Lincoln Speaks, Hope Disappears

Dave · October 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Howard Lincoln talked to the media today. Ryan Divish did the yeoman’s work of transcribing the entire conversation, 44 minutes worth of talking on a wide variety of subjects. Other people are going to summarize the comments, or offer commentary on the comments, but Divish gives you the full context, the full question and answer session, and you should read the whole thing.

I’m going to keep my comments about his comments brief, because its 2:30 in the morning and I need to go to bed. Also, because I wanted the organization to have learned something from 2013. I hoped there’d be some soul searching, some wondering about what happened, and perhaps a questioning of whether their plan was flawed from the start. Instead, I saw this.

You’ve had a few days now to look back, what were your thoughts on the 2013 season?

This was the most disappointing and frustrating season I’ve ever endured without any question.

Worse than 2008?

Yeah, really. I don’t judge it just by wins and losses. And the reason I say that, at spring training our expectations were very high. And I think that was justified. You were there. This looked really good.

Still believes that spring training matters? Check.

If I go around the infield (Kyle) Seager, (Brad) Miller, (Nick) Franklin, (Justin) Smoak, (Mike) Zunino – I think that’s our future.

Justin Smoak, still part of the core of this team’s future? Check. (Also, Franklin mentioned but not Ackley, which you can probably read into.)

So I think I’m very optimistic about the future. I think there were some good things. For one thing, I just realized today that we hit more home runs than any other team in the league except Baltimore. That’s unbelievable. I actually had to check that statistic.

Still focused on home run totals? Check.

Certainly, the young talent is coming up or is already up. I’m very confident about the organization going forward. I think it’s regarded in major league baseball as a really good organization. And I think if you were to ask Bud Selig, he would tell you that. So that’s how I feel.

Still completely oblivious to the actual view of the organization within the game? Check. (Oh God, the Bud Selig comment. I can’t even…)

How do you sell this team to fans? If two fans were standing here right now and asked, ‘Why should we spend our money to go see your product?’ What do you tell them?

First I’d tell them that when you get to Safeco Field you are going to have a safe, friendly environment. You are going to be sitting in a first class ballpark. You are going to get great entertainment. It’s a great place to come whether it’s at the Pen or at Edgar’s or wherever. So there’s a lot of things going on at Safeco Field for the fans to enjoy besides watching major league baseball. And I would point that out to them. Many of our fans are thinking about things other than just what’s on the field, so we have to provide a really good entertainment experience across the board as well as getting that major league team to perform.

Still totally unaware of how patronizing this answer is to people who are actually fans of baseball and don’t just treat Safeco Field as a distracting place to show off their wealth? Check mate.

I’m going to go to bed now. I may or may not punch myself in the face on the way there.

Comments

136 Responses to “Lincoln Speaks, Hope Disappears”

  1. Bender on October 1st, 2013 11:56 pm

    Oh. My. Lord.

    How long does this guy get to be bad at his job before he goes away? How low do we have to put up with this, and subsidize it, before there will be a change? How bad does attendance have to get?

    I just don’t understand how he can go home at night and look in the mirror.

  2. Paul L on October 2nd, 2013 12:15 am

    Why do people assume he should feel bad? The real issue is that he’s apparently being kept on, and rewarded, because he’s fulfilling the goals of his bosses – the owners.

    When have we seen them care about putting a winning team on the field, other than to get a ballpark built? Other than that era, and the few years milking the talent acquired during it, there has been no indication from ownership that they’re interested in anything more than a) getting a ballpark built b) generating a profit from operations, which I assume goes toward paying off their portion of said ballpark debt.

    It’s business as usual.

  3. eponymous coward on October 2nd, 2013 12:16 am

    So there’s a lot of things going on at Safeco Field for the fans to enjoy besides watching major league baseball.

    Because we all know that the major league baseball the M’s play isn’t going to be enjoyable…

    Man, the jokes, they write themselves.

  4. Carson on October 2nd, 2013 12:16 am

    Why doesn’t he just stay hidden? The more this guy flaps his jaws, the more I wonder what the hell I’m doing investing so much emotion into this team.

    The part where he talks about he and his rich pals joking about the misfortunes of the team on their fishing trips? Seriously, Howard? Do you not realize how uncaring you sound when you say that shit?

    And “Eric has moved on to greener pastures” has for be the grandest Freudian slip of all time.

    Now, I’m just some schlub blogger who cares more about watching the product on the field than hitting on sweet honeys while drowning myself in Axe body spray and sucking down Coors Lights in the Pen. So, clearly, I’m low on his list of folks to placate to.

    Sports passion is such a terrible trap. I wish I could join Wedge in those greener pastures.

  5. eponymous coward on October 2nd, 2013 12:18 am

    The Seattle Mariners: proving Talleyrand right about learning nothing and forgetting nothing.

  6. ooter on October 2nd, 2013 12:20 am

    My policy with poorly run teams is to not follow them in any way that generates revenue for the team, with the hope that cutting into their revenue will incentivize change. I don’t buy their merchandise, I don’t watch games through official mediums, I don’t even wear old merchandise because that promotes the team to other people and indirectly helps the franchise.

    I’m just one person, and I know my effect on the Mariners’ revenue is negligible, but at least I feel like I’m part of the solution and perhaps if enough people think like me, things will change.

  7. Typical Idiot Fan on October 2nd, 2013 12:26 am

    If I didn’t think Lincoln had too much say in what happens with the everyday operations of the team, I wouldn’t worry about what fluff comes out of the mouth of a talking head. Which is basically my way of saying “we’re fucked.”

  8. Typical Idiot Fan on October 2nd, 2013 12:50 am

    Hey Dave, how do you reconcile these comments by Howard Lincoln with what Jack Zduriencik said on Sunday and his radio interview today?

    Seems like Jack is recognizing where he screwed up to me. I’m not sure how much to take from it yet, but he’s saying a lot of good things at the moment. Naturally, we’ll have to wait and see whether they do anything different, but at least he’s being upfront about a lot of things.

  9. GLS on October 2nd, 2013 1:07 am

    This is great, actually. The more Lincoln is forced out of the shadows and shows his ineptitude, the more likely we are to see a change.

    Lincoln is a caretaker CEO. It’s been clear to those of us that follow the team closely that he doesn’t know anything about baseball, but now it’s out there in a big way. And the comments about Safeco Field are just priceless.

    My hope is that some of the other partners in the ownership group begin to stir themselves and start talking to one another and agitating for change. This sort of thing has to be embarrassing to the organization and to the partners personally. And yes, I understand Nintendo owns a majority of the shares, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t at all answerable to the other partners. Partnership agreements in billion dollar enterprises don’t work that way.

  10. amnizu on October 2nd, 2013 1:17 am

    Nail in the coffin for me, I’m done with this team until new ownership.

  11. Marinerman1979 on October 2nd, 2013 1:59 am

    So apparently he still knows nothing about baseball, and he doesn’t give a fuck about baseball fans. But he does give a fuck about those who go to safeco and think about things other than baseball.

    Again, they’re making money. The only thing this greedy fuck cares about.

  12. spokaneman on October 2nd, 2013 4:39 am

    Yea, I’m done. I read the whole Divish interview before I came over here. I tried my hardest to read it objectively and not as a raging angry fan. That went out the window when the product on the field was like the fucking 15th thing he listed as to why to come to Safeco.

    I didn’t see one REAL answer to any question. All company bullshit they think they can still feed us like we are blind pigs.

    Watching the Pittsburgh game was sooooo refreshing. It reminded me why I love baseball so damn much. This interview just crushed any fleeting hope I had of ever seeing that here again.

  13. Rainiers_fan on October 2nd, 2013 4:46 am

    I think we as poassionate fans have a disconnect with guys like Lincoln. Lincoln is a lawyer and was previously chairman of Nintendo. Clearly his main concern is profitablility. In that sense he is doing exactly what he was hired to do. I don’t see him being fired as long as what he is doing is consistent with the goals of the company. We as fans want a winner and while the two goals are not mutually exclusive, you don’t always have to win to make money. I can’t help but think if you ranked the teams we fans respect the most we would see Tampa near the top of the list, not sure you would see Tampa in the same spot on Lincoln’s list. Like it or not, and obviously as a fan I abhor it, Lincoln is being well compensated for doing exactly what he thinks he should. It sucks but unless the PR nightmare gets really bad he is here to stay.

  14. djw on October 2nd, 2013 5:28 am

    I generally counsel not paying attention to anything above the GM level, because we don’t and can’t know (maybe some with inside info do, but they’re not sharing) how much influence these people have over the direction of the team. I further maintain that the routine and increasingly unquestioned insinuation that they don’t actually want to win games, to the extent that it is possible to do so given the resources they’ve made available–is bonkers-crazy insane, since even if they only care about profit, winning will actually increase it slightly. (It’s possible their preference for wins over losses is extremely modest, of course). And, finally, I continue to question the causal logic used by those who seem to think denying the team their tiny bit of revenue is more likely to contribute to positive change than it is to make things worse–teams make a nice profit via a low attendance low payroll profit-sharing strategy, and further cratering of attendance could lead to that just as easily as it could lead to productive regime change.

    But I’m going to put all that aside for the moment to join every other serious fan in telling Lincoln he can kiss my shiny metal ass for those comments about Safeco field. How can I have anything but contempt for someone who treats me, and the other fans who actually care about baseball, with such contempt? What an *sshole.

  15. ripperlv on October 2nd, 2013 5:38 am

    What did you really expect?

  16. UofWAlum on October 2nd, 2013 5:44 am

    Ugh. I had to check to make sure it wasn’t April 1st…Wow…I have been a fan of the team since day one–I was in little league in second grade and started the same year as the M’s so i have always felt a connection to this day and a few months shy of 45 years old now. I moved to Chicago in August 1995 (yeah that August after years of suffering, was hard to leave then as things were getting exciting). I am very thankful for the early days of the internet as I was still able to follow the team closely. I am on the east coast now and still follow the team. This is the first year I have not shelled out the $$$ for the baseball package to get televised games. This is also the first season i havent followed them as closely through the dog days and september call ups. They are still my childhood home town team but I did not have the desire to seek them out as i have ever season prior.

    I am just blown away with some of these answers.

    Don’t get me wrong, Safeco is a beautiful park and I am happy they are getting new fans–it would be nice if baseball was a primary focus.

    Maybe it is the stubborn Norwegian in me but I will still follow them.

    There is a comedian that has a bit in which his friend butchers a classic saying that I usually think of as soon as the hot stove starts to warm up—”hope springs a turtle” Unfortunately my hope for this spring does not seem as eternal as prior.

    Thank you to the authors and those making comments over the years. I enjoy the perspectives and sense of humor. This is one of the ways i still feel connected to the Mariners from the Philadelphia burbs. There is a saying that “misery lovers company”—I am clinical psychologist and the more correct saying is that “Misery loves miserable company.”

    Again ugh.

  17. built2crash on October 2nd, 2013 5:45 am

    Did he really just imply that people mostly come to the park for reasons other than baseball? He should maybe look at the attendance numbers from when the mariners were a decent club. Top 5 in baseball if I remember correctly. I punched myself in the face, luckily I hit like a girl.

  18. Jopa on October 2nd, 2013 6:34 am

    I’m not surprised by any of this. He been saying the same thing every year, the “quality of the family experience at Safeco” and the “product on the field” bits.

    And I disagree with those who write that Lincoln obviously wants to win because that increases profit. If you asked Lincoln if he preferred a) a $15 million operating profit and missing the playoffs to, b) a $5 million operation profit while making the playoffs, he would choose “a” every time.

    If you asked the fans, would you prefer a perennial contender and a slightly less comfortable stadium or a perennial loser and a great family experience at Safeco, they’d all prefer a winning team.

    There’s no logic with this guy.

  19. casey on October 2nd, 2013 6:38 am

    I love the different goals and values coming from the CEO, the General Manager, the coaching staff, and then the players, and of course the fans (and we know there are fans who thought Raul was MVP to fans who think Raul should be gone by tomorrow).

    The true hot seat in all this is the GM who has to get the baseball and the ownership on the same page while producing a product that people want to buy 162+ times a year – we may think this is a dream job (one of the reasons I mess with fantasy baseball) but am increasingly in awe of the job the GM has to do to pull off a team like this year’s Oakland A’s.

  20. refusetolose on October 2nd, 2013 6:54 am

    Obviously that was not good to read, for all the reasons stated above.

    The homerun totals are a waste, I’d rather the team get some speed that can go First-Third, score from first on the off chance the M’s hit a double or steal a bag.

    But to say spring training doesn’t matter I think is naive. Now if a guy goes 4-7 and you label him Babe Ruth, then no, that’s moronic, but it guys get statistically significant innings or ABs, I think it’s important and a good gauge.

  21. Zero Gravitas on October 2nd, 2013 7:07 am

    That is an incredible interview. Amazing he thinks he can talk about the team having a good reputation in baseball. After all the losing, having to move the fences in, and the Wedge departure debacle it will be a miracle if they can attract any decent talent here. I don’t even see him as greedy really, this man is simply delusional.

  22. casey on October 2nd, 2013 7:08 am

    I am guilty of posting above before reading the whole interview – went and read it top to bottom – Ryan did a nice job asking some tough questions and covering a lot of ground. After reading the whole thing I thought Howard had a pretty good feel for things; including the line between CEO role and responsibility and GM’s job and responsibility. I don’t think you can cherry pick one or two of his comments without including the full conversation. Clearly he has his view of things – which as with most of us doing jobs is that we are generally doing good work.

    Interesting though – I don’t think Ackley got a single mention in whole interview. He seems very focused on Zunino and Miller – have to think a lot of his player information comes from Z.

    Also interesting were his comments on Wedge and also Nintendo ownership group and their plans.

    I think the whole interview is a must read going into off-season – that is if you care at this point.

  23. Gritty Veteran Poster on October 2nd, 2013 8:01 am

    The sad thing is I think he’ll get off more or less scott free for his 45-minutes of clueless. There’s really nobody in the Seattle media outside of the blogosphere that’s going to spend much time breaking it down even as much as Dave did briefly in the wee hours of the morning. It’ll get a passing mention, maybe some mild derision and then it’s back to analyzing the matchups for Seahawks vs. Colts this weekend.

    There are major league cities where this guy would be run out of town. His answer to “How do you sell this team to the fans?” sums it up perfectly and proves the priorities of this organization aren’t baseball related.

    I’m always going to be an M’s fan. I’ll still continue to spend way too much time reading about and following them. I might be able to name half the AA roster, but although it’s cliche to say it, I won’t give them a penny of my money until there’s a change in ownership.

  24. Ralph Malph on October 2nd, 2013 8:02 am

    Trust him, folks. He’s been successful at everything he’s ever done.

  25. eponymous coward on October 2nd, 2013 8:08 am

    And I disagree with those who write that Lincoln obviously wants to win because that increases profit. If you asked Lincoln if he preferred a) a $15 million operating profit and missing the playoffs to, b) a $5 million operation profit while making the playoffs, he would choose “a” every time.

    You’re not getting the point djw is making. Attendance (and the revenue derived therefrom) is directly related to team performance. If Lincoln was about MLB profit maximization while not caring about the product on the field, he would be going the Marlins/Astros route of eviscerating the roster such that you can get a consistent profit with a horrible team, because MLB profit-sharing covers all the expenses, and any attendance revenue from the 10,000 people who show up for the family-friendly atmosphere on a warm Saturday night in July is pure profit.

    The M’s are obviously not pursuing this strategy, because having Felix Hernandez making 20-25 million on your team does not actually maximize your profit when you’re a bad team (he should have been cashed in for prospects years ago). The amount they are spending in payroll could easily work for a playoff team (in recent years, Baltimore, Arizona, Pittsburgh, plus Oakland of course). The problem is they’re horribly managed in their baseball operations and don’t know how to produce wins out of their baseball operations, not that they don’t care about the wins the baseball operations produce, with the added bonus of being completely deluded about the quality of their baseball operations.

    Clearly he has his view of things – which as with most of us doing jobs is that we are generally doing good work.

    Allow me to introduce you to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  26. onetreehugger on October 2nd, 2013 8:25 am

    I didn’t find this interview too upsetting. In the Mariner’s organization where the owner took pretty much no part in decisions, Lincoln, as his representative, plays the part that most owners do.

    I’ve always believed that many owners aren’t experts on baseball and don’t have much to do with the running of their teams. They hire a general manager to run the team, and only give their input occasionally. Sure, some owners are more active (like Nolan Ryan), but general managers and fans mostly view them as interfering in the running of the club, which is considered a bad thing. Most fans want owners who write really big checks, stay out of the way, and keep quiet. All they’re expected to know about baseball is how big a budget it takes to be competitive, and the general manager tells them that.

    So if the Mariner’s owners’ rep doesn’t know much about baseball or follow the stats of the team, that mostly means they’re acting like many real owners, and as Bart used to say, “Don’t have a cow, man!”

  27. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 8:49 am

    Actually, I want a owner who is very involved, =and= knows his sport. Like Mark Cuban.

  28. bergamot on October 2nd, 2013 8:52 am

    It’s sad that a intelligent person can spend decades on a job and still learn nothing.

  29. Mike Snow on October 2nd, 2013 8:53 am

    While it’s not necessarily essential for a CEO to be well-versed in operational details – why, why does he keep talking about the international draft?

  30. Adam S on October 2nd, 2013 9:00 am

    Haven’t read the whole transcript but from Dave’s highlights the summary is that Lincoln is clueless about what it takes to win baseball games. He’s just a typical fan. This somehow is news?

    The question is whether Zduriencik understands what it takes to win games.

  31. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 9:13 am

    The question is whether Zduriencik understands what it takes to win games.

    And has the power.

  32. killeverything on October 2nd, 2013 9:14 am

    @Adam S, sure Z knows what it takes to win games…..homeruns!

  33. dantheman on October 2nd, 2013 9:18 am

    “The amount they are spending in payroll could easily work for a playoff team (in recent years, Baltimore, Arizona, Pittsburgh, plus Oakland of course). The problem is they’re horribly managed in their baseball operations and don’t know how to produce wins out of their baseball operations, not that they don’t care about the wins the baseball operations produce, with the added bonus of being completely deluded about the quality of their baseball operations.”

    I think this is exactly right. It isn’t that they are trying to produce a bad baseball team, it’s that they are clueless as to how to produce a good baseball team, particularly in light of the very high value they place on giving fans a wonderful ballpark experience (disconnected from actually winning baseball games which I am sure is regarded as the “product” on the field). Given this approach, one can only question ALL of the personnel and “baseball” decisions these people make.

  34. bermanator on October 2nd, 2013 9:32 am

    Parts of the interview make more sense if you view it as PR, which in Lincoln’s view it is.

    I’m not worried about the Smoak comment at all. First of all because I still think he could become something, and second because that’s just typical management-speak– what organization doesn’t say they like their youngsters and the future is promising?

    I’m not at all bothered by the “people like our organization” comment, and am surprised that Dave called that out. Again, what’s he supposed to say? How many longtime management types in business are willing and eager to say that their organization is down and it doesn’t rank very high, particularly if they are catching flack for their performance? Also, it’s an incredibly vague comment. “I think it’s regarded in major league baseball as a really good organization” — that could be by news publications, GM offices, ushers, fans, ticket-takers or mascots. I’m sure some people, somewhere, have called thus a very good organization.

    What I’d be more worried about are things like the home run comment, which came out of nowhere and imply another roster built to hit home runs and do little else.

  35. djw on October 2nd, 2013 9:40 am

    Eponymous coward; that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    People who keep darkly intimating owners are intentionally making the team bad and care only about profit aren’t paying any attention to how this is done. It’s not consistent with 90-110 payrolls, it’s not consistent with Felix Hernandez’s contract. We can look at teams clearly following this strategy (today, we’ve got Miami and Houston; Minnesota did it for years), and what their owners do doesn’t resemble what M’s ownership is doing.

    It almost makes it sadder that this is what their “trying” looks like.

  36. Badbadger on October 2nd, 2013 9:45 am

    I think this (like most/all sports interviews) is fluff that can be ignored.

    As to the Spring Training stuff, what was he supposed to say. “Gosh, we came to spring training with a bunch of old DH’s and I knew we were screwed”? He had to say he thought we’d be good because the only alternative would be saying he thought Jack did a terrible job in the off season and he just renewed him.

    The Smoak comment is a bit concerning, but he’s trying to project optimism by naming young players.

    The home run stuff is just trying to find a positive point. And you can hardly expect him to say “we’re a joke and everyone knows it.” I read all this a positive spin to help sell seasons tickets more than anything else.

  37. amnizu on October 2nd, 2013 9:46 am

    > It isn’t that they are trying to produce a bad baseball team, it’s that they are clueless as to how to produce a good baseball team.

    I said I was done with this team, but this blog is like crack I can’t stay away.

    Leadership mindset and competency matters in every part of an organization. You see this in all major league sports and baseball is no exception.

    From Mr. Lincoln’s comments it appears to me the organization’s focus is on building a regional attraction not a competitive MLB roster. If the CEO’s focus is on building the Disneyland of MLB parks then every season is going to feel like a never ending rid on it’s small world. It was fun the first 10 times, but I really want to get off now please.

  38. currcoug on October 2nd, 2013 9:54 am

    I have been pretty critical of Dave this year, but I completely agree with the tone and content of this analysis.

    Most ignorant Lincoln quote:

    “And so, for whatever reason — injuries, or this or that, the vagaries of the game — it’s been a very, very frustrating season.”

    Most depressing Lincoln quote:

    “But I am determined to get this thing turned around before I go to my grave.”

  39. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 10:04 am

    (I didn’t know that USS Mariner was reprinted on Seattle P-I. I was reading up on the Seahawks — an actual very good organization — and discovered on Sports page 1, Latest News, the top story: “Lincoln Speaks, Hope Disappears”. Very good, USS Mariner; and it’s good for everybody who cares about intelligent commentary on the Mariners. Average fans are exposed to this; Howard Lincoln is exposed, too.

    Ten years ago, I would have never expected this.)

  40. Steve Nelson on October 2nd, 2013 10:23 am

    Do you have faith in this plan, right now, the way it is?

    Yeah, I do. When we hired Jack Zduriencik, we hired him primarily as a talent evaluator. He did not have any experience as a general manager, so he’s had to learn on the job. But as a talent evaluator, I think he’s done a superb job in the area of scouting, both professional and amateur scouting, there were a lot of changes there for the good. He’s done an excellent job in the amateur draft and the international draft and when I say that, you have to rate the first round picks but the subsequent rounds.

    This response was the killer for me. This says straight out that Lincoln and Armstrong are deciding the baseball operations philosophy for the organization. Instead of hiring a baseball operations executive with the authority to come in and do whatever is needed, they are the ones who are deciding what is wrong and what the blueprint is. The hiring a GM is then based on finding someone to implement their blueprint.

  41. Steve Nelson on October 2nd, 2013 10:31 am

    @ onetreehugger on October 2nd, 2013 8:25 am

    I didn’t find this interview too upsetting. In the Mariner’s organization where the owner took pretty much no part in decisions, Lincoln, as his representative, plays the part that most owners do.

    I’ve always believed that many owners aren’t experts on baseball and don’t have much to do with the running of their teams. They hire a general manager to run the team, and only give their input occasionally. Sure, some owners are more active (like Nolan Ryan), but general managers and fans mostly view them as interfering in the running of the club, which is considered a bad thing. Most fans want owners who write really big checks, stay out of the way, and keep quiet. All they’re expected to know about baseball is how big a budget it takes to be competitive, and the general manager tells them that.
    Except that is contradicted by Lincoln’s comments in the article. As I noted above, Lincoln is involves himself in diagnosing what the problems are and in what manner the club should move forward to address those problems. They are not delegating that function to the GM. They hired Jack to implement their vision of what needed to be addressed.

    While that is not micro-managing, it’s not at all hands-off and is much more active than just setting budget and letting the GM do his thing within that budget.

  42. henryv on October 2nd, 2013 10:37 am

    The M’s simply aren’t a professional baseball organization. They are basically the Washington Generals of the MLB.

  43. shortbus on October 2nd, 2013 10:39 am

    Mariners I wish I knew how to quit you.

    I don’t have any illusions about leaving the team behind, because as soon as the team begins making moves I’ll get roped right back in. Come next April I’ll be sitting in a seat at Safeco for the home opener.

    There isn’t really anything we few hardcore fans can do to make things better. Short of organizing an effective boycott, which has to my knowledge never succeeded in the world of fandom, we’re powerless.

    All we have is our voices and fortunately the Seattle blogosphere has the best in the country. Maybe the Mariners stopped reading local blogs after 2008. But given how frequently a certain Times beat reporter quotes the local blogs I suspect the insiders are aware of the opinions on this blog, LL and others. We know they’ve had an impact on the team in the past. Maybe the clear light of reason on USSM will once again illuminate the corporate boardrooms at Mariners HQ.

    So, Dave, please don’t punch yourself in the face too hard. We need you, man. After all, it’s not like you’re going to Cleveland.

  44. Zero Gravitas on October 2nd, 2013 10:56 am

    Geoff Baker has some commentary about the franchise value of the Mariners that is definitely relevant to this discussion:

    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/mariners/2013/10/01/mariners-have-more-than-doubled-franchise-value-while-losing-big/

    So Lincoln is actually doing a terrific job for some stakeholders of the team (ownership). We are just not the stakeholders his style really appeals to, since as fans we mostly care about wins and losses on the field.

  45. ivan on October 2nd, 2013 10:57 am

    Well this is a very revealing interview. I was pretty biased against Lincoln before I read it, and reading it did nothing to change my mind.

    I would offer one rhetorical question, though. I don’t claim to know the answer to it:

    If Lincoln is who Zduriencik has to answer to, and if Lincoln is calling the big-picture shots, do the commentators and commenters on this blog who have been calling for Jack’s head just maybe understand a little better now what Jack has to deal with?

  46. Liam on October 2nd, 2013 11:19 am

    I didn’t know that USS Mariner was reprinted on Seattle P-I.

    It’s not that great an honor. The P-I is automatically coping every article written to their own site for ad revenue.

  47. _David_ on October 2nd, 2013 11:39 am

    While I agree with Dave on the direction of the team, the disaster that the roster is, and Lincoln’s obliviousness to the organization’s failures and reputations, I think a few things here are blown out of proportion:

    Couldn’t the spring training comment just have been saying we thought they were good at the beginning of the season, as spring is when teams finalize their rosters and people project the season?

    The Ackley thing is concerning, but I’m not sure how close Lincoln is to things like whether to move Ackley back to 2b or leave him in CF. In the answer he gave, he was going around the infield and perhaps his recent memories of Ackley are as an outfielder.

    The homeruns things could have been fishing for good things to say, as are the the comments about the good stadium experience. He’s obviously skilled at PR and a smooth talker.

    I guess I’m just playing devil’s advocate, but this just seems like someone trying to defend their organization at every step.

  48. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 11:43 am

    Liam: Yeah, I wanted to delete that post three minutes after making it, realizing my mistake, but somehow my post stayed up, even though it said my post was deleted. Oh well.

  49. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 11:49 am

    He’s obviously skilled at PR and a smooth talker.

    I don’t know about that. Talker, yes; smooth, well…. The fan base is mad. Howard may be well advised to shut up for a while.

  50. stevemotivateir on October 2nd, 2013 12:01 pm

    I would offer one rhetorical question, though. I don’t claim to know the answer to it:

    If Lincoln is who Zduriencik has to answer to, and if Lincoln is calling the big-picture shots, do the commentators and commenters on this blog who have been calling for Jack’s head just maybe understand a little better now what Jack has to deal with?

    You can’t throw that out there and not expect a response! I would say that it better explains why we (still) have Jack. He’s not a victim. He’s just one of the stooges.

  51. casey on October 2nd, 2013 12:08 pm

    Not sure why I still have hope (in reference to Dave’s hope disappearing) – guess I love the young foundation the M’s are building around – I am drinking this part of the koolaid.

    I actually enjoyed this season as much as any in the last 5. We had our share of 9-0 losses (like game 162) which were just unwatchable but also had lots of games I really enjoyed – eg Miller hitting 2 homers the day before, or Taijuan’s first start, Ackley’s amazing catch in centrefield in Houston, most of Kuma’s starts.

    I already miss there being no Mariner games and although I sound like Rick Rizz here already look forward to winter moves and even more spring training.

    I know a sucker is born every minute….

  52. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 12:18 pm

    To me, the young foundation the M’s are building around is meh. Not one (to me) is a budding star; more like average at best.

    Of course, I am depressed; I realize that.

  53. mark s on October 2nd, 2013 12:23 pm

    “I may or may not punch myself in the face on the way there.”
    Me too, buddy. Me too.

  54. RaoulDuke37 on October 2nd, 2013 12:37 pm

    Want to walk away… want to walk away…

  55. smb on October 2nd, 2013 12:44 pm

    ” So there’s a lot of things going on at Safeco Field for the fans to enjoy besides watching major league baseball. And I would point that out to them. Many of our fans are thinking about things other than just what’s on the field, so we have to provide a really good entertainment experience across the board as well as getting that major league team to perform.

    This is about as enraging as it gets. I’d be pissed to hear that if I were a PLAYER on this team, much less a fan. I’m so disheartened by this type of commentary. I don’t know if these priorities come all the way from the top and the Japanese ownership majority or if it starts with the money-grubbing minority investors, but if so, then they saved baseball in Seattle just to torture us for eternity, apparently. I waffled a bit toward the end of this season and almost went to a game. Now I’m really glad I didn’t. These fuckers won’t get another red cent from me.

  56. Paul B on October 2nd, 2013 12:54 pm

    I tuned out awhile back. We used to have season tickets, years ago. This year I never went to a single game, and don’t even recall the last time I watched an entire Mariner game on TV.

    I won’t buy tickets until there is a major change. Will look elsewhere for baseball entertainment.

  57. currcoug on October 2nd, 2013 12:59 pm

    As my fellow Mariner fanatic (Topcat) just said:

    “Of course it is a safe, friendly environment…there’s no one there.”

  58. sawsatch on October 2nd, 2013 1:04 pm

    I never thought I’d say this:
    I’m going to start rooting for Oakland; the management that wants a quality baseball team and repeatedly succeeds in fielding one.

  59. StorminGorman on October 2nd, 2013 1:46 pm

    This is about as enraging as it gets.

    What’s so offensive about wanting a “safe” environment at Safeco Field (talk to the Dodgers or Giants about that)? What baffles is why anyone would think “safety” and “winning” are mutually exclusive. I’d like both.

    And look, the Mariners org chart is pretty clear: there are business operations, ballpark operations, and baseball operations. It’s obvious to me that Lincoln sees the “product” as a combination of all three. The guy is the CEO and a businessman. Not a fan. Not a baseball guy.

    This is media relations, the one thing the Mariners do worse than baseball. I wouldn’t get too worked up until there’s some actual news.

  60. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 1:47 pm

    “because at the end of the day, you can have a contract extension, and if you aren’t performing, we are going to let you go and we’ll eat that contract.”

    I’m still waiting for Lincoln to apply this rule to himself.

  61. qwerty on October 2nd, 2013 1:47 pm

    I expected him to answer that one of the highlights of the 2013 season was the stellar performance by the green hydro.

  62. terryoftacoma on October 2nd, 2013 2:04 pm

    Nothing in the Lincoln interview surprised me. He’s a typical company man responsible to several board of directors and they are happy with him. Jack is the day to day GM. Doing what he was hired to do. He doesn’t make big money decisions(FA’s) on his own.

    I hate to say this but I go to the games for baseball. Most of my friends and family go for the entertainment. I went twice this year. My family went five times. I follow baseball. They do not. I’m one. The family/friends are anywhere from 8 to 12. I might leave a game bitter. They leave a game happy.

    I gave up long ago trying to educated them. They don’t care about the stats. I’m called the baseball stat nut and why don’t I just enjoy the game. Grr

    Count up all the comments on this blog and we total less then a hundred and face it to a board of directors the negative comments of a hundred don’t mean a thing. I care. Most of you care. They are not listening.

  63. qwerty on October 2nd, 2013 2:17 pm

    So can we all agree now that HowChuck are the core of the problem? That thought has received pushback on this site in the past: “they were in charge in 2001 as well…”

    Blind Squirrel found his nut in 2001.

  64. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 2:29 pm

    Terryoftacoma: They may not listen to 100 of us. But that is assuming that we are the only fans who want new ownership. I haven’t been over to Baker’s blog, but I doubt people are singing Lincoln’s praise. And then that is only counting the fans that comment online at 2 sites. Attendance has been trending downward (although it ticked up a bit this year–lord only knows why). The point is that Lincoln has done NOTHING to deserve to continue as the CEO. And eventually the Board will have to listen to their declining fanbase.

  65. terryoftacoma on October 2nd, 2013 2:43 pm

    spankystout

    That’s my point we(bloggers) are a very small part of that fanbase. Most of the losses can be attributed to other causes besides a losing team. The economy and such. An increase even of just 40,000 proves that to them. Therefore, in their collective mind there is no need for change.

  66. evolvingcaveman on October 2nd, 2013 2:49 pm

    I’m blown away by his lack of credibility as a baseball guy who wants to win. We talk about how we want baseball rat type players but yet have Lincoln who cares more about the environment at the game then the quality of the team on the field? Truly pathetic.
    If you don’t want a World Series ring more then the love of your own family you’re worthless to me as Management/Owner of my favorite pro sports team. How can we want a title more then them? Amazing and sad.

  67. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 3:03 pm

    I understand you T of T, but the recent trend has been downwards, and they shouldn’t keep ignoring that fact. I haven’t spent a penny in Safeco, or on M’s merch in 3+ years. I can’t be the only one. And my TV viewing has declined tremendously. I used to watch as many games and I could squeeze in–now I just click over to see the score (a.k.a. how many runs the M’s are down) and then hand my wife the remote.

  68. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 3:10 pm

    *as I could squeeze in…* oops.

  69. ChrisFB on October 2nd, 2013 3:11 pm

    And yet we keep coming back. (I include myself in that ‘we’, but I mean everyone who writes about the Mariners, or who comments on said articles.)

    I would not be surprised one bit – might even let out a little cheer – if USSM just decided to skip this offseason altogether. Or even decided to stop writing about the Mariners indefinitely, until or unless a) the M’s offseason points to a credible plan, b) next year’s M’s are playing meaningful baseball after the All-Star Break, or c) Lincoln, Armstrong and Z are all gone.

    Just put up a simple black webpage, a paragraph explaining when USSM might come back, a link to this latest post (and to fangraphs…). Perhaps a little mailing list to sign up for, to get notice of when USSM is posting again.

    Because really, if the front office is this out of touch and tone deaf… if it’s likely there will be more bad moves made in the offseason… if it’s another winter and spring of writing about either prospects who aren’t getting developed well or castoffs and reclamation projects being acquired instead of quality baseball players… why bother?

    Why bother, Dave?
    Why bother, Jeff?
    Why bother, Marc?

    There’s 29 other teams to write about. You already do plenty of it at Fangraphs. That has to be more rewarding, capable of providing more insight, hell it’s probably at least DIFFERENT than the same cycle of fail we’ve seen from the M’s for years.

    I’m bandwagonning the Seahawks right now. Not because I know a damned thing about football… just because of the novelty of seeing a professional sports franchise in the Northwest that has talent, depth, commitment to its fans, respect in the league, the ability to mount a comeback (I gave up on this past weekend’s game, reflexively, when they were down 20-3 at the half… saw they tied it in the 4th q and then came back to watch them win in OT!). I’ve considered doing the same for the Sounders if soccer didn’t put me to sleep after 20 minutes. My point is, I’m so starved for seeing a competent baseball team in my hometown that I’m slowly picking up an entire separate sport to follow, simply because at least the football team actually seems capable of winning a championship, and not after going through a dozen “if this guy lives up to hype, if that guy has a career year”, etc. etc.

    I’m sure when spring training comes around I’ll fall for it all over again. When I have a chance to go to a game next April or May I probably will fall for it all over again, for all the entertainment reasons Howie alludes to here (though the practical-businessman aspect of it turns me off so much, I may stay away out of spite… “lots of things besides the team on the field”, sheesh).

    But this winter, if I know what’s good for me, I will have as little to do with the M’s as possible. I’d support and applaud it if USSM did much the same.

  70. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 3:14 pm

    terryoftacoma, they know that losing games equals dwindling attendance. That’s true from the beginning of time. Lincoln knows. That’s why he’s trying to distract attention.

  71. terryoftacoma on October 2nd, 2013 3:17 pm

    I know what you’re saying spanky. I do the same but the ratings are up, the attendence is up and yet we(the suppose educated fan)are buying/watching less. What does that tell a board?

    Should we stop screaming how stupid this front office is? Hell, no!! But we should recognize they aren’t listening to us. And probably won’t until we expand that educated fan base. I keep trying. We all should.

  72. wabbles on October 2nd, 2013 3:19 pm

    OK, so we’re second in baseball in home runs but 17th in total bases and 22nd in runs scored. Twenty second! despite being second in home runs. What does that tell you? That perhaps we couldn’t score runs EXCEPT with home runs (and probably a lot of those were solo or two-run homers) because we gave up OBP (and defense) for home runs? ARGH

  73. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 3:21 pm

    ChrisFB:
    You are right, I keep coming back. But each time with less and less cash for them. And I hope Dave never stops writing about the M’s! But a boycott would be kind of funny.

  74. stevemotivateir on October 2nd, 2013 3:22 pm

    @Chris

    You’re suggesting that after going through years of this bs, that they/we should roll over now?

    Fans still need a place to vent and a voice of reason. I would be incredibly disappointed if USSM went away–even on a short term basis.

  75. scraps on October 2nd, 2013 3:23 pm

    ChrisFB: You say “There’s 29 other teams to write about.” Haven’t you noticed that they know? Dave and Jeff have their Fangraphs gig, and this year especially the USS Mariner has taken a back seat. And that’s fine. (As though they needed my or your approval.)

  76. spankystout on October 2nd, 2013 3:24 pm

    Gotcha T of T. We are pretty much on the same page. I just can’t believe how awful Licoln really is, and I used to be okay with the ownership, but today is the day I completely bail on Lincoln. And not because of Dave’s title.

  77. djw on October 2nd, 2013 4:02 pm

    I’m bandwagonning the Seahawks right now. Not because I know a damned thing about football… just because of the novelty of seeing a professional sports franchise in the Northwest that has talent, depth, commitment to its fans, respect in the league, the ability to mount a comeback

    And is really smartly run! Russell Wilson is a total moneyball pick in the 3rd round. The mathematical projection systems had him at the very top of his QB class, tied with RGIII and ahead of Luck, and people just wrote him off because he’s too short. (See link below). Which really reminded me of how MLB teams used to have this BS theory that RHPs had to be over 5′ 10”. Their drafts the last few years have been unexpected, widely panned in real time, and wildly successful (Richard Sherman, one of the very best corners in the game right now, was hanging around in the 5th round!) I’m a pretty casual football fan but a big part of the appeal is how they’re the anti-Mariners. They’re Beane-in-2000 level ahead of the rest of the league.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/nfl-draft/2012/lewin-career-forecast-2012

  78. 11records on October 2nd, 2013 5:24 pm

    At least he didn’t blame the Mariners not winning the World Series in 2001 on 9/11.

    Oh, wait…

  79. smb on October 2nd, 2013 5:24 pm

    “The Mariners stress that they still value analytical decision making higher than ever, and do not see Tango’s departure or Blengino’s new role as a sign of a change in philosophical approach. Indeed, they’ve just brought on several new interns to serve in the baseball operations department, and guys like Andrew Percival and Casey Brett remain in the organization, working in their respective roles within Kingston’s group. The names and titles may be changing, but the Mariners suggest that this is simply part of the natural turnover of the game, and not any kind of organizational shift in decision making process.”

    http://www.ussmariner.com/2013/01/30/front-office-changes/

    Lincoln: “So I think I’m very optimistic about the future. I think there were some good things. For one thing, I just realized today that we hit more home runs than any other team in the league except Baltimore. That’s unbelievable. I actually had to check that statistic.”

    At this point the departure of Tango, the re-purposing (or neutering, if you prefer) of Blengino, the focus on hitting more home runs…I believe they have philosophically regressed. They’ve measured process by result and concluded the initial Z strategic trajectory was not the right strategy, and have chosen to veer to the left.

    I wish I were a Pirates fan.

  80. Breadbaker on October 2nd, 2013 5:28 pm

    Of course Bud Selig thinks the Mariners are a great organization. They never rock the boat, their ownership never tries to take the spotlight away from Bud, they never bitch when they’re screwed over as they are every single year in scheduling and travel, they put out the money to make MLB big in Japan and happily shared it evenly with the other 29 clubs, they performed the right kind of holdup of the public purse that Bud encourages all major league clubs to do, and look at all the great players in the playoffs they essentially gave away! What’s not to like?

  81. matthew on October 2nd, 2013 5:41 pm

    Hey Dave, Jamie Moyer was interviewed on NPR tonight. I’m guessing you have been inundated with this information, but just in case you weren’t, here is the link: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/02/228196553/at-49-jamie-moyers-pitching-career-goes-into-extra-innings

  82. Sports on a Shtick on October 2nd, 2013 9:31 pm

    Raging Dumpster Fire

  83. LongDistance on October 2nd, 2013 11:09 pm

    Talk about adding insult to injury.

    I’d like to see Lincoln selling the off-field benefits of the Safeco experience to the most baseball savvy person I know: my 14-year-old son.

    In terms of a fun family experience, an afternoon watching a pick-up game down in Lincoln Park, beats the Safeco experience, hands down.

  84. Slats on October 2nd, 2013 11:17 pm

    http://www.cantstopthebleeding.com/mariners-howard-lincoln-has-a-funny-way-of-accepting-responsibility

    Oh, Jesus, what a fucking disaster area this is. And in case you’re wondering why the Seattle Mariners seem so broken and hopeless, you have two choices: 1. Keep wondering; or 2. Read this doozy of an interview with Good Ship Mariner CEO/Chairman Howard Lincoln (above, on the hot seat) as conducted by the usually wonderful Art Thiel of the Seattle PI.

    As a long-suffering Mariner fan, almost every response provoked a full-body clenching, but please allow me copy/paste call this excerpt to your attention:

    Q: No one could have anticipated the injuries to Erik Bedard, but how he related to teammates, manager and the club regarding himself and those injuries had to have been surprising. Did something get missed in the evaluation of his personality?

    A: Because we were talking about such a big trade, a great deal of effort went into evaluating it. We talked to many who knew him on a day-to-day basis. With his record, he was one of the best MLB left-handed pitchers.

    Certainly his personality was discussed. Whether his manner in dealing with the manager or media is a bit strange, if he had pitched up to expectations, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But he was injured. Fortunately, we found the injury wasn’t as serious. We hope he’ll be ready by spring training.

    I was a little surprised by what I read in the paper, but no more than I am with peculiarities of some other players. There’s a wide variety of personalities.

    This kind of thing comes to the fore when a team is losing. When a team is winning, you can have 25 psychopaths down there and nobody cares.

    I think we did due diligence. In hindsight, was it good enough? Probably not. But his personality is not the key. The key is the injury. We better not evaluate this trade as a disaster until it plays itself out.

    I don’t know who Lincoln means by WE, but I’ll go ahead and call it the worst trade since the 10 year old Heathcliff Slocumb for Derek Lowe/Jason Varitek deal. Also, regarding the bit about not caring (or noticing) psychopaths on a winning ballclub, I would hasten to remind Lincoln that a famous psychopath named Al Martin played for that Mariner squad that won a league record 116 games in 2001.

    After throwing former Mariner GM Bill Bavasi under the bus for the 2008 meltdown, Mr. Lincoln admits that he serves at the pleasure of Mr. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s (former-ish) Chairman and President:

    According to Lincoln, Yamauchi’s batting average in player/personnel matters is “1.000? based on his involvement in the Kaz Sasaki, Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima deals. By my math that seems about .333 too high.

  85. ABP52380 on October 3rd, 2013 1:35 am

    I just, I mean, reaaaally?? I’m sitting here completely flabbergasted. So much time, energy and devotion to this team over the last 20 years and I’m officially to the point of complete indifference. I don’t care. Really, whatever.

    That interview completely solidified what we’ve all feared. This team is 100% about corporate profit, investment appreciation, tax deduction, and winning indifference. The disconnect, the total delusional mindset, the complete disregard for the fan base. He really thinks I attend M’s games for OTHER reasons than hoping for a winning team?? Howard, here’s an idea, take that new flat screen and shove it up your ass.

    Fuck it. Go Seahwks. Go Paul Allen. Go Huskies. Go Cougs. Howard, you can suck a fat one. This is now 2 years of not attending a game and I vow today that you WILL NOT get a single dime from me any way.

    I will support the Seahawks. A team, an owner, a franchise that is solely focused on producing a winning prosuct. And guess what (you giant douche), in the process they will sell out every game, unite an entire state, and produce franchise profits with the absolute top tier teams in the NFL.

    Sincerely,

    Go screw yourself

  86. vertigoman on October 3rd, 2013 8:39 am

    I finally got a chance to read the whole thing. I’m in the “what did you expect” camp.
    There is no conspiracy. It’s just bland boring corporate America.
    Yes I wish they’d step out of the way and let baseball people do baseball things.
    However he’s correct. The current ownership group did save basball in Seattle. For those of us old enough to remember we should always keep that in mind. Private local ownership sold out the Sonics, the grass isn’t always greener.

    Also, after his rather clueless list of family friendly attractions for would be mariner consumers he did mention the organizational rebuild (several times throughout the interview) and admitted it’s taken longer to bare fruit than he’d hoped.
    Years ago everyone complained about their quick fix approach, give them some credit for at least attempting to do it the right way.
    This was a nothing interview. There is nothing here that has changed my opinion of ownership. It’s far from ideal but it isn’t the end of the world either.

  87. Eastside Suds on October 3rd, 2013 10:18 am

    Well, this is part and parcel of the mess we call the Mariners. However, I truly believe upper management knows exactly what they are doing. Which makes it even more depressing really. This organization, except for a few blind squirrel moments, seems painfully oblivious to the wants of their fans as far as wins and losses. As we have witnessed for decades, winning and putting a competitive team on the field is secondary to breaking even in economic terms.

    It is so true that we are not a Houston, Miami or Minnesota in that we are gutted every few years due to payroll restrictions. There is enough money to compete with the vast portion of MLB teams. Maybe not the Yankees, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers, but we can match most other organizations very well each year due to a strong fan base (albeit…most are in hiding or have bags over their heads right now) and a lucrative TV contract.

    This being said, what is holding ownership and management back? Very simply, the more they spend, the less profit they make. And make profit they will. They are obviously quite satisfied with a break even year at the bank, even it it means 90 loss seasons.

    What is so depressing for the fans, is that this is a prescribed way of life for our ownership. Winning is not important. Breaking even and “having a good time at Safeco” is. So incredibly sad for an organization that could (and should) do so much more. Too bad Chris Hansen couldn’t buy this franchise and make winning an actual top-of-the-list goal. Better yet, Paul Allen….please save us!!!

  88. ChrisFB on October 3rd, 2013 10:21 am

    stevemotivateir – What I’m suggesting is that we collectively move to the final stage of a dying baseball fandom, more dreaded by dollars-and-cents types than any kind of outrage or anger: apathy. If even the diehard bloggers throw up their hands and stop writing about or following the team, it would be understandable.

    scraps – Oh I know updates here are a lot less frequent, and I approve and encourage such.

    djw – Yeah, the Wilson story is an intriguing one. I especially root for him as a fellow short man myself. :)

  89. Flaco on October 3rd, 2013 11:50 am

    I read the full interview, and like many have said, it’s no surprise. It is however painful to actually read. I might be in the minority here, but I dont feel like I should be greatful these guys saved baseball in Seattle. It might have been better to lose the team. Sure at the time it would be terrible, but if it saved me from watching this team the past 10 years I would be ok with that. I’m a baseball fan period, and I guess a Mariner fan by default. If the team was sold back then, my guess is we would probably have a new team by now, with new ownership.

  90. djw on October 3rd, 2013 11:55 am

    However, I truly believe upper management knows exactly what they are doing. Which makes it even more depressing really.

    the more they spend, the less profit they make

    I can understand an ownership group deciding to just have a shitty team with shitty attendance and making money on profit-sharing.

    But if you think that’s what they’re doing, why the mid-level payrolls for a very small handful of meaningless wins relative to the bargain-basement approach? It makes no sense. If they truly believe that spending more means profiting less, they’d spend more.

    The truth is more terrifying than your theory suggests: they’re authorizing middling payrolls in an effort to do better. They just suck at it.

  91. riversurge24 on October 3rd, 2013 12:32 pm

    Maybe the Mariners can get John Schneider to take over the GM duties and Pete Carroll to be the manager.. That combo seems to be working out for the Seahawks.

  92. terryoftacoma on October 3rd, 2013 1:23 pm

    I listen to CEO’s all the damn time. They all speak the same language. They talk about “the experience” and rarely about the product. They talk to a board and boards are interested in keeping costs down and making profit. I heard nothing that Lincoln said that surprised me.

    It’s the main reason I disagreed when people thought Jack should/would be fired. He’s doing what his bosses want building cheaply through the draft. I see the future and it’s much the same as the present unless we get really lucky.

  93. zackr on October 3rd, 2013 2:00 pm

    This is why I will go to my grave disagreeing with the people who think that this team’s problems can be fixed while whomever is calling the shots at the ownership level remains.

    A bad board of directors will absolutely cripple a company, as a CEO will inevitably need guidance or perspective from time to time – without too much interference.

    It’s clear that Howard runs this team like he is still at Nintendo, with zero sense of urgency or ability to change course when his hat is being handed to him.

    He’s going to run this team his way until he gets fired. Unfortunately, a well run company would have fired him long ago – because his way clearly doesn’t work. He’s just not self aware enough to notice.

  94. MrZDevotee on October 3rd, 2013 2:29 pm

    Wow, it’s so much easier to give a guy the benefit of the doubt when he DOESN’T open his mouth.

    I don’t even know where to begin.

    It’s looking more and more like Z is just a “yes man” to his higher ups, which is probably what Wedge was alluding to in his parting shots. Lincoln is more interested in having buddies than being successful at baseball. You see it in the way we brought back Griffey and Ibanez. He’d rather put a feel good story out there, that he can market and spin, than a competent team that does the work by itself. There’s a deep, disturbing arrogance under all the stuff he says, in a belief that you can bring in ANY players and if they develop right you should win.

    I mean, you put all Lincoln’s points together, and the big acquisition last year, NOT to help the team, but to placate fans, was the most expensive big screen TV in MLB. And an improved pickup bar. He’s already making excuses about how the TV contract isn’t gonna go to just the roster, it’s expensive building a great big giant TV, and a new development facility in the Carribean. It’s not like the Major League product is the most important thing they do!?

    You know, like when you blow a headgasket in your car, the right thing to do is get some of those spinning chrome wheels, and a bumping stereo system, and some fuzzy dice. No one will notice the car doesn’t actually drive, and is bondo-ed all the way around.

    And then the complete disconnect between what he does and how the team performs– in the full interview he talks about how well the front office operates. Probably the best in the league, he says. He actually SAYS that.

    Probably THE most underperforming team in the league the past 5 years, behind the Angels, and the front office thinks it’s doing not just a good, but a GREAT job.

    Wow.

  95. eponymous coward on October 3rd, 2013 3:11 pm

    I can understand an ownership group deciding to just have a shitty team with shitty attendance and making money on profit-sharing.

    But if you think that’s what they’re doing, why the mid-level payrolls for a very small handful of meaningless wins relative to the bargain-basement approach? It makes no sense.

    Exactly. There is no point in paying a player $25 million to help your team win 70 games, when you could trade him away for a bunch of cheap A-ball, not ready for prime time prospects and win 50 games like the Astros did. In fact, if you got the right prospects (HA!), this could work out decently (think of how Langston->Johnson->Garcia went).

    There’s no reason to put up a Potemkin village of respectability in roster and payroll, if your object is to maximize your profit in MLB. The MLB national rights money and shared revenue, plus the people who will see or watch ANY baseball, even BAD baseball, is more than enough to make you profitable.

    That’s obviously not the M’s objective. What it is is pretty clear:

    - we’re rebuilding around the kids
    - we like our veteran leadership and DINGERS!11! to go with that
    - we’ve been burned with those pointy-headed nerds in their basements with those advanced stats on some bad contracts, so no more of that, please
    - our theories can never fail, they can only be failed
    - senior management isn’t the problem, because look at our ballpark and family-friendly product!

  96. Jon on October 3rd, 2013 3:12 pm

    Based on Shannon Drayer’s interview, we can all get excited for next spring training’s theme: Fundamentals. With lots of drills. And it will be intense.

    Hoo boy.

    It gets better. We’re going to regularly work on fundamentals throughout the season just like we’ve seen other teams do.

    Despite all that, we were satified with Wedge and wanted him back.

  97. MrZDevotee on October 3rd, 2013 3:31 pm

    Jon-

    I can see it now…

    “2014 It’s About Sacrifice!”
    (with a sihlouette of a guy in the proper bunting position next to it)

    Although if it includes some shifts in the defense, I’m okay with that sort of “craziness”.

  98. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2013 4:18 pm

    I’ve become annoyed with Drayer this season. Not that I ever read her for analysis; but she has been rather vociferously in the “dingers!!” and “veterans!!” and “lol those dumb statheads think Raul’s only been worth 0.2 WAR even though he’s hitting lots of homers” camp this past season.

    It’s been difficult to set that aside when she gets back to the stuff she does well.

  99. sawsatch on October 3rd, 2013 4:36 pm

    Go A’s.

  100. bookbook on October 3rd, 2013 6:01 pm

    Ryan Divish made a good follow up post, along the lines of “what could we expect him to say?” Worth checking out, and reminding ourselves we take some of this stuff too seriously, since they won’t admit anything they don’t have to in a public interview.

  101. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2013 6:49 pm
  102. Longgeorge1 on October 4th, 2013 4:12 am

    The real sad part is that I think LincStong are trying to build a good team. They are just this bad. If they were just trying to make money they never would have signed a pitcher for Felix money. Meanwhile back to Cheney next year to root for the Rivercats (A’s AAA) when they make the trip up here. I would go to the “Safe” (has a whole new meaning now) to root for the A’s but LincStrong would just see it as a ticket that his plan sold.

  103. groundzero55 on October 4th, 2013 7:00 am

    Lincoln wants us to be Minnesota. A beautiful field full of terrible fans most of whom are just there to drink beer and be seen, post a picture of themselves on Facebook, buy a Twins hat etc. I’ve been there and the atmosphere is ridiculous.

    Only here instead of a star catcher and a rotation of nobodies we have a star pitcher and a lineup of nobodies.

  104. Eastside Crank on October 4th, 2013 8:46 am

    My take home is that Lincoln is the GM and Zduriencik was hired to be the farm director. Lincoln has to be in on the “big” decisions which I take to include free agents, trades, and top draft picks. Zduriencik’s primary job was to rebuild the minor league system. Unfortunately, Lincoln stinks as a GM and, for whatever reason, Zduriencik is not good at evaluating top end talent. This team will be a good test of just how accurate modern predictions can be.

  105. JasonS on October 4th, 2013 11:03 am

    Bottom line,as much as I and everybody else on here would like the team to instill a much more competent ownership, you cannot buy a team that isn’t for sale.

    All indications point to this ownership group never releasing their darth vader-like deathgrip over this franchise.

    Why should they? They make money every year and they know we are powerless to do anything about it, the only real plausible scenario I see that can force their hand is if the players went on strike.

    The likelihood of that is pretty much nil though.

  106. Coug1990 on October 4th, 2013 11:11 am

    Wow. Divish is even as clueless as Lincoln. His explanation is idiotic. His I should have asked better follow up questions was dumb and irrelevant. You either ask them or you don’t. He uses that logic to justify what Lincoln said. By that standard, if the Mariners had won more games, they would be in the playoffs. They didn’t and they aren’t. So, not sure where he is going with that.

    I could make many more points, but I will make just this last one. Yes, there are fans that go to games because of the ambiance. If Divish and Lincoln hadn’t noticed, attendance has been on a steady decline for many years. If there were all these fans that went to the game for the ambiance, then attendance would not have dropped.

    Divish disappoints me. He is one of those reporters talking about the youth being the reason for the team losing as well.

  107. Sports on a Shtick on October 4th, 2013 11:32 am

    Dusty Baker is available so we might dig down another level in the M’s basement.

  108. Steve Nelson on October 4th, 2013 12:28 pm

    “Dusty Baker is available so we might dig down another level in the M’s basement.”
    I had the immediate same reaction. He’s almost too good of a fit for the approach the Mariners seem to be taking.

  109. Mike Snow on October 4th, 2013 12:33 pm

    Wow. Divish is even as clueless as Lincoln. His explanation is idiotic. His I should have asked better follow up questions was dumb and irrelevant. You either ask them or you don’t.

    If you can do a better job conducting an interview, hey, there’s currently an open beat writer’s position at the Seattle Times. Divish knows his stuff quite well, including analytics. When talking to a CEO, the focus is naturally going to be on high-level issues around leadership and vision along with resources. Divish willingly included a self-critique of his performance (anybody who’s done an interview knows you can always identify things to do better in hindsight), there’s no call to slam him over it. What he got out of the interview is just as good as what Greg Johns or Jerry Brewer did.

    His explanation is trying to get across why Lincoln said the things he said, and what they mean in context. That’s not the same as trying to justify Lincoln’s position.

    Incidentally regarding ambiance, one of the important elements of ambiance at a game is the excitement of the crowd. So good teams have a better ambiance and draw more casual fans, not just those who want to see a winner. Whether attendance is going up or going down, it almost always involves a cross-section of the overall fanbase, not just one type of fan.

  110. zackr on October 4th, 2013 1:59 pm

    Coug1990 – I’m sure Divish would not only enjoy, but be enlightened if you were to sit and discuss with him your examples of his idiocy, given your vast experience in the field of journalism, and the politics existing therein. Clearly there is no good reason why he stayed away from obvious follow ups.

  111. casey on October 4th, 2013 2:49 pm

    I think the key point Z and Lincoln keep making is that they have put a core of young players in place that will sustain a winning team for years to come. They are “building the right way” – through the draft and from within.

    So when I think about this the young players (who are moving into their prime years) likely include Zunino, Smoak, Franklin, Ackley, Miller, Seager, Saunders, Felix, Walker, Paxton, Maurer, they had hoped Hultzen, from this year’s draft DJ Peterson (seems like he is 2-3 years away at best), maybe even include Montero, and maybe Almonte opened some eyes in a good way. Some will be excellent major league players for the next 5 years, some won’t.

    Hope in the future comes from believing core is a good enough foundation that if you add 2-3 pieces for 2014 and 2-3 more in 2015 then you have a winning team for a 5 or so year stretch. In 2013 they added Morales and Ibanez (still not sure why Joe Saunders didn’t work out better in 2013). In 2012 they added Kuma and maybe Wilhelmsen.

    1. So if I am hopeful it is because the foundation is enough to see key pieces added (or traded for) that will see more wins than the losses for a sustained period.

    If I am un-hopeful it is because:

    2. this core is not enough and has no chance of being the foundation of a winning franchise
    3. the core is maybe okay but these guys (Z and front office) are so f’ed up that they won’t be able to ever figure out what to do with the core much less the key pieces they need to add to mix to sustain a winning team as they have so well proven over the last 10-15 years.

    three options – think most here are in camp 3.

  112. dantheman on October 4th, 2013 3:23 pm

    “Exactly. There is no point in paying a player $25 million to help your team win 70 games, when you could trade him away for a bunch of cheap A-ball, not ready for prime time prospects and win 50 games like the Astros did.”

    Well, actually, there’s a lot of teams that have figured out how to win 70 (or 71) games without any $25 million dollar players on the payroll. The Mariners just aren’t one of them.

  113. Coug1990 on October 4th, 2013 4:43 pm

    Mike and Zackr, why the attitude? Divish is the one who said he should have asked the follow up questions. He is the one that said he messed up. I could be an ass and try to get into an argument with you, but that does not get us anywhere. I stand by what I wrote, it is irrelevant to come back now and say he should have asked those questions.

    He is the one who is trying to justify what Lincoln said. Instead of criticizing me, explain to me where I am wrong?

  114. Milendriel on October 4th, 2013 4:48 pm

    I don’t think the Felix signing is necessarily evidence that they prioritize winning. I’m not saying the Felix contract pays for itself in terms of ticket sales or whatever, but more the opposite–did they really have a choice to extend him? If they let him go, what remains of the fanbase would be gone for good. The organization clearly values marketable players like Griffey and Ibanez, and Felix is the most marketable of all.

    I’m not quite willing to say the organization doesn’t care about winning at all, but I don’t think it’s their top priority. I can’t think of any other comments I’ve read from a sports team owner/executive that weren’t 100% about wins and losses. It seems to me that the M’s, as a business, are taking a holistic approach–in other words, I don’t think their baseball ops and marketing operate independently. What other team has such an obvious former/local player fetish?

    Here’s a list off the top of my head of former/local players the team has acquired over the last decade or so:

    Ken Griffey Jr
    George Sherrill
    Richie Sexson
    Jason Bay
    Raul Ibanez (twice)
    Miguel Olivo (!)
    Endy Chavez
    Mike Morse

    There may be more I didn’t think of, and while there may be at least a (weak) baseball case for all those acquisitions, only the first Ibanez reacquisition wasn’t a horrific disaster. At this point, I’m betting it all on a Lincecum signing this offseason. Obviously, the M’s are bad at evaluating talent, but I think you can argue that that fact notwithstanding, the organization (at least to some extent) prefers recognizable/marketable/likable players to good ones.

    At any rate, this matches their marketing philosophy all too well–Edgar as a bartender, Mike Cameron’s retirement, Buhner and Wilson in the booth, constant references to 95/01. I’m sure other teams do things like this, but I can’t think of any where the marketing spills over so obviously into the baseball ops, and that’s a huge problem. I wouldn’t say they prefer clinging to old memories over making new ones, but rather that they can’t see that the clinging is impairing their ability to make new ones.

  115. Coug1990 on October 4th, 2013 4:52 pm

    Futhermore, in one sentence Divish writes that Lincoln is a smart man. He is an attorney and rehearsed his answers to say exactly what he wanted to say. Then, Divish says we fans all misinterpreted what he said and he feels bad about that. I heard him on KJR a few days back saying the same thing. Divish cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that Lincoln smart and rehearsed and that we interpreted incorrectly.

  116. MrZDevotee on October 4th, 2013 5:56 pm

    Coug-
    I have no iron in this fire, was reading with interest, but your last line of your previous post was confusing…

    “Instead of criticizing me, explain to me where I am wrong?”

    Huh? Aren’t those two the same thing?

    I personally found Divish’s article enlightening, not about the Mariners per se, but about what it’s like to try to get REAL answers out of a corporate CEO. I think that was the aim of his follow up, his attempt to learn from the process and get better– kinda like what we hope our young players will do with their experience this season.

    Not irrelevant if you’re interested in that kinda stuff. You’re just a victim of the unfortunate reality that you have to spend the time to read something first before you get to the realization that what you just read didn’t interest you.

    I found it fascinating.

  117. msfanmike on October 4th, 2013 6:45 pm

    I felt like this would be the opportune time for me to enter the discussion and to provide my valuable, relevant insight;

    Instead, I will say this:

    BJ Upton is horrible. I bet Atlanta is glad to have signed him while letting Bourn get away. He couldn’t hit .250 in AA ball right now.

    Kinda surprised the Mariners didn’t end up with him … Considering his career trajectory arc.

  118. Coug1990 on October 4th, 2013 7:21 pm

    Mr Z, in a way you are right. But, the argument thrown at me, the criticism is if you don’t like it, then I should write for the Times or Tribune. By that argument, Divish has never been president of a baseball team, so he should never give an opinion. Dave has not been a big league GM or manager, so what he writes is inherently wrong.

    Frankly, I had no problem with how Divish conducted himself in his original talk with Lincoln. He should have left it at that. But, he didn’t. Divish himself says he should have asked more questions. I didn’t say that, Divish did. I am saying it is irreverent to what he should have asked. What is important is what he actually asked because there are no do overs.

    Also, I got criticized by Mike for something I didn’t even do. I did not criticize Divish for not being hard on Lincoln.

    But, Divish is certainly justifying Lincoln’s thinking. Go back and read what Divish said about catering to the non-baseball fans.

  119. Monty on October 4th, 2013 9:09 pm

    Would Dusty Baker be a good fit with our present players? I am wondering if he would burnout the starting pitchers rather than helping them develop.

  120. Westside guy on October 4th, 2013 10:44 pm

    Dusty Baker – the manager of choice for fans who thought Eric Wedge was just too darn new school!

  121. Hunter S. Thompson on October 4th, 2013 11:54 pm

    Yeah Dusty would be the worse fit, and thus most likely choice for this team.
    Dusty struggles to break in young hitters, often sitting them to play obviously sub par veterans, (assuming for their grit) and has a history of shredding young arms.
    In Cincy his handling of young arms has been slightly better but he still likes to bury young bats for veteran goodness.

  122. casey on October 5th, 2013 6:45 am

    anyone else watch the A’s game last night – have no idea how on paper this team wins 96 games. My list
    * at catcher some guy named Vogt – has a career of 170 at bats in the majors
    * at first Daric Barton – and we think Smoak has been a disappointment
    * at second a slappy good fielding no bat Sogard, alternating with a decent singles hitter / on base guy but thirdbaseman in his last gig Alberto Callaspo
    * at ss an ageing always injured bust in both Houston and Boston and who was supposed to have limited range at ss and likely to play part time 2b Jed Lowrie
    * at 3b – this one is perfect you take a no hit ageing catcher and turn him into a 3baseman and give him a mohawk and he becomes an mvp candidate – 6 months ago I take Seager every day over Donaldson
    * in left is Cespedes – he hits the ball Puig like hard but struggled to hit .240 – I’ll take Kendrys’ bat
    * in center a middling decent field, takes some walks, runs a bit (20 steals) but is ageing and often injured Coco Crisp
    * and in right the hillbilly 5 tool guy who’s numbers and consistency is somewhat south of Mike Saunders
    * and of course their dh is a classic 4A hitter who couldn’t make it for either the Red Sox or Pirates – hmmmm makes me think of Travis Snider or even Mike Carp (wait a minute check Carp’s Bosox numbers this year)
    * now pitchers – all the big Baseball America stud types are mostly gone or are different because of serious injuries (Parker). Mix in a 42 year old ace (that sounds familiar) and a 36 year old closer.

    Been watching Fangraphs for some analysis because I am just not sure about whether it is smoke or mirrors.

  123. Bryce on October 5th, 2013 8:27 am

    Ask Mark Prior and Kerry Wood about Dusty Baker and handling young pitchers.

  124. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2013 9:23 am

    @casey

    Watch the 96 games they won and it should be pretty clear. In two words: balance and depth. You don’t win 96 games on luck.

    Marc already discussed the A’s success briefly in one of the last game threads. It’s worth a look.

  125. zackr on October 5th, 2013 9:53 am

    Coug1990 – I haven’t had time to carefully read your statements, but it’s easily evident that you want some feedback.

    Your initial statement comes off a bit like you’re a high school kid or guy/girl in your early 20′s who thinks you have everything figured out.

    You are not assuming that Divish is a reasonably intelligent person, and not heeding the idea that there is more to the dynamic than you are aware of.

    Most of the statements here are venting, which is fine. Your statement is insulting, arrogant and overly simplistic, and that is why you received a few negative responses.

    Think through Divish’s points and position
    1) He has zero power in the situation.
    2) 50 percent of his job is having access, which he would destroy by acting like a jerk.
    3) Lincoln clearly conveyed that he is not in charge of the baseball end of the business as that is not his expertise. Thus pushing him on those issues would be like asking an advertising VP at microsoft why their code sucks.
    4) Trying to get Lincoln off his bullet points is futile.
    5)Lincoln is extremely intelligent (If you have met a Pres or VP of a very large company, you would understand that).

    And finally, even if for some reason Divish was able to get Lincoln off topic and got a “gotcha” moment, is there any consequence regarding the teams performance? Of course not, Lincoln isn’t going to quit or change is process. Thus Divish would martyr himself for a story of zero consequence. Divish is smarter than that.

    You called him and idiot for not being irrationally emotional.

    I hope this helps coug – It’s all I’ve got time for.

  126. Westside guy on October 5th, 2013 10:40 am

    Cespedes’ offensive season was a lot like Raul’s (seriously). Fortunately for the A’s, though, he can actually play defense.

    As a matter of fact, if you look at defense for a lot of those guys on the A’s team I suspect you’ll have your answer. You only talked about offense, and that’s not even close to the whole story. Decent defenders and decent offenders (hehe).

  127. LongDistance on October 5th, 2013 11:32 am

    I rarely double post, but…

    I just knew Dusty Baker’s name would creep into this discussion (and will be creeping into near-future USSM postings).

    Read This: Dusty Baker’s Dream Team, is the 1977 Dodgers. He has been forever been attempting to mold/manage every team he’s worked with, towards that image he’s got stuck in his mind’s eye. Anything that doesn’t fit the mold (which means ALL youth) is waysided. Old School? We’re talking Nostalgia School.

    No. Good.

    Please. Don’t.

    Floundering With Youngsters, is one thing. Dusty Baker would make it look like the Holocaust.

  128. casey on October 5th, 2013 11:33 am

    yes to pitching and defence for the A’s success. No doubt the A’s outfield defence is strong – but Lowrie for example was always regarded as an offensive oriented middle infielder over defence much like Miller and Franklin are.

    my overwhelming thought last night was how can these guys possibly compete with the very stacked Tigers.

    I look at a young starter like Sonny Gray (who gets to face Verlander today) – basically a good pitching prospect much like Paxton or Maurer on most prospect lists – yet he is wildly successful through 15 MLB starts after a solid but unspectacular half season at AAA.

    I think my point here is that there is some genius at work with this team, and maybe a little magic too. Clearly Wedge did not have the same fairy dust, (he seemed to make our prospects worse when they reached the majors), and I doubt that Z has it either. Hoping our next coach is a guy who can create a Donaldson or understands how to get the most out of platoon catchers when your main guy (for A’s Jaso) goes down for the season with a concussion.

  129. Westside guy on October 5th, 2013 1:43 pm

    I think one thing Beane will do but Jack won’t is let guys walk who aren’t working out. I doubt the A’s would’ve held onto Figgins for three years, or Bradley/Silva for that matter. Even one-year guys like Morse and Bay would’ve been cut loose sooner, and another reclamation project picked up.

    I don’t know if it’s stubbornness or an inability to admit something hasn’t worked; but Z holds onto old guys far too long. Beane would rather cut bait too early than too late.

    Of course it also helps that Beane seems like a very good major league talent evaluator overall, while Jack seems to stink at it. I suspect it was a guy like Blengino that identified Gutierrez, not Zduriencik, since that skill is apparently no longer within the organization.

  130. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Defense was what I was hinting at with balance. The A’s are loaded with players that have value in some way and they’ve been played to their strengths extremely well.

    I really wonder if Jack is still willing to ignore defense. He doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes, nor does he seem to recognize his mistakes when it’s clear to everyone else.

    I’m not excited about this offseason at all. But I’ll admit that I’m curious to see how he attempts to address things.

  131. kinickers77 on October 7th, 2013 4:25 pm

    Dave,

    He was probably considering Ackley for the outfield when he answered that question. So, he may still think of Ackley as part of our future. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

  132. pgreyy on October 7th, 2013 8:30 pm

    Tonight…a subtle papercut for M’s fans.

    Freddy Garcia, starting pitcher for the Braves in the 2013 NLDS.

    Stings, just a little.

  133. NorahW on October 8th, 2013 9:29 am

    pgreyy, I noticed that. Now I’m afraid he’ll be one of the free agents the M’s will sign over the winter.

    Also, Doug Fister is pitching today for the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS.

  134. RaoulDuke37 on October 8th, 2013 10:08 am

    Dave must have punched himself in face pretty hard.

  135. Typical Idiot Fan on October 8th, 2013 12:11 pm

    Stings, just a little.

    Not even one pinch, nor would I expect anybody else to care either. Garcia hasn’t been a Mariner in years and had to salvage his career. What he’s accomplished is certainly worthy of praise, but otherwise, it has nothing to do with us.

  136. Breadbaker on October 9th, 2013 4:38 pm

    No sting at all. We got Freddy for two months of Randy (if anyone, it’s Houston that should be stinging still). And both Franklin Gutierrez and Kendrys Morales were acquired in partial exchange for Jeremy Reed, whom we got for Freddy (although no one would argue that he was all that big a part of the trade).

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.