New Front Office Trying To Make Us Stop Saying Nice Things

Dave · April 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

For the last couple of weeks, I’d heard some rumblings that the team was going to use Phillippe Aumont as a reliever this year in order to manage his workload. He only threw 50 innings last year before he developed some arm problems, and they didn’t want him taking a huge jump up overnight.

Today, though, Baker has some really scary quotes from Zduriencik about this being more than a workload managing thing.

“We felt that this was a guy, who, if used in a relief role, could be on a real fast-track to the major leagues,” he said. “And we’re talking a real fast track.”

If Baker’s right, and the relief work in 2009 is permanent, the M’s will have used three consecutive first round picks on relief pitchers – Morrow, Aumont, and Fields. Relief pitchers are the least valuable commodity in baseball.

Let’s hope that there’s some wires crossed somewhere and Aumont hasn’t been pigeonholed as a reliever just yet…

Baker with a followup and some new quotes. The key one for me is “Nothing is carved in stone. This is an experiment we’re doing to see if we can get him to the big leagues quicker.” While that still makes this an experiment I’m not particularly fond of, it’s a lot different than “his days as a starter are over”. So, now, we just have to hope that the major league relievers outperform expectations and that Aumont goes back to starting in the second half of the year.


50 Responses to “New Front Office Trying To Make Us Stop Saying Nice Things”

  1. schwaby on April 5th, 2009 6:47 pm

    Isn’t Aumont 19 or 20 years old? What’s the rush in getting him into the bigs? Contention is realistically a year or two away

  2. Graham on April 5th, 2009 6:55 pm

    They really are not having a good week

  3. DKCecil on April 5th, 2009 7:00 pm

    This week has got to just be one long April Fool’s day joke, right? Right? Please?

  4. TomTuttle on April 5th, 2009 7:04 pm

    Once again, thank you Bill Bavasi.

  5. dcmarinerfan on April 5th, 2009 7:08 pm

    Once again, thank you Bill Bavasi.

    This one a’int on Bavasi. This one squarely falls on GMZ.

  6. wabbles on April 5th, 2009 7:14 pm

    NOOOOOOOOOOO Maybe, just maybe, they are trying to get a bunch of young pitchers to the majors quickly so they don’t stall in the minors THEN convert them to starters, a la Ryan Franklin and Joel Pinerio. Right? Guys? Right? Am I right? Please tell me I’m right?

  7. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 7:25 pm

    Someone in Seattle is drooling at the prospect of Strasburg in the Mariner bullpen by the end of the year…

  8. matthew on April 5th, 2009 7:25 pm

    Isn’t the 5th a little late to be doing April Fools jokes?

  9. doug on April 5th, 2009 7:29 pm

    Welcome back Bill, Oh right GMZ runs the show now. This has got to be one of the dumbest moves. What the heck is he thinking.

  10. eponymous coward on April 5th, 2009 7:30 pm

    I suspect that part of the reason Aumont might be on a fast track is the bullpen isn’t exactly blowing people away with awesome these days. There is also the school that it’s OK to debut in MLB as a reliever (a lot of starters have- the caveat being they were used in the minors as starters).

    All that being said, if our top guys out of the bullpen by the time 2011 rolls around are Aumont, Morrow and Fields, FAIL. That’s an incredible waste of draft picks, considering how cheaply you can build an adequate bullpen out of guys with good fastballs and one decent other pitch.

  11. themedia on April 5th, 2009 7:30 pm

    Does VH1 have a show called Worst Wee Ever?

  12. themedia on April 5th, 2009 7:31 pm

    *Week* (haha. wow i really botched that joke.)

  13. ThundaPC on April 5th, 2009 7:32 pm

    Reading Baker’s blog.

    That seems rather definitive; If everyone on the staff is on board with making Aumont a top-end reliever.

    Not the end of the world but if they’re going this direction well…..we’ve got a problem here.

    We’ve suddenly lost two pitchers who were looking to be primary fixtures in our starting rotation. The aspect of the team that looked good-to-go for the future now needs about as much work as the offense does.

    What will you do now Zduriencik?

    Makes me wonder what his overall plan is? Zduriencik has to realize that this totally hoses our starting rotation in the future. Maybe he’s planning to “Tampa Bay” this team by drafting, making trades, basically spend time playing around with the parts he has until he has found a core he can work with.

    This ride might be bumpier than we realize.

  14. Moonstalker on April 5th, 2009 7:33 pm

    Thanks but no thanks. Really. Since the day they drafted him I have been pumped about his progress and have been watching him the whole time.

    I have been telling all my friends “Just wait till 2011! Felix, Morrow, and Aumont…”

    I can deal with looking stupid to my buds, I would rather have Aumont stay a starter and take an exrta year, if not two.

    And really, if Morrow, Aardsma, and Fields are in the bullpen, Would that make Aumont the set-up guy for the set-up guy for the set-up guy before the closer? If they all came together to form a giant closer that could pitch at 400 mph, it would be different, but I dont see that happening.

  15. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 7:36 pm

    “We felt that this was a guy, who, if used in a relief role, could be on a real fast-track to the major leagues,‘’ he said. “And we’re talking a real fast track.’’

    Sound familiar??

  16. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 7:37 pm

    And really, if Morrow, Aardsma, and Fields are in the bullpen, Would that make Aumont the set-up guy for the set-up guy for the set-up guy before the closer? If they all came together to form a giant closer that could pitch at 400 mph, it would be different, but I dont see that happening.

    Somewhere there is a hole in Chad Cordero’s wall…

  17. RadioGuy2k on April 5th, 2009 7:52 pm

    My level of trust, and my desire to trust, leads me to believe that Z has a specific type of starter he likes, and is more willing to use the pitchers he has right now rather than work on them as a minor league starting project.

    Believe me, I want to hear about the next young stud starter in the minor leagues as much as anyone else here, but maybe we’re over-valuing these kids? I know, I know “you’ll never know unless you try.” I’m really just trying to feel better about this kind of thing.

    Just keep thinking about the GOOD moves that have been made so far, and remember that the M’s are light years ahead of where they were as far as talent evaluation. We, as fans, are getting slightly spoiled.

  18. JH on April 5th, 2009 8:06 pm

    If these quotes are indicative of a permanent move, the organization now has a grand total of 3 starting pitching prospects (Ramirez, Pineda, Cleto), none of whom are close to polished.

    I’d been hearing about them using Aumont in relief to limit his workloads, but making it permanent is an absolutely awful idea.

    GMZ’s old boss in Milwaukee was a great GM whose teams have consistently made the mistake of ignoring defense. Clearly, Zduriencik doesn’t have that problem. Failing to understand the value of relief pitching, though, may be GMZ’s comparable fatal flaw that keeps us in the middle of the pack longer than necessary.

  19. eponymous coward on April 5th, 2009 8:06 pm

    I have been telling all my friends “Just wait till 2011! Felix, Morrow, and Aumont…”

    “Wait until 2003! Freddy, Pineiro and Clint Nageotte!”

    Yeah, I’ve heard THAT one before.

  20. xxtinynickxx on April 5th, 2009 8:08 pm

    Maybe Phillippe Aumont is not a starter anymore maybe he feels more comfy in the bullpen…………..

  21. Jay Yencich on April 5th, 2009 8:09 pm

    This spring training proved in part that one can construct a bullpen from spare parts, bringing in Jakubauskas, who has only been pitching for a few years and was the indy leagues a few years ago, and Kelley, an eleventh round pick, to fill in some pretty important roles without much prior experience in the minors. Today’s revelations seem to undercut what seemed like wisdom there.

    Help me out Z man. This cognitive dissonance is frustrating.

  22. Jay Yencich on April 5th, 2009 8:11 pm

    “If these quotes are indicative of a permanent move, the organization now has a grand total of 3 starting pitching prospects (Ramirez, Pineda, Cleto), none of whom are close to polished.”

    Ramirez has drawn comps to Rafael Soriano before. I would now regard this as a potentially bad thing.
    Pineda doesn’t have much of a change-up that I’ve heard of and his slider is only recently improving to the point where it’s a quality pitch.
    Cleto has a fastball and little else at this point.

    Aumont got potentially shot down with less against him.

  23. The Hamms Bear on April 5th, 2009 8:16 pm

    If Bedard can only go four or five innings again maybe Morrow, Aumont and Fields can close out the game in style.

  24. Badbadger on April 5th, 2009 8:17 pm

    How many closers can you have anyway? One is the usual maximum.

  25. Sinking Away on April 5th, 2009 8:17 pm

    I’m concerned, but it’s possible that Zduriencik is not completely out of his mind. Using Phillippe Aumont as a reliever makes no sense if they intend to keep him in that role, but if they just want him to develop faster, face big league batters sooner, maybe this is the way to go. What am I missing? (What am I in denial about is a different question that I’m not asking.)

  26. Sports on a Schtick on April 5th, 2009 8:21 pm

    These past few days have flat out sucked. Seriously?

  27. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 8:36 pm

    Baker has new comments from Zdureincik – even more asinine. It’s like the old regime never left…

  28. Tube on April 5th, 2009 8:43 pm

    This is just further proof of GMZ’s genius! Think about it: a 12-man bullpen allows for 9 every-day one-inning pitchers AND three specialists! Their arms will never wear out! Fifty years from now, baseball historians will be talking about how the Mariners were at the forefront of the one-man rotation, and fans will wonder how teams won with their best pitchers only pitching once or twice a week!

  29. SonOfZavaras on April 5th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Aumont as a reliever, permanently?

    No. Effing no. Let me put it another way: completely, utterly NO.

    Who gives a damn about getting Aumont on any ‘fast track’?? So you can say “hey, another #1 pick made the bigs”??The idea is to maximize the value of your top draft picks to your organization. Aumont has much better value as a starter than he ever will as a reliever.

    Suuuuure there’s a chance he’ll never pan out as a starter. That’s a chance you take with any hurler, uber-prospect or not.

    I remember as a kid the likes of Todd Van Poppel, Roger Salkeld and Paul Wilson not working out and it wasn’t very pretty to see all that potential go up in flames….but you pays your money, you takes your chances.

    And the last I heard, 6’7″ pitchers make damn fine starters as well as power relievers.

    You got to give your top kids a chance to prove themselves as a starter before you relegate them to the bullpen.

    If Aumont makes it to the big leagues by 2011 or whatever as a reliever, and then you want to start him at the ML-level…what are they gonna say then? Back to AA-AAA to “stretch the arm out and rack up innings”??

    Jeez. I’m willing to cut Z some slack, because frankly I can’t argue about the vast majority of the moves ’til now….but this one’s gonna have me grit my teeth as I give it a pass.

    It sure looks dumb on paper to me.

  30. banestar on April 5th, 2009 8:54 pm

    Does he have diabetes?

    …seriously, though – my big thought right now is this: Z doesn’t think Aumont is going to be a real big league starter, and maybe (just maybe) he’s going to spend the next three years pulling an Oakland. That is to say, build a closer, trade him for prospects (read: starting pitching prospects), rinse, repeat.

    If that’s NOT the plan, I’m worried.

  31. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 8:58 pm

    banestar – relying on the stupidity of others isn’t really a good strategy.

  32. banestar on April 5th, 2009 9:00 pm

    Agreed. But it’s not like the M’s didn’t get some good pieces out of the Putz deal.

  33. JMHawkins on April 5th, 2009 9:00 pm

    Man, Felix would make one awesome closer. And you know, now that Willie’s gone, the M’s will need someone to come in and steal some of those moneybags. When Ichiro comes off the DL, they should consider using him as a pinch runner.

    Oh man, haven’t even played the first game and the cynicism is rising.

  34. banestar on April 5th, 2009 9:03 pm

    Here we go: Brandon Morrow for Ian Kennedy and another piece or two? Yes or no?

  35. Sports on a Schtick on April 5th, 2009 9:06 pm

    Screw those quotes. Hey Jack, did you see what Derek Lowe did tonight? Maybe Aumont can turn out like that one of these days. Maybe not, but give him a damn chance.

    Experimenting from the bullpen? Freakin’ nonsense.

  36. Mike Honcho on April 5th, 2009 9:08 pm

    Ian Kennedy sucks.

    And even if the door isn’t closed on Aumont starting someday, the mere fact that they would take his development in this direction is what is so troubling.

  37. Moonstalker on April 5th, 2009 9:18 pm

    I’ve got an even better idea! Since Strasburg is pretty much going to the Nats, we can take the #2, Grant Green (Yes?) And move him from SS to CL. They are talking about him as a 5-tool player, so think about it. That means he has the arm for it. And if we had a CL with that speed and power bat, if we went into extra innings, we wouldn’t have to take him out when his batting order slot came around!


  38. banestar on April 5th, 2009 9:21 pm

    Why can’t they just make Strasburg the closer if the Nats pass on him?

  39. ThundaPC on April 5th, 2009 9:31 pm

    I was going to mention this before Dave added the extra blurb but the Aumont thing is not as permanent as Morrow’s decision which means that there is still a chance that Aumont goes back to starting.

    Although I want to touch on this quote:

    “There’s no such thing, in the big leagues, as too much depth at any position,” Zduriencik said. “You have to remember, the reason they call these guys prospects is because they’re just that. They’re prospects. They’re not proven big league players. To annoint any prospect as your team’s future closer is, in my estimation, an awful big leap to be taking.

    “So, even if you have a lot of depth in your bullpen, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a very good thing to have.”

    This sort of calls into question Zduriencik’s overall strategy for building the Mariner organization. He doesn’t seem to like relying on prospects being saviors of an organization. He prefers depth, and lots of it.

    If Zdurienik is willing to experiment with Aumont then how he plans to build and maintain this ball club becomes a bigger issue than it looked. What does he look for in a starting pitcher? In HIS eyes, we don’t have anything but Felix and Silva for the next season and beyond. He’s certainly not thinking “Aumont in 2012.” What’s he planning?

  40. msb on April 5th, 2009 9:47 pm

    Live chat Monday, 11 a.m.
    Posted by Larry Stone – NEW – 4/05, 09:23 PM

    someone want to ask Larry about this?

  41. manifestus on April 5th, 2009 10:27 pm

    I think this is a revolutionary move — the plan appears to be to simplify the pitching dimension by featuring zero starting pitching.

    Who cares about starting pitchers when you can just throw a few super-relief pitchers out there in succession? Awesome idea!


  42. Slurve on April 5th, 2009 11:16 pm

    JAC said the move earlier was to control his workload and to build fucking arm strength but full time reliever!

    SO where do I sign up to bomb Safeco?

  43. Breadbaker on April 6th, 2009 12:32 am

    I think the problem is Johjima’s French is terrible.

  44. jjracoon on April 6th, 2009 12:40 am

    If and this is a big IF Z sees our starters as pretty much set for the next couple years with
    Hernandez, a signed Bedard, Silva, and RRS then maybe there is a trade in mind to fill the last hole with a #1 or #2 pitcher. Or better yet maybe that plan is already in motion with all the bullpen bodies we have already!!

  45. jjracoon on April 6th, 2009 12:45 am

    I guess I want to remain optimistic until it is proven that there was no alternative plan to build the team in some other way and this was just a step in that direction.

  46. Paul B on April 6th, 2009 8:52 am

    Earl Weaver always said that the best place for a rookie pitcher was long relief. I think Earl was assuming though, that the pitcher would have stayed in the minors long enough to learn how to pitch and wasn’t rushed to the bigs with only one effective pitch.

    Rushed to the majors is like we saw with Morrow, or for those of you old timers, Billy Swift (who had to go back and learn to pitch before he could stay in the majors).

    On a team in desperate need of starting pitching that is better than replacement level, you’d think they would do everything they could to come up with young starting pitchers.

  47. msb on April 6th, 2009 8:58 am

    Zduriencik is currently on KJR– when asked about Aumont being “destined to be a bullpen guy, making it 3 high draft choices to the ‘pen” said he’s a big guy, very aggressive, very powerful– spent a lot of time on the DL last summer, pitched in the WBC, sat down as a staff and looked at him, and thought it was where he was best suited, based on his injury history, his size, his personality, his pitches.

    FWIW, Zduriencik says that when they told Aumont they were going to put him in the pen, his response was: “That’s what I thought I was going to be anyhow.”

  48. floydr on April 6th, 2009 9:03 am

    While I agree that this sucks, I’m reminded of one thing I learned when I had some “management” training classes.

    “The job of Managers is to enable their employees”. Don’t forget that Aumont has something to say on how he is to be used. He’s stated that he wants to get to the majors fast.

    It’s always a negotiation between GMZ, Wak and the player.

  49. UpOrDownMsFan on April 6th, 2009 9:39 am

    “the sky is falling… the sky is falling…!” guys, i’m not as quick to jump to the conclusion that this is a horrible move. firstly, this is pretty much the same path we took with Brandon (only a little quicker for him)… secondly, with bedard, silva, and washburn, there are gonna be plenty of innings for relievers (and maybe wak won’t be so slow to pull the trigger on a sinking day of pitching), thirdly, maybe if aumont can’t go a big number of innings at the time, wak and gmz see him as valuable enough they want to manage his pitching themselves and not leave it up to minor league coaches to get him ready to start? and as for GMZ not liking to rely on prospects, that’s not exactly what he said– what he said is that he doesn’t like putting all the expectation on “annointed” prospects before they’ve proven themselves… he likes to stockpile guys with potential and see who rises to the top. let’s give the guy a chance before we open the valve on some classic Seattle pessimism. yeah?

  50. PaulMolitorCocktail on April 6th, 2009 12:48 pm

    “Just wait till 2011! Felix, Morrow, and Aumont…”

    What’s the problem? You’ll see them all – in the same game, too! Felix starting, Aumont as setup man, and Morrow closing.

    Your dreams are coming true.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.