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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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September 28, 2007 10:30 AM

M's have a secret

Posted by Geoff Baker

This is the type of stuff that drives people nuts. At least now it's out in the open and not just back-channel whispering. I'm talking about former Mariners setup man Rafael Soriano. The reasons why the M's would trade him for Horacio Ramirez is fast becoming the stuff of urban legend in media circles.

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong adds to the mystery with this cryptic missive to the Associated Press. Here's the paragraph in question:

Armstrong said the disastrous trade that brought Horacio Ramirez from Atlanta for proven veteran setup reliever Rafael Soriano wasn't all Bavasi's fault. Armstrong said, without naming specific off-field incidents, that "a lot of things went on that compelled us to make that move" of Soriano for whatever the Mariners could get.

I don't know. To me, a simple "our GM made a really bad trade, it happens.'' might have sufficed. I'm aware, even having been here only one year, that Soriano was not Mr. Popularity in the clubhouse. But other than having an entourage of friends who weren't players, no one from the organization has been willing to spell out exactly what its problem was with him. That he got a line drive off the head? That he wasn't always available to pitch?

Seems he worked out those problems in Atlanta, where he's made 71 appearances. Not sure why that couldn't have happened here. Maybe the folks doing the player handling are different down there? Who knows? As I've said, the M's love to keep secrets: especially in areas where they appear to have messed up big-time.

And do you know what? Perhaps there is a really good reason for why they did what they did with Soriano. Perhaps not. But where I come from, if you're not going to spell out the transgression, it's best to leave the innuendo to the Page Six gossip columnists. Maybe Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy can ask Armstrong if he's ever had children (I know he has, as his son, a fellow blogger, is a self-proclaimed fan of this blog). I'm sure Soriano's mother wouldn't be happy if she was reading the AP story. Then again, we're not exactly sure what he's subtly being accused of here. Maybe he just walks funny.

And yes, I've talked to the other reporters and columnists who've been here for years. None of them knows what Soriano supposedly did either. Whatever it was, the Braves were apparently OK with it. The players? Much of the same innuendo, but nothing concrete. Lots of stories. None of it team-destroying stuff. Not everyone is going to be popular in a clubhouse. And Soriano wasn't the first player to have a group of outsider friends following him around. But you don't just throw away potentially the game's best set-up man for nothing.

So far, with these hollow explanations coming out of Mariners HQ, that's all I see here -- nothing. Don't worry though, it's not like the team paid a price. Not like it just blew a playoff chance.

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Posted by Jayman

11:11 AM, Sep 28, 2007

I think this trade was the result of Bavasi desperately searching for a starter that has no business being in the rotation, much less giving up a pitcher like Soriano for. Once again the M's have given lowball offers to players like Schmidt, Delgado, and Tejada and have instead settled for players like Beltre, Ramirez and Sexson. If they had handled the offseason better they would not have had to give Soriano up for a #6 starting pitcher. We have plenty of those in Tacoma.

Posted by LOU

11:21 AM, Sep 28, 2007


Posted by Monte

11:34 AM, Sep 28, 2007

Why won't you guys put the heat on the M's brass, Lincoln & Armstrong. They are the ones who continue to let these blunders happen.

It was they who wanted yes men and not men as coaches. They didn't and don't want anyone around them who is more knowledgeable in baseball, that would make them look bad. This way they have a fall guy to blame and protect there cushy jobs.

What the hell is Nintendo thinking anyway?

Posted by Kyle in Illinois

11:35 AM, Sep 28, 2007

The more I've thought about this trade...and the degree to which many of us have blamed the season on it...the more I disagree with that notion. Obviously, it was a horrible trade...a great setup man for a terrible pitcher...I gagged the moment I saw it. But what did we all prefer had happened? We kept him? That means we have one more reliever...which would have undoubtedly helped some. But simply keeping Soriano in the pen doesn't address our biggest problem--starting pitching. So instead of Ramirez all year we would have gone with Feierabend, Baek, etc. So I don't think that simply trading Soriano for Ramirez cost us the season. The only alternative would have been if we were able to get someone better for Soriano. In that case, the deal that was made may have cost us...but that is all hypothetical because we don't know the details of who was available and who was willing to take Soriano. But if the argument is "we should have kept Soriano" I don't see that in itself as a reason we missed the playoffs again.

Posted by Danny Baseball

11:36 AM, Sep 28, 2007

It must be an organizational philosophy, "We are better then you." I hear it when Bavasi talks about how running a major league team is more difficult then running a fantasy team (gee, you think)? Also whenever Lincoln talks about how "It's not time to change horses." Or whatever awful metaphor he trots out annually to defend his incompetent staff. Little surprised he did not hold a photo opp, put his arm around his incapable GM and say "Heckuva job Bavasi."

Posted by Julio Cruz

11:37 AM, Sep 28, 2007

My entire family has decided not to renew its 4 season tickets because of stuff like this and the re-hiring of McLaren and Bavasi. It's the good old white boys' club. I'm sure Richie Sexson is a workaholic who never touches beer. He'll get another chance to start next year. This organization needs a complete change from the top. They have violated the public trust created when SAFECO was built. I won't give them another dollar.

Posted by DRJ

11:41 AM, Sep 28, 2007

Whew! Thanks, Geoff. Somebody agrees with me that Armstrong and Bavasi are mainly playing ball with themselves and not on the field.I am already getting flak on this site for suggesting that the recurrent problems with the Mariners performance primarily rests with the front office and it is good to see some experinced professional analysts agreeing.

Players come and go. Only a few individual players change the course of a franchise. But a pattern of player development and acquisition comes from the front office.The daily performance is influenced mostly by the field staff ( manager and coaches).

Even when confronted with the unequivocal facts of poor choices and performance failure( yes, I would call this year a failure) over the last 4 years, Armstrong and Bavasi continue the pattern of arrogance and denial.While insulting the fan base to boot.

Posted by auburn terry

11:50 AM, Sep 28, 2007

There is almost nothing to say. Mr. Bavasi is truly irrelevant now and only a rotation of Santana, Willis, Hernandez, Batista, and Baek for next year, and the elimination of Richie Sexson can help him somehow obtain relevence

Posted by faithful

11:50 AM, Sep 28, 2007

Clubhouse morale is desirable but a good manager and his coaches can take care of that. Very few work places find everyone in love with each other. The Mariners' hopes for next year depend totally on a paradigm shift by both Bavasi and MacLaren. History says disaster is in the offing. Bavisa is committed to veterans . . His choice of veterans, however, is for those who have been around several years, may have had a good year or two, but are basically inconsistent, mediocre and/or injury prone. Look at the veterans we've been stuck with: Washburn, Sexson, Spiezo, Aurilio, Reitsma, Rhodes, Parrish, Perez, White, Olivo, McCracken, Harris, Everett, et al. To his credit he's gone the free agent route primarily but we've still lost some who would be an asset now or later: Soriano, of course, Guillen, Winn, Fruto, Carberra, Choo, are examples. Were they clubhouse pariah? Confronted management? Didn't sing the company song? For 2008 the every day lineup should be better than this year, with or without Guillen, although situational hitting could be a problem. There is no pitcher on the free agent list better than what is already on the roster. Will Bavisa give up the future to trade for another veteran such as Washburn or Batista? Mediocre for two or three years then gone?
As for Mac, he appears to be solid proof of the old Peter principle and demonstrates that a very good bench coach doesn't require the same qualities as a successful manager. The former is the liaison between manager and player. Team harmony is among his primary roles. And he was excellent at that. But managers make the hard decisions which put team results ahead of individual desires and feelings. Would Mac have batted A-Rod eighth? He didn't with Sexson. Would he put Guillen or Ichiro on the bench a game or two every month? So far he appears to let them dictate their roles. As Guillen said, Mac needs to be 'tougher.' But every time a manager has gotten tough with Guillen he's gone ballistic--thus a different team almost every year. Next year should be interesting and/or disastrous.

Posted by PositivePaul

11:51 AM, Sep 28, 2007

Well, trying to introduce speculations of nefariousness, now are we???

I've heard a lot of stuff from behind the scenes in the clubhouse, and indeed Soriano wasn't exactly the greatest of characters and the friendliest of folk. But to suggest that he's a shady dude, even hint at that, and have that be the reason why the M's traded him away is somewhat unfair. It's a bit over-speculative...

Honestly, from all of the info I have on the situation, I believe that Armstrong was actually just trying to "stand by his man" and support Bavasi. I mean, heck, does anyone really believe that Bavasi has total, 100% free rein on the specific players he'd like to bring into the organization? He may not have to specifically get approval on every player that the M's bring in, but Chuck and Howard (whether directly or indirectly) have their way of controlling the specific players on the roster, nevermind just the budget...

If there's anything behind Armstrong's statement, I'd interpret it as that the M's made a mistake, knew they made a mistake, based on some information that they had that led them to the wrong conclusion. It's much more likely that they believed he was seriously hurt and wanted to trade him quickly before that word spread, and he'd become untradeable.

It was a panic move that obviously blew up in their faces, and they're doing as much damage control as they can. Let's face it -- Chuck and Howard, while they admit they 'make mistakes' -- they never spell out those mistakes clearly and spell out how they've learned from those mistakes. They just keep making the same darned mistakes over and over again, and don't take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

It's like they keep buying more and more expensive shoes as they try to master the art of firewalking and don't take a step back to analyze whether or not it's actually a good idea to walk on hot coals in the first place.

Posted by DT

11:51 AM, Sep 28, 2007

Maybe he said something about upper management, look at what happened to jeff Nelson. why do you think Lou and Gillick were so eager to leave when the first cards started falling off of the house. I am becoming more convinced that the problem is higher up the food chain than Bavasi

Posted by dc

12:10 PM, Sep 28, 2007

It is clear that the Mariners do not know how to develop future major league position players. They're afraid to put their eggs in the basket of inexpensive youth. They don't know how to show belief in those kids. As a result they continually trade the kids for veterans and/or sign free agent veterans.

Honestly....I would love to see a lineup that includes the likes of Clement, Jones, Balentien with an occasional veteran thrown in as additional help.

Look, I could be wrong. I'm just a businessman. But when I look around the league it seems that most of the teams that are competing are ones that built the core of their teams upon their own youth and then added powerhouse veterans to round everything out. Atlanta has done it for about 15 years now. Cleveland just built a great team based upon that principle.

These teams are also not afraid to dump someone who's not performing. Richie Sexson should thank his lucky stars that he's not a Yankee. He'd be washing windows in Times Square by now.

Could you imagine being a minor leaguer in the Mariner organization? You don't stand a chance.

Posted by dr

12:16 PM, Sep 28, 2007

When McLaren said the team "got into the final week of the season in contention for the wild card", that really grates on me. Yeah, technically, every team is "in contention" until mathematically eliminated. But, come on! We all know when teams are truly "in" and when they've dropped "out". The Ms dropped out of serious contention during the last week of August.

It further troubles me because I think he really believes what he said. "Straight" talk from these guys (McLaren, Bavasi, etc.) is impossible. There is a disconnect between statements like McLaren's and a lot of fans' perceptions. That said, McLaren may be too "player friendly." I can't say that I disagree with some of Guillen's statements (other than the desire to have McLaren be "mean" - god, how junior high was THAT comment?) about McLaren getting tougher. I do think he's too much in the players' corner for a field general. Like it or not, most managers have to remove themselves a lot more from the everyday relationships w/players and hand those duties over to their bench coaches. I just don't know if McLaren can stop donning his coach's beanie when it's his manager's fedora he needs now.

But if he's saddled next spring with a starting rotation like the one Bavasi cobbled together last off-season, well, even Patton and Eisenhower (think helmets, not fedoras) would have had trouble winning.

As for Bavasi, he's another guy, like McLaren, who is not going to upset the owners. They control him (and McLaren). That's why they're both coming back. And the beat goes on. Let's enjoy the other races being decided this weekend. Baseball is a fun sport, Seattle's "secrets" notwithstanding.

Posted by Librocrat

12:42 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Maybe he was bad for team chemistry - because, you know, that apparently matters more than talent.

Posted by Lance

12:45 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I'm sure that Howard Lincoln wishes Chuck Armstrong would sometimes just zip it and keep it zipped. Howard is as tight lipped and guarded as they come. But, Chuckie, well, I guess it's just Chuckie being Chuckie.

Posted by Ebenezer

1:17 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I think LOU is spot on. I do think there's such a thing as chemistry - my objection with it is when people use it to make excuses for their mistakes, instead as Geoff says, owning up to it. Soriano, Garcia and Guillen were good, young players who were given away by this ballclub. I would add Jeff Nelson to that list of problem players, which is why the M's dealt him away.

Of course, Nelson was upset because he wanted to win. He wasn't interested in protecting players' jobs, because winning came first. It doesn't with this team. To me, good chemistry means having players whose first priority is winning. I don't mean cheating to win, but getting the best players to win a championship. The Yankees and Red Sox are like that. The Mariners are not.

I'm sure many of us have worked in businesses or organizations that placed doing a great job first, whether it be making a profit or serving customers. You can put that first and still be good guys in doing it.

Others have worked in places where there's an in-group. Those people are primarily interested in gaining power within the company. If the company suffers because good people are being shut out of opportunities, given bad evaluations when they're doing a good job, that's okay with the power circle. As long as the in-group gains power, they don't care what the consequences are for others. The M's are this kind of an organization.

If Armstrong doesn't have something of substance on Soriano (e.g., he broke the law and wasn't caught), then his bad-mouthing is despicable. I'm glad that someone like Mateo, who actually did something bad and illegal in assaulting his wife, was traded by the M's. But that doesn't mean it's now okay to do something unethical in making vague accusations against a person whose only "crime" is not being popular.

Posted by UWHusky84

1:32 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Is anyone else getting as sick as me of our local teams trying to turn their organizations into a collection of Boy Scouts and members of the church choir? What is with Seattle that we seem to be the place that only wants "good guys?" From Tyrone Willingham to Tim Ruskell to the Mariners organization... it may seem like a noble thing to do -- and nobody wants a team full of bad guys -- but there is a point where things tip to the nonsensical.

Getting rid of Soriano was just another classic example of Mariner buffoonery.

Posted by Utis

1:42 PM, Sep 28, 2007

There have been two trades the M's have made that made no baseball sense at all : Guillen to the Tigers for nothing and Soriano to Atlanta for less than nothing.

If BB was ordered to make these trades from above or made to implement an organizational decision over which he did not have full control, I can understand why they are not holding these trades against him in evaluating his performance. In fact, they may be rewarding his loyalty in taking responsibility.

I am not sure I want to know the details of players departures for non baseball reasons. No one benefits from dragging such things into the public sphere. If a player moves on and gets the issues behind them, so much the better for everyone.

Certainly the Soriano trade was an important factor in the M's missing the playoffs but it is far from the only factor(e.g. Sexson). The team ended up slightly outperforming pre season expectations and provided good entertainment for most of the season. With the improvements to the farm system and a better off season than last year, the M's may improve and contend for the playoffs again next year.

Posted by Brad Daniels

2:00 PM, Sep 28, 2007

It doesn't matter whether Soriano was a troublemaker.

What matters is the value we got for Soriano, which was nothing in Ramirez, when other teams probably would have given more. It's not about who we traded, it's about whether we got the most value out of the trade.

Posted by oregongal

2:10 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Armstrong's comment is disgraceful. It's an unnecessary cheap shot at someone who can't answer.

Even if there's substance to it, whatever the problem was obviously wasn't enough to stop a trade to a team that sets a high standard for pitching. The Mariners still should have gotten a better deal.

Posted by JAH

2:33 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Brad Daniels: It's actually worse than that. We didn't just get nothing, we got somebody that actively hurt our team in that trade. It would have been like trading our prize winning cow for a bunch of magic beans, only the beans turned out to be a venomous snake and we had to spend the rest of the year getting bit by it every five days.

Armstrong isn't doing anything surprising. By rumor mongering, he's spreading doubt among the fanbase that the Soriano/Ramirez wasn't the complete blunder it really was.

Posted by Kirk

2:46 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Why does Armstrong still have a job? Give him a special day, thank him for his years of service and send him out to pasture.

Posted by a baseball fan

3:02 PM, Sep 28, 2007

This team, it's owners management, FO, Manager, are such a turnoff. This is truly a second class organization. The amateur hour. When this is over, these clowns will never work in baseball again.

Posted by Swung On And Belted

3:21 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Bravo Geoff. Thanks for being objective and not drinking the Kool Aid like most of the rest of the Seattle media. It's too bad you're not a fan, but it is nice to see that you are beginning to see where a lot of us life-long Seattle fans are coming from. Keep up the good work. Thanks for the blog.

Posted by pk

3:21 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Ok, so let's assume that Soriano was a bad dude. Where is it written that the Mariners have to go out and find the worst possible player in a trade for our bad dudes? What did we get for Carlos Guillen? Absolute crap. Same with Soriano.

Second, where does Armstrong get off impugning Soriano's reputation like that? What he said is absolutely defamatory and puts himself at risk for a slander lawsuit.

Finally, Geoff, why don't you ask Soriano his side of the story? That's, uh, your job, you know.

Posted by Donovan

3:29 PM, Sep 28, 2007

One of the things that bugs me about blogs is how everybody thinks they have to overstate their case so much to make a point. The real world is almost never black and white, but one of those thousand shades of gray.

I agree wholeheartedly that the M's front office has no business popping off about Soriano at this point. The best way, in fact the only legitimate way for the team to respond to criticism about their decisions is to do something on the field. Chuck's job right now should be to suck it up, take his licks, and try to improve again next year - same as every other eliminated team. I have no problem with people bashing Armstrong for that.

I do have a problem with people rewriting history to try and make it sound like there is a long list of "purged" players who have been shipped off for peanuts because they offended managment. None of us has any idea what the Soriano deal is. We do know about Freddy Garcia though. He wanted out of Seattle, and the team was rebuilding. There was actually a bidding war for him between the ChiSox and Yankees. Chicago won, sending Olivo (who did start at catcher for a time), and two highly regarded prospects, Reed and Morse, for Freddy and the useless Ben Davis. Reed hasn't panned out as well as hoped, but Morse's stock has gone up recently. To say we got nothing is stupid, especially given that Freddy's career has apparently peaked, and Morse may yet pan out. When it comes to Carlos Guillen, nobody predicted his All Star performance in Detroit. In Seattle, he was one of those inconsistent performers who was always on the DL. Yes, in hindsight it was a lousy trade that initiated a sequence of lousy SS pretenders from Rich Aurilia to Pokey Reese, but that's hindsight. He wasn't that good when he was here. When the team gave up on Chris Snelling, people decried that trade too, but it turns out his legs are really made of glass. They were right about Snelling, wrong about Guillen. That isn't great evaluation, but a fascist conspiracy? C'mon. And Jeff Nelson? The M's sent him to NY in late 2003, then hired him back a little over a year later. Not much of a banishment was it? At the same time that the Seattle press was going crazy trying to link his criticism of the FO to the trade, the NY press was going crazy about critical stuff Nelson had said about Torre and the Yanks on his way out of his previous stint there in 2000. Seems like the press likes a controversy on either coast.

My point is there is plenty of real stuff to debate and comment on without inventing a grassy knoll hypothesis. Has the M's FO made some bonehead trades over the year? Hell yeah. Are they the thought police? I doubt it. I think they would sign Beelzebub himself if it would get us to the Series (and he wasn't too expensive). It is certainly open season on all things Mariner this week with the season winding down unsatisfactorily, but let's get a grip. Gratuitous bashing serves no purpose.

Posted by LOU

3:46 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Sorry Donovan...but I have to disagree. This organization does not place winning first, Making $$ is first and having what they believe to be an entertaining product. Check it out they have said so themselves. . I do agree that Morse is a good looking player. However, He will never see the light of day in this organization. This organization has been given the $$ and patience of the fans. What happened to the Hot Seats?

Posted by RickWhiteSuperhero

3:50 PM, Sep 28, 2007


"Morse's stock has gone up recently"

What? Put down the pipe dude. Morse is and will always be a non-prospect. He was a throw-in in the trade to pump up the number of players we got back and make it look better for the M's. Bavasi and the M's scout went 0-2 is assessing the real players Garcia was traded for. One good game in garbage time in September doesn't make you a prospect.

Posted by Utis

3:54 PM, Sep 28, 2007

In baseball, as in most fields, character and appearances matter (usually in inverse proportion to talent). Our own bad dude, Jose Guillen, was traded by the Angels for less that he may have fetched with no "character" issues. It's not as if your trading partner is completely in the dark. If I was Geoff, I'd be working the Atlanta side of this. I don't know if getting to the bottom of the story matters a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by scottM

3:57 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I'm glad to see both GEOFF and STEVE KELLEY not cutting much slack for LINCOLN and BAVASI.

Let's connect one more set of dots. Take JOSE GUILLEN's comment about McLAREN being too nice down the stretch. Then, let's take McLAREN's first public pronouncement that the team needed to have a "gut check." The "gut check" demand by the manager didn't take place until the M's were into the middle of the Detroit series, AFTER this team, for all intensive purposes, was eliminated from playoff hopes. We can surmise from Guillen's statement that no such admonishion took place in any meaningful way before that time. (Remember, it wasn't until a few days ago that McLaren ackowledged that the Mariners were out of the race).

Hey MACK, the gut check time for your team needed to take place following the game that BELTRE lost for us in Texas with two errors. Including yourself into this gut checking process needed to occur a few days later following the last home Angels series and Cleveland make-up game. Your gut-check needed to happen on the heels of your pathetic deployment of RICK WHITE.

GUILLEN is absolutely right. McCLAREN's real gut check this off-season is to find some brass cajones and stand up to his players when necessary, including, if appropriate, to veterans such as JOSE GUILLEN. McLAREN's ability to LEAD this team during times of duress, and make wise decisions when the pressure is on, will be his greatest test. OK, so he has one more season. The big question is this: Will McCLAREN, turn it around and learn to be a leader?

Where can we send McLAREN a copy of George C. Scott in "Patton"?

Posted by a baseball fan

3:58 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Here's what they don't get....
The M's are a collection of names. There is no winning core of the team that came up together and stuck together and won. As much as most you hate the Yanks, you also know the core of Jeter, Posada, Riviera, Bernie Williams is what gave them such a desire to excel every year. Maybe the Mariners and do this with their kids. It's a much better shot at success than this wheel & deal for ego's that requires such a diplomat as McLaren. Until there are some executives in this organization that realize this fundamental concept, the M's are doomed to continued failure, both on the field and on the income statement.

Posted by ricofoy

4:05 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Here's come Donovan, shining his wisdom down on all of us less enlightened than him. LOL
If overstating the case is what EVERYBODY does, then that must be what blogs are for.

Posted by Ebenezer

4:08 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Donovan, your analysis doesn't hold up. The issue with the 2003 M's position players was that many of them were getting old and starting to fade. If you're going to make changes, trade the older players while they still have value. Don't trade a young shortstop who's getting better, especially if you're just going to replace him with an aging, fading Rich Aurila. And while Bavasi's choice to replace Mike Cameron with Raul Ibanez was an even trade-off offensively, it diminished our defense significantly.

As far as Freddy, I didn't realize that a team that won 93 games the previous year was "rebuilding." However, the M's did fall apart after Bavasi took over. Again, not all his fault, but he made things worse because he didn't understand why player performance was declining. As far as Morse, he's done well in his eight at bats, but he's a marginal player at best, not showing a lot at Tacoma.

Bavasi, who's never had one of his teams reach the playoffs in ten years as a GM, has finally got the team back to second place and 85 wins with three games left.

LOU, I do disagree that this organization doesn't want to win. Attendance has fallen steadily since 2002, with a small blip up this season. Winning means more fans. I don't think this front office knows what they are doing, however, and they'd rather try the same failed techniques than to admit they messed up and need to get a different GM. Perhaps you are right, and they'd rather stay the failed course instead of righting the ship.

Posted by oregongal

4:10 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Personally, I don't want to hear Soriano's side of it. If he had problems here, it doesn't matter. He's gone and doing fine in Atlanta. Just because someone takes a cheap shot doesn't mean the target should have his life disrupted. I also don't care about any specifics and I wouldn't care if Soriano was still here. For me, it's just a reflection on Armstrong's character.

Posted by Bill

4:17 PM, Sep 28, 2007

With Jones and Clement being declared untouchable, does this mean the M's are going to trade Balentin?

I know that Jones is considered the better prospect of the two, but with the way Balentin has hit since being called up I hope the M's don't trade the wrong guy.

Hopefully the untouchables won't be sitting on the bench for all of 2008. If Clement is untouchable, why allow him to waste behind Kenji? Maybe they'll move him to 1B instead. Maybe they'll find a place for Jones to play, too. But then again...

Posted by Ebenezer

4:42 PM, Sep 28, 2007

oregongal, you have a reasoned approach. I will be curious what Atlanta does regarding Soriano, as I know they're not used to missing the playoffs. In the Atlanta Constitution, they were polling readers whether to put him in as closer, keep him as a setup man, or trade him.

Bill, I like Wlad, although I was concern at his falloff the second half of the season (although that could have been due to injury). I would like to see him playing everyday with the M's, as he has some patience and the speed to steal bases. I don't know if he's ready yet or needs another few months at Tacoma. I'd love to see an outfield of Ichiro, Jones and Balentien, if Wlad is ready. That'd also free up some money, for say, pitching. I'm unsure when they plan to have Clement up here full-time, as Johjima has another year on his contract.

Posted by ricofoy

4:46 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Bill, I was thinking the same thing. I think something clicked with Balentien this year. Even though he still struck out a fair amount, it was a big improvement at a higher level. I see continued improvement and trading him would be a BIG mistake. I wouldn't trade him or Jones. I'd start both of them in the outfield next year, pick up a couple of those old starters and hope they have enough another year in them.

Posted by oregongal

5:01 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Bavasi has said definitively and absolutely that we will not have two rookies in the outfield next year. Combine that with his not mentioning Wlad as one of the "no tradees" and I think Wlad will be gone in December.

Posted by ricofoy

5:25 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I don't expect Bavasi to actually do what I want - he hasn't yet in 4 years, why start now? ;)

Here's what Bavasi is going to do. Sign Guillen to a 3 yr 36 mil contract, trade Balentien and Clement for Willis and then sign Kip Wells.

Posted by Donovan

5:27 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Ricofoy - The last thing anybody needs is more enraged bloggers. It's just a little moderation, not enlightenment, I'm trying to encourage. This is just baseball after all, not world peace. Shrill comments detract from any legitimacy of the points made. Unfocused anger is stupid and annoying and discredits the poster. If you believe the M's management is inept, then fine. There's a rational case for that. The Mariners are arguably the most inept pro sports franchise in U.S. history over the last 30 years, though the last 10 haven't been so bad on average. Personally, I respect and consider viewpoints that are made with humor more than anger, but that's me. Some people are here for commiseration more than debate I guess.

Ultimately, my motive in posting to this blog at this point in the season is to trade ideas on baseball and what will make the M's better in the real universe (which includes Bavasi and McLaren, whether we like it or not). I have difficulty believing that anybody thought a winning season wasn't good enough to buy Bill another year. That's why the explosion of outrage is hard for me to fathom. You had to know this was coming. It was totally telegraphed.

My take on Bavasi's comments about them not trading Jones and Clement are this: posturing. I think both are on the table if the stakes are high enough, but he's establishing a negotiating position. Time will tell. We aren't going to know for a while what pitching options are even available. I'm certain of this, all the prospects in the AL won't improve our position next year without some better starting pitching.

Posted by lox

5:42 PM, Sep 28, 2007

As a few people pointed out, the crime of the Soriano trade wasn't just that they got rid of him, but what they got back. Whether or not he had "character issues", the fact that no can even figure out what they supposedly were tells us that on a baseball-wide level it wasn't enough to hurt his reputation or lower his value. There is no doubt in my mind that Soriano would have helped the team this year in a number of ways (not the least of which is allowing Morrow to spend the year in the minors where he belonged).

But really, my point is that even if they were intent on moving him for whatever reason, there's no excuse for getting less than equal value back in return. A dominant, young, relatively cheap setup man is one of the most tradeable commodities in baseball. Just ask yourself what it would take for the M's to acquire a guy like that this year if they tried. Hint: It'd be a heck of a lot more than a mediocre, injury-prone 5th starter. Look what the price was for Soriano types at the trade deadline this year. Linebrink, Gagne, Dotel, Reyes and co. all drew top young talent in return (or at least their team's demanded it) and none are as young or cheap as Soriano, nor have they been as good this year.

It's this complete misunderstanding of player value that makes this organization such a joke. Bavasi consistently gets hosed on every trade he makes, and we continue to be a minor-league system for the rest of baseball, providing cheap young talent almost for free. Based on track record, I think we should all be very afraid this coming offseason...

Posted by Donovan

5:56 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Ebenezer - We are in agreement that the Garcia and Guillen trades were bad ones. I just think it is a stretch to say that the FO consciously made bad trades because of some petty personal grudges.

I think you have the correct take on the M's FO wanting to win. Of course they do. To a person, it is in their best interests. Wanting and doing are different things though. Piniella's take on this when he left was pretty pointy: "Pat [then GM Gillick] wants to win. Howard just doesn't know how." Thats quoted from Art Thiel's "Out of Left Field", an excellent read.

Personally, I'm willing to accept paying a premium, or even overpaying for a #1 starter IF they really get a #1 starter. What has killed us is overpaying for #4 starters. Unlike the last 3 years, this team is actually close to being good enough to contend. We need some dominant (not just competent) pitching. That's what our ballpark and existing team are built for. If it is available, we have the $ and the prospects to get it. I think this is the year to trade the farm for it. My biggest fear? That the M's will be too afraid of depriving fans of their beloved prodigies, try to compete next year with another joke rotation, and hope for a miracle.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:05 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Welcome to the Seattle Mariners, an organization led by Team President Chuck Armstrong and GM Bill Bavasi. Armstrong has no class, together with Bavasi they have historically (leaked to the press) smeared the reputation of former players. Many of these players coincidentally were involved in failed Bavasi trades.

1.Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago not long after Guillen contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized. It seems like a pattern that players that fall ill or get injured (see:Raffy Soriano) are publicly attacked by the front office.

Armstrong with the front office hinted Guillen as being a party guy and non-team player in the clubhouse that ruined Garcia's career.

2. Freddy Garcia for Jeremy Reed,Olivo, and Morse. Another failed trade that resulted in Freddy Garcia being bashed by Armstrong publicly leaked to the media.

3.Bobby Madritsch blew his arm out in the beginning of the 2005 season. Bavasi publicly criticized Madritsch as not working hard enough to recover from injury so he released Mads. Mads was picked up by the Royals but his injury ended up killing his career.

Bill Bavasi has an open door policy for steroid users suspended by the league. I guess Madritsch should have used HGH to rehab and he would have been a good soldier in Bavasi's eyes. Really a disgusting revelation regarding our front office that really hasn't been a secret to me for years.

Posted by Joe "The Pro"

6:06 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Not that I put much stock in to what Sandmeyer says on KJR, but this morning he was swearing by the fact that other GM's, coaches and players think that Bavasi is a complete joke! I don't know what to think, but based up the completely miserable trades that he has made, I wouldn't doubt it.

Posted by Swung On And Belted

6:12 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Donovan, just because you know in your heart that something dreadful is going to happen, doesn't mean that you still won't have that awful sick feeling in your gut when it does actually happen. What you seem to be missing is the fact that the fans and taxpayers who feel this way have suffered through enough to have earned the right to vent their frustrations and anger. If it does no other good than just makes someone feel a little better to get it off their chest, then that's O.K. The beauty of Geoff's blog is they allow everyone to voice their opinion no matter what it is, as long as you do it a reasonably civilized manner. As long as the main focus is baseball, we don't need Thought Police.

Posted by Joe "The Pro"

6:13 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Good point Resin. Also, how about the Mateo trade?

The M's are SO CONCERNED about their fan-friendly image with the hydroplanes and the dancing grounds crew members and the no swearing or yelling "hey, you suck!" at games and the ushers preventing you from exercising your contractually-granted right of taking your seat unless it's between innings ...

Would attendance and interest in the team really drop that much if we employed a few guys with domestic violence convictions and beards and DUI convictions and tattoos and TB and/or an STD?

Just a thought?

Posted by Ebenezer

6:14 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Donovan, I agree about overpaying for people such as Washburn. We overpaid for Weaver, too, but at one year, you lessen the risk. Weaver could have turned out well - he showed good stuff for part of the year. His ERA stats are erratic, to say the least:

April: 18.26
May: 10.12
June: 1.82
July: 4.58
Aug: 3.82
Sep: 9.97

As far as your points on reasoned vs. "enraged bloggers," I think that it's much easier to post an enraged comment than if you're speaking with someone you disagree with face-to-face. Not only is there the lack of direct contact which tends to moderate passions, but if you get a rush of adrenaline, you just get wound up with no place to put the energy except for an emotional post. I have thought about walking around for awhile after I read a post that gets me wound up before responding, but unfortunately I don't do it enough.

Posted by ricofoy

6:22 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Lincoln is a Boy Scout who knows nothing about the game. While other kids were playing ball, Howie was learning how to tie knots on his front porch, never far from mother.

Posted by pk

6:24 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Why should Geoff chase the Atlanta angle of this story? Oregongal raises this point.

I think the story is not so much about Soriano but about how the Mariners deal with perceived problem players. People have come up with a number of examples of questionable behavior by the front office. How much of this is valid?

Fans who plop down thousands of dollars each year to support this team have a right to know whether there is any validity to these concerns and whether there is some kind of questionable pattern.

Posted by Management is Clueless

6:37 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Would someone please explain to me why Soriano, Carlos Guillen, Garcia, etc. that we've traded away because of personality and off the field issues are any worse than CARL EVERETT?

At least when the other guys were having troubles off the field, I didn't have to watch it. Does M's Management believe that having kids see Carl Everett grab his crotch and fight with umpires promoted a family friendly atmosphere at games?

Oh well, good thing we signed Everett for cheap... oh wait, he didn't finish one season and we paid him more than Soriano and Guillen combined.

Posted by Ebenezer

6:44 PM, Sep 28, 2007

"Fans who plop down thousands of dollars each year to support this team have a right to know whether there is any validity to these concerns and whether there is some kind of questionable pattern."

I think a big part of the anger is that the M's are heavily subsidized. Safeco Field cost taxpayers $372 million. That's part of the reason for rising player salaries, because you have more money chasing the same number of players. You can argue whether that's a good public investement or not, but I think fans and others feel like we have a stake in the team. We get more angry when the team drifts along and misses the playoffs yet again, then when we are competitive each year but are edged out for a playoff spot.

Adding to that are issues with steroids, Bud Selig's weak leadership, as well as all the other problems going on in professional sports, and you get a lot of resentment. That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of compelling stories and good people in the game, but a few serious negatives can blot out a lot of positives.

Posted by Steve

6:59 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I'm not too happy about Bavasi returning next year. He might be able to semi redeeem himself by approaching the free agent market with an agenda, instead of picking up the dregs. I also would like to see us make an effort to get Johann Santana. Even if we didn't get Santana, if there's some effort there, at least he'd be trying to right the ship. However, if he decides to pull the same crap next year and just wait, then that tells me he's not dedicated to this team at all.

I still can't help but think that keeping him for next year is a mistake. Everything he's done to this team has not been for the better. He's just been extremely lucky.

Posted by CR

7:04 PM, Sep 28, 2007

I have issues with some of the things you have written in the past, but I really want to commend you for calling Armstrong out on his cheap shot. This was a pathetic maneuver by a front office engaged in serious CYA. They blew it with the Soriano-HoRam trade. Everyone in baseball knew it at the time, and it's become the unavoidable elephant in the room as the season has wound down. Instead of dealing with it like adults, the M's brass has predictably taken the cheap road. This is what they did with Carlos Guillen and Freddy Garcia too. It's just really sad that the team that I love so much is run by complete tools like Chuck and Howard.

Posted by jk

7:05 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Good points about the fan friendly atmosphere! They have turned that place into Disneyland...all they want is for the kids to beg their parents to come out and eat cotton candy, watch the moose and all the other crap! Go to a game a Wrigley field, they are real fans who are knowledgeable about what is going on, they are into the game! There is no moose running around, no dancing grounds crews, no "non alcoholic sections", no bans on "Yankee suck" shirts and no obnoxious fans from the opposing team.

Posted by Allen

7:23 PM, Sep 28, 2007

Another example of the Front Office preferring nice guys who do the "right" things to players that can actually produce. Gee that added clubhouse chemistry has really produced great results.

Armstrong is a fool.

Posted by Will Clark

11:09 PM, Sep 28, 2007

"M's go for stability in retaining Bavasi..."

Response: Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

Posted by Orlandu

9:54 AM, Sep 29, 2007

I asked Jason Churchill about it yesterday. You'll have to scroll down to post 79 there just to get to my question. Got some interesting replies, to say the least.

Posted by Cubby

10:25 AM, Sep 29, 2007

: Go to a game a Wrigley field... There is no moose running around... and no obnoxious fans from the opposing team.
That's not exactly true. Whenever they play the Cardinals, and especially "that other Chicago team," the White Sox, you'll see a bunch of unruly fans in black and white coming into Wrigley just to heckle the Cubs faithful. But then again, we do the same thing when the Cubs go to the South Side to play at US Cellular.
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