Mariners Analysis

Friday, January 28, 2005

Mariners making mistake with Bucky

Many M's fans such as myself like Bucky on the team for '05, and it has nothing to do with pulling for the underdog. We simply like the idea of a guy making the league minimum and hitting 35 homeruns. For a team that has been desperate to hit HR's the past three years, you would think adding Bucky to the team would be a no-brainer. When you sign a guy like Sexson coming off major shoulder surgery, having Bucky around again just makes common sense.

And yet Bavasi seems to think last year was lucky or something- Moore article

When asked on Bucky playing time, Bavasi answered-
"Not good, early," Bavasi said. "At the start, it's unfair to ask him to be the DH. We want to be careful with his long-term health. We don't want to take a chance on blowin' him out."

Is Bavasi suddenly a doctor? Does Bavasi figure there is less chance he'll injure the knee in AAA? What is he implying?

It makes no sense to start telling players what their roles before Spring Training even starts. If it's unfair to ask him to play DH, and we signed a guy to play 1st base, where does that leave Bucky? Sitting on the bench?

What happens if he leads the team in HR's during Spring Training? What happens if Ibanez hits .230 in Arizona?

Sounds like Bavasi already has his mind made up, and that is unfortunate. If the M's don't find playing time for Bucky, they are making a mistake.


Trade Ibanez if he has value. If he doesn't, that should tell you something about your plans to run him out everyday as a DH. Trade Winn. You have plenty of outfield options.

Having Bucky means you can make a trade for pitching. I'm suprised Bavasi doesn't see this too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Mariners sign Betancourt

The M's today signed Yuniesky Betancourt to the 40 man roster- link

In order to make room on the roster, the M's DFA Aaron Looper. Bavasi seems to like him quite a bit-

"Yuniesky is an athletic, offensive shortstop," Bavasi said. "We view him as the equivalent of a first or second round draft pick."

Honestly, what little I know of Betancourt leads me to believe he is quite a bit lower than that, but my overall view of Cuban position players is not real high right now. Perhaps he will change my opinion.

Getting rid of Looper is actually a good thing. The M's have a logjam of upper-20's pitchers who aren't quite good enough to help the club, but might somewhere else. It is better for the M's to get younger, and the kids to get a chance in another system.

This overall is a good move by Bavasi, but I don't have info on why we needed to add him to the 40 man roster. I'm guessing it was a condition on signing him.

Perhaps Hargrove will see him as his backup infielder if he has a strong Spring Training? Might this spell the end of Willie?

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Delgado finally signs

So the Marlins land Delgado for close to the price we paid for Sexson- espn

Delgado wasted a bunch of time deciding to finally take an offer he could have gotten two months ago. In fact, if he had been more serious, I bet he could have gotten even more had he signed around the same time as Glaus, Beltre etc...

He had a tough time understanding he wasn't going to get $17 mil a year to keep hitting 30 home runs like he did in '04. Too bad, because a number of M's fans would rather have Delgado than Sexson.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Delgado signing close

Carlos Delgado is finally getting around to making a decision. The fact I am even mentioning this shows how slow the news is around baseball right now.

Delgado is the last of the big-name free agents still unsigned, and it looks like the Texas Rangers have wisely pulled their offer. Does this mean Tom Hicks is not a complete tool?

Given the Rangers play in the same division as the M's, it pays to see what our division rival is doing this off season. They tend to get overlooked with all the attention paid to Beane and Anaheim, but Texas has a curious plan in building their club.

If we looked at the Rangers last year, we see a team that has young positional hitters who can mash the ball all over the place. We also see a team that got a solid pitching effort from Rogers and Drese. At first glance, logic would tell you they are a few solid pitchers away from taking that next step. Instead, the Rangers go after Delgado, an aging slugger?

It would seem the Rangers are avoiding the high-priced free agent pitchers entirely. I guess we can call this the "Chan Ho" lesson. Instead the Rangers are content to build their pitching through scouting and the draft, and attract hitters who welcome the opportunity to pad their stats in Arlington.

The Rangers also made a curious decision regarding their run at Delgado. Instead of playing the traditional we'll match the latest offer, Hick's told Delgado here is our offer and BTW- you have until Sunday to accept. The Rangers wisely realized Delgado was going to play teams against one another and forced him to accept/reject the offer. Now that Delgado has suddenly realized AL teams are going to want him to play DH, he says he won't sign. So Hicks pulls the offer.

Smart on his part. If I'm the Mets or Marlins, I realize I don't have to compete with Texas any longer. The same owner that Howard Lincoln basically called an idiot not that long ago now seems to have learned a lesson in dealing with free agents.

Nice to see.

From the M's perspective, it's hard to say if Texas losing out is a good thing. Personally I think any team who gives Delgado a ton of money is going to regret that contract later on, so for the M's it might have been good long term to see him as a Ranger.

The really good news though is we are that much closer to Spring Training.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Villone signing

The fact the FO gave Ron Villone a two year deal says everything about the state of the farm system for the M's. Remember a year ago we were told about all the great young arms in the farm system? Well apparently Bavasi has absolutely no faith he can use any of them to pitch in the bullpen, spot-start and post an ERA somewhere around 5.00

Because that is what we can expect Villone to do while he is in Seattle the next few years- pitch out of the bullpen, take Piniero's spot when he is hurt, and basically just put the ball in play and eat up innings. There is no real upside to Villone, and his role should be able to filled by any one of the young arms who pitch well in Spring Training.

But apparently Bavasi just doesn't like what he sees in the system.

That is the real problem with the Villone signing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Trade Randy Winn now

As part two of the M's need pitching theme, I think we all need to consider moving Randy Winn before the season. I like him on the team, but it is unlikely his value will ever be higher than it is today.

The M's have a major commitment to Reed. He has nothing to prove in AAA- he showed plenty of potential during his September callup. I railed against Melvin for not playing Reed more in September, but the desire to not lose 100 games overcame any desire to get him more playing time.

Last year the M's traded away Freddy Garcia, who would be the #1 pitcher on the M's staff this year. He was the most effective pitcher for the M's last year. You trade a guy like Freddy, you'd better get something in return. So far we have a catcher who can't catch, and a guy (Morse) who can't figure out how to not get suspended to show for the trade besides Reed. You'd better believe the M's have an investment in Reed.

So if you plug Reed in Center, or put Reed in LF, either way you don't need Randy Winn. Ibanez needs to play LF, because he has little trade value and blocks Bucky at DH. Teams coming off 99 loss seasons don't carry guys like Winn as a 4th outfielder. Not when they haven't made a single pitching acquisition during the offseason.

We know Randy typically starts slowly. We know teams are looking for outfielders. His trade value will never be higher than it is today. His presence today either blocks Reed or blocks Bucky. The old adage you have to give up value to get something of value in return is still true- trade him while you have the chance.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Where's the pitching?

With February getting closer by the day, it is time to take a look at the work Bavasi has done so far in reshaping a 99 loss team. It is also time for everyone to sharpen their pencils and start figuring out what to expect from this team.

Just about every M's fan I speak with expects to see a significant improvement in the win column this year, but is that unrealistic for a team that has not made a single improvement in the pitching?

No changes- Not in the starting pitching, and not in the bullpen.

With a month to go before spring training, the M's have reshaped their infield, but completely ignored the pitching staff.

A pitching staff we remember:

  • Gave up 823 runs last year
  • was 8th in AL ERA despite pitching in SafeCo (21st MLB)
  • was 9th in AL K/BB with 1.80 ratio
  • has a closer diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff
  • will not see it's best bullpen talent (Soriano) until '06
  • is depending on Madritsch to continue excellent rookie year
  • hopes Meche can pitch an entire season effectively (never has)
  • ....

I mean really, we can go on and on with our list of concerns regarding our pitching. Now certainly many teams have question marks about their pitching, but very few lose 99 games and don't address ANY of them. (The only team that comes to mind who tries this every year is the Rangers a.k.a. "The Hicks method"...)

Yes, we improved our team defense. Yes we hope guys like Moyer turn it around. But Bavasi simply HAS to get creative or this team will never reach .500 this year.

If someone tries to argue this team is ready to compete in the AL based on the moves made to date, I say put the crack pipe down.

Anaheim will be good. Oakland might be good, but is a question. Texas will score a lot of runs. But there is no way this teams pitching staff is good enough as it stands today. Picking up a few tired pitchers like Sele and inviting them to camp is not going to get it done- we expect that to happen. Every team in baseball invites a bunch of guys to camp, both to pitch multiple spring training games and to hope some guy might pitch well enough to make the club.

So when we see the M's start handing out invites, I don't count that as an upgrade in any way, shape or form. What the M's FO needs to do is work those phones and figure out a way to upgrade this pitching staff.

There's still time. The M's offered Perez $19 mil not that long ago. They still have some money, and that promise Lincoln made to Ticket Holders is still there.

But don't predict the M's will be competitive this year until we see some changes in the pitching staff.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

M's making a mistake with Bucky?

In Jim Moore's piece today in the PI, he quotes Bavasi multiple times regarding Bucky and it's not positive if you are a Bucky believer- link

Are the M's making a mistake here?

"The acquisitions "definitely dropped him down on the depth chart," Bavasi said of Jacobsen."

I'm not sure I see how any acquisitions had an impact on Bucky's playing time. The only new guys of note are Beltre and Sexson. Bucky was never playing 3rd, and he was never going to be your every day starter at first anyway.

Bavasi needs to understand he has 4 outfielders, not a glut at DH. Bucky is a guy who can hit 30 homers at the league minimum. If Bucky and Ibanez both played an entire season, who would end up with better numbers?

Based on what we've seen so far, it looks pretty even to me. Ibanez is a lefty who was never expected to hit for much power- ~18 homers was what most of us expected from him during a season. He's never hit for average in his career. Bucky is going to strikeout, and won't hit for average either. But we know he can hit the ball hard, and he was surprisingly patient last year at the plate. He is younger than Ibanez to boot.

Is Bavasi sticking with Ibanez because he is under contract and needs to placate a veteran? Is he saying Bucky doesn't have a spot in the lineup only as motivation?

We'll find out in Spring Training. Let's hope Bucky puts up great numbers during the Spring and forces the team to reassess his role. Bucky is a backup first basemen to a slugger coming off major shoulder surgery, part-time DH and the first pinch-hitter with power this team has had in recent memory.

Bucky absolutely should be a part of the M's plans, and Bavasi is making a mistake if he doesn't get him in the lineup.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Randy costs more than we thought

Even us non-Yankee fans were curious why they passed on Beltran, especially now that we discover Boras was offering him at a discounted rate.

What we didn't realize was just how much Randy's tab for this year will be. Consider this:

+ $16 million salary 2005
+ $9 million sent to Arizona
+ $6.4 million luxury tax
== OVER $30 million!!!

Yep, Randy is costing the Yanks more than Pay-Rod makes in a year. Pretty interesting. No wonder the Yankee FO realized they had to pass on Beltran. That is a serious chunk of change for any organization.

Of course you can't pin the luxury tax solely on Randy. He is just the last guy to be signed, so he gets the pub. Derek and the rest of the Yanks all get that luxury tax tacked on too.

But still, the Yanks chose short-term pitching over long-term youth and defense. If the Yanks win the Series this year, all will be forgotten.

Mike Cameron unhappy with Beltran signing

It looks like Mike is not being a team player, letting the Mets know he will not play RF- link

Mike is not going to play for the M's, but it will be interesting to see where he ends up. It also might impact the market for Randy Winn, as teams like the Astros that are considering adding a CF now have another option.

Also, I wonder if Carlos Delgado missed out on a few million by waiting so long? It's not like I'm going to feel sorry for a guy who made almost $20 mil last year, but I haven't seen any offers of the sort Sexson or Glaus got for Delgado.

Delgado SHOULD get a better offer than either one, or at least in the same ballpark. The problem is simply teams have spent most of their budget.

Keep an eye on this one...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Yanks pass on Beltran

With the Yanks deciding not to get into the Beltran sweepstakes, it looks like the Yanks payroll really isn't limitless. It would seem $210 million or so is what it takes to field a team in pinstripes these days.

If you are a Yanks fan, you might be wondering just what the heck Cashman and Co. is thinking. You trade away Lofton, and sign a 41 year old pitcher before refusing to acquire a young center-fielder who would have locked up the position for years to come. It will be a move that will be second guessed throughout the season.

Every time the ball scoots past Bernie in CF this year, Yankee fans are going to mumble something about Beltran. However, they only have to watch Bernie for one more year before his salary drops off, allowing the team to sign whatever big-name FA is available next year.

In the meantime, what about Mike Cameron? I don't see him getting traded to the Yanks, who have nothing to give. It is also a waste to see Cameron in anything other than Center. Would Bavasi take him back? Doesn't appear to be an option.

In the big picture, other teams now have a rough idea what the Yanks upper-limit for taking on payroll appears to be. It also signals the Yanks appear to be stuck with Giambi. If the FO was confident in getting his payroll off the books, I suspect Beltran would be not be a Met.

Finally, is this a good deal for the Mets?

From a strictly baseball perspective, I think not. He is getting too much money relative to his talents. Can he lead a team? How does he perform when he is the only super-star? We know he hits well in a stacked Astros lineup in a hitter friendly park. I'm guessing he will be viewed as a good player making more money than he is worth, ala Shawn Green in a few years.

But the Mets needed to make a splash, and they did. Boras got his money, and the Astros are left feeling a little like the M's did when Alex walked away.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Of course Yanks not a lock to win Series

Jayson Stark goes to a lot of trouble to argue the Yanks might NOT win the World Series this year- link
But the real story isn't that the Yanks will win the World Series. Everyone who has watched any amount of sports knows there is no guarantee when you get to the post season.

The real story is that the $207 million Yankees ARE all but certain to make the playoffs. That is pretty much beyond doubt. A huge payroll like the Yanks won't automatically get you a WS ring, but it will pretty much guarantee you an invitation to the post season, something no other team has.

Think about last year- Anaheim, NY, Boston and Minnesota. Numbers one, two and three in payroll, plus a token AL Central team.

We have no idea if the Texas Rangers will win the West. Or if Cleveland will finally beat Minnesota in the Central. Or if Billy Beane really is a genius. But we do know the Yanks will make the playoffs.

End of story.


We also seen the Green contract extension has past. This is going to be a real mess for LA.

Shawn Green and Beltran

We are now hearing reports Shawn Green is balking at signing a contract extension with Arizona. Big surprise. This is similar to what we are seeing with Carlos Delgado. Arizona's offer for an additional two years at $8 mil per season is simply insulting to poor old Shawn.

Simply, once a player gets used to earning a certain amount, they sure don't like making less. It's human nature of course, but it creates for me a small amount of satisfaction when someone is mistakenly overpaid and then they are unable to see why they should ever take a pay cut. Green is simply not worth $16 million this year, but that's what he'll get paid. Based on his future numbers, there is no reason to think he would get even JD Drew money if he were a FA this year.

So when Arizona offers him an additional $16 million for two years, Green is basically getting $32 million for the next three years. But he doesn't see it this way- to him, he is getting a 50% pay cut to $8 million/yr, and is having a hard time with it.

If LA is forced to take back Green because a deal can't be made, a certain LA GM will have had one of the worst winters we've seen since.... Oh, I don't know, last year here in Seattle?


Regarding Beltran and Yankees, don't believe reports that the Yanks aren't interested in signing him. Of course they want him, but even they have limits. The are being smart and are trying to counteract Boras, who wants teams to be bidding against themselves.

The Yanks want Beltran to collect the highest bid he can get, and then the Yankees will finally exceed it by a nominal amount. They want Belran to sign with them once they do. What they don't want is for Boras to take their offer and shop it to the Mets and Astros.

Which is exactly what Boras wants to do.

We'll see who wins this game in the next two days, as the Saturday deadline looms.

Interview with Bill Bavasi this morning

In case you missed it, Mitch on KJR interview Bavasi this morning, and it was pretty interesting. I didn't take notes or anything, but here are a few general points that were made.

-- Before the season, Bavasi and the rest of the FO felt they had enough money to sign 3 big-name free agents. It wasn't until Glaus signed with Arizona that they realized the market wasn't going to allow that.

-- As I predicted at the end of last year, Delgado was the #1 off-season target of Bavasi.

-- The FO never targeted Beltre initially, for a number of reasons. One, Boras. Two, they thought it would take a long time. Three, he probably wouldn't want to come here. Four, it would cost more than they wanted to spend. He said it all came together during the winter meetings. He met with Scott, and explained he needed to move fast in order to not be left with nothing later on. Scott said he understood, and things moved very quickly from then on. Within days, the deal was done.

-- The club really was targeting Sexson and Delgado (i.e. reports were true). They spoke with Sexson, and he was fine with playing left field. However, the team soon realized Delgado was having problems accepting a pay cut; he was the only major FA who was going to have to take less this winter, due to his huge deal with Toronto. Once Bavasi sensed this, he said he realized having Sexson and Beltre on the corners was far better than having Delgado at first and Sexson in LF.

-- He openly admitted they overpaid for Sexson. He said they had to prove to everyone they were serious about signing big time FA's, and getting the first was the hardest. Basically he implied it took Sexson to get Beltre to come here.

-- They really hoped to get Perez, but again the market went crazy on them. He realizes a trade is the only way they are going to get a decent pitcher at this time.

-- He admitted they aren't close right now to any deal for a starting pitcher.

-- Randy Winn and Meche are the two players receiving the most interest from other clubs.

-- He said he spoke with Boras at various times about Beltran. He also mentioned he has a good relationship with Scott, and respects the way he takes care of his players.

There were a few other topics, but that was the main focus off the conversation. I thought Bavasi came off as a genuine person who answered the questions honestly.

If I missed anything or anyone heard something different, let me know!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Pokey Reese coming to Seattle

In yet another strong move by Bavasi and crew, the M's will open the '05 season with Pokey Reese as their shortstop. As any long time M's fan will know, the M's have long coveted Reese from his Cincinnati days. When Bowden wouldn't include him in a trade for Griffey, the M's had to go in a different direction. However, they finally got their man and improved themselves in several areas.

First, they improved the defense considerably. There is simply no one else in the M's system that can play defense like Reese. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in baseball who plays defense like Reese does today. Think Omar a few years ago.

Think about this too- Sexson, Boone, Reese, Beltre.

Best defensive infield in baseball? I believe so. If not, it is in the top three.

Second, this puts Lopez back in AAA to prepare for Boones departure in '06. We'll know next winter whether Lopez is really a guy who is ready to help the big club with another season of evaluation. It's nice to see Bavasi thinking ahead, something Gillick sorely lacked. Perhaps Boone will be re-signed, but at least the club will have spent time preparing for the possibility they won't have a starting second basemen next year. Seems simple, but it's something that has been missing in previous years.

Finally, I'm not a big fan of having a guy like Cabrera get too many at-bats during the year. I'm a big fan of resting players and using your bench, but I don't like giving one player too many at-bats that their numbers simply don't justify. The poster child for this was Mark McLemore during his later years. He was given WAY too many at-bats during the year. Then when his numbers were off, he had the audacity to say he needed more playing time to get his stroke back. I liked Mark as a player, but his last few years simply didn't justify his playing time.

Here was his line during his last year in Seattle-
This was in 309 at-bats! That's more than half a season of Willie like production. Lest you think this was due soley to injury or age, look at his first season-
He got 481 at-bats that year. Entirely way too many for a utility player.

Just for comparison, look at Willie's numbers last year-
Not that far off from Mark's. The point is you don't want to give a ton of at-bats during the year to a guy who simply doesn't justify them. While we have no idea what our new skipper would do with Cabrera, the point is past history indicates he might have played more than just giving a player a day off here or there.

So kudos to Bavasi yet again. He still needs a new starting pitcher. Odalis Perez doesn't seem interested in Seattle, so he will need to look in a different direction. Expect trade talks to heat up as Bavasi works the phones.