Everyone hates the idea of playing for the Mariners. How the heck are we supposed to get out of this mess if no one will give us a chance?
Jack Zduriencik has a quote out there saying, in lawyer-speak, "I'm tired of this. If Boras and Fielder are going to jack us around, we'll get it done some other way. We don't have to have Prince Fielder this winter." And Z means what he says.
than a lot I've seen around.
I definitely think Jack is not going to let Boras jerk him around, use and abuse him. He had to know that was a possibility, he had to think it was possible that he was at best a last resort choice. So he had to come into it with a plan in the back of his mind if his concern about it proved well-founded.
We know from experience with Jack that he is a straight shooter. If he thinks Boras is getting all circular on him I agree with you, he will move on to Plan B rather quickly. And it wouldn't surprise me if "quickly" was right after (or even possibly before) Christmas, or if things just aren't done between the holidays then right after New Years. He'd fail in his plan A, and Plan B definitely won't move the team along as well as Plan A would have, but he will not be made a fool of. And I don't blame him a bit if that's what's happening.
My insistance all along has been that if Jack thinks Fielder is the right add, then management simply must give him adequate resources to make a serious offer. I think you're right that management did give him such resources, and he did make a serious offer. So if Jack tells the press now that he made a "substantial" offer for the services of Fielder, I will believe him. That is all I can ask.
As disappointing as failure would be in light of what has happened in LA-LA land and Texas, we would just have to find another way to compete the best we can from second-tier status.
Keep in mind that we're boiling a 5-gallon pot of soup off of just a few Twitter oysters. Fielder hasn't turned the M's down. :- )
Beltre was coming off an MVP-2 finish when he signed here. Sexson did, Figgins did. Bedard and other guys fought to stay here.
If Prince Fielder doesn't care for Seattle, they move on. Wouldn't be any different than if the Red Sox had needed a 1B.
Z mentioned that they haven't made an official offer yet, but rumors say they gave Boras an idea of how much ownership was willing to spend on Fielder.
It does sound as if Boras is shopping the M's interest around (which is business as usual for him). Thats something that had to be a clear possibility from the beginning.
I am a bit skeptical of how much the Ms were actually throwing out on the table with ownership being notorious for chiseling and the lukewarm response from the Boras camp.
Still, Boras clients have a pattern of coming where the best money is. If it turns out the Ms did offer the best deal, theres a good chance we'll see him here.
How the heck are we supposed to get out of this mess if no one will give us a chance?
Perhaps actually develop some actual talent to put around the star FIRST - and then invite them?
Unfortunately, the bar has been lowered so much, most Seattle fans have (IMHO) lost the ability to effectively assess where the team is at the moment. The club has not developed *ONE* .800 OPS hitter (500 PAs), in over 10 years. That includes 2011. Yes, Carp just missed at .791 (but that was still only 313 PAs).
The club scored 671 runs the year before Jack arrived. They scored 640 in 2009 and plunged to 513 in 2010. In 2011, the club FINALLY actually started to get some young talent to the majors (but most of it didn't arrive until the second half), and the run total finished at 556.
While Seattle fans "may" have legitimate reason to be optimistic about Smoak and Ackley and Carp and Seager ... the reality is that the only players on the Seattle roster that have managed an .800 OPS over 500 PAs in a season are Ichiro and Figgins.
Is Fielder supposed to believe that the supporting cast in Seattle is actually going to be supporting just because Jack says so? Sexson hit .910 for Seattle ... and Seattle stunk. Branyan hit .867 for Seattle and Seattle stunk. Fielder *ALREADY* went through the pains of attempting to pull a bottom tier team into respectability.
Heck, Fielder's first full season, Milwaukee had Bill Hall hitting .899, Corey Koskie hitting .833, Carlos Lee hitting .896, Geoff Jenkins (.791), Cirillo (.784), plus Gabe Gross (.857). THAT club finished 14th out of 16 team in runs scored. Any star player taking an objective look at the Seattle roster is going to (rightly?) assume that the club is years away from putting a legitimate offense on the field. The fact Pujols just moved to the AL West likely isn't a strong pull for Fielder either, since he just spent the last 5 years listening to how much better Pujols was. Anyone wonder what kind of stories YuBet has told Prince about Seattle?
Seattle has an over-the-hill RF, a couple of meh veteran hitters (Olivo and Ryan), and a whole pack of kids with less than a year of MLB experience. Seattle has a history that says they are incapable of producing decent hitters internally. They have a history that says the vast majority of FAs who move to Seattle see their performances disintegrate. And they have a history of NOT rewarding their home grown talent with large contracts, (see AROD and Griffey and Randy Johnson).
Why does external talent have no interest in Seattle? Because Seattle has systematically for the last decade done everything it can to alienate the talent that spends the most actual time in the organization - the prospects. How positive is the locker room talk from guys like YuBet and Lopez and Willie B?
The club did have an identity once upon a time, when the roster was filled with home grown guys like Griffey and Edgar, supported by some decent veteran imports. But, a team chock full of mercenaries is never going to have an identity of its own. Seattle's identity today? They're the "Japanese" franchise in the miserable park for hitters.
Seattle has been trying to buy a winning team for 10 years. It doesn't work. As soon as the home grown pipeline was turned off, their fate was sealed. Because the farm was so completely miserable, today, a little move in the right direction feels like a tidal wave. It isn't. The club STILL hasn't produced an .800 hitter to call its own. The club STILL continues to be the death of most imports, (Figgins, Kotchman, Cust).
Seattle will start attracting good FA talent at a reasonable price only *AFTER* they demonstrate some organizational competence in developing hitting talent on their own. Until then, they will continue to only be able to land the flawed, unwanted, or just plain greedy flotsam and jetsom from the discard pile.
an informal offer, not a formal one. We can be sure Jack has indicated the parameters of what a formal M's offer would look like.
Yeah, Prince is human. I'm sure he's worried about our recent history on the field, the history of our upper management, etc.
But what else has happened in the last two weeks? The AL west turned into the AL east with Seattle playing the role of Baltimore. The odds of winning in Seattle just went wayyyy down, independent of the M's inherent strengths and weaknesses.
Boras doesn't have much "traditional" leverage -- in terms of interest from other teams -- to drive up Z's "parameters" (yeah, it probably wasn't actually an "offer"), so what are his plays:
-- Seattle will "panic" in response to LAAA and TX and sweeten the deal
---- Z's answer: "we have a plan and we're sticking to it" (to multiple media outlets)
-- Prince is lukewarm on the whole "west coast" thing, y'know
---- Z's answer: "hope you like your Plan B, 'cause we've got ours ready"
Nothing strikes me as out of the ordinary in the context.
Boras wants to bait Z into negotiating against himself, and Z won't. Doesn't necessarily mean they won't eventually make a deal, it just means Boras is trying to create leverage where there really isn't any.
Being a Seattle Mariners fan is a far different thing than being a fan of the Texas Rangers or LAA Angels.
M's fans clamor for Fielder because they want ownership to prove it is determined to win. I guarantee you Rangers and Angels fans don't need such proof. They've seen ample proof out of their ownership groups. They might argue over whether a decision was the right one or not (for example, should the Rangers have fought harder to keep CJ Wilson?, should the Angels move Trumbo?), but they don't need to argue over whether the team they root for cares about going to the World Series.
The problem with the M's is that fans are not at all convinced, and were not even when the M's spent money before, that the M's ownership is in the game with the same determination as the ownership of their competition. The argument over which moves to make are deeply colored by this difference. Every move gets measured not just by tactical and strategic considerations. It gets measured as evidence of whether or not the M's are truly in the game or content just to "do the best we can and still keep finances tidy year-to-year."
Rangers and Angels fans debate their team's judgment. Mariners fans debate their team's soul.
Sandy: Your analysis is interesting but it does leave out that the cupboard seems to be pretty full right now. The M's are ripe for some of those young guys to soon whac .800 in the bigs. I've always questioned Z'a ability to judge/acquire MLB FA's (Kotchman, Bradley, Figgins, egad) but not his ability to fill he larder with young guys. Let's give him that.
Doc: I still think the Prince issue is the 6 years teams want to offer and the 8 that Boras thinks he'll get. 10 came and went with the Pujols signing.
DaddyO: The M's are still a business, and like any other business they must be convinced that shelling out $160M (I still think that is the top $ for the M's) will bring in that much more in revenue. All the guys that I know that own businesses, be it multiple restaurants or logging companies or consulting operations or medical clinics (as examples) still make business decisions on what kind of return is generated. I want Fielder, too, but my desire is generated by emotion. Front offices don't generally work that way.
Spec: Right on! Boras is losing this game of Liar's Poker (one of the great books ever, BTW) with Z. I don't think the issue is whether some other team is going to outbid the M's but how much Boras/Fielder are willing to give another team a discount.
All: I refuse to believe that the the Angels have somehow guaranteed that the M's can not compete if they don't sign Fielder. Man, that's the Boras message right now. If you're going to preach that, you may as well get a chunk of Boras' percentage. If we don't sign Fielder then one of the young throwers will get traded for a bat. It won't be Felix, because his 230 innings are 80 more than any young guy would be able to replace AND because you trade a young guy to take advantage of Felix's presence.
We'll make a move soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is a surprise.
And they have a history of NOT rewarding their home grown talent with large contracts, (see AROD and Griffey and Randy Johnson).
At the time Seattle offered to make KGjr the highest paid player in baseball, he turned it down and demanded to be traded home. At the time Seattle offered to make AROD the highest paid player in baseball, he turned it down to take an insane deal from Mr. Hicks. We screwed over RJ. Two out of three ain't bad in baseball.
They rewarded Ichiro, they've rewarded Felix. I think Felix is the most illuminating example, from everything I've read his sentiment is that he loves Seattle and wants to be a lifelong Mariner. That demonstrates pretty clearly to me the relationship has been one of fairness and reward.
And, frankly, I just don't agree with the sentiment. The M's can win the way the San Francisco Giants of 09 and the Moneyball A's of the early aughts did. With tremendous starting pitching and "just enough" hitting.
Beltre and Sexson hit in front of a pitching staff filled with the likes of Miguel Batista and Carlos Silva, not a rotation of young studs like Pineda, Hulzen, Paxton, Walker, Campos, Ramirez, Snow, et al.
Z is operating on a different roster construction paradigm than Bavasi, and just because Sexson and Beltre didn't help the 2005 M's, does not mean that level of performance wouldn't have a gigantic impact on the 2012 M's. It's a different roster.
Seattle has been trying to buy a winning team for 10 years.
Seattle hasn't been trying to BUY anything since Z arrived. The BIG free agent acquisition under Z has been Figgins at $9 million per? A reasonable deal at the time, despite it's catastrophic results.
In fact, Z has spent three years as a SELLER, building internal pieces and trying to find the 'homegrown' players to build around, just what you seem to be proposing.
Where we clearly differ is on measuring the merits of his plan so far. The difference of opinions comes from the sampling spot. I'll continue to argue that you have to judge a FA addition by his effect on the current roster, not the entire 2011 season. By using counting stats like WAR and runs scored over the course of the year you are completely discounting the roster changes that actually did occur.
I am apparently much more ready to roll the dice and go to war with Ackley, Smoak, Carp, Wells, Seager, and Jaso. With solid vet players in Ichiro (who until there's some evidence that his 2011 season wasn't driven by a BABIP 66 points below his established career norms - I'll be predicting a solid bounce back season), Ryan and Olivo. This team is a good CF and MOTO bat away from having "just enough" offense.
We don't need to hit like the Bash Brothers, we need to hit league average.
Now, if you disagree, if you believe the young roster isn't ready to compete yet, that they need a few more years to season, that we need to get Hulzen, Paxton, Franklin, Walker, Top draft pick of 2012, into the mix first. I totally understand that sentiment.
But the sentiment expressed above clearly leads to the conclusion that you have to trade Felix Hernandez. If you believe that the M's aren't ready to compete yet, and have no history of rewarding home grown players, and believe that FA's follow the money, etc, etc... the only logical conclusion is that we have to move the King.
To me, that's unacceptable, it's admitting defeat before the game has even started. Step up to the plate and swing the bat.
...you have no sports fan soul. How can I be expected to watch the Rangers and Angels spend 140 million a year to kick my sorry backside every damned year from here on out and NOT clamor for the Mariners to do something to keep pace. I understand your drumbeat of criticism in re: the Mariners' minor league operations...and it's logically sound...absolutely it is...but it's IRRELEVANT right now. Completely irrelevant. The Mariners need to compete...they need to keep pace with the rest of the west...and if payroll doesn't increase. And I mean in useful ways and starting right the heck now...I'm out. It's pointless to follow a team that refuses to even try.
The M's are still a business, and like any other business they must be convinced that shelling out $160M (I still think that is the top $ for the M's) will bring in that much more in revenue. All the guys that I know that own businesses, be it multiple restaurants or logging companies or consulting operations or medical clinics (as examples) still make business decisions on what kind of return is generated. I want Fielder, too, but my desire is generated by emotion. Front offices don't generally work that way.
I understand that. Let me ask you a direct question or two: How good is a businessman who, in his zeal to "take care of business" and "keep tidy books" runs that business into the ground with regard to his customer base? How does this notion that Howard and Chuck are such good businessmen survive their woeful record in the handling of their product? The increase in the value of their franchise is not due so much to their business savvy as it is to market factors. One needs to compare what is with what could have been. A well-run franchise would have blown away the current state of affairs. And if you want to blame everything on Bavasi, who ultimately is responsible for his hiring and the length of his tenure?
Now this supposedly savvy group gets caught with their pants down on their TV contract. Not so savvy, right? As has been pointed out, they are now behind the eight ball, fightin from a position of weakness to make their brand strong enough by 2015 to cash in the opportunity of a new TV contract, be it FSN or their own regional network.
With such vast sums of money at stake, they fiddle and dawdle while their brand esteem sinks lower and lower and lower. My goodness, they put out a commercial last year that openly told their fans that they had to endure more pain while they continue to work at building a better foundation, and they emphasized it with the metaphor of the pain of chest hair removal. A clever and funny ad, but what does it's necessity say about the experience of the fan, so crucial to TV value?
Good points. Attendance is down about 400K over the last two years, a winning team would certainly remedy that to one degree or another. A healthy Fielder gets us much closer to that standard, probably over the top my some margin. If you get those 400K fans back and if each fan spends and average of $50 coming to a game (I have no idea what that figure is) then the M's have generated an additional $20M (minus additional costs) right there. That $20M is Fielder, or there-abouts.
That says nothing about additional TV revenue, etc.
That said, does Fielder get back 400,000 M's fans? I think he does, or close to it, if he and everybody else remains healthy. That's why I'm all for a 6X$25M deal.
But any businessman tries to get the best deal possible. That's what I think the M's are doing. I think they'll get a much better deal on Fielder than was original imagined (at least by Boros and the $200M crowd).
There's a growing meme about Z's inability to judge free agent talent. I'd thought I'd try to shed some light on the subject.
Jack Zduriencik's Free Agent Signings - limited to Major League deals given to players outside the organization.
Russell Branyan:1yr, $1.4M = 1.8 WAR Ken Griffey, JR: 1yr, $2M = -0.3 WAR
Chone Figgins: 4yr, $36M = 1.1 WAR (10) -0.5 WAR (11), TBD, TBDEric Byrnes: 1yr, $0.4M = -0.5 WARRyan Garko: 1yr, $0.55M = released before the season
Jack Cust: 1yr, $2.5M = 0.1 WARMiguel Olivo: 2yr, $7M = 0.2 WAR (11), TBDBrendan Ryan: 2yr, $2.75M = 2.8 WAR (11), TBD
George Sherril: 1yr, $1.2 = TBD
And that's what I found. Everyone else was either signed to a minor league deal or acquired via trade. Did I miss someone?
So, first off, that ain't a team that's trying to BUY anything.
Second, hit and miss. Branyan certainly worked out, though his reacquisition for Juan Diaz and Zeke Carrera was probably misguided. KGjr (a reacquisition) certainly energized the team and the fan base in 2009, but his resigning was probably a mistake. Chone's been an unmitigated disaster. Byrnes will remain infamous for his bicycling in and out of the clubhouse. Garko was out spring'd by Mike Sweeney (twice signed on minor league deals). Jack Cust didn't work out so well. Miguel Olivo (a reacquisition), while underperforming in the WAR was certainly better than his replacement options, wait.. what? WAR is dumb. Brendan Ryan is a stud.
Combined total: 3 multi year deals to free agents in 3 seasons as a GM. 1 failure that was deemed reasonable at the time in Figgins, 2 that remain yet to be determined but appear promising (Ryan) and disappointing (Olivo).
That's certainly not large enough of a sample size, nor is it sufficiently horrible enough to justify the meme in my opinion.
Wanna know how they get started? Like this:
LoMoMarlins Logan Morrison
Just heard from my boy that Prince to Seattle is a done deal...
Cameron points out that:
d_a_cameron David Cameron
@LookoutLanding He did something like this a while ago, ended up joking that Prince was his friend's dog or something.
... But still...
EDITED TO ADD:
LoMoMarlins Logan Morrison
Oh $hit, you guys thought I meant the 1B from Milwaukee. My bad. (I love all of you. Happy Holidays!)
1 hour ago Favorite Retweet Reply
LoMoMarlins Logan Morrison
Purple Rain & When Doves Cry are going to sound unbelievable this summer under the lights at Century Link Field youtube.com/watch?v=OjLG92…
1 hour ago
LoMo is an internet god. =P
(sorry for the length)
No offense taken at all, Matt. As to your contention I don't have a sports fan's soul ...
In 1971 the little old lady next door showed me a baseball signed by the Atlanta Braves, including Hank Aaron. At 9 years of age I thought that was so utterly cool that Atlanta immediately became *MY* team, and I have rooted for them for 40 years. From 1971 through 1990 Atlanta went to the playoffs once. One playoff trip, (they were swept in 3 games), in a 20-year span. During the '70s they had one good season, ('74 - winning 88, but finished 3rd, 14 games back). During the early '80s, they had two good years, (their one playoff trip in '82 and finishing 3 games back in '83).
From my youth, I still remember fondly Hank Aaron and Dusty Baker and Phil Neikro. I remember that '82 club starting the season 13-0 and falling to 13-5. I remember being 9 games up in July, only to go on an 11-game losing streak to fall a couple games back in August. I remember living and dying with each game that magical playoff season. But, I also remember rooting my heart out not only for Dale Murphy and Bob Horner - the home grown stars -- but also for Glenn Hubbard and Rafael Ramirez and Brett Butler and Biff Pocoroba. I remember Neikro and Rick Mahler and Pascual Perez and Gene Garber.
Who do I most easily forget? The mercenaries. Chris Chambliss was the 1B for that '82 team, but I had to go look it up. I had completely forgotten he was ever a Brave. In my memory, he's a Yankee. He always will be. I remember the lineup -- not just the stars -- of the players that I grew up with and grew fond of -- not just because they could post an .800 OPS. Glenn Hubbard will always be one of my favorite Braves, though anyone other than an Atlanta fan would most likely go - "Who?"
And then, finally, in the '90s, my loyalty was rewarded and my beloved Braves won the division 14 times. That first playoff trip in 1991 was magical. But, when I think about that first winning team, Terry Pendleton isn't the guy that comes to mind first, even though he won the MVP that year. You see, Pendleton, to me, is still a Cardinal. David Justice and Ron Gant are the guys I remember. I remember the platoon of Raffy Belliard and Jeff Blauser at short. I remember Mark Lemke going absolutely nuts at the plate in the World Series against the Twinkies, (the other worst-to-first story from the '91 season). I remember Glavine and Smoltz ... but I also remember Avery, (now long forgotten by non-Braves' fans).
While I clearly remember the "Sid Slid" play that beat Pittsburgh, I don't really remember Bream as a Brave. He wasn't a Brave. He was a Pirate who happened to be playing for the Braves in 1991. And later on, when the Braves won the '95 World Series, (funny the intersection of '95 in our personal baseball paths), I remember Javy Lopez and Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones and Lemke and Blauser. I know that Fred McGriff was part of that team, an important part. But, Crime Dog was still a Padre who happened to be playing for the Braves.
Over time, yes I eventually began thinking of Maddux as a Brave. But not in the first couple of years. Oh, I certainly appreciated his talent from day one. But, I pulled harder for Glavine and Smoltz and Avery and Wohlers and Bedrosian. THEY were "true" Atlanta Braves.
I understand that in the FA era, teams cannot always build completely from within. I don't fault or blame the clubs for doing what is necessary to win. But, when you talk about the "soul" of a baseball fan, I think you open the door to a very important question. If winning is all that matters - and winning immediately - why not just root for the Yankees? Or, why not just change your allegiance on an annual basis to root for whichever franchise spent the most money?
If the Mariners were sold tomorrow - and the new owners traded away everyone on the current roster tomorrow - and replaced it with a lineup of (say): VMart, Fielder, Uggla, ARAM, Peralta, Crawford, Bourn, Beltran and Vlad? Even if that lineup were to win the West ... would you really be rooting for the Mariners?
In truth, my position is that from a "pragmatic" standpoint that the Fielder route is detrimental to the team getting better - both in the long run and short. I don't believe the myth that IMPORTED star hitters turn franchises around. I don't believe the myth that one *must* spend $140 million to compete (being that Texas spent less than $60 in 2010 as did Tampa this year). But, I understand why I am mostly on an island in those beliefs. And I'm okay with that.
But, IMHO, a team that one roots for *MUST* be more than simply who happens to be wearing a certain colored jersey. Before Free Agency it was simple for fans. Nearly every player of note stayed put for most of their careers. The Babe Ruth to NY trade was the exception to the rule. Things have changed. But, I believe the soul of a team remains intimately tied to the players that make their FIRST real impact in baseball as a part of. It takes many, many years elsewhere to erase those first memories of greatness.
Atlanta has one of those exceptions in Greg Maddux. He will be remembered by all as a Brave. But what about Griffey? Or Unit? Or AROD? Unit got his ring in Arizona. But do Mariner fans think of him as a Diamondback or a Mariner? In the ultimate irony, AROD, who for a time was viewed as perhaps the best player of his generation, will hardly be anything more than an expensive footnote in the pantheon of Yankee talent. JETER -- RIVERA -- POSADA -- those names will live forever among Yankee greatness. Guys like AROD and Teixeira will be in a different, lesser class of Yankee. Like Giambi or Damon or Sheffield.
That bind of player to franchise *IS* the largest part of the soul of baseball and baseball fans. The reason that Yankee fans are looked down upon is not just because the Yankees are good or that they win too much. That's part of it, but not the main part. Fans of other clubs hate the Yankees because the Yankees go out and simply buy so much of their talent off the shelf. Too many Yankees are not Yankees. They are imported mercenaries who displayed no loyalty to whichever franchises actually gave them their first break.
I don't buy into the myth that unless you're spending $140 million you aren't trying to compete. I believe there are any number of routes to winning that do not require dynamic and exciting FA acquisitions. In fact, I believe that historically, bad franchises are more apt to make the mistake of spending too much money on imported talent, (see the Washington Nationals as exhibit one), which not only don't help them in the short run - it makes them less competitive in the long run.
I believe that the reality too often is that fans don't actually want their clubs to actually compete. They want their clubs to give the *APPEARANCE* of trying. Adding Sexson and Beltre gave the appearance of trying to compete. It didn't help the club be competitive short or long term. Adding Bedard gave the appearance of the club trying to compete. It didn't help the club be competitive short or long term. Adding Cliff Lee gave the appearance of trying to compete. It certainly didn't help the club short term. With the acquisition of Smoak, the result long term remains clouded.
Spending money and "trying to win" are not synonymous. IMO, only Yankee fans and their ilk believe that.
I believe the Seattle organization lost its "soul" in the aftermath of the golden age. They built a team from within that won and created excitement. But, then they gradually sold off those home grown stars and attempted to keep on winning with imported talent. You see, I believe a large part of the reason that Seattle fans as a group are so desperate for imported talent is that they have largely forgotten what it is like to have a number of guys you have followed from their first day in the majors.
Felix is beloved in Seattle. And I believe Seattle fans *mistakenly* believe that this is because he is super-talented. They believe that they will love an imported super-talented player just as much. They won't. At least, not until after the import has been around for 4 or 5 years. Felix is loved in large part because he is *pure* Mariner. Washburn was running a 2.64 ERA in 2009 and most fans were thrilled to be rid of him. Aardsma was never fully excepted as a Mariner, but many went coo-coo for coco-puffs over Doug Fister.
Why is it that Seattle fans - (more than just you, Matt) - have such a strong urge for immediate action by management? IMO, it is not because the club has been bad. It is not because they haven't been trying. (Sexson, Beltre, Bedard and Cliff Lee were clearly attempts at "trying" to win). It is because the club stopped developing everyday talent. The club lost its soul. Pitchers aren't quite the same. They don't play every day. So, there is a different dynamic at work.
From 2005-2009, the only internal every day players that were "home grown" were YuBet and Lopez. Neither was anything special - and in fact, both were viewed as being kind of lazy. Ichiro was the other mostly pure Mariner, (though his path also makes him unique). The club had a soul - Unit, Moyer, Griffey, AROD, Edgar, Dan Wilson. They swapped them out for (awhile) with equal talent (in the aggregate). But, Edgar was the last of the players that Mariner fans could view as a true Mariner.
While I believe pragmatically that Fielder will likely be a detriment to rebuilding the Mariner franchise, I concede that isn't an absolute. But, I do believe that the soul of a franchise lies with the players that it develops and brings into the public eye for the first time. Where a player has his first real success is important. Why is it always the '95 season that is spoken of rather than the 116 win 2001 season? Seattle came back from a 2-1 division series deficit to beat the Tribe. Why isn't Aaron Sele who went 15-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 2001 remembered fondly and routinely?
I believe the willingness to dismiss the Mariners as a team to root for if they don't make a "big move" is a direct result of the systemic problem of not developing any home grown talent. There is no "soul" of the team and there hasn't been one in a long time. In a situation like that, the only thing left is winning.
I believe that letting Yuni and Lopez go were both choices to improve the team and try to win. But I also believe that this made the task of constructing a "heart" for the Mariners a task that would take longer to accomplish. The job needed to start around 2002, but instead wasn't even begun until 2009. The club actually lucked into a pair of winning seasons since the collapse of 2004. But, will those rosters be remembered 10 years from now? Oh, the final game of 2009 with the Griffey celebration will come to mind. But, what about the players?
Are there going to be fond memories of 2007 with soft sighs about Jose Vidro or Jose Guillen or Miguel Batista? What about the great seasons for Washburn and Branyan in 2009? I believe Dan Wilson will end up being a guy Seattle fans talk about years down the line. I believe Branyan and Jose Guillen will vanish into the mist of forgotten nomads who opted to take up residence in the Great Northwest for a year or two.
You say I have no sports fan soul. I chuckle and say, you are not seeing me. You are seeing your reflection. But this is not your fault. The short-sightedness of the Mariner ownership ripped the soul out of the team almost a decade ago. I do not believe a fan simply roots for a uniform. I believe fans NEED players they have grown to know over the years.
I believe that you are so starved for a team with an actual soul that you are willing to spend anything to get it. But a soul cannot be bought. That's the whole point. AROD could never be the soul of Texas or of the Yankees, (if the Yankees indeed do have a soul).
I believe with Ackley and Smoak and Carp and Seager that the Mariners might just be finally rekindling the soul of a real team. But, I believe this is the most fragile of moments for this franchise. I believe revisiting the very methods that ripped the soul from the team could very well extinguish this ember.
But maybe our definitions are just different. Me? I would prefer to root for a team of Glenn Hubbards and Rick Mahlers and Biff Pocarobas and suffer through losing seasons than watch a team winning 100 each year of high paid mercenaries. I rooted for Chipper and Andruw and Glavine and Smoltz and accepted the Sheffields that passed through while they were there.
But if all that mattered was winning, I could've easily become a Yankees fan. A few years after seeing that Hank Aaron baseball and becoming a Braves fan, my mother told me that she had been a Yankees fan - and then she showed me a ball that she had signed by the '61 Yankees, (Mantle was her idol). If I had seen that Yankee baseball first, I likely would have become a Yankees fan. But I had made my choice and never changed my allegience. The Yankees may have won more World Series titles. But I am glad I made the choice I did. I believe it has given me a better baseball soul.
I do believe that was the best post ever of yours among many good ones. I say that because it explained the roots of your views in a way any baseball fan can appreciate. From this day on I will better understand you and your POV.
As someone whose baseball roots go back to the days before free agency, days when except for the occasional trade a team and its fans had to live with the players they signed and developed.
The idea that the "soul" of a team is its homegrown players and that an imported player simply cannot turn around a team because he is not part of that "soul" intrigues me. I find it interesting that you tick off some of the imported players you didn't consider "real Braves" who were in fact key cogs in advancing the fortunes of Atlanta (you could also have included Terry Pendleton).
From the standpoint of the heartfelt loyalties of a fan I completely understand and pretty much feel the same way. But from the standpoint of team success the very fact that there are so many of those guys that could be considered imports that played key roles in the success of the Braves underscores that imports can and do help turn around a team. Your passionately held view is, of course, that this is only true when the homegrown "soul" of a team is already established. I think there's a lot to this, since I believe a team is more (or less) than a collection of talent, stat production cards to be swapped around between teams and lineup spots.
The only things I would say is that (1) I agree with your view as an ideal to be pursued wherever possible, but (2) there are exceptions to every rule, and you have to judge each situation on its own merits. In the case of a Fielder and the 2012 M's, as you know I happen to feel that The Prince would be a force multiplier, his very presence in the lineup allowing the team's young core, it's soul, to relax a bit and have a better chance to reach their potential. I think that without such an imported presence there is a significant chance that the development of the young core will be hindered. I say this not to continue our debate but to show that I can agree with you on the "soul" thing but still support Jack if his judgment is that signing Fielder is highly desirable.
I hear ya, man. The soul of a team is it's homegrown core. Just like the soul of a franchise is its owner(ship), which explains why the Mariners as a franchise have a weak, nearly nonexistent soul.
Is actually a really interesting question.
Obviously Edgar was, and Griffey. A-Rod gave it up with the way he left, so he doesn’t count. Buhner was, to me, even though he came over from the Yankees. Olerud was – even though he won a WS with Toronto. Randy was, but so was Jamie. Fassero wasn’t.
To me, Boone wasn’t. He felt far more like a mercenary even though he DID come up with the Ms and then got traded, only to come back at the end.
Cameron was. Winn wasn’t. Cammy was here for 4 years, Winn for 3 (well, 2 and a half). Why the difference?
One-year rentals aren’t gonna be Mariners, they’ll be mercenaries. I absolutely agree there.
Fielder would be here for longer than he was with the Brewers (as a major leaguer). Is that long enough to forego his prior uniform and “really” be a Mariner?
IMO, yeah. And since about 20 of the other slots are gonna be home-grown or traded for with little pro experience, I don’t think fielding a free-agent mercenary team that doesn’t “feel” like the Mariners is gonna be a problem.
Guys with significant MLB history elsewhere: Olivo (though he was here early in his career), Ryan, League…can’t really say Vargas since he’s pitched twice as much here as he did somewhere else. Sherrill started here as well, then did some trips around, but we can count him. Figgins isn’t playing.
20ish of the 25 roster slots are currently manned by players with no significant time outside of this org at the Major League level. This idea that the Ms are not home-growing a team (or would not if they looked outside the org for a couple of improvements) is, how can I say this…poppycock? Mularkey?
League and Vargas are not likely to be here past this year, and Olivo might not be either. Figgins could be dumped to save a couple million in salary, and Sherrill is on a short-term deal. We’re trying to replace Ryan with Franklin ASAP.
THERE ARE NO LONG-TERM OUTSIDERS ON THIS TEAM.
None. Zero. It’s a “Mariners” team through and through. Adding Fielder wouldn’t make it a mercenary team. If it took you 8 years to cheer for Maddux as an “actual” Brave, then I can see that you’ll probably never view Fielder as an “actual” Mariner. But the bar to entry for me is about 4 years, in hindsight, so he’ll be well past that. We’re not building the Marlins’ first WS team here, we’re looking for one or two adds to a massive majority of home-grown or pre-arb traded-for talent.
And as for requiring that to have a team worth rooting for? The Pirates are 90% home-grown every year, and they 90% suck every year too. The Royals can’t pay fans to come to the ball park to watch all their home-grown talent.
Ya gotta win too. Having a pure soul means nothing if you’re terrible.
For the record, I don’t think we’ll be terrible without Fielder. He’s not taking us from 68 wins to 90 by himself. We have a lot of good young talent on this team, which is another reason I don’t want to block it off with 3-year mercenaries who are barely-average. Add long-term, “real” Mariners with immense talent to the core of home-grown Mariners and build a contender instead of an also-ran.
But mileage does vary on that plan. Some people believe we’re not allowed to contend until 2018, others that we can only contend with farm system adds, and some that we’ll never contend now that the Angels and Rangers are outspending us.
I guess I don’t think we’re that far off the pace, so I can’t figure out why we wouldn’t add a monster and let the farm improvements carry us the rest of the way. Different strokes and different assessments.
I've been a lifelong Mariner's fan. Starting, I'm sure, with Dave Neihaus's radio broadcasts being played in the background at summer barbeques. Continuing on as I'd catch games like Brian Holman's almost perfect-o on the small screen in my parents bedroom, constantly having to adjust the rabbit ears to maintain a decent signal. My fan "soul" so-to-speak was cemented in 1995 which just happened to be the beginning of my senior year in high-school. For that one game playoff I hit the ticketmaster outlet that morning, kidnapped my carpool, skipped school, and proceeded to enjoy the most momentus game in Seattle sports history.
But, I do remember that it was Luis Sojo's inside the park, error filled, bases clearing, trip around the bases that sealed the victory for us that day. That hired gun will always have a place in my fandom. The fact that that epic play came off of Mark Langston, a former M, and a big time free agent acquisition by the dreaded California Angel's made it all the more sweet. I mean really, who signs a FA contract to play with a hated rival? Ok, he may of been biter that we traded him in his FA year, but still.
And certainly that 1995 year was made all the more special by the presence of Joey Cora, who's famous for his tears - a moment beloved by fans, despite the fact that he was just another free agent acquisition.
I mean, Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson were both trade imports. When KGjr went down with a drastic wrist injury on that famous spider-man like catch, it was Vince Coleman's addition that sparked the team towards their epic run.
Junior was beloved in a way that neither Randy Johnson nor Alex Rodriguez will ever be. Randy Johnson was just ugly, both in personality and apperance. We loved to watch him pitch, and turned out in droves to do so, but he never captured our hearts. Alex was just too pretty and to phoney. We all believed him to be a plastic man and his platitudes and statements ("it's not about the money") just rang hollow to us all. I believe he became the most hated figure in Seattle sports (up until Howard Scmultz, Clay Bennet and David Stern torpedoed a franchise) just because AROD became everything we feared him to be.
And, I think that any M's fan at the time will tell you that the Mariner's didn't mistreat KGjr. KGjr bailed on the franchise. KGjr demanded to be traded, to one team and one team only. The M's bent over backwards for him, but Seattle and the PNW were too remote, too small market.
That's the sentiment that sticks in my craw. This east coast bias. The sentiment that Seattle is a backwards city, drenched by rain, in the far corner of our country. Why would a free agent want to sign there? Why would a player want to stay?
The "soul" of a Seattle sports fan is an interesting thing to behold. We've been trodded upon, time an again. Owners buy our teams to move them to other destinations. Homegrown talent uses our team to develop only then to take the money to star on some bigger stage. When our teams do succeed we expect moments like Super Bowl 40, I mean instant replay is in the NFL because of a horrible goal line call that cost the Hawks a trip to the playoffs. Vinne was stopped way short Mr. Luckett, tyvm.
So, at least partially, I think that's why Prince Fielder, and others before him, become our metaphorical white whales. We crave recognition. For our city and for ourselves as fans. Seattle fans believe themselves to be the best in show, rightly so says I. I mean, have you been to a Sounders game? Seahawk stadium on a Sunday night?
We're tired of being an afterthought. We're tired of being slighted as a destination. Really, why are the Nationals looked at more favorably than the M's? I'll throw Felix, Pineda and Ackley up against Strasburg, Harper and whomever any day of the week.
I want Prince, I want him because I think the M's are more ready to compete than we give them credit for, I think his addition in the line-up will help, not hurt, the development of Smoak and Carp and it'll play up the value of our tablesetters. But, I also want him to survey the scene and reinforce the idea that Seattle is as awesome as I think it is.
The thread of the winter .... buried in a Scott Boras title. In a tribute to Mariner Central, I'll just leave this as a sort of chat thread :- )
I was gonna just say, "What DaddyO said," especially as regards the props to Sandy. I like his concession that the "homegrown = soul is intriguing." Intriguing is what I'd call that idea.
Then I was gonna say, "what Beni said," that Luis Sojo is a heart-and-soul part of Mariner fan lore .... as is Joey Cora, of course, who was a White Sock (and first a Padre) but who was part of the heartbeat of the 1995 M's. Anybody living in Seattle going to deny that Cora is a Mariner?
Beni re-directed to the East Coast bias that, lately, has become really flagrant. Everybody gets FA Xmas except the Mariners, and then when they try to join in, the SSI board at times even backs up ESPN in excoriating the attempt...
Then I was gonna say "What G Said" because his point is unanswerable. The Mariners have many fewer imported quality players than their rivals.
At bottom, Sandy's point stands, for me -- it's a lot more fun to root for players you "helped" get to where they are. :- )
And along with that understanding, give me 8 years of Prince Fielder, please.
AROD, who for a time was viewed as perhaps the best player of his generation, will hardly be anything more than an expensive footnote in the pantheon of Yankee talent.
And that's the sad thing about ARod. For all his millions, leaving the Mariners has made him ultimately a hall of famer without a team. Had he signed with Seattle, he'd be the most beloved of all Mariners, if not all Seattle sports heroes. ARod would have been the bridge between the Mariner greats of 1995-to the Mariner greats of 2000 & 2001-to whatever Mariner greatness awaits in the near future (and what greatness there could have been). Like DiMaggio, bridging the Babe and Gehrig with the Mick. And he'd still be rich beyond his dreams.
But he'll never be fully embraced by the Yankees. It's Jeter's team. It's Cano's team. New York is merely the place ARod ended up. Like you said, Sandy: a footnote.
I'm a season ticket holder of the UW basketball team, as I watch the amazing freshman Tony Wroten, and our super soph Terrance Ross, I think about Brandon Roy, and look up at the rafters, where his number is one of only two Husky greats retired. As the NBA scouts swoop in, I hope these kids consider Brandon Roy as well. Nobody remembers much or cares much for Spencer Hawes, and certainly not for Martell Webster. Had Martell, instead of jumping immediately to the NBA, played for the Huskies with Roy for just one season, I remain convinced we'd have been in the final four, and maybe champs.
But Isaiah Thomas, Q-Pon, Roy...these guys will forever be remembered in Huskyville. And they made good money besides. I have hope for Wroten, who tore his knee up playing football for Garfield. This of course was after everyone told him how stupid a move that was - he did it anyway - suffered the worse outcome and lived to tell about it. Seems to me he's a kid like this understands the real "big picture". You get a chance to play football for Garfield, you play football for Garfield. You'll never get that chance again. Be true to your school. And he did, after all, stay in town.
But to return to ARod: To paraphrase: what good does it do a man to gain the world, and lose his baseball soul?
Well, I'm gonna shut up now before I talk Prince Fielder into staying in Milwaukee :-)
The Friday, Dec. 23 grapevine indicates that the situation is probably jelling as we'd been guessing since early on:
1. If Prince would announce "I'll take 6 years," then he would have a bidding war between several teams.
2. The only team to offer more than 6 years is the Mariners, who (it says here) have probably offered 8 (or at least an easy vest for the 8th year, to be conceded to a hard 8 years + 9th year vest on Deal Day, or somesuch).
If Boras is looking at an 8 x 23 offer as the best one, by a long ways, that would explain his wry delays and discourtesies to the Mariners.
Cards out, with Beltran, and Cubs supposedly in full-on fire sale mode.
Let me restate - I *could* be wrong about Fielder. I willingly concede that. Yes, during 2011 Seattle *finally* actually began a true youth movement.
But I don't believe that having a roster of home grown boys for 80 games is "enough" time to move a franchise beyond what it had been for a decade. Why? Because of precisely what happened in 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, the club "seemed" to move beyond the "Entitled Vet" era of baseball in Seattle. Vidro and Sexson were gone and Griffey and Branyan were brought in. The sense of things was that players were going to have to earn their playing time. Ichiro getting to play beside Griffey created a dynamic that just imploded the numbers game. The 2009 results had zero to do with the quality of players assembled and everything to do with how they felt playing with each other. Veteran Entitlement had been defeated.
Except it hadn't.
In 2010, the roster had a much more stark makeover. Two rookies juggling the catching duties, Kotchman at 1B, Figgins brought in to play second, while Lopey replaced Beltre at third, Wilson/Wilson at short, Bradley in left. About the only stability was Ichiro, Griffey/Sweeney and Guti. What happened? The club completely disintegrated from the inside out.
I had warned that a Griffey return would only work for one season. Sometimes it is painful being so right. But, the chemical meltdown of 2010 went far, far, far beyond the production level. What happened is the clubhouse turned into a melting pot of dissension, back stabbing, whining and general discontent. The mood was lighter at Bear Stearns in 2008.
So, yes, in 2011, the club (after beginning the season with a single youthful starter), began retooling with rookies and unproven prospects. I peg the youth movement as about 80 games old at this point. That's less than the full season of 2009 to kill off the ghost of VE Past. Didn't work. Wasn't enough.
So, where does VE stand for 2012? It's hard to tell. Olivo and Ichiro are weird hybrids - not exactly home grown - but not exactly imports either. Ryan and Figgins are still on the roster with one a likely starter - but riddle me this? If Figgins hits .350 with a .450 OBP during Spring Training and Seager struggles a bit - who are the fans - and who is management going to put into the starting lineup on opening day?
Does Guti have to re-win his CF spot - or does somebody have to take it away from him?
I don't know what the real dynamic in the clubhouse is - but I do get a sense of where the fans are. Much of the discussion of Fielder has sounded to my ears like Gollum clucking about his "Precious". With commentary that not adding Fielder proves the club isn't even trying - what that tells me is that the perception of the existing talent base is that it is vastly inferior to everyone else - and it has as much been said that without Fielder, the 2012 club has absolutely zero chance of being competitive.
My concern is that the "perception" that 80 games of playing prospects has somehow moved the club into a true youth movement is as flawed as the belief that the club had moved beyond VE in 2009. It is FAR easier to undo good work than to build something sustainable.
My fear is this - if Fielder is added - and the club has modest success - (say 80 wins) - what happens in 2013? Do the club and fans say, "Well, NOW it's time to work with some more prospects." Or will the reality be, "Let's go out and get some immediate help - we don't have time to wait for prospects to develop?"
Ichiro's contract is gone - dump him - sign another $20 million import. We can't gamble on Franklin now - we need a reliable veteran to take us the rest of the way NOW. (So, the club will actually need a veteran RF and a veteran SS, too).
If Fielder is signed for 2012, I believe the odds of developing ANY additional hitting prospects drops drastically, (unless the club completely tanks the 2012 season). Lopez and Yuni both came up basically in tandem with the Sexson/Beltre acquisitions. After that there were (at best) only half hearted attempts at developing talent internally. It was far easier to trade it away and get known veteran production.
For me the real freedom from Veteran Entitlement will come when management (and the fans) can look at a home grown club and say, "Y'know, I think these guys have a chance."
Anaheim's first WS was without any high priced FAs. Texas' first WS was without any high priced FAs. Tampa's first WS was without any high priced FAs. It's not a requirement to get there. It likely IS a requirement to "stay" there.
It is my belief that V.E. Day (Victory over Entitlement) has not yet come. I believe that adding Fielder likely delays it - in the worst case, by another 5-8 years.
I can completely agree with the entire argument. I can see the M's trudging down that path. Props to Sandy.
Honestly, I agree on most of your concerns.
- Prince Fielder COULD turn into Mo Vaughn, giving us 3 great years, a couple of okay years, then injury and career death following shortly after.
- The amount spent on Prince COULD hamstring our ability to keep our own homegrown players.
- and yes, the Mariners COULD decide that since they forked over all this money for Fielder, they now need immediate vet help so they don't "waste it" instead of staying the course and waiting on the kids to finish developing.
But only the Prince = Mo Vaughn concern is about the guy on the field. The other concerns are about management, and having watched this Front Office operate the purse strings for many years, I don't see us abandoning the youth movement. Youth movement = cheap and less risky to the pocket book, and unless Gillick was running this team they've been all about trying to minimize risk and staying within their comfort zone.
I don't worry so much about them wanting to get away from that. They want to develop from within as a way to deflate cost concerns. Prince Fielder to me isn't about them abandoning that philosophy as much as making an exception because of a player and a situation (one I don't really expect them to complete).
As to whether Fielder = Vaughn...
Games missed (not all due to injury, just missed) in first 6 full seasons:
Fielder: 13 (1 in last 3 years)
Fielder's healthy as a horse. A really fat and happy horse, maybe...but so far Smoak has missed more games in his career due to injury than Fielder has.
It's certainly a concern, but I have it ranked lower on the scale.
Like I've said before, using Fielder is not the only way to continue constructing a team that can compete in the AL West, but he's one way. Other ways tend to drain the farm, require evolutionary miracles from our young players, or take a while.
I'd like to keep the farm healthy and vibrant while making the Ms a competitor for the short-term and the long-term. If we don't do that with Fielder then I hope our plan B to accomplish that is really good.
"A fun day at the park" while losing a hundred games a year and setting records for offensive futility isn't doing it for me as a fan. I can be patient if they have a real plan. "Be the Royals" isn't a real plan, though.
My fear is this - if Fielder is added - and the club has modest success - (say 80 wins) - what happens in 2013? Do the club and fans say, "Well, NOW it's time to work with some more prospects." Or will the reality be, "Let's go out and get some immediate help - we don't have time to wait for prospects to develop?"
That's a nice point.
Not sure "buying wins" and developing prospects are mutually exclusive.
Unless the M's sign someone who's going to block a top prospect at the same position (and hitting-wise, the farm is thin anyways), there's no reason why signing a Prince Fielder should in any way interfere with the initiative to grow some talent internally. The Dustin Ackleys of the world will force their way into the lineup regardless of whether you're the 2011 Mariners or the 1998 Mariners. You can't field a team of entirely FA signings.
The M's have been among the 3 worst teams in the majors in 3 of the past 4 seasons. They are definitely in rebuild mode. However, that's not justification to ignore the free agent market. If the M's do not sign Fielder, it's not like that's $20 million more they're going to spend on Amateur signings. They owe it to the fans to field as good of a Major League team as possible during the rebuild. Sure don't see the tickets getting any cheaper...
Choo didn't force his way into the Ms lineup. Why?
Neither did Mike Morse. Why?
Neither did Adam Jones. Why?
Asdrubal Cabrera ...
That's 4 actual major league talents that never got a real shot at playing in the majors while with Seattle.
If you get a FA making one million on a one-year deal, yes a prospect can force his way into the lineup. When you're spending $9 million a year for 4 years ... NO ... prospects will not definitely force their way into the lineup. In point of fact, Sexson was lingering death for 2.5 years. Figgins was lingering death for 2 full seasons, (with more time on the clock influencing what will actually happen on the roster).
The instant you commit significant dollars (and years) to a player, that position has a major, undeniable, unavoidable impact on your prospect development decision making. If Ichiro was a 1-year rental getting a million to play in 2011 would he have continued playing every day in RF, or would Chiang or some other prospect been in there every day?
Guti is on a relatively inexpensive, but multi-year contract. He got the bulk of the PT in CF ... not the prospects. His PRODUCTION wasn't blocking anyone.
Think back ... when Bavasi came in there were 3 multi-year contracts signed ... Sexson ... Beltre ... Ibanez. Which contract turned out best? The most expensive one? I don't think so. But, if Ibanez had pulled a Sexson-esque swoon, he would'be been out of the lineup a LOT quicker than Sexson actually was.
In truth, how did Carp get a shot in 2011? Bradley and Langerhans were dumped. Saunders, Peguero and Halman ALL had to fail -- and even then, Smoak had to hit the DL for Carp to get a shot to stick. Carp did not "force" his way into the lineup. He got a shot after a multitude of failures, combined with dumping the veteran deadweight ... and even then it took an injury to keep him up.
The simple truth is this ... prospects can only "force" their way up to AAA. That's because there's no huge montery variable in play. But, once you get huge multi-year contracts in play, your prospect development flexibility is altered. That doesn't mean you cannot sign any big or long term deals. But, you do have to accept that doing so WILL without exception impact your prospect development.
That 2001 116-win roster influenced prospect deveopment. When you're committed to veterans, you trade away talent that is blocked by that veteran talent. And only a couple of organizations have shown the capacity to actually take the risks associated with developing prospects once they have assembled a really good roster.
It is HARD to let an Ibanez walk and take a chance on an Adam Jones, because if you're wrong, (and you will be wrong sometimes), such a move looks stupid in hindsight. But, if you don't, your payroll will eventualy explode AND your ability to develop prospects will atrophy.
So, you better get REAL good at developing prospects. You better get way better than average at figuring out which prospects are going to work out. You better have a good feel for what positions your farm is deep at (multiple chances) vs. weak. And then, you can at the very least target FA contracts for positions you are unlikely to fill. In that regard, DH is about the worst position one could fill first with big bucks and time.
... and in the very next sentence, MLBTR declares them "deep in the mix" for Fielder. :: defeated shake of head :: LOL, ah, man ...
Last paragraph, a grudging admission that the M's could be a dark horse...
The utter irrelevance of the Seattle Mariners has us all proud, very proud of our local nine ...