Turning-Point Players

Shannon Drayer's Lopez quotes, and M.Twain's reply, got me thinking about the number of guys in camp in fairly similar situations. Namely:

Guys in mid-to-late 20s, considered potential big talents coming up, have gone through various types of adversity, facing career turning-point seasons:

Lopez, 26, deaths of brother and sister, some maturity questions

Kotchman, 27, near-death of mother, two consecutive midseason trades that didn't work out

Snell, 28, loss of confidence, hated Pittsburgh

Cordero, 27, injury, interrelated weight problems

Lowe, 26, unusual injury problems

Z keeps making it clear that he wants to make Seattle a place where players want to come to be relaxed and happy.  Certainly, "smiling Ichiro" was more productive than "grim Ichiro."  On the other hand, it hasn't worked with Snell, yet (not hearing any positive buzz on Snell so far this year either -- in sharp contrast to Cordero, whom Wak was glowing about).

Interesting, though, the potential value of putting people in a position in which they can succeed while "playing happy" (as Lopez put it).

Best thing is, Z doesn't need to hit the roulette wheel on all of the above.  Even just a couple of corner-turners would make a big difference.


M.Twain's picture

It's a nice mix of young guys entering their prime and veterans still in their prime. Plus Ichiro, of course. And all these guys are under team control for next year too.
C Moore (26)
1B Kotchman (27)
2B Figgins (32)
3B Lopez (26)
SS Wilson (32)
LF Bradley (32)
CF Gutierrez (27)
RF Ichiro (36)
DH Garko (29)


I don't believe we can quantify the value of a clubhouse culture that encourages risk-taking, growth and the opportunity to succeed -- or the opportunity boldly attempt, fail and try again. I don't think it's measurable statistically -- but I do believe that it is _extremely_ important.
I have worked in several different versions of the same specialty field over the last many years, and have seen work-atmosphere variations that were in turn supportive, unreasonable, divided, and again supportive. For me the choice is simple -- I'll take supportive every time.
Regardless of the setting, I endeavor to do the best I can, but, I can tell you -- I am far more personally productive and satisfied in an atmosphere of encouragement, where there is freedom to try new things, and even 'fail with honor' when attempting to reach new and higher goals. Or strike out in a new creative direction.
I suppose it is possible for some 'driven' personalities to maintain a certain standard of excellence at all times in spite of a less-than-adequate climate. I respect that. I strive for that myself. But, I must admit, my own ability to achieve real, lasting, and genuinely meaningful progress is enhanced exponentially when there is an honest compassion and 'togetherness' among those with whom I serve.
I'm not trying to advocate a scenario of laissez-faire, "do whatever the heck you want" regardless of corporate vision or mission. Unity, team play and accountability are all essential. But, in my humble experience, I find those things work best in an atmosphere of respect and mutuality -- where grace is the grease between the gears of the machine.
It seems that Don and Jack understand what it means to function as a team -- and are willing to make the relational investment required to stand or fall together -- while maintaining an expectation of high performance.
My specialty is not baseball. But, from what I can glean from blogs, interviews and the like -- every now and then I wish I could be part of the Mariner's clubhouse. It seems like the kind of place -- with the kind of 'vibe' and values -- in which folks like me can thrive and reach a higher potential than previously known.
Perhaps none of those players Spectator mentioned will blossom.  But, at least, the ground has been tilled, cultivated, fertilized and watered in such a way that any previously untapped or dormant potential should have the best chance to bloom.
I'm looking forward to this season with great anticipation.


My wife and I always joke that on the "CSI" shows the forensic people figure everything out about the killer without any psychologists, and then on "Criminal Minds" the psychologists figure everything out about the killer without any forensic people.  (And then these same folks who are supposedly scientists and psychologists go busting into houses with guns drawn -- but that's not really relevant.)
Anyway, it kind of reminds me of how the stats people can seem to discount the human side and vice versa.  There's no stat for "traded into a bad situation right when his mother was on the verge of dying every day," but Z seemed to think that was the whole key to Kotchman -- and said so at the press conference.  I guess we'll see.
Does the fact that Lopez lost a brother (motorcycle accident) and sister (illness), all before age 26 and while being expected to perform at the highest level far from home, relate to his OBP being lower than we like?  I don't know.  But it might.
Like I said, "comfort level" hasn't done much for Snell so far.  But it's really interesting to see how they are trying to combine the stats, the scouting and the psychology.  And Tuner is right that they seem to "get it."


could certainly be a factor for some of these players as well.  One quote from the Geoff Baker story stands out to me:
Elliott says it's all about helping them generate more explosive movement and being better able to cope with quick changes of direction. This is done by training the player's "rotational mechanics'' so they can use "lateral'' or "horizontal'' force rather than "vertical force" when doing things like swinging a bat.
So, as mentioned earlier, a lot of the new training has to do with the hips and lower body.
"When we have guys that show up who are these big, strapping monsters, and we find out they hit four home runs? Never do they use their lower half well. Almost always they create big vertical forces. They can't create these horizontal forces.''
The part that I put in bold would seem to relate directly to a few easily identified players; Ryan Langerhans (6'-3"/220lbs/Career High HR:  8), Jack Hannahan (6'-2"/210lbs/Career High HR: 9), and Casey Kotchman (6'-3"/215lbs/Career High HR: 14).  All three players are still south of 30 (though Hannahan and Langerhans are just barely and won't be by the time the season starts), and are probably looking at their last chances for significant playing time.  It could be that those 3 in particular, being left handed, relatively young, and playing in Safeco, could see some career resurgence with the training methods of Dr. Elliot.  In fact, in Baker's story, it says the Mariners have been consulting with Elliot for over a month, so I wonder if their is some perceivable deficiency in his swing in particular that they think Elliot's workout regimen can correct.

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