No Need For A Book
This probably doesn’t deserve a response, honestly, but for whatever reason, I can’t resist picking this low hanging fruit.
Years from now, if somebody can be bothered, they might write a treatise on how a franchise like the Mariners — flush with enough cash to fund payrolls in the game’s top tier for several years — could remain so mediocre for so long.
And if they get around to it, they might try reading some of the arguments against bringing in top players that permeate the Mariners blogosphere.
The rest of the piece – drivel is too strong of a word, but the right word is probably at least in that family – is your garden variety “those nerds don’t really want to win” argument. Good teams “man up” and “do what it takes” and “scratch their nuts” and all that crap. It’s bad baseball philosophy mixed with Type A machoism, and facts will not get in its way.
Over here, we deal in facts. So, let’s just set the record straight and tell whatever aspiring author is thinking about writing a book about why the Mariners have been mediocre for so long that the subject doesn’t need a book. In fact, it doesn’t even need an overly long blog post. You want to know why the Mariners have been bad for most of the last decade? It’s really easy.
November 7th, 2003 – The Seattle Mariners hired Bill Bavasi as General Manager.
November 15th, 2004 – The Seattle Mariners signed Richie Sexson to a 4 year, $50 million contract.
December 22nd, 2005 – The Seattle Mariners signed Jarrod Washburn to a 4 year, $37 million contract.
December 20th, 2007 – The Seattle Mariners signed Carlos Silva to a four year, $48 million contract.
For the sake of brevity, we’re skipping over other winning decisions such as signing Scott Spiezio to be the third baseman in 2004, deciding on Carl Everett to serve as the team’s DH in 2006, or bringing in Jeff Weaver to fix the rotation in 2007. These aren’t all the disastrous decisions that were made during Bavasi’s time at the helm, but they get the point across well enough.
From the winter of 2003 until the end of the 2008 season, the Mariners were the worst run baseball operations department in the sport. They did stupid thing on top of stupid thing, often justifying these bewildering moves with reasons like “he’s a clutch hitter” or “we think he’s a winner.” Talented young players were shipped off to succeed elsewhere, while the team threw money at “proven veterans” who were simply overrated by a group of people who were evaluating players the way it was done in the 1980s.
It had nothing to do with settling for mediocrity or accepting defeat. The Mariners tried to win, but they just sucked at it because the people in charge were unable to identify good players from bad ones. They threw money at free agents to try and cover up for the fact that they didn’t have enough homegrown talent on hand, often because they’d already traded away a kid who turned out to be exactly what they needed down the line. The rosters consisted of overrated, overpaid, and just downright crappy players who had jobs simply because they had experience and some athleticism.
The Mariners failures over the last 10 years have absolutely nothing to do with desire to win, commitment to doing what it takes, or any other emotional appeal that people who don’t understand how to construct winning baseball teams like to try and sell to the masses. The Mariners have spent a long time losing baseball games because they hired a bad General Manager and watched him systematically dismantle the overall organizational talent level. They lost because they thought it would be a good idea to spend big on aging mediocre talents and bet the farm on a high risk pitcher with significant red flags. They lost because they traded away good young talent for bad old talent in an effort to win in the present, and because the front office simply didn’t understand how to build a baseball team in the modern era.
The only book necessary on the failures of the Mariners over the last 10 years is a transaction log. Simply trying to paint it any other way is revisionist history, and in this case, it’s just agenda-pushing revisionist history. I guess when the facts are against you, make emotional appeals.
Don’t buy into any of that crap. Good teams win because they understand how to value player contributions on the field and figure out how to build a roster full of players who can produce beyond what they cost. Bad teams do things like sign a big name free agent to prove that they want to win to their fan bases and beat writers.