2010 Begins Today

Dave · October 5, 2009 at 10:04 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Yesterday was a lot of fun. But the business of winning baseball games is a cold, unfeeling thing, and yesterday is now over. Today is the beginning of an off-season of hard choices. 2009 is over, and while it was fun, the goal for 2010 should be to get better, not to attempt to recreate the positive feelings that everyone had yesterday.

The front office and coaching staff are going to get together this afternoon for a really long discussion which will shape the plans the team takes this winter. Perhaps the biggest test of how well this regime will do is how well they can avoid taking the feelings of yesterday into today’s meeting. It was great to see how the players felt about each other, but the actual goal of the organization should be to see the players hugging a trophy in November, not each other in October.

And, unfortunately, the Mariners are going to have to choose between fielding that same team of guys who love each other and fielding a team who can win a World Series. Griffey and Sweeney were great off the field, but not so hot on it. Their personalities were powerful, but their bats less so. To win, you have to be better at hitting a baseball than a hitting a teammate with an ice cream pie.

The M’s need more production on the field. It would be great if they could gain that increase while sustaining the kind of camaraderie they showed yesterday, but they probably can’t, and when they have to choose between production and pie-throwing, they have to choose production.

It’s the start of next year. The goal is to win, and to do that, they’re going to have to say goodbye to some people who might want to return, and who the other players would want back. They have to be unfeeling, because as great as yesterday was, winning will be better.


91 Responses to “2010 Begins Today”

  1. CMC_Stags on October 5th, 2009 4:15 pm

    Better than average positions/rotation slots manned with players currently under contract and/or team control for 2010.

    CF (Gutz), RF (Ichiro), 2B (Lopez), SP (Felix), SP (RRS)

    Potentially average, but probably just below:
    C (with Joh as starter), LF (Saunders/Hall/Langerhans platoon), 3B (Hannahan/Hall/Tui platoon)

    Below average:

    SS (Josh Wilson = 0 WAR), 1B (Hannahan/Carp ~ 1 WAR), DH (Carp?), SP (Snell), SP (Morrow), SP (Silva/Fister/Vargas/etc.)

    So out of 14 slots, that’s 5 above average, 3 around to just under average, and 6 below average positions for the 2010 Mariners.

    Getting players for SS, 1B/DH, and at least one more top end starter should be the offseason goals. LF and 3B just aren’t huge concerns comparatively. The only reason to sign a 3B or LF is if you can get Beltre back or another player so as not to have to use a platoon there (to save the roster spot).

  2. CMC_Stags on October 5th, 2009 4:40 pm

    Chone Figgins 2009
    UZR 15.3
    WAR 6.0
    Value $27.0

    Chone Figgins WAR by season:
    ’04: 3.2
    ’05: 2.7
    ’06: 0.0
    ’07: 3.1
    ’08: 2.4
    ’09: 6.0

    Talk about cherry-picking your samples. Figgins’ average WAR for the last 6 years is 2.9.

    Beltre (who is 15 months younger) has averaged 4.4 WAR over the same time period. If you remove his 10 WAR 2004 season he’s averaged 3.3 WAR as a Mariner (removing Chone’s 6 WAR season leaves him at 2.28 WAR).

    Signing Figgins instead of Beltre would seem to be a mistake for the M’s. Figgins may cost draft pick compensation (he’s listed as the top B Free Agent on MLB Trade Rumors’ Elias reconstruction through September 29th). Figgins is coming off a career year, is a year older, and would probably cost more to sign. Oh, and Beltre’s the better player.

  3. CMC_Stags on October 5th, 2009 4:45 pm

    If the M’s were to sign a 3B or LF, it should only be if they can land a player who is significantly above average at a decent price.

    Resigning Beltre would be the obvious answer. He’s listed as a type B Free Agent and I’m hopeful the M’s would offer him arbitration and that he’d accept for at least the year.

  4. ppl on October 5th, 2009 5:14 pm

    Even if Figgins is a “B” free agent the M’s should avoid it. Because as illogical as it would be for fans to complain if the M’s loose a pick and the Angels gain one they would have gained regardless, the linkage would lead to endless complaints if that guy pans out. It may be silly, but, considering how low fan morale has gotten around here, I think it needs to be taken into consideration. Because the Team isn’t the only thing that is in a rebuilding process around here.

  5. Goody on October 5th, 2009 5:19 pm

    What makes anyone think JR. wants to be a coach? The only way he comes back is as a player. A part time player. There is an awful lot of anger over a guy who would essentially be the 23rd player on the roster. If Seattle can have the type of chemistry it had in 09 and all it costs is one bench spot, do it.

  6. DMZ on October 5th, 2009 5:24 pm

    Where is this anger, exactly?

  7. scotje on October 5th, 2009 5:27 pm

    …the linkage would lead to endless complaints if that guy pans out. It may be silly, but, considering how low fan morale has gotten around here, I think it needs to be taken into consideration.

    If Zduriencik ever takes that kind of thing into consideration, I’ll eat my hat.

    It is certainly not a good idea to be giving draft picks away all the time, but it’s downright ridiculous to worry about whether or not a draft pick you are losing might possibly be used to draft a player that might potentially develop into an all-star for a rival at some point in the future.

    Draft picks in general are good (obviously) but there is just no way to know ahead of time what the value of any specific draft pick is going to be. Fretting about who some other team might pick with a draft pick you lose is just, like….wow.

  8. eponymous coward on October 5th, 2009 5:31 pm

    I didn’t say I agreed with Tom, just that I believe MVP arguments to be a matter of opinion.

    OK, so since you’re missing my point, let me restate it in another form: opinion that’s completely contradicted by all available evidence gets challenged here, or called “wrong”. Nobody is required to suffer fools gladly on their own blog.

    And I could care less if somebody takes somebody else’s opinion seriously or not – unless it is my opinion.

    So why comment on Dave being “harsh” to someone other than yourself in the first place?

  9. joser on October 5th, 2009 5:37 pm

    Yeah, I’m not seeing any anger either. I’m seeing a fair bit of cold-hearted, hard-headed analysis. Which, if you’re blinded by love, may look harsher than it is. But not expressing love is not the same thing as “anger.”

  10. Rick L on October 5th, 2009 5:45 pm

    There wee a lot of guys that hit worse than Griffey and Sweeney this year. Using OPS as the criteria, they would be (in order), Johjima, Langerhans, Josh, Beltre, Chavez, Hanahan, Johnson, Hall and Saunders.. I left out Tui, Jack, and Moore due to small sample size. Sweeney actually had the fourth best OPS on the team, although at .777, that is nothing to brag about.

  11. ppl on October 5th, 2009 5:46 pm

    The 25 man roster does not have a great deal of space for platoon players who can only be used in the DH role. Who will Junior platoon with next year? Johjima? Sure they could sign a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play on the field and hits the daylights out lefties and make the platoon situation work, but it would be better to have a full-time DH that can play 150 games and fourth outfielders who are more useful on the field than a guy who is half of a DH platoon.

  12. DMZ on October 5th, 2009 5:47 pm

    Were there guys who hit worse than Griffey and Sweeney who were designated hitters? I don’t see any.

  13. Jeff Nye on October 5th, 2009 5:57 pm

    Griffey had his farewell tour. Now it’s time to stop living 14 years in the past and acquire quality major league players that will be a part of the NEXT great Mariners team, rather than trying to rebuild the last kinda-sorta-good one.

  14. ppl on October 5th, 2009 5:59 pm

    If Junior wants to play one more year, he could actually have value in an even more reduced role in the National League. Since N.L. teams have to carry pinch hitters, his big home runs coupled with his walk total might make him useful in that role. He has shown he can come off the bench and hit a big home run to win a game. That is more valuable in the NL than in the AL.

  15. littlesongs on October 5th, 2009 6:05 pm

    “I believe Zduriencik also mentioned it in his interview on the radio during the game yesterday.”

    I am pretty sure you are right, Joser. I also heard Jack on television saying that “tomorrow is going to be a long day” referring to meeting with the coaching staff today. He went on to talk very seriously, but generally about important changes that will be made in the off-season.

    Last night was a very special moment, but I think that any fear of bursting the “happy bubble” is silly. The staff and the players made it happen regardless of who was coming up from the minors, coming over in a trade, coming back from injury, returning from a funeral or going to a new club.

    Saying goodbye this off-season to a couple of beloved characters is not going to emotionally cripple this team going forward. The manager brought a positive spirit and winning outlook to the clubhouse. Don Wakamatsu’s system shaped attitudes far more than Mike Sweeney’s antics.

    At the same time, Junior did something on a cerebral level to the casual fan that might be even more beneficial next year for attendance. If it is marketed as a “goodbye tour” or some such thing and the team makes the playoffs, I could see that being pretty magical as endings go.

    For better or worse, there is a precedent for Junior coming back for one last contending season: Willie Mays playing for the Mets in 1973. Willie was just a fraction of himself at that point, but a generation of NY baseball fans had a chance to “Say Hey” and thank you to a legend.

    Having just stepped off a 162 game emotional roller coaster, Ken Griffey might rather say farewell in a month or two without all the hoopla. If his family wants him back home, fans should respect it. If it hurts him too damn much to play anymore, that should be respected too.

  16. Breadbaker on October 5th, 2009 6:57 pm

    The key to next year is not to be self-satisfied about what worked this year (other than acquiring Death to Flying Things). This team overachieved, and the ways it overachieved cannot be duplicated. Their very success makes the undervaluation of defense less likely to occur this offseason. Zduriencik has some interesting assets he acquired during the year, plus Lopez, to play with and a lot of big holes to fill. Like essentially the rest of the infield. I’m anxious to see what happens, with full confidence in the right guy pulling the strings.

  17. Harrison on October 5th, 2009 7:18 pm

    Griffey had his farewell tour. Now it’s time to stop living 14 years in the past and acquire quality major league players that will be a part of the NEXT great Mariners team, rather than trying to rebuild the last kinda-sorta-good one.


  18. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 7:56 pm

    EC, I value and respect your opinion and don’t want to get into any kind of spat, but with all due respect, I think it is you who is missing my point. You seem to either want to pick a fight with a guy who agrees with you, or just want to defend Dave (who I know is quite capable of defending himself).

    I am not trying to defend the position that Ken Griffey, Jr. is the M’s MVP. Far from it. If it were my vote, it would be a horse race between Felix, Guti, and Ichiro.

    My only point was to differentiate between “value” as measured by several very well-respected sabermetric statistics (representing, more or less, “fact” even though people can and do differ as to the value of one measure versus another) which can be contrasted with opinions about what is valuable to a team. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS POSITION, but a reasonable argument can be made that, given the contrast between last year’s and this year’s clubhouse, the “leaders” of the clubhouse this year were very valuable (again, not my viewpoint – this coming from a guy who believes that chemistry comes from winning, rather than the other way around).

    Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to tell Dave what to say or how to respond on his own blog. That really wasn’t my intent. Rather, my intent was to gently remind Dave to foster civil discourse on this blog, because I know him to be that kind of person. I known Dave a fairly long time, and I while I knowhe gets frustrated by some of the comments posted here, I think he knows he is doing himself, this blog, and readers a disservice when he lets that frustration lead to snarky response. I was motivated not only by what I know to be Dave’s character, but also out of concern that he is just feeding those who believe that Dave is a condescending, egomaniacal, autocratic blog dictator (name your additional perjorative descriptions you have seen here), all of which are completely polar opposite of the person I know. I’d like to see this become a place that is less a confrontational battle of wits, unless and until it needs to be – and it didn’t need to be there, IMO.

    I get it, Dave’s human, but that was my ONLY point – and given the fact Dave didn’t respond, I think Dave understands and I don’t think he needs your defense of him.

    And, BTW, there are any number of equally (or more) harsh things Dave could have said that probably wouldn’t have drawn my intial reaction – “stupid,” “ignorant,” “unreasonable” … but ultimately all of that should be fleshed out in a way that doesn’t simply put down the target (or, if it is a frustratingly repetitive exercise, should simply be left unsaid, as such comments further nothing). What got me, and what prompted my “harsh” comment, is that there is no such thing as a “wrong” opinion (as opposed to those other “harsh” adjectives I suggested). While he wasn’t “harsh” to me, you have no right to judge whether I can or cannot say whatever I want to say to Dave, and furthermore, any of us who cares about this blog and the level of discourse here should speak up. Nobody is exempt from criticism. There are no gods here.

    Anyway, I’ve said far too much in explanation of what was a simple and simply obvious comment.

  19. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 8:06 pm

    Sorry about the apparently missed end tag for ital in the first paragraph. Please edit, if you can, mods.

  20. qwerty on October 5th, 2009 8:11 pm
  21. Goody on October 5th, 2009 8:21 pm

    Do NL teams have a larger roster than AL teams? No? His intrinsic value is higher in Seattle than in any other market. Its one player filling a minor role. There is no room for Sweeney and Jr. And I vote for Jr.

  22. bongo on October 5th, 2009 8:22 pm

    1. What do with Felix?

    There is some very substantial chance that Felix will have a 2010 or 2011 season for the history books. Not just a Cy Young award season, but a Tom Seaver 1969 season, where a pitcher has a career year and carries a so-so team on his back all the way into the World Series.

    Even if Z gets a *great* offer for Felix, he’s got to factor in that we really don’t have an idea of Felix’s upside yet. As a result, there is some chance that we could *both* keep Felix for 2010, and get an even better return for him in 2011 as estimates of his potential are adjusted upwards.

    2. Jack Wilson’s option

    The logical thing here is to negotiate a two-year contract for some reasonable amount, rather than picking up the option. Given Wilson’s season, there’s very little chance he could pick up the option level’s salary in the free agent market.

    3. What to offer Beltre

    It’s very difficult to see how to come to agreement with Beltre, given that some team will probably be more likely to factor in a more rosy estimate of his likely health than would seem prudent given recent events. I doubt he’d be willing to settle for a heavily incentive laden contract that leaves the team protected against protracted injuries.

    4. Whether to offer something to Branyan

    Even if Carp gets significant playing time at 1B, Branyan can still contribute at DH. Assuming his back problems don’t persist, Branyan would certainly be a more appealing choice at DH than the 2009 DHs. Given his 2009 performance, a higher base salary is in order, as well as incentives to improve the upside.

    5. What to do with Morrow

    Morrow probably doesn’t have much trade value, so you probably just hope that experience and couching will help him develop.

  23. Jeff Nye on October 5th, 2009 8:23 pm

    Sorry about the apparently missed end tag for ital in the first paragraph. Please edit, if you can, mods.

    I tried, but the comment was pretty mangled, so I might’ve not done it the way you intended. It’s as close as I’m getting though!

  24. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 8:33 pm

    “Morrow probably doesn’t have much trade value,…”

    I am pretty sure that he does, but I agree that, regardless, the best thing to do is let Morrow develop.

  25. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 8:35 pm

    Close enough. Thanks Jeff.

  26. Kazinski on October 5th, 2009 8:41 pm

    Were there guys who hit worse than Griffey and Sweeney who were designated hitters? I don’t see any.

    Pat Burrell .221/.315/.367 in 412AB. Ouch.

    And while Aubrey Huff and Hank Blalock both were DH slightly less than 50% of the time. Blalock came in at .234/.277/.459 462AB and Huff .241/.309/.384 536AB.

    Griffey and Sweeney combined for a .240/.328/.423 line in 629AB.

  27. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 8:50 pm

    Kaz, I think DMZ’s comment was in response to Rick L., who was talking specifically about the Mariners and not the entire league.

  28. Kazinski on October 5th, 2009 9:02 pm

    As much as I enjoyed having Griffey and even Sweeney around this year, I think that there is only one scenario that would make it worth having them back, and that is if Jack and Wak think the team is still a year away and can’t pick up enough offense, without subtracting too much in defense to get to 90+ wins next year. There is no point in not bringing Jr. and Sweeney back if their replacement is Bill Hall.

    It’s going to be hard to get the extra offense they need. Even if Branyan is back better than ever at 1st, they still have to pick up a run a game, without losing any runs on the defensive end. An extra run a game gets them to 92 wins.

  29. eponymous coward on October 5th, 2009 9:15 pm

    a reasonable argument can be made that, given the contrast between last year’s and this year’s clubhouse, the “leaders” of the clubhouse this year were very valuable

    See, this is where we depart. I don’t see this as reasonable, any more than saying “It’s my opinion that two and two is three, and my opinion is just as good as yours, so there”. Opinions that are based on very faulty reasoning don’t have to be treated with any particular respect, in my book.

  30. Pete Livengood on October 5th, 2009 9:32 pm

    Well, let’s agree to disagree then. I don’t think Tom ever said “my opinion is as good as yours.” I’m pretty sure he said his view was “unconventional.”

    Agree or disagree, though, that does not make the holder of the opinion any less deserving of civility, and yes, respect. IMHO, this is a root problem for much of society today, and explains a LOT of the polarization we see politically and otherwise.

  31. Breadbaker on October 5th, 2009 9:46 pm

    There is no point in not bringing Jr. and Sweeney back if their replacement is Bill Hall.

    Do you really believe that? Two roster spots for guys with zero defensive ability (not just value, they basically cannot play the field no matter who else is injured) versus a guy who can play a lot of positions, even if he can’t hit well or play those positions well?

    The M’s had every starter in the field on the DL except for Lopez and Gutierrez during the year. There were games when it wasn’t clear who was going to play certain positions because of in-game injuries. They had to haul in Hannahan, Langerhans and Josh Wilson from baseball purgatories during the season (and Bill Hall, too) in order to make a lineup card out.

    Do you really think it’s good management to have two guys on your bench who can’t play the field and have to be pinch run for? Especially when you don’t have a lot of starters who can get you into the seventh inning, or even the sixth, dependably, so you have to carry more pitchers than makes sense.

  32. griffin on October 5th, 2009 9:53 pm

    [broken shift key]

  33. Jeff Nye on October 5th, 2009 9:57 pm

    There is no room for Sweeney and Jr. And I vote for Jr.

    Now that the season’s over, I can stop being touchy-feely about it.

    There wasn’t any place for Griffey on the 2009 team; there sure as hell isn’t on next year’s team. We need better production from DH and better bench flexibility. Griffey (or Sweeney, to a lesser extent) is a barrier to both of those.

  34. littlesongs on October 5th, 2009 10:01 pm


    Now’s the time.

    No. Now is definitely not the time.

    I remember reading that fine piece earlier in the year. Dave explored ideas, but I do not recall him actually advocating that a trade take place. I seriously doubt that he would advocate for one now.

    Ichiro! played through the dismal failure and bitter rancor of the last year. After a short break, he went to the WBC with the hopes of his nation on his shoulders. Japan won it all again. Without a moment to catch his breath, he came back to a Mariners club with brand new management and a brand new outfield. He also found himself on the DL for the first time.

    Even with all of the pressure and pain, this year Ichiro! was happy as any of us have ever seen him. Being a Mariner is fun again and the team has a bright future. Ichiro! wanting to go right now is about as likely as Edgar Martinez asking to be traded after the ’95 season.

    As a bonus, Ichiro! is still the global face of the franchise. He brings overseas merchandise revenue, tourism dollars, and international sponsors. I have not seen a study of the economic impact of Ichiro!, but I would imagine that it is significant enough to be quantified.

    In case you didn’t notice his high socks, Ichiro! is very old school. He might even be one of those ultimate throwbacks that wants to play his entire career for one big league team. I hope he does.

  35. griffin on October 5th, 2009 10:03 pm

    [No, it means we actually require proper capitalization and spelling here.]

  36. Breadbaker on October 5th, 2009 10:27 pm

    Don’t forget that the M’s share the international revenue 30 ways, since it goes into a single pool for all the clubs (and I think MLB takes a big share, too), even if the Mariners, Red Sox and Yankees probably have a disproportionate share of sales of jerseys, etc. in Japan.

  37. littlesongs on October 5th, 2009 10:46 pm

    Good point Breadbaker. The Dodgers would be on that list too.

  38. griffin on October 5th, 2009 10:51 pm

    Haha, sorry Dave/whoever is moderator.
    I will try to type correctly for you guys. Other than capitals, I don’t really know what i was typing wrong. Oh well.

  39. Kazinski on October 5th, 2009 11:02 pm

    versus a guy who can play a lot of positions, even if he can’t hit well or play those positions well?

    Actually I think Hall plays pretty good defense at LF, 3rd, and 2nd when healthy.

    But my point is that if Bill Hall gets significant ABs next year, then the M’s aren’t going to be a playoff team anyway. And I’d rather watch Jr. get 400AB than Bill Hall, if there is no chance of going to the playoffs.

    I’ve got no problem with Hall playing a Bloomquist type role on the team, but if he’s starting, then we’re not going to be winning. That .578OPS he put up for the Mariners in 120AB may be a small sample size, but his OPS for the whole season was .596 on 334AB.

    In terms of offensive production Bill Hall < Yuniesky Betancourt. Defensively he makes up for some of that.

  40. joser on October 5th, 2009 11:34 pm

    Overseas merch sales get pooled, but sales in the stadium go to the team. Which is why the Griffey jerseys were such a big deal, and why all things Ichiro still are. And those Japanese language ads behind the plate during broadcasts? That’s money the team is getting only because of Ichiro too.

  41. joser on October 6th, 2009 8:09 am

    I’m also not on the Figgins bandwagon. Considering what he’d cost, in terms of cash and the draft pick, I’d rather have Beltre. In fact, given that Figgins is coming off a career year like Beltre’s 2004, Beltre may even be cheaper. But I think the bigger money for Beltre is going to be elsewhere also.

    Figgins will be 32 next year. He’s going to be getting a big payday. He’s probably not going have another year like this one. I’d rather spend scarce dollars on something with real upside, like Felix, and find a 3B elsewhere (one of the young guys, or a trade).

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