2012 Organizational Rankings: #23 – Seattle

Dave Cameron laid out the methodology behind the rankings last Friday. Remember that the grading scale for each category is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago White Sox

Seattle’s 2011 Ranking: #17

2012 Outlook: 36 (26th)

You don’t have to crunch too many numbers to figure out that this year’s Mariners are an extreme longshot to make the playoffs. They haven’t scored 600 runs in a season since 2009, and the team is breaking in a host of young, inexperienced players, many of whom have significant question marks surrounding their 2012 production levels. The team is basically betting on regression to the mean for previously useful position players (Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, and Franklin Gutierrez) to bolster the offense, but they’re still likely to be among the lowest scoring teams in the league.

They could make that work if the pitching was truly great, but after Felix Hernandez, the current rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Jason Vargas is a useful #4 starter, but given the other pitchers on the roster, he slots in as the #2 starter on this team. Hector Noesi has potential but needs to show he can miss bats with regularity as a starter, and Kevin Millwood and Blake Beavan are just keeping the seats warm for more talented arms who could join the rotation in the second half of the year.

If enough young players perform up to their talent level and the team gets some bounce back seasons from 2011 underachievers, they Mariners could win 75 games, and maybe even get to .500 if Felix has another crazy season or Dustin Ackley wins the batting title. But, given that they’re chasing both the Rangers and Angels, their odds of winning the AL West are almost nil, and it’s just not realistic to expect them to make any kind of serious playoff push with their current roster. The second half of the season could be more interesting if they get some reinforcements from the minor leagues, but they’ll likely be well out of the race by August.

2013+ Outlook: 52 (13th)

There’s no doubt that the Mariners are building for the future, and the organization’s focus on restocking the farm system is on the verge of paying some dividends. Their trio of top pitching prospects – Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker – are all going to begin the year in Double-A, and there are realistic scenarios where each of them gets to the majors in the next 12 months. Re-stocking the rotation with three dynamic arms would infuse a lot of talent into the roster in a hurry, and could put the team on a track towards being an actual contender again.

However, rebuilding around young pitching is also fraught with risk, and the 2011 Orioles are a perfect example of how that plan can go awry very quickly. Given that their best asset, King Felix, is also a starting pitcher, and this is a high risk rebuilding plan. The team took steps to exchange pitching depth for position player depth in swapping Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero, but they might need to make another trade or two of a similar nature before they have a real core of position players worth building around. Dustin Ackley looks like a quality player at second base, and Montero’s bat may allow him to be productive even as a DH, but there are question marks everywhere else.

Having a top 3 pick again in this summer’s draft will help, and the team has spent aggressively in Latin America the last few years, so there’s another wave of talent coming even after The Big Three pitching prospects reach Safeco. The team is going to have to figure out how to develop some better position player prospects, however, and since they only have Felix under contract for three more years, they’ll have to do it sooner than later.

Financial Resources: 48 (18th)

For most of the last decade, the Mariners ran payrolls north of $90 million and consistently ranked as one of the ten largest spenders on Major League talent. They’ve generally also been one of the top spenders in the international free agent market, investing in academies around the world and giving Bob Engle a large budget to sign talented 16-year-olds. However, as the losses have piled up, attendance has fallen dramatically, and the team has gone into cost-cutting mode as a result. Their $80ish million payroll for 2012 is their lowest in years, and with another losing season likely, the payroll is probably not headed back up until the team turns it around.

There’s no question that the Mariners have the ability to be a large revenue franchise, as they are the de facto team for most of the northwest, a huge geographic area that they don’t really share with anyone else. The continued presence of Japanese players on the team also extends their ability to market the franchise overseas, and they can opt-out of their current television contract after the 2015 season, which will allow them to catch up with Texas and Anaheim in revenues from cable contracts. However, that’s mostly untapped potential at the moment, and will likely remain so until the product on the field improves.

Baseball Operations: 47 (18th)

How you view this category probably depends entirely on whether you believe someone should be evaluated by the process that leads them to their decisions or the results that those decision produce. Since taking over as GM, Jack Zduriencik has hired noted sabermetric analyst Tom Tango, expanded the team’s use of modern analytical thinking, and made a series of transactions that were based on sound logical principles. Many of them just haven’t worked out, and the team has been awful for each of the last two seasons. If you think he should have seen Chone Figgins’ collapse coming, then that signing was a huge mistake. On the other hand, that was generally viewed as one of the better contracts signed during the 2010 off-season, and no one should be expected to predict the future.

The process has been generally good (though not always – the Brandon Morrow for Brandon League trade was a poor decision across the board), but the results have been generally poor. That’s the kind of paradox that leads to a middling rating in this category, and is pretty much exactly what we see here. Whether the Mariners front office can begin to turn nice ideas into positive outcomes remains to be seen, and they’ll understandably be viewed with some skepticism until they do.

Overall: 44 (23rd)

The team’s future is brighter than their present, but with two powerhouse contenders in their division, it’s not clear exactly when the team will be able to put a playoff club on the field once again. The Mariners have essentially bet the future on young pitching, which is a risky proposition, but could also lead to significant improvement as early as the second half of 2012. There’s enough young talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system to dream about, but it’s not clear how those players will fit together to form a winning team. More moves will have to be made to supplement the players already in place, and unfortunately for the organization, they haven’t had much success in bringing in outside talent over the last few years.

There are scenarios where enough of the young players develop in 2012 to give the team real hope for 2013 and beyond, leading to expanded payrolls and a legitimate organizational rebirth. But, there are equally likely scenarios where the team only gets one decent starter out of the Hultzen/Paxton/Walker trio and lack the necessary position players to change the course the team has been on since 2004. There are reasons for hope in Seattle, but the franchise still needs to win some coin flips and have some things go their way before they can realistically expect to put a winning team on the field again.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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astrostl
Member
astrostl
4 years 5 months ago

#23org

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

-1 Depressingly Predictable. And Not ‘Oh, I’ll Go Look At A Beautiful Spring Day’ Depressing, But ‘I’m Going To Throw Myself Off A Ledge’ Depressing

astrostl
Member
astrostl
4 years 5 months ago

Joke, folks :( Same as the one Dave Cameron tweeted afterward: https://twitter.com/dcameronfg/status/185034796701974528

Cloud Computer
Guest
Cloud Computer
4 years 5 months ago

Oh you look like a self righteous fool now NBarnes

Snowblind
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Snowblind
4 years 5 months ago

So, if the only way the biased east coast media can understand the Rangers and Angels is to dub them the Yankees and Red Sox of the AL West, I guess that makes the Mariners potentially… what, the AL West Blue Jays?

wahhhiminthemidwest
Guest
wahhhiminthemidwest
4 years 5 months ago

It’s shocking how the baseball media is more well developed around franchises like the Red Sox and Yankees who have no tradition and mostly bandwagon fan bases, while great historic organizations like the Rangers and Angels don’t get nearly the same attention. I mean, it would be one thing if the Red Sox and Yankees brand was a global force and had demand for intense local coverage. If only those darn east coast reporters stayed up until 1am local time to report about a team who is 3000 miles away for no apparent reason oth.er than some idea of “fairness”.

Seriously, you guys need to start complaining about your own fan base, and why they don’t demand additional media coverage. It’s not like Boston and New York have more reporters because they arbitrarily prefer the east coast. It’s like complaining that Dallas gets overhyped with football talk. Boston and New York are baseball towns, stop crying. The ironic part is, the majority of Red Sox and Yankee fans hate their old man media coverage based around narratives rather than objective analysis.

SaberTJ
Guest
SaberTJ
4 years 5 months ago

You do realize that Boston and NY get such a large amount of media attention because they are located in the most populous areas in the nation? Sure Anaheim isn’t far from LA, but it’s nowhere as tightly compacted people wise as the NYC area.

Frank
Guest
Frank
4 years 5 months ago

I concur.

The ironic part is, the majority of Red Sox and Yankee fans hate their old man media coverage based around narratives rather than objective analysis.

Repeated for emphasis. I can’t stand MSM coverage of the Yankees. It’s overly pessimistic and panic-inducing. The Red Sox media is more of the same from what I understand.

Judy
Guest
Judy
4 years 5 months ago

And, while we’re at it, if you people could be bothered to stay home to watch the national games when your teams are on, maybe we wouldn’t have to stay up late every other Sunday night to watch ours.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 5 months ago

2013+ Outlook = 13th? I must be missing something.

The team’s future is brighter than their present,

I chuckled when I read this, followed by the statement “God, I hope so.”

The Mariners, for whatever reason, have been one of the biggest disappointments in recent history.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

Any thing can happen in baseball yet I fear the Mariners have a long road to hoe back to contending. 2016? While I think the overall ranking is accurate, I think the 2013+ ranking is overly aggressive.

#MeOrg
Guest
#MeOrg
4 years 5 months ago

If the way you assess your process is persistently in conflict with the results, doesn’t that suggest you might want to re-evaluate how you assess your process?

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

Given the time horizons that baseball executives must deal with, this is much harder than I think your comment implies that it is. Zduriencik has been GM for three offseasons. Do you imagine that that’s enough time to really assess all his decisions? Can you separate out the things that didn’t work because they were bad ideas at the time from the things that didn’t work because subsequent events made them not work out? Morrow for League was a bad idea at the time. Chone Figgins was a fine idea at the time.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

“Chone Figgins was a fine idea at the time.”

Replacing Adrian Beltre with Chone Figgins was a fine idea?

Ari Collins
Guest
Ari Collins
4 years 5 months ago

You make it sound like they chose Figgins over Beltre. Beltre was leaving no matter what. He needed a make-good contract in a hitter’s park, and Seattle couldn’t give him that.

And Figgins had been a 3.5-WAR player over the previous six years, with better performances more recently. That was generally regarded as one of the better deals at the time. Sometimes players just don’t follow their projections. It happens, and all you can do is make reasonable decisions with the data you have.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

Maybe, just maybe, the reason no team was willing to pay Figgins as much as the M’s were was because their scouts saw the issues with his game that would cause him to fall off quicker than most players do. Seriously, what did they expect was going to happen with no power that was completely reliant upon speed once he reached his mid 30’s?

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

You shouldn’t give big money and big responsibility to players that need to rely on their teammates to be successful in the best of cases (e.g. Figgins, Crawford). Jack Z seems to have constructed an entire team of these sorts of guys in the misguided belief that 3 WAR == 3 WAR.

Stats like WAR are expected outcomes based upon league averages. They aren’t real outcomes. There is greater or less variance in whether a player meets or exceeds his expectations based upon how they get to their WAR or wOBA. A player that gets there through walks and singles will more frequently not meet expectations because there is more variance in outcomes (home runs always produce runs, walks do not). Further, walk and singles hitters that play on a team full of walk and singles hitters have virtually no chance of living up to expected outcomes, because the expectation is based upon the league average and their team is far below the league average.

It should not have been difficult to predict the failings of the Mariners. They were/are terribly constructed teams.

Nadingo
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Nadingo
4 years 5 months ago

“A player that gets there through walks and singles will more frequently not meet expectations because there is more variance in outcomes (home runs always produce runs, walks do not).”

This would be a horrible argument even if it accurately described what happened with Figgins, but fortunately it doesn’t even come close. The problem wasn’t that Figgins got on base and got stranded there — the problem was that Figgins suddenly and surprisingly became a horrible all-around player. His middling power disappeared in 2010 while his defense tanked, and his offense completely fell off a cliff in 2011.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

Nadingo,

You miss the point. The point is that Figgins wouldn’t have been worth what Jack Z gave him to the M’s even if he had played well. There is little chance he could have ever produced what his wOBA suggested he should of based upon league averages on that team.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

*should have read: “should have” not “should of”. ….ugh.

Nadingo
Guest
Nadingo
4 years 5 months ago

Even taking you at your revised point, you don’t have much of a case. Figgins was signed for about $9M per year, essentially paying him to be a 2-WAR player. Between 2004 (his first full season with the Angels) and 2009 (his last year with the Angels), he averaged more than 3.5 WAR. So even if he lost 40% of his value going forward, he would still earn his salary for the Mariners. Instead he lost 100%, since he averaged -0.1 WAR between 2010 and 2011.

Incidentally, during his five years with the Mariners, Beltre averaged 3.3 WAR and earned more than $12M per year. So I think you could say that replacing Beltre with Figgins did look like a pretty good idea at the time.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

Nadingo,

I don’t have a revised point.

I get the sense that you think very much like Jack Z here. You seem to think WAR == WAR and there can be no nuance.

I disagree. I don’t care what Figgins WAR in LA was and I don’t care what Beltre’s WAR in Seattle was. I care about the type of player they are and how they fit into my team. The reason for this is WAR is an expected outcome based upon playing for an idealized team. It doesn’t reflect what did, or what will actually happen. The Mariners were, and are, a far from idealized team. The average team in the league has a few power hitters to drive in runs. The best teams in the league have many of them. The results of all these power hitters are factored in to the linear weights ascribed to each batting outcome. But the Mariners have none of these players. The value of a single to the Mariners is not the same as the value of a single to other teams in the league. It is much lower. Singles produce runs for the Mariners less frequently than they do for other teams. Walks produce runs for the Mariners less frequently than they do for other teams. Figgins’ skill set was the least valuable type possible for the Mariners. This is especially true when you consider the fact that they used him to replace their only legitimate power threat.

The Mariners should never have expected the team to be as good or better with Figgins than Beltre even if he didn’t fall off a cliff. WAR does not equal WAR. Context matters.

tmorgan1970
Member
tmorgan1970
4 years 5 months ago

That’s not how WAR works, Jason. It isn’t in *any* way a team stat. Your statement about singles and walks producing less runs on an anemic offensive team is true, but your claim that a team full of those players wouldn’t produce runs is patently false.

Give me a team full of prime Figginses (fun!), guys that hit around 290/370/370 with speed, and we’ll see how many runs they score.

Figgins has just sucked. He isn’t inherently less valuable because he’s a slap hitter, he’s less valuable because he’s awful. The guy used to get on via walk or hit, annoy the pitcher, take two bases on every single and one on a lot of outs, and get the job done.

Look no further than the 2009 Angels. That team hit 285/350/441 and scored 883 runs. The team was 10th in ISO (11th in homers) and 2nd in the majors in runs scored. The only other teams anywhere near them in runs scored (Yanks and BoSox) hit way more homers.

Figgins was a big part of that. Old Figgins, not this washed-up version.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

tmorgan1970,

I didn’t say WAR was a team stat. It is not. I said scoring runs is a team affair. It predominantly is. The batting component of fWAR is based upon wOBA. wOBA is based upon LEAGUE-WIDE run expectancy. wOBA gives you the EXPECTED production of a hitter if he played on a league average team. In real life players never actually produce what they are expected to. The reason for this is two fold and both are important to a keen general manager. First, in a finite sample size stochasticity will drive the observed away from the expected. This point is important because the variance in run production associated with each outcome are not equal. As you head up the scale from walks to homeruns the variance in outcome (how different, on average the observed is from the mean) decreases. There is less variance in outcome for home runs than there is for walks. If you hit four homeruns in a game you are expected to score four times and you do score four times. If you walk four times, you are expected to score between 1 and 2 times, but in actuality you score 0 or 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 times. For this reason, singles and walks hitters are expected to deviate in their observed production from their expected production greater than are homerun and doubles hitters.

Second, no individual player has the league average batting in front or behind them. The real run expectancies for any given player are dependent upon the team he has hitting around him not upon the league average. Players will often outperform or underperform their expected production if they have a better than average or worse than average supporting cast.

A good general manager understands that runs are scored as a team. They try to construct a team that allows players to produce at or hopefully above their run expectancy. How do you do this? You have to consider the whole.

Power hitters are the safe bets. Because they rely on their teammates less to produce runs they will guarantee you run production. Because of their low variance in outcomes they wont be much above or below in reality from what you expect them to produce. Singles hitters are the real wild card. Singles hitters might score way more or way fewer runs than you’d expect. You really want them to score way more than you’d expect and you really dont want to get stuck with one scoring way less than they are expected to. Singles hitters that bat in front of hitters who are way above the league average can be winning lottery tickets. Singles hitters that bat in front of hitters well below the league average are like anchors. You wont ever get their expected production.

The Mariners have no hitters that are well above league average. Their singles hitters are destined to be anchors and not winning lottery tickets.

tmorgan1970
Member
tmorgan1970
4 years 5 months ago

The bottom line is, that’s just not true. If you’re talking about a single game, sure, 4 homers is going to score more consistently than 12 singles (or whatever it would take for the overall wOBA of the team to be about the same). Over the course of a season, there’s not going to be much difference, either in runs scored or record. That’s why wOBA is what it is.

If the guys batting behind Figgins have the same wOBA, be it through singles, walks, triples, homers, whatever, he’s going to score about the same number of runs a year. Sure, it takes more of the non-homer outcomes, and sure, Seattle’s offense sucks, but what you’re saying simply isn’t true in a large sample.

Figgins isn’t a bad fit in Seattle because of the rest of their hitters. He’s a bad fit because he’s turned into a sucky player.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

tmorgan1970,

I’m sorry but you are misunderstanding the math. You need to understand the role of stochasticity in a finite sample. You also need to understand that there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. It is true that wOBA expects the outcomes of a .300 hitter to be exactly the same as any other .300 hitter regardless of how they get to their .300. In an infinite sample and ceteris paribus they would, in fact, be exactly equal. Season’s may be long, but they are not infinite! In practice, despite perhaps having exactly the same skill level, two .300 hitters will never produce the same outcome. This is because the run expectancy is probabilistic and not deterministic. Importantly, it becomes less deterministic the further you get from homeruns.

wOBA does not account for unequal variances in batting outcomes, nor should it. The purpose of wOBA is to compare players in a context neutral situation and independent of the stochasticity of events. But a good general manager is trying to create the team that scores more runs, not that has the highest wOBA. wOBA does not win games. Real world runs do. A GM doesn’t want context neutral. The context is everything. A good GM might say, I have a choice between two players with equal ability (equal wOBA), but which one is a better fit for my team. That likely requires looking deeper than wOBA.

You might be interested to read about the evolutionary process known as genetic drift. Much of evolution works similar to this…

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

Jason; if you really did predict that Figgins and Beltre would take the career paths they did after the 2009-2010 offseason, you need to be employed by a baseball FO someplace. Because you are the only person in the world that saw that coming.

Jason's Mother
Guest
Jason's Mother
4 years 5 months ago

Jason, go back into your room and stop bothering these nice people!

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

“How you view this category probably depends entirely on whether you believe someone should be evaluated by the process that leads them to their decisions or the results that those decision produce.”

Why should this be about “beliefs”? You don’t support “beliefs” when it comes to things like “intangibles” or “grit”. You have to look at the front office empirically just like everything else. The teams that Jack Z has constructed have been abysmal. We can measure how bad they’ve been.

paranoiaagent
Member
paranoiaagent
4 years 5 months ago

it doesn’t work that way, sorry. there’s random variation in everything in life, and that variation will sometimes make sound decisions lead to poor results. that doesn’t mean you should change how you make your decisions.

if i have a weighted coin that is designed to land “heads” 60% of the time, i should bet on heads. even if it lands on “tails” the first 2 or 5 or 10 times. eventually, good process will lead to good results.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

Paranoia,

Yes there is random variation. Of course there is. Everybody accepts this. That does not mean you cannot measure things!!! If you think the sample size is too small to evaluate Jack Z then you have to show this. Is Jack Z the equivalent of spring training at bats, or is he a full season’s worth of data?

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

You’re treating this like it’s a math problem with know probabilities. Just because Z followed the numbers doesn’t necessarily make the process good. You need a combination of numbers and scouting. Perhaps Z has good process when it comes to stats, but his guys just suck when it comes to scouting, so they end up going after the good stat guys that have issues with their games that simply don’t show up in the numbers (Figgins).

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 5 months ago

Agree to some extent….

Why is “the process” deemed good? Maybe it was bad process that led to bad results and people are too eager to give the beenfit of the doubt because they like that Jack Z talks up advanced analysis.

Maybe their application of the advanced analysis is flawed and it’s not simply a bad luck – bad result thing.

It seems any GM that is believed to use advanced stat is automatically given the benefit of the doubt. As we have limited access to the “process” why do we assume it is good?

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

I think it’s more than a GM that makes decisions that coincide with the best available thinking outside that FO are given the benefit of the doubt. And GMs that do things that go against the opinions of the well-respected people outside the FO-sphere are not. Zduriencik doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt because Dave Cameron likes the works he uses. He gets the benefit of the doubt because his decisions make sense at the time they are made. Dayton Moore gets sneered at even when he gets good seasons out of Francouer and Melky Cabrera because nobody respects a stopped clock, even on the two times a day that the stopped clock is correct.

If you have a pile of concurrently timed opinionating that suggests that you saw all of Zduriencik’s errors coming in advance, we’d all be, very sincerely, interested in that. But what I think many people are seeing here is not that, but a lot of what is essentially complaining that FG isn’t using enough post-hoc reasoning in their analysis.

skiba
Guest
skiba
4 years 5 months ago

Way to take us off the high of an opening day win Dave.

Omar
Guest
Omar
4 years 5 months ago

I think they’re a bit better than this. Ackley, Felix, Montero, and Smoak are a pretty good core.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

I like those four as well but all except Felix have things to prove.

tom s.
Guest
tom s.
4 years 5 months ago

smoak? the 25-year-old first baseman with 900 career PA’s and a career .308 wOBA?

if that’s the m’s fourth best “core” player, i agree the 2013+ ranking looks overly hopeful.

Thurston24
Guest
Thurston24
4 years 5 months ago

I’m really happy they aren’t #6 Org this year, though I do disagree with the 2013+ outlook because there is so much pitching talent and the core of Smoak, Ackley, and Montero can be really good. Other than that, their ranking sounds fair to me.

Berychance
Guest
Berychance
4 years 5 months ago

I think the thing here is that they have the possibility of developing into a good team very soon, but there’s also an equally large possibility of that not happening. Ackley will in all likelihood be a solid MLB 2nd baseman, but even that’s a bit of a question mark: will he be All-Star good or just decent? Felix is the only sure thing they have right now, and pitchers can be gone in a flash. If Ackley, Montero, Smoak, Hultzen, Walker, and Paxton all turn into All-Star caliber players, then they will be very good in a few years, but it’s not likely that all of them turn out that way.

Bob
Guest
Bob
4 years 5 months ago

I’m with Jason on this. Every GM suffers bad and enjoys good “luck.” On balance, Jack Z. has been quite unsuccessful.

Figgins was inked off a big career year, at a not-at-all-young age. Milton Bradley was a known meltdown risk. Fister was basically given away, wasn’t he? And the throw-in of the Pineda trade, Campos, is exactly the sort of high-upside kid who comes back to bite you in the rump.

I couldn’t put Ops anywhere but bottom 5.

Big Oil
Member
Big Oil
4 years 5 months ago

Don’t forget about trading for Josh Lueke.

cable fixer
Guest
cable fixer
4 years 5 months ago

i think that everyone makes mistakes, even talented baseball executives…but unless you’ve fully drunk the koolaid on jack z, that episode has got to a least give you pause.

MangoLiger
Member
MangoLiger
4 years 5 months ago

Milton Bradley!? You are citing Milton Bradley?

Fister was not given away. Wells, Furbush, Ruffin, and Martinez is a valuable package. You can argue not valuable enough, but it’s not unreasonable. Also (defying all odds) Fister is overrated.

Campos wasn’t a throw-in– he was necessary to get Noesi. And Noesi is more valuable than Campos in terms of risk/reward/time.

Bob
Guest
Bob
4 years 5 months ago

But isn’t Noesi/Campos *exactly* the opposite of the type of trade Z should be making?

This club is at least 2/3 years from playoff contention, I think we can all agree; in that situation, you should trade away the merely Okay MLB guy for the high-upside teenager…not the other way around.

And Fister? If the Tigers want him bad enough, they give you Jacob Turner. They don’t give you Turner, you hold onto Fist.

If Milton Meltdown wasn’t acquired by Z, then I apologize for my oversight.

This guy
Guest
This guy
4 years 5 months ago

Bradley was a garbage-for-garbage swap with the Cubs, who received Carlos Silva in return. Milton was the better gamble.

Fister was an example of trading a mediocre player at his peak value. Wells and Furbush are valuable role players, Ruffin looks to be a valuable bullpen piece in the future, and Martinez is one of the better 3B prospects in the minors. I’d do that trade again, right now, given the M’s pitching depth.

No knowledgeable M’s fan wanted to see Campos go, but if it was necessary to get Montero, that’s tough to criticize. Noesi is already looking better than expected, and Pineda isn’t exactly thrilling Yankees fans at this point. I think you have to grade that trade as a net win so far.

Unless you’re prepared to go all Captain Hindsight on Figgins, I don’t really see reasonable arguments for these criticisms.

Steven
Guest
Steven
4 years 5 months ago

Milton Bradley was traded for Carlos Silva. The Mariners won that trade simply by getting Silva out of their locker room.

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 5 months ago

Don’t forget Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans.

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

Michael Morse had assembled 1.1 WAR over the previous four seasons with the Mariners. Does that sound like a valuable piece to you? That the guy had a BABIP-fueled career year at the age of 29 doesn’t make that trade look as bad as you seem to think it does.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

The Mariners only gave Morse all of 35 games in the majors after he was league average offensively as a 23 year old. You think that may have something to do with his low WAR total? Also, his career BABIP is higher than his 2011 BABIP, so I’m not sure why you’re treating it like some fluke. I’m also not sure how BABIP explains a guy hitting 30+ HR in less than 600 PA. Please feel free to explain how that one works.

CheeseWhiz
Guest
CheeseWhiz
4 years 5 months ago

Michael Morse was also a terrible defender, who had been busted for steroid use multiple times.

CheeseWhiz
Guest
CheeseWhiz
4 years 5 months ago

Michael Morse was also a terrible defender with no position, who had been busted for steroid use multiple times.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the Mariners play in the AL? You know, the league that has a position specifically for people who can’t play in the field? So who the hell cares if he sucks defensively when he was more than 4 times as many runs better than league average offensively than any hitter on the Mariners team? How does that make trading him for Ryan Langerhans any less ridiculous in hindsight?

As for the whole steroid thing, the last suspension was 4 years earlier. I guess you can hold it against him on a personal level if you want, but at that point I’m not sure how you can hold it against his value as a player. In no way does that make trading him for Ryan Langerhans any more justifiable.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

Looking into it, the funniest thing about the whole “it was just a fluke career year” argument is that Morse was more valuable with the bat in just 293 PA in 2010 than any player on the Mariners roster. Basically, within a year of trading him, he was as good or better offensively than any player on their team. And Jack Z just left him rotting in the minors and then traded him for a career 4th OF.

NBarnes
Member
NBarnes
4 years 5 months ago

Milton Bradley? Really? REALLY?

Zduriencik traded Carlos Silva away to get Bradley. What did you expect to get?

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

I think it helps to understand that this organization has had to rebuild almost completely from scratch.

This organization is in overall much better shape than it was when it was ranked #6 in 2010 and #17 in 2011. Simply staring at the Major League record for the past three season is misleading. There has been a lot of turnover to get where Jack Zduriencik really wants to be. Easy to forget that he started with a bad farm system and a terrible team with bad contracts.

2009 was fun but basically featured adding defense to old moving parts. In 2010, Zduriencik made moves to further support the pieces of the old foundation. Clearly, the idea was for the old foundation to hold serve for the immediate future until the team could transition to younger talent. As we’ve seen however, the old foundation came crashing down hard.

The 2011 team had to rely on a lot of players looking for rebounding seasons. None of the good news game from the offense as players like Franklin Gutierrez and Chone Figgins imploded further. Ichiro had a bad season. Milton Bradley didn’t last long and the team got nothing out of Jack Cust. Fortunately, the organization had enough pieces to start infusing the team with young players.

The 2012 Mariners are truly a Jack Zduriencik team as his fingerprints are all over it. The foundation is still being laid down as we’re not sure how capable this team is. This team is no longer relying on stopgaps to prop the team up. It is within the next few years that we’ll find out whether Jack Zduriencik can build a quality major league ball club. They have a nicely developing farm system with a promising team for 2012. The organization really has come a long way from where it used to be. I’ve been impressed with the turnaround even though it hasn’t shown up in the Major League win-loss record. As Eric Wedge says though, that will be the last place you’ll see improvements and it could begin as early as this year.

It’s a shame that the Rangers and Angels have gotten more powerful in the meantime though.

xeifrank
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Fair. I have them ranked #22 (and #22 last year too). I think one of their bigger problems is being able to attract (non Japan) bigger time free agents to their team.

monkey business
Member
monkey business
4 years 5 months ago

I think this might be more satisfying if financial resources was something like 75% average of last 5 years spending and 25% 5 year projection. i.e. their Pacific Northwest draw isn’t changing and with Ichiro aging, their Japan tie is only going to fade, even if they continue to pick up players, so I’d project Seattle as negative over the next 5 years because the product is down so much. Contrast with Philadelphia where the product is great and the main question is probably how much they can raise ticket prices and not have to worry about keeping the stadium packed.

Simon
Guest
Simon
4 years 5 months ago

How long will the product in Philadelphia be great? A couple of years at best, and they have very little on the farm as well.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
4 years 5 months ago

They reached the playoffs 5 years in a row, made it to 2 WS and won one of them. If they’re great for a couple more years, that’s an excellent outcome that most teams’ fans would love to experience.

Steve N
Guest
Steve N
4 years 5 months ago

“no one should be expected to predict the future.”

What else can you predict but the future?

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 5 months ago

It is a silly statement, I agree. However, you can predict the past too in a sense. It helps you understand how we got to the present. We do this all the time in evolutionary genetics.

Steve Baron
Guest
Steve Baron
4 years 5 months ago

I think this is the best FO in the game

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 5 months ago

you don’t follow baseball very closely, do you?

browl
Member
browl
4 years 5 months ago

and you don’t follow terrible mariner’s prospects apparently.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

Jack Z should probably get fired soon. He really needs Smoak to turn it around (doubtful), Montero to turn into a .370+ wOBA hitter, Pineda to struggle in NY, and Fister to struggle in Detroit to save his job as far as I’m concerned. Just imagine if he had held on to Fister and traded for Montero when he’d have the chance. Then he’d have Montero, Pineda, and Fister instead of Montero and some hopes and dreams.

ThirteenOfTwo
Guest
ThirteenOfTwo
4 years 5 months ago

I like that plan where you get Montero for literally nothing. You should be a GM!

ccoop
Guest
ccoop
4 years 5 months ago

i assume he means for cliff lee, no?

matt w
Guest
matt w
4 years 5 months ago

I think the missing step is “traded Cliff Lee for Montero instead of for Smoak.”

matt w
Guest
matt w
4 years 5 months ago

ninja’d!

Feeding the Abscess
Guest
Feeding the Abscess
4 years 5 months ago

He’s talking about the Cliff Lee for Montero deal that didn’t happen.

stjz
Member
stjz
4 years 5 months ago

To be honest, I always had a feeling that Pineda is damaged goods. It’s that persistent gut feeling when he pitches, that it’s just a question of time before he breaks down.

steex
Member
steex
4 years 5 months ago

Worst of all, it seems the Mariners won’t even be a family-friendly organization this year. I point you to this quote from Eric Wedge today (emphasis mine):

“We’re trying to stretch out the lineup and have the guys feed off each other,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “I think Ichiro hitting in the third spot is the right place. We’re going to be a very offensive ballclub this year.

The fact that he evidently went out of his way to point out that his team will be offensive surely isn’t a good sign of things to come this season.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

Offensive meaning “This tem is gonna rake like the 27 Yankees” or Offensive meaning “The 2012 Mariners will be the most offensive team to watch since the 1962 Mets.”

BIP
Guest
BIP
4 years 5 months ago

You’re right… rampant vampirism in the clubhouse probably isn’t very family-friendly.

bill
Guest
bill
4 years 5 months ago

23! They lead the league in runs scored and are best in runs allowed. How can you rate them this low?

Steve Balboni
Member
4 years 5 months ago

There’s no question that the Mariners have the ability to be a large revenue franchise, as they are the de facto team for … a huge geographic area that they don’t really share with anyone else.

I had thought TV contracts were made per capita, not per square mile.

d.t.
Guest
d.t.
4 years 5 months ago

The population of the Mariners broadcasting area is around 17 million people.

max
Member
max
4 years 5 months ago

Wait when did they hire Tom Tango? That’s pretty cool if I may say so.

CheeseWhiz
Guest
CheeseWhiz
4 years 5 months ago

Ughh… a Dave Cameron article about the Mariner’s and out come the crazies. Seriously, I wish you’d just given this responsibility to someone else (maybe Matthew?), as people just can’t seem to be rational or drop things that have been beaten to death long ago. This is really a pretty reasonable, uncontroversial article (I would argue conservative, and somewhat bearish myself, but whatever) and still we have to deal with pages of people rehashing stupid arguments from years ago. Seriously people let it go.

Keystone Heavy
Guest
Keystone Heavy
4 years 5 months ago

“Neither Jake Peavy or Adam Dunn have lived up to their expensive contracts, and waiver claims for Alex Rios and Manny Ramirez have not worked out.”

Thats from the White Sox’s baseball operations review, which happened to be 25th in the league. How come you think its okay to look at the results for Adam Dunn, but for Chone Figgins its the process that matters? Was signing a hitter who was coming off 4 straight seasons of 129+ wRC+- but bad defense- to be a DH bad process? If not, why not come to the White Sox’s defense? I can’t help but suspect that the whole “process over results” is still just a defense of #6org, esp since that WAS the reason behind #6org in the first place.

I’m pretty sure that in every other Org rankings there has been no defense/attack of any other FO’s process. If you’re going to do nothing but evaluate the process and downplay the results for the Mariners, you need to do it (or make it more evident you are doing it) for the other franchises.

BIP
Guest
BIP
4 years 5 months ago

First, different authors write each org’s summary. Secondly, it’s only a five-point difference that still rates the Mariners’ FO below-average overall. Getting into the particulars, though the White Sox have more or less systematically had both bad process and bad results. To the extent the Dunn signing is defensible, other moves like the jettisoning of Swisher/Vazquez, the Rios claim, the plate appearances for Juan Pierre, the refusal to spend in the draft, are not.

At any rate, one could argue the entire difference in ranking is because of differences in their drafting performance.

Bob
Guest
Bob
4 years 5 months ago

Check. And. Mate.

Thank you, Keystone.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

This team really needs Smoak, Ackley, Montero to produce and for the young starters to get here soon and be good so they can get around .500 in 2013. Go with youngsters and development for the next 2 years as the dead weight (Ichiro and Figgins) fades away. If this plan could get them a solid nucleus going into 2014, that’s when you (wisely) go after free agents. I’m a Red Sox fan and love me some Jacoby Ellsbury but I fear he is gone after 2013. He is a northwestener, from Oregon and his skillset would play so well in that park. I wonder if he is on the Mariner’s radar. Even so, so many things need to go right for this team to make the playoffs within the next five years. Their offense is just so bad and they really have no top teir offensive talent in the system.

Tsunamijesus
Guest
Tsunamijesus
4 years 5 months ago

Their offense is just so bad and they really have no top teir offensive talent in the system.

They’ve got some guys that might surprise you. There’s surprising 3B depth, Franklin is a top tier shortstop prospect, and too many interesting outfielders to keep straight. I’m expecting a lot of Rockies-style late-20’s peaks from guys, where you really only need them to be hot for 2-4 years while supporting more consistent stars like we’re assuming Ackley and Montero etc will be. If Trayvon, Jiminez, Wells, Catricala, Franklin, and Smoak all get a few more years to struggle and break through that, I think they could very well be the Seth Smith/Ryan Spilborghs/(maybe a Matt Holliday in there somewhere?) type with some really exciting peaks that smarter baseball people will capitalize on by trading at their peak for prospects. If we have a nice coalescence, which I think is what we’re all kind of banking on because if we aren’t… man you must really just love baseball in any form.

Ellsbury seems like such a Grady Sizemore, that could be a very dangerous long term deal for whoever bites. When that speed’s gone, he’s going to have to learn to take a walk to be valuable, and at best at that point he’s a Carlos Gonzalez, which is great, but not what people are thinking he is, and not what he’s going to get paid for. Jose Reyes money, I’d imagine, if he has a couple more years like last year, but he’ll be hard pressed to repeat. Pure speculation of course. I have no informants in front offices, haha.

Not necessarily disagreeing with you, just saying that if you look closely over time you might see more hope than you’d expect.

d.t.
Guest
d.t.
4 years 5 months ago

One “bad” year and Ichiro is dead weight? That’s a bit pessimistic.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

Every positive comment about the Mariners in this article has an upvote. Every negative comment has a downvote. Seems like the M’s are some holy grail that can’t be bashed, even if there are tons of other sabermetrically inclined teams that are fair game.

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

No. The people making negative comments are getting negative votes for being illogical.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

What was so illogical about my earlier post? Was there something I said that was incorrect? At some point, people need to realize that Jack Z has not done a great job as GM of the Mariners other than get Cliff Lee for nothing, but then he turned around and got nothing for Cliff Lee.

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Read my earlier post again to find out a lot about what you’re missing in your narrow view of the situation.

Or to summarize, Jack Zduriencik has essentially been rebuilding the entire organization from scratch. He’s done a very solid job so far.

BIP
Guest
BIP
4 years 5 months ago

I didn’t know Justin Smoak was nothing.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

I think this is the best FO in the game

+6

Speaking of illogical

PalousePirate
Guest
PalousePirate
4 years 5 months ago

You have to know who Steve Baron is to get the joke.

Bob
Guest
Bob
4 years 5 months ago

I thought Cub fans were the most deluded I’d ever encountered, Greg, until I started reading Fangraphs. Now I make the M’s fans clear frontrunners for the honor.

Multiple people refer to Smoak as a “core” player. A guy who’s Overbay Lite?

Another says he’d make the Fister trade again. Really, you’d trade a dirt cheap mid-rotation starter for a handful of spare parts?

Milton Clubhouse Land Mine Bradley *had* to be acquired in order to dump Carlos Silva? Here’s a novel idea: just release Carlos Silva.

Campos *had* to be included in the Montero trade? Then here’s what ya do: Don’t make the trade. Keep your uber-talented league-minimum #3 starter in Pineda, and also keep your high-ceiling teenager and see if maybe he becomes a star.

I know all that gloomy weather can make people depressed and defensive, but for Heaven’s sake, wake up and smell the bad GM, Mariners fans. Loving your team doesn’t necessitate defending poor general managing.

In fact, it oughtta *preclude* it.

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Alrighty-then…

Multiple people refer to Smoak as a “core” player. A guy who’s Overbay Lite?

There is some optimism in Justin Smoak, particularly for those of us who saw him hit well in 2011 until the thumb injury and the death of his father took a toll on him. If you look at his offensive monthly splits, you’ll find a fascinating outlier. While he is one of the players that needs to step it up in 2012 we’ve seen evidence that he’s capable of rising up to the challenge. A struggling Justin Smoak is “Overbay Lite” so his upside is certainly better.

Another says he’d make the Fister trade again. Really, you’d trade a dirt cheap mid-rotation starter for a handful of spare parts?

I would trade a guy like Fister for a collection of interesting/promising parts as the Mariners did at the trade deadline. Particularly if it helps the team on offense. Not every Mariner fan would do it. Some really enjoyed having Fister around. It’s a debatable topic.

Mariners also have a lot of pitching depth and were dealing from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. Great pitching and terrible offense turned out to be a bad combo.

Milton Clubhouse Land Mine Bradley *had* to be acquired in order to dump Carlos Silva? Here’s a novel idea: just release Carlos Silva.

It’s okay. You’re not expected to know that Carlos Silva was actually a bigger headache to have around than Milton Bradley turned out to be. Given his reputation, Bradley’s time in Seattle was actually pretty mild. He had time off to seek some counseling and it took him over a year after being acquired to be ejected from a ball game during the regular season.

The problem was that he sucked. He didn’t even perform up to the level of performance as he did with the Cubs. The Cubs were having nightmares dealing with him. It didn’t work out but the gamble was worth it.

Campos *had* to be included in the Montero trade? Then here’s what ya do: Don’t make the trade. Keep your uber-talented league-minimum #3 starter in Pineda, and also keep your high-ceiling teenager and see if maybe he becomes a star.

Once again, Mariners dealt from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. I dunno…are you even aware that the Mariners have a lot of pitching depth? This article flat out says the team has a trio of young pitching prospects coming (Hultzen, Paxton, Walker). And that’s just the obvious three. The team loses Jose Campos and gains Hector Noesi, an interesting prospect with good stuff and a fastball that reaches the mid 90s that they can stick in the rotation immediately. It’s a high-risk, high-reward trade for both the Mariners and the Yankees.

I know all that gloomy weather can make people depressed and defensive, but for Heaven’s sake, wake up and smell the bad GM, Mariners fans. Loving your team doesn’t necessitate defending poor general managing.

This is what I’m talking about. This is a perfect example of an illogical post.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 5 months ago

According to you ThundaPC, an illogical post is any post that makes a point disagreeing with your own opinions.

1) Where is the evidence that Smoak is willing to “step up to the challenge”? He can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life and guys who can’t hit breaking balls don’t make it in the big leagues.

2) Really, you’d make that Fister trade again? A 5 WAR pitcher under team control for several more years at a dirt cheap salary in return for zero premium prospects? Come on now.

3) Jack Z traded one of the best young arms in the game plus a huge upside teenager for a right handed 1B/DH playing at a park that destroys RH hitters. If he loved Montero so much, he should have picked him over Smoak when he had the chance. And with the huge failure rate for pitching prospects, he should have let some of the guys he’s counting on actually prove they can pitch in the majors before trading away a guy we know who can.

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

According to you ThundaPC, an illogical post is any post that makes a point disagreeing with your own opinions.

Much like most of what you’ve said so far, you’re basically presenting information out of thin air.

1) Where is the evidence that Smoak is willing to “step up to the challenge”? He can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life and guys who can’t hit breaking balls don’t make it in the big leagues.

I said “he’s capable of rising up to the challenge.” Evidence of this is found in early and late 2011 performances. “He can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life” describes Carlos Peguero, not Justin Smoak. Or maybe you’re getting him mixed up with 2011 Michael Saunders. Otherwise, this sounds like more thin air analysis.

2) Really, you’d make that Fister trade again? A 5 WAR pitcher under team control for several more years at a dirt cheap salary in return for zero premium prospects? Come on now.

Let’s not go around calling Doug Fister a 5 WAR pitcher after one 5 WAR season. You’re essentially putting the cart before the horse. It’s okay to be confident in his abilities going forward. Some people even believe he’s “the next Cliff Lee.” Some people believe he’s due for regression. Regardless, Doug Fister wasn’t going to command a Cliff Lee size haul considering his lack of proven history. The team could’ve kept him, but once again, it’s dealing from a positional strength to address a weakness in offense.

3) Jack Z traded one of the best young arms in the game plus a huge upside teenager for a right handed 1B/DH playing at a park that destroys RH hitters. If he loved Montero so much, he should have picked him over Smoak when he had the chance.

Yay for one-sided embellishment.

But seriously, what really happened is that Zduriencik traded a talented two-pitch pitcher for an extremely talented hitter who may be a Catcher or a DH. For the Mariners to maximize this deal they would need Montero to work out as a catcher. For the Yankees, they need to get Pineda to improve his changeup.

And with the huge failure rate for pitching prospects, he should have let some of the guys he’s counting on actually prove they can pitch in the majors before trading away a guy we know who can.

What does this even mean? No pitcher was traded away because the team didn’t think they could pitch in the majors. They were traded away for players in an effort to bolster this team’s offense. The Mariners have had lots of pitching and no hitting. They’ve been working to rectify that with trades.

I’m just trying to help you understand what’s actually going on. Let me know if you have any more questions.

ThundaPC
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Pardon the messed up block quoting.

Nadingo
Guest
Nadingo
4 years 5 months ago

Yes, it’s easy to highlight everything that has gone wrong with the Mariners over the past few years, but that doesn’t leave you with any kind of useful assessment of whether the front office is worth sticking with or not. Comparing the Zduriencik FO to the Bavasi FO is damning with faint praise, but for Mariners fans it’s been night and day. The Bavasi regime was full of bad moves that looked bad at the time — trading Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago, trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez, signing Carl Everett as a DH, then trading for Jose Vidro, the Shin-Soo-Choo/Asdrubal Cabrera trades that netted Cleveland’s mediocre DH platoon, and the Erik Bedard trade. He also presided over five years of lousy top draft picks (Tuiasosopo, Clement, Morrow, Aumont, Fields). Bavasi’s horrible FO left the major league team and the minor league system in horrible shape, and that’s what Zduriencik had to start with when he came in.

Meanwhile, Zduriencik has had a mixed record that has included some unquestionable successes (the Putz/Gutierrez trade, the Aumont/Cliff Lee trade, the Aardsma trade), some moves that looked okay at the time but have been disappointing since (the Cliff Lee/Smoak trade, the Figgins signing), and some moves that many fans questioned at the time they were made (the Morrow/League trade, the Fister trade). He’s also drafted the Mariners best hitter (Ackley) and three pitchers who are among the top pitching prospects in baseball (Paxton, Walker, and Hultzen).

So no, not everything the FO has done has been successful, and their process has not always been perfect either. But they started from such a position of weakness, they’ve made enough moves that either worked out well or at least looked good at the time, and they’ve restocked the minor league system while improving the major league roster. Given all of that, I don’t think an 18 rank for the FO is delusional at all.

vivaelpujols
Member
vivaelpujols
4 years 5 months ago

I think the front office should get a higher ranking. I think they should be close to the top 10.

I don’t give Z and grievance for signing Figgins, or whatever other “bad” moves he’s made. The commenters above saying we should evaluate FO based on results are idiots.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 5 months ago

Right, the people who realize “process” includes things other than just looking at stats are idiots. Just because you and Z didn’t realize Figgins was in for a steep decline doesn’t mean other MLB teams were confident he was because of their scouting reports on him.

longgandhi
Guest
longgandhi
4 years 5 months ago

Name a profession where evaluations *aren’t* at least in large part based on results…. well, other than academics.

awayish
Member
awayish
4 years 5 months ago

sup #6 org

Monroe
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

“no one should be expected to predict the future”
Well, except for a GM. That’s his job.
This meme that Dave has been beating for quite awhile that no one could have ever predicted that Figgins would be a bust has become tiresome. I don’t recall a lot of dancing in Pioneer Square when this deal was inked. For what very little it’s worth, I certainly wasn’t too enthused about locking up a super-utility guy for 4 years/36 million. True, with the low bar set by Dave, I surely can’t say I thought Figgins would be nearly as awful as he has been (just 2 more years to go!). Jack Z’s most egregious mistake was trading away Morrow for League. That, I’ll never understand. A promising starter for a closer is simply a deal that should never be done – particularly by a team not good enough to need a closer. Meanwhile, Martinez will need to pan out for the Fister deal to make sense. Smoak will need to pan out for the Cliff Lee deal not to be a disaster and, yes, giving away Morse for nothing suggests that the Great Jack Z can’t evaluate offense the way we were led to believe.

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