James has done his evaluation of the Toronto Blue Jays' UP and DOWN cycles:
DOWN 1977-1981 The Fledglings. They lost a ton. In fact 1981 was a split season and they finished last twice that year :- )
UP 1982-1993 The Pat Gillick Years. James gives this as THE ONLY time in baseball history that a franchise went from the very weakest franchise in both leagues to --- > the very strongest franchise in both leagues, in only 11 seasons. (This is quite a differerent accomplishment from what we remember in Seattle, Gillick's taking a talented Stars & Scrubs roster and "finishing" it as a 116-win event ... before laying the ossified roster off on somebody else, that "somebody else" being Chuck Armstrong's GM Committee.)
Bobby Cox was also hired in 1982, and together they started piling up the talent. Early, Cox compensated for the lack of talent by platooning everywhere, such as Mulliniks and Iorg at 3B, Whitt and Buck Martinez at catcher. But by the time Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby emerged out of the minors, and Gillick snagged George Bell out of the Rule 5, they were a colossus. They had a jewel of a home park, the SkyDome, were selling it out, were winning all the time, with a huge talent pyramid.
EVEN 1994 to 2013 OR MORE Coasting. Gillick resigned in 1994. The Jays brought in Carter, Molitor, Morris, Stewart, and Rickey to finish things off with two championships.
One of the surprising (to me) takeaways is that an expansion team starts on a good, solid DOWN cycle. It doesn't have average resources. Its resources are worse than that, and it tends to get weaker before it gets better. (Not because of the ammy draft as such, but that's another story.)
James also calls Pat Gillick unusual in that he was good at BOTH ENDS of these two continuums:
XXX Building a talent pyramid ----------- O ----------- Finishing a team XXX
YYY Understanding on-field talent ------- O ----------- Running an organization YYY
What would the Mariners learn from this? We could list a dozen things ... the typical sabermetrician believes that a team like the Mariners should "tear things down right," like the Astros purportedly, so it can build its talent pyramid. == REJECTED == If the key to rebuild be top-5 draft picks, the Mariners have had those, now haven't they?
If you consider a GM such as Jerry Dipoto in the light of James' two continuums above, Jerry Dipoto has shown alacrity for "Finishing a team" in my humble opinion. He's enthusiastic about finding the last 6 players to turn a decent team into one gunning for the Series. That is what his ENTHUSIASM is for, as far as I can see.
Does he understand on-field talent? Can he put the right coaches and scouts where they need to be? Can he get more out of the waiver wire and scrap heap than the next guy?
You tell me,