"That's why the Mariners fans are lamenting that the Bavasi-era team mishandled the big-league development of future All-Stars such as Jones, Asdrúbal Cabrera and Bryan LaHair, as well the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Brandon Morrow and Mike Morse, all of whom wound up being traded by Bavasi or the current rubble-clearing regime."
The above is where Brewer's basic argument falls apart, of course. Of the six players mentioned above, half -- LaHair, Morrow, and Morse -- were cut loose by Jack Zduriencik, not Bavasi.
The larger point, IMO, is that the present regime hasn't been conspicuously better at holding onto talent and giving them enough opportunities to manifest that talent before cutting them loose.
Tillman looked like Cy Young against our anemic offense in our huge pitcher's park, as did the otherwise unimpressive Phillip Humber. But which guys that Bavasi jettisoned are substantial major leaguers right now? Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-soo Choo, and Adam Jones. Three guys. Am I forgetting somebody?
Z bailed on Morrow, Fister, Morse, and LaHair.
Of the seven players mentioned above, several are on the DL or have lost time on the DL this year. But, over the long term, since being dealt, they're all substantial big-league players.
I'd love to be able to say that Z has completely slam-dunked Bavasi in the matter of retaining talent, but I don't see it.
But the possible difference is that Bavasi was trying to win ballgames and win immediately. Z's mandate from the owners might be primarily to cut costs pursuant to selling the team.
Would of Could of Should of...
I don't know who's been on this message board long enough but fans were calling for Bavasi's head when Sexson, Beltre, Morse, Jones, Choo and many other players couldn't hit while in Seattle.
Baker weighs in...
You seem to be taking exception to the term "bailed on," so let's go with "traded" instead, just as Bavasi traded Choo, Cabrera, and Jones.
BTW, I like Furbush and Wells. Whether they and the others traded for Fister and Pauley turn out to be more valuable to this franchise remains to be seen. Fister, like several of the players discussed above, has been injured and has struggled this year.
"The larger point, IMO, is that the present regime hasn't been conspicuously better at holding onto talent and giving them enough opportunities to manifest that talent before cutting them loose."
For better or worse - and it sure has seemed worse the past three years - when they hired Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners committed themselves to a total rebuild.
Bavasi did a really bad job. Maybe he wasn't quite as bad as some make him out to be, but the Seattle Mariners were in pretty bad shape at the end of the 2008 season. The on-field product was dreadful. They were weighted-down with some big contracts for guys who either were on the wrong side of thirty-five, or couldn't hit in Safeco Field.
Worse, it wasn't like there was a great crop of talent for the incoming GM to tend-to. Our best prospects were Jeff Clement and Brandon Morrow.
Jack Zduriencik was handed a tough job. There wasn't much major league talent. There wasn't much minor league talent. The M's aren't a cash cow, and they didn't have a lot of flexibility with payroll.
That said, given that this is Zduriencik's fourth year as GM, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed in the progress made. We were a 61-101 team in 2008. We were a 61-101 team in 2010. We were a 67-95 team last year. Halfway through 2012, we're on pace to finish ~67-95, again.
The offense remains unacceptably bad. We're third-to-last in runs scored. We're last in OBP. We're last in SLG. (Obviously, we're last in OPS.) We're second-to-last in extra-base hits. While some circles want to take the "blame Safeco Field" tack, we're third-to-last in groundball-to-flyball ratio. We're fourth in strikeouts.
The offense is just bad. In his four years at the helm, Zduriencik's best addition to the offense was Russell Branyan in 2009. Aside from that, Zduriencik has simply been unable to add anyone to the lineup who can hit a baseball with authority on any kind of a consistent basis.
Maybe I or other fans couldn't predict LaHair's or Morse's success (although, if memory serves, there were quite a few posts here favoring both of them); but we're not professionals being paid a lot of money to know those things.
And who among us predicted Choo or Cabrera would be as good as they've been? I don't recall a lot of praise for either of them, but maybe that's a failure of memory. It seems to me there was a lot more support for LaHair and Morse among M's fans than for either of them.
Lots of things to address in this thread.
"The above is where Brewer's basic argument falls apart, of course. Of the six players mentioned above, half -- LaHair, Morrow, and Morse -- were cut loose by Jack Zduriencik, not Bavasi."
Read the quoted line again. Brewer points out that the players were "either" discarded by Bavasi or the current regime. Brewer was blaming Bavasi for their handling and development, which is something I want to approach here, and not necessarily only from the position of blaming Bill Bavasi. It could be that guys like LaHair or Morse only found their swing with other teachers, and they may never have developed here at all. Morrow was similarly blundered about by Bavasi (reliever, starter, then reliever again), then dumped by Z. The same argument could be made for Choo, Cabrera, or even Jones. There was no guarantee they'd all have developed into the quality players they are here.
The reason I bring this up is that it sure seems like we're having a hard time developing hitters lately. Heck, it's not even lately, it's over a decade now since we produced a decent hitter (Julio Cruz, Jr). Raul Ibanez you say? Nah. Didn't hit well with us. Went to Kansas City, remember? Came back a decent hitter. Chris Snelling looked promising, then got hurt. Jose Lopez? Not sure I'd call that "hitting". Carlos Guillen didn't start hitting until the trade to Detroit. Yuni Betancourt never hit that great. Jeremy Reed has never had any success anywhere (so he just might have been terrible). Ben Davis was touted and floundered from both sides of the plate. Greg Dobbs has found a decent career in the NL mostly as a pinch hitter, didn't do much here. There's a long list here.
Meanwhile, look at our young guys who have received training outside of the Mariner's organization:
John Jaso - Rays org, Doing wellCasper Wells - Tigers org, Doing wellMichael Saunders - Independent help (Josh Bard's brother), Seems to have figured something outJesus Montero - Yankees org, Still young and rawJustin Smoak - Rangers org, Okay, it's not perfect.
Obviously Seager and Ackley started out well but have hit a wall, same with Montero to a degree. Carp had a great last season and is battling shoulder issues, so I'll give him a mulligan for now. To our credit, we have managed to develop some very good pitchers. Freddy Garcia, Ryan Franklin, Gil Meche, and Joel Pineiro in the earlier parts of the decade. Felix was already amazingly talented, but Fister was not and turned into a pretty good pitcher. Perhaps it's only our park, but Vargas has become an effective 3rd man in the rotation (at least). Our bullpen is, and seemingly has always been, glistening with lots of effective arms.
So... really, what the heck are we doing wrong? Dale points out that we shouldn't just blame SafeCo but... and while I'm not going to blame SafeCo either... there are some really funny numbers coming out of there this year. Per Jeff Sullivan @ Lookout Landing:
He makes a point to conclude that he has no idea what's causing this phenomenon, but it IS a real phenomenon that we cannot ignore or dismiss. I find it really heartening that the Mariners are scoring like a real offense ON THE ROAD. That leads me to believe that these young hitters we have aren't completely hopeless. It means they can hit. But for whatever reason, they can't... they AREN'T doing it at home.
I don't know what the answer is either, but I do find it interesting that we have had a terrible time developing hitters since SafeCo Field opened. It is possible that the current phenomenon is simply the farthest Nth degree possibility on the spectrum and we should dismiss it, but when you look at previous teams' ability to hit at home in SafeCo, most of them featured some veterans. Not all veterans have hit well here, but veterans appear to be doing better than our rookies. It is conceivably possible that the hitting-unfriendliness of SafeCo Field really does stymie young player progressions and development, whether that be mental (frustration) or physical (changing swings to try to "do more" in the spacious park) or both. I'm not saying the Mariners should go out right now and get a ton of veterans to replace the kids with, nor am I saying that the team should build a secret second hitter friendly home park somewhere to play in during seasons where they're developing kids, I'm just saying that there seems to be some interesting coincidences that young hitters are struggling and SafeCo Field is impeding offensive production.
Take it for what you will.
I have a question, and be honest: if, in Nov. 2008, I told you that at the All Star Break, 2012, the Mariners would be halfway towards their third straight 94+ loss season, would you say Jack Zduriencik was doing a great job as GM?
I understand that results aren't everything, especially when you're talking about a total rebuild, which the task the Zduriencik team has undertaken.
Results do count for something. One of the jobs of management is to give fans something to cheer about; there hasn't been a whole lot to cheer about since the last game of the 2009 season, when teammates carried Ken Griffey, Jr. around the field in what ought to have been the final game of his career.
The 2010-2012 Mariners have not been a fun team to watch. The pitching and defense have been better than average, but not at the level of, say, the 1980's Cardinals where every game, someone was making some highlight-reel play.
The offense has been abysmal. Ichiro, as a .340 hitter, is an exciting player and offensive weapon. Ichiro as a.262 hitter? Not so much.
When is the last time the Mariners had a hitter who actually intimidated opposing teams? When is the last time we had someone like John Olerud, who could hit the ball from baseline to baseline, took his walks, and had gap power?
Our lack of quality, proven hitters is not some salient problem that has just sprung-up recently: this has been a glaring problem with the Mariners for a good six or seven seasons now. (Remember the glory days of Sexson, Ibanez, and Beltre? Before Sexson evaporated in 2007, we watched Bret Boone and Olerud do the exact same in 2004-2005.)
This brings us back to the dilemma in judging Jack Zduriencik. The problems with this team existed years before Zduriencik became the GM. He inherited a lousy major league product, a lousy farm system, and way too much money owed to unproductive veterans.
However, more than three-and-a-half years into his tenure, the Mariners have not improved at all in the one area that was, and is, so obviously most in need of improvement, i.e. hitting.
The Seattle Mariners do not play an exciting brand of baseball. If this continues, attendance and viewership will continue to plummet. This means less revenue, which will make ownership's job that much more difficult.
"I have a question, and be honest: if, in Nov. 2008, I told you that at the All Star Break, 2012, the Mariners would be halfway towards their third straight 94+ loss season, would you say Jack Zduriencik was doing a great job as GM?"
I'll be blunt, it's probably worse knowing what I know now then what I would have known by that point. Back in 2008, didn't really know what would happen going forward. I wasn't initially positive on Jack Z, except that he wasn't Bavasi. It wasn't until he started talking about stuff that I liked and started making the shrewd moves that I started putting faith in him. So if you only told me win / loss records... I don't know what I would have thought. I probably would have done more rationalizing THEN because I didn't know how things have turned out.
I swear, some of you seem to think I'm happy with this team or something; I'm not. I'm really just as frustrated as you are, I'm just doing a better job containing it because I understand that this is necessary. I also know that this team CAN hit, it just can't do it at SafeCo. I don't know WHY, but it is what it is. I'm certainly not ready to declare this rebuild a failure or a fiasco, because it's barely started. The people here who are impatient are impatient because of the years that come before Zduriencik or even Bavasi. It's been 11 years since we made the postseason (assuming 2012 wont do the same). That's all people look at, is the whole 11 years. They don't look at each GM's "era" as a separate entity. I do.
"Results do count for something."
Eventually, yes. And, results are what we used to evaluate processes. Is the process good? We think so. Is the results good? No. So is the process bad? Maybe. These are things that all good men of intellect must consider. I can't ignore that there is a possibility that what we're currently doing is somehow flawed. It doesn't mean it IS flawed either, it just means we have to leave open the possibility that we're doing something wrong here.
"The offense has been abysmal. Ichiro, as a .340 hitter, is an exciting player and offensive weapon. Ichiro as a.262 hitter? Not so much."
There's certainly things we need to consider with regard to Mr. Suzuki. Painful things. I think watching a vaunted hero start to fail is the most painful thing in fandom. You don't want to say goodbye, but you know you have to for the good of the rest of the team.
"this has been a glaring problem with the Mariners for a good six or seven seasons now."
Believe it or not, it is improving. Slowly.
"(Remember the glory days of Sexson, Ibanez, and Beltre? Before Sexson evaporated in 2007, we watched Bret Boone and Olerud do the exact same in 2004-2005.)"
But they did evaporate. They only lasted a few years. There's no "long term" when it comes to free agents. That's the drawback. You pay more, but you end up getting less. This is why I only advocate paying for high priced veterans when the team is ready to compete. Those short windows are the perfect time to fill in the gaps quickly.
Let me be fair on this particular point: if you're trying to say that having a feared hitter, even a high priced veteran, would help this team out right now, I'd have to agree. Whether that simply be fan interest, opposing teams changing strategies, or as Wedge has talked about, giving the team someone they can put in the middle of the lineup who can deal with the pressures of having to produce, or what have you. I can't ignore that having a player with skill would be beneficial, regardless of their age, contract, or whatever. The only thing I would oppose is getting someone like that who would block a younger player from developing. At the beginning of this season, that was a lot of positions, and the Mariners WERE in pursuit of Prince Fielder (which was before the Montero trade), so I think they knew it, too. I honestly think that Jack Z put too much expectation on the shoulders of young Mr. Montero, and that was wrong. But maybe he didn't see another great option that could be had. After Fielder signed, who else was out there that could be a legit feared hitter?
"However, more than three-and-a-half years into his tenure, the Mariners have not improved at all in the one area that was, and is, so obviously most in need of improvement, i.e. hitting."
But they have. It's just not enough. 2012's team is outhitting 2011's and 2010's. It may not feel like it, but it's true. The trend is going up with the youth. It would look a lot better if the SafeCo Field numbers weren't so amazingly bad. I can't even begin to fathom this phenomenon at home. It's absurd.
> Maybe he wasn't quite as bad as some make him out to be
He was worse. His entire minor league drafts netted us a couple relievers. He mishandled FA signings and didn't develop talent. How can you possibly do worse?
"The more realistic fans, such as Biel, don't know what to think. They've spent years watching the drafts, tracking teenagers in the minor leagues, and have seen the rankings that named Kansas City's talented farm system the best in baseball. They bought their tickets to the first homestand of the season. They watched the Royals lose every game in that homestand."