Things We Know And Team Building

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So apparently there is an all out war that has been declared on the Mariner ownership that has finally kicked off today.

That’s just based upon a few different “tweets” that I’ve seen on twitter this “afternoon”. I really could care less and there is a reason why I haven’t really talked much about the “money issues”. See while I’m sure that the ownership could in fact sport a much higher payroll, I can’t actually know that as a certainty.

What I do know is the following:

  • The Mariners had a much higher payroll
  • A former employee of the front office invested that money rather poorly and hurt the team more than he helped it.
  • As an indirect result of those years where money was poorly invested, the ownership group has lost money.

While not necessarily a fact, it would seem to me that the current ownership, at the very least in my mind, shown to be leeary of allowing a new hire run with that kind of “big” money prior to clearing up past “debts” and displaying good fiscal responsibility. Obviously, I don’t know that to be a certainty, but its what makes sense to me.

Do I think the Mariners should work with a much higher opperating expendtures and sign the best players availble to a point right up to the luxury tax? Of course I do. Is that feasible? I have no idea. That’s why I don’t ever worry about what the budget is at, but when working with the numbers I use what could be considered reasonable.

But let’s say the Mariners had infinite amount of money. Let’s say we used the hack code in MLB2k12 (because I’m not cool and only own an XBox and am forced to play that crappy game) and got all the money that I could never spend. Who am I going to go after? Prince Fielder? Sure, he’s definitely a guy this team could use.  But … if we have endless funds do I give him just what it takes to sign? Probably not, that’s just poor business sense. You spend on talent according to what the market dictates.

Going off of similar contracts signed by Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols, Fielder isn’t worth $25 million a year. That’s simply my opinion and I’m completely open to the idea that my opinion being wrong, you’ll just have to convience me otherwise. Pujols doesn’t even make 25 million until 2016, his fifth year with the Angels. Teixeira makes an annual of $22.5m for the remainder of his deal with the Yankees and A-Gon pretty much makes an annual of $21m (he does have two years at the end of the deal he makes $21.5m) . I could understand Boras wants to up the market and with Fielder’s age he is more “valued”. …

OK, I’m rambling… the point is that just because Fielder hasn’t signed with the Mariners doesn’t mean the ownership is a bunch of evil and greedy hooligans. I’m not saying that they aren’t evil and greedy hooligans, just that there is no single specific case this off-season to point out to them obviously being such. It could mean something as simple they aren’t ready to give him every little thing his heart desires.

The problems that I ultimately see with this organization start and end with the personnel on the field. Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln did a good thing in hiring Jack Zduriencik. Zduriencik has done a good thing in focusing his efforts on rebuilding the farm system and it’s clear that while the organization doesn’t have all the ready pieces that it’s making steady forward progress with these current individuals in place regardless of what happened over the past 10 years.

I suppose the real question at heart of this matter is how quickly could such a “rebuild” effort be expedited should the team take the nesscary steps to acquire the best available pieces on the open market. The problem there again lies with exactly what Keith talked about a few days ago and that was building a team through free-agency is costly and often the worst way to try and assemble a team. Obviously that doesn’t mean acquiring talent via free-agency is bad, just assembling key pieces is rather difficult without having a foundation already in place. This is regardless of whether or not you have a huge and limitless budget or not.

Look at the Yankees current roster, where CC Sabathia, Teixeira, and Russel Martin are the only “functional” pieces they’ve acquired via Free-Agency. Swisher and Granderson were brought in through trades and Alex Rodriguez, who was brought in initially on a trade, of course later signed that outrageous deal to keep him in New York, Robertson, Chamberlin, Gardner, Nova and Hughes were brought through their farm system. Then most importantly they’ve also managed to keep around former farm product and superstars such as as Rivera, Jeter and Cano around.  Keeping the “good” guys around is key, but then again, so is making good trades.

It’s easy to say that the Yankees payroll has done a lot for them. But, it’s more than that, it’s been the ability to absorb bad moves and more so than that but making limited bad moves, in my opinion, this is what makes Brian Cashman one of the most under rated general managers in the game. If you don’t believe me just look at the moves he made just last year. Jumping on guys such as Russell Martin, Barto Colon and Freddy Garcia. He jumped all over Eric Chavez and got guys like Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood for practically nothing during the home stretch.

{In my best Michael Westen voice to wrap this up}

To build a great team it’s not just about spending money. Sure it helps, but the key thing is acquiring talent. Whether that is via trades, the amature draft or even free-agency. Zduriencik has slowly built this team up from being old, filled with holes, to being young and having depth. Now it’s just about getting progressing past being average and start being good all the while bringing in more of that talent that we talked about earlier. And if the ownership decides to spend the money, well, that would of course help too.

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