Monday, June 23, 2008

The Time is Right

Bryan LaHair, come on UP!

Victor Diaz, come on UP!

Matt Tuiasosopo, come on UP!

Rob Johnson, come on UP!

Ryan Feierabend, come on UP!

You're the next contestants on "The Time is Right"!

Ahem, Lee? Want to do something to give Armstrong and company something to think about when it comes time to evaluate your performance for the remainder of this season? How about doing a little housecleaning to rid the club of dead weight and/or empty chattel, with these (and/or others) players in mind as heirs apparent.

No, the farm isn't exactly stuffed to the brim with premium prospects. However, until they are given the Daric Barton leeway the far superior franchise Oakland has employed this year (pointed out in Tad's post three weeks ago), nobody quite knows for sure what we've got down there. We know what we've got up here - the sorriest collection of major leaguers in all of baseball.

As bad as Bavasi and McLaren were, forcing them to walk the plank isn't going to turn this creaking, leaky ship around by itself. It's a good start, but the boat has taken on way too much water. It's time to start bailing. Can I make any more clich├ęd , seagoing metaphors? See how seamlessly I wove in that theme with the whole Mariners thing, then unraveled it all in the last two sentences? That's just the kind of guy I am.

Show the kind of guy you are and do something for the good of the franchise. Start by initializing the cleanup of Bavasi's mess. It's not like you're Pat Gillick, probing the bottom-feeders for possible talent to pluck away at the trade deadline. Oh, wait ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blown Away!

Ready ... aim ... FIRE!

Bill Bavasi and John McLaren, shown the door by the Mariners over the past few days.

I actually now believe that a wholesale youth movement is on its way. And speaking for the majority of "stat geek" Mariners fans who never once believed the team was anywhere close to being as good as its 88-74 record last year, and thus by extension was nowhere near contending status as it was constructed this year, I can say this with a clear conscience: it's about freaking time.

The next GM needs to be a guy willing to build through youth and homegrown talent first, and when the time is right, supplement it with the right kinds of free agents. The fact that we have as many 30+ guys on our roster for a team that had one winning season in the last five speaks volumes as to the ridiculous way this team was built. Go back a few posts and read my quick synopsis of Cleveland versus Seattle, which really is an indication of the right way to rebuild (the Tribe) versus the wrong way (the Mariners). The Indians aren't doing well this year, granted, but injuries to studs are a big reason why. Prior to this year, they were a combined 48 games over .500 the previous three seasons, culminating in a division championship in 2007. We were a combined 16 games under .500, even with last year's aberration.

Pulling the plug and going entirely with youth - to whatever degree that's possible - will be unpleasant and is sure to dry up the coffers for a few years as attendance dwindles even more. In the long run, that's how you rebuild a team. Few can do it on the fly, and those are typically huge-money clubs and/or teams with very agile GMs. We're borderline there on the first order, nowhere near on the second.

Meanwhile, "Stand Pat" is riding high in Philadelphia. Welcome to the 1980's.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blown Away

In case you hadn't noticed, I started a rather lame movie title theme in my last two posts. Watching the M's in May (and now to start June), I'm compelled to use another one - this one being the Jeff Bridges/Tommy Lee Jones bomb squad thriller, not the British blow-up doll animation short.

Blown Away. As in even with acknowledged preseason trepidations, we're all blown away at how bad the 2008 Mariners are. As in how this roster needs to be "blown away" and replaced with kids who actually give a rat's ass about hustling and trying to make a difference at the major league level. As in how the front office needs to be "blown away" and replaced with baseball people who have a sense for judging talent and making smart baseball decisions. As in how managers who were chosen because of decades of baseball servitude and who start players like Miguel Cairo due to superstitions and specious reasoning should be "blown away" and succeeded by men of the type and quality indicative of a team that can afford a $117M payroll.

Let's make a list of who should be "blown away" (i.e. traded, released, DFA'd, demoted, whatever):

Ritchie Sexson (duh!)
Jarrod Washburn (useless)
Miguel Batista (a slightly more interesting version of Washburn)
Jose Vidro (no speed, no power, no mas)
Miguel Cairo (a shadow puppet)
Jamie Burke (nice guys finish last)

Sexson goes for obvious reasons: his bat cannot catch up to enough pitches to overcome his weaknesses, which continue to grow as he ages. Washburn's nearly $10M salary is far too high for a player who wouldn't be a fifth starter on a contending team. Ditto with Batista. Vidro gives you line drives, but nothing else. Cairo is an even worse version of Willie Bloomquist. Burke doesn't do any harm, but he's 36 and taking a roster spot from someone who might help the next contending Mariner team.

I know - few (if any) of these guys can actually be shed from the roster. But if they all could, that would be almost $45M evaporated from the $117M payroll, just like that. That's a lot of incentive to move as many of them for bags of balls as possible.

Selective "blown away" targets (real trade value):

Raul Ibanez
Kenji Johjima
Adrian Beltre
J.J. Putz

Moving two of these four would save significantly more corn and, more importantly, shed age from an already too-old roster. Only Beltre is below 30. Putz and Ibanez would be the two I would most willingly trade, if only because they should still have trade value (Putz' struggles notwithstanding) and would be the easiest for the M's to replace.

Trade at least two of Ibanez, Putz, Johjima and Beltre, packaging guys like Sexson, Washburn and Vidro into said deals if at all possible. Take back as little long-term salary as necessary and pick up younger players and prospects.

Replace Vidro, Sexson, Washburn, Putz and Ibanez with Clement, LeHair, Feireabend, Morrow and just one serviceable player returned via trade and watch this team actually start to rebuild instead of recycle.

Again, I realize nothing of the sort will happen anytime soon. We're handcuffed by an expensive, bad roster, and management will go down with the ship deep into the summer. It's inevitable, though, that some kind of implosion will be done. I'd enjoy this season much more if it would happen sooner, rather than later.