Mariners Analysis

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.