Calling For A Moratorium
Over the 15 months or so, we have certainly said our fair share of positive things about Jack Zduriencik and the job he’s done since taking over as the M’s GM. We all watched the franchise turnaround first hand, and it was amazing to see how quickly the team was able to get back on track. The turnaround was a great story.
That great story has now been written about, oh, everywhere. A google search for “Jack Zduriencik” + “turnaround” returns 2,900 hits. Name a national outlet, and they’ve done a feature on Jack Z recently. The off-season moves have people gushing. Pretty much every move the team makes is well received, both locally and nationally. The team is being held up as the poster boys of stats and scouts converging, and how well a team can be run when they listen to both sides.
I’m not here to say any of it is wrong. I am here to say that it may be time to move onto another subject of discussion, though, because I’m beginning to get the sense that it’s all getting to be a bit much for non-Mariner fans. All the stories, all the raves, all the hype… it’s starting to feed a backlash, and perhaps, setting the club up as an unnecessary litmus test for the current sabermetric beliefs.
As much as we like what the M’s have done in the last year and a half, there’s still a really good chance that this team is not going to make the playoffs. There are a lot of things that could go wrong with this team. Felix could get hurt. Lee could regress. Bradley could get injured/suspended/arrested. Wilson could pull something, and Jack Hannahan would be the team’s starting shortstop. Aardsma could forget how to throw strikes again. Kotchman could continue to not live up to his talent level. Bedard’s rehab could go badly.
Some of those things will happen. In a worst case scenario, almost all of them could happen at the same time. And if those downsides all happen to occur at the same time, this team could suck. They could win 70 games. The whole thing could fall apart.
It’s not likely, but it’s possible. Baseball’s weird. Good teams have bad years. “The best laid plans” is only a cliche because of how often well laid plans go awry.
I’d rather not have that kind of result lead to a larger, anti-stathead movement, where all the hard work done by so many to better understand the game is devalued because the 2010 Mariners were made the proxy for everything that we stand for. We think they’ve made a lot of good moves. We like this team. We think they have a chance to contend. But they might not, so in the way we talk about the franchise, let’s leave some room for the fact that the 2010 Mariners could finish in last place.
The M’s are a lot of things, but they’re not a litmus test for sabermetric theory. We’ve made the point clear that we’re extremely happy with how the team is being run, and I think the world has gotten the message. So, let’s lay off for a while, eh?