News And Notes

Dave · October 5, 2012 at 10:39 am · Filed Under Mariners 

A few things happened the last few days. Here’s a quick roundup.

1. Chris Chambliss is out as the team’s hitting coach. Someone new will come in, people will write stories about how well the hitters are adjusting to the change, and then, if the guys hit well, people will write stories about how good of a job he did. If the guys don’t hit, he’ll get fired. No one really knows anything about whether hitting coaches are good or bad. It seems likely that every hitting coach is good for some and bad for others. This probably doesn’t matter, but, hey, circle of life.

2. Chone Figgins wants out of Seattle. If he’s not DFA’d soon, I’ll be shocked. He won’t be here next year – the only question is whether the team eats his entire salary via trade or simply through releasing him.

3. Bob Engle informed the team that he won’t sign a contract extension at the end of the month. He’s considering retirement, so maybe there’s nothing to this, but the wording is strange. He doesn’t seem to have another job already lined up and seems open to potentially going elsewhere, so this has more of the appearance of a longtime employee quitting. A valuable longtime employee at that. We’ll probably never know the full story here, but put this in the bad news category. Engle’s been a big asset to the club, and while their international scouting department won’t just fall apart now that he’s gone, it seems unlikely that the team has someone just as capable who can fill his shoes without there being any kind of loss.

Comments

40 Responses to “News And Notes”

  1. Westside guy on October 5th, 2012 10:49 am

    I found the text from Engle’s statement on Greg Johns’ blog. “Strange” is exactly right – it’s pretty darn obvious something is going on. However, while it could be because of something behind the scenes with the Mariners – as Johns mentions, it might also be about the changes MLB has put into place regarding international signings.

    Regarding Figgins… I’ll believe it when it happens, not before. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that sort of statement (“If he’s not DFA’d soon, I’ll be shocked”) before – not just from Dave, from lots of people. If it does happen, my office mates are going to hear a loud “YEAH!!” coming from my direction.

  2. wabbles on October 5th, 2012 10:52 am

    1. Meh. 2. YEAH! 3. That is strange, could be either the changes to international scouting rules or something (impending sale, please?).

  3. Sports on a Shtick on October 5th, 2012 11:13 am

    “Story coming on Mariners international changes. It’s more complicated than it looks.”

    That’s from BA’s Ben Badler. Doesn’t sound encouraging.

  4. Celadus on October 5th, 2012 11:40 am

    Wabbles: Regarding sale of team, be careful what you wish for. I wasn’t overjoyed with any of the previous owners. Neither was the rest of the informed fan base at the time.

  5. FelixFanChris420 on October 5th, 2012 12:03 pm

    As far as the Figgins thing goes, if he really wants out of Seattle, void your contract like the Japanese guy in Minny did (can’t remember his name off hand). Oh wait…thats right…you don’t want out of 8 million bucks…

    Seriously though if Figgins wants to be a punk like that they ought to just let him suffer on the end of the bench…they’re paying him 8 mil anyways and its not like they’re going to get anything of value if they dump him

  6. SonOfZavaras on October 5th, 2012 12:16 pm

    #3 is BY FAR the most troublesome piece of news.

    You can really make a decent case for both that Engle is THE most valuable employee the Mariners have, or have EVER had.

    And with these new caps and regulations in place for international signings? The need for him is probably MORE, not less.

    As Dave alludes, we have people besides Engle in our international scouting who are capable at their jobs…but the loss of a Bob Engle hurts, big time.

    As for Figgins…to hell with him. Feeling’s very mutual, dude. Let him do a Nishioka and opt out of his contract. All I know is if he still wants to call himself a professional ballplayer, we’re going to be the ones paying him most of that 8 mil….wherever he winds up.

  7. Mike Snow on October 5th, 2012 12:32 pm

    Reading between the lines on Engle, what it sounds like to me is more that he doesn’t want to fully retire, but he is ready to be a little more retired than his current duties allow him to be. In that case, it might be less ominous to have him going to another club, but at any rate, losing his services is a significant blow. Zduriencik’s reputation is that he should be able to find a capable replacement to fill the void, but Engle has earned a lot of appreciation for his work.

  8. Westside guy on October 5th, 2012 12:43 pm

    Okay, this is getting even more interesting…

    Larry Stone’s piece on Engle’s departure

    Ben Bradler’s piece on the team firing Patrick Guerrero

    Sounds like they could be related, since Engle wasn’t the one to fire Guerrero.

  9. Mariners35 on October 5th, 2012 12:44 pm

    I actually am not remembering the implications of changes to international signings. I assume a strong presence internationally is vital, to find the next 17-year-old wundkerkind and turn them into the next 20 -year-old phenom.

    But I don’t remember what the initial consensus opinion was on how international signings / draftings / budget changes work now. Do the caps and regs and such make it harder to find a diamond in the rough, or less likely that someone will take a flyer on a long-term project now?

  10. GLS on October 5th, 2012 1:27 pm

    If I recall correctly, each team is given a pool of money to sign players with, the size of which varies inversely according to order of finish. It’s similar to the new draft bonus limits, except that you can spend the money more freely.

    I don’t have source for that, however, so if I’m wrong anyone please feel free to correct me.

  11. terryoftacoma on October 5th, 2012 2:26 pm

    1. Is no surprise.

    2. I’ll believe it when it happens.

    3. This is surprising and I feel there is much more to the story. Sadly, we will probably never hear that part.

  12. marc w on October 5th, 2012 2:53 pm

    Badler’s piece that Westside Guy linked is fascinating. It does sound like Guerrero was the focus, and if the M’s went around Engle to fire Guerrero, then I get why Engle might leave. But the story’s in why the M’s felt it necessary to cut ties with Guerrero, and it seems like the M’s have been moving in that direction for at least six months.

    Between this, the accusations against Soto, and whatever the hell the Rangers did with both Jairo Beras and Nomar Mazara, a part of thinks that just starting over in the DR may be a good thing. Still sad to lose Engle though; the guy seems to have a worldwide reputation.

  13. marc w on October 5th, 2012 3:08 pm

    GLS/ms35:

    The international draft caps don’t actually vary based on a team’s finish or draft position the way the draft pools do. Instead, for the signing season that began on 7/2/2012, *every team* had the same $2.9m to spend on players. The M’s have, so far, spent a bit less, the Blue Jays spent a tiny bit more, and will pay the luxury tax. But everyone gets the same amount.

    In the past, teams could spend whatever they wanted, so you’d have some teams that would spend next to nothing, and other teams would spend a small fortune. This year, that trend was magnified as any signings BEFORE 7/2/2012 were under the old rules (read: no rules). Thus, the Rangers went apeshit and gave out more than $12 million, including the two highest bonuses in history. Toronto wasn’t far behind at over $7 million.

    Anyway, the M’s have been major players in that world, often spending much more than average on players like Carlos Triunfel, Jharmidy DeJesus, Junior Morban, Martin Peguero, etc. So, when the new rules came in, a number of people wondered how important it would be to maintain a network down there and be on top of dozens of prospects. They wondered if the cap would prevent a team like the Rangers, or, in years past, the M’s, from being able to take advantage of the fact that maybe they knew more good players than some other team. Now, who cares if you know the top 20 players when you can only sign, say, 2 of them. It remains to be seen whether some teams have more success handing out small bonuses to 10 players, or if it becomes incredibly important that your $2.5m bonus signing is better than the other guy’s $2.5m bonus signing. We don’t yet know how it’ll play out.

    This past year saw rampant fraud and questionable moves in the run-up to the new rules taking effect. It’ll be interesting to see if that was a one-off, a last gasp of the wild west atmosphere that the new rules are trying to stamp out, or if trainers/teams push the envelope even more – trying to stay within the letter of the law while trashing the spirit of it.

  14. wabbles on October 5th, 2012 3:18 pm

    Well, as a former city government reporter, I’ll say this. Department heads work for the city manager, who works for the city council. When the council fires a department head, the city manager gets fed up and quits. If the Mariners fired someone who worked for Engle, he probably did get fed up and quit. And at his age, I’m sure he felt the same way as Hargrove flying back from his daughter’s graduation. “I’m 66. I’ve been doing this since I was 17. I don’t need to do this anymore.”

  15. jordan on October 5th, 2012 3:45 pm

    Oh what is that Chone? You want out? Well we are here to help, we are willing to tear up your contract.

    Don’t like that? Have a fun year on the bench.

  16. marc w on October 5th, 2012 4:32 pm

    “Don’t like that? Have a fun year on the bench.”

    If the M’s keep Chone on the bench just because he’s got money left on his deal, I will wash my hands of Zduriencik for good.

    I understood the move this year – showcase him, see if he can become a trade candidate with a month or two of non-awful performance, save a few million. At this point, it’s over. It’s just over. No, he’s not going to tear up his contract. No, the M’s shouldn’t give him a roster spot just because they’re giving him a paycheck. It’s done. Waive him and be done with it.

  17. jordan on October 5th, 2012 4:38 pm

    I’m not suggesting we actually do that. I’m saying we need to play some hard ball.. if he really CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE, then he’d take that option. Make him call our bluff and then cut him.

  18. robbbbbb on October 5th, 2012 6:29 pm

    The M’s can’t ask Figgins to nullify his contract. The MLBPA would have a screaming fit if a team tried to bully a player into abandoning his contract like that. They’re acutely sensitive to anything that smacks of intimidating a player over a contract, and they’ve got good, historical reasons for it.

    The M’s are going to eat Figgins’s contract, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Sunk cost. Get over it.

  19. Madison Mariner on October 5th, 2012 6:40 pm

    Pretty much echoing what robbbbbb said, since Nishioka’s case was an exception in that he asked to be given his unconditional release and then also chose to give back his 2013 salary(as well as the amount of the 2014 buyout).

    With Figgins, the team will likely ask around one more time this winter and then either first DFA him to see if anyone bites on a waiver claim, or not even bother with the DFA and just grant him his unconditional release sometime by the end of October/early November, meaning we’ll owe him his full 2013 salary(but also, his 2014 option won’t vest as a result, which is a small plus). :)

  20. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2012 6:42 pm

    @Jordan

    It really doesn’t work that way in baseball. The union will be advising him on how to handle it and they’ll be scrutinizing him if he does anything other than follow the terms of the contract.

    I’ve joked about it as well, encouraging him to walk, but really, this will end one of two ways. Him being DFA’d, as Dave mentioned, or a half-ass deal, where we eat all but the league minimum and take a no-name prospect in return. I can’t even think of another player that bad, with a similar contract, that could come here in a swap of bad contracts. My money is on the DFA -and probably real soon.

  21. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2012 6:44 pm

    Wow, in the time I posted that last comment, two people more or less said the same thing. Sorry to be the broken record!

  22. Westside guy on October 5th, 2012 7:23 pm

    It’s because you live in Brazil, Steve. Those radio waves have to travel several thousand extra miles. ;-)

  23. 9inningknowitall on October 5th, 2012 7:33 pm

    I just hope figgy is released before Christmas. That would be on of the best gifts GMZ could give to us M’s fans. That and a solid firstbaseman. Maybe a strong outfielder that doesnt spend most of the year on the DL as well.

  24. Sowulo on October 5th, 2012 7:43 pm

    Does someone have a list of great international talents found and signed by Engle that have made the M’s roster and contributed above average production? Seems like they’ve had a lot of prospects but very few that proved to be big contributors to M’s wins.

  25. Jordan on October 5th, 2012 7:54 pm

    Cabrera, Choo…Oh wait you said a M’s roster. Sorry, uh Felix. But, that should count for a few more.

  26. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2012 7:54 pm

    @Sowulo

    Follow the links Westy posted. It’s not really fair to say that few proved to be big contributors to M’s wins, because he has nothing to do with trades. Point A to point B. Whatever the team does after they’re in the system, shouldn’t reflect negatively on his work. And his work with the Jays is certainly worth noting as well.

  27. Jordan on October 5th, 2012 7:55 pm

    Pineda, then a bunch of no names that haven’t panned out yet.

  28. Sowulo on October 5th, 2012 8:04 pm

    So in 12 years with the M’s, his scouting has brought in fewer than one solid MLB caliber player every 2 years. Awesome.

  29. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2012 9:06 pm

    ^Any idea how many players are drafted right here, every single year, and how many of them actually make it to the majors?

  30. shamus on October 5th, 2012 9:07 pm

    Engle is a legend. Signed Felix and Halladay. If he signed a Felix every 12 years, he’d probably be the greatest scout in history?!?!

  31. SeattleNative57 on October 5th, 2012 10:48 pm

    According to Larry Stone, Pedro Grifol has been let go as well. Some major housecleaning is occurring. The firings taken individually are curious. Taken as a whole this appears to be a purge.

  32. maqman on October 6th, 2012 4:30 am

    I’m not aware of the M’s signing international free agents that cost anywhere near their $2.9MM limit this season. Next year they will have more money available than about 2/3 of the teams due to their poor finish this year. Something has created problems on Engle’s turf and at his age he doesn’t have to put up with it.
    Another loss is Pedro Grifol as the California League Manager of the Year, who was the player development manager before that, who has evidently chosen to move on for unstated reasons. It seems there are some issues causing friction in the organization and the wrong people are leaving.

  33. wabbles on October 6th, 2012 8:30 am

    Grifol is gone as well? I remember him from the get-together in the Seattle library.

    As for what Engle did for us, this is from one of the two linked articles:

    “We placed 15 players out of our two (Latin American)academies on the 40-man roster.” Those included Shin-Soo Choo (traded by Bavasi), Michael Pineda (traded by Z before his arm fell off), and Asdrubal Cabrera (traded by Bavasi).

  34. wabbles on October 6th, 2012 8:37 am

    And also Jose Lopez (disappointing but with the club for quite a while) and Erasmo Ramirez.

  35. roosevelt on October 6th, 2012 10:08 am

    My feeling about Engle? The M’s front office is one oddball organization.

  36. athought on October 6th, 2012 3:32 pm

    The M’s should sit down with Figgins and offer him a $.50 on the dollar buy out of his remaining year. He can then try to go find another gig while still getting some of his contractual salary and the M’s only eat half of the boat anchor. Seems like everyone wins a little and loses a little so a fair way to part ways.

  37. GLS on October 6th, 2012 6:51 pm

    Over at Prospect Insider, people don’t seem overly concerned about this, which I find odd. If this situation results in 4-5 fewer major league players over the next decade, I would say it’s a pretty big deal.

    The interesting aspect of this is the firing of Patrick Guerrero. SOMETHING happened there to make the Mariners feel like they had to go around Engle and fire the guy. What happened that made it so absolutely critical for Guerrero to go?

  38. msfanmike on October 6th, 2012 8:41 pm

    Interesting. I wonder how losing two guys with this much experience and who are so highly thought
    of, fits into “The Plan”

    If the inferences to signing bonus ‘shenanigans’ (within one of the attached articles) had teeth or could in any way have been related to the firing, I have to assume a change would have been made long ago. In other words, the ‘inference’ is probably just blather. And, we will probably never know anything about what truly happened.

  39. JMHawkins on October 7th, 2012 11:55 am

    Another loss is Pedro Grifol as the California League Manager of the Year, who was the player development manager before that, who has evidently chosen to move on for unstated reasons. It seems there are some issues causing friction in the organization and the wrong people are leaving

    Hmmmm. Player development manager? Seems to me I recall some hints a couple years ago at player development problems in the organization. History certainly seems to bear that out, as we’ve had quite a few prospects flame out (though maybe it just seems that way because it’s so dissapointing). Was Grifol the guy causing the problems and being squeezed out, or the guy trying to fix the problems and not getting enough support?

  40. marc w on October 8th, 2012 9:49 am

    Maqman -

    The M’s big international signing this year was the Brazilian pitcher Luiz Gohara, who got $800,000. I’m sure they’ve added some low-level signings, but they’ve certainly got room to make another big signing.
    “Next year they will have more money available than about 2/3 of the teams due to their poor finish this year. “
    Well, they will in the amateur draft pool, but remember that the international draft cap is a standard figure that applies to EVERY team. It’s not based on previous year’s record, or how much you spent, or anything. It’s just a universal cap. The Rule 4 draft pool *is* based on previous year’s record in that the cap moves with the number of picks a team has and where they are (early picks = more $$).

    Pedro Grifol’s firing is an odd one too. We can all speculate about this and if there were any disagreements or problems when Grifol became a manager and essentially had to carry out the policies of his successor, Chris Gwynn. But we don’t know anything at this point, so, for now, all of the intra-organizational politics and maneuverings are just guesses. It *is* interesting that Grifol will manage the Lara Cardenales again, the Venezuelan Winter League team the M’s send a lot of their guys to.

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