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MJH on accountability
If you absolutely hate conspiracy theories then I'd suggest you avoid reading what follows.
Something about the recent trade proposal between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners doesn't feel right to me so I decided to do a little research into the pieces involved in the trade. However, I thought it would be interesting to look at the history of the two GM's rather than the players they have discussed exchanging.
On Seattle's side you have one Jack Zduriencik who played a little second base in the early 70's for the White Sox before haning up his cleats to enter the ranks of High School coach starting in '75. He spent time in the high school ranks until 1983 when he got his first shot on the operational side of professional baseball as an area scout for the Mets. He held this post until '89 at which point he was moved to the role of national cross checker for the Mets in 1990. In 1991 the Pirates came calling and promoted him to Director of Scouting. A position he held through the 1993 season. He moved back to the Mets as a national cross checker in '94 until he was appointed Director of Minor League Operations for the same club in '95. A position he held until '98 when he briefly became Special Assistant to the GM. However he was quickly scooped up by the Dodgers to fill their Director of International Operations position from '98 to 99. He then moved on to Milwaukee where he filled numerous posts until 2008 when he was hired by the Mariners to become their General Manager.
On Arizona's side you Mr. Kevin Towers who had his playing career cut short due to arm injuries while still in the Padres farm system. He's career in baseball operations began as a pitching coach for the Spokane Indians (which was at that point a Padres affiliate) for the '89 and '90 season. From there he was hired by who else but the Pittsburgh Pirates as a scout from '91-'93. He then returned to the Padres in 1993 to take their scouting director position until '95 when he was promoted to GM. A position he held until his firing in the fall of 2009. He then spent a year in New York as a special assignment scout for the Yankees in 2010 and was hired as the Diamondback GM for 2011.
So the dots that we can reasonably connect between Towers and Zduriencik revolve around their shared time in Pittsburgh where Zduriencik was Director of Scouting from '91 to '93 and Towers was one of his scouts during that time frame. Thus the offer the M's made for Upton is no longer between two disparate organisations but between to GM's who spent time working together in the same organisation during the early stages of their respective careers. So at this point you might be saying big deal lots of people in the industry work for or with eachother throughout their career's due to high turnover. To that I would say you are absolutely correct. So I spent some time looking for possible links between Towers (I view him as the driving force in this narative) and each of the other three clubs GM's Upton has no-trade rights for. In short neither Towers or Zduriencik appear to have any working history with Epstein (Cubs), Cherington (Red Sox) and Anthopoulos (Blue Jays).
So why does all this matter? What's the point you ask. Well the point is you have two GM's who have a shared history publisizing a trade in which the primary player in question (Upton) has stated numerous times he would excersize his no trade rights to block. If you include the fact the most believe the next best trade offer on the table was made by JD then I think you can start to see a conversation develop where Towers contacts his former boss who is now GM of Seattle and a division rival of the Rangers and says something along the lines of
"hey I need to get as much value as possible from the Rangers and the best way to do that would be for another team, preferrably from the same division (ahem) to make an offer well above what JD has put on the table."
To whit Zduriencik responds "But I don't even want Upton and how can you guarantee me that Upton won't accept the deal"
Towers replies "Because Upton has told me in no uncertain terms that he block any trade to every team on his no trade list. Plus, I won't tell him about the deal before hand, which will really piss him off, thus ensuring he excercizes his no-trade rights. Relax, there's nothing to worry about. Besides don't you want to see JD have to get rid of some of that talent he is hording over there. It really is a win-win for both of us. I get the pieces I want for Upton and you get a weaker division opponent."
Some one should start a congressional investigation for collusion.
BTW- before anyone decides to rail against me for such a topic we all know this isn't what really happened (or do we) and I am simply just trying to kill some time on a cold and rain Saturday (or am I).
Hope you enjoyed my musings for the day!
I like conspiracy theories, and I applaud your effort in giving me some reading material (or are you?).
Listen, I think you nailed it with the statement, "big deal lots of people in the industry work for or with eachother throughout their career's due to high turnover." This is probably the case. Scouts from various organizations bond together, compare notes, and ultimately make connections that last their entire baseball lives. It's a fun, albeit lonely job, a lot like how truck drivers and bus drivers tend to wave when they pass each other.
That said, I don't doubt that something smells fishy in this situation. The Mariners aren't terribly far away from competing in the West, possibly as soon as 2014, so it wouldn't make sense to mortgage their future on Justin Upton. Essentially, if they made the purported deal for Upton, they might have to flip him by the deadline just to salvage some of the prospect haul they would have lost to acquire him. But hey, maybe that's how desperate they are for offense.
Not too far fetched. The only thing is that if the Rangers did have the second best offer to the Mariners I don't understand why a failed deal would force the Rangers to up their offer. That means tey would now know they have the best qualifying offer for Upton since the Mariners are clearly out. This would reduced Towers leverage over the Rangers. If the Rangers feel that the Dbacks are actually motivated to move Upton, and we know they want to move at least one outfielder, JD just has to sit around with his best offer until Towers runs out of desperation moves, and is forced to take it. The Rangers aren't going to say to themselves, "wow that's what the Mariners offered we need to meet that now or get out." That's ridiculous because that offer is no longer in play. The rangers are now setting the market for Upton, and if Towers doesn't like it he's just going to find himself stuck with a disgruntled, unmotivated player that will only lose value on the trade market with every game played, especially since he's unmotivated, and thus not likely to put up great numbers for Arizona.
Glad you enjoyed it (or did you?)Although after re-reading I now realize I’m going to have to fire my editor. I guess that’s what I get for taking such a long break from attempting to contribute. Oh well.Anyway, I was actually rather surprised with how quickly I could put this whole thing together. It took about ten minutes of research into each GM’s background and pretty much flowed from there. Not sure what that means but I found it rather interesting. I still can’t fathom why the Mariners would do something like this. I read David Cameron’s piece on Fangraphs to get his take and he seems to think that in the end it would have been reasonable value for both teams over the long-term. Unfortunately, and with as much as I respect Cameron’s opinion, I just can’t get there. Upton is a really good player, there’s no doubt, but more than that he is the epitome of mercurial. I would actually liken him to Ian Kinsler in that they both have tremendous talent and ability, and have shown what they are capable of when everything comes together. Yet they are also both significantly flawed athletes who will likely never maximize their own potential, which is why this deal doesn’t make sense to me.To me Upton isn’t an organization altering player. By that I mean, by his addition alone, few if any teams should expect their position within the standings to be significantly improved by plugging him into the lineup. I also view the Mariners to be a bit further off than you mentioned. I think they’re window doesn’t really start opening until around 2015-2016 when the Angels will be struggling to overcome the massive backloading they’ve signed themselves up for. The A’s will be just about done riding they’re current wave of young athletes and the Rangers cornerstone’s (primarily Beltre) will be well along the downward slope of their careers. Seattle is likely the forth best team in the AL West for the next few years and while they have shown some improvement the last few years adding Upton doesn’t catapult them above any of the three teams ahead of them, much less into the position of presumptive division champ. While trading Walker and Co. would likely seriously hinder their chances of competing in 2015-2018, especially since Upton would probably walk after the 2015 season given his previous statements about playing in Seattle.All told I think unless JD can pull off a package of something like Olt, Sardinas and one of Grimm/Ross I don’t see much value in continued conversations with Towers. Over the next three years Upton is likely to be somewhere between a 3 and 5 War outfielder. Frankly I think a conservative projection for Olt over the next six years is an average of 2 War per year, with three of those years being at or near the league minimum. Adding Sardinas and one of Grimm/Ross should be plenty of excess value if both teams are looking to make an even swap. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Towers is up for that at the moment.
Look at it this way, you work in an organization of >1000 employees, over a period of decades how many will you know? What is discussed behind closes doors, so to speak, is not always revealed by media. The issue to avoid is really the dreaded word 'collusion'. But that is a fine line. I also, do not dismiss Upton still ending up in right for the Mariners. ALL Towers has to do is buy out the no-trade clause, plenty of precedent in that; however, on the other hand there is the Young/Uehara scenarios. If that is all it took for Upton: Olt, Sardinas [ a major talent and slowly on track as a second Profar, who is at the moment 4th in line at short], and Grimm that trade would have been done in November. With the bar set by Seattle, a little wiggle room may exist but only a little. None of the three have had MLB success, and therefore remain prospects, and in that the number has been set at 4. Thus, would you do an Upton for Olt, Sardinas, Grimm AND ROSS. That clearly is what Towers will minimally ask for. ARP your post was an excellent read, even if a tad long for a forum post. .
Some say less is more sometimes.
That's a great theory. That's why I already proposed it two days ago right here in the BBTIA forum.
All I know is that if the Mariners were that desperate they are crazy or stupid so your theory makes a lot of sense to me.
Let's not connect the dots and pretend we did.
"Not that Eric" is a negative phrase. It appears your attitude follows suit.
I do think there's something going on. I think it HELPed Seattle's marketing campaign in that their fans see the team working to make something happen... didn't happen, but they're out there shaking bushes and raking leaves.
And, I concur about the organizations with > 1000s of employees... but, if you consider that the scouting group is rather small and they do come together frequently to discuss their options, their targets and their processes in order to have the best chance of success. It'd be like my team at Verizon and expecting that the 15 of us wouldn't all know each other. Yeah... Verizon has thousands of employees - but, their segmented in groups, departments and divisions meaning we do have those with whom we are very familiar.
I do think there's something going on. I think it HELPed Seattle's marketing campaign in that their fans see the team working to make something happen.
Hadn't really considered this from Seattle's perspective, but you make a good point. It all comes back to plausible deniability and leverage. Seattle can say to their fan base "See? We're trying," and Kevin Towers is trying to leverage Jon Daniels. It works both ways for the involved parties.
the problem is it only helps AZ until Upton says no to the deal then it hurts them. so for a very very short time he leveraged JD but if JD did his homework like we know he does he would have known about his no trade clause and waited them out.Now the only team this helped is Seattle! Also Towers is in a bind because he has a pissed off player that doesn't really want to be there that he has been trying to get rid of for 2 yrs and (this is just an assumption on my part) an owner who is starting to look at him a wonder what the heck is my GM doing.
Loved it. Nice theory. Seems very plausible.
I'm not sure Towers isn't trying to put Upton in as poor a light as he possibly can before unloading his "disgruntled" star. He knows he going to do it... he wants to do it... now, he may have to do it... so, how do you make J-Up look really bad?
Get yourself a spanking good deal then have your star blow it up. Worked for Chicago with Dempster last year.
I don't buy it. The Mariners were dealing from positions of strength when offering this package. While this trade is viewed as a major overpay by the Mariners, they, in a way, had replacements for all of the prospects they offered. Danny Hultzen is considered as good or a little lower ceiling than Walker. Brad Miller is considered better offensively than Franklin but worse defensively, while both are considered to be better suited for second base (or third base in Miller's case.) Carter Capps is viewed as being more polished than Pryor and (though in a low sample size) had better results. And finally, the M's already have two lefty bullpen pieces available in the young Lucas Leutge (who got destroyed by RHH last season) and the veteran Oliver Perez who seemingly reinvented himself.
While the trade proposal was certainly a lot, the M's seemingly has "replacements" already in line for the pieces they offered. I really believe the trade offer was legitimate, and there was no backdoor deals being made.
Full disclosure: No thought was given towards shared employment environment, but I actually thought that their was a bit of collusion here. In fact, my thought process was almost exactly as you described the exchange between Towers and Jack Z.
That said, the probabilities of this conversation actually taking place is minute; however, one cant help but give this theory legs when considering the amount of talent that Seattle was willing to part with and...well, Gregorious for Bauer. Towers is an enigma.
Arp: I really liked this. A similar thought crossed my mind, though not this fully developed. However, I was confident that Jack Z. would never have offered that much for a player who said out loud he didn't want to play for your team - unless he knew it would never be accepted.
Here's my theory:
You have two not-so-saavy GMs (DBacks/Ms) running somewhat terrible franchises that can't properly value and trade players, who are too afraid of being 'taken' by smarter GMs, and therefore get stuck holding on to their blue chips waiting for leverage to save them from themselves and the wolves that come to rip them off.
This theory doesn't work just as has been pointed out: Justin Upton blew that positioning play out of the water by refusing the trade. Now, JD knows his deal is supreme, and could actually offer less, knowing that Upton wants out, Towers is (seemingly) out of options and running out of time to clear the logjam. I haven't been a big fan of Upton to Texas for a while now, but it seems that JD's play of waiting for the market to fall through on him may be working. I see Upton to TX in T-7 days.
Like I said the day of the Faux-Deal... it's called a "Carpetbagger Deal". Some history there for ya.It's not new in baseball and your theory/conspirocy dose hold water, if not GM qrt. of single malt scotch.
(sorry, I really should edit before post... forgive my typoz/splell'n)
Zduriencik responds "But I don't even want Upton and how can you guarantee me that Upton won't accept the deal"
You don't need to submit a trade, nor have some way to provide a guarantee, when you don't ever intend to do a trade. Just let out a media leak of what you "were about to do" (supposedly) and you've accomplished the same thing. For what it's worth.
Of course, it's so 3rd-grade level of an exercise, leaking what you "would have done if you could," that it will have no impact on any other GMs. But any GM can play silly posturing games like this, leaking "woulda done this trade, if only X Y Z hadn't got in the way" stories, even without a no-trade in the mix, if that's what floats his boat.
Conspiracy theory or not, this seems plausible. And like you guys said, nothing actually happened, but it's a win all around.
Seattle has moved on. Expecting to sign Michael Morce/DC (MLBRumors 1/16)
The real team to look at here is Oakland. They were the winner in the three-team swap, acquiring Seattle's primary catcher, John Jaso. Morse was essentially a spare part in WSH once Adam LaRoche was re-signed, and they are probably the favorites in the NL as it stands today. Even with Morse, the Mariners aren't in competition of the AL West. Oakland, however, is.
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