Preview: Mariners Analysis
A page dedicated to the Seattle Mariners.
Team continues to show warts
No one is complaining about being in first place, but if we learned anything this road trip it's that this team is not, today, a playoff caliber team. (Sure if Griffey and Sweeney enter a time machine and remove ten years, and Beltre thinks its '04 again, we might see this team being a force in October.)
But you can't continue to hope you hold the other team to a couple of runs every night to have a chance to win. And you cant' expect the occasional 9-run outbursts to be a sign of hope either. If this team is going to remain in first, it needs to improve the offense.
Jack, we need you to make a decision on Yuni. Is this really the SS of your team going forward? So far the answer seems to be yes, but I can't believe that is your final answer.
Clement, how does he help this team?
Left-handed pinch hitter? Go get one.
They are small steps but will help our pitchers win games. I'm sure our front office has noticed the Angels have started winning again and getting closer and closer. I'm not worried about "upsetting" this team by making changes as long as we have Bedard and Feliz heading out 40% of the time. Go Jack, make this team better.
Could be a tough series
Chicago double header today and a split would be great. I don't know about other Mariner fans but I have a bad feeling about Chicago's lineup and our pitching. We haven't been scoring many runs and it may lead to Felix being overly concerned about not giving up any, which invariable leads to crooked numbers...
Would I be shocked if Chicago swept? No. Would I be happy with us winning two games in the series? Ecstatic.
There is not a team in the division at .500 and the Mariners really have a chance to put some distance to cushion the inevitable ups and downs of the season. The last thing to do is get complacent and allow the "we're winning so why mess with things" thinking to take hold. They need to:
- Get Joh back. I know plenty of fans don't like him or his contract, but we can't keep playing with a catcher who hits like Willie Bloomquist. Johnson has no power and his defense is poor. The sooner we get a real catcher back the better. I really struggle to wonder why the teams likes Johnson so much. (I don't see it at all)
- Figure out what to do with Clement. Swap him with Johnson, move him to first base permanently, do something. He doesn't need to hit AAA any more and the team needs to be executing a plan, not killing time hoping Johnson magically transforms.
- Get Wlad at bats. This is a no brainer and the downside to the Griffey signing that many of us pointed out. This team needs power and needs to figure out if Wlad is part of the solution long term. Get him as many at bats as possible both to help now and to help figure out the future roster.
- Get ready to trade Batista. You'll need to eat 90%+ of his contract, but there are teams like the Nationals desparate for bullpen help. Call around and figure out how to make it happen, with an outright release the final option. You need roster flexibilty and Batista has no real use on this team this season or beyond.
- Get more bench help. If you can't figure out how to use 12 pitchers regularly, get a real bench and use it. This offense is anemic and pinch hitters will make a difference. The team should be looking at every opportunity to make this team better, no matter how small the improvement. They need to feel like they can steal the division this year if they are smart. Act like it.
- Continue to plan for Yuni replacement. His defense is bad. His approach at the plate is bad. He has no power. How can this be your SS of the future? Continue to work the phones finding a replacement, even if we have to wait till the ASB.
- Start thinking of Griffey speeches if he continues to falter. If it's mid-June and he's still not hitting, you need to cut back his playing time. The fans won't like it but we can't go to the ASB with Johnson and a lousy #3 hitter. Think of how you might broach the subject with him now, and hope you never have to use it.
Seen this from Washburn before
A couple of years ago, Washburn had a nice stretch where he was quite effective. I watched him pitch and was amazed how well he painted the corners and just didn't give batters much to hit in the middle of the plate.
I wrote on this blog how he really looked like a good pitcher.
I was wrong.
What I realized later is command is a fickle mistress. Just like the golfer who gets in a groove, Washburn is hitting every fairway and green and making it look easy. But the problem is all golfers, even Tiger Woods, have to hit from the cart path. Tiger can win majors even when his command is off, as he has the talent and experience to hit shots the rest of us could only dream of.
Washburn will have nights this season where his command is missing. He'll have nothing to fall back on, as he doesn't have the stuff to make up for it.
All pitchers have nights where they can't locate their pitches. If Felix can't spot his fastball, he still has an effective change-up. slider and curve to work with. If Washburn doesn't have pinpoint command, he has nothing. And once you have command problems, it gets in your head and good luck getting it back.
I'm happy Wasbburn is in a groove. I hope it continues for as long as possiblem. But don't think for a second he's become the new Jamie Moyer. His command will leave, sooner then you think. And the old Wash will return.
Bullpen still a work in progress
No reason for us to be surprised the team lost to the Angels in the final game of the series. We knew this team would be challenged to score runs on a consistent basis. Last night the starting pitching was more then we could have possible expected, but realistically the team only scored one run and you're not going to win a lot of games with that level of output. So our offense went missing and the bullpen gave up some runs it couldn't afford to give up. This will be repeated many times this season I'm sure.
It is interesting to note the attendance after the opener. I was there Tuesday and it turns out there were only twelve more yesterday, so I'm not sure where all the Griffey supporters are.
We were told when the team signed Griffey fans would flock to ballpark just to see him. I guess I failed to read the fine print of the guarantee. Apparently they will show, but not if it's April midweek against the primary division rival.
It's funny to think about. I love Griffey so much I'll go to the game just for him, but not during the week. Just too busy and hectic. And I want it warm. I love Griffey, but not in the cold.
So to summarize, the Griffey ticket sales will happen when its warm and on the weekend. (apparently)
I think I'll stick to the midweek games, even if it means less rally fry opportunities.
Adam Jones sure looks good
There is no way as a Mariner fan you can't have an interest in Adam Jones. There were plenty of fans who were convinced Wlad was the better power hitter and ready replacement, and the team was all to happy to insinuate Jones was expendable due to his presence. I think that fantasy has offically been put to rest.
(Of course real talent evaluators loved Jones and saw Wlad for what he is- a guy who had one great season in AAA but otherwise still has lots of question marks.)
Dave over at USS Mariner caught a lot of heat for claiming he wouldn't trade Bedard for Jones straight up. So all the critics who said Cameron was crazy- how do you feel now?
Does the fact Jones is one of the best defensive outfielders in all baseball while making next to nothing mean anything to you? Does the fact his first week of the season has him slugging over .600 change your opinion of his value? I'll admit I still check his numbers regularly and root for him. It's not his fault or my fault we had a bunch of short-sighted critics who didn't correctly value "rookies."
Hargrove wasn't interested in playing a rookie like Jones to see what he could do. Jose Guillen didn't care if Jones had potential. Bavasi didn't care. McLaren didn't care. Baker argued the team was better off with Jones on the bench so Vidro and Ibanez could get at bats.
It's great Bedard is on the team. He's a nice pitcher but he's a free agent after this season and he's injury prone. Would I trade Bedard back to Baltimore for Adam Jones?
In a heartbeat. How about you?
Will Silva suck tonight?
I'm pretty sure the PR department for the Mariners would have preferred ANY pitcher other than Carlos Silva to pitch tonight. But that's now how it worked out, and he'll be under a huge microscope on opening day.
- The team is 5-2 and people are excited about the possibility they might be competitive this year.
- Griffey and the crazed love affair the city has with him.
- Packed stadium
- Everyone's preseason favorite Angels who owned the Mariners last year facing him
- Silva sucked last year and is a poster child of the Bavasi regime
- Silva was terrible in his first start and largely responsible for one of the teams losses
Silva really couldn't have more pressure on him.
The season will be a lot more enjoyable for everyone if Carlos Silva pitches well tonight. History says he won't. Can he catch a break tonight?
Please keep on winning
With Ichiro about to join a 5-2 club, can we please get some more wins?
If the club loses, whether it's blown saves, bad calls whatever... Ichiro will immediately get blamed by the ignorant masses as the satan-child they believe he is and countless articles and annoying comments will be made saying the team is better of without him.
He is our best position player and endlessly fascinating at the same time. The fact he is different and from another country however causes a bullseye to be placed on him by some "fans." (I use the term "fan" here loosely because really they are complete idiots)
So if we had our choice- win a few games with Ichiro or win without, we also choose with because of the risk of stirring up these "fans" and their crazy theories. But we don't have a choice and the team started the season playing like we hoped.
Let's pray they keep the winning for a while longer, if only to keep a lid on the Ichiro-haters out there.
Will Silva last the year?
Remember when Ryan Franklin couldn't buy a win for the Mariners? If he held the team to a couple of runs, it didn't matter as the team found a way to lose. With Silva on a similar path, is it impossible to think it might happen and the team has no choice but to ditch him this year?
Think about it. Let's say Silva does pitch better but the results in the win column don't reflect it. If the Mariners are hanging around the division leaders in July, say 4-5 games back, can they afford to continually send out a 2-8 Silva to the mound? The public will start booing, Silva feels even more stress to produce... it could get ugly.
I'm not predicting a doomsday scenario, but I can easily imagine a public relations disaster looming if Silva doesn't get this thing going. The old "moving Carlos to the bullpen to straighten his mechanics out" or "mysterious arm injury- DL" trip may be in order.
Ryan Franklin needed a change in scenery. There is a chance the Mariners may need to jettison Carlos Silva this year, no matter how much it costs them.
Morrow blow ups bound to happen
Brandon chose to be the closer, and the team was only too happy to oblige. We remember he had a rocky spring and it's going to take a while to get this entire bullpen figured out. Should we expect more of these debacles? Of course. Does that make it hurt any less? No.
Meanwhile, the competing sports radio hosts are going crazy trying to explain/drum up emotions over the loss. Geoff Baker was on with Mitch this morning, and tried to explain the whole "Morrow decision" about moving to the bullpen.
The biggest thing not mentioned?
Morrow's reluctance to work in the minors to develop himself as a pitcher.
Remember, thanks to the rocket science combo of Hargrove/Bavasi, Brandon Morrow has not had to spend a lot of time in the minors. His move to the bullpen means he's broken camp with the big club every year. Instead of building up arm strength in the minors, developing off speed pitches, figuring out how to handle his diabetes as a starter... he has gotten used to THE SHOW. People carrying your bags. Per diems. Chartered air.
This year the team faced a problem with Morrow. If he was going to be a starter, he was going to need to go back to the minors to work this stuff out. Spring training wasn't enough.
You think Morrow didn't know this? You think he never thought of bus rides? Minor league money? You think this didn't play a HUGE decision in his decision to remain with the club as a reliever instead of heading down south to AAA and all that entails?
Morrow took the easy route when he decided to stay as Brandon-the-closer instead of Brandon-the-starter. He has no idea if he can be a starter with diabetes, but he knows he'll make nice money as a reliever, and really nice money long term if he can be a closer.
Morrow avoided going back to AAA and correcting the mistake Bavasi and Hargrove made years ago. Last night, in the 9th, we all paid the price for Morrow learning on the job instead of in Tacoma. Let's hope he develops in to the closer he thinks he can real fast.
Aumont news tough way to end spring training
Instead of being excited to see Felix pitch, I'm still bummed over the idiotic decision to move Aumont to the bullpen.
Quick question for Jack. The Yankees have this guy starting the game for them and he's 6'7" too. Would you move him to the bullpen?
Seriously, this really makes me question our new GM's approach. When even Geoff Baker is immediately going "wait, are you serious" you should be worried. Call me worried.
But the team is going to play, and I'm guessing they are going to win 70-something games. The good news is somebody is going to surprise us, in a pleasant way. Last year most of the team underperformed, with only a few bright spots like Lopez. This year, I fully expect a few players to break out.
Go Felix, it's sunny out and the games count. This was a long winter and I'm excited to watch baseball again.
The mysterious case of Shin-Soo Choo
Remember when the Mariners had a kid coming up from the farm system from Korea? He played the outfield and generated a little buzz in the minors. His numbers were never spectacular but scouts liked his game and he eventually made the majors when the big club was forced to play kids more than usual because they sucked.
The general consensus among fans of the team was 4th outfielder at best. This is what we had heard was his ceiling coming in and he certainly did little to discourage that thinking upon arrival. I still remember a few "curious" routes he took on fly balls, and remember thinking he doesn't hit that well and struggles playing defense. I wasn't all that impressed.
The first sign I should have re-evaluated my position was probably when we heard Cleveland was interested in him. When Cabrera was traded to Cleveland I feared we were giving up a really good infielder, and my fear was justified. With Choo I should have asked more questions.
New Rule: When Cleveland wants one of your prospects, watch out. They more often than not know what they are doing.
Last season saw Choo go on a tear after the all star break, and he is all of 26. Would I take Choo back? In a heartbeat. Did I misjudge his talent potential? Yes.
Rule #2. When your team is bad, make the hard decision to play your kids. Don't let one or two month sample sizes sway your opinion. (This goes both ways. Just because a kid comes up and hits 5 home runs his first week doesn't change a thing.)
So remember these rules when you hear fans crying for Clement to be traded. This team won't be all that good this year and it's the perfect time to see what kids can do.
This team can't afford to give up on talent too easily.
Morrow situation sucks
Remember last year when Morrow pitched against the Yankees at Safeco? And for a moment, Mariner fans could look ahead and dream about a rotation with Felix and Morrow and see light ahead.
Today that dream is officially shattered with the news Morrow is no longer a starting candidate.
Easy. Every hand in the decisions over the years to keep Morrow in the pen, looking at the short term gain ahead of the future of the club. This is squarely on Bavasi's shoulders, McLaren, Hargrove and the rest of the staff who continued to try to win now and worry about the future later.
Well today the future is now and the Mariners used the #5 pick on a reliever. To make things worse, Fontaine and company drafted Josh Fields with the #17 pick who is also limited to one inning stints.
That is how you create a bad franchise. Use your draft picks incorrectly and you'll be in the basement for a long, long time. (And for the record, the Fields pick is still a complete leftover on Bavasi and company. You can't pin Jack for signing Fields. Not signing would mean the team would need to wait until next year to see this years signing take the field- the comp pick this year is not guaranteed and the signing would be almost guaranteed to be long and drawn out. Take Fields now, as opposed to next year with the 24 pick. Easy decision for Jack.)
The first real problem I do have with Zduriencik is the decision to send Clement to AAA. He is 25, mashes AAA pitching and has nothing left to prove. You've had your #3 pick for years, now is the time to see what you have.
Bad Monday to be a Mariner fan. Not the end of the world, but not what we wanted either.
Tampa and the Mariners
ESPN has an article
about David Price and if he should be sent to the minors. The quote from their GM is...
It's a fine line because we're so reliant on our young players, and we always will be. So development has to be the key. We can't do something that provides a slight benefit in '09 if it's going to be detrimental to 2010, '11 and '12. We can't run away from that. We have to maintain that mindset, or we will not be able to sustain success.
Compare that line of thinking with the way Brandon Morrow has been handled.
If Morrow ends up in AAA for some time, I think we can agree the new regime couldn't be more different from Bavasi and Hargrove.
Griffey playing situation likely to end ugly
I've already discussed my fear with Griffey- he wants to play the field and the management team will feel forced to play him more than they should. The pressure will come from multiple angles.
1) Griffey will let everyone know he prefers to play the field. Every 0-4 game will have a quote from Baker the next morning along the lines of "I'm used to playing every day" and "hard to come off the bench cold and stay loose" and every other anti-DH cliche you can come up with. Plus, don't forget Atlanta was ready to sign him to play the field. This will get mentioned at least 4 million times during the season.
2) Fans who want to see him play the outfield. Expect at least 500 quotes from kids about this.
3) Seattle Times. Story after story this summer will keep feeding one and two. It sells papers and creates controversy while the team continues along its rebuilding plan.
I just really fear this ends poorly. I hope I'm wrong and Don and Jack sit Griffey down and explain the best way to hit his incentives is to be a DH. If Griffey lets his ego get in the way and makes a big stink about it, things gets ugly fast.
What we should hope for-
* Griffey hits great early as a DH. Pray he hits a home run every time he steps to the plate as a DH.
* Griffey looks terrible in the field and feels terrible the next day physically. This will put an end to the madness.
Otherwise it will only be the inevitable injury that leads to Griffey sitting on the bench this year when his team takes the field.
Good stuff in Mariner land
As baseball fans we get a little antsy waiting for the games to count. Sometimes a little pot stirring can be fun as the days get warmer, and todays discussion re: the Mariners defense certainly fits the bill.
Geoff Baker gets things started
by claiming the Mariners defense was above average this year.
I love it that Geoff is using advanced metrics to talk about defense. I love it Geoff is talking to people like John Dewan. For the average baseball fan who gets most of their information from the local paper, this is a fantastic trend.
However, while Geoff is making progress I have to say he has a ways to go still.
My position is simple- no one who actively watched the team last year can honestly say defense was not a serious issue. Really, it's no more complicated then that.
How anyone could watch Ritchie Sexson with a lateral range of 4 inches play the infield and not see a problem is a mystery. How anyone could watch Yuni throw wide after struggling to get to a routine ball and not see a problem is a mystery. Do we even need to talk about Raul?
I don't have an issue with Geoff talking with John or publishing the results. But he should have applied a basic sniff test. Sort of a "did my eyes concur with the data I am seeing now?" It would almost be as if someone went to Geoff and told him the Mariners actually won 82 games last year. The brain would immediately question the data.
The article should have been based more on the subject of "can you believe what I was just told" rather than simply taken as fact. There is no way Geoff can say he watched the team last year and didn't notice any problems. There is just no way.
I'm not a baseball scout but I'm an avid baseball fan. I've seen a fair amount of games over the years and to my beginner eyes the 2008 Mariners were terrible fielding the ball. If someone tells me they have proof otherwise I'll take a look at it, but I have to say I'll be mighty skeptical...
Mariners "lose" moneyOver at the Puget Sound Business Journal we hear the Mariners are reporting a loss for the 2008 season- linkOver at the PI- we get a little more info- linkWe know the Mariners have been playing a PR game with the public for years, and the local newspapers and media outlets are only too willing to play along. So the Mariners say they lost money? Well by golly, that's what the local papers are going to report.I'm a little more "cynical" than the local writers, so I tend to want more answers beyond just taking Lincoln and companies word for it.The first thing that jumps out at you when you read the PFD reports from prior years is how little actual information they contain. Is there a special report posted elsewhere that actually contains real data, because the pdf snapshots they have on the site offer so little detail as to be completely useless. For example, it would be impossible to know the Mariners claimed to make $17.8 million in 2007 by looking at the PFD annual report. As explained in the PI, this number is calculated by a "special" formula. Why then can't the PFD more clearly explain this in the final report? Can't they produce a report that is actually readable and relevent? I guess not.Just look at the breakdown of the agreed upon profit determiner: (how can you not laugh)Input A= Number the team claims they made or lost for a given yearInput B= The claimed Depreciation/Amoritization of assetsInput C= Player signing bonuses (!??)Input D= Capital Expenditures on ballpark (i.e. ballpark expenses)A + B - C - D= Yearly Total ProfitJust look at how absurd this formula is. The Mariners are telling you for Input A, they lost $4.5 million in 2008. This is what a reader of the PI sees in the morning = "Mariners report losing $4.5 million in '08"Except this number doesn't include all money they pay to players in 2008! When they sign a player like Ichiro to a new contract, often times a signing bonus is involved. (Same thing for draft picks- Josh Fields would be a perfect example when the team paid $1.75 million to bring him to camp.)You can already see how to the common person the reported number is getting fishy as shit. The Mariners are telling you they lost $4.5 million last year, yet the simplest glance at the figure reveals even simple, annual expenses like signing draft picks are not even calculated when reaching the number.What about normal upkeep like refreshed paint, carpet, changing the giant poster of Willie Ballgame out front etc... Most reasonable people would expect the Mariners to incur real, legitimate upkeep expenses for keeping Safeco open. Just like a homeowner who needs to replace a door knob or paint the house, this is a perfectly reasonable expense the Mariners are paying, so surely this is part of the debt that led to $4.5 million in losses, right?Nope- The Mariners are reporting $4.5 million in losses and this number does NOT count for things like money out of pocket for keeping up Safeco.This is where the dirty little secret is hiding, you just need to read beyond the headlines. Here is what the team is claiming-2008 Mariner income: -$4.5 million2008 Signing bonuses: $14.6 million2008 Safeco capital expenditures: $2.5 millionThat is $21.6 million the Mariners are claiming they lost last year by playing the full season, signing players and draft picks and keeping Safeco clean and beautiful. Yet in the end, they actually end up with a $1.9 million profit for 2008. Not what the head lines read, not what the Mariners want you to believe, but thanks to that little old depreciation calculation the team is actually doing just fine.Here is a real world example of how the Mariners play[...]
Beltre to the Yankees?
With A-Rod out of the lineup for at least 35 games, you know the Beltre-to-Yanks rumors are going to heat up. Beltre is in the last year of his contract and the Mariners are coming off a 101 loss season. The #2 pick in June is not going to restock the system alone, and it would seem unlikely Beltre resigns with this team during the off season. (All it takes is one team to offer him a crazy contract and the Mariners lose Beltre for some comp picks in 2010 if you favor the wait and see aproach- no thanks.)
The smart move is to shop Beltre at the trade deadline and at least see what he brings.
But shouldn't you call the Yanks and see if there is interest right now? What would you expect for Beltre if the Yankees are interested?
How about Austin Jackson for Beltre straight up? The Mariners lose their starting 3rd basemen but get a CF of the future in return? Perhaps Brackman and Melancon to restock the system with pitching talent? I would expect at least one top three pick of their system with some lower level guys with potential to make it worth Jack's time.
At least call the Yankees and see if they are interested, don't wait by the phone or listen to internet rumors. The pressure on the Yankees to win now in the most competitive division in baseball is enourmous. The Mariners have exactly what the Yankees need to keep up with Boston and Tampa, and Beltre is unlikely to be a part of this teams future.
Call Jack- you know what the Mariners need better than anyone. This is one rumor I hope becomes reality.
Every baseball fan who follows the Mariners at all online knew of Strasburg last year. He was the front runner to be the #1 pick this June, and early indications are doing nothing from stopping those expectations. It will be crazy to expect the Nationals to pass on him barring any serious injury this spring.
Which serves as a friendly reminder of just how stupid our front office was last year. Consider-
- Refusing to lend any credence to non-espn, non-local-beat-writer analysts who predicted the team was not actually that close to competing for the playoffs and had serious roster construction issues
- Supported trading away half the farm system for Bedard, then acting surprised he actually isn't all that likable while publicly declaring him our "#1"
- Fired the manager and GM when they realized what everyone else had known for years (neither is qualified for the jobs they were in)
- Signed Johjima to a ridiculous extension, thereby ironically worsening the clubhouse atmosphere they foolishly over value
- Went along with an insane plan to avoid 100 losses at all costs (who would really care if the number was 98, 101, 105... years later we all argued in vain)
- Nixed the Washburn trade
- Cut the 2009 budget 20%
We could go on, but let's just say it was a ROUGH year for Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. If they were in any industry other than baseball with it's non-competitive market, the Mariners would be out of business in this economy by now. The only smart thing they did was in hiring our new GM.
Of all the stupid decisions last year, I doubt playing for double digit losses really stood out for Chuck and company when the season ended. I doubt Chuck and Howard stood on Safeco after the series sweep of Oakland and realized just what damage had been done.
They made the decision to "play hard" and give the fans their moneys worth and it will very likely bite them in the ass. Good CEO's have to make smart, and often hard decisions. The decision to not retain the #1 pick is going to look really foolish if Strasburg continues to pitch like many expect him too.
Fans knew there was a Lebron James like figure coming to a franchise this June. There is always risk with pitchers, but that works both ways. With risk comes reward.
Lincoln and Armstrong either knew the risk last summer and didn't care, or weren't even clued in to the game enough to know about a player 99% of online fans have been following. Either way, it further supports the idea the Mariners management made a series of collosal mistakes before the hiring of Jack Zduriencik.
And a pitcher from California is doing every thing he can to not let us forget it.
It's hard to be a sports fan in Seattle and not be subjected to KJR. Whether it's Stark from ESPN, Krueger etc... there is no way you want to miss these interviews but at the same time you cringe at some of the drivel that comes out.
We've all heard the local media overplay the subject of veteran leadership and how clubhouse tension doomed last years team. The reality of course is lack of talent is what caused the team to suck last year. Period. Does the media like to mention players like Sexson and Vidro are no where to be found this year? (It's not a common theme, and IMO should be mentioned far more prominently then it has.)
No, instead they focus on "moving the runners along" and "playing the game the right way."
Which leads me to Mike Sweeney.
The odds he makes this team should be low. He's old, he's been injured and been ineffective. Not a good combination for a team rebuilding. Probably the biggest roadblock would appear to be the Griffey signing. Suddenly the team need for "veteran leadership" appears to be filled.
But if you listen to some members of the media, you'd get the impression the Mariners almost HAVE to keep Sweeney on the team. A calming influence, a veteran leader, a solid citizen... install overused cliche at your leisure.
The single overriding skill the team should be focusing on for Mike Sweeney is can he hit. Does he have the skills to make this team win ball games WHILE ON THE FIELD. That should make up 99% of the decision making process. You can immediately identify the media hacks who begin with the other stuff first when talking about Sweeney, as if the hitting component is a bonus.
I don't have anything against Sweeney, and if he can fill in a short term gap so be it. But if he does make the team, it's probably a reflection of just how little talent stood before him. And that's a much bigger problem than lack of leadership in the clubhouse.
Griffey and the DH position
We know it's best if Griffey DH's. We know Griffey doesn't want to DH, and doesn't hide his desire to play the field as much as possible.
What's a first time manager and GM to do?
Cave in and let him play the field more than he should. The team will use every iced knee, every long plane ride it can to put him in the DH spot, but every press conference, every post-game analysis will include the topic of Griffey and LF. Two opposing positions, one inevitable outcome.
I wish I had more faith in the new regime, but honestly I think they have to bite the bullet and play to pander the fans and try to buy time. They'll put Griffey in the field more than he should and eventually he'll get hurt.
It's not being negative, it's just being realistic. Griffey should
play the field no more than once a week. Griffey will
play the field 3+ time a week and he won't make it through the season without breaking down. It's as obvious as the sun coming up.
Let players play
Will Beltre play in the WBC? That seems to be the local story now that Griffey is settling in. The question really though is why is it even a story?
If you accept the Mariners are not going to be good this year (not my opinion but just play along) then Beltre is gone by mid year anyway. Going in to the last year of his contract, the team will trade him to get something in return when contract negotiations prove fruitless. If this happens, does anyone really care if he plays in the WBC or not? Hard to see how his value in really impacted significantly either way.
If the Mariners are better than expected and in the hunt say mid year, then you do back flips if you are the front office and just leave this scenario alone. No reason to over think anything here.
The only argument left is this silly idea that maybe the Mariners will be good, or maybe they won't. And it really depends on Beltre being a team player and fitting in with his teammates.
This is where the horse shit piles up fast.
We already know Beltre is more of the quiet leader type. He comes in, does his job and leaves the ballpark. He doesn't bark at Silva for being fat, and he doesn't get in Ichiro's face for being Japanese. He is what he is.
Why then does the Mariner FO want to make something more of this then necessary? He's not going to Brazil to play in a giant bathtub of drug needles. He's going to play in a tournament where acccess to doctors and trainers will be available 100% of the time. He's playing in a contract year... he's not going to risk injuring himself by playing baseball with a different jersey on his chest any more so then he would in a Mariner environment. He's playing a game.
Mariner management has made some questionable decisions the past few years. They traded for Bedard and gave half the farm system while doing so only to realize they can't stand the guy 20 seconds after he hit the Arizona desert. (its called homework people) They had one manager quit mid season, then hired an incompetent replacement who lasted less than a year on the job. They also signed the aging catcher to a ridiculous contract pissing off the rest of the team for the obvious favoritism.
The front office should be supportive, not doing forced "we're a team" drills. If you want to be the cool boss, you got to be cool yourself. Telling players they shouldn't play for their country sends the wrong message.
This is a dumb move trying to tell Beltre he shouldn't play for his country. The negatives far outweigh the positives. Jack needs to update his spreadsheet.
Still hard to believe so many tickets for Griffey
When figuring out the "cost" of acquiring Griffey, I'm sure the team ran the numbers to see how much impact on the bottom line he actually has. What we as fans don't know is how much revenue is tied to an additional ticket purchased for Junior. Incremental revenue if you will.
Is it ten bucks a ticket the team realizes in the profit ledger? Twenty, fifty? Who knows.
But I guarantee you the team knows. Parking, beers, food etc... all of this helps the teams finances, and there is no doubt it will be helped now that Griffey is coming. Since the team reports its finances to the county ever year, we may just know how much he contributed down the road.
Still, I sit in wonderment at fans who are purchasing tickets solely to Griffey's arrival. If its opening night you can be guaranteed barring injury he's in the game, but after that?
Who's to say Griffey will actually be playing a particular game down the road? We don't know the pitcher, the lineup, the health... so many variables to whether he plays or not. Are we going to hear sob stories from fans on TV who complain to the camera the only reason they came to the park was to see Griffey and how disappointed they are he isn't playing?
I'd say count on it. I will say this also puts huge pressure on the manager to keep him in the lineup as much as possible. (Which, ironically may in the end increase the odds he misses significant time.)
The best case for fans who are buying tickets to see Griffey is for him to remain healthy and productive. It would seem to be in everyones best interests for it to happen, even if you came to see the other 24 Mariners play too...
If Armstrong is happy...
So the Kid is coming back and Mariner fans are going crazy. I'm certainly not going to wonder how the Clements and Wlad's of the world are going to get their at bats when we have a 39 year old fan favorite on the team. That's for Don and staff to figure out.
But anyway, I'm sure people will understand when they come to the ballpark and Griffey isn't playing that day because a lefty is on the mound, right? Fans understand these things.
And I'm sure they won't be disappointed when they buy tickets and realize Griffey isn't playing that day because his hamstring/shoulder/knee/elbow/back is sore and needs to be rested, right? Fans understand these things.
And if Griffey struggles and the power really is gone, people will understand when the Mariners relegate him to bench duty, because fans understand.
Chuck Armstrong is happy today. And the more happy Chuck is, the more happy us fans should be, right?
Sure feels like Griffey is spurning Seattle again
And can he drag this out any longer? I personally hope he takes Atlanta's offer but regardless I want this resolved so the nonsense over his return ends.
If anyone sees Jack popping a bottle of champagne tonight we'll know Griffey is a Brave.
Kudos to Baker on morning show
Some of you might have caught Geoff this morning with Mitch on KJR. I have to say, I was really impressed with what they both talked about.
Now the topic is to be expected, but the way Geoff described the player and the situation surrounding him was simply fantastic. In the past, we would have heard some feel good story about the aging slugger returning to bring glory to the falling franchise. Not this time. There were a number of directions this conversation could have headed, and Baker didn't stray once:
1) He clearly stated Griffey has no where else to go. It's important to remind casual fans just how far Griffey has fallen. We are not GETTING junior. We are settling for junior.
2) Attendance. Mitch asked Geoff about the big bump in attendance we'll expect to see, and the common claim we hear from Griffey fawners who say he'll more than pay for his contract in ticket sales. Again he nails it. He cites past experiences with other returning players and the data simply doesn't support this attendance bull shit. Sure we'll see a swell of enthusiasm but it will quickly dissipate. Smack down point number two, and we heard references to actual data, not head-up-my-ass type analysis we might have gotten in the past.
3) Use of Griffey- Geoff doesn't mince words regarding playing time. There as no talk about a crowded outfield or his defense in left. The audience heard the beat writer explain very clearly what he is being brought in for- platoon DH, nothing more.
4) Role on team- Again, Geoff explains the returning hero is not going to be here three years from now. If the team needs to sit Griffey to get more at bats for Clement, Wlad or whatever as the season goes on, Junior need to understand it now. This isn't about Griffey, this is what's good for the team.
5) Pay- Geoff explains he really should be making a million or two at the MOST. Anything more and the team is throwing money away (see point 1).
6) Budget- Geoff really earns his pay here. Mitch wanted to know how we got here, and Geoff immediately launched in to the Washburn situation and how Jack's hands are really tied in terms of ownership and past decisions. We got here because Armstrong made it happen by cutting the budget and nixing player moves like Washburn to the Twins. It wasn't the answer Mitch was expecting, but it was the right response and Baker really put it all together for the listener. Griffey is joining the Mariners because Jarrod Washburn is a Mariner. Not what some might have thought, but it's true.
It may seem silly to say good job to the beat writer, especially one as popular as Geoff Baker. But after disagreeing with him so often on McLaren, Bedard, Adam Jones, Bavasi, defense, home runs etc... it's refreshing to hear him absolutely nail the Griffey situation. Very few fans bother with blogs or forums during the off season, and people like Baker is where they get their news.
Would the average KJR listener have heard this from Finnegan or Hickey back in the day? No way. Keep up the great reporting Geoff.