SECTION 331

Pushing a Giant Baseball Up a Hill and Watching It Roll Back Down Since 2008

Cano, A Recent Article, and My Increasing Sense of Doubt

The past few days have been…interesting. I’m sitting at home with the heat turned up as far as I can take it, and the Lions/Eagles game on TV. I don’t watch a lot of football, so while I have seen games played in the snow, I haven’t seen anything like this. Both teams are certainly fighting, but I can’t imagine having to play a game under those conditions. Sure is fun to watch, though.

So the Mariners have signed Robinson Cano for 10 years and some ridiculous amount of money that I can’t remember off the top of my head and don’t care enough to go look up. If you’re reading this, chances are high you know what I’m talking about. I have gotten some degree of pushback over Twitter regarding my opinion about this move. But our memories are short, Mariners fans. I saw this same reaction when we signed Cliff Lee, a situation that resulted in Lee staying here for half a year, and then being traded for Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak. Yes, Lee’s contract was much different than Cano’s; but the level of excitement was pretty much the same. It didn’t pan out for us, and when one major player wound up not saving the day, everyone was let down. I am not, as some may think, completely disappointed by the signing of Cano. I am, however, very, very wary of what may or may not happen for the team over the next few years, with such a massive hunk of money and time being committed to one 31-year-old second baseman. And you know what? That’s my right as a sports fan. Cano and the Mariners now have to prove themselves to me as a paying customer, that’s part of their job. And in spite of my general skepticism, I will happily support Cano once he slaps on a Seattle jersey; the same way I did with Milton Bradley, the same way I did with Chone Figgins (until things got really bad), the same way I’ve done for a lot of players I didn’t necessarily trust in the beginning (because make no mistake, this is clearly not about playing in Seattle for Cano; it’s about the dollah-dollah bills, y’all). The fact of the matter is, Cano and Willie Bloomquist are not going to save our bacon. We need more offense and if the team is serious about that, they’ll do some hefty spending or at the very least make plans for hefty spending during the Winter Meetings and in the months leading up to April 2014.

Personally, now that they’ve done this, I’d actually like to see them pull out all the stops. Justin Smoak may be about as good as he’s going to get right now. We need power from first. I like Smoak, but I’m not sure that he can continue to be part of the team if the Ms are serious about giving us a decent overhaul. Then I go look at Lookout Landing as I’m writing this, and they give me reason to believe that maybe not all is lost, after all. Look; I like Smoak as a 1B. I have zero problem with his defense. But as a hitter? I can’t properly communicate via writing how I feel about that, but imagine a wince followed by a squeaky “Maaaaybe??” followed by a small grimace, and you’ve got how I feel about his offense. I always want to give guys a chance, but it’s hard when you’re looking at projections and there is a 0.4 WAR increase, but SLG, OBP, and AVG are all slightly supposed to go down. Then again, his walk rate decreases by 0.01%, and his strike rate goes down a bit more, depending on who you ask (and none of these are Bill James projections), so who knows. This is part of the reason I never made it as far as statistics in college.

Anyway…

I know a lot of people don’t like Geoff Baker, but here’s a link to the “big story” that has people up in arms over the past 24 hours. I take things with a grain of salt – yes, Wedge and his former cohorts probably have an axe to grind – but somewhere in this he said/he said mess, lies some pretty hard truths, and a lot of those truths I’m pretty sure a lot of us were at least suspecting. I mean, come on. Jack Zduriencik rode into town with a pocket full of SABR and the hopes and dreams of all of us in a bag waiting to be let out. During his tenure here, though, outside of the winning season of 2009, things have been pretty dismal. We have been reassured time and time again that things would change “soon”. Just give us some time. Things are looking brighter. We’re picking great young players. You’ve heard it all, especially if you’ve attended the LL/USSM meetups; I don’t need to continue. The part in Baker’s article about Zduriencik lying about his SABR experience, I’m not entirely sure I totally buy; first of all, he did that when he first got here. We picked up players that led us to that winning season in 2009. But then there was every year after that. And I have to be honest, I just looked up the Milwaukee Brewers yearly win columns, and during Zduriencik’s tenure between 1999 and 2006 as Director of Scouting? Well, here you gonot too great. A lot of Mariners-esque years in there. I really hate to pile on, but numbers don’t lie. Sure, he left the Brewers in a pretty good place, but all the years leading up to that were just bad. We are never going to know the truth. I’m OK with that, but right now it’s just terrifically disheartening. And it feels like we’ve been promised an awful lot with no follow through.

I’m not passing any ultimate judgment here at all. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t throwing this whole organization some massive side-eye right now. I only complain because I care; and in spite of my multiple threats to toss on some orange and black, get MLB.TV and call it a day with Baltimore, I have no current plans to do that. But I really have had enough of this. Let’s get it together, Mariners. I’d like to watch a ball club, not something that sounds like a scene from DeGrassi High. No more drama. Let’s get serious, finally, about playing and winning some baseball.

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2 responses to “Cano, A Recent Article, and My Increasing Sense of Doubt

  1. Blaine Wright December 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Megan, when I first heard about the trade details I felt awful about it. Now that I’ve thought about it, not so much. When I just thought about ‘does this make us a better team than we were?’ the answer was an obvious yes. As for the last years of the contract, I’m 67 and not in good health, so what was I getting so worked up about? Besides, in five of six years, when his WAR is down to 2 or 2.5, who knows what the average cost of a free agent WAR will be? 9 million? 12 million?

    I liked the Baker article. I love having a different view on things. If Z didn’t have the sabermetric knowledge at the beginning, I’m sure having his own experts clued him in. These writers at USS Mariner and Lookout Landing have never shown a correlation between how much teams base their decisions of stats and how successful they are. I personally enjoy the stats, but as predictors of the future I view them right up there with the Farmer’s Almanac and Psychic Olga. I’ve asked several times if anyone’s ever done a study on the correlation between projected WAR and actual performance, but no one’s ever given me a yes or no on that.

    I hope you can come up with the money for some games this year because where else can we get those great pictures along with good writing? The professional pictures are great of a play or two, but don’t give any of the feeling of the ballpark or the game. Maybe we could send you contributions. Would that make you a professional baseball writer?

  2. Megan Shear December 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    haha! Nah, I’m good. I was going to try and pay for the storage re-up today, but for whatever reason, the WP link isn’t working. I will try and get to it sometime this week. I am planning on doing some write-ups on my visit east, and definitely need to the photo space. I also think I want to bring back Fridays at Safeco, I have a ton of stuff I want to share, that never made it here due to time and not being able to write after games. So while I appreciate the offer, I’ve got it under control; I just need to battle WP a bit to pay for it now. heh

    I think a lot of people get mad at Baker because his blog says some pretty rough things. I don’t 100% believe everything he says, but at the same time, he has access and insight that most of the fanbase does not. I realize that there is bias everywhere, but there is also a ton of stuff that we will never see. I think maybe it’s not the best idea strategically to release such an article before the Winter meetings, but none of us have any control over that. Only time will tell if it does any damage to our ability to pick up more good players.

    As for projected WAR…that is a good question. I haven’t done much delving into that angle of things since it would be a lot of time and effort for me to do so, but it is a very interesting question. Maybe I can do a thing on it after the 2014 season. Time to whip out those spreadsheets, I guess. ;)

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