If Tex and LAA win 94 each, the M's job is ...


... to win 95.

Back in the 1970's, Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton wrote a book.  There was a paragraph in there, on page 138 or something, that stuck with me for thirty years.

Tarkenton talked about some game that his team lost by a low score ... I think probably it was the 1974 Super Bowl, which went to the Steel Curtain by a 16-6 score.

The sportswriters had snarked at him, after the game, whether he felt bad for his defense.  You get it?  The guys on the other side of the locker room deserved to win.  And you let them down by not holding up your end of the bargain.


Tarkenton replied calmly then, and he wrote calmly in his autobiography.  He said:  If our defense gives up 35 points, then my job is to score 38.  If we give up 16 points, my job is to score 17.  

If we are only able to score 6 points, then it's the defense's job to allow 3.  If we score 51 points, their job is to hold the other guys to 48.

And there is not one man in this locker room who doesn't feel that way, Fran said.


I thought, at the time, that this was brave talk. But watching NFL players take interviews, I have never seen them speak -- or convey -- anything different.  As Larry Csonka put it, whoever you like, whoever you don't like, when you strap the helmet on it is US against THEM.  If they complete a long pass, you need to score back at them.

You have become accustomed to thinking that you can put together a pantywaist baseball team that wins 88 games and sneaks into the playoffs?  Get over it.  If the new bar is 94 wins, then you simply have a different goal.  It used to be that you could field a good team, and you enjoyed having your bar set so low.  Things have changed.  You must field an excellent team now.  

That's all.


Tampa Bay has had to compete with Boston and New York, and that's what they have done.  Competed.

If the Seattle Mariners were to react to the AL West situation by conceding defeat, then I would stop being a fan of the Seattle Mariners.  But I don't think that's what they will do.  I think they'll react by saying, "Well, this makes it that much tougher," and they would try to win more games than their opponents.

It is a temptation in life to pick fights only when you are the favorite to win.  You walk away from a fistfight when the other man is two inches taller.  You withdraw from a division race when the bar has been changed from 90 wins to 93.  You blog-debate with posters only when they know less than you, are scared of you, and it's your blog.

You might reply, that is the intelligent thing to do, to make sure that you are the bully.  I would argue that there are two components that make up the human mind and heart.  One is intelligence, and the other is character.

The Founding Fathers might have calculated an 18.2% chance of winning.  They fought anyway, because they believed it was the right thing to do.

The Mariners make $250M per year in gross revenues, selling a pennant race.  Trying to win it, is the right thing to do.

The decision to fight is not a purely intellectual ROI calculation.  Your beliefs are involved in the decision.  Courage is involved in the decision.


By the way, amigo, Pujols and CJ Wilson are going to be Angels in 2013 as well.

Your friend,




F.Nietzsche's picture

Just the other day I was thinking, "possibly the best reason for signing Fielder/Pujols is what your reaction would be if your division rival signed them". Oops.  Law of attraction strikes again.
I don't understand this.  How can the same people say that signing Fielder/Pujols to a long-term contract will hurt our chances of winning AND simultaneously say that when a division rival signs Fielder/Pujols to a long-term contract that is ALSO hurts our chances of winning?
I have feeling this is Vlad to Angels all over again.  Us M's fans get to sit and watch Vlad crush balls 420 feet to left-center and then get to watch him do the same in the playoffs to the wild-card. I can only hope that this time our best addition is not Brad Wilkerson.  
If we sign Fielder than by the logic of the detractors he and Pujols will hit their overpayed years at the same time and the disadvantages will cancel out! (TIC)


The visceral reaction to Pujols is a clue that the intellectual arguments against Fielder had invisible holes in them.  Well put Herr Nietzsche.
The visceral reaction, in this case, is one that they should trust.  Their subconscious minds are processing the question and applying the right sense of proportion.
You tell yourself that doggies are nice, and only attack when provoked, and then the Rottweiler comes down the sidewalk and starts snarling.  It's your visceral reaction, not your PETA-education slide show, that you trust.
Our rivals are going to sign star players.  That's the way the FA system works; we don't get them all.
What we need, is our share of them.

Taro's picture

The biggest problem with waiting 3 years to compete: TV Revenue.
In 2015, Texas TV revenue will double. During the same time period BOTH the Angels and Athletics will re-negotiate their deals, while the Ms wait until 2020.
Essentially from 2015-2020 the Ms are going to be spotting $30-40mil a year to the division in TV revenue alone.
The Ms MUST be competitive at some point during 2012-2015 or its extremely likely they are irrelevant for the rest of the decade. Not the best place to be in considering the on-field talent.. DRASTIC moves need to made.

Taro's picture

I don't think its Vlad again. Vlad was signed during an offseason in which the FA market was significantly deflated and was signed through his prime years.
$14mil x 7 years was such a huge blow for my baseball fandom at the time.. That was almost as much of a steal then as it seems now.
The Pujols deal doesn't feel like that. There is a lot of risk with Pujols. The market is healthy, Pujols is getting older, and there is the HGH question mark.
Granted, the Ms still have significant odds against them. We basically need Z to GM his butt off and the Ms to really up their payroll.


Pujols has SLG'ed .475 in the AL, last two years, 27 games' worth.
Saw some article, a year or two back, that showed NL talent migrating to the AL systematically.  The interleague results may start coming back rather scary.


article.  If not, my apologies.  Baker very intelligently and eloquently said what I tried to say earlier today.  Below is the link to his article and a couple quotes that I would like attributed to me.
" But "staying the course" right now could lead to an eight-or-10-year, Toronto-style rebuilding plan just as easily as it could bring any success."
"And right now, what I've seen is too many people pigeonholing themselves into arguments and rooted positions based on things they don't completely grasp about Major League Baseball.
Chemistry and big bat impact on lineups are two of them.
And how much teams can really "afford" to pay players are another."


:Tries To FInd Better Pickin's:
I guess 'cause there are certain talents that rise above such figgerin's. Not sayin' (I love apostrophes) there will be no effect at all, but I'll believe it when I see it that the AL turns Pujols from a monster into a quasi-beast. The age-arc thing when combined with a variety of nagging injuries, now that's a different story. To me the following age-arc DOES seem possible:
Inner circle HOFer peak (prime)
Inner circle best 2-3 hitters in MLB (current)
leads to:
One of the top 10 hitters in MLB (in a few years)
One of the top 20 hitters in MLB (in five years)
Let's hope the Pujols impact plays out that way.


meh ...
I was NEVER under the delusion that Anaheim and Texas and Oakland were not going to lay down and die.  They are going to compete.  Sometimes that will be through development.  Sometimes that will be through FA signings.
But, I am not wavering AT ALL in my contention that the actual worth of the HoF caliber players as perceived by fans is grossly overblown - compared to the actual difference they do make.
Texas spent $55 million in 2010 and went to the Series.   That club contained *ZERO* Hall of Fame FA acquistions.  They upped that to $92 million in 2011 and went to the series again.  The lost C.J. Wilson (in part) because their 2012 payroll demands are ALREADY (bbref estimate) between 113-116 million.  Texas just lost a 5 WAR pitcher who only cost about 3 million for their two WS runs.  The Rangers only external "big spending" of note is Belte at $15 million.  Yet, they're already pushing $120 million in payroll.  They are ALREADY getting squeezed financially.
From '07-'09, when the Angels were winning the division, they spent 109/119/113 million those three seasons.  They cut payroll in 2010, but it ballooned up to 138 million in 2011 as they won 86 games.  IIRC, it was in '08 that I suggested the Angels were getting close to critical mass in terms of age and that if they didn't work to get younger their string would soon end.  They have done a decent job of continuing to develop players, (Trumbo, Kendrick, Aybar, Callaspo, Bourjos).  But, they stumbled badly on Vernon Wells. 
The plus for Anaheim going forward is that Torii Hunter's $18 million a year ends after the 2012 season.  So, Pujols is going to soak up all of that and then some.  But, at the moment bbref has the 2012 payroll estimate at 131 million (before Pujols and Wilson.  The Angels are leaping over the $150 million payroll hurdle, which means their ability to hold onto guys like Trumbo and Kendrick and Bourjos is going to be compromised.
Pujols effectively replaces Abreu - which certainly increases their WAR.  Pujols was *only* a 5.4 WAR guy in 2011, (a down year).  Abreu was 1.3.  So, Anaheim added 4 wins.  They probably actually added more wins with Wilson replacing Joel Pineiro's -1.6 WAR.  But, Anaheim has two guys under age 27, (Bourjos and Trumbo).  The glide path of the returning talent is seriously skewed downward. 
Anaheim had 8 regulars over 100 OPS+.  LF (Wells) and Catcher (Mathis/Conger) were their only problem areas.  The REAL plus for the Angels is Kendry Morales.  They have a fall back if Trumbo (who had a 25/120 BB/K ratio)  stumble rather than progresses.
Yes, the Angels have improved their team.  Texas has likely gotten worse.  They have both ALREADY committed to massive payroll expansion for 2012, and the aggregate result is, the Ms are probably still looking at 182 wins between them (combined). 
Has everyone already forgotten the certainty everyone had that Boston would just walk away with the East in 2011?  When they added AGON and Crawford while the Yankees were spending nickles on washed up guys like Garcia, Colon, Andruw and Chavez, the East was a done deal.
Yes, Hall of Fame players are good.  And they are good to have.  But, baseball, by dint of the everyone-gets-equal-opportunities is a sport which severely limits the possibility of superstars from have "great" effect on final outcomes.  WAR says Albert has been providing 8 wins a year.  The Cards were paying him $14 million a year.  That's a stupendous bargain and the Cards got to the playoffs a lot with him.
If he stays at 8 WAR for the next 4-5 years, at $25 million a year, he's a minor bargain.  But, the past 4 seasons, his WAR went: 9.6; 8.8; 7.1; 5.4.  That "looks" like a trend.  In truth, the 5.4 is probably just a bad year.  But, exactly how many 8+ WAR seasons Albert has left is VERY questionable.  Even at 6 WAR a year, he's going to be one of the most valuable players in baseball.  But, he's not going to be a bargain.
Look at AROD.  He had WAR totals from 8-11 through age 31.  What has he done since?  5.4; 3.6; 3.2; 2.7.  No, I am not predicting imminent doom for Pujols.  I think he'll have a few more MVP level seasons.  But, it is not out of the question that Pujols is *only* a .900 hitter ALREADY.  It's possible. 
To win the West should take about 95 wins.  It took about 95 wins last year.  It will take about 95 wins next year.  It will likely continue to take about 95 wins for the foreseeable future.
If I thought the Ms were likely to win 90 without Fielder this year, then I'd be supportive of adding him.  I don't think the Ms will win 90 games w/o him.  I don't think they'll win 90 games WITH him.  The Ms still have too much work to do.  And I continue to believe it is more likely that they will get that extra work done without him than with him.  I accept and respect that others disagree.

IcebreakerX's picture

That is all that matters. Baseball is simulated warfare. And the only thing that matters is that our supply lines (minors) have to be better than everyone else and that our ships of the line (the ML team) are better than everyone else. The rest will play out.
Like I said earlier this offseason, the key is when to bet in. Prince Fielder is going to have a 5~7 year window at this point in his career. But we also have the same window with our players Ackley, Smoak and Pineda. And most of all, the King Felix window might just be 3 more years.
I can agree with Sandy that maybe we're not ready to get pushed over the top. But what I disagree on is the idea that we have to wait for critical mass. Rather, I think it's more or less managing the fact that the right parts overlap at the same time. The entire 1993~2003 M's are a testament to NOT doing it right.


I think Arte Moreno is trying to make the Angels the chosen team of Los Angeles.  The Dodgers are in the midst of a management meltdown and have been poorly run since ever since the O'Malleys sold the team.
The Angels may 'share' the LA market they historically have played the role of the Clippers, while the Dodgers have been the Lakers.  So how does Arte pay for Pujols et al.?  Buy armed takeover of the Dodgers market share.


I hope that Fangraphs & co. are alert to the way that $/WAR is about to change.  They're used to a $4.5 per 10 runs figure.  It might already be $6.0 and the perception will lag the reality.
I don't see anything in $/WAR that factors in franchise appreciation.  ;- )  Further, when you bring up more long-term business considerations like this, the Fangraphs reaction is usually hostility.  :: sniff :: "No evidence exists that Babe Ruth affects the value of a franchise" ....
You run into hostility that perhaps the simple $/WAR calculation doesn't anoint its authors as intellectual rulers of the baseball landscape.  But the fact is that $/WAR is far, far too simple to capture the real-world effects of an Albert Pujols.
Fangraphs can go on arguing that their paradigm is the key to baseball IQ, and power-broker owners, aware of many considerations that we are not, will keep on laying out new highs for iconic players.
Rather than assuming that Arte Moreno doesn't know what he's doing, Fangraphs might want to open its mind to the possibility that maybe there is something to learn from the owners.


Moreno isn't like the M's suits who are mostly concerned with "living withing their means". Moreno wants to aggressively expand his market and become a powerhouse. Specifically, he wants to appeal to Latinos. That's why the Marlins had a dump truck full of money with Pujol's name on it but won't bother pursuing Fielder: they want to get Hispanics excited about the team. The same motivation was almost certainly behind the Angel's decision to go all in on Albert.

Flyer's picture

The problem with the Pujols signing is that it's an indication the Angels are now in a  financial position where they can buy their way out of mistaked.   Recent reports have their new local TV deal at as much as 3.25 Billion over 20 years which means they have 150 per in pure revenue in the books before they even try to make a dime.  They draw well, they own their own radio station and the national TV deals are supposedly good for another 70 Mil to every team, meaning they arent dependent on ticket sales or marketing in order to break even.
I think the bigger problem is that both the Rangers and Angels now seem to have very strong saber minded front officers.  The guy that built the Rangers farm system was hired away to join the Angels so its possible the Rangers have been hurt some but, we are talking about a team that has been doing a very strong job of infusing talent into their roster.
Texas and LAA will both spend, both seem intent on focusing on their farm system and both have very strong TV deals.  We can talk about being smarter all we want but unless we are willing to go through ten years of last place finishes ala TB we will need to pony up and start spending some money.  That said, there really isn't anything worth spending a lot of money on left except Fielder, so that decision may have been made for us.
The Angels situation is a bit scary to me.   They have a lot of money coming off the books, a lot of money being added to their revenue and their lower level prospects have a lot of people taking notice.  As usual, it's not the hyped guys, its their second level guys that seem to be sneaking up on people.  Texas is going to have to start paying all their guys soon, so they may be in a position where they have to be a bit more reserved.  The Angels by comparison have to be looking at their books and thinking the worst of it is behind them.   They also have their 4/5ths of their rotation locked up through the next two seasons. 
I hate saying this but Im sort of hoping Kendrys Morales' leg continues to ache because if he comes back and is anything like the hitter he was showing to be that entire lineup looks much stronger.  Wells and Hunter become secondary players with very little pressure on them.
Texas is in my opinion still the team to beat but the Angels have closed the gap and really made a case for it being a two team division.  If Feliz can make the transition to the pen that Ogando did, then they too have a GREAT rotation and their offense is awesome.  Not sure if Napoli is going to be the player he was the second half of last year moving forward or the same old Mike Napoli from the second half.  Unfortunately, either version is a pretty good hitter. 
My fear now is that if the Rangers fail to land Darvish then they may turn to Fielder and create an all out "arms race" with the Angels.  Luckily there arent any real impact FA's that will likely be available next offseason, but moving forward it could be a AL West version of the Yankees and Red Sox tug of war.
If that happens then, us and the A's appear to be nothing more than the mud pit between the two powerhouses.


It's starting to look a little like a Risk game or something ... the leader hits this tipping point wherein he gets the extra income from his previous conquest, and then it snowballs.
I'd like to see what Armstrong's response to this is, the Angels' and Rangers' TV deals and their growing accumulation of star talent.  
I'm sure he has one.  All CEO's and CFO's have long-term strategic scenarios mapped out.  Maybe he's counting on a cable renegotiation of his own, around 2014-15.  That looks a long way off right now, though.
Maybe Geoff Baker will put this question to them.

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