The Great #6org Discussion – Part 3

Some more follow-ups.

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?

To me, this is more narrative than reality. Because the Mariners got competitive using a great defensive team a year ago, and a lot of people wrote about it this winter, it has become popular to deride the Mariners for choosing defense over offense. That’s just not really the case, though.

Regardless of what you think of him as a person, Milton Bradley‘s track record as a hitter can’t really be argued with. From 2007 to 2009, he posted a batting line of .293/.407/.495 over 311 games. His .389 wOBA during those years put him at the same offensive level as Adam Dunn and Magglio Ordonez and ahead of guys like Jayson Werth and J.D. Drew. He’s not much of a defender, though, and he’s unreliable, but the Mariners took a gamble on a guy who had proven that he was one of the best offensive players in baseball. It didn’t work, obviously, but the intent to acquire an offensive force was clearly there.

Then, there’s Chone Figgins. Yes, he was a guy who added value with his defense, but they got him for his bat, not his glove. His 2007 to 2009 line was .301/.386/.382, good for a .350 wOBA. Like Bradley, he’d established a track record of being a well above average hitter. They didn’t bring in Pedro Feliz – they spent a good chunk of money on a guy who had shown that he could get on base.

At first base, they only ended up with Casey Kotchman after attempting to sign Russell Branyan. They offered him more money than what he eventually got from the Indians, but he was holding out for a multi-year deal. They wanted him back for 2010, but didn’t want to guarantee 2011 to a guy with a herniated disc in his back. Everyone else in baseball agreed, and that’s why Branyan eventually settled for a one year deal with Cleveland. But bringing Branyan back was clearly the team’s primary choice to fill first base.

There’s just no real pattern of choosing defense over offense. The guys they brought in to provide offense failed. That’s different than not trying to bring in any offensive upgrades to begin with. Don’t buy into the narrative that the team decided to try to go balls out for defense. It’s just not true.

Some of the furor has to reside in the fact that a Front Office was praised for putting together such a high variance team to begin with. There was quite a bit of interweb pats on the back, so to speak for the way the 2009 offseason went, and yet they put out a team that, at best, was on the way to 83 wins.

I just don’t agree with this assertion. ZiPS pegged the Mariners for 86 wins, the most of any AL West team. When Replacement Level Yankee Weblog did their simulation blowout, running five other projection systems through 1,000 times each, the Mariners made the playoffs 29.4 percent of the time. The roster wasn’t high variance because they were .500 at best with a lot of downside – they were high variance because they were either going to succeed or flop. They flopped. However, I think that people who are taking the 2010 results as proof that the plan couldn’t have worked are overlooking evidence to the contrary.

The San Diego Padres are winning the NL West with essentially the same overall plan as the Mariners had – league average offense with league best run prevention. The Padres offense has been the definition of average this year – they’ve been worth +4.2 runs above average as a group in over 4,500 plate appearances. They’re in first place in spite of a just okay offense because they’re #1 in xFIP and #1 in UZR. The pitching and defense have both been outstanding, and have carried a mediocre offense into playoff contention.

We can disagree about the likelihood of Bradley, Figgins, Lopez, and Kotchman all performing as they were projected to by ZiPS or CHONE. I don’t think we can make the leap to saying that the team wouldn’t have contended if those guys would have hit as expected, however. We’ve got a team winning with the exact same formula that the Mariners were going for. You don’t have to field an above average offense to have a good team. I don’t think we can pretend that this roster was doomed from the start.

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…

This is a conversation I had with several people up in New York – how much credit or blame should we apportion to a front office for getting unexpected results?

I go with not much. Let’s use the Giants for an example. They openly pursued Adam LaRoche to be their first baseman this year, offering him a decent sized contract to come in and help fix their offense. He decided to go to Arizona, and the Giants ended up signing Aubrey Huff instead. Huff, of course, has been much better than LaRoche, posting a +4.5 WAR compared to +1.8 WAR for the Diamondbacks first baseman.

The Giants preferred LaRoche to Huff. Had he taken their offer, they likely would have ended up with a lesser team. Instead, their back-up plan has blown away their first choice, and it has helped push them into contention. Should we give the Giants credit for signing Huff?

Some, certainly. But they obviously didn’t expect him to do this, or he wouldn’t have been the back-up plan. They’ve received far more than they thought they were going to get from their first baseman. I’m not sure why we should apportion credit to them for the performance above what they expected.

The reality of the situation is that a good process gives you a slight advantage over teams who are making sub-optimal choices. There’s a reason that Jonah Keri has entitled his book about the Rays “The Extra Two Percent” – that is the advantage that teams like Tampa Bay are trying to sustain through good decision making processes. It’s not a huge advantage, but it’s the one that teams can control.

Yes, teams with bad processes get lucky sometimes. If you watch enough poker, you’ll see a lot of bad players beat good players with hands they should have never been involved in to begin with. But the good players are good players because the understand that small advantages add up over time, and they’re willing to put their money on the line when they have an advantage because, more often than not, they’ll win.

More often than not, the good process teams beat the bad process teams. It won’t always work out that way, because there are far too many variables that clubs cannot control, but you want to bet on the teams that are doing things the right way, not on teams that are relying on career years from unexpected sources.




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


124 Responses to “The Great #6org Discussion – Part 3”

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  1. Nick says:

    Is your ego that gigantic that you needed THREE parts for this tripe, Dave?

    It takes one post to say “Look, I made a bad prediction. It was kinda stupid, it was admittedly a little homer-ish. It ended up blowing up in my face, and I’ve taken the criticism. However, I don’t think the endless trolling of #6org was necessary, and it’s a bit old at this point, don’t you think, guys?”

    But, no it’s 3 huge egocentric posts about how you were still kind of right, how you’re still great, and Dave Cameron will always be the smartest guy in the room. Fuck you. You’re a hack.

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    • dutchbrowncoat says:

      seriously? shut up.

      the two previous threads have already gathered 277 comments in about 24 hours. it is something the fangraphs community obviously has some level of interest in. if you don’t like it, skip the article.

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    • Jason B says:

      Well, at least the first response was a level-headed one…

      You sure told him. Feel like a big man now? Up your dosage on the blood pressure meds there, type A.

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    • TomG says:

      Mouth-Breathers: “#6org! Explain yourself!”
      Dave: “Here is my explanation.”
      Mouth-Breathers: “Shut up, you egotistical prick. We don’t care.”

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    • Travis L says:

      The fangraphs community will be a better one if you would please remove yourself from it.

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    • Sam says:

      Nick, do you really mind someone taking the time to respond to thoughtful criticisms? No one is forcing you to read any of this “tripe.” Why bother responding if it vexes you so much? Or do you really feel compelled to be a gigantic douche for no apparent reason?

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  2. Paul says:

    You and many supporters completely downplayed Bradley’s personality issues at the beginning of this and it just shocks me that it continues. They were the only team that would take him, and they gave up money to do it. They had already committed to giving a completely done Griffey a couple hundred AB’s, then added the Kanye of Baseball to the mix. You can point to past productivity to justify that the move was a worthwhile gamble, but only if you downplay the impact of his personal issues throughout his career. Not to mention injury-proneness, which has at least once been the result of his personal issues. I suppose this is just an agree to disagree thing, but my standpoint and many others from the beginning was that a GM who gambles on Bradley is a sucker, and that viewpoint was of course derided by supporters of the move, including in some cases the implication of racism. It disgusted me then and it continues to.

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    • Tommy says:

      Personality/Makeup Issues cannot be quantified, therefore they should be ignored. Duh

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      • Ben says:

        I can’t tell if this is sarcastic. I certainly hope it is, because if you think personality/makeup issues should be completely ignored then you’re never really going to truly understand any industry in the world, baseball included. Also, there’s a big difference between what we have not yet figured out how to quantify and what can’t be quantified. For instance, I can quantify the number of games Bradley has missed due to his suspension and the ACL injury that he incurred when he lost control. I’d imagine that someone out there can also roughly quantify the drop in performance following major knee surgery as well.

        All that said, I recognize Silva for Bradley was by no means a bad move and in all likelihood a good move…but how good it was has probably been overrated, in large part due to the makeup.

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      • Max says:

        I think it is sarcasm. And anyway, nobody was downplaying Bradley’s issues when he signed. We knew what we were getting, a very good major league hitter, who has had issues with management, fans, etc. in the past. It was just a matter of two teams with players whom they wanted to rid themselves of.

        The team was optimistic that they could turn him around, especially with Griffey, who apparently was one of only two players Bradley ever seeked an autograph from. As it turned out, they were wrong, Bradley’s issues continued, he didn’t even hit that well, and then he got hurt.

        As for Silva, he had a very successful first half with the Cubs. I am confident that had he stayed with the Mariners, that would not have happened. I recall from an interview earlier this year that around the M’s clubhouse, he was generally disliked, perhaps for his failure to live up to his contract. In Chicago he was welcomed, and given a chance.

        The trade turned out well for the Cubs, and not so well for the Mariners, but I think that keeping Silva also would have been a loss for the team, as he would not have done what he has done in 2010.

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    • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

      Paul agreed: Dave sort of was gleeful that Bradley was a won trade for Carlos Silva, but knowing that Bradley was exactly the sort of high variance player that could blow up, why have, well, Jr as the backup DH?

      I know Dave wasn’t a fan of that move from USS mariner but doesnt the Griffey decision (whehter made by ownership or the GM) easily outweigh any marginal gain that you might have taken on such a high beta player in Bradley? And since that is almost surely the case, is Jack Z then a +3 win GM versus say, Colletti?

      The holes in Dave’s logic continue to get worse and worse the more you dig on this one. It’s almost as if he was wearing Teal covered blinders.

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    • JH says:

      Since a couple of very minor flareups (which would have probably gone completely unreported if not for his history) at the beginning of the year, Bradley has been a boyscout this season. His personality has not been the problem. His bat…well, that’s been a problem.

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    • JH says:

      Also, it’s not like they exchanged a plus makeup guy for Bradley. Silva threatened physical harm to Ichiro.

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    • Tom says:

      I don’t think they were the only team that would take him, I’m sure the Padres would have taken him if they could get him for cheap.

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    • Alec says:

      The Mariners traded Carlos Silva (one of the worst pitchers in baseball prior to this year, and no one predicted that he would turn things around so don’t use that as a point against the trade) and $3 million for Bradley. They took a $3 million gamble. Also, he has been a model teammate and member of the organization since one meltdown at the beginning of the year, after which he sought out help with the Mariners help. The personality issues have NOT been Bradley’s problem, his performance has been, which is the exact opposite of his track record

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    • ThundaPC says:

      Supporters aren’t downplaying Milton Bradley’s personal issues. Other people are blowing them way out of proportion based on past history.

      The team was 11-15 the day Bradley was pulled from the game (May 4th) while going on the restrictive list shortly thereafter. The team was 14-26 the day Bradley returned to the lineup on May 19th. The team has gone 32-47 ever since. Milton Bradley has been 100% issue free. Well, as issue free as any other player in baseball.

      What we could talk about instead is Milton Bradley’s ability as a major league ballplayer. As the model citizen that he appears to be on the field he’s been drawing fewer walks (10.1% vs. 14.0% in 2009, 15.7% in 2008) and striking out more than ever (30.7% vs. 24.2% in 2009, 27.1% in 2008). With the latest DL-trip Bradley’s likely done for the season (certainly done for in any meaningful capacity).

      The question becomes whether Milton Bradley can bounce back or whether he’s finished as a Major League Baseball player.

      Either way, it was a worthwhile gamble that only half paid off. The team got the non-controversial edition but not the ballplayer edition along with it.

      On a side note, hopefully Carlos Silva is okay from here on out, as he had landed on the DL recently due to heart problems.

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  3. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    I find these responses dissappointing. It’s kind of like a losing trader, who insists the process is fine, and their thesis is intact, its not their fault that the markets haven’t acted as they like. (A winning trader has a very similar process, and you correctly used the poker analogy).

    However in this case, when you posted the rankings, there were clear criticisms of your process, and I personally asked you to define success both in time frames and wins vs pennants etc (I would think you’d use wins but then you ding the blue jays but then you also didnt have a NL team above 7 so I dont know…)

    Rather than accept the flaws in your process (ie: assume that JackZ would continue to make massive improvements to the team going forward, on what would be a close to unprecedented level), and acknowledge that the MiLB system as it stood was maybe average at best, you put the Mariners ahead of the Cardinals and Braves, two teams that have/had much more depth at both the MLB and MiLB level.

    You show no acknowledgement for your ranking, if anything you seem more entrenched in your view, when tons of reasonable people have i think made some decisive points in your direction.

    You almost deserve the #6org hashtags at this point… It’s just a huge blind spot in your otherwise interesting analysis.

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    • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

      forgot to explain the differences between a losing trader and a winning trader. Most winning traders/poker players I know are obsessive about their losses and their wins, finding holes in their logic. When markets move against them they sort of shrug, but don’t go into some huge defense of their process, rather they find the miniscule error they made, even if it was uncorrelated to the result and they fix it. When they win they become even more obsessive about their flaws, trying to stay on top.

      This whole series felt like a losing player deeply upset that he pushed in with an overpair against a seemingly random looking flop and their opponent called with a decent flush draw and overcards that came good. While the push itself might have been decent, the process leading there seemed undisciplined at best.

      Which is i guess why alot of us would have loved to have bet agianst Dave and his franchise predictions.

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      • Sam says:

        Interesting analogy with the trader thing. I would also wager that front office talent won’t be static. There is only so much that a front office can extract in terms of market inefficiency. Other market players can simply mimic the leader and remove a particular source of market inefficiency, so going forward, unless the front office is able to uncover newer sources of market inefficiency, they will have to make more risky bets, and therefore will find the fat tail part of the market resulting in higher probability of failure.

        This has happened in baseball. Billy Beane is as smart as he has been, he just has not been able to maintain his success rate with a small payroll. Theo Epstein is probably the only one who has been able to do it for a significant length of time, although his success is more related to a strong farm system and player development and an ability to sign stars (Ortiz) and homegrown players at below market contracts (Lester, Pedroia, Youkilis) and the financial wherewithal to deal with crappy contracts (Renteria, Lugo, Lowell, Lackey, Beckett). Andrew Friedman so far has only seen the upside of the remarkable talent influx of the Tampa Bay Rays, but he will be tested when the Rays success will mean they will not be able to pick at the top of the draft (which landed them Young (Garza), Upton, Price, Niemann, Longoria, Tim Beckham over the years). They did lock up Longoria for a pittance, but it doesn’t seem like they have been able to do that with others, or will be able to anytime soon. So when these guys are close to major league ready, they will be tested, starting next year with Carl Crawford.

        Over a five year period, market has a way to equilibriate so as to remove arbitrage opportunities, This analysis seemed to take front office talent as static, thus greatly overvaluing it.

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      • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

        Sam you made a point i was trying to make, but did it more strongly than I would have been able to. I think exhibit A is exactly what happened in San Diego where they replaced a reasonable GM with someone even better on the scouting side.

        This isn’t to say someone could find something totally mind blowing and new, but to expect a GM to add 3-5 wins to his team per year on the same payroll by swindling other owners year after year after year just is unreasonable.

        The point about the increased risk in bets is almost a microcosm of (part of) what happened in my industry.

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      • Sam says:

        “The point about the increased risk in bets is almost a microcosm of (part of) what happened in my industry.”

        This time it was. Other times, when a couple of nobel laureates were involved, it was mind numbing leverage. But at some point, risk spreads can diverge rather than converge, and relatively safe bets can turn extremely risk, and markets simply collapse.

        Baseball isn’t as formulaic as arbitrage trading, but general principles do apply. Which was why Moneyball was written in the first place.

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      • Valuearb says:

        Winning poker players aren’t results oriented, they are decision oriented. Poker is a game that often can make skillful players look foolish, and the worst players look like savants, for weeks and months at a time. That’s it’s beauty, that attracts the hordes of bad players to the game that in the long run provide the skilled with their living.

        Judging an organization harshly because the results of decisions didn’t work out, esp. over the small sample size of a season, is ignorant. It’s the intelligence of the decisions themselves that need to be judged, not the lucky turn of a card that decided a winner.

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      • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

        sam: i think they wrote that book too. it was fittingly titled “When Genius Failed” (read it, and then re-read it early 2008 in a weird sense of good timing).

        Of course Meriwether blew up again sometime recently as well, or came really close to it, same process, same leverage to try to extract big wins out of small advantages, and same eventual Kabloom.

        Value: i see your point, but lets ask how much of a difference can a good gm make versus an average one over the course of 1 season with a mid-sized budget? 2-wins? 3-wins? Again assuming we dont have to stash payroll and you can value things such as getting younger, rebuilding the farm etc.

        Now what’s the variance?

        JackZ may or may not be brilliant. He is probably above average. But is he so godly that he could make up for the numerous deficits that were present in the team? Was he going to have every year like his first year? In short, probably not..

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    • Danmay says:

      This is one of the most disappointing aspects your responses, Dave. Some of the most constructive critisisms of your ranking requested that we spend more time determining the criteria for the rankings on the whole, not just on your defense of the Mariners. There clearly is not a consensous on the time frame we are looking at. There appears to be an inconsistent application of how a teams playoffs chances affect these rankings – i.e., the Blue Jays and the NL teams. I feel that these two problems – as well as others – would help us readers to not just understand why you are high on the Mariners, which you have defended, but why other teams are ranked lower than they are. If you would be able to take the time to address the two issues here I, for one, would be much more confortable with your defense.

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  4. Bob says:

    To push the poker analogy, the Mariners were shoving all-in on an inside straight draw with flush draws on the board and the other teams holding a set. Let’s face it, the Mariners dumped Silva for Bradley, which wasn’t bad, but Bradley is an injury prone player who had a .388 BABIP in 2008. His true talent level is closer to .370 wOBA, which isn’t bad but isn’t great. Figgins is a slap hitter whose walk rate spiked in 2009. Absent of that year, he’s a 2.5 to 3 WAR player at best. Signing Kotchman was just stupid. The guy is Sean Burroughs playing 1B. All in all, the offense was still mediocre with almost no chance of being above average.

    The biggest issue is the Mariners had a marginal chance to win this year. The future wasn’t as bleak as two years ago, but it’s still not great. The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Twins, Cardinals, Braves, Angels, and Phillies were all clearly ahead based on current talent, future talent, and/or a track record of performance with the current leadership. Rank the Mariners #10, and you’d been ridiculed much less.

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    • JH says:

      Figgins was paid like a 2.5 WAR player, though. It’s not like the Ms paid him 6WAR money.

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      • Wally says:

        But he’s also 32 being payed like a 2.5 WAR player for 4 years, and has a vesting option for $9M on a 5th year.

        Not like this is a huge amount of money, but he’s unlikely to be worth his salary in 2013, maybe 2012.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        true, there is a chance that the length of the contract could be a problem. it is still a reasonable deal, especially compared to some of the other contract flops of this offseason. and none of it would have mattered if he had (or will) put up another 6 WAR season or two.

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      • Wally says:

        The chances of another 6 WAR season are going to be pretty minuscule. Figgins had to overperform or benefit from luck in pretty much every place he could to get that 6 WAR, and it now appears his true talent level is dropping to boot.

        And this year he’s going to be lucky to give them 1 WAR, meaning he’s going to need average better than his previous averages in the coming seasons to make up for it, all as he reaches his mid-30′s….

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  5. Ben says:

    The problem with evaluating the “process” prior to achieving results is that getting enough information to adequately judge said “process” is extremely difficult, and most often, the necessary information is not quantitative. Once the results come, this task of information gathering considerably easier. The latter approach seems to be more suited for a place like Fangraphs, a haven for quantitative analysis.

    Does this observation invalidate your ranking? Not at all, and in fact, you’ve made quite an excellent defense of your ranking of the Mariners. I just think that the justification you used for the ranking doesn’t really fit the audience.

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    • Wally says:

      I have to agree with Gunner, these responses are disappointing. Though I have to say I had little hope of seeing something worth while come out of this in the first place. So maybe “disappointed” isn’t the right word, maybe its just that this lived up to my low expectation.

      I still find several faults that have not been addressed:

      1) A 26% chance of making the playoffs is not high. For the Mariners that means they are taking up 1/4 of ONE playoff spot entering the season, since they had basically zero chance at the WC. Or, they take up 26% of 1 spot in a division with 4 teams. That’s random. Based on just this year’s chances, you can’t justify them being any higher than average.

      2) The “process” is great. We all like it, we’re on fangraphs. The problem is you’re trying to evaluate a high noise, qualitative talent before almost ANY data to prove whether or not the M’s FO is going to be above or below the line. Sure, it all sounds good. Jack Z had some success in his last job, but that job wasn’t GM. He hired some stat savy guys, great, but what 10 other teams are doing this now? This isn’t 2001 anymore. Sorry, that’s just not such a large advantage anymore. Which isn’t to say this isn’t important, there just isn’t such a large inefficiency to exploit any more.

      3) What kind of evidence do you have that the FO is going to bring in good coaches and other staff to develop these young studs that they are going to supposedly accumulate (and to a lesser extent already have) who will help them get better in the future (which of course your ranking depends on)? Its not like the M’s already had a great player development system in place. When did they last develop an all-star level hitter for example? And even outside Felix, who was their last all-star level pitcher to come up through their system?

      To me, these are your main problems. The M’s did not have a terribly high chance of winning this year relative to their ranking position, and you’re trying to project a naturally difficult aspect of the game with extremely limited information, while at the same time largely relying on that to carry the ranking. You also stated their revenue generation as being as a reason to rank them so highly, but in 2009′s Forbes rankings for revenue they came in at 12th, with $189M. But there was little real difference between 8th on the list (Giants/196) and 16th (Indians/181). So this isn’t a great advantage either. Its good, don’t get me wrong. But you’re basically tied with the Cardinals and Braves, and well behind the Phillies, three teams that have been hotly debated regarding this 6th spot.

      So after two rather length responses to some related question, I still just don’t get it.

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      • Wally says:

        Bah, that wasn’t meant as a response.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The problem is you’re trying to evaluate a high noise, qualitative talent before almost ANY data to prove whether or not the M’s FO is going to be above or below the line.

        Froma data standpoint, that’s my hang-up.

        There were 3 criteria …

        [1] Present Talent
        [2] Future Talent
        [3] FO/Management

        The Mariners were average to below on #1 and #2, which means that FO/Management has to be like an “A+” for them to jump to #6.

        My first question would be “Oh really?” followed by “How do you know?”

        IMHO, it’s giving some folks A LOT of credit and trust that they haven’t earned/deserved just yet.

        I cannot believe the cardinals were 21st as an organization in last year’s rankings. No other NL team has won as much, nor have they won in as many decades. I would have thought that type of consistency and success would count for something. Is there a year in the next 5 years where the cardinals won’t be competing for a division title (or more)?

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      • Gio says:

        “Based on just this year’s chances, you can’t justify them being any higher than average.”

        Their chances were higher than 20 other clubs.

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      • Wally says:

        And at 26% and 10th in probability with the playoffs are they actually significantly different from the 15th positions chances? Or 13th?

        Plus, with 8 playoff spots, and 30 teams, the average playoff chance is….26%.

        Yep…pretty much average…

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  6. Jay says:

    Can I just ask why in the world you didn’t title these posts “The #6orgy”?

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  7. Travis L says:

    This is my comment to every single person who has issued a version of the tired refrain of, “I personally asked/told/demanded that you better explain yourself when you did the original rankings”:

    Write your own goddamned blog. Put some effort into things. Only then have you earned your spot at the table.

    The shrill tone from the folks who can only be bothered to respond to Dave is amazing. Put some effort in, and your voice can be heard as well. But what have you done to earn your way in, besides leaving obnoxious and snarky comments after but a moment’s reflection?

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    • hunterfan says:

      Posters asked Dave to define certain criteria for winning/being successful as well as how much weight was given to each component to arrive at the final ranking.

      These requests show intelligent readers wanting to gain more insight on the process, not whiny fanboys looking to bash Dave.

      It’s a very reasonable request that could springboard even more intelligent dialogue here. I’m just dismayed that for some reason Dave has ignored all such requests for greater specificity…

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      • Wally says:

        “I’m just dismayed that for some reason Dave has ignored all such requests for greater specificity…”

        Now that we’re almost through 2 seasons of baseball since the first rankings, I think its pretty safe to say he doesn’t want to nail down criteria like that at all. I can think of a lot of reasons for doing that, none of them are particularly good.

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    • don says:

      You don’t need to be a journalist to write letters to the editor.

      These comments are letters to the editor with a lower barrier to entry.

      If your writing style is frequently haughty and condescending, like Mr. Cameron’s, people are going to jump down your throat every time you’re wrong. That’s just human nature. And baseball is pretty random, so even if your logic is pretty sound you’re going to be wrong a lot of the time. In this case the logic wasn’t sound, or even consistent.

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      • Travis L says:

        All true statements, and well put.

        I can’t say I’ve really felt that Dave is particularly haughty or condescending… but that’s just me.

        The obnoxious comments, especially on this thread, make me wonder if FG wouldn’t be better off without allowing any comments. That would at least force people to throw their trash on their own blog. Where I would more easily ignore it.

        Seriously, the worst thing that has happened to fangraphs has been the cross-publishing on ESPN. Sigh, I sound like an old man.

        Dave, can we *please* institute a paywall? I pay annually for my BP subscription, and am more than happy to do so here. It would go a long ways towards reducing the riff-raff that tromp in from ESPN.

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    • cpebbles says:

      Will you come click the + next to my name along with a few dozen of your fellow sycophants if I do?

      This series was a poorly-reasoned spectacle from the start. It’s an iffy enough proposition for a handful of baseball fans with established allegiances to come up with an accurate ranking of the talent levels of all 30 MLB clubs. To throw an overriding factor over top of this, which is really nothing more than a gut feeling based on the lousy data you are getting from a handful of media sources, is ridiculous. If ESPN did something like this series, we would have spent a day guffawing, and then just shrugged our shoulders and accepted that the mainstream media has gone the way of tabloid journalism. I guess it’s inevitable that FanGraphs will go that route also, but at least here I get to complain loudly as it’s happening.

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  8. Paul says:

    I don’t find this nearly important or interesting enough to warrant three posts and more than 3,000 words.

    But then I’m not the one who came up with the rankings in the first place.

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  9. Bryce says:

    I like the answers to questions 2 & 3, but on the topic of reliance on defensive metrics, the response just sounds defensive (pun intended). It’s a clear fact that the Mariners care about defense when evaluating talent, and it’s also clear that our defensive metrics have far higher variance than offensive ones. We knew going into the season that the Mariners were taking some risks, but I’ve never seen any serious attempt to quantify it. Fangraphs analysis regularly relies on maximum likelihood estimates (albeit with regular warnings about sample size, etc.), but it would be nice to see some error bars on some of our predictions. If we just claim that the Mariners are going to be a high-variance team, no outcome can falsify our prediction, but if we gave predictions with 90% confidence intervals (or other measures of uncertainty), we’d be better able to tell how right or wrong we were.

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    • Will says:

      Except that, the Mariners are actually good at run prevention this year.

      Chone Figgins being unable to hit a ball hard anymore doesn’t mean they relied too much on UZR.

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      • cpebbles says:

        The Mariners are good at run prevention this year, but relied on being ridiculously good again to be a contender. Yeah, the offensive shortcomings would have kept them out of the playoffs even if they weren’t on pace to lose something like 100 runs of defensive value, but the fact remains that Cameron’s rating of the Mariners absolutely relied on a team without a huge track record continuing to post ridiculous defensive numbers.

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    • Lucas says:

      My perception is that one of the supposed competitive advantages of the Mariners’ FO’s process was a dedication to using the defensive metrics. Compare that to something I head about the Twins approach this year, which was that they’re aware of the advanced defensive metrics and use them to check their scouts’ perceptions, but they’re at best a secondary decision-making tool. I imagine this is where most teams are at more or less, and knowing what I now know about the metrics’ reliability, I’m not sure it’s actually a less-sophisticated approach.

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  10. Lucas says:

    If we can admit that GM talent and results can be widely divergent, can’t we also admit (1) that we are therefore left without a very good process for assessing GM talent and (2) we therefore shouldn’t make GM talent a huge factor when evaluating overall organizational health?

    And thanks for addressing my question and in general for doing this. I think it’s an interesting argument.

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      You beat me to my point. This was the biggest thing for me. In the original rankings Jack Z was heaped with praise for doing really just 3 things: 1) Turning Carlos Silva + cash into Milton Bradley 2) Signing Franklin Gutierrez to an extension 3) Signing Felix to an extension… These were obviously good moves at the time, but were they really anything above & beyond what you would get from any other GM in the game? Dave, can’t you AT LEAST admit that you may have overrated Jack Zdrunzick just a TAD???

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      • Paul says:

        Especially since reportedly the Rays would not give up Pat the Bat for him. They were truly the only org that would take him. Good move to spin a problem child for him, but if we’re rating GMs here, isn’t it incredible that in context we need to give Friedman credit for not taking on Bradley, getting nothing from Burrell, and then eating the rest of his salary while Burrell plays well for SF? When the latter is the better move, the GM that pulled the former should take a hit.

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    • hunterfan says:

      If you take evaluating GM talent away, then the Seattle Mariners organization would rank very low down the list indeed. Dave almost has a vested interest in ranking GM talent very high as it is pretty much the one thing his organization has going for it.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      That was kind of my point in that quantifying GM talent is not an exact science. Especially when your GM is brand new. This site and this author are well aware of the process of “regressing to the mean” when it comes to things like player projections. The author should know the reason(s) for regressing and the Mariners front office is a prime candidate for heavy regression to the mean based on their small sample size of work. GM skill should already be heavily regressed to the mean due to the lack of certainty of their skills and on top of that to have a brand new regime to have their front office not ranked 15th or lower is negligent.

      The Mariners were a season or two too early from being the #6Org. Dave and the others that helped him on this ranking jumped the gun a little on this one. Lesson hopefully learned though. I have to give him credit for the hard work that he did putting this list and all the other lists (trade value etc..) together.

      “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen.

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    • JMHawkins says:

      Lucas, the problem with writing off GM/FO talent as a factor in evaluating the playoff changes of a team in thde 3-5 year range is that, well, GM/FO talent is a huge, huge factor. Maybe we don’t have a good process for evaluating it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Just ask a Royals fan. (or a Mariner’s fan in 2008…).

      It’s sort of like defensive metrics twenty years ago. There were comments going around the stats community to the effect of “defense is only 5% of the game, at most”. Patently not true, but people were saying that because Fielding Pct was about the only defensive metric available.

      The right response isn’t to ignore the Front office contribution, but to figure out how to evaluate it. I almost wrote “measure it” but I’m not sure if it’s really measurable – the sample size is going to be incredibly small. Fewer than a dozen key moves in any year, most likely, and how do you correct for luck with that sample size?

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He didn’t say we should ignore it, just that we shouldn’t make it the most important thing when we barely understand how to evaluate it.

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  11. John Jay says:

    The reality of the situation is that you’ve pretty much turned into a hack who can’t fathom the possibility that you were wrong. Admit it and get over yourself.

    I’m so glad fangraphs has you to write 3 parters about how right you were, despite all the evidence to the contrary. You’re using ZiPS and CHONE to prove your point? What great analysis man.

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  12. dutchbrowncoat says:

    2009/10 Padres
    Win% – .463/.598
    wOBA – .310/.311
    xFIP – 4.35/3.76
    UZR/150 – -3.2/10.4

    2009/10 Mariners
    Win% – .525/.387
    wOBA – .313/.289
    xFIP – 4.52/4.40
    UZR/150 – 11.7/1.5

    the teams are very similar. the padres are basically just this year’s 2009 mariners. playing above their head presumably because of solid defense (or luck) even with a lousy offense. it is just that the padres pitching has been stellar this year so that bumps them from a .525 3rd place ball club to a .598 1st place ball club.

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    • hunterfan says:

      What’s the point of this? I don’t think anyone is questioning the Padres at this juncture…are they?

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        sorry, maybe i should have explained better. dave compared the mariners “strategy” to that of the padres. one has worked this year and one hasn’t. i would say that the mariners (in theory) moved about laterally with their offense this offseason, up a little with pitching, and were about lateral in offense. instead, their offense fell off, their pitching hasn’t improved much, and their fielding seems to be trending worse. if they had managed to hold steady the defense and (still pathetic) offense and improve the pitching they could very well be playing at the level of the padres.

        i think the padres are a manifestation of what mariners fans expected/hoped, and it is a fair comp.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      The Padres are “basically” the 2009 Mariners? … EXCEPT that their FIP is 3/4′s of a run LOWER … that’s pretty significant.

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      • Aaron B. says:

        And their offense is significantly better than their raw Fangraphs wOBA.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        it definitely is. and that is kind of my point. if the mariners had been able to hold steady at that level of offense and defense, get another cy young caliber year from king felix, and then had lee for a full season they could have been at the same point as the padres. instead, the offense and defense fell off and the black hole of a #5 pitcher cancelled out any benefit of having lee.

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  13. Brandon says:

    It seems a lot of you don’t want an explanation here but a mea culpa. Dave’s trying to have a discussion, while the comments want nothing less than to extract a personal apology and an admission that the Mariners are a terrible, terrible team.

    They’re his rankings and he’s explaining his position; you can still disagree with his conclusions, but who the hell are any of you to demand he recant his position and humbly debase himself before you?

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    • epoc says:

      Speaking just for myself, I’m not asking for an apology or any level of debasement. I am asking for an admission that the rankings were entirely subjective, because the continued defense of them implies that they were somehow objective, and it is intellectually dissatisfying to be told repeatedly that someone’s opinions are objective facts. (Yes, I realize that I don’t have to read this stuff if it annoys me so much.)

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Its called recognizing a mistake and learning from it. Dave just wants to point to the fact that the Zips and CHONE projections were inaccurate on many Mariner players, which is correct, but I just don’t see how that automatically justifies his ranking back in April. And on top of that, all of this criticism from the commentor’s is not hindsight! We all were saying this the second the rankings came out! Ken Griffey Jr as DH? Milton Bradley the premiere middle of the order bat? Ryan Rowland-Smith as your #3 starter? An expectation of a healthy Erik Bedard by June? Casey Kotchman’s terrible bat at 1B? Jack Wilson’s “slightly better than tony pena jr’s bat” at SS? Brandon League to David Aardsma as your 8-9 inning combo on a team that if successful, would absolutely HAVE TO win close games consistently? Mike Sweeney!?!?

      These were all points brought up by multiple commentor’s as soon as the ranking came out. It’s not hindsight, and thats why there should be an acknowledgement by Dave Cameron that some parts of his analysis were simply not correct…

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      • Gio says:

        The decision to add Mike Sweeney to the opening day roster was made two weeks after the organization rankings had already started (and even longer given time for discussion on how to arrange the teams)

        The best available information at the time was that his minor league deal was done as a favor and his chances of making the team were very low.

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  14. DonCoburleone says:

    This is definately a worthy discussion Dave, and I’m a little late to the party but I’ve been a pretty vocal “Anti #6 Org” commentor and I just wanted to throw in my $0.02… I understand that sometimes players don’t live up to their expected production levels and how the “process” is more important than results, but the bottom line thing for me is that its time you finally admit that Jack Z is NOTHING SPECIAL!!

    I just don’t understand how you can’t at least point to the fact that you overrated Jack Z’s abilities compared to other GM’s. The praise for Jack Z and his perceived “genius” has been and will continue to be my biggest problem with the #6 ranking. Yes he took risks and most (if not ALL?) completely blew up in his face this year, so exactly how is that not his fault? You criticize GM’s like Kenny Williams and yet, Kenny Williams has accomplished more as a GM than Jack Z ever will. So my question for your 4th post is one of the following: 1) How can you consistently criticize a GM like Kenny Williams whenever he takes big risks and yet praise Jack Z when he takes on a risk just as big (or bigger)? 2) Can you at least admit that you overrated Jack Z’s abilities as a GM?

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    • Aaron B. says:

      I think it’s hard to evaluate a GM with less than 4-6 years of time in the organization.

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      • joe says:

        If that’s the case why in the world would you assume he was great and use that as the cornerstone of a #6 ranking….. if the sample size is so small don’t you have to assume average until you have data to suggest otherwise?

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      • joe says:

        Honestly I’m seeing no growth in any of this, just a dogged determination to refute the points of people who don’t share Dave’s viewpoint. I realize there are a lot of personal attacks on Dave, but I think there are quite a few honest and constructive questions, which Dave has mainly treated defensively as an attack on his position.

        Has there been a single question that Dave has included where the response is “good point’ or “that’s something worth considering” or “I missed that’…. out of 100′s of responses and questions, every single one is basically refuted or not significant? I find this rather amazing.

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      • joe says:

        Honestly I’m seeing no growth in any of this, just a dogged determination to refute the points of people who don’t share Dave’s viewpoint. I realize there are a lot of personal attacks on Dave, but I think there are quite a few honest and constructive questions, which Dave has mainly treated defensively as an attack on his position.

        Has there been a single question that Dave has included where the response is “good point’ or “that’s something I hadn’t considered” or “I missed that’…. out of 100′s of responses and questions, every single one is basically refuted or not significant? I find this rather amazing.

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    • Dirk says:

      Speaking as a White Sox fan, Jack Z. hasn’t taken on a risk anywhere near the Peavy trade, or even the Rios claim. Those two were big risks (Peavy was a terrible one, even at the time, and Rios was a solid one). I don’t think any of Jack Z.’s moves have even approached those levels of risk.

      I would also argue Jack Z’s risks have tended to be ones of necessity, whereas Williams seems to like risk for risk’s sake. Jack Z saw a chance for the Mariners to contend this year, and he made corresponding moves, realizing that the moves could blow up on him, but none would have substantial impact beyond this year (.

      Williams’ decision to trade for the Peavy risk was just because Williams wanted to get Peavy.

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  15. Anders says:

    The Mariners are currently 46-73, have been outscored by 127 runs, and are one of the 5 worst teams in baseball. At a certain point one has to acknowledge that maybe it wasn’t just two or three (or five) things breaking the wrong way, but that there was a larger problem with the construction of the team. As many people have noted, when things go wildly awry perhaps it is not the worst thing to consider whether original assumptions were valid or what the underlying flaw in the methodology that lead to the prediction was. It seems like this would be a more interesting series of articles than an uneven and generally dismissive defense that somehow avoids most of the actually interesting or challenging questions being asked.

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    • Tom says:

      Isn’t the explanation simply that Dave’s a Mariners fan? Pretty much every fan is optimistic on their own team’s chances – I know that as a Padres fan I thought his ranking of them as the 25th team was insane. Granted I didn’t see this season coming but I thought they’d win 85-88 games. What’s the difference for Cameron and the Mariners? Not only were the Mariners coming off a better season, they are in a division with just 4 teams (a huge advantage), the power team had taken a significant step back, and the other two teams were relying on a lot of young players. In fact, before the season started it was probably more likely that the Mariners would win more division titles over the next 5 seasons than the Rays. I guess a lot of people want Cameron to say simply that it was his Mariners fandom that led to the ranking, not any rational look at the franchise. Is that a fair assessment?

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      • hunterfan says:

        If you’re supposed to be writing objective analysis, the fact that Dave is Mariners fan anad is therefore more optimistic about the team simply doesn’t wash.

        Fine for a bar room conversation. Not fine for “objective” analysis.

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      • Tom says:

        Yes, but how objective can he realistically be? I think a bigger mistake is the fact that the top 3 teams are all in the same division. Can you be a top 3 organization and miss the playoffs every season?

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      • hunterfan says:

        Tom, he realistically can’t be very objective at all, which to me means he should recognize it and leave the ranking of the Mariners next year to one of his fellow contributors on this website. Unfortunately, it does not seem like Dave recognizes that.

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  16. epoc says:

    Again, this is entirely subjective and dissatisfying. That Dave is of the opinion that someone else’s opinion is “more narrative than reality” is completely useless to a rational, objective discussion. That Dave then defends his “reality” with five paragraphs of narrative is literally absurd. (Noting Milton Bradley’s past offensive performance is objective evidence about how good Bradley is at hitting. It is not objective evidence that the Mariners did not rely too heavily on defense.)

    One of the subtle hallmarks of bias is the tenacious belief that one’s subjective opinions constitute objective evidence. I think that is the basic issue that a lot of people have with this. We want to see some sort of empirical defense of this ranking or else an admission that it was entirely subjective. (And no, “yeah, duh, of course it was subjective” doesn’t count.)

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  17. Tree Climber says:

    I find it very interesting that Cameron has been proven a hack and a liar on his own website. Great work, dude.

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  18. todmod says:

    Two things:

    - Question 3 was taken completely out of context, I believe. Didn’t that question elaborate (in the full post) and say that because of the variance in results by simply having a good process, more importance should be put on the players currently in the organization? The whole follow-up seems to ignore the “factor the talent of the players more” point and just describe why looking at one year doesn’t show whether the process was good or bad.

    - Question 2 is extremely funny after the follow-up to Posnanski’s post about the Mariners. There was so much talk of “who was claiming the Mariners were going to be that great to begin with?”. Now when it’s convenient the narrative goes “They were projected to win the division!” I love Dave’s posts, but this sort of double talk gets frustrating.

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Another great point at the end there. Just yesterday in his 2nd post about this, Dave says the following: “I’m of the opinion that we should see everything in shades of probability. Since we don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t find a lot of value in predictions. They are, for all intents and purposes, just guesses, some more informed than others.”

      Okay, fine, you don’t put alot of value in predictions. Thats a good point that I agree with. But then you read todays post and here is what he says: “ZiPS pegged the Mariners for 86 wins, the most of any AL West team. When Replacement Level Yankee Weblog did their simulation blowout, running five other projection systems through 1,000 times each, the Mariners made the playoffs 29.4 percent of the time.”

      Sounds to me like you are “putting value” into those predictions does it not? Just read those two statements again (made by the same person no more than 24 hours apart) and tell me that isn’t the freaking definition of double talk?

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  19. hunterfan says:

    The only thing this entire back and forth has proven to me is that Dave simply can’t be trusted to be objective when it comes to the Seattle Mariners and is unable to recognize this. Will continue reading his articles in the future, but will be taking any Mariners one with a grain of salt.

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  20. Nick says:

    By the way if you want an actual BLOGGER!!!! to refute Dave Cameron’s horseshit, well you here you go:

    http://www.realclearsports.com/blognetwork/inside_mr_mets_head/2010/08/the-great-6org-failure.html

    But anyone claiming that you can’t criticize Cameron unless you’ve started your own free blog is a retard. Just like ol’ Davey.

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  21. Holier says:

    This all reassures me that the Mariners are better off as a Franchise than the Braves…….nah.

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  22. Conshy Matt says:

    so the M’s big plans to improve their offense included Milton Bradley and Russell Branyan??? and you have the nerve to critisize the phillies front office? for shame.

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    • Jack says:

      Have you seen some of the moves that Ruben Amaro has made? Ryan Howard signed to the second biggest contract in baseball. Cliff Lee for 3 prospects that looked bad at the time and even worse now. That is why the Phillies’ FO is criticized. I dare you to name one thing more stupid that the Mariners have done than these two moves.

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      • hunterfan says:

        The original Lee trade was a swindle, and the Oswalt trade was pretty dang good as well. Amaro made some boneheaded moves, but he also made some good ones.

        I get your larger point that the Mariner’s front office is better, but even though its amusing to point to the second Lee trade and go “ROFLCOPTER” at the Phillies’ front office, their overall track record isn’t terrible. Certainly not Minaya-esque.

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      • Jack says:

        I agree with this. I’m a biased Mariners fan so maybe I just wasn’t looking at the big picture. But the Howard move is still the worst move anybody’s made in the last 5 years except maybe the A-Rod extension.

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  23. AJS says:

    One simple point: Making the playoffs 29% of the time IN A DIVISION WITH FOUR TEAMS is not that good! It’s barely better than random chance. So, essentially, the predictions though the Mariners would be average. Dave thought they’d be substantially better than that. He refuses to acknowledge he was wrong. Sure, the Mariners’ “plan” could have worked, but apparently, according to the simulations, it wasn’t much more likely to work than anyone else’s.

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    • Jack says:

      These rankings weren’t created with just the 2010 season in mind. They were attempting to predict future success beyond this season. Not just this year. These weren’t the ESPN.com power rankings.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Yeah and the M’s had an average at best minor league system, so I don’t know why Dave assumed they were just going to magically improve. Its much easier to get better through your farm system then savvy moves by your front office…unless of course the magical Jack Z is running your team I guess.

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      • Jack says:

        Minor League players are a much less sure thing than a having a great FO. Prospects can bust but a good FO can turn prospects into Cliff Lee. I don’t think any moves made this offseason by the Mariners were bad ones (except bringing back Griffey) I just think that they were hampered by terrible bad luck that nobody could’ve foreseen. The FO is still a great one and I fully expect the Mariners to rise again in the future.

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      • Sam says:

        I think the question is “success measured how”? And for what period of time?

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      • hunterfan says:

        So if the rankings weren’t power rankings, what were they? That was never answered, despite many posters asking Dave to define success and a successful organization. Is it going to the playoffs? Winning the division for X years? Simply outperforming your record for the year before?

        The organizations were ranked and we were told X organization is better than Y, but never told exactly what that meant and how it translated into on the field success.

        I’m left with the vague feeling that the “Best org” rankings were merely a BS session where the general crtieria were, “I happen to like the way these organization does business because it is how I would do business”…i.e., the rankings were entirely subjective.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You’re talking as if the M’s certainly have a great front office, and you’re basing it on scant evidence. That’s the problem with placing so much emphasis on one thing with so much uncertainty.

        It also completely ignores the fact that their is more to a great front office than making smart decisions at the major league level. Possibly even more important is the ability of an organization to properly scout and develop young players. We really don’t have any evidence that Jack Z has gotten the right people in place to do that. Today, with so many teams smartly using statistical analysis, it seems even more important to be able to draft ( or sign IFAs) and develop them into good, young, cheap, controllable players. Its the reason I’d take Atlanta’s FO over the M’s, because even if they make more mistakes, they can cover with their ability to produce young talented players.

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    • Richard says:

      Indeed. 29% just says the A’s won’t be that good.

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  24. IamDeadHoratio says:

    A thought that seems to have been glossed over somewhat, or I may have missed while reviweing the threads for each installment.

    First, it has been acknowledged that the Mariners process this season resulted in the construction of a team with a high variance of success probabilities. Perhaps I have misconstrued the intent of this acknowledgement, but I would be curious to hear Dave’s opinion as to whether such a strategy is considered a characteristic of a strong organization?

    San Diego has been cited as a successful example of such an application however the fact that another organization is experiencing some short term success with a similar strategy does not necessarily reflect the prudence of such a course of action. In fact, I would argue the opposite, that a reliance on any strategy that was dependent on all outcomes to be positive reflects poorly on an organization’s depth and ability to compete in the long term and is certainly not indicative of what I would consider a top organization.

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  25. Conshy Matt says:

    jack – i don’t follow the M’s closely enough to comment on all of their front office moves (that’s me doing my best joe morgan). i think any front office bringing in milton bradley qualifies as a pretty stupid move. the dude has a track record. any fantasy baseballer can tell you reasons to avoid him.

    as for the phils FO, those moves have been well documented. i agree that the howard deal will probably not be a good one over the long haul. ruben and co. have made some pretty savy deals though and have done a good job keeping this group together for multiple runs. i don’t see how dave, etc. continue to insist that ruben is an incompetent moron.

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    • Jack says:

      Milton Bradley has been an excellent hitter the past 3 seasons. Nobody predicted his production to fall off a cliff. He has been a model citizen this year hitting like a minor leaguer. Trading one of the worst pitchers in Baseball for a guy who has been a great hitter the past 3 years was not a stupid move. They gambled on Bradley, but there was no risk involved and it has done nothing to harm the team, unlike signing Ryan Howard through 2017. So I don’t see trading for Milton Bradley to be stupid in any way.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He was an excellent hitter in 2007 and 2008, but he it was pretty clear last season that the power was completely gone. Now he continues his decline and its just bad luck, not unsound decision making on the part of Jack Z?

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      • Jack says:

        They picked up Bradley for peanuts. He was essentially a no risk investment. He hasn’t panned out, and the Mariners haven’t lost anything.

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      • Jamie says:

        and the phillies have had a catastrophic season in terms of injuries, yet they’ve charged ahead to within 2 games of the division and leading the wild card. RAJ seemed to find a way to keep the team going despite every starting player except for 1 being on the DL(and 2/5ths of the rotation)

        add in the fact that the phillies minor leagues are top 10 in baseball.

        everyone needs to stop beating the “phillies have a bad process.” bad processes don’t lead to 3 consecutive playoffs and 2 world series appearances.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        No, they haven’t lost anything, but that’s beside the point. They thought that Bradley was going to be good in spite of the disappearance of his power last year. I bet you many teams assumed that was a sign of what’s come this year, as opposed to the aberration that M’s supporters would have you believe.

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      • Paul says:

        Okay, this is at least the third post where I’ve read that he is a “model citizen”. Really? In early May he was removed from the lineup, went back to the clubhouse and left the ballpark before the game was over. So he was dealing with personal issues, and it should be taken in that context, but that’s sort of the point. When you get Milton Bradley you get a talented ballplayer who is likely to have personal issues interfere with his play/be disruptive to the whole “team” thing; and be injured for an extended period.

        As for the folks bringing Carlos Silva into this, he is irrelevant. Just like Casey Blake’s last two years of MLB service while Carlos Santana was in the minors is irrelevant, because he was not signed to those years when he was traded for. But if Silva must be brought into the argument, it’s clear to me that the better move would have been just to release him and eat the contract.

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    • hunterfan says:

      Any good move that Ruben did was obviously just “luck” (first Cliff Lee deal, Oswalt deal) while any bad move was all Ruben’s fault (Howard extension, second Cliff Lee deal.)

      God forbid our opinion of GM’s be nuanced…maybe the guy does some things good and some things bad? NAHHHHH…

      RAJ = MORON!

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    • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

      as a phils fan, the best you can say is the amaro deals have a chance of being OK, but an equal chance of being a disaster with the median outcome being probably a bad deal.

      of the major moves:

      Raul 3 years for 30 million: year one he more than earned his contract, year 2 he wont earn his contract, but his underperformance isn’t as severe as his outperformance year 1, year 3 you can’t expect him to be a 2 win player, but he might have at least in terms of WAR close to an OK Deal (and in some senses this is fine because year 1 was the most important year_

      Trading for Cliff Lee: Awesome.
      Trading away cliff lee: awful, and i understand the context it was in. Why not non tender blanton? We sort of all said this at the time, still at least up front the prospects the phillies got back were better than what they gave up, which you could also say for seattle (and if smoak turns out to be a huge bust at least seattle got a rental and theoretically a better set of prospects like philly did). so this works out to a slight win.

      Minor signings such as Contreras, Gload, Schneider, etc: you have to say that this was OK>

      Howard Contract: Still early but a major gamble, likely to be a huge failure but as some smart people at baseball prospectus have pointed out: it may be OK in isolation. more worrisome is that Werth will almost surely leave.

      So maybe not as bad as say, Minaya, or Ed Wade (thank god we dont have him anymore), but I am not happy to have him, and not happy that he doesnt have a single statistician type on the staff.

      one last minor note: I am friends with the family with a decently high up Front-Office type in seattle, and have sort of followed his career from afar. If they do let go of Amaro, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to bring this guy home. Bonus points to anyone that figures out who it might be.

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  26. Conshy Matt says:

    bradley has averaged 96 games played over the past 5 seasons. he’s hit more than 20 hr’s once in his career. he’s stolen an average of 4 bases per year over that time. he’s been suspended umpteen times, been on the DL umpteenplus times. he’s been a clubhouse cancer (by all accounts).

    yet he was the M’s answer. really jack? you are defending that???

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    • Jack says:

      He wasn’t the M’s answer. They traded the worst pitcher in baseball for him. They turned nothing into something. He has not been a problem off the field this year, he just hasn’t hit and nobody predicted that.

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      • IamDeadHoratio says:

        That statement is a bit disingenuous , he absolutely was considered one of the answers to the Mariners’ offensive woes and the fact that Silva was the ‘asset’ they gave up for him is irrelevant in that context. That fact of the matter is the Mariners counted on production from Bradley that they obviously did not receive, nor were likely to receive over the course of a full season given the copious time that Bradley has missed over the course of his career.

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      • Jack says:

        I’m biased what can I say.

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      • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

        Yes but people predicted any other number of bad outcomes, including milton getting injured, miltion breaking a hand trying to punch out an umpire and hitting the mask, milton lighting safeco field on fire because they moved his office to the basement and took his red staple… whoops wrong narrative.

        Wouldn’t part of being a good GM be having a solid backup plan if any of these outcomes occurred? (including the small chance that can happen any year, namely that a player loses some hand-eye and is no longer world class at hitting a baseball).

        So then what was Jack’s backup plan? A 39 year old who hugged his teammates alot, slept in the clubhouse, and was worse than a fair number of career triple A players at this point in his career.

        How is that good management (and agian, this is from someone that things Jack is above average as a GM overall, just not the second coming of Moses or Jesus or something).

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  27. Nitram Odarp says:

    The biggest thing I think Dave is still missing is that there is more to a great FO than simply using stats correctly and making smart signings and trades. With the number of smartly run teams today, there are far fewer inefficiencies for these types of teams to gobble up. Today, I think it may be more important to do a good job scouting young players and correctly developing them. If a team can consistently develop productive, cheap, controllable players, they can deal with a bad move at the major league level here and there. This seems to be something that was never really looked at in the entire series.

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    • Jack says:

      Jack Z drafted Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. The track record is there for developing good young players. He traded for Justin Smoak and drafted Dustin Ackley. Michael Pineda might be the best pitcher still in the minor leagues. Nick Franklin is tearing through A ball straight out of high school. The young players are there. And this is still only his second season. Give him time for them to develop. He inherited a completely barren farm system and has turned it into one that is substantially better in a very short amount of time.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Pineda was already a highly regarded prospect that dropped in value because he missed most of last season with a sore elbow. Smoak’s been pretty disappointing thus far. I like Ackley as a solid, high OBP player, but he’s been worse than advertised (even excluding his early struggles). Franklin is the ‘s one guy I know of that Z drafted that been better than advertised, but he still has a huge problem with strikeouts and after a hot start he’s really struggled over the past 3 months or so.

        Sure, Z hasn’t had a lot of time to develop a farm system, but the issue is once again the assumptions that were going into the #6 ranking. We had a little bit of data that pointed to Z being a smart GM and essentially no real data that he could build a successful farm system, yet the M’s got ranked ahead of a team with arguably the best pipeline for young talent in all of baseball. That doesn’t make sense to me, especially when we consider the Braves were also better in current and future talent coming into the year.

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  28. erocstrat says:

    So he thought the Mariners were that #6 organization, does it really matter. The thought that people get fired up over this is pretty crazy. I lot of people, publications, “experts” were very high on the Mariners at the beginning of the year. I was not sold on the Mariners for a few reasons.
    1. After C Lee and F Hernandez, I’m not really impressed with the 3-4-5 pitchers.
    2. I have always thought Figgins was a little overrated. I think he is at his best in a supporting role (like he was with the Angels). But when he is counted on to supply the offense for the Mariners, there is big troubles.
    3. I saw the moves the M’s made during the offseason and just shrugged my shoulders. I thought they made the team more competitive but I still didn’t think they were in the same class as Texas or Anaheim.
    4. They were not going to receive much help from the minors. Ackley might become a decent 2B but I have not been sold on Michael Saunders. The rest of the players in the minors have a lot of question marks.

    Dave was not the only one to think highly about the Mariners. The differences between the #6 orgaization and #10 is probably miniscule. Most people would have had the Mariners in the top 12 at the beginning of the season.

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    • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

      the difference between 6 and 10 is pretty significant. On either extreme end of the spectrum, the difference between 1-5 and say, 30-26 is pretty massive. Maybe right at the middle 13-17 it isnt so big, but 8 teams make the playoffs in a given season, and to put the mariners over every single NL team at the time smacked of horrifying homerism, and now looks even worse.

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  29. joe says:

    While there are a ton of personal attacks on Dave, I though a lot of the questions and comments were actually constructive, but it seems like Dave is not really interested in a discussion, just a greater forum to refute any viewpoint that doesn’t agree with his own.

    Out of the 100′s of comment and questions, does anyone else find it odd that not a single one Dave chose to include was a “I missed that”, “I hadn’t considered that” or “I may have over/underestimated that factor”… instead he cherrypicks points that oppose him that he can attempt to refute or wave away and say that’s missing the point…. not a single question/comment that gave Dave pause or cause him to re-evaluate his position at all? That seems rather unlikely (or arrogant).

    So what has become of this “discussion”: Basically, here’s a bunch of points people raised and why they are wrong or misinformed. nothing about what was learned, what might be used in next years rankings, no growth or desire to refine how the rankings are done just an entrenchment in his subjective position.

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  30. Steve says:

    I have an issue with the reference to Milton Bradley as one of the best hitters in baseball. Take away 2008 and what you have is a good hitter with very ordinary numbers over his carreer. I was surprised last off-season how much attention Milton Bradley received. Perhaps it was because there wasn’t much out there. Milton Bradley is a good hitter, mediocre (at best) defender and we all know about his off-field issues. Coming into the season, Seattle’s offense as a whole was as over-rated as Milton Bradley. He makes a good middle of the order pick up if you have other very good hitters in there with him. Seattle didn’t and doesn’t. In March, I felt Seattle had the best 1-2 hitters in the majors with Ichiro and Figgins, but who would drive them in? Why they are so disappointing in offense has partly to do with under performance and a lot to do with the fact that they were never as good as people believed them to be. I realize the organizational rankings are based on a lot more than expected 2010 results, but I keep reading so much about Milton Bradley.

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  31. Here are a few details:

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  32. Stew says:

    Dave, well written – thanks. I would thoroughly enjoy a similar (shorter would be fine) look at the Twins 2011 season in light of their last offseason or two. There seems to be a general consensus that the Twins have grossly underperformed, and while there are obvious challenges (injuries!), my personal take is that the front office did a woeful job of preparing for contingencies (e.g. obtaining quality depth up the middle).

    Any chance you would have time to tackle the Twins from this angle?
    Thanks for your work -

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