At the Mariners' end of season press conference, Jerry Dipoto had some controversial words when discussing the team's recent performance and how the front office was planning to attack the near future. In case you somehow missed it, the exact quote went something like this:
"If you go back and you look in a decade, those teams that win 54 percent of the time always wind up in the postseason and they more often than not wind up in the World Series...We're actually doing the fanbase a favor in asking for their patience to win the World Series while we continue to build a sustainably good roster."- Jerry Dipoto
The way many fans interpreted this was that team management is perfectly happy winning 54% of games every season and not doing much to improve the roster by way of free agent signings or big trades. Furthermore, fans should be grateful for what the front office has already done, as it has been more than enough.
Dipoto later apologized for the statement, saying that he did a poor job trying to explain his big picture view of how he runs the team. However, former Mariners pitcher Robbie Ray recently spoke his mind on the Foul Territory podcast and voiced his perspective on the issue.
In an ideal world, your favorite team is good forever. In the real world, it's not so simple. Teams ebb and flow and even baseball's greatest dynasties didn't last forever. In fact, most of them are pretty darn short.
- San Francisco Giants: 2010 - 2014
- New York Yankees: 1996 - 2003
- Cincinnati Reds: 1970 - 1979
- Oakland Athletics: 1971 - 1975
In a sport with as much randomness and chaos as baseball, this is to be expected. Trades that involve prospects for proven players mean trading your future success for immediate gratification. Even in a situation where you already hold all of the pieces, it can be nearly impossible to retain all of your superstar talent for financial reasons. Even if you do manage to have a bunch of superstars on one team, who's to say there won't be chemistry issues in a locker room full of people trying to outshine each other?
To give a few examples of how nonsensical this sport is, the teams with the three highest payrolls in 2023 (Mets - $343.6 million, Yankees - $278.7 million, Padres - $256.0 million) all failed to make the postseason. Meanwhile, the Rays and Orioles had a combined 200 wins last year while also having a combined payroll of just $150 million. The Orioles went from 83 wins in 2022 to 101 wins in 2023. The Rangers went from 68 wins in 2022 to winning the World Series in 2023. The Cardinals went from winning the NL Central in 2022 to being dead last the following year. The Dodgers have won 100+ games in the past two seasons and have failed to make it out of the NLDS.
In essence, Robbie Ray is clarifying that the goal is not to win 54% of games every single year. Instead, it's better to focus on having a few really strong years before rebuilding through the farm system. It's unrealistic and unreasonable to expect an organization to be World Series contenders year after year but with the way things are going, the team is still moving in the right direction. Given that Seattle had two fewer wins than the World Series champions last year, next year might even be the year to "sea" us rise.