So, What's He Thinking?

10c worth of leadership gained, 25c worth of P.T. sacrificed

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Amigos reply to my Morales and Morse question with the counter, "That's what they're HERE for.  To help develop the kids.  Pressure's off them, they can benefit from the example, etc."

The explanation is eminently *logical* on the face of it.  And without a doubt that IS part of what the Mariners are thinking - that if Justin Smoak hits 7th, in a lineup that is ahead 6-3 that evening, that Smoak will relax into this game.  For sure that's included in their thinking.

................

Couple things, though, once we look at it in 3-D...

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1.  I don't even think that Morales, a Cuban (not Spanish or Mexican), communicates very well with guys like Smoak, Ackley, and Saunders, does he?  

Kendrys Morales, and Michael Morse, as short-lifers with odd personalities, are very questionable templates for the "team captain" role.  Kevin Millwood yes.  Kelly Shoppach yes.  Raul Ibanez yes.  Mike Morse?  Are you kidding?  :- ) He's here to hit thirty dingers.   (For one year!, and then maybe we'll see.)

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2.  Morales, Morse, Bay, Shoppach, and Ibanez are going to TAKE AWAY one whale of a lot of at-bats from the kids.  

If the primary goal is to develop the kids, you've overdone it.  You've added 10c worth of positive influence and taken away 25c worth of actual game-time experience for them.

Showing them how it's done is fine.  Making them all sit and watch is another thing.  Looks to me like there are wayyyy too many vets here for it to be simply about leadership.  

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3.  Why target the acquisitions so determinedly to produce runs -- e.g. the pursuit of Morse and Upton *after* the acquisition of Morales?

Ibanez, Shoppach, Sweeney, Millwood, guys who lead in roles without pushing the kids OUT, those guys are around.

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4.  For that matter, why the trade of Walker/Franklin/etc for Justin Upton this season rather than next?  

If 2014 is the mission, wouldn't you get more for Walker (Paxton, Hultzen) after they've been in the bigs in 2013?  It's pretty shrill to trade them right now.  And the reported Upton package was extremely shrill (not to say "incorrect").

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5.  Veteran leadership could be provided by a Griffey-Sweeney type combo, or Morse-Ibanez for example ... but why BOTH Morse and Morales, if the goal is merely to influence the young guys?  After they got Morales, and had Ibanez figured out, the imperative to add yet another banger was increased.

..........

The suggestion that Morse and Morales and Bazooka Joe are PRIMARILY there to influence kids - in syllogism form it makes sense.  In the context of Zduriencik's signalled intentions I don't think that it does.

..........

There is one sliver of possible middle ground here.  If you buy the idea that hitting is contagious, and that Ackley and Smoak need to play in a high-scoring lineup.

You've still paying one whale of a price in game time sacrificed, if your Grand Theme is to develop the kids ...

Hm - :: taps chin ::

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Comments

ghost's picture

ghost

I disagree with the premise that we're sacrificing a LOT of playing time. Bay isn't going to make the club, and if he does, he'll only be stealing time from Casper Wells, who the front office has decided it doesn't like. Ibanez is a fifth outfielder...he might get 300 ABs strategically against tough right handed pitchers that would give guys like Morse the most trouble and in the late innings and such.

And the fact that Morales and Morse are here on one-year deals says that they're not in anyone's way...if the club doesn't stay in contention, they get traded and here come the kiddies! If they do stay in contention...did you want your kiddies in there at line-up slots 2-7?

Frankly, I think the only guys that adding Morse and Morales impacted for playing time are lame prospects that don't merit playing time if you're serious about winning anyway. Guys like Liddi, Smoak if he doesn't hit, Carp (who is gone now, sadly) Thames, Wells, etc. What they DO do...is positively influence the prospects that MATTER. We need Ackley, Montero and Smoak to hit. We paid premium jack to get those guys...and they are a collective total failure thus far. They have got to hit. Period. And forcing them to do it as the center of an inexperienced and undermanned offense is asking a lot. There's nothing wrong with bulking up the MOTO to give the prospects you're actually planning to win your next pennant with a better chance to succeed and sacrificing your lesser prospects as a result.

1

tjm's picture

tjm

. . . they're here to buy a year so Z doesn't lose his job before the young guns arrive.

2

Nathan H's picture

Nathan H

Quoth, "You've added 10c worth of positive influence and taken away 25c worth of actual game-time experience for them.'
Perhaps the kids had $22 worth of game-time experience and $0.37 worth of positive influence. Perhaps that 10c of the one thing would result in a greater positive net impact even after sacrificing the 25c worth of the other thing. Perhaps the kids are just...that....close to the tipping point and bringing in:

1) Positive veteran leadership to show them how it's supposed to be done and
2) An external offensive presence to take the load off

were identified as the necessary components to move the kids over the tipping point.

Wish I had the answer.

3

Yeah, the acquisition of Morales doesn't really fit. Production is important every year though. We have tried Griffey-Sweeney types in the past and it wasn't enough without a consistent MOTO.

I mostly think that developmentally the acquisitions of the M named M's is in moving expectations away from younger players. There's not as much pressure now for any of them to produce beyond what normally would be for any player of their age, experience and skills. Maybe still Ackley as he will still be leading off, but using rookies like Saunders, Seager, Smoak and Monteroat #3/4 won't be the case this year. Not that any were rookies going into this year but all of them spent time in the MOTO in their rookie years. I'm not saying it does necessarily impact their production in a negative way, but it takes the excuse away.

I do think there is an imperative every year to improve as much a you can without losing sight of long term goals. No transaction that was completed gave up long term for short term specifically, aside from playing time for some questionable outfielders. None of the core is affected by the acquisitions in playing time except for possibly Montero at DH, unless you consider Wells a core player. Saunders, Seager, Ackley, Smoak and Montero should all expect to be unaffected in playing time for as long as their respective leashes seem reasonable.

The attempted trade for Upton was definitely a trading long term for short term move regardless of the players that were involved. As bad as the offense has been doing everything possible to make it better in peak and depth seemed a huge need to me going into the offseason. I think they've done very well.

I understand the idea if going for it vs waiting but I think Zduriencik sees it as an either way season. If things go well the end of July will likely see acquisitions, if not we'll probably see selling. Zduriencik has always cautioned against saying what the team should be on that level before the games are played and the acquisitions seem to fit an undecided attitude. All except Joe Saunders, that is. Saunders is the only acquisition I really see as taking time away from young players development.

5

Drago's picture

Drago

The additional offense creates a much more nurturing environment into which to introduce a bushel of brilliant young arms. Not unlike the Seahawks being willing to hand the keys to a rookie QB because their defense and running game would not require said QB to carry the team.

Our troop of spectacular young guns is about to be deployed upon the American League. Much better for them to join a team that can grab them an early lead, play add-on, and put them into the proverbial rocking chair. The pressure on our pitching staff the last few years has been ridiculous - give up 3 runs and the game is lost!

Additionally, if we subscribe to the theory of "high stress innings" being more strongly correlated with pitcher arm injuries than total innings pitched, the improved offense will help avoid overtaxing those young arms while also protecting the organization's prime asset - the golden right arm of el Cartelua.

I think Jack Z. Is banking on Beaven, Garland, Bonderman, keeping the back end of the rotation warm just long enough for the young guys to arrive. I expect (and suspect Jack does too) these guys to start arriving this year. They will likely come one at a time, whenever each *shows* he is ready (and/or passes the Super 2 cutoff). Keeping them in the minor a little longer is also a strategic way to limit their total innings this year so we don't have to Strasburg them in the midst of a playoff run.

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http://m.mlb.com/sea/news/article/2013022041812932/ Morse has immediately come in and been a cheerleader for the team and the city, he's been very open talking about his personal struggles in establishing his big league career, I'm just waiting at this point for the story off him taking Alex Liddi under his tutelage. It seems to me that he has immediately stepped up as team captain.

That said, I'm with you on Morales and Morse being brought in here to give the team a chance to truly compete and not just keep from embarrassing themselves. IF Z just wanted leadership, he would have got Bay and Ibanez and called it good, the Mariners won 75 games last year and the team didn't lose anyone while gaining the Astros. This team is put together so that a breakout from a couple of kids puts the Mariners in the playoffs.

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The consensus seems to be -- Shine on you crazy Jack-man, bring in the legit offense and let the kids fit in much more gently.  Surprising to me that this would be so popular, but kind of cool.

.........

Question.  Where were Morales and Morse last year?  In 2012, the kids were swimming in the deep end all alone.  Though much less prepared a year ago, they were given much more responsibility.  Now, far more prepared, their dutes are cut back drastically.

What's going on NOW, that the 2013 zig should be SO oblique against the 2012 zag?  

The org is correcting what was, in 2012, a strategic blunder?

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The casual fan reads this article and takes away from it: "Cool. Doc thinks that Morse is going to hit 30 dingers". The finer points of macro strategy and organizational goals and inconsistent modus opperandi of upper management are as invisible in the light of 30 dingers as if I was trying to watch Venus eclipse the sun with the naked eye. You get a telescope with a shade on it and maybe you see a little speck in there somewhere.

Time to get out some shades and bask.  

10

Is a good way to look at it, I think. Maybe last year he was to all in on Fielder and got caught without what he wanted. I don't know what options were available last year especially early in the season but I can't imagine there were many that looked good for more than last year. It was more pertinent after seeing Montero and Smoak not being ready for MOTO duties than it was before last season. I mean, now Seager might be good enough for one of those spots, but there really was need for at least one more.

Regardless of partial reasoning it's improvement to the roster. They could have said Seager and Montero look like our MOTO but then one injury and wedge is having no fun. Besides now instead of #3/4 they are #5/6 or 2/5 more often. The whole of the lineup is improved by improving the other spots over what would have been there as well.

11

I don't see 2012 so much as a blunder as a year to throw the offensive (pun noted) spaghetti against the wall to see who would stick. Done knowing full well that the arms were coming but were at least 1-1.5 years away.

Get some ABs under the belts of the young hitters, find out who is a keeper and who isn't, clear some payroll deadwood, aim to be a legit contender in 2014. Being a legit contender in 2014 to me means at least a couple of the young guns getting significant (~100) MLB innings in 2013.

Next offseason we add a big bat (Stanton?) to an 88 win team and its game on!

12

Nathan H's picture

Nathan H

Remember, Jack was standing next to the contract signing desk with breifcases full of money ready for Prince to pull up a chair. The Tigers blowing up the Prince market *must* have been a torpedo in the entirety of the team-building battleship. Subsequent moves do not make sense otherwise.

As an aside, how steamed must Jack be at Detroit? Fister and Prince...man.

13

My opinion is that Z is buying time. If the big 5 (Erasmo, Hultzen, Walker, Paxton, and Maurer) and the other big 5 (Smoak, Ackley, Montero, Franklin, Miller) don't work out, Z is out of a job. In this regard, Jaso, Morales, and Morse are irrelevant and his strategy was set years ago and has not changed.

What has set in is his preservation instinct, a preservation instinct that has him buying time. His goal is to insure that if enough of those big 10 pay-off, HE is still around to benefit from it. Or From the perspective of your prior posts, these are tactical decisions to buy him more time to let his strategy play out, not a change in strategy.

Just my 2 cents.

14

I'm having a hard time buying in on the idea that Morse and Morales were acquired to let Smoak and Ackley "relax' into excellence.

Not the likely reason.

Ackley is a thoroughbred, man. Everytime the gate opens he's going hard. He's played with pressure his whole lifetime. Being 19-yr old in the ACC is a pressure-filled situation. He's used to pressure. I'll guarantee he will tell you that last year was no more filled with pressure than the year before. His performance was not pressure related. Why was there more pressure on him last year than as a rookie?

And I just don't think you can statistically show that bringing in the hired bats makes the rest of the lineup hit better. Coincidentally it might happen......but coincidentally it might not.

You bring in Mike Morse because he just might give you 30 homers, not because he might give you 30 Liddi or Smoak homers. Or 30 Carp homers!!!! Why not keep him, then? Establishing a casual relationship demands more than anecdotal evidence.

We've gone all in for serious improvement in '13. That's the point in all of Z's move. Whether I agree with them (Morse, Morales, Saunders) or don't (Raul), the theme is "Win THIS Day."

Last year Wedge intended to have grizzled vet types at C and 3B. He hoped to have siginificant experience at SS and CF. Carp and Ackley and Smoak were hardly wild bets, considering their performance the year before. Well, Smoak was probably still a bit of a long bet. Last year failed because our grizzled vets were terrible, Carp never got out of the box, Ackley found a huge slump, Smoak established himself as not very good, Guti collapsed, and Ryan hit like Mario Mendoza. Thank goodness for Seager and Saunders, guys who came out of nowhere, really.

Young guys, BTW. Why didn't a fizzling Olivo and frightful Figgy ruin their years, too?

And I don't think that Mo-Mo are just one year wonders.....I don't think Jack buys that, either. One of those guys will re-up...or both. Watch.

We're better than we were in '12. Significantly better. We will be better yet in '14.

Play ball.

Rambling,

moe

15

I notice Ackley is the only one you're supremely confident it wouldn't ruin. I also notice he's the only one still slated to be in a higher pressure spot in the lineup.

It's not exactly my theory, I mention it because I've heard it so much from said players and their Manager. It's their theory. Wedge believes in the effects and more importantly the players believe in the effects. It's easier to get new players than change their beliefs.

16

2012 wasn't a CHOICE. 2012 was a result based on the baggage left behind from 2009-2011.

The 2012 roster started with:

Olivo
Ryan
Figgins
Ichiro

Those four players had sizeable contracts, (except Ryan, but the club had no better option than Ryan).

In March, "the plan" included Guti and Carp as regulars.

Saunders and Figgins in the OF wasn't "the plan" -- it was the result of circumstances beyond Z's control - and the baggage from previous years.

Without the Carp njury, it is (IMO), likely Saunders plays most of 2012 in AAA and Seager is fighting for PT coming from a coach with a strong predisposition toward veteran entitlement.

Where were Morse and Morales in 2012? They were Jaso and the intractable roster spots for Olivo, Ichiro and Ryan.

Morse and Morales are POSSIBLE in 2013 specifically because Ichiro is gone and it is POSSIBLE to dump Carp, (and Thames and Trayvon, etc., etc., etc.)

While I hate to see Carp go, it is a vastly superior position than being forced to eat up roster space with a worse than useless veteran who had (apparently) earned the right to go out and embarass himself for ANOTHER 66 games.

There has been a lot of angst about all the 1-year contracts. But, this misses the point that "getting good" is different than "staying good". Tampa ... Texas ... Oakland ... all went from bad to good by SLASHING salary, limiting long term deals and building rosters dominated by short term and mostly low paying contracts. This isn't about stars and scrubs - it is about FLEXIBILITY. If Carp fails - go get a new body. If Figgins fails (with a 4-year contract just under 8 figures a year), you are forced to live with that mistake for at least 3 years.

The pink elephant that everyone continues to ignore is that Seattle STILL has not managed to produce an .800 bat from within in a dozen years. They certainly threw plenty of shiny propsects at that target last year - and every one failed. Smoak, Ackley, Seager, Saunders, Montero all failed to hit .800. The closest they have come in the past 12 years was the .791 in half a season from Carp.

The combo of experience (plus the park change) should end that streak this year. But, the simple truth is the slump has not ended yet. Until it does, Seattle cannot possibly become a legit contender (barring a choice to spend the $200 million a year needed to build an offense without ANY cheap-year productive talent.

I like the odds that 1 or more of the kids does break out and become an offensive star this year. But, it's no guarantee. If/when some of these kids come through, then you actually know who to reward and what slots you need to pull in multi-year talent to keep the ship moving. But, as Texas and Anaheim both demonstrated last year ... it quickly gets VERY expensive to stay on top.

17

I have serious doubts about any "positive" impact Ibanez might have.

He returned to Seattle in 2004. That just happened to be the season Seattle plunged from 93 to 63 wins. (not saying he is to blame, just stating the facts).

His final year was 2008, (the club won 61 games).

In the first post-Ibanez season, the club won 85. (again, not saying "causation"), but clearly not a data point that argues for "added value", considering he was easily the most productive bat for Seattle in 2008.

Some of the young guys Ibanez had the opportunity to positively influence:

Yuni Betancourt
Jeremy Reed
Jose Lopez
Mike Morse
Adam Jones
Wlad Balentien

I mean ... seriously ... the club finally ditches the king of veteran-who-doesn't-help-anybody-else-at-all last season, and the kids production picks up ... yet, six months later the same drumbeat of the kids needing a dose of veteran-leadership doesn't even pause.

The Os got rid of Vlad and Lee and got better.
Who brought the magic veteran leadership potion to Oakland last season?

Why is it impossible for people to accept that Longoria or Posey or Cespedes is capable of bringing the makes-others-better magic to turn a club around, even without a decade of MLB (tm) experience?

Okay .. I protest too much ... perhaps. But, honestly, if one is looking for positive influence on others shouldn't one at least take the time to look at the pattern of behavior where a veteran HAS moved around, (like Ibanez)? When your coming/going win differential is 54 games to the BAD ... how does one justify the contention that Ibanez is actually likely to have any kind of positive benefit to anyone around him?

18

I don't think Ibanez is there to teach the young hitters how to hit. I think he's there to serve as Wedge's liason to the clubhouse. It's more about Wedge than it is the players.

19

Oakland had Brandon Inge, Jonny Gomes, and Coco Crisp, all veterans that had played on successful teams.
Baltimore had Mark Reynolds, Jim Thome, and Nate McLouth.
Tampa had Jose Molina, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Lee.

Yes, there are some amazing talents who are mature and capable of dealing with the transition to the majors with very little support, but rookies are guys in there 20s, making incredible sums of money and traveling the countries largest cities for the first time in their lives while facing the best competition the world has to offer. Having a few guys that have a method to their preparation before each game or series, who have a regimen to keeping themselves in shape and healthy through the season, who know how to process a tough loss our series of losses without carrying it through to the next game or can help keep a young guy from getting into bad habits trying to break out of a slump.

Ibanez tried with Betancourt and Lopez, but sometimes people don't learn. It's not like Lopez or Betancourt or Reed blossomed when they left, Jones was only on the same team for a couple months over 2 years. Morse blossomed the next year and might have in 2008 if not for injury.

20

M's Watcher's picture

M's Watcher

I agree with the benefits of adding the legit MOTO hitters, leadership, examples, etc., even at the possible, minimal impact on the kid's playing time. The other side of it is that the moves cost the team nothing they weren't ready to spend on roster salaries anyway. We paid no big FA contract and kept the #12 pick. Ibanez gets his victory lap at our benefit, and Morse and Morales are walk year rentals. If they do poorly, they walk away without costing much. If they do well, they can be dealt at the deadline, as they are marketable bats for contending teams. If we keep them for the year, we can extend them if they are willing, or make a qualifying offer ($14M?) which they accept or we get a pick in return. I like the prospects of them doing well. 2013 has the team in a good position.

21

Inge: 86 OPS+ (just above career average)
Gomes: 140 OPS+
Crisp: 105 OPS+

Reynolds: 107
Thome 103
McLouth 111

Molina 80 (way better than his career average)
Zobrist 138
Pena,,,not Lee, btw, 94

Minus Pena, those guys all produced. It wasn't their veteran status...it was their bat.

Raul has to hit. Just being there isn't enough.

moe

22

Definitely meant Pena, I didn't mean to get my Carloses crossed. Raul Ibanez hit for a 104 OPS+ last year. I agree that he has to hit to earn a spot, just like Bay and Morse. This is not going to be a team where a mediocre or worse bat can squeak in for lack of other options, if Ibanez isn't a useful bat, even if we let go Wells, Thames will still be stashed in AAA, with Stefen Romero and Alex Liddi likely there as well, so the veteran presence has to hit.

My comment, however, was directed at teams Sandy cited as having no veteran leadership to guide the young ones. My point was that they did have and/or acquired veteran leader types to fill holes rather than simply pushing forward a guy in AAA.

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Tacoma Rainso the M's incredible bullpen has given up 5 of the 15 earned runs Paxton has given up this year... Maybe James needs to learn how to argue better with Lloyd3 hours 18 min ago
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Tacoma RainHarold and rest of MLB TV experts are questioning removing Paxton loudly - even saying that they could see the relief in the Angels dugout when Paxton was getting pulled4 hours 19 min ago
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rick82Maybe Elias spooked him. He didn't want to lose another young lefty. But one more batter was in order. James earned that. Oh well, you can't win if you can't score.4 hours 55 min ago
Tacoma RainI was very unhappy Rick with the decision.... and I am not getting any better with time5 hours 57 sec ago
moethedogNice pitching change, Skip.5 hours 14 min ago
rick82Should have let him finish the inning. I know that's obvious now, but how many of you were thinking the same thing when Lloyd pulled him?5 hours 14 min ago
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MtGrizzlyWhen Paxton has his curve working for him, he's lethal.6 hours 13 min ago
OBFBlech I don't like the lineup today... Is Hart injured again or something? Is Romero is the dog house now or something? Of course as I am typing Smoak gets the first base hit... String em together boys!6 hours 25 min ago
OBFMan.... Paxton may be better than Unit, King, Moyer, EVERYONE when all is said and done... 98 MPH UP in the zone from a lefty, 93 mph cutter boring in on the righties, a knuckle curve for gimmie strikes and a changeup that after some refinement will rival The Royal Change... You Go Paxton! Now lets score him a couple runs!!!6 hours 29 min ago
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SABR MattI think we just need to take some mood stabilizing drugs (myself included) and enjoy the ride...LOL16 hours 40 min ago
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SABR Matt(Referring specifically to the 2014 incarnation)17 hours 57 min ago
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