The Great #6org Discussion – Part 1

If you’ve read the comments of nearly any post I’ve written in the last few months, you’ve probably seen someone reference #6org, the popular twitter hashtag meme that was born out of our pre-season organizational rankings. A lot of people objected to that ranking when it came out, and the fact that the Mariners have been a disaster this year has only fueled the flames.

I’ve generally ignored the #6org crowd and just let them have their fun. I didn’t want to come across as defensive, and the comments were always off the topic of the actual post anyway. I don’t like encouraging people to hijack the comments of a post on a given subject, so we’ve just glossed over the comments and moved on.

That said, I know there are reasonable people who feel like the ranking is worth discussing in light of how Seattle’s season has gone. So, if you’re one of those people, the next day or two is for you.

I’ll spend the next few posts I write answering questions about Seattle’s placement in our organizational rankings series. How many posts that covers depends on the quality and quantity of the questions – I don’t plan on spending much time responding to trolls, but for those who have legitimate questions or valid points of view, I want to give them a proper response.

So, #6org’ers, this comment thread is for you. If you want to have a reasonable discourse on the issues surrounding the ranking, you can leave your remark in the comments of this post, and I’ll spend the next few days responding as best I can in future posts (trying to respond in enough depth in the comments section is a bit unwieldy). My hope would be that this provides an opportunity for us to see each other’s point of view a bit better. We’ll see how it works.

Fire away.




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

153 Responses to “The Great #6org Discussion – Part 1”

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  1. Cb says:

    Uh-oh.

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  2. Beer me! says:

    Obviously there’s no way you could have foreseen the way this season would play out, so on the current talent side of things, I think the ranking was fine.

    The problem I always had with the ranking was the future talent. Obviously the addition of Smoak makes the future talent even better. Talk a little bit more the Mariners farm system and why you think #6org was justified at the time in light of the future talent side. That’s the more interesting angle, methinks.

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  3. Sky Kalkman says:

    Do you stand by your pre-season ranking? I.e. would you put them #6 again given the same information? Somewhere else?

    Given what’s happened between then and now, how would you change the M’s ranking (ballpark it — no need to give away next year’s list). Is that change (if any) more a result of additional information on the abilities of the front office or additional information on the abilities of the current organizational roster?

    #27org

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  4. Patrick M says:

    The thing that concerns me with Seattle is lack of depth of good pitching prospects. Outside of Michael Pineda there isn’t a player I’ve heard labelled as a sure-fire rotation piece by scouts. Also where is the star power, or just power, on this team. King Felix is a stud and Ichiro is a great player, but who scares you in that lineup? Ichiro, Figgins, Ackley, and Smoak all look to be very good ball players but I don’t see anyone anywhere with the ability to change a game with one at-bat consistently. Still a fan of the organization and their philosophy, but I have a hard time seeing them as a top 15 team, of course hindsight is lovely. Thanks Dave!

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      It’s important to remember that the #6 ranking was about the organization, not their ranking this year as a team.

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  5. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    as a fairly quantitative person, my biggest problem with your rankings was and continues to be that there was no real rating of success, nor was there an appropriate time weighting of when that success would happen (how much more valuable for example to an org rating is a championship in 2010 vs say 2012?)

    Also, we dont know what will change about organizations, you could argue that when doing ratings, an WS flag today is worth 2 in the 2020′s or whatnot, because by then there could be wholesale regime change.

    Your rating of the mariners was based mostly on the brilliance of Jack Z (who had admittedly had a mostly strong offseason. you can assess the failings and successes better than just about all of us and i won’t challenge you there).

    What you had failed to really make clear was your definition of success, as well as your weighting of when that success happened.

    For example, is it better to win 90-95 games for 5 straight years, and never get out of the first round of the playoffs? or to win one pennant which you won say 105 games, make the playoffs another time, and then have 2 mediocre sesaons and one awful season?

    You didn’t really quantify that.

    To me, and to others, your rating of the mariners was based on future success, with an unclear timeframe, and unclear how much success. You dinged the Jays and Orioles for being in a tough division, but clearly the Mariners have less of a WS shot than any of the 3 powerhouses in the NL (atlanta, philly and st louis), and this won’t change for 3 years at least.

    lastly, your post just had implicit homerism in it. Nothing explicit, but very sublte word choices.

    unfortunately for you, because I respect your work greatly, this will attract the #6org people, because it sort of colored alot of your other work. And this is coming from someone who really regretted being out of town for your NY event, who bought your iphone app twice, who will pay for 2nd look next year, and generally thinks you deserve the money you get.

    With that said, my standing offer for a bet stands, and id even be willing to modify the terms, with a bet of $5 per win from 2010-2014, with post season wins counting as 1 win only, you take the mariners and ill take my phillies (who i am thinking 9 might actually be an appropriate ranking for if not a slot or 2 lower),

    loser has to donate the money to jaime moyers foudnation. that isnt a bait, but if you felt that way about hte mariners and their future then, and you know the mistakes ruben made, you might want to consider the bet (i’d even let you pick the charity if the mariners won).

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    • Jason B says:

      I can at least tackle this part:

      “For example, is it better to win 90-95 games for 5 straight years, and never get out of the first round of the playoffs? or to win one pennant which you won say 105 games, make the playoffs another time, and then have 2 mediocre sesaons and one awful season?”

      The first one. Having a likelihood of winning 90+ games over, say, every year during a 5-year period is imminently preferrable to a “win 100 once and tear it down” methodology. Once you get to the post-season it’s mostly a crap-shoot due to the short series, so you need to ensure you get there as often as possible to have as many potential “winning lottery tickets” on your hands as you can.

      And no, Florida winning two series under the latter methodology while Oakland and Minnesota have had no series wins despite many more playoff appearances over the past 15 years doesn’t alter that conclusion. We can go into the math of that if needed, but anyone with a decent familiarity with probability can probably see the underlying logic. At its core, it’s simply (more chances) = (higher likelihood of success).

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      • Ryan says:

        I think that comes down more to the personality of a fan.

        Speaking as a minnesota fan, would I trade 9 winning seasons in 10 in exchange for 1 winning season and a championship?

        I don’t think so, banners fly forever, but it’s pretty hard to build and sustain a fanbase with the marlins strategy, it’s not very enjoyable to watch on a consistent basis.

        Baseball provides a little more of a built in excuse since only 8 teams make the playoffs, so it’s not like being a first round washout in the NBA where some pretty flawed teams meet their inevitable demise to actual championship caliber teams. For the most part, every team that makes the playoff has some chance of winning the title. (If baseball let 16 teams in the last two teams in would be the Angels and Dodgers)

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      • Jason B says:

        ‘Speaking as a minnesota fan, would I trade 9 winning seasons in 10 in exchange for 1 winning season and a championship?”

        Very true, and as you rightly stated depends on the makeup and personality of the fan (individually) or fan base (collectively), but that’s not *quite* the issue that I was addressing.

        I’m not looking backwards (“would we trade x winning seasons for one championship?” which reasonable minds may disagree on) but forward (“should we take one good shot next year then tear it down, or one good shot in each of the next five years?”, which I don’t think there’s any reasonable argument for the former over the latter).

        Again, you’ve got a better shot at getting that championship with a consistent 90-game winner than you do with a “let’s-load-up-and-take-one-shot” team; more ping-pong balls in the lottery, so to speak. Despite the fact that the one-shot strategy worked for Florida twice in a decade obviously doesn’t make that a better strategy, much like playing 3-11-16-22-36, powerball 8, isn’t a winning strategy just because those numbers may have won $54 million yesterday; it has zero predictive value for tomorrow’s drawing.

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      • Ryan says:

        True. In general I do believe in the “more chances=better odds of favorable outcomes”

        I think it’s one of the hardest situations to be in is the point where you believe that you’re one piece away from a title. Particularly if you have a group of players going into free agency or a veteran team where you believe that your window of opportunity is closing.

        It’s a double edged sword-either you stand still and hope for the best (and your fan base hates you for inaction) or you sell the future (hello John Smoltz)

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        In their book, BP makes a reasoned arguement that smaller market teams should do what Florida did and build up and go for it once every 5 years, since they will likely not be able to sustain 90-95 win team year after year.

        We also have to realize, that in the vast majority of circumstances a team that averages 90 wins for 5 years, is going to have a payrtoll of 85M+.

        The Rays don;t count because they are in a unique situation that no other non-expansion team can experience.

        It’s a theoretical question that has no real practical value. A team that wins 90 games for 3 seasons in a row is going to have some players that want to get PAID, and the team is either going to pay out the wazoo or lose them. It ain’t eh NFL where a really good player cna be replaced immediately with the draft.

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    • BC says:

      I think this is an extremely intelligent comment, and I second the desire to see a more formal/quantitative discussion of exactly how rankings are derived.

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    • Max says:

      So are you assuming that teams like the recent Twins who consistently contend, but never go all the way, do so because they are always built strong, but never strong enough? I think that that method of team-building, whatever it is, would be preferred over what the Marlins did in ’97 and ’03. Where the Marlins really that good those years? Were they really that much better than the Twins have been almost every year?

      Lou Piniella once pointed out that with only 8 teams making the playoffs, every team is good (even if they “lucked out” with a weak division). And with the three short series, it can often just be a matter of getting hot at the right time. If this is true, which I believe it is, then I would prefer to have the perennial 90-win team, rather than the 100-win season surrounded by 70-win seasons. The Marlins did win 2 world series, but if we did a do-over on the last 15 Octobers, would they still win those? Probably not. Would the Twins win at least one title? They have made the playoffs 5 times since 2002. I’d like to think that their chances are better than the Marlins’, who have made the playoffs twice in their history, both as wild cards. Although in reality it worked out as well as it could have for them, I think I’d take the Twins.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I think it has more to do with their division. They make the playoffs because they’re in the Central.

        MIN is very similar to StL in terms of consistently doing well in a weak division. Unfortunately for the Twins 1991 was a long time ago (and 1987 was travesty *grin*)

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      • JamesDaBear says:

        Lou Piniella, huh? Let’s see… he’s won 2 playoff series in 6 tries in the 15 years since they expanded the format. He’s not exactly the oracle to look to in this situation. Most of his comments are made to cover his own deficiencies as a manager… “Uh uh uh uh, What are you gonna do?”

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  6. Do you think you overvalued front office personnel, as opposed to player assets? (MLB and MiLB)

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    • Standard Deviance says:

      This question gets at the heart of what to me is the most interesting aspect of the whole #6org brouhaha: how can we weigh the value/strength of a team’s front office? The ranking itself (which I strongly disagreed with at the time, believing it overvalued the team’s FO), and the accusations of homerism, are, in the end, less consequential than the question of how to account for/measure FO value/performance.

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  7. GhettoBear04 says:

    How much better do you think the Mariners’ front office is than every other front office in the league?

    It seems to me that even a heavily weighted front office component combined with a number 1 ranking could not overcome the dearth of young talent at the major league level and mediocre (at the time) minor league system.

    Do you still rank the Mariners’ front office that highly? Do you still weight the front office component that much?

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    • B N says:

      While not knowing his exact rationale, I have to think there’s a bias to feel like the Mariner’s front office was full of geniuses because of their comparison to the guys they replaced. I think we can all agree that Jack Z made some pretty reasonable and good moves to improve the team and seems to be making a positive impact.

      On the other hand, thinking about valuing front offices… would I trade the Mariner’s front office for the Red Sox front office? Probably not. The Red Sox front office has been good enough over the last couple of years to end up losing guys because they become GMs or get better jobs elsewhere. I think that has to say something about the level of respect for the methods and staff there. Likewise, I think you have to give credit to the Marlins and Twins who consistently do more with less.

      My off the cuff guess for where they’d place would be:
      Top Tier: Marlins, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Braves
      Second Tier: Rangers, Yankees, Rockies, White Sox, Oakland
      Middle Tier: Reds, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Brewers, Orioles, Mets, Indians, Tigers, Nats, Seattle
      Bottom Tier: Cubs, Royals, Astros
      Insufficient data: Padres, Pirates, Blue Jays

      I’d usually say insufficient data for Seattle too- but you specifically noted it. I don’t see anything that says that it’s particularly any better managed than any of the top tier guys, nor do I see any evidence that says for sure that it belongs in the 2nd tier. It’s really tough to say anyways though, until you can see how they’re drafting for a couple years. Some teams clean up in trades but seem to have trouble drafting or importing talent (ex. Oakland).

      On the other hand, I see no evidence that they’re managed worse than teams like the Royals or Houston. I’d also guess they’ll turn out better than the Mets, who have been pretty uneven (i.e. steal Ollie Perez for nothing = WIN! Sign him for big money later = LOSE!). I’d like to think that even at the start of the season, it should have been obvious that Jack Z hadn’t shown that he was better than anybody in the top tier- so the most optimistic projections should have put their FO in the 2nd tier. Realistically, even with the solid moves in the offseason, I wouldn’t have put them out of the middle tier. None of them were that much greater than the Edwin Encarnacion for Rolen trade made by Cincinnati last year- which I initially disliked but was proved vastly wrong.

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      • B N says:

        To note, I would have given the Phillies a higher ranking but they don’t seem to be building up much stockpiles of MLB ready farmhands when they should be in win-now mode and they gave out that monster contract to Howard which could easily cripple them in the future.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Top Tier: Marlins, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Braves

        If that were true, StL would have been a top 5 team.

        [1] Better current roster.
        [2] equal or better minor league talent.
        [3] Equal front office.

        Throw in consistent winning, most world series in NL, loyal fan base, etc and it’s not close.

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      • JamesDaBear says:

        It’s not about comparing Zduriencik to Bavasi. Zduriencik would be “a genius” no matter what franchise he worked for, he just would have had more to work with to start. He needs a lot more time before you start comparing his regime to those in Boston, New York or Tampa Bay. Put them in the Mariners situation and it wouldn’t have been such a smooth sailing to World Series appearances.

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  8. nolan says:

    How did you account for Seattle’s ownership in regard to your rankings?

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  9. Perches says:

    I hope we can move past the meme after these next few days. The #6 org thing has become a bit irritating to see in the comments section.

    My question is if you have had any reaction to Joe Posnanski’s take on the Mariners this season: http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2010/08/09/why-we-miss-the-obvious-mariners-edition/

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      • portablstanzas says:

        oh you’re good :)

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      • Patrick M says:

        And in it I see where he gets a lot of criticism for his Mariners ranking. He bitterly defends the M’s by the arguments that we could not predict “career worst years” from multiple players. As of today, 3 of the 6 players he mentions as having those “career worst years” are actually not, according to WAR. Figgins, Jose Lopez, and Casey Kotchman have all have had worse years than 2010 according to WAR. Kotchman’s was in limited playing time, Lopez’s was at a different position so maybe Dave was referring to some other metric, but its not explained.
        He calls Posnanski “lazy” for using Pythagorean record, which I agree, but its better than BA – and at least Joe is trying to break into the sabermetric thing. And I find it “lazy” of Dave to claim that Kotchman wasn’t the slotted to be the #3 hitter. If you start the year as the #3 hitter against RHP but are bumped because of how terribly you perform that doesn’t mean that wasn’t the plan…

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      • wobatus says:

        Simply pointing to chone and zips projections and then saying we were right to predict 85 or so wins, or whatever it was, seems a little unfair to me. The validity of the projections comes somewhat into question, and we may as well not even bother to make predictions. Just set the projections on autopilot and whatever those projections tell us will be right no matter the actual results.

        I understand that reasonable predictions wouldn’t have so many hitters underachieving on such a large scale all at once. Murphy’s Law, the perfect storm, etc.

        Figgins has had hitting years almost this bad. He switched positions, albeit to one he has played before. He is now in Seattle (albeit he isn’t a power hitter anyway). He’s away from the Angels and their “magic pythag.” Whatever, it was, it wasn’t all that much a stretch to see a year this bad as conceivable, if not likely. Certainly a sub 100 wRC+ year was conceivable.

        Bradley has been a much better hitter than his results this year. But he is injury prone, and fairly or unfairly can be perceived as a loose cannon, so getting nothing from him was possible. And he slumped somewhat with Wrigley as his home park, ao moving back to the AL and into safeco to boot was not necessarily going to help, his monster year in texas notwithstanding.

        Ichiro is 36 and his wOBA is about what it was in 2008.

        Kotchman hit like a guy using a rolled up wet newspaper for a bat last year, except for July with the Braves. He was awful in Boston. Moving to Seattle wasn’t going to help.

        Franklin Gutierrez is hitting like he did in Cleveland in 2008.

        Jack Wilson, Dave agrees, you had to worry about him being hurt, and he has had some batting average driven ok seasons for a ss, but he can be an out machine.

        The projections systems weigh recent performance heavily, correctly so, but the distinct possibility of Seattle’s offense being historically abysmal was there. I don’t think you can just say, well, if you thought they’d be this bad you were crazy, and we were right to think they wouldn’t be this bad. There may be some kind of snowball effect going on.

        You also have to acknowledge that the mariners also did have some luck this year. Vargas, Fister and even King Felix are outpitching their xfips, Vargas by 1.6 runs. Their performance has been better than people expected, I’d imagine. Not Felix’s, people may have expected him to be this good, but he is outpitching his xfip, just like he did last year (of course he had that great D behind him).

        Given where they were under Bavasi, i don’t think they are in a bad place. Jack Z. did a good job, even if some deals he made didn’t work out all that well. Number 6 organization seemed like a stretch to a lot of people at the time. 84 or so wins may have semed like a stretch to some, even given the best projection systems. But neither were all that outrageous. After you get passed the Al East beasts it all starts to get more interchangeable in the next rungs down.

        Adding Smoak improves the system, although he has to be considered a slight question mark after this year. But i’d expect him to bounce back. His batting eye (or at least bb/k) went completely awry in Seattle, and he may have let bad luck snowball into bad habits and pressing. Pineda has had a great year. Saunders bounced back somewhat from a horrible callup last year. Nick Franklin looks pretty good. Liddi wasn’t completely about his home park in the Cal League (if you put it in proper context). Ackley started off slowly but has been coming around. I don’t know their system well enough, but it doesn’t seem like one that’s top notch or bottom of the ladder.

        Putting so much weight on the front office is difficult, but ultimately that’s what every organization has to rely on, aside from their cash flows. The Morrow deal may have had almost as bad an outcome in the realm of possible outcomes, but we haven’t seen if Morrow will even be able to do this next year. Still, it shows Trader jack, GMZ, won’t win them all. Reasonable folks know no one does. And he won’t necessarily always have Omar and Ruben to fleece.

        So, overall, while it is fair to think this was good process, bad results, I think it is a little too much of a loaded game to say that anyone who predicted bad results was simply off their rocker.

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  10. MX says:

    I would say the same thing as I commented on the original ranking posts: these rankings make NO sense. All of them.

    I’ll explain it again. You are trying to rank 30 organizations based on current roster, future talent and management. What you get is the overall healthiness of a club in the long run. Therefore, a high-ranking team may not be a contender this year, while a low-ranking team might a championship team this year. In short, this is not ESPN’s power ranking.

    Now since this is not a ranking of this year, maybe it’s for the future? Well, not so much. I don’t believe any prediction for future. A team can turn around (to be good or bad) really quick. Think about the Mariners from 2008 to 2009 (and from 2009 to 2010 in the other direction). The farm system can be emptied in one big trade. You current roster can be totally different from opening day’s. Your management can be turned over in one night and everything will be different. Trying to predict future is just ridiculous and meaningless, and no one will remember this ranking in 5 years.

    Your ranking is not for present, is not for future. And I seriously don’t know the point of this ranking.

    Dave, I love your work most of the time. But for this ranking, I have to say it’s just a waste of time.

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    • JH says:

      You seem to have just spent a good deal of time writing up your response to Dave’s “waste of time.” Overall, his series generates thousands of comments every year. Obviously some people think it’s worth reading and thinking about.

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      • MX says:

        I enjoyed the analysis. But I understand why do you have to rank it?

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      • MX says:

        I enjoyed the analysis. But I don’t understand why do you have to rank it?

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        So because someone writes about something that means it isn’t a waste of time? And because thousands of comments are generated its not a waste of time?

        If the lists were worth anything there would be stability on a year to year basis, which does not exist. The rankings from 2009 to 2010 changed radically. If Dave, or anyone else, could accurately predict 5-year success, the list should not experience large shifts so quickly.

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      • payday0023 says:

        Just because a lot of people do a lot of things doesn’t make it a proper usage of time.

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      • Jason B says:

        ‘Just because a lot of people do a lot of things doesn’t make it a proper usage of time.”

        see also: watching reality TV or NASCAR; complaining about the weather; following the daily gyrations of the stock market; arguing about religion/politics

        (I kid! Going to check my portfolio now…)

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      • JH says:

        Every year Dave writes a series that people find interesting enough to read, think about, and comment on. You don’t like it? Don’t do any of those things.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Interesting that Dav’s articles are a “waste of time”, but our comments to his articles are of so insightful and valuable.

        I don;t agree with everything he says, nor do i always appreciate his tone (or my percpetion of his tone), but the man does generate baseball discussion … which is kind of the point.

        Before this ranking becomes Dave’s “Bill Buckner”, I would point out all of the work that he did explaiing how WAR is calculated and other educational articles. I don;t see very many other people going to all the trouble to try and explai things to people who don’t necessarily want to understand it, because then they might have to change their opinion.

        He’s not all good, and he ain’t all bad. But, he is almost always interesting.

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    • Bill says:

      SABR metrics are all about an attempt to predict the future. First by establishing an accurate view of past events and then using that data to predict future outcomes. Yeah, it’s inexact – that’s partly why new metrics are always being developed. How can you not believe that past performance, when properly understood, is a major indicator for future success? Yes, a team can change overnight by a few bad trades, but I think that is why the competency of the front office is weighted so highly. Minayia is far more likely to make a franchise crippling trade than MacPhail. We can predict to some degree whether or not a teams management strategy will result in long term success. We know that teams that sign washed up free agents and refuse to spend money on the draft will not ever experience lasting success. We can make predictions about a teams success through analyzing decisions made in the past.

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      • B N says:

        I wasn’t aware the Mets still had things of value to trade away? ;)

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        “SABR metrics are all about an attempt to predict the future.”

        Not true. Sabermetrics are mostly all about explaining the past. For those that are interested in looking toward the future, hopefully they can help them have a better idea of what the future may look like. Many others use them as a way to look back into the history of the game to see what it tells them.

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    • wobatus says:

      I don’t think it is ridiculous to try to project into the future 5 years. Most good organizations do. Of course, things can change. No on says these things are immutable. But for example, look at how the Rays have brought along pitchers. Some pretty quickly (well, price at lest), hellickson a little more slowly, but relatively fast compared to Davis, Niemann, McGee, who was hurt, but nonetheless, most of these guys go a year at a time up the ladder. Barnese and Moore. Colome behind them. They can trade guys, guys can bomb out, or get injured, but it seems they will always have a guy coming up behind them. That jkind of thing doesn’t happen if you don’t plan 5 years ahead, or think doing so is just a fool’s errand.

      In fact, look at Barnese and Moore: Rookie ball in ’07. Rookie ball or short season in ’08. A ball in ’09. Advanced A in 2010. They could be AA next year, AAA in 2012 and majors in 2013 (will likely get the call sooner as well as they have performed). That would be their 7th year of professional ball. If they don’t get hurt or just don’t advance. That requires planning for the future, not simply saying the hell with the future, i’ll be fired by then.

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    • djw says:

      I don’t believe any prediction for future

      In this case, your problem is not with the organizational rankings, it’s with this website. Or, more broadly, it’s with statistical analysis of probabilities based on past data.

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      • hank says:

        Of course the rankings were based very little on SABR data…. don’t confuse an article on a SABR site with an article based on SABR stats.

        These were opinion pieces… a few folks take on front offices, a look at how much money a team has available, a reliance on scouts’ takes on prospects and finally an evaluation of current talent (which might be the only place where SABR #’s would come into play).

        I think that is the the issue – people somehow think these were data driven rankings… they weren’t. These were simply a collection of opinions and as such subject to the same issues most opinions are subject to.

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  11. aweb says:

    I think the main problem is that Seattle sticks out like a sore thumb in the rankings. The top 10 teams feature 9 of the best 12-13 current teams in the majors (colorado at the bottom end). The only playoff contenders not in the top half are the White Sox and Giants (who both defy analysis from day-to-day and year-to-year), the Reds, marginally the Blue Jays, and the Padres. Since the rankings basically read like a pre-season guess at who the best teams were this coming year – I acknowledge that wasn’t the intent, but that is how they appear at a glance – that caught attention.

    Also, the team brought in Milton Bradley, Sweeney, and Griffey to start the year, which seemed so obviously misguided at the time, it was hard to think long-term. So what if a team has a few good prospects if they appear willing to play those guys? This would be the problem the Royals have run into (grasping at veterans to placate fans), and again, superficially, it appears the Mariners have done that this year.

    It’s a given that Seattle could turn it around next year, but what are the reasons who thinking it could happen? I guess we’ll find out in March, but I can only assume the ranking would fall as it stands now…

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    • JH says:

      How worried are you about the huge amounts of money the Ms have locked up over the next 3 years? Bradley, Ichiro, Figgins, and Felix alone will make roughly the salary of some small-market teams next year, and only Bradley comes off the books anytime soon.

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  12. Augustus says:

    Well, is it still reasonable to say that the Mariners have a good core of talent going forward?

    I’ve gotten the occasional viewer’s impression that King Felix has had a down year, but his FIP is exactly where it was last year, so I’m going to assume I just haven’t paid close enough attention and he’s exactly where he should be on the path to being a truly elite pitcher.

    That being said, everyone else mention in the original #6org post has been various degrees of disappointing.

    First, it’s worth looking at the older vets and seeing how they’ve performed. Milton Bradley has been all Hyde this season, so he’s been down. Erik Bedard hasn’t pitched at all, but it wasn’t a crippling salary commitment. Cliff Lee has been shipped off, but they may not have received the best package for him. Overally, a tad down.

    So now we have to examine the young talent already in the big leagues. Jose Lopez is simply unplayable. His SLG would be a bad OBP. Being a slightly above average fielding third baseman hardly makes up for that. Ryan Rowland-Smith has been even worse, somehow. I’d put these two in the “Journeyman” territory, where they may be varying degrees of useful through the years, but absolutely not core players for a team.

    Adam Moore appears to be headed to be a perhaps a step above them, from cursory glances at him throughout the past few seasons, but it’s hard to make a case that he’ll be a cornerstone, either, unless you consider people with Casey Blake ceilings to be cornerstones.

    Michael Saunders has simply not impressed me at all, and has done nothing in the majors, but I really only follow select prospects in-depth, and he wasn’t on my radar, so I’ll extend the benefit of the doubt here.

    Franklin Gutierrez, however, really needs to be examined. He’s a great fielder, but where does his UZR really stand? The +30 from 2009 is probably unachievable by anyone on a consistent basis, but is the +10 of this season a better indicator? His hitting has also fallen off the face of the Earth, and he’s not in the elite class of batters in terms of drawing walks, either.

    Again, Dustin Ackley is a prospect not on my radar, so I’ll defer to the masses on him.

    So how much hope is there in this young talent that had all this promise going into the season?

    Can we all chalk it up to collective bad luck, or in a bubble are these players worth thinking about the playoffs over?

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    • Alec says:

      Michael Saunders has been the best hitter on the Mariners since he got called up. He did nothing last year, but this year, he has proven that he can stick as an ML-caliber player. Plus defense + average bat = valuable player

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      • Will says:

        Being the best player on a terrible team doesn’t mean anything. He has a .307 wOBA, which is not ML-caliber, ESPECIALLY for a corner outfielder. (Also, isn’t Ichiro’s bat still better than Saunders’?). Admittedly, I haven’t followed Saunders very closely, but to me he looks like nothing more than a younger Ryan Langerhans, good defense, patient hitter, but just doesn’t have the bat to be a decent big-leaguer.

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      It’s not a bad core of talent. Nothing special, though, either. Moore looks like he’ll be a decent catcher — probably not the guy you’d really want starting if you’re hoping to be a contender, but a team always needs two catchers, and he should be able to fulfill one of the roles. Smoak looks like he’ll be a nice player — probably not an all-star, but at least average or above. He can give a team value both offensively and defensively. Same thing with Saunders. He’s got a lot of talent, and won’t have to hit a ton to be a valuable player for a team. Of course, if he really turns it on, he could be very good, a la Choo for the Indians. Figgins should be reliable (although you wouldn’t know it this year), and would probably provide more value if he’s moved back to third. Gutierrez by most any account is one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, and even though his hitting is down over last year, Fangraphs crediss him so far with 2.2 WAR. Of course, there’s Felix, and while he is subject to the possibility of injury just like any pitcher, he seems to be very durable to this point. Vargas to this point doesn’t look like anything special, but looks like he should be a reliable starter while being cheap for the next couple of years. They’re only prospects for now, having not even played in the big leagues, but Ackley and Pineda would have to be included in that group. Right now, it’s hard to know what range to put them in as far as expectations, but they are almost certain to have good big league careers.

      That’s not a bad crew to work with.

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  13. Jim Lahey says:

    Does Morrow’s emergence for the Jays make you think less of Jack Z?

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  14. DavidCEisen says:

    I think the issue at hand is our ability to predict, which we constantly over estimate. The very nature of the 5-year organizational rankings are completely worthless, there is way too much unpredictability from year to year to have any meaningful long-term predictions–other than the Yankees and Red Sox have the best odds of winning the World Series. This is possibly best reflected in the difference between the 2009 and 2010 organizational rankings. If there were to be any value in the rankings the lists must be significantly similar (if the list is measuring 5-year success, one should expect few changes on a year-to-year basis).

    The ranking of the Mariners is the best example of our over estimating our ability to predict. It wasn’t even predicting the progression of players (which is incredibly difficult and often wrong), but was predicting the ability of management to 1) properly value future players (even the best are often wrong), 2) develop these players correctly (again difficult), and 3) these players to reach their completely theoretical value (who is to say they don’t get injured–the Rays did 1 & 2 correctly with Baldelli) . There are so many degrees of uncertainty there that placing the Mariners so high was unwise.

    I think Jack Z is a very good GM–one of the best in the business–but the odds of them winning a World Series by 2015 is not that great.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      I posted this on the 2010 Recap post in April:

      For reference this is where team ranked last year compared to this year:
      2010 Team 2009
      #1 – New York Yankees 2
      #2 – Boston Red Sox 1
      #3 – Tampa Bay Rays 3
      #4 – Texas Rangers 12
      #5 – Minnesota Twins 18
      #6 – Seattle Mariners 15
      #7 – Colorado Rockies 23
      #8 – Atlanta Braves 8
      #9 – Philadelphia Phillies 14
      #10 – St. Louis Cardinals 21
      #11 – Anaheim Angels 10
      #12 – Milwaukee Brewers 6
      #13 – Cleveland Indians 4
      #14 – Los Angeles Dodgers 13
      #15 – New York Mets 15
      #16 – Arizona Diamondbacks 16
      #17 – Baltimore Orioles 16
      #18 – Chicago Cubs 18
      #19 – Oakland Athletics 11
      #20 – Cincinnati Reds 24
      #21 – Detroit Tigers 22
      #22 – Florida Marlins 29
      #23 – San Francisco Giants 19
      #24 – Chicago White Sox 17
      #25 – Pittsburgh Pirates 26
      #26 – Toronto Blue Jays 20
      #27 – San Diego Padres 25
      #28 – Washington Nationals 30
      #29 – Kansas City Royals 27
      #30 – Houston Astros 28


      I think it kind of shows how difficult (impossible?) it is to project the future success of baseball teams that–beyond the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays–there is so much movement near the top. In 2009 teams 4-7 were: Cleveland, NY (NL), Milwaukee, and Chicago (NL). All of these teams fell out of the top ten, with the Cubs falling all the way to 18. This year teams 4-7 consisted of: Texas, Minnesota, Seattle, and Colorado. Last year these teams were ranked: 12, 18, 15, and 23, respectively. There was a great deal of movement outside of the top 10 as well, with the average amount of movement for each team being ~5 spots. With only 30 teams, thats quite significant.

      It seems that if the purpose of these rankings is to project long-term success that the measure of this lists worth would be dependent on year-to-year stability. I appreciate the effort that goes into these lists, but at this point I just don’t think that they are worth much beyond being an interesting off season read.

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      • Lucas says:

        “don’t think that they are worth much beyond being an interesting off season read.”

        I can’t imagine a greater purpose.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Well that’s fine, but admit that it is the case.

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      • Wally says:

        So I just did the regression, and its kinda midling. A perfect correlation would a slope of 1 and an R^2 of 1, and would mean 2009 ranking would perfectly predict 2010′s ranking. Though in a perfect world they wouldn’t be exactly the same, because after all 2009′s ranking cares about what happens in 2009 and 2010′s doesn’t. However, they should be fairly similar. If, for example, each succesive year has a weighting factor of something like 34-23-17+12+8+4 (so if this where 2009′s predictions, 2009 is worth 34, 2010 23 and so on), we’d only expect the correlation to be something like 60%. Or the further out we try to project and the more important we make those distent years, the better the correlation should be.

        Now, the actually regression gave us a slope of ~.7 and an R^2 of .48. Looking at the data, the slope is not bad largely because the top and bottom few teams didn’t change, but R^2 is hurt by the middle 20 teams or so shuffling around greatly. Some of the biggest outliers being the Rockies going from 23 to 7, or the Twins going 18 to 5. The mariners going 15 to 6 wasn’t even that big of an outlier.

        So, I’m still unsertain how much use this is, but I wanted to try and judge 2009′s ranking now that we have roughly a year and 2/3 data. If we assume the first few years are going to be worth more based on the relative easy of predicting results in the newer term, these two seasons should be worth at least a majority of our 2009 ranking value. So just simply, I added regular season wins, plus 4 points for winning the division, 2 points for the WC, 2 points for making the CS, 2 more for making the WS and 4 for more for winning the WS. So this gave the Yankees of 2009 117 points, which is almost double that of worst teams who got ~60 wins. A far range I assume. So then for 2010 what I did is used coolstandings expected win total and divided up all playoff points according to their likelyhood of making the playoffs. This was to basically get 2010 on even scale with 2009, which is something that could be done differently, but I assumed there is enough data from 2010 to make most of the predictions fairly reasonable.

        I then simply added points from 2010 to 2009 and did some adjustments to get it on a 1-30 scale (minus them all by the min in points, divided so that the best team has 30, which was a factor of almost 6). So if the ranking were perfect (as well as my assumptions for 2010 and playoff value), and only cared about these years, the regression would have a slope of -1 (number 1 ranked team had 30 points, 30th ranked team had 0 points, I know, I know should be 1 but close enough).

        So what we found is that a slope of -.25 and the R^2 was a misserable .088.

        Now as a neat little test of what’s going into our 2010 rankings, I regressed this same point total only against the 2010 rankings, and now our rankings do much better with a slope of -.47 and an R^2 of .33. So its quite obvious that 1 years results are heavily influencing our rankings, despite the idea that these rankings are for somewhat of a medium term projection of 4-6 year or something.

        It would next be interesting to see which teams our rankings tend to over value or undervalue relative to others. Interestingly the teams furthest below the regression line are the M’s, O’s, D-backs, Indians. Those are teams with generally one thing in common, presumed young talent (Indians had a lot of injuries and trades depleat their team). So, I suppose the idea is that those teams would get better as time goes on and come back in line with the curve. And the undervalued are the Cards and Phillies. Which possibly brings up an AL bias.

        Anyway a lot of food for thought, and this has been a great way to waste a morning!

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    • Wally says:

      To take this a step further, I think its far easier to project teams that already have a lot of MLB ready talent. Yes the ‘process’ is nice, and so are some great prospects, but its far more difficult to project young players, now matter how good we think they are, and the collective positive outcome of future trades and deals done by a GM, than it is to project, say Rollins, Utley, Howard, Halladay, etc. So with the Mariners Dave relied on the factors that are hardest to predict to push the Mariners near the top of rankings.

      Overall I think a lot of the objections to the M’s high ranking are simply an offshoot of totally different mindsets on what these rankings should be based on, and of course the perpetuation of not clearly defining the criteria for the rankings in the first place. So, I’m not sure Dave is going to be able to answer most of the criticisms that will be posted here, nor do expect him to back track on anything either. But I hope I am surprised.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        I agree, which is why I believe the rankings are essentially worthless. 2 or 3 year rankings might be worth considering.

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      • pow12 says:

        i agree–rather than precise rankings, the writers would do better to put teams in 3-year-plan tranches based on the potential for season/postseaon success. i think that better satisfies what they’re aiming to accomplish with the rankings anyway–assessing the complex mix of current talent, GM plan, money, future talent.

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    • philosofool says:

      This is something that I would like to see talked about a little more openly: why should anyone give organizational rankings at all, given that there’s incredible unpredictability in the phenomena we’re trying to predict? If baseball were completely random, the probability of winning a series in any year is .0333…. Suppose a team should be ranked #6 this year–does that mean they’re about a .0666 (twice as likely as pure chance) to win it all? After this season and next, aren’t we really at the point where we should regress every organization back to the .0333 mean?

      This, by the way, seems to fit with the worry that the purpose of the rankings is unclear–what’s the measure of success? But, it seems to me, once we nail down the measure of success, we realize that it’s almost hopeless to predict anything interesting three years from now. Doesn’t that show that organization rankings are really more about speculation than knowledge?

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  15. Yeehaw says:

    I’m guessing that you assumed Jose Lopez would be an asset for the foreseeable future, as opposed to one of the least valuable offensive players in the game.

    I’m guessing that you also assumed that Ryan-Rowland Smith wouldn’t be an even bigger disaster than Lopez has been this year.

    Do you still think these guys have any possible future value to the team going forward (including trade value)? Seems to me like Lopez has no value at all and they might be better off cutting him. I don’t know much about Smith.

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    • Alec says:

      Lopez should be cut, and Dave wrote a USSM post called DFA Jose Lopez, so his view is pretty clear. RRS has been a disaster, but before he moved to the rotation he was a serviceable reliever, is still cost controlled, and at least has the ability to work multiple innings. No reason to cut him now, better off keep him around and give him a shot to stick in the bullpen. It also doesn’t hurt that he is a local favorite and one of the most accessible professional athletes in Seattle.

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      I’m not sure what purpose cutting him would do. They don’t currently have anyone that would be obviously better than him, and quite likely no one even as good. He has a team option at just under $5 MM for next year, so if the team does not want him around next year, they could just decline the option and non-tender him during the offseason.

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  16. Russell says:

    Can I get a link to this years org rankings please? Search function only brings up last years.

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      • Russell says:

        Thank you sir. Mariners ahead of the Braves and Phillies?? That tells you all you need to know about whether this was a home decision or now. Phillies have been to two straight WS and still have huge ceiling prospects all the way down the line. The Braves have the best Pitching inthe minors plus everyday Stars like McCann, Heyward and Prado. Mariners are worlds behind both of those teams.

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      • Jason B says:

        “The Braves have the best Pitching int he minors plus everyday Stars like McCann, Heyward and Prado.”

        Bear in mind these rankings were done in March or April. Martin Prado was by no means an “everyday star” at that time. (Nor was Heyward, for that matter.)

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  17. Lucas says:

    Have the Mariners miscalculated (and Fangraphs in the org rankings) by relying too much on UZR and other defensive metrics that end up being neither as predictive or descriptive as they were presumed to be? Are UZR’s home/away splits a concern?

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  18. Ben says:

    I would like to see a ranking of the FO’s, then a ranking of the subsidiary parts (scouting, budgets, media power, etc..) ,then a ranking of the current rosters and then a ranking of the future value within a teams system. From their identify the value of each of the main category in regards to the whole.

    Trying to rank these various factors together in a lump sum category requires not only a ranking of the various parts but also a valuation of each other in regards to the whole. That seems to be the biggest problems with this entire project. Without a transparent methodology in regards to your valuation criteria the entire project loses its ability to be trusted as an impartial or unbiased representation.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pacbellpilgrim says:

      I like this idea.

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    • B N says:

      While in principle this is a good idea, it would actually be really hard to pull off properly as the value of players changes with respect to your team’s context and the market. Two examples:

      1. Roy Halladay on the Blue Jays vs Roy Halladay on the Phillies. On the Phillies, Halladay is a valuable asset for winning. You should hold onto him tightly. On the Jays, you should be trying to move him for max value, whatever that is. Because you’re in no position to win, you need to dump him. So for the Phillies, moving Halladay for an equivalent sum of prospects would be a HORRIBLE move. For the Jays, it was the ONLY move.

      2. You have a league average shortstop. What is his value? Well, that depends on the variation in quality of shortstops. If everyone had equally good shortstops, he’s only worth something if you’re in a position to compete. Otherwise, he’s almost worthless. If there’s a wide range in shortstop quality, even an average shortstop could be worth a lot to a contending team with a bad shortstop.

      So basically, your player’s trade value varies with the variance in positions across baseball. This makes evaluating trading a bit trickier than we’d like to think maybe. Worse, your player’s value even within the organization depends on getting a critical mass of such players all in the same year(s). If I took the Astros and gave them Babe Ruth one year, next year traded him for Sandy Koufax, and next year traded him for a young Griffey… I’d still have an uncompetitive team. Half of the value of players is gathering a critical mass of them. In addition to helping you compete, you’re going to have some stat synergy between hitting and hitting, as well as between defense and pitching. In theory, this will make players look slightly better than they are- pumping up their value, and allowing you to accumulate more value.

      So that makes it pretty hard to make a transparent methodology. It’s tricky and a bit counter intuitive to state that: “Trading Roy Halladay for these prospects is a great move when this team does it, a terrible move when another team does it.” Plus the Yankees completely mess up any standardized methodology. WAR is effectively meaningless to them. They use something like WAPWAG – Wins Above Players We Already Got. When somebody goes down, they don’t tend to go reaching for their farm- they go reaching for their phone to call a team like the Pirates. There are lots of moves that are only good moves if you have almost no spending limits.

      So that’s my say on it. Sure, it’s a nice thing to look into- but the “transparent” form of the methodology would end up being so complicated in its specification you might wish you were just dealing with the usual fuzzy-math guestimation.

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  19. scottdsimon says:

    In your USSM response to Posnanski, you noted how the Ms offered Branyan more than he eventually got with Cleveland but he turned it down.

    I know it was hard to see Figgins/Bradley/Lopez/Kotchman all imploding, but given the risks on offense, should the Ms have come back with a higher offer to Branyan, or otherwise tried to find a more steady bat for 1B instead of going with the risky Kotchman (or Branyan)?

    **

    Also, I think this #6org series is a good place to respond publicly to this:
    http://firejerrymanuel.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/my-take-on-cameron-vs-posnanski/

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    • Gio says:

      After the Silva-Bradley trade, Dave wrote about the risks of adding Branyan to the list of injury prone players of Bradley, Wilson and Junior.

      http://www.ussmariner.com/2009/12/18/bradley-and-branyan/

      “I think this acquisition lowers the value that Branyan can offer the Mariners in relation to someone who is a bit more reliable from a health standpoint.”

      I wouldn’t have expected the Mariners to bid against themselves anyway.

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  20. The Original Tommy says:

    On its own, your original justification of the number 6 rating is not bad. Like many people, I disagree with the extremely high placement of the Mariners relative to other comparable teams. I think it remains true that if Milton Bradley and Erik Bedard had contributed as well as they were capable of doing, and if Jose Lopez, Ian Snell, Chone Figgins, Ryan Rowland-Smith, etc. had done as well as expected, the Mariners would likely be in playoff contention, or at the very least not the absolutely terrible team that they are now. Still, I don’t quite see what distinguishes the Mariners from the Padres, the Blue Jays, the Pirates, the Reds, the Diamondbacks (at the time of the rankings), or any number of organizations with some intriguing players and a smart front office. I also don’t think you can assess a front office until it’s been in control for at least a few years. J.P. Ricciardi seemed like he would be pretty successful at first too, right?

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    • GhettoBear04 says:

      This was another of my complaints. With Epstein and the Red Sox, we’ve seen proof of intelligent statistical decisions for more than a year or two now. We simply don’t have that sort of sample size with JackZ, which means you are projecting. Projecting on that small of a sample size should account for more variance.

      I was disappointed with the responses I read from Cameron and others on this issue. From what I remember, it amounted to “Just trust us”

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  21. Nitram Odarp says:

    I’m glad you’re finally doing this Dave. It should make for a very interesting discussion for those of us who would really like to understand what went wrong on this decision. I’ll be back a little later with my question(s).

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  22. jay destro says:

    wait he picked Smoak over Montero?

    BAHAHAHAAAHAHHA

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  23. Steve says:

    haha ya NOBODY could have seen this group of weaklings score like 3 runs a game

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  24. peot says:

    hey cameron shut up FAG

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  25. Holy ego dude. Nobody cares.

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    • TomG says:

      Considering the number of mouth-breathers trolling almost every Cameron post on this site for the past four months, I’d say quite a few people care.

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  26. Grant says:

    Dave,

    It was pretty clear to me that the Blue Jays had a better team (division aside) and a better farm system before the season started, you can check the comments. Even if you thought the Mariners were better, it would certainly be by a slim margin and that’s fine. It leads me to believe, since the teams were 20+ spots apart, that simply being in the right or wrong division can lead to a 10 spot swing. Where would the Mariners have been ranked in the AL East? I have to think in the 20′s, using your reasoning for the Jays and to a lesser extent, the O’s.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jon S. says:

      If the Mariners were an AL East team, I expect they would have been ranked lower. The measure of an organization’s success is in titles, pennants and rings. The Ms were a few lucky breaks from contending in the AL West short term (and having a shot at all those measures of success) and are still set up for future contention. In the AL East, you have to do everything perfect (see Rays, Tampa Bay) to even sniff the playoffs. It makes sense that teams outside of the AL East have a heavy handicap in these rankings.

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      • Tom says:

        But since the Mariners are in the AL, doesn’t that make their #6 ranking way too high? Personally I believe the Padres are in a much better situation going forward than Tampa Bay simply because their division and league is so much easier. I certainly think the Padres are going to win more division titles than the Rays over the next 5 years.

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    • B N says:

      Depending on your divisions, I could see swings considerably bigger than 10 spots. Assume you replace the O’s and the Jays with the Twins and the St. Louis. How far have the Twins and St. Louis now fallen in their likelihood to reach playoffs? Very, very, very far. At the start of the season, I think you would have had to say that St. Louis might have had a 50-60% chance of winning their division and making playoffs. In that revised AL East scenario? 10% of playoffs? Is that too generous? 5%? That would mean a team that would potentially be around the top 8 could drop down into the bottom 8. That would be a swing of 15 or so.

      After the first two teams, stacking the top teams in the league in one division hurts all of them. While two great teams in a division lock up two playoff berths with about 100% chance, adding a third team means that you have about a 67% chance you’re in the playoffs (assuming equal quality). After that, you have a 50% chance (top 4 teams). Finally, you’re down to 40%. And that’s assuming those teams are all equally good. If you’re an okay team stuck in the same division as 3 powerhouses? Well, better start trying to stock up on prospects.

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  27. Ben V says:

    The biggest problem I, and I suspect many others, had with the ranking was that it seemed largely based on Jack Z and the Mariners’ front office being better than everyone else. The current talent coming into this year was that of a team that probably was around .500. If everything broke right, they might win 90. If everything went wrong, the though was 75. As it turns out it was worse than that but I won’t rip on that, since I didn’t think they’d be this bad either.

    Still that doesn’t spell #6 organization. When it came to future talent, the Mariners system was considered pretty bare. Sure they had Felix, Ichiro and Figgins, but a lot of teams ranked below them have far better corps and arguably better farm systems. So the present and future talent weren’t worthy of a #6 ranking.

    Then it came to management, where Jack Z and co. got high marks. Ownership had money. The FO had a perfect blend of scouting and stats, etc. So they would be good and thus deserved the #6 ranking.

    That rang hollow for me. Even if the FO was the best in the league, they had a lot of talent deficiencies to overcome. Assuming that they could pull off heists like the Gutierrez trade was foolhardy. Otherwise, they were going to have to fill the holes through free agency, which is not the optimum way to build a team.

    This says nothing as to whether a front office could be judged off one year. A lot of GMs had success early on. Fangraphs once ranked the Mets as a top organization after Minaya’s early success. Now he’s a punchline. The warts of a front office don’t always show up right away. I’m not saying that the M’s don’t still have a solid decision making group, but I’d hardly rank it as the best in the league.

    So what do you have then? In theory, a decent current crop of players, one or two good prospects and a pretty good-great front office. That’s just not the #6 organization. That they could be one day doesn’t mean they are now. The fact that they did things the way we all like by embracing statistics and had immediate success doesn’t change that.

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  28. Llewdor says:

    Seattle’s ranking didn’t bother me at all, but Toronto’s did.

    Toronto, once again, has one of the better teams in baseball (top 5 maybe). They’re just running in fourth because of their division, but that doesn’t change how good their team is.

    Turns out a whole team of guys who hit like Joe Carter (low average, no walks, lots of power) scores a ton of runs.

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    • todmod says:

      While Toronto has been a nice surprise, I don’t quite understand the praising of their team to this level. A top 5 team in baseball? By what measure? They’ve actually played better in the AL East than outside (7 games above .500 in the division, .500 outside) – so claims that division is killing them record-wise doesn’t hold much water.

      Their run differential isn’t anything great. Want to argue they’re around the 10th best team? Fine. But let’s not go nuts.

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      • OT says:

        The division isn’t killing them record-wise so far this year because they are 12-0 vs Baltimore so far.

        Games against that punching bag should taken with a grain of salt

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      • Anders says:

        The Jays have the 6th best record in baseball according to BPro’s 3rd order wins… They also have substantially more young talent than the Mariners, and their new GM has a strong track record in his 8 months on the job. Their owners are a multi-billion dollar corporation who have been willing to spend in the past. I expect them to be ranked no lower than 6th next year based on the criteria used for the Mariners.

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  29. Jilly says:

    Here were my problems with it:

    -The guys that were pointed to in the future talent section, with the obvious exception of King Felix, paled in comparison to other teams. This was a franchise with one blue chip prospect and one blue chip young major leaguer, and they got ranked ahead of teams like the Rockies(Gonzalez, Tulo, Stewart, Jimenez, etc.), and the Braves(McCann, Heyward, Escobar, Hanson, etc.). And it’s not like those two teams had lesser current teams either.

    - I never heard, even from commentors, is you kind of had to do gymnastics to get them ahead of some of the franchises ahead of them. The Rockies you could make an argument for since they’re a pretty poor franchise financially. The Phillies you could make an argument for since Amaro’s iffy and they’re getting a little older. The Braves? Better future talent, better present talent. Good GM. Lower payroll but still above average. I actually never even heard a decent argument why the M’s were above the Braves.

    - Was Jack Z really that awesome? And if he was, would he continue to be? He possibly caused the shift back towards defense(although you could make an argument Beane and Friedman really started that trend). But what now? He had exploited that market inefficiency, you really expect him to find the next one too? And soon enough to give him a significant advantage in the next 3-5 years no less? It seemed like since Z had had such a great offseason the year prior that he was likely to keep it going, which quite frankly isn’t a safe bet. Basically, it’d be like if you end up ranking the Jays about 5-6 spots too high this year since Anthopoulos has had such a good year. Giving a GM so much credit with so little track record is very questionable, and the fact that you did it for the GM of your team is why you came off as a homer to so many people.

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  30. Ivdown says:

    You and the rest of the people who did that series ranked Seattle the number 6 best organization in baseball, and one of my biggest problems with that was the lack of a great farm system. I know there are a few players who are doing pretty well in that system, but in what reality did that farm system help your decision to make the Mariners the number 6 organization in baseball? Serious question.

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  31. Nick says:

    I was more offended that you thought (and seemingly still think) that Jose Lopez, Jason Vargas, and whatever other garbage you wanted the Mariners to unload were worth John Danks because YOU JUST ADD UP THE WARS!!!! IT’S A WIN FOR BOTH TEAMS!!!!

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  32. Harald says:

    Honestly you could argue with some of the other top 10, but Seattle stuck out like a sore thumb. It seemed clear to me and many others that optimism about Seattle’s recent moves had colored the rankings, with not enough long-term perspective. I think Seattle is on the bubble when it comes to being a top 10 org.

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  33. LetsGoMutz says:

    Dave you said: “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. ”
    How much of the ranking #6 was based on this year’s chance at the WS?

    Having 1 high risk player seems like an ok approach, but adding together this many high variance players all on one team and banking on it does not seem like a feasable risk managment strategy. It reminded me at the time of the smart wall street folks that cobbled together multiple sub prime (i.e. high risk) mortgages and got them rated AAA and sold them to investors as having little risk. The wall street guys cliamed the risks were so spread out, they weren’t really that risky. We know how that turned out and we know how the Ms turned out.

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    • Tom says:

      That’s a direct quote? Yikes.

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    • Brian says:

      LetsGoMutz,

      That is a poor analogy. The risk of each individual high variance player is almost completely unrelated to the other high variance players, which is quite unlike the sub-prime crisis.

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      • Huh says:

        That’s exactly what the wall street guys said about subprime and Alt-A mortgages too…they are almost completly unrelated. House markets are local, if one area is hit hard, it won’t be nationwide. Blah blah blah. I see a complex process in the roster construction of the Ms that has led to a failure. A guy with a mortgage in FL going default is completely unrelated to a guy in souther cali also going into default. Figgins, Kotchman, Bradley, Lopez, anybody playing SS, starting pitchers with hyphens in their names, all having their worst years, but are all unrelated?

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  34. Steve says:

    I didn’t have a problem with Dave’s article so much as the army of fanboys flooding the thread to tell everyone who dissented how stupid they were. Dave made his case and stated his reasons. It was perhaps, say, a little overexuberant, but he wasn’t a jerk about it. The fanboys, however, were insufferable.

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  35. JK says:

    My one gribe about the rankings was the immediating ‘bashing’ that anyone that questioned the rankings receieved from the fangraphs faithful. If anything, this process has exposed the notion that no one is infallible, even someone like sometimes posterboy for the Ms and Cameron’s butler Jeff Nye.

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  36. Klatz says:

    In your rankings you stated that the 2010 Ms were a high variance, ie boom or bust, team, which obviously went pretty much bust. I don’t think people should criticize you for something that you explicitly stated could happen.

    I think where the real meat of the criticism lies is in the talent level of the organization, the value of a defense first approach, and the acuity and acumen of the front office.

    To me the front office make some great moves and some facepalm ones. I’m not sure Jack Z and company deserve the amount of admiration that have gotten. One the good side the Cliff Lee trades, the acquisition of Aardsma, Branyan (in 2009 at least), and Gutierrez were legitimately good to great transactions. People can differ about whether Smoak is better than Montero but you can’t argue that giving up Gillies, Aumont, and Ramirez was too much to pay for Smoak alone and not to mention getting Beavan et al. At least you can’t argue it for the foreseeable future.

    But then the office made some real WTF moves. Morrow for League, picking up Sweeney AND Griffey. Depending too much on several players improving at once despite recent bad track records: Kotchman and Bradley. While Z may be a great trader and a good talent evaluator perhaps the admiration for the front office needs to be tempered with the realization that Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are part of the FO. They perhaps were part of the reason Griffey was picked up again and that team chemistry appears overvalued.

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  37. hunterfan says:

    Lots of people make lots of predictions. Very often they are wrong. However, it is not often that the author of such predictions attracts almost a cult following with people gleefully pointing out that wrongness.

    That, in itself, is an indication that something is awry.

    In my experience, it indicates that one is usually too smug, doesn’t suffer other points of view gladly, and is excessively dismissive of others who you do not perceive to be of the same intellectual capacity.

    Dave, if you are really using the whole #6org thing as a learning experience, you’ll use it to temper your attitudes…merely talking about the baseball rankings is rather missing the larger point.

    Good luck.

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    • Will says:

      I disagree. I think the gleeful pile on was driven by a perception that DC was biased/homerific, with a healthy portion being part of the built-in backlash that we see attending _any_ saber prediction that is just slightly different/un-predictable.

      What you are saying or implying about Dave’s tone and presumed arrogance is the same old straw man we ALWAYS see about any kind of statistical or web analysis. Somehow, those guys are always seen as arrogant or brash or talking out of school. I don’t think it holds up. Rather, there’s still the residual notion that Dave, and guys like him, shouldn’t say anything because they aren’t insiders.

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      • Jason says:

        I have to disagree with THIS comment. As a longtime reader (and fan!) of USSM, I have personally noticed the attitudes that hunterfan mentions coming from Dave on multiple occasions. It doesn’t make his opinions or analysis any less valid or “good”, but it does tend to come off condescending and as though Dave has a bit of a thin skin.

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    • philosofool says:

      “Lots of people make lots of predictions. Very often they are wrong. However, it is not often that the author of such predictions attracts almost a cult following with people gleefully pointing out that wrongness.”

      I’m willing to say that this is just false. Almost every successful blogger, whether she or he makes predictions or not, attracts hate mail, disrespectful comments, and so on. Most bloggers, of course, control comments more than fangraphs, so it shows up less. Snark is a good way to piss people off, but acting like Tree Climber is a symptom of mental illness, not a normal response to being snarky.

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  38. Phillies Red says:

    I have to say that I think it’s awesome that you’re engaging in discussion about this topic. Not because of accountability, or because of the stupid #6 org tags, but because it’s this kind of back and forth, engagement, and dialogue that make sabermetrics, and this newish baseball analysis+media enjoyable. Simply as a consumer, I almost always enjoy your work, and being responsive to your readers will only make this site and your work even better.

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  39. Tree Climber says:

    #6org indeed.

    The Mariners are the 3rd worst franchise in baseball history. They are one of only three teams to never play in a World Series.

    Cameron’s an extreme homer, just like about every other Mariner fan I know. Yuni was going to be an all time great, Lopie was destined to hit 30 dingers every year, which is coincidentally the same number of HR’s Ichiro would hit if he wanted to. RRS was an ace in the making. Jason Vargas is a good looking guy.

    Sounds like Dave is still drinking the Rick Rizz kool-aid.

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    • ThundaPC says:

      “The Mariners are the 3rd worst franchise in baseball history. They are one of only three teams to never play in a World Series.”

      Does that mean that the Texas Rangers are either the worst or 2nd worst franchise in baseball history?

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      • Tree Climber says:

        The Rangers and Padres are the only teams with worse all time records than the Mariners.

        The Mariners winning seasons all came as a result of having Griffey/Johnson/ARod/Edgar and trading 2 of them. All the talent acquired in the Griffey and Johnson deals are long gone as are the core of players who helped build Safeco.

        Smart FO,with the exception of Bob Engle, that’s a outright lie. When it comes to baseball Lincoln and Armstrong are dumb and dumber rather than top baseball men. They didn’t even know they traded for a sex offender in the Cliff Lee deal when all anyone had to do is google “Josh Lueke”. However, they do a great job of keeping the Mariners in the black year after year. It’s a shame Cameron didn’t point out the FO’s #1 priority is and always has been profits.

        Jack Z a genius, think again. He traded for Smoak over Montero under the reasoning that Smoak is MLB ready. What a joke! Smoak’s now in hitting friendly PCL where he continues to NOT hit, while the 20 year old Montero has been tearing up the IL for the past 2+ months.

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      • Jim says:

        This is in response to Tree Climber, who said:

        “He traded for Smoak over Montero under the reasoning that Smoak is MLB ready. What a joke!”

        Just as much of a joke as your reasoning, apparently.

        Montero’s a right-handed hitter who will also likely have to be moved off catcher to 1B(or DH), and in a field like Safeco, he loses a lot of his appeal as a hitter(and he would be a worse defender at 1B and have no defensive value if he was the DH).

        Whereas Smoak is a switch hitter, who–while struggling against lefties–can at least take advantage of Safeco as a left handed hitter for the games he plays there, and he is also a capable defensive 1B.

        But don’t let that logic come anywhere near your argument, or it might fall apart. ;)

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  40. Adam R. says:

    Has Jack Z. been overrated since coming from the Brewers because, as director of scouting, very little pitching talent was added to the Brewers organization?

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    • Brian says:

      This was a good question. I second it.

      Wouldn’t Kotchman have been an extreme hurdle to overcome, and did you expect that they would have gone shopping to replace him at the deadline if they were in contention?

      Finally, didn’t you overvalue what Jack Z could reasonably be expected to do with one season and with the relative lack of valuable commodoties left on the roster and in the #6org? Virtually all MLB FOs use significant statistical data in order to make player personnel decision; his moves were around the fringes of the MLB roster.

      Z’s scouting background may portend a bright distant future, but your projections of a potential WS championship appear wildly optimistic, both at the time and now with the benefit of hindsight. What he brought was certainty that the club would cash in on its guaranteed assets: draft picks. He wasn’t going to trade for Pujols or create gold from straw. When you have the 24th ranked organizational talent (according to BA), that’s what you’ve got.

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    • philosofool says:

      Gallardo?

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  41. Klatz says:

    Perhaps the whole #6org meme would never had happened if the rankings had standard errors on them. Say +/- 10 for the Ms since they went with a high variance lineup construction while the other teams in the 1-10 range were +/- 2 to 4.

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    • payday0023 says:

      That is a good way to put it. The Mariners will be the 6th best organization in baseball +/- 10…. meaning they can either be the 16th worst org. in baseball or they can be hypothetically better than six other perfectly infallible teams and sit at a -5 org. ranking. The team will exist in a world only where the 10th dimension is reality and everyone rides ponies made of gold and happiness. The odds of that world existing pretty much were our chances of making it to the WS this year. Depressing.

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  42. Sam says:

    Dave,

    Rather than specifically address Seattle’s ranking, it might be a good idea to reveal more clearly (or to do more thinking) on what is it exactly that is being measured here.

    What is the objective function? Maximize profitability? Winning titles? Winning the maximum number of games in a given period of time considering resources? How big is the horizon?

    Once you have a clearly defined goal, what are the inputs that best correlate with that particular goal? The current major league roster, and projected major league roster over that period of time? Financial flexibility and payroll size? A decision making body that ensures strong revenue flow and manageable payment for talent?

    Additionally, how do you deal with uncertainty? Is a high risk organization hailed as having high upside, but not counted as having significant downside as well? For an individual prospect, I like the upside view: after all, prospects are not paid much and are generally cheaply replaced, so there is little downside risk to them not working out. But organizations are different, downside risk is somewhat more serious there. Is your ranking somewhat more biased towards high variance organizations?

    This is a very ambitious goal, and you should be lauded for taking on this hopelessly challenging exercise. I hope that when you address the Mariners ranking, you do that as a side issue to addressing these broader questions.

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  43. Ryan Rowland-Smith is 27 says:

    I don’t know why people get so tore up over these moon rankings.

    Anyway, I like the org ranking series because it’s a nice preseason overview of all the teams.

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  44. Dick Whitman says:

    My personal opinion is that this thread and subsequent threads stemming from this one are stupid.

    Dave, you had (have) an opinion. People disagree. Heck, people might agree. Some people that frequent fangraphs might have had Seattle higher, you never know.

    Rather than feeding this “debate”, the constant offenders should just be banned. They add little to nothing to the discussion and therefore shouldn’t be considered a part of the community. That’s my opinion and it really isn’t inline with D.L. Appelman’s more laissez faire approach, but this type of stuff will happen forever (trolls disagreeing with a FG contributor in a DISRESPECTFUL manner that is harmful to the website community) and it really shouldn’t be tolerated.

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    • Tree Climber says:

      Get off the high horse, dude. Cameron made an outlandish projection of “his” team merely because he’s swilling the Rick Rizzs kool-aid. Not a single shred of proof or statistical evidence did he bring to the table to support his absurd claim.

      Dave Cameron is the one who lessened the credibility of FG, not those of us who disrespectfully disagree with him.

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      • Dick Whitman says:

        So quick to criticize with name calling and “kool aid” and “homer” comments.

        Submit your own org rankings to community research or to the forum. Let’s see how critical you are then.

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      • Everett says:

        Obviously you don’t know anything at all about Dave if you think he drinks the “Rick Rizzs kool-aid.” You missed the many, many posts he’s made criticizing front office moves over the years. While Dave is often overly smug and not great at customer relations, one thing he is not is someone who is blindly a Mariners homer and loves everything they do. That being said, it seems that he overvalued the small sample size as it relates to being able to judge the Mariners front office, and probably overrated the Mariners by 5-10 spots, not factoring in the high variance portion of his prediction which would allow for seasons like this one that were total bust.

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  45. Sean says:

    I have a few questions.
    -Do you think that you overestimated the impact the Mariners’ front office would have on the future performance?
    - I know you mentioned in the article that you believe that you can measure the ability of a front office to put together a winning team, but do you think that you knew enough about their ability, that they had made enough decisions to get a good feel about their future decisions? Is one year a big enough sample in that regard?

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  46. Chair says:

    Dave, we wanted a response at the time of the ranking. Now most of the reasonable #6 org crowd has moved on, or should have. Why not read through the original comments? Everything that can be said has been exhausted.

    However if you would address one of my comments from the original thread, I would be much obliged.

    “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.”

    The sort of success you are predicting needs to be more strongly defined.

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    • Chair says:

      I was especially perplexed because teams playing in “weak divisions” like the AL West were awarded, but teams in the AL east were not penalized.

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      • Omar says:

        Teams in the AL East were penalized. Re-read the Os and Blue Jays ranking articles. If

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      • Chair says:

        Reread my comment. My specific point was that it doesn’t make sense that the Yanks, Redsox, and Rays were not penalized for competing against one another. I don’t see any statistical backing for three division foes having the greatest amount of success over a 5 year period.

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  47. Chair says:

    A comment from the Rangers #4 ranking I would like to put out there. The first part is quoting you.

    “Name a position, and the Rangers almost certainly have a good player either in his prime or headed towards it. You would start your team with their double play combination before any other organization’s in the game. They have a a couple of all-star slugging outfielders that can drive in runs in bunches. They have a deep stable of starting pitchers, as they can easily pick between eight or nine guys, depending on who is healthy and throwing well. They have a kid throwing 100 in the bullpen.

    Oh, and they have perhaps the best farm system in the game, led by a few more premium talents, one of whom could take the team’s first base job later this summer. The talent that the Rangers have to build around is ridiculous in both depth and ability. And they may be ready for prime time as early as this year.”

    None of these things can be said about the Ms, but apparently a good FO is enough to equalize things.

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    • Chair says:

      And of course that good FO, though still good, has to take some sort of hit for sticking with Griffey for so long.

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  48. mettle says:

    I guess the big question is whether you think this was really a case of “hoocoodanode” or is there a lesson to be learned here? Was this completely just a lot of bad luck or do you think that, perhaps, there are things missing from the metrics and evaluations that led to this bad projection that can be fixed?
    It’s obviously hard to figure out how to learn from errors when there is so much noise (statistical and obnoxious) but I might offer a few meta points, assuming there are things to be learned, which is probably the more modest and therefore wise stance.

    1) homerism – people may be homers not just due to irrationality, but because of their closeness to their home team. you probably know more about the Ms than any other team (except the rays) and more detailed familiarity may lead to overestimation. i have vague recollections of an analogous psych finding regarding politics; this isn’t a knock again you, but just a function of our human subconscious.

    2) transparency – i think “showing your work” would have made people happier and perhaps might have resulted in a better ranking. if you were forced to explicitly show how each category was weighted, calculated and aggregated, then you might have thought a few more times about whether certain extremes were warranted (i.e. Ms front office being that much ahead of others).

    3) quantification – this ranking seems largely impressionistic and could have benefitted from an attempt to quantify, even in rough terms, the relative ranking of current talent, future talent, FO and budget. would the Ms have ranked as high if current talent were weighted the same for them as for other teams, or perhaps by not having to quantify, you subconsciously dismissed current talent for the Ms but weighted it too highly for others (Mets) ?

    I think these generally point to overestimating our own rationality, a general failing for all of us and probably exacerbated in those of us that do work involving #s.

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  49. Joey says:

    Where would you rank the Mariners right now? Perhaps not a specific rating, but would it be upper third? Bottom third? That sort of thing. Basically: how significantly would the Mariners fall in a new ranking?

    Also, what impact did Don Wakamatsu have on the ranking, and what impact does it have now that he’s gone?

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  50. Chris88 says:

    How does it feel to know you have ‘fanboys’?

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  51. Thurston24 says:

    Will all Montero is way better than Smoak people please be patient. We have no way of knowing which package is/was better until you fast forward a few years. Montero may be better long term, but maybe not. We are dealing with two young hitters with small sample sizes. Wait three years and then decide. Also, remember that Safeco is better for lefties than righties and figure that into your analysis.

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    • Tom says:

      The Smoak vs. Montero debate is similar to the Mariners #6 vs. the not even close to that debate. Ultimately results matter. Some look at Smoak and see a great swing, a switch-hitter than can take advantage hitting lefty in Safeco, and plus athleticism and fielding. Others look at him and see that he hasn’t hit for any power and outside of 50 odd games in the Texas League hasn’t really been an above average hitter for a 1B in the minors. Same thing with the Mariners. You can say that Jack Z is the greatest GM ever and with his unbelievable drafting with the Brewers he’ll turn the team around in one year. But outside of the Cliff Lee trade (and ripping off Ruben Amaro shouldn’t be completely lauded too highly) the moves he’s made have been very questionable (at best).

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      • Omar says:

        Well the Smoak v. Montero battle is a little different. It still hasn’t been very long since the Mariners acquired him and Justin Smoak has a very good college career combined with stellar scouting reports to go along with it. I think Montero is better, but you still can’t blame Zduriencik for taking Smoak away from his division rival.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        Then you’re not looking at everything that he’s done. Yuni Betancourt, Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, Jason Vargas, David Aardsma, Jarrod Washburn, the Cliff Lee trade to Texas. Not everything has worked out great, but by and large, he’s made some really good moves for the Mariners.

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  52. hank says:

    So putting aside the current talent part of the equation (and the debate of was this just bad luck/variance or foreseeable), perhaps you can update the other aspects of the org rankings.

    Has your opinion of future talent changed much? If so, is this due to a change in how prospects have evolved/developed this year or realizing (with the benefit of hindsight) you over weighted (or underweighted) prospects. In other words was it a good or bad projection of future talent or the prospects outlook actually changing.

    Is the value of the front office the same and what exactly is it based on? Have recent events and moves changed this opinion or is it the same? Is the expected impact of a front office still as large as you suspected it to be (to overcome what I think most would say is an average at best amount of current and future talent).

    It’s easy to point to the current talent and say variance, luck, etc – but as there were 4 components to the ranking I would like to see how you think each of these has changed (if they have). Is this really just a matter of current talent underperforming (for whatever reason) and we should expect a regression next year and a return to #6 org status? If not what else has changed?

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  53. DanDuke says:

    Dave,

    Do you believe that Howard Lincoln’s “corporate mission” handicaps the Mariners/prevents them from having a consistently good team?

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    • Jim says:

      Excellent question, Dan, and one that I think lays at the heart of the problem with the Mariners’ organization.

      In the absence of a day-today owner, the M’s have Howard Lincoln, former CEO of Nintendo of America, as the CEO of the team and the owner’s proxy(and he himself owns a minority interest in the team). At his side is long-time president Chuck Armstrong, and the two have carefully weaved their own view of what a successful baseball team and/or town should look like. And a large part of that is putting out a product that will appeal to the casual fan who wants a good experience during their afternoon/evening at the ballpark–seeing fan favorites like the DH(“designated hugger” combo) of Griffey and Sweeney plays into that.

      I can’t recall how much of that, if any, was factored into the original ranking from 2 years ago, or the one from this past offseason–not much is my inclination. More general statements about “ownership” and “front office” are made, including how much is spent on payroll, but factors like these offer far more detailed glimpses. Perhaps putting more time over the course of the 4-5 month offseason into a detailed breakdown of each of the 30 MLB organizations is one idea for the upcoming offseason?

      Just a thought! :)

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  54. Omar says:

    After looking at the original list there’s a few rankings that stick out to me, in both positive and negative aspects these rankings being: the Toronto Blue Jays, the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds, the San Fransisco Giants, and the Seattle Mariners. I’d like to see a retrospective on all the teams that were off, not just the Seattle Mariners, anyways since this is an article about the Mariners lets start off with them, I brought this up when there was some recent chatter in the original Mariners thread:

    . 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.

    A lot of people brought up Texas’ talent producing machine, while Texas has built quite the player development machine lets not forget that Jack Z has had quite the career as a director of player development for the Brewers. If I were a Ms fan I’d have a high degree of confidence with him in charge making the decisions on the high draft picks for the next few years. Although, rather than focusing on the future; lets look at the past moves that Jack Z has made:

    First, the Cliff Lee trade(s):

    To turn JC Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, and Tyson Gillies into Blake Beaven and Justin Smoak, not to mention a half year of Cliff Lee. Great move all around, taking a bright young cost controlled asset from a division rival was a great move. Not to mention it allowed my Yankees to keep Jesus Montero. ;)

    The Chone Figgins deal was a move I hated. Were talking about a 32 year old player whose skillset doesn’t age particularly well and who has been overrated throughout his career and been about an average-ish offensive player. Can he help a club get over a hump? Probably, is he at all the “missing piece” for the Mariners? Absolutely not. While it’s not a franchise crippling move, it certainly not a move that the Ms should have made.

    Then there was the Bradley deal, I loved it at the time; didn’t work out well for them so much this year but getting a team to take the rest of Carlos Silva’s contract was a good move; even if the player they got in return hasn’t helped much.

    The Morrow deal looks quite a bit worse now, although I feel that Brand Morrow really needed a change of scenery. It’s unfair to criticize Zduriencik for realizing this; that being said he could have gotten a better player out of the deal.

    Now, being fair to Zduriencik, he really hasn’t had a good FA market to choose from. Whenever there’s been an elite FA available a larger market contending team has always offered him a massive contract. He also was given the task of cleaning up after the worst GMs of the past twenty years, who left him with a fairly barren team. As far as ranking the Ms goes, I definitely feel that their process and decision making is in the upper third of baseball. I have far more confidence in them as an organization than I do teams with much better crops of current talent and better farms like the Marlins, the Mets, and the Cubs. However, I feel ranking them ahead of teams like the Blue Jays, the Rockies, the Twins, and the Phillies may be a bit dishonest if were talking about the club’s chances of winning a Championship. Good decision making, smart trades and contracts are all well and good; however at a certain point we must look past over overpaying a couple of guys and being a little too fast and easy when dealing prospects.

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  55. Omar says:

    Also I’d like to thank Dave for doing this, it takes balls to do something like this. That’s what makes a good writer, were all wrong from time to time. The important thing is knowing when you were wrong, and finding out why. I’d also like you to look at the other organizations that did better, or worse, than you expected them too at the end of the year. Ultimately I like reading stuff like this and your other ranking series, especially here because it allows me to argue with those who disagree ;).

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  56. Tom says:

    Unless I’m misremembering, you recently made a post on USSM about how realistically Seattle should be looking to contend in 2012 and should use the 2011 season to recover and put themselves in position to contend during that year. Does that post not speak to a problem with the original ranking of the Mariners? I don’t believe their collapse was as difficult to predict (some individual performances perhaps, but not the team cratering like this) as you suggest, but regardless, none of the other Top 10 organizations have written off (or should be writing off) the 2011 season. (And I can’t imagine any of them doing that unless they suffered catastrophic injuries.)

    Does the fact that the Mariners had such a high variance that it was conceivable that the team would have to “rebuild” during 2011 (and I think this was a possibility even if 2010 had not been a disaster, due to probably losing Lee to FA) not suggest that the number 6 ranking was too high, given that the series is supposed to be measuring success in the near future?

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      Not at all… if the organization chooses to take a step back and makes the right moves to do so, we should praise them. It’s not like the Mariners had a bad year because they chose not to contend, or because the majority of their moves didn’t have merit – some short-term, some long-term. Honestly, if Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman were in the same spot what other choices do you think they would have made? If your team has the money, Figgins makes sense. If your team needed a 1b that wasn’t injury prone, Kotchman makes sense. In getting rid of dead weight in Carlos Silva while getting some potential in return, Milton Bradley made sense. At the resultant price and subsequent return, Cliff Lee made sense for all 30 GMs.

      Just because some of the moves didn’t work out, doesn’t mean you would have wanted the #6 organization in baseball to do anything differently. There’s no reason Dave, Mariners fans or anybody bothering to look over these lists should see anything but the skills necessary to push this team to success. It might take a year or two, but there’s as much chance as it happening in Seattle with this regime than at any other point in the franchise’s history.

      If anything, I have no problem with their front office getting a #6 ranking… but I’m not so sure about Chuck Armstrong and above. When factoring them in, the ranking could easily go down. I don’t foresee a World Series game in Seattle until at least Armstrong leaves the franchise.

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