Eric Wedge and the Problem with Scapegoating

Dave · September 12, 2013 at 10:39 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Last night, local radio host Steve Sandmeyer tweeted out the following:

The Mariners just got swept at home by the Astros. This is the kind of series that leads an ownership to decide to fire someone, even if they were originally planning on staying the course, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Sandmeyer’s sources were correct and that Eric Wedge does not return as manager next year. In fact, I think I’d be surprised if he did, given the team’s performance and his mid-season health issues.

I’ve clearly made my disagreements with Eric Wedge known throughout the last few years. I think he’s particularly poor at identifying the differences between good and bad players, and has consistently put inferior players in the line-up over better alternatives, due to the fact that he simply values things in a way that do not line up with what players do to win and lose games on the field. Wedge is as old school as old school gets, and his lack of interest in adopting anything that has become accepted knowledge in baseball front offices over the last 20 years remains a problem.

But that said, blaming Eric Wedge for the 2013 Mariners would be just yet another example of the organizational scapegoating that has unfortunately become the norm during the last five years.

When the 2010 Mariners fell apart, and Ken Griffey Jr decided to act like a five year old on his way out of town, Don Wakamatsu got the blame. Rather than standing up for his manager when problems arose, the front office sided with the players, effectively cutting the legs out from under his first managerial selection and laying the blame for that team’s failures at the feet of Wak and his staff.

When the team got embarrassed by Josh Lueke’s past transgressions, Carmen Fusco was made the sacrificial lamb. Instead of standing up for his childhood friend, Jack allowed the organization to throw Fusco under the bus for something that simply wasn’t his responsibility in any way, shape, or form. Fusco was made to be the fall guy for a decision he had nothing really to do with; in fact, he was on an airplane, out of contact with the rest of the front office, when the decision was made to back out of the deal with the Yankees and take Texas’ offer (that included Lueke) instead.

More recently, Tony Blengino was phased out of the organization in large part due to the failure of Chone Figgins. The Mariners spent $36 million on Figgins and got a worthless player that everyone hated, and again, someone had to take the blame for that acquisition. Rather than own up to the fact that Figgins was someone that a lot of people saw value in, it was easier to just blame the stat guy and his stupid math.

At some point, you can’t just keep blaming everyone else. It isn’t always someone else’s fault. Eric Wedge had a hand in building this roster, and there are valid reasons to make a change at the managerial position, but it is simply not fair to Wedge — or an accurate portrayal of the 2013 Mariners season — to decide that he’s the man primarily responsible for this disaster of a season. He’s somewhat responsible for contributing to some of the decisions made over the last few years, but again, Jack is the one who hired him, essentially without input from the rest of his staff.

If a GM has, in a five year span, churned through two managers and a couple of top assistants because there have been that many mistakes that someone has to be fired for, perhaps it’s time for the GM himself to take the responsibility. Even if we really believed that Wak was to blame for the Griffey situation, that Fusco was to blame for the Lueke acquisition, that Blengino was to blame for signing Figgins, and that Wedge was to blame for this team’s inability to hit, field, or pitch, Jack hired them all. What does it say about his ability to build a quality organization if he has to scapegoat one of his own hires every year in order to deflect blame from himself?

A significant part of a GMs job is hiring good people and empowering them to do good things. Even just beyond the roster construction and the general failure of the team to make any progress this season, it has to be considered a stain on Jack’s ability to lead the organization if he has to admit, annually, that he hired the wrong guys.

Even good organizations let people go, and good organizations change managers, so letting Wedge leave wouldn’t, by itself, be an indictment of the front office. But it would be part of a disturbing pattern, and one that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. If Jack is willing to stipulate that he’s now hired the wrong manager twice, and he hired the wrong director of pro scouting, and he hired the wrong stat guy, then maybe Jack just isn’t the guy you want hiring people in the first place.

Beyond just that, though, there’s actually a more practical reason why letting Wedge take the fall for this season simply won’t work: managerial candidates want job security, and Jack Zduriencik can’t offer them any.

If the front office decided to let Wedge take the fall for this season, and brought Jack back for one more year, there is no question that it would be a win-or-go-away season. It would be one final shot, a chance to put a winning team on the field and redeem the last four years of losing. And if it didn’t work, then Jack would be on his way out of town.

What quality managerial candidate is going to volunteer for that gig? Win in year one or you’re gone, because the new GM is going to want to hire his own guy, so you get a single season to try and turn this thing around. No establishing your own process, bringing in your own people, developing a culture; just come in, hope to have an amazing winter, and then win from day one. If you don’t, you’re gone, and who knows when your next shot at managing is going to come. What a tempting offer!

Chili Davis would scoff at that. Dave Roberts would scoff at that. Every interesting managerial prospect is going to want to know that they’re going to be given several years of not only guaranteed salary, but a real opportunity to implement their own vision and plan, and help build a team that they think can make a sustained run at playoff success. The only guys who are signing up for one-and-dones are re-treads who are afraid it might be their last shot at getting back into the game and wouldn’t have a job otherwise anyway. But good candidates aren’t going to have any interest in taking a job from a guy who has one last shot to prove that he can build a winner.

If the Mariners are going to conduct a serious managerial search this winter, it has to come after a front office overhaul, because you can’t plan on getting a good manager to take over under these circumstances. To get a good managerial candidate, you have to be able to offer security, and Jack simply shouldn’t have any kind of long term job security at this point, if he has any left at all.

If Wedge is leaving and Jack is staying, the only real option is to promote from within, picking one of the current guys on the staff to take the head job. But then again, if Eric Wedge was the problem, why should we believe that one of his lieutenants is the solution?

Firing Eric Wedge alone doesn’t work. It not only continues a too long trend of scapegoating, but it puts the organization in a position where they won’t be able to hire a real long term replacement. If Wedge is going, everyone has to go. The Mariners made this bed with both Jack Zduriencik and Eric Wedge, and letting one take the fall for the failures of both creates more problems than it solves.

It’s time for new voices, but just swapping out the manager’s voice for a new lame duck manager’s voice isn’t going to do anyone any good.


93 Responses to “Eric Wedge and the Problem with Scapegoating”

  1. djw on September 12th, 2013 4:55 pm

    People become the “fall guy” all the time because as a PR move it works.

    Can you clarify what “it works” means to you in concrete terms? Is it your position that Mariners fans suddenly became much more predisposed to think highly of the team’s management after the firings Dave discusses? This isn’t something I particularly noticed. I don’t know what the evidence for this claim would look like.

  2. djw on September 12th, 2013 4:59 pm

    To clarify my views, I suspect PR “fall guy” firings to attempt to address embarrassments “work” in much the same way snake-oil medical treatments “work.” The vast majority of physical ailments of the human body get better eventually, on their own, and PR dust-ups eventually go away when the media and relevant audiences get bored or chase the next shiny object. Therefore, fake medical treatments and firing the fall guy precede an improvement in symptoms and a dying down of bad press and controversy, respectively. But that doesn’t mean they “work” in any useful sense of the term.

  3. Longgeorge1 on September 12th, 2013 5:07 pm

    When Buck Showalter took over the Orioles a couple of years back he instantly turned that team around. I did not believe that a baseball manager could have such a large effect on a team, I was rather wrong. I don’t believe the same could be done here by baseball Jesus, but I could be wrong again. Someone has got to teach these kids to play before they reach the bigs. The style of ball you play has to be based on the talent you have, not some dream team. No one will mistake the Cards or the Pirates for each other but they are both damn good. I’ve seen Billy (Beane) ball work and I’ve seen Billy (Martin) ball work. Have a cohesive plan and teach fundamentals. Most of all do as Earl Weaver used to say. “Put players in a position where they can succeed”.

  4. Westside guy on September 12th, 2013 5:22 pm

    There’s one possibility that most people don’t seem to be acknowledging – that, after his stroke, Wedge went to Z and said “It’s just too stressful – this crappy team is killing me. It’s not worth the toll it’s taking on my health”.

    “Pretty good authority” could’ve been Wedge himself, in that case.

  5. Bremerton guy on September 12th, 2013 5:22 pm

    Mariners history also reveals how much a manager can turn it around in one year. In 1992, under Bill Plummer, the M’s went 64-98. In 1993, under Lou Piniella, they went 82-80.

  6. Steve Nelson on September 12th, 2013 5:25 pm

    To clarify my views, I suspect PR “fall guy” firings to attempt to address embarrassments “work” in much the same way snake-oil medical treatments “work.” The vast majority of physical ailments of the human body get better eventually, on their own, and PR dust-ups eventually go away when the media and relevant audiences get bored or chase the next shiny object. Therefore, fake medical treatments and firing the fall guy precede an improvement in symptoms and a dying down of bad press and controversy, respectively. But that doesn’t mean they “work” in any useful sense of the term.

    Agreed. The easiest managerial situation of any type to step into is the situation that is really messed up. Almost anything a new person does is an improvement. The replacement doesn’t really need to be that good at the job; all that’s needed is to be noticeably better than the predecessor and unless there’s a string of bad luck the new person shines in comparison. It’s only down the road several years, after the easy gains are made, that the shortcomings of the replacement start getting exposed.

    Kind of like where we are now with the Mariners.

  7. djw on September 12th, 2013 5:28 pm

    I did not believe that a baseball manager could have such a large effect on a team, I was rather wrong.

    Another, more plausible explanation is that you are having some correlation/causation issues.

  8. Paul B on September 12th, 2013 5:48 pm

    I wondered if it was League that got Blengino removed, never would have guessed Figgins.

  9. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on September 12th, 2013 6:25 pm

    Dave – sorry you had to put all this in black and white. We had such high hopes for Jack in the early days, but, in the end, his failure of leadership, lack of care for his own management team, and the worst insular instincts when his own neck is on the line (including shifting to an inferior approach re: how to build a roster), have left him rudderless and grasping. My only fear is that Z’s failures cause ownership to go even more traditional as an over-reaction in the next GM hire.

  10. MrZDevotee on September 12th, 2013 6:35 pm

    I’m not sure “concrete terms” will suffice in this instance. I provided the evidence as I’ve seen it work, while being a member of a PR firm.

    (And, I prefer “sacrificial lamb” to scapegoat.)

    What it accomplishes:
    1) You tone down the viciousness of the rhetoric being put out there, by the fans, by the media, by providing them a first step away from the current problem towards the search for solutions.
    2) You buy yourself time to come up with a longterm solution.
    3) You do the only thing you really can in the short term to give the doused flame of hope a chance to be rekindled.

    It’s an emotional salve– that’s what I meant by “it works”… It doesn’t fix the problem, but it resets the baseline to a more tenable position, and gives people a focal point other than the problem itself. And opens up a visible path towards progress/solutions.

  11. nathaniel dawson on September 12th, 2013 7:41 pm

    Well, Paul B, Dave is just guessing too. As far as I’ve heard or read, there’s never been any kind of indication from the Mariners, nor any logical reason to deduce, that Blengino’s role was reduced because of Figgins, or his “stupid math”. It’s all guess work on his part.

  12. djw on September 12th, 2013 8:22 pm

    You tone down the viciousness of the rhetoric being put out there, by the fans, by the media, by providing them a first step away from the current problem towards the search for solutions.

    That’s what you assume. But given the attention span of the media and most people, the subsequent changes in volume and tone of rhetoric were probably going to happen anyway. People get bored with outrage.

    If you do work in PR, I’m not surprised you feel this is a good strategy. Upton Sinclair was quite wise when he said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” There’s a lot more that’s beyond our control than we care to admit in general, and this kind of stuff is probably one of those things. But if you work in PR, you’re very likely to have a motivated belief that a) this kind of crap is ultimately controlable and b) standard operating procedure for PR professionals are the best way to deal with it. Motivated bias is a powerful and important part of human nature.

    It would be nice to have a GM who didn’t see things like PR person, though, because a) the evidence that PR strategies matter isn’t strong, and b) even if it did, it’s all about putting out short term fires, rather than thinking big picture/long term.

  13. Westside guy on September 12th, 2013 8:29 pm

    But given the attention span of the media and most people, the subsequent changes in volume and tone of rhetoric were probably going to happen anyway. People get bored with outrage.

    This REALLY pisses me off!!

    Oh, well, whatever.

  14. Dave on September 12th, 2013 8:41 pm

    Well, Paul B, Dave is just guessing too. As far as I’ve heard or read, there’s never been any kind of indication from the Mariners, nor any logical reason to deduce, that Blengino’s role was reduced because of Figgins, or his “stupid math”. It’s all guess work on his part.

    I’m not guessing. I have information that you don’t. What you don’t know and what I don’t know aren’t the same thing.

  15. Westside guy on September 12th, 2013 8:55 pm

    If that’s the case… even ignoring the issue with scapegoating, that’s just a stupid reason to fire someone.

    I don’t recall anyone predicting Figgins’ skills would fall off a cliff like that. A few people argued that his skill set wasn’t worth the money they gave him, but that’s not the same thing at all. I don’t think anyone saw that implosion coming.

  16. killeverything on September 12th, 2013 9:03 pm

    I also can’t recall any negativity expressed about the Figgins signing. I remember thinking it was huge at the time. I also don’t believe his implosion could’ve been predicted.

    As anti-Zuerednick as I’ve become I give him a pass on that signing. $ or years being debateable, I thought it was good one.

  17. Typical Idiot Fan on September 12th, 2013 9:42 pm

    I’m not guessing. I have information that you don’t. What you don’t know and what I don’t know aren’t the same thing.

    Okay, I realize it is difficult for you to reveal what it is you do know, for various reasons, but if you can’t provide us with information you do know, perhaps you could provide us with things you don’t have information on.

    Relevant to the topic, of course.

  18. HighlightsAt11 on September 12th, 2013 9:56 pm

    A special toast this evening to celebrate the M’s not losing today.

    I will quit drinking for a month if Wedge and/or Z are relieved from duty, whatever those duties might be. I will quit drinking for two months if both are sent packing. I will not drink all off-season if Lincoln/Armstrong retire. I will enter rehab if the M’s are sold.

    However I’m a pragmatic M’s fan. And thus confident I will never stop drinking in my lifetime.

  19. Dave on September 12th, 2013 9:57 pm

    There are plenty of things I don’t know. The things I laid out in the post above — Wak was fired primarily because the clubhouse turned him on thanks to the Griffey situation and management decided to pick Jr over Wak, Fusco was on a plane when the Texas trade was put together (the NYY deal was done when he got on the plane) and had little to do with acquiring Josh Lueke, Blengino was blamed for the Figgins acquisition when upper management asked Jack who pushed for that deal, etc… — are things I’m not guessing on.

  20. qwerty on September 12th, 2013 10:07 pm

    Great posting. I think this Dave fella should be allowed to write postings more.

    Tony Blengino for GM.

  21. dantheman on September 12th, 2013 10:16 pm

    “I have no idea if Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are responsible for smaller bad decisions than the two big ones (hiring Bavasi and Zduriencik), and I continue to be amazed by people who are supremely confident they are somehow magically responsible for bad decisions. It’s an especially weird conspiracy theory when we consider that they were present, in the sames roles they hold today, from 1995-2003.
    The conspiracy theory, in addition to lacking anything resembling sufficient evidence, also lacks a coherent theory. We know they are capable of being in charge of a winning organization–they’ve done it.”

    Need I remind you that Armstrong presided during the Argyros regime. And he’s certainly proved he’s capable of driving a winning organization into the ground. C’mon, it’s been over a decade and a team that used to draw 3,000,000+ with high revenue is sinking like a rock. And how does anyone write a column arguing that Jack Z is responsible for the disaster of the past 5 years without even mentioning that Howard and Chuck are, by the very same logic, responsible for Jack (not to mention Bavasi)?

  22. SimpleEnigma on September 13th, 2013 12:25 am

    This upcoming season/offseason seems like a terrible time to have Z give one last try at righting the ship, regardless of what your opinion of Jack is. We are all plenty aware of how badly desperate Bavasi screwed (as if normal Bavasi could get worse) and judging by Jack’s major shift in philosophies in the last few years, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to save his job. If he gets fired within the year it seems like he will probably stumble back down to Scouting Director territory and no one likes having their career set back 5+ years.

    As has been pointed out several times, the Mariners have a lot of spending money this year and there’s actually some intriguing players that appear to be headed to free agency. This seems like the perfect time to allow a new GM apply their team building philosophy (relatively) easy. There are no albatrosses like Carlos Silva to handcuff roster moves (and Felix is the only major long term commitment), and despite the mediocre debut of most of the prospects there are still some decent trade chips. Do you really think this will be true in 2015?

    I feel the temptation for Z will be dangerously high to grossly overpay for, say, Lincecum for the sake of generating buzz and for a lottery ticket of hope that he turns back into his 2011 form. As with Bavasi and his Hail Mary signings, if Lincecum craters then Jack is fired anyways so he doesn’t much care if in 2 years the team is handicapped by an ill-advised contract.

    In addition I doubt any of the Ellsbury-caliber players will be enticed to sign with a FO that may be blowing up again in a year. Specifically with Jacoby, I doubt he wants to go from a World Series caliber team to a team more likely to emulate the 2012 Red Sox circus than the 2013 Red Sox resurgence. We’ve already seen enough throughout the last 5 years that luring free agents here can be tricky, we don’t need to add FO instability to the list of cons. Ownership should either commit to the Jack Z experience or fire him at season end. Keeping him for just one more year is far more likely to cause more harm than good, and while I’d rather see a new FO entirely, I’d prefer Jack Z get a multiyear extension than endure another season of a FO operating under the “Do anything that might save our jobs” mentality.

  23. zak24 on September 13th, 2013 12:54 am

    Jack Zduriencik is going to kill it this offseason and we’re going to become this century’s Yankees.

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Robinson Cano, and trade for Giancarlo Stanton. World Series. Dave Cameron, suck it. Z supporter out.

  24. Breadbaker on September 13th, 2013 2:29 am

    Scapegoating, of course, is an interesting concept on Erev Yom Kippur.

    I take most of Dave’s points pretty much down the line. I’ve come to believe that the part of Zduriencik’s management style he revealed to us at USSM/LL events is an indication of bad management. One was that he would pick and choose a particular person to be the advocate of a particular deal, even though the perspectives and expertise of his brain trust varied widely. Why you would listen to Blengino on one deal and ignore him on another doesn’t make sense. Also, when he described putting the list of the 40 man roster they inherited on the wall, I didn’t realize he would take such pride in getting rid of 38 of them so fast (all but Felix and Michael Saunders, and it may be just Felix next year). As I think I’ve said before, we might have seen Zduriencik at his worst very early on: when he didn’t just drop Josh Fields and take the extra draft pick.

    The problem with scapegoating is that it isn’t a successful management style. It is the old adage about how the beatings will continue until morale improves. People start looking over their shoulders or thinking about how to blame someone else for a failure, rather than thinking about the rewards for success.

    That being said, I don’t think it was wrong to get rid of Wakamatsu and I don’t think it would be wrong to get rid of Wedge. The alleged reasons for getting rid of Blengino and Fusco would have no effect on their future performances in their jobs. The next deal they brought up would be subject to appropriate scrutiny based on its own merits; it would have nothing to do with Chone Figgins or Josh Lueke. It’s like being a day trader; you might sell too soon one day but that won’t stop your timing from being perfect on your next trade and no one’s timing is always correct.

    On the other hand, a manager, once burned, really can’t be fixed. And sometimes, for a line manager, it is just the right time to move on. Bob Melvin deserved to be fired after 2004 because he couldn’t handle the transition of an aging franchise. The experience he got in 2004 served him well in Arizona and Oakland, but he wasn’t the same manager he is now. Ask Joe Torre what his experience was prior to the Yankees. People learn; situations are good for a guy one year and totally wrong the next. I don’t think Wedge should be back because I don’t think these particular players are going to grow listening to Eric Wedge and that would be true even if Tony Blengino and Carmen Fusco were still in the front office.

    Final point, if someone doesn’t think that management makes a difference. In 2003, the Detroit Tigers lost 119 games and have been to the World Series twice since and may well make it again this year. Did anyone in Seattle in 2003 expect that that would happen over the next decade while we would have only two seasons finishing better than fourth? Does anyone think if we’d hired Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland instead of Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove that we would have had the same records?

  25. vertigoman on September 13th, 2013 5:49 am

    Isn’t Eric Wedge’s contract up? It’s not scapegoating to move on after an agreement has run it’s coarse. I’d think it insane to give Wedge a new contract.

    Just a little critique Dave, if you have sources I’d go ahead and tell your readers that. You didn’t do a very good job of conveying this.

  26. GarForever on September 13th, 2013 6:49 am

    The issue, it seems to me, has been stated variously above: at some point this comes down to who makes the decision to hire the GM, and after employing two men who helped build the team into a contender and even a championship threat (Woodward and Gillick), Lincoln and Armstrong have completely s**t the bed once (Bavasi) and have cracked a long, loud foul ball once(Zduriencik), but a foul ball all the same.

    In their defense, Lincoln and Armstrong needed to find a GM who could rebuild the farm system first and foremost (after their own, previously disastrous hiring decision), and in that respect, check. But otherwise, this team now looks like it’s set to tread water. I don’t know what Ackley or Franklin are at this point; I think we have a handle on what Smoak is likely to be (passable but not great); Zunino I have real hopes for as the catcher of the future. But let’s be honest, aside from the left side of the infield and (some of) the starting pitching, this team is mostly a mess at the major-league level. I have always defended Z because of how barren the farm was when he took over. But five years in, we should not have to put up with treading water for the foreseeable future. Yes, there’s some promising young pitching, but…yikes. Two of the ‘Big Three’ have already had arm trouble, so, there’s that.

    And it ultimately comes down to the sad reality of all of this, which is the main criterion on which ownership obviously evaluates the team. If a CEO and President failed to produce in almost any other business for close to a decade, they’d be gone. But as fans we care about wins; the current ownership cares about profits, and that is what the current upper management has consistently produced with (I think) one exception, year after year. Until the lack of performance on the field results in consistent operating losses, get used to this. The fact that Lincoln and Armstrong are still calling the shots after ten years of futility and questionable personnel decisions should tell you where the real priorities are and will remain until someone else — with a different mindset — buys the team.

  27. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2013 7:07 am

    Isn’t Eric Wedge’s contract up? It’s not scapegoating to move on after an agreement has run it’s coarse.

    Not extending him ends with the same result as if they were firing him. It’s a clear message they don’t want him, that they’ve singled him out as a/the problem.

    And it’s not like Wedge doesn’t want to manage, or that he’s old and has been long due to retire after a significant career as a ML manager.

    Believe what you want, but if not extending him is the only change, it’s still scapegoating.

  28. vertigoman on September 13th, 2013 8:39 am

    I disagree Steve.

    Having the job of ML manager isn’t the same as having a lease on a rent controlled apartment. You don’t get the automatic renewal option.

    It just seems a little over stated that not extending Wedge is scapegoating. If you look at the move by itself it’s a pretty obvious move.

    Has Eric Wedge performed his duties well enough to deserve a new contract with the M’s? I don’t know too many people that would say yes.
    This move can be seen as something related to Eric Wedge’s performance and nothing else. I get that given the other firings Dave sees a scapegoat conspiracy and he makes a good argument. I’m just skeptical that Wedge not being extended has anything to do with that.

  29. Chasbo on September 13th, 2013 8:49 am

    We all know what the real problem is and that’s ownership.

  30. MrZDevotee on September 13th, 2013 8:53 am

    You’re not a very good listener, sometimes… Assumptions are not the same as using information others have offered as they provided it. To assume there is more operating beneath the surface than was revealed to you is WAY more of a human habit (see: belief in ghosts, 9/11 was an inside job, Johnson killed Kennedy, etc.).

    I mean, this:
    “That’s what you assume. But given the attention span of the media and most people, the subsequent changes in volume and tone of rhetoric were probably going to happen anyway. People get bored with outrage.”

    I’d love to see YOUR evidence of this happening as it pertains to the Mariners. USSMariner thrives on outrage at the current team, and I include myself in that picture.

    I didn’t have a motivational bias. I was a sound/video editor. I laughed at most of what I saw as it revealed human nature in weird ways. I actually quit working for the company when they were doing “spin” work for a Bariatric Surgeon who was killing patients at a horrible rate. Not because of outrage, mind you, but because the PR plan was working, and it felt creepy to be part of it.

    As for what I told you as evidence… You didn’t like it, so you said “I assumed” that’s how it worked.

    I mean, you’re input so far– “You don’t know that… Show evidence”… (evidence) “You’re too close, you’re biased.”


    Uh, no. I saw it work. Multiple times. Initially with skepticism and doubt– like you. It’s the same principle on a “systems” level as why politicians race to admit their wrongdoing and are contrite and head to rehab as soon as the media exposes some sort of corruption.

    It works. The entire reason you see it over and over and over again.

    Sorry you don’t like knowing that.

  31. currcoug on September 13th, 2013 8:56 am


    Well done, and true.

  32. Beniitec on September 13th, 2013 9:13 am


    The answer is simple. The reason they keep their jobs is because sadly… it continues to be profitable regardless of the product on the field.

  33. G-Man on September 13th, 2013 9:23 am

    HighlightsAt11, that’s gold.

    However, I suggest a 12-step program.

    “My name is HighlightsAt11, and I’m a MAriners fan.”
    “Hi HighlightsAt11.”

  34. MrZDevotee on September 13th, 2013 9:26 am

    Except for a 12 step program to work you have to be committed to getting better…

    “My name is MrZDevotee, and I’ve been free of Mariners addiction for… uh… (shit)… What time’s the game tonight?”

  35. LongDistance on September 13th, 2013 9:41 am

    Firing the manager.

    When a team is a losing loser whose only talent is to find every possible way to repeat all the mistakes that add up to a losing loser… the manager is (pick your metaphor) either the eternal fig leaf hiding the real inadequacies, or the fast burn fuse, made to pop spectacularly at the end of the season, making supposedly a lot of fans think “something” has been done.

    No, it isn’t fair. Because the Mariners were not, are not, and won’t be, a playoff level team. And no manager is going to turn that around on short notice. So… on that analysis, Wedge shouldn’t be fired.

    But that’s as far as I can go agreeing with Dave. Because Dave also bent over backwards to portray Wedge as a “let’s just agree to disagree” sort of skipper.

    It wasn’t just lineup decisions. Or worse, experiments that proved Wedge possesses spotty judgement, not just old school judgement.

    There were plays that, to put it mildly, made no sense.

    The argument that they keep doing this, this way, is because it’s still profitable… is correct.

    However, the erosion is beginning to happen. It’s not just baseball intelligentsia that’s fed up… but the hoi polloi. I don’t care how much you love baseball, and how (it’s true) it can be interesting even watching a death march from May onwards. Eventually, you get tired of watching yet another loss.

    I got off my butt, drove the requisite 100 miles, four times this summer. And they lost all four times. Two of those times, I only stayed after the stretch for purely social reasons (my son would watch rocks play baseball — which isn’t far from what we were watching).

    When the profits begin to really go flat, just maybe something other than fig leafs and fast burn fuses will happen.

  36. New England Fan on September 13th, 2013 9:53 am

    As for Wedge, a couple of points – I think that the health issue is a lot bigger than most people realize. Although his stroke was reported as “mild,” the fact that he spent as much time as he did in the hospital and rehab before returning to work suggests otherwise. I am sure he has been “muzzled” by his doctors in what he can do. I would guess that he may have been given a dispensation to finish the season, but for health reasons asked to take time off from managing.

    That being said, I still don’t think he is a very good manager. In fact, when he was hired I felt like it was just getting Hargrove all over again. Hargrove was his mentor in Cleveland, and even though their personal styles are different, they were for all basic purposes, the same manager with the same approach to game strategy, pitcher handling, and roster management.

    Z needs to go. Period. So should Howie and Chuckie, but they are part of the ownership group, so short of a sale of the team, I think they are here to stay.

  37. G-Man on September 13th, 2013 10:00 am

    Nicely done, MrZ.

    In the vein of firings humor, The Three Envelopes Joke comes to mind. If you don’t know it, Google.

  38. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2013 10:50 am

    As has been pointed out several times, the Mariners have a lot of spending money this year and there’s actually some intriguing players that appear to be headed to free agency

    It’s not as much as you think. The M’s baseline for next year, everyone under contract, arbitrations done, etc. is around 45 million. The M’s spent about 80 million this year (that page is wrong because Morse and Ryan aren’t on it any more). They’ve kept salaries close to stable the last two years, and attendance didn’t exactly go through the roof this year, so let’s assume that happens again.

    So that’s 35 million IF they don’t tender Morales a qualifying offer. If they do they are down to 20 million (more if they decide to give Morales more years, less per year, which… ugh). They need OF talent, at least one solid starting pitcher at #2-3, and a bench to fill out. They probably should also think about buying out some of Kyle Seager’s arbitration years, because starting next year he’s going to start getting some pay raises. That would probably add some to payroll too. There is of course going to be the inevitable Raul signing unless he saves us from ourselves (to be honest, if he was the DH, I could live with that, but I fear for them signing Morales AND Raul).

    I’ve been hearing “The M’s are going to just KILL IT in the FA market” for years and years now… and they never do. This is because the people who suggest this don’t quite get that running a MLB franchise isn’t just showing up at a free agent’s house with a wheelbarrow full of Franklins and a pen to sign a contract with…

  39. Mike Snow on September 13th, 2013 11:10 am

    I will say that if Blengino really was forced out over the Figgins signing, then the same certainly should go for whoever was pushing for them to sign Josh Hamilton. In some cases, the mistakes this front office has been prevented from making are at least as bad as the ones it has actually managed to make.

  40. Westside guy on September 13th, 2013 12:48 pm

    That’s an excellent point, Mike.

  41. stevemotivateir on September 14th, 2013 4:59 am

    If you look at the move by itself it’s a pretty obvious move.

    That’s the point. It’s not enough. A different manager isn’t going to win 90 games with the same roster. And it isn’t a stretch to think that with all these young stars we keep hearing about, that the only thing missing is a better manager.

    Hopefully we’ll see more than just a new manager, though.

  42. Ballfour on September 14th, 2013 8:59 am

    Yeah, being swept at home by Houston in front of an average of just over 10,000 is totally Wedge’s fault. EVERYONE knows where the problem lies with this organization. For as long as Chuck and Howie are in charge, the franchise will be a distant fourth in receiving fan support (Yes, I put the Sonics ahead of them).

    I read somewhere this week that it would be better if there was simply no interest in the team, but instead, it’s all about apathy which is a lot worse.

    How Chuck and Howie have the nerve to come to work each day and feel good about their team amazes me. It’s all about mediocrity for them. Morons.

  43. miz_mdk on September 19th, 2013 12:25 am

    I completely agree that scapegoating is destroying this team. But the problem of includes scapegoating of players, for example Figgins.

    No one has questioned the assertion that somebody blew it in hiring Figgins for a lot of money. Hasn’t anyone noticed that the Mariners have a talent for hiring good talent and spoiling it? How many players have started off with a bang, only to fade after a short time? Morse, the wonder-boy of spring training, is already gone. It’s already started to happen with the latest wonder-boys, Miller and Franklin.

    How many players have we traded away because they weren’t doing well enough, only to see them shine in other franchises? Watching the Rangers/Rays game tonight, after Beltre’s RBI kept the Rangers alive for a few extra innings, the announcers said, “He is the heart and soul of this team.” But he wasn’t good enough for Seattle. Not to mention the vituperation laid on Ichiro last year. Look how well Brendan Ryan has hit for the Yankees. He’s not a different guy. It’s all psychological.

    So maybe it wasn’t that Figgins was a bad hire, maybe it was that the Mariners management succeeds in demoralizing even outstanding players. The idea that the roster is the problem IS the problem, in my view. They collect and trade individual players like they were baseball cards. They forget that nobody performs at their best going to work every day thinking they may be fired. The current management doesn’t seem to realize that baseball is a team game, not a card game.

    The US Army figured this out a long time ago – when they put men in units that stayed together over the long haul, they performed better, had better survival rates, and recovered from casualties better than when they treated them as a collection of individuals whom they shuffled around randomly. I don’t know anything about this SABRE system, but I do know that statistical analysis alone will never produce a successful team in any field. That lies in the realm of psychology. To motivate, to inspire, to foster strong bonds between players, to bring out the best in people, requires emotional intelligence, not mathematical intelligence.

    The problem with this team is that there is no team, just a bunch of temp employees.

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