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On One Less Obvious Possible Benefit Of Team Chemistry - A Thought

If the 2008 Mariners were good for anything - aside from knocking Bill Bavasi out of a job (have you heard that Felix Hernandez hasn't yet signed an extension?) - it's that, looking back, they provided a yin to the 2009 edition's yang. A year ago, ours was among the most toxic clubhouses of which I've ever heard. There were cliques and disagreements and nobody got along. This season, however, was the complete opposite, as there were ticklings and ice cream pies and Carlos Silva giving Ichiro a piggy-back ride. Over these last two years, we've been given a thorough look at what it's like on both sides of the coin, and it turns out players generally enjoy a happy clubhouse more than a nasty one. We all saw the postgame celebration on Sunday. We all heard Felix talk to Angie Mentink.

With that in mind, I have a question. Or more like a bunch of questions that are closely related to each other:

  • Let's say, hypothetically, that Felix signs an extension with Seattle next month. And let's say that, among the various reasons, he cites how much he enjoys playing on this team and how glad he is to be sticking around.

    Do you give any credit at all to the clubhouse atmosphere for fomenting the whole thing? Would Felix have been willing to sign had there been a lousy environment, or even just a less pleasant environment, instead of such a happy, supportive one? Maybe he would've been willing to sign, but would he have been willing to sign the same contract? Maybe he would've cost more. Would you then give credit to the atmosphere for the difference between what he signs for and what he hypothetically would've signed for in the other circumstance?

    I guess the big question here is, do players care about clubhouse environment when they're in contract negotiations? I mean, I'm sure they care to some degree, but do they care enough for it to make a difference, be it financial or otherwise? If in Universe A you have this year's Mariners team and this year's Felix situation, and in Universe B you have the same Felix situation but a less pleasant clubhouse, is there any difference in the probability of Felix re-signing? Is there any difference in the cost? What about with, say, a lower-profile free agent?

    These are open questions, because I don't have the answers. The cynic in me says that it's all money money money, and then winning and location, and anything else is insignificant, but I honestly don't know. It's not hard to envision that this team's clubhouse could help lure people in or lure people back, but it's also not hard to envision that it wouldn't. So.