Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frank Thomas or Everett?

The long rumored deal of Frank Thomas signing with the A's has finally become official. Beane has been targeting Thomas all off season and supposedly was just waiting for his health to improve.

So lets look at this quickly. Both Beane and Bavasi needed more pop in their lineup, and neither one had a lot of money to do it. Of course we know what Bavasi did- he signed Everett.

Beane signed Thomas for much less money up front, but the contract escalates to the point where he could cost about the same as Everett if he is healthy.

While Thomas has a bit of reputation himself, I'd take him over Everett. His contract is better- if he gets hurt or is a problem. it costs Beane $500,000. If he stays healthy enough to stay in the lineup, he's going to hit. He's extremely motivated to hit 500 home runs as he thinks he needs it to get to Cooperstown.

In the big picture, both are short-term bandaids, but I have to say I side with Beane on this one.

Who would you take?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

M's news quiet while Fans watch Seahawks

Sure, Julio Meteo and Willie Bloomquist both signed deals and avoided arbitration, but it hardly gets the bloggers excited. This is the slow part of the year where most of the free agents have signed, and few trades happen. The team you see now is pretty much what we will see heading into Spring Training.

Combine that with the Seahawks success and all will be quiet until February.

Let's hope the Seahawks go to the Super Bowl. There is a good chance this will be a really long summer, and who knows, the team might learn something.

When the 'Hawks take the field, you'll notice:
- the stars for the most part were drafted, or came via trade
- high-priced free agents for the most part were busts
- team signed select older veterans to short-term deals to fill gaps
- front office matters
- team reluctant to give huge deals to stars about to enter declining phase

What do you think? Should the M's learn anything from the Seahawks?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mariners '05 payroll

Thiel's column in the PI regarding payroll is fairly shocking for a number of reasons.

The first thing that came to mind was simply, "Did the M's really spend $100 million last year while fielding one of the worst teams in baseball?"

Apparently the answer is yes.

The M's were so quick to point out how much money they spent last year, they suddenly forgot how bad it made management appear. After all, pretty much any village idiot can throw $100 million around and still field a bad team. Good job guys! You spent a lot of money; too bad it was allocated so poorly.

The second interesting fact is simply that the M's FO cared. Years past the M's have wanted to hide/fudge the budget as much as possible. They don't like us knowing how much they plan on spending, or what they actually spent. Not paying off players contracts like Cirillo's in previous budgets is a good example. If they suddenly have money left over when a player bolts to Japan, the money doesn't carry over. I'm surprised the team didn't throw in Bavasi and Lincoln's salary as well- it seems like the team is actually proud of how much money was thrown around.

The team of course is silly to be upset with the AP number. Whether you go with opening day rosters, mid-season or ending, it will never tell the entire story. Since the M's want to hide player budgets most of the time (unless it helps their cause) the M's need to just shut up.

For example, the opening day payroll for the M's last year was $88 million. The fact the M's ended the season closer to $70 million of on-the-field salary, while pissing away another $10 million in the process is pretty awful.

It's hard for the M's FO to spin their spending into a good story. The way you are ultimately judged in baseball is by wins, and the M's finished in last place no matter what accounting trick is used.

It should be noted that Lincoln and company created this whole mess. By promising fans there would be no "rebuilding" the only way to keep that promise is to overspend. The M's have been overspending on players that have no ability to ever justify a return, and so the M's have continued to suck while spending a ton of money.

Remind me what the FO is upset about again?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Appier and Vina?


I know Bavasi has stated he wants more competition this spring. The idea makes sense- don't let players think they automatically are annointed starters, but have to earn it. With the M's lacking depth in their starting rotation, as well as the infield, this would seem to be a no-brainer.

We saw this last year with guys like Sele and Nelson. The latter still had a chance to be effective, while we all know the former was a million to 1 shot. The problem came when the M's gambled too long on that lottery ride knows as Sele, and lost a bunch of games in the process.

The M's don't want a situation where Appier is pitching. Simple. He is old, and bad. He is not a long term solution, and he's not really a short term solution either. Are the M's going to put Appier on the roster based on a few spring training outings?

You can't even go by last years numbers since neither one played. If Bavasi justs wants players to take up spots during Spring training, he surely can do better than this.

These signings to me show a clear lack of creativity on the part of Bavasi. When these names came along, I wouldn't have given them a second thought. If the M's want more competition in Spring training, there are better ways to do it then bringing in tired retreads with no chance of helping your club.

These are small signings, but they point to a bigger problem. Sele should have tought Bavasi something last year.

Apparently the lesson hasn't sunk in.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

If M's lose, who gets canned first?

With the new year upon us, projections for 2006 will be gearing up. As an M's fan, it will be hard to be terribly optimistic with the present team. Granted we don't know what changes might occur between now and Opening Day, but as of right now one would be hard pressed to believe the M's are any better than .500, and a long shot to win the West.

But we'll save projections for another day... right now let's focus on a subject that has been touched on, but still isn't completely clear.

If the M's start out the year losing again, who gets fired first?

Bavasi or Hargrove?

Many people feel Bavasi is on the hot seat. The common source of information for this theory is Bill himself. (He has gone on record as saying if he doesn't turn this around, he is as good as gone.) But does Lincoln agree with this?

When the M's were winning 116 games, Lincoln was giving interviews to anyone with a piece of paper and a writing instrument. Now that the M's have become one of the worst teams in baseball for 2 consecutive years, he has made himself scarce. But as the man who hired Bavasi, and would fire him, he is the person to best answer the question. And right now, we just don't know. Unless you are Howard's best friend, you have no way of really knowing how well the team of Lincoln/Bavasi is doing.

Normally when a team loses, the Manager is the fall guy. I'm not sure Bob Melvin filled that role already. The M's tried to get a manager on the cheap who had zero major league experience. He was as dynamic as a fungo. He was let go for many, many reasons.

If the M's lose again, would Bavasi be allowed to fire Hargrove? Or will Lincoln step in and cut Bavasi lose, and worry about the manager when the new GM comes in?

My take is there is ZERO chance Bavasi is fired during the year. The M's upper management team does not make rash decisions. No one is going to argue replacing the GM mid-season is going to turn this thing around. During the offseason perhaps, but no way during the year.

I'm not sure Bavasi is even that close to being fired. Certainly as the point person who presided over some of the worst M's seasons in recent memory, you would think he must be close to unemployment right now. But Bavasi took over a team with so many holes, so empty a cupboard, to argue the M's are bad because of Bavasi is a stretch.

While the M's FO won't admit it, they have been in a forced rebuilding process for some time. They have been waiting for bad contracts to come off the books, while waiting for young players to develop. How many GM's would have been able to turn around this thing any faster?

So to answer my own question, neither Bavasi or Hargrove are going anywhere this season. Bavasi won't fire his own guy in the middle of the season, because it won't help the team in '06.

And Lincoln won't fire Bavasi for the same reason. It won't help the team, and it won't get more people to come to the ballpark mid-year.

The team of Bavasi/Hargrove will be addressed next off season. If Lincoln sees any sign of progress (say .500) both will be back. If the M's lose 100 games, both are gone.

Something in between is where it gets interesting.

What will tip the scales one way or another will be public opinion. If everyone is screaming bloody murder, someone will be sacrificed. If the ballpark is reasonably full and the kids happy, Bavasi and company gets another year.

What will likely sway public opinion will fall on the players he signed the past two years. If Washburn and Beltre have great years, it will take the heat off Bavasi and put it on Hargrove. If both are viewed as colossal disappointments, Bavasi will likely make it easy and clean out his desk himself.

But until the 2006 season is played out, Bavasi/Hargrove isn't going anywhere.