Re: This article
We could start with the fact that Baker's been driving the "DO SOMETHING" bandwagon all winter, and he's now asking for patience, but for the purposes of this post, I'd like to focus on the last 'myth' he tries to tear down:
5. Ibanez’s leadership intangibles are meaningless.
This is just the product of an uninformed opinion repeated by people lacking knowledge.
As proof of the existence of leadership as an on-field production booster, he offers a few more tidbits:
Most players are guys in their 20s who look (and sometimes act) like the buddies you went to college with, maybe with some better muscles. They need discipline and structure. They need guidance. Sometimes, they need a hammer brought down on them. Guys likeJose Guillen, Mike Sweeney, Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo helped run past Seattle clubhouses. They helped guide the players who put up better numbers than they did, sometimes by example and sometimes with an iron fist.
Frankly, I had forgotten about Jose Guillen, and I'd like to forget about Miguel Olivo, Adam Kennedy only spent 2011 with Seattle, and it wasn't exactly a banner year, so I'll focus on Mike Sweeney.
To cut straight to the chase, the ONLY goal of the team should be maximizing wins (present and future). They could bring in all sorts of parenting counselors, or marriage counselors, or self-help gurus to make the players better people, but that's not the point of baseball. If the leadership move doesn't help the on-field performance, it's a bad move.
By my count, there were 11 players in their 20's who racked up 100+ PA with Seattle in 2009, the only full year with Sweeney, and a pretty successful year for the team.
1. Rob Johnson broke into the league with a 66 OPS+. That would be the high point of his career. Maybe that's a point in Sweeney's favor, single-handedly turning a piece of crap into a slightly less stinky piece of crap.
2. Jose Lopez turned in basically the same season as the year before without Sweeney (103 vs 104 OPS+). No points for leadership there.
3. Yuni Betencourt was traded in 2009 after putting up a horrible first half, then performed better after going to KC. If Sweeney was good at instilling discipline, he was outdone by the Royals' Veteran Leader that year (Willie Bloomquist?).
4. Wladimir Balentien was better in 2009 than 2008, but still wasn't very good. Until he was traded away. Another point against Sweeney.
5. Franklin Gutierrez has a legitimately great year in 2009. He's basically matched that year's 105 OPS+ twice, but in limited playing time due to various injuries. It was his best year as a full-time player, so we'll give Sweeney a break and give him some credit.
6. Ronny Cedeno had a horrible year, and the worst part of it was his time in Seattle. Another mid-season trade who played better away from Sweeney than beside him.
7. Jack Hannahan performed better in Seattle than Oakland, but still only as good as the year before. No magical boost.
8. Josh Wilson played for three teams, producing the best for Seattle (85 OPS+) in limited time.
9. Bill Hall started poorly in Milwaukee and fell on his face in Seattle.
10. Michael Saunders broke into the big leagues in a rather forgettable manner. Better in 2010, but you all remember 2011.
11. Ryan Langerhans was worse with Seattle than the year before in Washington.
And for the record, none of them outperformed Sweeney himself at the plate.
Maybe this Veteran Leadership has effects much later, and is just an important part of growing up as a MLB regular. Maybe, but of those 11 (all under 30, remember), only 6 even got 100 PA in 2012, and only 2 had 250. Only Saunders approached the status of "MLB-regular."
If there's any takeaway here, it's that talent trumps all else. And Baker is an idiot.