Friday, October 08, 2004

A Fresh Start 

The Pat Gillick Era is finally over. Jongewaard, Gillick and even Woody Williams are all severing their ties with the team. And so GM Bill Bavasi finally gets the reins. Fully. I'm sure most of you have already visited USS Mariner before dropping by my neck of the woods, but if you haven't, Dave Cameron presents an excellent view of the Changing of the Guard.

I fully accept the hypothesis that a Gillick-led committee ran the M's in the offseason of 2003-2004. And as the M's tanked, Bavasi slowly took over, and is now fully in command of the good ship Mariner. It seems the only moves that were truly his doing were landing Jolbert Cabrera and the Freddy Garcia trade (very nice). To be fair, an attempted trade of Gil Meche for Brandon Inge also appears on his watch, and that would have been not so nice.

Overall, whether having Bavasi in charge is a good thing or not, only time will tell. I know Bavasi's history is not littered with great signings and World Championships, but I also know that he has been willing to take risks to build a winner. And that's what this team needs right now.

No more avoiding first round picks - instead lets make them good picks of college hitters (Justin Upton, anyone?) instead of high school pitchers.
No more fear of the long-term contract - Tejada wants a sixth year? No problem. Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran both want long-term deals (6-7 years) that will take them to the decrepit age of 33? Sign 'em up. And wouldn't the Mariners signing both Adrian Beltre AND Carlos Beltran absolutely guarantee big ticket sales this offseason (not to mention a need to come up with a nickname for this pairing - Pacific Beltway? Ichiro's Belt? The mind boggles...)

Of course, we might not sign any of these big names, and for a variety of reasons. But won't it be refreshing if its for some reason OTHER than the M's were not willing to be the highest bidder?

And don't get me wrong. Not every free agent should be pursued with completely open wallets and long-term contracts. But when you can get young talent that is still heading for its peak, THEN its time to take risks. Not on Carlos Delgados or ANY pitcher, but power/speed combos who also play great defense? Go get em!

And money should be no excuse. If the M's are truly willing to take a loss this year, then front-load the contracts a bit. Feel the pain. Pain and suffering can help bring clarity of purpose. Other contracts will be gone soon. Keep 2006 and 2007 in mind. There will be no Moyer or Boone contracts then. Hasegawa, Spiezio and Guardado will eventually go away as well, and hop

Ichiro, Beltre, and Beltran can be the offensive core of this team until 2010. And that's a strong foundation on which to build championship teams.

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