Bad News, Meet More Bad News

Dave · March 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Baker and others have the news of the day, and it ain’t great. Cliff Lee is going to take five days off before throwing again, so realistically, his entire spring training is gone. He’s definitely going to need a DL stint, and by the time he gets stretched out enough to pitch in a big league game, it’s going to be the end of April or early May.

Beyond that, Wak comes pretty close to confirming the growing suspicion that the Mariners are going to make room on the team for Mike Sweeney because of how he’s hit this spring. Sweeney will displace Ryan Garko on the 25 man roster and serve as a part-time DH against lefties and play first base sparingly, as Kotchman will not be platooned.

Put chemistry and feeling goodness aside for a minute – this creates all kinds roster problems for the M’s. Now, against LHPs, you’ve got Sweeney, Bradley, and Byrnes for two spots – DH/LF. Bradley kills lefties, so you don’t want to take him out of the line-up against southpaws, but Byrnes’ role on the team is lefty mashing outfielder, and pushing Bradley to LF against LHPs takes away his playing time.

So, not only is Sweeney going to remove Garko from the roster, he also is going to take playing time away from Eric Byrnes and force Milton Bradley to play the field more often. Neither of those are positives. Plain and simple, Mike Sweeney makes this team worse.

Now, if you want to argue that the pies in the face and the jokes and all that stuff make up for it, fine, make that argument. But remember, Mike Sweeney’s been the best guy in baseball forever, and teams he’s been on have finished over .500 twice in his 15 year career. Last year’s 85 win Mariner team posted the best record of any team that Sweeney has ever played for. If his personality was vital to a winning team, don’t you think he may have actually played on one or two of them?

Of course, it’s not fair to blame Sweeney for having lousy teammates in Kansas City, but I’ll still suggest that you can’t make an argument that having Sweeney on the roster leads to lots of wins that we can’t measure when there’s no history of teams he’s been on playing better than you’d expect. He might be a lot of fun to be around and great for the clubhouse, but in the end, good teams win and bad teams lose. Mike Sweeney hasn’t made any bad teams good by hitting his teammates in the face with pies.

The Mariners have already wasted one roster spot on Griffey in the name of clubhouse chemistry. Now, it sounds like they’re going to waste two roster spots on clubhouse chemistry. When Kotchman is facing a tough lefty in a high leverage situation or the team can’t pinch hit for Jack Wilson with the bases loaded, you can thank the team’s desire to have both Griffey and Sweeney around. There are consequences to carrying these guys, and you’ll see them play out on the field.

Let’s hope the M’s can win a lot of games in spite of Sweeney’s presence, because otherwise, we may look back at the way the end of this roster was put together with an awful lot of regret.

Comments

81 Responses to “Bad News, Meet More Bad News”

  1. Carson on March 26th, 2010 1:14 pm

    Who was it yesterday talking about problems being bigger when you don’t look at them in isolation? This just puts even more risk in a roster that had a ton of it, and doesn’t really have much hope for adding any reward.

  2. 23barracuda on March 26th, 2010 1:14 pm

    SWWWEEEEENNNYYY!

  3. 23barracuda on March 26th, 2010 1:15 pm

    SWWWEEEEENNNEEEEYYY!

  4. lemonverbena on March 26th, 2010 1:15 pm

    Keeping Sweeney seems to totally contradict Z’s roster construction strategy. I wonder if he weighs in with Wak and/or has to sign off on such a move.

  5. Liam on March 26th, 2010 1:17 pm

    If Sweeney wasn’t around, would Garko have been the best use of a roster spot? The team has several similar players they could call up in a pinch.

  6. horatiosanzserif on March 26th, 2010 1:22 pm

    Hugs Not Garko

  7. Aaron on March 26th, 2010 1:26 pm

    In reality, it’s not just those three in a LF/DH platoon situation, with their histories, it’s more of a LF/DH/DL split. If any of them are healthy for 120 games, I’d be shocked.

    Actually, I’d imagine the Seattle-Tacoma Shuttle will be awful busy this year with all the injury risks. Z probably has 30 guys he’s comfortable with, and all of them will make significant contributions.

  8. okdan on March 26th, 2010 1:28 pm

    I think the character stuff is nice, but I see that as more of just a secondary benefit. Sweeney might be one of the best hitters the team has available to it right now.

    Sweeney hit .311/.372/.511 in the second half of last year. It’s seems like a bad idea to leave him off the roster in favor of Ryan Garko.

  9. behappy on March 26th, 2010 1:28 pm

    This season reminds me of a time when I was 5 years old. I got one of those big shiny happy birthday ballons. I was so excitied when I first saw it. It had a cool looking cartoon printed on it, and it was about four times bigger than any ballon I had ever seen. The first few days I played with that ballon all the time and just thought it was the coolest ballon. Well, about a week later I noticed it was slowly sinking to the floor, I saw that it was no longer fully inflated and that it no longer hit the top of ceiling. Another week later the ballon was stuck on the bottom of the floor, no longer as cool when I first saw it. Almost all of the helium was gone, it was no longer any fun to play with. It looked so sad sitting in the corner of my room. I decided it would be much more fun to just suck the rest of the helium out of the ballon before there was nothing left.

    Come on Mariners. I am tired of rooting for a defelated ballon.

  10. wanderinginsodo on March 26th, 2010 1:32 pm

    While you post is completely logical, rational and backed up, I can’t help but think that the M’s coaching staff and front office see something beyond chemistry in Mike Sweeney that will out weigh the serious cons of his place in this team.

    Instead of trying to force pieces of the puzzle that should go together, they are taking what they have and making a new puzzle. Adaptability. We have a very level headed scout running this team, and I trust his eye and the information that he is recieving.

    Take Branyan, many people looked at his place in this team and said, ‘why would you get rid of your only power guy? He fits.’ Because Z and the staff knew he had a lingering injury and they saw something in Kotchman. Right now, it’s looking like a good move, but it still doesn’t look as good on paper as it might in a few months.

    I just don’t understand why they haven’t started him at first base in Spring Training if he will be the one to back-up Kotchman.

  11. ThundaPC on March 26th, 2010 1:32 pm

    Yuck. I was afraid something like this might happen when Sweeney started flipping out offensively in Spring Training.

    Adding Mike Sweeney to last year’s roster was perfectly understandable. The clubhouse was in dire need of repairs and between Chris Shelton and Mike Sweeney, Sweeney brought more to the table in that regard.

    This year, it’s not quite as necessary. The only reason I can think of for clubhouse reinforcement is to make Milton Bradley feel at home. We already have Griffey, so we should’ve been all set.

    Also, something I find a bit strange, after it appeared that management put a big emphasis on flexibility over the off-season we seem prepared to have one player each locked up for LF and 1B. Not to mention that we’re counting on both Bradley and Kotchman to rebound. This could potentially blow up in our faces (and darn-it, I wanted to see how productive Eric Byrnes will be given semi-regular playing time).

  12. eponymous coward on March 26th, 2010 1:41 pm

    Who was it yesterday talking about problems being bigger when you don’t look at them in isolation?

    That was me, I believe.

    And if we really want to go here…

    Mike Sweeney hasn’t made any bad teams good by hitting his teammates in the face with pies.

    Griffey’s been involved with a lot of bad Reds teams, too.

    I have to say it’s pretty disappointing that after a year where we got poor performance out of DH, the response of the Mariner organization is to pretend it didn’t happen, and try the exact same players in the exact same roles. This is the first time in 18 months I’ve really felt like Bavasi-style magical thinking about baseball cliches is at work here (“We’ll sprinkle some fairy dustclubhouse chemistry and they’ll hit like their in their 20′s again!”).

  13. wanderinginsodo on March 26th, 2010 1:43 pm

    What is necessary is a big bat. A good bat is what they see in Sweeney…

    Yep, it is a total gamble betting so much on Kotchman and Bradley OR being able to make a huge trade that makes a big difference in the line-up.

  14. andrewjsnider on March 26th, 2010 1:45 pm

    Team chemistry is one of those tricky things that isn’t really quantifiable. Granted, team chemistry is not something we can really measure with any degree of accuracy (Where would one even start?). On the other hand, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a group of guys that can stand to be around each other for 162 games (plus February, March and October). Just because one can’t quantify something doesn’t mean that thing is not important.

    There are so many factors going into a winning baseball season, one of which is team chemistry. It’s probably easier to win with a positive clubhouse than with a negative clubhouse. Obviously, it’s not the only contributing factor, nor is it the most important (by far), but it’s something to consider.

    I understand the argument of Sweeney limiting the M’s options a bit, and maybe it’s just Sweeney’s double off Rivera talking, but I’m of the persuasion that if he can help us win some games from a more limited role, it’s not such a bad thing to have him on the team.

    Also, Sweeney wasn’t the only player in the clubhouse in KC…and those teams were terrible for a multitude of other reasons.

  15. eponymous coward on March 26th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Sweeney hit .311/.372/.511 in the second half of last year.

    The rest of the season counts, too, and Sweeney’s consistently been a replacement-level player since 2005.

  16. BillH on March 26th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Whatever happened to good-old-fashioned “making the team?” Isn’t the arrangement with non-roster invites essentially “give us a reason to put you on the team”? Sweeney performed in ST and Garko didn’t (at least, not enough to give him a roster spot). I realize Garko may give you more flexibility but I don’t see why you would even extend a non-roster invite if you were never going to give the guy a chance in the first place.

  17. Paul B on March 26th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Sweeney hit .311/.372/.511 in the second half of last year. It’s seems like a bad idea to leave him off the roster in favor of Ryan Garko.

    uh, huh.

    And Sweeney had a .751 OPS against lefties last year, a OPS+ of about 92.

    Garko, by contrast, has a .870 OPS against lefties, for a 126 OPS+.

    So, the Mariners have apparently chosen to repeat their platoon DH that produces below Major League average results. From a position where hitting is everything.

  18. Paul B on March 26th, 2010 1:51 pm

    Whatever happened to good-old-fashioned “making the team?”

    Nowadays, most Major League managers understand the concept of small sample size.

  19. egreenlaw9 on March 26th, 2010 1:57 pm

    I don’t see why you would even extend a non-roster invite if you were never going to give the guy a chance in the first place.

    Except the M’s themselves said pretty much exactly that when they brought him in. They were giving him a shot to try out for another team.

    Still, I like that Sweeney’s making the team. Nothing wrong with going with the hot hand. I’d be shocked if Sweeney is still on the team after 3 weeks if he’s hitting less than .300 though.

    One thing Jack has shown is that he isn’t shy about moving people around. Last season it seemed like the M’s never went more than two weeks without making some sort of change to the 25 man roster.

    Keep that in mind when you see our opening day roster.

  20. Jeff Nye on March 26th, 2010 2:04 pm

    I’m impressed, we made it to the 13th comment before someone brought up the tired old “chemistry is super important you number nerdz” argument.

  21. dchappelle on March 26th, 2010 2:05 pm

    Don’t forget the fun part that for Sweeney to make the team the M’s have to make room on the 40 man roster. Who goes?

  22. Broadcast James on March 26th, 2010 2:08 pm

    Here’s to hoping that they’re just going with the “hot bat*” and will move on as soon as Sweeney stops hitting.

    *better lucky than good

  23. Dave on March 26th, 2010 2:15 pm

    The arguments for Sweeney essentially boil down to worthless spring training numbers and unknowable intangibles that have never resulted in anything substantial. Calling it a house of cards would be an overstatement of how strong the case for Sweeney is.

  24. scott19 on March 26th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Well, about a week later I noticed it was slowly sinking to the floor

    Of course, there’s also the Hindenburg analogy to consider…so it could always be worse.

  25. okdan on March 26th, 2010 2:33 pm

    It seems clear that the M’s see Sweeney vs. Garko as an offensive push. Given that, Sweeney’s clubhouse presence tips the balance.

  26. Mike Snow on March 26th, 2010 2:35 pm

    Since we’re talking about houses of cards, I have another thought. Let’s say you’re shuffling a deck of cards and you make a little bit of an awkward movement, and one of the cards gets dinged a little bit. Well, if the guys the Mariners plan to shuffle through the lineup are Bradley, Byrnes, and Sweeney, those cards are already dinged – how long do you think that will hold up before you need to take one of the cards out of the deck?

  27. HititHere on March 26th, 2010 2:43 pm

    The sky is not falling yet–nor should we be making any references to Bavasi-esque houses of cards.

    Baker reports that Garko did not distinguish himself with his glove during ST. Garko being adequate in the field is a big reason we preferred him over Sweeney, correct? If Garko isn’t producing with his bat, nor is he proving a defensive asset, what point is there in cutting Hugs and letting Garko poke around 1B a few times a week? Little, IMO.

    Tui will make the team as a IF/OF backup, which is not ideal. Sweeney CAN pinch-hit, in an, er, pinch. But I give the FO enough credit that they AREN’T making this call just on a pro-hugging basis. They must see enough benefit to this–offensive or defensive–to justify it.

    In addition, isn’t it probable JZ is aware that SOMEONE–Bradley, Byrnes, Jr, Sweeney, Wilson–will hit the DL sometime in the first month and make the roster decisions far simpler?

  28. Dave on March 26th, 2010 2:47 pm

    Stop caring about spring training performances.

  29. Steve Nelson on March 26th, 2010 2:48 pm

    Is it time to resurrect comments asking why USSM hates the Mariners so much??? :-)

    It’s so much easier to blog when there’s something to complain about.

  30. joser on March 26th, 2010 2:49 pm

    I don’t see why you would even extend a non-roster invite if you were never going to give the guy a chance in the first place.

    It was widely considered to be an honorable or charitable act of courtesy offered in exchange for his help last year, as well as an opportunity for Sweeney to audition for other teams (and that’s more about showing health rather than results, because presumably most other teams also understand small samples well enough to know that 26 ABs in spring training don’t tell you anything about future results).

    Jack clearly views treating people right to be good business as well as good practice; not only does he try not to burn bridges, he tries to build them (see the first pitch invitation to Randy Johnson, for example).

  31. murphy_dog on March 26th, 2010 2:53 pm

    Sorry, but the real bad news is the first paragraph of the story. How much longer until Washburn is signed?

  32. wanderinginsodo on March 26th, 2010 2:57 pm

    Tony Blengino is on the radio right now and said their primary task right now is to play ‘roaster roulette’ and watch the waiver wire as other teams make moves. They hope to get good opportunities from those waiver moves. Something in the works?

    I think the point made by another commenter was spot on, don’t worry too much about one or two players on the opening roaster because it will change consistently! This is not a FO that will stick with something that isn’t working!

    Junior, did you hear that?

  33. LeftField on March 26th, 2010 3:00 pm

    If Garko can’t do it with his glove and isn’t hitting in spring training off minor league pitching then he shouldn’t make the team. Spring training results count to anybody trying to make the team and to the coaches/management trying to pick the team.

  34. Dave on March 26th, 2010 3:00 pm

    If there’s beeen a bigger champion of this front office than I, I don’t know who it would be. I know that these guys are smart. We’re fans of what they’re doing.

    But they’re not perfect, and they’re going to some mistakes. There’s no point appealing to authority every time we point out that we don’t agree with a particular move.

  35. Steve Nelson on March 26th, 2010 3:08 pm

    If there’s beeen a bigger champion of this front office than I, I don’t know who it would be. I know that these guys are smart. We’re fans of what they’re doing.

    But they’re not perfect, and they’re going to some mistakes. There’s no point appealing to authority every time we point out that we don’t agree with a particular move.

    I tried to be clear that I was writing tongue-in-cheek, however nonsensical that expression might be in a comment thread. (Perhaps “typing finger-in-ear” is an equivalent?)

    +++++

    And the Red Sox have acquired Frandsen.

  36. HititHere on March 26th, 2010 3:11 pm

    Dave, aren’t ST performances with the glove more meaningful than ST performances with the bat?

    It’s not like the ball is bouncing/being thrown towards 1B any differently in March.

    If Garko isn’t getting it done with his glove, ST stats aside, Garko’s ’09 and ’08 offensive performance is not THAT much higher than Sweeney’s ’08 and ’09.

  37. Liam on March 26th, 2010 3:12 pm

    I believe that Mike Sweeney was brought in last year as a suggestion from Don Wakamatsu. How much leeway do you think Jack Zduriencik gives him in making these final roster decisions?

  38. andrewjsnider on March 26th, 2010 3:13 pm

    I’m impressed, we made it to the 13th comment before someone brought up the tired old “chemistry is super important you number nerdz” argument.

    I’m not trying to knock sabermetrics; these newer statistics given me a whole new way to see the game that I love. I’m just saying there are other factors that can potentially influence team performance in terms of overall wins (e.g. The impact of Seattle’s historically terrible travel schedule isn’t included in any of the stats I’ve seen). Ignoring those elements doesn’t make them go away.

    ***

    How do you have a system where you don’t reward players for outstanding performance, even if it’s in ST? Hard work, team player, lots of heart, belief system.

    ***

    With a team that has spots filled by Byrnes, Sweeney, Junior, Bradley and Wilson, someone will probably get hurt immediately anyway, and we’ll bring in a player that gives us that added flexibility.

  39. Steve Nelson on March 26th, 2010 3:23 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this Sweeney business for several days now.

    As noted, it was clear when Sweeney was brought in that they were doing him a favor. They wanted him back as a coach, but saw no opportunity for him as a player.

    Now it appears that something has happened during camp to make them reassess that position. And I find it hard to believe that they suddenly discovered what a great guy he was and what he might add in team chemistry. That’s all information that was established and known before he was even invited to camp. I don’t see where there’s likely to have been any reassessment of what he might add in that regard.

    So if something has caused them to reassess his value to the team, it would most likely be something in his performance this spring. Because there really isn’t anything different that would cause them to say amongst themselves, “Boy that Sweeney’s a great guy – we really misjudged what Sweeney might mean in the clubhouse.” That aspect is fixed and known, so if something is different it has to be in performance in the lineup.

    I’m also confident that the team is well aware that Spring Training numbers don’t mean anything. At the same time I figure that in Spring Training they are looking at more specific skill components – better command of a pitch, better pitch recognition, etc.

    So as I try to work my way through this I wind up thinking that there is something they are seeing in his at bats that make them believe that he is going to perform more in line with what he did post-DL last season. Because anything else doesn’t seem to fit with a lot of other information about how the team operates.

  40. Dave on March 26th, 2010 3:27 pm

    I wasn’t referring to you, Steve.

    And look, Sweeney lovers, if you went by spring training performance, he wouldn’t have made the team last year. Chris Shelton was the Mariners best hitter in Peoria a year ago.

    Spring training performances don’t mean anything. Ignore them.

  41. Arron on March 26th, 2010 3:29 pm

    I think the bigger issue is Lee being hurt.

    Chad Gaudin? He will be ready where Washburn won’t.

    I hope we can stay in the race till Lee and Bedard are back.

  42. wabbles on March 26th, 2010 3:33 pm

    And here earlier this off-season everyone was accusing us of blindly waving our pom poms for the Ms. Reading through the comments, methinks we’re ready to beat Sweeney and company with said pom poms.

  43. flashbeak on March 26th, 2010 3:38 pm

    Dave, no one could have said it better than you. Sweeney does a lot more bad than he does good for this team.

    If Sweeney makes the 25-man, my week is ruined.

  44. joser on March 26th, 2010 3:41 pm

    I’m just saying there are other factors that can potentially influence team performance in terms of overall wins (e.g. The impact of Seattle’s historically terrible travel schedule isn’t included in any of the stats I’ve seen). Ignoring those elements doesn’t make them go away.

    And acknowledging them doesn’t make them larger than they actually are. How many wins do you think these are worth? Keep in mind that other work has established bounds on how big a factor something like chemistry could be in the best case (because there’s only so much room left over when you account for everything else).

    So for this to be a net benefit for the team, you have to make the case that the value in terms of chemistry is more than the difference between having Sweeney on the roster vs somebody else.

  45. rsrobinson on March 26th, 2010 3:48 pm

    The decision to keep Sweeney over Garko probably has more to do with offense than chemistry. This is a team that desperately needs more hitting wherever they can get it and they may just believe that they’ll get more of it from Sweeney than Garko or Byrnes. That’s not exactly an outlandish belief.

    Anyway the thought of Sweeney replacing Garko on the roster or Byrnes losing playing time is way down my list of worries for this upcoming season. The first paragraph of your post is the real concern.

  46. Chris_From_Bothell on March 26th, 2010 4:04 pm

    Sweeney and Garko’s wOBAs

    Sweeney instead of Garko is almost a wash offensively, unless you have a better stat than wOBA you want to use. And Garko is hardly even a replacement-level glove unless you have a better standard than a lifetime UZR/150 of -4.6 at first base to use as a measurement. Garko’s barely a 1 WAR player in any given season. The last time Sweeney was a more than 1 WAR player, Garko wasn’t in the majors.

    Either way you sliced it, Garko or Sweeney, that roster spot was going to be a flimsy backup to Kotchman at 1b or Griffey at DH. If this is the end of the world somehow, it’s because there should have been a better option for DH/1b obtained at the start of spring training to compete for a roster spot at all. Not because they picked one statistically marginal player over another one.

  47. Chris_From_Bothell on March 26th, 2010 4:15 pm

    Anyway the thought of Sweeney replacing Garko on the roster or Byrnes losing playing time is way down my list of worries for this upcoming season. The first paragraph of your post is the real concern.

    I agree. 4 to 6 weeks of seeing Ian Snell matched up against other teams’ #2 or #3 starters is much more worrisome.

  48. Seminaryhill on March 26th, 2010 4:16 pm

    This may not be as bad as some are suggesting. I keep reading that Garko has options? They can keep them both that way, and have flexibility if/when Sweeney doesn’t hit, or injuries start to add up.

  49. Mekias on March 26th, 2010 4:24 pm

    I don’t understand why people think that Sweeney is better offensively than Garko. Did 2006 through the majority of 2009 never happen for Sweeney? Did we hop on a time capsule? Because, based on wOBA, Garko has been a better hitter than Sweeney in each of the past 4 years. Add to that, Garko destroys lefties (.381 wOBA last year), something Sweeney (.319) and Kotchman (.276) struggle against.

    I’m starting to wonder about some of Wak’s decisions (and I have no doubt that this is a Wak decision). This is a move made because of chemistry, pure and simple. Sweeney’s good Spring and Garko’s poor Spring is just an excuse. By all means, ignore the past several years of data.

    I still trust Z but I don’t think I trust Wak right now.

  50. Chris_From_Bothell on March 26th, 2010 4:29 pm

    Because, based on wOBA, Garko has been a better hitter than Sweeney in each of the past 4 years.

    Only by 4 or 5 percentage points, the last 2 years. It’s a wash.

  51. Mekias on March 26th, 2010 4:35 pm

    Either way you sliced it, Garko or Sweeney, that roster spot was going to be a flimsy backup to Kotchman at 1b or Griffey at DH. If this is the end of the world somehow, it’s because there should have been a better option for DH/1b obtained at the start of spring training to compete for a roster spot at all. Not because they picked one statistically marginal player over another one.

    The thing is though, a Kotchman/Garko platoon makes a pretty decent first baseman. Kotchman’s defense doesn’t make up for over 100 points in wOBA against lefties. As a “backup”, it’s true, there isn’t much difference between Garko and Sweeney. But Garko shouldn’t be a backup.

  52. rsrobinson on March 26th, 2010 4:45 pm

    It doesn’t look like they’re going to platoon Kotchman, though. They’re planning on giving him the opportunity to play everday like they did with Branyan last year. If that’s the case I just don’t see it as a big deal that they’re going with Sweeney over Garko.

  53. HititHere on March 26th, 2010 4:45 pm

    @Mekias, Kotchman’s splits are deceiving. Check prior to 2009, and you’ll see hit lefties better than that in previous years. That’s with small sample sizes, though.

    I’m assuming the MGMT is hoping Kotchman, given a full-time role, will show more aptitude for hitting LHP and RHP equally (like he did in 2007, his most productive year).

    Any split offense from Garko, plus any theoretical defensive upside, was apparently not enough of an improvement over Kotchman to warrant giving Garkster a roster spot.

  54. Mekias on March 26th, 2010 4:57 pm

    @Mekias, Kotchman’s splits are deceiving. Check prior to 2009, and you’ll see hit lefties better than that in previous years. That’s with small sample sizes, though.

    That is true. He was okay against lefties before last year but it still seems like they’re relying too much on hoping and guessing when we know Garko is a consistent lefty killer. I was really looking forward to us destroying left-handed pitchers this year but now it looks like we’ll be almost as bad against lefties as we are projected to be against righties.

  55. jr on March 26th, 2010 5:36 pm

    I think the bigger issue is Lee being hurt.

    Chad Gaudin? He will be ready where Washburn won’t.

    I hope we can stay in the race till Lee and Bedard are back.

    Great idea. I think Gaudin would be a good fix until Lee is ready. If he pitches well, he could stay in the rotation in the 4th or 5th spot or might make for decent trade bait if they need to switch things up come mid-season.

  56. JimmyO on March 26th, 2010 5:56 pm

    1. Garko is a nightmare defensively. I watched him in person on March 18, and he has no range, no reflexes, and can’t scoop low throws. I watched Kotchman on March 21, and he is terrific, as advertised. Kotchman is like being in an easy chair for an infielder, knowing that anything that isn’t ten feet high will be caught. Having the infielders go from Kotchman to Garko would make them hesitate every time they were throwing to Garko, and lead to really ugly games for the infield when he played.
    2. The reality is that Sweeney hit wonderfully the second half of last year, and is hitting wonderfully this Spring. He has had injury problems for years. So the years when he was hurt should be discounted. When he is healthy, it looks like he can still hit very well – better than Garko. If Sweeney is healthy enough to play first at all, he won’t be much worse than Garko.

    I say go with the hot hand.

  57. DMZ on March 26th, 2010 6:16 pm

    So you think Sweeney will be healthy this season and put up what, the same numbers as he did “second half of last year”?

  58. Jeff Nye on March 26th, 2010 6:22 pm

    So the years when he was hurt should be discounted.

    You honestly believe this, don’t you?

  59. Kid_A on March 26th, 2010 6:39 pm

    Looks like Z and/or Wak are trying to recapture the magic from a year ago. Maybe 5 Sweeney pies-to-the-face are worth 7 innings of Cliff Lee.

    This “fun clubhouse” thing is just getting out of hand. I can’t even stand watching/listening/reading Mariner interviews anymore. There’s hardly been an interview since last season that hasn’t involved the word fun. I’m glad that’s the primary f-word being thrown around, but covering this team must be paradise for FSN, and that can’t be a good thing.

  60. nathaniel dawson on March 26th, 2010 7:59 pm

    Does the choice of Sweeney over Garko really change things? Garko would fill the same role as Sweeney would — backup/occasional platoon player at both 1b and DH. I’m not sure how I see that this would alter the lineup or playing time for other players.

  61. h_darrow on March 26th, 2010 8:20 pm

    This may not be as bad as some are suggesting. I keep reading that Garko has options? They can keep them both that way, and have flexibility if/when Sweeney doesn’t hit, or injuries start to add up.

    Does he have options left? If so, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. You can keep both guys in case of the inevitable injury or probable Bradley implosion.

    Chemistry is a dumb reason to have a guy on the team-you might as well just hire someone as a coach rather than waste a roster spot. I can’t see the FO keeping Sweeney cause he’s nice. Perhaps its not that Sweeney is so good, but Garko is so bad. Maybe he’s shooting up in the dugout and banging Wak’s wife or something.

  62. frankb. on March 26th, 2010 9:36 pm

    Weren’t we also speculating that Garko could do some catching?

  63. IwearMsHats on March 26th, 2010 10:01 pm

    What’s worse; Sweeney making the team or Tui making the team as the utility guy?

  64. Jeff Nye on March 26th, 2010 10:19 pm

    Sweeney. Tui isn’t ideal as a utility guy, but still has actual baseball skills.

  65. Alex on March 26th, 2010 10:39 pm

    Does anyone know where I can get bullpen split stats against lefties and righties such as the 09′ Mariners Bullpen vs. LHB/RHB? I can find ’09 Mariners bullpen stats but none that specify how they pitched against lefties and righties. Also, I can find the entire pitching staff against lhb/rhb but not the pen vs. lhb/rhb. Thanks

  66. Liam on March 26th, 2010 10:48 pm

    Go to a player’s page on Fangraphs and click on the splits tab.

  67. wanderinginsodo on March 26th, 2010 10:52 pm

    Baker noted today that either Langerhans or Sweeney will most likely end up on the DL at the start of the season to save them from being put on waivers and claimed. (wink, wink Langerhans has an injury).

    If Garko does not pose a risk of being picked up because of options, I don’t see the big deal in Garko starting off the season in AAA and basically letting the Mariners get a better feel for if/where he fits in this ball club. Maybe I need to be corrected, but I don’t see the Sweeney/Garko situation as being permanent throughout the season. There are too many factors such as injuries, under-performance, metal stability and the introduction of new Mariners to say anything definite about this being a mistake.

    Also, if Garko is under-preforming at the AAA level and does not get to the big club, Carp stands a decent chance of being called up mid way through the season (if another big bat isn’t acquired in the first basemen position). From accounts I have read, Carp isn’t that far off from being ready for the big club if the opportunity presents itself later in the year. The problem is of course playing time in Tacoma too.

  68. Alex on March 26th, 2010 10:59 pm

    I don’t want just individual players vs. lhb/rhb. I mean the mariners bullpen as a whole vs. lhb/rhb. I want to see how the M’s bullpen did against rhb compared to the rest of the leagues bullpens to see if the idea of not having bullpen specialists is a good idea.

  69. Captain Lars on March 26th, 2010 11:09 pm

    If Sweeney makes this club, I certainly hope it’s because of his bat and not for his pies. I’m inclined to give Jack and Wak the benefit of the doubt here. They must think Sweeney can still produce at the plate and would provide more overall value than Garko. I realize SP numbers don’t mean much but Sweeney has a long resume. It’s not like when Mike Morse tore it up a couple of years ago. Besides, Garko is only a phone call and 45 minutes away if Sweeney loses his mojo.

  70. YTDamnit on March 26th, 2010 11:46 pm

    There’s a reason no one that posts on this site runs a major league team (that I know of). Is it even possible that the M’s leadership knows what they are doing or have a plan? Apparently not. This whole argument should be relegated to a fantasy league.

  71. Dave on March 27th, 2010 12:02 am

    If we ever give up and turn off comments, its people like you that will be why.

  72. MrZDevotee on March 27th, 2010 12:04 am

    Jeff/Dave/Derek-
    Before I ask I want to make sure to be upfront that I’m not being facetious at all, but would honestly like to know:

    Rather than hear you guys rant about how much keeping Sweeney makes you sick, I’d be interested to hear each of your opinions about why you think Wak and/or Z want to keep him on the roster? For fans of both them, and you guys, it’s a head scratcher for those of us with less baseball knowledge.

    (And just like yesterday, and the post before that, I have to qualify that when I was saying Sweeney was gonna make the team, I’m not a fan of that decision– or even having Griffey on the roster. I wish there was someone other than Garko and Sweeney in the running.)

    The more I think of it, the more I lean towards their keeping Sweeney around STILL as a courtesy to him, but expect to bring in someone else this last week, as that still unknown DH/1B becomes available off another team’s roster.

    That’s the same hope I put forward a couple days ago too– that I could see us adding a starting pitcher and backup 1b/pinch hitter in the next week as rosters become set around the league.

  73. crelsner on March 27th, 2010 12:06 am

    much wringing of hands. let’s not forget that even Z is aware of the fact that the AL West is a crap shoot this year.

  74. Liam on March 27th, 2010 12:17 am

    Besides, Garko is only a phone call and 45 minutes away if Sweeney loses his mojo.

    I wonder if the same people who are listing his Spring training line will be as quick to pull the plug after a similar number of at-bats in the regular season. The Mariners never did last year, which is a concern I would have if he does make the team and produces at a similar level.

  75. Jeff Nye on March 27th, 2010 1:53 am

    Rather than hear you guys rant about how much keeping Sweeney makes you sick, I’d be interested to hear each of your opinions about why you think Wak and/or Z want to keep him on the roster?

    To be clear since you lumped me in with Dave and Derek; I’m not a site author. I’m just a mod, and I am not even close to the caliber of the authors here (including the new ones) as far as analysis goes. I’d put myself down as “mildly educated fan”.

    Disclaimer out of the way: I honestly don’t know why they’re keeping Sweeney (presuming they do, it looks to be pretty much a done deal). There’s a myriad of possibilities; a courtesy to someone who is by all accounts a really nice guy, to either let him finish out his career on the M’s roster, or maybe trying to give him an extended look to maximize his chances of hooking on with another team once the M’s just can’t afford to keep him anymore.

    There’s also the possibility that he’s just filler until other teams’ waiver wires start moving, and they can replace his roster spot with someone who better fills their needs. It’s not like they’re on the hook for any huge amount if they cut him (I’m not sure what the actual number is off the top of my head) so if someone better pops up, they can free up the roster spot pretty easily. If they looked at the difference between Garko and Sweeney and shrugged, this is a pretty reasonable stance for them to take.

    Let’s remember that we’re baseball bloggers and blog commenters; we’ve probably spent a LOT more time talking about the end of the Mariners’ bench than, well, anyone else. While I’d much rather have Garko on the final roster than Sweeney, the difference between them MIGHT end up being a win or two over the course of a full season. It’s not like we’re picking between Pujols and Bloomquist here.

    Lastly, I’d be pretty sure that Wak and Zduriencik value “chemistry” more than I do; however, I’d lay good money on the fact that some theory about chemistry having a big effect on win totals isn’t the main reason they’re keeping Sweeney, or even particularly high on their list. So, ignore people who are taking this as some sort of validation for their harebrained theories; they’re grasping at straws.

  76. msb on March 27th, 2010 8:43 am

    There’s also the possibility that he’s just filler until other teams’ waiver wires start moving, and they can replace his roster spot with someone who better fills their needs.

    and Tony Blengino mentioned the waiver wire just yesterday ….

  77. djw on March 27th, 2010 9:57 am

    let’s not forget that even Z is aware of the fact that the AL West is a crap shoot this year.

    But it’s undercircumstances like this that every win in particularly high leverage. If Garko is, say, half a win better than Sweeney, the AL west being a “crap shoot” (by which I assume you mean unusually evenly matched) would be extra incentive to take every possible little edge you can get very seriously.

  78. Captain Lars on March 27th, 2010 11:50 am

    I wonder if the same people who are listing his Spring training line will be as quick to pull the plug after a similar number of at-bats in the regular season. The Mariners never did last year, which is a concern I would have if he does make the team and produces at a similar level.

    Liam- You make a good point, one that I am a little concerned about. I think though that Sweeney doesn’t have icon status in Seattle in the same manner as Griffey. I’m inclined to believe that management would be willing to cut Sweeney, or more likely sent him to the 60 day DL with a strained whatseehoozee, if his production dropped off. I’m more concerned with their unwillingness to make a move with Griffey, even if he’s gotten to the point where he can only get around the bases in a wheelchair.

  79. just_me on March 27th, 2010 12:19 pm

    If they just wanted Sweeney around for chemistry, they would have re-signed him earlier in the offseason and not waited till February. And if they signed him just to showcase him to help him find a job, then…he evidently found a job. The team sees the players prepare, practice, and play everyday. Have any of us been AT all the meetings, workouts, etc.? Maybe the people who are getting paid to “watch,assess” the players know a little more than we do. Some of us need to get off the “chemistry” kick, and look at results. ST does count. It is a showcase for your talent, what you can and can’t do. Players are assessed by what they’ve done in past years, and if they can show in ST that they can still perform, better than another player, it only makes sense that they make the team. We aren’t a big market team, and don’t have the maquee players, and at times it’s really tiring to hear some of you sounding like “whinny” cub fans, or “arrogant” yankee fans thinking you know everything when you only know enough to confuse yourself. If I knew it all, I would be talking to Chuck Armstrong and get on thier payroll. Since I don’t, I guess I’ll just have faith in the organization to do what they think is best with what they have.

  80. SonOfZavaras on March 27th, 2010 1:14 pm

    Plain and simple, Mike Sweeney makes this team worse.

    Couldn’t agree more. I was quite willing to accept the re-signing of Griffey- he’s our legend and sometimes you do things in accordance with that, even though I’m skeptical (at very best) his offensive output will be anything close to acceptable for a DH.

    Sweeney’s a whole different bag of rocks. There is almost no real way for him to justify his spot on this team. I know he’s hit out of his mind this spring…but by the same token, I’ve won seventeen scratch tickets in a row before.

    In both events, the odds for it to ever happen were pretty amazing….and the chances of keeping it up, impossible.

    The one real thing, however, is that there’s a world of difference between breaking camp with a team and staying there. I’d bet my bottom dollar that even if Garko is relegated to Tacoma for the start of 2010, he’ll find some ABs here at some point in the year.

    The only thing I’m hoping for is that when Sweeney comes back to Earth, it won’t have helped cost us too many victories early in the year that we can’t make up. I have absolutely no doubt that the division is a bona-fide slobberknocker this year.

  81. SonOfZavaras on March 27th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Small aside to that last post- when you’re a team that’s going to have a tough time scoring runs (as we’ve indicated and written about ad nauseum in here)…roster flexibility is a must.

    And now we don’t have it, coming out the gate.