USSM Goes To Safeco Recap
It was awesome.
Okay, you probably wanted more details than that. So, let’s see what I can remember off the top of my head before I hand the comments over to those of you who made it to Saturday night’s shindig to fill in the blanks.
We packed out the Ellis Pavilion. I don’t think we could have fit another soul in there. The M’s event staff did a a great job with setup, though – I would have never believed that we could get 300 people into that room and have everyone be able to see/hear without any problems. The M’s, as a whole, were tremendous in helping put the whole thing together.
I think Jack and Tony better get used to long standing ovations when they come to these things.
You guys did a really good job with the questions. They were great.
Stuff you guys care about that Jack/Tony said at the event, as best as I can remember and paraphrase:
Settle in for the Jack Wilson era – he’s here for the next two or three years. This was not a stop-gap move, and Jack is a huge fan of what he brings to the team. There just isn’t much out there in the way of talent at SS to be had, and they thought Wilson could help them now and going forward.
Blengino’s been on Zduriencik to acquire Ian Snell for a couple of years now. They think that, while he’s a risk, he fits into the pattern of players they’ve been targeting in other deals – young, able to help immediately, and under club control for 3+ years.
The massive importation of left-handers isn’t an accident. They realize the park is really friendly to lefties and much less so than righties. When they were looking at the roster they inherited, they couldn’t believe how badly it was suited to Safeco Field. They’re setting out to fix that, obviously.
They believe in the value of defense, especially in premium spots, but also saw that as the best path to success in 2009. They realized that there was just no way they were going to be able to fix the problems with the offense and pitching staff in one off-season, but due to defense being cheap, they thought they could make the defense a strength of the team very quickly. The strong emphasis on defense is partially about the availability of wins. As Blengino said “we’ll take wins wherever we can get them”. If the market shifts and defense becomes more highly valued, or better hitters become available, expect to see the M’s be more willing to bring in less proficient glove guys.
Yuniesky Betancourt wasn’t their favorite guy ever.
Blengino thinks Mike Cameron is massively underrated. We obviously agree – we’ve been raving about Cameron for something like 10 years now.
Langerhans was the fruit of a suggestion from Tom Tango. Thanks, Tom – he’s awesome.
The timing of Saunders call-up; they reached a point where everyone who saw him play felt he was ready, and so even with four LHPs and Roy Halladay on the schedule, they brought him up because they thought he was able to help the club. Jack’s been extremely impressed so far, and you get the feeling that Saunders’ early play has helped him cement his spot as the team’s 2010 left fielder.
Brandon Morrow – the yo-yo situation with the way his season has gone was as frustrating for them as it was for us. You could tell that Jack wanted to get his side of the Morrow thing out there, as he explained his view of the back-and-forth without anyone even asking about him specifically. They see him as a big part of their 2010 rotation.
Phillippe Aumont – Blengino had seen him extensively pre-draft and always felt he was a reliever. Everyone in the organization felt that his future was in the bullpen, so while they agreed that it was weird to limit a 20-year-old to relief work, they felt like he was a unique situation and that he’s got a chance to be a shut down, end of game closer very soon. They reserve the right to change their minds in the future, but they certainly didn’t talk like guys who saw him as a major league quality starting pitcher.
Jack is 100% dead set on winning a World Series in Seattle. If you didn’t like anything else he said (well, first off, you’re crazy), you had to be thrilled to see the remarkable dedication he has to that singular goal. The M’s are in very, very good hands.
DMZ: I’ll quickly add a couple of things. One, they’re a great comedy team, and you can see how easily they work together and trust each other. And you also see one of the fundamental differences in that and in Bavasi’s approach. Bavasi talked about wanting all the information, and took a step with hiring a stats guy to consult. Zduriencik doesn’t just want someone to run some historical minor-league valuations, or look at list of players they can pick as part of a larger, horrible trade — they brought in Langerhans on the recommendation of their analysis people, validated by their scouts, and the guy who’s in charge of the baseball analysis is one of Zduriencik’s hands, and has been working closely with him for ages.
Which reminds me — Tony’s been pushing Gutierrez on Jack for years. Every time Gutierrez makes a great play, give a small thanks to Tony. And to Jack for listening.
Also, on Wakamatsu, they’re big fans of what he and the staff are doing in creating a winning atmosphere which, in turn, allows them to be confident about bringing on players (like Snell, say) where they think a change of organization might do them good. Obviously, I’ve been a continual skeptic of chemistry as a valuation metric (see my howl about Shelton/Sweeney) but if there’s a way to make it into something that allows them to attract and retain the kind of player they want, I’m entirely willing to give it a chance.
So yeah. I don’t know heading into this off-season if there was (or could have been) a tougher sell on the team than me, and here I am, wondering if maybe they’re figuring out a way to build a clubhouse into a recruiting advantage. I’m a happy dude, and I hope everyone understands why.