The Overlooked Organizational Issue
As has been covered, well, everywhere, the Mariners have a few problems. They’ll be hiring a new GM and a new manager this winter, and we’re hopeful that they’ll recognize the need for a new direction and new philosophies in how the team is run.
However, just hiring a new GM isn’t going to just miraculously turn this team around. He’s going to have to do more than just make good trades and free agent signings, because this team needs to do a better job of developing talent from within. This isn’t a scouting problem – the M’s are one of the best teams in baseball in acquiring amateur talent through the draft and international free agency. They’re constantly bringing talent into the fold, including some guys with star potential.
However, once the kids get into the system, there are some problems. Here’s one of the glaring ones.
Carlos Triunfel: 6.3% BB%
Gregory Halman: 6.2% BB%
Matt Tuiasasopo: 9.8% BB%
Michael Saunders: 8.6% BB%
Adam Moore: 8.4% BB%
Rob Johnson: 8.4% BB%
Matt Mangini: 5.3% BB%
Daniel Carroll: 6.0% BB%
Alex Liddi: 9.1% BB%
Denny Almonte: 7.7% BB%
Jharmidy DeJesus: 7.4% BB%
That is, basically, a list of the draft picks or significant bonus international signings over the last few years, or guys who are considered real prospects by the organization. And, of course, their walk rate is listed next to their name. The A’s used to have a policy that they wouldn’t promote a prospect from one minor league level to the next unless he had a walk rate of at least 10% – none of these guys meet the mark.
Yes, Clement walks, and so does Dennis Raben, but both of those guys learned how to take the base on balls in college – they already had a set philosophy of how to hit by the time they got into the organization. Of the guys the M’s are trying to turn from teenagers into major leaguers, they just don’t develop anyone with any real patience at the plate.
This is obvious at the major league level as well. Obviously Lopez and Betancourt are hackity-hack-hack-hacks. Balentien is still a free swinger, even despite a lot of improvement the last few years. Adam Jones learned how to swing at everything before going to Baltimore. Even the big league guys the team has gone after have a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, from Beltre, Johjima, Guillen, and even Ichiro – the M’s love guys who swing a lot, and that’s what they’re developing.
This has to change, and just hiring a new GM and hoping that fixes the issue isn’t going to work. Whoever takes over is going to have to have the freedom to make sweeping changes in how the organization coaches its young talent and the things that they’re stressing in player development. It simply isn’t good enough to be developing a bunch of clones who have to hit .300 to succeed since they never learned how to make a pitcher work the count.