Signs things are going right

DMZ · September 2, 2008 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Rich emailed:

I’d like to see maybe a list of things for people to look for that show the M’s making positive progress for 2009 and beyond. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff, but maybe a realistic look forward for some seriously dejected fans.

At the baseball operations level:

Team makes a good hire for their new GM
Yup, this is obvious, but even beyond “they hire a USSM dream candidate” it’s “they hire someone who isn’t a retread/doormat”

Fixes
The GM has a free hand to remake the roster and in a hurry, and gets into it

Organizational changes
New people are brought in to work in problem areas, and they have plans that make sense (“I’ve been thinking, maybe our hitting prospects should hit.”) The team brings in smart people to form the kind of analytical group other teams have.

Organizational philosophical indications
This may come as quickly as this next off-season. Who are they pursuing in free agency, and why? Are they repeating the same mistakes that got them into this hole, or are they making smarter decisions about how they pick pitchers? Are they putting together teams that play better defense? Are they spending money on veteran players that could easily be replaced with much cheaper alternatives? Who are they bringing in on minor league deals this spring?

For instance, the “role” thing — one of our huge, consistent problems in the Bavasi regime was the fixation on roles. “We’re looking for a left-handed designated hitter… there’s only one, let’s spend $5m. What, he sucks?”

The M’s are going to have some holes this off-season that can be solved in a couple ways:
- throwing money at veteran players who are established in those roles
- finding cheaper unlabeled alternatives
- abandoning the role label to do something really interesting.

Wins and efficiency
On a larger level, we should be able to step away from the team and see that they’re getting more for what they’re spending. 100 losses with this payroll should be an everyone’s fired moment. Intelligent spending and team-building will show up in both the team’s standings and in measures like $ spent per win.

Then, at the franchise level:
Team makes ownership group changes
See many, many previous rants about Lincoln and the ownership’s bafflement over getting their butt kicked year after year

Increased honesty
It’d be nice if the team for once didn’t actively lie to everyone about the year’s payroll and things like budgeting. I don’t want to write too much here, I’ll just get angry. Don’t wish too hard for this one. Especially without the previous item.

Increased openness
See here

Or you can just keep reading. We’ll try and keep you posted.


This post was written as one of the requests by a USSM supporter as part of Thank You Content Week. Join them!












Comments

27 Responses to “Signs things are going right”

  1. 14limes on September 2nd, 2008 8:48 am

    What I’m really worried about is that this winning streak we’re having continues. Okay, the winning part is fine. But having a 20+-win September could be enough to tempt the front office into playing wait and see in the offseason, which at best has them making limited moves, and at worst has Pelekoudas and Riggleman keeping their jobs, and none of the holes patched. In which case, I am totally going to rip the head off my Yuni bobblehead in protest.

  2. wrob4343 on September 2nd, 2008 9:21 am

    The interesting thing about that honesty you seek is that if you received it management would have to do something. Right now they push their messages through “fair and balanced” journalists who have to remain objective and keep critiques controlled.

    I like the set up of the USSM as it is right now because it gives me hope that the team can be fixed. All it takes is a little passion, a little analysis and modern research, combined with Dave and Derek and you can put together a good team. Seriously though, having an above average fan looking at the situation from the perspective of an outsider makes the blog more relatable and fan friendly.

    Besides, if you got to get close access you too would be jaded by the desire to remain “fair ans balanced”, having to deal with players and management regularly… so this way you stay cool!

  3. TumwaterMike on September 2nd, 2008 9:49 am

    I would really like to see management resign Raul Ibanez. When healthy he’s proven to be a very good clutch performer. I understand that he would have to agree to be a DH, but maybe that is something the M’s can work through.

    I realize that Jose Lopez has some defensive questions but his bat has also been clutch this year. If the M’s could find a good defensive 2nd baseman, who can hit in the .260 range and takes walks, they can either move Lopez to DH, if Ibanez isn’t signed, or 3rd Base if Beltre is traded.

    If neither of these options are possible maybe try him at first as the Tigers did with Jose Guillen.

    I know that Cairo has gotten a lot of negative stuff here but I really like his play. He bunts well, runs the bases well, can play all infield positions and can get clutch hits. I wouldn’t mind bringing him back, especially since Bloomquist is going to be a free agent.

    I’m trying to think outside the box here.

  4. Steve T on September 2nd, 2008 9:53 am

    There’s no such thing as a clutch performer. Jose Lopez would be one of the worst first basemen in the history of the game. Jose Guillen is not a model they should be seeking to emulate. Cairo sucks.

    Other than that, hey, I agree with everything you said!

  5. bakomariner on September 2nd, 2008 10:11 am

    I think that with a healthy Bedard, and the subtractions of Batista and The Bus, we have a great foundation next year. The pitching looks about league average, and if RRS, Morrow, and Ryan F, can continue to improve, we can have a very young and cheap rotation.

    Lopez to 1B is a nice idea, but as with Clement, does he hit enough to play there? His defense at 2B is terrible, and he might be a good defensive 1B, but is he a plus bat there? Probably not.

    Ibanez needs to go. He’s been great, but he will command too many years and dollars, and he will probably hit the cliff that so many other aging stars hit…better to take the two draft picks…if we were a contender, you might re-sign him, but we all know that 2009 isn’t our year…

  6. vj on September 2nd, 2008 10:33 am

    The Tigers’ first baseman (now converted to third base) is Carlos Guillén, not Jose Guillen.

  7. Tek Jansen on September 2nd, 2008 10:57 am

    Do we have any reason to believe that Bedard will be healthy next year?

  8. TumwaterMike on September 2nd, 2008 11:52 am

    to VJ:

    Thanks–you are right. I was thinking about Jose Lopez when I wrote that. Sorry.

    to Steve T:

    I disagree. I think Cairo has done what was asked of him coming off the bench. He’ll be a role player, nothing more. We can agree to disagree (God, I hate that cliche’).

  9. NBarnes on September 2nd, 2008 11:53 am

    Cairo is useless. Ibanez will be offered a contract by someone significantly in excess of his usefulness to the Ms as a DH. Lopez’s only value is at 2b; LaHair would be a better 2b option.

  10. TumwaterMike on September 2nd, 2008 11:54 am

    Do we have any reason to believe that Bedard will be healthy next year?

    He may be physically healthy but not mentally. I really don’t think he wants to be here.

  11. DMZ on September 2nd, 2008 11:58 am

    Aren’t you violating patient-psychologist trust by posting here?

  12. TumwaterMike on September 2nd, 2008 12:08 pm

    Aren’t you violating patient-psychologist trust by posting here?

    Its kind of like the employee at work, who isn’t happy. It seems the times they call in sick increases.

    How many times do you think Bedard could’ve pitched but didn’t, complaing of soreness. Was he sore or was it he just didn’t want to pitch?

    Also I have heard talk that the Bedard trade may go down as the worse ever by the M’s. Its too early to tell, but so far, even though the M’s haven’t benefitted from the trade and in fact took a step backwards by losing prospects, it doesn’t seem like the Orioles got much better either.

    We won’t know how bad the trade is for another couple of years.

  13. DMZ on September 2nd, 2008 12:11 pm

    How many times do you think Bedard could’ve pitched but didn’t, complaing of soreness. Was he sore or was it he just didn’t want to pitch?

    You don’t know the answer unless you’re his doctor, in which case you’re violating another trust set.

    If you’re not, than you’re making unfounded speculations about his character without any evidence to back it up, and I hope you’ll stop.

  14. bakomariner on September 2nd, 2008 12:18 pm

    I doubt Bedard would play poorly or fake injuries. Think of the money he would lose if that were true. He might not like playing in Seattle, but throwing games or pretending to be hurt would be terribly foolish.

  15. gwangung on September 2nd, 2008 12:21 pm

    How many times do you think Bedard could’ve pitched but didn’t, complaing of soreness. Was he sore or was it he just didn’t want to pitch?

    Given the evidence of his years in Baltimore, he was sore.

    When he was in Baltimore, his multi-inning stints were usually around the 106 pitch count. Here in Seattle, it was 99 pitches.

    I don’t see that much of a difference there.

    I most certainly don’t expect a pitcher to “pitch through the pain.” That’s borderline stupid because we know a lot of serious injuries occur when a pitcher is tired and his mechanics are off. If a pitcher is sore and hurting a little bit, and he knows he can’t adjust, don’t you think that would engender injuries.

    Silva and Batista pitched through injuries. Are they REALLY good examples to point to?

  16. bakomariner on September 2nd, 2008 12:26 pm

    The only things that Silva and Batista are good examples of are they are both bad pitchers and they were both signed to terrible contracts, from the Ms point of view…

  17. CMC_Stags on September 2nd, 2008 12:31 pm

    As Dave pointed out in his “The ‘09 Pitching Staff” post, the pitching staff for next year should be set. If the new GM can trade Washburn and/or Batista and get salary relief and/or some prospects back, that would be another reason for optimism.

    Improving the defense behind the pitching by placing the appropriate value on defense would be an immediate fix that provides short and long term value. In the short term it helps your run prevention immediately and makes your pitchers look better. In the long term, your pitchers should be able to go longer in games or have less strain for the same number of innings (as more balls in play are turned into outs). The pitchers increased results in traditional pitching metrics like ERA and BAA should increase their trade values (see Athelics, Oakland) allowing the M’s to turn RRS, Dickey, etc. into prospects when they approach arbitration.

    It would be very exciting as a fan if a new lead owner came forward in place of Lincoln and then brings in a new GM. Together they could bring the organization to the 21st century which would be a refreshing change.

  18. Joe on September 2nd, 2008 12:59 pm

    So what would it be a sign of if — speaking hypothetically here — the M’s first move of the offseason is to hire Gillick to replace Armstrong, and Gillick turns around and hires (say) Cashman as the GM?

  19. bakomariner on September 2nd, 2008 1:03 pm

    Would we really want Cashman? The Yankees are always good, but he’s done it with a lot more money. And they haven’t had a lot of home grown players since the crew that won the World Series. Is that from his philosophy or his bosses? Would he be more inclined to keep overpaying aging veterans or to build through the draft?

  20. Joe on September 2nd, 2008 1:43 pm

    There’s a rumor going around that Gillick is looking to move upstairs, and the likely candidate franchises are Toronto and Seattle (since he still owns a house here). I could see the M’s doing that (and easing Armstrong out) as a signal that things are really going to be different this time.

    So I’m not advocating Cashman, but I’m suggesting if Gillick was running things there’s a good chance he’d try to hire him since they’re old friends (and since it looks like the Yankees are going to miss the postseason for the first time in 14 years, he may very well be the sacrificial lamb looking for work). I don’t think we honestly know what Cashman would be like as a GM in an organization without meddling owners. I don’t know that he’d create the kind of voracious info-centric organization that might be built by someone more familiar with, say, the Indians.

  21. Xteve X on September 2nd, 2008 2:06 pm

    “I realize that Jose Lopez has some defensive questions but his bat has also been clutch this year. If the M’s could find a good defensive 2nd baseman, who can hit in the .260 range and takes walks, they can either move Lopez to DH, if Ibanez isn’t signed, or 3rd Base if Beltre is traded.

    If neither of these options are possible maybe try him at first as the Tigers did with Jose Guillen. ”

    Lopez doesn’t have enough power or patience to hold down a corner infield or DH spot, IMO. Any team should be able to put a 25 HR threat, .280/.350/.450 player in any of those positions without having to settle for a converted middle infielder.

  22. Breadbaker on September 2nd, 2008 3:03 pm

    I’d like to see an ability to foresee problems and get rid of them in the offseason, instead of waiting for the ponies to prove to be as mythical as we all believe them to be.

    The best example last winter was the “Richie Sexson as Comeback Player of the Year” crap. But they also didn’t make a serious move to sell Vidro and Batista high; instead, they penciled them in for the same results (as luck-based as they were) this year as last.

    If all three of Washburn, Silva and Batista are on the Opening Day roster and in the rotation, that would be an indication that they’re still believing in magic. If both Burke and Johjima are on the Opening Day roster, that would be an indication they’re still in a rut. I don’t think they will be able to, because the injury issue has hit him so hard, but I’d love to consider moving Putz, too.

  23. bakomariner on September 2nd, 2008 3:22 pm

    I think Burke is gone. They have young catchers waiting for a shot, and Joh got that crappy extension. Even though Burke has done a decent job, they probably won’t have three catchers again next year. Unless they plan on having Clement DH and Joh and Burke as the backstops.

    Washburn and Batista will probably be traded when the new GM is announced. They suck, but were both getting looks this year from different teams.

    I think the rotation will be Felix, Bedard, Silva, RRS and Morrow.

    If Batista is around, it will probably in the pen or an emergency starter.

    But I’m usually wrong though.

  24. gwangung on September 2nd, 2008 3:48 pm

    I think Burke is gone. They have young catchers waiting for a shot, and Joh got that crappy extension. Even though Burke has done a decent job, they probably won’t have three catchers again next year. Unless they plan on having Clement DH and Joh and Burke as the backstops.

    Roles, again.

    Would we really want Cashman? The Yankees are always good, but he’s done it with a lot more money. And they haven’t had a lot of home grown players since the crew that won the World Series.

    Didn’t Kim Ng also have a part in that?

  25. Capo on September 2nd, 2008 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the post…. I know some of the stuff was going to be obvious (well, actually a lot of it)…. but at the same time I was thinking of maybe some more subtle things people might otherwise overlook, and you covered everything.

    I was thinking that the problem is so deeply rooted that nothing short of a change in ownership, and a total change in front office philosophy is going to help us….which has me terrified for the future of this team.

  26. DAMellen on September 2nd, 2008 11:07 pm

    They lie about our payroll? So what’s our actual payroll? Higher? Lower?

  27. Joe on September 2nd, 2008 11:31 pm

    The actual payroll is generally lower than what the team claims they’re spending, but the math never works out no matter which of their numbers you use. DMZ has written on this several times, but the only article I can find quickly is the second one here (from a few years back).

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