And a sign of hope, too
Steve Nelson made this comment late in the discussion of Dave’s post:
But, but .. this is team carefully assembled with a core of gritty veterans who know how to play the game. The kind of players who donâ€™t panic and get thrown off when things donâ€™t go right. The kinds of players who know how to do the little things to win games.
That the Mariners handily beat their Pythag record last season wasnâ€™t a fluke; it was the direct product of filling the roster with players of character, integrity and veteran savvy. [/sarcasm]
I think the current team situation directly relates to perceptions of last years team. Many fans, and apparently the Mariners FO as well, believed that last yearâ€™s team was a valid contender (or almost contender) – that the record at the end of 2007 was a true reflection of the ability of the team. Buying into that notion leads directly to the conclusion that if a few holes are patched (primarily in the rotation) the team is a true contender. Clearly, thatâ€™s the way the FO saw the team last winter. Iâ€™ve mentioned in several posts over the last several months that the I think the FO viewed the 2007 season as vindication for their thoughts about roster construction, viz. that a roster assembled with the proper intangibles will outplay their true talent level – said team will win more than their â€œfair shareâ€ of games because the will do the things needed to win games and will play as greater than the sum of the parts.
This season can be viewed as a test of that notion. Many here (myself included) saw that belief as a misperception; the Mariners were not as good as their record and that they Pythag record was a better indication of the teams true talent level. I will gladly eat crow if I am wrong, but so far this season would seem vindication.
I heartily agree on most counts, and we’ve talked about a lot of those issues and the differences in how we viewed the team and how the front office viewed this year’s team coming into the season.
But we need to point out that something interesting just happened in the Wilkerson move: they recognized a problem, adjusted, and they did it early. We can certainly argue over whether or not it was the right move, but just a few years ago they were clinging to the belief that Carl Everett would turn it around any day now (depressing fact: Everett’s 2006 line would be a dramatic improvement over Vidro this year, or, unfortunately, Johjima) much later into the season. The offense was struggling, and they did something about it.
Sure, they may have gone into this season with unreasonable expectations of building from an 88-win season and decided to go for it, but at least we’ve seen they’re not looking at the roster with blinders on. If we take nothing else away from that, we should be happy that they’re not letting that initial assumption blind them to the glaring problems they face right now.
Now, whether that leads to trading the remaining prospects for proven veteran relievers, that’s a whole other topic.