Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Texas does it again

Never bet against Boras.

I should have known better. After we signed Washburn, I was certain that as an M's fan I would have preferred having Millwood's contract. I do, but I'm glad we didn't sign him. Let me explain.

Just as Hicks blew everyone away with A-Rod, Texas has gone out and given Millwood a contract that I am glad Bavasi passed on. There is just no way to justify giving someone like Kevin Millwood a contract of that size and length.

The contract is hardly the worst in baseball. Kevin Millwood has been getting paychecks in the $7-$10 million/yr range for years now. He gets a nice raise on this one, but it's nothing like what Toronto gave Davis or anything like that. Millwood has proven he is pretty durable, knows how to pitch, and he cashed in on that ERA title.

But... there is a reason Millwood has been signing one year contracts during his career. Atlanta let him walk w/o a long term deal. So did Philadelphia. So did Cleveland. They all liked him as a pitcher, but none were ever going to give him anything like what Texas was willing to pay. He's not a marquee player, and he's been injured. Likelihood of injury is a huge factor when offering contracts to any player in baseball.

If you play in Arlington you have to overpay in most cases to get pitching. We all understand why. And this certainly makes Texas better as long as Millwood stays off the DL.

Now that Millwood plays in Texas, we can be pretty sure he will never win an ERA title again. If he had signed in Seattle, there's a pretty good chance he could have competed for it every year of his contract. But we have no idea if Millwood would have ever signed here. Maybe Boras was telling Bavasi it rains here too much, was too far from his home etc... and no reasonable amount of money was going to get him here.

Bavasi obviously read the tea leaves and decided he liked Washburn better at 4 yrs/$37 mil compared to 5 yrs/$60 mil for Millwood.

However, most of us would choose to look at it this way.

Texas is paying $12 million a year for a #1 starter.

Bavasi is paying $9 million a year for a #4 starter. (he's a 3 only under an absolute best case scenario)

When you look at it this way, you take the Millwood contract every time. I would lose Carl Everett in a heart beat if it meant getting Millwood instead.

So the Millwood contract is much more appealing to me than Washburn's, if I have to choose. But I don't, so I'm glad the M's didn't give Millwood that much money for that long. I just don't think it is a good way to do business. Just because your rival is willing to roll the dice (eg. Chan Ho Park) doesn't mean you have too.

The organization is right to let Millwood pass if that is what it would take to get him. When you play in Safeco, you must use it to your advantage, and I don't think giving 5 year deals to older pitchers with some history of arm trouble is the way to go.

I don't like the Millwood contract, but I HATE the Washburn contract.

That's the simplest way to explain it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fund Raiser for Yankees?

With news the Yankees have signed Johnny Damon to a 4/$52 million contract, I suppose everyone is going to have to start raising funds for those poor Yankees.

After all, with news they lost $50-$80 million this past season, I can only conclude they took away Cashman's kids college fund, eliminated health benefits etc... to get Damon. I mean, where else could they come up with this kind of money while losing millions of dollars every year?? Right?........ ok, sarcasm off.

This is a great move for the Yankees, and a fairly disastrous move for the Red Sox, at least for now. The Yankees went into this offseason with only two holes; CF and the bullpen. They just signed the best CF on the market, and didn't have to surrender any current talent to do so. They also didn't commit to any long term deal. Seven years would be a disaster... 4 years will be over before you know it.

And before anyone starts complaining about Damon and his age in 4 years, just remember there is only 7 months separating Damon and Jeter. If you believe players fall off the cliff in their mid-30's, start worrying about Jeter's $18 mil/year first!

Damon is durable, marketable and is actually GOOD. He just made the Yankees better, at the expense of their most hated rival. If Damon really does decline in a few years, Cashman can simply throw some cash at the problem and send him off. The Yanks just picked up 4 wins with this deal, and are the favorites to win the East.

For the Red Sox, things aren't so simple. Why in the world the same franchise that gave middlin' players like Renteria $10 mil/yr suddenly refuses to match Damon is a mystery. Damon was the face of the franchise- he was marketable, their leadoff hitter, contributed to the WS win in a big way etc... and the Sox let him walk.

This would be like the M's letting Ichiro walk two years after winning the MVP. You simply don't let players like this go from your franchise. However much the Yankees valued Damon, the Red Sox should have valued him more. The Red Sox were basically valuing Damon only slightly more than what the M's are paying Washburn!! Unbelievable!

We know the Sox are not stupid. This is the same group that pulled off the brilliant trade with Florida and improved their pitching staff tremendously. So what are the Sox up to?

Don't we have to assume the Red Sox feel they can get Jeremy Reed by letting Damon walk? It's the only thing that makes sense. Obviously the Boston FO feels either Crisp or Reed will replace Damon.

Bavasi is in a good position. The Yanks didn't have anything we want if Damon stays with Boston. But the Sox have plenty of prospects. We saw what Juan Pierre cost the Cubs... 3 good young players. Reed should be bringing back at least 2 super prospects. No less.

If Bavasi plays this right, Damon going to the Yankees could be a good thing. If Bavasi turns around and dumps Reed for Clement, this is a disaster.

The Boston press will be going crazy trying to figure out the next move. We may hear more about the Sox plans in the next several days.

I'm sure we'll all stay tuned to this story...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

M's fan will be miffed when Millwood signs

It will be interesting to see where Kevin Millwood signs... the reported 5 year $60 million price tag Boras is seeking seems unlikely at this point. (At least with Damon he has the only decent CF this off season. With pitching, you have a few more options, and Millwood, while good, is not that irreplaceable.)

With both NY and Boston fairly happy with their pitching, who is going to suddenly emerge to put up scary money on a pitcher? Baltimore has money to burn... the Mets are seemingly printing it... but it is hard to see who will give him 5 years. Texas?

When Millwood does sign, I guarantee you M's fans will not be happy. For not much more money than Washburn, someone is getting quite a bit more on the mound (more victories, more starts, more innings, more strikeouts... count on it).

The FO has eaten some humble pie the last several years. After refusing to give Garcia a contract, and generally being royal pricks when he had the nerve to seek market value during arbitration, the fact they are paying more (Washburn) for less (Washburn < Garcia) can't go unnoticed. Is there any team in baseball that would take Washburn over Garcia, contracts being equal?


The M's went into this offseason thinking they could buy a house today, only at 1995 prices. They want to pocket the money from XM Radio, take the money from the Nationals, and continue to hold the line on payroll. (Where is that extra money going? We all know the answer...)

Attendance in baseball is at record highs. Values of franchises is at record highs. The M's want to win like it was 1995, and want to spend like it to.

The Washburn contract is a knee-jerk reaction to a micalculation over the past years on the market. The M's FO just gave a #4 starter the highest salary ever paid to an M's starter.

The same group that fears Meche's arbitration number... that worries Franklin might make $3 million next year... just gave their peer $37.5 million.

No explanation can justify this signing. No analysis, no spin, no bullshit.

This contract just plain sucks.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Looks like Bavasi blinked

Last week I discussed the poker game being played between Bavasi and Boras regarding Millwood. The M's have offered a 4 year deal, but Boras feels the need to get 5 years no matter what. Since no team has offered 5 years, a Mexican stand-off was at hand.

With the news the M's are close to signing Jarrod Washburn, it appears Bavasi panicked. Instead of waiting it out, or pursuing other logical alternatives, the M's FO resorted to the "Carlos Guillen" madness. In other words, they appear to be hell bent on just making a move, regardless of whether it will help the team in the long run.

A few years back the M's decided they needed to get a new SS, come hell or high water. First the M's tried to sign Tejada, but failed. Then they tried to add Omar, but couldn't get past the phsysical. Rather than regroup at each point, they kept on the mantra of "get rid of SS" and traded Guillen for a bag of peanuts.

Something similar appears to be going on in the M's FO. They can't get Burnett and Millwood, so they get Boras to agree to deliver a player with far less talent. Many of us would not have been surprised to see Jarrod Washburn sign a 1 year contract this year, ala Millwood. Teams would have to be scared of his injuries, as well as his declining performance. Let's face it- there's a reason the Angels didn't even TRY to sign Washburn.

But Bavasi seemed bound and determined to spend his pitching money, logic be damned. If rumors are correct, it appears Jarrod Washburn is being offered a contract that would instantly be untradeable. We're talking Russ Ortiz type stuff.

Three years and some $24 million for a left handed Ryan Franklin would be crazy. With the numbers we are hearing, this would have to be the worst FA pitcher signing I can think of in M's history.

Carlos Guillen was traded away, with no alternative at hand. The M's received sub-par play at SS for years as a result. It appears the M's are about to add a pitcher who will eat up resources for years, and will never live up to his contract.

This signing is indefensible.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bavasi, Poker and Millwood

Bavasi is playing his best hand right now to land Millwood. If he signs arguably the best Free Agent pitcher on the market, it will take some heat off the FO heading into '06.

If he comes away empty, he knows the outlook is grim. There are no decent pitchers left on the market, and Bavasi has little to trade w/o creating new holes in the team.

The Mariners are the only team we have heard to have officially offered Millwood a contract- 4 years, $44 million.

We know Boras is actively shopping that deal, trying to get Millwood more than AJ Burnett received from Toronto. Boras is hoping Bavasi panics and starts adding years and dollars to his deal.

Ideally, Boras wants Bavasi to do what Tom Hicks did with Alex Rodriguez. Start bidding against phantom teams and contracts. Fortunately Bavasi is no Hicks!

Bavasi still has money to spend. Until Millwood and Boras prove another team is willing to offer more years or dollars, he is right to stand pat.

Right now there is a serious game of Poker being played between Bavasi and Boras, and it will likely have a decent impact on the M's next season. If Bavasi misses out on Millwood and burns that money on the next idiot Hargrove picks out of a hat, no telling what kind of damage will be done.

Bavasi and Boras.

Who will blink first?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Terrible press conference

The signing of Carl Everett is bad enough. Listening to the press conference last night just made it worse. It was like a recurring nightmare, only you're wearing less clothes each time you re-live it.

We knew going in to this signing Everett was an idiot. The child stuff, the dino stuff etc... but listening to him attempt to answer a question was painful!

How about his response to playing so far from his home in Florida? Carl procedes to ramble on about comfort zone, and generally sounds like he needs not only a batting coach, but a tutor and possibly a kindergarten teacher.

Bavasi and Hargrove faired no better>

"Today we achieved one of our offseason goals," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.

Or how about the claim Hargrove actually picked Everett from a list of players that he wanted to see in an M's uniform??

Wow. I became less a fan of both Bavasi and Hargrove yesterday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Carl Everett sign of desperation

Why would Bavasi ever sign a guy like Carl Everett? Let's look at the facts-
1) Everett's number of teams is now double-digits
2) He played on a team that just won the WS and they don't want him back (no arb)
3) He's not a long term solution
4) Terrible reputation in the clubhouse
5) He's old- did the M's forget what happened to Oly or Boone?
6) He's an idiot (dino's, gays, kids) to argue otherwise is folly

If Carl Everett was going to put up huge numbers in Safeco, you might be willing to look past the temper, the age, the knees, the lefty disparity etc... but even the best scenarios show Everett as a barely adequate DH. His numbers compared to a league average DH last year show no reason for celebration.

But here's the final kicker for me.

He doesn't want to be here.

The only reason this is dragging out is because Everett doesn't want to play in Seattle. The place that is really far from both his homes back East.

So our big hope for a lefty bat is going to come from a guy who doesn't want to sign here, but doesn't have any options.

Bavasi can do better then this- it smacks of desperation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reed unlikely to be traded

The odds are high Jeremy Reed is an M this spring. The reason is simple.

The M's have no one else to play CF.

The reason his name is coming up is because either NY or Boston is going to be missing a CF. One of them will certainly sign Damon which means the other will be left out. Hence the rumors coming out of Boston and NY about Reed.

Like that elusive #1 starter, the number of quality CF's is pretty limited, and the number actually available even smaller. Plenty of NY fans last winter couldn't believe they passed on Beltran. They knew guys like that don't come along very often. Will George and crew really run out Bubba Crosby every day? Please.

If Bavasi did trade Reed to get the pitching he desires, it only works if he were to get a youngster in return. If he has to take on salary for the pitcher and then has to go to the free agent market to get a CF or RF (if Ichiro slides) then he will blow his budget. And Bavasi doesn't have much left as it is.

If salary were not an issue, then a Reed swap for a Pavano or Clement might make sense. But salary does matter. And if Reed's defense actually improves, and he hits like we think he can, this would go down as one of the worst trades since Varitek and Lowe.

So I have to believe Bavasi will not trade Reed for a veteran pitcher. It just doesn't add up. If he wants to add pitching, he's going to need to go the free agent route, or make a trade using something he has in excess (relief pitching).

As much as we grumbled about Reed's bat last summer, the fact is he has value. That should make us feel better about '06 and beyond.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Juan Pierre.. goes to Cubs!

It turns out Bavasi had more interest in Florida players than we thought, it just seems like the wrong one. The PI is reporting the M's tried to get Pierre, but came up short. They also throw out names like Reed and Lopez.

Why in the world Bavasi would even consider trading three of our better prospects/youngsters for Pierre is unsettling. It creates more holes then it solves. I can only hope Bavasis was thinking of flipping Pierre, because otherwise it doesn't make sense.

We also are told the M's have shopped Meche, but have little to show for it.

Big surprise.

As for the Moyer signing, the M's did pretty well. In all likelihood Moyer will make less this year then he did last. That doesn't happen very often in baseball, where a player agrees to take a decent paycut (esp. when they lead the team in wins). Even with incentives the M's will pay at least a million less than in '05. That's a pretty good deal.

The fact the M's might have planned on paying much less should just be explained as bad planning on their part. We all knew the market would be crazy this year, with new money coming into the owners pockets and attendance up, so to get Moyer on a "deal" was unlikely.

Remember Moyer wouldn't go to a contender last summer even though it would have helped the team, and possibly his value. This deal was all what was good for Moyer, and the team having little leverage given their inability to bring in other pitchers.

It sounds like Bavasi is disappointed he wasn't able to address many needs this week.

Sounds like many fans are equally disappointed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Frank Thomas?

With official word Chicago has cut ties with the Big Hurt, it might be something the Mariners look into. He will come relatively cheap, and would be a decent DH.

The rumor mill says Beane has already come to a general agreement on the Big Hurt. If you believe Beane is smart (Arthur Rhodes not withstanding) then perhaps the M's might take a look as well.

He doesn't fit in long term, but he won't require a long term contract either. He is older than Carl Everett, has an attitude problem, and is injury prone.

He also is available, a HOF candidate and can hit when he's healthy.

I don't love it, but the options are dwindling by the day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Don't worry about untradeable players

With the Winter meetings about to begin, we all know trade talks will heat up. A crazy market and teams with lots of holes leads to more trade discussions than normal.

The local paper mentions a super secret list of untouchable players, but Mariner fans know to ignore this crazy talk.

All we have to do is think back to Jose Cruz Jr. He had the makings to be a fan favorite for many years. Young, talented, respectful. He was the M's FO wet dream.

And then he was touted by then GM Woody Woodward as untradeable.

We all know what happened next.

So when we hear the papers claim a player can't be traded, we all know better.

Besides, if Ken Griffy Jr. can be traded, do we really think a player 99% of all M's fans can't even spell is really untouchable.