Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Toronto this years Baltimore

Every year in baseball there is a team with money to burn that pushes the market to crazy numbers.

Previous years saw huge contracts from the likes of Arizona and Baltimore. This year it's the Mets and Blue Jays.

The lesson to learn from this is of course obvious. You never want to build your team via free agency (unless you're the Yanks). The price you have to pay for premium talent is SO high you will never build a team by giving relievers with one great year 5-year contracts.

The only place for large contracts is where you simply have no other choice to fill a need and you feel you will get appreciably better by that one player.

The long term plan has to be the farm system.

The problem for the Mariners is two-fold. They have quite a few holes to feel AND they are not willing to expand the budget.

Thinking the M's won't contend for a playoff spot for at least two more years is not being pessimistic.

It's being realistic.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ryan Insanity?

Report on espn the Jays are about to throw almost $50 mil at B.J. Ryan- link

Yet again, a sign there is plenty of money available in baseball. In means we need to really re-callibrate our thinking when it comes to value and signability.

The Jays generally aren't this stupid/desperate. Is Ryan the next Rivera?

I didn't get that memo I guess...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thome gone to Sox

I was torn on the idea of bringing Jim Thome to Seattle. While I have no idea if Thome would even be willing to play in the Emerald City, it seemed like something worth checking on.

Now that he is off the market, the only real question is how much money is changing hands. We should know in the next 24 hours.

If the White Sox are only paying $5-6 mil per season, this is a good gamble by Williams. If the Phillies are only paying a small portion of his salary, then you have to be rejoicing if you are a Phillies fan, and crying as a White Sox fan. Surely Williams wouldn't trade for an aging, injury prone slugger and end up paying him what it would take to keep Konerko, right?

This gamble depends on the dollars, but regardless it means one less bat for the M's to pursue via trade. Hopefully Bavasi either looked into this and didn't like what he saw, or has another bat targeted.

Who that could be is open to speculation, but the list will only grow shorter as the trading season progresses.

Big bat coming to Seattle? Seems less likely by the day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Kenji Johjima an M?

Of course we should know tomorrow, but let's assume for a second he is an M.

This means a couple of things.

First, the M's FO IS capable of multi-tasking i.e. they can sign a catcher while still trying to upgrade the pitching staff. This sounds so simple, but for some reason didn't always happen under Gillick's watch.

Second, it shows the M's can be aggressive. The "stand-Pat" era is so completely gone. When Bavasi decides to target a player, he goes hard. He seems to have an idea of what he is willing to spend on the player, and somehow gets it done.

So now the M's will go from having quite possibly a worst-to-first upgrade in their catching. We know how bad the M's were at the catcher position in '04- no need to repeat those ugly numbers.

By having no where to go but up, the M's just got better. The fact Johjima should be "average" at worst is terribly exciting.

When other catchers like Molina sign, we'll get a good idea on how this contract stands up. But this signing shows yet again there is a ton of money in baseball right now- there will be few bargains this winter.

Kenji Johjima could be one of the best FA signings this winter. Good job to Bavasi and crew.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hideki Matsui signing

The Matsui signing is important for M's fans in several ways.

First, it's the biggest signing so far this year, and certainly shows despite anything Cashman might have said, the Yanks aren't afraid to spend money. We'll believe the Yanks are cutting payroll when... wait, it will never happen so why bother.

Second, it shows Ichiro's deal is actually pretty good for the Mariners. Matsui really played his cards right and forced the Yankees to pay him more than he's worth. What other team today would pay that kind of money for him?

Third, it shows what a good deal the Ibanez signing has been for the Mariners. While Ibanez is not as good as Matsui, he's not as far off as you might think. And at 1/3 the price, Ibanez is a bargain in comparison.

The takeaway for this is just a final reminder not to expect many bargains this winter. Teams are already throwing 5 years at pitchers that were never coming to Seattle anyway, and we can expect crazy dollars to again be the rule.

If this team is going to compete next year, trades will be necessary.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Should Bavasi upgrade at catcher?

A piece in the PI claims the M's have some interest in Kenji Johjima, but the numbers probably won't work- link

In the article, a mystery figure is quoted as saying-
"It's far down the list," the club source said. "We have more pressing needs. To go out and get a catcher now, before signing a pitcher, wouldn't be prudent."

Ideally you act, not react. If you want to upgrade the team, you don't focus on one area at the expense of everything else. We all agree starting pitching is the focus, but if the M's are serious about upgrading the team, let's hope they have done their homework on Johjima. It could very well be the club has looked into Johjima and simply concluded an aging catcher coming off an injury who can't speak English is not a direction they are interested in going.

That's fine. What isn't fine is the performance the M's have been receiving from the catching position for the past 4 years. Most of us have forgotten what it's like to actually get production from that position. Other teams live with a low on-base percentage from their catcher, but actually get to see the ball leave the yard every once in a while.

The M's the past few seasons have watched catchers with no power, no average and no ability to even catch the ball consistently take the field. If you believe the M's really aren't that far from being a middle-of-the-road team offensively, upgrading the catching position to just league average would be a tremendous improvement.

Is Rene Rivera the answer at catcher? Not if you believe minor league numbers that say .260 with no power is almost a best case scenario. What about Yorvit Torrealba? Hard to see him being even league average. He MIGHT hit 10 home runs in a year. Again, best case.

If the M's ignore the catching position and sink everything they have into pitching, it's hard to call that a bad strategy. But if the M's do choose to ignore the catching problem, we had better see some serious upgrades in the pitching staff and see some power added elsewhere in the lineup.

Good teams almost always have pretty good players behind the plate.

The current M's plan seems to want to buck that trend.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No to Posada

Word is the Yanks are looking to cut payroll, likely to go after a CF and revamped bullpen. Lots of talk regarding the M's taking a shot at landing Pavano.

I would be fine with acquiring Pavano if it costs little to nothing as far as prospects and we got rid of some dead wood. However I don't believe for a second the Yankees would be interested in anything we would want to jettison, so don't see how a deal would work at. The Yanks don't just give players away w/o reason (Woody doesn't work there), and Pavano is not such a lost cause the Yanks will pay a big chunk of his salary.

Posada is easier. While the M's really need a decent catcher, I wouldn't touch Posada's current contract as is. Too much money to a guy who is too old and about to trigger a player option for '08.


If the Yankees were willing to eat MOST of his contract, then Posada is actually not a bad idea as a stop-gap to better-get-good-in-a-hurry (aka. #3 pick in the draft, and not named Alex) Jeff Clement.

But the Yanks would again seem unlikely to do this. They have no real prospects to take his place, and there doesn't appear to be any good reason for the Yanks to go on a fire sale.

Probably the biggest reason the Yanks are being mentioned is Cashman needs to make SOME changes to this years largely disappointing club, and Pavano and Posada both have similar sounding names, were a disappointment and make lots of money.

If Bavasi gets too serious about either one, their not trying very hard.

Let's hope the Yanks and M's don't make any significant trades this offseason. If they do, it's out of convenience, not a true desire to improve the current club.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Forget about A.J. Burnett

One could debate the desirability of A.J. Burnett in an M's uniform. Sure he has lost roughly the same games he's won. He has a bit of an attitude problem. He has no ties to the NW, and would be a mercenary coming in for money.

But given the state of our rotation, who cares, right?

The problem is, you don't want A.J. Burnett at the number it's going to take to get him to come here. There is no shortage of teams who want him. The only way A.J. Burnett is coming to Seattle is if we OVERPAY by a considerable amount.

Remember Beltre last year? How many teams actually tried to sign him- not that many. The Yankees already had a 3rd basemen, and plenty of teams were turned off by Boras.

Burnett has over half the teams in baseball who would like to see him put on a uniform. The market will be crazy for pitching.

I bet when Burnett does sign, you will be shocked and awed, to use an overworn phrase.

Little chance Bavasi, Lincoln and crew get involved at the numbers we will talking about. The M's will spend money, but not for A.J. Burnett.

Count on it.

Please, no more Terrell Owens articles

This is supposed to be about baseball, but can all of us that are not insane agree to not mention this guy again this year?

I HATE all the attention he gets.

The guy I won't mention by name any more.

Thank you.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bavasi faces uphill road

Everyone agrees the talent pool this year is poor. With major holes to fill, the M's can't simply rely on the free agent road. With too many teams chasing average players, the word "overpaid" will be used roughly 2,310,893 times this offseason. If the M's FO actually expects to compete next year, relying on free agents will absolutely ensure another lousy year for fans.

Trades are the only way out (up?) for this team. There is simply no way the team will bulk up its terrible starting pitching AND improve its AL worst offense.

I hope the M's brass really understand how awful this current team is-- For $90 million last year, you put together a team that couldn't hit or pitch. Not good.

So can Bavasi make trades that will improve this team? His track record is not impressive when it comes to trades as an M's GM. He did okay in the Garcia trade, but other trades have been uninspiring. We also rarely hear the M's mentioned in serious 3-way trades or other creative trades that will be required if the M's hope to compete.

If we don't get several major trade announcements from the M's this winter, there is little hope for '06. Free agents alone will not help this team catch the Angels or the A's.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Theo out in Boston

One of the bigger surprises in baseball for sure- Theo Epstein basically quits on the Red Sox. He clearly plannned on being in Beantown or he wouldn't have bothered negotiating all this time. During the process, he realized he wasn't being valued enough by his own boss so he walks away.

In some respects, this comes down to ego. Now that the Red Sox have finally won a title, everyone is convinced they were the reason for the success. We've seen dynasties (or what would have been dynasties) brought down before. Remember Jimmie Johnson leaving Dallas after a dispute with the owner? How about Shaq, Kobe and Phil? How about Larry Brown leaving a Detroit team that's been to the finals two years in a row?

Lots of examples that show success doesn't always eliminate politics and infighting. It happens in our workplace every day- it just doesn't make the papers.

If Theo's boss Larry Lucchino had valued his young understudy more, he would have rewarded him with a contract extension last year. Instead he probably felt he was the brains in the organization, and Theo was just a cog in the wheel so to speak.

How does this impact the Mariners?

Unfortunately it likely doesn't mean much now. If the M's were smart they would try to hire Theo as a consultant if he really does intend on taking a year off.

Theo likely will need money. Sure he's been making almost half a million a year, and probably has some money socked away. Still, that money disappears quickly when nothing is coming in. Bringing him on board might give Bavasi some creative ideas to try and solve the pitching riddle that is the '06 Mariners.

Of course there is no chance this will happen. Bavasi has an ego, and the M's FO doesn't want to look like it doesn't have a plan all figured out.

Yet believe me when I say they have no plan right now- they could use all the help they can get to put one together.

It will be interesting to see what Theo does this year.

Too bad it can't involve the Mariners.