Blame the Kids or the Vets?

Dave · September 11, 2013 at 7:52 am · Filed Under Mariners 

In the comments of the post just below, a sentiment was echoed that has been a pretty common refrain from the apologists for the organization’s off-season. The comment:

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.

Since people like to make this claim and then say something like “everyone thought their prospects were good, so give the front office a break”, let’s just look at the facts. We’ll break the Mariners roster in half using that age-27 dividing line, with anyone younger than that being a “kid” and everyone older than that being a “veteran”, except we’re going to remove Felix Hernandez from the sample entirely, because doing so would give the “kids” the benefit of his performance when no one considers him a kid anymore. And no one thinks Felix is the problem, of course. So here’s how the other 24 guys break down.


Kids 2886 0.245 0.319 0.391 0.314 97 -31.7 2.9 5.9
Vets 2624 0.237 0.296 0.397 0.304 90 -55.7 -14.0 -1.5


Kids 486 4.76 4.00 3.77 3.6
Vets 631 4.45 4.32 4.07 4.7

The final tally, with almost exactly a 50/50 split in playing time, is +9.5 WAR for the kids (again, not counting Felix) and +3.2 for the veterans. Oh, and just for fun, here are the combined salaries for the two groups:

Kids: $19 million
Vets: $45 million

The Mariners veterans produced were paid almost $15 million for every win they produced. But, yeah, it’s the kids fault that this team sucks. Yep. Blame the kids. Just make sure you don’t let facts get in your way.


54 Responses to “Blame the Kids or the Vets?”

  1. 3cardmonty on September 11th, 2013 10:15 pm

    Z’s tenure really hasn’t been all that different from Bavasi’s, all things considered. Bavasi left the farm system in pretty decent shape IIRC, better than the one he inherited from Gillick at any rate (although Fontaine and Engel surely deserve most of the credit). Z hasn’t made any trades as bad as the Bedard debacle, or given out any contracts as bad as Silva or Sexson. It’s not necessarily for lack of trying though – let’s not forget that he tried to sign Hamilton for 4/100. I actually can’t think of any free agent contracts on Z’s watch that were better than Beltre’s, or even Johjima’s, or hell, the deals that Bavasi signed Ibanez to. Don’t get me wrong, Bavasi was worse than Z. But it’s not as big a difference as some people are making out. Qualitatively, both regimes were generally characterized by decent talent valuation at the minor league level and poor talent valuation at the major league level.

  2. zak24 on September 12th, 2013 12:54 am

    “A really good situation” in my opinion is money to spend, no dead weight contracts, and a young core to build around on both offense and defense. The last 5 years have been a struggle at the big league level but adding great veterans to a roster that wasn’t ready to contend would’ve been a waste of money. I understand you’re frustration with the past, but I think now this team is ready to make serious offers to veteran OF WAR producers (Pence, Ellsbury anyone?). This is a critical time not to lose your patience.

  3. Jopa on September 12th, 2013 9:16 am

    Bavasi left the team in shambles, by depleting the farm system via poor trades, poor drafting and terrible free agent signings.

    Jack has created a top 5 farm system and a talented young core just getting a taste of the majors now. He’s also only signed one bad, long-term free agent contract in Figgins. The rest have been either because his hands have been tied financially or because the players he wanted didn’t want to play in Seattle.

    Further, Bavasi had a budget of $120 million with no big albatross contracts created by prior management. Jack’s been allowed to spend up to $90 million, yet much of that was tied up in bad contracts signed prior to his arrival.

    This has been from the start a 7yr rebuild. They just don’t say it publicly. And to expect every talented prospect to be a superstar in his first or second year in the majors is ridiculous.

  4. illdonk on September 14th, 2013 8:45 am

    Unless you really believed that this team had a chance to compete in 2013, or believe it matters much whether the team is currently 17 or 11 or 6 games below .500, then the most pressing issue in 2013 is still the failure of the young hitters to develop.

    Let’s say the team had a more Dave-friendly offseason. They keep Vargas and Jaso, sign Swisher and/or Bourn and a better veteran starter for a year or two. Bigger FA attempts are known to have failed. The moves work out, and the team has a shot at finishing .500. Does this really matter all that much in the context of this team becoming a consistent playoff threat during the next five years? Is the 2014 outlook much more promising than it is now?

    If you want to have a referendum on the GM, which my comment wasn’t (but was described as a defense) that’s a different subject, and I’m pretty much in agreement with the opinion that the current situation should be changed. But I still think that even a good offseason wouldn’t have mattered much for this team’s goals.

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