Season in Review: Seattle Mariners

A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.

Number Twenty Eight: Seattle Mariners

A victim, yes victim, of good luck in 2007 and the misfortune to not have enough foresight in the front office to properly weight their own assets. It’s not they there were far off base in thinking that they had a chance at the AL West title in 2008. While they did over perform in 2007, so did the Angels and a revised division standings had all four teams within just a few games of each other.

Seattle’s collapse in 2008 was the product of a multitude of failures. The trade for Erik Bedard improperly judged their own prospects and over valued Bedard’s 2007, glossing over the valid injury concerns. The signing of Carlos Silva showed continued ignorance of how to evaluate past pitching and a complete misjudgment of the free agent market.

The Mariners failed to plan for Richie Sexson not bouncing back, resulting in having Bryan LaHair and Miguel Cairo splitting time after Sexson was released. They inexplicably gave Kenji Johjima a three-year extension, tying up their catching position. They failed to notice that Yuniesky Betancourt‘s defense was slipping or that Raul Ibanez‘s defense had already collapsed.

Yes, they faced some bad luck. The number and extent of the injuries they encountered were unfortunate and would have hurt any team. They also dealt with unlucky hitters in the form of line drives not going for hits as often as would be expected. Those unlucky breaks would have turned any good team into an average one, but combined with a lack of planning reminiscent of FEMA-circa Katrina, it created a crater so large as to finally swallow the front office.

Going forward, the new front office will benefit from a bar set so low that they would exceed expectations simply by not doing anything and thus not actively damaging themselves. It’s likely to be a few years before serious contention can come again, but with some real talent in the organization and loads of financial resources finally paired with competence in management, that day may come sooner than most think.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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philosofool
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philosofool
7 years 9 months ago

Things you forgot to mention: Jose Vidro fell below replacement level. One prospect, Jeff Clement, had no more use for AAA but struggled a little with MLB. Another, Wlad Balentine, showed that he probably needs more time in AAA to develop some plate discipline and fielding. They wasted Brandon Marrow as a reliever for half the season. The pitching coach told Felix Hernandez to throw more fastballs–he has among the best off-speed stuff in the universe. (Dave Cameron is going to correct me by eliminating “among”.)

Jerry
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Jerry
7 years 9 months ago

A very well-written and succinct evaluation, Matthew.

(I doubt he actually forgot anything, philosofool, but we both know it would take a MUCH longer post to list every egregious error. :))

Paul
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Paul
7 years 9 months ago

I disagree on a couple points.
Morrow, while more interesting to contemplate as a starter, was needed to replace the injured Putz, so that wasn’t a waste. It was what it was. The starting rotation unravelled due to injuries…
As for Betancourt’s defense wasn’t slipping. He still gets to more ground balls than your average SS. His range is unreal. My beef with him, is that he seems to be lazy with routine ground balls – and that has improved. Now, if he could look at a few pitches before swinging the bat – he might boost the BA as well. Just leave him in the #2 spot of the order.

Jason T
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Jason T
7 years 9 months ago

Morrow, while more interesting to contemplate as a starter, was needed to replace the injured Putz

To do what? Save games?

As for Betancourt’s defense wasn’t slipping. He still gets to more ground balls than your average SS. His range is unreal

The point is he’s making fewer and fewer plays every year. I don’t give a s*** how many balls he gets to if he’s incapable of fielding them or throwing them.

philosofool
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philosofool
7 years 9 months ago

Morrow, while more interesting to contemplate as a starter, was needed to replace the injured Putz, so that wasn’t a waste. It was what it was. The starting rotation unravelled due to injuries…

Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva and Jarrod Washburn. It hurt a lot, but it wasn’t an injury.

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