A Tale of Two Cities

Dave · September 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Before the season began, the Miami Marlins blew up their roster, as they are known to do. A year after spending a bunch of money in free agency, the organization tore the team down to the bare bones. They traded away Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson in one single trade, then stripped almost all of the rest of the players making any real money from the roster over the rest of the off-season. They entered the season with a $40 million Opening Day payroll if you don’t count the money they were paying players to play for other teams, and it was only that high because they waited until mid-season to shed Ricky Nolasco‘s $11 million contract.

The highest paid player on the Marlins right now is a tie between Adeiny Hechavarria and Placido Polanco, each making $2.75 million. Greg Dobbs, at $1.6 million, is in a tie for third with Juan Pierre. You get the idea. This is not a team with Major League players, and it is not a team that put any real effort into trying to win baseball games in 2013. This was a roster of prospects and scrubs, with the Marlins doing exactly what people in Seattle accuse the Mariners of doing; going cheap for the primary purpose of making a huge profit.

The Mariners, though, put real effort into trying to field a winning team. They spent the entire off-season replacing young guys with older ones, bringing in a host of veterans who were supposed to help lead the team to a winning record. They gave Felix Hernandez a monstrous contract extension in order to keep him in Seattle. They tried to sign Josh Hamilton, then tried to trade for Justin Upton.

The Mariners spent the entire month of March telling anyone who would listen that they had finally built a team worth watching, a good team full of guys who could hit and were going to change the tide for the organization. This was a roster that was built with the intention of contending in 2013, or at least being good enough to get the fans interested in baseball once again.

As of tonight, the run differential tally:

Seattle: -113
Miami: -118

The M’s tried to keep their pending free agents in order to use the last few months to spin this season as something other than a total failure; it hasn’t worked. This team is really, truly awful. This is the kind of finish that gets people fired.

But, hey, at least they’re using the opportunity to evaluate the young guys who could be part of the next good Mariners team, and not just wasting at-bats on guys who won’t shouldn’t be here next year. Oh…


15 Responses to “A Tale of Two Cities”

  1. Westside guy on September 10th, 2013 11:26 pm

    And, even worse in my mind – compared to last season, the team hasn’t really scored any more runs! They punted defense in both corners in the name of adding veteran presence and dingers, got worse behind the dish… and have given up more than 100 extra runs compared to last year without scoring any more.

  2. illdonk on September 10th, 2013 11:37 pm

    “They spent the entire off-season replacing young guys with older ones…”

    Are these young players that would have apparently fixed everything Mike Carp and Casper Wells? 29-year-old John Jaso? And are we sure anybody actually wanted any of our pending free agents?

    Five of the eight hitters in the opening day lineup were under 27. The fact that only one of them has turned out to be any good (and our two top prospects may not actually be major league ballplayers) is the issue. I know it’s tempting to blame this team’s failures on the underachieving veterans, but the bigger issue was the far more disappointing young players.

    As for evaluating the young players, Besides Morales and Ibanez, the ages of Monday’s starting lineup were: 23/24/25/26/25/22/22/21. And none of the six relievers were older than 27.

  3. WestyHerr on September 10th, 2013 11:49 pm

    March 2014 will come upon us. Lincoln, Armstrong, Zduriencik and Wedge will be here. Zunino, Seagar, Hernandez, Iwakuma, Smoak, Saunders, Ackley, Franklin, and Miller will be here. And you’ll all be excited and giddy.

  4. LongDistance on September 11th, 2013 12:44 am

    Excited and giddy? Only if PEDs are involved.

    Now that pot’s legal, possible.

    Otherwise, meh.

    The only thing that’ll be interesting this winter, is how it all gets spun.

  5. crazyray7391 on September 11th, 2013 1:32 am

    From day 1 I was a Jack Z supporter……but the team he put together at the beggining of the year was so terrible I personally thought he could have been let go right then. Ibanez, Morse and Bay as actual weapons? What a joke!

    The way we’re finishing is fitting. DINGERS don’t fix much

  6. Logan Davis on September 11th, 2013 5:34 am

    This is mostly just an illustration of why first-order pythag isn’t to be trusted. By run differential the Mariners and Marlins look comparable, but the Mariners’ run differential has seriously underperformed their wOBA differential, and the Marlins’ run differential has seriously overperformed their wOBA differential.

    By second-order wins, the Marlins are 53-90, while the Mariners are 65-80. By third-order wins, it’s 54-89 to 64-81. Your article definitely makes the Mariners’ front office look bad, which I agree is a worthy aim, but it seems silly to compare these two teams by cherry-picking one statistic in which they’ve had unusually fluky performances in opposite directions.

  7. PackBob on September 11th, 2013 6:01 am

    Another tale of two cities. The Red Sox and Dodgers made a trade and who would have predicted they would both be in first each by more than 8 games taking such different routes?

    I didn’t like the old guys/dinger hitters that Jack Z. added this year. But most of the young talent that Jack Z. has added were highly rated prospects that have not realized their expectations.

    I’m not sure how much GMs should be held accountable for misjudging prospects. After all, GMs passed 24 times on Mike Trout.

    Dave was adamant that Harper was better than Trout. Harper has some catching up to do. Dave was adamant that KC was wasting everyone’s time with the fantasy that they could contend for a playoff spot. They might not get there, but their chances are sure better than Toronto’s, a team that most pegged to contend in the AL East.

    I love Dave’s analysis skill, but this piece has the feel of a gut reaction to last night’s debacle of a game.

  8. JasonJ on September 11th, 2013 6:50 am

    I don’t think this is a reaction to anything. Dave has been pretty consistent since the beginning of the season (or earlier) that this was a poorly constructed team and he has not waivered from that position.

  9. Westside guy on September 11th, 2013 7:32 am

    It only took about a dozen games to prove as fact that this was a poorly constructed team! 😀

  10. Mariner.lovechild on September 11th, 2013 8:20 am

    Defense doesn’t mean squat to us anymore, it seems. They’ve traded Ryan off now – someone I’d rather field everyday (but my goodness, couldn’t keep above .190).

    And while it benefited in plenty of ways, Ichiro’s fielding is definitely missed.

    What a shame Gutierrez hasn’t displayed enough durability. Wonder where he’ll be next year…

  11. eponymous coward on September 11th, 2013 10:53 am

    This is mostly just an illustration of why first-order pythag isn’t to be trusted. By run differential the Mariners and Marlins look comparable, but the Mariners’ run differential has seriously underperformed their wOBA differential, and the Marlins’ run differential has seriously overperformed their wOBA differential.

    OK, so that bolded part- is that a positive indicator that there are players on the team that are more likely to be productive next year (and the M’s have upside potential)?

    I noticed some of this ealier in the year. I don’t know if it’s a leading indicator like the James “Plexiglass Principle” with pythag…

  12. The_Waco_Kid on September 11th, 2013 10:59 am

    I’m pissed too and and I’m not thrilled with Wedge or Z, although getting Raul worked out okay and the other moves had no long-term costs.

    The real issue is what happens this off-season. Trying to keep Morales is a concern. Counting on Guti would be. Lack of good free agents options too. But this year I see a team that shoulda won 75-80 winning 70-75 largely because veteran stopgaps (Harang, Joe Saunders) had awful starts. Tom imploding and Morse somehow being worthless after April didn’t help, nor did Pryor and Erasmo being injured.

    You can say there’s been bad process, but I don’t view of our record this season as being indicative of the rebuild going poorly.

  13. nathaniel dawson on September 11th, 2013 12:31 pm

    I would echo what illdonk said. I can’t recall any young players from last year’s team jetissoned for old players. I see some “middle-aged” players (for lack of a better term) they moved.

  14. MrZDevotee on September 11th, 2013 3:23 pm

    I don’t think the front office went into the season pretending they had built a winning ballclub. If they simply believed their own plan, they knew they weren’t the team they’d be if they had signed Hamilton or Upton (regardless of how those players have performed).

    And I don’t think we fancied ourselves better than the Rangers and Angels (no matter how those teams have performed). I think they built a team that they hoped would be more entertaining, and that if some breaks went our way might make things interesting till late in the season.

    And two things the M’s have relied on heavily the past few seasons– a patchwork rotation and young journeymen bullpen– have BOTH let them down this year. Pitching alone has cost us at least 10 games of contention. (I heard the stat today that “Safeco Saunders” has now lost his last 4 home starts, with an ERA over 10 during that span.)

    If the plan had held together– we could easily be 10 wins ahead of where we are today. A healthy Erasmo, a healthy Guty, and Wilhelmsen holding it together would have made a huge difference (ie, no Harang, no “starting LF Raul Ibanez” and a bullpen less taxed with overly optimistic expectations).

    It’s just baseball. At least we’re not Angels fans. (Okay, that sounded awful as a “positive spin”).

  15. leftfield limey on September 11th, 2013 4:21 pm

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way..”

    Charles was definitely a Mariners fan.

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