretty ironic that people are bashing people at the end because we didn’t make the playoffs.”

This is just a myth that needs to die. Almost everyone here had the team pegged for 80-85 wins, which is almost exactly what they’re going to end up with. They exceeded expectations for four months, then regressed heavily to the mean. With all apologies to Dennis Green, they are what we thought they were – a mediocre team with strengths and weaknesses that wasn’t good enough to get to the playoffs.

“It’s a complex job, it’s not as simple as it seems. It’s not fantasy baseball. It just isn’t,” Bavasi said. “We actually deal with the day-to-day realities of putting humans out there.”

And, there you go – the obligatory reference to fans not understanding how things work in the real world and trying to run the franchise like a fantasy team. Here’s a little hint, though – we don’t want you to run the Mariners like a fantasy team – we want you to run them like a real baseball organization, utilizing all information possible and not holding yourselves above learning new things. You know, like the Red Sox, Indians, A’s, Diamondbacks, Padres, Yankees, or Brewers do. Real analysis isn’t just for nerds with spreadsheets anymore.


141 Responses to “Reaction From the Scribes”

  1. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 3:20 pm

    I don’t know if that’s really the case — they were willing to throw almost $100m at Zito in the offseason, so that tells me they do want to improve the product. The problem is that they have fundamental misconceptions about how to successfully build a team.

    Wouldn’t be such a problem if everyone else had the same conception.

    Of course, they don’t…

  2. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 3:23 pm

    Spending $100 million for Barry Zito would be Exhibit A in that case, but point taken. I’m just saying that upper mgmt clearly measures success more at the turnstile than by wins and losses. John McLaren didn’t get re-upped because he won baseball games, he got re-upped because he didn’t rock the boat and because attendance didn’t go down.

    That doesn’t make sense. Or, rather, it hashes up the correlations. Could just as easily said McLaren was held over because he was part of management that improved wins and THEY didn’t want to rock the boat.

  3. Jeff Nye on September 28th, 2007 3:27 pm

    Yeah, I’ve never been convinced by the argument that the M’s don’t want to put a winning team on the field.

    I think the issue is more along the line of them not KNOWING how to put a winning team on the field. They don’t know how to properly value resources and utilize them effectively.

    Despite the team’s record for the year likely slightly surpassing what some folks had them projected at (myself, I though they’d be high 70-low 80 wins), the point we’re all trying to make is that if the M’s would have used their resources more effectively (not letting Adam Jones rot on the bench, not setting back Morrow’s development by putting him in the bullpen, etc etc), they could have been a 90 win team, and we’d be getting ready for a playoff run, however brief.

    This was a season of missed opportunities, and you can’t dismiss that just by saying that they’re going to win a couple more games than they did last year.

  4. zugzwang on September 28th, 2007 3:28 pm

    89 — gee, thanks

    The question remains: is our farm system better stocked than average? If there are pitchers you’re excited about, they are long-range projects (Aumont, Ramirez), rehab cases (Baek, Lowe), or hopeful conversions (RRS, Morrow). It seemed to me, from the depths of my woeful ignorance, that there was a lot more hopeful buzz about our future pitching prospects five years ago than there is now. So, again: how does this staple of prospects compare? Does Bavasi deserve this particular pat on the shoulder?

  5. Sec 108 on September 28th, 2007 3:32 pm

    Thanks Dave. As I read the paper at lunch I said to myself many of the same things you said in response to these quotes. My response to the Ibanez quote was almost verbatim.

  6. elsid on September 28th, 2007 3:34 pm

    I am not saying that things don’t need to change, nor are there the right people running things. I am just saying that you can’t scrap the season as a total loss, becuase of the 85,000 reasons that y’all give — well yes y’all can.

    In answer to #92 question on my brother about comparing him to people that make terrible decisions one after that other — who again put my brother on the team????????(Some guy named Bavasi, whoever the hell he is) Sure my brother deserves better.

    He deserved to get a shot a long time ago. He has strived through more than most of you guys could ever even dream of. $400-$500/wk travelling around in buses (no planes), every trip being 6-20 hours. Just think, if the Mariners had been 5 minutes later, he would have been a Yankee.

    Again, take a look at what you have and grow on it. Make next year better than this year. This isn’t 2001, nor can every year be. Since I am not a Mariner fan, I don’t even remember them being in the playoffs in 2001, except for the zillion clips they show of it on FSNNW. So for me as a Mariners’ fan (actually only a fan of close games so my brother can get in — haha), this was their best year. To me they have been getting better every year. Sure things with ever team in every year could be better — all over MLB.

    If you aren’t happy with it, then step up — not to me, to the club. I am no one special. I just post here from time to time. I am by no means saying anything is perfect, nor has it been great, but it was fun to watch from out outside perspective. That is the thing to me, I watch it for being my brother and being baseball, nothing more. Take a step outside the box, look at it from a different point of view. It is fun not even being near the NW but can tell you things that go on closer to the field than most. I am not trying to knock anyone, just trying to give a different perspective.

    Also, it is strange to me in looking at the season…that if the M’s lose out and Boston or Cleveland wins out, that the M’s this year would only be 12 wins from the best record in baseball — but this year is a failure?!?

  7. elsid on September 28th, 2007 3:36 pm

    #96 — I never said that he didn’t want changes — nor can I directly. I can just say that he and everyone else liked McClaren, at least compared to the previous two mgrs.

  8. elsid on September 28th, 2007 3:40 pm

    Also to #96, the second part of George’s quotes from The Times was not listed here: “He knows everybody in here and knows how everybody clicks. It’s just a matter of bringing in the right pieces and doing something special next year.”

  9. Jeff Nye on September 28th, 2007 3:41 pm

    No one is saying that this season was a total loss. What we’re saying, again, is that there were a ton of missed opportunities this year, and if the team had been run better, this year would have been a significant step forward, rather than an arguable baby step forward.

    The talent was available (sort of, there are still some glaring holes) but it was utilized poorly.

    And I’m pretty sure we’ve all emailed Mariners Care repeatedly; it hasn’t helped very much, if at all, although the Hernandez pitch charting situation was a happy moment for a lot of us.

  10. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 3:42 pm


    Look, there are people and blogs all excited about people like Tillman, Butler, Bibens Dirkx and the like. That’s a different question than whether or not the farm system is better stocked than average. With Bavasi’s time on the job, there’s no way there’s going to be immediate fruits from his tenure for the team of the past couple years—that’s the way players work their way through the system.

    And given the way prospects develop, die out or flare up, it’s a tricky thing to be evaluating in the first place.

    And given that the Mariners have been absolutely terrible at developing their own talent BEFORE Bavasi came on as GM, there may be confounding factors at work here…

  11. Ebenezer on September 28th, 2007 3:45 pm

    Baker covered this in his blog today, but in case you hadn’t heard Chuck Armstrong’s stated reason for trading Soriano (via an Associated Press article):

    Armstrong said the disastrous trade that brought Horacio Ramirez from Atlanta for proven veteran setup reliever Rafael Soriano wasn’t all Bavasi’s fault. Armstrong said, without naming specific off-field incidents, that “a lot of things went on that compelled us to make that move” of Soriano for whatever the Mariners could get.

    Nice to see the M’s front office taking responsibility for their mistakes. This sounds like the reason given for trading a former starting shortshop and staff ace for nothing.

  12. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 3:48 pm

    Nice to see the M’s front office taking responsibility for their mistakes.

    Hmmm….also noting that they’re admitting to meddling in the baseball operations. Guess they felt they could slip it past the fans.

    (Also…doesn’t that admit that they CAN’T handle difficult personalities in the clubhouse? That’s a big part of being a manager and it looks like their preferred solution is to ship ’em off…)

  13. Bearman on September 28th, 2007 3:50 pm

    When I say a true GM with most of the power I mean most so called “CEO” and “Team President” rarly interfere with a competent one.
    However the last thing Lincoln and Armstrong and it seems the ownership as well wants is a COMPETENT GM or why would the stick with as poor a one as Bavasi remember he is ranked 30th out of 30 MLB GMs.

    Granted the drafts have been begining to pay off but when will Bavasi and the FO ALLOW the talent that’s surfacing play out their deserved chances before panicing and trading them away.
    That’s the point of the farm when it begins to show major talent you work with it before dipping into the FA,trade, or just acting like it’s not there.

    As to the question raised as to who would be a upgrade from Bavasi.I have list here that will answer that:
    Bob Engle:from my understanding was the FO’s orginial choice before the switch to Bavasi.He also is the one who brought Hernandez,Betancourt,Lopez and other top talent to the M’s.

    Chris Antonetti:presently the asst.GM with the Cleveland Indians as far as I know.Considering the
    success that franchise has and is experiencing.
    I believe he would have a formula that will bring a winner and champion to Seattle.

    These are two names that I believe are excellent replacements and definate upgrades to Bavasi.

  14. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 3:55 pm

    I think all teams have CEOs and Presidents that dabble a bit in team operations.

    But it could be fair to say that the Mariner upper brass have a greater tendency to meddle and not know their limits.

    I think their views on team chemistry and character (wife beaters aside)(or maybe they don’t consider that part of character) show that…

  15. Dayve on September 28th, 2007 3:56 pm

    M’s are a profitable business. Anyone disagree? Why would Lincoln and Armstrong want to fix what is not broken (as far as profitability goes)?

  16. jlc on September 28th, 2007 3:58 pm

    106 – I don’t think the season is a failure. I think the team is looking at the wrong parts of this season to move forward. I think the players outplayed the hand their management dealt them.

    As far as “…if the M’s lose out and Boston or Cleveland wins out, that the M’s this year would only be 12 wins from the best record in baseball,” you could also say that if the Oakland team had been healthy all year, we might have ended up third in the division.

    Some people misinterpret the passion that people on this site have as a desire to be negative all the time. But I guarantee when things go right, there are no people who appreciate it more than the folks here. I’ve only been around a few months, but this is a group of people who love and understand baseball. They understand how difficult it is to put together a winning team and will savor a post-season appearance more than just about anybody not actually playing the game.

  17. Xteve X on September 28th, 2007 4:01 pm

    “Could just as easily said McLaren was held over because he was part of management that improved wins and THEY didn’t want to rock the boat.”

    that expresses my sentiment much better than I did.

  18. msb on September 28th, 2007 4:02 pm

    Bob Engle:from my understanding was the FO’s orginial choice before the switch to Bavasi.

    you’ve mentioned that before; where did you hear this? He wasn’t in the final GM pool, or interviewed for the job.

  19. Teej on September 28th, 2007 4:08 pm

    Being profitable doesn’t mean you can’t be more profitable. Winning increases profits.

    Claims that the front office isn’t interested in winning are based on nothing. The M’s have the seventh-highest payroll in baseball, and Bavasi has said before that he’s never been hamstrung over financial flexibility.

    The team wants to win. Just because the team doesn’t know how to win doesn’t mean they’re committed to profitable losing. Let’s give them a little more credit than that. They know full well that the more they lose, the lower profits will be. This isn’t Chicago, and we’ve all seen that attendance drops markedly when the M’s are losing.

  20. Teej on September 28th, 2007 4:09 pm

    remember he is ranked 30th out of 30 MLB GMs.

    That’s true. Bavasi is dead last in this week’s AP poll.

  21. John in L.A. on September 28th, 2007 4:17 pm

    111- Compelled is such an interesting word, isn’t it?

    I guess he meant “felt compelled.” Which is a different animal.

    Because if these guys are compelled as much as they claim, trades, drafts (Don’t draft that guy! Yeah, the really good one! Don’t take him!) etc. then they are getting pushed around pretty good.

    How you can feel compelled to get rid of Soriano but hire Carl Everett is beyond me.

    Compelled. Bah.

  22. Evan on September 28th, 2007 4:17 pm

    Bavasi has said before that he’s never been hamstrung over financial flexibility.

    Bavasi says that because its good PR. What job have you ever known where you’re allowed to publicly badmouth your employer?

  23. Evan on September 28th, 2007 4:18 pm

    How you can feel compelled to get rid of Soriano but hire Carl Everett is beyond me.

    Especially since Soriano counts as a veteran, now. The article about his semi-successful appeal of his suspension on the Braves’ site calls him a “veteran reliever”.

  24. Teej on September 28th, 2007 4:27 pm

    Bavasi says that because its good PR. What job have you ever known where you’re allowed to publicly badmouth your employer?

    I hear you, but in this case I tend to believe him. I’m not defending any or all of this, but look at the contracts for Beltre, Sexson, Ichiro and Vidro. All I’m saying is Bavasi has been given the opportunity to spend money to improve this team. Whether he’s made wise choices with that money is obviously another question.

  25. scott19 on September 28th, 2007 5:42 pm

    We can all argue until we’re blue in the face about just how asinine some of the FO’s Family-Friendlier-Than-Thou policies are…however, does that justify NOT getting at least something of value in return when they do move their so-called “problem” guys?

  26. gwangung on September 28th, 2007 5:51 pm

    We can all argue until we’re blue in the face about just how asinine some of the FO’s Family-Friendlier-Than-Thou policies are…however, does that justify NOT getting at least something of value in return when they do move their so-called “problem” guys?

    Of course not…but it indicates to me that they consider character and internal chemistry as something as tangible as OBP and slugging.

  27. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 28th, 2007 7:05 pm

    111 – I heard from VERY reliable sources (not players, but people both in Soriano’s personal life AND his time at Safeco to know) that Soriano hated being with the Ms, acted totally insubordinate on numerous occasions (flatly telling manager and pitching coach as well as fellow pitchers which games he would/would not pitch in BEFORE THE GAME EVEN BEGAN, refusing to even warm up on occasion), etc.

    Yes, I agree his talents were a loss, but people in all professions can find a myriad of ways to sabotage themselves (my personal approach) or sabotage their employers ability to utilize that talent (what Soriano did here). Sometimes moving on is the only solution to unleashing the talent.

  28. elsid on September 28th, 2007 8:36 pm

    #127 is stating facts, but I am not allowed to go into details

  29. Dave on September 28th, 2007 8:46 pm

    Yea, that bastard Rafael Soriano, dictating when he wasn’t available to pitch to a manager who clearly had no interest in protecting an arm that the organization had already destroyed once.

  30. don52656 on September 28th, 2007 9:10 pm

    I’ve been as unhappy as anyone with the way the last month has gone, and I am not thrilled with the way McLaren has run the team. However, I am a little surprised by the shrillness of the “Bavasi/McLaren have to go” crowd.

    I think Bavasi is lousy at trading. I mean, really lousy. However, I also think he is pretty damn good at building a farm system. He did it with the Angels and got fired before his farm system could make a difference, which they did after he left. When Bavasi succeeded Gillick, he inherited an old team with virtually no minor league resources. Any objective analysis of the Mariners organization would conclude that the farm system is in much better shape than it was after Gillick was through pillaging it. Yeah, he has overspent for free agents, and not all of them have worked out well. But, Bavasi has signed Beltre, Johjima, and Guillen, and Batista. Yeah, there was Reese, Spiezio, and Aurilia, but that was 3-4 years ago. And a lot of people thought the Weaver signing was ok, since he was supposed to be the #5 starter. And, while this year has ended disappointingly, it is a fact that the team has improved it’s record every year since 2004. I think the decision to extend Bavasi is understandable and defensible.

    McLaren is a tougher sell for me. His apparent affection to veterans has cost the team this year, no doubt about it. But don’t you think that a manager who takes over in mid-season should be given the opportunity to see what he can do over a full season. Shouldn’t McLaren have the chance to put together his own staff? I mean, he hasn’t been a total disaster since he took over. Give the man a chance.

    Second guessing is one of the great things about baseball, and I plead guilty as charged. I guess I just don’t understand why the criticism of the decision to retain Bavasi and McLaren has to be so damn vitriolic.

  31. don52656 on September 28th, 2007 9:18 pm

    PS…how in the heck would you like to be a Mets fan tonight….

  32. elsid on September 28th, 2007 9:19 pm

    Dave believe what you want, but it was a lot more than that.

  33. don52656 on September 28th, 2007 9:24 pm

    I wonder if the alleged issues with Soriano were known in baseball circles. If so, this may explain why trading him didn’t bring more talent in return. Maybe Ramirez was the best we could get.

    On a related subject, I heard that the Guillen trade was made for non-talent reasons too. Never heard much details…

  34. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 28th, 2007 10:31 pm

    Re: Soriano.
    This is one of those cases where the despised human element comes into the equation.

    As in ANY workplace, a disgruntled employee or an employee who is seen as being treated with kid gloves or allowed to get away with breaking rules etc. because of their perceived ‘talent level’ can have a seriously detrimental effect on the team as a whole. ANY workplace, ANY manager, ANY profession. In baseball, it’s resolved via trade, release, demotion. In business, it’s resolved via dismissal or moving that employee off into a corner position where they can do the least amount of harm.

    To deny this is an issue, or may be an issue on a baseball team because of quantifiable STATS is one of the reasons that nerds with spreadsheets aren’t taken as seriously as they should be.

  35. Dave on September 29th, 2007 8:02 am

    Way to make up another strawman to argue against, Oly.

  36. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 29th, 2007 10:31 am

    Or, you could tell me how YOU would handle a player who, despite being perfectly healthy, would flatly refuse to play in front of his teammates.

    C’mon, give me the benefit of all the clinical psychology, motivational leader, coach/mentor management background that you’ve successfully exercised in the past.

  37. Dave on September 29th, 2007 11:24 am

    Just like the Red Sox have handled Manny Ramirez – do the best you can to manage the situation and, in the end, say “you know, he’s worth the headache.”

    The Soriano thing is a glaring example of how the organization would rather lose with players they like than win with players they don’t.

  38. Edman on September 30th, 2007 1:06 am

    Soriano worth the headache?

    If you can’t see the HUGE talent gap between having a Soriano versus a Manny Ramirez….then you aren’t the talent evaluator you profess to be.

    BTW….how quickly we forget that the BoSox were willing to send him packing a few years ago, for anyone who wanted the headaches and payroll.

    If Manny made what Soriano does, he’d have been moved out of town too.

    But, that doesn’t fit your rant, does it?

  39. DMZ on September 30th, 2007 1:46 am

    There’s no need to be a jerk about disagreement. Dave doesn’t argue they’re of a similar talent level. And I’m not sure where he professes to be a talent evaluator.

    His argument was that if you have a player who can contribute, but is difficult, you make it work. It’s what managers are paid to do.

    But the M’s don’t do that – they ship players who are difficult or perceived as such out.

  40. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 30th, 2007 10:38 am

    And Edman’s argument is that the talent level is what makes the difference between how much effort you put in to making it work, before deciding it’s not worth it. I mean, we have been told repeatedly that relievers are a dime a dozen. Surely that doesn’t make them worth a heckuva lot of ‘special handling’.

    I would never argue that we got equivalent (anywhere near) talent level back from the trade. But, the Braves probably were well aware that there were offsetting factors involved. And sometimes those kinds of things can tie your hands in the same way (though not likely to the same degree) as no-trade clauses or trying to dump high salaries can.

    These are examples of non-stat-quantifiable factors that impact the marketplace.

  41. Dave on October 1st, 2007 6:40 pm

    Okay, how about this – I know of three teams that were amazingly pissed off when the trade happened, because they would have loved to have Rafael Soriano and had no idea he was available.

    Isn’t the inside info game fun when it goes both ways?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.