Each Day Has Enough Trouble of Its Own

M's trickle-up talent plan --- > turned upside down


Q.  Supposing that Russell Martin IS what you expect Mike Zunino WILL BE.  Why then spend so much for Martin?

A.  It's worth re-running a BJOL answer here.  Take this one as coming from a Red Sox VP:


Hey Bill, are you surprised that a lot of sports teams keep using the load-up-on-aging-free-agents strategy, even though it seems to fail miserably and expensively most of the time? I mean, adding some veteran pieces around a young or prime-age core is one thing, but counting on oldsters to carry the bulk of the load just seems to be an idea with failure built right into it. When you add in the greater cost of signing veteran players, it seems like a doubly bad idea. Any thoughts?

Asked by: OwenH

Answered: 11/12/2012

Well, yes, but. ...organizations that have resources tend to look to proven solutions.    "Poor" organizations are willing to gamble on younger players, and become comfortable gambling on improvement from young players.    Wealthy organizations tend innately to look for "proven" players. 


Mike Zunino, at the moment, is looking like an EXTREMELY high-percentage play.  (How good does he have to hit, anyway?  Not very.)  But the spinal surgeon who is actually holding the scalpel in his hand must have a different gut feeling about whether it's okay to cut the red wire or the blue one...


Q.  How long has Jack Zduriencik been GM of the Mariners?

A.  Four years.


Q.  How long was Bill Bavasi GM of the Mariners?

A.  Four and one-half years.


Q.  Are there any advantages, for the Mariner fan, in a Brain Trust that is getting shrill about winning Right. This. Second.?

A.  I feel like I've waited long enough, don't you?

Actually there is a sense in which that attitude is not shrill.  Matt. 6:34 says, "Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

A lot of the world's great postal players in chess like to include "Sacred Writings" on their postcards.  They'll make a weird opening move and write, tongue-in-cheek, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof" and their opponent will shoot back "A fool and his pawns are soon parted."

Matt. 6:34 was never intended to be applied to life indiscriminately, and on SSI of course we relay it as a proverb, an illustration of an idea that is employed throughout Fortune 500.  Depending on context.


Matt. 6:34 carries the idea, put every ounce of muscle fiber into today's game; you don't even know whether that will be enough.  Tomorrow you'll be surprised to find that resources show up as you need them.

When Dr. D started a public speaking schedule, back in the 1980's, he had a decision like this ... hmmmm, I've got four good jokes.  Should I save two for next week?  You get it?

He decided, I'll use all four this week.  This became one of the foundation ideas of his life, and the next week there have usually shown up four more jokes.  Or with blogging.  Don't worry about "reserving" ideas for the next column.  Let it all hang out this time, and then do that next time too.

Of course, you can't trade Paxton, Hultzen and Taijuan for Mark Buehrle.  You have to be aware of BOTH principles:

  • Look before you leap
  • He who hesitates is lost

Baseball fans are ALWAYS aware of the need to keep your prospects.  Sometimes they overlook the fact that you have to hit this season with all the gusto you got.


The 1977-2012 Mariners have been the poster boys for "keeping their powder dry" for two seasons on.  How's that worked out for them?


Q.  But what do you do with Mike Zunino?

A.  Keep him in the minors for two years, and phase him in year three, I guess.  As Sandy has pointed out, there's no tragedy in keeping a HITTER in the minors an extra year.  You even get a better (older) six years that way.


Q.  Have the M's made an internal decision that they have GOT to get Jaso and Montero out of there?

A.  That's what it looks like, but (1) was Felix ineffective teaming with Jaso? and (2) if that were your evaluation, then what would be wrong with Olivo for one more year?

A lot of things appear -- on the surface -- inconsistent here.  I'm sure there's an explanation.


Q.  Would Dr. D sign Russell Martin?

A.  No, he'd go with John Jaso, Jesus Montero and a Josh Bard type in AAA .... pending a great Mike Zunino spring, in which case the ballclub goes to Zunino now.

But Dr. D doesn't have anything on the line here.  Take heart, amigos:  if the Mariners have decided that they've had enough of losing, there are certain benefits associated to that.


Klat Categories: 


Man, what do Jaso and Montero have to do? Catch perfect games and no hitters?

This really sounds like pressing in poker. Pressure forcing you off game.


... be better than what they were in 2012, or in Jaso's case prove that he can perform at that level over the course of a full season. Montero has many holes in his game and cannot be depended on to perform at a high level. Sure, he might be CAPABLE of producing, but being capable and having a track record of doing so are two very different creatures.


Anonymous's picture


I meant what do they need to do from a *catching* standpoint.

As far as hitting, sure Montero needs to get better to fulfill his potential, but his second half was pretty nice, and he's a rookie after all. And aren't catchers supposed to take a little longer to develop given their need to focus on defense?

I dunno... just seems like catcher is not a position of need unless there is a directive from above to win now or get a new job. I hope there's a burly trade coming...


That they's not being allowed to prove?

Jaso hit in the minors, he's hit in the bigs, and our #1 starter loves throwing to him. He doesn't hit much against lefties because he isn't allowed to.

Montero is not respected as a catcher (just as Jeter was a bad defensive SS) but is not gonna be allowed to catch to get better, apparently. He also only hits as a catcher thus far, so hopefully that doesn't hold true next year if we're not gonna let him be a backstop.

He of the 90 OPS+ the last 4 years, Russ Martin, wants 4 years now. We're apparently entertaining the notion.

The best catcher in college last season, who put up numbers in a major conference using power-deadening bats that rivaled anything Posey or Wieters did in college, then decimated the minor leagues with his wooden bat... that guy, we're talking about blocking off at the position.

As Doc says, Russ Martin is his midpoint, what happens if Zunino merely treads water in the bigs for his ability level. I understand the desire for an offensive stopgap at the position, and for someone who can tutor the young arms, but our catcher OPS+ relative to the rest of the league was 116 last year. ONE SIXTEEN. And we have a Posey/Wieters level talent waiting to join the club at our convenience.

Pitchers are on offense, as Doc likes to say. Maybe Martin or Napoli can hold their hands and get them comfortable - but didn't the Giants entrust their young arms to Posey the second he was ready and they merely won the WS, and another a couple years later?

We're spending a lot of time trying to get the C/DH dynamic down on a team that has plenty of capable hands for at least one of those positions. Still seems odd to me. Dunno of a lot of teams that try to play with 5 catchers strewn around various positions and time-shared platoons.

Not unless some of those catchers are named Delgado and Biggio and Konerko, I guess. If we have that kind of thing about to happen, bring it on.



One thing that makes me feel a little better about Martin, as someone pointed out, is that he should be easily tradable (as long as his contract is reasonable). Even if he gets four years, and Zunino works out, someone will always want/need a 90ops+ defensive wiz proven MLB (TM) catcher.

That might actually be advantageous, with Martin to mentor the young pitchers and mentor Montero for another year.

Wouldn't be the offensive add that we need, though.


That is a problem evidenced in fans opinions of which way to go this offseason, as well. I have understood for a long time that a cup of coffee followed by 3 full seasons in the bigs is considered a meaningful evaporation time for a hitter. 2000 AB is impossible to get in 2 seasons. Its far more common for a bat to take that long or longer to put it together than being an all star in year 1 or 2.

I can see the need for a corner outfielder or 2 being brought in. There's plenty of trade chips to go after more conceivably, however i'm leaning more towards holding on to as much as possible with every trade scenario I read. I think Swisher and Hamilton combined couldn't hurt the teams chances as much in the later years of deals as moving 3 of our top 5 prospects+ more to get a couple younger bats. I don't get how a team full of league minimum players needs to trade multiple more of them to pick up contacts from another team. I'm not saying those would be as large as the FAs worth pursuing, but I can't see how those FA can be considered more expensive than giving up multiple top 100 baseball prospects who are within 2 years and paying 10+ million a year.

I'd rather see Hamilton get 150 million from the Ms than Butler get the 50 million or so he's owed + losing walker, Franklin ++. If Franklin has a decent chance if staying at SS why even consider trading him? For a DH? Seriously? And Walker/Paxton and more. Doesn't sound wise to me.

I say bring in Hamilton or Swisher, a back end starter and a catcher. Keep what you've got unless you can get a decent deal for a Gordon or Bruce. Why even considertrading Saunders, Seager, Ackley, Montero our Smoak? Oh, well, if we're talking about Stanton...ok. Otherwise those 5 are exactly the type of players we need going forward. That and a bat like Hamilton in the middle. I think the risks of going Napoli + trading for a corner are bigger than the risks of a decent Hamilton contract.

If people were talking about Hamilton getting 200 million plus I would be if a different opinion, but his services are already being discounted by everyone in and around the game. He could be easily worth over 200 million the next 6 years and the entire league is discounting that because he has a higher chance of not being worth it than most ever to be in his position. If the cost is already lower, why say he's too risky? All FA are too risky then. His cost is already adjusted for those obvious risks. At $150 million over 6 years he could wind up being a bargain because of concerns driving his price down.

I'm not usually advocating signing a top FA to this team because the roster hadn't warranted it. This year I think Hamilton is the best probable move. He's exactly what the team needs, aside from the issues that are making him relatively affordable.


Here's what Bavasi said last year regarding trading Choo and AsCab:

"We were trying to get better fast. Believe me, in Seattle there was no taste for a five-year plan, and no matter how things turned out, I respect that attitude. The 2006 club was sort of starting to get it together and we believed it was important for the players to see we were serious about...maybe not winning...but at least getting better now."

I assume Jack is getting the same kind of pressure, seeing as how the same guys are above him.

I figure that part of it is Jack's "tentpole" development guys are Ackley, Smoak and Montero, of whom only Montero looked to be developing much in 2012.

I'm guessing there's pressure to add a veteran hitter somewhere ... and catcher is one place they can do it within reason.

At the end of the day, from an office politics standpoint, is Zunino a better bet than Ackley, Smoak or Montero?  [I love them all, of course ... but my Real Job doesn't depend on it.]

That being said, I think a Napoli signing isn't such a bad idea ... but Russell must be explained by some internal pressure.



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Gordon GrossThe idea was that we'd be able to put Pryor and Maurer and others out there as well. The rotation isn't the only thing getting pounded. We had pitching depth and we've needed all of it. But my 240 million dollar man isn't breaking .700 OPS yet, and too many of my blue chip hitters (young and older) are belly flopping. They have to turn it around or we're going nowhere. Needing the pen to throw 5 innings of zero run ball every night that Felix doesn't pitch just won't work.50 min 40 sec ago
Gordon GrossNo, I get it JD, but their actual ERA figures are mostly fine too. We have 4 guys in the pen with an ERA under 2. If the whole pen was a dumpster fire I might feel differently, but the pen as a whole isn't really bad. Maybe it will GET bad (again) through overuse or whatnot, and it's not Oakland's pen, but it's not bad. It's just being asked to do the impossible, since it can't score runs after the 6th inning - and neither can our offense. The team OPS of .576 in innings 7-9 with 14 runs scored isn't cutting it. We're not getting to the other team's pen - understandable when it's Oakland, abominable on other cases.1 hour 56 sec ago
IcebreakerXG, that's an interesting stat. However, I feel like the M's continuously torch games by sticking bad FIP/xFIP pitchers in high LI situations. Though, I'm sure there's a way to calculate a cross-stat of LI and xFIP...1 hour 10 min ago
rick82Noesi today: 1 IP, 7 ER2 hours 57 min ago
JDDubSorry G, not trying to attack you. Just frustrated.3 hours 30 min ago
JDDubWild pitchers seem to carry great FIP, only to underperform in real life. Woo Hoo, guy K'd the side in two different blowouts. Then walked 2 and gave up 2 singles with a 4-3 lead when it mattered. Looks great on paper, not in the standings. No offense G, but it has felt this way most of my time as a Mariners fan. Only Gillick and Lou paid good attention to locking down a game you have in hand, the only 2 times the franchise showed much life. Lou managed to somehow get Charlton. Gillick piled up the bullpen arms. If FIP and xFIP are so great year after year why is our bullpen constantly coughing up the game and not the other team? The stats are misleading I believe. We tied for 6th in Blown Saves last season. That doesn't factor in ties or other close games torched.3 hours 46 min ago
Gordon GrossOur top 5 bullpen FIPs go: 1.39, 2.48, 2.75, 3.19, and 3.87. The As: 1.44, 2.15, 2.75, 3.80 and 4.00. Their bullpen is not demolishing ours, JD. It only feels that way. Mostly it's their starting pitching giving their entire team an ERA+ of 150 (!). But they've gotten the victories out of that they've needed to. We haven't.4 hours 8 min ago
Gordon GrossCorey Hart doesn't exactly look like a busted-up retread in the early going, and his defense is fine now that he's in the OF every other day. I agree, tho, the overall plan leaves something to be desired thus far.I understand the arguent that goes "why have a #3-4 starter like Matt Garza (85 ERA+ so far for 4/50 mil) when Paxton and Walker looked so good?" I admit, I want the arm NOW, but I'd take Paxton and Walker over Garza every day of the week. I'd have taken that shot at Kazmir for 2/21 like the As did, but a lot of #3 guys are really #4-5 guys in disguise who wanted big cash. We just need to catch a break. I hate that every year we need to catch a break we don't catch.4 hours 21 min ago
JDDubIt's too bad an idiot like me could see last September that our bullpen was going to continue to kill us without addressing it. Such a small amount of money and we wouldn't be having these conversations. Instead I got charts showing all the bullpen guys underperforming their xFIP and lots of "spending money on the bullpen is the biggest waste there is! The $/WAR value is not prudent.". I don't know about you guys but it always killed the teams I was on when one guy sucked at defense. 4 lock down defenders on the court don't matter if the 5th guy is giving up blow by layins all night. On my hoops team it was always the same guy, for the M's bullpen it's a new guy every night!4 hours 22 min ago
Tacoma RainAs upset as I am... I take solace in the fact we have had 2 good starts in a row from rookie pitchers... yeah, Elias was left in two too many batters due to the bullpen, and everything else really sucked... but Elias and Maurer pitched with their hearts on their sleeves... We are getting to the point of just trying to figure out what works, and then deciding whether to keep or torch the rest.4 hours 28 min ago
phxterryA tale of 2 cities, er, 2 teams: Billy Beane finds good young pitching and then fills the 25 man roster with ball players whose specific skills fill all holes; then, despite limited funds in the2013-14 offseason, spends big to bring in a fleet of lock down relievers to hold every late lead and win the majority of 1-run and extra inning games. He hires a manager who utilizes players skillfully and maximizes their strengths. GMZ spends $240M on a special player, but who plays at the M's position of greatest depth/strength - middle infield. GMZ does not fill the most glaring holes: RH OFer who can hit and play defense & veteran #3 starter. He adds only 1 lock down reliever while relying on retreads like Wilhelmsen and Furbush. Then he hires a manager who can't tell a bad reliever from a good one. Mix and stir: voila - A's are winning (again) and M's are losing (again).5 hours 3 min ago
IcebreakerXI can't wait until the Astros sweep us.6 hours 9 min ago
rick82There's a reason Farquhar passed all these guys up last year and became the closer. He asserted himself. Why he takes a back seat to Tommy, Charlie and Yoenis is a mystery to me.7 hours 9 min ago
Gordon GrossOur pitching has actually been pretty decent in the early going, Rick. It's our offense that is - once again - betraying us after that opening series. Gotta get the bats on track. Losing a couple close heartbreakers has changed the complexion of the early season for us. The Rangers have walked off at least 4 times in victory, and we've suffered 3 walkoff losses and a couple other heartbreaking late inning defeats. We pull those out and it's all roses while we wait for our pitching reinforcements. Now, though, we need hitters to hit - a lot. Gotta take this Astros series.8 hours 14 min ago
GLSI don't mind Furbush so much, but he's never been that guy, that when he comes in the game, that you really feel good about it. I think he has a role, but to me he's more of a 6th/7th inning guy. I really don't Furbush, Wilhelmsen, or Medina showing their faces in the 8th inning of a close game.8 hours 16 min ago
Gordon GrossI like Charlie, but he's been a slow starter in the past and is continuing that this year. It's okay that it takes him til May to get his sea-legs, but that doesn't mean I want him pitching a bunch of important April innings then. He's also never been great against righties, though he was decent last year. I don't pivot my pen around Furbush in the early going, that's for sure.8 hours 19 min ago
rick82But yeah, if you'd have told me that Elias would by default be our #2 starter on April 20, I would have expected a 7-11 record.9 hours 13 min ago
rick82Thirteen: I don't see it. It's been a while since he's been "one of the best". He's been pretty middling for about half a season at least. And I don't see any evidence of him returning to 2012 form. He has earned his way to long relief.9 hours 15 min ago
ThirteenGuys, calm down! Furbush hasn't even thrown six innings yet, and over the last two years he's been one of the best LH setup men in the sport. Don't bail on a LH setup man after six bad innings!9 hours 30 min ago
rick82I don't even want a LOOGY, if that LOOGY's name is Furbush.10 hours 12 min ago