Saturday, September 29, 2007

Not surprised, but still, bleah...

So Bavasi and McLaren are back for another year. I'm not at all surprised, in fact, I expected them both to be back. Its very disappointing to me though.

Even though we spend a lot of time on the blog criticizing M's management, I really am not a knee-jerk, fire everybody kind of guy. I did push hard to dump Hargrove and am horrified that McLaren has turned out worse, but I generally think that most of the time teams change managers and coaches too fast, without giving them time to develop a long term strategy.

That all being said, what really bothers me about bringing Johnny Mac and Bavasi back is the lack of accountability. McLaren decided to roll Richie Sexson out there day after day despite having a handy alternative in Broussard. McLaren decided to keep pitching Ramirez every 5th day no matter what the results. He decided that Vidro's singles were better for the club than Broussard's power. He decided that Raul's adventures in left field were acceptable for a staff of flyball, pitch to contact guys. He decided that it was more important to keep his veterans happy then to see if Adam Jones could help them win ballgames. McLaren decided that Rick White, John Parrish and Chris Reitsma should be pitching in the 8th inning of close games.

These were all McLaren's decisions and the season ended in failure. And he should be held accountable for that. There weren't any significant injuries, any extenuating circumstances, the team just didn't get it done and some of the blame can be traced to the consitently poor decisions that McLaren made.

Of course you could argue that this team wasn't talented enough to compete for a playoff spot. The fault for that lies at feet of Bill Bavasi. As Walt points out, the non-Felix part of the rotation was a total disaster. Not only didn't starters 2-5 pitch well, they didn't even pitch deep into games, taxing a bullpen that clearly wore down at the end of the year. And no one who reads this blog should be surprised by any of this. I critcized the Washbrun signing two years ago, I spoke out against the Batista signing and hammered the Ramirez deal. The only signing I was remotely optimistic about was Weaver and that had more to do with it being a one-year deal that happened late in the signing period than anything else.

Despite having a payroll north of 100 million, despite having a beautiful ballpark and a sweet local tv deal, Bavasi has been unable to put this team in the playoffs. He consistently expects players to produce like their best seasons, ignoring completely things like peripheral statistics, ballpark effects and normal aging patterns. He gets some credit for rebuilding the farm system, but since both of the managers he has hired are unwilling to give playing time to the products of that farm system, he ends up trading them for pennies on the dollar.

I made this point in another post, but this will be Bavasi's tenth season as a big league GM and he hasn't made the playoffs one time. Not one time. And he won't next year either. One more year of silly free agent contracts and one more year of trading something for nothing is just going to set the next GM back even further when he tries to rebuild the club.


Friday, September 28, 2007

I really hate to say 'I told you so', but ...

... the failure of the Mariners to adequately address the implosion of their 4-5 starting slots tanked any hope they had of competing for the wild card this year.

As you may recall, I advocated grooming Morrow for the back end of the rotation way back in July. Maybe it wouldn't have worked. Perhaps his lack of control would have derailed that effort. On the other hand, could it really have ended up any worse than what we experienced? Horacio Ramirez will probably end up (using standard metrics) as one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball this year, if not the worst. Let's face it, despite a few startlingly good outings, Jeff Weaver's 7-13, 6.30 ERA, taken as a whole, was one of this year's biggest smoking craters in all of baseball. Meanwhile, despite the control issues, Morrow posted a solid .243 OBA with 66 K's in 63 1/3 IP. Ramirez and Weaver's were .337 and .317, respectively.

I am, frankly, stunned that Bavasi's option has been picked up. What is this team's identity? We know it's none of the following: power (10th in the A.L. in HR's), speed (9th in SB's), ability to get on base (7th in OBP), general offense (7th in runs), holding the opposition down (12th in ERA), keeping runners off base (13th in hits allowed, 9th in BB's). Fielding, maybe? Well, they are 5th in the A.L. in fielding percentage and third in double plays turned, so maybe that. Maybe. Regardless, that's clearly not enough.

Station-to-station baseball, that's what the M's played this year. It's almost a miracle that they'll end up with 85-87 wins. Unfortunately, Tad's probably right. Short-sighted management will see an improvement "trend" and thus be unwilling to do anything significant. Meanwhile, the few dumpster dives Bavasi made this past year that actually worked (Guillen, Batista) will be unlikely to repeat their decent seasons and this jigsaw puzzle with no true solution will falter.

Bring on La Russa. I don't care that McLaren put in his time over the last 25 years. He had his chance to prove his mettle and showed himself to be overly dependent upon veterans, too situational with his bullpen, unwilling to manufacture runs and unable to make the major changes needed to shake the team out of their epic collapse. La Russa has his flaws and ends up wearing out his welcome eventually, but his half-life is about ten years. Outside of Pinella, that's the equivalent of about eight typical Mariner managerial tenures. Five World Series teams (two winners), four manager of the year awards and 12 overall playoff appearances dot his resume, and he's a west coast guy to boot.

Go get him.

While you're at it, cut Bavasi loose. La Russa will want Jocketty to come with him. Use the unexpected potential availability of the architects of 2006's World Series championship to reverse the ill-advised decision to keep him. If you have to pay him to leave, do so. Follow the Seahawks' model and get the proven winner when you have the chance. Heck, follow your own model, circa 1993.

I'm not optimistic, but I'm holding out hope that the Mariners make a bold statement this off-season. They've squandered more than their share of opportunities since 2001. Don't let this be another instance of that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Its official, no playoffs for us this year. That's 6 straight years if you are counting, which I am.

4 years under Bavasi, no playoff appearances. He was in Anaheim for 5 years with no playoff appearances. Quite a little record of futility.

Maybe we can play some of the young guys now?

Balentien - 2 ABs, recalled sept 4th
Clement - 4 ABs, recalled Sept 4th
Charlton Jimerson - 2 ABs, recalled Sept 1st
Rob Johnson - 1 AB, Recalled Sept 1st

One at-bat for Johnson? Really? One?

Adam Jones has 23 at-bats in September. 23. That's what 5 games worth? For the whole month. Ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Bitter Flute of Disappointment

F "Oh, Jimmy, we'll never get home."
J "Sure we will, Freddie! We've just got to think positive thoughts!"
F "It just feels like we're in a looping cycle of rerun upon's like we're playing the same season over and over and over again."
J "C'mon, don't you LIKE living here on Living Island? Where else would a talking magic golden flute not be viewed as a freak?!"
F "Look out, Jimmy! It's Witchiepoo!!!"
J "Nah, that's just Bill Bavasi. Hey, Mr. Bavasi! What are YOU doing here?"
B "Why, what a nice young man. What's your name, son?"
J "Jimmy, sir."
B "Well, Jimmy Sir, I was hoping to find Mayor Pufnstuf. I heard he has a line on a living tree that can field like nobody's business. I understand defense is the way to go in my line of work, and that's why I've collected the best defenders money can buy."
J "You mean like Yuniesky Betancourt?"
B "Ho ho ho! You're very funny, Jimmy Sir. No, I'm talking about veterans with vast experience at playing the field, like Raul Ibanez and Jose Vidro."
"But I'll tell you what. You're pretty polite, and you've got that eerie flute, so how about you play for my team instead?"
J "Will it get me out of reruns?"
F "Yeah!"
B "Ahhh, not exactly. But I HAVE led the way to 'improving' my team every year! [Aside: "Not sure how I'm gonna do that next season...."]
J "No thanks, mister. I'd rather run away from scary trees that can't move very fast than have to learn a whole new tragic routine. Besides, I inspired Sigmund and the Sea Monsters!"
B "Oh, yeah, classic stuff. Well, those trees sound pretty agile. I'm gonna keep looking for..."
Everyone sings: "H.R. Pufnstuf....Can't do a little 'cause he can't do enough."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bitter Fruit of Disappointment

I haven't been able to bring myself to post anything in a while.

I didn't expect much out of this team, but then when it played well, I got excited, I started to believe. That made the historic collapse of the 2007 Mariners all the more disappointing.

After the Rick White debacle, I just kind of lost interest in this particular group of Mariners, and particularly, this management team.

Reitsma, Parrish, White. All thrown into the 8th and 9th innings of close games, because they were veterans. Because they had experience. Even though every stat you could throw out there said they couldn't get the job done. Even though every time you rolled them out there, they got shelled.

Batista, Washburn, Weaver, Ramirez. All starters signed or traded for in the hopes that they could reproduce their best seasons, or in some cases the best parts of otherwise dismal seasons. With very little in the way of backup should these guys fail, and very little stomach to use what backup you did have. Despite how poorly that rotation has pitched we have given starts to exactly two other pitchers. As an organization we are loyal way past the point of it being a fault.

I fully expect that Bavasi and McLaren will be back next year. Guillen, Vidro, Ibanez in left. Washburn and Batista will be here, probably Ramirez too. We'll sign one veteran starter for way too much money, maybe try and find a taker for Richie and roll 90% of these same guys out next year. Do you think we'll be any more successful? I don't. This isn't a playoff team, it wasn't really ever a playoff team this year and its not going to be a playoff team next year. On a 107 million dollar payroll.

So I'm back to posting. I can't speak for Walt and Jason, but I'll react to news as it comes up. I've got some season in review posts coming up, and then the obligatory, if we were the GM stuff. But expect the tone to be dark for a while. Very dark.