Seattle Mariner general manager Jerry Dipoto is performing the rebuild that was needed years ago. For 17 years, the Mariners have operated as if they had been just a player or two from a title run and with the exception of 2002 / 2003 it has been a gross misplacement of trust. An over-reliance on old timers and big splash free agents with a disregard for the future has led to what we as Mariner fans have had to endure and that is an endless string of mediocrity that sees no end.
“Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.”
Not that there is any problem with having veterans filing a role player position or a free agent filing a vital role; however, this Mariner team under the last 3 general managers have failed to build up a rich minor league system that has the next generation of stars and valuable trade chips to make a true run. I applaud Jerry Dipoto for realizing this and moving forward with a massive shakeup.
The precedent for blowing up a major league team to ensure long-term success has shown great reward in recent history. It is risky and many teams who have tried drafted poorly or were fleeced in poor trade deals. But take a look at these following teams. Many fans had trepidation, but to the bold go the spoils of victory.
In the early 2000’s the Texas Rangers had 6 straight miserable seasons with high priced players like Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Phil Nevin, and Alfonso Soriano. Manager Buck Showalter was incapable of fitting pieces in around the sluggers and that lead to his dismissal in 2005.
Hiring the right manager is key. Ron Washington could handle personalities as well as coach youngsters (sfgate.com)
GM Jon Daniels hired Ron Washington and traded away his big sluggers. With just Michael Young remaining, the Rangers moved to collect pitchers and contact hitters. The Rangers would endure rock bottom in 2007 with a last place finish. However, by 2009, the Rangers would use their prospects to build a core of a team that would go to back to back World Series appearance in what was a close to a decade of success that saw the before mentioned WS appearances and 4 division titles.
In the early 2000’s, the Motor City Kitties came off a miserable 11 consecutive years of sub .500 ball. In fact, they had not been in the playoffs for 19 years (sound familiar?). The Tigers were in a bad cycle of giving huge contracts to over 30 year old players. Big signings Fernando Viña, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Iván Rodríguez, Ugueth Urbina, and Carlos Guillén were brought in to change the fortunes of the team. And while there was a short-term benefit including a World Series appearance in 2006, it wasn’t going to be sustainable.
GM Dombrowski got rid of fan favorites when he had to for the long-term health of the team. (LATimes.com)
Dombroski would lean on his experience with the Florida Marlins where he would constantly refresh veterans to supplement budding home-grown talent. Dombrowski saw a need for a shake up and gone were Urbina, Pudge, Guillen, Vina, and Sheffield. Replaced by younger veterans like Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera who supplemented the upcoming stars on this team.
GM Dave Dombrowski brought in a manager in Jim Leyland who knows how to develop talent while also managing big personalities. Leyland was given control of rookies Justin Verlander, centerfielder Curtis Granderson, and relief pitcher Joel Zumaya whom he was able to coach to high levels of success.
A constant refresh of veterans and excellent coaching of the young stars would lead to a string of 4 straight AL Central titles including a World Series appearance.
Switching sports for a minute, the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 traded All-Pro Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a host of draft picks. At the time, the Cowboys were 1-15 and had just one trade chip in Walker at that time.
Hall of Famer Troy Aikman was drafted by Dallas with a draft pick gathered from the Walker Trade (
What would manifest for the Cowboys are the acquisition of QB Troy Aikman, Guard Steve Wisniewski, FB Daryl Johnston, Center Mark Stepnowski in the 1990 draft. Followed by RB Emmitt Smith, DT Russell Maryland, CB Larry Brown, and DT Leon Lett in subsequent drafts. With a host of Pro Bowlers, the Cowboys would go on to win 3 Super Bowls in the 1990s.