Bedard, Fields Go in Three-Way Deal, M’s Get OFs Chiang and Robinson

Jay Yencich · July 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Deals! Just before the deadline, the Mariners pulled off an exchange with the Red Sox and Dodgers that sent LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Josh Fields to the Red Sox and brought in OF Chih-Hsien Chiang from the Sox and OF Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers. I’ll pass over what the Dodgers are getting, as it doesn’t really interest us, and I’ll leave the commentary on Bedard and Fields limited. I’m sorry to see Bedard go because he was a good pitcher for us this year, loyal, and a rather entertaining figure so long as you weren’t trying to interview him. Fields, I think of subtraction equaling addition at this point. Our first-round pick in 2008, his command has been horrible as a pro and nothing about that has changed this season, to say nothing of the various oblique and other injuries he’s suffered over his career which have meant that he just cracked 100.0 career innings in the past week. Frustrating players are identified as such because they have more potential than they seem to be able to show on a consistent basis, and I don’t really have much reason to think that Fields will shed that label any time soon. So let’s talk about the players we brought in!

Robinson has been a top ten prospect for a couple of years for the Dodgers, though their system has been in poor shape for a little while. He’s one of the rare guys who picked up switch-hitting as a pro and actually managed to stick with it and become proficient. In the PCL this season, he’s hit .293/.375/.563 for the Albuquerque Isotopes with twenty-six home runs (and somehow only nine doubles). There are some issues surrounding this, such as Albuquerque boasting a 153 HR factor for right-handers and a 127 factor for left-handers, but while he’s slugged .585 at home, he’s a good .537 on the road, and about twenty-five points of that are tied up in average alone. Factor in the weirdness of the Pacific Coast League this year as you will, since it’s turned into quite the hitting league this year. What I really like about him, however, is that he pulled a Wlad Balentien by abruptly going from thirty walks a season to sixty to seventy. He still strikes out a lot, but the fact that he’s suddenly capable of drawing a walk makes me hopeful that the power he’s showing is usable. On the field, he’s got good wheels (has been around 40 steals the previous two years, though he only has eight this season) and could easily take over in center field if the need arises. His arm isn’t great, but all things considered, that’s probably his worst tool and center fielders have survived with weak arms. John Sickels also likes him a bit. I’m terrible with player comps, but I could see his best-case scenario being something like a lesser, switch-hitting Mike Cameron. Robinson probably wouldn’t be regarded as an elite prospect, but he’s still very talented and could compete for a spot opening next season.

Chiang is not so hot a prospect, but still interesting on his own merits. He’s a former infielder who was prone to a few too many mental errors and got shifted to the outfield in the 2009 season. The arm has been sufficient enough to get him playing time in right field. The Red Sox had him repeat double-A this year after he hit .260/.312/.420 for Portland last season, and he’s responded by posting a .338/.399/.647 line with a .431 wOBA, with better power numbers in less than three-quarters of the at-bats. He doesn’t walk much, and would probably top out about forty, but he doesn’t strike out much either and wouldn’t be one of the guys we see as risking 100+ Ks a season, probably more like eighty. Chiang is much better against right-handers, with an OPS differential of about .225, though that’s nothing unusual. Since he’s repeating a level and doesn’t get rave reviews for his on-field work, he’s sort of a lower-end, B-level prospect, a few steps below where Robinson is at. Considering we have Peguero and Chavez and others hanging about in the high minors, Chiang may be more interesting for the competition he provides than for anything extraordinary in his toolbox.

All-in-all, I’d say this is a win for the M’s, far better than what was initially coming down the wire, which was some backup catcher coming our way. I wouldn’t say either of these guys is a guy that I’m going to pencil in as the anything of the future, though Robinson has good odds on seeing some time down the road. For what may end up as a rental for the Red Sox (and whatever it is that Fields is), this is a pretty darned good return.

Comments

120 Responses to “Bedard, Fields Go in Three-Way Deal, M’s Get OFs Chiang and Robinson”

  1. Thom Jimsen on July 31st, 2011 2:26 pm

    Between Wells and Robinson, it would seem that the path is pretty well blocked for third/second acts from Saunders and Peguero, no? Unless, of course, they all perform/flail at roughly the same level.

  2. Seattleken on July 31st, 2011 2:29 pm

    Great deal for the M’s. Just when I was about to give up hope they make a great deal. They get a high upside 5 tool player who is still learning adding walks and switch hitting, for a relief prospect and Bedard who wouldn’t be a type B. I even like Chih-Hsien Chiang he could end up being a nice role player. I think he can hit for a nice OB% even though his glove isn’t very good. Nicely done Jack…

  3. Jay Yencich on July 31st, 2011 2:31 pm

    Between Wells and Robinson, it would seem that the path is pretty well blocked for third/second acts from Saunders and Peguero, no? Unless, of course, they all perform/flail at roughly the same level.

    Competition seems to be the word, and Saunders is still walking like some kind of crazy walking man. There’s no reason why we couldn’t deal from some of that depth later depending on our own needs.

  4. lailaihei on July 31st, 2011 2:38 pm

    Do you think Chiang’s power increase this year is real? He doesn’t look like a huge guy, and seems to have a really easy swing. A .300+ ISO, even repeating a level, is really impressive.

  5. Thom Jimsen on July 31st, 2011 2:39 pm

    What do you think about the likelihood of the M’s dumping Figgins and possibly Wilson in August trades? Seems like there’s still time to showcase them, and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t clear waivers.

  6. Cody on July 31st, 2011 2:49 pm

    I have to imagine Figgins will be placed on wavers tomorrow if he hasn’t already.

    If someone claims him they can keep him

  7. tmac9311 on July 31st, 2011 2:50 pm

    I’m hoping Chiang can turn into a decent utility player, though it sounds like he’s not to good at any position defensibly. Glad to see the M’s turn Bedard/Fister into a solution for LF in 2012. Do Wells and Robinson complement each other for a platoon, or is it more or less Robinson’s job to lose? How accurate are the rumors of Bedard resigning here next year? Getting these two for Fields alone would put a big smile on my face.

  8. Thievery on July 31st, 2011 2:53 pm

    You’re not going to pencil Robinson in as “the anything of the future” and see him as someone whoe merely will “see come time down the road”? Really?

  9. Jay Yencich on July 31st, 2011 2:58 pm

    You’re not going to pencil Robinson in as “the anything of the future” and see him as someone whoe merely will “see come time down the road”? Really?

    I like him better than that, it’s just a matter of there being so many outfielders in the high minors and Guti’s health issues (and contract money) which make it difficult to predict exactly how things will shake out. Or rather, Robinson is competing with six or so guys for two spots and I can see him getting a prominent share of that time, whereas in a lot of other organizations, he’d be starting next season.

    What do you think about the likelihood of the M’s dumping Figgins and possibly Wilson in August trades? Seems like there’s still time to showcase them, and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t clear waivers.

    It could happen. I’m honestly a little surprised that Adam Kennedy is still around, but he definitely wouldn’t clear waivers.

    Do you think Chiang’s power increase this year is real? He doesn’t look like a huge guy, and seems to have a really easy swing. A .300+ ISO, even repeating a level, is really impressive.

    I pay some attention to Taiwanese amateur scouting and I seem to remember Chiang as being one guy who didn’t perform as well as they thought he was going to. Some have attributed that to his diabetes, which he’s reportedly managing better this season, so there’s a chance that this is a legitimate breakout. We have had plenty of experience with such players lately…

  10. TomC on July 31st, 2011 3:06 pm

    Meh. Maybe it’s a net positive but this is a very small move.

    The Mariners have many holes in their roster and this move (together with the Fister trade) only potentially-if-everything-works-out-and-with-some-good-luck fixes the minor problems.

    I hope I am wrong but these moves seem to be about organizational depth, not quality. I was hoping for future all-stars but it seems we got future roster fillers.

    More Ackleys, less Halmans please.

  11. Milendriel on July 31st, 2011 3:32 pm

    I hope I am wrong but these moves seem to be about organizational depth, not quality. I was hoping for future all-stars but it seems we got future roster fillers.

    More Ackleys, less Halmans please.

    You’re not getting a team’s Ackley without giving up your Pineda.

  12. UnderTheClouds on July 31st, 2011 3:33 pm

    More Ackleys, less Halmans. What team would agree to trade an Ackley-level prospect for a 2-month rental or a solid #3 or 4 starter? Maybe the Bavasi-led Mariners. Bedard may be just the lefty starter the Sox need, but it’s a risk for them given his health history, and he’s a free agent after the season. I think Jack Z did about as well as could be expected with what he had to trade, unless you want to trade Hernandez or Pineda.

  13. KiWiNiNjA on July 31st, 2011 3:38 pm

    Give me something for nothing…..

    Ummmmmm, OK.

  14. Shawnuel on July 31st, 2011 3:43 pm

    aaaaah….Furbush gives up a home run to the first batter he faces as a Mariner.

  15. just a fan on July 31st, 2011 3:45 pm

    This is better than I had expected for Bedard.

    Some of this potential we acquired in the last two days is going to bear out.

  16. TomC on July 31st, 2011 4:13 pm

    You’re not getting a team’s Ackley without giving up your Pineda.

    I think Jack Z did about as well as could be expected with what he had to trade, unless you want to trade Hernandez or Pineda.

    I still say Meh. We traded a #4-5 starter and an oft-injured potential #2 starter for some middling “might be a regular player some day” prospects. They are fine as far as it goes. But it is still just treading water.

    These are status quo trades – not losing trades – but not big winners either. This organization is very far behind in talent. Very, very far. We need to increase the talent level at every position on the team as well as in the farm system. Getting equal value in trades is not good enough. Getting equal value means we continue to stink. realistically we need 4-5 more Ackley level players on the big league roster.

    I will celebrate when we make a Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps or Randy Johnson for Mark Langston level trades. Unrealistic, yes, but those are the only kind of trades worth caring about.

    I want a winning team that makes it to the playoffs more years than not. Trades like these do not make that outcome more likely.

  17. scraps on July 31st, 2011 4:21 pm

    I bet you were going Meh over the Buhner trade at the time, at the beginning of his career.

  18. The_Waco_Kid on July 31st, 2011 4:25 pm

    I can’t help but agree with Tom C. I mean, Jay knows way more about these players than most of us, so I defer to his judgment, and I understand Baseball 101, if you’re not contending, trade for prospects.

    Still, I’m not convinced we got much. It may well be, as some have pointed out, that we couldn’t have done better. “You can’t get an Ackeley without giving up a Pineda.” Certainly. But is there middle ground? (Nick Franklin? I dunno…) We gave Jamie Moyer away for 2 prospects who obviously had little chance of ever making the bigs. If we truly traded Bedard and Fister for organizational depth, or longshots to make the bigs, I say we shoulda kept them. Hopefully, it goes better than that.

  19. gwangung on July 31st, 2011 4:37 pm

    Certainly. But is there middle ground?

    That depends on accurately judging the talent.

    I’m not sure ANYONE here (with the possible exception o Jay) is doing that. If you’re not judging talent right, then you can’t possibly hit the middle ground.

  20. UnderTheClouds on July 31st, 2011 4:55 pm

    I don’t think anyone’s jumping for joy with these trades, just recognizing that Z has done the necessary work to improve the talent level of the organization by trading away players that are relatively easy to replace. If you’re hoping for a blockbuster trade involving Hernandez or Pineda, maybe you’ll get your wish in the offseason, which would be a better time to pull-off such a trade. The impact players the M’s would have to demand in return for Hernandez would weaken the receiving team–not something any GM would do in the heart of a pennant race.

    As far as wanting a winning team that makes the playoffs more often than not, I think quality scouting and drafting are the key to that, absent a Yankee or Red Sox payroll. Unfortunately, a talent-building approach takes time and improvement is often incremental.

  21. marc w on July 31st, 2011 5:00 pm

    JY,

    Any thoughts on the M’s NOT moving League? I mean, Mike Adams fetched Robbie Erlin plus another player, Uehara brought…well, some people like Tommy Hunter. Padres apparently wanted a lot for Heath Bell, but it seems like the Rangers and others were paying quite a bit for bullpen help. Missed opportunity?

    I’d have taken Robbie Erlin straight up, but I can see the argument that you don’t move League just for the sake of moving him. What do you think?

  22. rotoenquire on July 31st, 2011 5:10 pm

    With 38 Dbls and 18 Hr’s which are the numbers you look at in reference to power when they hit the majors is incredible. He has an average arm to go with his overall defense. I would project him being looked at this year and have a solid shot during spring training to win the LF job. 25-30 HR’s is not unrealistic with this kid and a .260 avg. Robinson needs to return to his hit for avg and steal formula. This new found power with little to no Dbls does not translate well to the majors.

  23. Edgar4Hall on July 31st, 2011 5:13 pm

    As far as I can see, both can help in a big way if things go right. Also, just because the only home grown talents that we have been able to produce and not trade in the past 15 years are a few international signees like Pineda or Felix and can’t miss guys like ARod and Ackley doesn’t mean guys like this can’t become major players. Seriously isn’t it better that we get players who may turn into producers instead of a constantly hurt pitcher?

    Also, Tom, we already know what we have with those guys we traded. We are trading for a chance for players. Rolling the dice is also a way that you could possibly win a trade, not just ripping somebody off.

    And if you think you can rip off Epstein good luck

  24. G-Man on July 31st, 2011 5:15 pm

    I understand the disappointment some people are expressing, but it was indeed a good deal for what little we gave up.

    I tend to figure that the more guys you get, the more likely you’ll have one of them develop beyond normal expectations. Wells and Robinson don’t sound like they’ll be great, but they might surprise us. I’m particularly hopeful about Robinson.

    Somebody mentioned the Langston for Randy Johnson trade as a good one. At the time, Johnson was a flamethrower with potential that we could only hope would come to fruition. He blossomed into a star. Maybe one guy from the ever-deepening pool of prospects that we have will do the same.

  25. Typical Idiot Fan on July 31st, 2011 5:36 pm

    I think I like both of these guys more than Jay does. I like the Dexter Fowler comp for Robinson, and I’d take that without much complaint. Robinson has been walking quite well and managing his strikeouts BEFORE this season. His minor league career walk line was about 10% of his PAs before this season. The only real anomalies are the HR increase and the strikeout increase.

    As for Chiang, I am trying to find something… anything… that leads me to believe his power numbers this season is a fluke. I can’t find it. Even if you normalize his BABIP a bit, he’s still posting a .300+ ISO. His low strikeout rate seems to imply a decent to high contact rate, and we know those can fluctuate quite a bit. But right now it’s fluctuating the fuck out of the ballpark.

    Thus, I think I like Chiang more than Robinson overall, but both are fine pickups for a half season rental of Bedard.

  26. StatBoy on July 31st, 2011 5:44 pm

    Great post G-Man.

  27. gwangung on July 31st, 2011 5:58 pm

    I tend to figure that the more guys you get, the more likely you’ll have one of them develop beyond normal expectations. Wells and Robinson don’t sound like they’ll be great, but they might surprise us. I’m particularly hopeful about Robinson.

    Well, before, I think the Ms got a lot of high upside, very low downside players. And if you’re not good at scouting, you get what we see now.

    And, to be honest, the only way to get high upside, high downside players is to lose 100 games a year. Consistently.

    What I think we’re seeing is a lot of players who have a decent amount of upside, but whose downside is still a decent ball player. We get enough of them, you’ll get one or two occasional stars–and you get a natural, home grown stars and scrub formula.

  28. eponymous coward on July 31st, 2011 6:29 pm

    I will celebrate when we make a Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps or Randy Johnson for Mark Langston level trades. Unrealistic, yes, but those are the only kind of trades worth caring about.

    So, how did you feel about the JJ Putz deal? Bet you were going “meh”. How do you feel about it now?

    Look, at the beginning of this weekend, we had a complete vacuum at 3B and in the OF, given that Gutierrez, Figgins and Ichiro are not looking like long-term answers (or really even short-term answers).

    Now? We don’t as much. Given that Beaven isn’t a lot different than Fister in terms of the overall talent level, we’ve basically given away a replaceable back-end starter, a rent-a-pitcher with injury history, and fungible bullpen arms for OF depth and talent at 3B. I’m very happy with this outcome, because even Bill frickin’ Bavasi could build a decent bullpen with no money by the last couple of years he was here. (Yeah, in an ideal world we would have dumped League for talent too, but maybe there wasn’t a deal out there.)

    You might sneer at organizational depth, but realistically, the only way to GET Ackleys is to have talent depth in your organization that can bloom that way, or high draft position. We’ll have the draft position next year, likely, but now we have the ability to sort through the kids and see what we get.

  29. EricL on July 31st, 2011 6:43 pm

    Jack Z really does seem to shine in three-team deals, does he not? I couldn’t see getting this kind of return for Bedard from a single organization.

  30. Auggeydog on July 31st, 2011 6:51 pm

    Jay, I was doing a little reading about Robinson and found a comment in a few different articles interesting. They talked about him growing up and becoming more mature. Looking at his numbers it seems maybe hr finally did get it. Is it probable that he can make improvements close to what he did last year? Being away from home straight out of HS school can be no different than going to college with less supervision. I think this is what gives me hope with this prospect, he is learning what he should have learned in the 1st couple years of College in the Minors. Young men mature at different rates, hopefully he is one of them and just showing what he will be.

    Tom C it has been said but I remember the trade for Randy J, many people were upset over the trade. We did nt get enough, RJ will not be good etc. Give it time and see what happens.

  31. SonOfZavaras on July 31st, 2011 7:16 pm

    Count me among the ones who couldn’t be happier with the return for Bedard/Fields.

    I think Trayvon Robinson is going to be something in the bigs, maybe even a formidable something.

    At the very least, he’s another bat with possibilities. The more of those we have, the more likely we wind up with an answer or two, long-term. No?

    The only way I was going to be happier was if we wound up with a Ryan Lavarnway or similar catcher prospect in the three-way.

    And while I’m sure Lavarnway’s name came up as something that Jack wanted in negotiations, I can understand any reluctance on the BoSox’ side in parting with him: Saltalamacchia hasn’t proven all that much other than he’s a legit backup in the majors, and Varitek is 74 years old next April.

  32. SonOfZavaras on July 31st, 2011 7:19 pm

    One thing’s for sure…come September when rosters expand, it’s gonna be like a who’s who of bats and arms we have a lot of hope for.

    Let me speculate: I can see Liddi, Trayvon Robinson, Paxton, Seager, Saunders, Catricala and Francisco Martinez all getting a taste of the bigs. Maybe Pryor and Snow, too.

  33. djtizzo on July 31st, 2011 7:41 pm

    I’d really like to know what the Cards were offering for Bedard? They have a several very talented pitching prospects that could have been had! Robinsons good, it’s hard to read into if Jay is undervaluing him or praising him though? This kid is legit! Best player (not named Bedard) in this trade for sure.

  34. UnderTheClouds on July 31st, 2011 7:54 pm

    After his career with Baltimore and Seattle, I’m looking forward to see how Bedard performs playing for a division leader and a legit favorite to reach the World Series. I sincerely wish him well. I’d rather see the Red Sox win the AL pennent than New York or Texas, though the Rangers look very, very good. I hope the media circus and fan scrutiny inherent in the Boston-New York-Philly axis doesn’t distract him from pitching his best, but I think anyone rooting for the Sox has to be a little concerned about this possibility, maybe even moreso than his injury history.

  35. SonOfZavaras on July 31st, 2011 8:04 pm

    Onr thing I’m happy for.

    It is “Erik Bedard, Front And Center” time. Once and for all, he gets a chance to erase any doubts about whether he can pitch in big games or any lingering questions of his competitive character throughout baseball.

    (And eff you, MacPhail- that was an unwarranted cheap shot on Bedard that you volleyed off last week. Any way you slice it.)

    And if Bedard’s the competitor deep down that I think he is, he’s relishing this chance to do just that- put some things said about him to rest.

    Best of luck, Erik. And sign with us in the off-season.

  36. Barrel on July 31st, 2011 8:10 pm

    I agree with what most people said, it is nice that the Mariners were able to get something for Bedard. Too bad that Fields never blossomed as we had hoped, and I was actually surprised that Z didn’t let him go back into the draft and take the sandwich pick for him. The Fist may have been a sell high, but I did like having a guy like him (even if he is a #4/#5 starter) locked up for a few more years. We are starting to build depth at the SP position in the minors, and it could verywell be a position of strength.

    As far as the Langston/Randy deal, it was not viewed as a big positive at the time. I was only 11 years old, and my dad swore off the Mariners after that deal was made. Johnson was a very raw talent as others have said, and Harris was seen as the real jewel of the trade.

  37. PinedaExpress on July 31st, 2011 8:23 pm

    I’d really like to know what the Cards were offering for Bedard? They have a several very talented pitching prospects that could have been had!

    If Jack had dealt him for more pitching prospects, this place would have gone nuts. Remember back to the draft and all the ‘we need hitters’ commentary. He got hitters, lets hope they pan out.

  38. jordan on July 31st, 2011 8:40 pm

    Who is our new #5 starter?

    We got Felix, Pineda, Vargas, and Beavan…

  39. DAMellen on July 31st, 2011 8:53 pm

    I’d let Furbush take a shot. Who else is there even? I don’t think anybody feels like Paxton is ready. Seddon? No thanks.

  40. SonOfZavaras on July 31st, 2011 8:55 pm

    Forrest Snow might warrant a shot at the 5th starter spot. In Tacoma right now.

    But I think they’ll Frankenstein this next week or so of games, until they feel Furbush is stretched out enough to try a start.

  41. jordan on July 31st, 2011 9:02 pm

    Yeah, I just looked at Tacoma’s roster, and wow. Not good.

  42. ivan on July 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    Bedard got hurt, and then got hurt again, yet he signed back here twice and worked his way back to where he helped the Mariners, and Seattle could get some value for him.

    He showed that he cared about being here, and I like to think the fans would give him a standing O when he returns here with the Red Sox. IMO he earned it.

  43. djtizzo on July 31st, 2011 9:59 pm

    He showed that he cared about being here, and I like to think the fans would give him a standing O when he returns here with the Red Sox. IMO he earned it.

    I’ll be stand O’ing….no doubt. The guy can pitch his brains out and I wish the M’s were a winner so we could have kept him!

  44. G-Man on July 31st, 2011 10:13 pm

    Rafael Furcal is hitting .197 with and OPS of .520 and HE got traded:

    “the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Rafael Furcal and cash from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Alex Castellanos (AA). Dodgers will be sending $2.56M (insert Frank McCourt joke here); Cardinals will pay the other $1.4M of Furcal’s remaining salary.”

    I hope they at least called about Jack Wilson.

  45. sexymarinersfan on July 31st, 2011 10:16 pm

    I’m still really happy over the fact that we still have another “significant player” coming to us in another month or so.

    We have acquired a lot of talent for an injured player, albeit a great one, and Fister, who the Detroit GM said that Seattle was not looking to move initially. They knew that they were going to have to give up some real talent to acquire “The Fist” AND Pauley! Let’s not forget about David Pauley’s value to this team and the pen. We’ve parted some really good pitching lately, and at the right time I’d say.

    Z said that Robinson and Chiang are “Impact bats”. I really like the sound of that. He’s a great talent evaluator. He wouldn’t have made these deals if he didn’t think it couldn’t have helped our team.

    I’d like to know where Robinson, Chiang, Martinez, and the PTBNL are all going to be ranked in our farm system at the end of the year, and can’t wait to find out who’s the closest to reaching the bigs.

    Very very excited for my Mariners. A job well done to Z and his staff!

    Go M’s!

  46. heychuck01 on July 31st, 2011 10:25 pm

    Z said that Robinson and Chiang are “Impact bats”. I really like the sound of that.

    I am not trying to downplay your comment, but what Z says in press conferences should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Neither of these players is an “impact bat” right now. But for the future, I guess there is a ‘non-zero’ chance it could happen.

  47. dnc on July 31st, 2011 10:33 pm

    I’d like to know where Robinson, Chiang, Martinez, and the PTBNL are all going to be ranked in our farm system at the end of the year, and can’t wait to find out who’s the closest to reaching the bigs.

    It’s definitely not the end of the year, and I’m not an expert, but fwiw my initial post trade top 10 looks like this (Hultzen will be #2 when he signs, bumping everyone else down a notch):

    1 Walker
    2 Franklin
    3 Paxton
    4 Robinson
    5 Campos
    6 Chiang
    7 Martinez
    8 Triunfel
    9 Pimentel
    10 Catricala

  48. diderot on July 31st, 2011 10:47 pm

    Neither of these players is an “impact bat” right now.

    I keep thinking about what Jack said at the Benaroya event a couple years ago: “You just never know when a guy is going to figure it out”. (And of course, the unstated implication is that most guys never do figure it out).

    But you can make a case from stats this year that Jack believes both of these guys may have ‘figured it out’.

    There’s no way anyone can predict that either will turn into a Bautista…but maybe if one could turn into 2/3 of a Bautista?

  49. wilchiro on July 31st, 2011 11:29 pm

    1 Walker
    2 Franklin
    3 Paxton
    4 Robinson
    5 Campos
    6 Chiang
    7 Martinez
    8 Triunfel
    9 Pimentel
    10 Catricala

    Why so down on Pimentel? He’s still only 18-years-old and a top-100 prospect by some. I think he’s still the best outfielder in the system based on potential, but that’s just personal opinion. I’m no prospect expert.

  50. rotoenquire on July 31st, 2011 11:39 pm

    1 Walker
    2 Hultzen
    3 Franklin
    4 Robinson
    5 Pimentel
    6 Paxton
    7 Martinez
    8 Triunfel
    9 Campos
    10 Chiang

    Think that is a more fair assessment.. I am REALLY HIGH on Chiang, BUT overall talent it lays out more like this..

  51. rotoenquire on July 31st, 2011 11:40 pm

    And to be honest if it is Smyly as the PTBNL I would put him #8 and bump the rest down one..

  52. Edgar4Hall on July 31st, 2011 11:59 pm

    Is it just me or could these two moves and if/when we sign Hultzen we could have a top ten farm system for next year?

  53. tmac9311 on August 1st, 2011 12:08 am

    who takes Bedard’s spot in the 25?? Not that it really matters, but i suppose it’s an extra month of majors time before September callups

  54. Sports on a Schtick on August 1st, 2011 12:09 am

    Could be argued both Robinson and Chiang would be impact bats for the Mariners right now. Of course that means hitting .250 but anyway……

    GMZ & Co. did a really good job of stocking the system with talent this weekend. Not all the prospects will pan out but some will improve the team, thus making others expendable to acquire other assets. The circle of life.

    Here’s how John Sickels rates the newest M’s prospects:

    Trayvon Robinson: B+/B
    Chih-Hsien Chiang: B-/C+

    Charlie Furbush: C+
    Casper Wells: C+
    Francisco Martinez: C+
    PTBNL: (Chance Ruffin and Drew Smyly were both rated B- in the preseason)

    Toss them into the mix and in a few weeks it’s not going to be ridiculous to claim the Mariners have a top ten farm system.

  55. gwangung on August 1st, 2011 12:22 am

    For comparison, Ackley was a A-/B+, so possible solid, productive players here.

  56. Typical Idiot Fan on August 1st, 2011 12:24 am

    Kindly remember the Mariners graduated a few of their prospects this season. Without Ackley and Pineda (and maybe more interesting guys like Lueke, Seager, Cortes, etc), who were both top 50 prospects in the country on most charts, the farm looks worse, not better. Quantity with a bunch of potential prospects doesn’t give us rankings over teams with true impact talents, especially those near the majors.

    So, no, I don’t think we’re top 10 when things are said and done. Weren’t even top 10 before.

    BTW dnc:

    It’s definitely not the end of the year, and I’m not an expert, but fwiw my initial post trade top 10 looks like this

    If we hadn’t added those new prospects, then you’d have Catricala ranked 7th. I distinctly remember someone giving me shit for ranking even close to that. Kindly remember, I said there was a dropoff, with a bunch of prospects that could be ranked from 4th to 10th. Apparently, you’ve changed your tune.

    I wonder why.

    For comparison, Ackley was a A-/B+, so possible solid, productive players here.

    Ackley was an underrate by Sickels and just about everybody else. I remember certain amateurs declaring him overrated, not fit for the top 20, and some scoffing that he was a busted prospect after his April in 2011.

    Sickels is a good guy, but I think even he got caught up in some concerns about Ackley that led him to put him in the B+/A- range. Ackley was and is, an A prospect, period.

  57. NorthofWrigleyField on August 1st, 2011 12:50 am

    What I love about this trade:

    As somebody mentioned above, “good luck trying to rip off Theo Epstein”. It looked like Jack Zduriencik didn’t have what it took to rip off the Dodgers by himself. So, he got Theo Epstein to do it for him. I don’t see the Dodgers as getting enough value for Robinson, and I don’t think Zduriencik could have got more value out of Bedard unless he dominated on Friday. I hope as many as possible got to hear Zduriencik on 710 after the game. He really went out of his way to explain how the trade came about, including his personal meetings with Epstein during the team’s last trip to Boston. Lots of calls for patience.

    What I don’t like about this trade:

    Piling up a lot of guys that just seem equal in value, even if they don’t have the same skills. I trust Zduriencik to navigate those waters and get as much value out of each asset, but the uncertainty there concerns me. There’s still no commitment he’ll be here next season to see this through. I would seriously be sad if Zduriencik was forced to move on in one of the most short-sighted moves the franchise ever made.

  58. Madison Mariner on August 1st, 2011 12:52 am

    Kindly remember the Mariners graduated a few of their prospects this season. Without Ackley and Pineda (and maybe more interesting guys like Lueke, Seager, Cortes, etc), who were both top 50 prospects in the country on most charts, the farm looks worse, not better. Quantity with a bunch of potential prospects doesn’t give us rankings over teams with true impact talents, especially those near the majors.

    So, no, I don’t think we’re top 10 when things are said and done. Weren’t even top 10 before.

    Yes, but keep in mind that–in addition to adding Robinson and Chiang from the Bedard/Fields trade and Martinez and a PTBNL from the Fister/Pauley trade(I’m not counting Wells or or Furbush as a prospect)–we’ve also added Estellin Peguero(sp?) and Victor Sanchez(neither of whom may make the Top 10, but they add depth) from the international free agent market, and once all of the the 2011 draft class has signed, including the #2 overall pick Danny Hultzen, well…it may not be a stretch to put our system as a top 10 minor league system, and that’s despite losing Ackley and Pineda.

    At the very least, I think there’s an argument for our system being deeper at the end of 2011 than it was at the end of 2010, that’s for sure. Sure, at this time last year, we had Ackley and Pineda as our clear top 2, with Nick Franklin, Guillermo Pimentel, and Taijuan Waker usually rounding out the Top 5. After that, we saw names like Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke(from the Cliff Lee trade last year), Dan Cortes, and heck, even James Jones! rounding out the Top 10–that’s a bit of a drop off, if you ask me. We’ve added hella lot of depth over the past 6-8 months, that’s for sure.

    (There’s also the fact that prospects already in the system improve over time, leading to higher grades from places like BA, FanGraphs, John Sickels/Minor League Ball, etc. This can lead to higher grades for our system overall without even adding additional talent. Just look at how highly ranked Taijuan Walker is by those various sites on their 2011 midseason top prospect lists.)

  59. Sports on a Schtick on August 1st, 2011 1:04 am

    “We need catchers.” – Ned Colletti, Dodgers GM who traded Carlos Santana and did not tender a contract to Russell Martin

  60. Typical Idiot Fan on August 1st, 2011 1:18 am

    it may not be a stretch to put our system as a top 10 minor league system, and that’s despite losing Ackley and Pineda.

    Well, yeah, but other teams are adding people to their depth as well. Some, obviously, are also subtracting.

    In order for us to be a top 10 team, the ones who were top 10 would have had to get demonstratively worse (I think the Royals count there, as they graduated a bunch of their top guys) and we’d have had to improve enough to move past where they are now. I don’t see us as improved that drastically. I think we’ve replaced a lot of what we lost, and added some depth, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have the impact players necessary to rate over other organizations.

    Most people who rank farm systems don’t really care about your depth, they care about the impact bats at the top of the prospect lists. That’s all I’m saying here.

  61. dnc on August 1st, 2011 1:20 am

    Why so down on Pimentel? He’s still only 18-years-old and a top-100 prospect by some. I think he’s still the best outfielder in the system based on potential, but that’s just personal opinion. I’m no prospect expert.

    I like Pimentel quite a bit, but he’s a LONG way away from contributing. The sky is the limit for him if he figures out pitch recognition, but there are no guarantees that he will. Time is definitely on his side but time doesn’t guarantee anything. I think anyone ranking him in the top 100 overall right now is a little ridiculous, to be honest.

  62. dnc on August 1st, 2011 1:25 am

    If we hadn’t added those new prospects, then you’d have Catricala ranked 7th. I distinctly remember someone giving me shit for ranking even close to that. Kindly remember, I said there was a dropoff, with a bunch of prospects that could be ranked from 4th to 10th. Apparently, you’ve changed your tune.

    I wonder why.

    A couple of things here:

    1) I didn’t expect him to handle Double A pitching nearly as well as he has. When we had that conversation he was still in High A, and I have trouble getting excited about anyone’s High Desert numbers, especially when they’re not young for the league.

    His performance in Jackson has been very impressive. Combined with a few scouting reports recently I’ve seen that rated his raw power a good bit higher than I had thought it was, he’s moved up quite a bit for me.

    2) My big issue was that you had him rated above Triunfel, who is younger and has far, far more defensive value. But I’ll gladly admit my pessimism about Catricala was unfounded.

  63. dnc on August 1st, 2011 1:32 am

    If we hadn’t added those new prospects, then you’d have Catricala ranked 7th. I distinctly remember someone giving me shit for ranking even close to that. Kindly remember, I said there was a dropoff, with a bunch of prospects that could be ranked from 4th to 10th. Apparently, you’ve changed your tune.

    I wonder why.

    Interesting take. Yes, we graduated Ackley and Pineda, but they’re replaced now by Walker and (soon) Hultzen. Yeah, the former duo was better than the current one, but the dropoff isn’t huge, and when you add Martinez, Robinson, Chiang, the PTBNL, and Paxton (who wasn’t signed yet when the system was rated preseason), things steady a bit.

    Yes, there have been disappointments (Robles, Poythress, Franklin somewhat, the relievers) but those have been offset by the emergence of Campos, Catricala, Snow, and Morales. I think you can argue the system is in at least as good of shape as it was heading into 2011. I’m not sure that it’s top 10 good (I wouldn’t rate it that highly), but given that the system just graduated arguably the two best rookies in the AL there’s really not much dropoff, if any.

  64. dnc on August 1st, 2011 1:42 am

    Yes, but keep in mind that–in addition to adding Robinson and Chiang from the Bedard/Fields trade and Martinez and a PTBNL from the Fister/Pauley trade(I’m not counting Wells or or Furbush as a prospect)–we’ve also added Estellin Peguero(sp?) and Victor Sanchez(neither of whom may make the Top 10, but they add depth) from the international free agent market, and once all of the the 2011 draft class has signed, including the #2 overall pick Danny Hultzen, well…it may not be a stretch to put our system as a top 10 minor league system, and that’s despite losing Ackley and Pineda.

    We’re mostly in agreement here, but you can’t really count Peguero here. Martin Esteillon was signed in the last IFA class, and was considered when the system was evaluated heading into 2011.

    I definitely agree with you that the bottom half of the top 10 is much better than it was last year, but TIF is correct that the top 2 is a notch lower than it was as well.

    If we look at it through the lens of BA top 100 rankings, the M’s had three guys heading into 2011:

    12 – Ackley
    16 – Pineda
    53 – Franklin

    And that was it.

    They almost certainly won’t have one top 16 guy this offseason let alone two, but it’s reasonable to expect something like this:

    25 – Hultzen
    35 – Walker
    60 – Franklin
    70 – Robinson
    80 – Paxton

    Obviously, you could give or take 10 spots on any of those guys, but there’s certainly going to be more top 100 depth. Does that make up for the dropoff at the top? Perhaps not, but I think the system looks better top to bottom than it did this time last year, certainly.

  65. ivan on August 1st, 2011 5:13 am

    Half of this thread is people arguing about lists of players, or lists of farm systems, and in what order they are rated on some damn list, which strikes me as an utter waste of time and effort, and adds nothing to anyone’s understanding of the game, athletically or statistically.

    I’ll sit here and read all day about how this player or that player learned how to lay off curveballs in the dirt, or learned a new pitch, or changed his release point, or learned to take better routes on fly balls. But who is rated over who else on a list? Or whether somebody is an A or a B or a C? Some of you really need to get a life.

  66. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 7:49 am

    “I wouldn’t say either of these guys is a guy that I’m going to pencil in as the anything of the future”.

    Apparently you weren’t listening to Jack Z. We got six more players for our future – exactly what we’ve been doing for years. Year one: Rebuild. Year two: Rebuild. Year three: Rebuild again. The goal isn’t to constantly acquire other teams’ 10th best prospects. It’s to win. The Mariners front office doesn’t get it.

  67. gwangung on August 1st, 2011 8:03 am

    Apparently you weren’t listening to Jack Z. We got six more players for our future – exactly what we’ve been doing for years. Year one: Rebuild. Year two: Rebuild. Year three: Rebuild again. The goal isn’t to constantly acquire other teams’ 10th best prospects. It’s to win. The Mariners front office doesn’t get it.

    I don’t understand comments like these. It’s like it doesn’t make the connection between gathering talent and winning. (And you’re CONSTANTLY trying to rebuild, even when you’re winning…because if you don’t, you’re losing).

  68. B13a on August 1st, 2011 8:11 am

    The Mariners front office doesn’t get it.

    It takes more than 3 years to effectively rebuild a team that sucked big time. Anyone in the right mind can already see the fruits of the FO’s labor (Ackley and Pineda (kind of), Smoak before playing with an injury, minor leaguers playing well, etc), and considering how crappy the farm system was before Jack Z came along, they have done a pretty good job replenishing it.

    Anyone looking for a quick fix is foolish and is in the same line of thinking as the Bavasi regime.

  69. ivan on August 1st, 2011 8:12 am

    See, this is just what I’m talking about. What the hell does “10th best prospect” mean? It means some schmuck made a list. Either the guy can play or he can’t. Either he has one skill or more that the team needs, or he doesn’t.

    Guti is sick, Ichiro appears on his way out, Halman and Peguero can’t make contact, and Carp in LF is Ibanez Lite without Raul’s stick. They need OF depth, and fast, and they just got it. You were expecting Willie Mays or something?

    Not only is every trade a crapshoot, every draft choice and every signing is a crapshoot. Or maybe you expect every signing to be Ken Griffey Jr. or Alex Rodriguez, and every trade to be Willie Bloomquist for Albert Pujols.

    Because I am older than dirt, I remember watching the 1952 Pirates. Look up that lot on Baseball-Reference.com. No Mariner team in history has been that bad. For five years, all the Pirates did was “build for the future.” But a Bob Friend here, a Vernon Law there, an Elroy Face here, a Roberto Clemente there, a Bob Skinner here, a Dick Groat there, a Bill Mazeroski here, and a couple of trades later and boom! World Champions!

  70. Edgar4Hall on August 1st, 2011 9:26 am

    Yeah I really don’t thunk ANY of us knew how bad the system was with bavasi. We had ideas but when you saw it, it was frightening. Z has spent 3 years rebuilding that part and being creative with the big league team cause he had to dumpster dive fir players because of bad contracts that Bavasi laid on him. I’m excited to see if he can flex some muscle with free agency this year so we can stop complaining about how bad Figgins is (well maybe we do both lol)

  71. gwangung on August 1st, 2011 9:30 am

    Not only is every trade a crapshoot, every draft choice and every signing is a crapshoot. Or maybe you expect every signing to be Ken Griffey Jr. or Alex Rodriguez, and every trade to be Willie Bloomquist for Albert Pujols.

    Yeah, pretty much.

    You try to load the dice as much as possible by good use of scouting and sabremetrics. But what you won’t get is certainty (or “proven” players).

  72. gwangung on August 1st, 2011 9:31 am

    Anyone looking for a quick fix is foolish

    I.e., front office circa 2003-7.

  73. The Ancient Mariner on August 1st, 2011 9:54 am

    I.e., front office circa 2003-7.

    AKA, how we wound up a 100-loss team in the first place.

  74. firova2 on August 1st, 2011 10:48 am

    Gillick was the master of the quick fix, while Bavasi wasn’t. That’s where they were different. But while the Mariners were winning under Gillick, they weren’t drafting worth a dime either. So it was really nearly ten years of nothing.

  75. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 1:02 pm

    “Z has spent 3 years rebuilding that part and being creative with the big league team cause he had to dumpster dive fir players because of bad contracts that Bavasi laid on him.”

    Circa 2003 to 2007???? Excuse me but we lost 100 games under THIS G.M. Quit making excuses for him. We are horrible at just about every position except second base. Did Bavasi sign Figgins? Did Bavasi sign Kotchman (and then let him go to have a great season?)? And contrary to some comments, there is a difference between “building” and “rebuilding”. It is amazing how many people here can justify losing on a grand scale. We are worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wake up!!

  76. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 1:17 pm

    I’ve posted this before, but its seems apropos to repost given the latest turn this conversation has taken:

    2008 Rainiers roster- http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?id=156b992d

    Led by such stars as Clement, Balentien, Reed, Victor Diaz, Prentice Redman, Tui, Lahair, etc. Not a single MLB contributing position player on this roster, only pitcher of note is RA Dickey, and who saw that coming?

    2008 Diamond Jaxx roster- http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?id=1388b8ca

    Some guys on this team who might become contributors, but as of now not a single positive contribution from a position player on this roster. Fister was obviously a big plus, and Shawn Kelley was OK.

    And of course the 2008 Mariners lost 100 games and were riddled with awful contracts.

    In my opinion Jack has performed miracles to get the Ms and the system as a whole to the position it is in today, where we are debating whether it is a top-10 system AFTER promoting 2 of the top rookies in the league.

  77. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 1:24 pm

    dantheman,

    Where do you think good, cost-controlled players come from? Hint: they don’t magically grow on trees, it takes years for a prospect to reach the MLB level, and if you look at the links above it is pretty clear that Bavasi left the system completely devoid of talent. Five years of horrible drafting and trading, and you won’t give the new GM 3 years to restock? That is ridiculously naive IMO.

  78. Jay Yencich on August 1st, 2011 1:26 pm
  79. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 1:34 pm

    Great article Jay, that Clement pick will never cease to amaze me.

  80. ivan on August 1st, 2011 1:37 pm

    In reply to dantheman:

    Right! Because it’s Jack’s fault that Kotchman had an undiagnosed eye condition. As for Figgins, it’s Cirillo II. Sometimes a player just goes in the tank, and there’s no explaining it. Shit happens, except in your little world, I guess.

  81. B13a on August 1st, 2011 3:21 pm

    Circa 2003 to 2007???? Excuse me but we lost 100 games under THIS G.M. Quit making excuses for him. We are horrible at just about every position except second base. Did Bavasi sign Figgins? Did Bavasi sign Kotchman (and then let him go to have a great season?)? And contrary to some comments, there is a difference between “building” and “rebuilding”. It is amazing how many people here can justify losing on a grand scale. We are worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wake up!!

    If waking up means thinking like this, I’d happily live my life within the comfortable confines of delta wave sleep. Unbelievable.

  82. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 5:48 pm

    “If waking up means thinking like this, I’d happily live my life within the comfortable confines of delta wave sleep. Unbelievable.”

    Maybe you should try addressing the facts and not attacking the messenger. The reality is that the Mariners are awful. Again. They continue to make poor player evaluations and produce losing seasons. Of course it takes years, more than 3, to build a playoff team (which is, after all, the goal). But when was the last time the Mariners made the playoffs? With the revenue of this club, it shouldn’t take this long. Was Bavasi terrible? Sure. But it’s way too soon to believe Jack is wonderful. Judge him by the team’s record. So far, not so good. It is certainly possible that things might get better (hey, wait til next year!) but based on the comments above Jack could re-sign Pat Putnam and some of you would be falling all over yourselves to explain what a brilliant move it is. You can stockpile all the kids you want (see, for example, KC) but you have to also get some good established players and the Mariners aren’t committed to that. KC can’t afford it. The Mariners can but won’t. The front office is all about PR and “entertainment”, not baseball and it shows in the standings.

  83. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 6:02 pm

    “As for Figgins, it’s Cirillo II. Sometimes a player just goes in the tank, and there’s no explaining it. Shit happens, except in your little world, I guess.”

    Now I’m totally confused. Jack Z gets the benefit of the “Cirillo II” card? When is a GM responsible for player acquisitions and when do they get the “Cirillo II” free pass? Do we hold anyone accountable? Does “Cirillo II” also apply to acquiring Bradley? Kotchman? Hiring Wakamatsu? Jack Wilson? Bringing back Griffey? How about the embarrassing way Brandon Morrow was treated?

  84. PinedaExpress on August 1st, 2011 6:30 pm

    Does “Cirillo II” also apply to acquiring Bradley?

    Bradley you can tie directly back to Carlos Silva. Which was definately Bavasi.

    Kotchman?

    He signed Kotchman for peanuts, and cut him when he sucked and once he’d dealt for Smoak. Kotchman would be exactly the established player mold, wouldn’t he be?

    Jack Wilson?

    Wilson is exactly the established player model you’re talking about. When Jack took over the team he had Betancourt/Lopez and a MINF that had nothing at the minor league level. Since Jack’s taken over, hes drafted Ackley and Franklin and has tried to piece together a MINF that doesn’t contractually kill the team.

    How about the embarrassing way Brandon Morrow was treated?

    You mean when Bavasi stuck in him the bullpen instead of letting him stay in the minors? Jack Z’s only year with Morrow was the eventual one where he started the move to the starters role.

    I don’t think Jack should get nearly the leash that some do, but Gillick gutted the farm system for 8 years but the major league team was winning. Bavasi took over a gutted major league team with little on the farm and burned the whole thing down. Jack’s had two drafts to work with, and he’s already seen 2 guys make it up to the big club. Walker and Paxton both look solid, and there’s quite a few interesting bats throughout the system. Sadly, the real problem with this team is above Jack….

  85. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 6:39 pm

    “Sadly, the real problem with this team is above Jack….”

    Exactly. As I said, it remains to be seen with Jack but I am 100% with you that the real problem is with Armstrong and Lincoln. They are the common denominator to a long run of bad baseball. And as far as Jack Z goes, it is entirely possible that his authority is limited.

  86. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 7:16 pm

    dantheman,

    Your original position was against trading for prospects and rebuilding, you said “we lost 100 games under THIS GM. Quit making excuses for him.”

    You’ve apparently backed off this position after numerous posters pointed out how bad of shape the system was when Jack took over.

    Now you are saying Jack’s evaluation is TBD(which even I, a diehard proponent, agree with. Give him a couple more years and see what he can do.) You go on to say the problem is with Armstrong and Lincoln, which is an old, tired argument but much harder to contradict than an anti-Jack stance. Ultimately, the Mariners FO has shown over the last 10-15 years that they will spend money if they feel they have a winning ballclub, which is better than most FOs.

    The payroll has dropped recently, and this has likely hamstrung Jack considerably as his free agent signings have been mostly restricted to reclamation projects (Figgins excepted, but everyone thought that was great value at the time.)

    Personally, I don’t think that is a bad approach. No amount of splashy free agents could have transformed the 2009-2011 Mariners into a World Series team. Most of the targets people were clamoring for the last couple years were overpriced players far past their prime. (Bay, Matsui, Guerrero, etc.)

    The way to build is through drafting and trading current assets for prospects, and it takes time. We are beginning to see the fruits of Jack’s labors, and only time will tell if Lincoln and Armstrong will allow the payroll will increase again as the team becomes more competitive.

  87. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 9:16 pm

    “We are beginning to see the fruits of Jack’s labors, and only time will tell if Lincoln and Armstrong will allow the payroll will increase again as the team becomes more competitive.”

    My point is that Jack is not blameless for the current state of the Mariners. Obviously, he is not solely responsible, either, but he hasn’t proven to be the brilliant wizard so many want to make him out to be and he’s already made some pretty bad moves. Yet, for some reason, his bad moves are immune from criticism.

    You can’t judge the quality of the prospects he is acquiring independent of the team’s record. Having great prospects and being in last place is not a sign of success. Sure, things might get better but we have been saying that year after year after year and we are once again in last place. A club with Seattle’s revenue shouldn’t be this bad, and we shouldn’t be starting from scratch yet again.

    The Mariners have a stunningly bad history which points directly to the front office. And, meaning no disrespect, I don’t understand how anyone can say, after a 17 game losing streak and another plunge into last place with one of the worst offensive teams in the past 40 years, that we are beginning to see the fruits of Jack Z’s labor. The goal isn’t to make “good” trades for prospects. The goal is to win. Some teams get that. Seattle doesn’t.

    Lastly, Armstrong and Lincoln have taken a franchise with tremendous revenue and opportunity and, since 2001, allowed it to sink to the bottom. Old and tired that argument may be, but it’s also valid and one need only look at the record for the past 8 seasons. Few, if any, teams with Seattle’s revenue have produced such ugly won loss records. You can micro-analyze all the reasons and make excuses but why shouldn’t Armstrong and Lincoln be held accountable? They are ultimately responsible for not making the necessary changes to prevent what is now happening: Bad teams leading to declining attendance which will decrease revenue and make it even more difficult to achieve the real measure of success for any baseball team: Reaching the playoffs.

  88. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 9:38 pm

    Please cite to where anyone said Jack has never made a bad move? (I’m his number one supporter and think he is basically a wizard and even I have never claimed that.)

    Please cite to your claim that “few, if any, teams with Seattle’s revenue have produced such ugly win loss records.”

    If you want to make an objective argument that Jack is not a good GM and has not improved the system leaps and bounds since 2008, I would be interested in having a rational discussion with you. Nothing else is relevant.

    On the other hand, if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and say that the Mariners have been rebuilding year after year after year and are in last place, without considering the context (see: rosters of 2008 Mariners, Rainiers and Diamond Jaxx referenced above.) Then I say good day to you sir.

  89. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 9:58 pm

    One quote that I can’t help but specifically respond to: “The goal isn’t to make “good” trades for prospects. The goal is to win. Some teams get that. Seattle doesn’t.”

    Where do you think wins come from? When you’re not the Red Sox or the Yankees they primarily come from young players under team control, aka prospects. You can’t just demand results without a logical process in place to get those results. Failure to scout, draft and trade well is why the Pirates have sucked for so long(you brought them up earlier.)

    Now that the Pirates are having a decent year, where do you think their players have come from?

    McCutchen- 2005 1st round pick
    Walker- 2004 1st round pick
    Tabata- 2004 International signing by the Yankees, traded as a top prospect to Pirates in 2008 for Nady and Marte
    Maholm- 2003 1st round pick

    Its not magic, it takes time and a lot of good drafts and small moves to build a playoff team.

  90. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 10:39 pm

    I think your reference to the Pirates makes the point (I know I brought them up first – as an example of ineptitude). You wouldn’t have used the Pirates as an example of an organization building a team through drafts and small moves at all any time between 1993 and 2010. But, because this year they are WINNING, you connect their drafting and trading skills with “success”. That is my point – the only criterion for “good drafts” is whether they translate into wins at the major league level.

    I don’t dispute for a second that drafting well is the smart thing to do. There just isn’t any evidence YET that the Mariners right now are any better than the Pirates were between 1993 and 2010 in drafting and trading. The Mariners have had the advantage of having money and teams with money can afford to keep and acquire better players. Does that mean they should ignore their farm system? Of course not. No one is saying that. But having a “good” farm system and a last place major league team is not the measure of success for an organization.

  91. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 10:44 pm

    StatBoy,

    It would be interesting to put together won loss records for each team since 2002 with a comparison to team revenue. I might spend some time and do that and let you know the results.

    I don’t know how you can say Jack Z is a “wizard”. The team is in last place (again). You are using some criterion other than wins and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  92. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 11:00 pm

    As I already stated, and I quote, “Failure to scout, draft and trade well is why the Pirates have sucked for so long.”

    There is a plethora of evidence that the Mariners are drafting and trading well over the last 3 years, considerably better than the incompetent Pirates of the 90s and early 2000s. If you don’t consider prospect evaluations, scouting reports and minor league statistics to be meaningful evidence, then you will have to take the wait and see approach. But if this is the case, you also can’t complain about anything.

    You keep repeating that the Mariners are in last place without considering the context of what was in place in the system in 2008.

    Process! Having a good farm system leads to a good major league team.

  93. dantheman on August 1st, 2011 11:17 pm

    It makes no difference what was in place in the system in 2008. The definitive test for a “good” farm system is a “good” major league team (meaning: a team that wins baseball games).

    Your willingness to say the Pirates drafted badly for so many years is because you are taking into account their won loss record for those years, not some detailed analysis of their drafting skills. Why aren’t you applying the same criterion to Jack Z? Until the Mariners actually put a winning team on the field, there is no evidence that they are drafting and trading well because “drafting and trading well” has no meaning unless it leads to major league wins.

  94. StatBoy on August 1st, 2011 11:39 pm

    No, what was in place in 2008 is everything! How do you propose a playoff team just magically appears out of nowhere?

    Don’t assume that I am results-oriented just because that is how you view things. I judge moves based on the information that is available at the time and that is the criteria on which Jack should be judged. (of course we as fans do not have access to all of the same info.) But ultimately no one can judge Jack on wins and losses at this point without considering the context of what he inherited(maybe if I repeat this 15 times it will eventually get through.)

  95. eponymous coward on August 2nd, 2011 12:43 am

    On the other hand, if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and say that the Mariners have been rebuilding year after year after year and are in last place, without considering the context (see: rosters of 2008 Mariners, Rainiers and Diamond Jaxx referenced above.) Then I say good day to you sir.

    OK, so I have a question.

    The Indians have a well-regarded front office. So well regarded that this site’s motto at one point was “Hire Chris Antonetti”, right?

    They’ve drafted well. They’ve traded well (thanks, Bill Bavasi!). And they’re in contention this year… around .500. And they aren’t blowing the doors off of anyone in a weak division, and haven’t since 2007.

    They’ve been in a rebuild cycle since 2002 without really getting to a point of year-in, year-out contention.

    If that’s the outcome we end up with, where we get the 85-90+ win contending year every so often, and a fair share of pratfalls into the basement, is that going to be satisfactory? Should we as Mariner fans be happy with that? At what point do results trump process?

    My thinking is is that “good” is not always “good enough”. Especially in a division with Billy Beane, the Angels and Jon Daniels. You don’t have a lot of margin for error to be wasting $30 million of this year’s payroll on Jack Wilson, Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins (and you can say what you want about the mess Bavasi left Jack with, but the reason why they are collecting paychecks from the Mariners is because Jack Zduriencik decided they were going to, like it or not. Trading Silva for Bradley meant 5.5 million sliced off of 2011′s available payroll- that’s probably a decent player on the 2011 roster, even if we had DFA’ed Silva back in 2010).

    Are there encouraging things about process? Yes. Is context important? Sure. But there’s a lot of dead money on this team’s roster, and there’ve been enough own-goals to where I am still not convinced that “good” is “good enough” yet. I’m not angling for Jack getting fired so we can bring in Cam Bonifay, but the clock’s starting to tick really loud. (I also think that the “The M’s don’t have salary” excuse is sort of lame. We’re talking about a team that’s spending $80+ million in salary.)

  96. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 7:43 am

    I did this very quickly without double checking the math but here are the numbers so far for revenue and wins from 2008-2010. Seattle had revenue of $574 million, with 207 wins. Only 3 teams had fewer wins, all with far less revenue: Pittsburgh (revenue $428 million\186 wins); Washington (rev. $521 million\187 wins); and Baltimore (rev. $511 million\198 wins). Kansas City had the same number of wins (207) with revenues of $429 million ($145 million less than the Mariners).

    Teams with similar revenue and their win totals: Atlanta ($573 million\249 wins); Houston ($576 million\236 wins); Chicago White Sox ($583 million\256 wins); St. Louis ($584 million\263 wins); San Francisco ($594 million\252 wins).

    So in the past 3 years, no other team with Seattle’s revenue, has produced a worst won loss record. No one is even close. The only teams with worse won loss records over that time have substantially less revenue.

    The revenue figures are from published reports in Forbes.

  97. DMZ on August 2nd, 2011 8:18 am

    The M’s need to cut revenue, and fast.

  98. PinedaExpress on August 2nd, 2011 9:48 am

    Until the Mariners actually put a winning team on the field, there is no evidence that they are drafting and trading well because “drafting and trading well” has no meaning unless it leads to major league wins.

    Only because that is YOUR criteria for judging the GM. There’s plenty of evidence that they are moving in the right direction. For the first time in 10 years this team has drafted, signed and brought up a position player. There’s fairly solid reasoning to believe that Seager will be the second guy since Jack has been here that will make it up. Look at the rosters of our AA and A affiliates and compare them to the rosters of the teams that Jack inherited and try to tell me that you don’t see a difference in talent levels from when he took over.

    Those guys haven’t gotten to the bigs yet, but more talent at those levels gives a higher probability that the big club will be better.

    I don’t think you can look at this objectively and say every move has worked out, obviously they haven’t but from a building from near the ground up perspective the gains within the system are impressive.

  99. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 10:13 am

    I would submit that judging the performance of a GM by any criteria other than wins at the major league level fundamentally fails to take into account that the ultimate goal of every aspect of a GM’s job is to produce wins at the major league level. There are no prizes for last place teams that produce the most position players from their farm system.

    Maybe you are right to be optimistic and the recent moves will eventually lead to wins and we will then be able to conclude that Jack is a great GM. But, as of today, he is almost three years into his tenure and we are looking at the likelihood of yet another last place finish.

  100. eponymous coward on August 2nd, 2011 10:16 am

    They’re actually doing a good job of that, if you figure that attendance brings in revenue.

    2001 Attencance/Game: 43,300
    2002 Attendance/Game: 43,740
    2008 Attendance/Game: 28,762
    2011 Attendance/Game: 22,895

    Given that attendance is a lagging indicator of team quality, next year may see the M’s have problem breaking 20,000 a game. Meet the new Royals!

    Hey, remember the beginning of the season where Dave said one of the goals was to have a team that, while it wasn’t realistic to have in contention, wasn’t so terrible? It is starting to look like that’s not going to happen. Do you let the GM off the hook for not being able to build a decent team given an $85 million dollar budget? Or do you take that into evaluation?

  101. Liam on August 2nd, 2011 10:43 am

    General Managers should be judged on whether they get their team into the playoffs, not on some regular season wins. You don’t get a trophy for winning 93 games in back to back season.

  102. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 10:52 am

    The attendance figures are very important and really alarming for the Mariners because the reduction in revenue will impact the amount the team is willing to spend, which will then likely reduce the quality of the team, which will then further reduce attendance. The cycle will continue to spiral downward. Secondarily, it will impact television viewership which can then affect the size of television contracts. The Mariners front office should be more than a little concerned.

  103. PinedaExpress on August 2nd, 2011 10:54 am

    I would submit that judging the performance of a GM by any criteria other than wins at the major league level fundamentally fails to take into account that the ultimate goal of every aspect of a GM’s job is to produce wins at the major league level.

    I don’t disagree with the premise, but find it hard to hold everything against Jack based upon the cards he was dealt to start with. If this were the NFL, you can honestly expect radical changes and swings in W/L record. Baseball by nature is a building process.

    There are no prizes for last place teams that produce the most position players from their farm system.

    No there’s not. There is however the prize of not having to go out in the free agent market and overspend on players and give up draft picks, and that does have some value. You look at good franchises and they all manage to produce good players from thier systems each year. The Braves in the last two years have managed to produce, Freeman, Hayward, Kimbrel and Venters. If you’re not producing those guys from within you have to go out on the active market and get them, and thats a good deal of what has led this franchise to where it was at the end of the Bavasi regime.

  104. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 11:01 am

    I was going to say that I don’t think we have to worry about the Mariners going out in the free agent market and overspending. Then I thought of Figgins, so good point.

  105. gwangung on August 2nd, 2011 12:34 pm

    I don’t disagree with the premise, but find it hard to hold everything against Jack based upon the cards he was dealt to start with.

    I think it’s pertinent to point out that you give more time to folks, depending on circumstances. Rich farm system, decent big league team? I can’t bitch if they get fired after two bad years. Bad big league team, good farm system? They have to get longer than that. Bad big league team, bad farm system? I’d find it incredible to get rid of them after only three years, particularly since filling in on the free agent level means overspending.

    If you’re building from within, you’d have to take at least three years even with a good farm system, IMO, much longer if you don’t.

  106. eponymous coward on August 2nd, 2011 1:25 pm

    If you’re building from within, you’d have to take at least three years even with a good farm system, IMO, much longer if you don’t.

    MUCH longer? How much longer?

    To put this another way: would you care to guess how many 90-loss seasons Billy Beane has as a general manager? That would be zero (though he might pull that one off this year if the A’s don’t pick it up a bit).

    I don’t think you’re going to find a lot of wildly successful GMs who spend a lot of time losing 90-100 games, outside of fringe cases (like when Branch Rickey went to the 1950′s Pirates, who were legitimately awful, far worse than the Mariners were). If Jack Zduriencik’s going to be one of the game’s best GMs, there’s not a lot of time left to show it.

    I’m not ready to fire the guy based on 2011 so far (it’s not all the way in the books, either- I could see this team crawling back to not being a joke, if not an actual .500 record), but I don’t think you can look at how 2010 and 2011 went (so far, in the case of 2011) and be happy at where the franchise is at yet, either. “Better than Bavasi” is not the same as “good enough”. My take is that we’ll see where we are come October, and go from there… and now that the last of the infamous Bavasi contracts are gone, “Bill Bavasi screwed us, and we love Jack’s process” is no longer a valid excuse come 2012. It’s time to start seeing results, not just process. If he can’t put a decent team on the field for $85 million next year, you have to question his ability as a GM.

  107. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 2:47 pm

    All excellent points.

    The Mariners are on pace to score 535 runs, just 22 more than last year (less than 1 more run a week compared to last year). Which means, of course, that no improvement in the offense has been achieved despite the fact that the offense was historically bad last year. It is a little disturbing that so little was done to address such a glaring weakness.

  108. eponymous coward on August 2nd, 2011 4:24 pm

    It is a little disturbing that so little was done to address such a glaring weakness.

    A fair amount was done- the Mariners have added a couple of wins above replacement on offense if you prorate (remember, scoring is down league-wide).

    How exactly was Zduriencik supposed to know “oh, this is the year Ichiro gets old and Guti goes from kinda off at the plate to complete garbage”, though? Crystal ball? I get that we need to have a high standard if we’re going to think that the dude is the best GM’ed that ever GM’ed, but there’s “high standard” and “impossible standard”.

    FWIW, Smoak is pretty close to his preseason projections, so we shouldn’t be shocked that he ain’t the Great White Hope at 1B yet (Carp’s all of 6 months older, FWIW). Brendan Ryan has done what we should have expected, Olivo too, the real problem is Figgins going in the tank, Smoak not taking a step forward, LF being a mess between the Condor and Peguero, and Ichiro and Guti. We wouldn’t be GOOD if Ichiro and Guti were hitting like the back of their baseball cards, but we’d be OK, not complete crap.

    I think that what Zduriencik has tried for is “let’s bring in interesting players with bats and see what we have here until October, and then I can figure out what I need in the offseason, when I’ll have about $15 million to fill in holes”. It’s got something to commend it as a strategy, especially given that the OF may not have ANY long-term answers past 2012, if Guti doesn’t bounce back (I can’t see Ichiro playing any more as a M if 2012 is as bad as 2011- I wouldn’t be shocked if he walked after 2011, to be honest). It’s not an ideal situation, but I think Jack would be the first person to tell you any year where you lose more than you win at the major league level isn’t really successful, even if you develop some kids.

  109. gwangung on August 2nd, 2011 5:52 pm

    MUCH longer? How much longer?

    Legitimate question.

    But if you have an accurate assessment of the farm system and there’s nothing there, then you have to figure it takes 3-5 years for the very first of your draft picks to work through the system—we’re not even talking about the second year of draft picks.

  110. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 5:54 pm

    “A fair amount was done”.

    We’ll just have to disagree. Nowhere near enough was done and that was painfully obvious before the season ever started. It became more obvious every week. The lack of offense is hardly a surprise.

    How is any GM on any team supposed to know when a player is going to under-perform? The question is how you deal with it. That’s the difference between winning teams and losing teams, and GMs who are “wizards” and those who aren’t.

  111. StatBoy on August 2nd, 2011 10:32 pm

    dantheman,

    Be specific. What moves should Jack have made last offseason or in the past 3 years that would have made the 2011 Mariners into a playoff team? The only poor move you ever cite to is Figgins, but that was universally hailed as excellent value at the time, so looks like more results-oriented thinking from you.

    Your question of “how you deal with it” is ridiculous. You deal with players underperforming by having other players in the system ready to step up. Ackley is the first position player to come through the system and stick in the bigs in Jack’s 3 years at the helm.

    That is ridiculous. Its obvious why the Mariners suck, they would suck if Theo Epstein was the GM for the last 3 years.

  112. dantheman on August 2nd, 2011 11:10 pm

    Well, if you take the position (as you do) that the Mariners “suck” and that their GM for the past 3 years has absolutely zero responsibility for that, I’m not sure there’s anything I can say which you would find helpful, let alone convincing. I would point out that some teams actually make acquisitions (free agent signings, trades) beyond just bringing players up from the minor leagues. Start by looking at Jack Z’s acquisitions. Which ones exemplify his abilities as a “wizard”?

    Yes, I plead guilty to being results oriented. That is how you judge someone’s performance. By results. For a GM the goal is wins. So far the results are not encouraging.

  113. gwangung on August 2nd, 2011 11:51 pm

    I would point out that some teams actually make acquisitions (free agent signings, trades) beyond just bringing players up from the minor leagues.

    And I would point out that these are areas where GMs do not hold as much control as they do with their farm system. (And for cases such as Guitierez and Ichiro when they underperform, I would submit the preferred method is indeed the farm system.)

    Yes, I plead guilty to being results oriented. That is how you judge someone’s performance. By results. For a GM the goal is wins. So far the results are not encouraging.

    And I would submit that you are not evaluating it effectively or in the correct time frame if you are restricting to the past two and a half years.

    Come, come. We have REPEATEDLY heard that the main way for sustained success is to build a HOME GROWN nucleus of talented, cost controlled players. You are not doing that via free agency; you can only have limited amount of success doing that via trades because you have to have raw material to trade with—which, by the way, has to come from your entire baseball system–and for a bad team, that means pretty much your farm system.

    I will argue that your orientation is not particularly well thought out nor are you being patient enough for the strategy to have time to come to fruition.

  114. dantheman on August 3rd, 2011 7:30 am

    “Come, come. We have REPEATEDLY heard that the main way for sustained success is to build a HOME GROWN nucleus of talented, cost controlled players.”

    This is your argument? People never repeat things that aren’t true so it must be correct. You might want to ask the fans in Kansas City or Pittsburgh (yes, finally, after 19 years, it’s working!! – we finally have a .500 baseball team!).

    I think one of the best things that Bill James brought to baseball is the idea that just because we have “REPEATEDLY heard” something, it pays to actually do the research. Earlier, you challenged the statement that few teams have done as bad as the Mariners with their revenue. What did the research show? No team with the Mariners’ revenue has done as bad as the Mariners in the past 3 years. “Facts are stubborn things”. J. Adams.

    “I will argue that your orientation is not particularly well thought out”

    It is much more persuasive to use facts to show why something is “not well thought out” than to just attach a pejorative label. It tends to make one believe you couldn’t construct a counter-argument.

  115. dantheman on August 3rd, 2011 8:08 am

    By the way, I’m still waiting to learn which of Jack Z’s moves qualify him for “wizard” status.

  116. PinedaExpress on August 3rd, 2011 10:08 am

    By the way, I’m still waiting to learn which of Jack Z’s moves qualify him for “wizard” status.

    I realize this wasn’t directed at me, but I’ll point out solid moves. I certainly don’t think he’s a wizard by any stretch, but he is playing to his strength and developing the system in that mold.

    I think you can make a strong arguement that Putz/White/Valbuena for Guti/Vargas/Carp has to be seen as a very solid move. The luster is off it a bit this year due to Guti’s struggles with health, but Putz has been through three teams since that deal was made. Vargas has been a cost controlled SP for the last three years, and has been fairly effective.

    I’d argue his handling of the Cliff Lee deals, on both sides show a very nice understanding of what a good GM does. He took some assets on the minor league level, turned them into Cliff Lee, then turned Lee into Smoak, Lueke, Blevin and Laffey all of whom are cost controlled and on your major league roster.

    Drafting Ackley was seen as a no-brainer, Franklin, Seager and Walker were not. Walker at this point has exceeded expectations, he’s not at the major league level but he’s well ahead of where the other projections for him were thought the be.

    Sure there have been some negative moves, especially with 100% hindsight. That’s the intrinsic flaw with results based analysis, its looking at everything that HAS happened, and doesn’t tell you anything about where you’re going. There has to be a balance to judge how someone, like Jack, has done in thier roles.

  117. eponymous coward on August 3rd, 2011 10:19 am

    But if you have an accurate assessment of the farm system and there’s nothing there, then you have to figure it takes 3-5 years for the very first of your draft picks to work through the system—we’re not even talking about the second year of draft picks.

    Except the Mariners had, at the time Zduriencik came in, two HOF-caliber talents (King Felix and Ichiro).

    How many players have the Pirates had on their roster the last 10 years that can perform at that level? The Royals? Have either of those teams had the payroll flexibility the M’s have had?

    I would buy the idea that “Oh, Zduriencik can’t be held accountable for anything that happens because Bill Bavasi was so awful” if he really WAS coming into a team that had nothing in terms of good players- think 1930′s-1940′s Phillies, 1950′s Pirates or early 60′s Mets. But Felix and Ichiro aren’t nothing. Adrian Beltre in 2009 wasn’t nothing. Cliff Lee in 2010 wasn’t nothing. And 85 million in payroll isn’t nothing.

    The thing is, we can do the “well, the decision that led to _________ had good process, but we just got unlucky” for a lot of things:

    - Silva for Bradley
    - Jack Cust
    - Cedeno and Clement for Snell and Wilson
    - Griffey
    - Kotchman
    - League for Morrow
    - and so on, and so on

    At some point, though, when does “unlucky” need to be replaced with “maybe our process isn’t as good as we think it is, and we’d get better results if we refined our process?”

    (I also have to say I don’t think Wedge is any improvement over Wakamatsu as a manager, in terms of doing the job that a manager does, like filling out the lineup card and making playing t- and if Zduriencik is going to be given a 5 year leash on his GM record, it was garbage that Wakamatsu got a grand total of 3 months of sub-.500 ball before he was told to hit the road.)

  118. eponymous coward on August 3rd, 2011 10:38 am

    PinedaExpress, that’s a really good summary of good reasons why we shouldn’t be firing up the torches and gathering pitchforks if Zrduriencik is the GM in 2012. I think there have been questionable moves too, but on balance, the organization is better off than is was in October 2008.

    That being said, I think the jury is still out on whether “better” is “good enough to contend in the AL West” in the near future… and if it’s not, then that’s a problem.

  119. PinedaExpress on August 3rd, 2011 11:07 am

    I think one of the reasons that Figgins is brought up so much is that the error on him is one that is hamstringing this franchise in the longer run. League/Morrow for me is a toss up, I get why some people hate it but it isn’t a clear negative deal. Kotchman, Griffey, Cust are all low money, short term moves. They’re actually the types of moves that if I were trying to build up a farm system I would look to make. For as bad as Kotchman was, that was the same gamble that worked out with Branyan the year before.

    That being said, I think the jury is still out on whether “better” is “good enough to contend in the AL West” in the near future… and if it’s not, then that’s a problem.

    And this is the biggest concern. The Angels will not take huge steps back, and the Rangers are showing that they’re willing to do what it takes to be contenders. The bar continues to be raised.

  120. dantheman on August 3rd, 2011 1:01 pm

    “I also have to say I don’t think Wedge is any improvement over Wakamatsu as a manager, in terms of doing the job that a manager does, like filling out the lineup card and making playing t- and if Zduriencik is going to be given a 5 year leash on his GM record, it was garbage that Wakamatsu got a grand total of 3 months of sub-.500 ball before he was told to hit the road.”

    Two things. First, I’m often surprised at Wedge’s use of personnel. How do you have a pitcher on the staff who goes weeks – literally weeks – without pitching at all?

    Second, I’m also surprised that Wakamatsu was thrown overboard so quickly. Either the initial decision to hire him was a terrible mistake or someone pressed the panic button. I will say that Jack Z has lots of company when it comes to bad managerial hiring decisions (and it may well be that Chuck and Howard are the ones who call those shots).

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