Mariners Analysis

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hypocrisy for critics of Jones call up?

While the M's continue to play well, the fact is baseball and the postseason is cruel. Who doesn't remember the team winning 93 games two years in a row and going nowhere? While the M's are playing better than many expected, it doesn't guarantee anything. Playing well doesn't alone get you the division title or ensure you win the wild card.

If the Mariners are going to catch the Angels, they need to play better. As nice as this seasons been, they would be sitting home if the playoffs started today. The wild card is even murkier- you have the Indians, Twins, Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees as possible roadblocks. The Mariners haven't been good enough all season to take the wild card lead, and again if the season ended today we would be watching other teams play in October.

The argument among the Mariner front office, commentators, radio personalities and fans against bringing up Jones basically centers around disruption. The apparent objection is why disrupt a team that is playing well. The fear, critics of the move suggest, is you force players to do things they don't want to do. Vidro to the bench, Ibanez to the DH. And in doing so, hurt the team chemistry that is responsible for the current success.

I argue these critics are contradicting themselves now, and will doom this team to forever finishing out of the post season if they actually believe these are legitimate arguments for leaving Jones in Tacoma.

Consider the two seasons in '02 and '03 when the Mariners finished with 93 wins (roughly what the current team is on pace to finish with). We all know the end result. A nice season, but no post season.

What were many fans, commentators, columnists and critics arguing for during those seasons? A trade mid season to bring in a bat, preferably with left-handed power. Oh, and pitching as well.

We all remember the nick name "Stand Pat" given to our then GM Gillick. The moniker was not meant fondly, as the criticism was placed at his doorstep when the team sat home during the playoffs. Fans called for an upgrade, and were disappointed when the team didn't make a move.

Compare that criticism to today. In both cases the teams were winning, albeit not at a pace to guarantee success in reaching the post season. Were these critics worried about disrupting team chemistry in '02? Surely someones playing time would be affected if they brought in a bat in 2002 or 2003. Were these critics against making a move because the team was winning?

No, they were not. The argument then was we need to get better. Today, many of these same critics are now calling for the Mariners to stand-pat. I believe it is hypocritical to argue in 2002 to make a move, and now in 2007 to stick with the status quo, ignoring what Vidro is hitting or Ibanez' defensive prowess.

I would like the critics of the Jones callup to argue why they are against mid season trades that disrupt chemistry. Is there something in particular about Jones that would disrupt chemistry that bringing in a hired-gun from another team would not? I would like these critics to explain themselves, because on the surface their argument makes no sense. Good teams attempting to get better alter peoples playing time, but I've never seen it be a decent argument to stick with the status quo and hope your opponent falters or your players get magically better.

The team cannot wait until a losing streak forces a decision. There is no rule that says trades or player callups kills team chemistry. Did the Yankees worry about team chemistry when they traded for Abreu last year? Were they worried about Bernie Williams when it came time to take away playing time during his last few seasons?

What is interesting about the Jones callup is how little downside there is. Unlike many moves mid season that require a team to give up valuable players, this move costs essentially nothing. We don't have to mortgage the future to get him. We don't have to trade popular players or cut wily old veterans.

Calling up Jones is a no-brainer. You guarantee yourself better outfield defense. FACT
You guarantee yourself less Vidro playing time. FACT
You don't have to give up valuable players to get him. FACT

The only casualties are Vidro's playing time and Ibanez' desire to play in the outfield. Vidro is a hired gun who was brought in during the off season and has played a grand total of 4 months of baseball in a Mariner uniform. He has no fan base to speak of. And Ibanez is not being dropped from the team. He will still hit, still get paid, and no one actually buys tickets to watch him play defense.

Critics of calling up Jones are hypocritical for arguing for trades in the past while making up a new excuse now that they have a viable candidate sitting in Tacoma. They are the worst kind of critic. They criticize when no move is made, and they criticize attempted moves.

This current team can be better. It will need to be better to make the post season. Let's hope the Jones call up is not too little too late, whenever it does come.