The Blame the Kids Game Continues

Dave · September 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Soon to be former Mariners manager Eric Wedge continued to lay groundwork yesterday for the spin he’s going to try and sell over the next 10 days. And, naturally, as with pretty much every veteran infatuated manager in charge of a losing team, he’s going to blame the failures of the team on the fact that they had so many young players. Per Ryan Divish:

“So many things have happened here when you talk about fundamentals,” Wedge said. “Whether it be the kids coming up quick a couple years ago, or last year or even this year, those are things you are going to have to live with – some of those mistakes until they figure it out. If you don’t have enough time in the minor leagues, then you have to finish them off up here.”

If it seems like this is happening every year, it’s because it has.

“We’ve got 8 or 9 players that made their major league debut this year,” Wedge said. “That’s quite a bit. And we have like 30 some in three years. When you are breaking in that many young players, you are going to have young mistakes. We’ve got 20 some players with less than years experience coming into this season. That’s a big number. So you have to be patient and work through. It’s a rebuild. It’s what it was when I got here.”

Wedge is right in the fact that the Mariners have used a lot of young players during his three years at the helm. In fact, no team has given more plate appearances to players 25 and under over the last three years. So, vindication, right? Wedge correctly noted that the team has gone young during his tenure, and at least on the position player side of things — the pitchers have skewed a bit older — the data supports his assertion. Well, at least the part about the quantity of young players and the amount of playing time they’ve gotten.

The inference is that there’s causation here. These comments are very clearly an attempted explanation for why the team has been bad while he’s been in charge. The last two sentences basically sum it up. Wedge is saying that he was hired to build a young club, and because of that job, the losses should have been expected, since those young players just weren’t experienced enough to help the team win yet.

Here’s the problem, though. The 25-and-unders have accounted for 43% of the Mariners total plate appearances during the last three years, more than anyone else in baseball, but they’ve also accounted for 66% of the total WAR by position players, also the highest proportion in the game. And yes, if you’re doing some basic subtraction from the numbers in that last sentence, that means that the 26+ players accounted for just 1/3 of the total position player WAR despite garnering almost 3/5 of the plate appearances.

Here are the team totals for both 25-and-unders and 26+, 2011 to 2013. Note where the Mariners rank in each.

First, the young inexperienced kids.


# Team PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld + Pos BsR WAR
1 Angels 3753 .276 .344 .463 .349 124 44.8 28.4 31.8
2 Braves 5556 .262 .334 .428 .332 110 3.6 11.2 26.8
3 Giants 4224 .278 .341 .433 .335 116 45.3 -9.9 26.3
4 D’backs 5408 .272 .348 .439 .341 110 -8.2 18.8 25.9
5 Pirates 6400 .261 .327 .411 .323 105 -19.3 8.9 23.9
6 Nationals 5295 .259 .322 .412 .321 101 35.3 0.0 22.0
7 Indians 5076 .258 .323 .406 .319 103 -11.2 10.5 19.1
8 Royals 6606 .271 .319 .405 .315 95 -17.4 -0.9 17.0
9 Padres 4915 .246 .315 .371 .302 95 -2.2 22.8 15.3
10 Tigers 3116 .270 .342 .422 .335 108 14.0 -2.1 15.1
11 Rays 2056 .248 .326 .419 .326 109 27.3 10.9 13.2
12 Mariners 7590 .240 .302 .383 .301 92 -49.5 -0.4 13.1
13 Marlins 5611 .251 .323 .415 .322 101 -50.3 -8.7 12.8
14 Cubs 5191 .258 .310 .389 .306 87 37.8 -3.1 12.7
15 Rockies 4492 .273 .321 .437 .328 92 -1.1 12.9 11.7
16 Orioles 2827 .261 .308 .413 .315 94 32.1 3.4 11.4
17 Brewers 2513 .267 .315 .416 .320 99 25.8 4.3 11.2
18 Rangers 3805 .264 .324 .364 .306 84 21.7 26.7 11.1
19 Mets 4559 .250 .314 .372 .302 91 4.7 -7.3 10.1
20 Reds 2686 .249 .316 .431 .322 100 -6.2 -4.0 7.8
21 Athletics 3028 .235 .309 .382 .304 92 -12.6 3.3 6.5
22 Blue Jays 4301 .242 .296 .406 .306 88 -22.4 0.5 6.4
23 Phillies 1930 .265 .318 .422 .321 101 -20.7 -1.0 4.3
24 Dodgers 1771 .259 .319 .371 .304 94 -12.1 6.4 3.9
25 Cardinals 2498 .241 .307 .356 .291 83 -1.5 2.2 3.2
26 Astros 6440 .256 .309 .373 .300 87 -85.0 -3.3 2.5
27 White Sox 3921 .243 .295 .371 .294 78 -5.9 -5.2 1.9
28 Red Sox 1875 .246 .296 .389 .300 82 -10.2 -0.1 1.3
29 Twins 4159 .246 .300 .355 .291 80 -37.7 8.6 1.1
30 Yankees 1019 .251 .304 .360 .293 79 -18.5 2.3 -0.9

Now, for the proven veterans who have been around the block and understand what it takes to win at this level.


# Team PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld + Pos BsR WAR
1 Red Sox 16623 .276 .343 .447 .343 112 44.7 -2.2 86.1
2 Cardinals 14759 .286 .353 .443 .346 121 -80.9 -11.0 77.0
3 Yankees 17086 .259 .333 .432 .334 107 -7.6 5.6 73.7
4 Rangers 14307 .276 .336 .462 .345 111 -6.4 0.6 68.7
5 Reds 14544 .261 .334 .414 .327 103 93.8 17.2 65.9
6 Rays 15847 .247 .323 .401 .318 104 30.9 1.0 65.4
7 Brewers 14458 .263 .331 .435 .333 108 -19.1 -1.4 59.9
8 Dodgers 15135 .265 .331 .395 .318 103 42.5 -11.2 59.2
9 Tigers 15131 .279 .341 .435 .338 111 -126.3 -37.0 55.0
10 Angels 14234 .262 .321 .408 .318 103 -2.1 -2.8 53.6
11 Athletics 14966 .247 .317 .399 .315 99 -49.1 3.8 46.1
12 Phillies 15064 .258 .324 .406 .319 99 -24.9 6.4 45.6
13 Diamondbacks 11634 .259 .325 .413 .322 97 112.2 -24.9 43.9
14 Giants 12790 .262 .320 .383 .308 98 9.1 18.1 42.2
15 Mets 12647 .260 .332 .404 .322 105 -113.8 33.4 41.9
16 Padres 11949 .251 .321 .384 .310 99 5.1 13.0 40.7
17 Orioles 15085 .254 .315 .424 .322 99 -97.2 -4.7 39.2
18 Braves 11419 .249 .320 .395 .313 97 67.9 -13.3 39.2
19 Royals 11432 .265 .322 .396 .314 94 33.5 20.8 37.5
20 Nationals 11663 .259 .323 .419 .323 102 -51.2 -1.1 36.8
21 Blue Jays 13624 .251 .321 .414 .321 99 -110.0 21.6 36.2
22 Rockies 12688 .273 .340 .433 .336 97 -69.0 12.2 32.0
23 Cubs 11617 .248 .316 .408 .317 94 22.6 -20.6 30.5
24 Twins 13762 .252 .320 .386 .311 94 -68.2 -9.5 28.9
25 White Sox 13946 .256 .320 .404 .317 94 -68.9 -22.1 28.4
26 Pirates 10394 .247 .311 .394 .309 95 -3.2 -19.9 26.1
27 Indians 12937 .249 .322 .392 .315 100 -171.4 -17.8 24.9
28 Astros 10643 .247 .310 .390 .308 92 -23.6 -7.7 22.6
29 Marlins 11317 .246 .309 .365 .297 83 -26.5 19.7 13.1
30 Mariners 10114 .233 .296 .359 .289 83 -57.2 -9.0 6.9

There’s no way to spin this; the position players the Mariners have employed over the last three years that had a modicum of experience have been almost universally terrible. No team in the league has gotten less production from players over the age of 26 during the Eric Wedge era. No team is even close.

The Mariners young players have not been as good as the organization hoped. There’s no question that being 1st in under-25 PAs and 12th in under-25 WAR is a problem, and speaks to the lack of production the team has gotten from several players that they thought were part of their core nucleus. But, there’s no way around the fact that the real problem on the 2011 to 2013 Mariners is that their veteran position players have been hilariously awful. Worst in the league awful. Getting circles run around them by the Astros awful.

I don’t blame Wedge for making these kinds of comments. He knows he’s a week and a half away from being unemployed, and these are the kinds of things that lame duck managers say at the end of frustrating seasons. However, just because he’s saying them doesn’t make them true. You’re going to see these things printed, unchallenged, and basically let stand as declarations, but the blame the kids mantra continues to be factually incorrect.

The 2011 to 2013 Mariners have been terrible primarily because their veterans have been terrible. The kids have been a disappointment, but the experienced players have been a catastrophe. Plain and simple, this team has lost a lot of games because the organization failed to put a useful crop of big league players around the kids they were trying to develop. It might be easy and convenient for Wedge to now simply use the amount of young players the team used as a reason for why the team has lost, but the facts suggest otherwise. The Mariners young players have been disappointing and below average, but the Mariners old players have been cover your eyes terrible.

And that’s why this team has been an embarrassment. And that’s why Eric Wedge is going to lose his job.

Comments

58 Responses to “The Blame the Kids Game Continues”

  1. The_Waco_Kid on September 19th, 2013 12:38 am

    I basically agree, but I’m trying to remember who else they could have acquired. Availability of players is somewhat out of their control. It seems like they had few options and were trying to make the best of a bad situation. Obviously this was a bad year and a clearly flawed roster, but I guess I’m asking: Who else could we have signed and to what extent could a better product have put on the field?

    Not to make excuses or even particularly to defend Z or Wedge. Just asking.

  2. Mariner.lovechild on September 19th, 2013 12:56 am

    Your numbers don’t lie. But this entry seems to fan a flame which I don’t really discern in Wedge’s words, reading Divish’s article as well.

    He’s had to be super patient. That’s a lot of youth! And on a professional note, pointing at the vets doesn’t have nearly the same optimistic parameters as discussing what was the Z plan – rear up some prospects.

    Remember when Griffey was called out? It sucked. He quit. The vets know they’re stinking now and there’s just less nice ways to spin that. I really don’t think Wedge deserves to be fired, but we’ve explored other options already. So…

  3. Adam S on September 19th, 2013 1:15 am

    Obviously there’s no way around the fact that the veterans have been terrible. Ryan, Jaso, and (surprisingly) Casper Wells are the only age 26+ guys who have been close to league average players.

    However Wedge is right that the young players haven’t been very good either, just better than very low bar set by the veterans. Eyeballing the data in WAR/PA the Mariners are about 20th for young players and all of that value is Seager and Ackley. Other players with small positive WAR are cancelled out by those with negative WAR.

    The veterans are amazing though. Chavez, Morse and Bay combined for 850 PA this year and -2.7 WAR. The team gave Miguel Olivo 800 PA playing at replacement level. Figgins put up -2.3 WAR in less than a season.

    The kids are forced to play because the alternative has clearly been worse.

  4. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 2:47 am

    It seems like they had few options and were trying to make the best of a bad situation.

    This team’s been spending 80 million a year over the 3 years Dave mentioned (2011-2013). We’re not discussing the Astros, who really HAVE had few options. We’re not even discussing the A’s.

    As for “who else”… go read Dave’s offseason plan posts. There have been options. The M’s generally haven’t considered them, especially this past offseason (which was really terrible as the M’s went towards a dinger-heavy, speed-OBP-and-defense light roster). There is a fair point to be made that some things haven’t worked out as well as expected (Figgins, Cust, Kotchman), but there’s also a fair point that some things shouldn’t have been expected to work out (Olivo, Morse, Chavez).

    I really don’t think Wedge deserves to be fired

    Based on what, exactly? He’s had 10 years in MLB. He’s got a lifetime record below .500, a record as M’s manager way below .500, and two years out of 10 in MLB he’s been over .500. He was specifically brought in to develop kids, and, well, they’re not developing well, even if the veterans have been a much bigger pile of suck.

    That’s not the record of a field manager who has done anything to deserve keeping a job. What exactly are we waiting for out of Wedge, given that the team’s not developed, and he’s clearly involved in the roster decisions?

  5. maqman on September 19th, 2013 3:06 am

    Take a look at the -57.2 Fielding by Position record Dave listed above then read: http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4689239-74/pirates-defensive-season#axzz2fKcFShwi
    and you’ll find the missing ingredient.

  6. naufrago on September 19th, 2013 3:13 am

    To answer the Waco Kid’s question: ANYBODY would have been better than the veterans selected by Wedge et al to take the field. There are issues with assuming that replacement-level replacements are actually available to replace players that drastically suck, but when the gap is this huge there is no doubt. Casper Wells, AAAA player who hasn’t stuck anywhere, would have been better than Ibañez, Morse, etc.

    Unfortunately, all the signs point to the fact that Zduriencik’s staff (which sadly seems to include Armstrong) have gotten worse at making baseball decisions over time. Figgins was a defensible signing. Ibañez, as a fielder, was not. Remeber CLiff Lee, turned into Smoak? On the other hand, Fister seems to have been traded because “we have enough pitching, fans want to see us do something,” not to acquire anything of value specifically.

    While I was writing, the link to that Pirates article got posted. I’ll observe that above, the Bucs are number 5 team in “kid” WAR and number 26 in “veteran.” A situation not too different than the Mariners (well…), but from team that implemented a plan and has had success. They also didn’t fire their stat guy or empower the old-school delusions of their manager. It’s not about copying their plan, necessarily, but about committing to a well-thought-out strategy.

    The Mariners front office plan is like “New Coke” over and over again every single year…

  7. PackBob on September 19th, 2013 4:43 am

    That sums it up well to say the kids have been a disappointment while the veterans have sucked. The kids were not as good as expected, which happens. The veterans were just not good to start with. A lot of the hype was built around the leadership and experience that the veterans would bring, which in turn would protect the kids and allow them to develop.

    Talent is much better. I would argue that the veterans hired by the Mariners actually put more pressure on the kids by not producing.

  8. LongDistance on September 19th, 2013 4:45 am

    Any baseball fan should be insulted knowing their local MLB franchise calculates that the fanbase prefers to see balls clearing – from time to time – the OF fence, to a grind-out winning season.

  9. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 5:03 am

    ’ll observe that above, the Bucs are number 5 team in “kid” WAR and number 26 in “veteran.” A situation not too different than the Mariners (well…),

    ~20 wins in 3 years (the delta between the Pirates veterans and the M’s veterans) is 6-7 wins a year. That’s the difference between “unwatchable” to “bordering .500″.

    There’s also the problem that horrible veterans = young players being thrown in before they are ready (Zunino), or players being thrown in who will never be ready (Robinson, Peguero), which depresses what the M’s young players produce.

    Additional fun fact… Justin Smoak has almost 2000 PAs of replacement level play as a 1B. So… anyone want to wager on whether or not the 2014 M’s give up on him?

  10. ripperlv on September 19th, 2013 6:03 am

    You do the best with what you have. I do believe you make a great case for a new General Manager.

  11. Westside guy on September 19th, 2013 6:56 am

    Dave’s point is hard to argue with – the evidence has been right in front of us almost every game.

    That said… I’ve been trying not to get too worked up over what Wedge says from day to day. His job isn’t to fully explain his/Z’s thinking to the media, and I suspect he says things on occasion that mainly are out there because he’s expected to say *something*.

    I’m not arguing against Dave’s point at all, and many of you know I’m not a fan of Wedge. On this point, I think it’s likely Wedge said what he believes – we hear variations on this theme come out of his mouth on a regular basis. But I’m doing my best to not get too worked up over what he says, even though Olivo having “a good approach at the plate” was one of the most absurd statements ever and I still can’t believe he didn’t explode with laughter while saying it.

  12. Sports on a Shtick on September 19th, 2013 7:37 am

    Hopefully this organization somehow morphs into Pirates West five years from now, which would include a manager willing to reevaluate his philosophies and process making.

  13. qwerty on September 19th, 2013 8:07 am

    Anyone read the (ironic) timely article by Geoff Baker re: Ibanez/Morales?

    I honestly believe the Mariners would have been better off without a manager this year. Let the players decide amongst them what the lineup should be.

  14. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 8:49 am

    One of Dave’s 25 and under is Kyle Seager. He put up an OPS of .643 in August, .532 for September, and a .279 OPS over the last seven days, and he has been less than stellar defensively after the All-Star break.

    Dave omits Morales and Ibanez…because they don’t fit into his blame the veterans piece.

  15. djw on September 19th, 2013 9:04 am

    One of Dave’s 25 and under is Kyle Seager. He put up an OPS of .643 in August, .532 for September, and a .279 OPS over the last seven days, and he has been less than stellar defensively after the All-Star break.

    Dave omits Morales and Ibanez…because they don’t fit into his blame the veterans piece.

    We have no reason to think Seager’s recent struggles and Morales and Ibanez’s modest positive contributions aren’t incorporated into the WAR totals Dave cites in this post. Are you suggesting otherwise? If so, please explain. If not, what are you arguing?

  16. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 9:20 am

    Yes, I think Dave deliberately left Morales/Ibanez out of his piece, precisely because they haven’t been “hilariously awful”, but you are probably correct about WAR totals. I certainly recognize that some of the veterans brought in have been “hilariously awful”. However, from my perspective the rot starts at the top, and little will change unless the club is sold.

    Modest contributions? That is a revealing statement. I am not a fan of Ibanez playing everyday, but Ibanez and Morales have contributed in a major way offensively…and I would say in the clubhouse as well. I know these are inconvenient truths, as does Baker.

    Recent struggles? Seager has been awful at the plate August-September. Despite Wedge’s comments, I believe it may be fatigue…at least I hope that is the case.

  17. Westside guy on September 19th, 2013 9:54 am

    Modest contributions? That is a revealing statement. I am not a fan of Ibanez playing everyday, but Ibanez and Morales have contributed in a major way offensively…and I would say in the clubhouse as well. I know these are inconvenient truths, as does Baker.

    It’s funny that you claim Dave is ignoring things, because you’ve intentionally ignored 50% of the game.

    You seem to find it inconvenient that defense exists – and that Raul gives away pretty much all of his “major” offensive contribution by being horrible at it. Morales, being the DH, doesn’t contribute defensively – when he’s played first, he’s been awful.

  18. Steve Nelson on September 19th, 2013 10:05 am

    @currcoug on September 19th, 2013 9:20 am

    Yes, I think Dave deliberately left Morales/Ibanez out of his piece, precisely because they haven’t been “hilariously awful”, but you are probably correct about WAR totals. I certainly recognize that some of the veterans brought in have been “hilariously awful”. However, from my perspective the rot starts at the top, and little will change unless the club is sold.

    Your proof, please? You are making the assertion; you bear the burden of proof. Or provide reason why you should be regarded as anything other than a person who prefers ignorant opinions over informed opinion, because, you know, collecting information to make an informed opinion is just so much work.

  19. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 10:15 am

    West,

    I didn’t ignore anything. I confined my comments about Morales/Ibanez to “offense”…but please continue with the straw man arguments.

    Steve,

    Your post in and of itself is the epitome of ignorance. I gave an opinion, not an assertion of fact. I don’t think Dave would say Morales/Ibanez are “hilariously awful”, but let’s hear from him on that score.

    Is Geoff Baker ignorant too?

  20. The_Waco_Kid on September 19th, 2013 10:50 am

    I did refer back to the off-season plan. I don’t believe our record would be much different with Melky or Hafner or Ludwick. Morse was the big veteran bust. Raul and Morales hit fine. The only real problem with them this year was having both on the same roster. Though for next year Morales is overpriced and Raul needs to go out on a high note.

  21. pgreyy on September 19th, 2013 10:50 am

    Of course, the thing that galls me the most was the spin when Wedge was hired was “oh, he’s great in developing young talent.”

    …of which, at the time, I saw little evidence of in Wedge’s previous managerial time.

    Knowing that the team was going to have to count on the young players that Jack was harvesting, I prayed that the spin would be accurate.

    Despite the evidence that the kids have done better than the veterans during Wedge’s time–does anyone feel like the youngsters have lived up to their potential (much less developed and excelled?)

    It seems like every kid that we’ve got, the kids that we’ve GOT to depend on moving forward because we don’t have a solid core of even replacement level veterans, comes with some hedging of bets when we speak of them. Yes, Seager, but… Yes, a glimmer of Ackley, but… Oh, here comes Smoak, but… (And yes, it looks like we may just have some starting pitching…and it looks good. Is anyone here willing to put them into the tv ads for next year, right now?)

    Wedge, brought in because he’s supposedly a wizard with young talent, spent his time here honoring the veterans, begging for more veterans and driving away actually useful roster pieces.

    …and wasn’t all that successful in developing the young talent.

    The truth is…Wedge isn’t a wizard with young talent. It seemed like most of the time, he simply didn’t know what to do…with any of it.

    I won’t be sad when he’s fired.

  22. Steve Nelson on September 19th, 2013 10:57 am

    @currcoug on September 19th, 2013 10:15 am
    You previously asserted: “Yes, I think Dave deliberately left Morales/Ibanez out of his piece, precisely because they haven’t been “hilariously awful”,

    I asked for proof of that statement, and upon being called out you try to hide behind a bunch of handwaving to try to avoid having to back up your assertion. My assertion stands, verified by your response. Your assertion though …. no change.

  23. djw on September 19th, 2013 11:20 am

    Modest contributions? That is a revealing statement. I am not a fan of Ibanez playing everyday, but Ibanez and Morales have contributed in a major way offensively

    I confined my comments about Morales/Ibanez to “offense”…but please continue with the straw man arguments.

    Yeah, but if we’re talking about the total value of the contributions of players, we have to take the positive with the negative. “Contributions” can’t be measured by only focusing on the positive–it doesn’t make sense. I agree that “if you only count the positive and not the negative they’re pretty good” sounds like a straw man, but you seem to have actually made that argument.

    The sum total Ibanez and Morales have produced is 1.9 WAR between them. Their combined value is that of one average player, essentially. I don’t think that’s a particularly controversial definition of modest.

    Since you concede Dave “probably” included them in his WAR calculations, I’m not sure what you mean by “deliberately excluded them from his post.” This post is about the veracity of an aggregate assessment of veterans and young players, not a rundown of how everyone did.

  24. MrZDevotee on September 19th, 2013 11:33 am

    The problem with Morales/Ibanez moving forward:

    1) Jesus Montero is the same guy as Kendrys Morales (minus switch hitting, sure, but Morales has done all his “damage” from one side of the plate this year), with Montero being younger and cheaper, and there’s only room for one.

    2) Ibanez may have shown he’s able to do 60 on the freeway at times, but a 40 year old car with 250,000 miles on it can become a heap of junk metal at any moment.

  25. Mousse on September 19th, 2013 11:33 am

    Did someone seriously just ask whether Geoff Baker is ignorant?

  26. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 11:38 am

    Steve,

    Actually, I called you out…and your second response is as ignorant as the first, not to mention argumentative.

    Fact: Dave doesn’t mention Morales/Ibanez by name in the article.

    Opinion: I “think” it is because they don’t fit into Dave’s “hilariously awful” veteran bit.

    Fact: you conveniently ignore my statement that djw was correct about WAR totals.

    Fact: I agreed with Dave that some veterans have been “hilariously awful”.

    How about answering my question?

  27. The_Waco_Kid on September 19th, 2013 11:46 am

    Raul and Morales were not the reason the vets were so bad. Morse, Ryan’s bat, Shoppach, Bay, Guti’s injuries, Harang, Joe Saunders lately. Raul and Morales were okay stopgaps but let’s move on. Don’t re-sign them.

  28. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 11:51 am

    djw,

    No, the straw man isn’t of my making.

    I don’t think Morales/Ibanez are in the group of “terrible”, “hilariously awful”, “catastrophe” veterans that Dave alludes too. Moreover, I think Morales/Ibanez are “useful” veterans for the Mariners to have placed around the kids…and I would be surprised if Dave think the opposite…but I could be wildly wrong.

  29. djw on September 19th, 2013 11:52 am

    Fact: Dave doesn’t mention Morales/Ibanez by name in the article.
    Opinion: I “think” it is because they don’t fit into Dave’s “hilariously awful” veteran bit.

    Oh ffs. Learn to read in context. The “hilariously awful” line was a reference to the veterans in the aggregate, not each and every one of them in isolation. Just as the “disappointing but not awful” tag was applied to the youth in aggregate, not each one, since some (Peguero, Montero) are hilariously awful, and others (Miller, Seager) haven’t been disappointing at all.

    What you’re offering here is a deliberately obtuse reading of the post, in order to find something to take offense to. You can do better than that.

  30. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 11:57 am

    Fact: Dave doesn’t mention Morales/Ibanez by name in the article.

    Fact: Dave mentions precisely zero Mariner players by name in the post.

  31. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 12:03 pm

    djw,

    You are making a mountain out of mole hill.

    Straw men, and now ad hominem attacks. Revealing.

    I will ask you the same question: do you think Morales/Ibanez belong in that group (terrible, hilariously awful, catastrophe)?

  32. Coug1990 on September 19th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Guys, ignore Currcoug. I do. He is the same way on Cougfan. He believes he is the smartest man in the room. He is constantly argumentative. I do not know if he does it on purpose or not, but he often seems to get the context incorrect. So, he pounces on one thing and will argue it to death. Then he will flame you and then accuse you of flaming him.

    I am a Cougar through and through, but I would rather spend my time with 90% of the huskies out there than him.

  33. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 12:17 pm

    Speaking of flaming…

  34. Dave on September 19th, 2013 12:33 pm

    If you think I doctored the numbers, you’re an idiot. This isn’t stuff I made up. It’s all easily available through the link, which is perfectly obvious for anyone to see. Feel free to go do the work yourself, then come back and apologize when you realize that your numbers and my numbers match, assuming you have the capability of adding.

    Or you can just go away. That’s probably a better idea, actually.

    And yes, Raul Ibanez is a terrible baseball player and one of the reasons this team is awful. Not understanding that is a sign of an inability to actually understand how baseball teams win games. Kendrys Morales is not terrible, just below average, or approximately as good as Mike Carp.

  35. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 12:53 pm

    Where did I ever state or infer that you doctored the numbers? That certainly wasn’t my intent, and I took the numbers at face value, as I always do when you post them.

    Sorry we disagree in regards to Ibanez being a reason the team is terrible. I would point the finger at Joe Saunders, Harang, Guti, Morse, Adino, Ryan, etc., as well as Wedge, Zdurienick and ownership.

  36. Dave on September 19th, 2013 1:13 pm

    Where did I ever state or infer that you doctored the numbers?

    Scroll up. Or, here.

    Yes, I think Dave deliberately left Morales/Ibanez out of his piece, precisely because they haven’t been “hilariously awful”

    If you think that’s the kind of analysis that happens here, you should probably just stop reading. I’m sure the Times blog will be happy to have you back.

  37. Bremerton guy on September 19th, 2013 1:32 pm

    Coug1990-

    Your last sentence is heresy! But Go Cougs! anyway.

    As for this debate, I am mortified that I was a big supporter of the Morse trade. Obviously, he didn’t work out as planned, and last I checked, he’s continued his tailspin with the Orioles. They’re probably wondering why they picked him up, too.

    And the Morales/Ibanez debate rages on. I don’t know how anyone could really argue with a straight face that from an offensive standpoint, Raul didn’t earn his keep. Defense, as most everyone has agreed, is a problem. In theory, signing him for the role that it was explained he would have — to be a DH and mentor, and occasional first baseman and left fielder — was sound. And it could have worked out well if he and Morales traded back and forth as DH and 1B. The problem, of course, was what to do with Smoak. And the Bay signing, and Guti’s annual physical problems, put Wedge in an impossible situation. Remember that Chavez was signed only after everyone started dropping like flies. And Shoppach wasn’t any worse than Quintero or Blanco. Believing that Montero could actually be a major league catcher was crazy.

    The real issue here was roster construction, and that wasn’t Wedge’s fault. I’m not a Wedge apologist, but the fact that he was brought here to develop the young talent, and the young talent is what has been the part of the group keeping the team afloat (as seen by the graphics above) bears out that he has been somewhat successful in fulfilling this goal. The real problem is Jack Z. There’s no way Wedge stays if Jack Z. goes, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit if Jack Z. got his pink slip in two weeks.

  38. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 1:38 pm

    I would point the finger at Joe Saunders, Harang

    Joe Saunders WAR: 0.6
    Raul Ibañez WAR: 0.5
    Aaron Harang WAR: 0.4

    Saunders has an xFIP in 2013 (4.32) that’s right in line with what it’s been his entire career (4.46). His K/BB numbers are right where they should be.

    In other words, he’s exactly what the M’s should have been expecting. The rotten ERA is based around lousy defense… to which Raul Ibañez has contributed. Pitcher WAR gets influenced by that.

    Harang is pretty similar: 5.69 ERA, 4.28 xFIP in 2013, career 4.13 xFIP (his xFIP in 2011, when he was 14-7 with a 3.61 ERA: 4.21).

    So, basically, two of the people you cite are poster children for the whole USSM argument about the roster construction and usage for the 2013 Mariners: it was lousy, and Raul’s uselessness on defense contributed to other veterans (Saunders and Harang) underperforming (in other words, making a sum that is less than the component parts). You’ve unwittingly supported Dave’s argument if you actually dig into the numbers. Give this team a GOOD defense and it’s likely that Harang and Saunders are in the rotation and perceived as “OK”, instead of “yuck”.

    The real issue here was roster construction, and that wasn’t Wedge’s fault.

    This is bunk, unless you think these signings were forced down Wedge’s throat. Given how he’s loved to play guys like Peguero, I don’t buy it. I think the GM and field manager are complicit in roster construction and usage for this team.

  39. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 1:45 pm

    I said you left Morales/Ibanez out of your piece, not that you “doctored” numbers. What would be my motive for that sort of nonsense? My mistake for thinking you were talking about someone else other than Morales/Ibanez.

    As stated, I always take your numbers at face value…but I sometimes disagree with your opinions about the club’s struggles.

    I am surprised you won’t take my word for the above.

    I have never been interested in the Times’ blog, nor have I ever posted there.

  40. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 1:50 pm

    Ep,

    So if you were the GM, would you bring Joe Saunders and Harang back?

  41. The_Waco_Kid on September 19th, 2013 2:21 pm

    Melky -.09 WAR
    Hafner -.04 WAR
    Ludwick -.07 WAR

    Still looking for less terrible options.

  42. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 2:29 pm

    That depends. Are you going to give me a credible defense, or a complete joke like the 2013 Mariners?

    If I have to play Raul as an OFer all year and the defense is still the same garbage heap, it doesn’t matter, you could start Blake Beavan and go cheap. With infield and outfield upgrades on defense and at the right price, sure, though to be honest, 2012′s Kevin Millwood is 2013′s Joe Saunders is 2014′s ????; there’s no reason to prefer a particular Gritty Veteran Backend Starter over another, and ideally, all you want a good price tag and acceptable peripherals. Maybe Jason Vargas is available the most reasonable price; I might prefer him. It would be dependent on the offseason, price and even… shudder… intangibles (like wanting to play here and knowing he’s not an axe murderer in the clubhouse).

    You don’t want the 2014 team having to ride on Erasmo/Paxton/Walker all making the rotation out of spring training, so yeah, a veteran starter or two in spring training, sure.

  43. currcoug on September 19th, 2013 2:54 pm

    I would rather bring back Vargas, and “So I Married an Axe Murderer” is one of my favorite flicks.

    I respect your number crunching…but I still think Saunders is garbage, even if we had an infield of “Ryans”. LOL.

    It seems reasonable to assume the defense of the kids has nowhere to go but up. Actually, I believe Chris Taylor has a shot at playing time in 2014, which should help.

    Ironically, I referred to Ibanez as another “geezer” signing in 2013, and have consistently chaffed at his playing time (Wedge’s comments about rewarding him drove me nuts). However, I do support bringing him back in a limited role for 2014.

  44. ripperlv on September 19th, 2013 3:04 pm

    currcoug

    Dave puts time and effort into helping us less informed become more informed. I would like to think that’s one of the reasons he runs this website. I find that he makes his analysis based upon facts and stats using logic. I don’t always like what he says, for instance I like Wedge, probably for all the wrong reasons, but I don’t have anything I can argue with.

    So I just went back and read the article again. Man, that’s some great stuff. I never would have come up with it. So go back and read the article carefully. I hope you can see where your comments are not even relevent to the subject at best, or accusing him of lying at worst. I think you tried to make a uninformed point and were so far off, that it sounded like a numbers doctoring accusation. You may not like what he says but if you argue have some bullets in the six shooter. I think your gun is empty.

  45. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 3:23 pm

    It seems reasonable to assume the defense of the kids has nowhere to go but up.

    It’s not necessarily true. Here’s an example. The only jump in defense was moving from 2B to 3B.

    In fact, it’s more typical for players to get pushed up early because of defense and then develop offensive skills. Think Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel.

    As for who the Gritty Veteran Backend Starter is in 2014, I’m relatively indifferent. A “we can’t sign this bozo because he was part of last year’s stinker” is reasonable as long as the talent is interchangeable and the price is right (and it usually is).

  46. Jeremy on September 19th, 2013 4:00 pm

    Dave, I love you as an author and agree with your point that the veterans are the reason the M’s are losing. However, I am surprised by the obvious flaw in your argument.

    If the Mariners have given MORE playing time to players 25 and under than any team in baseball, that means they’ve given LESS playing time to players older than 25. So it makes sense that they have less WAR than any other team–they had less plate appearances in which to earn a higher WAR.

    Your logic could be fixed simply by taking WAR/PA. My guess is that the M’s would still be last if you made this calculation (though the Marlins are close).

  47. ripperlv on September 19th, 2013 4:24 pm

    You figure out the WAR/PA. It’s still very obvious. I’ll give you a hint M’s WAR/PA not close to anybody at .0006822.

  48. crazyray7391 on September 19th, 2013 4:34 pm

    Currcoug

    You mention Baker’s piece, he argued that Morales and Ibanez are the two best hitters on this team. That by itself says a lot. Morales has been a little above average at best and outside of the two months Raul went crazy he has been pretty bad too (hilariously awful in the outfield). Just because you are two of the best hitters on a shitty offensive team it doesn’t mean you are actually good.

  49. Breadbaker on September 19th, 2013 6:09 pm

    There are few people on this site more math-challenged than I am, but if you have 6.9 WAR and the next lowest is 13.1 you’d have to have essentially double the plate appearances for that next lowest team to make the WAR/PA meaningfully different than the raw number. You don’t; it’s barely higher. The next number would have to be three times as high since it’s 22.6; it’s essentially the same as the Mariners’ number. The highest plate appearance number is the Yankees and it’s about 1.7 times the Mariners. Their WAR number is ten times higher.

    In other words, the suggestion that this exercise would be more meaningful than the raw numbers Dave presented is, even to someone as confused by statistics as I am, patently untrue. The raw statistics tell the exact same story the one additional column would tell: the M’s veteran talent has stunk while Eric Wedge has been the manager.

    Unless there were a column for grit, of course.

  50. djw on September 19th, 2013 7:31 pm

    I said you left Morales/Ibanez out of your piece, not that you “doctored” numbers. What would be my motive for that sort of nonsense?

    I’m not sure why you think it would have been interpreted otherwise. You now seem to be claiming you meant he didn’t mention them specifically by name. But he didn’t mention anyone specifically by name, because the article about classes of players, not individual players. The only way actual players show up is in the aggregate data. So when you say “deliberately omitted” from the article, it’s a reasonable assumption you were referring to the data, because that’s the only way any individual players were treated.

  51. eponymous coward on September 19th, 2013 7:41 pm

    … and the Marlins and Astros (the two teams directly above us) have deliberately been dumping salary and veterans during that 3 year stretch. The M’s, not so much, they’ve actually been trying with signing/retaining guys like Wilson, Olivo, Cust, Kennedy, Ryan, Jaso, Ibañez, Morales, Bay during the past 3 years.

    The bottom line is that if we had been minimally more competent (not GOOD at extracting value from veterans, merely not as bad), we’d probably be looking at 20 or so more wins the last 3 years. In other words, it takes us from being in the toilet averaging low 70′s, to being where Oakland was from 2007-2011, averaging high 70′s; not good by any stretch of the imagination, but not circling the drain with a bunch of problems that ALL have to be solved simultaneously to make the team good, and not having to throw young players into the breach (and adding to the organization’s flailing) because the veterans are so hilariously awful, as Dave puts it.

    In other words: Jack Zduriencik is no Billy Beane, He’s failed at the task of “put a minimally competent supporting cast of veterans on the field while you develop your kids, so they aren’t being rushed and aren’t losing 90 every year” (something Billy Beane has never done in his career), despite starting with a) Felix and b) a pretty big lump of free salary to work with.

  52. qwerty on September 19th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Ok, I’m convinced. Now I want to see Dave’s posting of new GM candidates.

    My new Mgr is Chili Davis.

  53. stevemotivateir on September 19th, 2013 8:32 pm

    Jack Zduriencik is no Billy Beane

    I would argue that Jack’s value is equal to that of Billy’s….. as a player.

  54. currcoug on September 20th, 2013 10:58 am

    Crazy,

    Agree with your argument in principle…but we probably have different ideas of what constitutes “good”. I would argue that Raul had one “really bad” month, and one “below average” month based on OPS.

    April: .511 OPS
    May: 1.031 OPS
    June: .892 OPS
    July: .824 OPS
    August: .663 OPS
    September: .941 OPS

    I fully realize the above numbers do not reflect base running, steals, etc.

    Again, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of bringing in another geezer (Ibanez), particularly one that struggles against LHP. This season, however, his splits went the other way (.811/.828 OPS).

  55. VivaAyala on September 20th, 2013 11:21 am

    Really good article overall. The problem with the Mariners of late clearly has been their veteran position players.

    Still, it strikes me as a bit weird to single out Raul in the comments as being “terrible.” By fWAR, which gives him full demerits for his sketchy defense, Ibanez is fifth on the team at .6, and clearly above replacement. He’s not good, mind you, and the fact that he’s fifth is yet another damning indictment of the construction of this team.

    Even so, it seems that the vitriol should be saved for the truly execrable players like Morse and Chavez, for instance, who can’t/couldn’t field or hit. Ibanez, at least, has been doing one of his duties right. Below average but above replacement, in my mind, isn’t “terrible.”

  56. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2013 11:26 am

    Actually, when you account for the position they play, the best offensive players on the team are Seager, Raul, Morales.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=11&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=18,d

    If you look at MLB, none of the M’s players are in the top 30 offensive players.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=19,d

    Seager makes the top 60 at #54.

    Raul Ibanez doesn’t qualify for the batting title, but he’s at #68 here:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=19%2cd

    None of this should surprise anyone, given that the M’s offense once again sucks.

    Raul has a nice SLG, but he doesn’t get on base any more; his .313 OBP for 2013 is 25 points below his lifetime OBP. His power’s good, but that reduced OBP (10 or so points below average when compared to 1B/DH/corner OF) does hurt his value as an offensive player, and it’s an obvious sign that, duh, he’s 41 years old.

    Raul wouldn’t have been a “terrible” player at DH (and sure, if the FO wants to indugle him for another year, as long as he doesn’t play much OF, sure, let him retire a Mariner). The problem is the M’s went into the 2013 season with 5 DH’s (Raul, Morse, Morales, Bay and Montero), and thus four of them were playing defensive positions most of the year, which just gets back to the terrible roster decisions the M’s have made the last few years.

  57. VivaAyala on September 20th, 2013 2:21 pm

    Yeah, I don’t dispute the fact that the whole DH-in-the-field extravaganza was a disaster, nor the gist of the original post. Just seemed funny to pick on Raul when he’s one of the least terrible (overall) of the immobile fools to play the field for us this year.

  58. Hunter S. Thompson on September 21st, 2013 8:09 pm

    I think Raul was picked because he is still on the team and still playing the field most nights. Also Raul has hit at a decent level this year. The power is legite, the OBP isn’t great but would be okay if he wasn’t so horrible in the field.
    Raul is the definition of a player who is overated because what he does do, slug, is so visible while his horrible defense and bad baserunning gets overlooked.
    Nothing against Raul its not his fault he has been asked to take the field as often as he does, but if he can’t play the field and still have value and we already have a better hitter at DH, what purpose does he serve?

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