Archive for the ‘Mariners’ Category

M’What M’Next?

June 20, 2008

Stupid title, I know; but the missus and cubs took off for two weeks in Yellowstone with Nana and Papa and I’ve had a few celebration beers… I’m not even going to bother with pictures.

So the M’s are officially cleaning house. John McLaren is out and Jim Riggleman is in.

You always feel bad for a “company man” like McLaren. He’s been around a long time – So long in fact, that I remember rubbing elbows with him back when I was an employee of the M’s in 98 and 99. The other nobodies and I used to grab dinner at Mac’s Smokehouse right across Occidental from the Dome. The coaches used to do the same and Mac (I can call him that because we ate BBQ together, even though he didn’t know my name. God, I feel so cheap…) was always really nice to us. That had to have been a really tough pink slip to write for Lee Pelekoudas, who has been around about as long as Mac (I think he preferred the pork butt with beans and slaw…) – but it did give him an excellent opportunity to show off his jet black businessman’s special. (Seriously, if he fails at this GM gig, he can team up with Keith Hernandez and Clyde Frazier in those Just for Men commercials.)

So here’s what I’m thinking, and maybe later, I’ll actually do some research to see if my theory is right…

That whole John McLaren situation sounds pretty familiar to us doesn’t it? (The company-man part, not the me eating BBQ near him part.) OlDobes and Johnny Mac are birds of a feather. Highly-regarded, long time assistants who were handed the reigns when the old coach/manager unexpectedly bolted; and then promptly pissed down their legs.

Here’s why it’s not their fault: They’re long-time assistant coaches. Keyword: assistant. They have been the good cop to the head-man’s bad cop for too long; and while they may have the respect of their players, it’s more like the respect you have for your grandpa who served in the war – you respect him, but you’d still sneak a beer or two from him whenever you felt like it. They’re not like your ball-busting dad, that you actually fear because you know he measures the booze in his bottles and counts every Schmidt in the ‘fridge. Get my drift? Longball, you got me?

The reason why Jim Riggleman may actually work is that he’s new to the organization. The players still don’t know that much about him – but they do know that he’s managed in the majors and been a successful minor league manager. If Riggleman sheds the good cop hat and puts a little fear in these guys as their manager, they may very well start playing with more of a sense of urgency to perform. I think this could work especially well, if we cut and/or trade a couple veterans and replace them on the roster with the clubhouse leaders from Tacoma and maybe even West Tenn. Bring up a couple kids who have proven themselves to have strong character and leadership abilities. Ala Dick Bennett, the kind of guys you think you can lose with for a year or two – but will be better for it in the long run.

Get rid of the dead weight that you know is hurting the team and replace them with youngsters that believe in each other. You may take your lumps for a while but they’ll battle hard and come out of it battle-tested and ready for all comers. I always go back to the example of the Braves turning their team over to Glavine, Smoltz, Justice and Gant – but there are many more examples over the years, including the Marlins, a couple times over.

So back to the manager thing. Because the M’s management is old school, I’d suspect that they’ll encourage Riggleman to shake things up a bit. They’ve already hinted at that with the promotion of Clement. I’d be surprised if this isn’t followed in the next few days by another player or two being cut – especially if there happens to be one or two guys on the team who don’t feel like buying into a youth movement. Let him put his stamp on the team and see how the guys react. If it works? Great – keep him around and see if he can sustain it – but don’t accept mediocrity. If the players don’t respond well to him this year, get the roster even younger next year and bring in a young manager that will command the players’ respect.

I wonder if they’ll be tempted to go the former player route like the Cougs? Joey Cora is getting a lot of attention right now. What about The Sherriff? I’d pass on little Joey, but Norm could be fun, don’t you think? Bring in Dibble as pitching coach to guilt Putz off of the DL… OK, probably not going to happen.

Personally, I’d love to get an Eric Wedge-type guy. He’s young, hard-nosed and respected in the clubhouse. The M’s may have a guy or two like this in the system right now. Guys that the young players will maybe have a little history with – like Gary Thurman or… how about former Coug Jim Horner? Like Wedge, Horner is the prototypical Crash Davis (minus the home runs and the belief that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.) He’s a long-time minor league catcher, turned minor league manager. He hasn’t been at it long, but given a little time, and hopefully a little success, he may be a great candidate. Truth be told, I don’t know a thing about Horner’s short career as a manager. My point is to bring in a guy who’s young but is an ass-kicker and a proven leader of young players.

Want one last Cougar tie-in for the road? How about promoting former Coug Greg Hunter from Director of Player Development, to GM?

Next, we can replace that God-awful teal with Crimson…

Go Cougs. Go M’s.

If You Can’t Win, Fight

May 9, 2008

When you score 1 run in your last 32 innings(!), you are bound to be frustrated. So what the hell? Throw at guys and see if you can start something. But did you see the pitch to Sexson that started the brawl? It wasn’t exactly a head-hunter pitch.

Yes it was high and inside, but that was only after Felix plunked a couple of their guys. That was 100% pure frustration boiling over on a team that is completely losing it’s mind right now. You can bet the fire sale will start next month at the earliest, and right up until the trade deadline you’ll see rumors of M’s getting shipped off to contenders. I would expect Ibanez’s name to be out there, and maybe even Beltre. You might even see Batista or Washburn for teams desperate for a back-end starter for the stretch run. But at this point, outside of Ichiro, Putz and some of the kids, the rest are all fair game. What a complete disaster this thing has turned out to be, and it’s only May 9th!

The real question is whether or not Bavasi will still be the GM once the fire sale begins. His trade scorecard is pretty underwhelming, and ownership might have serious second thoughts about having Bavasi be the guy to rebuild this thing. It’s not unheard of to change GM’s in the middle of a season either. Cincy just did it a few weeks ago. But the bottom line is Bavasi’s plan has completely blown up at this point, and his track record of trades is less-than-stellar. It might be prudent to hire your next GM now and put him in charge of the rebuild that can begin with trade-deadline deals. If you don’t think rebuilds can begin with deadline deals, well, they can. Look back at Cleveland to see how it’s done. A few years back they dumped their ace, Bartolo Colon, for some minor-leaguers named Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. While Phillips is now starring as the #3 hitter as a potential all-star second baseman in Cincy, Sizemore has become one of the best outfielders in the AL, and Lee is just out of his mind GREAT right now! The M’s are right at the crossroads now, and yet they still have some bullets in the holster to make some major strides to get better. But this thing is dead, and they have to move accordingly.

Moving on, I’m tired of the off-field stories. You know what’s going on. Roof is in trouble, Hicks to get some jail time, the APR sucked 8 scholies out of the program, blah blah blah. This week can’t end fast enough, and I’m just some lowly blogger. Imagine how some on the inside of the program feel right now!

Anyway, in the spirit of moving on, how about some Okie-State thoughts. August 30th is going to get here faster than we think (check out the new counter to the right that shows you when the ’08 opener approaches). We’ll have an in-depth look at the Cowboy spring session this weekend, but I thought we would look at their head coach and his now-famous “I’m a man, I’m 40” meltdown. In case you forgot….

Ok then.

For some background on the rant, he was pissed at an article written in what has been tagged as “worst paper in America”, the Daily Joke-lahoman, which ripped Gundy’s then-QB Bobby Reid for not exactly showing a good attitude, being a momma’s boy, etc. You can read the article here.

So there you have the tirade. A coach is mad because one of his players was ripped, even though he’s generally a good kid. There was even some applause after the meltdown. You thought it was over, right? Well, it wasn’t. In fact, it turns out the whole thing might have been a big put-on or a fraud to begin with. Reid and his mom said so after the whole thing:

“Honestly, the way I took it, I felt like it was all a front,” Reid says. “That it was all a big show. It didn’t feel genuine.”

Maybe it’s just a bitter player taking one last shot at a coach he and his mom couldn’t stand. Or maybe it really was just a bunch of BS. Nobody knows what was really going on behind closed doors between players and coaches. And Reid might just be a total flake that is tied to his mom’s apron. But when you see a coach with a melt-down like that, well, you wonder what the heck is going on under the surface.

Maybe it’s uber-donor T. Boone Pickens and his billions that put extreme pressure on the head coach to win games. After all, the Okie State stadium is named after the guy who donated an NCAA-record $165 MILLION dollars because he wants his Cowboys to win gosh darnit! Cougar faithful can smile about Pickens and his money, because it can buy a lot of things, but it couldn’t buy Tony Bennett! You might remember that Okie State was prepared to throw the bank at Tony around the Final Four, but we know how that turned out. And Pickens and his billions couldn’t land Bill Self either. It appears that some of the top coaches with a brain don’t want to answer to this guy.

But keep in mind Pickens donated millions towards the “Swift Boat for Truth” guys that smeared the military record of John Kerry. Whether you liked John Kerry or couldn’t stand him, even the most conservative of conservatives generally thought those Swift-Boater types were pretty out of line. But yes, the Swift Boaters are the same group that has hated Sonics minority owner Aubrey McClendon in their midst. While not busy telling everyone they never wanted the Sonics to actually stay in Seattle, McClendon spends a lot of money being “anti” a lot of stuff. He was quoted as saying he didn’t want “those kinds of people” in OKC when they happily sold the Seattle Storm to a local Seattle group. What a bunch of GREAT AMERICANS! Whatever. It’s their money and their belief system, they can do what they want.