Mariners Analysis

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Youth on the team

Geoff Baker of the Times gets a little defensive in his latest post:

"Sean Green, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith? All veterans, I guess. Oh wait, I forgot, they were victimized by the conspiracy because the team went out and brought in some veteran relievers from elsewhere, right?"

Baker is getting picked on a bit because he often takes the teams side on issues and is the most obvious target for fan ire. Obviously if Bavasi had a blog he would get crucified but since Bill is nowhere to be seen, Hargrove is banished as far from Ichiro as possible and McLaren is crying in a corner, we are left to pick on Baker.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at his argument- essentially since the team has a bunch of rookie relievers, how can you possibly say they have a bias towards veterans.

The argument Baker is posing is so simplistic and full of holes I know 99% of the readers who follow the team and finished middle school have already moved on, but I feel compelled to point out just a few data points Geoff conveniently left out.

I'll start off by mentioning Julio Mateo and Arthur Rhodes.

Take two of the relievers Geoff mentioned in his post and cross them off the list. Put simply, the rookies on the team are the back up plan. If Rhodes wasn't 83 years old and haunted by David Justice he would be getting lit up in a Mariner uniform. But in an incredibly fortunate turn of events, the Mariners were "stuck" with a younger player who performed better and would have cost them 1/3 as much (pick any of the young relievers, it doesn't really matter who). Mateo of course was the first reliever out of the bullpen for Hargrove in a pressure situation, and the faster he got off the roster the better for everyone.

Ok, there's point number one.

I'll next mention the budget. Sure the Mariners have a few rookies on the team. Name a team that doesn't. The reason a lot of teams have rookies is because they blew their budget on free agents and simply can't afford any more. Just because you see a rookie on the team doesn't mean Hargrove and Bavasi thought it was a good idea. In more than a few cases it's simply fiscal reality. Veterans cost more. When you max your budget on the Weaver's of the world you tend to get rookies in the bullpen.

Still with me? Let's throw out heat.

Managers love 98 mph fastballs. Always have, always will. It's what got Mark Lowe in caveman-Hargrove's rotation last year. The fact Morrow is in the bullpen at all is a joke and should never be used as an example of the teams acceptance of youth.

Throws really fast and gets strikeouts? Check.
High draft pick? Check.
Uncontrollable fastball? Check.
Inability to control other pitches? Check.
High risk of stunting future growth as a starter? Check.

Everyone knows the Morrow situation (FUBAR). You traded away Soriano, thereby creating a hole in your bullpen which you didn't address in free agency/trade...

Why someone would use this example to say the team understands roster construction or budget management is a mystery to me. Morrow is the poster child for what is wrong with this team- a risky gamble taken when self-induced actions leave you little choice.

I could go on. I could mention White or Parrish. The Dotel offer. The Jones situation. The Vidro trade. The Everett signing. The Eddie injury.

There are SO many points to show the jury how this team feels about rookies.

Sure, they use them just like every other team in baseball.

But it certainly doesn't mean they use them effectively.

My guess is Baker will have changed his tune a year from now. I really enjoy his blog and read it regularly. But I really can't wait until he outgrows some of his Neanderthal views.