The most important off-season decision

DMZ · September 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

WoTYC, 4, tgf, by email:

What is the most important single decision/plan the next GM can make/implement to build a better team (long term)? Can be player personnel related, coaching, anything. Kind of general, but I’m sure you’ve thought about this as well.

Generally speaking and more in short-term, they’re going to have to come in and figure out how they can remake the team now, who’s going to be part of the core they rebuild around and who needs to be moved if at all possible. There’s going to be four big groups:
- Value outweighs what anyone will offer (Ichiro, Felix)
- Keep barring overwhelming offer (Beltre)
- Move if at all possible (Washburn)
- No one’s going to bite (Silva, Batista)

If a non-Lee GM comes in, the rumors are going to run amazingly fast as they try and figure out who’ll give them what for who (“Hey, remember when we you called about that AA prospect last season? Sure, and now I’m with the M’s– and do I have a seasoned major-league veteran for you.”)

My prediction is that the single biggest challenge will be what they do to rebuild the middle infield. It’s complicated, thorny, not regarded as a huge problem by many people who follow the team making selling dramatic action tough.

To return to the question, though — long term, the team will need to make some huge philosophical changes in how they do business. They need to change how the organization scouts and values pitchers, so they stop thinking Washburn/Silva types are good buys, they need to do a better job building a team defense. They need to get really smart sabermetric types to offer additional views the team can listen to, and then make sure they’re listened to. My area of expertise — and I’ll be volunteering for this if they hire certain GMs* — is that they absolutely have to build better technological tools to help the team. Other franchises have done amazing jobs putting together useful data stores that help them make scouting decisions, build great scouting reports, and support the work of all the other departments. The M’s need to catch up as fast as they can.

Overall it amounts to having to steer the entire organization into a new, more enlightened present. That’s the most important work facing the new GM, because as long as the M’s are organizationally dim, success will be much harder and come a ever more infrequently.

* I will not be taken up on this


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Comments

10 Responses to “The most important off-season decision”

  1. mln on September 1st, 2008 2:18 pm

    “Other franchises have done amazing jobs putting together useful data stores that help them make scouting decisions, build great scouting reports, and support the work of all the other departments. The M’s need to catch up as fast as they can.”

    Well, the Mariners’ also have great databases. I mean, you can’t get any better than scouting off the back of baseball cards can you?

  2. tgf on September 1st, 2008 2:50 pm

    The most tragic part of that is that the one advantage the Mariners have w/r/t their location (and remember, they don’t hesitate to tell you about the disadvantages) is that there is a huge pool of people in Seattle who are tech savvy and would be great at setting up the databases and mining the data. Maybe only the Bay area has a better pool of talent in this regard.

    Edit: Thanks for answering!

  3. Steve T on September 1st, 2008 3:03 pm

    Before they can put all these great scouting and data-analysis decisions to work, they will need to figure out a way to hide the bodies of Chuck and Howard.

  4. msb on September 1st, 2008 3:25 pm

    Other franchises have done amazing jobs putting together useful data stores that help them make scouting decisions, build great scouting reports, and support the work of all the other departments. The M’s need to catch up as fast as they can.

    this is interesting, too, as they have taken advantage of Carl Hamilton’s early work with video in scouting and training — but perhaps the visual is more tangible to a FO than the “theoretics” of data.

  5. CCW on September 1st, 2008 4:57 pm

    “Overall it amounts to having to steer the entire organization into a new, more enlightened present.”

    This is the crux of it. The organization is way behind in a lot of areas and the new GM will have to strike a balance between keeping his employer happy and addressing deficiencies that are his employer’s creation.

  6. terry on September 1st, 2008 5:07 pm

    The biggest decision is the one looming in front of them….GM???????????????

    Blow that one and most of the rest doesn’t really matter.

  7. terry on September 1st, 2008 5:14 pm

    And in a year where even “more of the same” is making a valiant effort to convince everyone they represent “change”, Lee P simply won’t cut it…..

  8. terry on September 1st, 2008 6:04 pm

    Does the Ms brain trust realize just how close they are to losing a significant portion of it’s fan base?

    I for one am not going to stick around for another 3-5 years of bumbling that necessitates blathering letters explaining why they think they’re moving in the right direction even though it’s not showing “on the field”.

    Want to show me you’re not going to tolerate failure? Basically the FO had better swing dramatically toward a saber philosophy. It’s more than my personal belief that old school is dead. It’s also about signaling that the upper levels are also affected by the organisational enema……

  9. cody on September 1st, 2008 6:59 pm

    I would think that the most important decision would be to pick someone for GM that can do all the stuff DMZ said competently.

  10. Joe on September 2nd, 2008 10:15 am

    The most tragic part of that is that the one advantage the Mariners have w/r/t their location (and remember, they don’t hesitate to tell you about the disadvantages) is that there is a huge pool of people in Seattle who are tech savvy and would be great at setting up the databases and mining the data. Maybe only the Bay area has a better pool of talent in this regard.

    It’s even more tragic than you know. Two of the minority owners were key people in the early days of Microsoft Access; one of them was the development lead — and one of the first “real” uses he tested it on, when it was still in alpha, was to run a fantasy baseball league that he played with a bunch of other Microsoft people. So M’s ownership, even before they were owners, were taking advantage of information technology to play at being smarter GMs. (I know some people will be tempted to make cracks at Access, but keep in mind this was 1988 or so, and ultimately it was just a front end to SQL Sever anyway). That they were so far ahead of the curve twenty years ago in fantasy and so far behind now in real life is almost Shakespearean.

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