Stoney writes and talks about the MarinersFebruary 13th, 2013 by terrybenish
Larry Stone writes a very interesting piece contrasting the off-season that the Cleveland Indians had by signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. He posits that many Mariner fans felt that was the off-season that they wanted to see the Mariners put together. Link below.
Late yesterday afternoon he was on KJR with Softy Mahler and was asked to opine about Jack Zduriencik’s status and whether he survives this year. To paraphrase and sum up he said that if the Mariners do not take a step forward that this could be the end of Zduriencik’s rebuilding plan.
I think his piece and his comments weave together and offer something were riffing about.
The makeover of the Tribe’s major league roster is different than that of what the Mariners have done. The Indians signed to multi-year deals Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds, Mike Aviles, Ryan Rayburn. They acquired Drew Stubbs for Shin Soo Choo. They traded for phenoms Trevor Baurer and Didi Gregorius. They also signed Brett Myers, Jason Giambi and Daisuke Matsuzaka. These are financially bold moves that affect and link them to aging players for four years and beyond in Swisher and Bourn. Neither of those players has upside and they hope that Bourn can recapture the lost offense and Swisher sustain his offense for most of the contract duration. Lots of offense and a modicum of defense as a simple statement is what they added. Their minor league system is not especially loaded.
The activity is notable by the absence of new starting pitching. This is a weakness and probably prevents them from overtaking the Tigers in the Central. Enough for a wild card? Doubtful.
As as been previously chronicled the Mariners reacquired Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse, picked up free agents Jason Bay, Joe Saunders, Jon Garland, Joe Saunders, Kameron Loe, Kelly Shoppach, Ronnie Paulino and traded for Kendrys Morales.
Financially this is distinctly different. The Mariners are not obligated to any of these players past this coming year. Further, coming off the payroll this year will be Franklin Gutierrez and Chone Figgins.
The Mariners MAY win enough games to push them past the .500 mark, they may not. We get to watch and find out, but the contrast of the two teams is two very different situations. Indians are all in and believe they can make a run at the Central Division, if not immediately this year, some time in next four years.
The Mariners have not added anyone in the off season that will be here next year, to repeat myself. On the face of it, the off season can be viewed as a stop gap, done to bridge to when the minor spews forth starting pitchers and players. The Mariners it would seem, do not believe that is this year for the harvest.
So Larry says no move forward for Mariners, then rebuild is over this year. None of these acquisitions can be characterized as rebuilding, old players or players that will not stay. The moves allow the minor starting pitchers to further develop or to waste a year of pitches against minor leaguers that might otherwise be used against major league hitters, depending on your perspective.
As my good friend Terry Mosher tells me over and over again this is a business. With this group of players and the Astros here in the division, 85 games is a possibility, TV ratings up and they do a new TV deal…which is really good for the owners. Not sure about the prospects of a better team, but players should start to show up through out the year, pitchers more driven by injury. Such players might include Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, Stefen Romero, Vincent Catricala, Brad Miller etc. But it depends. They were ready to dump Franklin and top pitcher Taijuan Walker for a flawed Juston Upton.
Lots of cross currents, rebuild per se may be concluded with the softball team they’ve brought in. Mariner’s owners might like competing next year with a $40 million payroll. Competing is the axiom, not winning.
This is not meant to be negative, rather help you see what you’re looking at. The ability to watch games with players at this level is always the banquet. Harmony and balance is a rare thing in major league baseball. People write me, stop me in the street and frequently say things like, the Mariners can’t compete with the Angels or Texas and how much they spend. The simple response is that they do not have to do that. The best organization in baseball in terms of results and efficiency from 2000 on has been the St. Louis Cardinals. From that time period 2000-2012 the Mariners have spent a bit more than they have. The Cardinals have been in a bunch of playoffs and won and lost World Seriesssss. Tampa Bay from 2005 forward has spent nothing and has competed and won. In other words they could have spent what they did, not any more, maybe less and presented a great team and won games and held their attendance and revenue. They did not.
The Mariners have been really bad at the find baseball talent, bring them to majors and compete at major league level. The last four years they’ve worked hard to build up their talent base. They’ve have continued to make egregiously bad trades and their performances in the last three years have been historically bad. The team is focused on getting the new media deal done and they now realize that winning baseball might put people in the seats and watching their games on television. It will be a better summer if they’re correct.