The Seattle Mariners – A Colossal Mess
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on December 20, 2006
I sat in the dark for five nights, until last evening came and the power gods let there be light. I sat there, trying to entertain myself as I waited for some incompetent fools (PSE) to restore power to my area of Federal Way, Washington.
While I sat there, reading and jotting down notes by candle light, I couldn’t help but put great thought toward the Seattle Mariners and their disasterous offseason plight. I thought long and hard about the hows and whys and what-the-hell-fors, and did that until I was too exhausted to stay awake any longer.
But I did crawl into a strong slumber with what I believed to be several solid ponderances and analyses about our hometown nine and their future.
But first things first, and believe me when I tell you, the following is all tied together with the former.
Puget Sound Energy is a terrible corporation. I didn’t know this until the chips were down and it was time for them to make a tough decision that would affect thousands of people and their daily lives. One decision, two choices.
They blew it. According to one of their own employees that I ran into on Wednesday afternoon, they were offered a solution to their problem, which was getting power to those areas that were still dark after three straight nights of no heat, no light and no hot water.
The offer was a trio of mobile transformers, which would have been sent down from the Bellingham or Vancouver BC area, and would have restored power to as many as 100,000 residents of Sumner, Bonney Lake, Federal Way, and even parts of Tacoma.
PSE’s big wigs decided against ordering the transformers , which would have taken less than four hours to arrive in the respective areas in which they were necessary. Instead, the idiocy of the greedy chose to continue to try and fix their problem on their own, even though by their own admission it was going to take them as many as five or six MORE days to get power up and running in certain neighborhoods.
Why, you ask?
Because in the end, it saves them money. To rent the mobiles for the five or six day period would have cost them more money then it would take for them to pay all of their crews to just fix or replace their own issues.
So, in the meantime, myself and many, many others went without power for nearly three more full nights, and some have yet to get their power back.
A horrible decision by PSE. The absolute worst. I know of people that are still without power and all PSE tells them is “well, we’re working on it,” or worse yet, “what would you like us to do, snap our fingers?”
Yeah, one of their customers, who owns two homes in Puyallup and rents out a dozen more across Pierce County, was actually treated like that.
Puget Sound Energy should be ashamed of themselves for putting themselves so far ahead of their customers that the Tacoma News Tribune estimates between 15,000-20,000 residents of Pierce and South King Counties have had to relocate to Hotels, Motels, and the homes of friends or relatives… completely uprooting their lives for what is now a full week.
And all because they wanted to save what the Trib believes is about $12000-14,000, times however many mobiles they wanted.
The Seattle Mariners, or, “the friggin’ Mariners”, as they have now been labeled by just about everyone I come into contact with that speaks of baseball these days, are simply a bad organization. They’re just bad.
They aren’t even good at maximizing their financial position, even though we all know that the cash is what’s most important to the ownership group as a whole. The Mariners had it all, lost it all, and have no idea how to repeat their glorious run to riches, wins and the proverbial cash-cow status that was Safeco Field.
The M’s were sitting on a gold mine here in Seattle. Just six years ago this town was still buzzing from the ’95 club, the playoff appearance in ’97 and the excitement of opening up a new stadium just before the turn of the century.
In 2000, the club crammed a chrome molybdenum alloy steel shovel into that gold mine and retrieved a heaping serving of the jewels beneath. Griffey was gone, The Big Unit was gone, but the Ws were piling up at a competitive pace, thanks to the stars that remained, such as Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and skipper Lou Piniella.
The following year was more of the same, but in 2002, they got a little greedy. Instead of thinking like a baseball team, the suits chose to do whatever it took to keep 3 million asses glued to the seats at the Safe. When they should have been starting to retool (not rebuild), they went in the other direction, hanging on to veterans for longer than they were capable of producing and handing out contracts to aging talents that were clearly past their primes.
There was no eye toward 2006 or 2007. None at all. It was about how much money they could make right this freakin’ second. Today. Tomorrow. THIS homestand, THIS month, THIS season.
Because Howard Lincoln and whoever else makes those decisions for the Mariners, fans of the current team are saddened, frustrated, angered and downright pissed off about three straight years in the cellar and no light at the end of that long, long tunnel of losses and disappointments.
They made a choice, and like PSE’s customers, the fans have to lie in the cold and dark until the incomptent fools that run the show figure something out – if they ever do.
I’m not talking about Bill Bavasi and the scouting department right now. That’s another story for another day. Sure, he’s made some decisions this winter that prove he has no business as a GM in this game. None. But this is about those above him. Those that mandate the financial motivations and direction of the organization. They don’t deserve to own/run a baseball team anymore. And until they are relieved of their duties, it doesn’t really matter much who is making the personnel decisions, because the GMs’ hands will be puppeteered by his bosses motives.
In Seattle, it’s not about baseball. It’s about Lincoln proving to his bosses that he can make them money. It’s about the owners making sure they don’t take any hits to their profits. No, they aren’t worried a single bit about losing money in any given year. They simply strive to no end to make sure they don’t make less money than they deem reasonable. And they ALL hide behind Lincoln like a group of cowards.
[ I have been told, however, that one of the larger shareholders, Chris Larson, is a pretty smart guy and may have had his differences with the way business is being conducted in regard to baseball matters. There is also a chance that Larson may have the right of first refusal should the current group, mostly Mr. Yamauchi, decide to sell. My source, who knows Larson well enough, says that Larson would probably be the type of owner who stayed out of the media, but relied on the best baseball people possible. It truly sounds like Larson might be the type of majority owner the Mariners need. A HUGE baseball fan who understands the game enough to know better than to seek treasures outside of winning games first, maximizing profits second.]
Bavasi should have been told to do what he truly believed was best for the club in 2007 – and beyond – not just what will win them the most games next year, unless it also makes sense financially for ’08, ’09, and so on.
We can go on all day about the idiotic trade of Rafael Soriano to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez. But it’s tough to quantify the trade value of any player, even though the popular opinion of those in and out of the game contend strongly that Soriano had a lot more value than that.
It’s hard to complain about the addition of Jose Guillen, as well. He’s not guaranteed more than one year, has to play well to get more than the $5 million and his buyout for 2008 is just $500,000.
And then came the two dumbest moves in succession I can remember by any team. Three years and $24 million for Miguel Batista, 36, and the trade of promising reliever Emiliano Fruto and a cheaper, younger, better hitter to Washington for Jose Vidro.
If the Mariners would have stopped at the Guillen signing, every analyst on the planet would be applauding the club for their wise, responsible approach to the offseason. Rather than gaining the respect of the baseball world, the Mariners front office, hard-pressed to save their jobs -thanks to the suits being so financially dirven that they can’t see the wins – or losses – through the $1000 bills – in the truest of last-ditch-style efforts, blew it again.
You tell me, Mariners fans, which would have made more sense?
Signing Batista, at age 36, to a 3-year deal for $8 million per, or using BOTH Jake Woods and Cha Seung Baek in the rotation for 2007, at least until a better option presented itself, perhaps in spring training or during the first two or three months of the season as teams sort out whether they are contenders or not.
Batista is a league-average pitcher, no more. Maybe less at times. Baek and Woods are not guaranteed by any stretch to be league average and have little chance to be more, but they don’t cost multi-year contracts and millions a season for mediocre play.
The trade of Chris Snelling and Fruto for Vidro is the most puzzling trade in history of Mariners baseball. It isn’t the worst, though it’s close, because the club didn’t give up blue-chippers or anything of that nature.
But they did trade away a player that is currently as capable offensively, though less proven at the big-league level, younger by seven years, much, much cheaper (by about 10 million over the two years remaining on Vidro’s deal), and is not that much more likely to get hurt. Vidro has his own issues with the DL, and at 32 isn’t going to improve his overall healthy time on the field, even if he’s the DH.
And heck, if DH’ing helps so much, why not DH Snelling to keep him healthier, too?
Fact is, it’s a terrible trade, if for no other reason than that they dealt away cheap players who would have, according to most observers opinions, including my own, outperformed Vidro anyways.
If he can’t slug .400 in the NL, what’s his ceiling here in the AL as he faces better, less familiar pitching on a regular basis?
Next year’s free agent class, even less Vernon Wells, isn’t much to talk about, but there are some interesting names out there and the Mariners COULD have been a strong position to snag both a bat and a starting pitcher had they not blown most of their wad on Batista and Vidro, two mediocre talents – at best.
The Mariners’ offensive needs are still there. They don’t get on base enough and they did nothing to solve that issue this winter. But wouldn’t Bobby Abreu be of some help? He’s a free agent after next year.
How about Jermaine Dye, who isn’t the best OBP guy, but he also offers solid defense and a good team attitude to his .850+ adjusted OPS? He’s a solid fit.
Andruw Jones and Carlos Guillen aren’t likely to ever make it to free agency, Guillen is staying in Detroit as soon as they work out an extension, and Jones is likely to be dealt somewhere, maybe Boston, and handed a 6-year deal for $100+ million.
What about Adam Dunn, though? He’s a left-handed Richie Sexson – with a few more Ks, a lot more walks and is in his prime to boot. He’s an OBP guy and it’s all in the bases on balls, as Dunn regularly hits below .250 – but he’s still very, very productive.
How about Mike Lowell to a short-term deal if the club trades Beltre this season, or next winter? Corey Patterson anyone? How about Aaron Rowand to roam center field once Ichiro leaves, or until Adam Jones is ready?
On the mound, Doug Davis, Mark Buehrle, Jason Jennings and Jake Westbrook are the top names. Nothing too lavish, but other than Buehrle, who’ll get much more than his value because he “won 18 games” on a world series winner, is lefthanded and under 30″, that entire group could be had for the kind of money Seattle had available this winter, and would have next winter, had they not spent just to spend.
The M’s needed to come out of this calendar year with their balls dangling proudly and a payroll full of flexibility and bursting with room to add valuable talent.
Instead, they head toward a very critical future with their nuts in a sling, attendance dropping like a Matt Hasselbeck pass to Jeramy Stevens, and not an end to the foolishness in sight.
The Seattle Mariners are a colossal mess.
Of course, they could go out and get career years from Guillen, Ramirez, Batista, breakthrough years from Felix and Lopez, steady production from Beltre and Sexson and get lucky with health and win a tight division race with the Angels and all of this is for not.
But, as a good friend of mine once said, mass popular opinion rarely fails, and not an intelligent soul outside the M’s organization believes in the transactions filed under “Seattle-Mariners” this month.
Again, I’ll avoid Safeco Field like the plague, and I’m even thinking of joining a baseball convent, or even starting my own since I don’t know if one already exists.
The next time you hear from me about Seattle Mariners baseball, might be the day they hire me to work a slacker’s job under the new GM and new Team President and CEO.
Which is most likely NEVER.
Until then, or until there’s true reason to sprout me head above ground again, I’ll hibernate in my prospect cave where a little hope still remains.
In the spirit of Jerry Maguire’s involuntary jettison from his SMI offices, who’s coming with me? Who’s coming with me? Who’s coming with me… besides, Willmore, here.