Thursday, August 02, 2007

Applauding the Front Office 

Reading comments at several forums, I see the Mariners front office being attacked for a lack of vision, saying they have no strategy. I think it is silly to say that the Mariners front office did not/does not have a strategy. We can certainly debate its merits, but the strategy is apparent.

Use big pockets to chase talent, but do not overspend on anyone. Buy quantity of pitchers, preferably groundball-throwing pitchers, and hope the quality shows itself over time. Use scouting reports from 2003 (tongue-in-cheek). Ride the veteran-laden offense and youth up the middle.

And to a large extent, the strategy HAS worked beautifully. Not too many pundits picked the M's to be in a pennant race in 2007.

Batista has been solid, post-DL Weaver has been solid, and HoRam has stunk. The relievers we sent in trade have been adequately replaced (despite whatever Sky is Falling cries you heard at the deadline) from within as we continue to grow relievers like wheat in Tacoma (next up... Mickolio). Plan B for this was to use Baek (to mixed results) and Feirabend. Maybe we'll see Jorge Campillo soon. Attack with quantity and hope to find quality.

Unfortunately, several key veterans (Sexson, Ibanez, Vidro) have regressed offensively and defensively.

But there has been a Plan B for that as well, as we are seeing with Ben Broussard and soon with Adam Jones. Perhaps we'll even see Wlad if Sexson/Ibanez/Vidro continue to struggle.

There are a couple of areas where there is no Plan B (or at least no Plan B other than WIllie B who is a great 25th man/pinch runner, but should not be getting 200 ABs for a contender). Middle infield not hitting seems to be one, and Bavasi is at least thinking about that as evidenced by his trade deadline pursuit of Mark Loretta. And of course, this plan goes up in flames if something should happen to King Felix.

We can quibble about how much rope the M's give the veterans, the lack of outs that we let George Sherrill throw, the in-game management.

But I don't think you can say that there hasn't been a plan, and one that is fairly well executed. Use our pocketbooks to pursue bats, grow relievers in the farm, and exploit Safeco's cavernous outfield by going quantity over quality (many at $8M instead of 1 at $16M) in the rotation. Dig for pitching, but don't give up the future for a 3-month rental.

The M's are just entering the realm of competitiveness again. And while we need starting pitching, the other positions where we are weak are the easiest to fill (DH, 1B, LF) in the future. Our core up the middle is solid and signed for years, with a true ace and a lights-out bullpen. Jones could be another piece of the championship puzzle.

All in all, we've taken a significant step forward this year. If you are reading this, that is proof enough, as you are obviously hungry to read anything about the Mariners. The Mariners are relevent again. Enjoy!

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