Mariners Analysis

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Just say no to Randy

With word Randy wants out of NY, the Mariners have been floated as a possible landing zone. While it might be great for Yankee fans to picture Johnson in a Mariner uniform, I'm not sure why any one else would want to.

Randy Johnson is no longer a top-tier pitcher. (pretty much everyone agrees on this)

So why would the M's want to pay $16 million for a #4 starter coming off back-surgery?

The answer is, they wouldn't. Just like the Mariners weren't giving Zito $126 million, they aren't going to want to give Randy that much money to continue to pout/glare while putting up an ERA around 5. Too much risk, not enough reward.

Randy Johnson wins games when he has the NY Yankees offense behind him. Put the M's offense with Randy's 90 mph fastball and a slider that catches the fat part of the plate and he loses 17 games, not the other way around. Sure, his contract is short and $16 million seems fair for a HOF pitcher compared to Pettite/Clemens etc... but he simply isn't as effective at this stage of his life. Roger Clemens still brings it every day he pitches. Randy Johnson has not shown he is going to continue age well in his forties.

Just watch him pitch and no one will mistake him for a TOR starter. He's basically the equivalent of a Washburn, and why would you want to pay $16 mil for that? There's a reason the Yankees are willing to trade him- if Randy Johnson was really just unlucky last year with regard to stranding baserunners, the brain trust at Yankee Stadium would have noticed it every time he pitched. What they saw was an aging ballplayer who struggled when he really needed to make an out. He doesn't have that high, overpowering fastball that could get him a strikeout when he found himself in a jam. Instead they saw hung sliders that were raked.

Randy Johnson was always a two-pitch pitcher. When one isn't working, he has little to get him through a game. He doesn't have the full complement of pitches someone like Pedro Martinez has to use as he ages. There is no magic change up, no killer curve.

As icing on the cake of why you say no to Johnson, the Mariners would be expected to give up something of value for the honor of overpaying. No thanks to that! You don't further downgrade your bullpen or farm system to make the Yankees better.

I really don't see how anyone can justify trading for Randy Johnson. Too much risk, not enough reward.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why wouldn't Bavasi go after Zito?

We hear there is still some thought in the FO to looking into Zito as they attempt to turn this dreadful offseason into something semi-positive. There appears to be a few obstacles:
  • Money- it's not clear the M's have enough money to sign him given their budget
  • Location- no one is sure Zito will actually choose Seattle over NY, San Fran or a major city
  • Risk- will the M's give out a 6 year contract?
Let's look at these obstacles from Bavasi's point of view.

Money- the M's look to have around $5 million remaining (hard to say when they won't reveal a budget). By trading Broussard and some creative accounting, they could free up $9 million fairly easily. By backloading Zito's contract, he could easily sign him to a 6 yr deal, and still get him this year for under $10 million. I doubt Boras would have a real problem with this.

Location- if Zito was 100% sold on location, he would have already closed a deal with the Mets. We saw how Boras works with Beltre- you meet his demands, you get the man. If the Mariners work with Boras, they can overcome location. I'm sure Zito understands there are pluses/minuses to big cities and monster contracts. Bavasi shouldn't be overly concerned on this until he hears the agent tell him he is no longer in the game.

Risk- Bavasi is on a one year leash. There is no reason he should care what the team will do 6 years from now. Zito has never been on the DL, and presents a reasonable case for a longer term contract that almost any other pitcher.

Since Bavasi is on the hot seat, and having a horrible winter by his own words, why the hesitation? If you were going to be put under a win-now mandate, wouldn't you want the best team possible behind you so you can at least give it your best shot? There is no way the M's aren't better with Zito on the team.

BTW- I'm not arguing here the M's should give Zito anything he wants. I'm just arguing I don't understand why Bavasi doesn't want Zito at any cost.

An argument has been offered the M's don't want to be used as a pawn to get more money from a different team. This is silly for several reasons. First, you want to make your opponents pay more. Are you playing to win, or playing to win "Easiest GM to deal with" awards? Anything that reduces available money for your opponents is good. Second, as we saw with Beltre, Boras doesn't mess around when he gets what he wants. Bavasi has shown he can deal with Boras before, so why be so afraid to even talk to him?

In short, I doubt there is much chance the M's land Zito. But I don't understand why Bavasi isn't trying harder than it appears.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Vidro officially an M

Unfortunately for all M's fans, the newest Mariner Jose Vidro did indeed pass his physical. There was a glimmer of hope the same team that examined Omar might have found Vidro physically unable to perform, but alas it was not meant to be.

As we have all come to grips with the ramifications of this deal, we realize:
  • A combination of Hargrove coming back, no big signing and now this makes getting excited for next year difficult
  • Bavasi has basically no supporters left
  • Hargrove/Bavasi are now r-e-a-l-l-y tied to the hip. Either both come back in 2008, or both get canned in '07 (the former is really hard to think about right now)
Things could get ugly for Bavasi faster than normal if this team struggles out of the gate. Even the local papers, historically PR reps for the team this time of year, have been surprisingly critical. Local beat writers have been going on talk shows and noting the FO has very little credibility left on any type of deal. The basic "trust us" and "let's see how this plays out" is getting old even for the most ardent Lincoln/Bavasi supporters.

Getting an aging 2B to play DH is one of the more "unusual" moves Bavasi has ever done. Forget about for a minute what he gave up, just focus on what he obtained- an aging NL hitter who has struggled to stay healthy, and who will have to hit best-case-scenarios for next year to be even league average at the position. Who can possibly justify the risk/reward involved?

I've seen a few bloggers try to defend the trade. I believe they are guilty of simply being argumentative. If everyone was loving the trade, they would be against it just to create controversy and liven the debate. In their hearts, they know this is a bad deal. When combined with other moves, it leads one to believe the person in charge of your team is essentially inept. Woody Woodward is back in charge of the Mariners, or so it would seem.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We all had a bad feeling about Snelling

Every move/rumor this off season has made us wonder about Chris Snelling's role on the team. It seemed the brass was just looking for an excuse to not use him. Instead of viewing '06 as a huge success (finally healthy) the M's FO viewed him as a pariah.

Out of options, the M's were going to be forced to play him in 2007, but the mental juggernaut of Bavasi and Hargrove apparently felt they couldn't rely on Chris next year. Combined with Bavasi's win now or likely never smell the FO of a MLB team again position, he panicked.

It's possible Bavasi is planning on a major trade shortly, involving Lopez or Beltre. It seems unlikely, but possible.

On its own, it goes down as one of the worst trades in Mariner history. I wouldn't want Vidro on my team for ZERO prospects, much less Chris Snelling. Vidro is a terrible defender, aging and expensive.

I see a few people trying to justify this move. I'm not sure you understand baseball if you think this move is logical.

This move is like trading Carlos Guillen for Jeff Cirillo.

It's like dumping Eva Green for Paris Hilton.

It's like arguing the new Star Wars movies are better than the originals.

It's like arguing Tiger Woods is going to change the world.

It's like arguing George Bush understands foreign policy and fiscal responsibility.

It's just dumb.

What else is there to say?

Vernon Wells

So if Vernon Wells is "worth" roughly $18 million/yr, as recent reports suggest regarding the latest offer from Toronto, we float the question again... just how much would Ichiro get in the open market?

A 5 year, $100 million offer would not surprise me given the market conditions today.

It is quite possible this is the last season for Ichiro, unless the Mariners make an offer he can't refuse. Toronto faces many of the same issues Seattle has- remote location, weather, small market etc... and they understand you have to pay more than Boston, LA or NY.

You can rest assured Lincoln and Bavasi are watching the Wells negotiations with interest.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What was he thinking?

Even Bavasi's best friend would have a hard time justifying what he gave up to acquire Horacio Ramirez. Soriano was well liked in Seattle, and to just give him away is really hard to understand right now.

The only thing I can think of if I'm in the Mariner FO is they are afraid Soriano is going to have a serious arm problem very soon. Combined with his recent head injury, perhaps they feel he is going to be an oft-injured reliever making $3 million a year shortly, and they didn't want to go there.

If Atlanta turns Soriano into a starter and he enjoys success, this is going in with the classic Lowe-Varitek-Guillen trades of all time Mariner f*ck-ups. However, I doubt Atlanta does this- he already is a stud reliever, why bother with something that isn't broken?

The Mariners just made their bullpen worse, traded away one of their valuable commodities this offseason, and have little to show for it.

We should all remember this moment when Bavasi gets canned later this year.

Hargrove coming back.

Soriano gone for essentially nothing.

It's not been a good winter for the Seattle Mariners.