Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ichiro and Matthews

So if Gary Matthews is worth $10 million a year, and Randy Winn not far behind, what does this make Ichiro worth when his contract expires next year? Seriously, the Mariners do not want to let Ichiro test the market. I can't even imagine what kind of contract the Mariners CF would attract this year if he was on the market.

The FO's decision to sit on their hands when it comes to Ichiro has cost them a small fortune. If I was his agent I wouldn't let him sign for less than $15 million a year after this insane spending spree.

Also, we always talk about how deep the Angels system is, yet it's surprising they have to shell out this kind of money to a guy who had one good year. The only way they will be able to support this contract is if a lot of those rookies are making the minimum the next few years.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Soriano signing

With news the Cubs have signed Alfonso Soriano to 8 years/$136 million AND included a no trade clause, we officially have our worst contract of the year.

Of the decade?

Still to be determined, but it will be hard to top. We don't need to get into specifics on why this is a bad idea. Anyone who reads blogs is smart enough to know this is monumentally stupid. We live in a world where Soriano makes more money then Albert Pujols.

If the Cardinals announced they locked up Albert Pujols for 8 years and $136 million I wouldn't bat an eye. But when the player is Soriano, I can't help but laugh.

The Cubs just became the laughingstock of the offseason. They don't know why, but they will!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Boston and Matsuzaka

Now espn is reporting Boston's bid is $42 million.

If this is true, and it's looking more likely, this is simply shocking. The same team that last year wouldn't offer Damon more than $40 million is now suddenly willing to throw more than that JUST FOR THE RIGHT to negotiate!!

This is crazy. As much as I wanted to see him in an M's uniform, I won't support this type of nonsense.

Essentially baseball is now catching up to soccer. In the world arena, giving a team $40 million for the rights to a player is common. This type of behavior has not been necessary with the restrictive nature of player movement in the past.

With sports becoming more and more global, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Friday, November 10, 2006

No way Boston bid $45 mil for Matsuzaka

The hot rumor of the day is Boston supposedly winning the biding war for Matsuzaka with a bid between $38 and $45 million. When ESPN is listing it on their home page, it tends to add some weight to the story.

Anyone who follows blogs for very long learns to be suspicious when a rumor like this comes along. Are we really to believe the wonder kids in Boston suddenly are willing to part with $45 million just to TALK with Boras about a pitcher?? This goes against EVERYTHING clubs like Oakland and Boston believe in. Are we really ready to believe the Boston front office is ready to bet their next 4-5 years on one player? Because even Boston can't compete with the Yankees if they are throwing around that kind of money for a guy who might blowout his elbow his first start.

I obviously have no inside information on this story, but you should be VERY leery about much of this information. It sounds like the kind of story that is made to grab headlines, not worry about facts. Other stories they might have considered-

"Barry Bonds signs $253 million deal with Kansas City", "Zito signs with Expo's", "A-Rod traded to Milwaukee", "Alfonso Soriano wants $18 million total, not per year"

I really doubt the Yankees didn't win this "bid" and I really don't think Theo Epstein just spent $45 million according to ESPN. We should know more shortly...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mariner budget declining

As we wait to hear what Matsuzaka's posting will be, there still persists much speculation on why the Mariner's didn't bid. The fit is obvious- the M's need pitching, he's Japanese, no trade assets required (which is good, since the M's don't have much to play with), he would be a fan favorite etc... yet in the end, the M's declined.

There is no question the Boras factor scared a few teams off. With numbers being thrown out like $30 million just to start the conversation, a fiscally conservative team like the M's is almost always out of the conversation. After all, until Beltre and Sexson, this team has never played in the mega-contract arena, and we all know the jury is still out on those two signings.

The plain truth is the M's don't have the money to sign a player like Matsuzaka. Attendance is declining, and it will be interesting to see if the M's even hold the same budget this year, much less increase it. Let's look at payroll for the M's the past few years- (courtesy usa today)

2006 $ 87,959,833
2005 $ 87,754,334
2004 $ 81,515,834
2003 $ 86,959,167
2002 $ 80,282,668
2001 $ 74,720,834

As you can see, the M's payroll was the highest it has ever been this season. Attendance was down, so we have to assume if the M's hold the same budget, that money will need to be replaced. Either the owners will pay down less debt then usual, or they might even need to invest (gasp!) money to keep it even.

The problem with holding your payroll the same is to ignore the competitive landscape. Baseball is awash in cash. There is so much money in play, the owners and players were even able to reach a labor agreement. Literally everybody wins in todays game. With the average baseball player set to make almost $3 million a year, payroll is going up, up, up.

So for the Mariners, if you hold your payroll the same, you are literally falling behind from a budget perspective. Having an extra ten million dollars in your pocket doesn't get you what it used to. It's like hyper-inflation. It seems like you have plenty of money, but everything is so expensive you are broke before you know it.

The Mariners aren't going to tip their hand on what the 2007 budget will be. They also aren't going to tell us if trading Beltre or Sexson is currently on the table.

Take every free agent out there, and increase what it will take to land them in your head. It's like buying a house in a hot market. You know that house should only cost $250k, but you end up having to spend $400k because that’s the new rate. The Mariners are going to find with all the money pouring in, everything is more expensive.

Gas costs more. Housing costs more. Food costs more. Baseball players costs more.

It's entirely possible the M's don't achieve their off season goals, due to sticker shock and the market. This is a bad time to have to fill out your starting rotation with free agents.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Matsuzaka out

Well, any visions of watching Kenji and Ichiro helping Matsuzaka pitch a no-hitter in Safeco is gone. As expected, the chief argument from the M's will be that he is too expensive and they can't afford to pay one player that much money. Of course like any good marketing team, they will then float out names like Zito, knowing full well the difference in the end between what Zito & Matsuzaka signs for will be small.

I don't have a huge problem with the M's realizing that spending large amounts of money on one pitcher is not a good idea. The number of good free agent pitchers who actually end up helping the team is pretty small. There is probably no bigger risk in professional sports than signing a free agent pitcher for huge money.

It is disappointing knowing the team has a huge pitching problem next year, and the guy I'd like to see help with that has already been eliminated from consideration. I'd rather watch my team at least contribute to the process, thereby raising the bid it will take to actually land him. If the Mariners felt Ichiro was worth $13 million, then surely they must be willing to spend SOME money for him.

The Mariners logic here is hard to figure on the surface. You have Ichiro who has been a HUGE positive. His first year here he wins the MVP and has been a fan favorite ever since. Overall the Mariners underpaid the market by a good bit in those first few years, even with the posting fee averaged in. And now with Kenji, you upgraded your catcher position from the worst in baseball with a guy who arguably just put up the best offensive numbers in club history.

In short, Japan has been a God-send for the Mariners. You have your catcher and Center Fielder, not to mention a huge marketing component, all courtesy of the Far East. So it's not like the M's have been burned a bunch of times while signing veteran Japanese players or anything. Why all of a sudden they see Matsuzaka as a risk, while going after Schmidt or Zito is not really clear.

Of course in reality there is little chance a big name pitcher is coming to Seattle anyway. The Mariners will spend money, but names like Lilly or Suppan are more like it.

In the end, it is disheartening to see the Mariners out of the running for Matsuzaka when next spring we are going to end up watching Washburn and a bunch of unexciting, overpaid free agents with little to no upside put on a uniform. Outside of Felix, it's going to be hard to get excited over our starting rotation next year.

For those keeping score, we find out Lowe has a career threatening injury and Matsuzaka is not worthy of a Mariner bid.

What a lousy way to start off the free agent period.