The baseball winter meetings begin tomorrow in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and as always, we’ll bring you wall-to-wall coverage. Come to this site for all the breaking news, plus photos and video updates you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll be doing Geoff Baker Live! as well, where you can interract and ask questions.
When you’re not sitting by the computer, you’ll want to follow all breaking news on our Twitter account.
Are the Mariners going to be active at the meetings? I’d say yes, given how many holes remain on this team as it attempts to rebuild.
It’s not a matter of simply saying “let all the young guys get their feet wet and mature together”.
That’s the lazy man’s rebuilding plan. Do that, it will be years before this team contends for anything. Michael Saunders has had parts of two seasons to “get his feet wet” and we still don’t know what he’s going to mature into as a player. How many years will it take Dustin Ackley to get his feet wet and mature into a guy who can lead this team to the post-season? Two? Three? One? Nobody knows.
Rebuilding involves plenty of on-the-fly strategy despite the long-term outlook. You want to time the rebuilding so you can get as much of your future core playing together for as long as possible. You can live with Ackley still maturing in 2012 as long as there are others to help carry the team. Remember, Franklin Gutierrez has three guaranteed contract years left, while Felix Hernandez has four.
Look at the prices that free agents are bringing in right now, even in a depressed economy. Ask yourself whether you think the M’s will “easily” re-sign Hernandez or Gutierrez if they perform the way the M’s hope. Look at what Adrian Gonzalez is about to cost the Red Sox.
So, you want to max out on the years you still have for your young stars, while breaking in the untested rookies. So, this team — rebuilding or not — will still have to import more talent to avoid this being one of those never-ending “plans” that begins a new cycle just as the old one ends. You don’t want a Cleveland Indians situation where Grady Sizemore is viewed as an “old” man and expendable just a few years after he was the cornerstone of rebuilding efforts there.
It may mean the M’s have to trade some of their young talent away in order to have a rebuilding plan that truly succeeds. There is no blueprint here, despite what you may have read over the past five years. Everyone thought the Indians were doing it the right way until…well, until they weren’t and their plan blew up — taking legions of fans with it. I watched the Toronto Blue Jays try to “rebuild” for seven seasons under J.P. Ricciardi, only to see Orlando Hudson Eric Hinske, Jason Werth, Josh Phelps and other supposed pieces shipped away, one by one, with Kelvim Escobar, then A.J. Burnett, then Roy Halladay following from the mound — with Vernon Wells now looking like the next to go. Now, it’s a new rebuilding plan with a diffent GM. You don’t want that.
So, even with 2011 shaping up as a year inwhich the M’s won’t do much on the field, there is plenty for them to do off it if they want to keep the bulk of an impatient season-ticket crowd, while giving fans the promise of something more than empty promise.
It should be an interesting week.