Building a sustained winner

So it's no secret that the M's are in a rebuilding process. We can all agree on that.

What we can't agree on is where the M's are in the process, where they should be in the process, what direction we take from here, and when we should be competing for the AL West pennant.

I'm not here to argue any of these points - rather I'm here to analyze the methods a team could acquire talent to build a sustained winner.

I don't think anyone could argue with me that there are 3 ways to acquire talent. Via draft, via trade, or via free agency.

The draft is fairly straight-forward. You need a good talent-evaluation team to analyze the players in the draft, and draft players based on best available and never on need. More often than not, you are acquiring players that are the furthest away from the majors (unless you draft say a Stephen Strasburg, but how often does that happen?).

Next is the trade market. When you trade you are usually doing one of 4 things:

  • Trading minor league talent for minor league talent. (Change of scenery, trading for need, etc.)
  • Trading minor league talent for major league talent. (Generally for a playoff run)
  • Trading major league talent for major league talent. (Trading for need, trading bad contracts, etc.)
  • Trading major league talent for minor league talent. (Acquiring talent for the future)

(We'll ignore trading just for cash considerations)

Finally, there's the free agent market. The market can be fickle depending on the players available and the market conditions.

So if we were trying to build a sustainable winner, the FA market would probably be considered the most expensive way of acquiring talent because more often than not you are paying either market or above-market rates for players. If you're looking at undrafted FA or amateur FA, I consider that part of the draft as it takes your scouting department to determine who is and isn't good.

But the other 2 methods are almost dependent on one thing - the draft.

Either you're acquiring young talent through the draft cheaply, or you're acquiring talent to trade for other young talent or a veteran player to fill a need.

Really then 2 of the 3 legs that help build a franchise depend on the draft.

Let's take the 8 playoff team rosters and the major players (starting 9, rotation, closer). My years may be one off as I may have typed the year they were traded/signed, not the first year they played with the club.

Texas Rangers

SP C.J. Wilson - 2001, 5th round
Alexi Ogando - 2005, Rule 5
Colby Lewis - 2010, free agency (from Hiroshima Toyo Carp)
Derek Holland - 2006, 25th round
Matt Harrison - 2007, traded from Braves (for Mark Teixeira)
Neftali Feliz - 2007, traded from Braves (for Mark Teixeira)
C Mike Napoli - 2011, traded from Blue Jays (for Frank Francisco)
1B Mitch Moreland - 2007, 17th round
2B Ian Kinsler - 2003, 17th round
3B Adrian Beltre - 2011, free agency
SS Elvis Andrus - 2007, traded from Braves (for Mark Teixeira, etc.)
OF Nelson Cruz - 2008, waivers from Brewers
OF Josh Hamilton - 2007, traded from Reds (for Edinson Volquez, etc.)
OF David Murphy - 2007, traded from Red Sox (for Eric Gagne)
DH Michael Young - 2000, traded from Blue Jays (for Esteban Loaiza)

Detroit Tigers

SP Justin Verlander - 2004, 1st round
SP Doug Fister - 2011, traded from Mariners (for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, etc.)
SP Max Scherzer - 2010, traded from Diamondbacks (3-way for Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson)
SP Rick Porcello - 2007, 1st round
SP Brad Penny - 2011, free agent
CL Jose Valverde - 2010, free agent
C Alex Avila - 2008, 5th round
1B Miguel Cabrera - 2007, traded from Marlins (w/Dontrelle Willis for prospects)
2B Ramon Santiago - 2006, free agent
3B Brandon Inge - 1998, 2nd round
SS Jhonny Peralta - 2010, traded from Indians (for P Giovanni Soto)
OF Austin Jackson - 2010, traded from Yankees (3-way for Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson)
OF Ryan Raburn - 2001, 5th round
OF Delmon Young - 2011, traded from Twins (for prospects)
DH Victor Martinez - 2010, free agent

Tampa Bay Rays

SP James Shields - 2000, 16th round
SP Jeff Niemann - 2004, 1st round
SP David Price - 2007, 1st round
SP Wade Davis - 2004, 3rd round
SP Jeremy Hellickson - 2005, 4th round
CL Kyle Farnsworth - 2011, free agent
C Kelly Shoppach - 2009, traded from Indians (for Mitch Talbot)
C John Jaso - 2003, 12th round
1B Casey Kotchman - 2011, free agent
2B Ben Zobrist - 2006, traded from Astros (for Aubrey Huff)
3B Evan Longoria - 2006, 1sr round
SS Sean Rodriguez - 2009, traded from Angles (for Scott Kazmir)
OF Sam Fuld - 2010, traded from Cubs (for Matt Garza)
OF B.J. Upton - 2002, 1st round
OF Matt Joyce - 2008, traded from Tigers (for Edwin Jackson)
DH Johnny Damon - 2011, free agent

New York Yankees

SP CC Sabathia - 2008, free agent
SP Ivan Nova - 2004, undrafted free agent
SP Bartolo Colon - 2011, free agent
SP AJ.. Burnett - 2008, free agent
SP Phil Hughes - 2004, first round
CL Mariano Rivera - 1990, undrafted free agent
C Russell Martin - 2011, free agent
1B Mark Teixeira - 2009, free agent
2B Robinson Cano - 2001, amateur free agent
3B Alex Rodriguez - 2004, traded from Rangers (for Alfonso Soriano)
SS Derek Jeter - 1992, 1st round
OF Brett Gardner - 2005, 3rd round
OF Curtis Granderson - 2010, traded from Tigers (3-way for Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy)
OF Nick Swisher - 2009, traded from White Sox (for Wilson Betemit, etc.)
DH Jorge Posada - 1990, 24th round

Arizona Diamondbacks

SP Daniel Hudson - 2010, traded from White Sox (for Edwin Jackson)
SP Ian Kennedy - 2010, traded from Yankees (3-way for Max Scherzer)
SP Joe Saunders - 2010, traded from Angels (for Dan Haren)
SP Josh Collmenter - 2007, 15th round
SP Wade Miley - 2008, 1st round
CL J.J. Putz - 2011, free agent
C Miguel Montero - 2001, undrafted free agent
1B Paul Goldschmidt - 2009, 8th round
2B Aaron Hill - 2011, traded from Blue Jays (for Kelly Johnson)
3B Ryan Roberts - 2009, minor league free agent signing
SS John McDonald - 2011, traded from Blue Jays (for Kelly Johnson)
OF Gerardo Parra - 2004, undrafted free agent
OF Chris Young - 2006, traded from White Sox (for Javier Vazquez)
OF Justin Upton - 2005, 1st round

Milwaukee Brewers

SP Zack Greinke - 2011, traded from Royals (for Alcides Escobar + minor leaguers)
SP Yovani Gallardo - 2004, 2nd round
SP Shaun Marcum - 2011, traded from Blue Jays (for Brett Lawrie)
SP Randy Wolf - 2010, free agent
SP Chris Narveson - 2007, minor league contract
CL John Axford - 2008, free agent
C Jonathan Lucroy - 2007, 3rd round
1B Prince Fielder - 2002, 1st round
2B Jerry Hairston, Jr. - 2011, traded from Nationals (for Erik Komatsu)
3B Casey McGehee - 2009, claimed off waivers from Cubs
SS Yuniesky Betancourt - 2011, traded from Royals (for Alcides Escobar + minor leaguers)
OF Ryan Braun - 2005, 1st round
OF Nyjer Morgan - 2011, traded from Nationals (for Cutter Dykstra)
OF Corey Hart - 2000, 11th round

Philadelphia Phillies

SP Roy Halladay - 2010, traded from Blue Jays (for Kyle Drabek, etc)
SP Cliff Lee - 2011, free agent
SP Roy Oswalt - 2010, traded from Astros (for J.A. Happ, etc)
SP Cole Hamels - 2002, 1st round
SP Kyle Kendrick - 2003, 7th round
CL Ryan Madson - 1998, 9th round
C Carlos Ruiz - 1998, amateur free agent
1B Ryan Howard - 2001, 5th round
2B Chase Utley - 2000, 1st round
3B Michael Martinez - 2011, Rule 5 from Nationals
SS Jimmy Rollins - 1996, 2nd round
OF Raul Ibanez - 2009, free agent
OF Shane Victorino - 2005, Rule 5 from Padres
OF Hunter Pence - 2011, traded from Astros (for minor leaguers)

St Louis Cardinals

SP Chris Carpenter - 2003, free agent
SP Jake Westbrook - 2010, traded from Indians (3-way for Ryan Ludwick)
SP Jaime Garcia - 2005, 22nd round
SP Kyle Lohse - 2008, free agent
SP Edwin Jackson - 2010, traded from White Sox/Blue Jays
CL Jason Motte - 2003, 19th round
C Yadier Molina - 2000, 4th round
1B Albert Pujols - 1999, 13th round
2B Skip Schumaker - 2001, 5th round
3B David Freese - 2008, traded from Padres (for Jim Edmonds)
SS Rafael Furcal - 2011, traded from Dodgers (for Alex Castellanos)
OF Matt Holliday - 2009, traded from Athletics (for minor leaguers)
OF John Jay - 2006, 2nd round
OF Lance Berkman - 2011, free agent

Boy, that 3-way trade with the Tigers, Diamondbacks and Yankees worked out for everyone. Also, Edwin Jackson is the gift that keeps on giving... and he himself is in the playoffs!

The Rangers traded their star players and other for half their roster. So did the D-backs. Tigers, Brewers and Cards? Mixture of everything. Phils? Draft and FA. Yankees... well you can see for yourself. Rays homegrew their talent and traded for the rest of it. In most cases, the teams have pieces from the early 00's.

So, where are the M's?

Seattle Mariners

SP Felix Hernandez - 2002, amateur free agent
SP Michael Pineda - 2005, amateur free agent
SP Jason Vargas - 2009, traded from Mets (3-way trade for JJ Putz)
SP Blake Beavan - 2010, traded from Rangers (for Cliff Lee)
SP Charlie Furbush - 2011, traded from Tigers (for David Pauley & Doug Fister)
CL Brandon League - 2010, traded from Blue Jays (for Brandon Morrow)
C Miguel Olivo - 2011, free agent
1B Justin Smoak - 2010, traded from Rangers (for Cliff Lee)
2B Dustin Ackley - 2009, 1st round
3B Kyle Seager - 2009, 3rd round
SS Brendan Ryan - 2011, traded from Cardinals for Maikel Cleto
OF Casper Wells (IDK who our LF is) - 2011, traded from Tigers (for David Pauley & Doug Fister)
OF Franklin Gutierrez - 2009, traded from Mets (3-way trade for JJ Putz)
OF Ichiro Suzuki - 2001, via posting system (from Orix Blue Wave)
DH Mike Carp - 2009, traded from Mets (3-way trade for JJ Putz)

Look at how many players who are on the major league roster who came from 2009 or later (i.e. since Z took over). Outside of Felix, Pineda and Ichiro!, it's EVERYONE.

That just goes to show how much Z has had to work to rebuild. And there's no way he's done yet.