Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

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...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

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?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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.

Friday, February 13, 2009

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.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why budget matters

One of the many infuriating comments made by some fans over the years is about money and the Mariners. When the team would sign someone like Silva or Batista for too many years and too many dollars, the common response was so what. The thinking goes the Mariners make plenty of money and frankly, who cares if they overspend because money has never been the problem for them. (this was their argument, not mine)

Essentially the thinking is- Oakland is a small market team and money matters, but not for a big spender like the Mariners.

Of course this was stupid thinking then, just as it today. And we have no better evidence of this then Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.

Both expected to make upwards of $60 million each during the offseason. Instead, they made less than half combined. With the change in market pricing and general belt tightening due to the economy plus a change in defensive value, both saw their market fall to seemingly bargain pricing.

Most fans would have liked to see one of them in a Mariners uniform. But guess what?

With no room in the budget, the new GM had no real chance to add a player like an Abreu. Why?

Because the Mariners made stupid moves in the past that prevented them from carving room out of the budget. The Mariners, like most teams in the majors, set a budget for their GM. This means when they run out of money for the year, they are done wheeling and dealing. If they want to add a player, they need to subtract something to make room for it. The myth that the Mariners have some huge slush fund that can be used at any time to add a player like Abreu is simply untrue. The Mariners goal is to make as much money as possible while still fielding a decent team so they can pay off their debt from Safeco overruns. Until that debt is paid, the team has shown no interest in even breaking even.

Every year since Safeco has been open, the team has made a profit. Again, every year the Mariners play baseball, they take in more money then they invest on the field. Could the Mariners have kept their payroll at $117 million and given Jack the flexibility to add Abreu or even a Manny if he wanted? Sure. But they won't.

Why did they spend more last year? What is because the team was making a huge push towards the playoffs and was willing to lose money to do it? No, as we've covered before the Mariners received a one time payment of roughly $20 million from the sale of the Nationals. They didn't get an additional payment this year, and guess what... the payroll is down 20%. What a shocker.

So the next time some casual fan says "So what.. they overpaid but the Mariners aren't a small market team like Oakland so money doesn't really matter" just punch them in mouth.

They deserve a lesson in economic reality.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Union solely responsible for 'roids mess

While the world ponders a future where many of the top baseball players of recent generation do not make the hall of fame (gasp) there's no reason to question where the blame lies.

That's squarely with the players union.

I wrote passionately years ago the job of the players union is to protect its players. Protect them from bad contracts, unsafe working conditions, you name it... the job is to protect. Yet when the issue of protecting its members from feeling the pressure to take performance enhancing drugs came along the union looked the other way. Why should our members be treated any different, they mused over expense account lunch martinis...

Well, Fehr and company you have your answer. If you can't figure out what "protect" means then quite frankly you're not qualified to have a job. The only reason the union agreed to the "secret" testing was because it didn't have the brain power to realize what a problem it actually was. When the results where finally available, only slowly did the powers that run the players union understand the significance of what they had on their hands.

Can you imagine the gasps that had to have occurred when the list revealed Alex Rodriguez is a steroid user? The highest paid player in the world, the highest paid player in the history of sports contracts was using illegal drugs.

The union did not provide an environment where its members felt everyone was on the same field, so to speak. The union could not maintain the secrecy it promised its members when it agreed to the 2003 testing.

The union screwed up big time, and if there was any accountability they would all be shown the door.

Not likely to happen, but it should.