Organizational Rankings: #6 – Seattle

The presumption is going to be that I put the Mariners at #6 because I’m a biased homer – I am well aware of that. I could spend a few paragraphs explaining how I didn’t compile this by myself and generally attempt to defend myself against the claims of bias, but I’d rather just put those words to use explaining the logic behind the ranking, and then you can think what you will.

Each organization is being graded on different aspects that affect how well the team will play going forward. Since this will undoubtedly be the most controversial ranking of the series, I’ll break down each segment.

Present Talent

The 2010 Mariners are not a great team. It’s pretty easy to look at the roster and find problems – they lack offense, the back end of the rotation is a question mark, the closer has had one good major league season, etc… The upgrades on the roster pushed them into 83-85 win territory in terms of true talent level. Put them in the American League East, and they’d likely be fighting the Orioles for fourth place. In the AL West, however, there are no Yankees or Red Sox, as all four teams are pretty evenly matched. So, while the team is flawed, they also have a pretty decent chance of making the playoffs. There simply aren’t that many teams in baseball that are going into the 2010 season with a roughly one in four chance of playing in October.

This team isn’t just designed to steal a division title and get waxed in the ALDS, either. The team is banking on several high variance players, and they won’t succeed without good years from the likes of Milton Bradley and Erik Bedard. That is certainly a risky proposition, but there’s no denying the upside that comes in a scenario where both stay healthy and perform near their talent levels. Their mean projections are dragged heavily down by the risk (as they should be), but the distribution of expected outcomes is not clumped around the middle – they will likely either boom or bust, and take the team with them whichever way they go. This team is not very likely to win 83 to 85 games. Instead, they’ll probably win 75 or 90. If it doesn’t work, they’ll be sellers at the deadline and go young in the second half. If it does work, though, the other three AL playoff clubs would be staring at having to defeat a team that throws Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, and Bedard in a playoff series. No one is going to sign up for that assignment.

The combination of a winnable division and a high variance roster gives the Mariners a legitimate chance at winning the World Series this year, even with a roster that has plenty of warts. They’re not the favorites, certainly, but if you ran the 2010 season 1,000 times, the Mariners would end up champions in a non-trivial amount of them. They’d also finish last a bunch of times, which is part of the risk they’ve had to accept. But we cannot ignore the fact that among the 30 MLB clubs, Seattle is more likely to win the title in 2010 than most of their competitors.

Future Talent

The Mariners farm system isn’t among baseball’s best. They have a couple of premium prospects in Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders, but they don’t match up with the systems that boast a lot of high ceiling guys. However, there is a reason this section is entitled young talent and not farm system.

Felix is 23. Franklin Gutierrez is 27. Jose Lopez is 26. Adam Moore is 25. Ryan Rowland-Smith is 27. Every single member of the bullpen is under 30. Simply looking at a ranking of their prospects misses the youth already on the team. They’re not overflowing with young talent like Texas or Tampa Bay, but there’s a young core to build around in place, and the guys on the farm who are legitimate prospects are generally close to the majors.

This isn’t a team that has a short window to contend. They’re likely to be even better in 2011 and beyond than they will be in 2010 – the problem for them is that is true of most of the rest of the division as well.

Management

This is where I expect the disagreement lies, as I don’t think anything written above veers much from the common perception about the team. In terms of front office capability, financial commitment from ownership, revenues from the ballpark, and the other minor components of this section, the Mariners graded out very highly. Not just with me, but among everyone I talked to, including the other authors here on the site.

I understand that there’s a large contingency of people who believe that we should not presume intelligence until success has been displayed on the field, and that we should infer that an organization is well run once the fruits of their labor of have been reaped, and those are the people who are going to hate this ranking. I simply have a philosophical disagreement with you on how we should evaluate our expectations for the future. Just as we can separate Jason Heyward from a normal outfield prospect despite the fact that he has accomplished nothing at the big league level, I believe we can also evaluate an organization’s ability to put a winning team on the field before they do so.

The term “process” has become a cliche in referring to front offices, but quite simply, there are few better examples of an organization that is blending traditional scouting with new ways of thinking than the Mariners. The GM is one of the most respected scouts in the game, and his right hand man is an accountant who went out and hired Tom Tango as one of his first orders of business. Teams that have blended both ways of thinking into their decision-making process have been tremendously successful, and this is the path the Mariners have set themselves upon.

The Seattle front office knows how to evaluate talent, and they know how to value talent. Organizations that do both things well, and are given a payroll of $100 million to boot, win a lot of baseball games.

I knew putting the Mariners at #6 would generate a significant amount of backlash and claims of bias. But, in my estimation, when you actually look at their chances of winning in 2010, the group of young talent they can build around going forward, the quality of the decision making in the front office, and their financial resources, this is where they belong. After years of being a joke, the Mariners have made one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent history.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

376 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #6 – Seattle”

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  1. Chair says:

    I have not even finished reading the article and already I have issues. You say that allot of things need to fall right in order for this team to win 90+ games, but weren’t those the parameters of the middle class teams? Which teams don’t have a “high variance roster” exactly?

    I don’t think it is your doing that the Ms are this high, but I do think it is somewhat embarrassing for such a smart website to say so.

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    • LaneC says:

      Perhaps you should read the article in its entirety before commenting?

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    • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

      You do understand that this has little to do with 2010′s success possibilities, and more to do with 2011, 2012, 2013, and beyond… right?

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      • LaneC says:

        That would imply that people actually get the point of this series.

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      • Kampfer says:

        it actually makes this ranking look worse…
        Mariners for now do not necessarily have the talent to guarantee competence comes 2015. The farm is just decent and the current roster, although young, lack overall talent. No matter how I look at it, I think at the very least most can agree that Phillies is better. Jack Z is overhyped in this case…

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        Phillies better now? Yes.
        Philies better 3 years from now? If you’re going to make that contention, to use your own words, the Phillies for now do not necessarily have the talent to guarantee competence comes 2015

        In short, you can make that argument about any team. What makes the Mariners stand out is the direction they’re heading. They’re young, they’re building, they have a smart front office, supportive fans who supply the M’s with a lot of money, no baggage, and an easy division.

        Can you say the same thing about the Phillies? With a straight face?

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      • Chair says:

        I guess I am so stupid that even when one of the three articles is called future talent I fail to view this as anything more than a 2010 evaluation. Obviously. I think everyone commenting understands the series.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        If you understand that this is about the present and the future, why the grief? What is holding you back from understanding the Mariners as a team with a bright future?

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      • B says:

        “Phillies better now? Yes.
        Philies better 3 years from now? If you’re going to make that contention, to use your own words, the Phillies for now do not necessarily have the talent to guarantee competence comes 2015

        In short, you can make that argument about any team. What makes the Mariners stand out is the direction they’re heading. They’re young, they’re building, they have a smart front office, supportive fans who supply the M’s with a lot of money, no baggage, and an easy division.”

        Maybe, but I don’t see any real reason to rank them above teams who might be set up as well in the future as the Mariners, but can also win now while getting to that future. You seem to be ignoring that each year should be equal, contending in 2015 is no better than contending in 2010, winning is winning no matter what year it comes in. What I don’t see about the Mariners are strong reasons to think they’ll be so much better in 2015 to rank them above teams that are better right now. Young, building, supportive fans and money? Plenty of organizations can say that. Jack Z might be great, but please, I’d like to see a substantial argument that the Mariners future = great is something more than Jack Z = great so Mariners = great in future…?

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      • Chair says:

        I do think they have a bright future, I lived in Seattle the past year, so I know what took place. However It would be assuming too much to say their combined current and future ability to win is 6th in all of baseball. There is no reason to get ahead of yourself and jump from the bottom tear of baseball to the top. Put them from 9 to 13 this year and if all goes well they could move up into the 4-7 range by 2012. They have a pretty average young core and a grade A front office, they need more to justify an elite ranking.

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      • ETAsports says:

        What’s holding me back?

        An overrated young core and a mediocre farm system.

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      • q says:

        “However It would be assuming too much to say their combined current and future ability to win is 6th in all of baseball.”

        Dave said as much. Going by current and future talent alone, the Mariners are mediocre. The only reason why they’re ranked at #6 is because they have a very smart front office and lots of money. How many other teams have that?

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      • B says:

        “The only reason why they’re ranked at #6 is because they have a very smart front office and lots of money. How many other teams have that?”

        It’s not like we’re talking about the Yankees here. They were under the $100M mark last season according to Cots, and #10 in baseball. Sure, that’s decent money, but it’s not anything special. The M’s front office seems good, but what can a good FO do without great talent now? It takes years to fill an entire organization with talent. Current and future talent matter. Winning in the present and in the future matter – that’s what makes an organization successful. These rankings seem to ignore that, and are calling the M’s one of the best organizations in all of baseball simply because their management *appears* to be very good.

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      • bsizzle says:

        That anyone can sit here and credibly predict how well a team is prepared for 2013 and beyond is ridiculous. I mean the Mariners themselves, are a prime example of that. Two years ago the Mariners lost 100+ games and had a bleak future. Today they have a chance to make the playoffs with a smart front office.

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      • Teej says:

        The M’s front office seems good, but what can a good FO do without great talent now?

        Go get it. They traded a broken reliever for Franklin Gutierrez and three solid-but-not-great prospects for Cliff Lee. It might be tough to pull off great trades year in and year out, but I have to say their short track record in acquiring talent on the cheap is pretty impressive.

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      • B says:

        “Go get it. They traded a broken reliever for Franklin Gutierrez and three solid-but-not-great prospects for Cliff Lee. It might be tough to pull off great trades year in and year out, but I have to say their short track record in acquiring talent on the cheap is pretty impressive.”

        So was Brian Sabean’s, once upon a time….

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      • q says:

        “They were under the $100M mark last season according to Cots, and #10 in baseball. Sure, that’s decent money, but it’s not anything special.”
        A team with a mediocre front office and $100m in payroll does not require much effort to succeed. All of the teams ahead of the Mariners in payroll have decent chances of winning their divisions year in and year out (unless they get hit with the injury stick like the Mets), no matter how smart or dumb their front office is. So, yes, it is actually quite special.

        “The M’s front office seems good, but what can a good FO do without great talent now? It takes years to fill an entire organization with talent. Current and future talent matter.”
        The M’s have decent talent right now. So, yes, it would take maybe 4-5 years to take a perennial loser into a perennial winner with a very smart front office, like the Rays. But the M’s are in a much better position today, having a more talented roster than the 2005 Rays, yet still young, and having much more money. The only doubt I have is whether or not the M’s front office really is as smart as the Rays’.

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      • Ivdown says:

        The Mariners are no better than half the league right now for future success with the way their current team is and their farm is. Are the Mariners going to have the draft of the century in 2010 and all of the a sudden become a top 5 farm system? If not, then they should be no higher than 12th on this list.

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      • Omar says:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2010-organizational-rankings-kick-off/

        “3. Having a chance of winning it all this year is great. Having a great farm system is great. Having a forward thinking management staff is great. But by themselves, none of those things are enough to earn a high grade overall. We’re really trying to highlight the balance between winning now and winning in the future. There will be teams that are high on the list because of how good they may be in 2011 or 2012, while teams that are better in 2010 will be behind them. It’s not just a short term thing, and these aren’t projected order of finish for 2010. It’s our perspective on the total health of where each team is, relative to their peers, going forward.”

        That’s the exact language, while I think 2010, 2011, and 2012 are fair and reasonable measures for this exercise, it’s pretty difficult to see 2013 and beyond. Yes, some teams draft better than others and yes some have bigger presence in the IFA markets…however, even the teams that do those things well still make mistakes. Players bust, pitchers get hurt, high ceiling guys never find control, shit happens. Sometimes you’ll see teams take the right approach to things yet still not experience success, take the Cleveland Indians for example. From 2002 to 2009 they were a model organization under Shapiro, they hired SABR guru Keith Woolner before the SABR craze in baseball organizations really took off, had a good far, had a few elite players come up and even locked some of them up long term. Yet they only made the playoffs twice and had three winning seasons, so the “process” isn’t everything either.

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      • Ivdown says:

        I like how you give me negatives when the Mariners franchise should be nowhere higher than 12th on this list. I wasn’t wrong.

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    • Le Sigh says:

      I guess you skimmed over the part about the winnable division? Because the AL west really is up for grabs and many of the middle class teams don’t have that luxury. The point is that if a few things go right the division in theirs, and the team’s weaknesses will be masked by a playoff schedule. That’s for 2010.

      Beyond 2010, current talent plays less of a role than the way the team’s run, and this is a more subjective area. Clearly the authors of this site feel that the M’s are better run than most other teams, and you’re welcome to disagree with that, but on what grounds?

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      • Kampfer says:

        Now that you talk about how the winnable division plays a big part in the ranking, it once again makes this ranking look bad. If you put more weight on the future, the Rangers is going to dominate, and Seattle has little chance to compete in the future, at least with the current farm.

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      • ETAsports says:

        Even more reason that the Rockies should be ranked above the Mariners.

        Given the Dodgers divorce, the future of the NL West is very much in flux.

        In AL West, you have one of the best owners (Moreno), one of the best GMs (Beene), and arguably the team with most future talent (Rangers).

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      • Le Sigh says:

        Texas is going to be ranked higher than Seattle, so what’s your point?

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      • Le Sigh says:

        ETA-
        Beane is hardly cutting edge any more and his payroll is a fraction of Seattle’s. Angels are highly ranked as well, but place lower perhaps because their farm is sapped and Reagins hasn’t distinguished himself in any way. Texas, again, will be ranked higher than Seattle so good point but how is that inconsistent with the list?

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      • ETAsports says:

        My point was that the next couple years of the NL West seems far more up for grabs than the AL West. So the Rockies vs. Mariners is my issue.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Hey look, it’s Nick Stavinoha!

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  2. The Typical Idiot Fan says:

    Commence shitstorm from people who still don’t understand the point of this exercise.

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    • Steve says:

      I’d wager that 90% of the readers here feel this ranking is too aggressive.

      This response is akin to saying “everyone who disagrees with Dave is an idiot”.

      Believe it or not, some of us are indeed smart enough to understand the point of the exercise and STILL think this ranking is way too aggressive/premature.

      +72 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Le Sigh says:

        I’d take that bet

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “I’d wager that 90% of the readers here feel this ranking is too aggressive.”

        Because they don’t get the point of the exercise.

        “This response is akin to saying “everyone who disagrees with Dave is an idiot”.”

        No, the idiots are the ones who DON’T GET THE POINT OF THE EXERCISE.

        “Believe it or not, some of us are indeed smart enough to understand the point of the exercise and STILL think this ranking is way too aggressive/premature.”

        Then they would be a smaller portion of the commenters thus far. Most of the comments I’ve read from this series are butthurt fans who think Dave is ripping on their team and saying they wont win in 2010. People constantly bring up past successes as if they matter for the future.

        I’m not trying to be unnecessarily rude about this, but I am getting rather sick of the brainlessness being demonstrated by some of the posters. If you don’t understand what Cameron is trying to do here, or last year, or the year before, with this series of posts, then just fucking say so. Then maybe we can reach a point of understanding without flame wars, trolling, and other jackassery.

        -32 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CaR says:

        And commence shitstorm from USSM lackeys who laud Dave with praise even when he says up is down. A ranking this high would seem to require success to be nearly guaranteed in the near future, I don’t see the prospect evidence to back that up. Perhaps in time, they have done a great job in fielding a team that is competitive while slashing payroll. They should be praised for finding cheap talent, but I feel that they have a ceiling with the ‘defense matters’ mantra, and will be looking to add offense soon.

        -17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “And commence shitstorm from USSM lackeys who laud Dave with praise even when he says up is down.”

        And just like that… jackassery.

        “A ranking this high would seem to require success to be nearly guaranteed in the near future”

        If you believe that, then this conversation is not going to go anywhere. What part of subjective opinion-making don’t you understand?

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        I 100% understand the purpose of this exercise and I disagree with this rating. I am not an idiot. Dave Cameron is also not an idiot. The rest of the writers on Fangraphs are not idiots. The people yelling that anyone who disagrees with Dave’s ranking of the Mariners are idiots are idiots. The ranking is subjective, Dave Cameron is not infallible. Last year a lot of people disagreed with the Phillies ranking. This year Dave admitted that he does not take pride in where he ranked the Phillies last year.

        Get over it.

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      • CaR says:

        Solidly projecting young cost controlled talent. A farm system promising to produce depth as well as better than average talent at multiple positions. A payroll that is expanding not contracting. Just a few traits of a very highly ranked org.

        Idiotfan’s response is that people just don’t get it. Have to love those who start a flame war to head off a flame war. Its like arguing with someone who claims the Japanese Saturday morning cartoons have some sort of deep meaning, undervalued by an uncaring society.

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      • B says:

        “The ranking is subjective, Dave Cameron is not infallible. Last year a lot of people disagreed with the Phillies ranking. This year Dave admitted that he does not take pride in where he ranked the Phillies last year.”

        I actually think, based on reading the series last year, that Fangraphs readers are pretty good at spotting egregious rankings. I remember a lot of us objecting to such a low ranking for the Marlins last year….this site gets a lot of knowledgeable people, and for the same reasons Tango/Fangraphs do Fan Scouting Reports and Fan projections, I think the readers here can serve as a pretty useful piece of information to gauge/evaluate the writers rankings and provide alternative viewpoints in some cases. This year, I think the Mariners are the best example of it, frankly, I agree with lots of others who get the point of the exercise, have read Fangraphs enough to understand exactly what the writers use to evaluate, and simply think they’ve been ranked too high.

        +26 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Mark says:

    They have been out-scored by 192 runs the last 2 seasons. Jose Lopez, Rowland-Smith and Moore are young, but are they any good? I do not think they have a very good shot at winning the World Series. This is a mediocre team, it was a below-average team last year and it was an awful team in 2008. The farm system is average. A ranking of 15 sounds better to me.

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    • LaneC says:

      I appreciate using a larger sample window, but you have to realize that the 2008 Seattle Mariners and the 2009 Seattle Mariners couldn’t be more different. Look at the outfield alone where Raul Ibanez and a revolving door of Balentien/Reed/Morse/Wilkerson were jettisoned for a significantly better run-prevention group in Chavez/Langerhans, Gutierrez, Ichiro.

      The 2009 club was significantly better at preventing runs than the 2008 club was.

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    • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

      Lopez is a 2 WAR player.
      RR-S was a 1.5 WAR player in only 96 innings last season, projected to be a 2.7 WAR player in 2010.
      Adam Moore is a rookie, but should bring a solid bat to the catching spot.

      These are all at least league average players. If your team had league average players at every position, you’d be a really good team. They’re also all young, under team control for years, and cheap. In Lopez’s case, trade bait for something better.

      It doesn’t stop there either.

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      • Graham says:

        If you had league average players at every position, you’d be a league average team.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        I probably should have said something more like “good team to build around”, shouldn’t I?

        Obviously the Mariners aren’t a 2 WAR team at every position. They can get 3 to 4 (or more) from several players and less than 2 from others.

        The point I’m trying to get to, though, is that 2 WAR players are good. Obviously you’d like better, but it’s a good start.

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      • B says:

        “Obviously you’d like better, but it’s a good start.”

        I don’t think people are arguing with that, I think we’re taking issue because that’s all it is – a start. Other teams actually have better things than just a few nice pieces that can contribute. Take the Giants, for instance. Higher ranked farm system for future success. Pretty similar 2010 MLB team (great run prevention, poor hitting, probably around ~82 win team). Young talent at the MLB level that’s better than the M’s (Lincecum, Cain, Sandoval, Wilson, Sanchez, Romo….). So…..you really think that a GM who appears to have the M’s going the right direction turns a franchise with less current talent into a much better contender in the present, near future and long term than the Giants? Long term, sure, no objection, Jack Z > Sabean, but the present and near future matter, too? Where are those extra wins to contend going to come from?

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      • Jilly says:

        @TTIF

        It is nice having a bunch of 2 to 3 win guys, those are nice commodities. But is a team that has Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierrez, Dustin Ackley, and then a bunch of 2-3 win guys really deserving of #6? That’s my problem. The current roster and the farm has at best 3 guys who can give you 4+ wins regularly all told. Everyone else is solid regulars. Compare that with the Braves, who have McCann, Heyward, Escobar, Hanson, etc. etc. and they have a better team now, plus they look to be much better going forward too. Too much of this #6 ranking is just faith in Jack Z.

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      • q says:

        “Too much of this #6 ranking is just faith in Jack Z.”

        I, too, think #6 is a little too high. But, yes, Dave pretty much said the #6 ranking is because of Jack Z (as well as the money). A very smart front office with lots of money has proven to be extremely successful (I can’t think of a team with this combination that wasn’t successful). So if you’re convinced that Jack Z’s office is as good as the Red Sox or the Rays, the #6 ranking is not implausible. Personally, I haven’t been convinced, but I do admit Dave is more familiar with the M’s front office than I am.

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    • Chris A. says:

      These rankings are about the future, not the past.

      And last year the Mariners as a team had a .258/.314/.402 line and their opponents had a .247/.316/.394 line. Given those lines you would expect the M’s to outscore their opponents slightly, but they didn’t because they were terribly unlucky hitting with runners in scoring position. A simple pythag-record analysis ignore that their ‘clutch’ hitting should return to normal this year.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Why are people failing to realize that recent past success or failure does influence the future. If a team stays almost exactly the same, and has won their division for 2 straight years, would you expect then to have no chance at the division?

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      • Chris A. says:

        I would expect a team that won it’s division two times to win the next one, but you’re confusing causation with correlation. Did they win because they have good talent or because they have won in the past? The past doesn’t affect the future, although they might correlate because the talent you have on a team affects both of those variables. You have to measure current talent, not past results.

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  4. MetsKnicksRutgers says:

    I can honestly say that everybody on the FG writing staff is at the very least smarter than I and all are most definitely more accomplished. That being said I can still disagree with this ranking.

    I have really enjoyed this series thus far, but I truly feel that FG as a whole is wrong on this one and with some time to reflect may bump the M’s down. A pretty damn good GM shouldn’t bump a team with a mediocre farm, an awful lineup and a pretty darn good but top heavy rotation ahead of Philly, ATL and the Rox. ATL I can almost understand because of payroll restrictions, but Philly is by far currently better and Colorado is pretty close. The Phils even without a deep run in the playoffs year after year should be able to maintain a 120-130 million payroll.

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    • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

      Forgot to note:

      I acknowledge that the gap between 5-10 isn’t very large, but putting Seattle at #10 and bumping CO, ATL and PHI up may have been more accurate and caused a lot less drama.

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    • Sammy says:

      What’s holding the Phils back is a combination of age and a lack of confidence in management to intelligently evaluate and skillfully restock the roster once those aging players need to be replaced. The combination of FO aptitude + payroll is what takes this team from middle of the pack to 6th. Give the M’s either a league average payroll or a FO and they fall back into 13-20 range.

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  5. Chair says:

    I don’t think the AL west is so weak anyways. Oakland won’t contend this year, but their young pitching looks allot better than Seattle’s and they have some offensive pieces coming as well. The Angels could finally be on a move downwards, but some thought the same thing last year. Then there are the Rangers who are going to be ranked in the top 5. So how exactly are the Ms looking at easy playoff berths now and in the future?

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    • Le Sigh says:

      The 2010 ALW projects to be a very close race based on pretty much every player prediction system. CAIRO, CHONE, ZiPS, BP.. you name it, there’s going to be a four game spread between 1st and 3rd.

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    • SaintMo says:

      The 4 team division seems to be one of the bigger factors about this ranking. I am assuming that a good, with the potential to be great, team has such a high ranking from the fact that for the immediate future they only have to compete with Texas and Anaheim to make the playoffs.

      Although, to win the World Series they HAVE to win their division. Then, they HAVE to face one of the Yankees or Red Sox or Rays. Just as the Mariners have Felix/Lee, the Yankees have Sabathia/Vasquez/Burnett while the Sox have Beckett/Lester and both can boast superior offenses.

      I’d venture to say that it’s easier to win the World Series being in a competitive NL division rather than a weak AL division because you don’t have to face the AL juggernauts until the actual WS. After all, 6/8 (and 8/10 if you go back to the Blue Jays’ 92-93 run) of the previous AL World Series winners have came from the AL East.

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  6. Benne says:

    *Joker voice*

    And here…we…..go…..

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  7. Jilly says:

    Here’s my problems. The present talent is not very good, and you said it yourself. Them winning the division a non-trivial amount of times has as much if not more to do with being in a weak division than anything they’ll be doing themselves. When talkign about how good their organization is, you shouldn’t reward them just because their division is unlikely to produce a team that wins more than 90 games. The future talent you pointed out isn’t very good either. Felix is a super-duper star, Franklin Gutierrez might be a star(we don’t know his true talent level defensively), and the other guys are all solid regulars. Same deal on the farm, Ackley’s probably a star, but Moore, Saunders, and most of their other prospects are guys who will be solid regulars but are unlikely ever to throw up a 4 win season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not great either. They do, and should continue to have, a nice payroll though, which is nice. Although it’s more in the Philly/Atlanta area than the Chicago/New York area, so it’s not a huge advantage. Really, it seems like the Mariners are about 5 spots higher than they ought to be almost purely because of Jack Z, which is why you’re going to see so much disagreement.

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  8. Wrighteous says:

    I put this on the other thread but I am going to shamelessly re-post it here so it gets more views. Their “impressive turnaround” was largely due to luck/coincidence, according to their Pythag (actual) win totals from 08 to 09

    2008: 66 (61)
    2009: 75 (85)
    Diff: +9 (+24)

    My response to your argument about the M’s FO: whatever let’s you sleep at night while your team wins 78 games this season and sells of Cliff Lee at the deadline for a net loss talent-wise

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    • LaneC says:

      You’re not using straight Pythag are you? I believe there are better tools out there now.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        Ok yeah WAR is great but How can I look up team WAR for 2008 and compare it to 2k9? pythag is much easier and leads to the same conclusion anyway.

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      • Graham says:

        No it doesn’t, Wrighteous. Pythag eliminates one kind of luck (specifically run distribution) but completely ignores everything else. Which is ok if you’re paying attention, but just shouting PYTHAG doesn’t cut it.

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    • Le Sigh says:

      Like LaneC points out, straight Pythag is a bad way to determine ‘true talent’. It is a slave to LOB% for both hitters and pitchers, and this stat is not skill-based.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        WAR is a slave to inadequate fielding sample sizes.

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      • Le Sigh says:

        Not for a team.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        I assume you prefer WAR, but WAR is not perfect either.

        We had that article a while back that proves how observed WAR correlates well with observed wins, but I would guess that it is not a great predictor of future success (i.e. projected WAR would not be a good predictor of actual WAR) given its dependence on fielding metrics which fluctuate considerably.

        In other words, WAR is not that great an indicator of “true talent”, just a great indicator of “true results”

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      • Wrighteous says:

        oh,, nm

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    • coreyjro says:

      I’ll bet you a shiny nickel that Cliff Lee doesn’t get traded. Unless the Mariners are well out of contention and the trade offer includes two prospects that are significantly better than the compensation they’d receive for Lee’s type A free agent status, the move won’t happen.

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    • Le Sigh says:

      Look at team wRAA on pitching and hitting and extrapolate pythag based on that. But keep in mind that the last two years will not determine what happens in the future. Guess how many players from the 08 roster are still on the team?

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  9. B says:

    “But, in my estimation, when you actually look at their chances of winning in 2010, the group of young talent they can build around going forward, the quality of the decision making in the front office, and their financial resources, this is where they belong. After years of being a joke, the Mariners have made one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent history.”

    I guess I’m just not seeing it. I’m not seeing much in terms of their chances of winning in 2010, if winning is based on playoffs and/or World Series. I’m not seeing an overly impressive collection of young talent – their farm system seems middle of the pack, their young talent on the club is basically Felix. For example, how does a middle of the pack farm system + Felix, Gutierrez, Lopez, Moore, and Rowland-Smith even come close to matching something like the Giants top 3 BA farm system, Sandoval, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Wilson, Romo in terms of “young talent”….?

    Sure, Jack Z seems like a very good GM. I’m not ready to call him the best or anything, but I’d sure as hell rather have him than Sabean. But even a good GM needs time to rebuild after what Bavasi did to the M’s, and I just don’t see them being relevant enough in the next 3 or so years to warrant such a high ranking. I’m not saying they deserve to be ranked down by the Giants, I’m just trying to point out they really aren’t set up as well in the present and near future as a number of other teams who can also match their farm system for longer term success. Management’s ability to turn them into a legitimate top tier team is going to take some time, and that’s something I think your analysis isn’t recognizing.

    I wouldn’t object to an above average ranking, but when you’re talking about the #6 organization in baseball, I expect them to be able to contend throughout all or most of the time period we’re talking about, and I just don’t see that with the M’s. They’re headed in the right direction, but if we’re talking 3 or even ~5 years here, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for them to contend for all, or even most of that period.

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  10. ETAsports says:

    “If it doesn’t work, they’ll be sellers at the deadline and go young in the second half.”

    Outside of Lee, who would they have to sell? If things go bad its reasonable to assume Bradley and Bedard probably didn’t perform at a high level.

    I also think you are over valuing Felix, Franklin, Moore, Lopez, Rowland-Smith. Young core. Lots of teams, ranked below, can match or better that core.

    I’m not sure which teams don’t have a “high variance roster”

    Still fail to see how the Mariners have the tangible assets to justify a ranking this high.

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    • B says:

      “Still fail to see how the Mariners have the tangible assets to justify a ranking this high.”

      Exactly. I can buy the “Jack Z knows what he’s doing” routine. You wanna bump them up for that? Fine. As of right now, though, their organization simply isn’t talented enough to warrant the #6 ranking. They aren’t contenders now. They don’t have a huge MLB-ready prospect base to be contenders in the near future or anything. Where’s the talent to justify this ranking, beyond a lot of respect for management?

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  11. snapper says:

    I’m sorry, the M’s just don’t have the core of talent to justify this ranking.

    The solidly above average players and prospects they control long-term are Felix, Ichiro, Figgins, Guttierez, Ackley and Saunders. Add in Moore to be charitable, but as BA #83, he’s no better than Hank Conger or Austin Romine, and no one considers them “core” guys. That’s it.

    Compare that to the 5-7 teams below them, and it just doesn’t stack up.

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  12. Rob says:

    I like the front office too, but not this much. The reliance on chemistry guys (Sweeney, Griffey) to fill valuable roster slots is one reason for doubt. Again, I go back the the Dodgers, who are way back at 14. They clearly have better current talent and better young talent, along with an AGM in Logan White who is probably regarded Jack Z’s equal as a talent evaluator. I would say the revenue issues are probably equal, though long term I know that the LA market has way more potential for high revenues. I know there is the ownership issue, but I would think all things combined would result in roughly equivalent rankings for the two teams IF one were being generous to Seattle.

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  13. Adam R. says:

    The Indians have a younger Major Leauge club, about the same chance as the Mariners to make the playoffs, a better farm system, and a similarly savvy front office. Same with Oakland. I guess the difference is that Seattle has more money to work with?

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    • LaneC says:

      Payroll is an important factor in these rankings.

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    • Peter says:

      I guess the difference is that Seattle has more money to work with?

      I’d guess the difference is the Mariners have a much greater online presence (and nothing to do with the actual problem), especially in this space, but that’s just my guess.

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  14. Dave says:

    @idiotfan. I think most people here do understand the point of this exercise and this was one of the more interesting series of articles that FanGraphs has developed.

    However, even the writers themselves would admit this is an agressive ranking. I don’t entirely disagree with it either, I think the Mariners have done an excellent job of building a front office and they do have two superstars on the roster in Felix and Ichiro. I do, though, think that there is was a lot of assumption put on this ranking, especially with a team that has yet to develop a pedigree of winning. I’m sure there are going to be a few that take issue with the ranking of the Rangers as well (which should be coming shortly) for the same reason.

    While more cliche than fact, winning does breed winning to an extent. Remember, while everyone always knew the Rays had talent, very few truly believed in them until they broke out in 2008. Until the Mariners show they have the overall talent to be a playoff/WS team, they aren’t. Ranking the Mariners, ahead of two teams that should compete for a WS this year and next (at least) in the Phillies and Rockies and a team that might currently be better AND has more young talent (Braves) is just a bit of a stretch for me.

    But we all have opinions. We’ll see how right (or wrong) this ranking was in three years.

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    • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

      “However, even the writers themselves would admit this is an agressive ranking”

      This is their ranking, not just Cameron’s. I don’t know if they would agree or disagree on the level of aggressiveness. I don’t think they’re out to cause arguments just by making flakey judgment calls. I think they honestly believe this is where the Mariners should be.

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      • Dave says:

        I’d like to see all the writer’s opinions on the aggressiveness of this ranking. I’m sure they believe this is where they belong, I’m not doubting that.

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    • aaron says:

      But isn’t that the whole point of this predictive exercise? The Rays should have been highly rated before 2008 because of the moves they were making. This is not a backward looking ranking. You can argue that other such rankings are fond of looking at pedigree, but FG explicitly stated at the outset that they give zero regard to past performance.

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      • B says:

        “The Rays should have been highly rated before 2008 because of the moves they were making.”

        Well, comparing it to the Rays to illustrate why I think they’re ranked too highly, I think this would be like ranking the Rays highly going into 2005 or 2006. Sure, maybe Fangraph’s writers have correctly identified a savvy organization that’s gonig to be successful in the future, but they’re putting a ton of stock into the far future and seemingly ignoring the present. Maybe the M’s will be one of the top franchises in baseball by 2013, but what about the time until then? What about the franchises that can compete now AND might be close to the M’s level in 2013? If you ranked the Rays highly in 2005 then looked at how successful they were over the next 5 years….well, you would have been wrong. Sure, it would have been a very wise call that the organization was headed in right right direction, but the fact is they just weren’t that successful from 2005-2009.

        Imperfect analogy, but I think the point stands even if the details aren’t the same.

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      • Dave says:

        I do think it’s important sometimes to look backwards, even if they didn’t do so in this exercise. But, if you include “Current Talent” it’s hard not to look back to see how that “current talent” has performed. Future talent is speculative (to a point) so the only way to measure what they currently have is past performance. On that alone, the current talent just doesn’t stack up to the other teams ranked around them, and unless they have droves of hot prospects coming, or tons of money (of which they have neither) then this ranking will stay debateable.

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      • q says:

        The Rays are a good example. They proved you can build a contender fairly quickly with a smart front office. That is probably what’s driving this ranking, plus the additional bonus of a higher payroll. Were the Rays not in the AL East, they would have been extremely successful from 2005-2009 and giving them a #6 in 2005 would have been accurate.

        Jack Z has proven he can create a team that is competitive (in the AL West) out of spare parts. Dave is also convinced he has the smarts and the money to build a juggernaut like the Rays or the Red Sox. This latter point I’m not so sure about. But if we were to move the entire Rays front office into the Mariners’ organization, then a #6 rank would be about right. Thus, as Dave pointed out, the main disagreement is just how highly you think of the front office?

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      • B says:

        “The Rays are a good example. They proved you can build a contender fairly quickly with a smart front office. That is probably what’s driving this ranking, plus the additional bonus of a higher payroll. Were the Rays not in the AL East, they would have been extremely successful from 2005-2009 and giving them a #6 in 2005 would have been accurate.”

        “Thus, as Dave pointed out, the main disagreement is just how highly you think of the front office?”

        Nope, you’ve entirely missed the point. It took the Rays YEARS of high draft picks, bad teams, and building their organization to go from the joke of an organization they were into perennial powerhouse, claiming they turned things around fairly quickly is simply inaccurate. The Rays current GM joined the organization in 2004 as Director of Baseball Development before becoming GM in 2005. They won 70 games in 2004. They won under 70 the next 3 years. That’s not a “fast turnaround”. Their organization already had talent in the farm system when Friendman arrived – BJ Upton was drafted in 2002, for instance. Claiming they would have been successful from 2005-2009 in another division is simply false – under 70 win teams are bad no matter what division it’s in – they were 375-435 total over that 5 years cumulative. That’s not success in my book, at least not among the top organizations in the league.

        I do have some questions about all the faith given Jack Z, he’s seemingly good but a lot of things can work out well in small samples. I have no problems with giving the M’s a good bump because of payroll/management, but given what we know about their current talent, and given uncertainty in what they’ll be able to accomplish in the future with future talent they don’t yet have….they don’t seem like they’re going to be that successful over the next 5 or so years to me. Heading in the right direction isn’t worthy of #6. There are more than 6 teams already where they want to go who can match their pipeline of talent for future success.

        Good management can’t change things overnight. Right now, it’s simply not appropriate to rank the M’s that high. In a couple years, sure, it might be….but let’s get to that point, first, when we can start pointing to 2010-2011 success as “in the past”.

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      • Justin says:

        this is to q

        The Rays had a much deeper and talented roster and system at that point than the Mariners have now.

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      • q says:

        “They won under 70 the next 3 years. That’s not a “fast turnaround”.”

        Since when is 3-4 years not a fast turnaround? Especially for a club as decrepit as the Rays? Projecting that timeline on the Mariners, who have more money and a much more talented roster than the Rays in 2005, would put them in “perennial powerhouse” category by 2013-2014. And unlike the Rays of 2005-2007, the Mariners will most likely be contending in the AL West before then.

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      • q says:

        “The Rays had a much deeper and talented roster and system at that point than the Mariners have now.”

        From 2005-2007, the Rays won like an average of 68 games. The Mariners are much more talented than that, though it’s true the Mariners’ farm system is not nearly as good. Also, the Mariners have a much larger payroll.

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      • q says:

        Sorry, a 3-4 year timeline would put the Mariners in contention by 2012-2013, since we’ve had one year of Jack Z under the belt.

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      • B says:

        “Since when is 3-4 years not a fast turnaround?”

        Well, when that turnaround is going to be largely built around players that aren’t even in the organization yet, and you get 3-4 years of not impressive results…..it just doesn’t give you a top notch organization in terms of success. Acting like it’s a given that they’ll be a perennial power is foolish, it’s hard enough to project the immediate future, if you think you can project out 5 years from now accurately you’re not being honest with yourself. Meanwhile, not a single person has given us good reasons to think the team will be overly successful over the next few years……so tell me, how does that translate into “6th best/most successful organization”…?

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      • B says:

        “From 2005-2007, the Rays won like an average of 68 games. The Mariners are much more talented than that”

        Larger payroll is a fair point, but in terms of players that will be contributing to the Mariners 3 years from now (like in 2005, players that contributed to the Rays 3 years down the road in 2008)….are the Mariners more talented? In 2008 the Rays got 4.3 WAR from James Shields, 3.6 WAR from Andy Sonnanstine, 3.0 WAR from Matt Garza, 5.3 WAR from Longoria, 4.8 from Upton, 2.7 from Crawford, etc. The Rays didn’t have much MLB talent in 2005-2007, but they had plenty of future talent, and high picks to acquire more (like Longoria) that the M’s can’t match. Where is that talent going to come from for the M’s 3 years from now? What do the M’s have now that can make them contenders within 3 years?

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      • q says:

        “Well, when that turnaround is going to be largely built around players that aren’t even in the organization yet, and you get 3-4 years of not impressive results…..it just doesn’t give you a top notch organization in terms of success.”

        I’m not sure what this means, but the Mariners success will be built around players they already have. Felix, Gutierrez, Ichiro and to a lesser extent Figgins and Ackley. This is a much stronger core than what the Rays had in 2005.

        “Acting like it’s a given that they’ll be a perennial power is foolish, it’s hard enough to project the immediate future, if you think you can project out 5 years from now accurately you’re not being honest with yourself.”

        I’m not assuming they’ll be a perennial power. But the fact is that teams with this high of a payroll cannot help but be pretty successful, especially in a weak division. Add in a talented front office, and there’s a high chance the Mariner’s will become a perennial power like the Angels.

        Basically, if you transplanted the Rays front office to the Mariners, how comfortable would you be with the #6 ranking? Personally, I would be very comfortable.

        “Meanwhile, not a single person has given us good reasons to think the team will be overly successful over the next few years……so tell me, how does that translate into “6th best/most successful organization”…?”

        The team will be competitive in the years they are “rebuilding” around a decent core. They have a lot of money and if you assume their front office is as talented as any other, those are good reasons to be optimistic about their chances down the line. #6 is not implausible given this combination.

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      • q says:

        “Where is that talent going to come from for the M’s 3 years from now? What do the M’s have now that can make them contenders within 3 years?”

        Like I said, the 2005 Rays had much better future talent. It’s a little hard to compare to the ’08 Rays team, as they relied on so much home-grown talent. But let’s look at the ’09 team, which is a more realistic goal for the M’s:

        Zobrist, 8.6 WAR – traded for Aubrey Huff
        Longoria, 7.2 WAR – drafted #3 in 2006
        Crawford, 5.5 WAR – drafted #52 in 1999
        Bartlett, 4.8 WAR – part of the Delmon Young for Garza trade
        Shields, 4.1 WAR – drafted 16th round in 2000
        Garza, 3.4 WAR – traded for Delmon Young
        Pena, 2.7 WAR – signed as FA in 2007
        Upton, 2.5 WAR – drafted #2 in 2002

        Longoria, Crawford, Shields and Upton are the unreplicable core, totalling 19.3 WAR last year. Gutierrez, Felix, Ichiro and Figgins are something like 16-18 WAR, not too much worse. Of course, the M’s don’t have anyone like Delmon Young to trade, but I think they can make it up with free agent signings and trades like the one made for Lee. The Rays today are also much deeper, but it’s not unlikely that a smart office can stock the minor leagues within 3 years. So replicating the Rays success is not out of the question, and of course the Mariners don’t need to reach that high of a goal to become competitive int he AL West.

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      • B says:

        “I’m not sure what this means”

        It means when we look back at baseball, ~5 years down the road, which team will have been the most successful? If the Mariners have 3 years of averageish teams, which seems fairly likely, how will they be the 6th most successful franchise over that period? The only possible way is to basically be the very best team in baseball the next couple years. Where is the talent for that? 40 year old Ichiro? 35 year old Figgins? 30 year old Gutierrez (defense peaks earlier than offense)? The M’s don’t have the talent to be awesome in 3 years from now, so like I said, you’re relying on a lot of talent coming from outside the organization. Unlike the Rays, who I specifically named many of their largest contributors – Garza (who came from Delmon, who was a top prospect in the org in 2005), Sonnanstine, Shields, Longoria, Upton, Crawford….all guys in the organization in 2005 (except Longoria, but they had the #3 overall pick in 2006, M’s don’t have that right now). Not to mention the Rays did that and still have Price, Beckham, Davis, Brignac, Jennings in their farm system…..

        “But the fact is that teams with this high of a payroll cannot help but be pretty successful”

        How high, exactly, do you think their payroll is? They upped it and were still only 10th in baseball. Houston outspent them, the Mets outspend them, the Cubs outspent them, the White Sox outspent them, not to mention more successful teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Phillies….you’re acting like they’re a $150M payroll team. Their payroll is a bit above average. 6 teams spent more than $20M more than they did.

        “Basically, if you transplanted the Rays front office to the Mariners, how comfortable would you be with the #6 ranking? Personally, I would be very comfortable.”

        I wouldn’t, because again, they just aren’t set up for success right now. Winning in 2010 matters for how successful your organization is. Winning in 2011 matters. Winning in 2012 does. In 5 years when we look back at the most successful teams in baseball over that 5 year period, I don’t think any front office would manage to put the M’s in the top 6. They simply don’t have the combination of talent throughout their orgnaization and resources to make up for it that a number of other teams do have. If we’re not talking about who’s going to be the more successful organization right now, than what’s the point of the rankings? Who’s going to be best in 2014 while ignoring all the years before it, despite the fact that we can more easily project those years?

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  15. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    i gues my problem with these rankings is they take into account present odds as well as future talent, but with massive amounts of subjectivisim, both in the weighting of timeframes, and outcomes of success.

    for example, team a wins the world series in 2011, then wins 70 games in 2012-2015.

    Team b wins 85-90 games a year, but does squadoosh the 2 times it makes the playoffs in that 5 year run. Which team had a better 5 years?

    Anyway, until these issues are resolved, I (and most others) look at this and think you are biased.

    I guess the easiest way to resolve this would be to say, if you as a franchise could swap positions with any other franchise, would you?

    In that case you probably have the yankees and redsox 1-2, some NL teams 3-6 (because on aggregate even the teams weaker than tampa et al have a better chance of making the world series and possibly winning it, and have long term resource advantages tampa is not guaranteed to sustain),

    then a Texas/Seattle in the 7-10 category with Tampa, etc…

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    • Bill says:

      The “Organizational Rankings” should really reflect chances to make the playoffs and win the World Series each year, and presumably this year being most important (present value).

      They seem more to reflect the ability of the organization to succeed 3-5 years down the line, and the ability of the organization to continue to have the success in drafting/development that it has had in the past.

      That being said, I’m kind of surprised at Seattle (and to a degree, Minnesota) being ranked over ATL, COL, and PHI. Really no complaint with TB/NYY/BOS, and even TEX, but I would take the Phillies or Rockies chances to win the WS in the next few years way before i would take the Mariners.

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      • bsizzle says:

        I think there’s too much weight on the guess that an organization will succeed in 3-5 years. Honestly, it’s just not something you can predict with reasonable accuracy. So I think extra weight should be placed on what a team can be expected to do in 2010 and maybe 2011. Beyond that it’s really a crapshoot.

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    • B says:

      “but I would take the Phillies or Rockies chances to win the WS in the next few years way before i would take the Mariners.”

      Yeah, that’s my objection, if you look at 2010-2014 or 2015 or something, I would bet on a decent number of organizations being more successful than the M’s over that entire period. Now, once you get to 2015, the M’s might be better set up to perennially contend than almost everyone else…but that’s a pretty big leap of faith, and it ignores whatever success they had/didn’t have from 2010-2014.

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  16. Boomer says:

    If what you’re saying is that the Mariners are the best of the teams that have some potentially major gaps and need things to fall right to do well, that seems pretty reasonable. Even the Phillies will need to avoid negative regression and see positive regression (Rollins) to be in line for a WS win. I can live with that.

    Although I will say that the definition of “Current Talent” and “Future Talent” might need to be sharpened up a bit. Do the Red Sox get to count Jon Lester as “Future Talent” because he just turned 26?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Yes. Or, more to the point, they count him because he’s around through 2014. I think the current talent posts really dealt with the next two seasons, where the future talent posts dealt with something like 2012-2015, and maybe even looking further forward when necessary.

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  17. Kampfer says:

    This ranking can never be worse… I am a Mariners fan and I think it is a terrible idea to rank us here. First, talent in the roster and farm are both mediocre. Second, the division may seem up-for-grab in 2010, but the wave of young Rangers are coming… I can envision a Ranger team right up there toe-to-toe with the Yanks. Unless Jack Z uses magic, no way Mariners is in shape to play October baseball in the next few years. Last, the team that ranks below can either be more competent in 2010 or the future, and you rank a team with some chance to win in 2010 and limited chance to even compete in 2015 at number 6.

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  18. H.W. Plainview says:

    I can see the argument regarding the Mariners being higher than the Phillies, but I just don’t see the Mariners being higher than the Rockies.

    The Rockies don’t have the greatest minor league system on paper, but it has the most proven track record of pumping out major league players.

    Carlos Gonzalez, Tulo, Ian Stewart and Ubaldo are an awesome core. Plus they have Helton who isn’t what he was, but is still solid veteran capable of 3+ wins and is signed through 2013.

    If they can come to their sense regarding Hawpe and trade him for something useful, that will only make them better from here on out.

    As far as management, any front office that can field an almost entirely home grown team and contend is a management team I’d take for my ball club.

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  19. Chair says:

    I don’t understand how Seattle can be rewarded for playing in a so called weak division, yet three teams in the AL East are seemingly not penalized for playing in a strong one. How can 5 of the top 6 teams play in two divisions? It defies logic to say those teams have the best chance at success. NL teams still play in the world series every year remember?

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  20. Jon says:

    I would guess one reason that Dave anticipated some backlash would be this: You can easily argue that this ranking should be higher (worse), but not lower. Therefore, by definition, it is a high ranking.

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  21. regfairfield says:

    The Mariners are really good at having Ichiro and two pitchers. Combine that with having one prospect worth caring about and a roster that has almost no upside as a whole and you get…the 6th best team in baseball?

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    • Bill says:

      As people have said lots of times, it’s not a ranking ofcurrent talent of a team. If that was the case, the Mariners would certainly be below the Phillies and Rockies. Probably a few other teams on the list as well.

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      • regfairfield says:

        You’re right once they add Dustin Ackley and someone they haven’t drafted yet this will surely be one of the elite organizations in baseball.

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      • Chair says:

        That is the heart of the problem. This ranking is assuming the Ms will find gold in the draft, continue to make great trades, and sign key free agents that don’t bust. I am not saying those things won’t happen, but it is assuming allot. Makes far more sense to wait for these events to take place.

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      • Jeremiah says:

        Right, but their future talent isn’t as good as those two teams (and perhaps others) as well. The only thing they have is the *hope* for future talent, which is based entirely on Jack Z’s 1+ year as GM.

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    • Reuben says:

      6th best organization, not team.

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    • seattlefan68 says:

      Other people may have actually made a reasonable argument against this ranking. I personally think it’s a little high. But you apparently have no grasp of the Mariners’ roster if you think they are “Ichiro, two pitchers… (and) one prospect worth caring about”. This is the type of comment TIF was referring to most earlier and is most certainly not at all helpful.

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  22. regfairfield says:

    Oh wait I forgot they have ADAM MOORE.

    -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. DrBGiantsfan says:

    This whole series has degenerated into a running joke. You could have saved yourselves a whole $#@!load of time by just ranking your favorite GM’s since that’s what this all seems to boil down to. Unfreakingbelievable!

    -29 Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. BrettJMiller says:

    Holy crap. Every time I wonder why I never comment here, I read a thread like this. Thanks everyone!

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • NightRanger says:

      Let us all take a moment of slinece to revere the significant loss and pain caused to the noble Brett Miller.

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      • CaR says:

        Now that’s funny. Just like a couple of years ago, Brett… No one cared about your ability to ‘out-essay’ then, nor will they in the future. The world needs ditch-diggers too, Danny.

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  25. Mark says:

    “This isn’t a team that has a short window to contend. They’re likely to be even better in 2011 and beyond that they will be in 2010 – the problem for them is that is true of most of the rest of the division as well. ”

    See, I’m not so sure about that. At the end of the season Lee’s likely to leave as a FA, so unless the M’s can get someone to replace him the 2011 staff will be significantly weaker than the 2010 staff. I’m sure someone will tell me GM Z is a wizard and will find someone to replace him, but Lee’s a pretty tough guy to replace. The offense should be better once Ackley & Saunders are given an opportunity, but the rotation is going to be a lot weaker.

    That’s without bringing up Bedard, who may or may not be in the 2011 pitching staff depending on his health.

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    • Teej says:

      They won 85 games without Lee and with only a half-season of Bedard. I would agree that the 2011 rotation will probably not be as good as the 2010 one, but that’s just one aspect of winning. One pitcher really isn’t a huge deal. You can make improvements elsewhere.

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      • B says:

        “One pitcher really isn’t a huge deal.”

        Well, depends on who that pitcher is. It’s kind of hard to go out and just replace someone that gives you 5+ WAR while only making $8M….

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      • Mark says:

        They did win 85 games, but they also got outscored by 50 runs. That generally doesn’t happen, and I wouldn’t expect them to be able to pull that off two years in a row.

        It may only be one pitcher, but if Lee goes and his replacement is Ian Snell, than yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty big deal.

        Maybe the M’s can trade for a SP, but if Ackley or Saunders aren’t involved, I don’t see how they get a deal done for a quality replacement for Cliff Lee. And I don’t expect either to be moved.

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      • Teej says:

        Straight Pythag ignores certain important things, like the fact that M’s hit way worse with men in scoring position last year. That’s unlikely to repeat itself. By BaseRuns they were right about where you’d expect them. (I won’t pretend to fully understand BaseRuns, but I trust it more than Pythag by itself.)

        Anyway, I understand what you’re saying. Going from Lee to pretty much anyone else is a big downgrade. But the M’s winning 85 games without Lee wasn’t much of a fluke, and the team was put together with some pretty considerable roster/salary limitations that won’t be as bad in the future now that Bill Bavasi isn’t handing out free money.

        I think this is a pretty high rating, but at the same time, given the division and the type of roster-building we’re seeing with the new front office, I can’t argue with it too much. I’d have them in the top 10 somewhere.

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  26. Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure says:

    The more I think about this, the more it seems like there are 3 main reasons why people would disagree with the Mariners being ranked this high. #1 – they disagree with how you rank their current/future talent. #2 – They do not agree or will not accept their chances are increased because they are playing in the AL west. #3 – They believe you are weighting things incorrectly.

    I disagree because of #3. While a smart front office, increased revenue, and good scouting is important – it isnt more important then the players you have in your system. A slightly above average roster and a below average minor league system should not be ranked #6. A smart front office, scouting, revenues and player development are all good things, and are important, but the players you currently have and that are in the minor league system are still way more important. You are just weighting the importance of the front office too high – although not by very much. Seattle definitely deserves to be in the top 10.

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  27. Narra says:

    The projections of future talent seem very optimistic and the entire young team argument seems like sophistry to me.

    The A’s also have a young core with good upside and were given little credit for that. See Ryan Sweeney, Daric Barton, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, and the entire reliever core. All of them are under 27 as well. Just a little bit more power from Sweeney or a little bit more consistency from Barton and you have yourself a star in the making (see what I did there?).

    The lack of depth in the farm system means that there’s relatively little room for error in evaluating the “young players.”

    Additionally, much of this ranking is premised on Jack Z being able to leverage the Mariner’s payroll in future years (which, he should do). Underneath that ranking system, the yankees and the red sox should never be anything less than 1st and 2nd, because even if the talent may not be in place at this particular moment, you know that they’ll be able to acquire that talent through free agency because they have reasonably competent front offices and deep pockets backing them.

    But how much does that sort of ranking really tell us? That the red sox and the yankees (and I suppose the mariners now) are advantaged because they’re smart and rich? I knew most of that already.

    Ultimately, it seems like more of a commentary on the economics of baseball rather than the relative abilities of the individual team. Whenever you try and factor in the ability of the team to make future moves…well, I think that’s just pure speculation

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    • q says:

      “But how much does that sort of ranking really tell us? That the red sox and the yankees (and I suppose the mariners now) are advantaged because they’re smart and rich? I knew most of that already.”

      Why would you expect a rankings system to tell you something you don’t know? Yes, the Yankees and Red Sox are going to be #1 and #2 for the foreseeable future, and that’s precisely because they have a ton of money and have very smart front offices. I’m not so sure what’s wrong with those placements.

      “Whenever you try and factor in the ability of the team to make future moves…well, I think that’s just pure speculation.”

      I agree that whether Jack Z is as smart as Theo Epstein is right now a little speculative. But in general, I would not call predicting future front office performance as a purely speculative exercise. Plenty of front offices have shown themselves to make consistently good moves and/or consistently bad moves. I don’t think it’s wrong to put tremendous weight on that. I don’t think Jack Z is at the point where we can say he’ll make consistently good moves, but clearly Dave thinks he is. And with that payroll, a front office making consistently good moves deserves a #6 ranking, because that combination has proven to be extremely successful. And success comes rather quickly, not in 2015 like many of the commenters have stated.

      +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Standard_Deviance says:

    When I grade student papers and I get a final draft that represents a drastic improvement over earlier drafts (and the student’s established ability level in the course), I sometimes give the student a slightly higher grade than the quality of their final draft alone would warrant, giving them a little extra credit for making an impressive revision. I think something similar is going on here with FG’s ranking of the M’s.

    The M’s used to be a ‘C’ organization, are now probably a ‘B’ or ‘B+’ organization, but FG is just so plum excited at how well the organization now seems to get it that they’ve given them an (unwarranted) ‘A-.’ As with all grade inflation, the teams that suffer are the legitimate ‘A-’/’B+’ organizations (Phillies, Braves, Rockies) whose achievements are devalued by the inflated grade(s).

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  29. EP says:

    @StandardDeviance,

    That’s a crucial point. We as Mariner’s fans aren’t overwhelmingly excited about this years’ team; it’s ok, not great; exactly. But the front office has turned a true-talent awful team into a true-talent contender in two seasons. They’ve made a lot of logical and insightful decisions and they haven’t stopped. This is a good place to be.

    We have no idea what every team’s roster will look like in two years, and what the Seattle FO has shown is a superb ability to handle these changes. I’d think they have as good a chance as any to keep up that trend.

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    • bflaff says:

      Is it so hard to replace crap with something (at least) not as bad? In the last two seasons the Phillies replaced Burrell with Ibanez (win), Jenkins with Werth (win), Moyer with Pedro (win), Feliz with Polanco (win), and Brett Myers with Cliff Lee with Roy Halladay (win). No one here is patting their FO on the head.

      I just used Philly because I’m most familiar with them. Now, the few bad FOs do tend to replace crap with dreck, admittedly, but the majority of baseball teams know how to make improvements. Seattle is hardly unique in this respect. They inherited a terrible team and made it respectable in two years. Now try to stay respectable and if they can do that, or even improve, then maybe we can get excited. Otherwise, there is barely a track record to work with here.

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      • Jeremiah says:

        I agree. The step up from horrible to average is not nearly as large as going from average to among the best in all of baseball (which is what FG is implying they have done). They already had some good pieces in place, and they made a few smart moves which made a large difference. It will be difficult to replace a mediocre fielder and gain multiple wins at this point. Sure, they have come a long ways, and seem to be on an upward path, but can they sustain such a high velocity when the farm system appears thin?

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  30. John says:

    I think the Mariners are too high, though as a Twins fan I expect to turn around and defend that ranking shortly. The problem I see is how heavily the front office appears to be weighed. Clearly it is very important- the problem is one of diminishing returns. Is the Seattle front office so much better than Colorado or Atlanta’s, that the M’s can overcome the significant talent disparity? It takes a long time to sign amateurs and develop them. The Mariners aren’t going to be able to buy tons of pricey free agents. Meanwhile, as Dave mentions, the AL West is only going to get tougher.

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  31. EP says:

    ehh… by “no idea” i mean “no certainty”, which makes much more sense, and I think serves to slightly add to the justification of such a ranking.

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  32. Jeff Nye says:

    The comments here turned out to be just as hilarious as I was anticipating they would be.

    (and yes, I help run Dave’s other site, I’m a mindless Dave Cameron bootlicker, etc etc etc)

    Yes, this is an aggressive ranking, but if it’s too aggressive, it’s by a couple of spots. You people claiming that the Mariners should be 15th just aren’t paying attention.

    People are saying “the only thing the Mariners have going for them is their management team”. But you know what? That’s a pretty big thing to have going
    for them. I’d argue that it should be one of the biggest factors in this exercise, especially when combined with a healthy payroll budget to support their effort.

    This is a management team that turned a true-talent 68 win team from 2008 into a true-talent 83 win team in 2009. That is a simply staggering turnaround, and one I don’t expect we’ll see duplicated again for a while.

    And then, in the offseason after that, they went and got a year of one of the better pitchers in all of baseball for three C-level prospects. Yes, his health is a bit of a question right now, but that was still a pretty good coup.

    Heck, I’m even a pretty big fan of the Brandon for Brandon trade, since as much as I like his skillset, I don’t think Brandon Morrow is ever going to put it together enough to be a legitimate major league starter, and players like Brandon League are how you avoid wasting a ton of money on your bullpen.

    The things that people want to mark the Mariners down for (mediocre farm system, question marks on the big league roster) can change VERY quickly with a front office of this quality.

    Now, they still do some things that make me scratch my head (Ken Griffey Jr, you can go away now) but a group of guys that managed such a total transformation of this franchise deserve more credit than they’re getting in the comments here.

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    • Chair says:

      The Dodgers have a far superior young core, will win more games in 2010 and in the future and are ranked 14th. If that is fair, I think it is fair to put the Mariners from 10-13.

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      • Ivdown says:

        My rankings would have gone (from where the Dodgers were unfairly ranked):

        14. Cleveland
        13. Milwakee
        12. Seattle
        11. Minnesota
        10. St. Louis
        9. Los Angeles/Anaheim
        8. Los Angeles/Anaheim
        7. Atlanta
        6. Rockies
        5. Rangers
        4. Phillies
        3. Red Sox
        2. Rays
        1. Yankees

        That is much more realistic than the rankings I’ve seen in the last week. Call me crazy, but the Phillies, coming off of the last 2 ws (yes, before you people jump on me because this awesome series does not count past performance, they have the same team in that time, something tells me they will be just as good as each of the last two years this year and won’t be too much different in 2011 either), and they have a decent farm system still, and it’s better than the Mariners.

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      • Chair says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

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    • Chair says:

      I hope that was hilarious enough for you.

      -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Standard_Deviance says:

      The criticisms aren’t hilarious. They’re legitimate and level-headed.

      Good FO decision-making is a skill, but it’s a less reliable and repeatable skill than talent on hand (both current and future). As a Yankees fan, the Abreu and Swisher trades indicate to me that Cashman is a competent trader, but I can’t assume going forward that he’ll always be able to obtain such lopsided value via trade.

      Perhaps an even better way of expressing this would be to say that while a bad FO can really drag down the expectations/value of a franchise (Dodgers, Giants, etc), a good one is an asset more for the fact that it doesn’t drag the franchise down through poor decision-making rather than for its ability to continually exploit market inefficiencies. Because this is a multi-billion professional industry, and not a fantasy league, its markets (trade, FA, draft, etc) tend to get more and more efficient over time. You can only stay so far ahead of the curve–in the M’s case, I’d argue, not far enough to make up for the talent disparities between them and the truly elite teams in the league.

      +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Alon says:

        This is exactly right.

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      • regfairfield says:

        I would really recommend reading BPs interview with Logan White if you think the Dodgers are just bumbling along cluelessly.

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      • powpow says:

        so i have a question that will no doubt be flamed, but i’m actually looking for an answer:

        the mariners clearly significantly improved from the mess from 2 years–something like 15 wins in terms of true talent. is it wrong to think that the next 15 wins to upper nineties territory will be more difficult than the previous 15?? or are those two steps equal in difficulty to take?

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      • JH says:

        Yes. It’s much harder to get from 85 wins into the mid-90s than it is to get from ~70 to 85.

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    • Jeff Nye says:

      Current talent is much more fungible than you think it is.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Standard_Deviance says:

        Elite-level talent – like, oh, I don’t know, the kind you need a lot of to be the 6th best organization in baseball – isn’t fungible. By definition.

        And expected future value from a good FO is less reliable than you think it is. That’s the crux of the problem with the M’s ranking.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff Nye says:

        That’s simply your opinion, and an ill-informed one at that.

        Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention, but even elite-level talent moves around all the time. The only reason it might numerically be less rare is because there’s less of it.

        As far as front offices go; you’re talking about a front office that pretty much single-handedly created the current emphasis on valuing defense in the MLB talent market. They’re already trying to figure out what the next under-valued asset is, and how to acquire it.

        And it’s not just Jack Zduriencik; I wouldn’t even call Jack the smartest guy in the room. Tony Blengino is scary to talk to. I’m glad he’s working on baseball talent evaluation, because otherwise I could see him being a mad scientist from a Bond movie.

        -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff Nye says:

        Err, numerically MORE rare, not less. I need some coffee.

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      • snapper says:

        Not really.

        Sure, you can go from 65 to 80 wins by bringing in average players to take over from replacement level guys, but to take the leap to serious WS contenders, you need to acquire 3-5 WAR players.

        Those guys are hard to find. And there are 29 other organizations looking for them.

        Unless you can spend $10M+ p.a. on multiple FAs, or have top-5 draft picks every year, it’s a real challenge to add those guys.

        Right now the M’s have 5 of those guys (Felix, Ichiro, Lee, Guttierez, Figgins). One is either gone, or is going to cost $20M next year. Two are aging. Maybe Ackley is another.

        But that’s just not enough elite talent. And, they’re not going to be drafting high b/c they’ve achieved mediocrity.

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      • TheQuestforMerlin says:

        “(Mariners) Single-handedly created the current emphasis on valuing defense in the current MLB market”

        Really? Defense was never valued properly until the 2009 Mariners came along? No other team prior to the Mariners saw the value in having a good defense and bought (or developed) strong defensive players appropriately?

        Why don’t you anoint the Mariners with inventing the wheel as well.

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      • Standard_Deviance says:

        That elite level talent moves around all the time is orthogonal to the argument about fungibility. What matters is that elite level talent is not easily replaced or found in the first place. And the M’s aren’t exactly chock-full of it in the short or long term.

        As for my “ill-informed” opinion about the way in which talent acquisition works, I don’t see how any of what you say below refutes, or even much addresses, my basic premise: that talent acquisition is an inherently unpredictable process, even for the shrewdest talent evaluators. That this is speculative and an opinion doesn’t make it inherently wrong. What makes it right or wrong is the validity of the premise itself.

        That’s great that you find Blengino scary to talk to, etc. As I said, it *is* possible to stay ahead of the curve. But I don’t think it’s possible to stay so far ahead of the curve that that alone will allow the M’s to overcome their current talent disparity in the near-to-medium term.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CaR says:

        Now you credit the M’s with invention of valuing defense? What about baseballs first 100 years? As stated elsewhere, its fine to praise a team for finding a way to stay competitive when forced to cut payroll but there are limits, and that in no way implies that they invented it. You are real into this implication you keep hinting at about personal involvement in the management team, eh Jeff?

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      • ETAsports says:

        I guess those stories about the D-Rays valuing defense and it being the reason for their drastic turn around two years ago was something I hallucinated.

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      • ETAsports says:

        Current talent is fungible? At both the minor league and major league level?

        That’s the problem with this ranking. The tangible assets the Mariners have are mediocre.

        Assuming the front office will be able to make up for this via the draft or trades in a manner that will allow them to seriously compete in the next 2-3 years is entirely to speculative to justify a ranking this high.

        I understand overvaluation of prospects, but now we are overvaluing “mythical players and prospects” that Jack Z and Co might acquire?

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      • Ivdown says:

        Yeah, I can see where the Mariners would have the advantage with current talent over, lets see, the Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Rockies, and even Braves.

        Oh wait…

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    • Steve says:

      This post is a bit of a strawman.

      There is a big difference b/w not giving Seattle any credit for their turnaround and saying they are overranked.

      And most people here are not saying they should be 15th. Just that 6th is a stretch.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        Did you miss this part of my comment? Here, I’ll help!

        “Yes, this is an aggressive ranking, but if it’s too aggressive, it’s by a couple of spots.”

        Personally, I would’ve had them in the 7-9 range; but the case to have them at 6 is much better than people are acknowledging.

        And no, sorry, Dodgers fan guy, the Dodgers are right where they belong.

        -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chair says:

        Care to explain oh wise man?

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      • Steve says:

        Wow, with your tone and complete disdain for any disagreement, I am SHOCKED that you share a website with Dave.

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      • snapper says:

        I’d say 12th feels about right. Slightly above average current talent, slightly below average future talent, bump them 3 spots for Jack Zduriencik & Co.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Jeff, you are also full of shit if you think the Dodgers belong at 14, and you are just like every other Dodger-ignorant person who thinks that their rotation troubles will be their downfall (guess what, 1-4 is in tact, and they’ve had 6 guys going for the 5th spot. EVERY TEAM BUT A HAND FULL HAVE ROTATION QUESTIONS).

        The Dodgers current team is no question better than the Mariners. If you disagree then I don’t know what to tell you, because you are just not paying attention. The Dodgers farm system has been improving every year since the kids graduated to the majors, and should be anywhere from 15-20 in baseball, around the same spot as the Mariners. The Dodgers actually have players who can contribute in the future on offense with Kemp and Ethier for sure, then Loney and Martin still have time to either live up to potential or go back to their all-star ways. The Mariners have Gut. who is mostly defense (I wouldn’t count on him hitting like he did last year every year) and not all that much else for young MLB hitting talent.

        -14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B says:

        @IVdown – you’re clearly missing the part where your franchise is run by a secret agent on the Giants payroll.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Lol, I use to think that it could be a real possibility, but the last 2 years have eased my mind.

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      • B says:

        Ha, not sure what changed your mind, all the talent that carries the Dodgers is talent that was around before Colletti got there, meanwhile he’s been doing his best to undermine it….

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      • Ivdown says:

        Because he didn’t trade any of the studs (Santana aside) like Kershaw, Kemp, Billingsley, or Ethier. I guess any smart GM wouldn’t have, but there was plenty of opportunity for him to f*ck up and do it.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      I see ONE COMMENTER saying the M’s should be ranked 15th. You focus on that.

      Meanwhile, most the the comments point out specific other teams that they feel should be ranked ahead of the Mariners, and list reasons. That’s not “hilarious.” It strikes me as perfectly reasonable, even if you think they’re wrong.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        So you focusing on one line of my comment is okay, but me focusing on one comment isn’t? Good to know!

        -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bflaff says:

      Cleveland’s on line one, taking issue with your contention that “[Management] is a pretty big thing to have going
      for them. I’d argue that it should be one of the biggest factors in this exercise….”

      For all the fanboy love that Cleveland gets for its saber savvy FO, it doesn’t translate onto the field. That top shelf mgmt team will spend this year trying to avoid getting the number 1 pick in 2011, so that’s all that mgmt does for them.

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      • snapper says:

        But, but they were the #1 ranked front office last year ;-)

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      • JayCee says:

        “fanboy love in her for CLE”

        Preach On!

        The Choir

        O/U on at-bats for Branyan this year?

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      • JH says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Cleveland get within a game of going to the World Series 3 years ago?

        Yeah, they haven’t dominated the AL Central for years, but to say that Shapiro and crew have never succeeded is just wrong. They’ve had some awful luck with the health of their best players, which put the kibosh on the window to win with Hafner and Martinez. They’re still a well-run team, though, and a new window is opening up as they prepare to build around a core of Sizemore/Santana/Cabrera/LaPorta.

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    • B says:

      Is the attitude really necessary? A number of us have come up with legitimate reasons we think they’re too highly rated, and made consistent, reasonable points why. What criteria makes them the 6th best organization in baseball? If you’re talking about how successful they’re going to be in the next 3-5 years, do you really think they’ll be the 6th most successful? I don’t see any reason why, you don’t just acquire that kind of talent overnight. The farm system isn’t loaded, the MLB talent isn’t overly impressive, their “young talent” doesn’t impress me, how are they going to find all this success you’re projecting?

      To rank them so highly, in my opinion, means your ranking is completely about “who’s going to contend in 2014 (or whatever other future year you want to talk about)”. That strikes me as a pointless exercise – projecting the long term future is really, really hard, and it completely ignores that success is success no matter what year it comes in. If the Phillies win 3 of the next 4 WS but their core fades and they’re left without much talent in 2014, are the Mariners really the more successful franchise when they start contending then? My point is that what ultimately matters is long term success, but that means 2010 matters just as much as the future, 2011 matters just as much as the future….and you know what? It’s a hell of a lot easier to figure out who’s going to be successful in 2010 and 2011 than 2014, so we should put more weight on them.

      What I don’t like about this ranking is it seemingly defies a good thought process – anyone who reads Fangraphs regularly knows about sample size/regression to the mean, both concepts that apply to Jack Z and his management team so far. It doesn’t seem to take into account that we can project the near future better than the far future. It seems to cherry pick the things you like about the M’s and use those as the criteria, ignoring actual results (like the M’s being a middle of the road team last yaer) and seemingly ignoring that other teams have big payrolls, higher ranked farm systems, more current talent, and are likely to succeed in the foreseeable future at a higher rate than the M’s…..

      I just have yet to see a good argument for this ranking other than “Jack Z is awesome so they’re going to contend in the future”. Well, first of all, how much certainty can we say that with? Second of all, what about the time period before we get to that future? What actual information do you have that the M’s should be more successful than every other franchise but 5 of them, looking at present, near future, and long term future?

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        As far as complaints about my tone go, I’ll split my reply into two parts:

        1) For those of you who are trying to be reasonable in your disagreement, I apologize. I probably come off a little harsher than I mean to, but I’m a mildly sarcastic person by nature. Which doesn’t always work very well online. But I did go back and reread some of my comments and they’re maybe a bit snarkier than they should’ve been. My bad.

        2) On the other side of the coin, there are some pretty serious overreactions going on in this comment thread. From people calling Dave a blind Mariners homer (completely ignoring that this is pretty clearly a collaborative effort among several Fangraphs authors, and that up until the current regime he’s probably been the single biggest Mariners critic on the entire internet) to claiming that this series has DESTROYED FANGRAPHS’ CREDIBILITY ZOMG, some people really need to step back and re-evaluate their level of hyperbole. So, to those people, I don’t apologize.

        Is there any question that Dave is a strong voice in this particular ranking, and that it might involve a bit of wishcasting? Sure. But I honestly do believe that if this is an over-rank, it’s by something on the order of 2-3 spots, and that putting the Mariners here isn’t the wild exaggeration that some people are trying to make it out to be.

        The combination of what I really do believe is one of the three smartest front office teams in all of baseball, a really good financial situation (the Mariners are consistently around #6-#8 in revenue ever since Safeco opened, and are able to keep a $100+ million payroll without any strain), a four-team division with no team that is set up to hugely dominate the others (the Rangers are probably a slightly better bet for sustained success, but it’s not by an enormous margin), and no bad payroll albatrosses holding the team back for the first time in forever, makes this a really hopeful time to be a Mariners fan.

        That’s all I’m trying to say, and I’m sorry if my tone wasn’t what it should’ve been.

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      • CaR says:

        Collaborative or not, Dave is in charge of this series. I’ve read his stuff for a few years and he wouldn’t willingly take partial credit for anything. There have been a number of issues brought up to refute this ranking and for the most part they have been met with the standard ‘you don’t get it’ routine found commonly in Seattle area websites. There should be a list of team controlled players that has high ceiling and depth. It should read more than a few entries. There should be more than the feeling that Jack Z builds teams the way I would do it. There should be evidence of an expanding payroll. Minus much in those departments, it would seem that the ranking is too high and people are taking issue with it.

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      • B says:

        “On the other side of the coin, there are some pretty serious overreactions going on in this comment thread…some people really need to step back and re-evaluate their level of hyperbole.”

        It’s usually best to ignore those comments. They aren’t worth the time. :)

        I actually agree with everything you just laid out (at least to the best of my knowledge, not a M’s fan so I don’t know everything about them). I just don’t think their current situation will produce enough winning in the foreseeable future for such a high ranking. Basically, if you wanted to start ranking them based on 2012 and beyond, sure, I’d have no issue with that, but I don’t see a reason to ignore 2010 and 2011. Are the Mariners set up well for the future? Sure looks like it, as a Giants fan, I’m jealous, but my main criteria for this series is “in 5 or so years from now (since talking about who’s gonna be successful beyond that is kind of ridiculous), which franchises will have had the most success over that ~5 year period”. The Mariners might be one of the best setup teams to contend by the end of the period, but I don’t see an argument they’re setup to contend among the best franchises for the entirety of that period, so personally, that’s the issue I have with the ranking.

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    • Linus says:

      I’m trying to decide if I think this comment is the funniest piece of satire or the saddest piece of sycophancy I’ve ever see.

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  33. regfairfield says:

    Please explain how the Mariners are a better organization than the Dodgers without resorting to “Ned Colletti can’t wipe his own ass”. They have a better young talent base (seriously, Adam Moore and Ryan Rowland Smith are listed as highlights) a better farm system currently, comparable budgets even with the divorce, and one of the best scouting departments in baseball.

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    • Ivdown says:

      Colletti is not the best of GMs, but he also isn’t the worst. Yes he’s made questionable signings, but he’s learned from those mistakes and since the Jones thing hasn’t made a terrible signing (one may say the Manny resigning, but that was necessary, even if he was overpaid, though it was for 2 years and if not for the 50 game suspension he would have been worth a good amount of what he got paid last year). His trading history is not great, but he turned Milton Bradley and a no name prospect into Ethier, and I think anyone can agree that’s worked out very well. Of course he’s had his bad trades, but who hasn’t (besides the infallible Jack Z, yes, tongue in cheek there)?

      Having a guy like Logan White should give the franchise rating a boost because he’s such a great eye for talent, especially pitching. Withrow, at the time, was a questionable 20th overall selection, and now, he’s a top 50 prospect in baseball at 20 years old (21 this season). Obviously it’s just one example, but there are plenty more if you’d really like me to bore anyone with them.

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    • BIP says:

      Gee, I dunno, maybe the Dodger’s ownership flux has something to do with it?

      When a team punts draft picks by failing to offer arbitration to players who are absolutely not going to accept, that is an enormous red flag.

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    • NBarnes says:

      “Please explain how the Mariners are a better organization than the Dodgers without resorting to “Ned Colletti can’t wipe his own ass”. ”

      Is there more reason than that needed? The Mariners are set up for sustained success. The Dodgers will keep winning precisely so long as Coletti keeps being lucky with A) Paul DePodesta’s farm system and B) Manny Ramirez.

      Let us know how that works out for you.

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      • B says:

        “The Mariners are set up for sustained success.”

        I’ve been asking this repeatedly, and I’ll ask it again. Based on what? The only answer I seem to get is “Jack Z is awesome!”….but generally teams “set up for sustained success” have some good combination of good MLB talent and a strong pipeline of talent in the minors for the future. As best as I can tell, the Mariners are pretty middle of the road in both those categories. So how is that “set up for sustained success”…?

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      • Rob Moore says:

        Amen. I can easily agree that Jack Z looks like a great GM, but how about letting him develop the system a little. And that wasn’t DePodesta’s farm system. It was Dan Evans that hired Logan White, and it’s Logan White and DeJon Watson and Tim Hallgerin’s farm system. They are all in place and they are very good at what they do. Based on their long track record of success, I would expect the Dodger farm system to jump way up in the various rankings based on performance this season. White has a history of “overdrafting” high school pitchers then being vindicated by their development. Chris Withrow and others will likely be more highly regarded at the end of this season than they are now. The Dodgers have a steady pipeline of cost controlled young pitching, and I don’t see that ending any time soon.

        And I also don’t like Ned Colletti, but it’s hard to make the case that he’s been a disaster, all things considered. I’d love to see him go and Kim Ng promoted, leaving the rest of the team in place, but I’m pretty sure that Colletti’s authority it tempered by his Asst. GM’s. He’s no Sabean. Jack Z. has made a few head scratching moves in regard to roster construction, too. Jon Daniels, who gets a lot of praise here, made one of the worst trades of the last decade. The only GM’s who have track records that I admire almost completely are Epstein and Friedman.

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  34. Bronnt says:

    I promised myself I didn’t want to get upset about the Mariners’ ranking, but then I read the analysis and arguments, and I am.

    At number 8, you have the Braves, who have a better team this year (CHONE projects 89 wins). A better core of young talent-compare Felix, Gutierrez, Adam Moore, and RRS to McCann, Escobar, Hanson, Jurrjens, and Heyward, not to mention Melky Cabrera and Martin Prado. They have a great front office and a payroll very much in line with Seattle at the present.

    At number 7, there are the Rockies with a better current team (CHONE projects 83 wins). They’re in the NL West, which looks even less competitive in the future than the AL West. They have a solid core of young talent, including Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ubaldo Jimenez. They have an excellent farm system, great international scouting, and a great front office. They made that hilarious commercial with Matt Holliday.

    I just can’t justify this.

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  35. Rob in CT says:

    I think this is a tad high. I don’t think it’s a “homer” ranking. I think it’s more of a “they do it our way” ranking. You used to see this from other analysts with the Indians (or As). BP, IIRC, seemed to have crushes on those organizations. Not b/c the writers were fans of those ballclubs, but because they were fans of the way those ballclubs were run.

    The Mariners have a smart new GM who has made a few very good moves, they have some young talent (though not THAT much) and they have money, which allows them to dip into the FA market if/when it makes sense to go for it.

    I think #6 is too high, but whatever. Let’s say I’m right and the “correct” ranking is #10. Is there a huge difference between 6 and 10? Maybe not.

    I guess we’ll wait and see. 5 years from now we can look back at these rankings and judge. For now, it’s just, like, your opinion man.

    +30 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Standard_Deviance says:

      Definitely agree that this isn’t a “homer” ranking and more of a “they do it our way” one.

      Also agree a more accurate ranking would be around 10. Is ranking them 6 that big a misrepresentation? Hard to say, but if the principle of the rankings is that there tend to be clusters of similar, almost indisinguishable teams, then a drop-off in organizational talent level, it would seem that the M’s should be closer to, or behind, the drop-off than many of the teams they’re ranked ahead of.

      Gives us something to argue about while we wait for opening day, I suppose.

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  36. Bob says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to give the Mariners extra credit towards their chances of a WS title due to the fact that they’re in the AL West. While you can make the argument that the division lacks a true juggernaut now that the Angels appear to have taken a step back towards the pack, I think you’d also have to admit that the division lacks any true dogcrap teams that you can write off from the get-go (e.g. this year’s Padres, Pirates, Nationals, etc.). Even the A’s are talented enough that if a few things break right for them (Dave got to make that argument in favor of the M’s, so why can’t every team?), I wouldn’t be shocked to see them winning the AL West. Maybe more so 2011 and beyond than 2010 necessarily, but the point is that I see this division being a 4-way dogfight every year for the next several years at least. In which case the M’s WS chances should take a hit for being in that division.

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  37. regfairfield says:

    The Mariners rotation has been announced!

    1. Felix Hernandez
    2. Ian Snell
    3. Ryan Rowland-Smith
    4. Doug Fister
    5. Jason Vargas

    Sixth best organization in baseball. Fortunately they have great arms on the farm like TBD so they’ll improve in the future.

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Condor says:

      Uh… Cliff Lee is the No. 2 starter, not Ian Snell. Lee is going to miss the first 2 weeks of the season, but that is a misleading representation of the Mariners rotation.

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      • regfairfield says:

        When so much of the counter arguments involve future talent, you don’t think the rotation looking like garbage once they lose a guy who will be gone in 2011 is a problem?

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      • BIP says:

        It’s not a given the’ll lose Cliff Lee, and I was unaware teams were prohibited from improving their pitching staffs between seasons.

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  38. Hark says:

    I am a “USSM lackey” (cf. CaR) who was introduced to sabermetrics via the M’s blogosphere. I can’t even get behind this ranking for the Mariners. I was looking for them in the 15-12 range; definitely in the top 50%, but not significantly better than average–which is where they are now, about a .500 ball club.

    I don’t see the farm system significantly improving the major league level in the near future. Ackley will be along to replace Lopez, but we’ve already taken a hit on infield with the loss of Beltre. We still don’t have a legitimate long-term 1B/DH type, and no one in our farm system is promising there. To wit, we are the poster child for AAAA 1B depth. Saunders will end up in our outfield, but is he a significant upgrade in terms of WAR over Milton Bradley, who’s manning LF this year? Or even Ibanez? He’s probably better defensively, but offensively? Not likely.

    We only have Cliff Lee for this year, and our organizational SP depth is great, but depth != talent. We have Felix, Rowland-Smith and a bunch of backend guys who are more swing men better suited to mop up jobs out of the bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, a bunch of volatile arms plus Brandon League. Useful? Terrifying is more like.

    After today, wherein the team waived Garko to keep Sweeney, put together with the Morrow trade, I am still not prepared to give this FO the benefit of the doubt. So far, their awesome moves have been a) Cliff Lee and b) Franklin Gutierrez. You can add Figgins to the list if you want, but he’s essentially a wash with Beltre–whom we gave up pursuing by signing Figgins prior to Adrian declining arbitration. Zduriencik might be in the second tier of MLB GM’s, but this puts him firmly behind guys like Epstein, Beane (it’s not Beane’s fault he doesn’t have a budget), Daniels and Byrnes. I’m willing to call him a push with Anthopoulos, Cashman and Smith. I might even float Amaro in between the two.

    Average MLB talent, average minor league talent, above average front office != top 10 team. An M’s fan, one of the Dave Cameron faithful…and I still don’t see the M’s as any better than 10th, and realistically would place them at 13th myself.

    This works really well in the AL West. The Rays, Red Sox and Yankees all have to be top ten teams to compete with each other. The Dodgers are a fixed power in the NL West. This gives you 4 teams taking up space in the top 10 already. Follow that with one AL central team (probably the Twins, but the White Sox are constantly fighting them, and maybe the Tigers are getting old, but they don’t have an entirely incompetent front office). The Cardinals are definitely a top 10 team along with the Phillies. That’s seven teams right there, pushing the M’s back to at least 8th. The Rangers farm is scary good, and their current talent is a push with the M’s. An AL West team I would definitely rank above Seattle.

    Sorry, Dave. Can’t buy this ranking.

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. btb2007 says:

    “I understand that there’s a large contingency of people who believe that we should not presume intelligence until success has been displayed on the field, and that we should infer that an organization is well run once the fruits of their labor of have been reaped, and those are the people who are going to hate this ranking.”

    Hasn’t that success technically been displayed already? The M’s went from 61 wins to 85 wins in their first year under this front office.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B says:

      From reading Fangraphs, the concepts of “regression” and “small sample size” shouldn’t be foreign concepts to anyone here. These aren’t baseball concepts, these are statistical/probability distribution concepts, and they apply to all facets of life. Basically, that’s a long winded way of saying the same “regression” and “small sample” caveats we apply to players can be applied to Jack Z, too.

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    • Ivdown says:

      Do you expect them to have another 24 win jump? I don’t even expect another jump forward at all. I expect them to win 80-83 games in 2010. The Rangers and Angels (yes, they actually are a very good team) are too good and much better rounded to have the Mariners be a very good team. Without any power, the Mariners will not be better than 3rd place in 2010.

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      • BIP says:

        Who cares about power? I’d rather a team score runs and prevent them.

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      • Sam says:

        “Who cares about power? I’d rather a team score runs and prevent them.”

        People that care about scoring runs indeed care about power. If you are not convinced, read The Book by former Mariner consultant, Tom Tango and others.

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      • DKulich44 says:

        Current Mariner consultant, Tom Tango.

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  40. eitheror says:

    This comment is going to be buried pretty far down but one of the issues is how close Dave is to this organization. You are comparing different levels of information. Yes Blengino is awesome, but last I checked you’ve only organized Q/A with one front office. Being a Mariner’s fan makes you an expert, but it also subtly biases your perspective. Yes I think this ranking is to high, but I still think fangraphs is the best baseball site we have. However, I am saying that your information set on the Mariners is larger then any other team, and as such it will make it tough to compare them to other orgs. Maybe each writer should put up their own chart at the end, so we can see the range of rankings?

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    • DMZ says:

      “but last I checked you’ve only organized Q/A with one front office”

      That’s wrong: We did one with Towers when he was with the Padres a few years ago.

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      • eitheror says:

        Great, miss the point and address a technicality. That really addresses the idea I’m trying to make. Really advancing the dialogue! The point is you and Cameron know who Blengino is because you are fully in on the Mariners. I’m pretty sure that you’d have too look up his equivalent in most other organizations. And i’m positive that your data set on the M’s is larger than that of any other team. It would be like me offering you two players:

        Player A: .440 woba position player.
        Player B: .440 woba who plays catcher.

        They could be the same exact player, or the first player could be a first basemen. You know more about player B and that causes you to devalue player A. You know Blengino, you’ve talked to him. You do not have an equivalent experience w/ 29 other front offices and as such it biases your analysis. Dave’s bullish belief in Jack Z+crew is influenced by knowing them better than any other front office. The same magnifying effect happened in reverse with Bavasi. You know it so well that you end up polarized. I’m not sure how you address that bias, because more info is always better. But its certainly taints the perspective, no?

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      • TT says:

        “That’s wrong: We did one with Towers when he was with the Padres a few years ago.”

        And you can see Russia’s front office from your house.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        …What?

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      • DMZ says:

        Hey. So apologies if my answer seemed terse. I just wanted to point out that that point was incorrect. I don’t quite understand the two reactions here. Would it have been better to say “Hey, just to correct one point, but we had one that included Padres GM Towers”?

        Also, w/r/t Russia– you can go look it up. If you’re going to run around and mock things that are true, I don’t know what to say to you.

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  41. ZoinksScoob says:

    I think that the M’s started out on the right path last year by hiring Jack Z, who promptly cleaned house in the front office. He got rid of a lot of the “old guard” who eschewed statistical analysis and brought in many of the people who helped him put together a strong farm system in Milwaukee. The hiring of Don Wakamatsu as manager certainly raised some eyebrows, and some of his early strategic decisions definitely turned some heads (how many times did the M’s attempt to bunt last season?), but his most important contribution was helping heal the seriously-fractured clubhouse culture. Between he, Ken Griffey and Jack Z, the guys who didn’t buy into the program (i.e., Betancourt, Balentien, Silva) were slowly but surely removed from the equation. The M’s definitely played above their heads last year, and still finished with 85 wins despite being outscored by 52 runs, a feat which is altogether unrepeatable, especially with no proven run producer in the current lineup.

    And things looked to be rosier this winter with the acquisitions of Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. A lot of people started mentally printing 2010 playoff tickets. I chose to be more cautious in my expectations, waiting to see what else the team would do.

    Then, however, Jack Z started to put together a volatile chemistry set of players and position switches; Milton Bradley, Casey Kotchman, Brandon League, Eric Byrnes, Ryan Garko, and finally, re-signing Erik Bedard and Mike Sweeney. The rotation still had a big gaping hole at the #3 spot, since Bedard isn’t going to pitch anytime soon, and there was still no “bopper” in the lineup to replace Russell Branyan.

    Now, that alchemy set may be on the verge of boiling over. First came the rumored defensive switch of Jose Lopez to 3B and Chone Figgins to 2B. On the surface, the move seemed to make sense, given Lopez’s severely limited range at 2B, Figgins’ overall defensive prowess and Don Wakamatsu’s explanationa that Lopez’s “offensive profile” fit better at 3B than 2B. That’s all well and good, but once Bedard is healthy, at least 60% of the M’s rotation will be lefties (Bedard, RRS and Lee), and if they re-sign Washburn, it will be 80%. With Figgins and Jack Wilson manning the left side of the infield, those guys would feel very confident pounding hitters low in the zone to induce ground balls. However, with Lopez basically still learning on the job, that’s no longer the case. Yes, the M’s are definitely stronger up the middle defensively, but Adrian Beltre’s glove leaves a large shadow for Lopez.

    In addition, Lopez has always been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and he’s let that affect his performance at the plate. While he’s been a good soldier and said he’s okay with the switch to 3B, I think we all know he’d rather be at 2B, so there’s no real way to know how Lopez will react offensively to the move.

    Of course, Lopez won’t have to worry as much about driving in runs since it appears that he’ll be hitting in the #6 spot for the most part. In a truly unexpected move, Don Wakamatsu announced that Casey Kotchman will be hitting 3rd against righties with Franklin Gutierrez moving there against lefties; whoever isn’t hitting 3rd will bat 7th behind Lopez. Milton Bradley will be the everyday cleanup hitter out of LF, with Ken Griffey and Mike Sweeney platooning at DH in the #5 spot.

    What does this mean for Lopez? Well, for starters, anyone expecting him to drive in 100 runs can throw those plans right out the window. When he was slated to hit 4th or 5th, there was a good chance that either or both of Ichiro or Chone Figgins would be on base for him. That would mean fastballs to drive. Now he’ll have any of Kotchman, Bradley, Griffey or Sweeney on base: the team’s SLOWEST runners. Lopez will be fed a steady diet of off-speed pitches down in the zone to induce double plays.

    But basically, the M’s are taking their most reliable run producer and sticking him in a non-producing spot in the roster. I understand the desire to not have a “lump” of three relatively non-productive hitters at the bottom of the lineup (Kotchman, Johnson/Moore and Jack Wilson), but I feel this move is misguided. Kotchman might be a contact hitter, but he’s just not a #3 hitter.

    And, of course, there’s no way to predict what Milton Bradley will do, on or off the field. He’s basically an unrepentant malcontent, who’ll do anything to try to put the focus on himself over the team. My guess is one of the reasons the M’s are so keen on keeping Mike Sweeney around is to have him team up with Griffey to try to keep Bradley in line and in synch with the rest of the clubhouse. I sincerely wish them luck; that’s no easy task.

    Then, there’s the decision to keep Sweeney on the roster over Ryan Garko. Yes, Sweeney’s been mashing the ball in camp, but let’s not forget that it’s spring training and the caliber of the pitchers and pitching that Sweeney has been facing wasn’t exactly Cy Young quality. His inclusion on the roster has other ramifications, especially given both his and Griffey’s almost total inability to play the field. Jack Hannahan’s injury means that Matt Tuiasosopo will be the utility infielder on the Opening Day roster… but he’ll be the ONLY extra infielder around. Also, unless the M’s choose to go with 11 pitchers to start the season, there’s only room for one of Eric Byrnes and Ryan Langerhans on the roster. Given Bradley’s knee history, one would think the M’s would want at least 2 guys on the roster as potential replacements.

    And of course, we still haven’t address the #3 spot in the rotation or the lack of a bopper in the lineup. The abdominal injury to Cliff Lee (not to mention his looming suspension) and the forearm injury to Doug Fister underlined how shallow the rotation pool is for the M’s right now. Jason Vargas is pretty much a lock to be one of the M’s 5 starters at the beginning of the season, and that’s not really a good thing. They could re-sign Jarrod Washburn, but he wouldn’t be ready for 3-4 weeks after he signed, since he hasn’t really thrown competitively since the end of last season. That puts a TON of pressure on Felix Hernandez, RRS and Ian Snell to go long into games. For the first two, that’s not a problem; for Snell, though, his control needs to be a whole lot better to even expect 6 innings a start out of him. The bullpen is going to be worked hard this year.

    As for the lack of a legit 30-HR threat, the M’s could always try to put together a trade for someone like San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez or Washington’s Adam Dunn. But the farm system, as noted above, isn’t the deepest in the majors, and the toll a trade like that would take could set the team’s plans back several years.

    For all the talk that the M’s were looking to win the AL West this year, I am more convinced than ever that the M’s real plan all along was to be ready to compete NEXT season. If they do well again this season, so be it, but they’re set up to trade guys like Lee, Bedard and maybe even Jose Lopez if the season goes south quickly. They could reload the farm system by trading any or all of those guys, and still have money left over to make a dent in the free agent market again next season.

    So I’ll still be at Safeco for most of the games this year, rooting them on as I always do. However, my gut feeling is that this is the 3rd place team in the AL West behind Anaheim and Texas (not sure which order they’ll be in yet, though the Rangers’ pitching is still pretty weak.)

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  42. ThundaPC says:

    Oh dear. This thread got really, really, beefy in a hurry. Where to begin?

    Nothing in the thread is a surprise. People claiming that the Mariners are ranked too high? Check. People wondering what do the Mariners have that don’t despite having a better ? Check. Points and counter-points to said questions? Check.

    Not much really to add on that front, although I am entertained by responses regarding the Mariners’ Front Office. Jack Z ‘seems’ pretty good? This team is heading in the right direction but still years away from being a top organization?

    No sir. Jack Zduriencik doesn’t ‘seem’ good, he IS good. Zduriencik isn’t just good, he’s great. It’s not just him, it’s the whole front office.

    It’s understandable that most people on the outside only see Zduriencik for the offseason he had. That’s where most of the hype comes from. It’s great to see Jack get recognition for the work he and his team have done. It goes so much deeper than that, however, and it’s why the front office SHOULD be given a lot of weight.

    2008 wasn’t just a losing season, it was a monumental disaster. This organization was in shambles. The team’s performance sucked. The clubhouse sucked. The team was on the hook for too many aging players. The farm system, which was pretty decent, took a beating. Minor league players were being promoted too aggressively. The philosophy for offense was to swing and make contact, which produced more impatient hitters than not. On top of all that, a culture of losing was firmly in place.

    That’s a lot of crap to clean up. Even ownership, after pushing to contend as quickly as possible, was ready to concede to a rebuilding effort of 3-5 years as they set out for a GM who could fix this mess.

    A “step in the right direction” would imply that the Mariners implement better players over time while trying to restore the clubhouse and repair the minor league system. In addition, that would imply that they work to gradually transform into a winning org by instilling winning philosophies from the top down as they prepare to set themselves up to contend with a new wave of talent several years down the road.

    However, thanks to Jack Zduriencik and co. Mariners are ready to contend NOW. Yes, right now. Not 3-5 years down the road. None of the projection systems have anyone running away with the AL West. The team that’s on the field now will be around next year for the most part with the addition of young talent that’s ready to graduate to the majors. That doesn’t even take into account trade possibilities and free agent acquisitions that can be made in the future.

    To say there is a winning philosophy in place is an understatement. This Front Office will stop at nothing to gain an advantage over its competitors (including overhauling their workout room into something that’s never been implemented in any other baseball org). There is a clear message of cohesion from the top on down to the low minors. Everyone is on the same page, but with enough different viewpoints to capture the big picture.

    If you’re a fan of process, this is a dream-team-caliber front office. Just about everything you’d want out of a front office they deliver. If you’re a fan of results, even THAT looks promising, but you’re probably still holding out for playoff appearances and world series rings before jumping on-board.

    I wouldn’t trade this organization for anything. I used to be jealous of the Rays front office. Now I know what their fans feel like rooting for an organization that really knows what they’re doing. The only thing I wish the Mariners had is an offensive lineup that rivals the Red Sox and the Yankees.

    There is no plausible reason to think that things will get worse from here on out. Regardless of what happens this year, the team will get better next year and into the future. Will it be enough to fend off the rest of the division? We’ll find that out in due time won’t we?

    As a preemptive strike, If anyone is going to respond to this with “how is this different from any other front office” or anything else in general, could you at least explain in detail rather than just resorting to a one or two sentence retort? I think that will greatly help discussions if we see where we’re all coming from.

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    • GhettoBear04 says:

      Do you think JackZ & Co are better than the front offices for the Red Sox or Rays? If so, by how much?

      This is part of the problem people have with this ranking. It’s not that they don’t think JackZ is good, they can even accept that he’s great. But he has to be significantly better than pretty much every other GM in the league in order to makeup for average to above average rankings in every other category.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “Do you think JackZ & Co are better than the front offices for the Red Sox or Rays? If so, by how much?

        This is part of the problem people have with this ranking.”

        Except that the Red Sox and Rays are both going to be ranked above the Mariners… so if they have a problem with it… then I don’t know what to tell them.

        If you’re asking whether or not we (in this case the collective Jack Z knob-slobbing unit known as the Mariners Blog-o-sphere) think that our GM is as good as those guys, then the answer is an emphatic yes. The main difference will be, of course, that the Rays have more talent at their peak now and good depth in the future and the Sox have all that plus a bag of chips known as payroll.

        Otherwise, as front offices go, the Mariners’ is amongst the best.

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      • GhettoBear04 says:

        You misunderstood my point. My point isn’t that JackZ & Co aren’t as good as the Red Sox and Rays, or that they should be compared to those 2 teams. My point is that in order for the #6 overall ranking to hold, they have to overcome rankings somewhere around average for the other two components (current and future talent). Let’s say they average out to 14 for both, then the management has to be rated #1 AND be weighted at 50%…just to be rated around 7-8.

        I understand that there is no exact formula, I’m just trying to use example proportions to point out that either the FO is being overrated or management is being over-weighted. Realistically, it’s probably both.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        I don’t think that’s how it works.

        If I understand you correctly, you’re thinking that for this ranking to make sense the M’s GM has to exceed every other GM in the game to make up for the talent on the field being not good enough to be in the top 6.

        This reads too much like a character statistics profile in a video game with slider meters ranging from 1-10 in which you can adjust each category depending on how many “points” you have available.

        The thing is, somebody has to maintain the talent on the field (current talent). Somebody has to ensure that talent on the field can win now and into the future (future talent). The front office doesn’t have to exceed every other FO by a mile to make this ranking work. The Mariners front office, I believe, is every bit as good as the the ones employed by the Red Sox and Rays.

        But between Seattle, Boston, and Tampa, in terms of overall health. Seattle isn’t as good as Boston or Tampa. Their talent level isn’t there yet. Between those teams, the Mariners are in last place.

        But that’s how these rankings will sort out anyway. Seattle is behind Boston and Tampa for sure.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Okay, the question becomes, is Jack Z THAT much better than Frank Wren and the Atlanta FO? Or the Phillies’ FO? Both quality organizations with decent money to spend and loads of talent.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        I’ll admit to not having followed Frank Wren close enough to for a solid opinion of Atlanta’s front office. What I’ve largely read about is the quality of their farm system.

        And regarding the Phillies, Ruben Amaro Jr. and his crew seem decent enough, but then he was promoted to GM after the team won the World Series. He seems to care about the future more than Pat Gillick generally does. Phillies have a solid core on the field to win now but I don’t think their front office quite measures up to the level of the Mariners (not that they need to be to maintain that team). Though I’m not going to claim that I know the ins-and-outs of the Phillies front office to make a definitive judgment.

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      • NBarnes says:

        “Do you think JackZ & Co are better than the front offices for the Red Sox or Rays? If so, by how much?”

        Holy fucking christ. Talk about short bus material. Do you have to put in one of those special mouthpieces to keep from choking to death on your own drool at night?

        Note: the Mariners, however high they are ranked, are ranked BELOW the Rays and the Red Sox.

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      • B says:

        “Holy fucking christ. Talk about short bus material. Do you have to put in one of those special mouthpieces to keep from choking to death on your own drool at night?

        Note: the Mariners, however high they are ranked, are ranked BELOW the Rays and the Red Sox.”

        Ironic. All the talk about short buses and the general point went completely over your head. I’ll lay it out clearly for you – the Mariners combination of current MLB talent and future talent (in other words, minor league system) are pretty average and unimpressive. To make up for that to get such a high ranking, it must mean their front office is running circles around everyone else in baseball, because there’s a lot to make up for. Of course they’re behind the Rays and Red Sox, they aren’t nearly as good at the MLB level, and have a worse farm system, and that’s exactly the point. They’re ranked too high because there’s only so much a GM can do, and in this case, the rest of the talent just isn’t there to deserve the #6 ranking.

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    • Max says:

      “Not much really to add on that front, although I am entertained by responses regarding the Mariners’ Front Office. Jack Z ’seems’ pretty good? This team is heading in the right direction but still years away from being a top organization?

      No sir. Jack Zduriencik doesn’t ’seem’ good, he IS good. Zduriencik isn’t just good, he’s great. It’s not just him, it’s the whole front office.

      It’s understandable that most people on the outside only see Zduriencik for the offseason he had. That’s where most of the hype comes from. It’s great to see Jack get recognition for the work he and his team have done. It goes so much deeper than that, however, and it’s why the front office SHOULD be given a lot of weight.

      2008 wasn’t just a losing season, it was a monumental disaster. This organization was in shambles. The team’s performance sucked. The clubhouse sucked. The team was on the hook for too many aging players. The farm system, which was pretty decent, took a beating. Minor league players were being promoted too aggressively. The philosophy for offense was to swing and make contact, which produced more impatient hitters than not. On top of all that, a culture of losing was firmly in place.

      That’s a lot of crap to clean up. Even ownership, after pushing to contend as quickly as possible, was ready to concede to a rebuilding effort of 3-5 years as they set out for a GM who could fix this mess.”

      I’m pretty sure this was written when Dayton Moore was hired. And David Littlefield. And any GM hired for a lousy team.

      Come on, Jack Z has done some nice moves, but let’s not cite his “change to a winning attitude” as some reason to rank the Mariners so highly. This is the same BS every beat writer spews when a new administration comes to town. I think fangraphs readers are a bit more sophisticated than that.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        “I’m pretty sure this was written when Dayton Moore was hired. And David Littlefield. And any GM hired for a lousy team.

        Come on, Jack Z has done some nice moves, but let’s not cite his “change to a winning attitude” as some reason to rank the Mariners so highly. This is the same BS every beat writer spews when a new administration comes to town. I think fangraphs readers are a bit more sophisticated than that.”

        This certainly isn’t a sophisticated response. You’re basically saying that the same things were said about bad GMs when they were hired without providing any evidence to support your claim.

        Want to know what this transformation is most similar to, however? The one that happened when Andrew Friedman took over the Devil Rays. After several years of stockpiling talent, when he had his core team in place he went out and picked up supporting pieces to field a competitive team. That team went to the World Series.

        Another transformation that’s taking longer to bear fruit is Neal Huntington for the Pirates. He’s still in the stockpiling stage in trying to develop a core he can work with.

        Perhaps Josh Byrnes and the Diamondbacks would better support your point. But even then, he worked to get the organization back on track after its sudden collapse.

        Examples…evidence….these things are much better than baseless statements.

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    • GrouchoM says:

      LOL

      “Mariners are ready to contend NOW. ”

      The only thing they’re in contention for is the #1 overall pick in the draft.

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  43. WilsonC says:

    Looking at the three points raised in the article, I don’t entirely disagree with any of them, but I don’t entirely agree with any of them either:

    Present Talent:
    I agree that the M’s have a solid shot at contention this year, but it’s important to note that they’re not unusually high-variance for the division. The A’s and Rangers both signed injury-risk talented pitchers as well, and both have more upside with their young talent that could easily cause either to outperform their expected records this year. The Angels have health and performance question marks in Santana and Pineiro, and have enough talent throughout their roster that the probability of another big year is certainly not insignificant. The M’s do have the potential to contend this year, but while I don’t see a true-talent team above 86 wins in the division, I’d be surprised if the division winner doesn’t top 90. It’s not the AL East, but I don’t see their division as a point in their favor at all.

    Future Talent: Felix is obviously a stud, and Gutierrez is a very good player even if likely to regress from 2009, but the rest of the young players listed are really the types of players that lots of organizations have; potentially solid peripheral players, but not the caliber of players that form the core of a very strong team. Take Rowland-Smith for example – he’s a useful guy to have around, but how is he much different from Happ, who’s generally seen as a big question mark, despite similar projections? This is a team that lives off run prevention, and arguably its second best current pitcher going forward if Lee walks is a guy who’s a bit better than average and has yet to be tested with a full season’s work-load.

    Their young talent isn’t bad, but there’s limited potential for impact players beyond Felix, Ackley, and maybe Gutierrez. What’s also important is that if the winnable division is cited as a positive for current talent, it should also be cited as a negative for future talent. An 85 true-talent team might be able to pull off a division title this year, but with potentially four strong organizations going forward, AL West teams will need to have Juggernaut-type seasons to remain in contention.

    Management: I agree with pretty much everything said about the management. It’s the weighting I don’t agree with. It’s not easy for even a good management team to add affordable impact talent to a system, but they’ll need it to have a chance to remain in contention within the division. There won’t always be an opportunity to land a Cliff Lee level talent for cheap, and while they’re not averse to spending, they won’t be able to afford market value for the majority of their best players. Realistically, it’ll time before they have the flow of top talent coming through their system to keep pace with the elite teams, even if they do everything right. The management team certainly has the ability to continue in the right direction, but there’s a lot that can go wrong before they reach the point where they’re deserving of such a high rank.

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  44. Sass says:

    I think one of the major things people are missing here is the difference between future talent and young talent. The M’s have locked up several of their stars to long-term deals, as is detailed in the “Future Talent” post. Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, and Felix combined for TWENTY-FOUR WAR last year. Granted, there will be some regression there, but not too much, as Felix will likely continue to improve and who knows when Ichiro will ever start aging. All four of those guys are locked up long-term. That isn’t just a good core, that is an EXCELLENT core. They are four superstars. The farm system isn’t the only place teams get talent from. This org has shown tremendous ability to find under-valued talent to build around their very good core. They do have some promising prospects, and the need for such is somewhat muted because of the superstars they have locked up long term. This team is already set up for success. If the M’s make the playoffs this year, the payroll will kick it back up 20-30 million, and then we’ll really see what this FO can do. It isn’t just about the brain trust. This is a talented team, and projects to remains so (none of the four I mentioned have had much problem with injury, and speedy player skills tend to age very well).

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    • Alex says:

      And those 4 guys combined for 12.4 WAR in 2008. The Mariners better hope they locked up something much closer to the 2009 versions of those players than the 2008.

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    • B says:

      “Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, and Felix combined for TWENTY-FOUR WAR last year. Granted, there will be some regression there, but not too much, as Felix will likely continue to improve and who knows when Ichiro will ever start aging. All four of those guys are locked up long-term. That isn’t just a good core, that is an EXCELLENT core.”

      ???

      Really? Ichiro is really, really old. No, I don’t know when he’s going to stop, but I’d bet a lot more that he’ll be worse in the future than better. Figgins is coming off a career year – there’s a reason his projection is only half what he did last year. Did I mention he’s 32 already? Gutierrez is already in his prime, likely wasn’t as good defensively last year as his UZR indicates, nor as good of a hitter, plus defense tends to peak earlier than offense. Felix is fantastic, his only problem is he’s a pitcher instead of a position player, and he has an expensive contract now. Sure, those are decent pieces, but an excellent core? I dunno. Generally “talented teams” are projected to win more than ~83 games. 83 is much closer to “average” than “talented”.

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      • Sass says:

        This is where people that have followed the team lately do have an advantage. Last year was Gutierrez’s first year playing full-time in the majors. Ichiro is projected to age well because he is deeply committed to staying in excellent shape. Every year he is projected to regress, and every year he proves projection systems wrong. I don’t think I would call 36 really, really old, since other players with his skillset (Ricky Henderson, eg) contributed into their 40′s. Figgins and Gutierrez will likely take a step back, since Figgins had a career year last year, but I’m not sure it will be as much as people expect. I mentioned in my comment that people with speed tend to age better. These are unique players, is my point, and form a very impressive top four. Most people would tell you it is harder to go from average to elite than poor to average, and the reason is it’s hard to find excellent players for decent prices. Maybe the M’s failed at this, but I don’t think they did. When I said talented, I meant enough to make the playoffs, by the way. And, since 81 wins is average, this would be an “above average” team. Thus my use of the word. Time will tell, of course.

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      • Rob Moore says:

        “This is where people that have followed the team lately do have an advantage.”

        Dude, this is the very definition of bias. What you meant to say was “this is where being a fan of the team comes in handy. You wishcast best case scenarios for all variables and voila – juggernaut.”

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      • Sass says:

        Let’s see…My argument uses reason to make a legitimate argument, and respects the points of those who disagree with me. Your argument uses an accusation of personal bias without any other support. In other words, I’m attempting to have a conversation. You are not contributing to that conversation, so say something meaningful or stop talking.

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      • Rob says:

        I made my point – you think your closeness to the Mariners gives you better insight into the upside of their various components. You neglect the fact that your distance from every other team prevents you from making similarly generous judgments about them as well. You didn’t use “reason to make a legitimate argument,” you used anecdotal evidence and personal bias. My post was simply pointing that out. Seriously – one of your “legitimate arguments” is that 36 isn’t old because Ricky Henderson aged well. If Ricky isn’t the very definition of an outlier, I don’t know who is. And he isn’t even a very apt comp for Ichiro in the first place. Ichiro’s similarity scored bring up guys like Kenny Lofton and Willie McGee. Ichiro is an extraordinary talent, but he’s freaking old. He’s very likely going to be declining steadily going forward. No unbiased observer would believe otherwise.

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  45. LibertyBoy says:

    Can the author please cite examples of the Seattle FO making such great moves and being so smart and integrating the skills of eyes-on-the-field experts with the sheer number-crunching acumen of stat-bent spreadsheeters? From what I’ve read in this article, all they’ve done is hire Tom Tango to consult. Most teams have stat consultants, as far as I know.

    And, if cash flow is such a huge factor in the rankings, why haven’t I seen it mentioned in the other rankings?

    -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hark says:

      Two words: Tony Blengino.

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      • LibertyBoy says:

        Oh I see now. Still…

        Trying to figure out if this #6 ranking is just a ploy to gain click-favor with the sizable portion of FG’s following that would gush over the listing the creation of a “Dept of Stat Analysis” in the Seattle org as key to getting pegged so high.

        -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NightRanger says:

        Yes. Fangraphs’ very existence hinges on being in good favour with the M’s fans out there. Well articulated.

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    • ThundaPC says:

      “Can the author please cite examples of the Seattle FO making such great moves and being so smart and integrating the skills of eyes-on-the-field experts with the sheer number-crunching acumen of stat-bent spreadsheeters? From what I’ve read in this article, all they’ve done is hire Tom Tango to consult. Most teams have stat consultants, as far as I know.”

      As you know, Tony Blengino was brought on to headline a Department of Statistical analysis. This is very important as Jack Zduriencik is more of a traditional scout than a statistical analysis guy like Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Mark Shaipro or Neal Huntington.

      So in this kingdom, so to speak, we have a GM who’s biggest strengths lie in scouting and identifying talent. Complimenting this is a stat department designed to pull in all sorts of detailed data. Blengino has even gone on record in saying that they’re aware of tRA and how it works. I would say the field of organizations that boast a department as powerful as this one is considerably small.

      Zduriencik has been able to create an environment that more attractive to players and management types alike. For management, specifically, the fact that this is a very tight-lipped organization builds trust for other GMs that wish to talk shop with Jack. Want an example? See Cliff Lee. The outcome of that trade might be different if Ruben Amaro, Jr. discusses a potential deal with a GM who’s organization leaks news and rumors on a regular basis.

      This is a pretty thorough front office and it would take a while to list all of the good things about it.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LibertyBoy says:

        Scouting takes years to see results, you don’t just bolt it on with new data. Key to making “scouting” work is human networking, handshakes, cups of coffee at kitchen tables, watching kids play, making and keeping relationships, that REAL stuff. That takes time to grow roots and bear fruit. I can appreciate the new tack from the Mariners FO but #6? Up there with the Rangers of the world? Please!

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  46. JayCee says:

    Wow- my impression is SEA has been almost NYY-ish in terms of overraated prospects (Brandon Morrow, Wladimir Balentien, Jeff Clement, etc). They traded away their true ace prospect, Adam Jones. And while Chone FIggins can play defense, he is no spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination. I’m flabbergasted by this ranking.

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    • Hark says:

      Morrow was mishandled. His upside is not at all unremarkable. Not saying he’s Lincecum/Felix/Greinke. But he’s a +3 WAR pitcher down the line. If I were anything more than a broke college student, I would put money on that.

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      • snapper says:

        You need 10 guys with Morrow’s upside to get one 3 WAR pitcher (for any sustained period).

        Everyone underestimates pitcher attrition.

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      • ETAsports says:

        Agree with Snapper. And that’s the biggest problem I have with this ranking.

        Where are the Mariners going to get young, cost controlled pitching from?

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      • DHRjericho says:

        I will say that Safeco field probably reduces the overall importance of young cost-controlled pitchers (maybe not by that much). Very good defense (a focus of the FO) and favorable field dimensions reduces the overall importance on pitching (again not by that much). Seattle can take risks on young pitchers with higher contact rates and Fly Ball % because the park and D help negate some of the negatives that other teams don’t have the luxury of doing. That may also attract cheaper FA pitchers that are looking for short term deals in order to boost their value for larger paydays down the line.

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    • LibertyBoy says:

      Agreed! Yankee prospects – especially the ones that get traded – are consistently oversold.

      -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  47. Oscar says:

    This is a bad ranking.

    They don’t have a great current team – they are going into the season with a Mike Sweeney/Ken Griffey Jr. DH platoon, as one example. Ichiro is aging. Bradley is a time bomb. Bedard is injured and has been ineffective.

    They have a mediocre farm system. Probably not even in the top half.

    Their young core, past Felix, is not great. Gutierrez is good but his value is based mostly on volatile UZR numbers. Rowland-Smith and Lopez are not stars.

    Jack Z. seems smart, but if this were ANY OTHER TEAM you’d be less aggressive with the ranking. Give him a little more time before anointing him.

    I understand the point of the exercise. But an aggressive Mariners ranking was the worst-kept secret of this whole series, and it is because you are a Mariners fan. That’s how it is. It’s a terrible ranking, and an intellectually dishonest one to boot.

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  48. CaseyB says:

    The writers on this site seem to be extremely smart people when it comes to stats. But they’re human too, and just like the rest of us, are prone to bias and error, both of which seem to be abundant in these rankings.

    And I am still struggling to understand what the purpose of these rankings are. Someone above said they are meant to project a team 3-5 years out. Oh really? Then they are nothing but horoscopes. Very specious ones, even for horoscopes.

    How can one project 3-5 years out when at least half the talent on any given team probably won’t be around in 3-5 years? And of what is left, maybe half of that will be on the decline. It is very convenient to say these are projections for 3-5 years down the road because by then, few will ever remember this particular series and go back to question its validity.

    What I am surprised is that the best site for stats on the web would publish such a series that is almost entirely based on subjectivity, arbitrariness, and personal opinion. One would think they would come up with a method which included a heavy component of clear consistent more objective stats — whether it be projected team WAR, projected phythagorean, previous year’s record, or previous year’s payroll efficiency. Payroll efficiency I think is really important to judge the quality of an organization.

    I hope they listen to all the fans who have had issues with this series and work on a different approach for next year.

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  49. B says:

    Just out of curiosity, I’d like to see what people actually think the M’s are going to do in the future in terms of winning. I don’t want this subthread to include any arguments back and forth (that will ruin it), just projections from various fans. I’ll start:

    2010: averageish, 83-win team
    2011: much of the same, ~83ish wins, not seeing where new talent is going to come from
    2012: Ackley could be an impact player by 2012, add a couple extra years for Jack Z to do his thing in trades and talent acquisition and building the farm, still don’t see enough close to ML high level talent in the org right now to make them a winner in 2012, I’ll go with something like ~87ish win team
    2013: Good payroll, strong FO, that’s enough time to stock up on talent in various ways that we can’t see right now, I’ll have faith in the FO – legitimate contender, ~90ish win team
    2014: Legitimate contender, ~90+ win team

    So, a couple average years, one above average, two contender years is what I see in the next ~5 years, and that’s taking Dave and others word that Jack Z is legit. Your projections?

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    • Omar says:

      The troublesome thing about this is that even if Zduriencik is the savant that people here are portraying him as (which, may be true) and all the optimistic projections pan out, they’ll have the player development beast that is the Texas Rangers to compete with for the AL West title and the beasts of the East to compete with for the WC.

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    • Jeff Nye says:

      Well…

      2010 could really be anywhere from 75-90 wins. There is a LOT of variability on the current roster. There are significant health questions about some big pieces of the roster.

      The strategy for this season is pretty clearly to try to spread the risk out among a bunch of guys with upside, and hope that you get good dice rolls on at least a couple of them.

      Best case scenario: Lee misses one start and pitches like Cliff Lee for the rest of the year; Bedard comes back in early May and pitches like the pitcher he was a couple of years ago; Milton Bradley doesn’t go insane and manages to stay in the lineup for 140+ games; etc etc etc.

      Now, there’s a reason I called that the best case scenario, and I’m happy to admit it’s not very likely; but it’s not impossible, and a team that got those breaks is probably a low-90s win team and could win the AL West by a decent margin.

      Of course, there’s also the worst case scenario, where none of the things I mention above go right AND something like an injury to Felix happens, then you’re looking at something in the 70s as far as a win total goes. But I don’t think that’s a terribly likely outcome, either.

      I’d say this is about an 86 win team on paper, assuming the reward on the risks they’re taking falls about in the middle. Which may still be good enough to win the AL West.

      2011 will probably be a small step back for the franchise, depending on what the free agent market looks like; Cliff Lee is likely to be gone, and the comp picks they’ll get for him won’t make an immediate impact. However, it’s not entirely impossible that Ackley will be ready to step in and make a serious run at Rookie of the Year. One of the biggest mistakes I think people are making about the Mariners right now is undervaluing Dustin Ackley, whether it’s due to him being Not Stephen Strasburg or just undervaluing prospects in general.

      There are some other young players who will probably be ready to step in and be solid regulars by then, too. (Saunders, Michael Pineda, and maybe even a guy like Nick Hill)

      By 2012, we should really be starting to see whether the Mariners will be set up for sustained success. I think they will.

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      • Omar says:

        When you say “undervalue Dustin Ackley” what do you think he is? I definitely don’t feel that people here undervalue prospects in general, if anything prospects now are overvalued. I agree with most of what you said here, but I disagree on the degree of said sustained success that I feel the Mariners will experience.

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      • Tom says:

        I’m not sure how you can so strongly count on players that haven’t produced in the majors yet. Ackley may be a star, but then again, he may be more like Alex Gordon (just as highly regarded as Ackely in college, outperformed him offensively and played a harder defensive position). Gordon may turn into a useful player but I don’t think anyone is counting him as a strong point in the Royals future.

        This seems to be more a faith based ranking than anything else — they have faith that Zduriencik is going to make all good moves. Until he proves it, and last season’s improvement wasn’t just a fluke, that seems like an enormous leap of faith.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        Well, I know you and I have discussed Ackley before, and it’s fine if you don’t agree with how high I am on him.

        Time will tell which of us is right.

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      • Omar says:

        Well I’m not ready to say that I think you’re wrong and I’m wrong…I feel Ackley’s more of a guy who may make an all-star game or two at his peak, but over all a very productive player at a premium position. I’d like to know what you expect what from him as far as a triple slash line goes.

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      • Joel C. says:

        I feel pretty confident he’ll be a Mark Grace/John Olerud type hitter.
        .310/.390/.475 type with 15-22 HR in his peak years.

        As a 2B that could make him a consistent all-star, I also think he’ll win at least one batting title.

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    • Max says:

      2010 80-86 wins

      Beyond that, its impossible to say.

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  50. Omar says:

    Dave,

    I was dead wrong on the Ms last year and you were right. At risk of being wrong again, I will respectfully disagree. As far as your current talent section, you mention how they have a high variance roster, and if a few things go right, they’re WS contenders. While, I don’t disagree with this, that could be said for lots of teams. Say the Giants, certainly no one will sign up to face Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez/Zito/Bumgarner either, and the Giants offense is on the same level of teribleness as the Ms offense…yet the Giants are in the low 20s and the Ms are 6th, why the high discrepancy? Sure if they make the playoffs Hernandez/Lee will give them a punchers chance, but other AL Teams have much deeper rotations that still feature an outstanding top end 1-2 punch, and much better offenses…I hardly think that’s enough to be so bullish on their current talent.

    The future talent section is somewhere that I disagree big time:

    Future Talent

    The Mariners farm system isn’t among baseball’s best. They have a couple of premium prospects in Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders, but they don’t match up with the systems that boast a lot of high ceiling guys. However, there is a reason this section is entitled young talent and not farm system. ”

    One, it’s not “young talent” it’s “future talent,” which to me means talent that they have to look forward too, whether it being a player who isn’t a rookie that still has plenty of upside left in him like a Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, or perhaps a Nick Markakis or a hot prospect. Of all the players you listed as young talents, I feel that the only one who has unrealized upside left is Felix Hernandez, the rest of the players are what they are…what they’ve been giving you is likely what you’re going to get. Not that that’s a bad thing, Gutz is an all universe defender, and the rest of the players you listed should find themselves on a 25 man roster for quite sometime. Furthermore, Ackley’s upside with the bat I would say is at a .300/.370/.480 range which is a great cost controlled player provided he plays a premium position…but can he actually play second? Is he worth moving the guy who lead ML CFs in WAR last year? As to Saumders, I have concerns over his K-rates. It’s not like they have much to look forward too in the pipeline, or like any of the current players are prone to break out or perform significantly better than the way they have been.

    I agree with you that the front office is making some good moves, give Jack Zduriencik and Tom Tango 100MM+ to play with and they should build a pretty good organization…but there’s quite a few variables, and some work to do. Cliff Lee’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year, and while the Mariners spend money and Seattle’s a pretty nice place there’s a good chance that he doesn’t come back next year, replacing the production that he’ll give the organization will be difficult. Furthermore, the offense is pretty bad, only two regulars in the lineup have a career OPS over .770, that makes scoring runs somewhat difficult. While it’s unlikely they’ll be picking in the top 10 of the draft anytime soon and their presence in Latin America isn’t the greatest, I feel that finding an elite hitter will prove to be somewhat difficult, they’ve locked up Figgins longer than they should have and Ichiro! can’t do it all by himself. However, if anyone can do it it’s a team of Zduriencik and Tango. Ms fans should find a lot of solace in the fact that their team is ran by people who are as smart and talented as anyone in the industry. Because of this, I can easily see them as a top ten organization, placing them above teams that have very serious, and very immediate hopes of a WS berth is where we’ll disagree. You may be biased here, but it’s not like the bias isn’t without merit. Ms fans have a lot to be excited about…I just feel that it’s overstated.

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    • NBarnes says:

      “yet the Giants are in the low 20s and the Ms are 6th, why the high discrepancy?”

      I’m not sure what’s hard about ‘Brian Sabean is an idiot and Jack Zduriencik is one of the top 5 GMs in MLB’. Seriously. I have the same response to people who are asking how the Dodgers are below the Mariners here. Winning over the course five years has a lot more to do with organizational quality than it does how many wins your team has over the previous three years or Tim Lincecum. (Ok, it does have a lot to do with Lincecum, but Sabean is an idiot).

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      • B says:

        “Winning over the course five years has a lot more to do with organizational quality than it does how many wins your team has over the previous three years or Tim Lincecum.”

        I think you’re confusing “winning 5 years from now” with “winning over the next 5 years”. I’m going to keep asking until I get a response – over the next few years, where are the wins going to come from? Where are the Mariners going to magically find all this talent that makes them competitive next year, two years from now, etc.? Sure, 5 years from now a great process should produce a talent filled organization, but it takes time, and the talent simply isn’t there right now. Where is it going to come from? Like I pointed out earlier, over the last 5 years, the Rays are 375-435 combined….that’s not top level success. The Mariners might be headed in the Rays direction, but over the next 5 years, how are they going to be one of the most successful clubs in all of baseball? Even if by year 4 or 5 they’re one of the best teams around….how are they going to sustain success over a 5 year period starting right now?

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      • Omar says:

        Oh I wasn’t saying the Giants were as good as the Mariners…I just don’t see the discrepancy being that large.

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  51. LT. NooseNeck says:

    Do they still have that Mark Langston kid? He could be a good one…

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  52. Logan says:

    “185 Responses to ‘Organizational Rankings: #6- Seattle’”

    hah

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  53. Xeifrank says:

    I would rank the Mariners around 8th or 9th, so a 6th ranking is pushing it a little in my books, but it is not too crazy. I think the new GM has done a tremendous job of undoing some of the bad contracts given out by the previous management. There really is very little “dead” weight on this team – other than their insistance on giving Griffey Jr significant playing time.

    The holes on offense are just a bit too gaping for me to have them as #6, even taking into consideration all the other criteria. Next year, Cliff Lee is gone and the likely scenario is that the Mariners will receive compensatory draft picks for him signing with another club. The Mariners will be forced to make a slew of great moves again in 2010 just to tread water – like they did this offseason. I think they are a year or two away from getting a #6 ranking.
    vr, Xei

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  54. philkid3 says:

    I hate this post. Not because I disagree with the Ms ranking, though. I do disagree with the rank, but not everything said in the post itself. I also hate the comments, but that doesn’t make me hate the post.

    What makes me hate it is my team that I’m assuming is about to be at #4 doesn’t have any breathing room. I hate knowing I can be a fan of an organization that seems to finally know how to build a good baseball roster but can’t do it against a division of idiots.

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  55. johndango says:

    There are no bad contracts on the books for the Mariners anymore. They have so much freedom to do what they’ve started doing well and that’s find great players. This is a great position for them to be in.

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    • B says:

      But how is that going to make them one of the most successful franchises over the next 3-5 years? You can only do so much team building through free agency.

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      • seattlefan68 says:

        One of the main problems with the 2008 Mariners is that they were crippled with so many bad contracts. This was a team that had Washburn for ~$10 million, Batista for $9.5 milion, Sexson for $15.5 million, Carlos Silva for $12.75 and Jose Vidro for $8.5 million. That’s over $55 million invested in 5 players that combined to be LESS than replacement level. That was over half of their payroll. It’s almost impossible to compete with that much wasted money on your team. That the team no longer has terrible contracts on the book means that they can spend money on smarter contracts now.

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      • B says:

        “That the team no longer has terrible contracts on the book means that they can spend money on smarter contracts now.”

        Agreed, not trying to take credit away from this at all, but my point still stands – you can only buy so many wins through FA (a $100M payroll spent entirely through FA at market rates should produce about ~25 WAR, or ~70 wins), so where are the wins over the next few years going to come from?

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      • Dingo says:

        I think the Ms’ front office has proven themselves capable of acquiring cheap talent through other means. Franklin Gutierrez was an absolute steal, and he’s under control for a while. Milton Bradley could flame out, or he could provide another 4-WAR season — all he cost was Carlos Silva, which was basically addition by subtraction.

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      • B says:

        Ah, so you really think they’re just going to continue finding great deals time and time again, with none of them ever going wrong, and nobody’s going to catch on or start doing what they’re doing or anything? You think that a couple of good deals proves they can continue being successful? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but if you think they’re just magically going to wave their hand and produce championship caliber talent for significantly cheaper than the FA market pays without a very good farm system…..well, I don’t even know what to say to that. I’d be willing to bet money against it happening, though.

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  56. Omerta says:

    As a Mariners fan who has benefitted not only from Cameron’s writing but also his work in getting the front office to actually speak to diehard fans such as myself, I feel like I can vouch for the faith that people put in Zduriencik and his team. I am very confident that within a couple of years, the Mariners will indeed be one of the most blessed organizations in all of baseball in terms of both talent and finances.

    That being said, the talent is simply not there at this juncture to justify, today, being the #6th ranked organization in baseball. Like I said, I have no doubts that the vessel of the good ship Mariner is soon to be filled with quality talent that people across the nation hold in high regard…but to place them on this pedestal when teams like the Braves, Rockies and Phillies are ALREADY there…well, I can understand why there are more then a few people here who don’t share our optimism when we can already see the reward being reaped in those organizations.

    At the end of the day though it’s a simple ranking and I’m sure, in retrospect, those with dissenting opinions will look back more favorably upon it when the Mariners do indeed fufill the promise of these lofty expectations.

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  57. Adam Reynolds says:

    What these merchants like Cameron can do now is point to one part of each team the Mariners are ahead of to justify the ranking. They have more money than the Indians. They have a better farm system than the Cardinals. They have a better…well…nothing than the Braves, but let’s stick with the script here. The “young core” consists of great talent like Adam Moore and Ryan Rowland-Smith (Also, the whole bullpen is under 30!). No way that the sum of the parts for Seattle is greater than the whole of 10-11 other teams in the MLB.

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  58. Kurt says:

    Phillies fans, your GM traded Lee to save money and then spent the same coin on Blanton. He could have put Dobbs at 3B instead of signing Polanco and got the same results, while replacing Dobbs with a young guy (AAA nobody) or veteran on the cheap (Amezaga), instead he spent $6MM per year on a 1.5 WAR player and could have waited until next year when Lee was gone to spend it if he wanted Blanton. The guys he got back are a SP turned reliever because of a hip condition that prevents being a starter in the future (Aumont), a SP who has #2 or #3 upside equal to a 6th round selection coming out of community college or a junior college somewhere (Ramirez), and he got a Shane Victorino clone who has tools found in the 4th to 8th rounds of the rue 5 draft. It was a bad trade and I could write a book on it.

    If for no other reason, this is why the Phillies are behind the Mariners. Deal with it… Your GM is an idiot!

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    • regfairfield says:

      Greg Dobbs was a 0 war player last year, he replaced him with a 3 WAR player. Your suggested replacement WARed -.1.

      Cliff Lee cost two million more than Blanton and would only be under team control for one year, as opposed to the three years he could have Blanton for. Since the Phillies window of contention probably runs out in 2011 it’s important to have that extra year of control. Lee’s also a fly ball pitcher in a home run friendly park on a team that employs Raul Ibanez. He’s a much more valuable as a Mariner.

      The Phillies are in great condition to be the best team in the NL the next two years, the Mariners might benefit from being in a crappy division.

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      • mattlock says:

        “…employs Raul Ibanez…”

        Key words, right there.

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      • Kurt says:

        First off, WAR is compounded by playing time. It’s assumed that his stats would improve with regular opportunities. In 2007 (1.1 WAR)and 2008 (.9 WAR), he averaged 1 WAR in 1/2 a season of playing time. Figure that 2009 was an outlier and that leaves him as a 2 WAR player who would get a small bump from playing regularly and because he sucks in a small sample size against lefties, that bump would be reduced to nothing, so he is a straight 2 WAR player, nothing more. One might argue that Polanco is a 2 WAR player at best. Paying Dobbs $1MM to play 3B, $500K for a guy to take his place as the super substitute for the OF and IF corners plus keeping Lee and the two draft picks after the season (when offered arb.) would be worth more than Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, Tyson Gillies, Polanco at $6MM and replacing Lee with Moyer in the rotation. Like it or not, but it was a stupid trade and Lidge melt down in Houston should have been reason enough not to give an extension to Lidge and so far that’s looking like another mistake. Given the choice, I would play Ibanez in LF and extend Lee beyond 2010, then trade Ibanez after 2010 and stick Brown in LF. That’s what a smart GM would do, even if you didn’t get anything for Ibanez and had to kick in $1MM or $2MM to make the other team take the rest of his deal. Fact is Amaro is an idiot and he’s proven that time and time again. Given a smaller payroll the Phillies would look like the Royals.

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      • Kurt says:

        Much more valueable to the Mariners… Yes.
        Not worth 7 WAR for the Phillies… No.

        He was an outstanding pitcher for the Phillies last year AND I’d rather have Lee instead of Moyer, especially with the compunded problem of Ibanez in LF. Moyer will produce MORE opportunities in LF, not less. which will exagerate the bad defense of Ibanez. Just saying.

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    • B says:

      “If for no other reason, this is why the Phillies are behind the Mariners. Deal with it… Your GM is an idiot!”

      That’s fine, I’m not a Phillies fan and don’t care one bit about this, but instead of pointing your finger and taunting “our GM is better than yours!”, how about you actually try to make the case that the Mariners will be more successful than the Phillies over the next 5 years?

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  59. Grant says:

    So an average team with an average farm system should be number 15 but they end up at 6 because they have Milton Bradley, Erik Bedard and play in a shit division? I really wouldn’t have them higher than 12th or 13th.

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  60. Derek says:

    I don’t understand the problem here: this blog is sabermetrically oriented, and since Z and company have taken over, they have done exactly what the saber-crowd has been advocating teams to do for years. They’ve grabbed freely available talent, increased the overall quality of players on the team, and have made calculated moves/gambles that allow them to compete this year without mortgaging the future. To compare their big league club to the Phillies or their farm system to the Giants doesn’t make sense for what this series is about: look at where these teams started from two years ago, Bavasi basically gutted this team and now they’re an 82-85 win true talent team, and they have a good shot at winning their division. The AL West isn’t the strongest division, but should the M’s be penalized because they saw that they had a shot to win it and went for it? Look at their process, look at their organizational philosophy and look at where they’re headed. I’m sure there are a lot of fans who wish their teams were on the track that the M’s are on.

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    • Not David says:

      The biggest problem is that Dave has a legion of “followers” hell bent on playing “ah ha! gotcha!” with anything he writes.

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    • GhettoBear04 says:

      We can look at his process and see that he has done a great job during his time as Mariners’ GM. Even if you place JackZ into the elite tier of GM’s, which I think most around here would be ok with, it wouldn’t be enough to make up for their deficits in the other areas.

      It seems like that’s what the defenders of this aren’t grasping: We don’t hate JackZ or his team, we just don’t think you can weight the management so incredibly heavily that you gloss over the teams’ actual talent.

      Realistically, it will still take JackZ a couple of years to get the M’s on-field product to the elite level needed to consistently compete for championships.

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      • Kurt says:

        Bottomline, they are giving Jack credit for finding Braun, Fielder, LaPorta, Hardy, etc.

        The Mariners have a pipeline of talent from Latin America along with a great amateur drafting department.

        The Mariners have almost no pitching depth in the minors, but they are considered to have the best offensive farm system in baseball as a whole by many sources.

        The biggest weakness for the Mariners is the lack of credible pitching prospects after Pineda, Cortes, Fields, etc.

        Aside from the pitching issue their farm system is in great shape. The biggest benefit for the Mariners is that they have a bunch of valueable assets and young players. All of their offensive starters are under contract/control for a minimum of 2010 and 2011, that’s a great situation to be in for a team trying to compete. They can trade the guys that don’t fit and trade for or sign the guys that do. The only real question marks are the low cost guys. The expensive contracts are all sure bets to earn their money. A bad year for Gutierrez and Lopez will both be worth their contract in every year, same with Ichiro, Felix, Wilson, and Figgins. There are no Silva contracts and the dead weight of Bradley is held over from the Bavasi era and shouldn’t be considered in this as Silva has been deleted from the team and Bradley was basically added for $3MM over two years.

        I think Jack Z. is a good scout, an average GM, and the team has enough money and existing talent to overcome his mistakes. He also doesn’t over-extend himself and that lessens the negative of his mistakes, which is a valueable asset for a GM that goes unnoticed.

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      • B says:

        “The Mariners have a pipeline of talent from Latin America along with a great amateur drafting department.”
        “Aside from the pitching issue their farm system is in great shape.”

        And yet as far as I can tell BA has them ranked as the 20th best farm system in baseball. How is that “great shape”?

        “The biggest benefit for the Mariners is that they have a bunch of valueable assets and young players. All of their offensive starters are under contract/control for a minimum of 2010 and 2011, that’s a great situation to be in for a team trying to compete.”

        Ichiro is old, Figgins is past his prime, Gutierrez is hardly young….what are these “valuable assets and young players”? Most teams can easily match the “valuable assets and young players” of the Mariners. Felix is close to it if you want to combine those terms into “valuable young players”. Seriously, a 20th ranked farm sysetm, a barely above average team, one of your two best players is 36…..I’m open to listening if you have a case, but as far as I can tell, your entire case is you liking their talent because you’re an M’s fan and not realizing that other teams actually have more talent, more valuable assets, and a better farm system.

        “He also doesn’t over-extend himself and that lessens the negative of his mistakes, which is a valueable asset for a GM that goes unnoticed.”

        You think contracts like Rowand and Zito go unnoticed? No, we notice. Nobody has even tried to take credit away from Jack Z in this thread. We’re all just pointing out he doesn’t have enough to work with right now to be ranked #6.

        “The expensive contracts are all sure bets to earn their money.”

        I take it you’ve never heard the word “injury” before. Nothing is a sure bet. It might be a great bet, but let’s just relax on the definites here.

        Look, the point is, nobody is saying the M’s aren’t in a good position going forward. By every appearance, they are. What we’re saying is they just aren’t that good right now and don’t have all that much talent in the present or ready to step in soon to do much more than kind of compete the next couple years. That’s not what the #6 organization in baseball does. The #6 organization in baseball should have real talent to compete right now AND a pipeline for the future. The M’s have neither.

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    • B says:

      “I don’t understand the problem here”

      “this blog is sabermetrically oriented, and since Z and company have taken over, they have done exactly what the saber-crowd has been advocating teams to do for years”

      That’s exactly the problem. That’s entirely why they’re ranked so high, and it’s ignoring the real talent question marks currently in the Mariners organization. Will they fill their organization with talent and compete on a consistent basis 5 years from now? Sure, why not. Are they filled with talent right now? No. Other teams are.

      “they have a good shot at winning their division”

      When you say “good”, what do you mean, exactly? 10% chance? 25% chance? 50% chance? I don’t think many people would call them the “front runner” for their division….

      “I’m sure there are a lot of fans who wish their teams were on the track that the M’s are on.”

      Missing the point. Nobody has criticized the track they’re on. We’re simply pointing out that they’re heading in the direction many other teams are already at. It’s going to take some time for them to catch up, and while they’re catching up, other teams are going to be winning.

      “To compare their big league club to the Phillies or their farm system to the Giants doesn’t make sense for what this series is about”

      Seriously, when making a list of the best organizations, why would we actually want to compare the various organizations current talent and future talent….? ;)

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    • Max says:

      “I don’t understand the problem here: this blog is sabermetrically oriented, and since Z and company have taken over, they have done exactly what the saber-crowd has been advocating teams to do for years. ”

      What troubles me is that when the stat-crowd falls into the same blind spots as the mainstream crowd. That is, so long as teams do things the RIGHT WAY, everything is okay, results be damned. For the mainstream crowd, that means productive outs and gritty vets. For the sabermetric crowd this means OBA and defense, and freely available talent.

      I think the sabermetric crowd is right, but I’d like to base that on results, rather than projections. Anointing the Mariners as the 6th best organization for the future based one season of improvement and a few nice transactions seems like wishcasting.

      I’m from Missouri. Show me.

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      • bflaff says:

        Yep. And the same bias works against teams that can consistently win even though they don’t have an annual pocket protector budget of $10 million. We’re not supposed to acknowledge that possibility because THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE WAY.

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  61. Sam says:

    Wow, 240 comments or so? Some people get way too worked up on a guy’s opinion which may not affect anything on the field.

    I do think this is aggressive, but the basic points of the article somewhat stand, particularly the one about smartness of front office. The high variance cuts it both ways, though. Teams may not line up to face the trifecta of Hernandez, Lee and Bedard, but they may actually relish their chances against a line-up, whose best power hitter might be Milton Bradley.

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  62. Mariners2001 says:

    For people criticizing the F.O. because they’re running a platoon of Griffey/Sweeney at DH, don’t forget about Michael Saunders. Saunders is essentially ready for the big leagues and the M’s are going to run a short leash on Griffey/Sweeney depending on their early production.

    If they step it up early in the year, they’ll probably let Saunders have more time in AAA. However, if they show their age and fall on their faces, Jack Z and co. will have no reservations on benching them. They’d then move Bradley to be mostly a full-time DH and have Saunders platoon with Byrnes in LF. It’s not like the M’s are stuck with Griffey/Sweeney as starters all year if they don’t perform well.

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  63. Matthew Cohen says:

    I think that it depends on how you rank the teams. If you rank them based on total talent at all levels at the present time, clearly this ranking is too high.

    If you look at the prospects of the team and the skills displayed by management, I think that it is reasonable to grade the Mariners in the second tier behind the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Rays.

    The M’s have turned a disaster into a team with a great rotation and defense that is a contender for the division and would be scary in a playoff series. And they’ve done this in a very short period of time.

    FWIW, I’m a Yankee fan who respects the M’s purely on a stat geek level.

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  64. Brendan says:

    I admit I haven’t read all 258 (or whatever it is now) comments, but one thing that doesn’t seem to be mentioned here with regards to the rankings is the league disparity. You’ll notice that the last six teams to be featured are in the American League. Frankly, I don’t think there would be nearly the same amount of backlash to this ranking if the writers had decided to organize this list by league. Saying that Seattle is 6th in the AL is a lot more innocuous than 6th in baseball.

    It seems to me that the talent difference between the two leagues has grown to the point where the writers think the sixth best team in the AL could be dropped into any of the NL’s divisions and instantly become the best organization in the league. Looking at it from that perspective, Seattle’s ranking seems a bit more reasonable.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Not really, because most of the commenters here believe that they fall below the Cardinals, Phillies, Rockies and Braves in their deserved ranking.

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      • Ivdown says:

        I would put the Cardinals ahead of them, but only because their MLB team is so good, because their farm is seriously terrible, and if they had an average farm I would have them top 5 most likely.

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    • Max says:

      “It seems to me that the talent difference between the two leagues has grown to the point where the writers think the sixth best team in the AL could be dropped into any of the NL’s divisions and instantly become the best organization in the league. ”

      League disparity shouldn’t matter though. One of Dave’s justifications for putting Seattle so highly is that they play in the AL West – a seemingly widen open division. So clearly he is measuring clubs, not by their overall strength, but their strength relative to their division – in other words, how likely they can make the playoffs.

      So even if we assume the Mariners are better than all 16 NL teams, that doesn’t matter because they don’t play in the NL. The Braves do, and will for the foreseeable future.

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  65. Jack says:

    This topic has a very high leverage index.

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  66. Andrew says:

    Over the next three seasons, the Braves will win more regular season games and more playoff games. Book it. The M’s are fine, but over ranked by 3 to 5 spots.

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  67. vivaelpujols says:

    Dave is a biased jackass who deserves to be flogged mercilessly for posting his opinion on the internet! C’mon guys, let’s get some rope, a truck and have ourselves a good old fashioned…

    Seriously though, the Mariners have an average major league roster (each of PECOTA, CHONE and THT project them to win 80-85 games next year), they have a below average farm system (Law has them 21st, Sickels has them 26th) and an above average payroll/revenue stream. Based on that they should fall somewhere in the middle of the pack in the rankings and appreciably behind teams like the Cardinals, Phillies, Braves and Rockies.

    Their front office looks to be amazing, but based on the rest of their team, the front office would have to be the best in baseball and its ability weighed very heavily in the overall assessment of the team. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with those assumptions, but they are a little be misguided given the massive lack of information regarding how front offices work in baseball. Jack has said all of the right things, and he’s made impressive moves in a small sample size; however, it’s simply premature to rank him so highly *and* place so much confident in that ranking.

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    • micky D says:

      “Dave is a biased jackass who deserves to be flogged mercilessly for posting his opinion on the internet!”

      I hope you meant this in a sarcastic way because if you meant it, you really don’t understand what the word “subjective” means. If it was sarcasm, my bad. Its really hard to tell over writing (especially after reading all these comments).

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  68. Kurt says:

    Hypothetically speaking, if the Mariners won the World Series in 2010, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners lost the World Series but won the AL Pennant, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners Lost the AL Pennant, but won a Wild Card Series, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners made the playoffs and lost in the Wild Card Series, would anybody have a problem with this ranking?

    I think if the Mariners make the playoffs, everyone says, hey their rating is good with me. I think more importantly… What people have a problem with is the 5 teams ranked higher are all A.L. teams. If one N.L. team was above them, than everything would be right in the world for most people.

    Here is reality…

    The Cardinals farm system is practically non-existent and they are looking at not having the money for Pujols to be extended, so yeah, they fall below the
    Mariners.

    The Braves have graduated most of their good talent to the majors now and they still have some glaring holes on the field. Talk all the crap you want about Atlanta having this and that, but their manager is retiring, their 3B should have retired, their next best player is a catcher and I don’t need to tell you the problems that come with that.

    While Jason Heyward is a star in the making, if you put the Braves in the A.L., they wouldn’t be the 2nd best team in any division except the Central.

    I love the quote: “Andrew says:
    April 1, 2010 at 1:37 am
    Over the next three seasons, the Braves will win more regular season games and more playoff games. Book it. The M’s are fine, but over ranked by 3 to 5 spots.”

    Okay, assuming with everyone that knows even a little bit about baseball that the Athletics are the worst team in the A.L. West, let’s see how they match up with the N.L. East.

    The Athletics would out play the Nationals, the Mets, and are equal to the Marlins. So the worst team in the A.L. West is better than all but the Phillies and Braves, and so that means 3 of the 4 division rivals that Atlanta beats up on for 17 games per year, wouldn’t even make it in the Mariners division, so go figure that the Braves would win more regular season games.

    It’s nice to see that you stopped just short of declaring the Braves a better team. That would have got more than a few people laughing. I’d take the Mariners over the Braves any day of the week, sure Heyward will be great and there are some other great prospects on the Braves team, but Seattle isn’t void of great prospects and Ackley could very easily be worth as much or more than Heyward by the end of their careers.

    The reality is that none of the National League teams are run overly well, and that’s why the American League is so much more dominant. Even the Dodgers have managed to get rid of or promote anybody of interest from their farm and look to be in a terrible situation with the McCourts’ divorcing.

    I could complain about the Yankees being higher because having more money and spending more money doesn’t make you a better organization, same with the Red Sox. The Rays are a better organization than the Mariners, no doubt, but I wouldn’t put the Yankees farm system and future ahead of the Mariners with all the 30+ year old superstars facing decline and rising salaries. In 5 years the Yankees will have to raise their payroll to $250MM a year to keep their team competitive, especially with Jeter, Rivera, and Posada due for new contracts.

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    • B says:

      “Hypothetically speaking, if the Mariners won the World Series in 2010, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners lost the World Series but won the AL Pennant, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners Lost the AL Pennant, but won a Wild Card Series, would anybody have a problem with this ranking? If the Mariners made the playoffs and lost in the Wild Card Series, would anybody have a problem with this ranking?”

      No, I would stop having such a problem with the ranking, but again, you’re missing the point. By all objective accounts, the M’s aren’t good enough to compete this year. If they’re off making the playoffs, it means they’re a lot better than we currently know (I’m going to assume they make it because of talent not luck in this example). If they’re a lot better than we currently know, then sure, they could be the 6th most successful baseball team over the next ~5 years, but that’s exactly the point – based on what we know right now, they just aren’t nearly that good. If the Giants won the World Series, 23 would obviously be too low for them, too. It applies to every team. That’s not a real argument.

      “but Seattle isn’t void of great prospects”

      I mean, maybe not, but you are ranked in the 20′s in terms of overall farm system by pretty much everyone. So yeah, almost every team has better prospects than you….

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      • Bronnt says:

        What if the Astros win the World Series? Is 30th too low for them? I think that’s probably right. Go Astros.

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      • B says:

        If MLB ever decided to make the AL West add a team, as an Astros fan, would you enjoy being in the NL West (with the Rockies or Diamondbacks moving to the AL West)…? I’ve always felt the Astros would be a good fit for the NL West for some reason – they’d feel more like a real rival to me as a division rival than the Rockies and Diamondbacks do….

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      • Bronnt says:

        Not an Astros fan, B. I was just being acerbic, and playing this same “what if” game.

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      • Kurt says:

        They aren’t in the 20s in terms of talent, those rankings favor east coast teams (that bias is real, not implied) and the focus is typically waited to the AAA and AA level with higher rankings going to teams with the most polished prospects. The Mariners problem is that most of their really good prospects are in the lower levels and/or have not been tested in AA or AAA.

        If Liddi, Dunigan, Peguero, Carrera, Triunfel, the pitchers (Fields, Pineda, etc.), and all the other low level prospects do well after their promotion to the higher levels, than the Mariners would jump into the 12-18 rank as a farm system.

        In a year or two the advancement of guys like Nick Franklin, Steve Baron, James Jones, Mario Martinez, Jharmidy DeJesus, Gabriel Noriega, Maikel Cleto, Steven Hensley, will jump the Mariners farm system into the top 10 in all of baseball. These players becoming advanced prospects won’t do that alone, but Zduriencik’s scouting ability will keep the talent coming in and in the next couple years, they will be talent rich at all levels, even if the focus of the farm is never squarely put on pitching.

        I believe you are better off buying or trading for pitching and raising hitting on the farm. There is less medical cost keeping top arms healthy, pitchers tend to lose their mental advantage more easily, and velocity gain is hard to peg in a 19 or 20 year old. You can peg the no brainers and the rest you gamble on with lower picks. Milwaukee never did a good job of sigining international pitchers or siging free agent arms, so their pitching has always been suspect, but the hitting is good for a reason.

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      • Kurt says:

        typically waited = typically weighted

        sorry I have a hyperactive son that is drawing away my attention.

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    • Rob Moore says:

      I won’t address every single wrong point in this post as there are too many, but I’ll at least say that Atlanta is currently a better team than Seattle, without t doubt. Better rotation, better bullpen, better lineup. Way better farm system too. Seattle has better outfield defense though, I’ll grant them that. Except for the crippled guy in left field.

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    • Bronnt says:

      There’s so much that’s wrong here that offends me as not only a Braves fan, but a fan of this site.

      Avid readers of FanGraphs will tell you that an older player having a down year doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done. Chipper Jones came off consecutive seasons of 7+ WAR, and then suddenly he’s down to 2.7 WAR. Let’s keep in mind, first, that 2.7 WAR is a fairly average season for say, Chone Figgins. Second, that 2.7 for Chipper should scream “outlier.”

      Chipper doesn’t have a lot of years left, and he’s not getting back to his 7 WAR peak, but he’s already defying aging pattens to an extent, and he surely is capable of getting back to 4ish WAR for a year or two.

      Second…yes, their best player is probably a catcher. Is this a problem for Minnesota? McCann hasn’t yet peaked offensively and he’s still approximately a 5 WAR player. His decline should come faster from that position, but he’s still only 26 years old, so there’s plenty of time left for him.

      Third, it’s hardly clear that the Athletics are the worst team in the AL West. PECOTA has them winning the division, fans have them finishing third, CHONE thinks the Mariners are the worst in the division. If it’s so clear, I don’t know why there’s so much disagreement. And the weakness of the AL West, both present and future, seems to be a big factor in the writers’ ranking of the Mariners as high as they did. Is it a tougher division than the NL East? The East does contain a team that’s been to two consecutive World Series and returns the same roster. And also 2 of the top 7 payrolls.

      I also wonder exactly where all the perceived holes on the field are for this Braves team. Maybe there’s concerns about the respective health of Chipper and Troy Glaus, but it’s a very well balanced team. If Heyward is at least average, they should be average or better at every position on the field, with a bench that employs average players.

      Fourth-I don’t suspect many people would argue that Dustin Ackley is going to be as good as Jason Heyward. It’s possible, in the sense that basically anything is possible, but it’s not something anyone would care to place a wager on. Heyward is younger by 2 years and has already landed a starting job. The Braves have a better farm system in terms of both quality and quantity, and that’s not highly disputed.

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  69. Kurt says:

    At the end of the day, you may disagree, but none of these ratings are awful and there are 10-15 guys on this site who contributed to this list and all of them know a crapload more about baseball than most everyone commenting. I agree with the rankings, I’ve explained why, and if I didn’t than I would defer to their expertise and if you don’t understand it all, than you should defer to their knowledge also. Not understanding something or not being able to wrap your brain around something is no excuse to debate it. Ask a question if you want, but to say this doesn’t make sense to me… so the Mariners shouldn’t be ranked 6th, well, that’s just stupid.

    I’ve pretty much sorted everyone into two groups based on responses… They get it and they agree (more or less, maybe they feel 5th, 7th, or 8th is better, but it’s close enough to be accurate, even if it’s debateable still) or they don’t get it, they disagree, and they complain so they can delay the rationalization that they are wasting perfectly good oxygen that could be used on someone else who wants to use their brain.

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    • B says:

      “They get it and they agree (more or less, maybe they feel 5th, 7th, or 8th is better, but it’s close enough to be accurate, even if it’s debateable still) or they don’t get it, they disagree”

      Ha. “If they agree with my opinion, than they’re right, if they disagree, then they’re wrong and just don’t get it”. Clearly can’t argue with that. I also forgot the part where the writers are godlike infallible baseball experts. Not to put them down, as a Fangraphs reader I obviously love what they do for us for free, but they’re people, too….you know they could actually be wrong every now and then? Especially when talking about their favorite team?

      I’ll just leave you with this – make the case that the Mariners will be the 6th most successful franchise over the next 5 seasons. I’m still waiting for an adequate answer to that.

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  70. Charles says:

    Have any of you haters seen Safeco Park?? Cash. Cow.

    /argument won

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  71. beer me says:

    Well Dave, when I first saw how high you had Seattle ranked, I thought perhaps it was a bit of a homer ranking.

    After actually reading what you had to say in this post, however, I agree with you. Salient argument here.

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  72. Jamie says:

    this is awful.

    seattle is on the up and up. but they’re at least 3 years away from contending.

    the braves/phillies/rockies all have more of a chance to make it to the WS and win than the mariners do in the next 3 years.

    as a phils fan i find it an abomination that the mariners are ranked higher. WS the past 2 years. our entire core is locked up for another 2 years. while they’re in their early 30′s they are NOT on the decline. they are the second best fielding team in the league and have been for a while. they are the best at running the bases and have been for the past 3 years. they have the best non AL lineup in baseball. they have halladay/hamels/blanton/happ leading their rotation for the next 3+ years.

    and they can draft. if they didn’t’ make the trades they did they would of had 3 players in the top 25 in all of the minor leagues. no other team could boast that. Goldstein has said that he prefers the phils way of drafting. its better to draft a guy with a superstar ceiling than a guy who is just an average ceiling. the phils find those guys and use their coaches to groom them.

    they don’t have the strong saber-metric presence in the FO, but all saber-metrics does is explain what the eyes see. and the Phillies FO have eyes that are better than 95% of the worlds sabermetricians spreadsheets.

    so they have their roster locked up for a while with little foreseeable regression, they have also proved that they can draft as well.

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    • B says:

      “while they’re in their early 30’s they are NOT on the decline”
      “so they have their roster locked up for a while with little foreseeable regression”

      If you really think guys in their 30′s don’t get worse, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re betting against the odds. Now, I agree with the overall point, just trying to point out that kind of talk is blatant homer nonsense. Old guys get worse. It’s a fact.

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  73. lvnvn says:

    i’ve made peace with the ranking and the complaints.

    an analogy:
    a pitcher’s first year in the Show is poor. his babip is .330. the second year, his babip is .265. he pitches better. shocker. this article basically argues that the pitcher is going to continue to benefit from this low babip for the next few years. is that a warranted assumption?

    now, maybe it stays low. maybe he has added an effective pitch, gained velocity or has had the benefit of a stronger defense. maybe the pitcher–jack z–will contine to get dayton moore to provide talent for junk…and maybe that’s not so unreasonable of an assumption.

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

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  74. PeterS says:

    Sorry, couldn’t read 1000 messages to get up to date.

    Either you care about the past and present, and consider the future to be unknown, or you don’t care about the past, and care more about the present and future, and consider the future to be somewhat predictable. Those seem to be the two prevailing opinions.

    Here’s a fact about the past: the Mariners have arguably got better each of the last two years under the reign of JackZ, with 2010 yet to be a known quantity, but no one denies that the M’s had one of the best off-seasons. JackZ in two winters has only made good moves, getting quality guys for “extra” or overrated players.

    Here’s a fact about the present: the Mariners have King Felix locked up, and now have Ichiro and Gutierrez locked in as one of the best OF’s even without a LFer (Saunders will take over next year). Everyone also forgets about Figgins locked up for four years. Lopez is quality trade bait. Ackley is on the fast track to 2B, Figgins back to 3B. Jack Wilson is one of the best defensive SS, as is Kotchman at 1B. Kotchman hasn’t reached his potential yet, so the judge and jury are still out on him. Moore and Johnson are quality defensive catchers, and Moore could end up swinging a nice bat as a future starter. Oh yeah, then there’s Lee, Bedard, and the potential of RR-S and Snell. Snell will make a good #5 in August. Ryan Rowland-Smith is already better than most outside the organization know or understand, but they’ll see the light in 2010 (major inning eating workhorse).

    Here’s for the future: everything above should be in place in 2011, with Ackley possibly coming up late this year through late next year. And bouncing off “the past”, with JackZ’s short track record, it would only be surprising if he made the team worse in the coming years. He’s landed quality arms to stock depth in the pitching (like Washburn for Luke French and Maricio Robles, anyone?). He’ll wheel and deal more, and restock the farm not just through drafting but through trading. Its a process, for sure, but if you can’t see success in 2-3 years, you just aren’t looking. If the proof is in the pudding, then you forgot to try the chocolate pudding in the winter of 08/09, or the tapioca pudding in the winter of 09/10… they were really quite special!

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    • Chair says:

      Thing is, the Ms defense is unlikely to ever be as good as it was in 09 again, so to improve they will need to do it in other ways. You have to look at overall player and team values, not just say so and so are good defensively therefore the team will be good.

      I can easily see the Rangers exploding over the next 5 years and judging by fangraph’s ranking they agree. However this along with allot of other evidence suggests that these ranking are more about regular season wins not post season and world series berths.

      After all how can three teams from the same division have the most success over a 5 year period when there are only 10 potential post season spots to be had among them?

      It seems like NL teams deserve a boost solely on the fact that one will be playing for a world championship each year.

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      • Kurt says:

        I can agree with that, it’s a solid argument. However, I would say that Tampa, Boston, or New York should slide behind the NL team or two that would move up. It’d be almost impossible for all three teams to be more successful than the Mariners and/or Rangers.

        Agreeing with your statement, let’s say that Boston and New York are at the top with the Mariners and Rangers and Twins, that makes the top 5 mix in Los Angeles because they are the run away favorite in the NL West, Philly in the east, and Reds in the Central. Probably I would say my top 8 would be…

        #1 – Texas
        #2 – Boston
        #3 – Cincinnati
        #4 – New York (AL)
        #5 – Minnesota
        #6 – Seattle
        #7 – Philadelphia
        #8 – Los Angeles (NL)

        Call me crazy, but I think Cincinnati is the only N.L. team with a strong farm, young talent all over the field, a competitive 2010 roster, and the front office management to win a championship that can break the top 5 of the AL. How ironic that Bavasi as a GM destroyed one of the best franchises in the last 20 years, but as a scouting director could have his insight lead the Reds to the top of the Central for years to come.

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      • B says:

        I won’t hold it against you, as a Mariners fan, for not being up to date on the NL West, so don’t take this as a criticism….but “Los Angeles because they are the run away favorite in the NL West” is dead wrong. The Rockies are loaded with young talent (and they won 92 games last year) and have an above average farm system. Sabean is screwing the Giants, it sucks, but we still have as much young talent as anyone in baseball and a potential top farm system (BA has us ranked third overall) – if a couple guys end up being better than we think they will (like Huff and Renteria or something like that), we’re a legitimate contender. The Diamondbacks are ok, probably not a real contender but with some luck and a healthy Webb they could throw themselves in the mix.

        In terms of “contending this year” (and probably next year, too), all those teams are at least in the position the Mariners are in. For all the talk about how great the Mariners are, CHONE still has them projected to be last in the AL West. Let’s stop confusing “headed in the right direction” with “legitimate contender”….

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      • Chair says:

        I think the Rockies and Dodgers are probably equal favorites to win the west. The Dbacks offense could be the best in the NL if things go right, but they need the old Cy Young Webb to really contend and that seems unlikely. The Giants……….just not good enough in so many ways. Even though I am a Dodger fan I am very very high on the Rockies, but I still wouldn’t make them hands down favorites in the West, can’t assume Francis will be good.

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  75. Or says:

    How old is Adam Moore?

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  76. Dan says:

    Um, care to try that prediction again?

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  77. Jeff says:

    good call Dan. 3 years from now the Mariners are already bad.

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  78. Jimbo says:

    Anybody heard from “Jeff Nye” lately? Anybody seen a retraction from Cameron lately? Of course not.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Mainers fans have moved on to football season a month before everyone else. They want to get the best seats at training camp.

      It is amazing to look at all the negative votes any disagreeing comment received.

      I do think it’s haliroius that someone on this site types “#6org” instead of SEA. That’s going to get old at some point, but right now it’s still hilarious.

      The bad part of talking with an elite tone and an assuming nature is that when you’re wrong, people are going to be all over you. Things tend to balance out in life, it’s funny like that.

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  79. 24-40 says:

    24-40.

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  80. #6org says:

    #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org #6org

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  81. Halo says:

    Yikes, just re-read the comments from Jeff Nye…Ugh.

    So when the Mariners trade Cliff Lee for a bunch of single A pitchers/hitters does that start the rebuilding process because the core 2010 Ms are getting too old? Sweeney, Figgins, Bradley, and Ichiro…these guys aren’t getting any younger.

    Catcher, 1B, Lopez and in general the bullpen, while at least cheap, have been an unmitigated disaster.

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  82. Dr.Rockso says:

    Pretty funny that #6org has now become an Internet meme.

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  83. Bugs says:

    Bricka bracka firecracker sis boom bah!
    #6 Org ! #6 Org ! RAH RAH RAH!

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  84. Blazer says:

    6th worst franchise in baseball history.

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  85. numbersixorgistrue says:

    Jeff Neyer: “I’m even a pretty big fan of the Brandon for Brandon trade, since as much as I like his skillset, I don’t think Brandon Morrow is ever going to put it together enough to be a legitimate major league starter, and players like Brandon League are how you avoid wasting a ton of money on your bullpen.”

    I agree. Morrow is washed-up. #6 org!

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  86. Grant says:

    You have to wonder how a team with Ryan Rowland Smith and Jose Lopez as their ‘core’ ranked this high. Meanwhile, the Jays had an obviously better pre-2010 core of Romero, Cecil, Marcum, Hill and Lind to go along with a far better better farm system and where were they ranked? I still haven’t stopped laughing since March at the thought the Orioles would be near 4th.

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  87. CircleChange11 says:

    The 2010 Mariners are not a great team. … The upgrades on the roster pushed them into 83-85 win territory in terms of true talent level.

    How many teams have a true talent of 83-85 wins?

    The Mariners farm system isn’t among baseball’s best.

    Isn’t that important, going forward?

    In terms of front office capability, financial commitment from ownership, revenues from the ballpark, and the other minor components of this section, the Mariners graded out very highly.

    Really?

    I believe we can also evaluate an organization’s ability to put a winning team on the field before they do so.

    That’s an understatement, and perhaps a very big one.

    Really, how smart and solid can a team be when they put their success on the health and stability of Milton Bradley and Erik Bedard?

    As you said in the article …

    [1] Average or below ML roster.
    [2] Not good minor leagues.
    [3] High Grading Front Office.
    [4] Good management.

    Only one part of that screams Top 10 to me, and I’m not sure I agree with #3.

    I think your opening statement was spot on.

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  88. Grammar Notzi says:

    I’m very embarassed to be associated with some of y’all (on a SABR level). Humans make errors in judgement, and whether or not they were right or wrong (in this case neither since it was a panel of OPINIONS) doesn’t matter. Move on and find joy in watching baseball instead of insulting others for doing that.

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    • wobatus says:

      It comes with the territory sometimes. You come from the snarkfest of Fire Joe Morgan and sometimes you offend. Dave recognized this and posted something recently about being kinder and gentler. Or something to that effect. And there’s no e in judgment.

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  89. FireOmat says:

    LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

    self-ethering of the highest order. demote Cameron to freelancer triple A.

    KICK EM IN THE GRILL CHONE

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  90. Jamee says:

    ” I could spend a few paragraphs explaining how I didn’t compile this by myself and generally attempt to defend myself against the claims of bias, but I’d rather just put those words to use explaining the logic behind the ranking, and then you can think what you will.”

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  91. CircleChange11 says:

    It would be interesting to poll all of the regular authors of the site, and have them rank the teams 1 through 30 in all 4 of the categories used. Weight the categories on terms of importance. Then average up the rankings and see where the teams fall. (Note: For all I know, this is how it could have been done)

    The assumption being made is that the Mariners were viewed through rose-tinted glasses because of Dave being a Mariner fan (truth be told, I’d probably over-rate the Cardinals a bit based on past history and my love of the team), and the excitement over their new saber-inclined GM.

    My contention is that having a below average roster and poor minor leagues, trumps the way the organization runs the finances and how the GM values players. The latter, as being a highly weighted, category would essentially force the team to find A LOT of bargains in order to finish 6th in accomplishments over the next few years. That is the part I find unlikely. Management quality was given far too much weight (IMO), when present and future talent are the two most important aspects of the team success. Talent covers up a lot of mistakes.

    In order for the mariners to perform as the #6 Organization, it would require far too many mistake free moves with each move paying off to its potential, and that just doesn’t happen often.

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    • Omar says:

      I completely agree with everything said here. I think we as stat heads overrate the “process” and its ability to produce future results. There are several teams who on the surface really don’t look like they’ve had the best “process” but seem to make things work; or have the resources to overcome bad decisions. The As were miles ahead of everyone “process” wise but eventually the rest of baseball caught up. Same goes for the Mariners, even if Jack Z is Billy Beane, Logan White, and Branch Rickey combined eventually the higher payrolled teams will put together a comparably competent front office and blow the Ms away.

      While I do think the Mariners are in good hands, I think it’s foolish to place them higher on this list than organizations who have realistic shots at winning a rock in the next three to four years based on their current talent and talent in the farm but who might not be all that well ran. Take the Phillies for instance, I think if we had to wager which teams wins a WS first in the next ten years the Phillies or the Mariners most people would overwhelmingly pick the Phillies. They have a wealth of current talent, play in a weak division and played for a championship the past couple of years; whereas the Mariners won’t have two players who crack an .800 OPS for quite sometime. While the Mariners will (likely) make better decisions than the Phillies over the next decade; the Phillies’ past riches such as Chase Utley and Roy Halladay will pay dividends for the next three or four years and put them in a better situation for the foreseeable future.

      The Phillies simply have had a better start, the Ms will have to do some masterful drafting, and we’ve seen high ceiling young talent in the draft either flame out or fail to live up to expectations and be merely average, or slightly above, as opposed to the MVP caliber player they’d need them to be so their record will reflect the ratings here. Overall, I don’t think the Mariners are a “bad” organization, per se. I just feel that they need to add lots of talent to their current roster. They don’t have any franchise crippling contracts and they seem to be able to make money…they should turn it around; I just don’t think that they’re the sixth best organization in baseball.

      Another thing I’d like to comment on is that a lot of people made a big fuss over Jack Z making great trades by taking advantage of a dumb GM…to me that doesn’t mean that a GM is necessarily a good GM; more that the other GM is just a bad one. I’m sure anyone would have made that Cliff Lee trade if they were in Jack Z’s shoes, except Ruben Amaro apparently…same with the Silva trade even though it seems that the Ms got the short end on that one. For me, to be a good GM you not only have to swindle bad GMs you also have to recognize which players in your farm aren’t good fits for your organization and you need to be able to part with good players to get good players. Not every trade will be a complete screw job, there won’t always be a dumb GM with a player that he hates that’ll fit your needs. This last paragraph may be a bit incoherent, but I feel that complete screw job trades like the Swisher trade, the Colon trade, the Lee trade, and the Casey Blake trade overrate the GMs on the winning end; when IMO it says more about the losing GM than the winning one.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        In terms of winning the world series in the next 5 years (10 is so far down the road) … and base it onl current talent, recent past tradition/success, and front office management, I think one could say all the following teams are ahead of the Mariners …

        Yankees
        Red Sox
        Rays
        White Sox
        Twins
        Tigers
        Angels (I didn;t list TEX since the article came out before we knew how good Texas might be)
        Braves
        Phillies
        Mets
        Cardinals
        Giants
        Rockies
        Dodgers

        Had the M’s been placed anywhere from say, 12th to 20th, I don’t think anyone would have a problem.

        Putting them 6th, based primarily on “smart FO” is the big disagreement.

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      • Omar says:

        As far as knowing how good Texas might be Dave correctly called Texas as being good. However, as far as some of those organizations go, while some like the Mets and White Sox may be better within the next two or three years, their decision making process really prevents them from being a better organization than the Mariners, even with the current dearth of talent that the Ms suffer right now. Perhaps the same could be said for the Tigers, but as far as most of these other organizations I would be inclined to agree with most of them. The three AL East teams are no brainers. Now that the Twins seem to have their “types” of players that seem to work for them and now with their new park and seemingly newfound willingness to spend money it seems as if they’ll be a team to take seriously well into the decade. The Cardinals spend money, they’ve got a good core of talent with them that should last them for quite sometime, the same can be said for the Braves, the Giants and perhaps the Dodgers too.

        At anyrate, we should probably attempt to separate the “process” from likelihood to win a championship in the next five years. Like with the Phillies, while the Mariners make better decisions than the Phillies do by miles, it’s foolish to think that the Ms have a better shot at a rock in the next five than the Phils do.

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  92. Matthias says:

    Many of the arguments have revolved around which teams have the best chance to land a world series in the next five years, and that the Ms are way behind more than 5 teams (i.e. that they should be lower than 6th). 6th does seem a bit high, but when you look at the format of our playoff systems in this country, and you understand the huge amounts of variance in baseball, this starts to make more sense.

    In the NBA, the standard deviation of points scored divided by total points scored is generally about 1/8. In baseball, it’s closer to 1/2, implying that from game to game, things change a lot in baseball (namely the starting pitchers). The article was written when the Mariners had both Lee and Hernandez, and Bedard was supposed to be back by late May. Don’t look now, but two of those guys are likely to finish in the top 5 in Cy Young voting, and one should win it. Normally these 3 guys would start about 60 to 65% of games during the regular season, but come playoff time in a seven game series, they could see 6 of 7 starts, or 86%. Even if the Mariners chances are only 1/5 to make the playoffs, the chances that they make it at least one of the next five years is still nearly 70%. The playoffs are like a whole different game, and the Mariners would have a distinct advantage with its 3 aces and exceptional defense (looking from the vantage point of March 31).

    There are two battles to face when going after a world series: 1 is the regular season and 2 is the playoffs. The A’s of the 90s and 2000s were built to win in the regular season in bigger sample sizes, but could not adjust to the playoff format. The Mariners are designed to be even more effective in the playoffs than the regular season; they just need to get there. But from Dave’ standpoint in March, I think the Mariners had a better chance of winning a WS at the start of the year than a number of teams that would do better in the regular season.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      But, the criteria was based on current talent and minor league talent and front office stuff.

      The current talent was average at best. The minor league talent is poor. There’s only so much even the smartest front office can do.

      Lee was a 1-year player for SEA. His only value to them is this year.

      I already commented on the “smarts” of basing your success on Milton Bradley’s stability and Eric Bedard’s health.

      Basically if every single little thing goes right, the mariners had a shot at the playoffs this year (and likely this year only). Never do all the little things go right. So, only in theoretical sense could the Mariners be a top 10 franchise.

      What they would need for sustained success is about 4 “Chone Figgins signings” and for all 4 to pan out in the Marins advanatge (get more than they paid for), especially considering at least two of ttose would need to bigger bats in the middle of the lineup, and not defensive specialists.

      2 big bats in the middle of the lineup for multiple years, going by the rate of 4.5M/WAR, and we’re talking contracts of 15M+ per year, for at least two guys … plus a couple more of lesser quality. So, they’d have to spend AT LEAST 50 more million bucks.

      [1] I’m not sure the M’s can or will spend that kind of money.
      [2] The players they need to acquire either do not exist, or will not exist during the same free agency year, or they won;t be able to sign all 4 (count on big markets driving up the price and/or hogging the talent).

      It’s sorta the same situation as David DeJesus being “the answer” for every playoff contender. There’s 12 playoff contenders (or so), and one David DeJesus. The odds of a team signing 4 “David DeJesuses” when everyone can use them as well, is low, low low.

      I do agree that if you get the M’s into the playoffs, that Lee and King give you a decent shot. But that opportunity would be fleeting, since Lee would be gone.

      With slight exaggeration, King Felix may soon find himself in a “Grienke situation”.

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      • Matthias says:

        To: Circle Change
        I get where your coming from, and I probably put way too much emphasis on simply winning one WS. But many of the comments so far have revolved around a team’s chances of winning a WS. I just wanted to point out the M’s advantage IF they actually got to the playoffs.

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  93. Wally says:

    As we sit 2/3s or so into the season and try understand this ranking, I think this part of the post is the key:

    “This team isn’t just designed to steal a division title and get waxed in the ALDS, either. The team is banking on several high variance players, and they won’t succeed without good years from the likes of Milton Bradley and Erik Bedard. That is certainly a risky proposition, but there’s no denying the upside that comes in a scenario where both stay healthy and perform near their talent levels.”

    Well, we should be able to put a little reality check in just how likely Bedard or Milton are to make what contributions. So looking at Bedard in the last 4 years he had two years at 5 WAR or over, and 2 years between 1 and 2 WAR, with the poor two years being the most recent. So maybe its somewhat reasonable to expect 3 WAR, but with maybe a 25% chance each of being in the 5 WAR or 1 WAR range. Then Bradley has seen 2.7, 2.1, 4.6 and 1.2 in the last 4 years (more recent numbers coming later in that sequence). So his average is ~2.5WAR, and maybe he has a 25% chance of 4+WAR and 25% chance of <1WAR. So from these two players you're most likely getting something like 5.5 WAR total, but maybe you have 12.5-25% chance of getting something in 8WAR. And what happened, they got ZERO total WAR from both. While that was maybe more likely to happen with guys such as themselves, but it was still an extremely unlikely event.

    Another problem is that this “young” core was 1) not that young (27, 26 year old a pretty close to their peaks, especially if they get a lot of value from their defense) and 2) not even that good. Take Gutierrez for example. You just aren’t going to get another 31 UZR from him. No matter how great you think he is in the outfield, no one is that good. Plus, you could not reasonably expect his offense to continue at .337 wOBA, when his last year before that was at just .306, his LD% was a career high in seasons with more than 43 games, his BABIP was similarly too high, and his HR/FB was up. This is guy who had overperformed and was going to regress, and of course he did.

    Then there is Ichiro, who is getting old and can’t be reasonable expected to put up 5 WAR seasons anymore, or Figgins who is really a 2-3 WAR player, who’s also aging off his peak. And don’t forget going into the seasonn ready to give Griffey/Sweeney regular playing time.

    So outside Lee and Felix, this team had problems all over the place. No, we couldn’t expect Bradley and Bedard to give them NOTHING, but we shouldn’t have expected them to be big pieces either. And not only did the Mariners not have reasonable replacements for those guys, the roster outside Lee and Felix was nothing more than average. Which meant it absolutely depended on good preformances from Bradley and Bedard. And it was a near certainty that you weren’t going to catch lightning in a bottle with both of them at the same time.

    So yeah, this was a high varience team this year, with a mean around 81 wins, and a lot of their expected biggest contibutors leaving at the end of this season or next. So, I didn’t then, nor do I understand now, why we expected this team to be worthy of this spot. Maybe, MAYBE, something like 10th would be in order, basically say something like “they have some pieces that might work now, but they need their ‘process’ and 100M payroll to work for a few years to bring in some more talent” would have been more reasonable.

    After all, none of the teams in AL west were completely slouches either. So while the group of their mean proformance expectations were clustered around .500, we should have assumed one or two of the other 3 teams would go over that expectation. Meaning the M’s would have needed to win at least say 86 games. And then as the years go on you’re losing your best talents, competing with the talent monster Texas has created, the brains in Oakland with a decent amount of young talent as well (more than SEA anyway), and the money in LA, plus you don’t have a realistic shot at the wild card in the foreseeable future with NYY, BOS, TB all in the East. In short, the ranking of 6th assumes EVERYTHING happens as well as it possibly could, not just this year, but for the next 5 years as well. Just far too many uncertainties for SEA when compared to other teams in the top 1/3 of MLB that were more reasonable certainties to compete right now or in the very near future.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      With Dave’s optimism over odds, he’s rooting for the wrong team.

      He’s a Cub fan if I ever saw one.

      THIS is the year that everything will go our way. No really, it’s this year. Well, if not this year, then next year for sure.

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  94. #6org says:

    55-89, -153 Diff

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  95. everdiso says:

    “This is a management team that turned a true-talent 68 win team from 2008 into a true-talent 83 win team in 2009. That is a simply staggering turnaround, and one I don’t expect we’ll see duplicated again for a while.”

    Who woulda thunk it? a turnaround duplicated the very next season, no less.

    impressive.

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  96. Isn’t blogging this kinda stuff great ? Keep up the great work !

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  97. Satisfy, are you able to PM me and inform me number of much more thinks about this, I’m definitely fan of your respective website… las vegas carpet cleaning

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  98. MattM says:

    I AM BETTER THAN THE MARINERS AT EVERYTHING, INCLUDING ARTS AND CRAFTS AND THE GUITAR.

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  99. hmm. says:

    “This isn’t a team that has a short window to contend. They’re likely to be even better in 2011 and beyond than they will be in 2010 – the problem for them is that is true of most of the rest of the division as well.”

    Truth! Mariners had a .377 Win% last year; this year, it’s more like .415!

    Improvement proven.

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  100. Dandy Salderson says:

    You guys missed the point. It wasnt about 2010, it was about the core they had for the future: Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, Adam Moore and Ryan Rowland-Smith.

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  101. Blueyays says:

    LOL Classic page :D

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  102. Jeff Mathis does Steroids says:

    Love this page. So it turns out some of Jack Z’s touted moves didn’t work out. Ok, none of them did. No Chone, not Milton Bradly, not Gutierez, not Moore, not Rowland-Smith, not Lopez, not anyone.

    But hardly anything has worked out for them the past couple of years? I guess their farm system is improved. But that Cliff Lee trade has netted them -.1 WAR so far in 2012 (in a sense, they got 2.4 WAR for the Lueke/Jaso trade). The Brandon4Brandon trade was just, well, stupid. None of their young players can hit at all. Hell, nobody on the team but the pitchers can hit. Their 2nd best pitcher at the moment is Kevin Millwood. Not a ton going for them.

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  103. Chair says:

    I win

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  104. Six Org says:

    #6org

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  105. Dandy Salderson says:

    Some days are dark and gloomy and nothing works out. Then I visit this page and everything is right with the world.

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  106. John Elway says:

    NEIGHHH!!!!

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  107. Mr. Observant says:

    Steve Holt!!!!!!

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  108. Todd says:

    “I believe we can also evaluate an organization’s ability to put a winning team on the field before they do so.”

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  109. Johnny says:

    Seriously, is there an original draft of this that can go to Cooperstown or something? Amazing.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

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