Thursday, November 30, 2006

Luis Gonzalez?


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

M's Offseason Part 2: The Rotation

It took a while to get to this post, but that's okay the Mariners haven't done anything. Part of the reason I wanted the M's to get a bat (see Part 1), is that I don' t think there is any way to reliably turn the M's rotation into a real strength. If the M's did nothing, their rotation would look like this:

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jarrod Washburn
3. Cha Seung Baek
4 and 5. Two from among this group: Feirabend, Blackley, Lowe, Woods.

Yuk. Obviously they will do something.

Conventional wisdom has them going after one of the two big names on the Free Agent market: Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt. Lets look at each one of those guys.

Zito is a guy who gives up a fair amount of homeruns (better than 1 per nine in the last three years) and whose K's per nine is in decline over the last three years (6.88,6.75,6.14) while his walks per nine has been going up over the same period (3.42,3.51,4.03). His ERA has been consistently better than league average over his career and his ERA+ has been a solid 116 for the last two years. He is only 28 so he would seem to have a few solid years left in him, but if his peripherals continue to regress he's going to go south fast. Not too many guys succeed striking out 5 per nine while walking 5 on the other side.

Schmidt's peripherals are better across the board, but declining more sharply. Homers per nine over the last three years: 0.72, 0.83, 0.88, K's have gone from 10 to 8.6 to 7.6, walks from 3.08 to 4.44 to 3.38. In particular he's losing strikeouts fast and he'll be 34 when he starts this contract.

Both of these guys are good, absolutely. But if you sign Schmidt to a 5 year deal you are going to be stuck with him through age 39. Sure there are some guys recently who have been effective at that age (Clemens, Schilling, Randy, Moyer) but lots more who weren't. If you could sign either of these two to a 3 year deal, that would be a good gamble, even if you overpaid a little bit, but they are both almost certainly going to get 5 year deals and if you over pay in a 5 year deal, that's a killer.

The second tier of free agents doesn't impress me much. Ted Lilly, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, all are going to overpaid and I'd rather overpay for someone good, than over pay for a mediocrity. Yes, I'm looking at you Washburn! Maddux might be interesting on a one year deal as would Mulder.

If we can't get one of the top two guys and we've already passed on Matsuzake, then where are we going to get pitching? You can certainly explore the trade market. I have no idea who is available, but you've got a few bullets to trade from the pen and Reed seems expendable at this point too. If you sign a big bat, that would give you someone else to trade, I'm pretty sure there is a market for Sexson and Beltre if you wanted to go that way. Can you pick up an ace in trade? Probably not. But you might find a solid 2/3 guy, hopefully making reasonable money.

After that you are dumpster diving. Taking one year flyers on guys or spring training NRIs and hoping they pan out. Bruce Chen, Mark Redman, Kip Wells, John Thomson, Tomo Okha, Steve Trachsel, guys like these should be available for affordable, if not quite rock-bottom prices.

So, what's a pitching starved team to do? Throw 75 million at Zito? I'd rather someone else be stuck with that contract. If you could get Schimdt at 3/36 I'd do that, but it'll probably take a lot more. I'm back them to my original proposition. Trade for an innings eater, sign a few of the bottom feeders and spend the money on offense. Its safer and there seems to be more out there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Splashy moves? Meh.

Rey Ordonez? I can't think of another player whom I'm less interested in signing for the M's.

Unless Bavasi is gearing up for his AAA Hacking Mass team (which would TOTALLY explain this move), I'm at a loss to understand this signing.

In other news, Jesse Foppert is an M. Again.

Good thing we weren't counting on Bavasi for impact moves this offseason.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Best. Website. Ever.

We already link to the phenomenal Baseball (under "Seattle Mariners Historical Stats" on the sidebar), but now Sean Forman, creator of that site, has outdone himself. In addition to all of the other cool data available a the click of a mouse, now contains boxscores of every game back to 1957 (courtesy of, another pretty unbelievably awesome site). Sure, those are available directly at retrosheet, but here they're linked to all the BR data.

I may never leave my computer again.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

JD Drew

Lots of sources reporting that JD is planning to opt out of the three years left on his contract and become a free agent.

Drew is walking away from 3 years and 33 million, so he and his agent (Scott Boras, surprise!) are probably looking for for 4 or 5 years and 12-14 per year. Lets assume the worst and say 5 years/75 million (15 per).

Drew would be a guy that would fit in in the two part scenario I described here. You trade Richie Sexson and the 14 million a year he's due for prospects or pitching, then you take the money and spend it on Drew. Drew plays left, Raul takes over as DH and Broussard plays first.

Drew is just 30 and should be in the prime of his career. He is also apparently made of glass. The most games he has played in 8 full seasons is 146. He averages about 120 games a year. In 2006 he played in 146 games. He started the year hot, but then missed time with a sore shoulder in May and a bruised thigh in June. In early July it was a bruised foot, then later a bruised knee. I think you are getting the picture. He only played in 72 games in 2005, battling a shoulder problem all year, then finally breaking his wrist on a HBP that ended his season. He had surgery on both the wrist and the shoulder in the 2005 off-season.

Drew is an near elite player when healthy. He routinely puts up OBPs in the 400 area code and slugging percentages well north of 500. He has a great combination of power and patience and would absolutely be an improvement over Sexson at a similar price. But he's never healthy. Not for a whole year anyway.

So, should we sign him? It would be a hell of a gamble because there is no way you are getting 5 full years out of him. None. If you keep Snelling as the 4th outfielder, you would almost have to sign a competent 5th outfielder (or someone to DH if you put Ibanez back in the field) and stock Tacoma with a couple of guys who could help you if both Drew and Snelling got hurt. Billy Beane would pull this off beautifully of course, but do we have any confidence Bavasi can?

Still, if it worked, if you got 150 games out of him this year, he's probably worth a win, maybe two over Sexson. That's a pretty big chunk of what the Mariners need to compete this season. I can't quite convince myself that its worth the risk though.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"How did you know that wasn't me?"

In the fantastic British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, the single living human being remaining in the universe is Dave Lister, a ne'er-do-well. Among other delusions, he fancies that he is a fantastic guitar player, which makes the title of this post a lot funnier than it sounds in a certain situation that occurs during the opening episode of season 6.

Today's newest turn in the saga of Adam Dunn and the Cincinnati Reds, reflecting a larger problem at the Great American Ballpark, reminds me of Lister's line. It also comforts me that our own Mariners have somewhat less incompetent leadership than do the Reds right now.

Item. Newly hired Reds batting coach Brook Jacoby announced in his first press conference that he believes he can "help" Dunn cut down on his strikeouts. Now, improvement is all well and good, and Dunn HAS led the majors in K's for the last three seasons. However, the young man has also swatted 126 HR in those three seasons, and his WORST season in terms of getting on base and slugging is better than every one in Jacoby's own 11-year career, with the one exception of the anomalous 1987 season (which saw Brook Jacoby slug ONE HUNDRED POINTS higher than his next best season, and get on base 22 points better than his second-best effort...huh). HR come with K's, Mr. Jacoby.

The problem that this public statement reveals is bigger than just Jacoby. General Manager Wayne Krivsky (let's call him Dave Lister, just for fun), who soon after taking over that position during the 2006 campaign made one of the worst trades in major league history, has made no secret of his dislike of Dunn's strikeout totals. Dunn has his flaws (he's an awful defensive left fielder, and no great shakes at first), but he's a Three True Outcomes kind of player, and a damn fine one at that. He's also young enough that, other than whispers about conditioning issues, there's not much to worry about in terms of an impending decline. Oh, and he's a left-handed hitter.

Mmmmm. Left-handed sock, anyone?

Alright, let's put the pieces together. Krivsky has made it clear that he's confident in his ability to evaluate talent. He is, therefore, the Dave Lister of MLB. Put a guitar in his hands, and he'll make you wish for an hour listening to Helmet play live instead. But he thinks he's Jimi Hendrix reborn. You get the picture.

This is the kind of GM that makes me feel less ashamed of Seattle's leadership. Let's make an offer to the Reds to take Dunn off of their hands. Now, honestly, he's only a DH; Ibanez is better in left field than Dunn is. So here's the offer: Ben Broussard, Bobby Livingston, Julio Mateo for Dunn. Oh, I know, that's sports-talk-radio-call in bad as an offer, in large part because the Reds have first base filled already, and don't have any use for Broussard. The thing is, Krivsky's just poor enough at his job that he might jump at ANY offer of major league players for Dunn.

Adam Dunn is guaranteed $10.5M in 2007, with a club option for $13M in 2008 ($0.5M buyout). As a young LH slugger with an excellent batting eye, he would fit Safeco like he was built for it. Shipping off Broussard (who could receive in the neighborhood of $5M in arbitration, as Tad guessed earlier), means that we're only taking on about five and a half million bucks to add an exciting power hitter. At his worst, Dunn is a huge upgrade over Benuardo at DH.

Let's look for all the creative ways possible to cut down the ~200 runs we need to compete in the West in 2007; pitching is the priority, but a Dunn acquisition (short of sending away truly valuable properties) is a no-brainer. 29 GMs in baseball probably already know that.