Saturday, July 16, 2005

Making the second half useful.

It's time to stop drifting. The M's season is ending after game 162, and they need to think and act strategically for next season, now.

That means finding a coherent strategy for catching next year. Borders ain't it, and if it's going to be Olivo, then the M's need to develop and execute a coherent plan, not continue the current situation, which makes no sense.

They've made the right call with playing Lopez everyday (though how DFA'ing Boone did anything but completely undermine any trading leverage they had is beyond me). It's time to do the same with Chris Snelling. The M's have 3 viable young outfielders next year to go with Ichiro (add Ibanez if you want): Reed, Snelling, and Choo. Winn is expendable, and should garner something decent in a trade. And there is absolutely NO excuse for using Spiezio as a pinch hitter over Snelling, if the young Australian isn't already in the game.

Pitching? Most are expendable in trades, though I'd be loathe to trade Pineiro now, when his trade value is low. He should slip nicely behind Felix next year. Let's give Jorge Campillo a chance to show if he can be at least as effective as Meche (without the arb-eligible salary), who is trade fodder. Nelson and Hasegawa don't have a future with the M's. Bring up George Sherrill and get him the innings in the Show.

Obviously, it's easy for armchair GMs to say "Trade Player X!" when we're not the ones on the phones trying to get value for value. But the current treatment of Snelling and Olivo suggests the M's are still drifting aimlessly, not acting purposefully.

The one objection I can imagine being raised is something along the lines of "what message does it send to the fans to give up on this season?" That's a lazy cop-out. If the concern is with P.R., the answer is to do what good politicians do: stay on message. For example:

What does is say to your fans to trading Player X?
"It says we are committed to turning this franchise into a winning one, consistently. We have some great outfielders that can step in, and are using this trade to improve our pitching."
Will you miss veteran leadership of Player Y?
"Our chief concern is giving experience to the players we believe will make us a winning team for years to come."
What do you say to fans who don't want to go through a rebuilding phase?
"Fans know this team needs to improve. We took some important steps last year, but we are not going to pretend that was enough; we're going to improve this team further, and do it now, so fans won't have to endure a long rebuilding phase. Beyond that, these new young players are exciting to watch."

All this requires strong leadership that has the vision, courage, and determination to improve the team and articulate that vision without apology.

No comments: