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In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Saturday, December 13, 2003

 
IT'S ALMOST 9 PM IN NEW ORLEANS …

… and do you know what your GM is doing??

Neither do I. It's like when your daughter goes to a dance, and you know that the boy you can't stand and don't trust will be there too.

 
BEST WISHES TO MIKE CAMERON

I offer Mike Cameron my sincerest best wishes. He came to the Mariners in an extremely difficult situation. With his talent, grace, and character he not only replaced Griffey, but left many of us pleased that he had.

Thanks, Mike, for the years of joy you gave us, and congratulations on your splendid new contract and the opportunity to play closer to your family.

Give the contract that Cameron received from the Mets (apparently 3 years and $21 million), I have no regrets that the he is leaving. That is more than I would have wanted to pay him to stay.

The only downside for the Mariners here is that, in not offering him arbitration, the Mariners do not receive a draft pick. Derek at USS Mariner bemoans this, but as Derek has also commented:
…let's be honest -- giving the M's more draft picks is like giving a twenty to a drunk bum you meet in the malt liquor section. The team's only going to blow any picks they pick up this off-season on tall left-handed high school pitchers.
I agree with Derek's earlier observation, except to add that the Mariners are a bit more imaginative than Derek credits them. They also blow the picks on players who are unsignable for what the Mariners want to offer (Mayberry, Jr.), or they use them on players who clearly arent worth a first round pick (Garciaparra).

Remember that one of the key differences between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

 
AN EARLY TEJADA REPORT

According to Rotoworld.com, former Reds GM Jim Bowden reported on ESPNews that Tejada has picked Seattle over Baltimore and Detroit, and Tejada has reportedly told his agent to get a deal done with the Mariners. No other links or citations provided.

 
INTRODUCING THE WHAT IS QUINTON MCCRACKEN WORTH? CONTEST

I can't take this anymore; my blood pressure is rising just knowing that this is being considered. At times like this I appreciate that I am hypotensive - if I had normal blood pressure I'd probably be in ER at Harborview or Overlake right now.

So, to reduce some of the stress, I'm going to kick off a What is Quinton McCracken Worth? contest. Just e-mail me your ideas to express what you think Quinton McCracken is worth - or not worth. The best entries (in the sole judgement of this rummy blogger) will get posted here, and the grand prize winner gets a free beer from me at the USS Mariner pizza feed on the 20th.

Here are my starter two entries:
  • McCracken is worth the 25th roster spot only on a team that is striving for 65 wins (that was partly inspired by Paul over at Ahoy the SS Mariner)
  • McCracken is a waste of the valuable ink used to produce today's editions of the Times and P-I.
Can some of you help out with some other contributions?


 
LESSONS FROM SESAME STREET

Well, readers, the Mariners are apparently seriously considering trading Gregg Colbrunn for Quinton McCracken M's, D-Backs talk trade. Apparently, McCracken had one good year while Bob-o-head was there, and Bob-o-head now thinks he would be a great fourth outfielder.

The chart below shows McCrackens offensive stats for his career (ages 25-32):



Now for our Sesame Street quiz:
  1. Which of those years is not like the others?

  2. Here are the 2003 stats for McCracken and for a mystery man from the Mariners current roster who is being jettisoned for offensive offensive production:
    
    

    Player AVG OBP SLG OPS
    --------------- ---- ---- ---- ----
    McCracken .227 .276 .271 .547
    Mystery Mariner .205 .284 .271 .555
    Can anyone guess the identity of our Mystery Mariner? Hint: our mystery man also provides Gold Glove caliber defense at his position (third base, in case you haven't already guessed). Only the charitable would describe McCracken's defense as adequate.

  3. Below is a chart of offensive stats for Gregg Colbrunn, the man the Mariners are apparently considering trading for Messr. McCracken:

    If your goal was to improve your offense, which of those players is the better player to have on your roster?

Did you pass the exam?? You did?!! That's too bad; I guess you're overqualified to be General Manager of the Mariners. Darn, it looked so promising.


Friday, December 12, 2003

 
WITH PETTITE GONE, YANKEES "LEFT" OUT

The Pinstriped Bible has an article today, With Pettitte gone, Yankees "left" out, that discusses how the characteristics of Yankee Stadium make it important for the Yankees to stock left-handed pitching and left-handed pull hitters

Safeco Field shares similarities with Yankee Stadium in this respect, and the Mariners should also be seeking every opportunity to stock left handed pitching and left-handed pull hitters. While adding Tejada will be very nice, as I've mentioned before, the Mariners need to fill an outfield roster spot with players who mash right handed pitching with power to right field. Either Jenkins or Drew would fit nicely.

Then, if a left handed pull hitting third baseman or first baseman were added next year, the line up would start to round out nicely. From the left side, the Mariners power bats would be Ibañez (assuming he does not enter his decline years), the bat added this year (e.g., Drew or Jenkins), and a bat added next year (third base, first base, or DH). Right side power would include Boone, Tejada (hopefully), and a new bat added next year (third base, first base, or DH). Fill in the rest of the spots with some good OBP guys (from both sides) with moderate power.

 
DID GILLICK'S PULSE QUICKEN?

News here that the Padres cut Donaldo Mendez. Now this woldn't be notable except that he was a former Rule 5 pick, and is a light hitting shortstop - in other words, exactly Gillick's kind of guy. I wouldn't want to be Jason Barker's keyboard if he had to include Mendez in his next update of the USS Mariner Big Board.

Maybe those notions of Vizquel as a back up plan are not that far fetched after all: according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bavasi has actually talked to Mark Shapiro about a Vizquel trade. Gahhh!!!!!!

 
CARDS READY TO DEAL DREW

I hope the Mariners and the Cards are talking: Cards are ready to deal JD Drew.

Cards need pitching; Mariners need another strong left handed bat, and the outfield is the only slot available right now. It would be nice if the Cards would swap Freddy for Drew straight up, but that won't happen because they Cards don't want to take on salary. I could see swapping trading either Franklin or Winn for Drew, contingent on the Mariners signing Drew to a reasonable longer term deal.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

 
MORE MARINERS BLOGGERS

Based on the listings of team bloggers in the left sidebar at Baseball News Blog, the Mariners are one of the most blogged teams in baseball. And now, Derek at USS Mariner has outed three more Mariners bloggers.

Please welcome the following sites to the Mariners blogosphere:
Blog on!

 
AN OFFAL TURN OF EVENTS FOR MARINERS FAN??

Update: Derek Z at USS Mariner is reporting that this is a hoax. Derek has sources available to him for checking this, so for the moment let's consider this report false.

Additional update: Cleveland Indians Report has now admitted that the Vlad story was a hoax.



Who needs spoons when you can go on the internet and get this type of information?

According to this Indians blog, Cleveland Indians Report, the following deals are about to come down:
  1. Guerrero to the Indians on a four-year contract worth $60 million

  2. After Tejada informs the Mariners that the three-year, $24 million offer they made for the former AL MVP is short on both money and years., the Mariners agree to pick up Omar Vizquel. That deal could be announced as soon as tomorrow.

  3. The Mariners are expected to absorb all of Vizquel's 2004 salary - $7 million.

Not even the new King County wastewater treatment plant could handle all of the excretions from this.

This is just a blog report, so it should be considered skeptically. There are some parts of it - particularly picking up Vizquel and all of his salary - that don't sound right (even for the Mariners). The details sound a lot more like the types of trades that many people add in the comments feature at the P-I blog.

But, given what we have seen so far of Mariners ineptitude this offseason, it is not beyond comprehension (and isn't that a sad commentary on the impression made by Bavasi thus far).

If this is true, howver, this is simply Vaughan-esque incompetence! Gag, choke, spit …

 
????

Winn gets essentially three years at $3.75M per year. Probably ok as it stands.

The bigger question, though, is if Winn is worth that, why was Cameron only worth one year and $4 million?

 
PETTITE SIGNS WITH HOUSTON. STEINBRENNER ERUPTION EXPECTED BY NOON TODAY

Update: Yankees make deal with LA for Kevin Brown. Revised comments based on this are in red.

Newsday.com - Pettitte Going, Going, Gone

Expect more action from the Yankees. Some first thoughts
  • The Yankees are going to deal for Kevin Brown. Soriano is most likely to go.

    Or …

  • The Yankees send Weaver and piles of cash to the Dodgers for Brown. The Dodgers then use that money to bid for Tejada or Vlad.

    [Trade made, but throwing in cash instead of Soriano.]

  • The Yankees may have renewed interest in Freddy Garcia. [I think the Yankees interest would be back to about where it was before Pettite signed with Houston. The Yankees should be looking more for left-handers right now.]

  • If the Yankees trade Soriano, Tejada's value may go up. I think the Yankees are likely to explore moving Jeter to third, Boone to second, and installing Tejada at short,

    0r …

  • They may jump into the Alex Rodriguez situation, with the same position switches outlined above for Tejada.

    [These options are probably now irrelevant.]

  • David Wells' position looks more secure. [Definitely.]

  • Greg Maddux's value just went up as well. [No change now in Maddux's value - Yankees don't need another right hander.]

 
ONLY TWO THINGS ARE INFINITE, THE UNIVERSE AND HUMAN STUPIDITY, AND I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THE FORMER - ALBERT EINSTEIN

There goes the Mariners best chance to have a decent offense against right handed pitching: Mariners re-sign Winn, Franklin. No numbers in the story on Winn's contract; I presume it's around $4.5 million, which would make it the Bride of Ibañez".

I hope this signing means that Franklin can get used in trade. Having him under contract, assuming it is a reasonable contract, will make him more valuable. That is not a knock at all against Franklin. It's simply a recognition that he is probably one of the most tradable Mariners, and just finished up a year that he will be hard pressed to duplicate. Ergo, his trade value is maximum. If you want to receive value in a trade, you have to trade players that don't look like surplus parts. If you've got problems with them (e.g., Freddy Garcia), other teams are likely to have the same reasons.

Ideally, you want to trade a player when their value is peak, not after it has begun to decline. Franklin is 30 years old, so he is not going to get any better. A reasonable case can be made that last year was atypically good. He was helped greatly by a Mariners outfield that is currently weakened defensively, and he was probably lucky in the number of home runs he surrendered that were solo.

Branch Rickey is credited with the observation that it is better to trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late. I think this dictum matches Franklin very well.

Franklin is a player with much to like, and is probably overvalued in the current market. He is also replaceable. That makes him an excellent candidate for whom the Mariners should receive good value.

I suppose it could be worse; pity the poor baseball fans of Detroit: ESPN.com - MLB - Vina, Tigers agree to $6 million deal

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

 
NEVIN! NEVIN!
BLOGGERS TALKING ABOUT NEVIN! …


Some speculation today about a possible trade for Phil Nevin of the San Diego Padres. Nevin's career has blossomed since he get to San Diego, but at this point he is an expensive (3 years left on a 4-yr, $34M contract), high risk player who is likely on the downside of his career.

He will be 33 years old in the 2004 season. The chart below shows his offensive numbers from ages 26 to 32:

Most hitters peak by age 30, and decline thereafter. Nevin looks like he's fitting into that pattern, and a continued decline towards 0.700 OPS seasons appears more likely than a resurrection of 0.900 OPS production.

In addition, Nevin would clog the third base slot for three years. As I discussed in my WINN/DREW REDUX item on Dec 9, the Mariners need to substantially improve their offense against right-handed pitching. Safeco Field also plays better for left handed pull hitters than others. So, even if the Mariners add some significant left-handed bats this year, at least one more strong left handed bat should be added next year. Third base is one of several positions where this could be done. Chavez and Koskie are both left handed third basemen who will be in next year's free agent class. Conveniently, the Mariners will be clearing a huge amount of salary after next season (expiring contracts for Martinez, Olerud, Sasaki, and Wilson), so they will be in position to make a substantial upgrade at third base.

Picking up Nevin would probably cause the Mariners to miss an opportunity to make a major roster upgrade at third after next season.

So let me try to express this musically:
Nevin! Nevin!
Bloggers talking about Nevin!
Ain't going for Nevin, Nevin
Shouldn't trade for the Pad's Nevin
No, shouldn't trade for the Pad's Nevin.


 
DEREK DOES THE DOLLARS

Derek Z. over at the good ship USS Mariner does a nice job taking apart the Mariners payroll numbers - if you care more than snot when other people try to dupe and mislead you, you should pay attention to what he writes: U.S.S. Mariner.

I will add the following comments:
  1. The Mariners frequently and vocally assert that character and integrity are bedrock values of the organization. People's values are shown, however, not in what they proclaim, but in how they act when they think their behavior does not matter or when they have to pay a price for adhering to their values.

    The Mariners are disingenuous in disseminating these salary figures, just as they were disingenous in trying to back out on their obligations on the Safeco Field cost overruns. Those actions speak louder to the values of the organization than do the words in press releases about the "fit" in the hirings/signings of Bavasi, Ibañez, and Guardado.

  2. Journalists believe that their role in a free society is to expose exactly these types of charades and malfeasances, particularly where public trust and resources are involved. Accordingly, our esteemed members of the Fourth Estate have a professional and journalistic obligation to critically review information such as Mariners payroll figures. As Derek shows, the Mariners payroll figures fall apart quickly under even modest scrutiny. I think it is clear that the Times is falling down on the job.

    Because public money and resources are at stake here, this is where it stops being sports and starts becoming real news. I think most of us tolerate - and even expect - some journalistic cheerleading for the on-field activites of our teams. But when it involves public money and resources, normal journalistic standards should apply.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

 
WHO IS THE GREATER MENACE TO BASEBALL'S COMPETITION CREDIBILITY, STEINBRENNER OR SELIG?

A good question asked by Harvey Araton of the NY Times: Sports of The Times: At Baseball’s Extremes, It’s a No-Win Situation

 
DREW OR EDMONDS?

Reader Neil Parrilla e-mailed me in followup to my discussion below of Winn, J.D. Drew, and the Mariners continuing need to get more left handed batting mashers in the lineup. Neil asked me about Jim Edmonds as a possibility. Edmonds was also mentioned in the Seattle Times this morning, Who'll replace Cammy? Winn set for center, but M's have options.

Edmonds would also fit the role, but Edmonds has twin problems of salary commitments and age. Edmonds is 33 years old and he is under contract for three more years and $34 million (including a buyout of the fourth year).

Edmonds is at a stage where the most players start their decline - as we have seen with Cirillo, those declines can be precipitous. Players that age also go on the DL more often. In addition, the Mariners are an old team and need to get younger. Edmonds would not help the Mariners get younger.

Drew is 28, so he is right at his peak years and can be reasonably be expected to maintain his current production, or even increase a bit. He is not under long-term contract, so there is flexibility. If you figure that over the next several years Drew's production will be steady - or might even go up - while Edmond's goes down, there is a good possibility Drew will be at least as productive as Edmonds over the next three to four years, and possibly better.

So, all told, I prefer Drew to Edmonds.

The Mariners are talking 3 years and 24 million for Tejada. I haven't thought too much about what I would pay for Edmonds - I doubt that I would pay more for Edmonds than I would Tejada, and I might not do that much. So I would want to see the Cardinals kick in at least $10 million, and I don't know that they are prepared to do that.

Of course, Bavasi and Edmonds go back to Anaheim together, and Edmonds might be to Bavasi as Borders is to Gillick. Given their past relationship, it wouldn't surprise me to see Bavasi reel in Edmonds, particularly if the Mariners don't land Tejada. If the Mariners do get Tejada, I think Edmonds is less likely.

Under the appropriate contractual conditions, I think Edmonds would also be a fine addition. I think Drew would be a better overall addition.

I should also add that I wouldn't do any of the above while there is still a possibility of getting Vlad to Seattle under a reasonable contract.



 
I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER THAN TO LUMP SABEAN WITH BAVASI

In a post last Sunday evening, I wondered about the logic of the Giants signing Tucker just before the non-tender deadline, thus forfeiting a first round pick to the Royals. As this SFGate story indicates,Giants fitted for a hard cap / Payroll will limit acquisitions to lesser names, Sabean may have done this deliberately to create more payroll space.

Apparently, if the Giants forfeit a draft pick, Sabean can reallocate the money set aside as a signing bonus into current year payroll. He thus gains an additional $1.5 million to spend this year.

At the time I was puzzled about the Tucker signing; Sabean has long seemed to me to be one of the savvier GMs around, and I wondered why he would carelessly lose a draft pick. I'm glad to know I was wrong, and I apologize for lumping Sabean with Bavasi in my post.

I am still baffled by one aspect of this though. To the best of my knowledge, signing bonuses in baseball are still completely open to negotiation between the team and the draft pick. So why not keep the draft pick, and simply draft a player who is not an early round prospect. The pick, of course, needs to understand he is not truly an early round pick and will not be offered a bonus.

Is there something in the rules that I have missed here about signing bonuses that would prevent this?

By the way, $1.5 million wisely spent will get a very good roster pickup, particularly after the Dec 20 nontender date. Given the relatively low success rate of early round draft picks, swapping a draft pick for a $1.5 million free agent is worthwhile. But better to have both kept the draft pick and added the $1.5 million to the payroll.

And while I understand payroll logic, I still wonder about why it had to be Tucker?

I'm also trying to visualize discussions involving a Scott Boras client who is a free agent not requiring compensation. Sabean talking to Boras on his cell phone:
Yeah, your guy might fit be a good left-handed bat and could fill in at third. But, unfortunately, if we signed him we wouldn't have to give up a draft pick. Call us back when you've got someone who requires compensation."

 
M'S LOSE ANOTHER DRAFT PICK - GOOD NEWS FOR HIGH SCHOOL PITCHERS

M's land Twins closer; since the Twinkies offered him arbitration, the Mariners lose a draft pick.

There are two elements of good news in this:
  1. Since Guardado is ranked higher than Ibañez in the Elias Sports Bureau rankings, the Mariners give up a second round pick to Kansas City for the Ibañez signing instead of a first round pick. And if the Mariners sign Tejada, I believe Kansas City's pick would become a third round pick. As with the folks at USS Mariner, I feel a lot better about giving up a second or third round pick for Ibañez instead of a first round pick.
  2. Given the Mariners recent history with draft picks, losing those picks means that some young pitchers will be spared blowing their arms out in the Mariners system. If a Mariners pick goes to Tejada, it is likely that one additional young pitcher will be nurtured and developed (in the Oakland system) rather than ravaged by the Mariners or Royals.

 
WINN/DREW REDUX

Thom Hill, a Mariners fan from Sydney, e-mailed about my post below concerning J.D Drew and Randy Winn. He challenged me to consider the rationale in more detail, so I put together some more information on why I think the Mariners should be working on this or something equivalent. Thom also raised a point worth considering about the amount of time Drew spends on the DL.

1. Drew provides more offense overall, and provides an extremely strong bat against right-handed ptiching.

The table below provides offensive numbers (not park adjusted) for Drew and Winn, 2001 -2003, including splits versus right-handed and left-handed pitching :


Split AVG OBP SLG OPS
---------------- ----- ----- ----- -----
Drew - Total 0.286 0.378 0.515 0.893
Winn - Total 0.290 0.349 0.432 0.781
Drew - vs. Left 0.261 0.348 0.459 0.807
Winn - vs. Left 0.323 0.379 0.490 0.869
Drew - vs. Right 0.293 0.386 0.529 0.915
Winn - vs. Right 0.279 0.338 0.411 0.749

As indicated, Drew is overall a superior batter. Winn has some advantage versus lefties, but against righties Drew buries Winn. And this difference is very important for the Mariners, because …

2. The Mariners are primarily a right handed batting team, and need to generate more offense against right handed pitchers.

Last year the Mariners offense declined from previous years, and correcting that situation is a priority this off-season. The table below provides the lefty-righty splits for the Mariners in 2004:


Split AVG OBP SLG OPS
---------------------- ----- ----- ----- -----
Mariners 2003 vs left 0.284 0.356 0.428 0.783
Mariners 2003 vs right 0.266 0.339 0.404 0.743

As indicated, the Mariners offense was noticeably worse against right-handed pitching.

Note that Winn's offense against right handers is pretty much the same as the Mariners overall performance against right handed pitching for 2003; in other words, Winn's presence in the starting lineup is probably not going to improve the Mariners performance against right-handed pitching. Drew, on the other hand, mashes right handed pitching.

Given the decline in offensive output last year, it is essential that the Mariners substantially improve against right handed pitching. Mariners' management has recognized this; it was part of the rationale for signing Ibañez. (The recognition was correct; Ibañez is just a bad solution.)

3. The only bench position where a strong left handed bat could be added is one of the two utility outfielder spots.

As I see the roster right now, the Mariners still need two more strong bats against right handed pitching - one as a starter and the other to come off the bench. (I discuss my reasoning on this several paragraphs below this one.) The bench spot is still open and hopefully will be filled by a player with decent ability against right handers (Cruz, Jr or Stairs, for example.) But in the every day lineup, the Mariners simply don't have a single really strong left handed bat, Ibañez notwithstanding. And, with the current roster makeup, the slot that Winn currently occupies is the best place to put that bat.

With an 11-man pitching staff, there are 5 bench spots available on the 25-man roster. One of those spots is a backup catcher; leaving four spots for the non-catching roster positions. Most teams try to carry two outfield/first base types and two middle infield types.

It's hard to get left handed batters in the middle infield spots, and, lefty or righty, power in the middle infield is rare. (That is what makes players such as Rodriguez and Boone extemely valuable.) Looking at the Mariners, for better or for worse (and mostly worse), Bloomquist will have one of the utility infield spots. The other utility infielder spot will likely be Leone or Dobbs (if Guillen stays on the roster) or a free agent pickup (if Guillen is non-tendered). Looking at what might be available, I can't see any realistic opportunity to add a power left handed bat in one of the middle infield bench spots.

Now let's consider the two OF/1B bench spots. One of the OF first base types is already filled by Colbrunn, a strong right handed bat. So, the second bench OF roster spot is the only place you can add a strong LH bat on the bench. (I'll call this the "bench OF-LH" spot.)

4. Winn's roster spot is the only realistic place to add a strong left-handed bat to the starting lineup.

Moving to the starting lineup, 1b, 2b, SS (tentatively, Tejada), C, RF, LF and DH are filled. CF is Winn, whom we are discussing, so we won't consider his spot filled. Thus, the only places in the starting lineup to put a good power LH bat are 3b and CF/Winn. As I've discussed in a previous blog, third base is a black hole in this year's free agent class, and I don't see any good trade possibilities. So, getting a strong left-handed bat at third doesn't appear feasible, and the only remaining starting roster spot for a strong left handed bat is Winn's.

5. A strong bat against right-handed pitching needs to be added to BOTH the bench and the starting lineup.

Now let's assume that a strong left-handed bat fills that bench OF-LH bench position and consider some lineup management. Without an additional strong left-handed bat in the starting lineup, the lineup remains extremely vulnerable to strong right handed pitching. If you respond by putting the bench OF-LH in the starting lineup to get some punch, the team is vulnerable in middle and late innings against teams with good righty-lefty combinations out of the pen. Those teams bring in the lefty to force you to flip your lineup. Without some good left handed bats still left on the bench, you can't respond if they shift back to a right-hander after you've made substitutions.

If the Mariners reach the playoffs without addressing this, they get right handed to death. Boston comes at them with Martinez, Schilling and Lowe (all three right-handers). The Yankees start Pettite, Vasquez, Contreras, and possibly Kevin Brown (one lefty and three righties). Better left handed power appears critical in helping get past either of those teams in the playoffs.

So the only way I can see the Mariners building a roster that provides an adequate balance between LH and RH bats and provides positional flexibility, is by:
  1. filling that OF-LH spot with a strong left handed bat, and
  2. getting one more strong left handed bat (or Vlad) into the starting lineup.
As I've detailed above, the only place in the starting roster that looks feasible to put that strong left-handed bat is the outfield position currently filled by Winn.

6. Drew's batting and fielding abilities complement Safeco Field's playing characteristics.

In addition to being a strong left handed bat (or able to mash right handed pitching), players filling these roster positions should also be able to play to the characteristics of Safeco Field. Particularly with the loss of Cameron, the players should be cover lots of ground in the outfield and have a good arms.

Furthermore, since Safeco Field affects power left handed bats less than other hitters, the Mariners should be taking every opportunity to stack the roster with outfielders who can cover ground and who can hit the ball with authority to right field - left handed pull hitters and right-handers with good power away.

Drew fits these characteristics, but it needn't be Drew - there may be others who could would also fill these requirements. But Drew is apparently being shopped, and the Mariners and Cardinals talked about him last summer. Injuries have been an issue for Drew, certainly worth considering in decision making. From 1999 (Drew's first full season in the majors) through 2003, Drew has played on average of 117 games per season, with highs of 135 games in 2000 and 2002. So filling that bench OF-LH spot effectively is important, because that player may get significant playing time.

Picking up a player such as Drew is not risk free. But it would be an aggressive move by the Mariners that could have a good return.

Monday, December 08, 2003

 
LOSE WINN?

St. Louis apparently wants to move J. D. Drew. The Cards have a lot of needs, but pitching is at the top. The Mariners bungled themselves into a situation in which they have to seriously plan on making Winn center fielder; maybe, against all odds, they could rescue themselves by landing Drew. Like Winn, Drew is in his last year of arbitration and will probably command a similar salary. I certainly would rather drop $5 million on Drew than on Winn.

The Mariners outfield would then probably have Drew in right, Ichiro in center, Ibañez in left. Drew would also add another nice left handed bat to the lineup.

Maybe St. Louis will take Freddy and some young pitching for Drew. If the deal were just Drew for 2004 (his walk year), I wouldn't give up an elite prospect. If the deal were made with a 72-hour window for negotiating a longer contract, the Mariners could add more.

The Mariners in the past have said they are focusing on drafting and developing young pitching because young pitching can be traded for whatever they need. Doesn't it seem like this is a good time to trade some pitching prospects to build the roster? And if it's a swap of Drew's salary for Winn's, there is no payroll impact.

 
WHERE DOES PUDGE CATCH ON?

The Cubs are a likely destination. If the Cubs sign Pudge, that eliminates the only team besides the Mariners that I have seen linked to Jason Kendall.

If Pittsburgh is really motivated to move Kendall, Pudge's availability should make a Mariners deal more likely. If such a deal were to happen, we need to hope and pray that the Mariners get enough from Pittsburgh in the deal to make it worthwhile taking on Kendall. Without Pittsburgh contributing something of value besides Kendall, a Cirillo-Kendall deal ends up as Kendall at four years and $27 million, which is too much to pay for a singles hitting, 30-year old catcher.

 
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR VISITING

I started this blog on Nov 12, but didn't let anybody know that it existed for a couple of weeks while I decided whether or not Mariner blogging was something I really wanted to do.

I added the counter on November 24, when I decided to proceed. In two weeks time it has recorded 3000 visits. That is way beyond my highest hopes! The counter is set to unique page views, so many of you who might be regular visitors have only been counted once if you have a static IP address.

It's gratifying that so many of you have decided to visit; thanks to each and every one of you. I hope I can continue to make your visits worthwhile.

 
KEEPING BORDERS ON THE BOOKS

A quick item here. I see some bloggers speculating that offering arb to Borders means the Mariners are going to keep Freddy. And that thought also occurred to me last night.

A more likely scenario, though, is that they simply want to keep him around, but did not have time finish up a deal with him. So they offered him arbitration just to be able to finish up a deal. If that is the case, I hope they simply want him to continue working with the pitchers in Tacoma, and be available for a callup if needed. If I'm correct, they've probably already reached agreement with Borders, but just haven't yet done the paperwork.

Of course, knowing the Mariners, there's always the possibility they are planning on having Borders actually do some catching next year.

Or maybe Allard Baird has been sharing his Bavasi photos with Borders. You never know with the Mariners.

 
I NEED TO RECOVER

This morning I'm just finding it hard to feel motivated to write anything about the Mariners. It's like the day after a really bad date in high school.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

 
READ IT AND WEEP!

M's decline arbitration to everyone except Borders!

Also, meet your new center fielder - Randy Winn!

I think it's time to find those spoons again.

 
DOES BAIRD HAVE COMPROMISING PHOTOS OF BAVASI AND SABEAN?

First Ibañez, now this: Giants sign Tucker

So both Seattle and San Francisco needlessly forfeit draft picks to Kansas City by signing players who were going to be non-tendered anyway.

 
LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT?

Derek Zumstag has an entry today at U.S.S. Mariner on the $92 million figure that is bandied about for the Mariners 2003 payroll. Derek is totally correct; the 2003 payroll figures simply do not add up to $92 million.

Derek also chastises Bob Finnigan of the Seattle Times for aiding and abetting this falsehood. FWIW, I totally concur with Derek. Last July 25 I even e-mailed Finnigan about the basis for the $92 million figure after this story ran on July 22 under his byline, Gillick feels no pressure to trade. I asked him to help me understand how the $92 million number was derived. He replied by saying "[he didn't] recall writing about payroll at 92 recently. recently I've used a figure of 85 mill for player salaries …" . I replied by giving him the hyperlink to the story with his byline, using the $92 million figure. A day or two later another story appeared under Finnigan's byline quoting a $92 million payroll figure.

Finnigan is so deeply in the Mariners pocket he could get arrested for lewd and lascivious conduct. The Times should be embarrassed. When the Blethen's (owners and publishers of the Seattle Times) run their little pieces on journalistic standards and integrity, I think of Bob Finnigan and shake my head.

Blog on, Derek!

 
SECOND THOUGHTS ON KENDALL

I've taken some time to try to step back from the Kendall situation and rethink it. I've worried that because I've been blogging about it enough, I might be convincing myself of its value and lost my objectivity in thinking about it. And because I started blogging about it before there was any mention of it elsewhere, there is an ego boost from finding out that it is actually being considered. So, I'm also aware that I have some 'ownership" in the idea, and that, of course, can further obscure objectivity. We've all seen examples of that in our lives, and I have often suspected that we see that in some roster decisions that the Mariners make (such as the Ibañez deal)

Anyway, after spending a bit more time reflecting on a Kendall-Cirillo deal, I am now much more negative and cautious about that deal than I've been in the past. Let me explain my current thinking a bit.

In previous discussions about trades, I’ve suggested that when evaluating salary commitments to players involved in trades, teams should ask whether they would make that same salary deal if the player were a free agent. Let’s look at a Kendall-Cirillo deal from that standpoint.

The salary obligations for Kendall and Cirillo are summarized below.

Year       Kendall     Cirillo          Difference

2004 $ 8.0M $6.725M $ 1.375M
2005 $10.0M $7.025M $ 2.975M
2006 $11.0M $1.25M (buyout) $ 9.75M
2007 $13.0M $0.00M $13.0M
Total $42.0M $15.0M $27.0M

As indicated, a Kendall-Cirillo deal straight-up results in a $27 million payroll increase for the Mariners over the next four years.

So if Jason Kendall were a free agent, should the Mariners sign him to a four year, $27 million contract? I think that's a pretty clear No!. And if he would not be worth that salary commitment as a free agent, we certainly should not add anything of value (i.e., Ben Davis) to the deal to get him.

Now, if Freddy were added to the deal, that complicates things a bit, and the analysis depends on whether you plan to offer arbitration to Freddy or non-tender him. If you expect that Freddy will be non-tendered, then he is a throw-in that doesn't affect the salary numbers or roster makeup for the Mariners.

If you plan on tendering arbitration to Freddy, then you should deduct Freddy's 2004 salary from the difference above. I estimate that Freddy will get about $8 million if he goes to arbitration, reducing the difference in salaries to about $19 million. So now the question is whether Kendall is worth $19 million over four year and a front line starting pitcher ($9 million is the value of a front-line starting pitcher (which Freddy isn't). The answer is still no.

Based on that, I don't see the deal making sense for the Mariners unless the Pirates added some prospects or agreed to pay part of Kendall's salary in 2006 and 2007.

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