Yes, I know. It’s Day 3 of the baseball winter meetings here in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and many of you are waiting for the Mariners to do something. So are we, believe me. But if you look in the photo above, you can see the thing that I think drives the majority of fan frustration at these things.
Not the Blackberry itself. But the onset of Twitter at the winter meetings, something that became a major player just last year. Twitter is useful for conveying lots of information very quickly. But at 145 characters, it’s the idiot’s version of context. You simply cannot convey all of the context and time-consuming steps that go into landing a free agent or laying the groundwork for a trade.
I’m not a Mariners apologist. Many of you know that by now. But I have to say, I feel a bit for Jack Zduriencik and his team here as fans back home grow more and more impatient with their lack of announcements here.
We can debate the merits of the players they’re targetting later on. Certainly, few of the names we’ve heard them connected to so far are poised to lead them to the promised land. But that’s a conversation for later.
The folks I’m directing this towards are the ones who expect instant “Twitterized” gratification in real life. In just doesn’t work that way. The baseball winter meetings, since I began covering them in 2001, haven’t changed much in how deals are put together. The groundwork sometimes takes weeks, other times days. But there’s no point rushing it for the sake of getting something done at these meetings.
The only thing Twitter has changed is the way information is put out at these things. Sometimes, it’s a positive development. When Paul Konerko agrees to a deal with the White Sox, you hear about it right away.
But sometimes, the development is not so good. Instead of rumors being whispered into ears, or rounded up at the bottom of a newspaper story the way they used to be, they are now put out there — front and center — on minute-by-minute stand-alone tweets. It gives some “developments” far more credence than they are worth. It lends no context to what’s going on.
Teams will often “kick tires” on a dozen or more players before deciding to pare the list down to a handful. But nowadays, any time a team sniffs around informally about a player, it risks being up there in big, bold online headlines within seconds.
And that, I believe, lends itself to a lot of the fan frustration.
Fans — and other media too — see those Twitter headlines and expect instant gratification. They expect a signing to be announced within the hour. I got an email from a blog reader last night telling me that readers don’t want to hear any more rumors — they want real news.
Well, OK, so do I. But we can’t make the news up. Can’t tell you the M’s are on the verge of signing Alex Rodriguez if they aren’t.
What’s going on here in the lobby? I hear the M’s are telling teams that second base is their priority at these meetings. They want a guy who can play second, likely because they aren’t prepared to throw Dustin Ackley out there on opening day.
Luis Valbuena, I’m told, is someone the M’s are interested in because Eric Wedge and new coach Robbie Thompson are both big fans. But the M’s, I’m also told, have yet to even have a formal meetings with the Indians to lay any parameters for a trade.
After that, they continue to “kick tires” on guys, but I’m not sure how close they actually are to getting anything done. We just heard another rumor that the M’s are “close” to signing Jack Cust. Whatever the means. It’s from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who’s pretty close to Cust, so it might mean more than some of the stuff we’ve heard.
Tony Blengino has been roaming the halls here, having discussions with various team or player reps and then funneling the best ones off to Jack Zduriencik for more serious one-on-one discussions.
For now, I’d say we won’t hear anything this morning. You never know, but one thing to keep in mind: the Mariners made all of their big moves after last year’s meetings. With the exception of the Chone Figgins signing. But the Cliff Lee, Brandon League and Milton Bradley deals all came the final two weeks of December. Not down here.