Mariners Analysis

Friday, December 31, 2004

Yankees finally land Johnson

As expected, George got his man. The Big Unit will be the opening day starter against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. Too bad Curt will be out, or this could me the best opening day matchup I can remember.

Still, I'm a little sad to see Randy in pinstripes. Can anyone envision a scenario where the Yankees don't make the playoffs? It's crazy to think every other team but the Yanks have to actually play the regular season to try and qualify for the playoffs, while the Yanks will basically use it as an extended spring training. Once the Yanks sign Beltran, they will have one of the most talented (albeit old) teams in recent memory.

The only recent team to boast as many future hall of famers that immediately comes to mind would be the Cincinnati Reds during the mid '70's. Let's see, the for sure hall of famers on the Yanks would seem to be:
- Alex Rodriguez
- Derek Jeter
- Mariano Rivera
- Randy Johnson
Strong candidates:
- Gary Sheffield
- Bernie Williams

With or without Beltran, this team is an absolute lock to make the playoffs. I need to see what the line in Vegas will be for the Yanks to NOT make the playoffs.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Randy not in pinstripes just yet

Of course it will still happen eventually, but at least LA got smart- espn link

There is just no way this would have made the Dodgers better. I also was pretty down on what Arizona was getting. Why in the world would Arizona want to sign Green to a contract extension? He is one of the most over-paid players in baseball right now.

Randy may be old, but he is still one of the most exciting, effective pitchers in baseball. He SHOULD have won the Cy Young this past year, but was penalized for playing on a bad team. There is no reason to think he won't be just as effective this coming year- when he is healthy, he is dominant.

When one of the most effective pitchers in baseball is traded, shouldn't at least one good player be involved in the trade? Can you name any player in that bunch that excites you? Any Cy Young/MVP caliber players involved? No.

Any quality prospects? No.

This deal was great for NY, and bad for everyone else. The Yanks have a depleted farm system, a bloated payroll, players on the roster they no longer want (Giambi and Brown top the list) and yet still are going to get the greatest left-hander in the game.

It will still happen because Randy wants out and will only play for the Yankees. But at least let them come up with a trade that actually is good for ALL the teams.

Wade Miller cut by Astros: Future M?

Given the premium prices given to starting pitching so far, it is pretty shocking the Astros are able to cut a player of Wade's stature and can't even work out a deal via trade.

Did the Astros even try to trade him? Are they releasing him to save money to re-sign Beltran?

Some local info here- link

Instead, the Astros simply didn't want to risk taking him to arbitration and having to pay $4 million+ to a pitcher with a serious arm issue.

What is funny about this is that in all likelihood Miller will be signed by another club for this much money or more. How the Astros couldn't find anyone willing to gamble on him is a mystery.

So while the M's need pitching, and Miller is very attractive, don't hold your breath. Bavasi is not going to pay that kind of money for such a risk. A team like Boston is perfect, as they can afford the gamble. (eg. Jon Lieber and the Yankees last year.)

The M's WILL make a significant pitching move. There is no way Bavasi thinks adding two sluggers to this team will erase 99 losses- he knows he has a lot more work to do. However, he's not going to throw millions at an injured pitcher with all that is riding on '05.

Miller and the M's are simply not a good match. Fun to talk about, but extremely unlikely.

Monday, December 20, 2004

M's still seeking starting pitching

As I've stated before, the M's are not done between now and opening day. Bill Bavasi knows full well the starting pitching is a serious concern. Despite reports to the contrary, the M's are not out of money and unable to do anything.

So, there should have been little surprise to hear the M's are making a push for Odalis Perez. He is clearly one of the best pitchers still on the market, and all of us agree he would look just fine in an M's uniform. As we know with free agents, there is no way to know if the M's will actually land him, but don't be surprised if he does. If I were a free agent, I would stay away from the Washington Nationals mess with a ten foot pole! (more on this later)

During the signing of Beltre, we were able to learn a little bit what this teams opening day roster would look like based on statements made by Bavasi. Among the nuggets of info:
1) Randy Winn will not be our center fielder
2) Starting pitching is still a concern
3) Reed will get a chance to be an every day player
4) Spiezio will be a bench player
5) Ibanez will either play LF or DH

All of this is EXACTLY what we have been saying all year- Randy Winn's arm prevents him from being an every day CF, and Spiezio does not deserve to be getting any significant at-bats while still in Seattle.

The current problem for Bavasi, then is:
* What about Bucky? You can't ignore a guy who could hit 35 homers for the league minimum
* If Bucky is my DH, I have two LF's; Winn and Ibanez.
* With the current market madness, guys like Winn are worth more than we thought
* I don't want Franklin in my starting rotation
* I need a starting pitcher

Remember, we don't know exactly what the M's budget for 2005 will be. You may have heard numbers like $95 and $99 million, but we don't know for sure. We also don't know if the M's are still planning on counting Cirillo and others to the budget. Bavasi may well have lobbied for the M's to write that off in the end of '04. It is in the M's best interests to keep the budget numbers private for now- we may not know until spring training what they are actually going to be spending.

Look for something to happen in the next two weeks- possibly sooner. We may well have a starting pitcher before Christmas. Very exciting!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Beltre signing provides Bavasi credibility

Now that it appears only a physical is keeping Beltre from donning an M's uniform, it is time to give Bavasi credit. He found the right guy, and the numbers actually seem too good to be true. While most of us gasped at the Sexson numbers, just the opposite happened with Beltre.

It's hard to believe other GM's let this guy get through. If I'm Arizona I'm thinking "I signed Glaus when I could have gotten Beltre for almost the same money?!!"

Here is what appears happened. Boras as we know is a shrewd negotiator, who knew what he was looking for regarding a contract. When he saw 7 years was simply not happening, he realized 5 was actually not bad for a 25 year old. This way his client is in line for a new contract while still in his prime.

Put it this way- if Beltre performs like we hope he will, the M's might well be wishing they had him locked up 5 years from now. Who knows what a 3rd basemen who plays good defense, hits for power and average will be getting in 2009?

So 5 years works pretty well. If Beltre turns into Brady Anderson, the M's will be able to get out of his contract in a reasonable amount of time. If he gets better and is really entering his prime, Boras gets to re-negotiate a new contract for a 30 year old.

Boras realizes this of course, and sent his client to Seattle because he makes more money each year AND gets to be a free agent in 5 years by leaving LA. Typical Boras move- it's all about the money.

Now the big question becomes "what's next?" We know we need starting pitching, and we know the budget is going to be near capacity.

Don't believe any stories that the M's are done. While they certainly won't be going after Delgado, they are not going to sit back and ignore the pitching. Look for several trades to happen between now and February to beef up this pitching staff, and provide even more reason for optimism for '05.

I've been skeptical of Bavasi, but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He now appears to have earned that benefit, and has shown he is capable of making big deals, while ignoring the really bad ones. I feel good knowing he is not done, and several more deals are yet to come. I'm pretty sure I'm going to like what I see over the next few months.

Who's excited for M's baseball now?!!!

Reports of M's signing Beltre

We are hearing that the M's have actually signed Adrian Beltre (can't believe I just wrote that).

Everyone is waiting for confirmation. Early reports indicate 5 years at $13 million.

If so, I can't believe there wasn't more interest from other clubs. I wouldn't put Sexson in the same ballpark as Beltre as far as desirability, but apparently other club GM's do.

We should know more shortly.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sexson official

As I had said earlier, the Sexson deal was going to happen, simply because he WANTS to play here. He was just using Baltimore to up the price-

"I am very excited about coming home to play for the Mariners," said Sexson, who is from Brush Prairie, Wash. "My preference all along was to sign with Seattle and to return to the Northwest."

However, if reports are true that the M's are paying $48 million for Sexson to "come home" then the Mariners are making a big mistake.

As predictable as rain, the excuse will become "we couldn't address all of our holes due to the market spinning out of control" speech from the FO. The fact that the M's threw too much money at an injured 1st basemen is a problem. Not the market.

To put this into perspective, Sexson:

  • becomes highest paid player in M's history
  • makes more than Ichiro
  • takes up more than half the available money to spend this offseason
  • plays a position that is the easiest to fill besides DH

Other than that, it looks great! I mean, we have no 3B or CF, but those guys are easy to find. (sarcasm)

The waiting continues...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Red Sox lucky Martinez is gone

A few years from now, we'll look back at this off season and remember all the "old guy" signings. And the poster child for this will likely be Pedro Martinez.

For the Mets to give an aging superstar like Pedro the kind of money they did says more about the sad state of the Mets then it does baseball. It is simply stupid, stupid baseball. I'm just not sure who is more stupid- the Mets FO or Pedro.

This will end badly- there will be no Cy Young awards for Pedro. The over/under line for trips to the DL during the contract should be 5. I would guess he'll get traded during a deadline to a team who needs 5+ innings every 7 days to make the playoffs, with the Mets paying a good portion of the salary remaining.

Now the interesting part will be watching what Theo does with all the money he has just been given. The Red Sox starting pitching is simply not that good right now- if I were Bavasi, I would be watching as well to see what the WS champs do to shore up a starting rotation.


Meanwhile, don't read much into the Orioles rumors regarding Sexson. The reason is simple- Sexson WANTS to come to Seattle. He'll make it happen.

Unless something really, really strange happens, the trade will go through. We should have offical word any time now.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sexson signing

First of all, let me start off by saying I am sure glad Koskie is going to the Blue Jays. He was a plan D as far as I'm concerned, and I'm glad he's off the table.

I also hope that Sexson fails his physical, but realize this is pretty unlikely. The M's brass know they are getting a hitter who missed the bulk of the season after major shoulder surgery, and are unlikely to be surprised by anything they find.

How did Bavasi find himself in this position?

The simple answer would seem to be market forces. In essence, the M's are paying more for Sexson than they thought they would pay for Delgado, but sensed they were getting close to missing out entirely on the slugger market.

Everyone knows the M's need power. The number of power hitters available each year is fairly small. At the top of the list would surely be Beltran or Beltre, but we all know those are Plan A/low-percentage signings. Players like Delgado and Sexson made up Plan B and B- respectively. The M's figured 3yrs at $24 million was reasonable for someone like Delgdao, allowing them to use the money that would have gone to Plan A to sign say a pitcher.

However the market prices changed everything. Suddenly Delgado is seeking 4 and 5 year deals for closer to $60 million. The M's are now looking at paying way more money for Sexson than they ever imagined. To put this in perspective, the M's are paying Ichiro money to a guy who has never been an MVP, and is coming off a serious injury.

I don't like this deal simply because the M's are taking on risk without enough reward. There are always first basemen who hit for power available. I am not convinced that Sexson will be that much better a first baseman than Ibanez. On a dollar for dollar basis, Ibanez would give you 80% production at 1/3 of the price. Bucky would make the numbers look crazy if you compare to Sexson.

I'm not saying you pencil in Bucky over Sexson, I'm just pointing out the M's are paying superstar money to a guy who is simply not a superstar. It will take money away from other areas in later years, and will only work if Sexson really does hit 40+ homers every year and stays heathly.

So we come back to Bavasi. He almost certainly has sensed that Delgado is getting out of his price range, and equally important wasn't jumping up and down to come to the NW. If you couldn't land Delgado, then Sexson will have to do.

If the M's sign Beltre, I'll be happy enough to forget about the Sexson signing. So we don't grade-out Bavasi's off season just yet, but so far the results are unimpressive. NW boy comes home will not win the AL West.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Early signings laughable

Remember last year when our good friend Mr. Rhodes signed a 3/yr $13 million deal with Oakland to become their closer? And you couldn't help but laugh, right? I mean, that was a stupid deal for a guy who had shown zero ability to close in his career. Add to the fact he was old (indeed, he missed considerable time this year due to injury) and was coming off a terrible year, and the deal simply made no sense. A one year deal made sense- nothing more than that.

So far this year there have been a number of deals that strike me as being just as crazy.

Steve Finley. Does anyone think this guy will be injury free the next two years? If early reports are accurate at the type of money he is getting, then this deal will look awful next winter.

Jeff Kent. The deal maybe isn't laughable, but I thought the book was pretty well established on Kent. He does well when Bonds is on the team. He does well when he is in a hitters park surrounded by really good players. Dodger Stadium? At this age? I'd be more than a little surprised if Kent puts up numbers that match those dollars. Seems like more of a "name" signing.

Glaus. I like him more than Sexson, but it is hard to get excited at those numbers coming off the injury he just had. He is getting Eric Chavez money. Just goes to show how few decent 3rd basemen are available. He has hit more than .251 once? If he is indeed injury prone, this will kill Arizona and our good friend Bob Melvin.

So far the only deal signed that has a chance of the club getting more than what they paid might be Nomar. Otherwise, these deals are fine if the player hits to career highs- anything less and they look stupid.

The only positive is the money being spent is not on guys the M's need to be targeting.

Of course the other way to look at it is that clubs have way more money than what they are letting on. Didn't we hear Anaheim would be cutting salary this year? Isn't Arizona bankrupt? How could the Angels sign Vlad last year and actually be in the market for a $10 mil/year CF?

Could Scott Boras be right?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Giambi contract likely to be settled with cash

It seems pretty clear at this point that Jason Giambi will not be allowed back in pin stripes next year. His admission of steroids use is being used by the team to try and get out from under the bad contract they signed with him after his MVP season in Oakland.

When a team signs a long-term deal with a player, there is obviously risk involved. With Giambi's poor health and lack of productivity last year, the Yanks suddenly realized they didn't look forward to owing Giambi some $80 million over the next few years. The ballooning numbers in the end of the deal might prevent the Yanks from signing every elite free agent each winter. (gasp)

So, the Yanks conveniently decide to use the steroid issue to their advantage.

The problem of course is how can they do this when they have another steroid user on the team (Sheff). Also, how do we know there aren't other steroid users on the team? Legally, it would be hard to go before a judge and say "Hey this Giambi guy took steroids so we want him off the team and his contract voided" while at the same time showing Gary Sheffield on the lineup card. Any judge in the country would listen very carefully to Giambi's lawyer who would be only too happy to point out the hypocrisy. What it really boils down to is Sheffield was good last year, and Giambi wasn't, so that is why the Yanks want to get rid of him. Do we hear anything about Bonds contract being voided by the Giants?

No we don't.

Does any Yankee exec want to get called to the stand to testify they had NO IDEA Giambi might have taken steroids before they signed him?

The hypocrisy between allowing a player to snort cocaine all he wants, versus a player taking a substance to make him perform better on the field (oh my!) is so breathtakingly clear I'll just jump over this hurdle and move on.

If you try to claim that Sheff and Bonds are allowed to keep their contracts because they say they UNKNOWINGLY took steroids, that is a pretty weak argument. Basically Giambi is punished because he told the truth, while the Gary/Barry twins get plaques from the "Best Lies of '04" club.

Then again, we all know what happened to Aaron Boone. He tells the Yanks the truth, and he gets cut regardless. It seems like the best thing to do with Yankee management is lie like crazy, because loyalty is really all about numbers. You can be a womanizer, a frequent drug abuser etc... but just make sure you have a good ERA or slugging % and all will be forgiven.

The Yanks have a real problem on their hands. They really want to get rid of Giambi, but have the players union, Giambi's lawyers and the presence of Gary Sheffield standing in their way. Look for a cash settlement to be the most likely scenario. I'm guessing something along the lines of $35-$40 million gets this done. Giambi gets to seek a fresh start with another club, and the Yanks get to sign Beltran, Delgado and who ever else allows NY fans to forget about the Red Sox for a bit.

Will the steroid scandal hurt or help the M's?

That is still to be determined...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Nomar signing first piece of good news lately

It's about time one of the "name" free agents picked a home, as Garciaparra has signed with the Cubs- link

Just to recap, Nomar rejected a $60 million deal with the Red Sox that would have averaged $15 million a year last winter. In pouting over the Alex deal (that never happened of course), he went to a team that missed the playoffs and got to watch his old team win the World Series.

With his wife retiring from soccer, Nomar gets to live in Chicago instead of the same town he built his new house; AND, he gets to make $8 million instead of $15 mil.

Wow, way to think it through Nomar.

But anyway, free agent signings are finally happening, and all baseball fans can begin talking about something other than steroids.

Good news indeed.