2011 Organizational Rankings #17: Seattle

Wow, it seems like we were just in the high teens, and now we’re all the way up to #6…

[rimshot]

Present Talent – 70.00 (25th)

Mariners Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (t-5th)

Mariners Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 78.08 (14th)
Baseball Operations – 78.33 (t-15th)

Overall Rating – 76.76 (17th)

It has been quite a ride for both the Mariners and the organizational rankings the last couple of seasons, a simultaneously entertaining and irritating saga that has been recounted from a multitude perspectives in a wide swath of locales around the ‘net (including here). As you may have heard, the 2010 Mariners, who started with such great aspirations, crashed and burned. There is a curious (and somewhat ironic) parallel between the 2010 Mariners and the 2009 Royals: high hopes among portions of the fan base for a flawed attempt to contend, things going south fairly quickly, and the team’s young ace winning the Cy Young despite a relatively unimpressive won-loss record. This is a limited parallel — there is obviously a pretty big difference between acquiring Cliff Lee and acquiring Mike Jacobs to give your team a boost. Seattle’s farm system isn’t nearly on the level of Kansas City’s has become (it isn’t awful either) and players like Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley should be significant contributors in the near future.

In the meantime, Seattle is looking at a season in which finishing anywhere but last in the American League West would be pretty surprising. Every Felix Hernandez start is worth watching, of course, and Ichiro Suzuki continues to defy and confound typical aging curves. After that, Franklin Gutierrez‘s fielding (assuming he can work through his stomach problems) is one of the few things that will be appealing to watch, although I’m sure many eyes will be glued to the main piece in the Cliff Lee trade: Justin Smoak. The team brought in some stopgaps of varying value (Cust, Ryan, and Olivo) in an attempt to keep the 2011 team somewhat respectable. But overall, it’s an ugly scene.

The differences between the teams ranked somewhere around #13-#21 are fairly small, and changing one or two grades would have altered the order a fair bit. The Mariners current talent is seen as one of the worst in baseball, and that is the main thing keeping them from being ranked any higher. Their minor league talent is part of the big blob in the middle. That leaves the financial situation, which is ranked higher than teams just below them, like Oakland and San Diego, without being considered great, and then baseball operations, ranked right in the middle of the pack.

Financially, the Mariners seem to be fairly well off. Although their payroll has come down from its peak of around $118 million in 2008, it has still been over $90 million dollars the last couple of seasons, and a projected 2011 payroll of about $86 million is still pretty big for a team that isn’t anywhere close to contending. This isn’t a comment on whether or not that money is all well-spent, but it does indicate a decent degree of financial stability and willingness to spend. Although attendance and ratings plummeted as the 2010 season went into the tank, a 10-year TV deal worth $450 million goes into effect in 2011. The Mariners have a couple of big contract commitments going forwaord. Ichiro’s current deal expires after 2012, and King Felix’s salary will go up to around $20 million starting that season, although that contract is reasonable for a player of his value. The Mariners should have plenty of payroll room when it is necessary provided they manage it somewhat sensibly. They won’t be the Yankees or Red Sox, but they will have some margin for error.

Minimizing such errors is one of the responsibilities of the various parts of the organization that fall under the tag “baseball operations,” a big lightning rod for discussions about the Mariners. From the the signing of general manager Jack Zduriencik at the end of the 2008 season through most of the 2009-2010 offseason, the front office could seemingly do little wrong. But things like trying to contend with a Zombie DH Platoon of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Sweeney were cracks that presaged the disastrous 2010 campaign that ended with 101 losses.

Now, the team obviously had some “bad luck” in 2010: no one expected the team to hit well, but hitting collectively like Jason Kendall was something I think few can honestly say they anticipated. But when rewinding oneself back to the 2009 team, one notes something similar: some players clearly played somewhat “over their heads” (e.g. the offensive performances of Russell Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez), and while Pythagorean Expectation isn’t a good way to evaluate a team’s “true talent,” a team that outperforms it by nine games should raise some eyebrows. In other words, while the 2010 Mariners probably weren’t as bad as their record, the 2009 Mariners probably weren’t as good as theirs.

Those were two differently composed teams, of course, but my point isn’t about those players, but rather about how to think clearly about the baseball operations department. I can’t speak for other people who have participated in the ranking of organizations the last couple of seasons, but as I explained elsewhere, I think my personal mistake with regard to my own overrating of Jack Z. and his staff after 2009 was primarily a case of getting sucked in by a “small sample size.” Just as a front office probably isn’t as good as its best decisions (whether evaluated from the perspective of process or result), they probably aren’t as bad as they are at their worst. As with player performance, one season of a front office tells you something, but it’s still a relatively small sample. Neither the apparent shrewdness of the earlier decisions nor the massive failures of many of the more recent ones are probably representative of the “true talent” of those in charge of baseball operations in Seattle. The likely (and boring) truth is somewhere in the vast space in between.

There isn’t space to discuss all the important and relevant data. This year’s grades for baseball operations put them right in the middle of the league. While the front office obviously experienced some good and bad fortune related to their transactions, it isn’t as if we are unable to give some sort of inferential evaluation of their decision-making process. We should, of course, evaluate decisions by how bad or good they seemed at the time they were made. Almost all of them were and are subject to debate heavily covered by how they worked out afterwards, with the Chone Figgins contract and Carlos SilvaMilton Bradley trade probably being the biggest lightning rods. I’ll mention three different decisions from each side of the ledger to get a sense of how baseball operations has done since the changeover after the 2008 season. On the “naughty” side: attempting to contend in 2010 with Griffey and Sweeney as the two-headed awful DH (no matter who made that call, it doesn’t look good for baseball operations), trading Brandon League for Brandon Morrow (Morrow’s 2010 didn’t seem likely, but given that League’s ceiling of was never more than “good reliever” was probably not far from Morrow’s “floor”), and the Josh Lueke fiasco (leaving aside moral issues, simply from a baseball operations perspective even the most generous take on the situation makes the Mariner’s front office look bad). Those were pretty bad, but they don’t eliminate the significance of those on the “nice” side, either: grabbing Russell Branyan for a mere $1.5 million as the new front office’s first free agent signing, the big three-way trade that brought Franklin Gutierrez to town for his apotheosis as a monster in center field, and getting better value for Cliff Lee than what they gave up to get him (although I personally think that the reported offer from the Yankees centering on Jesus Montero was better; we’ll see).

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I believe we are in many ways back to square one in evaluating Seattle’s current baseball operations staff. Undoubtedly, the acquisition and development of amateur talent will also be significant in that regard, and it will take more time to get a good read on that. Another relevant issue is if the Mariners really bomb again this season, there is always the chance of a firing at the top, and Zduriencik’s abililty to keep the team somewhat respectable in order to avoid that while not doing things that screw up the development of the team’s younger talent (e.g., calling up guys too early, or blocking other players with mediocre stopgap veterans) will be yet another test.

The 2011 season in Seattle will consist primarily of a long series of waits between King Felix starts and Ichiro plate appearances. Better days might not be that far down the road. Money probably won’t be an excuse when Seattle is ready to try for contention again. The onus for future success (and where the Mariners end up next season in these rankings, undoubtedly a major concern for them) lies on the front office’s ability to put the embarrassment of 2010 behind them and make the right calls for the future.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


190 Responses to “2011 Organizational Rankings #17: Seattle”

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  1. tyler says:

    There must be some sort of a mishap. Seattle’s spot is the 6th.

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    • joey says:

      I’m pretty sure the comment section is for people who actually read the posts. If you’re just commenting on the title, don’t.

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  2. Telo says:

    Much more reasonable…

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  3. baty says:

    I like the first statement… you need a sense of humor when you’re putting together lists like this… I just hope they aren’t rushing Pineda… I like Ackley, and he’s a total wild card. I’m having a hard time envisioning the type of hitter he has the potential to be.

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  4. Sam says:

    I was just wondering what type of logical gymnastics would be required to bump Seattle ahead of Oakland.

    Seattle’s minor league talent rankings:

    Baseball America: 18th
    ESPN (Law): 10th
    Baseball Prospectus: 13th

    Fangraphs: 5th

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    • Ory says:

      It is a 10 way tie for fifth so it is inline with ESPN and BP.

      Nice try though but 0/10.

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      • Sam says:

        Thanks for the kinds words, sycophant.

        In this system, the Mariners get an 85 for Future Talent. The A’s also get an 85…for ranking 6th in Baseball Operations. Giving the Mariners the same number of points they’d get if they were the #6 org in Future Talent is overrating them.

        Would you agree?

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      • LexDiamonds says:

        That’s the problem; there shouldn’t be a 10-way tie for fifth.

        It’s completely unintuitive to have 2 people compile the “future talent” rankings for this exercise when there’s many more people contributing to the other rankings. I get it- Fangraphs only has 2 people who do their MiLB stuff, but if they’re also factoring in cost-controlled youngsters, there needs to be more input from more writers.

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      • Jack Nugent says:

        Agree w/ that last sentiment– not a fan at all of how future talent is being calculated. Not sure I’m even of huge fan of the attempt at ‘objectivity’ in this exercise. I understand a change wouldn’t have been made if enough people felt the same was as me, but just my opinion– I think this is meant to be sorta subjective.

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    • VivaAyala says:

      All it really requires is to acknowledge the substantial advantage Seattle has in sustainable financial resources.

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      • Sam says:

        Just like the Mets and Dodgers. Wait…

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      • CMC_Stags says:

        The owners aren’t getting divorced and milking the team for money nor are they being sued for $1B. While the Dodgers and Mets have larger markets in local population, they both split those markets with other teams. The M’s also have just about the largest geographical market in MLB. Their current and near term financial situation is better than both the Mets and the Dodgers.

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      • Sam says:

        The Mets and Dodgers have higher payrolls, higher revenues, and higher franchise values than the Mariners.

        At most, they may intersect in financial resources for a year or two–but even that’s unlikely. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, the Mets and Dodgers are in far better financial situations than the Mariners.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I had the same thought.

      5th in future talent … my arse.

      ————————————–

      Just using the criteria/evidence listed in the article, I have a BIG issue with their baseball operations being listed as 15th.

      They have a playoff team’s payroll and are going to finish last in 2010 and 2011, with 2010 being historically bad. That’s a serious problem/situation. Not too many teams could accomplish such a feat.

      Seriously, they’re rated 15th in baseball operations and their GM could be on his way out after back-to-back last place seasons.

      ————————————

      If the M’s future talent scores closer to 15th rather than 5th (15th being more accurate) and their baseball operations scores lower than 15th, then they score in the 20s (bottom 10) where they belong.

      It seems strange, to me, to range baseball operations 15th, when the front office is about to be “cleaned out”.

      Honestly, the Mariners are the AL’s version of the Diamondbacks.

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      • Zach says:

        Well, you could make a superficial judgment that implies that the current front office is totally responsible for the team that went 61-101 in 2010, or you could, you know, actually look at the situation.

        Last year’s team was saddled with a number of expensive contracts that Zduriencik and company had nothing to do with, either because they didn’t sign them or they had to trade a bad contract for a bad contract. The previous regime left the cupboard as bare as it’s ever been left, with the only long-term assets being Ichiro (signed to a fair contract) and Felix (not signed to a long-term deal at the time), and a bunch of ugly contracts (Silva, Batista, Washburn, Johjima). Not to mention the fact that the farm system was one of the worst in the game.

        Granted, the results last year were ugly, and you can certainly take issue with some of the moves that were made (I know I do). That doesn’t change the fact that the team is in far, FAR better shape now than it was when Zduriencik took over.

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      • VivaAyala says:

        “It seems strange, to me, to range baseball operations 15th, when the front office is about to be “cleaned out”.”

        All the major projections, ZIPS, Cairo, Vegas, etc., that I’ve seen project the Ms to have a win total in the low 70s, which would be at minimum a nine game improvement over last year, and which most likely would result in GMZ keeping his job. Unless something goes disastrously wrong, again, my impression is that the front office is not going to get “cleaned out.”

        And that 5th place tie is not going to give them any advantage over other systems like them – middle of the road, with a real ability to help the big league club, but not top tier. I think it reflects the reality that most of the farms “in the middle” don’t have a significant difference in quality.

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      • WilsonC says:

        I think it’s more the scale rather than the fact that a lot of teams are clustered together in future rankings that needs work. When we’re dealing with as much unpredictability as with prospects, saying “this cluster of teams rates above average, but with little meaningful difference between them” is reasonable as far as I’m concerned. However, is this cluster really as close to the Royals in future talent as they are to teams like the A’s? (10 points above and below)

        If there’s going to be a 10 way tie, it seams like there should be a bigger gaps between the top teams and this grouping. I don’t know if it’ll have much impact overall, though – so far, I don’t have any major issues with the rankings, more just minor quibbles.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I like Jack, and I liked the moves from 2010, except going into the season with zero power bats in the lineup.

        Another way to look at what you said is the only positives of the mariners were there before Jack got there.

        Guti and the Lee trade are balanced out by Figgins and no offense.

        I fail to see how they aren’t the “DBacks of the AL”, with the exception that the DBacks have more present talent.

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      • WilsonC says:

        If you look at the breakdowns, “AL version of the D’Backs” really isn’t all that much of a departure from their assessment outside of one aspect: finances.

        The present talent ratings are basically the same. The future talent values are a bit skewed because of the way the clustering works, but the D’backs appear to rank just below that 10-team cluster at 16th. The front office rankings both fell this year from lofty expectations, but the gap between them is small – 78.3 to 75 – despite a bigger difference in the rankings. Ultimately, the breakdowns tell me that the two teams are in roughly are in roughly the same state as far as personnel goes, on and off the field, but that the Mariners have a better outlook due to deeper pockets. That seems reasonable to me.

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      • Jim says:

        The Diamondbacks? When did Seattle win a championship? Certainly I would have noticed that…

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      • Patrick42 says:

        Jim,

        What does that have to do with this? We’re not talking about franchise history.

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    • mhad says:

      I think the financial situation of both teams necessarily drops Oakland below Seattle. Dave put it very well in his post on Oakland. They have a very low ceiling. Here’s one Giants fan that hopes Oakland can move to San Jose, at least.

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    • Mike H says:

      That 10-way tie for 5th in the minor league rankings really needs to get fixed next year. I mean that’s basically a useless metric.

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    • Sam says:

      I love the defensive comment ratings here. Hilarious.

      Present talent: 25th
      Minor league talent: 16th
      Future talent: T-5th

      You don’t see a problem, here? A bad team with a middling farm system, yet only 4 teams have better “future talent?”

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      • MO'Toole says:

        In case you can’t read, there’s 10 teams tied for 5th in future talent. Please learn to read before commenting.

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      • Bronnt says:

        MO’Toole…clearly that’s the problem. Only four teams were ranked HIGHER, which is what he said. That 10 way tie is a bit ridiculous.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Yeah, a 10-way tie when dealing with 1000 samples in one thing …

        … a 10-way tie in a 30-team league is another.

        1/3 of the league is tied for 5th in regards to future talent.

        It’s wacky, but probably not a whole “bust the system” type of deal, just some tweaking for 2012 can fix that.

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  5. gu03alum says:

    The Mariners also got prospect Johermyn Chavez in the deal for League. I’m not sure the book is closed on that deal especially with Morrow’s injury history.

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  6. ILDD says:

    Every division now has multiple entries except AL East which has none at all.

    I’m going to guess that Yankees #1, Bosox #2, Rays #6, Jays #8 and Orioles # 15

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    • Steve says:

      Thinking the Rays will be higher. And keeping with the alternating yearly trend, the Sox and Yankees might be flipped. The Yankees have the better farm system and more financial resources, even if the Sox look at tad stronger on the field in 2011.

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      • CMC_Stags says:

        Rays don’t have the financial resources to be higher. They may be top 5 in current talent, future talent, and FO, but their financial resources score will be in line with Oakland’s.

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      • oh dear says:

        Sox depleted farm system will drag them way down as well.

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    • Nate says:

      Jays will be below 8th.

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      • Nate says:

        To further that thought, as beneficial as it was to unload the Rios and Wells contracts, AA cannot receive credit for Williams and Reagin’s behavior.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Wasn’t JP still technically running the ship when Rios got dumped?

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      • Steve says:

        Why not? That means no GM can ever be credited for a good trade.

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      • Nate says:

        GM’s get positive credits for win-win trades and for trades that work out much better than conventional wisdom expected.

        For instance is Wells turned into Barry Bonds for the remainder of his contract, Reagins would go from receiving -100 points to +100 points for the trade.

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      • MK says:

        Yes, you’re right Nate. Following that logic Theo can not be given credit for Crawford’s and Gonzalez’s behavior.

        I’m not sure what Cashman can be given credit for.

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      • André says:

        “AA cannot receive credit for Williams and Reagin’s behaviour.”

        By that logic, the Blue Jays organization didn’t benefit from those trades either, am I right? Because the only groups allowed to benefit from Williams and Reagan’s “behaviour” are their detractors in the organization and snarky baseball bloggers.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Reagins would go from receiving -100 points to +100 points for the trade.

        Not likely. It would be chalked up to luck or something else since conventional wisdom and sabermetric analysis viewed it as a “bad trade” at the time.

        TOR gets “credit” for dumping his contract, but KW doesn’t get credit for Rios producing 3M in “suprplus value” in 2011.

        If Wells goes in to have 6-7 WAR seasons, I would not hold that against AA, and I’m sure everyone would be stunned.

        But Alex Rios having 4 WAR seasons, given his age and past performanc, should be the expectation, not a surprise.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      I will go with…

      #1 Phillies
      #2 Rays
      #3 Yankees
      #4 Rangers
      #5 Braves
      #6 Twins
      #7 Giants
      #8 Angels
      #9 Red Sox
      #10 Reds

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      • Steve says:

        huh?

        Not a Sox fan, but the Red Sox are going to score near the top for Present Talent, Financial Resources, and Baseball Operations.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        i’ll guess…

        Braves
        Rays
        Yankees
        Rangers
        Red Sox
        Phillies
        Giants
        Reds
        Twins
        Rockies

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      • Daniel says:

        That’s pretty funny, I’ll give you that.

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      • Daniel says:

        I meant Xei Frank, not Brad Johnson.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Jays or Tigers would be fairly interchangeable with Reds/Twins/Rockies

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      • gu03alum says:

        Aren’t the rays going to get dinged pretty good for financial resources. I think they will be like 9 or 10 based on that.

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      • Steve says:

        They’ll get dinged, but they will clean up on present/future talent and baseball operations. I mean, just this year they have 1000 draft picks coming in June.

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      • pogotheostrich says:

        Red Sox at #9 seems really low.

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      • Xeifrank says:

        I ding the Red Sox for two things. Firstly, their minor league system is average at best and I am not overly impressed with teams that out spend every team not named the Yankees. I think the Yankees overcome this with their superior minor league system. I would rank organizations a little different than the way FG does it.

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      • Otter says:

        Giants? The same Giants that barely made the playoffs and probably wouldn’t win 81 games in the American League this year or last year?

        I’m sorry, but other than the Phillies and Braves and maybe Cardinals, the rest of the top ten should be AL teams.

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      • LexDiamonds says:

        If the Yanks and Red Sox aren’t #1 and #2 I’ll eat my hat.

        And that hat will be made of crow and poop.

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      • Nate says:

        @Otter – The Giants could certainly have won the AL West last year and as far as these rankings are concerned, they will rank much much higher in financial resources than you could be aware of. With the Mets and Dodgers currently farting away their markets, they will be 4th or 5th in that category.

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  7. Brad Johnson says:

    The first thing I noticed was that Dave Cameron didn’t write this. It’s funny when a website reacts to trolls (even if they had a point at the time).

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    • Steve says:

      If they “had a point”, why are they “trolls”?

      Obviously, there were many people “trolling” long after the fact, I’m sure I made my share of #6!! jokes. But it seems pretty obvious that they were “wrong” last year in the ranking of Seattle, it would be wierd if they DIDN’T react to all the criticism, right?

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    • Telo says:

      Yea, trolls.

      PS – the Rangers at 4th on your list… try again.

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  8. Norm Norm says:

    No way the Angels are that high or red sox that low…

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    • Nate says:

      Yep, next four will be Orioles, Angels, White Sox and and Tigers in some order.

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      • Otter says:

        That would be a shame if the White Sox lack of a minor league system dings them that much considering they have a GM who always seems to be on the right end of any deal not involving Nick Swisher, a pitching coach that regularly turns disappointments into near All-Stars, a team that may win the World Series this year, and a good chunk of money to spend.

        Same goes for the Angels (well not winning the WS this year part)…

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      • Jason B says:

        I hope you’re not implying that the Angels also ” have a GM who always seems to be on the right end of any deal” after the totally indefensible Wells fiasco. If you are, your credibility in judging such matters becomes instantly nil.

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  9. Eric says:

    Let the Great #17org discussion begin!

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    • rudy says:

      I can only hope this ends with someone writing “#17 org” thirty times in a row and Matt Klaassen writing a bitter, follow-up “apology” post.

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  10. VivaAyala says:

    Seems like a pretty fair ranking. Could jump up pretty quickly in future years if the top prospects develop as we hope and the baseball ops prove to be more consistently smart/effective.

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    • JR says:

      Yeah, all they have to do is avoid losing 100 games for the 3rd time in 4 years, and they can climb back into the top 10

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Stop viewing results as if they matter. *wink*

        The M’s don’t just need prospects to develop (i.e., league average), they need them to be all-star level (4+ WAR). Could happen, but not likely.

        They also need to attract a power hitter to a stadium that’s going to supress power. I think we saw that players are aware of what Safeco and Petco do to stats (which are important in free agency and arbitration), and avoid it at all costs. A player looking to rebound from a down season (i.e., decent potential risk) is going to run in the other direction.

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      • VivaAyala says:

        This is meant as a reply to CC. For some reason, after two comments in, the reply button doesn’t appear in my browser. So I apologize in advance for my reply fail.

        CC11 – the projections that have the Ms winning 70 or so games are pretty pessimistic about the Ms prospects this year. Smoak is around replacement level, Ackley about the same (I think those are too pessimistic, but for the sake of argument I’m assuming they’re accurate). The only one systems seem to be bullish about is Pineda, who’s projected to be about league average (which I think is too optimistic). If those guys produce all-star (4 WAR) seasons, then the Mariners should be expected to win around 80 this year and escape the cellar.

        As for the power hitter, I agree that that would be nice, but I suggest that more power throughout the lineup, rather than a single big bopper, would be preferable. It should be mentioned that Safeco is only really detrimental to hitters with power to left and left-center – to right field the park is much more neutral, so a lefty pull hitter can be expected to thrive there.

        As for power hitters, I agree

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      • James says:

        VivaAyala:

        So *if* Smoak and Ackley–who will begin the season in the minors–both unexpectedly have All-Star seasons, the M’s make it out of the basement? Is that supposed to be an endorsement?

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      • VivaAyala says:

        James –

        No, not really. The Ms, at present, are a probably a 70+ win team (backed up by the public projections), which in turn is likely good enough to save GMZ’s job. In making this projection, the various systems (CAIRO, ZIPS) are assuming that Smoak and Ackley are below-average players.

        My point is that, if the best case scenario occurs (those guys are all a 4 WAR hit), the Ms don’t just survive but probably reach .500 this year, and are in great shape for contention in 2012 or 13.

        Of course, that’s unlikely to occur, but the Ms don’t need the best case scenario to play out to meet their goals this year.

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  11. Nick says:

    Fangraphs is owned by Dave Cameron. Their future talent is graded higher than anywhere else.
    The baseball operations, which gave Chone Figgins an albatross is ranked middle of the pack.

    Hmmmm, why could this be?

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    • Harrison says:

      Fangraphs isn’t owned by Dave Cameron, it’s owned and created by David Appelman. Cue the NBC music…

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    • Super 2 says:

      FanGraphs isn’t owned by Dave Cameron. God, if you’re going to troll at least put some minimal effort into it

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      • Nick says:

        Who’s the head writer here who decides these things?

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      • I can’t believe I’m responding to you, but this is for the benefit of those readers out there who don’t feel a need to bray all the time.

        The writers act independently of each other. Our only obligation is to let others know the subject of what we’re writing to avoid duplicate posts.

        On a series such as this, all input is sought after and nobody’s feelings on their favorite teams was considered. I didn’t vote on the Mariners. Neither did Dave Cameron. Dave or myself could have thought the Ms deserved top grades in every category and it would have mattered not one single bit.

        +67 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Erik says:

      Figgins contract as an albatross is an exaggeration to say the least. 17th isn’t very high. You are grasping at straws, Mr. Chass.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        Nah, not Murray Chass. The fact that they have a place in 15th for baseball operations after every thing Jack Z did last year is a joke.

        -36 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • VivaAyala says:

      Wrong Dave, Nick. Dave Appleman runs Fangraphs.

      Chone Figgins is making 9 million/year. Over his career, he has averaged 2.2 wins per season. The going rate for free agents is around $4.5-5 million/win these days. If Figlet simply puts up his average season, he’s paid market value. Now, that isn’t incredibly valuable to a team as bad as the Ms, but it ain’t an albatross contract, or really even close to one.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        I don’t agree with this because this goes along with the theory that 1 war is market value for 5 million, which I don’t agree with.

        Also, fangraphs heavily overrates defense in their WAR rankings, Figgins gets dinged at BB Ref WAR a bit more than here.

        -31 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Harrison says:

        Nick if Fangraphs is all wrong why come here? If their “head writer” is an idiot and they calculate WAR all wrong? What’s the point? Are you trying to start a revolution? Are you John Lennon? What is this smell around my desk? Oh my! Forgot to feed my fish!

        +21 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Los says:

        Nick,

        Figgins’ F-War is nearly 3 wins less than his B-War. Just like Murray Chass and not checking any facts

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris Cwik says:

      and Billy Beane wrote Moneyball.

      +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CaR says:

      You, Matthew, extolling your virtues as an independent voice in the Seattle blog-land is way beyond a stretch.

      -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. MikeS says:

    So is the new punchline “#17 org?”

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  13. gu03alum says:

    If the Mariners have as much good luck this year as bad luck last year I think this team could be pretty good. If Smoak hits well, Bedard’s arm doesn’t fall off, Pineda pitches to his potential, and Figgins plays like he did before last year then it could be a nice bounce back. If you add in the fact that Cust and Olivo are replacing black holes and Ackley should contribute this season this could be a really good team.

    It’s also very likely the Mariners will be picking 2nd for the third time in four years next year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Otter says:

    Seattle year in and year out totally misreads their talent and team… 2009 they get an outliar year and go out and trade for Cliff Lee, a pretty dumb move and something the M’s seem to do every time they out perform their talent/projections. They start thinking they’re one guy a way and then boom, wouldn’t it be nice to have Adam Jones back? Totally disagree with this ranking, this team is more in the Nats (also overrated on this list imo), Tribe, Royals camp than the A’s.

    -33 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • stevedave says:

      Getting Cliff Lee for basically nothing isnt something I consider to be pretty dumb

      +39 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Harrison says:

        Not to mention trading him for more than you gave away.

        +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Otter says:

        Considering that they weren’t an 85 win team in 2009 and totally out played their talent/projection? I don’t know, even if ended up working out in terms of prospects received back for Lee, it wasn’t a very smart ‘gamble’ especially considering Lee wasn’t going to be the difference in 2010. Just because something works out doesn’t mean it was the right decision.

        -30 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Harrison says:

        Um… they did win 85 games in 2009. I’m confused. I think it was a smart move. Even if they weren’t able to trade him. Two draft picks back in a loaded 2011 draft? There was thought put into the move and Iiked it.

        None of the prospects that we gave up were without serious questions and none of them made any progress either.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Super 2 says:

      Yeah, Seattle’s way worse off with Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak than they would be with Philippe Aumont, JC Ramirez and Tyson Gillies.

      It must be nice to be able to think in such simple scales

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Harrison says:

        Don’t forget about Blake Beaven and Matthew Lawson (aka Aaron Laffey)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Otter says:

        Again, just because it maybe/probably worked out doesn’t mean it was a smart move. Seattle didn’t trade for Lee with the idea of dealing him midseason for Smoak et all.

        And let’s not forget the horrendous Bedard trade which puts a huge damper on the Lee deal. Tony Butler, Adam Jones, Kameron Mickolio, George Sherrill and Chris Tillman anyone?

        -27 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • That was a different front office, Otter. And pythag’s an obsolete way to judge a past year’s talent and a terrible way to judge how a team in year+1 should be evaluated.

        +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Harrison says:

        How does the Bedard trade (made by Bill Bavasi) hurt the Lee deal? I don’t understand.

        True, that the process wasn’t supposed to work the way it did. But that’s part of the value of acquiring a guy who’s dependable and in the last year of his contract.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • gu03alum says:

        Yes they did; it’s the same reason why Oakland traded for Matt Holiday. They knew that he would help a lot if they were contending or they could flip him at the deadline for good prospects or they could let him leave as a free agent and get 2 high draft picks in the upcoming loaded draft. It was a great move that had all upside and limited downside.

        +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jim says:

        Otter: But it could be said that even though the M’s gave up the 5 players you listed for 2 controlled seasons of Erik Bedard before he became a free agent, essentially it’s turned into a 3-for-1 trade now.

        a. Tony Butler was released by the O’s–if it wasn’t last year, it was late 2009. He hadn’t looked good for a while after they acquired him in early 2008, and I’m not sure he will ever amount to much now(not even sure if he’s caught on with anyone else.)

        b. Kam Mickolio was used as part of a package to acquire Mark Reynolds, so while you could add Reynolds to the tally of what the O’s “got” for Bedard, it would be a bit silly(and I’m guessing he was more of a throw-in along with David Hernandez, the main piece).

        c. George Sherrill was traded back in 2009 to the Dodgers for essentially 3B prospect Josh Bell(there may have been another prospect, but not one of high significance, really).

        So, the current tally is more like Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and Josh Bell(and perhaps a year of service from Mark Reynolds?) for Erik Bedard. Not great, but quite so mind-numbingly horrible, either.

        And, plus, as already mentioned, that was a different GM/regime. ;)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        That was a different front office,

        This bothers me.

        In one instance, it being “another front office” doesn’t hurt an organization, but it’s doesn’t help another (Arizona).

        The Mariners and DBacks have a lot of parallels. I think a good case could be made that outlook for Arizona is better than the outlook for Seattle.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. GVeers says:

    Am I the only one reading this site that thought #6org was a perfectly well-reasoned position at the time?

    +21 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nick says:

      Nope, not the only one.

      But remember, Dave Cameron is NEVER wrong.

      This team should be in the 23-26 area.

      -32 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        Erik-

        After all of Jack Z’s screw ups, the baseball operations should be ranked in the 20’s at the very least.

        The minor league talent is overrated because of the silly little tie’s, which has been noted

        The present talent I also feel is a tad too high, I’d say it’s in the 28-32 range

        -35 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • q says:

        Now you’re just trolling. 28-*32* range?

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LetsGoMutz says:

        I kinda agree with the present talent around 28-32. Other than 1 SP (maybe the best in the league) 1 Corner HoF calibar OF and 1 very good OF this team is tremendous at being very bad. They lost 101 gamse, and scored 513 runs last year. They were horrible. I don’t think this team is going to better than many of the teams already listed, and I don’t think the financial resources are all that rosy either. The attendance was bad and getting worse, and ownership has been reducing payroll by 13mm per year for the last 2 years. To me I see a trend of lower attendance — lower payroll — less financial resources…Some of the weights in this ranking here are overly generous.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Umm, LetsGoMutz . . . you do remember there are only 30 teams in MLB, don’t you?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LetsGoMutz says:

        Umm ancient mariner since I was the third person in a row to post the same range I thought it was obvious tongue in cheek. however, someone could argue when the had half the rainers playing for them they were the 31st best offensive team in professional baseball…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon says:

      #6 was too high, but the reasoning behind it was fine. The comments here are slowly devolving into ESPN territory. Tends to happen when a site gets popular.

      +31 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        Anon, they had the worst offense 20+ years. There’s no justification for it other than Dave Cameron being a Mariner’s fan.

        -39 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • VivaAyala says:

        Agreed completely.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • rbt says:

        I thought the reasoning was far from fine, and smacked of fanboy homerism.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sam says:

        The reasoning was terrible and clearly biased.

        Dave Cameron wrote both the Mariners and A’s entries.

        In the Mariners entry, he argued that they should receive boosts for 1) playing in a weak AL West, and 2) having a high variance team.

        In the A’s entry, he argued that they should be docked for 1) playing in a tough AL West, and 2) having a high variance team.

        +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • erich1212 says:

        Anon, I disagree completely on both points. Reread the 400ish posts from last year. Were there personal attacks on DC et al accusing them of groupthink? Sure…and the comments section would have been better off without them. To that i say, yay for +/- thumbs. But it’s unfair to lump all criticism in with those critiques. A lot of people made eloquent points about the reasoning that led to their conclusion. IMHO, the 2010 Mariners could have won 60 or 100, and a lot of the criticisms of the reasoning would have been valid.

        I thought this was a great post from last year, and was something was echoed above:

        “…if you’ve been definitively convinced–either way–after such a small sample size that the FO has it figured out or alternatively is just plain lucky, you’re probably not going to be able to hear the other side”. Bingo.

        +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lewis says:

      Yes?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Albert says:

      Yes

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      No, there was you and a bunch of other Mariner fans.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sam says:

      A middling team with a middling payroll and a middling farm system was ranked the 6th best organization in baseball. It took a wholly unreasonable overrating of the front office to justify that ranking.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        It wasn’t so much the fact that they were ranked 6th, it was the other teams they were ranked ahead of.

        Teams that have actually had success in the last decade.

        It was basically this: “Jack Z is a God, so they are better off than teams who somehow contend every year with a mortal GM”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        “Teams that have actually had success in the last decade.”

        Past success factors into the ratings how, exactly? In looking at the four metrics I see that its weighted…zero percent. Precisely as it should be.

        (Not saying the M’s weren’t misrated at 6th, just not at all for that reason.)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        Well, no, that rolls into “Present Talent” to some extent. I’m talking about a team like the Phillies, who were coming off a World Series and a Pennant.

        Let’s see: better current roster, better farm system, similar or superior financial resources, and yet somehow the Mariners were ranked 3 spots ahead.

        It was completely absurd and there isn’t really any way to defend it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. John Franco says:

    Leaving aside the fact that the ‘baseball operations’ is probably too high at #15, and maybe shouldn’t even be higher than the Pirates at #25, the difference between them is 3 points.

    SEA – Baseball Operations – 78.33 (t-15th)
    PIT – Baseball Operations: 75.00 (t-25th)

    That’s not nearly a big enough spread. When you consider that half the teams in baseball have the same exact rating for future talent, you’re basically saying that 40% of the organizational ratings are meaningless.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nate says:

      Yeah, there’s some very large issues that need to be worked out with the scaling of the various grades.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • epoc says:

      It’s not just that. The difference between the 16th ranked team (overall) and the 29th ranked team is less than five total points. I guess you could say it’s not a big enough spread. Or you could say that it’s an accurate representation of a league where 90% of the teams are pretty evenly matched.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Otter says:

    Did Baltimore get a new owner and no one tell me about it? How is that organization better than half the teams on this list considering they have one of the four worst owners in the game and a good 15 year track record to prove how bad of an organization they are?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. ThundaPC says:

    Good stuff, Matt. This is a refreshingly good article that makes all the right criticisms.

    The Ken Griffey Jr. thing doesn’t get enough attention when people criticize the moves that were made. Griffey’s 2009 season had the most perfect ending possible…he and Ichiro on the shoulder of his teammates after the last game of the season. Then they brought him back (Jack’s call). Worse, they brought him back with no exit plan should he tank. As a result, an article about retirement surfaces with Griffey reportedly sleeping in the clubhouse. Griffey then incorrectly blames Wakamatsu for leaking the story by telling a few “trusted” veterans. Griffey and Wak don’t speak to each other. Then suddenly, he retires. Wak then loses the clubhouse and later….gets fired. Yea, that wasn’t fun.

    Nevertheless, I still love the front office and would really appreciate it if ownership gave as much time and support behind Jack Zduriencik as they did for Bill Bavasi who’s mistakes are still being felt in the now $18 Million owed to Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva (Swapping Silva for Bradley was a deal that just couldn’t be passed up. Silva had to go.).

    The best thing about the farm system is how quickly it’s growing. It was just three years ago that the system took a large hit in acquiring Erik Bedard. The organization is steadily adding talent to the system and creating a pipeline for future talent to be infused with the major league roster. As absolutely embarrassing the whole Josh Leuke debacle was, Josh Leuke himself is on track to make the team out of spring training when it was widely believe he would get dumped due to his past transgressions. This season, I get to watch some combination of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, Josh Lueke work to develop themselves into major league players while hoping Michael Saunders and Adam Moore take big steps forward.

    That’s why I don’t feel the same despair some folks are preparing when the 2011 team hits the field. Despair was the 2nd half of 2010 when I DIDN’T have the option of watching those guys and instead put up with Jose Lopez, Casey Kotchman, Josh Wilson, and whatever minor leaguers we used to fill out the rest of the lineup AND the bullpen. Almost all of the aforementioned young studs would have to crap out in order to reproduce this feeling again.

    Despite coming off a complete disaster of a season, this organization is heading in the right direction and is better off than some people think. While the team did have two 100 loss seasons, those disasters were unique and unrepeatable. The real questions are how soon will the Major League roster recover and where will the team stand in relation to the rest of the division once the team gets good?

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chris d says:

      I don’t think it was jack’s call to bring back Griffey. Anyone with any baseball insight knew that Griffey would not produce and of course he did not. I think the two big guys, the suits, made Jack bring him back

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Bronnt says:

    Maybe a tad high, but nothing to complain about.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Kenny says:

    103 comments and the majority are in disgreement with the ranking and the author as if he or Dave Cameron directly ranked all the teams.

    Shocker.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Dan says:

    If the future talent is part of the blob in the middle, wouldn’t a tie for 15th be more reasonable than a tie for 5th? Honestly, I thought that t-5th was just a typo.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. CircleChange11 says:

    Great point about looking at the score instead of ranking. We had a similar discussion in another thread, and I simpl did not take my own advice.

    Some tweaks for more separation could be used or it could just be reality that the teams in the middle are log-jammed. The case could be made that the middle teams could be sorted in many ways, and still be reasonably accurate.

    I thought the M’s were headed in the right direction before 2010. Now I’m concerned they aren’t. The young guys need to develop before Ichiro retires and Felix misses time. They just seem to be in an organizational position where more things need to go right than can realistically happen.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brett says:

      Based on a standard distribution (bell curve), the big cluster in the middle should be expected. It’s not as illustrative as it could be, but I’m not sure what you’d do to make it so.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. DrBGiantsfan says:

    The M’s may be in a pretty good market/financial situation, but that is about all you can say. The fact that this list is redone every year implies that what happens in the current season and within the next 5 years should carry a lot of weight. The market/financial situation doesn’t matter a wit if the team is not in position to take advantage of it.

    The current talent at the MLB level is pathetically bad. #29 is a very fair ranking. I don’t know how on earth you get future talent at #5. This farm system is nothing special. The two best prospects, Ackley and Pineda have their flaws. Ackley may never hit for power and is a poor fielder while Pineda still can’t get LH hitters out. BA ranks their farm system at #18 which I think is about where it should be.

    As for Jack Z, I just don’t see anything he’s done that justifies a talent acquisition ranking in the top half.

    This organization should clearly be in the bottom third.

    I appears to me that a substantial amount of bias is still creeping into this process.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      Here’s what I am trying to figure out, and to use Ackley as an example …

      The article states that he could develop into a …

      [1] Average fielding 2B
      [2] A 15-HR guy
      [3] A 20-SB guy

      His peak WAR is in the 4.5 range.

      But when I look at other MLB 2B’s that fit that description (HR and SB), they’re either pretty good fielders (Phillips, Zobrist, etc) or Martin Pradoesque with the BA.

      Either the projections are really down or Ackley, or he’s not going to be as good as some think.

      But, to be the prospect that the article/ranking needs Ackley to become in order to contribute to the 5th in Future Talent ranking, he’ll either need to become a better hitter than the article says is possible or a much better fielder than the article thinks is possible. He’ll need to be a top 8-10 2B. Isn’t he more likely to be in the Howie Kendrick range?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • erich1212 says:

        he’s seen as a guy who can win a batting title, so the prado comparison is way closer than kendrick…who’s never put up more than 2.5ish WAR in a year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • VivaAyala says:

        Don’t forget that Ackley is expected to both hit for average and draw walks at an above-average rate, resulting in a very healthy on-base percentage. Based on what I’ve read, those on-base skills, not power or speed (though both could develop to the numbers you mentioned), are likely to be the main source of his offensive value.

        Take a look at Brian Roberts – slightly above average with the glove, above average walk rate and contact rate, decent but unspectacular power – resulting in about 3 wins/year on average with a handful much better than that.

        That’s what people are – fairly realistically -hoping Ackley can turn into. Take a look at his minor league numbers. The walk rate and contact rate are right around Roberts’ career, and the power is close too. Realizing those hopes hinges on whether Ackley can become an average 2B. He’s a hard worker and an athletic guy who’s already made significant progress on his defense, so I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think he might pull it off.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        Thanks guys. What I did with Ackley’s expectations is to look at the 2B leaders from the past season and see what his peak WAR might look like. I’ve done some work with projections this off-season and Ackley’s projections are not flattering IIRC.

        For example, Zips projects Ackley for a full season 2011 at .244/.329/.356

        It’s possible that he develops a lot, and quickly, but also that given his projections … he needs to. It’s tricky to get a grasp, but his projections are better than Figgins (but similar to Liddi).

        One can envision Ackley becoming a Brian Roberts type, just as one can also envision a lot of prospects becoming “like” a current good major leaguer.

        It is just very difficult for me to look at how SEA’s MiLB system is ranked elsewhere and accept “5th” here (even if it’s a 20-way tie *grin*). That’s what I am trying to figure out.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. epoc says:

    I was curious to see the baseball ops ranking here – specifically how it stood up against those of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It’s especially interesting because Matt Klaassen wrote the Pittsburgh entry as well. In that article and the Cleveland one, it was argued that those teams ranked so low in baseball ops because, although they’d done a lot of good things and seemed pretty smart on paper, they had both had pretty bad results. The poor results engendered skepticism/pessimism and led to low rankings. I can’t remember a better example of good-on-paper-bad-on-the-field organization than the 2010 Mariners, but they’re still middle of the pack while the Indians and Pirates are close to last.

    I know there’s no way to separate this out because the rankings are just a mishmash of a bunch of people’s opinions, but I’m curious why the perception of these three FOs is so different right now.

    I don’t know if there’s an interesting conversation to be had about this or not, but to me it kind of seems like ranking/evaluating baseball ops is a fool’s errand. We have about 1% of the information we’d need to make those types of evaluations, so we’re usually reduced to biases and preconceptions. Everyone knows that the Rays have a good management team and the Astros a poor one, but for 90% of teams you might as well just flip a series of coins. I don’t know. I don’t want to sound like a troll, but I guess it’s just really hard for me to see any substantive basis for deciding between one org and another in most of these categories. I guess that’s not really a problem, since most talk about sports is just a series of baseless claims and vehement arguments, but it seems like fangraphs mostly tries to avoid those types of discussions.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • VivaAyala says:

      Some fair points. I think the Ms front office is perceived as better than the Pirates and Indians since it has experienced more real success. As badly as its moves turned out in 2010, the front office struck gold time and time again in 2009. We need to take both seasons into account, and so a middling ranking is justified.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. snapper says:

    This is a team with 3 above average regulars (which is recognized in the 25th ranking), one of whom will be 40 by the time they can contend, 3 or 4 good prospects, and a top-15, but not top-10 market, and they are ranked above multiple teams that could play in the WS this year? WTF?

    There’s something really wrong with the methodology here.

    This ranking seems overly based on an inflated, and misleading (given the huge tie) 5th ranking in future talent.

    To put them ahead of the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets seems crazy. Those are huge, cash cow markets. The teams are screwed up now, but in 2-3 years they’ll be fine, and still rich.

    The Mariners won’t contend for a championship for 2 or 3 years, and still won’t be as rich.

    I mean, the M’s are a Felix Hernandez injury away from being the Pirates on the field.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Bob says:

    I’m bullish on both Ackley and Pineda, but I still don’t see the M’s as better than 23-25 overall.

    Middling in baseball Ops, minor leaguers, and $$ resources—and among the very worst in the most important category of all, current MLB talent. That’s a team in a bad place.

    And, yes, last year’s ranking was a joke. Rationalizations masquerading as objective reasoning. All the derision was well-deserved and then some.

    Thank heaven for one thing: the fawning over Jack Z. has been silenced.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Ivdown says:

    Too high. Again no surprise. You guys are overrating the farm, and are you expecting 80 wins this year? Otherwise their MLB talent should be much lower. Jack z has proven not to be the messiah he was thought, and maybe only average to above average

    Honestly, it’s not crazy like 6th, but it’s still not a good ranking. This team doesn’t look like an average team in the future, they look like an al west cellar-dweller

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. The Ancient Mariner says:

    Should it happen that the 2011 M’s win 85-90 games — highly unlikely, but the ’01 Mariners won 116, and the ’06 Cardinals won the WS; this is baseball, so as Joaquin Andujar said, youneverknow — I will be very interested to see if all the Dave Cameron-haters come back to eat crow, or if they continue to bash him for “arrogance” (i.e., having the stubbornness not to capitulate and agree with them on everything every time they think they deserve it).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      Notice: Repetitive comments coming …

      At this point, I suppose it is my baseball mission to “explain the 2006 Cardinals”.

      Here’s the difference …

      BOTH the 2004 (105, WS) and 2005 Cardinals (100, LCS) won 100 games. The 2006 Cardinals were the same team ravaged by injuries during the regular season. The playoffs came and their injured closer was replaced by Adam Wainwright. They had enough depth to voercome losing their #2 for the season.

      The 2011 Mariners are nowhere near such a position. The Mariners may win the 2011 WS, but it won;t be because the 2006 Cardinals did and “anything can happen”.

      The mariners would have to be the most surprising team in recent history to make a title run. Even with the teams in their division, and following their 2010, making a division run in 2011 would be surprising.

      If I were a Mariner’s fan, given a lot of the talk pre-2010 season, I wouldn’t be mentioning anything like “eating crow” (or worse). Just sayin’.

      What’s going to happen if the M’s experience another last place finish despite a playoff team’s payroll? That’d be the question I’d be more interested in (if I were an M’s fan).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CaR says:

      I could name two folks real quick that should eat some crow, Ancient Mariner. 1) Jeff Nye 2) Typical Idiot Fan…. Easily the two folks who had the most to do with the hate-train last year and both who eagerly rode the jock of Cameron to the end. What has changed from this year to last? Not much except for an IMPROVED farm system. Why the drop of 11 spots on the list? Because last years ranking was a joke. Why single out 2 posters from last years’ epic thread? Because they can now enjoy their awesome defeat sandwich… Enjoy fellas!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • erich1212 says:

      I don’t think you’re accurately describing FG readership. Most of us have no stake, emotional or otherwise, in the Mariners performance and/or success of Dave Cameron’s favorite teams or projections. Did a number of comments last year deal with biased homerism? Sure, but I actually think most commentators did a fairly good job of teasing out where there were specific disagreements with the reasoning behind that ranking. Whether they win/won 60 or 100 is/was irrelevant.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • LetsGoMutz says:

      Should it happen that the 2010 Ms win 61 games — highly unlikely but possible — then I’ll wait for Dave Cameron and his fanboys to eat some crow. This is an organization that has lost over 100 games in two of the last three years, yet they got rated 6th and 17th respectively across all 32 (hehehe) organizations.

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    • Local Crow Dealer says:

      Yah, so looks like all the haters aren’t coming back to eat much crow…where can I deliver this crow…

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  29. Bob says:

    So, there are some M’s fans who *still* think the #6 placement was reasonable? And that those who vehemently criticized that bizarre ranking were/are “trolls” or “haters”? That can’t be right, can it?

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    • fredsbank says:

      if you post on fangraphs and disagree with dave cameron, you’re wrong…

      that’s it.

      period.

      -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • John says:

        No, that’s not the case. Stop oversimplifying things. It’s possible to be right about the ranking being too high and still be a troll.

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      • fredsbank says:

        that is the case. literally every post disagreeing with anything dave does regularly gets upwards(downwards?) of 5 minuses, and anything with him gets usually 10 or more pluses. completely regardless of factual content or validity.

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      • Nate says:

        Yes, most fields suffer from massive amounts of groupthink. The internet as echo chamber intensifies this a lot.

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      • Anon says:

        If you post on FG and you disagree with DC AND you’re a gigantic douchebag about it, you’ll get downvoted. Seems fair.

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  30. fredsbank says:

    i read the first line and it made my weekend

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  31. Jim says:

    “Getting Cliff Lee for basically nothing isnt something I consider to be pretty dumb”

    Trading him away for basically nothing was, though.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Call says:

    Matt Carruth: pythag’s an obsolete way to judge a past year’s talent and a terrible way to judge how a team in year+1 should be evaluated.

    Matt Klassen: and while Pythagorean Expectation is overused in this fashion, a team that outperforms it by nine games should raise some eyebrows.

    oops, looks like you guys need to work on the party line. or rather, Carruth needs to be not so dedicated to it.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave says:

      Yep, heaven forbid two authors from the same website don’t share an opinion. I guess I should go back to the Huffington Post sports section.

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  33. Call says:

    Remember when Matty Carruth wrote a post about how Pedroia wasn’t a serious MVP candidate in 08 and then a couple months later WAR was revealed and he led the AL in 2008.

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  34. Call says:

    I mean people still make fun of Joe Morgan (rightfully so) for stuff he said about Billy Beane like 8 years ago. You really didn’t think your reply through did you.

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  35. Bookbook says:

    This team is in some trouble if either Smoak or Ackley fails to pan out. Franklin’s a very good prospect (& Pineda of course) but after that? A bunch of C+\B- types. Maybe there’s power in numbers here…
    Walker seems awfully longshotish. Moore o and Saunders aren’t looking great.

    On the t side, Ackley and Smoak will probably pan out.

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  36. Greg says:

    I don’t see how this team is ranked higher than the Mets. The Mets have far better current talent, a comparable minor league system, and a payroll that still blows the M’s out of the water. Why do people think the Mets would dump players like Jose Reyes to save payroll when all it would do is devalue the team they’re trying to sell and force them to forfeit any savings in salary in losses at the ticket booth?

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    • philosofool says:

      Perhaps it is because they’re in the midst of such a financial disaster that it made news when they could guarantee their players’ contracts?

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  37. SpokaneMariner says:

    As a life-long M’s fan left me just inject a couple of points.

    Last year’s #6 ranking was a disgrace. Because of Cameron, the Mariners’ and their fan base were belittled all season long in nearly every blog on the internet. Not that their onfield play didn’t deserve critisism. But Cameron’s condesending and snarky replies to anyone who disagreed with him (and it seemed that all but a small band of his loyal supporters from his own blog disagreed with him) was beyond outrageous. It seemed that people took offense. And a lot of those who took offense began to transfer their dislike of Cameron to the Mariners’ organization and their fan base.

    This year, the byline may be different, but results are the same. This years ranking (#17 !) is nearly as bad. Although seemingly lower, it is still far above what our ranking deseves to be (realisticly in the #24-#27 range). Despite the disclaimers made at the beganning of the series (no author allowed to vote on “the team they follow most closely”, etc.) this is simply too high of a ranking not to be biased. Cameron’s love affair with this front office is well known.

    Therefore, I am sure I can look forward to another season (the on field play will be hard enough to endure) of being mocked all across the blogs. Thanks Dave.

    I do have one request of Mr. Cameron. Please find another organization to root for. You are an embarrassment to the Mariners. And we don’t want your “help”.

    -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brett says:

      So, you dislike Dave Cameron and his homerish devotion to the team, so you decide that the entire staff is either lying about having authors vote on their own teams or that they are all easily manipulated by Cameron and Carruth to agree with them? That’s brilliant.

      Why do you visit this site?

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  38. Omar says:

    6 was bullish, this is a lot better of a ranking. Six was maybe a bit too high, but I thought a top ten ranking in the wake of the Cliff Lee trade was in order. However, a lot of things turned out poorly for Mr. Zduriencik in 2010, yet there was still some reasons for hope in that franchise. They still have Felix Hernandez who, IMO, is the most desirable player in all of sports. They still have the ability to make money and draw fans, and they still have a couple of high impact minor leaguers. Two prospects in the top 30, is better than most farms, and I still have some faith in Zduriencik. Overall, I’ll buy it.

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  39. sam says:

    this makes me “six” to my stomach. get it?

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  40. bookbook says:

    Yeppers.

    The M’s are projected to win 74 this year by Diamond Mind (kinda sorta) and that actually feels spot on. (Cust and Olivo are the kind of signings you make to put a floor in around the 70+ win level.)

    Mix that with an average farm system, trending upwards, greater revenue potential than 2/3 of franchises, and a bunch of salary coming off the books by 2013,…

    #17 doesn’t feel crazy ambitious to me.

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  41. heychuck says:

    Everyone who has commented here takes this list way too seriously (Including me now!!) :)

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  42. Paul Revere says:

    #17 Org is looking pretty consistent with the results form #6 Org…

    thanks guys…

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    • VivaAyala says:

      All of last year, the Ms racked up 16.4 fWAR and 17 rWAR.

      On September 3rd of this year, they have 20 fWAR and 20.5 rWAR (25 games remain). They are better this year at the major league level, have ditched a lot of dead weight for (albeit flawed) guys with upside, and have had a solid minor league seasons for major prospects like James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

      Admittedly, back in July things weren’t looking so hot.

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  43. Bobo says:

    Lets go #6

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