Mariners Mini Morsels: October 23

Greg Johns at MLB.com has done an informative piece on Dustin Ackley. He points out that, “after hitting just .205 and being sent down to Triple-A Tacoma in the first half of the season, Ackley hit a team-leading .304 with a .374 on-base percentage and .435 slugging percentage after the All-Star break to quiet critics who wondered if he’d ever develop into a key cog in Seattle’s offensive attack, as was envisioned when he was selected with the second pick in ’09.” You can read the full piece here. It’s worth the time.

 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, among others, has reported that Jim Leyland decided to step down as Detroit Tigers manager. He told the team that it was time for someone younger to do the job.  Leyland, 68, has been a major league manager for 22 years, compiling a 1,769-1,728 overall record. During his eight years with the Tigers, the team won three AL Central titles and two AL pennants. Leyland won the 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins. If he would have taken the job, I would have loved to see him pick up the reins for the Mariners, but he’s of an age now that he appears to be no longer willing to accept the stresses the job entails. As noted by many, he is a class act.

 

Multiple media reports surfaced on Monday evening that the Reds will name Bryan Price their new manager on Tuesday during a news conference. Price, 51, has been Cincinnati’s pitching coach for the past four seasons and would replace Dusty Baker. Price, who was the Mariners’ pitching coach for three managers but passed over for the job himself, was a guy I would have liked to see get the Mariners gig.  He has a lot going for him. Unfortunately the Mariners are dragging their heels at even getting started with interviewing candidates.  Making out a list doesn’t help much and a lot of off-season decisions need the manager’s input.

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Mike Napoli‘s strong postseason is further proof that his avascular necrosis is not an issue as he enters free agency for the second time, reports MLB.com’s Lindsay Berra. Napoli was frustrated by having to settle for a one-year, $5MM deal (incentives pushed the eventual value to $13MM) after a three-year, $39MM contract was scrapped because of the AVN diagnosis. “I waited seven years for free agency and then got an opportunity, and it got taken away because of something I didn’t even know I had and had never had any pain from,” said Napoli. “I’m a little more confident about negotiating a contract now that I’ve shown all year that my hips aren’t an issue, but I’m sure I’m going to have to go through all the steps again, with all the MRIs and talking to doctors.

 

Baseball Best Practice

How do they do it? The Cardinals are generally recognized as the most effective winning organization in the game, doing it The Cardinal Way. Bernie Miklasz at the St Louis Post-Dispatch has defined the “it” in a piece that can be read here in full.

As he puts it, “The Cardinal Way is an organizational model for success. Scouting players, drafting players, developing players and shaping their personalities to fit into a winning environment. But the Cardinal Way is also an attitude. And more than anything, it is about people, and the bond that forges professional and personal relationships. Any baseball franchise can come up with a blueprint and standards for a universal approach. But unless each and every player is willing to sign on and buy in, it won’t work.

“The Cardinal Way is about trusting each other, working together, and always pulling in the same direction. It is about subjugating your ego in the pursuit of a more noble cause: fulfilling the goals of an entire organization. ‘It doesn’t matter if you are a rookie or a veteran,’ rookie reliever Seth Maness said recently. ‘It’s a team concept. It’s been instilled in every player that comes through here. There’s an attitude of, “What can I do to help my teammate? What can I do within my role to help my team win?” Putting the team first is expected of you. You get a little taste of it in spring training, with veterans setting the tone of what it takes to play at the major league level, and what it takes to be a Cardinal. And you just watch the way they go about their business. Watch and learn. And there’s always a teammate there to help you.’ ”

 

Magic Johnson stopped to answer a few questions on the Busch Stadium field after the Dodgers were eliminated. What he said gave a glimpse into the Dodgers’ long-term plan. “If you could model an organization, I think you’d pick [the St. Louis Cardinals], with the consistency they’ve had and the winning they’ve done while losing players, losing [an Albert Pujols]. It’s truly amazing,” Johnson said. “It’s outstanding what they’ve built here, and we want to build the same thing back in L.A.” Magic, who is high on enthusiasm but still learning the nuances of baseball, could have taken it a step further and gotten a little more specific.

General manager Ned Colletti took up the conversation after the Dodgers bowed out in the sixth game of the NLCS and gave the Cardinals a crack at their third World Series title since 2006. “They’ve taken a lot of college power arms,” Colletti said. “They’ve done a great job of developing and a great job of drafting.” In a way, the Dodgers already have begun following the Cardinals’ model. In the last draft, 21 of their 40 players taken were pitchers. Of the 40 picks, 31 came out of colleges. —Mark Saxon at ESPN LA

 

Baseball Biz

Mark Cuban made more money from the Texas Rangers than Nolan Ryan did. In 2010 the Rangers were being auctioned in bankruptcy court because owner Tom Hicks had defaulted on debt payments. Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan was part of one of the final two groups bidding for the baseball team, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was leading the other group. Ryan’s group won with a $593 million bid. But Ryan, who announced Thursday he is stepping down as the team’s CEO and selling his small stake in the Rangers to principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, is going to lose money on his investment because his ownership interest in the Rangers decreased when he did not make capital calls to fund the team’s losses.

Meanwhile, Cuban made a big profit from not buying the Rangers because, before he joined the bidding process, he bought debt tied to the team. Once Cuban became part of the bidding the sale price for the team rose by about $90 million, thereby pushing up the value of the debt that Cuban had purchased. That is how the man who won the bidding for the Rangers struck out while the man who lost the bid hit a home run. —Mike Ozanian at Forbes Sports Money