And So It Ends

Dave · September 30, 2013 at 10:38 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The 2013 season is over. It was, in my personal opinion, the least enjoyable season to follow since I started paying attention to the team back in the mid-80s. There have been worse Mariners teams, certainly, but this particular roster represented just such a huge step in the wrong direction for the entire organization. And, of course, it didn’t have to be this way. That this was an intentional construction in an effort to build a winning team would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

The organization continues to sell hope, even as it looks more and more dysfunctional by the day. You’ve probably noticed that I stopped buying what they were selling a while ago, and 2013 didn’t do anything to restore my hope that the team was right and I was wrong. So, now, I’ve basically adopted a new hope; that this team was so awful, so unwatchable, so embarrassing that there’s a reevaluation of internal beliefs.

We’ve already seen this front office pivot after failure before. They went for pitching-and-defense, and when that didn’t work out, we got this abomination of a dingers-and-leadership roster. That it didn’t work either might — might — make a case for just focusing on good all around players. Guys who can hit, and field, and run, and pitch, and if they’re good in the clubhouse, then that’s a nice bonus. That’s what this team needs – good players, of all shapes and sizes.

The defense was atrocious, but it isn’t so simple as getting better defenders. The pitching was bad, but this team isn’t a couple of new pitchers away from being good. The Mariners need a lot of new players, most of them better than the ones that got a lot of playing time in 2013. My hope is not in these players magically improving, but in the 2013 season being a wake-up call that there is no championship core in place, and that the team needs to change course and go get some better players to open 2014.

They have two good pitchers in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. They have a good third baseman in Kyle Seager, and a shortstop who looks like he might be pretty good in Brad Miller. Those four should enter spring training next year as the entrenched starters at their positions. The other 21 spots on the roster should be sources of potential upgrade. That doesn’t mean I think Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, et al are totally useless. A couple of them might actually help the team next year. They just shouldn’t be counted on. Their contributions in 2014 should be bonuses, not a prerequisite for the team to succeed.

It’s time to move on from Justin Smoak as the team’s starting first baseman. The team needs at least two new outfielders, and if Kendrys Morales keeps asking for crazy money, they need a new DH too. They should acquire a stopgap catcher who can play everyday to start the year, allowing Mike Zunino to learn how to hit in the minor leagues like he should have done this year. They need at least one starting pitcher, maybe two. And the bullpen and bench both need work.

It’s a pretty long list. It’s a lot to accomplish in one winter. Maybe too much. Maybe there are just too many holes to put together a winning team next year. But, there are useful role players to be had, quality additions to be made, and the possibility for the team to go from utterly useless to at least acceptably okay. These upgrades are easier than going from good to great. It shouldn’t be that hard to find reasonable Major League players to fill the spots that were given to totally useless scrubs this season.

The organization just first has to realize that that’s actually what they did. They have to stop blaming the kids for this team’s failures and realize that it was the cavalcade of horrible veterans that dragged this team into the depths of despair. They need better veterans, and to get those, they need to realize that last year’s ideas about roster construction were entirely wrong.

That’s the hope I have. Jack Z and his team have changed course before, following an attempt to win that didn’t work. Maybe they’ll do it again. I have my doubts, but if you’re looking for hope in 2014, that’s probably a better spot to look than hoping that all the young kids magically become good overnight.

Comments

67 Responses to “And So It Ends”

  1. RaoulDuke37 on September 30th, 2013 10:53 am

    I’ve been a fan for 25 years now. I’ve followed other sports and other teams, but never at the same depth as this sport and team (and I thank you Dave for your contributions). I won’t ever walk away from it, but if there ever was a time, it seems like now is it.

    But you know what. We got game 163 tonight, and then two Wild Card games. Those three games will represent some of the best of baseball, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

    Looking forward to your offseason analysis Dave.

  2. Klatz on September 30th, 2013 11:09 am

    I’m not quite ready to give up on Smoak. He’s approaching his likely peak and he’s not expensive. Sure he’s got contact issues, he’s slow, and this year his measurable defense was bad. But he’s got a good eye, career-wise his defense is ok, and he’s not too expensive yet. There are bigger holes in the outfield that could be patched first.

    Smoak would seem to fit the profile of someone the A’s have targeted, 25-28, poor performance but with good prospect bloodlines. The A’s got value with Donaldson, Reddick, and Moss.

  3. eternal on September 30th, 2013 11:27 am

    It seems like 2013 is a wasted year. In the end, it wasn’t even worth watching. I haven’t felt this less interested since I started like the Mariners and baseball in general. At least we didn’t give up any prospects or make any decisions that have horrible long-term implications. It’s too bad we aren’t building on the additions from a Bourn + Swisher offseason and instead are basically in the same place as last year.

  4. refusetolose on September 30th, 2013 11:30 am

    Dave,

    I agree that this team is in massive growing pains. I didn’t like bringing in Morse and going for guys that would hit .220 but provide 20 homers.

    I do however, not agree with your assessment that clubhouse chemistry doesn’t matter.

    I wasn’t on bored with your criticism of Mike Sweeney as the 25th guy and I’m not on board with not bringing back Ibanez.

    Over a 162 game season, and a season that spans 8 months, you need good character guys that are good in the locker room, especially with young kids in the fold.

    I think Smoak is salvageable, as does the commentator above me. I think Franklin and Miller have potential.

    I do not think that just bringing in sabremetric-friendly guys, as you have advocated in the past, is the answer.

    A few offseason’s ago, you wanted us to sign Ryan Theriot, and be excited about it. Well we had Brendan Ryan.

    The Mariners need to continue to develop reliable bullpen arms to hold leads late. They cannot lose on walk-off fashion to the degree they have in the last 5 years.

    I think they should make a reasonable play for Ellsbury and then you bring in character guys that can fill specific needs.

    You’re a big fan of saying things are unsustainable or trends are unlikely to continue.
    With the Mariners lack of “luck” late in games, this team should have lost 7-10 less games…

    The team can approach .500, which would be nice a year from now.

  5. bermanator on September 30th, 2013 11:46 am

    “It’s time to move on from Justin Smoak as the team’s starting first baseman.”
    ===============================

    In favor of who?

    On the laundry list of problems facing the Mariners, I don’t have replacing Smoak ranked as a high priority. Obviously you can almost always upgrade anywhere, but I’d be fine bringing him into spring training with a chance to win the job. He’s not that expensive, there’s no extended commitment to him, and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.

  6. rth1986 on September 30th, 2013 11:50 am

    2010 was probably the worst year since the 80s. That year was a crushing disappointment in all regards. Griffey. Niehaus. Wakamatsu’s firing. The shift in the team’s focus.

    The Bavasi years were pretty unbearable, too, but expectations were much lower Disagree about 2013 being the low-point. That’s not to say that 2013 had some embarrassment though. The roster construction was just terrible.

    I’m probably alone in this, but I think the Mariners are actually in pretty good shape for preparing for 2014. They have a much better understanding on how the young players will fit in 2014. They have tons of money to spend and a deep assortment of young talent to use in trades. With the right front office, this team could make some big strides going in 2014. Not sure if Z and co. can get it done anymore though.

    There should be some talent available on the market that fits the organization’s needs and even some (good) Northwest-born pieces to possibly draw back some of the fanbase.

    (On a very small note, I disagree that the team needs to move on from Smoak. There are bigger fish to fry. As long as he’s not counted on to be one of the main contributors in 2014, he should be fine as an average/slightly below average first baseman.)

  7. vertigoman on September 30th, 2013 11:51 am

    If chemistry is indeed important I’m sure they could hire a motivational speaker to hang out. Maybe even a clown or a comedian. Best thing is they won’t be expected to hit or field. Chemistry coach, just call it that. He/she can hone the carefully guarded craft of shaving cream pie attacks and the ole lighting one’s shoelaces on fire “tool”.
    Players are people doing a job and like all of us that want to succeed I’m sure they respect and respond to other players that are good at their jobs.

  8. stevemotivateir on September 30th, 2013 11:55 am

    Really amazes me people are still defending Smoak. Look at his 2013 stats, then look at his career stats. How hard is it to understand that he’s terrible?

    Arguing that there are bigger holes to fill doesn’t fly. It’s not like finding a replacement would be tough. We were throwing them away last offseason.

  9. refusetolose on September 30th, 2013 11:59 am

    Yeah, and they also work better with people they actually like and with people who are fun to be around. Your 25th guy is generally someone who is no good. Raul Ibanez hit 29 homers. If they like him, and he leads your team in homers, I’d say he’s at least worth the 25th spot…

  10. rth1986 on September 30th, 2013 12:01 pm

    @refusetolose

    I wouldn’t mind bringing back Ibanez as a bench guy/part-time DH, but I’m almost positive Ibanez will be looking for a greater role after his 2013 season. Not sure if any team would be willing to give him a starting role, but I’m sure he’ll be looking for one. If his expectations are right, then he’s fine, but they probably aren’t in-line with what we should be offering (if we offer at all).

  11. mrtoad on September 30th, 2013 12:04 pm

    What are the odds that we see them not go after anyone in the offseason and go with a 60m payroll for 2014? They need so much that I can’t see them bringing in enough talent (even if they are available or would want to come here) without being up around 100m. There’s no chance they’re going to see an increase in attendance to justify that unless they catch fire early in the year. I also wonder if losing Yamauchi could cause the other owners to want to make the balance sheets look optimal in preparation for a sale… and cutting costs is way, way easier than generating more revenue, especially with the current state of the roster.

  12. bermanator on September 30th, 2013 12:08 pm

    “Really amazes me people are still defending Smoak.”

    Would make sense to dump him. After all, nobody buys high and sells low on players like Seattle.

  13. Badbadger on September 30th, 2013 12:12 pm

    I don’t get all the people who think Smoak might still turn out. Is he Hypno Toad or something? Here are his fWARs from the past 4 years: -0.5, 0.5, -0.5, 0.4. Here are his wRC for the last 4 years: 81, 103, 85, 109.

    The guy is just not a ML starter.

  14. eponymous coward on September 30th, 2013 12:26 pm

    It’s a pretty long list. It’s a lot to accomplish in one winter. Maybe too much. Maybe there are just too many holes to put together a winning team next year.

    Especially given that we can’t assume a big increase in payroll, which means that FreeAgentPalooza isn’t a given.

  15. JasonJ on September 30th, 2013 12:28 pm

    It’s probably because he’s cheap and he’s approaching his so-called “peak” years. The fact that everyone else stinks also makes him look a little better.

    I won’t personally miss him but it’s not like there are many great free agent options at 1B either.

    First basemen

    Jeff Baker (33)
    Corey Hart (32)
    Mike Napoli (32)
    Paul Konerko (38)
    Casey Kotchman (31)
    Adam Lind (30) – $7MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    James Loney (30)
    Kendrys Morales (30)
    Justin Morneau (33)
    Mike Morse (32)
    Lyle Overbay (37)
    Carlos Pena (36)
    Mark Reynolds (30)
    Kevin Youkilis (35)

  16. bookbook on September 30th, 2013 12:32 pm

    Would you rather keep Smoak or Raul as a bench bat? Smoak because he might not be overused, or confuse a manager into putting him into the OF? Or Raul, better bat and “clubhouse leader”?

  17. rth1986 on September 30th, 2013 12:38 pm

    @bookbook

    I’d go with Smoak, unless Ibanez was fine with getting limited playing time. Overall, I’d rather avoid having a bat-only guy on the bench though.

  18. eponymous coward on September 30th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Smoak would seem to fit the profile of someone the A’s have targeted, 25-28, poor performance but with good prospect bloodlines. The A’s got value with Donaldson, Reddick, and Moss.

    Donaldson, Reddick and Moss didn’t have nearly 2000 plate appearances of being bad, below-average MLB players like Smoak does. Huge difference. In fact, they might not have had 2000 combined PAs in MLB between them before becoming A’s.

    The A’s target “AAAA” ballplayers who get blocked/demoted/whatever and get that label. Smoak isn’t that kind of player. He’s essentially been given four full seasons in MLB, off of not very impressive minor league numbers (lifetime minor league SLG under .500), and it’s boiled down to a player who isn’t any different than Mike Carp, or any other number of “free talent” replacement-level “AAAA” ballplayers. His minor league numbers don’t say star. His major league numbers say what they say: this is a below average, 1ish WAR 1B. That’s not a disaster, but it’s not a strength.

    Could he turn into Carlos Pena and go nuts later in his career? I guess. But so could Mike Carp, or any other number of “AAAA” ballplayers. If your organizational plans depend on the career equivalent of winning the Lotto, you have a problem, which is why Dave is suggesting we shouldn’t be planning on Smoak winning the Fairy Dust On My Career Lotto over any other number of viable candidates.

    As for the idea that “we should fix other problems”… well, fix what problems you can. There’s no reason to go “outfielders first”, if we get better OFers than Chavez or Morse…

  19. Alec on September 30th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Dave, and those of us who hated this team, would be fine with bringing Ibanez back as a part time DH/pinch hitter/emergency 1B as the 25th man. The problem is none of us have any confidence that, if he returns, whatever manager we get will continue to play him every day in LF. That is a disaster, and since none of us have confidence in whoever manages the team in 2014, we need to just remove the stupid options (so no Ibanez).

  20. Henry Jasen on September 30th, 2013 12:44 pm

    With a long list of problems to fix, Smoak becomes acceptable because there are bigger problems to fix.
    They need a catcher who can start and mentor. They need at least two outfielders. They need 5 starting pitchers behind Felix and Iwakuma. They may 2 or 3 of them now, but they will need a couple more to cover injuries and ML time for the younger guys. They will need to bolster the bullpen. All of those are probably higher priorities than a moderate improvement at first base.

  21. Westside guy on September 30th, 2013 12:47 pm

    Smoak’s overall OPS this year was .746 – not a complete black hole, but not really what you want out of a first baseman. His baserunning is abysmal, even by first baseman standards. He’s competent defensively, but probably below average.

    Against lefties, he hit .192/.274/.274 (career is .223/.294/.362) – not quite John Jaso, but too close for comfort. You could platoon him, but do you really want to tie up two spots just for first base?

    I can see the argument that there are bigger holes to fill… but he’s 17th out of 25 in MLB, and 14th out of 17 if you just look at the AL. He’s not particularly good.

  22. sawsatch on September 30th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Any decent team would part ways with J. Smoak. The fact that he is still here shows just how bad this team is and how many holes need to be filled.
    Maybe we can start next year weak up the middle with 8 DHs this time.

  23. Jopa on September 30th, 2013 12:50 pm

    The Mariners are out-spent 2-to-1 by two division rivals. They are out-GM’d by two or three division rivals. They had the fourth best field Manager in the division. They are owned by a “Trust” (i.e. a non-person that has a non-interest in winning). Seems like they are dead out of the gate every year.

  24. nwade on September 30th, 2013 12:55 pm

    =====
    With the Mariners lack of “luck” late in games, this team should have lost 7-10 less games…
    =====

    Hey refusetolose, one or two tough-luck losses can be chalked up to just that: bad luck. But if you CONSISTENTLY lose close games like the M’s did this year over and over? Its not luck – its that your team ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH.

  25. eponymous coward on September 30th, 2013 1:00 pm

    They need 5 starting pitchers behind Felix and Iwakuma. They may 2 or 3 of them now, but they will need a couple more to cover injuries and ML time for the younger guys.

    So, you’re going for the 7-man rotation?

    Part of the reason this year’s rotation looked so awful is the defense.

    Player A: 161 IP, 4.42 xFIP
    Player B: 120 IP, 4.42 xFIP
    Player C: 183 IP, 4.23 xFIP

    Those three players? Kevin Millwood, Aaron Harang, and Joe Saunders as Mariners.

    Here’s something extra thrown in: Jason Vargas’s lifetime xFIP as a Mariner? 4.51.

    Finding a veteran starter or two to hold up the back end of the rotation isn’t so hard, unless you completely punt defense like the M’s did this year, in which case, those veteran pitchers look awful.

    With a long list of problems to fix, Smoak becomes acceptable because there are bigger problems to fix.

    Not really. A well below-average 1B who’s about to start ringing up paychecks as he moves into arbitration (where counting stats like HR and RBI help) isn’t part of your long term future, and realistically, there ARE players out there.

    It gets back to what Dave says:

    It’s a pretty long list. It’s a lot to accomplish in one winter. Maybe too much. Maybe there are just too many holes to put together a winning team next year.

    I’d say “move opportunistically”. If Smoak for (player X) is a move that presents itself, sure, do it. If something else does, do that. But at this point, Smoak is pretty close to being the 1st base equivalent of Willie Bloomquist. You shouldn’t exactly be scared of giving up on Willie Bloomquist.

  26. bermanator on September 30th, 2013 1:13 pm

    “I’d say “move opportunistically”. If Smoak for (player X) is a move that presents itself, sure, do it. ”
    ============

    Sure — I guess I have a hard time seeing where Seattle’s going to get the opportunity to get anything for him, and the FA options aren’t exciting and will require a greater commitment of years and resources.

    How much is he likely to make in arbitration?

    Alternatively, who are the AAAA-type guys out there who can be had on a minor league invite to either push Smoak or take the job outright?

  27. Klatz on September 30th, 2013 1:21 pm

    I think people are making decisions about Smoak that are more based on emotion than rational ones. Sure he’s not a great 1b. But he’s okay for a rebuilding/hopefully on the cusp of competing team.

    He had about 1 full season’s worth of AB at AAA (581 AB) split over several years. He’s been up and down a lot. He’s doesn’t have enough power for a starting 1b and his defense/baserunning don’t add much or is bad. But he’s still has potential to live up to.

    Just don’t jettison when there are bigger fish to fry.

  28. diderot on September 30th, 2013 1:24 pm

    I, too, await Dave’s offseason plan.

    In the meantime, I wonder if someone statistically-savy could help me with two bullpen questions:

    This is the first year I seem to remember that Jack did not cobble together a very effective bullpen. Is this simply because he made poorer bets this year…or did the approach to bullpen construction change, too?

    The M’s had the widest disparity between bullpen ERA and bullpen FIP or xFIP. (4.58/3.79/3.71). Strike out rates and walk rates were both a little above average. So was our strand rate (70.1) compared to the MLB average 75.2 an aberration…or is something else at work that I’m not seeing?

  29. LongDistance on September 30th, 2013 1:30 pm

    Dave:

    What makes your post so incredibly depressing, is how it’s all so true, so simple. It’s one of the most succinct postings of the season.

    And, despite its simplicity, it’s a thousand light years from home.

    Makes sense to (one would think) almost anyone. ANYONE.

    But… nobody (except us chickens) is listening.

    BTW… for whoever mentioned Griffey night… that was one of the (once the game got underway) four depressing games I attended this year.

    A packed house… who came to see the old team show up and nostalgiate with Junior.

    And then game time: when that packed stadium had the ineffable chance to watch Morse attempt to leap at a short dinger, that Griffey would have caught without breaking a sweat.

    Morse = jump?
    Morse = speed?
    Morse = hands?
    Morse = arm?

    But… heck.. what a HELL of a guy.

    This was Mariners 2013. Just a heck of a bunch of dinger-galore great guys.

    Raul for President.

    This was the season that made me wish I actually liked football.

  30. Tornado on September 30th, 2013 1:36 pm

    Smoak could be useful in a platoon, he needs to stop switch hitting because he is terrible at it. His defense is fine.

    I’m ready for a regime change, sure Jack has drafted OK but so would anybody with high draft picks year after year. After the debacle of this roster it seems clear that this organization is not heading in the right direction. Dingers! yay.

  31. bookbook on September 30th, 2013 1:42 pm

    If the season restarted today:
    Felix
    Iwakuma
    Erasmo
    Walker
    Paxton

    C Zunino
    1b Smoak
    2b Franklin
    SS Miller
    3B Seager
    LF Ackley
    CF Almonte
    RF Saunders
    DH Morales

    If the M’s could actually upgrade two OF positions and one pitcher to solidly above average regular, I’d be willing to endure most of the rest.

    But, yeah, the M’s abysmal performance in 1-run games is mostly luck, combined with a horrific bullpen, and poor in-game managerial decisions.

  32. IdahoFan on September 30th, 2013 1:45 pm

    The Mariner’s need a coherent vision for building a successful team more than they need particular players. I know that we have no reason to expect a change above Jack Z. But without a change in leadership that leads to a clear vision on how to build a team shared by all, this franchise will continue to flounder. What free agent would sign with Seattle if he had the chance to play elsewhere?

    Felix is the most patient player I can ever remember.

  33. Paul B on September 30th, 2013 1:49 pm

    This season was horrible, a train wreck that could be seen coming way back last winter.

    the only recent season that was worse to me was 2008. 101 losses, and empty farm system, and the corpse of a utility middle infielder slotted as the starting firstbaseman.

  34. jephdood on September 30th, 2013 1:51 pm

    I realize the status quo with regard to our 25-man won’t work next year, but there are very few of these young guys I’m eager to give up on because I believe once they find themselves in other uni’s, they’ll take off and become all-stars. Now, the chance of that coming to fruition with, say, Chance Ruffin is remote.. but guys like Smoak, Ackley, Saunders, Franklin.. even Almonte.. I dunno. Any one of those may be the next Shin Soo Choo (et al.) Our bullpen needs some help.. but with our projected starting staff, I’m inclined to stick with most of our young position players next year.

  35. mariner68 on September 30th, 2013 2:13 pm

    I noticed that the velocity declined on a lot of the relievers during the year, especially on Perez and Furbush. Wilhelmsen, Capps, and even Farquahr at times dropped as much as 5mph as well in certain outings. The M’s played so many extra inning games – and long ones at that. The team was constantly coming back to tie games – but generally always ended up losing. I know looking at the numbers, the bullpen was bad – but was it really all their fault? Most of those guys showed pretty amazing stuff early in the year and last year.

  36. Rainiers_fan on September 30th, 2013 2:19 pm

    One question about Smoak is does he have an option year left? If he does I see no harm at all in looking for someone better AND stashing him in Tacoma in case he puts it all together or someone gets hurt. Good teams have multiple options that prevent the roster issues we had this year. The same goes for some of the other young players, it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. If they did poorly at the MLB level but still have potential look for someone better and stash them in Tacoma to learn

  37. Dobbs on September 30th, 2013 2:22 pm

    Saunders, Smoak and Ackley need to be backups if on the team at all. We need to acquire at least average players to fill these positions.

  38. Mekias on September 30th, 2013 2:30 pm

    The problem is, we can’t just go out and fill all the holes mentioned. Free agents cost too much money and trading prospects is risky. I don’t even particularly like many of the free agents out there this summer.

    I’m happy with Ackley at 2B and moving Franklin to AAA to continue working…or trade one of them.

    Saunders is a valuable role-player and will probably end up as one of our starting outfielders.

    I’m giving up on Smoak. With over 1700 ABs, he’s managed only .700 OPS. For a first baseman, that’s horrible.

    Zunino needs more time in AAA but I think they’re set on him starting at catcher next year.

    Montero? He provides nothing to a major league team at this point.

    There’s still a lot of holes…CF, one corner OF, 1B, DH. I hope we can bring back Morales for DH but Boras will want too much money.

    Pitching is a bit more up in the air. Paxton, Ramirez, and Walker could work but starting two rookies is scary. Low pitch counts would put a lot of stress on the bullpen. If we go for a free agent starting pitcher, I hope we don’t spend a lot in money or years.

  39. Westside guy on September 30th, 2013 2:32 pm

    Saunders, Smoak and Ackley need to be backups if on the team at all. We need to acquire at least average players to fill these positions.

    Right now, Michael Saunders is pretty much the definition of “average outfielder” – even after that long post-injury slump, he ended up with a wRC+ of 98. Defensively he’s below average in center, but consistently above average when playing in the corners.

    Given the size of the problem, Saunders is likely not the first piece you try to replace. If he’s your team’s best outfielder, though, I’d say you have a problem.

  40. diderot on September 30th, 2013 2:38 pm

    “Saunders, Smoak and Ackley need to be backups if on the team at all.”

    You also need to look at Ackley’s second half. No question in my mind he’s the starting second baseman unless they’re forced to play him in the outfield (left, not center).

  41. stevemotivateir on September 30th, 2013 2:40 pm

    Would make sense to dump him. After all, nobody buys high and sells low on players like Seattle.

    Maybe the problem has more to do with them buying the wrong players to begin with and failing to recognize the talent they already have in their system?

    @Rainiers_fan

    I believe he does have an option left.

    @Dobbs

    Take a peak at the numbers for Ackley and Saunders in the second half. Ackley’s still probably better suited as a second baseman, and Saunders is probably a better corner outfielder than a center fielder, but those two aren’t screaming “REPLACE ME! with their performances.

    Having said that, having them make up 2/3 of the starting outfield isn’t exactly comforting.

  42. bookbook on September 30th, 2013 2:42 pm

    Any word on Hultzen?

  43. stevemotivateir on September 30th, 2013 2:43 pm

    Funny how several people all basically said the same thing at the same time.

    If only the M’s front office were on the same page!

  44. MrZDevotee on September 30th, 2013 2:45 pm

    Somebody way up high mentioned “I don’t think more sabermetric guys” will help the team.

    I don’t think Dave has ever advocated for “sabermetric guys”– he wants better players. There are a variety of ways to measure that, but the bottom line is, however you measure them the good players score well in Sabermetrics and the bad ones don’t.

    We’re ALL advocating for better players. Nothing more.

    If Ibanez did nothing else this year he showed, in fine detail, how a guy who has an outstanding year at the plate (for his age) can still be a sum-zero player. Or NEGATIVE sum player.

    I remember mentioning it last season, and feel it again as the playoffs approach. If you look at the playoffs they have one noticeable thing that sorely lacks on the M’s… Athleticism.

    Most playoff teams’ “average” guys run better than our’s, field better than our’s, and have better OBP than our “average” guys.

    Somehow plodding guys with marginal defense became the prominent profile of the typical Mariner acquisition last season (and seasons before).

    Morse
    Ibanez
    Bay
    Blanco
    Shoppach
    Smoak
    Montero

    We need look no farther than the headlines that Almonte “made a big splash” in his short time here. He’s an average player, but the fact he can run, and throw the ball somehow made him exciting and dynamic on the field. A standout. For his average big leaguer skills.

    Same with Brad Miller. His speed made him a standout 1st year guy. Most young guys NEED that skill to break into the bigs, unless they really DO have a big bat (the false dream about Smoak and Montero).

    We all, Dave included, want better players– who have the ability to win more games.

    Period.

    And I really don’t think we can trust this front office to get that done. I’ll be more than ecstatic if it DOES happen… But the offseasons have become akin to an annual trip to the dentist. You know it’s coming, you hope you’ll have good news, but you usually come home with something that required Vicodin to tolerate.

    (Sigh)

  45. Rainiers_fan on September 30th, 2013 2:48 pm

    Thanks Steve!

  46. Dobbs on September 30th, 2013 2:50 pm

    Saunders has 2.9 WAR over 1650 PAs, that’s below average.

    Average WAR in a season is 2, Saunders is a great backup plan, but we want a winning team. Give him better competition and hope someone is better than him.

    Ackley has 4.5 WAR over 1470 PAs. The past 2 seasons he’s managed 1.6 WAR, well below average. If I’m building a team, I’m looking to for simply average players at all OF positions, 2B, 1B, DH and C.

    There are plenty of backup players around the MLB that look like they could be average given more playing time:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=C

  47. Westside guy on September 30th, 2013 2:53 pm

    MrZ, when I had my wisdom teeth out ~ 20 years ago, they gave me Valium. And, you know, Valium would’ve made this season SO much easier to take!

  48. msfanmike on September 30th, 2013 2:53 pm

    And so it ends … AND SO IT GOES!

    The team will proceed conservatively and cautiously and will grind out every decision as if it will be a key decision. Inevitably the team will stink up the joint again next year. Billy Beane would have replaced 90% of the roster two or three times by now (that’s 180%-270% as a counting stat) and the team would have been no worse off … and likely would have been much better.

    There are a whole bunch of mediocre in-house options which in isolation would fit into roles on good teams. The problem is, the Mariners are littered with mediocre players. 1 top 50 WAR position player (if you nudge Seager up a slot – on Fangraphs) – while writing off the last 6 weeks of his season as an aberration.

    And one (fantastic) player who will eat up 25% or more of next years payroll. And Kuma. Come On … Who’s in charge of this shit!!!???

    Oh, that’s right, the guy who has been in over his head for quite while kissing up to two premiere ass-clowns.

  49. Westside guy on September 30th, 2013 2:56 pm

    Saunders has 2.9 WAR over 1650 PAs, that’s below average.

    Looking at career performance without weighting more recent performances more heavily is a big part of how we ended up with Raul, Morse, and Bay in the outfield this year.

    Saunders, 2012: wRC+ 108
    Saunders, 2013: wRC+ 98

  50. Dobbs on September 30th, 2013 2:57 pm

    “Take a peak at the numbers for Ackley and Saunders in the second half.”

    Smoak had a great second half multiple seasons, I’d rather not rely on smaller sample sizes to prove points.

  51. Dobbs on September 30th, 2013 2:59 pm

    “Looking at career performance without weighting more recent performances more heavily is a big part of how we ended up with Raul, Morse, and Bay in the outfield this year.
    Saunders, 2012: wRC+ 108
    Saunders, 2013: wRC+ 98″

    Ignoring defensive metrics is as well.

  52. MrZDevotee on September 30th, 2013 3:46 pm

    Westy-
    I like the Valium idea even more. I think being an M’s fan should automatically qualify you for anti-depressants and anxiety meds.

  53. jsa on September 30th, 2013 3:47 pm

    I suggest nothing gets fixed till we bring the ownership back to Seattle. He’s Dead Jim. Time to find an interested owner.

    I wish half the expense and effort that is being pissed away trying to get a basketball team were spent fixing the Mariners Entire Organization.

    If Nintendo decides to sell, there is no guarantee the franchise remains here.

  54. Will on September 30th, 2013 3:54 pm

    Time to give up on Smoak – He has 2,000 career PA’s and has been a replacement level player. He was essentially no better than replacement level this year. A first basemen with no power and below-average defense doesn’t have a place on the roster.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we looked to try and get Corey Hart to play first this year. Having missed the whole season, I imagine he’ll have to settle for a cheap, incentive-laden one-year deal; not to mention, he has ties to Jack from his Milwaukee days. Getting a solid +2 to 3 win player at a relatively cheap price makes quite a bit of sense especially since we have so many holes to fill.

  55. marcus_andrews on September 30th, 2013 4:36 pm

    “Ignoring defensive metrics is as well.”

    You’re ignoring his initial response where he states that Saunders is below average in center and above average in the corners which is exactly what defensive metrics say.

    I feel like there’s a delusion that good teams don’t have any players that are between 1-2 WAR and the only way to succeed is having 9 players who are at or above average. While yes, that would be great, it’s just not easy and not something the Mariners outfield is going to get rapidly.

    Look at all of the playoff teams in the AL for example, every team except Texas has exactly 6 position players that were worth 2 or more WAR (Texas had 5). That means that they’re starting three players below that. Michael Saunders won’t solve all our problems, and him as our best outfielder is obviously not a good thing. But he could be the 6th or 7th best starter on a playoff team and nobody would bat an eye.

    I know, that’s not exactly high praise, but there are signs that he could be better than that, and it’s unlikely that he’d be worse than that. Replacing Michael Saunders should be priority number 22 or so on the Mariners offseason agenda.

  56. bermanator on September 30th, 2013 4:44 pm

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if we looked to try and get Corey Hart to play first this year. Having missed the whole season, I imagine he’ll have to settle for a cheap, incentive-laden one-year deal”…
    ======================

    And the best-case scenario there is you have to solve the exact same problem next offseason, when Hart wants a multi-year deal.

  57. dantheman on September 30th, 2013 4:56 pm

    Was it really just two short years ago (a year in which the Mariners were 67-95!) that someone was writing such gems as:

    “Everyone can see the ground work being laid for a bright future, and it was the right call to keep the current front office in place to continue the work they’ve been doing.”

    Well, maybe not “everyone”. Some of us didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

  58. Mariner Melee on September 30th, 2013 4:57 pm

    When will this organization learn to read USSM. Indians make off-season moves endorsed by this site, Indians achieve desired results.

    Fact is, Zduriencik is only as good as his supporting cast, and he has–year in year out–fired his best people (Fausco, Engle, and Blengino). If we can expect more front office turn over this off-season, you can bet it surely will be to weaken the ever shrinking voice of reason.

  59. stevemotivateir on September 30th, 2013 5:11 pm

    Smoak had a great second half multiple seasons, I’d rather not rely on smaller sample sizes to prove points.

    Smoak never had a great second half multiple seasons. He had great Septembers. Big difference.

    The point about small sample sizes is still fair, but those two names specifically finishing on positive notes still supports my point… they’re not in the replace-me-know category–especially with Ackley as a second baseman and Saunders as a corner outfielder.

    Ignoring defensive metrics is as well.

    You must have missed his point.

  60. stevemotivateir on September 30th, 2013 5:30 pm

    Fact is, Zduriencik is only as good as his supporting cast, and he has–year in year out–fired his best people (Fausco, Engle, and Blengino).

    To be fair, Engle wasn’t fired. But him leaving probably had something to do with Guerrero getting canned. There’s certainly an argument that the front office has inspired, if not forced, some significant names to leave of Seattle.

  61. Breadbaker on September 30th, 2013 6:47 pm

    If one could know that Franklin Gutierrez would be healthy for a complete season next year, things would look different. Of course, that’s been the same chorus since 2010. Random luck has something to do with pennants, too.

  62. Don Money on September 30th, 2013 10:29 pm

    My biggest gripe with Wedge was his treating the younger players like seasoned vets, playing several of them with few breaks. I understand what he was attempting to do but I don’t agree with it. Smoak for one needed to be spelled more often, just look at how well he came back after a day or two off. Having a M McLemore type player and regularly giving starters a break, especially against tough pitching match ups for them, would have served this team much better. Again, I get what Wedge was attempting but he could have had a better record with these same players. He may have showed too much patience for his own good!

  63. African Mariner on October 1st, 2013 12:26 am

    Personally I would go the following route.
    Sign Tanaka. I have been looking at his numbers over his NPB career and he has improved each year.
    You then have Felix, Kuma and Tanaka as your front three. Paxton, Walker, Maurer and Ramirez slug it out for the final two spots and the two losers go to Tacoma as back up for injury and poor performance. There are your “7 starters”

    For DH sign ONE of Napoli, Beltran, Morales. My favourite is Beltran but I wouldnt think he would want to come to the Mariners. As for Smoak I am not sure as I am willing to wait a year for DJ Peterson. I wouldn’t rely on Montero for anything much at the moment.

    As for catcher. Dave is right. More time in the minors would do Zunino some good. Two of Dioner Navaro, John Buck and Ramon Hernandez.

    As for the outfield I would keep Ackley and Saunders and acquire Curtis Granderson and someone like David de Jesus. Almonte would be waiting in Tacoma for injury or poor performace. I am still a big fan of Guti when he isn’t injured. I would only sign him as a bench player.

  64. djw on October 1st, 2013 6:40 am

    As for Smoak I am not sure as I am willing to wait a year for DJ Peterson.

    DJ Peterson is 21, has about 200 low level professional plate appearances, and a busted jaw. Suggesting we can just assume he’ll be ready for prime time at the beginning of 2014 is delusional optimism. Did you notice what happened when we brought up Zunino early?

  65. Westside guy on October 1st, 2013 7:56 am

    It really, REALLY bugs me that Jack has already stated Zunino is the starting catcher for 2014.

  66. African Mariner on October 1st, 2013 8:20 am

    Djw.
    Bad typing on my part due to annoyance about the whole thing. I should rather say I am not sure that we should rely on smoak for a year untill DJ peterson is hopefully ready in 2015 or if we should get someone else.

    See above regarding catcher.

  67. aprilbaseball on October 1st, 2013 3:16 pm

    It’s all I can do to keep myself falling into apathy for the Mariners and their endless re-tooling. Like most of us here I’m a lifelong fan, hoping against hope of meaningful baseball beyond August. I’m just enough of an idealist to maintain a shabby sense of nobility in my dedication to the M’s, but apathy would be such sweet relief. There’s always next year.

    Thanks to you and your team, Dave, for another season of insight, education and assistance. You help me refine and define my thoughts toward the M’s. USSM is always a part of my baseball season.

    Let’s get you an application for the M’s GM position, Dave.

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