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.


136 Responses to “Lincoln Speaks, Hope Disappears”

  1. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2013 6:49 pm
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

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

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

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


    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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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).

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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


    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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

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

    Dave must have punched himself in face pretty hard.

  35. 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.

  36. 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).

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