Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good news/Bad news

John Hickey of the PI is reporting Guillen is unlikely to sign with the Mariners. If this is true, based on the article this would seem to be both good and bad.

The good news is the team realizes the one-year contract FA-type who actually performs does not mean you are obligated to deliver a life-changing multi-year contract. Jose Guillen was not a 1-in-a-million type of signing. The team had a need and filled it without mortgaging the future. Kudos to them for realizing it and resisting the need to throw dollars to keep him around. There is always another Guillen out there.

The good news would also appear Adam Jones has a good shot to make the outfield.

The bad news? Based on the article, which fits the Neanderthal thinking we've seen from the FO, the plan is to replace Guillen with Jones. Meaning Ibanez is free to stumble around LF and continue to hurt the pitching staff.

Most teams don't keep an aging lead-footed fielder in LF. It's what the DH position is all about.

The Mariners don't seem to be able to evaluate their own players strengths and weaknesses.

Hence the good news/bad news part of being a fan of this team.

Monday, October 22, 2007

M's coaching staff

We are being told the Mariners are close to naming their coaching staff and the inclusion of specific names to each role leads one to believe the reports are accurate. (Names like Bowa, Riggleman and Stottlemyre are pretty familiar names in baseball and don't come as a huge shock.)

The reasoning seems to be since McLaren is a rookie he needs to surround himself with experienced men who will enable him to focus on the core responsibilities of a manager.

Some of these guys are old enough to collect social security and some are former managers. McLaren is no spring chicken and he appears to be surrounding himself with older baseball people who look and sound like him. The youngest of the group Norm Charlton sounds like he's 104 when you listen to his ideas- he's as old school as they come.

We shouldn't expect a lot of new ideas with this group. They have all been reading the same playbook for a long time.

John McLaren showed no imagination during his time as manager in '07. His approach can basically be summed up as "run same lineup for rest of year."

Those expecting to see non-standard lineups or creative ways of injecting youth into the mix are likely to be rather disappointed based on the suggested staff.

McLaren wanted his staff, so he can run the team his way.

Color me unimpressed during the first step in that process.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yanks cut ties with Torre

There's really no other way to look at it. The Yankees knew they'd have a public relations disaster if they "fired" Joe by not offering him a contract. So instead they offer him a one year deal with a substantial paycut and then say "well we wanted to bring him back but he chose to leave..." as their company line. It was amazingly predictable.

You don't offer managers with the success Torre has had one year deals. Guys like Bavasi get one year deals. Guys with multiple World Series rings coming off a season many consider Manager-of-the-year worthy don't.

To put it in perspective, Torre was making less than HALF what Pettite's option for next year will be. For many teams paying a manager $7+ million a year might be a lot of money, but not the Yankees.

The Yankees are going to look a LOT different next year. This is the first step. Everything the Yankees do has some affect on the other teams, including the M's.

Rockies in the World Series. Torre out in New York. It's been an interesting off-season for the Mariners already.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The myth of the small budget team

Cleveland and Colorado- raise your hand if you saw this match-up before the season started. (and tell me you went to Vegas first)

We knew Cleveland might be good, but the Rockies really came out of no where. (Obviously Boston is still fighting, but is on life support.)

So of course this World Series outcome has some fans ready to proclaim money doesn't matter. That Bud Selig was wrong 6 years ago when he was railing about financial disparity in the game.

And this argument is absolutely foolish.

The reality is 4 teams made the playoffs in the AL. The top three spenders made it, and the obligatory AL Central representative. Of course there is no big spender in the AL Central so there HAS to be a "small market" team in the playoffs. The fact the Indians are about to reach the Series is great, but hardly reason to proclaim money doesn't matter. Talk about small sample size!

In the NL, the only really big money team is the Mets. We all know about their collapse, and the Cubs certainly threw some money around. But the Rockies play in a division where only the Dodgers have money, and we all know how that went. It's great to see the Rockies compete, but don't think they wouldn't take a bump in payroll just the same. Money matters more often than not- the Cubs and Mets can afford to make mistakes the smaller teams can't. If the Rockies make the post season the next 5 seasons you might be on to something, but you can't make sweeping conclusions based on a single season.

The obvious story in baseball right now is clearly the youth movement. Teams like the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox are seeing the trend in rebuilding has to be largely done internally. They are outspending their opponents both in 40-man payroll as well as scouting and signing bonuses.

If you think money doesn't matter in baseball, that all teams are competing on a level playing field.... well, you're an idiot or you're not paying attention.

Take your pick.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crazy rookies and the playoffs

The post season is full of cliches that can drive you kind of crazy if you let them. Pitching and defense wins championships. Jeter is Mr. Clutch. A-Rod sucks in the playoffs. The list is endless.

Let's just say if the Yankees win the championship it will NOT be a result of their defense!

A big topic the Mariner fan base discussed at length all season is the value of rookies. To some, rookies are an unknown quantity that should only be used at the beginning of the season. Geoff Baker of the Times has argued this point, and takes a lot of heat for it because he is the only prominent blogger who actually defends this position. We are told Adam Jones should start next spring, but he cannot play now when we have sure-fire proven veterans like Vidro and Ibanez who will take us to the playoffs. We have Bavasi who says Adam Jones is "in play" after the trade deadline to join the club, but apparently not in May when it was obvious he could help the team earlier than anyone expected.

Educated fans understand the game has changed. Rookies and prospects carry far more weight today than ever in baseball. The annual trading of prospects for veterans has changed significantly- young pitching is valued far more than it was even 10 years ago. The evidence is indisputable.

Consider this minor note in the NY Times today:

"The Yankees gave the last two bullpen spots to the rookie right-handers José Veras and Ross Ohlendorf, leaving the left-hander Ron Villone off the roster. “I don’t understand, I didn’t get an explanation, and I don’t want one,” Villone said. “I’m supporting the guys they chose because I want to win, but I’m allowed to feel the way I feel.” Both pitchers were September call-ups who have never faced the Indians. They limited hitters to a combined .190 average."

Here go those crazy Yankees again! Keeping two rookies over the "proven" veteran Ron Villone. Does anyone seriously wonder how John McLaren would have handled this situation? The Yankees, the biggest spenders in all of baseball charged into the playoffs and have rookies to thank for it. Ask any Yankee fan if they are excited to see Joba, Hughes etc... on the team. Do you think they are more worried about the kids, or more worried how the veterans like Mussina will do in the playoffs?

Or is it just possible the fans understand talent is what will likely decide who is the post season hero and who is the goat for the Yankees this month? They have no idea if Mussina will blow up or if Joba will melt under the heat, but it is clear Cashman and company are letting talent make the decisions and not cliches like "rookies don't know how to pitch in October."

We'll see lots of kids this October. We just won't see them in a Mariners uniform.

While you watch Jeter at the plate, keep in mind Adam Jones is packing his bags on his way to Winter ball...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Playoffs finally here

With the playoff race lost weeks ago and McLaren refusing to look at the youngsters, this season finally came to a merciful end. I personally would have rather seen us finish with 85 wins and gotten a better idea of what the kids can do, but hey Guillen almost had 100 RBI's!


At least we're not Met fans today. I can't believe the sucker-punch to the gut they just administered to their fans. Imagine the M's collapse happening at the very end of the season instead of August/earl Sept. and imagine them being in first place the entire year. We just witnessed the biggest collapse I've seen since the Angel's in '95. To lose at home they way they did, when a single win is all it would have taken.... our collapse is nowhere near the train wreck.

So now we get to watch the playoffs and start thinking ahead to next spring. Remember all the talk from some quarters about winning the west with 85 wins? Remember the comparisons to last seasons 83 win Cardinals team? They chose to ignore history (which is) done at your own peril. The team played it safe, won 88 games and still sits in October. Raul is happy, but the fans get screwed and McLaren comes back.

More blech.

This winter we can argue about Morrow as a starter. About Sexson coming back. About the trades Bavasi will make.

Should Lopez pack his bags now?
Where will Wlad end up? (surely not in Seattle)
Did Gullien piss off Mac by publicly calling him a wuss?
Will we be tormented to an off season of hell with a Yankees championship?

Looking forward to an exciting off season.