Tag Archives: Kenji Johjima

The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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The Rebuilding Process, Year 4

You guys, Prince just signed wtih the Detroit Tigers. What’s your take?

I understand all of these stances, but let’s recap the big picture, as in the 5 year rebuild Jack inherited in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: shed dead weight, begin overhauling the farm

2010, Year 2: shed dead weight, continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)

2011, Year 3: bring the youth up, evaluate potential, acquire more young talent

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs

I wrote about Years 1 and 2 of the rebuilding process, as well as
Year 3. Welcome to Year 4 Mariner fans. For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes. The blueprint I laid out reflects what we’ve seen Jack say and do for 3+ years, and the M’s are still on track to contend within 5 years of Bavasi’s exit.

There are multiple ways to rebuild a baseball organization, and dozens of varying factors must be weighed. In 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this club back 5 years, minimum. I’ve said this before, and perhaps my bias is too entangled to make this statement, but I honestly think Bavasi might be the worst GM a baseball franchise has ever had.
Side Note-

In a 1 year stretch, From December 7, 2005—December 7, 2006, Bavasi made 7 trades involving players that made a major league roster. Combined, Bavasi traded Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Thornton, Asdrubal Cabrera, Eddie Guardado, Shin-Soo Choo, Jamie Moyer, and Rafael Soriano, in exchange for Joe Borchard, Eduardo Perez, Ben Broussard, Andy Baldwin, Sean White, and Horacio Ramirez.

As for player signings, more than half of Bavasi’s signings were horrible. His 12 worst were Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia, Richie Sexson, Pokey Reese, Jarrod Washburn, Carl Everett, Miguel Batista, Jeff Weaver, Yuniesky Betancourt, Carlos Silva, Brad Wilkerson, and Kenji Johjima (extension). That’s a combined $225 million. In the end, 7 were cut, 2 traded, and 2 (Batista and Washburn) played out the full contract.

Jack’s record is not flawless either. The Figgins deal is awful, trading Morse for Langerhans hurts, and you could question the Morrow trade and Guti extension. But he has hit some real home runs, and given the state of the organization, I agree with the blueprint that Jack has committed to. This is not to say there aren’t circumstances that deviate from the plan. Heck, when Cliff Lee fell into our lap, we were thinking playoffs, just 2 years into this regime. I’m a firm believer in adding talent when you get the chance, whether you are 1, 2, or 5 pieces from real contention, and I’d imagine Jack agrees. The M’s may have been competitive in the Prince bidding, but alas, year 4 will not include Prince Fielder, nor should it at the price he ultimately got. So the original plan continues, and all things considered, the plan is on track. The splash that elevates the M’s from re-build mode to contend mode will come, it’s just a year away.

I’ll leave you with this morsel, on the heels of losing Prince. The Tigers have committed $338m for Prince/Cabrera/V-Mart. Seattle’s mini-version of Smoak/Montero/Carp costs $1.26m.

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