Things are More Hopeful than They Appear

Jay Yencich · October 4, 2010 at 11:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Survey any Mariners fan out there for their outlook on the season and you’re not going to hear much that’s positive. Why should they say anything to that effect? The team has lost 101 games for the second time in the past three years. We’re going to have yet another new manager taking the field to start next season. There’s not a whole lot of payroll maneuverability to go out and to big things this winter.

And then, of course, there’s the matter of hope. Following this past offseason, we were an incredible story in the making. We had a huge turnaround to improve by twenty-four games over ’08. Felix had finally broken through, and happily signed a contract extension. Cliff Lee was a Mariner and the rest of the league was jealous. Our old third baseman left, but we replaced him with another strong fielder whose hitting wouldn’t likely be hurt by the park. We had finally found a regular center fielder, and an exciting one at that. Batista, Washburn, Silva, and Betancourt no longer played for us. Life was wonderful in many respects.

We all know what happened next. I could rehash all the individual points, but pouring salt, lemon juice, and maybe a little battery acid in the wounds wasn’t something that I really came here with the intention of doing. The team played badly. They also had the worst case scenario emerge as a reality for most of the players on the roster. Very little went right outside of the starting rotation. Not even the most committed of cynics could have predicted as many things going to pot as they did.

The interplay of expectations versus reality is something that’s inevitably going to colour the way we look at ’10, and ’08 has been coming up a lot for comparison’s sake. Now, the 2008 Mariners had been bad for a lot of demonstrable reasons. The expensive and mediocre players were still around, Miguel Cairo was playing first base for us by the season’s end, Jose Vidro was our designated hitter for half the year, and Jeremy Reed logged most of the games in center. But there also wasn’t a great deal of hope for the future either. What future options did we have at first heading into that offseason? Bryan LaHair. On the middle infield? A Carlos Triunfel who had recently hit eight home runs over a full season in High Desert. In center? Either you were hoping Saunders could stick it out there and get rid of his strikeout problems along the way or you had Halman, whose plate discipline was still horrifying, for whatever else you thought of his physical talents. Sure, we had Bedard, but for a short window of time. Morrow? Still a bit of an enigma. The rest of our good pitching prospects were just wrapping up a season in Wisconsin and were two or three years away.

And these days? We have Justin Smoak at first for the foreseeable future. He hit .325/.400/.525 in September and October after fixing his swing during his tenure in Tacoma. At second, we have one of the better prospects in baseball in Dustin Ackley, who will likely be ready to contribute at some point next year. Nick Franklin is a possibility down the road at shortstop, and rumors were circling by the end of the season that he would begin 2011 in double-A. Third base features enough possibilities to where something should eventually come together out of Figgins, Mangini, Liddi, and Morla. Gutierrez is going to recover. Ichiro is going to be Ichiro. Pineda is the most exciting arm we’ve had internally since Felix, and capable of stepping in to follow him from the early part of next season, health willing, fingers crossed, and wood knocked on. The rest of the rotation is going to be cheap and serviceable, if nothing else. Cortes is going to hit triple digits at some point. And that’s all just assuming we spend much of the offseason sitting on our hands. Historical precedent says that’s hardly likely. On top of all that, much more money will be coming off the books after next year.

It’s hard to be a Mariners fan right now. We just endured six months of historically bad baseball, in which nearly everything that could have gone wrong did. Still, we shouldn’t interpret horrifically bad luck as setting the new standard, nor should we see the current foundation as wholly lacking integrity. It’s pretty safe to say that we’re not heading to the playoffs next season, but we’re a lot closer to having a good, or at least watchable team than many might think.

Comments

52 Responses to “Things are More Hopeful than They Appear”

  1. GoldenGutz on October 4th, 2010 11:45 am

    Great points. 2008 seemed like winning would be atleast until like 2014 at the earliest. Hope is almost here. Pineda has all the makings of an Ace, Ackley (once he grows in to his body) will have some nice power and a top 10 2B. Franklin is a rare power hitting SS who can stick there and play the position. Saunders could be a 20/20 guy and play above average left field. A nice all around player. Smoak has been a beast of late and can be a Lance Berkman or Mark Teixiera. Add in the #2 pick (Rendon or Gerrit Cole) Either one will be fast risers and be in the starting rotation/lineup by 2013. Once we have Paxton signed he can join the rotation by 2013 as well.

  2. Chris_From_Bothell on October 4th, 2010 11:51 am

    Will the coaching be there to get the most out of all this potential? Or will we have the equivalent of League not throwing his splitter, among many of these up-and-coming people?

    I’ll take your post in the spirit that it’s intended, and have a reserved amount of hope or optimism (or at least, try for a lack of cynicism) about these players. But if there isn’t an organization to teach and coach them, and create a true “Mariner way”, then we’ll have more instances like Morrow where they flounder here but blossom elsewhere.

    Here’s hoping the next manager and coaching staff drills everyone on fundamentals, benches people for poor performance, changes lineups to accomodate people’s strengths and performance, etc.

  3. Westside guy on October 4th, 2010 11:51 am

    Thank you for the perspective, Jay. It’s nice to have you point out that, realistically, things are looking up despite the dismal season.

    I like Saunders in left. I like the fielding, I like the speed, but I am starting to worry a bit about the strikeouts (since that rate tends to stabilize quickly). He deserves more time to bring his average and OBP (and hopefully his power!) up, though.

    I’m excited with the prospect of seeing Ackley sometime next year!

  4. thurston24 on October 4th, 2010 11:54 am

    Once we have Paxton signed he can join the rotation by 2013 as well.

    Speaking of that, Is Paxton going to sign? Do we know when he would likely sign (I mean is there a typical time table for players like him to sign)?

  5. Jay Yencich on October 4th, 2010 12:13 pm

    I’ll take your post in the spirit that it’s intended, and have a reserved amount of hope or optimism (or at least, try for a lack of cynicism) about these players. But if there isn’t an organization to teach and coach them, and create a true “Mariner way”, then we’ll have more instances like Morrow where they flounder here but blossom elsewhere.

    I can understand your skepticism on that front, particularly with how many managers we’ve gone through. I think that it’s going to help that a lot of the players coming up through our system right now are versed in the new version of the Mariners way and accustomed to winning. Getting the right manager at the major league level to line up with this larger vision is probably going to be the most difficult part, but it is something that Zduriencik et al have talked about being a priority in the past.

    Speaking of that, Is Paxton going to sign? Do we know when he would likely sign (I mean is there a typical time table for players like him to sign)?

    My guess is he does as Fields did before him and ends up signing around spring training.

  6. LongDistance on October 4th, 2010 12:13 pm

    Sorry, I’m just too soured-out to join in right now with the silver-lining efforts and the usual “next year’ll be better” mantra.

    Some of us need some real, away-from-all-that, time to recover.

    See you all after the series are over.

  7. spankystout on October 4th, 2010 12:41 pm

    I just don’t see any glimmer of hope until 2012 at the earliest (this is me being an optimist). Next years roster has TWO proven players. One of which is a leadoff hitter. As I see it these are the positions the M’s have questions at–C, 1B, 2B or 3B (where is Figgins playing?), SS, LF, and
    even CF (from an offensive perspective). Who is backing up Felix? Can Vargas and Fister repeat their success, or did we just watch their peak? The pen will be blown up, and rebuilt, will they be decent/good? Plus the 18.8million dollar question, who is the DH?

  8. Carson on October 4th, 2010 12:50 pm

    Jay, how would rank our overall system health? Pitching and position players seperated.

    Forgive me for I lost the link, but I read about some scout stating the Mariners have the worst collection of position players in the league. As someone who follows MiLB closely, I’d love to know if you disagree with that. There has to be a system or two that is worse, right? Right?

  9. Jay Yencich on October 4th, 2010 12:54 pm

    Forgive me for I lost the link, but I read about some scout stating the Mariners have the worst collection of position players in the league. As someone who follows MiLB closely, I’d love to know if you disagree with that. There has to be a system or two that is worse, right? Right?

    That was a reference to the major league squad. It was completely independent from anything going on in the minor leagues.

    As to the overall health of the system I think that they’d probably rank somewhere between 10-15 as an organization and overall they have more to offer on the hitting front than they do with pitching at the moment. Most of our higher potential pitching is down at the lower levels right now, whereas each squad tended to have a few hitters of interest.

  10. spankystout on October 4th, 2010 12:59 pm

    Geoff Baker cited an NL source saying the M’s in his past week of scouting, was the worst collection of position players he has ever seen….I wholly agree.

  11. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 1:06 pm

    I have hope that next year won’t suck as much as this year…but agree that expecting more than a .500 season is too optimistic. The team has too many holes to fill even if we had two Jack Z’s and a mountain of crystal meth to keep them awake until March.

    I mean, you can go with youngsters like Saunders and Smoak to fill LF and 1B. To do otherwise would be to squander free talent at this point. But at DH, SS, Catcher and 2B (presumably…once Lopez is gone and Figgins moves back to 3B) there’s no obvious in-house solution. Moore has shown no hitting ability in the majors and Ackley is unlikely to provide much production in his first look at the big leagues. Jack Wilson seems crazy brittle. At DH Bradley should be cut loose, IMO, and Branyan is too injury prone to count on for more than 350 AB’s.

    So while I look forward to watching some of the talented youngsters play, it will take multiple miracles of the Gutierrez and Smoak variety to make the team competitive next year.

  12. eponymous coward on October 4th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Must not have seen any Mariners teams WITHOUT a HOFer in RF, then.

  13. Rayvensdad on October 4th, 2010 1:10 pm

    It seemed almost everyone wanted Jack Z.’s head on a plate, but I was never one of them. He made calculated decisions to create a team that would compete, at least on paper, and still bolster the minor league affiliates. No one, and that means absolutely NO ONE, could have predicted how pathetic this team played this year. Yeah, they didn’t have power to start the season, but we all thought this would be a small ball, pitching, and defense team. When it was apparent that Wak wouldn’t play small ball until the 9th inning it made all baseball fans scared… at least it did for me. We didn’t run enough, didn’t bunt properly, didn’t do the basic fundamentals that makes a team a small ball team. It also seemed like there was a lot of “just gonna wing it” style of decisions. When Griffey signed, he made it clear he is the 25th man, but then started a lot at the beginning of the season. Wak’s obsession with changing the lineup EVERY SINGLE GAME became extremely old. On and on and on we can point the fingers.

    Fact is that while this team was horrendous, the Minor League squads are all filled with very high potential players who were playing at a high level. They were all competitive in their respective leagues and that is something you can’t say about many of the other clubs. Ackley, Smoak, Mangini, Halman, Pineda, Cortes, Liddi, and Morla all have an opportunity to make this squad next year, and when was the last time we could say that about our youth. Moore and Saunders made strides, but need to continue to develop. Smoak seemed to get things worked out finishing off the season. Guti set a new single season error less streak out in Center field, AND SHOULD GET A FREAKING GOLD GLOVE, and should have a better season at the plate next year. Felix was a stud, obviously. Vargas and Fister had a productive season full of good and bad things, but things to learn on. French had a very productive season up in the bigs, again filled with things to build on. While the season was bad, we are making strides forward and making them at a good pace. That NEVER happened under Bavasi. Stay safe in the off season M’s.

  14. just a fan on October 4th, 2010 1:15 pm

    Wouldn’t two Jack Z’s on crystal meth just end up trading Smoak away just so they could trade for him to fix 1st base?

  15. just a fan on October 4th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Ackley is unlikely to provide much production in his first look at the big leagues.

    I’ve always thought Ackley would be a hitter who, if he starts in AAA, would be a good candidate to hit the ground running in June. Or at the very least have only a couple weeks adjustment period before he was productive.

    Not every minor leaguer hits .200 their first year in the bigs.

  16. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 1:24 pm

    I disagree that a lot of people want Jack Z gone. I haven’t seen or heard anything of the kind. But I don’t read Geoff Baker any more.

    Jack has to take responsibility for the Griffey and Leuke debacles. Now maybe Griffey was forced on him from above, so he gets a partial pass there…but the handling of the Griffey situation once it was clear he needed to go has to fall on Z. Wak was left hanging badly and it killed Wak’s credibility with the team.

    And the Leuke scandal is also on Z. It’s not the reason the season went bad, but it made a crappy season worse, and is a stain on Jack’s record.

    I think Jack is going to make some amazing deals this offseason. Players that aren’t in our organization today will contribute to a better season next year, because Jack Z. will find value other GM’s don’t see. But there’s no way it will be enough to bring a pennant to Seattle without massively improved play by a lot of players currently on the roster as well.

  17. gwangung on October 4th, 2010 1:25 pm

    Ackley is unlikely to provide much production in his first look at the big leagues.

    Anything above the Mendoza line would seem productive after this last season…..

    And…just remember…”small ball” actually works if you have players who actually get on base…

  18. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 1:27 pm

    I’ve always thought Ackley would be a hitter who, if he starts in AAA, would be a good candidate to hit the ground running in June. Or at the very least have only a couple weeks adjustment period before he was productive.
    Not every minor leaguer hits .200 their first year in the bigs.

    That’s about my take as well. Ackley might do good things if he’s brought up…even in April. But a lot of really talented players who go on to have great careers aren’t much better than replacement players their first season. That’s about what Lopez provided this year (0.6 WAR), so swapping Lopez for Ackley is unlikely to improve the team in 2011, in my opinion.

  19. Jay Yencich on October 4th, 2010 1:30 pm

    If we had a mountain of crystal meth, we wouldn’t need two GMs because our payroll issues would be solved.

    Just kidding, folks! Drugs are bad.

  20. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 1:32 pm

    swapping Lopez for Ackley is unlikely to improve the team in 2011, in my opinion

    I take it back…the team will get a lot more physically attractive and annoy me 37% less than it does now if Ackley replaces Lopez.

  21. Westside guy on October 4th, 2010 1:37 pm

    Geoff Baker cited an NL source saying the M’s in his past week of scouting, was the worst collection of position players he has ever seen….I wholly agree.

    I really don’t want to minimize this – but given that he was watching them this past week, you do have to consider which players he was watching.

    Guti was our DH, for crying out loud…

  22. lubin_cuban23 on October 4th, 2010 1:40 pm

    Ackley will put up 2.0 WAR next year, FACT

  23. spankystout on October 4th, 2010 1:44 pm

    I understand the context as I watched most of the games, as you did westside. It doesn’t mean its wrong. If you hit above .250 you were a major asset to this team at any point in the season. This team had more holes than a collander. The last week was a perfect example
    of the inepitude the team displayed all season. A F-@$ing walkoff strikeout from 1B?!?! I’m still processing that screw-up.

  24. Rayvensdad on October 4th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Why do people refer to the Lueke trade as a scandal?????? The kid @#$%ed up royally but has been trying to right his wrong, including fulfilling his punishment, though a weak punishment all in all. Personally, I am all for second chances and I’m also personally tired with our politically correct team being afraid to take chances like this. I like that Jack Z. did this whether it was on purpose or accidentally. This team does DUMB things while trying to be politically correct. How about trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez for the sheer fact that there was a difference in personality in the clubhouse. Yeah… good decision.

    If Lueke can pitch, he needs to be given the opportunity to prove it at the highest level possible. The trade for him is done and over with, let’s see if we can make something useful out of it rather than stand up and shove him down for something that was done well before the Cliff Lee trade. I’m not trying to down play what he’s accused of, I’m a father myself and I love my daughter more than anything, but all we can do is look at the present and the future and try and right our past mistakes by making smart decisions in front of us. We’ve all done dumb things in the past, some worse than others. There are plenty of things that I’ve done that I’m not proud of, but I try and not relive those dumb decisions by continuing to make them.

    To ship Lueke out for a past mistake, no matter the mistake, shows no interest for redemption and if we’re going to be a society of civilized individuals, we need to at least give him the opportunity to right his wrong.

  25. Rayvensdad on October 4th, 2010 1:51 pm

    Yeah, spankystout, that walk-off strikeout from 1st base is our season all balled up in one play. It couldn’t have been scripted better.

  26. Mariners2620 on October 4th, 2010 2:03 pm

    It is apparent that the 2011 Mariners will be well….egh. While it will be exciting to watch a few of the younger players day in and day out such as: Michael Pineda (Possibly), Matt Mangini (Possibly), Ackley (at some point), Dan Cortes (Possibly, and Varvaro (not likely). The likely hood of this organization going out and making a bid at any top dollar free agents, is basically sitting at 0-5 percent. A few guys from the website sodomojo.com were pushing rather mightily for the Mariners and Jack Z to swing a deal for Ricky Nolasco. I have jumped on that band wagon. Although, this team desperately needs offense, our rotation is a mess as well. Nolasco could be a solid number two guy (until Pineda pushes him aside), and a main stay for quite a while. A Felix, Nolasco, Vargas, Pineda, ? rotation could be very good. I am not talking about instant success with this atrocious offense, but eventually it will look formidable. Just an idea, but I really hope that GMZ looks into this. As for offensive players, mmmmmmm no idea.

  27. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 2:14 pm

    Why do people refer to the Lueke trade as a scandal??????

    The scandal here is that the M’s have been part of a public campaign against domestic violence, so a player involved in an act of violence against a woman looks really bad for the team. When this was raised by the media, Z. apparently lied (if you believe Rick Adair and common sense) saying they were told his case was dismissed. It’s the coverup that’s the scandal as much as what Lueke actually did…the details of which nobody but Lueke will ever know for sure. Since he wasn’t called up last month I don’t expect Lueke will ever pitch for the M’s. Hopefully someone else will want him enough to give us something in return.

  28. gwangung on October 4th, 2010 2:22 pm

    The scandal here is that the M’s have been part of a public campaign against domestic violence, so a player involved in an act of violence against a woman looks really bad for the team.

    That’s not a scandal. And it doesn’t look bad unless you behave stupidly; you can look just as good as you did before if you stand for you’re goal: reducing violence against women. That includes addressing men that have committed that in the past, to get them to recognize that behavior and refrain from it from the future.

  29. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 2:52 pm

    And it doesn’t look bad unless you behave stupidly

    Apparently someone in the organization thinks it looks pretty bad or they wouldn’t have fired Fusco over it. The M’s are one of the most image-conscious teams in the league when it comes to the character of its players. They didn’t want to have to go around explaining why Lueke isn’t such a bad guy.

    But I should have said that the scandal is partly due to the image issue and partly due to the exposure of the FO’s dishonesty. Taken as a whole, I think the word fits.

    And frankly I don’t know what Lueke did or whether he is or isn’t a really bad guy. I’d be ok with having him on the team. But not everyone would.

  30. Jay Yencich on October 4th, 2010 3:10 pm

    This is going in a lot of different directions at once with a fair amount of conflict among opinions, so before it gets entirely out of control, there’s point I’d like to hit on, and really the same point that I keep hitting on.

    Some of the crowd here is saying we have no way of actually knowing whether or not Ackley is going to contribute until he gets here and the other half is making assertions to the effect of Ackley being a 2.0 WAR player out of the gate. As is generally the case with a lot of strong-worded assertions, the truth is probably going to be somewhere in between.

    Smoak was regarded as one of the top college hitters available in his draft class and we’ve all seen the kind of adjustments he’s needed to make to get to where he’s worth getting excited about. Ackley was perhaps the top college hitter this decade and was horrible his first month in double-A. I know we all want to get back to winning as soon as possible. I also know that we want to have that core in place that would allow us to sustain that kind of winning for years to come. We aren’t necessarily going to be able to get both at the same time without waiting a bit for players to sort themselves out.

  31. gwangung on October 4th, 2010 3:12 pm

    Apparently someone in the organization thinks it looks pretty bad or they wouldn’t have fired Fusco over it. The M’s are one of the most image-conscious teams in the league when it comes to the character of its players. They didn’t want to have to go around explaining why Lueke isn’t such a bad guy.

    That, I think, reflects more on the upper administration than Lueke, and an inability to meet changing circumstances. I’m just saying there was a way to handle this without subverting your image OR working against your main, baseball goals.

  32. tylerv on October 4th, 2010 3:15 pm

    And second overall next June. I still put most of the failure on nearly a decade of busted pics.

    People love to talk chance when it comes to the draft, but its not just roulette.

    Following players from the draft is really interesting. It would make a good tale I think to read a not overly technical history of the expectations of each team’s drafted players and what came out. Some great stories in there, from an organizational standpoint and from a human standpoint for each player.

  33. Westside guy on October 4th, 2010 3:19 pm

    In the interest of demonstrating that pain and anticipation aren’t exclusive (wha-at??), here again is the Fangraphs article that talks about how long it takes before we can start making judgements about a player’s performance, stats-wise:

    When Samples Become Reliable

    Here’s the executive summary:

    50 PA: Swing %
    100 PA: Contact Rate
    150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
    200 PA: Walk Rate, Groundball Rate, GB/FB
    250 PA: Flyball Rate
    300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
    500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
    550 PA: ISO

    It’s worth noting that, even after 650 PA, players’ batting averages did not stabilize – it takes even longer than that. It’s also worth noting that playing a game or two, then sitting a week, then playing another game or two doesn’t really count towards this.

  34. TomC on October 4th, 2010 3:21 pm

    Things are More Hopeful than They Appear.

    I think we are still seeing the results of past years of Mariner mismanagement. This team’s problems stem largely from choices made several years ago – not the last off-season. The bad news is we have at least one more year to put up with this.

    Via Cots Contracts, here is Mariner’s payroll from the last four years

    2007: $106,460,833
    2008: $117,666,482
    2009: $ 98,904,166
    2010: $ 91,143,333

    Given this four year trend (and the overall economy) it seems unlikely they will increase payroll next year. Next year, the Mariners pay $5.5M to Carlos Silva, $13.3M to Milton Bradley, $5M to Jack Wilson and $1M to Yuniesky Betancourt. That amounts to $24.8 M for a below replacement value designated hitter, an often-injured light-hitting shortstop – and somebody else’s problems.

    That, folks, is a huge hole. Assuming the Mariners keep payroll at the same level (a questionable assumption) it represents more than 27% of their player spending.

    This situation arises directly from the disastrous Carlos Silva signing and the refusal to develop sufficient internal talent to replace disappointments like Betancourt. During the same period we used our first round draft pick on a %$#@! college relief pitcher and failed to develop any position players with major league level plate discipline.

    Fortunately, the $24.8M drops off the books in 2012. Assuming that Mr. Zduriencik does not repeat previous mistakes of signing mid-level veterans to long term contracts (cough Figgins cough) he should have sufficient payroll flexibility to get temporary (like Branyan) free agent help for any holes in the roster then. The key is to understand that free agent signings have to be short – one year preferably. They should be seen as temporary fixes and not long term solutions.

  35. Westside guy on October 4th, 2010 3:23 pm

    Via Cots Contracts, here is Mariner’s payroll from the last four years

    2007: $106,460,833
    2008: $117,666,482
    2009: $ 98,904,166
    2010: $ 91,143,333

    Wow! So in 2010 the Mariners were something like 23% more efficient than the 2008 team in terms of dollars per loss! :-D

  36. Justin on October 4th, 2010 3:28 pm

    I just read the mass message sent by Jack Z and Howard Lincoln. Initial thing I read into was, as he was praising the up-and-coming talent he didn’t include Lueke in his list of minor league ptichers that will be major league ready for next year. Could be very telling…

  37. wabbles on October 4th, 2010 4:05 pm

    Once again, I’ll harken back to 1993, when we finished 82-80 in Lou’s first season and improved 18 games over 1992′s 64-98. (That was a major disappointment following our first winning season, 83-79 in 1991, after which we fired the manager to amazement of all of baseball.) In 1994, yeah we were like two games out of first in the new four-team AL West but we were TEN GAMES under .500 (and that was following our road warrior winning streak). But we were building on 91-92-93, despite the lousy record. We all know what happened the next year. We ain’t playing the Yankees for the AL Championship next year but we aren’t going to suck.

  38. Bremerton guy on October 4th, 2010 4:54 pm

    I hope for the best, I really do. I hope I’m just being pessimistic, and not to be a wet blanket, but I’m not as sure as others that Jack Z. will make the right moves. I mean, after all, Brandon Morrow for Brandon League? I didn’t get that one when it happened. The Brandon Morrow coming out party in Toronto certainly didn’t do anything to change my mind. Chone Figgins? Maybe next year he’ll be the guy everyone thought the M’s were getting.

    While on the whole Jack’s average is above .500, not everything he’s touched has turned to gold. (And the next Josh Bard signing isn’t going to be the move that puts the M’s over the top.)

    My gosh, I’m glad the season’s over. Maybe by February my batteries will be recharged.

  39. gwangung on October 4th, 2010 5:14 pm

    I hope for the best, I really do. I hope I’m just being pessimistic, and not to be a wet blanket, but I’m not as sure as others that Jack Z. will make the right moves

    Check his overall record. Even this year’s trades are not that bad; his last year’s aren’t anything less than brilliant.

  40. spankystout on October 4th, 2010 5:14 pm

    Wabbles

    Comparing the M’s of the early-mid ’90s to the 2010 M’s is far-reaching at best. The ’95 M’s had Tino, Cora, Dan Wilson, Edgar, Buhner, Jr, RJ, etc…. The current M’s don’t have much more than Ichiro, and Felix.

  41. gwangung on October 4th, 2010 5:25 pm

    Comparing the M’s of the early-mid ’90s to the 2010 M’s is far-reaching at best. The ‘95 M’s had Tino, Cora, Dan Wilson, Edgar, Buhner, Jr, RJ, etc…. The current M’s don’t have much more than Ichiro, and Felix.

    That’s easy to say now. Less easy to say in the early 90s.

    You DO realize that people didn’t know what they had in Edgar, RJ et al? They only had vague hopes? Because they all weren’t “proven vets”?

  42. the tourist on October 4th, 2010 5:27 pm

    Comparing the M’s of the early-mid ’90s to the 2010 M’s is far-reaching at best. The ‘95 M’s had Tino, Cora, Dan Wilson, Edgar, Buhner, Jr, RJ, etc…. The current M’s don’t have much more than Ichiro, and Felix.

    I think maybe he was comparing 2011 with 1994, if we’re following year by year. And the Mariners will have Felix, Ichiro, and a bunch of improving and proving young guys (in a tougher ballpark). But yeah, to say the 2011 M’s don’t have much besides Ichiro and Felix is foolish.

  43. diderot on October 4th, 2010 5:42 pm

    previous mistakes of signing mid-level veterans to long term contracts (cough Figgins cough)

    Chone Figgins? Maybe next year he’ll be the guy everyone thought the M’s were getting.

    Too bad everyone didn’t hang around for the second half of the season.
    Figgins’ career: .287 average, .359 OBP
    After the All Star break this year: .286 average, .349 OBP

    Even with the horrible start, exactly the same strikeouts this year as last, exactly the same number of stolen bases.

    Third base is filled for next year.

  44. spankystout on October 4th, 2010 5:46 pm

    Both Edgar and RJ were above average players in 1990. They only got better through ’95, and if you didn’t know Edgar, and RJ were great players by 94, or 95, you weren’t watching.

  45. TomC on October 4th, 2010 7:36 pm

    Too bad everyone didn’t hang around for the second half of the season.
    Figgins’ career: .287 average, .359 OBP
    After the All Star break this year: .286 average, .349 OBP

    Even with the horrible start, exactly the same strikeouts this year as last, exactly the same number of stolen bases.

    Chone Figgins is not terrible, but he is a bad signing and certainly not worth $9M a year.

    Here is his OPS+ for the last four years:
    2007 117
    2008 82
    2009 110
    2010 84

    His Career OPS+ is 97. An average OPS+, by definition, is 100. This means he is a slightly below average hitter.

    This year he had 42 steals and was caught stealing 15 times. That calculates to a 73.6% success rate. As I understand it, a stolen base success percentage below 80% means you cost your team more than you gained it. Again, not terrible, but not helpful either.

    I haven’t seen his defensive ratings but my observations of his play didn’t wow me this year. Let’s say he is slightly above average as a fielder.

    So, we signed a 31 year old slightly above average middle infielder with slightly below average offensive skills and slightly negative baserunning skills and gave him 10% of our payroll (approximately) for four years.

    Remember, he is 32 years old — his best years as a baseball player are probably behind him now.

    In addition, we can all recall what a truly positive “clubhouse chemistry” guy he was by watching him get into a fist fight with his manager in the dugout — after being benched for loafing.

    Chone Figgins is a bad signing. Not terrible, just bad. It would be best if we could figure out some sucker who would take his contract off our hands.

  46. qwerty on October 4th, 2010 8:06 pm

    I disagree that a lot of people want Jack Z gone. I haven’t seen or heard anything of the kind. But I don’t read Geoff Baker any more.

    What DID happen to the Geoff Baker link anyway? Why did he get 86′d? Like this site, he’s been very critical of the Griffey ordeal, Choward, and very supportive of Wak…what happened?

  47. shortbus on October 4th, 2010 9:14 pm

    I can’t speak for the USSM, but I stopped reading Baker after his post explaining why he didn’t give Edgar his vote for the Hall of Fame. If he votes the right way this year I might give him another shot.

  48. wabbles on October 4th, 2010 9:26 pm

    Actually, I’m hoping that 2010 equates with 1994 and 2011 is something closer to 1995 without the drama. Remember, we were only 78-66 that year. (79 wins with the playoff game) 12 wins over .500 or…93 in a full season. Hmmm…that’s bit of a stretch but that’s my point. I’ll take it.

    And our young players of the early 90s hadn’t put it all together yet, only us fans knew many of them.

  49. 6-4-3 on October 4th, 2010 9:31 pm

    The bright side of this year’s offensive black hole is it makes the off-season strategy crystal clear. The first question in any personnel decision should be “will this player contribute more offense than the player he’s replacing?” If the answer isn’t an unequivocal “yes” then that should be the end of the discussion.

  50. diderot on October 4th, 2010 10:18 pm

    His Career OPS+ is 97. An average OPS+, by definition, is 100. This means he is a slightly below average hitter.

    The only metric that matters is how he compares to other hitters on our team. Do you really think we would have been better this year with Tui at second? Or better next year with Mangini at third?

    True, he eats up some payroll. But in order for that to matter, you have to assume that putting the money in Jack’s pocket would allow him to bring in a star-caliber player. And the fact of the matter is there is no way the M’s can win a bidding war…or convince that caliber of player to come here even if they do pay a little more.

    In short, this reminds me of the argument that we’d be better off dumping Ichiro. As the second most productive hitter on a team that can’t hit, he is not someone we should discard thoughtlessly.

    Remember, he is 32 years old — his best years as a baseball player are probably behind him now.

    So in other words, Ichiro is done.

    we can all recall what a truly positive “clubhouse chemistry” guy he was

    I really don’t know exactly what happened or what was said. I look forward to your inside scoop.

  51. JMHawkins on October 4th, 2010 11:36 pm

    Cheer up everybody! Next year is an odd year. The M’s best years have always been odd years.

  52. garrett1616 on October 5th, 2010 12:55 am

    I am personally not worried about Figgins. I honestly believe that he will hit around .280 with an OBP of around .350. I will take that out of the two hole with 40 SB’s.
    And like diderot said, yes he might be taking up a little bit more payroll then he should, but if he was making 5 million instead of 9 if would barely be an issue, and would that extra 4 million put us over the top? Not at all.

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