Mariners Analysis

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mercifully over

You couldn't dream up a more fitting ending. Having not won a series all year, the team finally sweeps Oakland and loses the number one pick in the process. An absolutely fitting, frustrating end to this terrible season.

I have been a Mariner fan for 30 years, and an avid fan for at least the past 15. This season my interest in the team was at its lowest point certainly since '92. The Chuck and Howie program is getting old and I think we all agree the decision they make this winter will determine how much longer my interest stagnates.

Good news?

Well it looks like Bedard isn't injured as badly as first reported. And.... I'm having trouble coming up with anything else.

It will be a fun winter since we won't have McLaren and Bavasi around, so at least we have no where to go but up.

Ok, I'm feeling better already...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bedard done

With the news Eric Bedard will never pitch again for the Mariners, we can actually do two things:
  • Close the books on the trade
  • Identify people who refuse to learn
The first part is easy. Instead of hearing how we should wait until next year to see what a healthy Bedard can do for the Mariners, we can officially call the trade a complete, utter disaster. Whether you think a trade can only be evaluated by what we know at the time of the trade, or whether you think a trade can only be evaluated by results, the scorecard is complete. The Bedard for farm system trade will be remembered as one of the most lopsided trades in recent baseball history. Historically bad for the Mariners and historically in the context of all teams. It was that bad.

The second part is just as easy. We have reporters like Baker who took potshots at people who dared to criticize the trade over the winter who need to come out and set the record straight.

The question is not whether Baker owes anyone an apology. The question is can Baker learn? Can he admit that if a future trade similar to the Bedard-for-farm opportunity arises, will he listen to the Baker who argued so passionately over the winter that the trade was worth the risk? Or will he admit he might listen to the USS Mariner position a little more strongly next time?

It's okay to be wrong. We've all been wrong before about something. But it's not okay to refuse to learn anything.

That's just being an ass.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Morrow reason to watch

Even as recently as two years ago, I would watch 150+ games a year either in person or on TV. Last year saw the number decline, and this year I'm sure will hit a low point that hasn't been seen since the early 90's.

Interim management, lousy team, not entertaining. It would be easier if young kids like Clement or Wlad were hitting, but they aren't and I could really care less if Cairo is in the lineup or not.

But Morrow is something else. He is the lone bright spot, along with Felix the only pitcher who can really claim to be part of the solution.

The Huskies suck. The Sonics are gone. The Seahawks are predictably on the decline (I never understood the optimism around the team going in to the season among fans.) We know about the Mariners.

Brandon Morrow. I thought he'd struggle as a starter this soon, but he is proving me wrong in a pleasant manner. A few more like him and I expect my game interest will return to normal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mariners face an uphill battle

One of the key debates during the off season will revolve around how good this team might be next year. Even the new GM is going to have some tough nights trying to figure out if a complete tear down is in order. Much like the Bedard debate last year, the "how good-how bad" debate will have no clear answers until we begin play.

It is true the team has a core set of players who will allow them to fairly easily shake the title of worst-AL-team. With Felix, Morrow, Ichiro and Beltre among others, there is no reason this team can't be .500 next year with some intelligent roster management. This isn't 2003. There is some youth to build around, especially if Fields gets signed and is as good as advertised and the club dumps Washburn to gain payroll flexibility.

However, being a .500 team is not that special. I'm not going to run out and buy season tickets because a new GM is going to turn this club from laughingstock to forgettable. The problem for the M's is the division they play in:
Angels- much better team, better owner, better manager, better farm system, equal financial footing
Athletics- budget continues to increase year to year, about to move in to new stadium, smart GM and much improved farm system
Rangers- better farm system, smarter management team in place, awesome offense

Based on what is likely to happen over the off season, I'd have a hard time picking the M's any better than 3rd in the division. Both Texas and Oakland have much better farm systems and it's not like baseball is going to take a time out and let the M's catch up. Sure the M's will be better next year, but we can bet the other teams are going to be working to get better too. Ranger fans are thinking "if only we can get some pitching" and Oakland fans are thinking "some of these guys are going to be really good" this winter too.

It's too easy to just write in the Angels for the next 3 years as division winners, even though that is what very well could happen. We play sports because of the unpredictability. The Mariners MIGHT win the world series next year. The Huskies might win a game under Willingham that matters. You just never know.

But if we are being honest with ourselves, the Mariners face a pretty large hurdle in the off season. In many cases their opponents are better today, possess a deeper farm system and have smarter staffs.

The Mariner front office needs to really look in the mirror and understand they are far, far away from fielding a playoff caliber team and have some serious obstacles to over come if they want to win the West.

I'm not sure I disagree with the idea the team can be .500 next year. But I have a much harder time seeing this team actually competing for a playoff spot. In my eyes, that's a big difference and I don't see that problem going away any time soon.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Add Morrow to list

I've been pretty skeptical on this blog regarding Morrow's effectiveness as a starter. I have always characterized his long term starter potential as "unknown" simply because of all the variables. And one fantastic start does not a career make.

But at least for September, in addition to King Felix day, we can now add Morrow to the list of days we can be excited about as Mariner fans.

Can Morrow continue to pitch 8+ innings in a start? Will he continue to throw 95+ in the later innings. Will his shoulder hold up?

Thank you Brandon Morrow for giving us one more reason to watch a baseball game.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Silly Penny Pinching

While we watch the September callups get indifferent playing time, one name we won't see is Josh Fields.

Word is the team is not that far apart. The slot money the team wants to pay based on baseballs recommendation and what Boras wants is only $500k.

For a team that has the worst record in the AL, and spent $117 million doing it, is letting $500k worth making a statement about?

Let's review the timeline and justification for drafting Fields with the first pick:
  • Boras lets teams know he wants $2 million to sign
  • Fields is acknowledged before the draft as being very close to major league ready
  • Team is struggling with internal decision to move Morrow to rotation or leave in pen
  • Team drafts Fields even though it possesses worst record in baseball and has few position players in upper end of system
  • Team is ridiculed by many national media writers for drafting reliever in first round
  • Team refuses to meet Boras signing demands, instead preferring to toe the line with baseball guidelines
Drafting a reliever with a first round pick is stupid when you're team is terrible. Drafting a reliever in the first round and then refusing to sign the pick promptly, thereby negating the only advantage they possess (speed to majors) simply makes no sense.

We could be watching Fields in the majors right now. Instead he is on vacation while the worst team in the AL plays trying to avoid 100 losses.