WHY does Ackley see so many strikes? Is it because pitchers aren't afraid of him? And what does that say?
GLS has a very level-headed shout for us after a disastrous road trip:
"I think it's important not to panic. It's a young team and with the Zduriencik "build from within with youth" plan, we're still at the point where we don't know yet which of the young players will develop into major league regulars. We have some certainty with the first wave - Ackley, Seager, Saunders, Montero, Smoak. I think we're at the point with those players that we know pretty well what they are now and what they're likely to become. There's still room for those players to surprise us, but we have more information now than we did two years ago. But the next wave - Franklin, Miller, Romero, Zunino, Walker, Paxton, Leone - these players are still question marks. And the third wave - Peterson, Blash, James Jones, Kivlehan, and others - those players are still on their way up."
Of the guys he mentioned, what do we know?
Seager - one of the top-10 third basemen in the league in his first couple years in the league, in 2014 has a BABIP of .214 (remarkably and unsustainably low), looks horrible at the plate to the eye-test too however. Has been scuffling since the ASB last year, and simultaneously suffering lowered BABIP (which is not ENTIRELY random, as weak contact does produce a weak BABIP). Still, it doesn't seem irreparable.
Ackley - found his aggression again and worked himself back to, well, the middle. moe notes "it's possible we're looking at Ackley topping out as .280-.330-.420 player. His numbers this year, since he's "found it" are pretty similar to his rookie year, after all." As Logan points out to back my optimism on 2014 Ackley, Dustin has seen the second-most strikes thrown to him in the league, so his walks are being artificially lowered. I still expect Dustin to be at 80 or 90 points of plate patience, not 30 or 50. For his career he's at 70 even with his atrocious hitting. No good reason for a .280-hitting Ackley to forget how .230-hitting Ackley worked walks. FTR, I expected a Robin Ventura type of career out of Dustin. Good-but-not-great average, great plate patience, good power. Hopefully this is the year he finds either his Ventura power-and-walks or his Mark-Grace average-and-doubles approach. Pick one of those, Dustin, please. The Ramon-Santiago approach is not what we want.
Smoak - hits what he hits at this point. His RH swing doesn't seem like it will ever match his lefty approach, he doesn't make a lot of contact, most of that contact is not hard, and the idea of him being a 30 HR/ 30 2B guy seems like, well, smoke. He has a great glove and could be a very good platoon bat at first, but odds are he'll need to go to a NL team for that to happen. Even if we wanted to platoon him we don't have the righty hitters to make that happen. He seems to be topping out as the lesser years of Lyle Overbay, or some approximation of Daric Barton. He'll probably go to the As and be great.
Saunders - he can play defense. He doesn't have large platoon splits, but that's because he doesn't hit either side especially well. Last year he seemed to be making progress until he was derailed for a couple of months by the shoulder injury, but he came back strong in the second half. It hasn't earned him many starts with the new regime, but Michael does have a lot of physical gifts. He's just been unable to harness them to turn into a strong hitter to this point. Another guy you would expect to see do decently in the NL with all the defense and offensive substitutions. Greg Dobbs has had a very long NL career in spot duty after washing out with Seattle through age 27. Saunders has the glove to see the field a lot - he'll get plate appearances somewhere. Unless he starts to rake soon though, it's hard to see it being here.
Montero - Ha. Hahahaha. Ha.
So that's the first wave: a starting 3B who is scuffling, a 2B/LF who looks like he's crawling back above average offensively with a bit more to get, a platoon 1B who isn't being platooned, a 4th OF who still has a lot of starts in him in the next few years, and a 1B/C who can play neither and was popped for roiding, yet can only hit lefty pitching.
Second wave? Zunino is clubbing but not walking, Miller looks alternately great and shell-shocked, Franklin can't beat out Miller, Romero just looks shell-shocked, Paxton looks great (injured), Walker looks great (and also injured), Leone looks great and healthy...
But we do have a third wave coming. Peterson (a year away down in the Cal League if everything goes well), Choi (always hits, suspended for steroids woot), Blash (still figuring things out, lots of tools), Jones (Blash plus another year in the system but without any more progress), Kivlehan (pounding HRs in the desert, improving at everything at the plate, but moved down the spectrum from 3B to mostly 1B which negates a lot of value).
That wave still won't be ready for another year or two. Choi was gonna be ready soon, but getting pinched for PEDs will put his arrival time and production levels both in question. Blash's batting eye looks great right now but he's still a big guy with a 27% K rate in the minors and a .260 career BA. Even in High Desert he couldn't get that average up. Peterson isn't exactly lighting the desert up right now (.726 OPS in the early going) so he's not gotta get his path accelerated too much.
The hitters we have to start 2014 are gonna be the same internal options for 2015. Romero and Jones are both decently talented and productionally-challenged at the upper levels of baseball. After them, there's not a ton to choose from - unless you want to keep Franklin and move him to the outfield too.
For pitching, Hultzen isn't going to be available to the big-league club before the middle of 2015 at the earliest, and probably not til 2016 - and that's if everything goes right. If Walker and Paxton are both suffering minor injuries that a couple weeks off will cure, then their imminent arrival will be welcome, and Maurer's return (assuming he's gonna throw like that over 100 pitches instead of 60) is also crucial. We have Iwakuma for a couple more years to pair with Felix, so we're really looking to fill 3 slots. Elias is a nice backup plan, as is Erasmo, but those other 3 youngsters would seem to have pole position on rotation spots.
After those pitchers, however, it gets thin again in the immediate future. Victor Sanchez is in AA but should still be a couple years away. Same with Pike and Diaz. None of those guys should see a mound for the Mariners before September 2015 unless something especially horrible or wonderful has happened.
So we know who we're rolling out there, this year and next. The bullpen members might change a bit (Carson Smith has a lot of talent, once he figures out where the ball is going, Pryor is recovering, Kohlscheen and Ogando could move fast if we like them in a certain role) but for the most part we know who we have.
And there aren't more talented guys hanging out in Tacoma ready to bail these guys out. This isn't like 2011 when the first wave came up to replace Jack Wilson, Jack Cust, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley. We don't have dying veterans wanting to be put out of their misery. We have under-performing kids, correctly-performing-but-still-pretty-bad kids, and kids-we-haven't-seen-much-of-yet.
Do we wait for the next wave of kids in 2016 to help out and hope they learn faster than the first two waves? Waste 2 more years of Felix and 50 million dollars of Cano's best contract years? Smoak and Saunders have their club-controlled years expire after 2016. Seager and Ackley follow after 2017.
If we're gonna make a splash with whatever core we have out of the first wave, that would need to happen in the next couple of years before those guys move on. Pitching is never guaranteed; we have the King performing at gravity-defying levels right now, and if Kuma is back to do the same as he did last year, we have two pieces of a playoff rotation. But if we can't get to the playoffs then it doesn't matter.
Corey Hart is our best hitter right now, and he's under contract for one year. He's also 32, so even if we keep him around longer his career can crash and burn at any minute. Our second-best performer is our 2nd year catcher who can't buy a walk with either magic beans or golden eggs. Our third is Dustin Ackley.
Our entire bench (LoMo, Romero, Bloomie, Buck) has been worthless - but again, it's still early. Last year's Cano, Seager and Miller added to this year's Hart, Zunino and Ackley would be a lineup with a fighting chance. But we really, REALLY need production from RF (or DH if Hart is gonna play more RF).
Is it panicking to make lineup changes now? Making Smoak a platoon hitter somehow, re-sign Kendrys Morales to play DH/1b, see what happens?
I dunno. I do know that I can wait for players who were previously successful, like Seager and especially Cano, to find their mojo.
I'm far less patient with players who are already playing like we have come to expect them to, or for players who look in over their heads to somehow suddenly learn to swim like champions.
I don't mind that Jack bet on his young pitchers instead of another round of Harang-like retreads or #4 pitchers wanting to get paid like #2s.
I do mind a little that Jack put just two guys in the lineup who are over 27, and our 27 year olds are Smoak and Saunders. Pitchers hold the ball, as Doc likes to say - they have action on their side. Hitters only have reaction, and that's harder to splash down with. Even good hitters fail 70% of the time. With the Mariners it feels like 90%, but that's the way the ball bounces - especially when those hitters are still smack dab in the middle of their big-league learning curve.
It's not yet time to panic on behalf of the 2014 Mariners... but we're getting close if this Astros series doesn't go our way.
If I'm Jack I'd have called Boras about Kendrys already. We're not getting the draftpick for his QO anyway at this rate, so all it costs us is money to add another plus hitter to the lineup. We can offer LoMo's roster spot, or Romero's. Let Franklin stay up and play a bunch. Get all the best hitters we have available to us in the lineup as often as possible.
Otherwise, by the time we decide to panic and make "rash" moves, it might be too late.
Young arms can be brilliant. If we really believe in Paxton and Walker, and that their injury bugs are minor annoyances in an early season filled with those, then adding them to Felix and Kuma and a potentially resurgent Maurer as a dangerous #5 gives us the starters we'd need for a run at the playoffs. We might need to strengthen the pen, but that's easily done via trade if necessary. We have the trade pieces.
But the lineup HAS to hit. Even an average offense backing a true 5-man rotation would put us in contention - but that has to happen if the pitching is going to be there.
A strong second-half run would make us feel better, but if we're out of the playoff picture in May again then it won't help Felix pitch in game #163 for the first time ever. And that has to be a priority. Can't keep tossing away Cy Young seasons in the hopes that next year's crop will be better than this year's. Go buy some food and put out a spread. We're still in it, as of today. It's unfortunate that Seager and Miller and LoMo and Romero and Saunders are struggling and dragging down the offense.
Help em out. If you think Seager and Miller will bounce back, then don't let their terrible start lead to another terrible season. Helping is not panicking - is it?
Last year, he swung at 52.2% of pitches in the zone, which would have tied him for the lowest % of swings at in-zone pitches in the league. League average was 62.7%. He's never been above 54%, but is at 57.5% now. We'll see if he keeps climbing.
You don't HAVE to swing at bad pitches in the zone (if you look at the fewest zone pitches you come up with names like Hardy and Zimmerman and Kipnis and Trout, all productive hitter-types), but if he's now swinging at fat pitches that are piped in there because the book is "Ackley won't swing early, and if he does he won't hurt you" then that's more than fine.
So far it seems a lot of Ackley's work has actually been done in pitcher's counts - he's not taking called strike threes anymore or expecting a ball 4 count when the ump feels like ringing him up on a questionable corner pitch. But he's still not swinging at stuff outside the zone (never has).
Which should mean that if he can scare them out of the zone, his walks will go back up. And if they don't get scared out of it, then he should treat it like BP and swing away.
He's doing his part to change the book on him. We'll see what his results are, but if he keeps getting hard hits then the league will likely move back out of the zone and see if they can get him to fish.
Which should work to his advantage. Edgar mastered the "don't swing at stuff outside the zone, selectively swing inside the zone, punish the stuff you swing at" mentality. Ackley hits MORE stuff in the zone than Gar - when he swings. Gar swung at fewer-than-average pitches in the zone too, because he wanted one to drive, not one to bounce weakly to SS.
Edgar's tendency to drive the ball places and refusal to swing at OOZ pitches made him a rough hitter to face. Dustin will never be Gar, but punishing all the strikes he's currently seeing from pitchers trying to get ahead - and then fighting them to a standstill once they do get ahead - is a good start on being a Better Ackley.
We've had YEARS of explanations as to WHY these guys might not start living up to expectations, and why we should hold out hope that they yet may do so. And I suppose theoretically one can believe in that chance. It's existence is incontrovertible. But they continue to underperform, i.e., in real life. If Ackley only reaches his middle he is in my eyes a failure. The bloomin' number two pick in the draft when the franchise was in a position where it absolutely positively had to pick a winner.
So we can drum up ANOTHER reason why Ackley's production, though better so far this year than the last two, is less than we'd hoped. There is NOBODY I respect more than you, G, and the opinions of pretty much all the others I hold in very high regard. But sometimes I feel you all know so much that you're buried in the trees of the forest and not seeing the whole forest. That's probably a silly statement on my part. Yet at a certain point I feel like the boy who finally cries out, "The Emperor has no clothes!" He watched as people better informed and more mature, with more at stake than he, saw what they wanted to see instead of what was staring them in the face.
It's possible the Mariners with their 240-million dollar PR investment aren't buck naked. But for darn tootin' their putting up a MIGHTY FINE imitation of it!
Is Ackley getting more strikes because there is a deficiency in his game that pitchers are exploiting? Gosh guys, I dunno. But just coming up with plausible explanations for underperformance is simply not cutting it for me any more. At some point we gotta start talking about what we're actually seeing.
Just my take, and you da man, G. But to this man's eyes this organization is not only hapless, it's hopeless. Chucko the Clown. Soupy Sales. Sad Sack. Napoleon Dynamite without the role reversing triumph. Joey on Friends. Kramer and George on Seinfeld. Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley. The Washington Generals to MLB's Globetrotters.
Sorry for the rant, guys. This team is REALLY getting to me.
Half-full or half-empty. :-)
I refuse to go half-empty 3 weeks into the season when we're 4 games under .500 with a series at home against one of the worst teams in the league coming up. If we sweep that we're 1 game under .500, have been stinging the ball right at people in several of these losses, had bizzar-o-world fielding plays cost us a couple more, our entire rotation has disintigrated like toilet paper in front of a fire hose, and some of our best hitters, young and old, are slumping to start the season.
How do you tell the difference between bad luck and bad talent? Is it just time?
If so, I'll wait a little longer this year to call it bad talent. I feel the weight of a decade of terrible baseball and "wait til next year" too, DaddyO, don't worry. You're not alone.
But Ackley has immense talent. Maybe sometime I'll put together a rundown of all the players viewed as one of the top two positional players in their drafts in the last 15, 20 years and see what shakes out. How many guys viewed as The Man actually failed? Maybe more than we think, maybe less.
If Ackley, Smoak, Seager, Miller, Franklin, Zunino et al fail, then we've been going about this all wrong for the last half-decade, just like we butchered it in the half-decade before that.
Granted, some of the youngsters will fail. But all of em? Can't have that. The problem comes in identifying the failures and replacing them with better players. Jack hasn't shown much skill at that, but he'll need to for us to have success.
In the meantime, I'm letting it play out. At least a little longer. I'm tired of waiting til next year, but this year has barely started. I still plan to see the joy of a Felix / Kuma / Walker / Paxton / Maurer rotation backed by a strong pen and an acceptable offense.
Don't kill my dreams, man...
1. On paper -- on paper, now -- there is ZERO reason to even begin to be concerned.
2. The problem is the Mariners' track record of folding their tents in late April / early May ... often in response to an Eddie Guardado series of blown saves. (The ugly part of this slide pretty much began with Rodney's blown save on Felix' epic start.)
The pure sabermetrician looks at the problem "on paper." It's the tools scout that is skittish right now, precisely because of the 2005-2013 Mariners' losing culture -- "losing culture" has zero meaning to the Fangraphs author. It does to us, though.
3. The varsity rotation is imminent, probably now including even Brandon Maurer.
4. I wanna mosh off all this at first opportunity.
You're absolutely right, Gordon. I'm going to be watching the M's this week with (approximately) the same investment as I was earlier.
Sure will be nice, though, once they're off this losing streak.
Will agree that I probably understated Ackley's Eye potential by a bit. He's probably I the 70 point range, that's where he had established himself before this year. But he's going to have to continue to show this kind of XB (2B) potential, otherwise he's not going to see many wasted pitches. Ackley as a Punch and Judy guy isn't very special. He needs those 35 doubles and 8-10 homers. Do that, and he's tough. Over a career, he would reach the .290's once or twice, but he might hit in the .250's that many times, too.
Sitting Smoak against lefties is a badly needed move. To get there, we need to add another RH bat. Sitting Smoak to let Franklin bat against LHP may not get much more offense. I'm beginning to think that bringing Franklin up was a bad move that may impact his perceived trade value if he doesn't hit pretty soon. A middle IF hitting .400 in AAA is probably worth more than a MI hitting .220 (once he gets there) in the majors.
Almonte? He's not helping us much right now. I would love for him to find his (brief) '13 mojo, especially the pop. But having little homer pop in CF and LF means we need to have it in RF (since we miss it at 1B/3B, too). I still would have loved for us to have added Viciedo or Van Slyke when we may have been able to. We need that RH power, especially against lefties. Right now our best in-house opportunity is Romero, which is why I say to give him a chance.
No panic here. But we have some exposed weaknesses, mostly(on offense) centering around the lack of RH bashing, Zunino's homers not-withstanding.
As, COF's Saunders and Morrison are somewhat redundant. To tell you the truth, I'm more of a Morrison RF fan.
I wouldn't mind Gillespie (the only guy we have that is "ready") to replace either. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind Saunders in CF. where he is a much better fit. Almonte isn't unlikely to be in Tacoma anytime soon, however.
A reminder: Lineup moves are not "panicking," they may be smart use of resource.
LoMo is a write-off for me for 2014. I know it will not be popular for me to advocatae signing Morales considering the problems we're having finding PT for guys like Romero and Saunders...but to heck with that. It's time to win. Get Morales, Let Hart get his PA at 1B and in RF (and occasionally DH'ing), reduce Smoak's playing time to only against righties and only those righties who are not extremely hard throwers. Let Saunders be a defensive replacement and fall-back plan.
Cano is not going to lead this team. He wasn't a leader with the Yankees, and still isn't here with the Mariners.
...that counter to intuition, the best hitters see a low strike percentage most of the time, strike percentage is generally very stable (and does not regress from the mean once you've seen a couple hundred pitches...is not a sign of bad luck if it's high, for example), and changes in strike percentage can be read faster than changes in other predictive metrics (although they do not give a complete picture).
Ackley's high strike percentage suggests that pitchers are not currently afraid of throwing him strikes...meaning they don't think he's very good. His walk rate may return...but he'll have to scare pitchers out of the zone first.
And his status. If he leads, great! If not, well Junior was a terrible leader, but we did all right in his era. Randy Johnson was a complete jerk to most of his teammates, but he performed on the field.
If Cano OPSes .900 and doesn't wet himself at his early struggles, we'll be fine.
The previous veteran "leaders" of this team were all self-stressers afraid of their own shadows who cried like babies who'd lost their candy whenever they had an 0-fer. Aurilia, Spiezio, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Jack Cust, even Beltre. Milton Bradley was a walking wound. Carl Everett needed to be eaten by dinosaurs.
Just give me a guy who can weather a bad day, pat the kids on the back who did well, teach the kids who didn't how not to grind their teeth to dust a la Brendan Ryan, and we'll be all right.
Half of success in baseball is not worrying about failure too much and focusing on process. A steady guy in the lineup who can do that can be a leader in many of the ways we need.
At the financial end the team sits somewhere between $75 to $80 mil. next year assuming the M's pick up Iwakuma's option. Arbitration is starting to kick in for the first wave. There's a trio of Arb 2 guys in Smoak, Saunders, and Morrison. Those three are likely to cost upwards of $10 mil. Not sure if it's a good idea to keep all three of those guys around. I'd rather wipe the slate and keep maybe one of those guys. I'm not sure where the team finances top out. I'll take a wild guess and say it starts to redline somewhere between $120 to $130 mil.
One aspect of a losing culture is choking on key plays in crunch time. Well, the M's choked 3 times in the last 6 games on key fielding plays late in the game: 1) Miller's error on the last out in Texas cost Felix the game, 2) Seager's dropped ball on the transfer against the Rays forced the M's to pitch to Stanton, whose hit won the game, and 3) Smoak's double clutch on the throw home allowed the tieing run to score yesterday.
Not to mention the lack of "clutchness" of the M's relievers, who can't throw a strike when it counts. In particular, Lloyd's favorite -TW - has 2 blown saves + a loss, to go along with his 7 walks in 7.1 innings over 8 appearances. Lloyd has his work cut out for him to reverse this deeply ingrained losing culture. He could start by putting players in positions where they are most likely to succeed, e.g., getting Almonte out of the lead off position where he is failing and then giving him a rest day now and then. He & GMZ should ship TW out to Tacoma upon the return of the next starter -- TW has as ruined enough games for the M's. Time for someone else to have a chance.
Lloyd needs to find a deployment pattern that is consistent and maximizes Saunders' chances for success instead of jerking him around from game to game. Even if Lloyd doesn't think much of Saunders, the fact remains that Saunders is the M's best all-around OFer at this point. In any case, I don't envy Lloyd - he has a herculean task to over-come GMZ's typical poor job of roster construction and the ingrained attitude and pattern of losing.
Gordon, I realized later that my the headline in my post above might have been misunderstood sarcastically. It was not intended that way. So I changed it from "Dream On..." to "Keep On WIth Your Dream..."
:winks: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" or "Eve Of Destruction" ? Chill pill or Apocalypse? You keep dreamin', Gordo. As The Sundance Kid said to Butch Cassidy, "That's what you're good at." As a matter of fact, I need you guys to keep dreamin', else who'd cheer ME up (baseball-wise, rest of life is fine)?! All I ask for is compelling baseball where I don't get sleepy by the second inning. Baseball is a wonderful game. A MARVELOUS game. I have a rich, long tradition of avid fandom. But I'm losing my ability to stay interested and it's only April 21st. Dear Lord, don't let me slip into the oblivion of being a football-only fan. I've already lost basketball since the Sonics left.
I'll assume Ha HaHaHa Ha, means we win, we loose, we win. Still up for grabs. Unfortunately we're loosing that one right now.
Let me start by saying this is all opinion based on watching his at bats very carefully.
He absolutely refuses to swing at strike 1 if it's on the outer edge, which is where a lot of the first pitches he sees are. The reason, I'm guessing, he does this is because he knows he can't pull that pitch (where most of his power is). So he knows he has to hit that pitch to left field where AT BEST he's going to hit a double.
And this isn't just a strike one thing. He seems insistent on laying off the pitch on the outside edge in lots of counts. The general numbers back this up, with his swing rate being near lowest in baseball. This must make it so much easier on a pitcher knowing that if you hit somewhere close to your spot you're going to be 0-1. I've never played competitive baseball, but that just makes intuitive sense.
His minor league ISO is .154, which coming from a guy who was "hitter of the decade" that played 3 years of college ball isn't exactly lighting the world on fire. Since he's come up his ISO has been .110. For those just tuning in, that's really not good. You have to have really nice OBP numbers or play a middle infield position to hit like that, which he no longer does.
To be optimistic on Ackley, you have to explain to me how he's going to raise his ISO to AT LEAST .150 while seeing tons of pitches away, pitches that he's not going to swing at very often, pitches that even if he does swing at, his goal is line drive base hit. You also have to explain just how in the world he's going to walk 80 points when pitchers are just piping in strikes because they know, and the numbers bear it out, that he can't hurt them unless they leave something in the middle of the plate.
Dustin Ackley is a pitch stalker who has a career slugging % so far 12 points higher than Willie Bloomquist's career slugging %. How can he possibly be a pitch stalker when he doesn't hit mistakes over the fence, or at least up against it very often?
I also don't think giving a guy the "he's immensely talented" hall pass year after disappointing year is apt. He's underwhelmed over 1,500 PA's now, and he had over 1,000 PA's in the minors AFTER playing 3 years of dominant college ball. The guy should've been ready 2 years ago. His skill set is one that is deployed effectively or isn't. He's not still learning pitch recognition, he's not working on plate coverage. He just doesn't have the immense talent that we all thought he had when he was drafted. Ichiro is an example of immense talent with this skill set. Compare in your mind Ichiro to Dustin Ackley.
Pedroia is another guy with immense hitting talent in the same general mold. .150 ISO, lines drives, solid walk rates, but he plays gold glove defense at a premium position. That's Ackley's IDEAL upside. I don't think he has the same hitting ability as Pedroia, and I don't think he has the same ceiling either, but that's the IDEAL ceiling offensive production from his skill set.
If it's me I'm not benching Ackley, but mainly because there isn't a great alternative. There is some chance he does reach his ceiling which would provide some value to this team. I see his ceiling as being a 110 wRC+ hitter with meh defense in left. We've all witnessed what his floor is. That's certainly not good enough. Time to find a better alternative.
If kids don't come around don't be afraid to question ownership for more money.
Since we currently hold the 4th pick in next year's draft, does anyone have any idea who top few players who will be eligible for that draft???
It was about this time of the year when we heard about Strasberg and Harper correct???
Those would be my moves too, plus swap out Romero and Gillespie. Romero needs to play not ride the pine.
I tuned in Felix' start a little late, just in time to see him give up a 2-run home run in a scoreless game. I saw the M's quickly tie it 2-2. Life interrupted, so later I tuned in to see that Felix was down 6-2. For a second there, I had thought I was looking at a half-full glass. But then I realized I had been standing on my head.
Heading into the spring most everybody said the Mariners needed a veteran RH OF bat, preferably for RF. Sure, there were young in-house options like Romero, but there is definitely a difference between the adjectives "veteran" and "young." The difference largely turns on the likelihood (not certainty) that a veteran will meet expectations compared to the question whether a young player will live up to hopes. One has demonstrated the ability over time that he can produce at a certain level in MLB, while a young player has proven...nothing. The young player has upside the veteran does not have, but the likelihood that he will even reach minimum acceptable levels in his early years is very much in question given the M's track record. Robinson Cano needed a veteran RH bat behind him that could be counted on to produce, so much as anyone can be counted on. So in part because of the failure to address this obvious need, Cano's first $24-million season with the M's appears to be in mortal danger right out of the chute.
There is a pro-youth constituency that seems willing year after year to count on the current year being the one when the Mariners will do the same thing but come up with different results. I suppose over ten years sheer luck will make them right once in awhile. A confluence of just the right kids with a generous dollop of luck. But unless they demonstrate the ability, as for example the Cardinals have, to churn out young MLB players who actually produce when they get to MLB, this is a recipe for exactly what we have seen in the Jack Zduriencik era, frustration and losing baseball. Add in a unique flair for roster myopia and you have the last six years of Seattle Mariners baseball. A different flavor than the Bavasi regime, but very similar results. Oh well, at least we are doing things the The Right Way. Be "True to the Blue" all.
But I am in full on panic mode. Hard to tell, because I deal with the stress through gallows humor.
the epitaph is written on the Jack Zduriencik regime it will be that his plan, while viable in theory, was executed so poorly that it simply took too long to produce watchable results. The Mariners will have tried spending (but going A Bridge Too Short) under Bavasi, and youth (without productive youth) under Zduriencik and failed miserably in both. In the end one has to wonder, should things not turn around significantly, about the overall aptitude of the organization. Then one has to ask oneself if they are willing to become a lifelong fan of a losing franchise.
Please, Jack, Lloyd and the Gang, make this conversation unnecessary, the sooner the better.
Panic isn't the danger here. Apathy is the real danger. A healthy percentage of the fan base is already in "can't muster the energy to care" stage of Mariner fandom.
At some point, it's spring in the Northwest and there are just a lot of things more interesting and compelling than a listless baseball team competing for our time and energy. I'm a Mariners fan and won't shift my allegiance to some other club...but I also won't spend much time or energy supporting the team if they stink the joint up more nights than not. I'll still post the odd snark or comment and watch a game here and there but it's not "must see TV", that's for sure.
Fan indifference is the thing killing this club. At least panic would mean that people actually care.
Because I was born and raised in Southern California and a Dodgers fan from 1963 until 1995 when I moved to Seattle, I consider the Dodgers my National League team. But when I have a home team in the AL, I just can't bring myself to switch allegiances to another team. Like you, Griz, the Mariners just leave me in a listless, baseball-less state all summer until I regain interest for the playoffs, of which they are never a part. And it kills me, because I am a big-time baseball fan. But I just won't carry the same interest for some team "out there" because my home team stinks.