Answering Some Questions
There are several recurring questions popping up in all the Jones-Bedard threads. Here’s my brief answer to some of them.
Why do you hate this team?
I spend hundreds of hours every year watching, thinking, and writing about the Seattle Mariners. I do crazy things like track Felix Hernandez’s pitch selection so that I can try to understand his inconsistency. I flew to Peoria last year so that I could watch 17-year-olds who might be Mariners someday take batting practice.
I’m not happy when the team loses. Some of my best memories in life involve the Mariners achieving success despite the odds. I’d cut off my left arm to experience 1995 again. I’m going to jump around like a crazed idiot when the Mariners finally win a World Series.
I want the Mariners to succeed. Badly. Unfortunately, I’m convinced that the philosophies they adhere to in their attempt to succeed are inherently flawed and will lead to failure. Years of rooting for a team to win in spite of itself is frustrating. Frustration, however, is nothing like rooting for failure. I would love nothing more than Erik Bedard to go 34-1, post one of the great seasons in baseball history, and the team to hold a parade in November.
But unfortunately, I’m too pragmatic to constantly believe in longshots. And the M’s are a longshot to make us all happy this year.
Isn’t Adam Jones just an unproven prospect? How is he any different than failed prospects of the past
The word prospect is essentially defined as a player with potential who has not yet reached the level of being able to compete in the big leagues. There is hope that, in the future, they will be able to contribute to the franchise with their on field abilities, but it’s understood that that time is not here now.
Adam Jones stopped being a prospect about eight months ago. He doesn’t need to improve one iota to be a quality major league player. If he never gets any better than he is today, he’ll have a nice major league career.
I know for many the paradigm of a prospect is a player who has yet to prove himself with major league performance. But that perspective, the I-won’t-believe-it-until-I-see-it ideal, isn’t one that we hold to in any other aspect of life, and it’s one that should be easily abandoned once we recognize it as an analytical flaw. If you purchase a new home, do you not believe that the roof will keep you dry until after you’ve lived under it through a rainstorm and examined your skin afterwards? Of course not. You understand the physical limitations of rain passing through dense material, and you believe – without having witnessed that particular roof do anything – that the roof has those qualities.
Your belief in Adam Jones’ current abilities doesn’t do anything to change what they actually are right now. Your perspective might change after you have more evidence, but the reality of Jones’ abilities is going to be the same regardless of a third party opinion. His skills are a tangible reality, and it’s our assertion that his skillset – right now, today, with no further development needed – is that of an above average major league player.
Things don’t become real after they happen. Adam Jones, right now, is not a prospect. Carlos Triunfel, Chris Tillman, Wladimir Balentien, Jeff Clement – these guys are prospects. They need to get better before they can help a major league team win baseball games. Adam Jones hasn’t been in that category of player for quite a while now.
But Erik Bedard is an ace! Two Aces! We’ll be unbeatable in a short series!
The Toronto Blue Jays featured Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, and Dustin McGowan at the front of their rotation last year. That’s a significantly better trio than Bedard, Hernandez, and Silva. The Blue Jays won 83 games.
Having two great pitchers is awesome, but unless you’re cloning Pedro Martinez in his prime, you better have a good supporting cast around them if you want to win consistently. The Mariners supporting cast now includes a DH in left field, a hole in right field, an enigma at second base, one of the worst first baseman in baseball, and a DH whose career is teetering on the verge of extinction. They also don’t have any organizational depth in position players, so an injury to a key player (say, Ichiro or Beltre) pretty much ends their season before it starts.
There’s just no way you can realistically believe that the 2008 Mariners are as good as the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, or Angels. Right now, they’re something like the sixth best team in the American League. Even with two frontline starters at the top of their rotation.
Isn’t Wladimir Balentien almost as good as Adam Jones? Why can’t we just plug him into right field?
Balentien, unlike Jones, has some significant progress to make before he can help a major league team. He can hit a fastball a long way, but the rest of his game still needs work. He still struggles with pitch recognition, leading to him guessing a lot. You can succeed as a guess hitter, but the margin for error when you guess right is minimal, and Balentien isn’t yet in the crushes-anything-he-hits category. Pitchers with any kind of command and off-speed pitch won’t find him especially challenging. And, defensively, he’s average at best in a corner.
Balentien in ’08 projects as a .240/.290/.400 type of hitter, and that’s just not a guy that a team trying to win its division can afford to give many at-bats to unless he’s playing excellent defense at a premium position. Maybe a few more months in Tacoma will give him the opportunity to refine his game and he could help the team in the second half, but the Mariners certainly shouldn’t count on it.
Well, if they need to get better to contend, now what should the M’s do?
Since the team is going all-in for 2008, mortgaging the future in a chance to steal the division from the Angels this year, they need to get serious about fixing some of the other problems on this roster. Right field is now a gaping hole, and unfortunately, the good free agent outfielders are already off the board. The best plan would be to pursue a trade for a new young outfielder (call the Cubs about Matt Murton or Felix Pie please), but unfortunately, the team’s going to be running low on trade chips after this deal is complete.
They’d also do well to not count on production from all three of Sexson, Vidro, and Ibanez to make the offense work, and bring in a new LF or 1B to make those guys fight for two spots. If they haven’t yet called about Nick Johnson, they better.
Dealing the farm for Bedard means you don’t have the luxury of hoping guys post career years or bounce back from decline to carry your offense. You better be able to score and prevent runs on a nightly basis, because it’s going to take 90-95 wins to make the playoffs, and then you have to get past two of Boston, New York, Cleveland, and Detroit.
They can’t call it an offseason and head to Peoria now. They’ve committed themselves to contending in ’08 – they have now actually finish building a contender.