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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Category: rebuilding plan
June 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Mariners find ‘going young’ gets old pretty fast

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ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you missed my Talkin’ Baseball segment earlier today on Sports Radio KJR with host Mitch Levy, you can listen to it by clicking the box above.

There has been this myth prevailing the past decade or so after some successful playoff seasons by the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays that “going young” is the key to solving a team’s problems. Proponents of the strategy suggest that “the right way” to rebuild consists of spending years of building up a young core of players and then — and only then — using resources to shore-up that foundation and move on to the next level.

It’s all so Cinderella — until, of course, the pumpkin seeds start to chaffe.

I mean, I hate to sound so gauche, but has anybody noticed that those A’s, Rays and Twins squads have never actually won a World Series? Oh, you have? OK. How about that Brian Sabean and his Giants, or Kenny Williams and his White Sox actually did win one or two? Heck, even Steve Phillips, a radio voice you can hear locally when I’m not filling the Sports Radio KJR airwaves, matched the Rays in getting his Mets to the World Series in 2000. Sorry, Steve. I’m merely including you among the list of general managers reviled by the right-thinking crowd who have actually won a pennant.

Look, the really smart folk know there is more than one way to win in baseball.

For some, the “going young” approach might work. Not that they always have a choice. The A’s, Rays and Twins didn’t want to spend money back in the day when their stuff worked to a degree. And that’s the one thing “going young” does guarantee: that you won’t have to spend as much money as other teams “going good” in their bid to win. “Going good” — the act of paying for players who have performed well in the past — also doesn’t always work: as witnessed by this year’s Toronto Blue Jays and a GM who today appears to have been a tad overrated.

Hey, it isn’t easy to spend big money either. A’s GM Billy Beane never had to do it. In fact, he ducked at the chance of doing it in Boston. Thus, he gets to keep playing the role of small market miracle worker without ever putting himself in the position of blowing a big payroll.

Brian Cashman of the Yankees has shown he can spend and put playoff teams on the field year after year. Dave Dombrowski in Detroit as well. Sabean of late.

So, what does that teach us? Well, not a whole lot we didn’t already know. Major League Baseball isn’t a classroom, it’s a game where grown men get paid to hit baseballs around.

But for those who like to argue that Team X, or Team Y, or, let’s just say, the “Mariners” are spending enough money, I think there is a lesson to be learned.

The lesson being: you are spending enough money when you are spending enough money.

If the name of the game is to win and put people in the stands (and in front of TV sets), then you are clearly not spending enough money if you fail to accomplish those goals.


Comments | More in rebuilding plan | Topics: billy beane; casper wells; vinnie catricala; brian sabean

June 2, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Here’s a clue to Mariners fade: it ain’t the veterans

Mariners veterans like Kendrys Morales (left) and Jason Bay (right) have carried the team in the face of a collapse by young core. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners veterans like Kendrys Morales (left) and Jason Bay (right) have carried the team in the face of a collapse by young core. Photo Credit: AP

Took about five minutes for the first Tweet to pop up on my radar this afternoon blaming Mariners veterans for the fact the team’s season is on the brink of being over just two months in. There’s no soft way to sell this: if the Mariners don’t pick things up in the next two weeks, then 2013 is done. We can talk about it being early, the team overcoming injuries and this, that and the other. But as I told somebody earlier today, the time to talk the talk is done. Now, it’s time to walk the walk. Right now, any Mariners talk isn’t worth the price of what tickets will be going for on the street outside Safeco Field tomorrow night.

When you go 3-4 in seven games against the Padres and Twins, that’s what it comes down to. Had the Mariners not lost eight in a row within a week of Tom Wilhelmsen blowing two saves, you could play the “What if?” game, but that ship has sailed. It’s now put up or shut-up time. We’ll know by mid-June whether to start booking October vacation four months early yet again.

And that’s just not right. This season should not be going this way. For those who felt that the team wasn’t built right from the start, well, I salute you. You’ve got one on me…provided, of course, you called it the way it happened.

If, in fact, you predicted the Mariners would fade because of the collapse of the entire youthful core outside Kyle Seager, with no young arms being available to replace fading veteran castoff/cheap signings, then hey, go to the head of the class. You win.

In fact, I wish the team’s problems were that simple.

If, however, you predicted the team would collapse by June because of too many veteran outfield/1B/DH signings this winter, well then, there’s just this teeny little problem called reality and what has actually happened getting in the way. Like I said, it would be so simple if we could pin it all on veterans who will largely be gone in four months’ time. Unfortunately for Mariners fans, the neck-and-neck race the team now finds itself in with the Houston Astros for AL West cellar rights has zip to do with veteran signings and everything to do with a young core that simply isn’t.

Isn’t a core, I mean. Five years in, if that’s your core, well, the Pilates instructor should be fired. That’s a core by Hostess.

Don’t take my word on it. For anyone into the numbers, it’s tough to fudge these.


Comments | More in rebuilding plan | Topics: kendrys morales; jason bay; dustin ackley; justin smoak