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#124651 Stay the Course

Posted by Mariner Analyst on 09 July 2011 - 08:38 PM

Stay the Course …

Going in to the 2011 Season, the goal for the Mariners was a simple one – improve. With a brand new field manager in place (the 7th manager since Lou Piniella left in 2002) and coming off a 101 loss season in 2010, expectations for this club going in to this season were low. Management’s goal was simply to help re-instill a culture of winning with a young nucleus of players. But with the Mariners surprising success this season, expectations amongst many in the Mariners fan base have significantly inflated. Despite the team’s recent struggles, dreams of an AL West Pennant and a trip to the Post-Season have led many to wonder whether or not this team should make the necessary changes in order to seriously contend right now. The overriding question for many Mariner fans at this point is – do we stick with Plan A and continue to rebuild … or should we make whatever trade is necessary in order to win now? Let’s examine this issue in depth and consider the possible consequences of such a move …

1) Short Term Gain … Long Term Pain?

Though many fans out there are crying for Jack Zduriencik to pull off a July 31st miracle, it should be remembered that the Seattle Mariners have a history of deadly deadline deals. During the 1997 season, the Mariners struggled mightily to find reliable relief pitching. Desperate to acquire relief help for what appeared to be a playoff team, GM Woody Woodward made what would turn out to be a couple of ill-fated moves. Woodward traded away a pair of young and fairly unproven players at that point (AAA catcher Jason Varitek and RHP Derek Lowe) to the Boston Red Sox for closer Heathcliff Slocumb in order to solidify the Mariners success heading down the stretch. In a separate move, he then shipped a young OF by the name of Jose Cruz, Jr. for RHP Mike Timlin and LHP Paul Spoljaric. While Timlin would be a serviceable (though not spectacular) reliever and closer for the Mariners through the 1998 season, Slocomb would become a whipping boy of both fans and Lou Pinella, sporting a 5.32 ERA and saving a mere 3 games in 1998 before being let go. While Cruz would go on to be merely a major-league average outfielder, Jason Varitek would become a perennial All-Star Catcher … and Lowe would become a 2-time All-Star Selection and one of the better starting pitchers in all of baseball.

Needing help at 3B the year before, Woody traded away a young 1B prospect for the class A Timber Rattlers named David Arias for Dave Hollins at the deadline. While Hollins provided solid defense and decent offense down the stretch in 1996 … the M’s failed to make the playoffs. Arias, on the other hand, (known today as David Ortiz) would go on to become one of the greatest home run sluggers in all of baseball throughout the 1990s and remains so still today.

Even in 1995, the moves Seattle made at the deadline had less than desirable results. At the July 31st deadline that year, Woody Woodward packaged prospects Marc Newfield (6th overall pick in 1990 draft) and Ron Villone (14th overall pick in 1992 draft) to San Diego for starting RHP Andy Benes (regarded at that time as one of the better starters in baseball). Newfield never earned more than a couple of cups of coffee in the majors … and Villone blossomed in to a major league average reliever and spot starter. Though the prospects Seattle gave up never ended up hurting them, Benes truly didn’t help them either. Benes went 7-2 for Seattle … but ended up sporting a 5.86 ERA and allowed a whopping 13 earned runs in 14 innings in the playoffs that year. While the trade for Vince Coleman on August 15th of 1995 did provide a significant spark to the Mariners, in a great many cases not only do these late deals not end up helping the club -- they often have negative consequences down the road. Al Martin certainly didn’t help the Mariners after Gillick dealt for him at the July 31st deadline in 2000. And I’m wondering just how the Chicago White Sox are feeling now. On July 30th of last year, the White Sox traded for Edwin Jackson, who pitched one of Major League Baseball’s five no-hitters last season, sending minor league pitchers Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg to the Diamondbacks.

Jackson pitched very well for the White Sox last year, going 4-2 in 75 innings with a 3.24 ERA. However, the White Sox ended up 88-74, finishing 2nd in the AL Central, six games behind the Twins. This season in 106.2 innings, Jackson is 5-7 with a 4.30 ERA and 92 strikeouts. Not bad, until you consider what they gave up …

This season 24 year old Daniel Hudson is 9-5 as a starter with the 1st place Diamondbacks, sporting a 3.75 ERA. Holmberg won’t be far behind. He’s currently 8-3 for the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks with a 2.39 and leads the team with 81 strikeouts in 83 innings, issuing a mere 13 walks.

How different would the Mariners fortunes have been throughout the early 2000s with names like Ortiz, Varitek, and Lowe on this roster? Just something to consider – buyer beware.

2) Failing to Major in the Minors

While former GM Pat Gillick admittedly should be lauded for getting the Mariners in to the Postseason in both the 2000 and 2001 years … he also deserves a bit of criticism for his failure to stockpile a deep pool of minor league talent. Gillick served as GM of the Mariners from October 26, 1999 to September 30, 2003. During his 4 years as GM, Gillick had some notable International Free Agent Signings …

Kazuhiro Sasaki (1999)
Shin Soo-Choo (2000)
Ryan Rowland Smith (2000)
Ichiro (2001)
Felix Hernandez (2002)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2002)

… but for all that time as the M’s head talent evaluator, Gillick’s track record in the June Amateur Draft was less than stellar. In fact, only one 1st Round Draft choice of Gillick’s ever truly panned out – Adam Jones in 2003 (who was subsequently traded by Bill Bavasi in the Erik Bedard deal.) Here are a few of Gillick’s choices …

1999 -- drafted Ryan Christiansen #11 overall (never made it to the majors)
1999 – drafted Jeff Heaverlo #33 overall (never made it to the majors)
1999 – drafted Willie Bloomquist 3rd round (ML utility level player)
1999 – drafted J.J. Putz 6th round (became M’s closer – traded prior to 2009 season)
1999 – drafted Rich Hardin 38th round (Hardin chose not to sign)
2000 – no 1st round choice due to FA signings. No other choices made any appreciable impact)
2001 – drafted John Mayberry (failed to sign – has become a below-average MLB player)
No other draft choices made any appreciable impact.
2002 – drafted Gabby Sanchez 15th round (failed to sign -- has made 2011 All-Star as a Florida Marlin) No other draft choices have made any appreciable impact.
2003 – drafted Adam Jones #37 overall (has become a solid MLB center fielder for the Orioles) No other draft choices have made any appreciable impact.

On November 7, 2003, Bill Bavasi was hired by the Mariners to take over GM duties for Pat Gillick. In the words of Gillick, “I've had four kicks at the cat, and we couldn't get over the hump. Maybe it's time for someone else to give it a try and see if they can get over the hump." Bavasi most certainly did send the Mariners over the hump – paddling the club head long down the River Styx … and straight down to baseball Hades.

As a result of some of the holes created by the M’s inability to develop its own talent, Bavasi responded with a combination of trades for prospects and expensive free agent signings in an attempt to patch them. Here are a few of the more infamous moves made during the Bavasi years …

(6/27/04) Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis to Chicago White Sox for Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Mike Morse

(6/30/06) Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland for Eduardo Perez

(8/24/06) Shin-Soo Choo and Shawn Nottingham to Cleveland for Ben Broussard

(12/7/06) Rafael Soriano to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez

(12/18/06) Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto to Washington for Jose Vidro

(2/8/08) Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler to Baltimore for Erik Bedard

2005 – Richie Sexson – signed for 4 years/$50 million
2005 – Adrian Beltre – signed for 5 years/$64 million
2005 – Jarrod Washburn – signed for 4 years/$37.5 million
2007 -- Carlos Silva – signed for 4 years/$48 million
2007 – Jeff Weaver – signed for 1 year/$8-9 million

In September of 2008, ESPN’s Jonah Keri wrote a column in which he ranked Bill Bavasi and Woody Woodward as the #9 and #10 worst GM’s in the history of professional sports. Those rankings are well deserved.

As a result of these expensive free agent signings and trades, payroll became significantly inflated, reaching its climax in 2008, as the Mariners became the first club in Major League Baseball history with a $100 million payroll ($117 million that year) to have a 100 loss season. To top it off, when the dust had settled following Bill Bavasi’s firing on June 18, 2008, the Mariners found themselves fairly picked clean of prospects.

In February of 2004, Bill Bavasi gave the following interview to Jonah Keri, who was working with Baseball Prospectus at the time. On player contacts, Bavasi was quoted as saying: “With most any player, going over four years isn't a philosophy we want to go with. It's hard to find a contract over four years that everybody stays happy with. Pat and I talked about this, and he was saying how with a contract that long, either the player's unhappy with it after a while, or the team is, but someone almost always is.” -- Bill Bavasi on why the Mariners don’t believe in free agent deals longer than 4 years


How ironic that he would sign so many 4 year deals (and in the case of Beltre a 5 year deal) that continue to hamstring the Mariners today. And how ironic that the Mariners seemed to have failed to learn from their mistakes in signing players to long-term deals, inking Chone Figgins to a 4 year/$36 million deal prior to the 2010 Season. That same offseason, many Mariner fans whined and begged for Zduriencik to sign local boy Jason Bay as well. The Mets ended up signing Bay to a 4 year/$66 million deal that could become 5 years at $80 million. Ask the Mets and their fans whether or not they are happy with that deal now.

Such deals, very often, do not end up working out. Perennial successful clubs are the ones who can find, grow, and hang on to their own talent. Outside of young players such as Michael Pineda (IFA in 2005), Doug Fister (7th round in 2006), Greg Halman (amateur FA in 2004), Carlos Peguero (IFA signing in 2005), and Carlos Triunfel (IFA signing in 2006), the Mariners have very little in terms of prospects to show from the Bavasi years.

3) The Power of Youth …

I believe the children are the future … teach them well and let them lead the way …”

Let’s take look at some of the best minor league organizations throughout baseball and see what they have to teach us …

Texas Rangers :tex:

Nelson Cruz (traded as a 25 year old prospect to the Rangers in 2006)
Josh Hamilton (traded as a 26 year old prospect to the Rangers in 2007)
Michael Young (traded as a 23 year old prospect to the Rangers in 2000)
Elvis Andrus (traded as an 18 year old prospect to the Rangers in 2007)
Alexi Ogando (Rule V signing in 2005 as a 22 year old prospect)
C.J. Wilson (drafted 5th rd. 2001 Amateur Draft)
Colby Lewis (38th pick in 1999 Amateur Draft)
Neftali Feliz (traded as a 19 year old prospect to the Rangers in 2007)

Those players are all ones that form the core of a very potent Rangers ballclub. All of them were either cultivated by the Rangers farm system or were prospects acquired via trade. After going in to bankruptcy thanks in part to the Alex Rodriguez $250 million mega-deal in 2001, the Rangers looked to remold themselves after casting his Titanic salary on to Yankees in 2004. Jon Daniels became the youngest GM in all of baseball in 2005 and committed to build the Rangers in to a contender via home grown talent and trading for young prospects. In 2007, Rangers went a long ways towards reshaping the face of their franchise, trading away star 1B Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Braves for prospects Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In 2009, Baseball America ranked the Rangers farm system #1 in all of baseball. Though the Rangers took a bit of a hit by trading some of those prospects away last year in their run to the World Series, their farm system is still fairly stacked, giving them one of the best systems in all of baseball in virtually assuring that this club will be a contender for a long time to come. The Rangers are the new sheriff in town. The M's will have their work cut out for them taking the AL West back.

Cleveland Indians :cle:

Asdrubal Cabrera (traded as a 20 year old prospect to the Indians in 2006)
Carlos Santana (traded as a 22 year old prospect to the Indians in 2008)
Lonnie Chisenhall (drafted #29 overall in 2008 Amateur Draft)
Justin Masterson (traded as a 24 year old prospect to the Indians in 2009)
Josh Tomlin (drafted by Indians in the 19th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft)
Carlos Carrasco (traded as a 22 year old prospect to the Indians in 2009)
Chris Perez (traded as a 23 year old prospect to the Indians in 2009)

Cleveland is a team on the rise; though many of their fans have yet to recognize that (they currently rank #26 out of 30 in attendance). Last season, the Indians went 69-93 and recorded their lowest attendance in Jacobs Field History (1.39 million fans.) 2009 wasn’t much better for the Indians either, as Chief Wahoo saw the tribe go 65-97, a result of extreme growing pains from another franchise committed to the youth movement. The past few years have seen this club trading away its biggest stars for prospects -- Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, and C. C. Sabathia. While the Indians of 2009 and 2010 in some ways resembled the group from Major League, 2011 has been a far different story. Catcher Carlos Santana and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (thanks to Bavasi) are two very quickly rising stars in baseball. Coming in to this season, Baseball America ranked the Indians’ farm system #7 overall. Lonnie Chisenhall (one of those farm hands) is considered one of the best 3B prospects in all of baseball and RHP Alex White, 2B Jason Kipnis, and LHP Drew Pomeranz all ranked among the top 100 prospects in all of baseball at the start of the 2011 Season. With a young core already in place and more on the way, look for this Indians team to be on the warpath throughout baseball for the next several years.

Atlanta Braves :atl:

Brian McCann (drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 Amateur Draft)
Freddie Freeman (drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 Amateur Draft)
Martin Prado (signed as a 17 year old Amateur Free Agent in 2001 by the Braves)
Chipper Jones (drafted 1st overall pick in the 1990 Amateur Draft)
Jason Heyward (drafted 14th overall pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft)
Jair Jurrjens (traded as a 21 year old prospect to the Braves in 2007)
Brandon Beachy (signed as a 21 year old Amateur Free Agent in 2008 by the Braves)

With $87 million sunk in to player contracts, the Atlanta Braves are a team with a payroll just $3 million more than the Mariners. And yet, Atlanta finds itself with the 2nd best record in the National League … and firmly in the driver’s seat for the NL Wild Card. How is that possible? The Braves are a club that finds its success deeply rooted in player development. Coming in to this season, Baseball America ranked the Braves minor league system #3 overall. Historically, they have been a club that has had great success identifying and developing talent, both through the Amateur Draft and the International market. Catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jason Heyward are former superstar prospects who have taken the baseball world by storm. And with other prospects in tow such as first baseman Freddie Freeman (#17 on Baseball America’s top 100), RHPs Brandon Beachy, Julio Teheran (#5 on Baseball America’s top 100), Randall Delgado, and LHP Mike Minor, the Braves look poised to go on another run and be counting coup on the rest of the NL, as they did throughout the 90s.

Philadelphia Phillies :phi:

Shane Victorino (Rule V signing in 2004 as a 24-year old prospect)
Jimmy Rollins (drafted in 2nd round of 1996 Amateur Draft)
Ryan Howard (drafted in 5th round of 2001 Amateur Draft)
Chase Utley (drafted #15 overall in 2000 Amateur Draft)
Cole Hamels (drafted #17 overall in 2002 Amateur Draft)
Domonic Brown (drafted in 20th round of 2006 Amateur Draft)

As of this date, Philadelphia sports the best record in all of Major League Baseball. Though the Phillies admittedly have some major (and expensive) veteran cogs that they have acquired via trade – i.e. Cliff Lee (in 2009, re-signed as a FA this season), Roy Oswalt, and Roy Halladay, a significant portion of the core of their roster has been built on the backs of young prospects, most of which were developed via their own minor league system. Even after the Cliff Lee, Oswalt, Halladay, and Blanton trades, Baseball America still ranked the Phillies minor league organization #10 overall at the beginning this season. That’s a testament to just how strong a system the Phillies have. At the centerpiece of the organization is outfielder Domonic Brown, who Baseball America ranked #4 in its top 100 prospects at the start of 2011. According to one scout cited at Baseball America, “No team has more talent in A-ball than the Phillies.” The Phillies are an excellent example of what a team with a strong minor league system can and should do – use it to build a core via your own system … and use prospects to trade for superstars to reach for the brass ring once that core is in place and well established.

All those teams rank currently among the best minor league organizations in all of baseball … and are all (except for the Braves) currently leading their respective division. As the Rangers, Indians, Phillies, and Braves all demonstrate, the secret to success is by being able to effectively identify, develop, hold on to, and utilize minor league talent. Teams like the Twins and Rays are two others who show that competitive clubs can be constructed and maintained that way. And like those clubs, the core of players that powered the Mariners to their miracle run in 1995 and starred on in to the early 2000s was built in basically the same way …

Ken Griffey, Jr. (drafted #1 overall in the 1987 Amateur Draft)
Edgar Martinez (signed as a 19 year old International Free Agent in 1982)
Jay Buhner (traded as a 23 year old prospect to the Mariners in 1988)
Randy Johnson (traded as a 25 year old prospect to the Mariners in 1989)
Dan Wilson (traded as a 24 year old prospect to the Mariners in 1990)
Tino Martinez (drafted #14 overall in the 1988 Amateur Draft)
Jeff Nelson (drafted as a 19 year old in the 1986 minor league draft)

Minor league prospects, in many ways, are the backbone of an organization. Just consider again some of the prospects the Mariners traded away in recent years with very little to no return on those deals. Imagine what might have happened if the M’s had hung on to some of these names …

Rafael Soriano
Shin-Soo-Choo
Asdrubal Cabrera
Brian Fuentes
Adam Jones
David Ortiz
Derek Lowe
Jason Varitek

When Jack Zduriencik was hired in October of 2008, he placed heavy emphasis on player development, moving quickly to bolster the scouting department by hiring men such as Tony Blengino and Tom McNamara … and telling all his guys in the scouting department regarding picks in the Amateur Draft, “Get it right.” As a former scout himself, Zduriencik knows just how important finding, developing, and holding on to young players is. In a little under 3 years, Zduriencik has taken a system that ranked among baseball’s bottom feeders … and brought it back right to the middle of the pack. The goal right from the moment Zduriencik was brought on board was to get younger and to rebuild that core of young talented players. The question at hand now is, “Is now really the time to start going away from that original plan of re-building this club through young prospects and home grown talent?”

4) Contenders or Pretenders? …

Ahhh, yes – that was the plan wasn’t it. Go young … show slow incremental improvement … and re-teach a new generation of players how to win at the Major League level. But things in life and in baseball are rarely that simple. The new manager on board, Eric Wedge, simply doesn’t accept that plan. Possessing much of the old style grit and fire that Lou Piniella had, Wedge believes his players should play hard, play the game right, and not accept losing in any way, shape, or form. And most of his players are clearly getting the message. On July 9th of 2010, the Mariners found themselves at 34-52. This season as of July 9th, the Mariners are 43-46 … and find themselves a mere 5.5 games out of 1st place. That sudden turnaround has both Mariner fans and many within the organization thinking Pennant Race. But is that all talk Smoak and mirrors (no offense Justin ;)) … or could the M’s be serious contenders for the division crown with a key move here or there?

While the Mariner offense ranks dead last in Major League Baseball in virtually every category, Mariner pitchers have put up stellar numbers. In fact, never before in the history of this franchise have a starting 5 put up the kind of numbers that this group has.
Going in to tonight’s game, the Mariners have a staff ERA of 3.15, fourth best in all of Major League Baseball. As of July 9th, starting pitchers Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas, and Doug Fister sport a combined 3.09 ERA … have the second most complete games in the majors (9 complete games) … and are 3rd in batting average against (at .233 – Atlanta leads with a .230 average against).

Those stats have led many Mariner fans to clamor for a deal to help the beleaguered offense. Some out there would even point out that some fairly mediocre teams have won the World Series in the past, so why not make a deal? True. Teams with less than stellar records have gone to and won the World Series. Let’s take a look at 4 of those teams and see what some of the numbers tell us …

Worst World Series Winners in Major League History …

2006 St. Louis Cardinals (83-78) :stl:

Team BA .269 (4th out of 16 NL Teams)
184 HR’s (5th out of 16 NL Teams)
781 Runs Scored (6th out of 16 NL Teams)

Albert Pujols (.331 BA, 49 HR, 1.102 OPS, 137 RBI, 33 doubles)
Scott Rolen (.296 BA, 22 HR, .887 OPS, 95 RBI, 48 doubles)
Juan Encarnacion (.278 BA, 19 HR, .760 OPS, 79 RBI, 25 doubles)
Jim Edmonds (.257 BA, 19 HR, .822 OPS, 70 RBI, 18 doubles)

Team ERA 4.54 (9th out of 16 NL Teams)

Chris Carpenter (15-8 with a 3.09 ERA)
Jeff Suppan (12-7 with a 4.12 ERA)
Jason Marquis (14-16 with a 6.02 ERA)
Jason Isringhausen (3.55 ERA with 33 saves)
Adam Wainright (2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 75 relief innings)
Braden Looper (9-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 73.1 relief innings)

1987 Minnesota Twins (85-77) :min:

Team BA .261 (10th out of 14 AL Teams)
786 Runs Scored (8th out of 14 AL Teams)

Kirby Puckett (.332 BA, 28 HR, .900 OPS, 99 RBI)
Kent Hrbeck (.285 BA, 34 HR, .934 OPS, 90 RBI)
Tom Brunansky (.259, 32 HR, .841 OPS, 85 RBI)
Gary Gaetti (.257, 31 HR, .788 OPS, 109 RBI)

Team ERA 4.63 (10th out of 14 AL Teams)

Frank Viola (17-10 with a 2.90 ERA)
Bert Blyleven (15-12 with a 4.01 ERA)
Jeff Rearden (4.48 ERA and 31 saves)

1990 Cincinnati Reds (91-71) :cin:

Team BA .265 (1st out of 12 NL Teams)
693 Runs Scored (5th out of 12 NL Teams)

Barry Larkin (.301 BA, 7 HR, .753 OPS, 67 RBI – 30 SB, 25 doubles)
Chris Sabo (.270 BA, 25 HR, .819 OPS, 71 RBI – 25 SB, 38 doubles)
Billy Hatcher (.276 BA, 5 HR, .708 OPS, 25 RBI – 30 SB, 28 doubles)
Eric Davis (.260 BA, 24 HR, .833 OPS, 86 RBI – 21 SB, 26 doubles)
Paul O’Neal (.270 BA, 16 HR, .761 OPS, 78 RBI – 13 SB, 28 doubles)

Team ERA 3.39 (2nd out of 12 NL Teams)

Tom Browning (15-9 with a 3.80 ERA)
Jose Rijo (14-8 with a 2.70 ERA)
Jack Armstrong (12-9 with a 3.42 ERA)
Randy Myers (2.08 ERA and 31 saves)
Norm Charlton (12-9 with a 2.74 ERA in 154.1 relief innings)
Rob Dibble (8-3 with a 1.74 ERA in 98 relief innings)
Rich Mahler (7-6 with a 4.28 in 134.2 relief innings)

2010 San Francisco Giants (92-70) :sfo:

Team BA .257 (7th out of 16 NL Teams)
697 Runs (9th out of 16 NL Teams)

Buster Posey (.305 BA, 18 HR, .862 OPS, 67 RBI, 23 doubles)
Aubrey Huff (.290 BA, 26 HR, .891 OPS, 86 RBI, 35 doubles)
Juan Uribe (.248 BA, 24 HR, .749 OPS, 85 RBI, 24 doubles)
Pablo Sandoval (.268 BA, 13 HR, .732 OPS, 63 RBI, 34 doubles)
Pat Burrell (.266 BA, 18 HR, .872 OPS, 51 RBI, 16 doubles)
Andres Torres (.268 BA, 16 HR, .823 OPS, 63 RBI, 43 doubles)

Team ERA 3.36 (1st out of 16 NL Teams)

Matt Cain (13-11 with a 3.14 ERA)
Tim Lincecum (16-10 with a 3.43 ERA)
Jonathan Sanchez (13-9 with a 3.07 ERA)
Barry Zito (9-14 with a 4.15 ERA)
Brian Wilson (1.81 ERA with 48 saves)
Sergio Romo (5-3 with a 1.95 ERA in 62 relief innings)
Santiago Casilla (7-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 55.1 relief innings

Seattle’s pitching numbers compare very favorably with that group. The 2011 Mariners with their 3.15 team ERA, far and away beats out the 2010 Giants, who had the best team ERA of that group at 3.36.

The offensive numbers, on the other hand … tell a very different story …

The 2010 Giants had the lowest team batting average among that group at .257.
As of July 9th, the Mariners sport a .224 team batting average

The 2006 Cardinals had the lowest team OPS among that group at .769
As of July 9th, the Mariners team OPS of .622

The 1990 Reds had the lowest amount of runs scored among that group at 693.
As of July 9th, the Mariners have scored just 296 runs, and are on pace to score a mere 539 runs -- far below that mark.

Just looking at some of the individual stats from some of the players on those teams (Pujols, Hrbeck, Sabo, etc), and I mean from several players, do you honestly see anywhere close to that kind of production coming from this Mariners team? And unless the Mariners are able to trade for 2 or 3 Albert Pujols type of bats, this team isn’t going to get that kind of run production either.

In many ways, this team reminds me of another past Mariners club. The 1991 Mariners had a good pitching staff as well, ending the year with a team ERA of 3.79. Led by Randy Johnson (3.98 ERA), Brian Holman (3.69 ERA), Bill Krueger (3.60 ERA), and Erik Hansen (3.81 ERA) … and a strong bullpen of Billy Swift (1.99 ERA and 17 saves), Mike Jackson (3.25 ERA), Russ Swan (3.43 ERA), Rob Murphy (3.00 ERA), and Mike Schooler (3.67 ERA) … the M’s then were just about in exactly the same position this club is in now. The Mariners that year came in to the All-Star Break that year (July 9, 1991) at 40-42, 6.5 games behind the Texas Rangers. Despite having a very talented young group led by Ken Griffey, Jr, Edgar Martinez, and Jay Buhner, the offense managed a team batting average of .255 that year (9th out of 14 AL Teams) … and finished 9th out of 14 AL Teams in Runs Scored (702 Runs). The Mariners ended up finishing 5th in the AL West in 1991 with an 83-79 mark – very much the kind of record I’m projecting from this Mariners ballclub when it’s all said and done.

MA’s Parting Thoughts …

I feel for Jack Zduriencik and the position he’s in, I really do. In this case, I believe Classic Greek Mythology provides both an apt picture for the situation Zduriencik finds himself in … and some practical advice for him as well. In Homer’s Odyssey, Scylla and Charybdis were two mythical monsters positioned at opposite ends of a narrow strait (thought today to be the Strait of Messina). They were positioned so close to one another that they posed a dilemma for passing sailors. Scylla was a six-headed monster with large tentacles and lived on a cave on a rocky shoal. If ships passed by too close, she would grab and eat sailors off the deck. Charybdis, on the other hand, was a great whirlpool, that would suck down entire ships that got too close to her. In the Odyssey, the hero, Odysseus, chose to order his men to sail as fast as they could past Scylla, reasoning that it would be better to lose a few men than to lose the entire ship. The English phrase, “between a rock and a hard place”, comes from this particular myth … and I believe Jack most certainly is between Scylla and Charybdis.

On the one hand, Zduriencik risks alienating players and fans alike if he fails to upgrade the offense. As the offensive futility on this club continues, frustration among pitchers will undoubtedly inevitably set in (if it hasn’t already). I believe the look on Doug Fister’s face after the 9th inning of last his start on July 2nd said it all, “Pitchers cannot continue to go 9 innings, allow 1 run, and lose!” I understand his frustration and that of poor Eric Wedge, having to continually answer the same questions again and again. What kind of message does that send to this team if he fails to upgrade this offense? Would that say to the players, management doesn’t believe in and care about you guys?

On the other hand, if Zduriencik does cave in to pressure, and really makes a bold move or two, he potentially risks everything he has been working for since he was hired. The kind of move that this club needs to make it a contender now would undoubtedly gut the farm system he has worked so hard to build. Such a move might make the players, the fans, and Eric Wedge happy in the here and now … but will they still be happy 2-3 years down the road, with an inflated payroll and no young prospects on the way up that could potentially become mainstays for years to come? To choose that route would be to commit the very same mistakes Bill Bavasi did -- the very reason the Mariners are in the situation they are now. One other thing to consider is that at this point Zduriencik is a man without a contract for next season. He knows that his bosses will be watching and that his position as GM might potentially be threatened if they believe someone else might be a better fit for the job.

On Wednesday July 6th , Jack Zduriencik joined the Kevin Calabro Show. Zduriencik talked to 710 ESPN’s Jim Moore and Matt Pittman both about Kyle Seager’s promotion and about the potential of making a move down the stretch. His comments regarding this very subject are very telling …

Jim Moore:

“… everybody is also saying, ‘hey, wait a minute, we don’t want to see this pitching go to waste. Jack Zduriencik is going to have to go out there and get another bat, now granted, you’ve added Ackley and you’ve added Seager, but people are thinking that maybe you’re going to need to be a buyer in the next few weeks to keep this team in the race.”


Jack Zduriencik:

“Well, we have done our due diligence, I can tell you that. I’ve made a lot of phone calls, I’ve had a whole lot of conversations going on, and you know, I don’t know that anything will transpire. I don’t have a clue of that. It’s very, very interesting when you talk to other general managers where they’re at. The other issue is – to bring in the kind of bat that I would love to have, could be very expensive in a lot of ways – you know, could be expensive in terms of what you’d have to give up. And I’m willing to make the move, but I think we will make a move if the move is right. If we have the right thing sitting right in front of us, and we think it’s the right thing to do, I think we’ll do it. But again, I’m not going to mortgage the future. You know, our pitching has not been wasted. We’re where we’re at right now because we have very, very good pitching. These guys are young and we have all of these guys as we move forward for years to come – and we have a lot more coming. So, we’d love to win this thing. We want to be in this thing until the very end, that’s our goal. We’ll do what we can to keep us here and to surpass these clubs ahead of us, but you’ve got to be realistic in the big picture – now, next year, and in years to come.”



Though many fans out there might not like it, I believe that Jack Zduriencik is quite right. To get the kind of bat he’s looking for (a true impact bat) would be very expensive indeed ... and would likely set this franchise back for years to come. And as demonstrated pretty conclusively, even that probably wouldn’t be enough. As Zduriencik said he’s willing to make a move (if it’s the right move), but is not going to mortgage the future. There’s an old saying, “You are what your record says you are.” Right now, the M’s record says they are a .500 club that will tease by winning a few in a row, but then just as quickly go on a losing streak. So unless Zduriencik can work some incredible prestidigitation … and unless the M’s bats suddenly decide to become the 1927 Yankees for the 73 games that are left in this season, I honestly don’t see this as being the Mariners year. As if the Braves and Angels haven’t already demonstrated that fairly conclusively.

In Greek Mythology, the Sirens were female creatures who lured unwitting sailors to their deaths, wooing them with their irresistible songs in order to force them to crash on the rocks and subsequently devour them. In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus orders his crew to put bees wax in their ears and lash him to the mast to keep him from sailing towards the Sirens and certain doom. The voices GM’s hear this time of year (from managers, players, and fans) can be like the Sirens sometimes, beguiling and pressuring GM’s in to making moves they might later regret. My advice to Zduriencik – lash yourself to the mast of the U.S.S. Mariner and continue straight on through these dangerous waters. Stay the course Jack. Stay the course. :thumbsup2:

MA
  • 18


#129497 The Mariners and the Money Vault

Posted by Mariner Analyst on 29 December 2011 - 10:26 PM

The Mariners and the Money Vault …
Major League Baseball and the Television Monopoly Game …

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On December 8, 2011 the Los Angeles Angels rocked the baseball world with news that they had signed Albert Pujols to a 10 year $275 million contract … and C.J. Wilson to a 5 year $77.5 million deal – a combined $331.5 million. On Monday December 19th, it was announced that the Rangers had won the rights to negotiate with Japanese phenom pitcher Yu Darvish, with a record $51.7 million posting fee, which will be paid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. In 2006, the Red Sox shelled out more than $100 million in posting fees and contract to Daisuke Matsuzaka and it’s highly likely that when it’s all said and done that the Rangers will have dished out close to $120 million.

How can the Angels and Rangers afford to be backing up the Brinks armored car like they just inherited Scrooge McDuck’s Moneyvault?

The answer is -- they most certainly did … and it’s all about the boob tube baby …

Though it’s yet to officially be announced, the Angels and Fox Sports recently reached a 20 year deal worth $3 billion. Hmmm … those numbers sound familiar …

Oh yeah, that’s because that’s basically the exact same TV deal the Rangers got from Fox Sports back last year! Absolutely right – the Rangers and Fox cemented their 20 year marriage with a $3 billion kiss and a reported $75-80 million in revenues to the Rangers annually. I don’t know if there were any prenuptial agreements there, but if not, the Rangers and Fox will be partners through 2034.

Sources:
http://www.latimes.c...0,4052777.story

http://www.dallasnew...0-year-2344.ece


Like pigs, Major League Baseball teams are all lining up at TV’s trough --- getting fat on the advertising dollars generated from broadcasts of their games. TV networks know that sports fans are their meal ticket, as they basically have a captive audience whom they know won’t be turning the channel.

So why should you – Average Joe Mariners Fan out there – care about all this talk surrounding TV Deals? Well the facts are that there is a direct relationship between television market size and overall revenues in baseball. And higher overall revenues (of course) mean there’s a greater chance that your favorite sports team will land that shiny high price impact free agent.

According the Forbes magazine, here were the top revenue producing clubs last year …

Top MLB Revenue Producers of 2011 (According for Forbes) …
(1) Yankees … $427 million
(2) Red Sox … $272 million
(3) Cubs ……..$258 million
(4) Dodgers … $246 million
(5) Phillies …. $239 million
(6) Mets ……. $233 million

Source:
http://www.forbes.co...ns-11_land.html

And here are the top television markets according to the Nielson Ratings …

2011-2012 Nielson Ratings …

(1)New York … 7,387,810
(2)Los Angeles … 5,569,780
(3)Chicago … 3,493,480
(4)Philadelphia … 2,993,370
(5)Dallas-Ft. Worth … 2,571,310
(6)San Francisco-Oak-San Jose … 2,506,510
(7)Boston (Manchester) … 2,379,690
(8)Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) … 2,360,180
(9)Atlanta … 2,292,640
(10)Houston … 2,185,260
(11)Detroit … 1,842,650
(12)Seattle-Tacoma … 1,811,420
(13)Phoenix (Prescott) … 1,811,330
(14) Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) … 1,788,240

Source:
http://www.tvb.org/m...d_DMA_RANKS.pdf


Sizing up the Competition …
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There are those in the front office who’d have you believe the Mariners are just like that little guy. But is that an accurate picture of what the M’s truly are?

Those numbers cited above sure make sense of how the Angels and Rangers were able to land those monster deals. Monster deals for monster audiences -- having the Los Angeles and Dallas Markets (the #2 and #5 sized markets respectively) behind your ballclub will tend to do that. But as we know, broadcasts for Major League Baseball clubs aren’t confined to just the cities that bear their name. So, taking a look at the television markets and the size of their broadcast radius, here are the media markets for some of the top revenue producing clubs of 2011 as well as the Angels and Rangers …

[Rankings of each particular market are noted and the number of homes that subscribe to TV packages in each market]

Yankees Media Market … :nyy:
New York is the #1 media market at 7,387,810 homes.
(30) Hartford & New Haven, Conn … 1,006,280 homes.
(41) Harrisburg-Lncstr-Leb-York … 729,440 homes.
(54) Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA … 590,740 homes.
(79) Rochester, NY … 398,790 homes
(84) Syracuse, NY … 386,090 homes
(146) Erie, PA … 157,730 homes
(157) Binghamton … 136,730 homes
(172) Utica … 104,750 homes
(174) Elmira (Corning) … 96,600 homes
(177) Watertown … 93,090 homes
Total … 11,088,050 homes


Red Sox Media Market … :bos:
Boston (Manchester) is the #7 media market at 2,379,690 homes
(30) Hartford & New Haven, Conn … 1,006,280 homes
(53) Providence-New Bedford … 620,010 homes
(78) Portland-Auburn … 401,370 homes
(95) Burlington-Plattsburgh … 323,750 homes
(114) Springfield-Holyoke … 257,080 homes
(144) Salisbury/Dover … 159,640 homes
(155) Bangor … 141,580 homes
(205) Presque Isle … 29,850 homes
Total … 5,319,250 homes


Cubs Media Market … :chc:
Chicago is the #3 media market at 3,493,480 homes
(67) Wichita-Hutchinson Plus ... 454,590 homes
(72 )Des Moines-Ames … 431,300 homes
(76) Omaha … 415,510 homes
(85) Madison … 378,290 homes
(89) Cedar Rapids-Wtrlo-IWC&Dub … 344,150 homes
(100) Davenport-R.Island-Moline … 307,050 homes
(109) Ft. Wayne … 267,710 homes
(113) Sioux Falls(Mitchell) … 261,530 homes
(114) Springfield-Holyoke … 257,080 homes
(115) Lansing … 252,890 homes
(116) Peoria-Bloomington … 247,850 homes
(117) Fargo-Valley City … 246,780 homes [7358210]
(134) Rockford … 184,360 homes
(147) Sioux City … 157,060 homes
(154) Terre Haute … 142,780 homes
(188) Lafayette, IN … 67,260 homes
Total … 7,909,670 homes


Phillies Media Market … :phi:

Philadelphia is the 4th largest television market at 2,993,370 homes.
(41) Harrisburg-Lncstr-Leb-York … 729,440 homes
(54) Wilkes Barre-Scranton … 590,740 homes
Total … 4,313,550 homes


Giants Television Market … :sfo:
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose television market is the 6th largest at 2,506,510 homes.
(20) Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto … 1,388,570 homes.
(40) Las Vegas … 737,300 homes
(55) Fresno-Visalia … 574,800 homes
(108) Reno, NV … 271,020 homes
(121) Eugene, OR … 241,270 homes
(140) Medford-Klamath Falls, OR … 170,670 homes
(193) Bend, OR … 62,620 homes
Total … 5,952,760 homes

The Giants also share the Hawaiian market along with every other West Coast team …
(71) Honolulu … 434,730 homes
Total with Hawaii … 6,387,490 homes


Angels Television Market … :aa:
Los Angeles is the 2nd largest media market at 5,569,780 homes
(40) Las Vegas … 737,300 homes
(122) SantaBarbra-SanMar-SanLuOb … 230,830 homes
(126) Bakersfield … 221,920 homes
(145) Palm Springs … 158,440 homes
Total … 6,918,270 homes

The Angels also share the Hawaiian market along with every other West Coast team …
(71) Honolulu … 434,730 homes
Total with Hawaii … 7,353,000 homes


Rangers Television Market … :tex:
Dallas-Ft. Worth is the 5th largest TV market at 2,571,310 homes.
(10)Houston … 2,185,260 homes
(36) San Antonio … 880,690 homes
(47) Austin … 686,830 homes
(83) Shreveport … 386,150 homes
(87) Harlingen-Wslco-Brnsvl-McA … 361,820 homes
(88) Waco-Temple-Bryan … 353,190 homes
(91) El Paso (Las Cruces) … 336,570 homes
(94) Baton Rouge … 333,010 homes
(107) Tyler-Longview(Lfkn&Ncgd) … 271,400 homes
(124) Lafayette, LA ... 229,320 homes
(129) Corpus Christi ... 203,550 homes
(130) Amarillo ... 195,650 homes
(137) Monroe-El Dorado … 177,410 homes
(141) Beaumont-Port Arthur … 168,420 homes
(142) Wichita Falls & Lawton … 160,540 homes
(143) Lubbock … 160,160 homes
(151) Odessa-Midland … 146,040 homes
(164) Abilene-Sweetwater … 115,630 homes
(179) Alexandria, LA … 90,160 homes
(185) Laredo … 72,060 homes
(197) San Angelo … 55,570 homes
(204) Victoria, Texas … 31,540 homes
Total … 10,172,280 homes

[*Note – the Rangers have TV stations in the markets bolded in blue above. Though the other markets listed aren’t technically in the Rangers market, because of the relative location of these stations broadcasts for Rangers games can be seen throughout the entire Astros market and vice versa. So, games for both the Astros and Rangers can be seen throughout this region.]

Source:
2011-2012 Nielson Ratings …
http://www.tvb.org/m...d_DMA_RANKS.pdf

Now, these numbers do not accurately reflect the actual market size. Let’s discuss several huge qualifiers here …

1) Not everyone in these regions is a baseball fan or is interested in any of the particular teams that I’ve noted above. I know that’s shocking that there are actually people out there who don’t like baseball or sports of any kind at all -- but it’s true. There are plenty of people in New York who are far more interested in Broadway and would sooner tune in to an episode of Masterpiece Theatre than to “endure” nine innings of baseball. There are also plenty of sports fans out there who simply aren’t interested in baseball either. If we were to go the Lone Star State, there’s a ton of people down there that simply aren’t interested in a sport if it doesn’t involve throwing a pigskin or bone crunching tackles. It’s all about Friday Night Lights down there.

2) Not all the fans of a particular baseball team live in that team’s broadcast region. As we’re in the age of DirecTV (i.e. MLB’s Extra Innings Package), you can watch your favorite sports team virtually anywhere out of the general market area and avoid the usual regional blackouts.

3) In the case of most of these teams listed above, they share either their entire market or part of their market with other clubs. The Cubs share the same basic media market with the White Sox. The Mets share the exact same market as the Yankees. The Yankees also share the Hartford and New Haven market with the Red Sox. The Dodgers share the same media market as the Angels. Those two both share Southern half of Nevada with the Diamondbacks, Giants, and A’s. The Giants and A’s share the exact same market area together and also the lower 2/3 of Oregon with the Mariners. The Angels, along with all other clubs on the West Coast, share the Hawaiian market. Broadcasts for both the Rangers and the Astros can be seen throughout Texas, Louisiana, and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Both of them share the Oklahoma and Arkansas Markets with the Royals. So, there is a lot of overlap in many cases.

4) These numbers also do not reflect the international television market. For example, the Red Sox broadcast also reaches to Nova Scotia and the Yankees can be seen in Japan.

So what those figures demonstrate above all … is potential. It gives us a rough idea just what a particular club’s potential is and what can a fanbase reasonably expect in terms of the kind of revenue that they can ultimately generate.


So, what exactly is the Mariners potential? :sea2:

According to the Nielson Rankings the Seattle-Tacoma market is the 12th largest market in the country at 1,811,420 homes.

How do those other markets that the Mariners Broadcast into rank … and what is the actual size of the Mariners TV Market?

Portland, Oregon ranks as the #22 media market in the country with 1,190,010 homes.
Spokane, Washington ranks as the #73 media market with 426,690 homes.
Boise, Idaho is the #112 media market. Add another 261,810 homes.
Eugene, Oregon – ranks as the #121 media market with 241,270 homes.
Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, Yakima market comes in at #123 with 230,010 homes.
Medford-Klamath Falls, Oregon market comes in at #140 with 170,670 homes.
Anchorage, Alaska ranks as the #148 media market with 155,600 homes.
Idaho Falls-Pocatello (Jackson) market is the #160 market. Add another 128,940 homes.
Missoula, Montana ranks #165 media market. Chalk up an additional 114,590 homes.
Billings, Montana ranks is the #168 media market. Add an additional 109,940 homes.
Butte-Bozeman, Montana ranks as the #189 media market. Add another 66,910 homes.
Great Falls, Montana ranks as the #190 media market. Add another 66,190 homes.
Twin Falls, Idaho is the #191 media market. Add another 65,800 homes.
Bend, Oregon ranks #193 media market. Chalk up an additional 62,620 homes.
Fairbanks, Alaska is the #202 media market. Add an additional 37,010 homes.
Helena, Montana is the #206 media market. Add another 28,050 homes.
Juneau, Alaska is the #207 media market. Add another 25,500 homes.

Which gives us a total of 5,193,030 homes – just in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

If we add to that the Hawaiian market (which the Mariners share with every other West Coast team) …
(71) Honolulu 434,730 homes

… we come up with a grand total of … 5,627,760 homes.

Geographically speaking, the Mariners have one of the largest broadcast territories in all of Major League Baseball. The closest major league teams to Seattle are the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants -- 679 miles away (806 miles by car.) Denver, the home of the Colorado Rockies is 1,021 miles away from Seattle … and Phoenix, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks is 1,112 miles away.

You can click on the following link for yourself to see a map of Major League TV Coverage Areas …
Major League Baseball TV Blackout Map

Again, the Mariners share about 2/3 of the Oregon Market with the A’s and Giants and share about ½ of the Idaho market with the Rockies. Still … the relative size of the Mariners market noted thus far is impressive indeed, surpassing the Phillies, rivaling that of the Red Sox, and nearly the same as the Giants. In 2010, Fox Sports Northwest (now ROOT Sports) stated that they broadcasted to more than 350 live events each year to 3.4 million cable and satellite homes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. So in truth, the Mariners broadcast market area is far greater than the 12th largest media market that most people often cite …

Ranking of Baseball Media Markets (just based on teams noted above) …
1) Yankees … 11,088,050 homes
2) Rangers … 10,172,280 homes
3) Cubs … 7,909,670 homes
4) Angels … 7,353,000 homes
5) Giants … 5,952,760 homes
6) Mariners … 5,627,760 homes
7) Red Sox … 5,319,250 homes
8) Phillies … 4,313,550 homes
[*Note – Angels, Giants, and Mariners numbers above all include Honolulu Market]


But wait, we’re not done. In addition to those, the Mariners also have a number of hidden markets as well …

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain …
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Unbeknownst to many, the reach of the Seattle Mariners stretches far beyond the confines of the United States. Though these markets may be fairly well hidden from the eyes of the general public, their impact is certainly evident in the Mariners coffers. Let’s go behind the curtain and take a peek, shall we?


Take Off to the Great White North … Take Off – It’s a Beauty Way to Go …
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“Fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: five golden touques! Four pounds of backbacon, Three French toast, Two turtlenecks, And a beer, what was it? In a tree!”

In addition to their U.S. Market, the Mariners also have an agreement in place with Rogers Cable, Inc to broadcast selected games in to British Columbia and Alberta, which they do through Sportsnet Pacific. In 2009, Major League Baseball International announced that it had reached a 5 year extension with Rogers Sportsnet to be the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of the MLB All Star Game, the Home Run Derby, and the MLB Postseason. Rogers announced that it would carry at least 250 games a year (the figure appears to be closer to 275). This past year, Rogers Cable, Inc. added the MLB Extra Innings Package to their coverage. Mariner radio broadcasts can also be heard in parts of Canada, thanks to CKST in Vancouver.

Vancouver, B.C. is currently the Canada’s 8th largest city with 578,000 people and the Vancouver CMA (the Greater Vancouver area) has a reported population of 2,116,581 (2006 Census.) As far as television market size is concerned, the Vancouver-Victoria market is Canada’s 3rd Largest TV market with 3,413,000 people. Vancouver itself is dominant in the television and film industry, as it has the largest production facility outside of Los Angeles, with 13 sound stages spread over 30 acres. British Columbia is absolutely flush with millionaires. In 2008, Sotheby’s International listed 88 homes in Canada that were priced at $2 million or more -- 49 of them were in British Columbia. Perhaps a few high priced business executives living in the B.C. area would be willing to pony up for some of those corporate suites at Safeco Field – if the team had a winning and exciting product on the field. If the Mariners start winning on a consistent basis and drawing a sizeable Canadian television audience, I could see great potential in terms of corporate sponsorship advertisements during games and the dollars that could be generated for the club.

The Alberta television market is fairly impressive in size as well. Edmonton is the 5th Largest Television Market in Canada at 1,627,000 … and Calgary is the 6th Largest Television Market in Canada at 1,563,000.

Now the Blue Jays have TV broadcast rights throughout all of Canada …but they do share several markets with 3 other MLB teams --- the Red Sox (Nova Scotia) … the Twins (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) … and your Seattle Mariners (British Columbia and Alberta). So, Seattle and the Blue Jays are the only ones who broadcast in the British Columbia and Alberta markets.

You can click on the following link for yourself to see a map of those Major League TV Coverage Areas in Canada …

MLB Canadian TV Blackout Map

If we were to add together those 3 Canadian broadcast markets that the Mariners broadcast in to, we arrive at a fairly impressive figure …

Vancouver-Victoria (Canada’s 3rd Largest TV Market) … 3,413,000 people.
Edmonton (Canada’s 5th Largest Television Market) … 1,627,000 people.
Calgary (Canada’s 6th Largest Television Market) …1,563,000 people

Total Canadian Market Mariners Broadcast in to … 6,603,000 people

To put that in to perspective, the population of Washington State was 6,664,195 in July of 2009 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are a lot of rabid sports fans throughout Canada and most households have television. Over 92% of Canadian homes have either Cable or Satellite TV and Rogers Communications Inc. currently has nearly 2.3 million TV subscribers.

Now Canada does not use the Nielson rating system, but just to give us a rough idea, we can translate those numbers in to the Nielson system by comparing those areas to metropolitan areas of the United States.

At 3,439,809 people, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area is roughly the exact same size as the Vancouver-Victoria region --- that would give us 1,811,420 homes

At 1,600,852 people, the Providence-New Bedford-Fall River area (Rhode Island and Massachusetts) is roughly equivalent to the Edmonton and the surrounding region – that gives us 620,010 homes.

And since Calgary is just slightly smaller than that area, let’s just say it would be around 600,000 homes.

Combined all together, that would give us a grand total of …

Mariners … 5,627,760 homes (from Wash, OR, ID, MN, AK, and HI)
Vancouver-Victoria … 1,811,420 homes
Edmonton … 620,010 homes.
Calgary … 600,000 homes.
Grand Total … 8,659,190 homes for the Mariners Media Market.


So, those Canadian markets, in combination with those throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and even Hawaii give the Mariners a television market (and a potential audience) that rivals that of nearly anyone in Major League Baseball (outside of maybe the Yankees). :blink:

Since culturally those areas share a lot more in common with the rest of the Pacific Northwest (they are often included in discussions of the PNW) than they do with Toronto … and there are no other Major League Teams within the vicinity … those markets are absolutely ripe for the plucking. Imagine the impact that an exciting winning Mariners team would have for them. We’d be hearing, “Great game eh?” all the way down to Klamath Falls.

But business opportunities for the Mariners exist beyond the bounds of North America as well …


Banzai! …
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On November 9, 2000, the Seattle Mariners paid Japan’s Orix Blue Wave more than $13 million for the rights to negotiate a contract with Japan’s greatest superstar – Ichiro. Nine days later, he signed a 3 year deal with the Mariners for a reported $15-20 million. The rest, as we say, is history.

While Ichiro has had a great impact on the field during his time as a Mariner … he has had an equally great impact in terms of business and marketing for the Mariners and all of Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball controls all revenues that come from broadcasting and merchandise sales outside of the U.S. and Canada, so by rule teams must split all monies they obtain evenly with the rest of baseball’s 30 teams. Despite that fact though, Ichiro Suzuki has made the Mariners a mint during his time in Seattle in terms of merchandise sales … advertising dollars … and ticket sales through the gates of Safeco Field.

In February of 2005, the Seattle Business Journal contended, “The full value of Ichiro to the Mariners franchise is incalculable.” Indeed, Ichiro has had a huge impact not only on the Mariners, but on all of Major League Baseball. In November of 2003, Major League Baseball and Dentsu (a Japanese mega-advertising agency) signed a six-year $275 million to broadcast games (both on television and on radio) back to Japan. Ichiro is a Michael Jordan-like icon in Japan and his popularity with the Japanese audience was very much the key to that deal. MLB renewed that deal with Dentsu in June of 2009, which runs through the 2015 Season.

Japanese network NHK broadcast all 81 Mariners home games back to Japan back in 2001 along with 55 home and away games. Though NHK varied its coverage of MLB over time, Ichiro and the Mariners appear to be highly popular among the Japanese audience to this day. In March of 2008, Time Magazine ran a story on the immense popularity of American Baseball in Japan, stating that the American pastime was cutting in to television ratings for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. Despite complaints by many connected with NPB however, the NHK network announced that they would be broadcasting some 270 games in which Japan’s greatest stars were playing. That was more than twice the number of NPB games that the network planned to broadcast. At that time, NHK broadcasts reached over 13 million Japanese homes. Though ratings for evening games were generally higher than morning games, a regular season 8:30 a.m. game between the Mariners and Yankees that featured the first time Ichiro and Dice-K Matsuzaka had ever squared off drew a rating of 13.3% of the Japanese TV audience.

Millions of Japanese fans have watched Ichiro throughout the years, as evidenced by many Japanese firms who have advertised on billboards at Safeco Field and the numerous Japanese tourists who have visited Seattle.

In 2004 alone, the Mariners and Ichiro drew over 81,000 Japanese tourists to Seattle.

In March of 2008, MLB.com reported, “The Seattle Mariners experienced an increase of almost 60 percent in licensed merchandise when Ichiro Suzuki began playing in 2001.”

Wonder why there’s never been any serious talk of trading Ichiro?

Though there is no doubt Ichiro no longer the player he used to be, the very fact that Major League Baseball is considering having the Mariners and the A’s open the 2012 Season in Japan speaks to his continued popularity there.

Back in 2000, the Mariners bid of $13 million for Ichiro was far and away larger than any bid submitted by another other club. It was a highly aggressive move and a clear message that Principal owner Hiroshi Yamauchi was saying that he wanted him badly. Given the fact of just how profitable Ichiro has been over the years for this club … the fact that Ichiro’s career is rapidly nearing an end … and how clearly the financial impact of having Japanese players has been demonstrated … it is very curious as to why Yamauchi didn’t seem to be all that aggressive in his pursuit of Yu Darvish. As has been clearly shown, if the Japanese have a reason to watch American Baseball – they most certainly will.

Other Offshore Accounts …
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The World Baseball Classic has been a phenomenon that is helping to spread baseball throughout the world. Seventeen countries participated in the WBC back in 2009 and it was televised by 60 media outlets, in nine languages, to over 229 countries and territories throughout the world. The event set records for attendance, viewership, and sponsorship. Over the course of the 39 games of the WBC … 801,408 fans showed up to cheer on their national teams. ESPN televised nine of the events, which averaged 1,616,000 viewers (up 14% from the 2006 WBC) and a rating of 1.3 (up 8% from the 2006 WBC). Sponsors were quick to jump on the bandwagon, as 57 companies sponsored the event – more than double the number of sponsors (26) from 2006.

One needs only to look at the Mariners farm system to see evidence of the growing international appeal of the game. The late Greg Halman (Netherlands), Alex Liddi (Italy), and Cavan Cohoes (Germany) are all a testament to just how fast the popularity of baseball is spreading throughout the world.

Major League Baseball was quick to act following the 2009 World Baseball Classic, coming to extensions with Rogers SportsNet and Dentsu … and new agreements with 3 other media outlets – Meridiano, DIRECTV Latin America, and Network Ten.

Meridiano agreed to broadcast eight live MLB games a week throughout Venezuela in addition to the MLB All-Star Game, the Division Series, League Championship Series, and the World Series.

DIRECTV Latin America agreed to broadcast up to 4 games a week on their basic plan and up to 16 games a week (since extended to 22 games) on their extended package in Venezuela. They also agreed to offer MLB EXTRA INNINGS to fans in selected areas of the Caribbean and South America. DIRECTV Latin America provides service to over 6.5 million customers in Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, and other Latin American Countries.
With players like Felix Hernandez and Franklin Gutierrez on the roster, Venezuelans will no doubt be tuning in to Mariners games.

Major League Baseball International (MLBI) also came to an agreement with Australian based Network Ten, which agreed to broadcast no fewer than 3 live regular season games per week, the “This Week In Baseball” show, and the MLB Postseason in its entirety throughout Australia. In April of 2011, MLBI announced that it had reached an agreement with ONE HD in Australia to broadcast games. Imagine the Mariners popularity down under if Ryan Rowland-Smith, Travis Blackley, and Chris Snelling had actually panned out.

Major League Baseball is also viewed in Europe. Though it’s not highly popular among Europeans yet, there are people there who are interested in baseball (as evidenced by our friend Marco in Italy). Major League Baseball has been available there since 1942 through American Forces Network Europe radio broadcasts (TV broadcasts began in 1954). Today, Major League Baseball games can be seen throughout Europe on ESPN America and Sky Network. If Alex Liddi works out, the M’s certainly will corner the Italian Market – that’s for sure (sounds like a fairly small corner according to Marco).

Baseball clearly appears to be gaining traction in other parts of the globe though. Last season, MLBI renewed several deals with global media carriers and also forged brand new agreements with several others. These countries now broadcast MLB games and programs through the following networks: South Korea (OBS and OBS W), Cuba (TV Marti), Columbia (Mejia Group, IASN, and DIRECTV), China (Guangdong TV, Tianjin TV, and Xiamen Satellite TV), and Vietnam (VTC3). Other regions that also do so include: the Caribbean (IN Demand and DIRECTV), Mexico (Sky and Televista), South America (DIRECTV), Central America (IN Demand and Sky), and the Dominican Republic (DIRECTV).

Major League Baseball can even be seen in the Pacific Rim countries, the Middle East, and Africa through Fox Sports, ESPN International, and ESPN America. Those deals with ESPN’s sister networks, which run through 2013, broadcast more than 300 regular season games, the All-Star Game, the entire MLB Postseason, the World Series, Baseball Tonight, and This Week in Baseball to those regions.

In total, MLBI now has agreements with 102 radio and TV outlets throughout the globe, which show games in 20 different languages, to fans in 220 countries and territories.

Which means that combined with MLB.TV that American Professional Baseball can literally be viewed on all 7 continents almost anywhere on the planet (Yes – those crazy scientists like my brother-in-law can even watch MLB Games at McMurdo Station in Antarctica).

So for savvy minded teams out there … there is opportunity to make even money on an international scale.

Wait a minute MA. I thought you said that Major League Baseball dictates that all revenues from advertising or merchandise sales outside the United States and Canada must be shared with all 30 teams.

Well the answer to that is both YES … and NO – which leads us to our next discussion. And at stake is -- just who is in charge?


Master and Commander …

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Chris Bevilacqua of Belivacqua Media Company in New York joined 710 ESPN’s Brock and Salk on Wednesday (December 21st) of this past week and discussed television deals throughout Major League Baseball.

Chris Beva-whad-you-say? Who the heck is that?

Well, Chris Bevilacqua is the man who helped broker the absolute groundbreaking TV Deal with the Pac-12 and is also the man that helped negotiate the Rangers deal last year. (It’s an absolutely riveting interview. You can listen to it in its entirety by clicking on the link below)
[Chris Bevilacqua interview with Brock and Salk (12/21/11 – begins at 15:12]

When asked by Mike Salk how these deals impacted the Mariners, Bevilacqua answered, “Well the rising tide benefits all boats …”

He’s absolutely right. And if Bevilacqua were here right now I’d tell him,“Yes -- but the problem is the tide keeps rising at an alarming rate.”

Only July 13th, 2007, Just 4 months prior to the Mariners deal (on July 13th, 2007), Fox Sports Net Arizona and the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that they had reached an 8-year deal that runs through the 2015 Season. At $225 million, the TV deal means the Diamondbacks receive an average of $28.125 million a season and roughly $156,000 per game.

Just 4 months later on November 8, 2007, the Seattle Mariners and Fox Sports Northwest announced that they had signed a deal “featuring one of the great numbers in cable TV sports history.”

Art Thiel, writing for the Seattle-P.I. at the time, said of the deal …

“The deal is so good neither FSN nor the Mariners want to comment publicly on the amount. But sources in the sports and broadcast industries say the total value is more than $450 million.
The current FSN deal, which was scheduled to expire in 2010, was worth about $300 million, which in 2000 was considered a breathtaking number. The new deal pretty much sucks the rest of the air out of the room.”


Seattle’s $450 million extension, which runs through the 2020 season, makes the Mariners a whole lot more than $156,000 a game. Last year, Deadspin.com made some waves when the controversial website posted actual financial documents they had obtained from several MLB teams including the Mariners. According to those documents, here is a comparison of what the Mariners and Angels were earning in TV and Radio Revenues for the following years …

TV and Radio Revenues
(based upon actual MLB documents obtained By Deadspin.com)

Mariners
2007 -- $60,182,000
2008 -- $64,365,000

Angels
2008 – $42,967,000
2009 -- $45,998,000

Last year on September 27, 2010, the Rangers and Fox Sports Southwest signed a 20 year deal worth a reported $3 billion that will pay them between $75-80 million in TV revenues annually.

This year at Baseball’s GM Winter Meetings it came to light that the Angels and Fox Sports West had come to an agreement that exceeds that, as the deal also reportedly includes an ownership stake in FSW (the Rangers deal didn’t include that). That deal now could pay the Angels up to $150 million a year!

And the tide could be rising much higher than that fairly quickly. Once the situation surrounding the Dodgers is worked out in court and the team is finally sold the bidding between Fox and Time Warner Cable for their TV rights is expected to commence. The Dodgers’ deal with Fox runs out after the 2013 Season and the Dodgers had batted around the idea of launching 2 TV cable networks on their own (1 in English and 1 in Spanish). The number that is being thrown out there right now for the Dodgers is $4 billion!

So since 2007, the level of baseball’s tides have risen over 4 ½ times. Talk about Global Warming.

Now just 4 years later, that deal the Mariners signed with Fox is completely obsolete. The deal that once “sucked the air out of the room” is now sucking the air out of the Mariners’ sails and the sails of all those other teams who signed similar now inferior deals.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, teams looked to “one-up” one another by building shinier, fancier stadiums as teams looked to maximize revenues. New stadiums like Camden Yards (opened 1992) were quickly followed by others like Jacobs (now Progressive) Field (opened 1994) …Coors Field (opened 1995) … Turner Field (opened 1996)… Chase Field (opened 1998) … Safeco Field (opened 1999) … Comerica Park (opened 2000) … and so on. Now … it’s all about TV contracts, as teams are looking to do the exact same thing there.

The teams that are truly doing the best though are masters of their own ship …rather than simply hiring themselves out as deckhands on someone else’s …
Regional Sports Networks (RSN’s) are cable television networks that provide sports programming to local markets. These networks generate income via advertising, through cable customer subscriber fees, through selling air time for other sporting and recreation programs, and by selling off popular programs to other out of market networks that might want to carry them. The vast majority of the dollars that flow in to these RSN’s – the lion’s share of the income that is generated – comes through advertising during professional and collegiate sports events. Because of that harsh financial reality, MLB teams have recently either been committing acts of piracy, making RSN’s walk the plank by giving them a share of the network itself as part of their TV deals … or charting their own course and becoming captains of their own RSN’s.

And one thing that RSN’s allow savvy teams to do is to play the shell game. Pay attention now.

Is the money here in under this shell? (in the team’s coffers) … or under this one? (in the network’s accounts)? Mix ‘em, mix ‘em, round we go – wherever it is, nobody knows.

Teams that have ownership stakes in their own RSN can make money playing by the rules through all the ways described above -- but … they can also round the bases outside the baselines proscribed by Major League Baseball as well. MLB mandates revenue sharing for all teams, but monies could be stowed away in a variety of ways. Team owners and executives could become “cable customers” and charged outrageous subscription fees by the RSN. Advertising dollars coming from outside the United States and Canada could get mysteriously lost in the holds of the RSN (strange things happen with such long journeys). Opportunities for such skullduggery are endless.

Let’s take a look at some notable examples of teams with their own RSN’s …

The New York Yankees …
The Yankees own 36% of the YES Network with Goldman-Sachs & Co. the controlling stake holder (with 40%) and former Nets Owner Raymond Chambers holding a share of the network as well. YES was the top Regional Sports Network in 2009, with a reported revenue of $417.1 million. In 2007, Bloomberg believed that a sale of the network would fetch $2 billion … while Money magazine contended that a “full and fair” price for the entire network would be between $3 and $3.5 billion (in other words far more than the Yankees franchise itself!)

2011 Franchise Value: $1.7 Billion (#1 overall)
2011 Revenue: $427 Million (#1 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $196,854,630 (#1 overall)


The Boston Red Sox …
The Red Sox, own 80% of the New England Sports Network with the Boston Bruins owning the other 20%. In 2006, the New England Sports Network brought in $125 million in revenue from its 4 million subscribers. In 2009, NESN led all Regional Sports Networks in ratings (9.5), a distinction they’d held since winning the World Series in 2004. Estimates have placed the value of the NESN network itself as high as $2 to $3 billion.

2011 Franchise Value: $912 Million (#2 overall)
2011 Revenue: $272 Million (#2 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $160,257,476 (#3 overall)


The Chicago Cubs …
The Chicago White Sox …

Like the mafia throughout the 1920s, Chicago’s sports teams rule the sports television industry there. The Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks each own 20% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago with Comcast itself owning the remaining 20% of the network. In April of this past year, close to 7 million people watched the network.

Chicago Cubs …
2011 Franchise Value: $773 Million (#4 overall)
2011 Revenue: $258 Million (#3 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $126,380,663 (#6 overall)

Chicago White Sox …
2011 Franchise Value: $526 Million (#10 overall)
2011 Revenue: $210 Million (#10 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $129,285,539 (#5 overall)


The New York Mets …
Broadcasts for Mets games can be seen through SportsNet New York (SNY), which was launched by the Mets and Time Warner in 2006. Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz own 65% of the network with Time Warner (27%) and Comcast (8%) through its majority interest in NBCUniversal controlling the rest. In February of 2011, the New York Times reported that SNY brings in about $120 million a year in revenue and that the overall value of the network could be worth $1 billion (again, more than the Mets organization itself).

2011 Franchise Value: $747 Million (#5 overall)
2011 Revenue: $233 Million (#6 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $120,147,311 (#7 overall)


The San Francisco Giants …
On December 10, 2007, Comcast and Fox Sports (co-owners of Fox Sports Net Bay Area) announced they had sold the Giants an interest in the network. In exchange, the Giants signed a 25 year contract that enables FSNBA to exclusively show up to 135 games a year. As of that date, the Giants own 30% of the FSNBA with Comcast (45%) and Fox Sports (25%) owning the rest. FSN Bay Area had nearly 4 million cable and satellite subscribers at the time.

2011 Franchise Value: $563 Million (#7 overall)
2011 Revenue: $230 Million (#7 overall)
2011 Player Payroll: $117,784,333 (#8 overall)

Those are some of the top valued franchises according to Forbes Magazine. Now that the Angels have signed their deal with Fox, that means that 8 out of the top 10 most valued franchises either have controlling interest in an RSN (with the Dodgers and Phillies being the only exceptions). Those teams are also 7 of the top 10 in terms of overall revenue … and all of them were in the top 10 in terms of amount spent on player payroll last year.

But alas, the Mariners are on a boat paddling slowly down the River Styx … and can’t even begin to entertain any notion of joining the fast fleet of RSN clipper ships streaking away until at least 2020 …

… or are they?


Advancing to Go …
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On December 19th, Mike Ozanian of Forbes Magazine wrote a piece that sent shock waves throughout the Seattle sports community (Marshawn, was that you again?). Ozanian claims that the deal the Mariners signed with Fox has an out clause after the 2015 season … and that according to consultants they too could be in line to get as much as $70 million a year or more from ROOT Sports (DirecTV bought FSNW from Fox). What DirecTV apparently fears that Comcast could swoop in and give the Mariners the same basic deal that’s in place with Comcast SportsNet Chicago (discussed above) … or the one they made with the Astros and Rockets in October of 2010 (the Astros and Rockets both control just under 80% of the new Comcast SportsNet Houston).

Such a deal would certainly be mind-blowing to say the least … but what if the Mariners were to cut the strings and navigate their own course? Could the Mariners actually succeed in launching their own RSN?

Well, the popularity of the Mariners in the Northwest and beyond goes without saying …

As we all know, the Mariners 1995 Miracle Run created an absolute Woodstock-like Kum Ba Yah love fest between the region and the team … and attendance for games reflected that. From the end of the 1995 Season to the end of 1996 Season 1,080,647 more fans came through the Kingdome’s gates.

And following that season and for 8 consecutive seasons (1996-2003) the Seattle Mariners led all MLB teams in television ratings – that's right, they ranked #1 in TV ratings in all of baseball!

Even as late as 2007, TV ratings for the M’s were so good (8.2 -- which was 2nd only to the Red Sox) that the Mariners actually considered starting their own RSN.

I’ve been arguing for the past couple years or so now that the Mariners made a huge mistake in not starting up their own RSN back then. I contended that such a venture not only could have significantly benefited the Mariners, but also potentially the entire Northwest as well. If the Mariners found the start-up costs of an RSN to be simply too expensive to manage by themselves, they could look for potential partners to go in on it with them. Such an enterprise might have been attractive to the Sonics and (who knows) might have helped keep the team in Seattle. They might have also looked South to pair with the Blazers – think Paul Allen wouldn’t be interested? The Mariners, Blazers, and Sounders (or maybe the new NBA Team) could all potentially team up to form their own RSN. In turn, the extra monies garnered from the RSN could help to fund a new NBA and hockey friendly arena in Seattle – opening the door for the NHL and the return of professional basketball there.

Well, it’s taken awhile … but it slowly looks like several in Seattle are starting to see the light including some of the media. 710 ESPN’s Mike Salk discussed that very topic in the following Post-Show Wrap-Up – asking the question of whether or not the Mariners could actually launch their own RSN and if such a network could in turn help lure the NBA and NHL to Seattle …

Source:
Could a Mariners TV network lure the NHL & NBA?

Chris Bevilacqua -- the man who orchestrated the Texas Rangers' groundbreaking TV deal and manufactured the PAC 12 Media deal --- had this to say regarding the idea of the Mariners starting their own RSN …

Pitman: “With the size of the Market – Seattle the 12th largest market [MA interject – we’ve shown the M’s market is much bigger than that] – and then you’ve got L.A. and Houston and these much bigger markets that are coming up with these billion dollar figured television deals -- does that work against the Mariners substantially -- the fact that like you just mentioned, there aren’t that many teams, organizations, sports that they’re going to be competing with – or can even team with to form their own RSN? I mean, what kind of challenges does that present the Mariners –that they’ve got such a gigantic territorial footprint without pro sports (except for their own sport) to market?”

Bevilacqua: “Well, I think it’s probably more of an opportunity than it is a challenge. I mean, it’s an area where they can continue to be (and along with the Seahawks, right) the dominant professional sports franchise there in what is still one of the top 15 markets in the United States – and it’s a very dense market, which is why the subscription TV market there is still (all things considered) a very healthy, robust business. And so if you can continue to dominate the local sports landscape and stay ahead of all the rest of the sports franchises in that market you’re going to be in a very, very good position. And there’s plenty of – there’s a few places around that have started their own team owned RSN’s with only a single baseball team, so it’s not (you know) impossible to do. And in fact that might be a terrific opportunity for them.”


Bevilacqua was asked what his strategy would be right now if he was the Mariners and looking for that big payday …

Bevilacqua:“Well, that’s a good question. It’s definitely not a one sized fits all strategy. I mean, each market and each franchise has its own unique characteristics. I mean, one of the things – you don’t really have in that market, right, any winter sports so to speak on a professional level. Right? You’ve got the Sonics moved out – there’s no hockey – so you’re really dealing with a market that’s clearly a baseball market – it’s a fairly large market. And you’ve got the Sounders there and you’ve got a whole bunch of college sports programming on the service. I mean, obviously when you win, right? more people come to your games and more people watch your games on TV. So, I would think you’d want to, over the next couple of years, if you’re the Mariners to continue to stay competitive on the field – really try to establish and widen the brand of the Seattle Mariners in that market. That might require some additional investments around marketing the product. But you want to stay relevant. You want to stay dominant in that market – and set yourself up to be in a great position to – if and when your media rights come in to the market.



Source:
[Chris Bevilacqua interview with Brock and Salk (12/21/11 – begins at 15:12]


So while it appears the Mariners could realistically buy Boardwalk and Advance To Go after 2015, a lot of other factors are in play …


"You've Lost That Loving Feeling, Now It's Gone, Gone, Gone -- Oh, Whoa, Whoa ..."
Posted Image

Mariners minority owner Chris Larson (who owns 30.6% of the team) is going through a fairly nasty divorce right now – the details of which have been very insightful in terms of the true financial situation of the team.

Prior to the 2011 Season, Forbes had valued the Mariners at $449 Million (the 15th most valued professional baseball franchise). Two court-ordered financial appraisers; however, have placed the value of the Mariners much higher than that.

The appraiser on Chris Larson’s side valued the Mariners at $551 Million (that would rank #10 on Forbes’s list – and just $3 million behind the Angels) …

… while the one on his wife’s side concluded the M’s were worth $750 Million (which would rank #5 on that list … $3 Million ahead of the Mets).

Judge William Downing in his ruling ended up concluding the Mariners were worth $641 Million (which would cement them firmly in at #6 on Forbes’s list ahead on the Phillies).

Regardless of which figure you accept, it’s not like the Mariners are standing in line for Soup at the Union Gospel Mission. But in many ways the Mariners are certainly acting like they are …

Jack Zduriencik was hired as GM on October 24, 2008. Payroll for the 2008 Season was $117,666,482 … but in 2011, player payroll came in at $84,865,600. So, since being hired by the Mariners as their GM, Zduriencik has been asked by ownership to work with roughly 30% less financial resources than his predecessor Bill Bavasi. The message coming from the Front Office isn’t truly one of “we’re going to do everything humanly possible to re-take this division and become a perennial World Series contender.” Instead, the rhetoric coming out of the GM’s office is of building from within using primarily inexpensive home grown talent to fill out the majority of the roster spots. The problem with that approach as I’ve discussed in the past; however, is that it takes between 7 and 8 years between the time a player is drafted and the time he’s truly Major League ready. If the Mariners truly want to hold on to Felix Hernandez like they say they do, he will be long gone – as he’s again a free agent after the 2014 Season. And as the A’s just demonstrated with their trades of Trevor Cahill and now closer Andrew Bailey for pennies on the dollar --- Moneyball in a lot of ways simply doesn’t work anymore. Good teams don’t just build through their farm system … they also supplement through Free Agency and are aggressive in going after the best of the best. I’d say the very fact that Jack Zduriencik has been chasing after Prince Fielder as hard as he has this offseason demonstrates that he knows that to be true as well. Unless Jack Zduriencik starts dancing around and screaming, “I’ll show you the money!!!” to Prince at the top of his lungs (like Tom Cruise to Cuba Gooding, Jr.) though, I find it highly unlikely Fielder’s coming here. That’s because whether we’re talking about bringing Prince Fielder TO Seattle … or trying to keep Felix Hernandez IN Seattle -- it’s two sides of the same exact conversation. Beyond the money and all the other features of a region that might draw players and their families to a particular team (i.e. the weather, nice beaches, good schools, good community, etc.) – players want to be in a situation where they feel they can win. And winning is something this Mariners team hasn’t been doing a lot of lately …

The Mariners lost 101 games in 2008 … lost 101 games again in 2010 … and lost 95 more last season. Since the 2002 Season, the Mariners have seen a lot of losing at the ticket window too, as 1,644,161 fans less fans showed up for games last season than they did in 2002 – a drop in attendance of 47%.

That doesn’t sound a lot like the formula for success Bevilacqua described of “staying competitive on the field”“staying relevant”“staying dominant in the market” … and “really try[ing] to establish and widen the brand of the Seattle Mariners.”

Now that the Astros will be joining the AL West, the actions of the Mariners organization really don’t make much sense at all. The Astros and Angels now both have significant ownership stakes in the RSN’s and will continue to draw huge paychecks as a result. The Rangers deal reportedly pays them between $75-80 million a year – far and away more than the Mariners are making through their TV deal. If the Mariners truly wish to put themselves in the best possible negotiating position when 2015 rolls around, you’d think they’d be trying harder to do all the things Bevilacqua mentioned.

Nope, their actions don’t make a whole lot of sense from where I’m sitting.

Unless, that is, Mariner owners and executives are afraid of the Mayan Prophecy about the End of the World in 2012. (To that -- I’d simply point out the over 242 incorrect predictions of the End of the World. )

If the goal of the Mariners is to win and to maximize their position, you’d think they’d be a lot more proactive and aggressive in their efforts of trying to take this division back.

But perhaps, the Mariners owners have an entirely different goal in mind. If they were gearing up to sell the team, their actions might in fact make some sense.

If Mariner ownership was in fact looking to sell the team, you might see a lot of cost-cutting moves – getting rid of a lot of dead wood without planting a lot of new pricey trees. In all likelihood, you’d see lower payrolls and wouldn’t see a whole lot of long term high priced deals being made. Well, Ichiro’s contract runs out after 2012 … the deal with Chone Figgins runs out after 2013 – same thing with Franklin Gutierrez. That makes Felix Hernandez the only true big contract on the books at this point.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the principal owner of the Mariners (who owns 55% of the team) has undergone extreme financial hardship over the past few years. In 2008, Forbes ranked Yamauchi as Japan’s richest person with a personal net worth of $7.8 billion. As of March 2011, Forbes listed Yamauchi’s net worth at $4.6 Billion. So, in a little over 3 years, Yamauchi has lost nearly ½ of his personal assets. Yamauchi’s always been aloof and has never appeared all that truly involved in running the day to day operations of the Mariners. Geoff Baker claims that the “Word on the street has always been that he would ultimately cede control to Larson” thus phasing himself out and turning over the club to local ownership. If that’s true, that might make sense of why the Mariners didn’t appear to get all that heavily involved in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes and why there’s apparently been no talk at this point of extending Ichiro’s contract. Why have a Japanese presence on this team if your Japanese majority owner is looking to get out?

Though Chris Larson does have right of first refusal over Yamauchi’s stake in the club, but will he honestly be looking to continue being an owner himself now that Judge William Downing ruled that he owes his ex-wife Julia Calhoun $180 million – and is solely responsible for paying over $150 million in debts that the couple owes on 2 accounts – to say nothing of the expenses attached the charities he runs and the fact that he lives like Richie Rich.

Baker doesn’t believe that these guys will be Mariners owners for too much longer and frankly, neither do I.


"Everybody Wants To Rule The World ..."
Posted Image

The skies overhead are ominously dark … an endless horde of Uruk-Hai soldiers surround the great fortress of Helm’s Deep … and all appears lost. But somewhere in the distance a rooster crows … a single shaft of light breaks through the clouds … and a dazzling figure comes barreling down the hill leading the charge straight headlong in to the sea of foes.

Chris Hansen could very well be that man leading that charge. According to the Seattle Times, Hansen, a multi-millionaire San Francisco investor with strong Seattle roots, is looking in to build an NBA arena south of Safeco and working with another unnamed man from Bellevue who wishes to bring the NHL to Seattle. Might that unnamed man be Steve Ballmer, who lives in Hunts Point? – that’s basically Bellevue area. He was highly involved in trying save the Sonics before they ultimately were shanghaied and hustled out of town by Clay Bennett and company. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that if the Mariners were to come up for sale that Hansen, Ballmer, or someone like Paul Allen could step in and seize such an opportunity? Hardly.

One thing's for sure -- the Mariners and the situation surrounding their TV contract wouldn't be just a good deal --- it would be a Moby Dick White Whale of an opportunity for some potential owner out there if the team truly goes up for sale. An owner or group of owners could land the Mariners ... and then use the extra dollars created through the RSN to finance a new NBA and NHL ready stadium for the city of Seattle -- thus opening up the door for the NHL and the return of NBA basketball to the Seattle area. An owner who chose to buy the Mariners could then be in line to additionally own an NBA and/or NHL franchise as well.

Such a man ... or men ... would certainly be Master of the Seattle Sports World -- as the Mariners could realistically be the key to the city that finally opens all the locks ... and makes it all happen. If that happens, those new owners would not only have harpooned for themselves a whopper of a prize ... but would also have given many exasperated Mariners and Seattle Sports fans some of the greatest Christmas presents they could have ever asked for. ;)

MA


Sources (by Section):


Introduction ...

http://www.latimes.c...0,4052777.story

http://www.dallasnew...0-year-2344.ece

http://www.forbes.co...ns-11_land.html

http://www.tvb.org/m...d_DMA_RANKS.pdf

Sizing up the Competition …

2011-2012 Nielson Ratings …
http://www.tvb.org/m...d_DMA_RANKS.pdf

Map of Major League TV Coverage Areas …
http://www.bizofbase...Map1000x733.gif

Take Off to the Great White North … Take Off – It’s a Beauty Way to Go …

Major League TV Coverage Areas in Canada (link below) …
http://en.wikipedia....lackout_map.PNG

www.tvb.ca/page_files/ppt/Canadian%20TV%20Industry.ppt

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://www.theglobea...article1573238/

http://www.vancouver...ustry_overview/

http://www.bbm.ca/_d..._12-08-2011.pdf

http://northwest.roo...TCLID=205127610

Banzai! …

http://www.bizjourna...ry1.html?page=2

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://seattletimes....6_albeat02.html

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://www.sportsbus...Dentsu Inc&sc=0

http://sportsillustr.../ichiro_nhk_ap/

http://www.time.com/...l#ixzz1hCvi2zta

http://www.notablebi...uki-Ichiro.html

http://seattletimes....arijapan21.html

Other Offshore Accounts …

Personal Message with Marco on December 23, 2011

http://www.ibaf.org/...98-3d931edbb6f5

http://bizofbaseball...sion&Itemid=122

http://seattle.marin...t=.jsp&c_id=sea

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://www.bizjourna...ry1.html?page=2

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://seattletimes....6_albeat02.html

http://mlb.mlb.com/n...t=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://www.sportsbus...Dentsu Inc&sc=0

http://www.nytimes.c...l/20matsui.html

http://sportsillustr.../ichiro_nhk_ap/

http://www.time.com/...l#ixzz1hCvi2zta

http://seattletimes....arijapan21.html

http://www.iiqi.org/...papers/cho1.pdf

http://www.aolnews.c...-in-antarctica/

Master and Commander …

http://www.bizofbase...t...&Itemid=122

http://www.bizofbase...t...n&Itemid=52

http://blog.nielsen....0-dma-ranks.pdf

http://seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/sto.../28/story1.html

http://www.bizofbase...t...s&Itemid=39

http://deadspin.com/...i...ne=true&s=i

http://articles.lati...ers-tv-20100808

http://www.sportsbus...m/article/64848

http://www.bizofbase...t...&Itemid=122

http://deadspin.com/...kyline=true&s=i

http://www.sportsbus...SN-Is-No-1.aspx

http://tvbythenumber...-in-2009/54370/

http://www.bloomberg...id=aTcfoWsgk6Yg

http://money.cnn.com...rtune/index.htm

http://www.seattlepi...gth-1255126.php

http://www.azcentral...13dbtv0713.html

http://www.latimes.c...0,4052777.story

http://articles.lati...ers-tv-20100808

http://www.nytimes.c...ball/03sny.html

http://www.nytimes.c...arketplace.html

http://online.wsj.co...0857245246.html

http://espn.go.com/b...ts-not-official

http://chicagoradioa...merger-tomorrow

http://www.chicagono...ture-direction/

http://fangsbites.co...as-a-big-april/

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  • 13


#146991 Why This Year Is Different

Posted by Sandy - Raleigh on 23 April 2013 - 05:04 AM

With all due respect Sandy lines like he above is what annoys the hell out of me about the apologist/everything is sunshine crowd. It hasn't been only 3 weeks, it's pretty much been 10 flippin' years.

Dumb luck isn't the reason the Mariners have sucked for the better part of 10 years, its incompetence, whether some want to admit that or not!


I am first and foremost a Braves fan.
I became a Braves fan in 1970, when I got to hold a baseball a neighbor owned that had been signed by the '69 Braves, including Hank Aaron. As an 8-year-old that kind of thing is huge.

From 1970-1990 the Braves made the post-season one time.
In that span, they managed to reach 83 wins exactly 3 times and had a single trip to the post-season where they got swept 3-0 in the NLCS.

In the past 20 years, the Ms have been to the playoffs 4 times.
They have won 85 or more games in 5 seasons outside of the 4 playoff trips.

So, with all due respect back to you ... from MY perspective ... in terms of following an incompetent franchise ... Seattle fans are ameteurs. Talk to some Cubs fans about incompetence. Or the Royals. Or better yet, talk to anyone who has followed the Pirates since 1992 ... the last season they won 80. Or go find an old Montreal Expo fan, who not only lost their team completely, but even lost the franchise name. Before last season, the last time they played a post-season game was the year Reagan was sworn into office, (the first time). And just to rub salt into the Montreal wound ... the one season where they actually won the most games in the division was a strike year, so they didn't even get to play a playoff game that year. Milwaukee didn't see the post-season from 1983-2007 ... that's 25 consecutive years of sitting home. Heck, the Rangers went 35 seasons before reaching the playoffs for the first time.

That said ... I am NOT preaching "everything is sunshine". My take on THIS team is that it has .500 talent. Not .600 talent. Not run-away-with-the-division talent. They are (on paper), a .500 team. That makes them SIGNIFICANTLY better than most of the teams since 2004. (I think there is only one of those I could honestly say appeared to have .500 talent ... though two of them managed to win 85 games anyway).

Do I "expect" Seattle to win this year? No. And I didn't expect it when they were punishing the Cactus League and most Seattle fans were drooling over the prospect of winning 150 games this year.

You want to know the truth ... based on actual baseball history ... not on emotional responses influenced heavily by unrealistic expectations?

The truth is, *most* bad franchise teams that start a season hot crumble and fade. Not always. But, mostly. Most of the teams that actually turn things around don't just jump out of the gate and go wire to wire. Last year Oakland was 37-42 before they learned how to win.

Baltimore actually did start out hot, and were 28-16 and 2 games up on May 22nd. But, by July 17th, they were 46-44 and 10 games back. They had just lost two games to the Twinkies 7-19 and 4-6. They had every reason to quit at that point. After all, the last time Baltimore had seen post-season was 1997, (also the last time they had a winning season).

Seattle fans can certainly whine about their team since 2003, (when they won 93). But let us compare Baltimore and Seattle W/L totals from 2004 through last year:

Year - Sea - Balt
2004 - 63 -- 78
2005 - 69 -- 74
2006 - 78 -- 70
2007 - 88 -- 69
2008 - 61 -- 68
2009 - 85 -- 64
2010 - 61 -- 66
2011 - 67 -- 69
2012 - 75 -- 93

Baltimore didn't have a couple of winning seasons to remove any of the sting of incompetence. They got steadily worse from 2004-2009 ... and counted '10 and '11 as improvement from where they had been, (despite not winning 70 for 5 years)

Baltimore didn't become a winner in April. Looking back ... that moment ... 10 games back ... poised to be powerflushed under the .500 line by the miserable Twinkies, Baltimore said "No" and won the next 5 in a row. That wasn't the end of the struggle though. They would lose 5 of the next 6 , (scoring 1 run in 4 of those 5 losses). And then on July 29th they beat Oakland 6-1 ... and followed that up by taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees in Yankee stadium.

Franchises turn things around when at some random moment in the middle of a season *something* happens ON THE FIELD. Baltimore did not win last year because the organization made "all the right moves". They made fewer wrong moves, IMO ... (abandoning the "Derek Lee / Vlad ... please save us" plan from 2011, and electing to go with their youth and let them stand or fall on their own).

Oakland went 11-13 in March/April and 11-16 in May. They were 37-42 two games away from the mid-point and 13 games out. They had just lost 3 games in Arlington: 6-7; 3-4; 2-7. Their season was OVER. But, then they beat Darvish in the final game 3-1 to avoid being swept. Then they swept Boston and took 2 of 3 from Seattle, (losing a 1-7 game against Vargas was all that prevented a 10-game winning streak).

The point here is that Oakland turn-around began on July 1st. Not in April or May or even June.

*IF* the Mariners become a winning team, it will be decided in July or August ... not in April. I'm not saying they will. They may not. They could surge in July ... then crash in August. I've seen it happen. But, THIS CLUB has more talent than any Mariner team since 2004. Of that I have no doubt. And not only do they have more talent ... they also have more potential for improvement than any team since 2004.

=========

You know why this year is really different from every year since 2004?

From 2004-2011 ... players like Bay and Ibanez would have been brought in with the INTENT for them to be the full-time starters. The guys "competent" teams bring in to be a veteran off the bench, (Carl Everett, Vidro, Branyan, Griffey, Jack Wilson, Milton Bradley, Olivo, Cust, Ryan), were instead being brought in to be full time starters.

Ryan is the last holdover from that era of he-wouldn't-start-for-anybody-but-us. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan swapped out by mid-season if his bat isn't up to his .700 ceiling.

It may be only one game ... and it may only be Houston. But Montero, Smoak and Ackley all had great games. It's the kind of game that "can" start an avalanche of runs ... (not WILL ... but CAN).

You know what *I* see?

I see Kyle Seager slowly taking over this team. I see a kid with no fear ... who steps to the plate EXPECTING to hit a double every time up. I see a kid who was never especially patient LEARNING to be just a bit more selective. I see Ackley, who played with Seager (and was better), realizing ... "heck, I can do everything he can do."

I can see a future where Ackley and Smoak both start going to the plate thinking ... "I'm going to hit doubles like Kyle" and suddenly looking comfortable at the plate as their averages and OBPs begin climbing.

I can *ALSO* see a future where management continues trying to force hitters to be something they are not ... and the hideous performances from the Big 3 hitting prospects continues. I can *ALSO* see a future where the clubhouse does crumble and we are back to the blame game and another 61 win season is on the horizon.

But *BOTH* of those futures are FUTURES. They are not today. Today, you have a young team *attempting* to find itself. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. But this team is NOTHING like any team the club has fielded since the losing began.
  • 10


#125424 The Lincoln Letter

Posted by Tuner on 24 July 2011 - 06:59 PM

I tend to think of it more as a form letter that gets updated every year. In fact, here's what I received in the mail just yesterday. I don't think the secretary made the proper modifications:

__________________________________________________________________________________

To: Mariner's Season Ticket Holders
From: Howard Lincoln/Chuck Armstrong
Subject: Our Plan for the Future

Dear valued season ticket holder,

Like you, we are heavily disappointed and troubled by the serious failure in performance by the 2004 2005 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 Seattle Mariners Baseball team.

When we hired Mike Hargrove John McLaren Jim Riggleman Don Wakamatsu Eric Wedge to manage the team for the 2004 2005 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 season our hopes were high for a performance more befitting the investment of 117 Million 98 Million 91 Million a highly competitive amount of funds allocated to salary.

While it is true that our recent investment in Milton Bradley Carlos Silva Yuniesky Betancourt Jack Wilson Chone Figgins has not yet paid the expected dividends on the field, we are confident that with a little patience, he will soon return to his 2009 performance levels and help to lead us yet again in our strong playoff tradition!

It should help you to know that our optimism remains at the highest levels. It is our strong feeling that we, as a team, are close to a breakthrough that will put us over the top and cause us to dominate the American League West for the long-foreseeable future. It is our profound belief that the addition of just one or two additional grizzled veterans to our mix of highly talented rookies like Wladimir Balentien Jeff Clement Matt Tuiasosopo Adam Moore Michael Sanders Carlos Pegero Matt Mangini? will give us the toughness necessary to rise to the top of our division. To further encourage you, you should know that we have already signed Jeff Cirillo Scott Spezio Carlos Silva Ronny Cedeno Eric Byrnes Ian Snell Casey Kotchman Ken Griffey Jr. Mike Sweeney Jack Cust Jack Wilson an exceptional talent, only a few years removed from an all-star season. He is fully recovered from his surgery, his legs are fresh after 2 years of rehab, and we believe that he is sure to experience a career resurgence (at the youthful age of 34) that is sure to provide just that one missing ingredient separating us from true greatness! Hold on to your hats -- we have signed him for 4 more seasons for the economical figure of 42.5 million! Woo hooo! Exciting days are clearly ahead!

Our thanks for your continued support. As per your previous season ticket agreement, we have pre-billed your credit card (we took the liberty of updating your expiration date) for this next season and added a free upgrade -- contrasting colored armrests to your seats -- signifying your new prestige as a long-time Mariner's supporter. You needn't thank us, your money is sufficient reward.

We also want you to know that the Safeco Field Experience ™ will be better than ever -- and you know just how good it has been in the past! Our food court will now feature the addition of both Russian and English Style restaurants along with 5, yes count them 5, new 'fair trade' coffee blends.

Our new entertainment additions will include bouncy houses on the main concourse (children ages 3-5 with parent -- no shoes) and an additional color of hydroplane in the big screen races. We think the new Northwest Green ™ boat will be a big hit. And let me not forget the new dance move the ground crew have been preparing -- it should be truly spectacular!

One more thing -- we want to introduce our newest sub-mascot -- wait for it.. .. .. .. .. .. .. The RALLY SQUIRREL™!!!! This ENTIRELY unique character is rooted in Northwest Tradition ™ (who hasn't enjoyed one of these little critters as they rummage through your garbage on trash day?). And we will be hosting a contest to name the little fellow next month (please limit your entries to names that rhyme with Ballard). This should be barrels of fun [note: no connection whatever to a barrel of monkeys] and should be a riot when we release him in a section near you! Perhaps as big of a hit as this years' Mariners!

Wow, where has the time gone! In closing, we want you to know that both of us, Chuck and Howard, promise that we will be with you through thick and thin for as long as we draw breath.

Your Forever Mariner Management Team,

Chuck & Howard
  • 10


#111978 Rob Johnson Traded to the Padres for.....PTBNL

Posted by wufners on 21 December 2010 - 09:32 PM

I heard he had a limited no trade clause. But when he tried to block the trade, he missed and it rolled through his legs to San Diego.
  • 10


#176922 Drunk Posting...

Posted by Lonnie on 07 October 2016 - 07:52 PM

Ok, so, I haven't been around much this past year, but I've had a ton of changes going on in my life.  Thankfully, one thing that hasn't changed, and won't in the foreseeable future, is this site.  I have no intention of taking this sucker down as long as one person still uses it.

 

Guys and gals...  I love you!


  • 9


#148275 Nothing ever improves...

Posted by Huindekmi on 14 May 2013 - 10:16 AM

There's been a lot of consternation about how certain players have started the season, including a few fans out there yelling for the immediate release of darn near everyone on the team and for the bulk of Tacoma's roster to be called up. That, of course, was followed by other fans chastising the worriers, reminding them that the season is still early.

As with most things in life, there are no absolutes. The long baseball season does have an ebb and flow to it. Some players start hot. Some cold. Some get injured. Some return from injury. Over a six month season, teams and players MUST make adjustments in their quest to win. Sometimes that means getting rid of one player in favor of another. Sometimes that means giving a guy the time to work it out on the field. Sometimes that means benching a guy for a few games to get his attention.

The tough part is knowing which course is the right one for a particular player. From a fan's perspective, we don't get those in-house details. We just get to watch the ups and downs and attempts to right the ship. Most years, the team identifies issues and fixes them as the year progresses - often slower than fans would like, but changes should eventually occur. Usually when changes are slow in coming, there are either contractual issues at stake (something we fans couldn't care less about) or questions about whether a replacement player is ready and capable of outperforming the guy he's replacing. There's no use in making moves purely out of frustration. The point has to be in making the team better.

Which brings up the question... have the M's been able to make changes mid-season to improve the club? And how bad do things have to get before they finally pull the trigger?

Time to go find out!

Below you'll find a graph for each position, as well as for the offense, defense and pitching as a whole. Each graph contains two baselines as a comparison: the league average mark (black dotted line) and the 2010 end result (red dotted line) since that year was the nadir of recent Mariner teams, setting new records for offensive futility in the AL. Each graph also shows the ebb and flow of each position for the 2011 and 2012 seasons (light blue and dark blue) and the results thus far for 2013 (green).

NOTE: Yeah... I've been working on this post for a while and the stats include the first 20% of the season. So... this only goes through game 32, even though 38 games are in the books. Don't worry. This post will get updated periodically with the next update scheduled after game 48 (Friday 5/24). In the intervening 6 games, pretty much everything has remained the same or gotten better, with the exception of SS.



Catcher
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Baseline: In 2010, the M's used Rob Johnson, Adam Moore and Josh Bard for 552 of the season's 599 plate appearances. In the process, they set a true low baseline for the next season's teams to beat with a composite 62 OPS+.
2011: Miguel Olivio and the soon-to-be-injured Adam Moore started out the season easily worse than the 2010 mark. It wasn't until around 36 games into the season that the final battery of Olivo, Bard and Gimenez managed to eke above the low point. While the group never managed to reach league average, an improvement was made both in-season and from the previous year.
2012: Olivo was back and once again in the primary catcher's role. And once again, the position started badly, flirting with the 2010 mark 16 games into the season. Eventually, Olivo was shelved, Jaso found some playing time, and Montero showed the he could hit when playing behind the plate. The catcher position actually finished the season above the league average mark, with a 116 OPS+.
2013: Olivo is gone but so is Jaso. Montero now leads the charge... or he was at the start of the season. Wedge apparently doesn't like Jesus' periodic lapses in attention and wants to give more time behind the dish to Shoppach. GMZ, however, is pushing his field manager to play the kid more so he can actually learn. Anyway, the tandem of Montero and Shoppach aren't doing too bad. They're holding a composite 92 OPS+, mostly drug down by Montero's slow start. The kid is now warming up and Shoppach is slowing back down towards his career norms, but the overall stat line is improving.
Potential Moves: The M's have Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre down in Tacoma. Zunino started hot but really slowed down once the AAA pitchers started feeding him a steady diet of bendy stuff. If Zunino is able to make adjustments, he may still get a call-up this season. Right now, Sucre would be the first guy called up if the team wants a catcher from the minors.


First Base
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Baseline: The M's set a pretty low benchmark for first base in 2010. That was the year the team muddled through most of the year with Casey Kotchman manning the position. In September, they handed the job over to a young kid who we acquired via trade with Texas. Where Kotchman provided the team with a 58 OPS+ firstbaseman, this new Smoak kid came in and hit right about league average for the position (101 OPS+) and gave us all hope!
2011: Man, those were the days. Smoak won the job out of Spring Training. He started hot, cooled off, got hurt, came back and then finished the year strong. His hot April let many fans forget his cool May and June as well as his ice cold July. Plus, Smoak came back in Sept and once again put up great numbers, once again giving the fans hope for next year! Woo!
2012: Smoak took all that hope left over from September and kicked it to the curb. There was no hot start last season and he spent most of the year flirting with that miserable 2010 benchmark. Almost on cue, a hot Sept brought his aggregate stats up above that 2010 level, but not by much.
2013: So, where are we this season? Smoak is being given a chance to lose the position. He started even worse than Kotchman's 2010 campaign, but Smoak is looking better lately. Maybe he'll put it all together. Maybe he'll only play well in Sept again.
Potential Moves: The M's weren't about to get locked in to a full season of Smoak without a bunch of backup plans. The first option is Kendrys Morales, assuming that he'd be able to stay healthy playing the field most days. The next option is moving Mike Morse to 1B. Finally, the M's could try Raul Ibanez there. Calling up a minor-league guy to play 1B seems unlikely.

Second Base
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Baseline: 2010 was the year we tried Chone Figgins as our second bagger. It didn't work. An 81 OPS+ was well below the league average for the position.
2011: GMZ tried to fix the position with Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy. Wilson couldn't stay healthy and sucked when he did play. Kennedy did well early, but his aging body started falling apart with daily playing time. In July, it was time to call up first-round wunderkind, Dustin Ackley. The kid didn't disappoint. He maintained above-average production through the rest of the year.
2012: Ackley's sophomore season wasn't as kind. He started a little slow, worked his way back up to league average, and then got booked by the league. Challenged every which way possible, Ackley fell off the table and ended the season right about even with the failed Figgins experiment and questioning everything he ever knew about the game.
2013: Following the tough 2012 season, Dustin spent the time off trying to rework his swing. Talk about a bad idea. For the first 16 games this season, Ackley managed a single digit OPS+ and finally reverted to his old approach. The next 16 games had Dustin hitting better (.344/.375/.443/.818). If he keeps up his current pace, he should be back above league average for the season soon. If he regresses... uh... help!
Potential Moves: If Ackley falls apart, the M's have a number of kids on the farm who could take over: Franklin, Miller, Romero, Triunfel. Whether any of them would fare any better than Ackley is unknown.

Third Base
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Baseline: 2010 saw Jose Lopez at 3B. Yep. He was the worst regular 3B in the league.
2011: After playing a horrid year at 2B, Figgins moved over to his most comfortable position and, well, there's no way he could be as bad as Lopez was... right? Except that he was worse. Much much worse.
2012: Figgins got the nod at the beginning of the year then quickly had to take over LF for the injured Carp, leaving the position to an unproven kid who was supposed to be the utility guy off the bench. Seager took over and looked great out of the gate, making fans happy. Barely anyone noticed that he slowed down quite a bit as the year went on. By the time the season ended, the position was below-average, but so good compared to previous years that everyone was still giddy.
2013: Seager owns the position now. He started a little slow and then came a heck of a hot streak. Keep it up kid!
Potential Moves: Seager would have to get injured to be replaced. He's earned the right to play through a bad slump at this point. In the event of an injury, we'd probably see Alex Liddi get the call from Tacoma, where he's hitting .277/.338/.492/.830 - good, but not great considering the level.


Shortstop
Posted Image

Baseline: This has to be the ugliest graph I've got. 2010 featured Jack and Josh Wilson at shortstop. That sucked.
2011: Thus began the Brendan Ryan era. St. Louis dumped the little defensive wizard, who actually hit pretty well for them. Word out of the Cardinals was that Ryan was perpetually late, flippant and didn't have the attitude the club wanted. That would all change in Seattle, though... right? Ryan started weak but improved to a near acceptable level. It wasn't great, but it was a whole lot better than anything the team had seen in a long time.
2012: The Ryan/Kawasaki duo started at a near acceptable level and then just got worse. In the end, they did the unimaginable and actually finished with a worse offensive production than the Wilson twins in 2010. No worries, though, because the SABR guys keep telling us that Ryan's defense makes up for his lack of a bat.
2013: Screw defense. We're plumbing new depths of suckitude this season. At the 20% mark, Ryan and Andino can't even manage an OPS+ over 5. Can someone please explain to me why Franklin isn't manning this position right now? It's not like we're just seeing a bad week out of Ryan. We've seen him for more than two years and his CEILING is about an 80 OPS+. Now we're just trying to find the floor.
Potential Moves: Bring me Franklin!! Or Triunfel! Or Miller! Heck... get Yuni Bettancourt back! Or Bloomquist! Anything would be better!!!


Left Field
Posted Image

Baseline: Of all the positions that have given the team problems over recent years, not many people realize that Left Field has been as bad as any of them. Over the past few seasons, the M's have tried a host of players there including Milton Bradley, an overmatched Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero (repeatedly), Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson, Casper Wells, Greg Halman (RIP) and Chone Figgins. Obviously, none of those worked out too well.
2013: So, where are we this season? The results are on par with the garbage of the previous seasons. But there's hope. Jason Bay (129 OPS+) and Mike Morse (96 OPS+) have done well when manning the position. The problem has been playing Raul Ibanez (53 OPS+) more than any other player there. Yeah, it shouldn't have happened. Both Guti and Saunders got injured... but whose brilliant idea was it to have a 41yo as the backup for the position when one of the regulars hasn't played a full season in years?
Potential Moves: Wedge love Peguero and when given a choice of a minor leaguer to call up, Big Carlos gets the nod. Too bad Piggy doesn't have the skills to be a major league player. He's walking more in AAA this season, but no one expects that to last at the MLB level. The team does have Erik Thames in AAA and they are grooming Romero for the position. Personally, I'd dump Ibanez and bring up Thames to be a platoon partner with Bay.


Center Field
Posted Image

Baseline: The 2010 baseline is the first year of Guti's health problems. He put up a solid 2009 campaign and we appeared to have this position fixed. Then something just appeared to be wrong in 2010 - and it was. Guti was spending the year sick as a dog.
2011: Guti was even sicker in 2011 and his replacement (Saunders) was getting schooled by MLB pitching.
2012: Saunders came into camp with a revamped swing and proved that he could hang as a MLB center fielder. Guti came back to help a bit towards the end.
2013: Guti came back and was kicking butt! Until he got hurt again despite the team taking it very easy with him. Unfortunately, Saunders was also injured. Endy Chavez had a hot streak while he filled in, and just as he was slowing down, Saunders came back to help. This position SHOULD be above average if either Saunders or Guti can be healthy enough to play most of the time.
Potential Moves: Tacoma doesn't have a MLB caliber center fielder on the roster. Guti, Saunders and Chavez are it. Anyone else brought up wouldn't be an improvement.


Right Field
Posted Image

Baseline: Ichiro's last decent year was the only offensive bright spot on that miserable 2010 club. And it wasn't much of a bright spot, as he managed to be just below average offensively for the position.
2011: Now we start to witness the decline of Ichiro. He had a little hot streak in April, but otherwise was well below average offensively.
2012: Ichiro started out showing that 2011 wasn't a fluke and that age had caught up with him. By the deadline, he requested a trade and the team complied. Unfortunately, the cast of possible replacements (Peguero, Wells, Robinson, Thames) managed to do no better.
2013: Finally, the team has an offensive right fielder in Morse. Who started hot and got injured. When added to the injuries to Guti and Saunders, that meant the position got a lot more playing time from Bay and Ibanez. Bay has done all right. Ibanez is no longer a guy who can play every day. Or every other day.
Potential Moves: Go look at Left Field. The same thing applies here. The team could use a better left-handed corner OF. They have some in Tacoma that would be an improvement. But... its a move the team isn't comfortable making.


Designated Hitter
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Baseline: It's amazing how bad the DH slot has been for the M's and for how long. 2010 was Griffey's final year, where he got into a row with his manager and left the team in a huff. The team tried using Bradley, Branyan and Sweeney there as well, but basically failed to find even decent offense.
2011: Next we tried Jack Cust - on base machine. The machine was broken.
2012: Last season, whichever catcher wasn't behind the dish was the DH most days. For whatever reason, Montero only hit when he was catching. Maybe it was a concentration thing.
2013: Finally a real DH!!! Sign this Morales guy up to a multi-year contract!!
Potential Moves: Keep Morales healthy.


Rotation
Posted Image
NOTE: The preceding graph plots the OPPONENT'S OPS+, so lower values are better (thus the inverted axis).

Baseline: The pitching staff was the one strength of the 2010 club. As a baseline... its a high bar to reach. Yet the team has managed to do just that each of the past two years (or at least get darn close). Credit Felix for a bunch of it, but he's had help. The M's have done a great job of finding rotation arms to pair up with the King.
2013: Sandy will be the first one to tell you that this year's team has horrible starting pitching - much worse than previous years. Except that the starting pitching is right about league average and both the past two seasons have seen the rotation at the same level (or worse) at some point. That doesn't mean we have nothing to worry about. But there's a good chance that this year's rotation will end up above average as well.
Potential Moves: Maurer should continue to improve. Beavan has already been demoted and replaced with a superior pitcher. And if Harang can't cut it long term, hopefully Ramirez or Hultzen will be able to take over once they are healthy. I have no longterm expectations for Bonderman.


Bullpen
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Baseline: Even the reliever corp in 2010 was crap. There were four guys who performed decently (Aardsma, League, Wright and Sweeney) and a pile of guys who couldn't get anyone out. Depth is where a bullpen is made or broken. Every team can usually find two to four guys who can get batters out for an inning at a time, but you can't keep running the same four guys out game after game (unless your starting rotation regularly are pitching 8 innings per game). In 2010, the rotation averaged not quite 6 1/3 innings per start. That left almost a third of the innings for the bullpen to eat.
2011/2012: Here's where GMZ's deep farm system and deft moves have really shined. This team has shown the ability to cobble together pretty decent bullpens from spare parts and unproven talent. There's usually been a point where the bullpen struggles, and GMZ makes the changes necessary to right the ship. Rarely has the bullpen dropped below league average for more than 20 games during the course of a season.
2013: All that deftness will be put to the test this season. The group as a whole started the season very poorly, led by Loe's miserable performance and Pryor's quick injury. With Pryor down, the team now holds only four truly reliable arms in the pen. We hold out a ton of hope for Capps, but he runs hot or cold.
Potential Moves: The bullpen is already improving and there are a bunch of potential arms in Tacoma. Zduriencik will continue to mix and match until he gets a group that works.


Overall

Team offense, which has been the weakness over the past bazillion years, is significantly improved. Yeah!
Team defense, which was the biggest strength in past years (except 2011) is still darn good.
Team pitching, which has also been a great strength in past seasons, has struggled out of the gate, but is showing marked improvement.

Team OPS+
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Team ERA+
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Team DER
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  • 9


#130746 Fielder signs with Tigers

Posted by wufners on 24 January 2012 - 04:11 PM

When Chuck Armstrong was informed of the deal, he was asked if he would have given Jack the money to match Detroit's offer.
Chuck answered, "No. I conferred very closely with my baseball people on this. And they were all very clear. We needed more hitters, not fielders."
  • 9


#115027 Spring Training '11 Odyssey: 03/15

Posted by Lonnie on 15 March 2011 - 10:46 PM

I think I might be suffering from sensory overload. I had a day that goes beyond unbelievable. It was nothing less than a fantasy come alive. Yes, it was hot. Yes, I was out in the sun. Yes, I did add to my sunburn a bit.

When I come to ST each year I have one and only one expectation; to see the big club and to see a lot of minor leaguers. That's it. I come to observe. Thankfully, I usually end up with more than what I expect. Usually I get a chance to talk to some parents of the minor leaguers and with some of the kids. Always, my expectations are met and exceeded. Today... Wow!

To begin with, today as I walked down to the lower fields I saw a group of about half dozen people standing around a couple of guys in uniform. As I got closer I saw that one of them had a shaved head and a goatee. Ya, Jay Buhner was down on the minor league fields. The other guy? None other than Edgar Martinez! I got to talk to both of the guys, shake their hands and thank them for all the memories. I even got a chance to talk to Edgar one on one for a good 3 minutes about the minor leaguers. I was, obviously, in heaven.

Coming down off of my baseball high a bit, I pulled out my phone and dialed a number that I was given. The phone rang once when suddenly a voice in the stands said "Lonnie, are you trying to call me?". I turned and looked and there was Jerry Tenbrink and his wife. We had been communicating for about a year now via PM and email and we had planned on meeting up for several weeks now. Oh, if you hadn't figured it out, the Tenbrinks are the parents of Nate Tenbrink. We talked for about an hour about Nate and kids in general. It was a wonderful way to idle away some time.

As we talked we were waiting for a scrimmage to get started, but none of the players showed up, so we strolled up to Field 1 and sure enough, there they were. Watching the kids scrimmage Jerry pointed something out to me. Erik Bedard was pitching for one of the teams. I got some pic's of him pitching and some video. Erik didn't exactly dominate the AAA guys he was going up against. Rich Poythress in particular didn't appear all that impressed as he took Bedard deep. REALLY deep.

Edgar, Jay, and now I got to see Bedard pitch up close...

When the AAA scrimmage ended Jerry and his wife headed out and I meandered the 200 feet over to the next field to watch the AA scrim which was still in progress. There, I got to watch Nick Franklin at the plate and playing SS. I was sitting down at the bottom of the bleachers when a groundskeeper's cart rolled up beside me. I turned and looked, and just 3 feet away was a portly gentleman with a bald head. I had to look twice, but sure enough it was Jack Zduriencik. He was wearing a Seahawk t-shirt, so that threw me for a second, and I commented that I liked his stealth shirt. Jack laughed and we shook hands. I told him that I thought he was doing a great job with the organization and that the minor leagues were a great testiment to his efforts. He thanked me, and not wanting to take up any more of his time than I did I got up and walked over to some shade.

Edgar, Jay, Bedard, and now Jack Zduriencik....

Standing there, I saw Vinnie Catricala walk around the backstop and decided to see if I could corner him and say hello (I was going to mention you, Topher!). Vinnie went to a group of coaches, so I decided to not bug him. I was standing by the backstop when a player came up beside me and watched the game. His number was 53 and was not listed on the roster that I had. Jokingly, I told him that he must be somebody important and was walking around in stealth mode. He laughed and I asked him his name. "James, James Paxton". Ok, you can imagine the double-take that I took when he said that. As rapidly as I could I listed up about 20 questions in my head, and immediately chucked out 19 because they were stupid. Finally, I asked him how things were going, and if he had any idea about where he would end up. He told me that he had no idea yet. I asked him when he would see some game action and he told me that he needed to have maybe 3 more bullpens and was expecting to get into some games next week.

Man, what a nice, humble kid! Very approachable and very easy to talk to. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen tomorrow, so I'm going to try to be there to watch. Again, not wanting to take up too much of his time I told him good luck and that I expect to see him in Seattle in 2013 with a call up in Sept 2012. He smiled and said that he would try to be there.

Edgar, Jay, Bedard, Jack Zduriencik, and James Paxton....

Wow. What a day. I turned and walked away, feeling that I was in a dream, and damn near walked right into Eric da Wedge! Yep, Wedge was down on the field too. I stuck out my hand and told him that I thought his hiring was a great move by the organization and that I thought he was the right man for the job (all true feelings, btw). He asked me my name and where I was from. I told him, and I also told him that I'm really looking forward to the season, but with no great expectations. He told me simply that the team WILL show progress through the season and that the team may surprise a few people.

Edgar, Jay, Bedard, Jack Zduriencik, Jamex Paxton, and Eric Wedge........

At that point I walked away and really don't have much of a memory of actually getting to my car. I do remember pulling out my phone and calling up G_Money to crow about what all had transpired. Twice! LOL! I bet I sounded like a loonie-tune!

Anyway, I get back to my room and immediately fire up my laptop to document what all had happened today. I banged out the first paragraph, deleted it, and banged out another. It too found it's way to the bit bin and I started yet another. The words to describe what all happened today just wouldn't come to me. Each effort I made to express what I saw and did sounded either hyperbolic or inane. I got up and layed down on the bed to think about how to approach this writeup, and fell asleep. Four hours later I awoke and had to scramble because I was to pick up exarmyguy at the airport. This is why I'm posting this so late.

I apologise for the "stream of consciousness" format of this post, it is just so hard to put into words the events of the day. Now, I have just one question.

What will happen tomorrow?

Lonnie

GOD!
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BONE!
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Erik Bedard
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Stephen Pryor
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Steven Hensley
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Nick Franklin
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#157737 Dear James Paxton

Posted by Lonnie on 02 March 2014 - 09:38 AM

If you have a moment, check out the sponsor of this page: James Paxton


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#142401 Montero

Posted by Toomany10pins on 10 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

The kid is only 22 folks, lets give him a legit lineup to hit in and he'll thrive IMHO!
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#131172 MC Podcast #19

Posted by Lonnie on 01 February 2012 - 09:23 AM

Got a moment or two? You really should give this podcast a listen because... well, because it's keen! This one is just shy of 22 minutes in length (it was 35 minutes before I edited out all of my stupid giggles and "ummm"s.

Enjoy!

Lonnie


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#168349 Hopes And Prayers For One And All

Posted by 6-pak-abs on 17 March 2015 - 10:30 AM

CT scan shows that all of the tumors in my lung and lymph nodes have either shrunk or disappeared.  No more chemo or radiation.  Routine check-up in six months.  Looks like you guys are stuck with me for another season.biggrin.png


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