great write up Dr. D
You got to love Z. Who in the media or all of the blogosphere had even an inkling a move like this may go down. All the focus was on the M's losing and what we may get from Lee. Then Z pulls a rabbit out of his hat and brings in a big bat that had been missing in the lineup the entire season.
But what is also impressive about this move is that Z is not worried about the subsequent fall out, since this was a player we had basically given up to free agency to begin with. He does not care that this could be framed in the media as a sign he had made a mistake in the off season.
Z's sole focus as it has always been is to continue to strengthen our current team on the field while building our minor league system thereby ensuring that a steady stream of talent will be arriving from the farm.
Q. Shouldn't the M's be gearing up for the future?
A. The M's have many exciting position players on the farm. None of them play first base!
Alex Liddi, Carlos Triunfel, Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore ... and perhaps even Greg Halman, Matt Mangini and Dennis Raben could conceivably help the Mariners in 2012 or even in 2011.
If Zduriencik thought he had a Ryan Braun to play 1B (y'know) then he would do that. But the prospects are 2B, 3B, and outfield.
So you've got to get your #3-#4 hitters somewhere. Branyan could be part of a surprise playoff team in 2011.
Q. Like what?
A. In 2011, let's say you move in Ackley at 2B, trade Lopez, and move Figgins to 3B. You've got one more position player you can work in, right? Is it really going to be your first baseman?
Q. How about Mike Carp?
A. If you have no other options, fine.
Are you planning on winning your next pennant with Mike Carp? That is the guy of whom you say, if he's your 1B, you're not planning on storming the keep.
Q. What is the value of a winning surge in 2010?
A. What is the value of (say) 2.2m in attendance vs 1.7m in attendance?
Suppose that Zduriencik gets the M's on a roll, and the fans are encouraged ... and the owners permit him $5m or $10m more in the 2011 budget because of a stronger 2010 season?
Then the M's in effect gained a $5m or $10m player in the Carrera-Branyan trade, right?
Or supposing that a July surge ultimately results in a Cliff Lee re-signing? (Erik Bedard was written much farther off the page than Lee is right now.)
Q. Could Branyan help the M's win in 2011?
A. Of course he could; don't be silly.
Stars and Scrubs teams aren't absolute in their structuring. After they have rostered the Felixes, Lees, Bedards and Ichiros ... with the Saunderses, Fisters, Ackleys, Pinedas and Vargases, they fill out the roster with some cost-efficient Civics.
Billy Beane has always had his share of Mark Kotsays and Scott Hattebergs. In fact, Beane himself would love to have Russell Branyan specifically.
How do Tampa's, Texas' and 1B's compare to Branyan's established 125 OPS+? Tampa has Pena at a 97 OPS+ ... the Rangers have Smoak at 96 ... the Angels had Morales around 125+. Hey, there are the Teixeiras, Youkilises, Morneaus, and Cabreras to be sure .... but if you want a Pena - Morales level 1B, Russell Branyan is going to match up with them a lot better than Casey Kotchman is.
Branyan could be a wonderful Civic add for 2011. He's liable to give you a 120-130 OPS+, or better, and $10-15m in bases gained, for that $5m bucks.
Q. Easy Save time at SSI? Three run lead, nobody on.
A. The 2011 M's needed to add two MOTO hitters. They mighta just added one, free.
And, I flat enjoy watching Russ Branyan hit balls 100 feet high and 400 feet long. Bring it on, babe. I'm psyched.
Love the deal,
great write up Dr. D
This is a team that has fielded four (4) All-Star starters in the rotation -- and has looked like a 100-loss team. If THIS team hasn't caused us to learn that all clubs need RBI men, then nothing ever will.
I just give up. If you watched this team and still don't see the problem with punting your #3 and #4 hitters, power to you, buddy, keep playing Strat-O-Matic. 's OK by me.
LOL! As always doc you have a knack for expressing my own thoughts in a much more humorous way.
This team has been crippled by a lack of power.
If you don't like the move because of the prospects we lost, then you've got to appreciate it for its WAR value, don't ya?
If you don't like the move because it's too little, too late, then you've also got to like TAD's excellent point, that it shows that Jack Z isn't afraid to admit his mistakes, don't ya?
If you're a fan of sport at all, you have to like that the M's aren't just throwing up their hands on the season, don't ya?
Thanks for this post. You nailed it!
For those folks who say, "Blow up the team, we have no chance of contending this year," you have to realize that rebuilding really becomes a ten to fifteen-year process.
You first have to rebuild your team, and then rebuild trust with your fanbase.
Check out Cleveland's attendance leading up to their rebuilding--for six years they stayed between 3.1-3.5 million people for six years when they were going to the playoffs. They had one middle of the pack year in 2002 where they drew 2.6 million. From the point of their rebuild in 2001 onward, however, they have struggled to hit the 2 million mark. They won 93 games in 2005 and 96 games in 2007, but still have only managed at best to draw 2.2 million in a season--and that year they went to the GD ALCS!
Fanbases lose confidence in the team when it loses too many games. It takes years of winning to recover the lost revenue after a rebuild. It will always be the most advantageous strategy--in the long and short term--for a team to win as many games as possible (without gutting a farm system, of course). Maintaining a steady fanbase helps ensure a steady payroll in the future.
Bringing in the Moose is the right thing to do. If the M's can pull back up to .500, there will be a lot more excitement and a lot more paying customers heading into next year.
Branyan just isn't going to make that much of an impact. Hes a 1-2 win upgrade over the rest of the season, not 10 wins.
Its not going to make an impact on attendance unless the hitters around Branyan improve.
This is a move that loses focus of the big picture.
I hear you. I think you are right about the limited value of Branyan and I don't think he can magically inspire Figgins, Lopez and Bradley any more than a cheaper acquisition.
But the philosophy of winning as many games as possible every season is about more than just adding one player. It's about playing Sweeney at the expense of evaluating Carp in the majors, for instance, or hanging onto Lee a little bit longer at the expense of adding one more A-Ball player to the deal. These are incremental moves that don't help the team for 2011, but hopefully they keep the bottom from falling out of 2010.
Besides, is there really a lot that the team can learn about Carp, et al that they can't see in Tacoma or during a September call up? Will an extra 150 at bats given to a borderline prospect that much more beneficial to evaluating what we've got? Or to put it another way, what would Carp (I am using him a place holder, insert whomever you wish) have to do over the next three months to convince you that he is more than a .5-1 win player?
1-2 wins in a hermetically sealed vacuum perhaps. But on a team that *constantly* loads up the bases, watches Casey Kotchman/Jack Wilson/Chone Figgins/Whoever leave them loaded and goes on to lose by one run?
No, if he produces the way we expect (famous last words this season) I'd guess that by September we'll have 5+ games we can point to and say "No way we win that without Branyan."
Not that this is the last page to end the argument, but ... you could run a little experiment:
(1) Take this lineup, with Branyan
(2) Take this lineup, without Branyan
(3) OBSERVE (not deduce!) whether lineup (1) showed a domino effect
Oh yeah. We did that. 2009 vs 2010.