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In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Saturday, December 20, 2003

 

MANAGEMENT BY BAVASI

Mike at SoDo Oh No picked up this reference before me, and I'm passing it along.

Regular readers know that I enjoy Jeff Angus' Management by Baseball blog site. Today, Jeff posted an article about Bavasi's early tenure as Mariners GM, The Mariners' New Xmas Toy Syndrome:
A Classic Management Wipe-Out
.

Jeff expresses very cogently some things I've been considering, and since he is much better at that kind of stuff than I am, l won't regurgitate it. Just go there and read it.

 

WE COULD HAVE HAD PAYTON INSTEAD OF MCCRACKEN

As anticipated, the Rockies non-tendered Jay Payton. As a free agent, he will probably get McCracken money - maybe a bit more. But he was out there for the taking, instead of McCracken, and his release was certainly not a surprise.

A related aspect of the story is that, in releasing Payton and signing Vander Wal, the Rockies are probably going to make a serious push for Aurilia. That, in turn, makes it more likely that the Mariners will end up with Valentin at short.

 

A MARINERS CHRISTMAS STORY

At Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits, there is some discussion of the Marvin Miller interview I mentioned in my previous post. Some of the commenters have noted that this looks like another example of Selig playing favorites among owners (see comments #6 and #7 by MAS and sjohnny).

That couldn't be our Commissioner Bud now, could it? I hope the Mariners owners are in tight with Bud. Maybe they could press Bud to help them find a way to undo some of the deals they've done. I'm afraid we're stuck with McCracken, though, because Colangelo is really tight with Bud.

In fact, maybe Bud is behind the Colbrunn/McCracken deal. Maybe Jerry went whining to Bud saying,
"Joey and I want my Greg back. And I don't like my McCracken. He's broken and doesn't do anything anymore."
And Bud said,
"You and Joey should go outside and trade with your friends, Jerry."
And Jerry said,
"But Pat and Billy won't give me my Greg back. And if you don't make them give me my Greg, I'll hold my breath until I turn blue and die."
And Bud said,
"Go ahead and hold your breath, Jerry. And when you're done, will you and Joey PLEASE go outside and try to trade for someone else. Wendy has some nice players that she needs to sell. You can probably find something as nice as your Greg there."
And Jerry said,
"I already got her Richie, but I still want my Greg. And if you don't get me my Greg, I won't repay the advance on my allowance you gave me."
And Bud sighed deeply and said,
"Oh well, then. You were such a good boy when you sold your nice shiny Schilling to your friends Theo and Larry and Tom instead of that bad boy George. You even sold it to them for less than George offered, just because George is a bad boy and you wanted to teach him a lesson. Christmas is coming and since you've been a good boy, maybe Santa will bring you your Greg."
And that is why the Mariners fans are getting lumps this Christmas. Merry Christmas all!!

 

MARVIN MILLER BLAMES SELIG

The Boston Globe hans an interview with Marvin Miller about the Rodriguez/Ramirez trade. Miller's key points, both well taken, are that:
  • Selig should never have allowed the Red Sox to talk directly with A-Rod. That is tampering.

  • The Union should have immediately objected to the Red Sox talking directly with Rodrguez.
Miller's points are well taken. That also does not change my opinion that the player is the only one who should determine whether a restructuring of the contract is in his interests. That is not the same issue as whether or not conracts are guaranteed.

 

FEARS MISPLACED

No, I don't mean a P-I reporter is missing.

  • David of the Bremertonians is fearful that the Mariners are already telling us they don't have flexibility to do a deadline deal. I think his fears are misplaced. I suspect that this year we will be far enough behind that we'll be a seller instead of a buyer. There are Pacific NW players sucking it up in organizations throughout the land. Lot's of chances to deal vets for "prospects".

  • Jeff Cirillo turned down a trade to the Mets because he would rather sit on the bench close to home than sit on the bench away from home. Since no team is going to guarantee him a starters job, that means he will probably stay with the Mariners until he is cut. At this point the decision with Jeff is starting to get simple. If he is not on the roster, who would occupy that spot? And which of those rosters is stronger?

  • Freddy with a multi-year contract is a trade waiting to happen. I had already written Freddy out of my rotation for next year, and I think Franklin is a screaming candidate for a trade. There is yet an opportunity to make a trade that will signficantly improve the team. The picture will be clearer tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 19, 2003

 

A FEW MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS

  1. Ichiro Contract

    There was simply no way this deal would not get done. I suspect that Art Thiel's column today is pretty close to the mark.

    As others have discussed, Ichiro is not worth the contract amount from a baseball standpoint. He does, however, have signficant marketing value, and he commands a premium for that. And that component has more value to Seattle than to other clubs.

    The Japanese marketing value may also have influenced the club's decision to retain Hasegawa.

  2. The Mets signed Joe McEwing to a 2-year deal.

    Other clubs also make bad personnel decisions. It's easier to work with, though, when the bad decision costs $500,000 per year rather than $4 million per year.

  3. Shortstop/Third base

    The available shortstop options don't seem too exciting. If Valentin didn't have a $5 million contract, I could support him, because he would provide a much needed left-handed bat.

    Aurilia does not excite me very much; he is getting old, and he really has had only one good year.

    The only option that gets me a bit interested would be seeing if the Twins might be willing to move Koskie, maybe for Guillen and a pitching prospect. Koskie is going to make $4.5 million this year, so the Twins would save about $1.6 million to $2.5 million, depending on Guillen's bonuses. I certainly would try to negotiate a contract extension (2004 is his walk year). Koskie would solidify third base and provide a reasonably strong left handed bat in the lineup. Plus, he's 30 years old so he is over the minimum age required to be in the Mariners starting lineup.

  4. My mandatory gratuitous slap at Mariner management

    And, if I were dealing with the Twinkies, I would see if we could swap another pitching prospect for one of their young outfielder prospects. I should be careful what I wish for; the Gillivasi would probably swap Nagoette for B.J. Garbe; being as he's a local kid the Mariners are probably drooling to get him so they can strengthen the Mariner ties to Moses Lake.

  5. Set Willie Free

    Chris Stynes is probably going to be available for close to the major league minimum. Cut Willie Bloomquist and bring in Stynes instead. (Sorry Bremertonians). No point in having two offensive non-entities on the the bench. We could do more by releasing McCracken and keeping Willie, but that is not going to happen. So free Willie.

    If the Mariners end up with any two of Valentin, Guillen or Aurilia on the roster, than Stynes becomes an even better choice. (Stynes does not have much SS experience.)

I'm not getting inundated with replies on Hidalgo, either. I should mention that it's a given that Houston would need to kick in salary. How much of Hidalgo's salary would you be willing to provide if you were the Houston GM trying to do the deal?

 

THE BLESSINGS OF SHORT MEMORIES

Over at the Curlew Blog, he's commending the Mariners for signing Boone to a long term contract.

I guess he forgot that the Mariners encouraged Boone to find another team after the 2001 season.

 

ANYBODY WITH HIDALGO IDEAS

Houston is willing to move Hidalgo to clear salary. I haven't seen anyone yet mention Hidalgo in connection with the Mariners. I'm going to throw out some thoughts and you to comment on whether you think Hidalgo might be worth considering and under what circumstances. Here is a bit of information to work with:
  • Hidalgo gets $12 million in 2004, with a 2005 team option for $15 million or $2 million buyout.

  • He has played all three outfield positions, but has the most experience in center field.

  • his OPS numbers for the last several years (not park adjusted) are:
    
    
    OPS
    ---------------------
    Year Total vs RHP vs LHP
    ==== ===== ====== ======

    2000: 1.028
    2001: 0.811 0.810 0.812
    2002: 0.734 0.705 0.852
    2003: 0.957 0.951 0.985
    (The 2003 numbers placed him 7th in the NL in both SLG and OPS)

  • his rate factors in the field are:
    left field: 110
    center field: 103
    right field: 113

    rate factor is a defense stat, Bernie Williams carrer number is 99 and was 96 in 2003. Mike Cameron's career number is 107 and he was 117 in 2003. Winn's career number is 100 and was 98 in 2002 when he played center field full time in 2002.

  • He will turn 29 years old in July 2004.

Anybody have any thoughts? What type of a trade would you make for him? Any thoughts on how you might try to do it within the Mariners stated payroll constraints? (Go to Trident Fever to get data on Mariner salaries commitments.)

I should mention that it's a given that Houston would need to kick in salary. How much would you be willing to provide if you were the Houston GM trying to do the deal? And be realistic - put yourself in Houston's position and ask yourself whether you would take that offer before you suggest it.

Send your ideas to me at noslenblog at hotmail.com- be sure to replace the "at " with an @ in my e-mail address.

 

WHAT EVER BECAME OF THE MARINERS SEARCH FOR ANOTHER LEFTHANDED ARM IN THE BULLPEN?

Does anyone remember how the Mariners have been searching for so long for another left hander in the bullpen. Do names such as Doug Creek and Matt White induce a sphincter reaction?

Well, John at Trident Fever has a Trident Fever comparison of Rhodes and Guardado that summarizes what many of us were saying about the two pitchers. Rhodes is as good as Guardado, and would have been cheaper. His ankle injury caused his value to unreasonably decline, and the Mariners should have pounced on the opportunity to bring him back.

The Mariners had a solution to the search for a left hander right in front of them - just spend the Hasegawa money on Rhodes. Then we would now have a bullpen with two strong left-handers - Guardado and Rhodes. We have lots of right handers, and right handed relievers are much easier to find anyway. Worst case could be using Mateo and Soriano as RH setup.

If Sasaki could regain his effectiveness, that would be one heck of a bullpen. The Mariners would really have been able to neutralize their opponents abilities to make late inning substitutions.

 

GRATUITOUS SAX

Is there anybody else out there who thinks KennyG Christmas music is even more obnoxious than his usual stuff? If you want soothing restful Christmas music, get John Fahey's The New Possibility.

 

LET'S NOT BE ROCKY BALBOA!

Tim at Mariner Talk made the following comment on Wednesday:
it's dangerous to measure your success on whether you've won a championship or not. The important thing for any team is making the playoffs. If the M's have the 5th highest payroll, and their management is simply average, then they should average the 5th best record each year. And averaging the 5th best record should get you into the playoffs probably 3 out of every 4 years. Once you're in the playoffs, you basically have a one in eight chance of winning it all. And it's usually not the best team that wins. Does anyone think the Marlins, Angels and Diamondbacks were the best teams in the majors the last 3 years? If the M's make the playoffs this year, we as fans need to be satisfied with that. We can't kill the management for not bringing home a championship.

Now it seems to me that Tim is saying that we should be satisfied if the Mariners do an average job of managing the resources available to them. And that is where I differ.

There is simply no reason for fans to have an attitude that mediocre is ok. On November 29 I made the following post, which I still believe relevant:
That also poses something that worries me. I see the Mariners moving toward a roster that is largely staffed with adequate (i.e., close to position average) players, with a few positions that are above average to outstanding players, and a comparable number of positions that are below average. Overall, that leaves the team slightly above league average - a team that is good for 85 to 90 wins per season, occassionally getting to the low 90s when things are good, and sinking to 0.500 when things go bad. In otherwise, a team that is competitive, but not championship.



Peter over at Mariner Musings questions the Mariners commitment to doing what it takes to assemble a championship team. It is a point well worth considering. The past record of the Mariners is that they will not do what it takes to get to the top. This offseaon we had an outfield position that was perfect for a standout signing. Ibañez means that we are going to fill that spot with exactly one of those adequate players I just described.

And that is the biggest problem with the Ibañez contract - it is a blown opportunity to make a difference. It is the Mariners embracing the adequate even while outstanding is attainable.
It is also incorrect to say that it's usually not the best team that wins simply based on three out of the last four years. First, I am not convinced that the World Series winner in each of those cases was not the best team in baseball. Second, it is inappropriate to arbitrarily select three years out of the last 100 and make a gross statement. I could equally well take the years 1996-2001 and say that unless a team is willing to spend more money than anyone else, they don't have a reasonable chance of winning the World Series. (But then I would sound like Commissioner Bud, so I need to be real careful.)

Finally, it is silly to say that all eight teams that make the playoffs have an equal chance of winning the World Series. While having a stronger team does not guarantee winning the World Series, it certainly increases the odds greatly.

A more important issue, though, that Tim does not address is managing a roster for the playoffs. The goal of roster management should not only be to get to the playoffs, but to arrive at the playoffs with a team that is best constructed fo advance. That is not necessarily the same as constructing a roster to win the most games over the course of a season. As an example, the fourth and fifth starter slots are very important over a season, as they play a signficant role in almost 40% of the games during the regular season. In the post season, the fifth starter is completely irrelevant, and the fourth starter factors into only one game. (These pitchers may play a role in the bullpen, however.) The teams that Tim appears to consider as lessser teams were actually much better constructed as playoff teams, particularly in the pitching staffs. Needless to say, Mariners management has pretty well fumbled the ball in understandings the difference regular season and post-season roster development.

Since 1995 the fans in Seattle have supported the team loyally and faithfully. We have every right to demand that our management team strive for excellence instead of mediocrity. The Mariners are the second largest revenue generating team in baseball; the goal shouldn't be to just make the playoffs. The goal should be to make the playoffs and be the team that other teams sweat meeting in the playoffs. We should be the team that every team that is not the Yankees aspires to be.

At some point, other teams are going to catch up to the Mariners in total revenues, and our resource advantage will go away. It would be a shame if we looked back at this period saying, "Damn. We could'a been a contender."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

 

POKING FUN AT YOUR LOYAL MARINERS BLOGGERS

Baseball News Blog claims to have outed ten more Mariners bloggers today. I do believe they're having a little joke at our expense.

 

MORE ON FREDDY

Tim over at Mariner Talk asks a question about what happens to Freddy's trade value if he is offered arbitration. IMHO, the answer is that it doesn't change. He didn't have trade value before arbitration, and he won't have it after arbitration. I've blogged quite a bit about Freddy previously, including my very first blog post. You might want to review what I've written previously in these three entries:You may need to scroll down on these pages to find the entries.

To summarize, if Freddy would only be worth $4 million as a free agent on a one-year contract, that is what his true value is. If he is actually due $8 million when he is only worth $4 million, few teams would be interested in adding him since they can improve their rosters more by spending the $8 million on other players. Ergo, an $8 million Freddy has no trade value.

The arb deadline does not change those basic economics. Since the end of the season, every team interested in adding starting pitching has deduced that Freddy would get somewhere around $8 million if he were tendered. I would also say that all of them assessed his value and concluded he wasn't worth anything near a one-year $8 million contract. Consequently, interest in trading for him was tepid, at best, if that meant taking on Freddy's arbitration obligation themselves. By the same logic, if the Mariners offer him arbitration, teams will not want him because his salary will be too high. Consequently, there is a signficant market for Freddy services only if he is a non-tender. That was as true two months ago as it is now and as it will be two weeks from now.

So the only decision the Mariners need to make is whether they want to pay $8 million for Freddy services next year. Frankly, I think that is an easy decision, and the decision is no. It's time to promote young talent from Tacoma and San Antonio anyway, so let's clear a roster spot and bring up some talent.

[Added thought: it is certainly worth trying to trade Freddy all the way up to the arbitration deadline; you never know if someone might decide that he actually is worth $8 million - the Gillivasi is not the only GM that gets untracked. However, the only team out there that seemed inclined to spend that type of money for a pitcher such as Freddy was Philadelphia, and they opted for Milton instead of Freddy. And, as I pointed out in my note on that deal, the only real value the Twins got from the deal was the salary dump. If the Mariner's do make a deal that nets them anything of value (after salary considerations), I will post kudos for the Gillivasi as promptly as I can.]

If the Mariners do have some available budget after non-tendering Freddy, I would love to see them add another strong left-handed power bat off the bench; unfortunately, with McCracken occupying the best roster spot for that bat, the Mariners options for filling that spot are diminished. In fact, brining in McCracken suggests that the Mariners don't perceive that as a problem. See my December 9 "WINN/DREW REDUX" post for discussion of why the Mariners need that bat and where it could be fit in the roster. The Mariners have made some roster changes since that entry, so you will have to adjust the roster situation accordingly. (And you may see why the McCracken/Colbrunn deal makes it harder for the Mariners to put together a decent lineup against right handed pitching.)

BTW - After the Ichiro signing today, Freddy looks like a non-tender. The Mariners probably can't stay under budget for their remaining arbitration eligible players (though be skeptical about that because of the Mariners voodoo payroll math).

 
I'VE CHANGED MY MIND - THE MARINERS SHOULD OFFER ARBITRATION TO FREDDY

For several months I have been arguing that the Mariners should not offer arbitration to Freddy Garcia. That belief reflected my expectation that he will get about $7.5 million to $8 million out of arbitration, whereas I figured that his value on the free agent market would be around $4 million to $5 million. I saw no need to overpay for Freddy's services, whereas $8 million could be spent elsewhere that would generate more value than the most likely expectation for what Freddy would provide in 2004.

And I still stand by that assessment. So why would I advocate tendering him at a cost of about $8 million when he is only worth $4 million?

Simply this - after observing the Mariners moves so far this off-season, I am convinced that if the Gillvasi had an extra $8 million to spend, he would get less than $4 million value out of spending it. I fully expect that we would see Jose Valentin on the roster, with additional roster filler such as Doug Glanville and Troy O'Leary signed to million dollar contracts. Or, he may have spent it today in signing Ichiro to contract that is worth more than his true baseball value.

So at this point, I frankly think that it is worth tendering to Freddy. Even thogh he isn't worth $8 million, he is worth more than what the Gillvasi would bring on board instead.

Added note:
The above post is partially tongue-in-check, but I really don't know how much!

 
HAVE TEAMS FINALLY CAUGHT ON TO BORAS?

ESPN.com - MLB - Pudge: Why should I have taken a pay cut?

The article above includes this excerpt:
During negotiations, agent Scott Boras told the Marlins that Pudge had a four-year, $40 million offer, a team official reportedly said. But no team has confirmed making that offer.
A couple of weeks ago I made a post about similar claims made by Boras in Millwood's negotations with the Phillies. As I pointed out, the trick worked well for Boras in negotiating A-Rods contract, so Boras keeps coming using it.

It appears that teams have finally figured out not to believe Boras. As I mentined previously, some of Boras clients have been defecting. If Pudge winds up signing for less money than he turned down with Florida, Boras credibility will probably take a further hit.

 
THE HEIGHT OF IRONY - BALLPLAYERS ARE NOW UNION CHATTEL INSTEAD OF OWNER CHATTEL

Some legal perspective on the union stance on restructuring A-Rod's contract: Baseball law expert cites 'perverse irony'.

As the article points out, the old reserve clause was fundamentally unfair in preventing a player from offering his services to a team that wanted him and that he wanted to play for. The current stance of the MLBPA is the height of irony and raises many questions:
  • Why is it different if it is the union that stops players from playing where they want instead of the owners?
  • Doesn't anyone else see this as a loss of liberty and freedom?
  • Isn't anyone else offended by the union's assertion that it knows better than the player what is of actual or potential benefit to the player?
This situation simply reeks. To bring it closer to home, Jeff Cirillo is obviously looking for a new home, and the Mariners wouldn't mind seeing him leave. Unless and until the Mariners release him, though, his options are limited to the Mariners and to teams that are willing to trade for him.
  • Why should Cirillo and his agent not be free to identify teams that might want him?
  • If that team can't make a deal with the Mariners because of his current salary, why shouldn't Cirillo be free to negotiate a cut in pay to some level where a trade could be worked out for him to go to the team he wants to be with?
  • Why should Cirillo not be free to find a team that he wants to play for and that wants him and negotiate a trade to make that happen?
  • Finally, how is the union protecting its members by interfering in their liberty and pursit of happiness?
With the collapse of the reserve clause, players were no longer owner chattel. Why should they now be union chattel?

For balance, here are some counter viewpoints:
I do respect the viewpoints expressed in the above articles. I certainly don't agree with the statement in the SI article that this undercuts guaranteed contracts. The analogy to NFL contracts simply doesn't apply, because under baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement, if the owner proposes a salary cut to make a trade, the player could refuse and still collect full salary. (That differs from the NFL, where a cut player no longer receives salary.) If the team doesn't want the player, they can cut him, but the salary obligation would continue. So I just don't see where owners would have any added ability to force something on a player. To the contrary, if a situation isn't working out, the added flexibility would make it easier to craft solutions that work better for both the team and the player (as is decidedly the case with A-Rod and Texas).

I have a hard time accepting a process that so substantially and unilaterally interferes with personal liberty and freedom of choice. There are many issues in life where application of a stepwise logical process leads to a contradictory or illogical outcome. For people of my age, the classic example of this was the infamous Viet Nam war conclusion that "…it was necessary to destroy the village to save it." This strikes me as one of those situations where you need to step back and say that the outcome contradicts the intended purpose.

For another analogy, envision yourself as a member the Mariners' brain trust identifying attributes that are critical in putting together a championship team. (Don't you wish?!!) Your list might include heavy weighting for such elements such as experience, character, positional flexibility, etc. So the team proceeds to construct a roster following those criteria, but when the roster is all assembled you can clearly see that the roster is not a championship roster. At that point you don't say to yourself, "this must be a championship roster, because we built it using the steps and procedures we identified for creating a championship roster". Instead you recognize that your logic was flawed.

Same thing here.



 
IF JOSE VALENTIN IS THE ANSWER AT SHORTSTOP, WE NEED SOMEONE ELSE ASKING THE QUESTION.

Why would the Mariners pay $5 million for one-half of a shortstop?

Below are some comparisons between Jose Valentin and Carlos Guillen for 2001 through 2003:

      Batting Splits, 2001 - 2003

==========================================
Player Split AVG OPS SLG OPS
-------- ------ ---- ---- ---- ----
Valentin vs LHP .157 .224 .267 .491
vs RHP .264 .337 .522 .859
Guillen vs LHP .262 .319 .372 .691
vs RHP .266 .345 .384 .729


OPS, 2001 thru 2003
====================================
Player Split 2001 2002 2003
-------- ------ ---- ---- ----
Valentin vs LHP .683 .465 .386
vs RHP .873 .824 .880
Guillen vs LHP .761 .608 .695
vs RHP .657 .757 .777


Valentin Guillen
----------- ------------- ------------------------
Age 34 28

2004 Salary $5 million $2.5 million +
$900,000 possible bonus

Contract FA after 2004 FA after 2004


Valentin's numbers versus left-handers are truly awful, and are getting worse. They are so bad that you simply would not want to send him up to the plate against left-handers.

On top of that Valentin is older and will cost a lot more money. The difference in salary between the two is easily large enough to put another strong left-handed bat on the bench - even at the prices the Mariners seem to pay for utility players. (For the $2.5 million difference most teams could fill two or three roster holes.)

This is another one of those situations where, if the Gillivasi sees a player as the answer at a position, it is desperately clear that the Gillivasi shouldn't be asking the question.

sigh ......

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

 
RUMINATIONS OVER THE CARCASS OF VIZQUEL

Several days ago over at USS Mariner, Jason offered the notion that the Mariners attempts to get Vizquel was a strong PR move. At this point, I am left wondering if that is all it was.

After missing out on Tejada, Guerrero, and every other big name, the Mariners knew there was growing restlessness among the fans. So, in their minds, what better way to respond than to bring back the beloved Omar.

Fortunately, they misjudged the fan community. There was not the chorus of acclamation they expected. The response was at most tepid, and in many cases downright hostile. In fact it was so bad that even the beat writers at the Times and P-I couldn't get behind the move.

Recognizing the problems they were creating, Bavillick told Drs. Storey and Pedegana to be sure to find something wrong with Omar's knee so that the Mariners could back out of the deal.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time a team used a physical exam to back out of a deal after having second thoughts.

I hesitate to post this because it assumes clarity of purpose and action that has not previously been shown by the Mariner management. Nevertheless, I'm not sure we can totally exclude this scenario.

 
CIRILLO AND CEDENO

The only reason I can see to make any deal involving Cirillo is if there is a net payroll savings of at least $1 million. So, I would only do a deal for Cedeno if I shipped no more than $4 million to the Mets to complete the deal. Since Cirillo is due $15 million over the next two years (including buyout) and Cedeno is due $10 million, that would be a net saving of $1 million. Then I would simply release Cedeno, with the difference available to augment the payroll over the next two year. For anything less than $1 million, its simply not worth the hassle of going through all of the hassle of completing the tranaction. Then I would simply release Cirillo.

In the hands of even a modestly competent GM, $1 million will get two years of a useful player available after the Dec 20 non-tender date. Does anyone know where the Mariners might be able to find such a GM?

 
SELIG MAY ALLOW THE A-ROD TRADE TO PROCEED DESITE UNION OBJECTIONS TO THE RESTRUCTURED CONTRACT

Yahoo! Sports: Union rejects changes to A-Rod's contract after Boston and Texas agree to trade

This could be interesting - on the face this would appear to be one Selig decision I could support. In general, I support the idea that the player is the one who should determine if the changed contract is net benefit. This sounds like a good case on which to get a determination.

 
MARINERS OVERTAKE YANKEES AND BOSOX!! SOLE POSSESSION OF FIRST PLACE IN THE AL!!

Baseball News Blog updated the blog links. The Mariners, with 19 blogs listed, now have the most blog sites devoted to a specific AL team. Boston is second with 16, with the Yankees a distant third at 8 blogs.

The Cubs lead the majors, with 21 listed blogs.


 

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?

I see a few bloggers this morning commending the Mariners' medical staff for their assessment of Vizquel's knee. Before we get too carried away, I would like to offer a bit more jaundiced perspective on the Mariners medical staff.

Excelling in any position involves much more than doing the base requirements for that job. Activities such as knee examinations are so central to the sports team medical activities that doing them successfully does not establish excellence, though certainly failure to do the job is prima facie incompetence. Also remember that we do not even know if the Mariners diagnosis was medically correct. It may very well be that Vizquel's surgery and rehab will be successful, and his knee will not limit his play next season. Just because the diagnosis yielded the result we like does not mean it was medically correct.

Knee examinations would seem to be the sports medicine equivalent of a routine groundball or fly ball to the outfield; awarding excellence to the Mariners medical staff for doing competent knee examinations is a little like recognizing Jeter or McCracken for defensive excellence because each of them appears to efficiently handle the balls he reaches. You have to consider the plays the player should have made, but did not get to. Similarly, if we are going to look at the Mariners' medical staff we should look at the plays they don't make.

I would like to discuss two items that suggest to me that the medical staff does not make the plays they should.
  1. The misdiagnosis of Carlos Guillen's tuberculosis during the 2001 season.

    I have a close friend who is a Mariners fan and is also an in-house physician for a company that has international operations. His duties include developing and managing company policies and procedures involving tropical medicine and employee travel in areas of the world with tropical diseases. He is also involved on a daily basis with routine medical care involving injury and illness.

    He was aghast when Guillen was diagnosed with tuberculosis. From his training and experience, he knew that tuberculosis should have been among the first possibilities considered by the Mariners medical staff, particularly considering Guillen's offseason residence in Venezuela. Tuberculosis infections are often dormant in infected individuals, only to flare up later. Guillen apparently tested negative for tuberculosis in the spring, but then the infection became active and continued for at least two months with clearly progressing symptoms and manifestations. He was being actively monitored and treated by Mariners medical staff. Yet they apparently did not consider that he might have tuberculosis, or if they did, they didn't act on it, instead apparently relying on the spring screening that was six to seven months old by the time the infection became severe in September 2001.

    For tuberculosis infection to have continued for this time, with tuberculosis apparently not seriously considered was, in his opinion, stunning medical incompetence. The incompetence is magnified by the fact that the Mariners have Latin American operations, and regularly send players to the Latin American winter leagues. There was simply no reason for the Mariners medical staff not to have even the rudiments of tropical medicine. As he told me, even a rookie medical student starting internship would get a bad review for not considering tuberculosis if presented Guillen's case.

    Also note that the Mariners never did diagnose Guillen with tuberculosis. The diagnosis was made by emergency room staff (at Harborview, I believe) when Guillen's condition got so bad one night that some of Guillen's Mariners teammates decided he needed immediate attention. Being at least as competent as a rookie interns, the Harborview staff immediately identified tuberculosis as the likely cause, and started him on an effective treatment program.

    My friend fully expected that Pedegana would be eased out in the off-season. Pedegana is still around, though it's possible that Mitch Storey, the Mariners's team physician in 2001, is no longer with the team.

    Readers should also note the failure of the major Puget Sound newspapers to ask hard questions of the Mariners about how Pedegana and his staff were able to miss a tuberculosis diagnosis for months, but a Harborview ER doctor picked it up within an hour or so of seeing Guillen for the first time.


  2. The high occurrence of arm injuries in young pitchers in the Mariners organization

    I won't go into this in as much detail as I did Guillen's tuberculosis infection. Suffice it to say that the Mariners have one of the highest rates of major arm and shoulder injuries for young pitchers of any major league ballclub. This situation points directly at poor performance by the Mariners medical staff. Either or both of the following situations are implicated:

    - the medical staff is not providing proper support in evaluating prospects being drafted, resulting in the Mariners drafting a disproportionate number of players who are either damaged goods or injury prone; or

    - the medical staff has not developed and implemented proper procedures to protect the arms and shoulders of the young pitchers in the organization.

    No matter how you look at it, the medical staff is indicted.

While it is nice that the Mariners may have done a good screening on Vizquel, that is hardly the basis to conclude that the Mariners are blessed with a fine medical staff.

To the contrary, there are major questions about the overall competency of the medical staff, that are of the same order as the questions about the General Manager. And when the same symptoms show repeatedly in an organization, they almost always point to a deeper management problem.

Mariners ownership is totally clueless about how to identify and respond to incompetence in many aspects of the Mariners organization related to on-field activities (ie., the baseball operations rather than the business operations). As with the General Manager position, Lincoln and Armstrong wouldn't recognize incompetence if it were a rotting flounder discarded in Post Alley by a Pike Place fishmonger.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

 
AND YET ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE MARINERS BLOGOSPHERE

A welcome to Sodo Oh No.

Returning this evening, my fellow bloggers have pretty much said addressed the events of the day. No need for me to add anything.

I am always intrigued by the listing in the sidebar of the sites from which people click through to reach this little corner of the web. The places that people come from, and the number of hits I and other bloggers receive is very encouraging.

I think it is clear that the blogging community is developing into an true alternative source of information and commentary about the Mariners - far more interesting and fertile than the pablum our two daily serve up and call "journalism".

Blog on!


 
MANAGEMENT BY BASEBALL

I'm Marinered out, and there is a lot of other fun and interesting stuff in baseball besides the Mariners.

One of those is Jeff Anglun's Management by Baseball blog, and I have a link to it in the right sidebar. I have previously mentioned Jeff's site, and I recommend it highly. (He is also a Mariner fan.)

Right now, Jeff is wrapping up a series of entries on Sociopathic Bosses, using George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman as a case example for life with a sociopathic boss. It's worth a visit.

 
WISDOM FROM COMMISSIONER BUD

Commissioner Bud repeats his mantra about how frustrating it is for many fans who know at the start of the season that their teams have no chance of competing. Rest assured, Bud, that we know the feeling.

 
CAN THE MARINERS OVERTAKE THE RED SOX AND YANKEES THIS YEAR

Lately we've been adding Mariners blogs at a rate of about one per day. I've been trying to be sure that I get them all linked in the sidebar on the right; if I'm missing anyone, please send me a note reminding me.

But folks, can we get a bit more variety in the templates being used?? Thanks!

From the number of sites linked at baseball News Blog, the most blogged teams appear to be the Yankees and Red Sox. If we continue to add sites as we are, maybe the Mariners blogosphere can pass the Yankees and Red Sox, even if the team can't.

By the way, the blog proliferation certainly shows a level of fan interest; remember that when attendance falls at Safeco this year as the team descends. The Mariners will talk about declining fan interest, and the Times and P-I will report that as fact without looking at it critically, while casting nary a glance at management. I love a good cup of coffee, but if the coffee shops I frequent stop serving good coffee, I'm not going to drink as much of it. That doesn't mean I've lost interest in coffee. I look at Mariners baseball much the same.

And it isn't just the play on the field causing a disconnect, it will be the perception of management fumbling, indifference, and incompetence. Beyond the blogosphere (and the incestuous amplification that occurs among us), the larger Mariner nation feels greatly let down by the team's inability to make trade deadline deals to improve the team the last two years. The events of this offseason continue to feed the perception that Mariners management is simply incapable of doing the deals that other teams do to improve themselves.


 
WE'RE COMPETING WITH NEW YORK

Next item on the offseason punch list - Guillen for Vizquel. And my guess is that Shapiro has told Bavasi he won't do the deal unless the Mariners throw in $3 million or so.

I guess we are competing with New York. This team is looking more and more like an AL version of the Mets.

Monday, December 15, 2003

 
A GREAT DAY IF YOU'RE A MARINERS FAN

I made my previous entry today knowing I was going to be away from the internet and not getting news for most of the day. Now I'm checking in, and picking up the day's news.

Call me Pollyanna if you wish, but I think that in a couple of years the stench from the Mariners will be so profound that ownership will finally realize they need to clean house. But be aware that I have been accused before of being an incurable optimist!

In the meantime, I may follow David Cameron's lead and take a couple of days off. Maybe I'll be ready to interact again by the time I get to the USS Mariner pizza feed.

 
IF MARINERS' MANAGEMENT HAD THEIR WAY, BOONE WOULD NOT BE A MARINER TODAY

A quick note, and I will probably not be posting much for several days.

Return for a moment to the winter of after the 2001 season. Do you remember that the Mariners' plan was to let Boone walk and collect the compensation pick? Do you remember how upset Gillick was when Boone accepted the Mariners arbitration offer? Do you remember how Gillick felt he was negotiating with a gun to his head?

Don't credit the Mariners for cleverness in retaining Boone. If Mariners' management had their way, Boone would not be a Mariner today.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

 
BYE, BYE MIGUEL. WE HARDLY KNEW YE

6 years, $54 million to $65 million. I'm glad the Mariners didn't go there. The track record for deals that long is pretty bad.

Don't get your hopes up about Vlad, though. Baltimore still has money to throw around, and Angelos is trying to buy credibility. Meanwhile, I simply don't think the Mariners are going to do any deals longer than four + option.

Also, as I posted about a week ago, Vlad has said he want to play on a team with other Dominicans.
  • How many Dominicans play for the Mariners?
  • What country is Miguel Tejada from?

 
IS THIS ONE OF BAVASI'S BACKUP PLANS AT SHORTSTOP

According to Ron Gardenhire, Twins notes: Gardenhire rocks 'em at press conference, the Twins are ready to deal Guzman.

Guzman instead of Tejada. Chills the cockles of your colon, doesn't it??

 
SMOKING MCCRACKEN

Most of my "smoking McCracken" has focused on his bat. The picture is not much prettier defensively. For that, let's look at the "Rate" stat from Baseball Prospectus, which is fielder's rate of production, equal to 100 plus the number of runs above or below average this fielder is per 100 games. A player with a rate of 110 is 10 runs above average per 100 games, a player with an 87 is 13 runs below average per 100 games, etc.

Here are the 2003 Rate numbers for McCracken:

Left Fielder: 101
Center Fielder: 91
Right Fielder: 87

The most positive thing that can be said is that, as long as he primarily plays left field, his fielding is not as bad as his hitting.

Personally, I think that if you add someone to the roster as a defensive specialist, the player ought to be better than average at defense.

So not only is he among the worst batters in baseball, if you were to give him 900 innings in the oufield, spotted among all three positions, the Mariners would be expected to yield about 8 more runs than they would have had they simply filled those spots with players who were league average at their positions.

Bernie Williams in 2003 had a rate of 96 in center field. One of the prime teams the Mariners compete with considers that unacceptable.

The Mariners, with their focus on defense, are going to bring in a "defensive specialist" who is worse that Bernie Williams. Not only that, they are actually going to gove up a valuable and useful player as well, and pay him over $1 million.

Incredible!!


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