Wakamatsu and Others Fired

In a move more inevitable than surprising, Jack Zduriencik fired Manager Don Wakamatsu, Bench Coach Ty Van Burkleo, Pitching Coach Rick Adair and Mental Coach Steve Hecht from the Mariners yesterday afternoon. Several coaches received promotions to fill the vacant roles, including Triple-A Manager Daren Brown becoming the Mariners’ interim manager.

It seems that whenever a manager is fired, the question of whether he deserved it will arise and usually the first point brought up will be the team’s record to date — usually a poor one — followed by someone countering that a manager rarely has much of an effect over a team’s record. For instance, the Mariners were 42-70 at the time of Wakamatsu’s firing. Was he responsible for that? He wasn’t at fault for all 70 losses. He was probably to blame for more than zero. He was also probably to credit for more than zero of their wins. Where does the scale balance out? I don’t know, but I do find it odd that this sort of back-and-forth is almost exclusively applied to coaches only.

Sticking with the Mariners, earlier this season Eric Byrnes earned his release after a brutal stretch of play. There was some discussion about whether he deserved that release given the roster make up and what his future projections looked like, but I do not recall anyone stating that the Mariners were 11-14 at the time and thus he deserved to be let go.

We don’t apply the same expectations for managers as we do for players, and we shouldn’t. Players are paid to produce on the field and we’ve gotten pretty good at isolating one player’s contributions to a team’s wins so we generally disregard the team’s overall record when talking about a single player. We do not have a good way to evaluate the impact of a manager, though, and so a team’s overall record becomes sort of the default metric.

On its own, using a team’s record as justification for firing the manager implies that he had direct control over said record. I would contend that no matter who helmed the Mariners this season, they were unlikely to post a meaningfully different record. I think most people agree with that. I think most people agree that the brunt of the blame falls on a combination of random variation, the players themselves for not producing up to expectations and on the front office for assembling said players. To those that disagree, however, to those that believe that a manager has — or can have — a major impact on a team’s wins and losses, I have a question. Why are managers paid so little?

We assume that all teams seek to maximize their number of wins for their expenditures. If managers could routinely positively or negatively affect their teams by more than a few wins, then it would stand to reason that they deserve exorbitant salaries.

We do not have good up-to-date data on manager salaries, but as recently as 2007 the average manager made $1.4 million and the median salary was just $850,000 due to Joe Torre’s $7.5 million really busting the curve. Torre no longer makes that much and I doubt there’s been any major inflation in the salaries paid to managers during the past three years. If we apply the same dollar-to-win conversion that we use for players, then front offices are valuing a manager’s contributions to the team’s won-loss record at around a quarter of a single win on average and even the highest-paid managers clock in around a single win worth of salary.

Front offices should have the best insight into how much chemistry and leadership in the clubhouse matters. If it’s too unpredictable to judge, then why use that to justify hiring and firing of managers? If it matters and is predictable, then my question is, why aren’t they paying for it?




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

89 Responses to “Wakamatsu and Others Fired”

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  1. BK says:

    This makes me really wish there were a way to figure out some sort of Manager WAR.

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    • Steven says:

      There’d be a lot of noise in there. Would you credit them with their reliever choices, even of they may be limited due to the fact that the closer isn’t available due to overuse? Or if they sub for a star player in the lineup due to a stomach flu?

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      • TFINY says:

        If their closer isn’t available due to overuse, then isn’t it their fault anyway that they were overused?

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      • quint says:

        TFINY – What if the closer is overused because of the lack of performance out of other members of the bullpen not being able to get it done?

        So you either overuse your closer, or you throw games away.

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  2. bisonaudit says:

    Managers and coaches are the biggest bunch of old school group thinking copy cats around. They all do more or less the same thing, they are all therefore more-or-less equally good or bad. A talent pool is a mile wide and in inch deep equals comparibly low, undifferentiated, and stable (compared to the arms race of exclating player salaries) pay.

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    • bisonaudit says:

      Also, typing is a skill.

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    • Jason B says:

      “They all do more or less the same thing, they are all therefore more-or-less equally good or bad. A talent pool is a mile wide and in inch deep equals comparibly low, undifferentiated, and stable (compared to the arms race of exclating player salaries) pay.”

      That…pretty much sums it up. Bison for the win!

      It would be one thing if a manager were employing some revolutionary strategies – a four-man rotation, batting order from high OBP to low, closer-by-commitee, using a closer for only high-leverage situations (+1, 0, -1), etc. But when they all do the exact same things, they can all do them equally well or poorly.

      And even if you had one manager employing some truly different tactics, you can’t simply look at how the team does to know if those tactics were any good or not. Maybe the team only won 65 games because the players are crummy, not because the manager used a 4-man rotation (for example). No amount of managerial magic will turn this year’s Pittsburgh Pirates into a pennant winner.

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  3. Adam says:

    I was thinking the same thing as BK. There must be some way to measure the impact of a coach on a team, beyond such intangibles such as “chemistry” and “command of the locker room.” Managers make decisions throughout the game. Those decisions should be weighed by whether they improved the chances of the team to win or not.

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    • rickie weeks says:

      So manager WPA? Of course, you wouldn’t want to reward/punish the manager’s WPA based on outcomes (like after a pitching change) but rather the xWPA(?) of the game situation after a tactical move versus before. xWPA being derived from LI and expected outcome of the move based on the change in talent or game state on the field.

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      • Scott Batura says:

        I’ve been thinking about doing that for quite some time, but the issue lies in how to evaluate the manager when he DOESN’T make a move- ie, he leaves a reliever in, doesn’t pinch run, etc. Measuring the impact of moves made is easy, measuring everything a manager decides not to do is very difficult.

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      • notdissertating says:

        “Measuring the impact of moves made is easy, measuring everything a manager decides not to do is very difficult.”

        this is an excellent point. but couldn’t you simply use the rest of the manager field as a baseline? if a manager doesn’t call for a SF bunt in a key game situation, but, say, 75% of other managers would, couldn’t a WPA measure pick up the effect of not calling for the SF in that situation?

        a big problem here would be a player initiated decision to bunt. not a big deal if those are randomly assigned across teams, but we all know there are some players who do crazy things repeatedly – you wouldn’t (necessarily) want to blame their managers for these.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      You’d probably have to do it with some kind of baseball simulation. Have the manger play out X many games on the simulator, managing his bullpen, pinch hitters, juggling his pitching staff etc… then compares how he does against other managers and an automated manager. You’d just need to make sure the simulation was a good one. But the problem you are going to have with this and other methods is that your sample size is just too small and there is going to be tons of noise just based off of dumb luck. It may be the best we are left with is subjective valuations. My personal opinion is that most managers are all the same, or atleast similar enough to have no measurable differences and that it is probably best to just go with one that is not too big of an asshole.
      vr, Xei

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  4. Larry G says:

    “Jack Zduriencik fired … Mental Coach Steve Hecht … .” Have they replaced the mental coach or are they attempting to play without dedicated mental coaching?

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    • johng says:

      I shudder at the thought of guys thinking about stuff without proper stretching or warm-up.

      Can you say – Career Ending Brain Cramp?

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    • JMHawkins says:

      In covering the story, some of hte local media have occasionally referred ot Hecht as the “Performance Enhancing Coach.”

      Holy Loaded Words, Batman. Don’t let a Congressional Committee get ahold of that one.

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  5. johng says:

    You are talking about “managers”. Even in business, it’s hard to quantify what managers do, and how they earn their keep. If everyone’s happy, the department hums along, people speak highly of interacting with that department, innovation and production occur (boy, that’s a horrible, passive, business construction), then it’s assumed that the manager is doing a good job.

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  6. Augustus says:

    I think Wakamatsu’s firing was perfectly deserved and there hasn’t really been a manager fired this year who shouldn’t have been.

    People always say “it’s not the manager’s fault” or “he’d put Joey Votto in over Casey Kotchman if he could,” but then you really shouldn’t ever praise a winning manager either, whether it’s the bumbling Charlie Manuel or the “smart” Tony La Russa.

    Frankly, if the bat boy had to take over for the manager, the difference he would make on a team wouldn’t be so great that the Yankees would suddenly play like the Royals or what have you.

    To me, the goal of a manager in baseball is simply to guide the team. That’s why Torre was so valued: anyone could have won with that talent, but he did, instead of losing with it. Up until perhaps the very end, he never lost his team, and his players never gave up on him. It’s really hard to say that about Wakamatsu. His players did give up on him.

    Of course, part of that is the overall losing, but you have to look for reasons to believe he would turn that around, and there just weren’t any, unless you think almost fist-fighting Chone Figgins is a team-unifying activity.

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    • Omar says:

      Except Joe Torre actually made several decisions that cost his teams game, whether it be his retarded usage of Tom Gordon in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, the usage of Jeff Weaver over Mariano Rivera in 2003, or any of his other horrendous bullpen decisions he hurt the Yankees. Most Yankee fans are glad he’s gone.

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      • Michael says:

        I think you’re really stretching things when you say most Yankees fans are glad he’s gone. I think more Yankee fans want his number retired than are glad he’s gone.

        Of course he’s had his questionable decisions, but so have all managers. No one’s perfect all of the time; it’s just not an achievable feat over twelve years (or whatever it was) with one team.

        The point is, Derek Jeter never looked like he was more interested in hitting the town than playing baseball.

        You got the impression that a decent number of players on the Mariners are more interested in doing anything than play baseball in Seattle.

        That’s really all you can ask a manager to do. If you think he can use his bullpen to cover up a starting pitching staff that features Jake Westbrook or Fausto Carmona as an ace, you’re going to run out of managers.

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      • Michael says:

        For the record, this is Augustus; apparently I have a different name on my work computer or something.

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      • NEPP says:

        Or like when Charlie Manuel outmanaged Joe Torre in the playoffs for the last two years. Maybe ANYONE really could win with the late 90s Yankees clubs.

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  7. I think the manager has a significant impact on field results. I’ll use the Twins as an example.

    Poz likes the Twins manager Ron Gardenhire because of the results he has had, yet many Twins fans hate several of Gardy’s unusual habits. It seems to me that even though Gardy does not seem particularly bright, and continually makes very strange lineup decisions, he keeps his players happy and the Twins keep winning. I used to think they did this because they had been so fortunate developing some of the best players in baseball in recent years, but after Santana left there was no significant hit to their field record. Earlier this year Justin Morneau was having an MVP season, but with him out of the lineup and Mauer frequently injured,the team kept winning all month. Maybe simply keeping players happy (lonnng season remember) trumps things like lineup and bullpen strategy?

    Alsoa GM spotlight (a little off topic) : How much impact can a smart GM have and how much of a smart GM’s rep is just dumb luck? Jack Zduriencik seemed like the Billy Beane of this preseason, with some misguided folks believing a team with a smart, complex stats-based GM could not lose. Having a smart GM is a big advantage, but I would also say that most of the other GM’s are not stupid either, and luck, good & bad, can make any GM’s move look smart or stupid.

    Reading over the infamous Fangraphs pre-season organizational prediction (and the painful follow up comments) for Seattle seems like a lesson to those who think this unpredictable game is easy to understand.

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    • JMHawkins says:

      Given how important the farm system is to a franchise (even the infamously overspending Yankees ran out farm system products in all three up-the-middle positions during their late-90′s run) and how utterly depleted the M’s system was when Zduriencik took over, it’s going to take more than two years for them to be really competitive. He rolled the dice this year and it came up craps. But overall they have a far better system now than two years ago.

      For me, the biggest problems for Wak were a questionable grasp on the abilities (such as they were) of his players, and an inability to motivate young guys to work. Lopez and Betancourt, I’m looking at you… Maybe that’s unfair to Wak, but if Ackley, Saunders and Moore go down the same inadequate work-ethic hole, the future is toast too.

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  8. highrent says:

    You fire managers to deflect blame and change atmosphere. They probably have a new guy they want to woo or perhaps get a veteran manager in there. While he probably needed to put more discipline in the clubhouse especially the Figgins incidents he really has been handicapped from the front office and the actual performance of the players have been abysmal. Even Ichiro wondered if its really Wak who lost those games or the players themselves. Managers can make a difference but currently they usually balance their own positives with negatives. it think moving forward there are ways to get more out of managing but we aren’t there yet. Evne then I doubt its more than 2 wins over pythag even for really good managers. Its a pR thing, it looks like a house cleaning without the Gm taking too big a hit.

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  9. chuckb says:

    Couldn’t one attempt to measure a manager’s effectiveness or ability by taking the actual team wins and subtracting the number of wins a replacement level team would win (about 47, right?) and then subtracting the players’ WAR for the season? That would give you the difference between the number of games the team actually won and the number of games the team should have won based on the players’ performance. It’s certainly not a perfect measure of a manager’s effectiveness but, if a manager should be measured by his ability to get the most out of his team, could it not be a step in the right direction anyway?

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  10. Matt S says:

    I want to step back a moment and consider the things that a manager can control and maybe that will help clarify how they can effect winning. I can see the following (perhaps obvious ways)

    Lineup optimization: The manager probably receives some pretty direct orders on who plays where most of the time, but decisions about rest days, platooning and batting order are usually left to him alone. We could therefore judge a manager on how close his lineups over the season match to a criteria of best offensive production compared to a optimized lineup and best fielding lineup (by UZR or DRS etc) vs the same). Does he maintain realistic game numbers for his key players (compared to a projection system perhaps)

    Bullpen Usage Optimization- Does the manager use the best relievers for the highest leverage situation? Does he match the best specialist to the appropriate situations? Does his overall usage pattern result in sustained or decline effectiveness from his relievers (Jerry Manuel, I’m looking at you).

    Pitcher stress management- Some systems like PAP (pitcher abuse points) are already around, so maybe they just need to be quantified into a system of value in wins.

    Strategic Play Calling- This is probably the easiest to quantify. It would just mean looking at called plays (ie Hit and Runs, Bunts, specialized defensive ailments etc) and use the WPA for those such plays where the called play is executed and the result is either positive or negative (so you wouldn’t count a bunt that is popped up, but you would count one where the lead runner does not advance)

    Anyway, sorry to go on here. Can anyone else think of any quantifiable managerial decisions? That is all I really see that they do that is really reflected in any of the data. It seems like it would be marginal stuff at best. I think the most important jobs for the manager are keeping the players focused, keeping the clubhouse culture positive and consistent and making the players accept and commit to their role. For my money, Torre and Francona are the best I have seen at those things while some very esteemed managers do a lousy job (like LaRussa).

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  11. BobLoblaw says:

    Managers are there TO be fired. You know that. They are there so that a “change” can be made when all meaningful attempts to affect field performance have failed. It’s an unwritten part of the job description. Deserved or not, it’s the right of the owners to make these changes and the role of the managers to unwittingly fill. Call it an “atmospheric” change. If you’ve ever been in a room filled with humans and stress, you can’t deny that “atmospheric” changes can be real and exist and can affect a group’s mood.

    Speaking of which, how does an article about Wakamatsu’s firing really not include any reference to the dugout fight a few weeks ago? If there was ever a case for an “atmospheric” change, this would be it.

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  12. AJP says:

    Agreed with the article, I’ve always thought the manager position is overrated. I believe a manager has very little to do with a team’s overall success or failure. There is only so much a manager can do, the rest is on the players themselves. People can claim a somone is a “great baseball” guy like Wakamatsu, but most managers are if they do become a manager. He may be a great baseball guy, but he can’t make Figgins hit .300, have Milton Bradley stay healthy, and have the M’s score enough runs for Hernandez to give him a respectable record. All a manager can do is set the lineup cards and change pitchers, neither of those seem challenging or only being able to be handled by a special person such as a manager. Not to say anyone can be a manager, but the high esteem people hold for managers seems to be misguided. In fact, probably has very little to do with the outcomes of the game and overall season.

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  13. Wonko The Sane says:

    With this deadweight out of the way, do the Mariners now jump up to being the #5org?

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  14. grandbranyan says:

    I think the real question is, will this positively or negatively impact next year’s organizational ranking for the Seattle Mariners?

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    • grandbranyan says:

      Looks like Wonko beat me to it.

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      • Teej says:

        There’s no reason to limit ourselves to just one predictable, unfunny, beaten-to-death joke per thread.

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      • Daniel says:

        Cameron approached a subject that requires much objectivity with bias and for that I can tolerate the unoriginal ribbing. It wasn’t the first time and hopefully he’s learned a thing or two since then.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Daniel, and everybody: no, that wasn’t Dave’s ranking. The FG writers *collectively* determined the rankings.

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      • Billy says:

        @The Ancient Mariner says — False. Those were Dave’s rankings not the FG writers/staff..etc. He asked for input in the articles, but the rankings were his.

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      • @Billy.

        No, they weren’t.

        It’s astounding to me how many people claim to know how the rankings were formed when the people who actually formed them are right here. There’s no conspiracy.

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  15. lex logan says:

    General Managers seem to have major, obvious impact on teams. Do they get paid a lot more than managers?

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  16. #6ORG says:

    yet another disastrous decision by Zduriencik to deflect attention from his disastrous record as a GM, how does this clown even have a job in baseball

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    • Chris88 says:

      DISASTROUS!

      One winning season and one losing season = a disaster.

      DISASTER I SAY!

      Jesus H Christ, are people stupid.

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      • TomG says:

        Branch Rickey was a clown. Remember that time the Dodgers went 63-91? What a bum.

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      • TFINY says:

        Don’t feed trolls. Didn’t you see his name?

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      • joe says:

        One winning season = mirage.

        That team was outscored by 52 runs…. somehow considering that anything but luck or an outlier seems a bit odd for folks that would visit this site.

        If we are going to chalk up low ERA or high AVG seasons due to BABIP, LOB%, etc and call it luck/randomness…. how can a -52 run differential that translates into 85 wins be considered a success or a winning season? If anything the manager coaxed more than he should have out of the the players or made some good decisions or it was just luck.

        In any event crediting Jack Z for a winning season in ’09 is a bit of a reach. He now has presided over 2 seasons of teams that have been significantly outscored and barring a major roster overhaul is ’11 going to be any different?

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  17. Matt Lentzner says:

    Managers are like umpires. Umpires don’t contribute any WAR to a game (you hope), but they certainly need to be there if you want to play. Someone has to make out the lineup card even if it doesn’t really matter how it’s done. When they can no longer do these jobs without major drama then it’s time to go.

    The fact that they get fired proves how interchangeable they are. Nobody is firing the players; they’re too valuable even if they are having lousy years.

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  18. Dwight S. says:

    I think in general Managers get too much credit when their teams do well and too much flack when their teams do bad. For instance I’m a Tigers fan and when the Tigers’ record was good most people around here were jocking Leyland now that they have crashed back down to Earth people are calling for his head. He is still putting out the same jacked up lineups as he was earlier in the year, he’s still leaving in pitchers too long like he did earlier in the year, he’s still mismanaging his bullpen like he did earlier in the year, he still refuses to play “small ball” like he did earlier in the year, the only difference is that things were going the Tigers way then, unlike now. So he is basically the same manager he has been all year yet people thought he was some great manager in May and think he’s nothing now.

    I really wish there was a way to see how many games a manager really effected during the course of the year. I’m sure it’s just wishful thinking though.

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  19. David K says:

    One way to ‘sort of’ measure what impact a fired manager had on his team, one can look at the team’s record after a large enough sample size of games after his firing. I saw some stats somewhere (too bad I forget the source), that listed all the managers that were fired during the season over the past decade. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much change in the team’s W-L record with a new manager. One notable exception was the Rockies a couple of years ago when Hurdle was fired and Tracy took over. It’s easier to replace a couple of managers and coaches than it is to replace the entire team, so all GMs are looking for that miracle Rockies’ turnaround instead of pointing a finger at themselves for assembling a failed roster.

    I said ‘sort of’ above because the comparison doesn’t take into account the possibility that key players could have been injured prior to the managerial change, and the players may have returned early in the new manager’s tenure.

    Finally, you may not be able to completely discount team morale and the desire to “shake things up” — look at how the Orioles are doing so far with Showalter, but the sample size is small, and that team is still lousy, so you can’t draw any conclusions from 5 games.

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    • Resolution says:

      No one key returned once Tracy took over. Hurdle had lost his team and when Tracy took over they collectively responded. I always state that I don’t think it was adding Tracy that turned the team around as much as it was removing Hurdle that did.

      Which brings up this idea of maybe the ceiling for managers in terms of their contributions to the teams W/L record isn’t very high but their floor can be lower than we think…

      Although honestly, I do believe that if they were better trained at being managers, there would be an actual impact beyond just random variation…

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      • David K says:

        I meant that IN GENERAL, just looking at the W-L before and after a managerial firing may not take injured player status into account. I was not referring to the Colorado situation in particular when I made this disclaimer. I just mentioned Colorado as one example where there was a noticeable difference in W-L record from old manager to new manager, which is pretty uncommon.

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    • Bill says:

      I like the Showalter hire, but this is a different team than the one the O’s fielded through most of the season. Pie, Roberts, and Gonzales are healthy and Wieters seems to have figured things out.

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  20. seattlepi says:

    What does Mr. #6org thing of this move, cant wait to he will spin this to praise Jack Z

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  21. nmirra says:

    There’s talk here and elsewhere of the Mariners needing “discipline,” but like any classroom, you can’t walk in and instill discipline on the first day. The manager or teacher controls the team or class, in part, by being the senior figure. And these are milionaire athletes who probably all think they’re hot stuff and worthy of full playing time. That’s a tough assignment for anyone.

    Sure, Torre, La Russa and Scioscia are “good managers” blessed by talented players. But they also have been with the same team long enough that they have the credibility to run the team their way. Would Figgins have snapped at Scioscia? Maybe, but Scioscia has the track record and the tenure in that Angels dugout to handle things however he sees fit.

    Firing Wak is the typical “we need change” baseball move, and yes, Wak was not terribly responsible for his players’ poor hitting or the balky roster construction. But I think 1.5 seasons is too short a time to evaluate a manager’s skills.

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  22. joeiq says:

    Brilliant perspective. No wonder so many comments. Nice.

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  23. joe says:

    Organization rankings had a lot to do with minor leagues and salary commitments, not purely standings predictions.

    I support Dave Cameron’s ranks. You can’t say you knew Chone and Bradley would be this worthless. I’m not going to say they deserved to be exactly 6th, but somewhere in that range.

    Besides the crappiness of Chone and Bradley, you can’t ignore how the bad players are even worse than expected. Look at JAck wilson, he’s nearly 100 points below his career OPS. Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman also around 100 points worse.

    So give them the 100 OPS points they are all underperfoming by and they are a much better hitting team with great defense. I’m not saying they are all 100OPS points better, but they were rightly predicted to be 100 OPS points better.

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  24. joe says:

    Mental Coach? And people made fun of the Dodgers for hiring someone psychic to send good vibes from NY (or somewhere far away from LA)

    I think the only question is when does Jack Z get fired?

    At what point do folks start looking at some of the roster moves and decisions? If Waka is not the issue, then you have to look at folks constructing the team… you can place blame on the players, but you can also place blame on the guy getting paid to evaluate the player and bringing them in. This is a team with a 90+mil payroll.

    And I don’t understand the salary part…. this is sabremetrics at it’s worst. How much are team physicians paid? Are they paid on a marginal win scale? How about 3rd base coaches? Bullpen coaches? It’s one thing to apply stats to players, but lets exercise a little common sense here.

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    • Everett says:

      GMs pretty much never get fired after only 2 years, unless they royally screwed things up. Given trades like the one for Gutierrez, or the pair of Cliff Lee deals, I can’t imagine that they’d be in a big hurry to fire him. If after another year or two the club doesn’t appear headed in the right direction, maybe then. GMs get longer leashes than coaches, as long as they appear to have a decent idea of how to do things (outside of DePodesta, who just got screwed).

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  25. SeanD says:

    Meh. Managers are fired because players cost too much to fire, and GM’s that don’t fire managers get fired for not doing anything.

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  26. CedarA says:

    @Joe

    You have to realize that Jack Z came into the 2009 season with a broken team and a ravaged farm system. They’d just had a 100 loss season and mariners morale was lower than ever. Jack is still in a rebuilding phase, any chance of playoff success in 2010(cliff lee) was just a bonus. Jack a former scouting director clearly was trying to create a franchise rather than mortgage future for a run in 2010.

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    • artie says:

      I hate this Jack Z walks on water view of the entire sabrmetric community – he made a great trade foe Guti, but the Lee machinations turned out to be more or less Aumont, Gillies, Ramirez for Justin Smoak and Beaven… that seems like a pretty neutral trade at this point – might turn out great, might turn out mediocre

      If this team was not expected to make a run there are a bunch of headscratching roster moves.

      He took over a 100 loss team, and 2 years later they appear headed to…. 100losses. Why trade for Branyan AFTER they were out of it? Why trade for 1 year of Cliff Lee (or was he thinking they would resign him)? Why throw Waka under the bus if this is a rebuilding phase?

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      • Teej says:

        Justin Smoak is a better prospect than anything the M’s gave up to get Lee. And even if we assume for some reason that he’s not, and the trades are a wash, isn’t that still a win? Getting one of the best pitchers in baseball for a year for nothing more than his relatively modest salary? There wasn’t much risk in trading for Lee when Ruben Amaro’s asking price was so low. He made a move to improve the 2010 team and didn’t give up much to do so. Then he turned him into a high-level hitting prospect who most people thought was untouchable.

        I don’t think Jack Z walks on water, and he’s made some bad moves just like any GM, but the whole Cliff Lee experiment was a net positive.

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      • Everett says:

        Smoak is way better than any of those prospects, and Beaven appears to at least be in the conversation compared to them. This in addition to half a season of Lee clearly makes this trade a significant net win.

        That isn’t to say that he “walks on water” just that while there are questions about him, there are also a number of positive things.

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      • NBarnes says:

        Aumont, Gilllies, and Ramirez for Smoak and Beaven would have been considered highway robbery at the time of the Lee trade. Zduriencik got that and several months of Hall of Fame caliber pitching out of Lee.

        You can say what you want about the Mariners’ 2010, but the Cliff Lee story in Seattle does nothing but make Z look good.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        If you think that Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez compare as prospects to Smoak, Lueke, and Beavan, then you need to seriously reassess how you evaluate prospects.

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      • NotaClown says:

        You Bozos are all putting words in his mouth, he said the trade was pretty neutral right now, which isn’t that far off. In the long run the Ms are way more likely to have had received way more value from the guys they got from Texas vs. the guys the Phils got from the Ms. But as of right now, all of those guys aren’t adding value to the major league team in any real fashion. Try reading what he said before telling him how wrong he is….

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      • NEPP says:

        At least we finally know what Ruben Amaro Jr’s Fangraphs acct name is…

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      They seem to have a lot of losses for a Top 10 team. Any other Top 10 Organization going to lose 100 games in 2 of the last 3 years? Any of the other Top 10 organizations not make the playoffs in the last 3 years?

      Their minor leagues must be stocked with talent … or not.

      One can easily see, to non-Mariner fans, how absurd this ranking is … and why there’s so many jokes about it.

      If you look at the team’s history, tradition, city, roster, etc … there’s nothing Top 10 about it (and I like the Mariners … especially good ol Jay Buhner).

      In hindsight we were all too infatuated with the “speed and defense” aspect, completely over-looking their absolute lack of power, and how they has correlated with scoring runs and winning games in the past. We should have seen this coming, rather than being more likely to replicate the 82 or 85 Cardinals’ success.

      I think, if one wanted, they could make a case that this team/organization is trending downward, not upward … and MOST of the #6 ranking was on future events. The M’s saving grace was the parity of their division.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        “Any other Top 10 Organization going to lose 100 games in 2 of the last 3 years?”

        Meet the Rays (Last year’s #2org).

        2008: 97-65
        2007: 66-96
        2006: 61-101

        “Any of the other Top 10 organizations not make the playoffs in the last 3 years?”

        Meet the Braves (#8org).

        Last playoff appearance: 2005

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  27. Jeff Nye says:

    I was expecting the comments on this article to be much more of a train wreck than they’ve been so far.

    #6 org trolls are getting lazy!

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    • Bad Bill says:

      It’s too obvious, and too easy. Must a hundred people give voice to what ten thousand are already thinking?

      This said, I think there is room for a serious discussion as to whether this is the kind of move that a, quote unquote, “good” organization makes. Is it a matter of the organization admitting their own error and fixing it — which very few management types have the cojones to do? Or is it a CYA measure that happens to have a convenient scapegoat all lined up to be sacrificed? Not being close to the Seattle situation, I’d value informed — detached — views on what’s really happening there.

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      • Everett says:

        It seems to me that its a bit of both. There seems to be some issues in the clubhouse with Wak, some stemming from his dealing with the Griffey situation, some stemming from minor issues being magnified by losing. At the same time, it does also seem to be the standard: “we’re losing, so we should fire the manager,” which while not ideal, happens all the time (see Baltimore and KC).

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    • DC says:

      I agree that the Waka firing is unfair. He isn’t responsible for the wins and losses. He didn’t sign Griffey. For the most part his in-game decision making has been sound. I would rank him the #6 coach. Go ahead and scoff. You’ll see! I’ll show you all! He’s the #6 coach of all time! Bwaa-haa-haa!

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        His in-game decision making was atrocious.

        It’s one of the more valid reasons to get rid of him, honestly; but it’s also probably the thing that was the smallest factor.

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    • DaveCismad says:

      Morgan = Dunn

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    • WhosaWhatNow says:

      @ Jeff Nye — Haven’t seen you in these parts in a while, been keeping your head shoved so far up your arse that you haven’t had time to post huh? You were quite vocal, and falicious, in your pro M arguements, particularly around the whole #6org fiasco I wasn’t sure if you were going to ever come back under your real name. Tell Jeff boy, how does crow taste? Have you any other thoughts on the Ms, I’ll refresh your memory on this one:
      “Heck, I’m even a pretty big fan of the Brandon for Brandon trade, since as much as I like his skillset, I don’t think Brandon Morrow is ever going to put it together enough to be a legitimate major league starter, and players like Brandon League are how you avoid wasting a ton of money on your bullpen.”
      Maybe I’ll start a greatest hits sites where you tell everyone how dumb they are, how smart you are, and how great the Ms are in 2010….

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  28. vivalapiazza says:

    “Front offices should have the best insight into how much chemistry and leadership in the clubhouse matters. If it’s too unpredictable to judge, then why use that to justify hiring and firing of managers? If it matters and is predictable, then my question is, why aren’t they paying for it?”

    Let’s say that an organization is great at evaluating managers and they decide that Manager X is worth 5 wins over a typical manager. What’s that worth, $20MM or so? You’re wondering why they aren’t paying for it, and the answer is that they don’t have to. Even the best manager won’t hold out for that $20MM. So from an organizational perspective, you just pay the market rate of $3MM or so. Just because someone is worth a certain amount, it doesn’t mean he’ll get it. That can be said for players, managers, GMs, etc.

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  29. RJ says:

    While I can’t say that it would necessarily be useful in discussing the value of managers on a single season basis, Chris Jaffe’s book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876-2008″ does provide a nice framework for evaluating their contributions over an extended period.

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  30. Rich says:

    “We assume that all teams seek to maximize their number of wins for their expenditures. If managers could routinely positively or negatively affect their teams by more than a few wins, then it would stand to reason that they deserve exorbitant salaries.”

    You’re making the assumption that the market has complete information. Its false.

    Even in the NFL, where coaches have a much clearer impact, most of them are still making less than most of the players.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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