The Theory: Win Now > Win Later (maybe)

Don’t think I’ve gone all crazy…I only stole the “Win Now > Win Later (maybe)” subject line from the great Jonah Keri, who just so happened to have written on this very subject yesterday at Fangraphs. The past two weeks we’ve kind of bickered, debated, argued and made our cases for how the Mariners should deal with the possibility of being in a pennant race in 2011.

I’ve been very opposed to the Mariners making any “big” outside moves specifically to make a run at taking down the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers (I hate that they can say that…). But with reading Keri’s post it’s made me think, while not necessarily speaking about the Mariners, he made some solid points to consider.

Now understand that he was speaking in regards of the ESPN/Fangraphs draft so there are things within the article that you certainly can nit pick about. But I think at it’s core the article is good for us to review given the situation and the state of affairs with Seattle.


Given all the information now available to us, have we as baseball observers now reached a point where we too cavalierly eye a prospect’s ranking, come up with a peak WAR value, and project his career performance?

I spent two years writing about the team that probably places more emphasis on drafting, developing and keeping their prospects than any other. They understand than in an uneven playing field, you do what you can to survive and thrive. Since bidding for elite six-year major league free agents is a losing game for many teams, you go the other way.

But. Could the Rays have improved their chances of a World Series title if they’d traded for Cliff Lee or someone of that ilk last season? Sure. Would it have come at a very high cost in young talent, thereby carving into the lifeblood of the organization? Probably. Would it have been worth it anyway? Very possibly.


I still am tossed to and fro with the doctrinal debate of whether or not Alex Liddi is an every day major league player (and if he’s a third basemen or first), I hate to say I’ve given up entirely on Michael Saunders but things aren’t looking too good and then you have the enigma of Carlos Peguero who, to me, looks like the second coming of Rob Deer. A guy with huge power and potential to hit 30+ home runs but that’s it, he won’t help your team in any other way. Whether that is in the field, getting on base and then of course he’ll strike out a ton.

I’m not against trading prospects but as I’ve stated it has to “make sense”. It’s not that I don’t think a move shouldn’t be made because the Mariners are too far away. Rather, I’m of the persuasion that the Mariners could be that ever ambigious one bat from the playoffs.

But then again that belief comes with an assumption, the cavet that Ichiro is Ichiro, Chone Figgins won’t completely suck (only just a little), and left field can be be figured out by someone who’ll do more than swing-and-miss and play defense like a corpse (Greg Halman PLEASE tell me that those curve balls you have hit the last few days aren’t a fluke). That’s still a lot of things that need to go right on top of trying to nail down the positional ambiguity of said potential “bat”.

Everyone likes to continue making the reference of the 2011 Mariners to the 2010 San Fransisco Giants. The problem is that the Giants got a lot of late help from Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and even Mike Fontenot had a huge August (even if he was worthless later on in the year). They also made a couple of bullpen moves. Ultimately they paid a combined 6 C+/- players to get the pieces they needed to make a run.

If the Mariners want to make a “surge” much like the Giants did late in the year they’re going to have to make some shrewd gambles and it’s going to have to work for them.

Don’t forget in the middle of a pennant race they also traded one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and their starting catcher July 31st for a shaky bullpen pitcher and a B- prospect. Of course they did that with the young stud Buster Posey just itching for his chance. Brian Sabean, while not the brightest general manager (and obviously with his comments, as a person too) in the bunch, made some savy baseball moves but with the exception of Burell he had to wait until July.

The Mariners may end up in the same situation. We don’t have prospects to give up though we have a few C +/- guys that are expendable, maybe some redundant depth right around AA. But that’s it, there isn’t a lot to play with here for what we are trying to build towards in the future. So we wait for July and if we really have a chance we make some low non-headline type moves. A wavier pickup, a team with a cost cutting trade.

I’m sure with the teams’ struggles in Chicago and last night in Detroit they may start looking to make a move earlier than the last week in July. I’ve started thinking a Jeremy Hermida (who’s crushing AAA international pitching in the Red system) in some way could makes sense. Maybe the front office really goes all out rolls the dice by signing Miguel Tejada for a league minimum contract after he gets released by the Giants.

The immediate difference that I see between the Giants last year and the Mariners this year are the Giants took risks and they worked out. There are some risks that are going to have to go right once in a while for the Mariners for a real division race to pan out.


Tags: Alex Liddi Buster Posey Carlos Peguero Chone Figgins Cody Ross Greg Halman Ichiro Jeremy Hermida Michael Saunders Miguel Tejada Mike Fontenot Pat Burrell

  • Lonnie

    The best thing that could happen for the Mariners is for them to keep winning at a just above .500 clip, with the Rangers winning at a .600 clip. As soon as it becomes obvious to the casual fan that this team is not a post-season contender the sooner management can then get really busy with building for the future.

    Just my opinion…


    • Harrison Crow

      Just curious, what is building for the future to you?

      • Lonnie

        For me, building for the future means being able to tolerate the pains of growth. Here’s a good example. Do you really think that Dustin Ackley is going to step in and perform at the MLB level as has Jack Wilson or Adam Kennedy? I sure don’t. I fully expect Ackley to struggle against better pitching for at least a month, and maybe longer. Ackley’s real value will start in 2012.


        • Harrison Crow

          I honestly don’t know how much he’s going to struggle comparatively. He may just come up and hit better than anything we got going on up here. It’s not like that’ll be too hard.

          That said if he does struggle I wouldn’t be surprised and I won’t worry about it.

  • http://Retired maqman

    I agree with Lonnie. Building for the future? Sitting non-productive vets (Ichiro, Cust, Figgins). Get Ackley up and move productive farm hands up a level (Catricala, Shaffer, Paxton amnd Seagar for instance. Play the kids until they find out what they can do. Keep investing in international free agents.

    • Harrison Crow

      But, you can do any of those things while still competing.

      Maybe Ichiro’s situation is a bit rougher… but I’m inclined to wait that situation out. It’s not like we have a young outfielder in the same situation as Ackley. No one is beating down the door to get into right field. Though if you give Halman another 3 or 4 weeks of doing this he maybe the heir to the right field throne, but I think that’s extremely premature talk.

      I don’t get the Cust hate. Despite the absence of power he’s gotten on base constantly. I really appreciate what he’s done for this team.

      As for Figgins… meh… you put him in the 8-hole and let him try to dig out what he can. Maybe bring up Liddi, really that’s a call up that can wait until September. Kennedy can certainly dig into some of Figgins at bats and you can cover his problems as much as you can.

    • Taylor

      Cust has been more productive than most of the lineup. Additionally, sitting Ichiro will probably have a negative effect on attendance. These are not good ideas.

  • Coug1990

    Yes, I do not understand Wedge sitting Cust either. After the slow start he has had, he had been one of the most productive hitter on the team, although he slumped the last week. I am not sure if Wedge values OBP.

    • Keith Myers

      Wedge sitting Cust is more about philosphy, and there’s 2 parts of that:
      1) you don’t bring up kids to sit them. They have to play in order to get better.
      2) Wedge doesn’t like the idea of taking hittable pitches in order to work a walk later in the at bat. His message to players all year has been to not swing at pitches outside of the zone, but if you get a very hittable pitch you need to crush it. Cust has been taking strikes in “hitters counts,” like 2-0 and 3-1, in order to work walks later. I think Cust sitting has been his reluctance to change this approach.

  • SodoJoe

    Miguel Tejada, obviously not doing great right now, but what a name. What if? That’s the question. What if he came here and pulled a Chone Figgins like he is with the Giants right now? What if he came here and hit 12 HR’s the rest of the way out? I guess it all comes back in getting him for league minimum. Then it doesn’t hurt if he flops unlike Chone Figgins.

    • Harrison Crow

      Not saying they SHOULD sign Tejada… I can think of a few other moves that I would prefer but he could be someone the front office looks at. I think there are teams in better position than the Mariners that could use his bat more.

  • Noid

    As much as I would love to see a playoff run, I just don’t see them doing it with a rookie pitcher on an innings limit.

    • Harrison Crow

      Also a reminder Pineda isn’t the only one on a potential innings crunch.

      I think it would be very silly to let Bedard go out there for more than 170 innings.

      • Coug1990

        I agree and have written that before. After not pitching much the last two years, I do think it would be crazy to have Bedard pitch a lot of innings this season. I also can see him do something similar to Jason Vargas, who slumped late in the season from tiring after coming back from his surgery.