Geoff Baker on the New Ownership
everything you always wanted to know about transition timelines but were afraid to ax


If you just joined us, Geoff Baker is one of Dr. D's favorite sportswriters ever.  He would be --- > sportswriting's equivalent of a giant treblehook in Howard Lincoln's posterior.  To say that Baker is skeptical of M's brass' intentions is like saying Scottie Pippen is skeptical of the Warriors' 73-9 record.  So you'll be interested in this op-ed, New Mariners ownership fed up with mediocrity, being the butt of community's jokes.



1.  Seattle's perception of the M's is that they've lost for 15 straight years, they hypocritically blocked a SoDo arena and the NBA, and that they're the "butt of jokes" locally.

2.  The questioning of the M's commitment to winning is legitimate, and has been leveled at them by their own coaches and players.  2002, 2003, 2007, and 2011 were notable examples of apathy towards supporting potential winners.

2a.  Contrast Toronto's additions of Price and Tulowitzki this year.

3.  Stanton (and Chris Larson) appear genuine about their thirst for victory, have been empowered to run things by Nintendo prior to the official transfer, and Lincoln has /cosigned the new orientation.

4.  The new Mariners don't believe tactically in lots of marquee free agents.  That's not inconsistent with devoting resources to other areas, notably July rentals.

5.  Actions speak louder than words, sez Geoffy.  We'll see.



The M's are playing so well it's sort of hard to think about which position could accommodate a rental.  ;- )  Hard for you, that is, because you have been indoctrinated by the M's P.R. to think of a Big Rental as being Kendrys Morales.  Not hard for Eastern Seaboard teams, who identify their own rental targets by simply asking "Which pending free agents are the best players?"

DEXTER FOWLER, CF is playing with a mutual option for 2017, which at $9M he'll certainly decline.  Has a .467 OBP and 2.4 WAR already.  Of course, the Cubs might prefer to "rent" him for themselves.

EDWIN ENCARNACION, DH.  Fangraphs has already written off the Jays at 14% to win the division :- ) so should be an easy get.

JOSE BAUTISTA, OF is on a $14M deal and would be strictly a rental.  But, man, imagine any lineup along the lines of Cano, Cruz, Seager, Bautista, and Smith-Lee/1B etc.  The M's could put a corner OF in for Aoki easily enough, since Marte has solidified his ability at the top of the order.  

RICH HILL, SP will be on the market.  Need we say more.  Hey, while we're slumming, Josh Reddick is a free agent.  He's batting .325/.387/.472.  For those of you who can't stand to give up young talent.

MARK MELANCON, BRAD ZIEGLER, KENLEY JANSEN, perhaps WADE DAVIS, and JONATHAN PAPELBON could all be in play in July.  Hey, if the Yankees can push Andrew Miller down for Aroldis Chapman, we could push Cishek down for Mark Melancon, you'd think.  Hey, for that matter Aroldis Chapman is a pending FA.  We're sure our pal Geoffy would have little problem with Chapman coming to Seattle.

Quite a reliever market this summer; we listed the closers, but there are another dozen or two solid setup guys, looks like.  Hey, why wait.  By the time Edwin Diaz got here, we could have a KC-West bullpen.


Be Afraid,

Dr D



Only three back, the bigger bats haven't really heated up yet, but I'm sure the Jay brass expects them to. The Jays are fueled these days in large part by...wait for it....Michael Saunders (.913 OPS), Justin Smoak (.836 with an OBP north of .400), even Ezquel Carrera is pitching in at .870, mostly playing caddie to Saunders and his occasional tweaks and twists. 

Pitching ERA+ is at 121, lead by JA Happ's 5-0 and 2.05. Someone remind me what we ended up with when parting with him and Michael.

Russell Martin is doing a Zunino impression with a 15 OPS+. Tulo is at 72.  

When the ex-M's fade, and get hamstrung, I have a feeling the big boys will take over.

Spare me Papelbon. Hmmm...Reddick, Chapman (PR problems there or are the M's truly pushing beyond the soccer mom market?) Rent an Orc? I do like Reddick. 


I think the Orioles' and Red Sox' hot starts (and talent) impress Fangraphs nearly as much as the Colossus does.  Their machine takes it for granted that the WC is not comin' out of the West ...

Jays are pretty stacked.  Agreed.


Though for some reason, he is persona non grata with the big blogs.  Honestly wouldn't mind if one of the SSI denizens gave me an even-handed explanation for why the animosity towards him, because I haven't the foggiest where it comes from.


Well, in terms of finding things to dispute with the honorable proprietor of this fine site, we might as well throw Hillary Clinton's name out there.

But let's deal with Baker.  

I'll start with a couple positives!  Rememer the feature he did several years ago about the 'Ichiro museum' (run by the player's father) in Japan?  Excellent.  The man can write a feature.  And he has to be given credit for actually picking up the phone and calling people for info, as opposed to most 'journalists' these days who earn their livings simply repeating what other people have reported, or analyzing those same things.  

But Baker is, in the end, the most dangerous type of reporter.  One who selects only those facts or opinions which fit his own pre-determined narrative...and turns opinions into facts.  (I don't know--maybe Howard Lincoln once forbade his daughter from dating Geoffy?  Who knows?)

In any case, this article is simply a regurgitation of Geoff's Greatest Shibboleths.

--"Paroll matters"--at last!  The foundation of Baker's worldview is that money, in the end, is what really matters, and the Mariners won't spend it.  And conclusively, the more you spend, the better you get.  So lets look at that two ways.  First, the M's are currently listed as #12 in total payroll at $145m.  I guess you could say that being in the upper half still qualifies as cheap, but I don't.  And Baker's second belief on this is perpetually disproved.  Every year, there is little or no correlation between spending and playoff appearances.  Last year payroll #14 won the Series, and payroll #13 lost 14 more games than it won.  But let's get current: the top five payrolls in baseball this year are collectively 4 games UNDER .500.  Don't you think an 'investigative' reporter would point that out?

--The trade deadline.  Ah, here's what he's left with.  Cheapness really comes into play at the deadline, since that's what Lou complained about a couple decades ago.  He does concede that in the last couple years they went out and acquired Morales and Jackson.  But that really doesn't count, because if they were serious, they'd be getting the Tulos and Prices (his examples) of the world.  No matter that Price currently sports a 6.74 ERA (yes, he's pitched better than that) and Tulo is hitting .178 (apparently justified).  But more aggravating is the idea that these kinds of deals require just money.  Does he not understand--or choose to ignore--the fact that players also move the other direction?  Tulo cost the Jays the lottery ticket that is Jose Reyes (probably no big loss, but still...) and what is now the Rockies #2 prospect.  Price cost the Tigers the guy Baseball Prospectus now lists as the entire organization's #1 player under age 25...and another pitcher throwing at 96mph, and striking out 10+ in the minors.

--'Signing your own players'.  Too bad we let Felix and Kyle get away.

--Nintendo as bully.  The overall implication to the piece is that now that the restructure has taken place, the real 'baseball guys' will have a final say.  Which suggests that somehow the minority owners were in disagreement previously with key financial decisions (like payroll or acquisitions).  That's a pretty damning statement.  Doesn't it seen to warrant at least one example--even via anonymous source?  John Stanton has been clear that he voted against the sale of the Sonics as a minority owner.  Why would he have remained silent in a similar role with the M's?  

--Lincoln as puppet. He "used to have to run every decision by the Japanese representatives of Redmond-based Nintendo of America'.  If I understand correctly, there is a board of directors that runs NOA, and has only two members--one of which is Lincoln.  There was no one else to answer to once the controlling interest was transferred to NOA.

--Money grubbing. Accordingt to our Jimmy Olsen (anyone get that?), Nintendo held off selling just because it wanted to see its investment soar.  Well, two things here.  First, according to Geoff's own breathless filings from divorce court, the second largest owner, Larson, has been in no position to pony up more cash.  And Stanton remains a smaller investor than Larson.  So there's no evidence that there was ever enough money previously available among the current group to pull off this deal.  But of course, that didn't ever preclude the second option--putting the team up to open bid.  Nintendo would have made more.  And we'd see another franchise leave town.

--Geoff's beloved arena.  Look, I was a great Sonics fan, and thought the Payton/Kemp/Schrempf/McMillan group was one of the most entertaining sports teams I've ever watched.  I would love to see thse days come back.  But to lamely cite 'a vocal segment' as feeling the M's 'played a significant role in the city council thwarting' the proposed deal borders on slander.  Does anyone really believe that even a single one of the 'no' votes would even take a phone call from the Mariners?  To put this empty assertion at the very top of his piece demonstrates the travesty that this article is.  

--Mariner 'freebies'.  The team didn't build the stadium, the public facilities district did.  And if the value of Safeco is in any way tied up in the valuation of the team (since they don't own it), I'd think tht an investigative reporter could find that out.  

Without argument, the Mariners have lost a lot of ballgames, and certainly inserted foot-in-mouth on several ocasions.  But if Baker is right that this is now about 'repairing PR damage', they might be best served by working to have the Seattle Times send Baker to the Akron Beacon Joural for a Hack to be Named Later.  


The perception is that he pushes an anti-establishment agenda in a biased way?


1.  Thanks for your explanation Diderot.  There's a lot of traction to be had in this charge.

2.  I thought this attitude (anti-establishment angst) was cool nowadays.  ;- )  Feel the Bern, babe?

3.  I personally don't find him biased on this issue - simply accurate.  About half of SSI denizens would agree with me, I think.  I believe that if Baker were covering the Red Sox, you would see him pointed in other directions.

4.  When he did his video reports as to what was happening with the M's daily, his touch and feel for MLB was light years beyond anything I'd seen in this region.

5.  He's the only sportswriter I've ever seen who deigned to treat the 'net rats as [not] beneath him.

6.  He's the most remarkable example of a sportswriter I've seen who wasn't a wannabe, who was secure enough to not care about quasi-acceptance by the players.

7.  He gave the Mariners exactly squat in return for "access."  He's the only independent baseball writer I've ever seen in the region.  Integrity counts for me.

7a.  As a result of this, you could get the truth about what was happening with the Mariners players.

8.  He's extremely likeable personally.

9.  etc.

Other than that, yeah :- )


Just two responses:

1) he's a bad journalist because he regularly gets things wrong

2) on your #8, I think you'll find virtually every reporter who's ever worked beside him in disagreement.  And not because he's too independent.  Because it's always all about him.  He is the Donald Trump of sportswriters.  


In the past, when Baker was Times beat reporter for Ms, I would engage with him on their blog.  If he disagreed with something I wrote, seemingly out of nowhere, he would become rude and insulting.   Not only did he disagree but I was wrong and apparently too stupid to understand his point of view.  One time Thiel responded similarly and I called him on it as I did with Baker.  Baker basically said to get lost.  Thiel on the other hand apologized immediately,  realizing it is not an insult to disagree politely.  The comparison of Baker to Trump is prescient. 

Nathan H's picture

Look, I know I'm not the savviest guy on the block. Take my thoughts with a large grain of salt.

I stopped following Geoff about a year ago. Can't stand him. Blocked him on Twitter and everything. Anytime I've read his words or heard him speak all I've heard is self-aggrandizement. He absurdly downplays when he is wrong (Mariners preparing for a public sale, MT Phoenix, Viktor Coleman's legitimate interest in Key Arena, etc. etc. etc.), he is often wrong, and he writes solely for the sake of controversy (Lueke, clear anti-Hansen Arena agenda, Eric Wedge). He doesn't write to reveal truth or to inform. He writes to inflame. He's a demagogue.

He is not a journalist; he is a man who writes well and loves attention, negative or otherwise.

I appreciate your opinion, Jeff. It weighs heavily with me. But on this, we disagree. Hopefully, someday, I'll find that I've been wrong all this time.

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