The Mariners Off-Season Should Not Be Over

Dave · January 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

After talking with Jack Zduriencik at the media luncheon last week, Greg Johns reported that the team “may still add a little chip” but noted that “the club is close to being set” as they head towards spring training. More and more, it’s beginning to sound like the Mariners off-season shopping is essentially over with, and the roster the team has now is essentially the one the team will go into the season with. And, to be honest, this annoys the crap out of me.

Right now, the Mariners project as about a 75 win team – maybe a bit higher if you have big expectations for what Ackley, Montero, and Smoak can do next year, maybe a bit lower if you think they’re all going to take some time before they turn into high quality players (or you don’t think they ever will). But, a reasonable accounting for the talent on the team at the moment should put them somewhere in the range of 75 wins. For example, the boys at RLYW used the 2012 Marcel projections and a simulation engine to come up with a current set of projected standings on Saturday, and the M’s came out as a 76 win team, last in the AL West. Because there are two teams that are significantly better, and one team that is arguably better, the Mariners only won the AL West 3.2% of the time and captured the wild card 0.7% of the time. The only AL teams with worse playoff odds were the Orioles and Twins. (Note – we’re ignoring the possibility of a second wild card here, as it’s unlikely to be in play for 2012, but its existence would only reinforce the point I’m about to make.)

But, look at the line just above the Mariners projection in those standings. Marcel thinks the A’s are currently an 82 win team, and the difference in those six extra wins translates into an extra 11.7% chance to capture the division and 2.4% chance of winning the wild card. All told, the also-ran A’s – the eighth best team in the AL based on the simulations – made the playoffs 18% of the time. Whether or not you think the A’s are actually that good (I’ll take the under, personally) is besides the point here, as we’re really more interested in the rise of playoff expectations as a team adds wins to their roster.

Given an expected last place finish, many people suggest that an organization should just concede the season, take their lumps, play the kids, and figure out what they have in terms of young talent going forward. You hear comments all the time like “what’s the difference between winning 75 or 78 games if you come in last in both scenarios?” I’d venture to say that the common perception among fans and many analysts alike is that adding wins to a non-contender is essentially worthless, and teams shouldn’t bother to pursue significant roster upgrades until they’re expected to contend for a playoff spot.

That argument is essentially hogwash, and the available evidence does not support a punt-seasons-on-purpose plan of franchise building in most cases. There are scenarios where a team is so far away from contending that the value of a marginal win is quite small (the 2012 Astros are in such a situation, for instance), but ~75 win teams are not in that position. While wins 85 to 92 have the largest impact on on a potential playoff berth, there’s still quite a bit of value in improving a roster that is only a few players away from being a .500 club.

The reality of a 162 game season is that every year, one or two teams are the benefactors of significant good fortune, and they destroy their pre-season estimate by 15+ wins. Whether it’s a bunch of guys having career years at the same time, the entire pitching staff staying healthy, winning a bunch of one-run games due to timely hitting or pitching, or just a group of young kids making a larger than expected impact on the big league team, the surprising upstart is an annual tradition at this point. Last year, the Diamondbacks improved by 29 games and won their division going away, despite generally being considered an also-ran before the season started. In 2010, the Reds won their division after finishing in the bottom 10 in the league in winning percentage the year before, and the Padres went from one of the worst teams in baseball to missing out on a playoff spot on the final day of the season. The Rockies went from 74 to 92 wins in in 2009. The 2008 Rays won 31 more games than the season prior and ended up in the World Series. Both the Cubs and Diamondbacks went worst-to-first in 2007. In 1990, the Twins won 74 games and finished dead last in a seven team division, but in 1991, they won the World Series – and that was back when only two teams made the playoffs each year.

The current reality is that a 75 win team is a few good breaks away from playing meaningful baseball in September, and even if it doesn’t result in a playoff spot, that kind of unexpected contention can have a significant positive effect on a franchise. The top four teams in attendance gains last year were the Indians (+449,000), Rangers (+442,000), Giants (+350,000), and Pirates (+327,000). You’ll notice that along with the two teams that played in the World Series the year prior, the two teams that got fans back to the ballparks were the teams who hung around in contention for most of the season during a year where their fans had minimal expectations of success.

Fans want hope. Winning provides hope while losing breeds resentment. The singular focus on wins as they relate only to a team’s ability to win a championship is a misunderstanding of the value of a marginal win to a franchise. Back in 2007, Vince Gennaro published a piece at The Hardball Times dealing with win curves and the marginal revenue benefits associated with adding wins for each franchise. Based on the team’s market size, he estimated that adding five wins to push the team from 78 to 83 wins would produce an additional $6 million in revenue for the franchise. That’s just a fraction of the $16 million that would be added by gaining wins 86-91, but there is a real tangible benefit to improving from mediocre to decent.

Why should we care if the Mariners make more money? Well, any basic understanding of economics will tell you that additional revenues support capital expenditures, and teams with higher revenues can support higher payrolls. This isn’t about making the team more profitable – a better team in 2012 gives the team more money to play with next winter, and the winter after that, and the winter after that. Wins produce present value that creates compounding future value.

And so, if the Mariners are really content to sit on their hands and avoid improving this team any further, they’re missing an opportunity to not just make the team less bad, but to really improve their odds of winning both in 2012 and in the future. I’m all for building the nucleus of a roster through the farm, and I’ve spent the entire off-season explaining why I didn’t support a massive contract for Prince Fielder, but my point all along has been that the team could take the money they would have given Fielder and improved the roster in a more efficient way.

Taking the money they would have given Fielder and just putting it in a savings account isn’t helpful. It’s less actively harmful to the organization than signing up for another awful contract, so I’ll take this off-season over one that involved the M’s giving Fielder $200+ million, but at no point have I been advocating for the time to just put their money away and avoid improving the roster when they have the financial capability to do so.

I’m not one of the guys who believes that increasing payroll is the panacea that will allow the Mariners to be competitive again, nor do I believe that Mariners ownership is cheap or is simply defrauding us of a quality product for their own financial gain. I think any reasonably objective look at the team’s expenditures over the last 15 years requires a rejection of that kind of thinking. However, there’s no getting around the fact that the team (as currently constructed) represents a significant downward adjustment in payroll from where the budget stood a year ago, and that’s a bad thing.

This roster has holes in it that could have easily been improved upon with a more aggressive off-season plan. If the organization really decided that their best course of action this winter was to simply wait around to find out exactly how much Prince Fielder would cost, then not invest the money that they would have allocated to him in order to fund alternative upgrades, they screwed up. That’s just a bad plan, and unfortunately, I don’t think the Mariners are all that much closer to being competitive in the AL West than they were in November. They moved some pieces around and brought in some depth to help stave off disaster scenarios where the team might lose another 100 games, but in terms of just pushing the organizational talent level forward this winter, I can’t call this off-season anything other than a failure.

Asking for patience is fine. We’re not expecting a miracle, nor are we demanding that the team just start spending recklessly in order to appease an angry mob. But, there’s no reason the Mariners should cut payroll in 2012, and right now, that looks to be exactly what they’ve decided to do. This team could use more good players, and there have been good players changing teams this winter at prices that were reasonable and easily within the scope of what the team has spent on talent in prior seasons. They didn’t have to sign Prince Fielder to improve the team, but they should have done more than this.

Right now, the Mariners have something like a 1-in-25 shot of making the playoffs. Signing a guy like Edwin Jackson could have pushed those odds to something more like 1-in-10, and put the Mariners in a better position to capitalize if they do catch lightning in a bottle next year. That the team has apparently made a conscious decision to ignore that kind of potential upgrade is frustrating.

I know some will argue that the team is simply leaving themselves more money for next winter, when guys like David Wright and Josh Hamilton could be available to add the roster, and that by going young, the organization will have a better idea of just who they can and can’t count on going forward. But, I don’t see that bringing in another good player or two on reasonable contracts would have interfered with the team’s ability to pursue a premium talent next off-season, nor would those players have significantly interfered with the development of the core of the next good Mariners team. They had room to both go young and still get better this winter.

That they chose to only do one of the two is just simply disappointing.


91 Responses to “The Mariners Off-Season Should Not Be Over”

  1. Farmer Cam on January 30th, 2012 5:21 pm

    We are going to trade for Longoria!!

  2. IwearMsHats on January 30th, 2012 5:32 pm

    Josh, that is just horrible trade-bating. So ridiculous.

  3. sexymarinersfan on January 30th, 2012 6:02 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a reliever or role position player like Figgins or Rodriguez are. Boy I sure would love to have a player like Mark McLemore in his prime right now. He was a leader in the clubhouse and on the field.

  4. JoshJones on January 30th, 2012 6:20 pm


    Longoria was just a crazy example of jackzs “megadeal” idea. The As and Rays are famous for trading away their best players. Nobody is ever truly off limits. But again longoria was just a crazy megadeal example. I think someone like mike moustakas is very feasible.

  5. Dave on January 30th, 2012 6:28 pm

    Jack has never said he’s working on a mega deal. You’ve spent the last few weeks just turning our threads into your personal rosterbation studio. Stop it. Next time you do it, you’ll end up in the moderation queue.

  6. Mariners35 on January 30th, 2012 6:39 pm

    Spankystout: It is debatable as to whether Z could or should have gotten more out of the trade market (e.g. the package the Reds got), and that may ultimately be where he can get judged the most harshly a month from now. But I don’t think much better was to be had in the free agent market than what arrived. (Unless you have the monopoly money for Pujols, Fielder, Darvish, Wilson.) And again, the farm is not deep enough yet to trade for true difference makers.

    If you don’t have specific players in mind when you say you wanted more, well, we could all wish for better players in the abstract. If you do have some in mind I will respect that and take your word that you do, he says, trying to avoid rosterbation. 🙂

  7. eponymous coward on January 30th, 2012 7:01 pm

    The problem with dropping payroll is there’s no guarantee it will go back up and stay back up. You remember Cleveland, with their smart GM and great draft plan and trades from a few years back- they dropped payroll after 2002 as part of a Glorious Five Year Plan? They dropped 20 million off the payroll from 2009 to 2010… around when Wedge got fired.

    Oh, and we have to once again go back to the early 1990’s to find the Mariners in the bottom half of MLB for payroll.

    There’s just no way to spin the M’s no longer using payroll to add to the talent base, and being dependent on the farm for all the forward progress in 2012 as a positive development. Yes, you want a productive farm system… but go look at Toronto- nice players, no terrible teams, used to draw… and they don’t contend, draw or spend. That could easily be our future.

  8. Dave on January 30th, 2012 7:09 pm

    Okay, you’re obviously fudging the numbers to make your argument here.

    Comments like this are why you’ve worn out your welcome here. I’ll respond to this comment just so people don’t think you actually have a point, but you’ve been added to the moderation queue. If you decide to just stop commenting as a result, I won’t mind one bit.

    First of all, you compare the M’s (75 wins projected) vs the A’s (82 wins projected), and state the A’s have an 11.2% chance of playoffs. Adding 7 wins of talent gives us an 8% increase in playoff odds.

    If you’d have actually read the post or clicked the link, you’d note that the A’s have an 18% chance of making the playoffs. The difference between that and the M’s odds is 11%. This is why reading is fundamental.

    Even in that scenario, we’d project to win 78 talent wise, which doesn’t give us anything near the A’s 82 wins with 12% odds like you suggest it does.

    I noted that improving the roster, including by making additions like signing Jackson, could push the team’s odds from 4% to 10%. I never said we could have made ourselves an 82 win team, nor did I ever say we’d match the playoff odds that these projections have for the A’s. Again, read.

    So we’d have $48M tied up in a pitcher which could end up as another Carlos Silva, for what, a 4% increase in playoff odds according to MARCEL? Is the risk of Jackson busting worth the 4% increase in playoff odds? I’m pretty sure it’s a no.

    Comparing Jackson to Carlos Silva is just stupid and pointless. Go post somewhere else, where your abrasive stupidity is wanted. This isn’t the place for you.

  9. ck on January 30th, 2012 7:12 pm

    Mariners have lost more ground to their competition this off-season. Already staring up from last place, they saw Texas add Darvish, and the Angels add Pujols. The Pineda / Montero swap was good because the M’s offense is historically inept, but more value must be added to the roster to keep the dwindling fan base interested.

  10. awakeling on January 30th, 2012 7:45 pm

    While a loss in attendance this year is to be expected without any major moves or significant winning streak, I wonder how much having Pujols around regularly in addition to a few Darvish sightings will increase attendance. Probably not a lot, but you know that Safeco will be filled with Japanese and local fans to see Darvish pitch to Ichiro.

  11. MT on January 30th, 2012 7:59 pm

    Some thoughts.

    I understand how we want the M’s to maintain or increase payroll. However, unless there is a team that can justify the payroll, no owner is going to spend the money for it. Or at least, the M’s ownership will not spend such money. The Tigers and the Yankees ownership maybe, but not all owners do not care whether the team is losing money or not. The owners obviously have money, but they do not own the baseball teams to take a loss. If they were so indifferent about losing money, they would not have the money in the first place.

    Anyways, if the team ownership or the BoD of the company don’t think the team will generate more than what it will expend this coming year, then obviously they will not pay for such.

    The counter argument is that if we spend the $10 mil or so per year to sign, for example Jackson, the M’s playoff odds will be raised by, according to Dave, 6% or so, from apprx. 4% to 10%.

    Is it worth it for the team to pay $10 mil to increase their odds of playoff contention by 6% to 10%? Will this raise attendance by enough?

    I do not know, but likely the team has decided that the extra $10 mil and the resultant slight increase in playoff odds and the slight chance at increased attendance are not justified. Or at least Jack Z cannot justify such an expenditure and the resultant increase in attendance or the distant chance of a playoff birth to ownership.

    Once Jack Z has enough of a core in place to tell ownership, “I will wager my job, now is the time for us to spend, the added odds of playoff contention is worth the money, so please increase payroll,” then I think is the time that the team will start spending money to truly contend.

    Until then, Jack Z cannot or will not ask the team to risk taking a $10 mil loss to raise their playoff odds from 4% to 10%.

  12. SonOfZavaras on January 30th, 2012 9:05 pm

    My 1/50th of a dollar on this thread:

    I’m not worried about the FanFest turnout- 9,000+ seems about right for a team that’s suffered as many losses as we have three years running, and when the “high-water” mark was about 12,000.

    If anything, I’m freaking thrilled there were that many.

    your writing never disappoints, but a couple questions hit me when I read the post. For starters…How can the A’s be considered an 82-win team? They’ve all but gutted their rotation, and traded their best reliever. They have high-end kids, to be sure…but they’re asking Brandon McCarthy to take the ball Opening Day for them.

    Nothing against Brandon McCarthy at all…but to me, if he’s the best you plan to roll out for Opening Day, that’s the signal of a long year for that team.

    I also don’t see offensive talent wearing Oakland green and gold that’s SO much superior to ours.

    The other question I suppose I have is: what offensive moves out there could still be made? Or more to the point, what moves SHOULD have been made by now? I know you’ve advocated getting Will Venable and Mark Reynolds this off-season, I even liked the Venable plan before acquiring Montero basically made that un-doable.

    I think it’s not too much of a stretch to say that some of the posters on this thread are right: other teams KNOW how desperately we need offensive upgrades, and they probably haven’t backed off of unreasonable prospect costs as a result. A guy like Reynolds may cost us the likes of Walker, Franklin AND Paxton as a PTBNL.

    (Certainly if I was an opposing GM, I would ask for the moon from Seattle right now and not back down from it- particularly when I don’t HAVE to give Player X up.)

    I would have to agree with the feeling that this off-season feels disappointing and failure-like, and I am hoping Zduriencik has a nice-sized rabbit up his sleeve (for that $12-15 mil we’d presumably have) before Spring Training begins in earnest.

    But I’m not seeing a move to make as of January 30th, or one before that was like “duh, Jack”.

    But most of this disappointed feeling- for me, anyway- stems from the fact that TWO teams decided to make our division their own version of “Rock-‘Em-Sock-‘Em Robots” and made monster moves that could assure them of being championship timber for the better part of a decade.

    I think I said the word “fuck” about fourteen times in a row when I heard the Angels had signed Pujols. Texas was just plain scary before- now if Darvish lives up to HALF the hype, they’re markedly better.

    Offensive talent is fiendishly hard to acquire at acceptable prices these days. Out of curiosity, Dave- besides Reynolds, who I’m a little “meh” about because of defense and strikeout issues- do you see a move that you’d advocate pulling the trigger on?

  13. henryv on January 30th, 2012 9:32 pm

    Third base and a left fielder that can play center, right? Perhaps a starter.

    3B – Eric Chavez is still out there.
    LF/back up CF – Rick Ankiel?
    SP – Javier Vazquez (apparently now not retiring?)

    The problem I see isn’t that we don’t want to spend money, I’m wondering if there is much left to spend it on that doesn’t involve a long contract (Edwin Jackson) or a huge risk (Cespedes).

    Hell, I don’t know. I’m really nervous about CF and RF. For some reason I get this terrible feeling that it isn’t unreasonable to think that both those players may now be replacement-level players, and that we don’t really have any MLB-ready outfielders.

    But if Ichiro and Guti don’t have good years, it is probably a moot point, as the team will then be out of it pretty fast.

  14. stevemotivateir on January 30th, 2012 10:18 pm

    “Fans want hope. Winning provides hope while losing breeds resentment.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Each win is a step forward. Great post Dave.

  15. nwade on January 30th, 2012 10:24 pm

    Those of you talking about how the M’s shouldn’t spend money this year because it doesn’t improve their playoff chances enough for *this year* are being horrendously short-sighted. I doubt that any of you ever making this pronouncement have ever worked in sales, marketing, brand management, or ever run your own business (successfully).

    You don’t always spend $X because you know it alone will make you *more* than $X back in immediate returns. Sometimes you have to spend money just to maintain your brand identity, or make modest gains in market-share. Because these effects can be cumulative over time and incremental spending is easier and more effective (even if it means taking a loss in some years) than letting your brand completely die out and then trying to re-ignite interest from scratch.

    You think McDonalds or Crest Toothpaste spend millions on advertising because they think people haven’t heard of them? Or that $1M in ads will always equal $1M+ in new sales? How about all those IBM commercials on TV, even though IBM hardly sells direct to consumers?

    Baseball is a business, and that means considering more than just the playoffs and more than just a single year’s win/loss total when it comes to budgeting and expenditures.

  16. MT on January 30th, 2012 11:30 pm


    I understand your argument. However, Dave has posted in the past, if I have not misunderstood his arguments, that spending money for the big name acquisition and the resultant 1 year blip in increased fan attendance does not translate to subsequent years. What matters the most is constant winning, and only that. How many additional fans will attend games because of a mere 4 wins added to a 75 win team? Is that worth $10 mil? I don’t know, but I don’t think the team or Jack Z thinks so.

    Also, I believe your argument assumes that there is a rather high floor, an established product, for the M’s. That they have a well valued brand image and that they must spend to maintain that image. All the companies you have named are well known companies with established brands of a certain quality. I agree that it is important to spend money to maintain that brand image.

    However, right now, the floor that the M’s have is quite low. Their brand image has been tarnished because of the awful work that the prior regime had done. Do you think the M’s not spending $10 mil right now will harm their image in the eyes of the fans any more that it has been harmed over the past 10 years? Is it worth $10 mil? I’m assuming that the team thinks otherwise.

    Before a company starts spending money on advertising, it has to have a good product. The club does not want one time customers, it wants repeats.

    Therefore, before the M’s start splashing money on high cost free agents, they must first build a sufficiently high floor, a good product, not try to build the floor using FA dollars, because there is a limit to that, especially when the team cannot anticipate significant fan attendance with such low expected win totals.

    Fan attendance, it seems, would only greatly increase with contention, not mere baby steps in wins when the team is far from contention.

  17. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2012 11:32 pm

    Great points, but who exactly are the guys you would have us bring in that would increase brand appreciation and support?

    I mean, in your own examples IBM and McDonalds have grown their own products, and then spend massive money marketing those inside items to the world at large. They certainly don’t go out and spend money to bring in Whoppers and Iphones, and then try to sell those items to their fanbase to keep their image elevated (although comparable items in the market would actaully be more like an AM/PM burger and prepaid Flip Phone).

    I don’t think the argument here is “don’t spend money”… The argument is really “who’s worth it, at this point?” Who are the signings left out there that would make the casual fanbase say “hey, these guys are really TRYING!”

    (And Dave has made some good points about who might be worth it, if we could swing it… Sure).

    The sad truth is that we all know the ONE GUY most fans would have accepted as a sign that the Mariners/owners/GMZ are trying just signed with Detroit. (Thank God!)

    At this point all the pontificating in the world doesn’t change the fact that any statement made from here on out is akin to…

    “Hey everybody… check out our new Lambourghini… er… scratch that, didn’t work out… I mean, hey everybody… check out our used ’97 Saturn!”

    Mark Reynolds? (yawn)
    Edwin Jackson? (maybe, but really…? I mean, is spending more money on pitching something this team really needs, and/or does it send the right message the fans want to hear?)

  18. aprilbaseball on January 31st, 2012 12:09 am

    Good stuff as always, Dave.

  19. The_Waco_Kid on January 31st, 2012 1:46 am

    I can’t remember a satisfying offseason since 2005. When they got Figgins and Lee and I felt great, but thought, “you know, they could contend, but they need another bat.” (or 10, in retrospect) Last year, I thought, “Cust and Olivo…that’s it?” Since Sexson and Beltre, it’s kind of been this way.

    We’ll see if Z does something in the next few weeks. Fans are pretty dumb to be hugely demoralized about not getting Fielder, but I agree with Dave that the M’s should probably be able to do SOMETHING to improve us a little now without blocking the kids too badly or spending tons of money.

  20. eponymous coward on January 31st, 2012 7:12 am

    You know, guys, Dave DID actually write this:

    “Back in 2007, Vince Gennaro published a piece at The Hardball Times dealing with win curves and the marginal revenue benefits associated with adding wins for each franchise. Based on the team’s market size, he estimated that adding five wins to push the team from 78 to 83 wins would produce an additional $6 million in revenue for the franchise. That’s just a fraction of the $16 million that would be added by gaining wins 86-91, but there is a real tangible benefit to improving from mediocre to decent.”

    So would everyone who is trying to go “no, it really doesn’t matter if they win 75 or 81 this year” quit ignoring that? It does matter.

    Also, there’s the problem of talent base- in other words, where the franchise will be 12 months from now. Brandon League’s going to be pretty expensive. Jason Vargas is going to be expensive. Ichiro may well be on his way out the door (and if he’s not, he’s likely not going to be a cheap signing). So might Brendan Ryan. Even if it’s a reasonably productive year on the farm, this won’t mean that there’s no problems that need to be addressed with the 2013 team- the M’s will have to produce some wins from the farm just to keep being a 75 win team. And that doesn’t help with actually IMPROVING the team.

    You know what would help with having more talent available in 2013? Making good FA signings for reasonable value in 2012.

    And one other thing:

    Once Jack Z has enough of a core in place to tell ownership, “I will wager my job, now is the time for us to spend, the added odds of playoff contention is worth the money, so please increase payroll,” then I think is the time that the team will start spending money to truly contend.

    And what happens if 2012 is the year Felix loses half a season for arm trouble, Guti and Ichiro don’t bounce back at all, Smoak’s still a bust, the rest of the rotation struggles, and this is a 67 win team again? What makes you think Zduriencik will GET the chance to ever tell ownership “now is the time to spend” if the Mariners are still a pile of suck on the field, four years after he showed up?

    What Dave said about “The reality of a 162 game season is that every year, one or two teams are the benefactors of significant good fortune, and they destroy their pre-season estimate by 15+ wins” works the other way too. Improving your talent level doesn’t just help with upside- it helps with downside, too.

  21. asuray on January 31st, 2012 7:27 am

    The Indians acquired Russ Canzler for cash from the Rays today. I had him pegged as a nice RH 3B/1B/OF platoon option. Too bad.

  22. nwade on January 31st, 2012 8:32 am

    MT and MzZD – I don’t think you were implying this, but just to clarify: I was _not_ on the “sign Prince” bandwagon. I’m pleased as punch we didn’t sign him.

    And yet you came right back to arguments about a “1 year blip” or additional revenue for this year. I’m making the argument that its not about that at all. Its about building or maintaining the brand over time. And I certainly never said anything about only signing one-year deals with the cash we have on-hand this year!

    I also never stated anything about having to sign Free Agents exclusively, either (and I don’t think Dave did in his article). What about remaining trades that would result in us taking on a higher salary? What about paying generous cash considerations as part of a deal (I know that cash is often considered a harbinger of a bad deal or a cheap player, but I don’t want to artificially limit the tools GMZ has at his disposal and say he can’t use a bunch of cash in trade talks).

    There are many paths that the GM can take beyond just signing a 1 year FA deal for an aging veteran. I don’t think ANY of us are arguing in favor of that singular course of action. But it doesn’t mean we should be satisfied if the team stands pat and fails to make any other moves prior to the beginning of the season.

  23. nwade on January 31st, 2012 9:22 am

    P.S. Minor point: Ray Kroc is listed as the founder of the modern McDonalds company because he bought out the original McDonalds (allegedly for their french fries); he did not grow his own product. Also, IBM has acquired numerous products and staff by buying other companies and patents over the years. I’m just sayin’…

  24. greentunic on January 31st, 2012 10:34 am

    I think this team has the ability to surprise us. I agree that this team is impossible to project (any team really is for that matter). You can get close sometimes, but in reality, we cannot rely too much on projections when the roster is so different from last years (both in terms of season-long personell and in terms of the young having more experience).

    It’s time to get excited. I believe in The Plan, and if this is part of it, then I’m all for it.

    Everyone knows we don’t need Fielder (even Baker’s blog post had only 13.69% of it’s voters wish they had Fielder at his contract), and while we may want the satisfaction of a fully utilized payroll, perhaps this money CAN be saved towards 2013 payroll.

    Now it has been said that cash saved in 2012 doesn’t get added to the budget in 2013 in baseball. That may be true, but we don’t KNOW that. That depends on ownership’s philosophy and their decisions, not the standard operating procedure of running a baseball team.

    Maybe JZ told them “Next year, we will need to spend 40 million in new aquisitions… we won’t have it? Well, can we cut back a bit this year and then slap down 40? Yeah? Great! Okay, I’m going to make this team better without spending money this year, and then we’ll blow the roof off next year!”

    Please excuse the vernacular. I added it for effect.

  25. eponymous coward on January 31st, 2012 11:19 am

    You can get close sometimes, but in reality, we cannot rely too much on projections when the roster is so different from last years (both in terms of season-long personell and in terms of the young having more experience).

    The Mariners were projected to be bad in 2010 and 2011, using projections similar to what are being used to project 2012.

    So, basically, no- these systems generally work. Yeah, teams get lucky and exceed projections. But as Branch Rickey said, luck is the residue of design. This team isn’t designed as well as it could be with about $15 million more in payroll, and moving the needle in terms of talent just a few games DOES make a big difference in terms of being able to take advantage of luck.

  26. Mariners35 on January 31st, 2012 11:55 am

    This team isn’t designed as well as it could be with about $15 million more in payroll,

    If $15mm buys a 2 or 3 WAR upgrade somewhere at LF, 3b or SP, I tend to agree. (E.g. Jackson in the rotation.) But apart from SP, I don’t know where you find those, this offseason.

    nwade brings up some good points about ability to take on salary fueling other trade possibilities, but it’s hard to speculate realistically about what trades could happen.

    Though there is that rumor this morning that the Jays seriously mulled Lawrie for Pineda. Hm. Does it decimate the farm too much to peel off e.g. Walker and a couple other pieces to make that happen? I still contend that the farm is only just recovering, and is too thin to make substantial trades without some great scouting or a jedi-mind-trick level fleecing going on. So without a strong farm base to trade from (or replenish ML level players being traded), there isn’t the quality of player to spend on in the FA market to really improve much on what the M’s have right now.

  27. smb on January 31st, 2012 12:41 pm

    Aaand this is why I’m so afraid the FO panics after this year (say, if we drop to, or below, 1.5 mil in attendance) and trades Walker or Paxton or both for more “sure thing ML-ready” DH-type bats. Ultimately we’ll finally have put together an offense once we have no more pitching talent close to ready.

    FWIW I’d have done Pineda straight up for Lawrie in a heartbeat.

  28. smb on January 31st, 2012 12:44 pm

    I would stop short of using FanFest attendance to speculate on regular season attendance—FanFest is approximately 2,000x more fun that watching this team play at regular ticket prices.

  29. greentunic on January 31st, 2012 12:52 pm

    The Mariners were projected to be bad in 2010 and 2011, using projections similar to what are being used to project 2012.

    I’m not saying bad teams won’t generally be bad the following year, or that good teams won’t generally be good the following year. What I am saying is that as of now I am not a believer in projected win/loss record at all. I am in the minority, but I feel that’s akin to saying “I think I can throw a baseball 142 feet and 7 inches.”

    THIS team, no matter how you shake it, has hardly any stable components. Felix, Vargas, B Ryan, Olivo, and B League are somewhat stable. We know what we’re likely to get from them. But I believe Montero, Smoak, Ackley, Figgins, Seager, Carp, Wells, Gutierez, Ichiro, Noesi, Iwakuma, and “Mr. 5th Starter” all have large ranges of potential performance quality for 2012.

    And I do agree that any improvement helps this team get competitive regardless of those performances (it’s like the prisoner’s dilema in game theory, [I like pretending to be smart even when I’m not!]). But while I’d love to see that improvement, I ultimately will trust in JZ as long as he continues to improve the Mariners brand from top to bottom as I feel he has been doing for 3 years.

  30. Yannigan on January 31st, 2012 1:28 pm

    I have basically accepted (not quite happy about, but close to it) that the M’s could push the .500 level this year. Now Dave raises my level of pessimism by pointing out that a few more improvements could put us in the realm of “if the chips fall right, we could get lucky”. Instead, that realm remains a bit too distant for 2012.

    The thing I can’t get over, is WHY do the chips never seem to fall our way? Other than a rare exception (Pineda last year), when was the last time the M’s had a young player that actually exceeded expectations? Especially a position player?

    Aren’t we due to get “lucky” on a bunch of players at once? I’m sure that the Marcel projections owe us one such year.

  31. Mariners35 on January 31st, 2012 2:18 pm
  32. greentunic on January 31st, 2012 3:24 pm

    Haha, that was great.

  33. FelixFanChris420 on January 31st, 2012 3:33 pm

    In regards to Jackson, I just read on another baseball site (not sure if I’m allowed to name it, don’t wanna seem like a spammer) that Jackson has a multi year offer or offers and yet is leaning towards a one year deal. 2 questions: 1. Why would he want to take a 1 year deal if he has multi year offers and 2. Signing a one year deal obviously puts him back on the market next year, so it would seem obvious he would want to go to a pitcher friendly park, does this go a long way towards us having a shot at him, or am I reading to much into minor info?

  34. Mariners35 on January 31st, 2012 3:44 pm

    FFC420 – I think I know what site and what rumors you mean. First, it might just be chatter and media posturing. That could be enough to disregard it, full stop.

    Second, I’d see every reason to shy away from a multi-year deal if the total amount weren’t that great, the team was a poor team in a tough division, or both.

    And if the next time Jackson is a free agent, he would be out of his prime years, I’d think that would push him to make sure he’s getting paid right now.

    A one year deal might be a prelude to getting an even bigger multi-year offer next winter. I’m not surprised he’s still circling a bit.

  35. zak24 on January 31st, 2012 9:04 pm

    I’m not annoyed with the M’s going into spring training with the team as it is now. If the theme last year was get your toes wet. This year it’s sink or swim. And I’m sure some of them will sink, and I’m sure others will grow fins and really succeed.. when the foundation is ready you break the bank and reel in Michael Phelps to anchor your club and break all kinds of records.

    I just think that Zduriencik feels like he has a ton of flexibility right now. We’ve got a promising young foundation and he has consistently talked about always having his ears open to other GMs and agents. I trust that he would add a guy who improves our ball club tomorrow morning if the opportunity presented itself.

    The truth is we don’t know what limitations Jack is dealing with. Financial or otherwise. It’s all guesses. Just like the judges ruling that the franchise is worth 150 million more then Forbes listed it as. Who knew? And I have a hunch Ichiro’s friendship with the NintendOwner has Jack’s hands tied to a certain extent.. stuff like that. Jack just strikes me as a good judge of character, and I think he is as plugged in and savvy as any GM in the league.

  36. PBS on February 1st, 2012 10:27 am

    How bout Cespedes?

  37. bookbook on February 1st, 2012 11:54 am

    Hey, good news. We’ve got Guillen!

  38. Glen on February 1st, 2012 12:11 pm

    There’s the little chip Jack was talking about!

  39. FelixFanChris420 on February 1st, 2012 12:48 pm

    Thanks M’s35

    Sweet…Carlos Guillen… /sarcasm

  40. formerstarQB16 on February 2nd, 2012 1:23 pm

    Mariners35 –

    The Gambler’s fallacy is a bit of a fallacy in itself. The Gambler’s fallacy only speaks to predicting short-term results on small sample sizes. Whereas the “Law of Averages” that most of us reference really refers to the “Law of Large Numbers”. The Law of Large Numbers says that as a common event is extrapolated out (coin flip) its mean will become closer and closer to its initial probability. The Gambler’s fallacy really comes in to play when small samples sizes and results prior to the “Gambler” arriving are ignored. For example, if the Gambler witnesses 10 straight heads on a coin toss he may be willing to bet that the there is a higher likelihood of tails in the next few flips. This ignores the possibility that 10 straight tails were tossed prior to the Gambler arriving and that it make take many, many coin tosses before the mean reaches the probability.

    Regardless, overall probability of baseball players panning out has much less to do with probability than talent evaluation and economic resources…. the Mariners have been worse than most at both…. on average.

  41. eponymous coward on February 3rd, 2012 6:57 am

    What I am saying is that as of now I am not a believer in projected win/loss record at all. I am in the minority, but I feel that’s akin to saying “I think I can throw a baseball 142 feet and 7 inches.”

    You realize you’re flying in the face of actual data, right? So why do you think systems that use past performance (minor league and major league) can’t work?

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