Ross Newhan wrote a piece for the LA Times where he looks at the state of the American League West, from a “can anyone catch the Angels” perspective. In the piece, he gets a few interesting lines from Chuck Armstrong:
“I don’t think the Angels have anything we can’t catch up to,” he said from the West’s basement, “but after thinking it was going to happen this year I’m not predicting it’s going to happen next year.
“It’s not going to be a quick fix, because we’re going to have to grind through some of these contracts we’ve obligated ourselves to. Our attendance is going to go down in connection with our performance, and as chief operating officer here it’s my job to be fiscally and financially responsible, so you’re not going to see the Mariners go out and commit high dollars to free agents. We want to get back as quickly as we can, but we want to build something that will endure. If you don’t build a strong foundation in a market our size, you’re going to have some volatile swings in your record.
This is the most declarative public statement about what the organization is planning for the future we’ve heard since Bavasi was fired, and it seems clear that Lincoln has settled on rebuilding. Stating in September that “you’re not going to see the Mariners go out and commit high dollars to free agents” just doesn’t make any sense if you’re going to entertain any possibility of retooling and trying to win next year. These comments make it fairly obvious that the team is going to tear it down, cut payroll, and take their lumps for a few years.
This pretty much rules out Pat Gillick’s return (thank God), as you’d imagine that the GMs they’ll interview will be ones with experience in player development/franchise building. Don’t be surprised if John Hart, who recently said he was interested in the job, becomes a leading contender – Armstrong’s comments lead us to believe that we’re going to see a Cleveland-style rebuilding, and Hart is the most experienced guy in building a franchise through player development out there.
Enjoy Adrian Beltre’s last month in September – these kind of statements make it exceedingly likely that he’ll be traded this winter, as the M’s go young and cheap next year.