Geoff Baker's Syllogism
FireBavasiBlog starts up again IFF ...


At the Times blog, and on the radio, Geoff has been leading with this debate strategy.  It's a very tough one to break down:


001 Axiom 1.  This is the 5th year of Zduriencik's tenure, sufficient time to make an evaluation.

002 Axiom 2.  The GM + MGR Team is failing this year, and has failed in the aggregate 5 years.

003 Definition 1.  Failure is incurred when the on-field product is a laughingstock, whatever the profit margin.  

004 Definition 2.  If the Mariners are failing in 2013 due to lack of talent, then the GM is failing.

005 Definition 3.  If the Mariners are failing in 2013 despite presence of talent, then the MGR is failing.

006 Theorem 1.  Either Zduriencik or Wedge must logically be evaluated and replaced.

007 Definition 4.  The man who hired both Zduriencik and Wedge succeeds if and only if Zduriencik and Wedge succeed.

008 Theorem 2.  The man who hired Zduriencik and Wedge has failed.

009 Corollary 1.  The man who hired Zduriencik and Wedge cannot be the one to select a replacement.


Definition 1 is valid.  cf. the Fortune 500 3-legged-stool paradigm of measuring by Cost, Defect Rate, and Timeline.  You don't get to keep a VP job by making money --- > through a product that turns your company into a national byword and proverb for spit-poor workmanship and quality.  It's a given that you've got to make your money WHILE putting quality onto the shelves.


Dr. D invites you to try to solve this interesting puzzle.  In the immortal words of Bertrand Russell, vis-a-vis Godel's proof of God's existence, "it is easier to feel convinced that it must be fallacious than it is to find out precisely where the fallacy lies."  

I'm a (moderate) Zduriencik fan, and a (moderate) Wedge fan.  Certainly I respect both men highly, as I respect Bill Bavasi.  In the words of Bill James, a GM makes 10 or 12 big decisions a year, and if those decisions work out, he has a good year.  It's not Jack Zduriencik's fault that his BOR starters have high ERA-xFIP totals.

Baker pulls the string on his argument by emphasizing that --- > Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are precisely the wrong men to try to find a replacement GM.


How would you find one, if you decided you need one?  I think that it's too complex a problem to be solved by logic. I think sometimes you just have to get lucky.  How can you project the solution to a problem as complex as "Which young GM will get good results?"  There are far too many variables.

The only way to be sure of a good GM is pragmatic:  Good GM's are good.  Get one who is proven to be good.  That good ole boyz network doesn't exist for zero reason.

You could try to hire Billy Beane away, at a huge contract.  Or you could let Pat Gillick step in for Zduriencik, the way Bill Stoneman took over Bill Bavasi's roster full of Glauses and Salmons and Erstads.  It's not clear to me, how often a Bill Bavasi was able to hang around his Angels job until things finally turned, eleven years on.  Isn't it almost always the case that a new GM takes over the steering wheel and drives the second half of the race?

Alternatively, you could let Zduriencik try for manager number three.  That would be pretty unusual in modern baseball.  It would be okay by me.




"I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all." Ecclesiastes 9:11
"I want to say, and this is very important: at the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war." Robert Macnamara, on the Cuban Missle Crisis.
"You do not control whether you win or not.  Winning is a function relating to the quality of your competition.  You only control how well you wrestle".  Olympic Champ Lee Kemp.
The problem with the Mariners are losing therefore they are being run poorly logic, is that  it leaves out the random elements that make a baseball season.  Whether these are called Providence or the fog of war, or a force majeure, the principle is the same.  In competition, where one person wins, and another loses, random or unforseen and uncontrollable events help dictate the outcome.  Perhaps Marshawn Lynch was injured the game before, or the refs blew the game or whatever.  It happens.  
If people are going to be calling for Z's head, they should first determine who would be doing better, and what that person would be doing differently than Z is.  In the absence of that, they should hold their peace.

GLS's picture

If people are going to be calling for Z's head, they should first determine who would be doing better, and what that person would be doing differently than Z is. In the absence of that, they should hold their peace.
I don't think the statement above is realistic. It's perfectly reasonable for fans to look at the job the GM has done and indicate if they are satisfied or not, and that doesn't have much of anything to do with who is available to replace him and what that person might do differently, which is pure speculation anyway.
I'm a sort of lukewarm Z supporter at this point. Thumbs up for the job Tom McNamara's done, no question. But roster construction at the ML level is an issue and I'm not at all certain that Z is an especially deep thinker when it comes to putting a winning team together. Certainly, he's no Billy Beane. In fact, some of the decisions over the last year or so are kind of horrifying. Why the continuation of the Jesus Montero show at catcher? What was that about? And then the loading up with 1B/DH types didn't make any sense at all, especially when you should know at that point that Montero isn't going to stick at catcher. Why no effort in the offseason to sign Bourn and/or Swisher and/or Russell Martin? Why was it Hamilton or bust?
On the other hand, we don't have any visibility behind the curtain to know what sort of constraints Z is under. Was it the case that Armstrong/Lincoln would spend money for Hamilton but not for lesser free agents? How much control does Zduriencik truly have over what the roster looks like? Certainly, it seems obvious that he was told to reduce payroll every year.
Also regarding the roster, it seems likely that the Griffey fiasco was instigated by Chuck Armstrong and there are precedents for that sort of interference in the past. Kenji Johjima is one example and the aborted trade of Jarrod Washburn another. Could Zduriencik have traded Ichiro in 2009? Probably not. Can he trade Felix if the right deal comes along? Probably not.


My dream involves a Scioscia/Gillick off season. There are already rumblings in LA about Mike and if that roster can't put it together, his return to the Angels is no sure thing. Big upgrade from Wedge to Scioscia. The dream continues with Lincoln and Armstrong getting dumped in favor of...just about anyone to replace Lincoln as CEO and Gillick to replace Armstrong as president. Everyone else is dreaming of the Big Bat - I'm dreaming of the Big Management. Bring in the winners like Mike and Pat and get out of the way.
A feller has to dream, right? ;)

GLS's picture the part about finding someone with a track record of success as a GM. That's a pretty small pool to choose from and it may not get you the best guy. Every successful GM in the game was at one time not a GM and there are only 30 of those jobs at any one time. To me, what matters is clarity of vision and purpose along with a clear understanding of the constraints one has to deal with in building a team.


And Gillick for LinkStrong with Zduriencik kept on as GM, letting him continue to refine the farm while Gillick gets input as to the vets and free agents...
I hate you, Grizz.  Now I'm gonna be hoping for more things that will never happen.  Before it was adding a bat like Fielder or Stanton.  Now it's gonna be management pie-in-the-sky.
Thanks awfully.


I think 5 years is enough time to make an evaluation.
BUT ... I don't agree with axiom #2 AT ALL. Seattle is NOT a laughingstock.
If Seattle is a laughingstock, then the Angels and Blue Jays and Yankees HAVE to be laughingstock's, too. If you spend the most money in all of baseball and are only in 4th place in your division, how could that not make you a laughingstock. (And no, you are not allowed to factor in injuries for the Yankees unless you also factor in injuries for Seattle).
Compare Z to Bavasi.
In year 5, Bavasi had been given $117 million to spend on payroll. The team lost 101 games. That team had a 90 OPS+ and 90 ERA+.
That team had SIX (6) primary starters over age 30, and only one (Ibanez (the oldest) was not showing clear signs of decline. The club had traded its best prospect to acquire a gimpy pitcher (who managed 81 innings), and locked in the absolute disaster of Silva into a 4 year contract. The club not only showed MASSIVE regression in 2008 ... it did it despite a massive increase in payroll - and a number of long-term commitments, pretty much guaranteeing none of the 2008 problems could be fixed with a paycheck.
Look at 2013. The club has a 96 OPS+ (best since 2007), and a 90 ERA+. But, the payroll is only $80 million. The club has ZERO really expensive contracts that are bad and tied to declining production.
Unlike 2008, the club has a functioning farm system, stocked with a lot of up and coming talent as judged not only by Seattle fans, but also by the rating agencies that do that kind of thing.
DESPITE multiple flameouts from the cream of the prospect crop, the offense is STILL the best it has been since 2007 ... AND, the offense has been acceptable despite a multitude of injuries that in previous seasons would have absolutely crippled the team.
While there has been a lot of complaints about the multiple 1B/DH types - the fact of the matter is that it is precisely BECAUSE of the overload that the club managed to survive all the injuries. The club is 82 games in and the MOST OF starts by any single player is only 52 (Saunders), followed by 43 for Ibanez and Morse. Once upon a time, instead of swapping in Morales at 1B, the club would have swapped in Cairo or maybe the 3rd string catcher.
Moreover, the original plan almost certainly included Erasmo and/or Hultzen in the rotation before this point in the season.
While things have not gone smoothly this year, there is MASSIVE evidence of improvement in the organization and direction of the club.
Seager is proving to be a legit long-term player.
Franklin is up and hitting.
Miller is up.
Zunino is up.
Smoak has started hitting, (and is quietly leading the team in OBP).
There remain 3 months in this season to evaluate talent for 2014 and beyond.
If Erasmo and/or Hultzen are healthy and effective, the club could easily surpass the 75 wins from 2012 ... AND be positioned for continuing improvement going forward.
Today, the club is poised to get better (much improved age management ... with veterans "intended" to be support roles off the bench).
Today, the farm is drastically improved from the disaster it was 5 years ago.
Today, the club is poised to RETAIN some of the young talent it is producing, (which means the possibility of home town discounts).
Personally, I think the roster construction was extremely solid this year ... the problems being ones of prospect regression and injury.
I have never been a Wedge fan ... but despite the struggles, the team has NOT given up on the season. And while the bullpen has been miserable this year, I felt one of his strength's last season was his bullpen management. If Franklin and Seager continue hitting and Smoak (or any other prospect) ends up being productive, then my concerns that Wedge was somehow making things worse for the prospects might well turn out to be a false impression.
Prospects fail. Even for good organizations. You cannot expect all prospects to flourish. But, they can't all fail, either.
I see a superior GM and an average manager slowly turning a franchise in complete disarray around and pointing it in the right direction.


This is the middle of a season that for all we know now is continued improvement. Progressing toward contention since 2010 went very wrong.
At this point the only position we're not likely to have at least one very young and talented option at is? One OF spot, and there's at least 2 players AA+ who could snag that spot next spring. Catcher, 1b, 2b, 3b, SS and pitching all thoroughly covered in that regard. Ackley and Saunders in the OF, so there's not much room to add much without subtraction or limiting a young player to bench duty. All it took was 5 years? And people are complaining? Show me another team in the history of the game to do similar (the Spiders didn't even...) 5 solid to blue chip starters in AAA, young bullpen too. I don't understand how Baker can have such tunnel vision on wins. In fact, that doesn't even hold because there's been an annual increase in wins. Right now they're 11 games under .500 while the longest winning streak is at 3 games. I think that will be a higher number before the year ends. All 4 starters up the middle have been at that spot in MLB less than a month. This is transition, be impatient if you prefer, I'm enjoying the ride. It's a better team than 2012, 2011, etc.
What expectation could a person have had who's seeing this now and thinks firings are in order? I like Baker and even in this there's thought and points being presented, I just don't see how someone outside the org. can retroactively set a time limit on someone else's job with a bar of playoffs. I miss winning teams too, but this team isn't stumbling to a terrible record, they're struggling with youth and health while keeping .500 within sight. Most of us have seen young players take years to put it together.
In fact...5 years is the #, so everybody drafted in year 1 had 2 years to make it to MLB or less than 3 years to break out once there. Players drafted in year 2 had 2 years to make it and 2 years to stick. If they did really well and got 2 stars and a couple role players out of those 2 drafts they would still likely be losing (Notice that the list below includes 7 names from those first 2 drafts, with some patience)...Expectations of the speed of rebuild that I've heard talked about are unreasonable to start. This is MLB, not NFL. 7 years wouldn't be "late" in all reality, considering the actual state of the franchise in 2008. And it's not yet been 5 years. Their first draft was barely over 4 years ago.
I'm not that attached to Wedge, but I'm on the fence on whether he's the right manager for the young guys. I expect there to be 2 veteran SP next year, maybe 2 in the pen and among starting position players, RF or LF and DH maybe 1b. If Zunino, Smoak, Franklin, Miller, Seager, Saunders, Ackley, 3 of Hultzen/Maurer/Walker/Paxton/Erasmo, Capps, Pryor, Medina (that's 15 names, but 7 starters with Felix/Kuma) and a couple others on the bench and in the bullpen (Triunfel, Sucre, Ruffin, Beaven, Farquhar, Luetge, etc.) all make the roster next year we'll be looking at 15+ players under the age of 28. Felix will turn 28 a week into the season. Having the right coaching staff seems very important with that consideration. There may be a problem with coaching young players, and Wedge's in game decisions are arguable. Other than that, what is the problem exactly? Who thought Montero and Ackley would take this long? We were all wrong, not just Zduriencik. Actually, I don't even know what his expectations were, just what I thought and what others said.

M's Watcher's picture

I've like a lot of Gillick's turnarounds over his career, though it seems when he leaves after the turnaround, the success isn't sustainable. Combine his roster development with Z's minor league development and you have a long term winner. Maybe Chowie would voluntarily step aside for Pat, though they likely wouldn't for anyone else. Scioscia is another winner, though it has always seemed wrong that he manages the Angels and not the Dodgers. He is more likely to move across town when Mattingly is fired than to come here. Still, Scioscia is much preferred over Wedgie.

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