We've reached the point in the offseason where a national columnist took the the time to write about a Chone Figgins workout. For most baseball fans, it's likely a welcome break from the dead air that is the Masahiro Tanaka pursuit. Most Mariners fans, I'm sure, will avoid the aforementioned Rosenthal piece, and we'd much rather see even the most flimsy rumor linking the M's to Mā-kun.
We know, though—it isn't coming.
We had the Ben Badler ranking of contenders, the early New York Daily News piece—and that was about it. While it makes it harder to remain overly optimistic, we know it's nothing out of the ordinary. The Mariners just don't have rumors like most teams do. They don't talk.
And, almost universally, we view that as a good thing. It means everyone's on the same page, and no one's stepping out of line. Generally, it's a sign the Mariners have their act together. And that isn't wrong. I mean, who more would you expect to run a tight ship than the Mariners? (Sorry.)
But, there are side effects to this. And sometimes they aren't pretty. At the very least, they're cringeworthy.
Here's a short exchange between Nick Franklin and Shannon Drayer on this week's Hot Stove League radio show:
Drayer: Nick, obviously, you follow offseason moves, you know the Mariners made a big one and it was at a position that you were playing last year. What are you ready for now? What is next for you and spring training and how do you get ready to, perhaps, do something different?
Franklin: Uh, you know, honestly—I can’t control anything right now with whether the decision’s been made and, you know, the moves that they’ve made so all I’m worried about is what I have to do and where I’m going to be. You know, I don’t necessarily, um, think about it at all. Um, you know, I just know know that Robinson signed and I was like "Oh, you know, that’s awesome, that’s good for the Mariners and good for the organization" but I mean, at the same time, I’ve got to look at, you know, where am I going to be at? and, uh, and how am I going to prepare myself coming into spring training so that’s that. The biggest worries of all I just um, going out there—start to play baseball.
Shannon: As far as a position goes, have they talked to you about, uh, playing a different position at all?
Nick: Uh, no, they haven’t. The Mariners actually haven’t even spoke to me at all. So, um, you know—there’s been no contact, there’s been nothing within this whole entire offseason actually. The only contact they’ve made is the caravan so, uh, I don’t—I don’t really know what to look forward to with spring training besides just come and be ready.
In transcribing, I left in conversational tics in an attempt to capture the full effect. It wasn't brutal, but it was a just a little uncomfortable to listen to—and probably considerably more-so to be part of. I could continue describing it, or you could just listen to it:
No one's in the wrong here. That's worth making clear. This isn't some huge deal, and for all we know it's perfectly normal—or at least widely-accepted—throughout baseball.
The Mariners would like to keep their business their business, and Nick Franklin has a right to be a little bit annoyed or feel slighted. If it were up to him, he'd like to know where he's playing next year—if it's a different part of the diamond, or the country.
And say the Mariners were to open a line of communication with Franklin and his representation; it's likely a job his agent is working on regardless, but if the Mariners were to say they were exploring their options on the trade market, he'd have all the more reason to engage in conversations with various executives around the league in an attempt to find his client a new home. That's his job, to make his client happy. It's probably the right thing to do but he wouldn't have much incentive to not let the world know his client is widely available—probably the exact opposite.
So what does this mean outside of interpersonal relationships—out here in the real world? Well, it doesn't really jive with the report put out by Mariners.com earlier this offseason that the organization was open to the possibility of Franklin competing with Brad Miller for the shortstop job, or maybe even moving to the outfield. I suppose either could still happen, and he could still end up in Tacoma even, but if it were the former here you'd assume the Mariners would put him in the best position to succeed and let him know he should begin preparing for everything. But, you really don't know.
Though, now you know one thing, or now you can see it: this is why we don't hear rumors or leaks emanating from the Mariners' front office. This is the personal side of it.
There's nothing wrong with what the Mariners are doing, it's just one of a number of options for going about their business. And, ultimately, that's what this is: a business.