Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Cooperstown Class of 2005

It's that time of year again. BBWAA members everywhere have debated, discussed, and drawn in their votes to determine who will take residence at the sacred shrine of Cooperstown.

Not that it amounts to anything, but you can place your vote at An interesting discussion over at Page 2 between guys whose votes actually DO matter can be found here:

I'll post a few thoughts about the Page 2 discussion, and then move on to my ballot.

Page 2 writer himself, Michael Knisley, argues this point first:
I feel about relievers the same way I feel about designated hitters. If they're a part of the game, then the best of 'em ought to be in the Hall.
I actually share these sentiments. Relievers are indeed a huge part of the modern game, and since the DH has been around for 30 years (and isn't likely to be going away anytime soon), it also should be considered a valid position. Considering, too, how both of these roles have changed the game, in the last 20 years especially, it makes more sense to start looking at the best of them and adding them to the Hall. This is my argument as to why I think Edgar should be a first-ballot HOF'er. Now that MLB and Bud Selig have shown their support by naming the DH award after Edgar, I have more fuel to that fire. Any player who singlehandedly defines a role that changes baseball, and becomes the best player to ever have played that position, should be enshrined in the Hall.

The ever-brilliant Jim Caple fires back with this response:
Backup catcher is part of the game, too, but we don't put them in the Hall of Fame.
Thankfully, Knisely puts him in his place. He continues to further my thought that guys like Gossage, Sutter and Smith deserve at least consideration, merely by the impact they had on the game:
How can you pretend that Sutter or Lee Smith didn't have a major impact on the game? They were as dominant in their roles as Boggs was in his.
Indeed (though I'm siding more with Caple on Lee Smith)! I was quite surprised that Caple didn't fire back that a pinch-hitter or a backup catcher does have a relative impact on a game, and the best of the best of them should be included in the Hall. I might be convinced by a pinch-hitter being elected, eventually, if one ever dominates the game.

However, later on in the argument, Knisely shoots himself in the foot with regards to Blyleven:
I hate to bring up the "magic number" thinking, but we're going to have to deal with it sooner or later here. So I'll say it: I'd like for Bert to have reached 300 wins.
I'm so sick of hearing this! It's as though the Win column is the first thing that people look at to determine how good a pitcher is. Whether your a stathead sabermatrician or not, it's very easy to see (if you watch a lot of baseball, that is) that it's a stat so beyond a pitcher's control it really should be banished from the record books! Here's a couple of scenarios that happen quite often through no fault of the starting pitcher:
  • After giving up 2 runs through 6 2/3 innings, the starting pitcher hands the ball to a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) in spite of his team being ahead 6-2, and the bases loaded. The LOOGY proceeds to give up a grand slam home run and the game is now tied (with 3 of the 4 runs charged to the starting pitcher). A new reliever comes in and strikes the next batter out. The starting pitcher's team then rallies in the 8th, scoring two runs. The reliever who came in for the LOOGY stays in, gives up 1 run, and the closer comes on in the ninth to save it the game. Reliever 2, then, gets the win. The SP goes home ticked -- he didn't give up the bomb that tied the game, and nor did he benefit from the extra two runs that the offense generated in the 8th. After leaving in the 7th with the bases loaded, the scenario escaped his control. He's credited with a) a no-decision and b) an inflated ERA because of the three runs the LOOGY allowed to score. This whole scenario is one of the hugest flaws I see in all of baseball. Runners left on base by one pitcher allowed to score by another pitcher should be at the very least split in half. For this reason, the stat for the LOOGY and any other relief pitcher (outside of, maybe, the closer)
  • Starting pitcher gives up a two-run HR with 2 outs in the top of the 8th. The runner on first had reached via throwing error from the SS on what should've been the third out. Their offense hasn't done much that day, just scoring 1 run early in the game. Same nothingness from the offense in bottom of the 8th. Starting pitcher returns in the 9th to pitch the complete game, striking out the side. Bottom of the ninth, down 2-1, the other team's closer comes in and does the same. Game over, SP is credited with the loss, 2-1. Okay maybe this is an extreme example, but it does illustrate my point. As much as I despise the guy, Ryan Franklin in 2003 and 2004 is another good example of how little the pitcher actually controls his win/loss totals. You could have an entire rotation of Pedro Martinez, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Walter Johnson, and Cy Young, and a defense (and therefore an offense) full of Ozzie Smith types, and still lose 100 ball games.
  • A starter goes 4, the game is paused for a 3-hour rain delay, and a reliever inherits that 5-0 lead, and the game is called after 5 for more rain (an official game is credited). For a quarter of the work, the reliever gets the win. This sounds like a gift of Biblical proportions (see Matthew 20:1-16)...
Fundamentally, baseball is about scoring the most runs and then subsequently preventing your opponent from scoring. Your pitchers can give up just under 3 runs a game, but that requires you to score 4 runs in the 5+ innings your starters pitch for a notch to be added to their win column (and for your team to win, too).

If you haven't read it yet, go read Michael Wolverton's explanation of support-neutral stats for pitchers. For that matter, go read all of the Baseball Prospectus' Basics articles. They're well-worth the money (in spite of being free). I'm in no way shape or form a sabermatrician, but I really appreciate that perspective and am very much interested in learning more about sabermetrics and the statistical analysis approach. I've got an article brewing for the Morsels here that will probably be my first critical delve into the statistical arena.

So, with the above stated, here's the boxes I'm checking:

1) Bert Blyleven. Rich Lederer has won me over. I didn't watch him a whole lot, as I really wasn't into baseball that seriously when he pitched. Still, you can't argue against his stats. If guys like Sutton, Bunning, Jenkins and Phil Neikro can get in, then no doubt BB deserves to be there.

2) Wade Boggs. Duh. First ballot'er for sure. My favorite player of the 80's.

3) Rich "Goose" Gossage. Guys like Goose and Eck, and arguably Sutter and Smith, really defined the closer's role, and helped baseball change from the 4-man rotation, 300+ innings pitched to today's model of SP/RP/Closer. The traditionalist Catholic in me is highly resistant to change, but having grown up Lutheran respects and demands change. It's a thin tightrope that can be very crazy to walk, but baseball does change and will continue to change. It's a shame that members of the BBWAA (and others, for that matter) cling to the cobwebs and loathe the current closer's role and the DH. Personally, I were going to really loathe a particular change in baseball, I'd vote to spend my energy on loathing Free Agency or the Anti-Trust exemption.

4) Tommy John. There are guys voted in merely for inventing things. Of course, more credit should go to the doctor (Frank Jobe), but for a guy to come back and pitch the way TJ did and have the surgery eventually being named after him (even if unoffically), it could be argued that he changed the game of baseball. After all, he had to do the work to rehab (even if it was Jobe who invented and performed the surgery) and he pitched for a long, long time afterward. Give some points to being the guinea pig. Ignoring this, though, you could vote him in on the stats. Again, if guys like Sutton, Bunning, Jenkins and Phil Neikro can get in, then no doubt TJ deserves to be there.

5) Don Mattingly. What?!? That's right. I'm giving him the nod. The dude was one of, if not the, most feared hitter in baseball in the last half of the '80s. His career numbers fall short, possibly, of hall status. But if Koufax can get in for his short dominance, Mattingly deserves equally so. Compare Don's stats to Puckett's, and you'll find a lot of similarities. The 9 Gold Gloves don't hurt either. Mattingly has to be the best Yankee ever to never have won a World Series game (only postseason play was in 1995, when he destroyed M's pitching for a .417/.440/.708 line & 6 RBIs).

6) Ryne Sandberg. I'm actually quite ticked he hasn't already been elected. Ryno has to be one of the top-5 all-time greatest 2B ever, both offensively and defensively, and has the stats and the longevity to prove it. I don't understand at all why he wasn't a first-ballot HOF'er. Third time's the charm, I suppose.

7) Alan Trammell. Overshadowed defensively by The Wizard, and offensively, perhaps, by Cal Ripken. Still, the AL's best defensive shortstop for several years in the early '80s. Much better than Aparicio offensively, too. Paul White wrote an interesting piece a couple of years ago arguing that Trammell, when all things are considered, was a better shortstop overall than Ozzie Smith. Considering that I value offensive production much more highly than defensive production, I agree. Defense is important -- vital -- don't get me wrong, but I do believe that a player can contribute more to wins through offense. I'd take Manny Ramirez in the OF 8 days a week, if I can have his level of offensive production. Here's another interesting nomination for Trammell for the Hall. The duo of Ripkena and Trammell should be added to the HOF registers as the two guys who helped keep the SS position warm, offensively, for guys like Pay-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, and Tejada.

On the bubble (in this order): Jack Morris, Andre Dawson, Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice.

I guess we'll find out what the BBWAA thinks on January 4th. Thank goodness there's the Veteran's committee to cover up the messes the BBWAA can make (though they should be given the power to remove players who shouldn't be there).

Sunday, December 26, 2004


I am taking a week off for vacation, so I get to do things I normally wouldn't do. Today I was going through my boxes of old memorabilia from my youth. I came across some cool pieces of Mariners and other Seattle sports history. I'd like to list them here, just for the sake of history, (which is one of the emphases in my Humanities major).

• 1 6"x6" embroidery circle. Handstitched on it (by me) are a football, Seahawks logo, and Seahawks helmet. Circa 1988.

• 1 Sonics "We're #1" foam hand with extended index finger. Yellow with green screen printing. Circa 1989.

• 1 Mariners scorecard, unused, with the Rangers listed as the visitors. Autographed by Dave Fleming. Circa 1993.

• 1 Dairy Queen promotional Mariners pin and baseball card. Featuring Edgar Martinez, 1992 A.L. Batting Champ, (first in M's history). Perfect condition. It's #2 in a series of four, the other three being Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Chris Bosio. Circa 1993.

• Newspaper photos of:
- Griffey, Mike Felder and Henry Cotto slapping gloves after beating KC 10-7. It was Lou Piniella's 500th career victory. Circa 1993.
- Shawn Kemp dunking over Larry Krystowiak of the Jazz. Circa 1993.
- Lou Piniella modeling the new M's uniform (and looking comically chipper.) Circa 1993.
- Griffey greeted by Rich Amaral and Omar Vizquel after Griffey hit a 3-run homer in the 8th. M's beat Detroit 9-5. Circa 1993.
- Eddie Johnson and Shawn Kemp defending a grimacing Charles Barkley, in game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Circa 1993.
- Eddie Johnson driving on Tom Chambers in the 1993 playoffs.
- Brad Holman just after being nailed in the forehead by a batted ball from Texas' Mario Diaz. Circa 1993. I listened to that game in Forks, Washington, while on vacation with my family.
- Griffey greeted by Henry Cotto, Edgar, and Harold Reynolds after Griffey hit a grand slam, the first of his career, in New York. The M's won, 6-1. Johnson got the win. Circa 1991.
- Shawn Kemp dunking over Robert Horry. Circa 1994.
- (2) Ken Griffey Jr. in AA.
- Ken Griffeys Jr., Sr., and mom Birdie.
- Ken Griffeys Jr. and Sr. at press conference announcing Sr.'s joining of the Mariners
- Ken Griffeys Jr. and Sr. in the dugout before their first game together. I remember staying up to listen to that game on the radio.

• 2 Drew Bledsoe autographs. Circa 1992.

• 1 Kingdome napkin, near mint condition. Seahawk helmet, M's logo, and Kingdome logo. Circa 1992.

• 3 photos - a panorama - of the Kingdome's field. Circa June 16, 1991.

• 1 ticket stub, Sonics vs. Blazers. Kingdome. Circa March 23, 1993. (Blazers crushed the Supes. Horrible game. More Portland fans than Seattle...)

I have more somwhere else, but that's just what I saw today.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Big Unit

I'd just like to type a few thoughts on Randy "Big Unit" Johnson.

First, my opinion of him... I like him as a player. At one point, specifically 1998, I did not care for him in the least, but after that year my opinion has softened, and now I consider myself a fan of his again.

1995 - Johnson was the MAN. He could do no wrong. He pitched hurt, on short rest, anytime, and was still effective. In that one-game playoff with California he singlehandedly, (well, assisted by a clutch Sojo), put the Mariners in the postseason. He was just as godlike to me as The Kid or Edgar.

Fast forward three years to '98. I was living in a converted barn with four friends, partying, generally having a great time 25 hours a day, except when it came to my Mariners. They were bad. The worst part was that my favorite pitcher, Johnson, was seriously sucking it up, physically, on the field, and in the clubhouse. His back was about to give out, they said, and they didn't know how much longer he'd even be able to pitch in the league. Plus, the M's hadn't offered him the big extension he deserved, so he was childishly sulking, which did not help matters at all. The night of his trade to Houston I was pretty happy that the Mariners had gotten three players for one guy who was about to retire, for all I knew.

Well, he proceeded to tear up the NL, going something like 10-1 with a miniscule ERA for the last couple months of the sesason. At that point, I had no doubt that he had been jaking it with the M's, and he became my Public Enemy #1. Needless to say, the good years he had with the Mariners were shoved far into the back of my memory, banished like a kid's baby blanket into the back of a closet when he becomes a teenager.

However, just like that teenager, now married, pulls out that old blanket and remembers all the good times and secure feelings it provided him with in his youth, so did my good thoughts about Johnson return over the years. His dominance of the National League since he joined it has been a pleasure to watch. I remember with fondness all the hope he gave us early-'90s Mariners fans -- the constant possibility of a no-hitter, the double-digit strikeout games, the crowd's excitement with two strikes, the menacing presence on the mound and on the bench, the drum playing, and the mullet from hell. I am once again a fan.

Now he's forcing his way out of Arizona like he did Seattle, and I can't help but think "same old Randy". However, with a team as horrible as the D'Backs, I dont' blame him. At his age all he wants is another championship, and he's not going to get it there. Too bad he wants to be on the Yankees, but who else could afford him?


Now the Dodgers have pulled out of the 3-way deal. All I have to say is: good decision. They would have not gotten much of a good deal in the least, having to give up their top offensive threat and a serviceable pitcher for a questionable, overpriced pitcher. Now the Yanks are pissed.

Randy Levine: "For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to backpedal. Why they would break their word is only something they can answer. It sure is disappointing, and we'll have to think long and hard before ever doing business with the Dodgers again."

Pardon me while I laugh at the Yankees: (hahahahahahahahahahaha!). DePodesta hasn't shown much in L.A., but at least he was smart enough to pull out of that foolish deal. And the Yankees, in their spoiled manner, are crying like the brats they are, threatening the Dodgers with (gasp!) not trading with them any more! Oh, no! You mean the Dodgers wouldn't be able to trade any more good players for overhyped "prospects" and overpriced castoffs? What will they do now?!

Man I hate the Yankees.

Signings Galore

Ben Davis re-signs with Chicago. They non-tendered him, originally, but evidently wanted him back. 1 year, 1 million per The Transaction Guy.

Joe Randa signs with Cincinnati. Well, looks like the Dodgers missed out on this one. After non-tendering Alex Cora, and signing Jeff Kent and Jose Valentin, I'm curious who's on third in LA. Still, the declining OBP of Valentin seems to contradict DePo's hardline 3-1 value ratio of OBP vs. SLG, according to Moneyball. Surely they're not looking at Tony Batista?

I'm glad I'm not a Dodgers fan!

Now, what would make my Christmas, would be for the M's to shore up their rotation with Wade Miller, Odalis Perez, and/or Kevin Millwood (in that order).

Why Stop Now?!?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Financial protest over?!

Could it be? Adrian Beltre a Mariner? Say it IS so!

When I see the announcement, and Mr. Beltre wearing a Mariners jersey, my financial protest will officially be over. I am glad it had to end this way.

The Great Decision...

I'm recalling a section from Thiel's book discussing the 1987 draft. Do we take Griffey or Mike Harkey?

Seventeen years later, the question now is: Do we take Delgado or Beltre?

Beltre or Bust, Baby!!!

Update: 12-16-04. The decision's been made. It's party time in Seattle!!! I think I'll be breaking out a Belgian ale tonight...


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Little Perspective...

Gee, what would an M's blog be without a post on the signing of Richie Sexson. How many angles can we really take on this? Exercising my democratic right of free speech (on a topic that shouldn't really upset the Homeland Security folks, I would hope), it's time to share my thoughts.

In reading all of what I have, there seems to be two major camps on this signing. There are people who are extremely thrilled (or at least relatively excited) to have Sexson, and there are those who are extremely ticked. I'm siding with Jeff Sullivan and the folks over at Leone For Third (and, I suppose, though less so, with Jeremy over at Sports & Bremertonians). What's done is done -- the ink is on the paper. No turning back now. We might as well try and find a positive perspective on all of this. There's got to be a larger reason why this huge contract was given to a player whose risk factor for significant DL time is quite high, right?

Here are a few things to ponder why this can be a positive move.

1) Contrary to popular belief, we do have a hole at first base.
  • Ibanez is an adequate LF with a good arm, and would be a nice fit at DH. They experimented with him at first towards the end of the season, and I honestly wasn't impressed with his defense.
  • Bucky, on the other hand, appeared fairly comfortable there, and I thought he played quite well, considering he'd spent most of his time at DH in Tacoma, and was playing with bum knees. Still, it was pretty much consensus that Bucky was going to inherit Edgar's DH crown.
  • Spiezio also spent time at 1B and was actually the best defensive 1B that I saw play. However, he was signed to cover third, and succumed to the quicksand pit that has been 3B in Seattle.
  • I won't but make mention of BoMel's Willie F. Bloomquist experiment at first. Yuck.

    Personally, I would've liked to have filled this hole with Delgado, but I give a HUGE edge defensively to Sexson. If I had the time to do what Bill James did and try to dig into the stats, I'd venture to guess that I could back up my gut feeling that a guy of his stature has a better chance of picking the ball out -- i.e. it's certainly nice to have a tall guy covering first. Now that we have Sexson, though, I'm hoping Delgado's out of the picture. Keep Ibanez in LF, and leave Sexson at first (though Sexson has never made an error in left). If we do sign Delgado, then there's a little bit of depth, including Bucky, in that there are 4 above-average-to-star players for 3 positions.
2) He adds credibility to our lineup.

How much he improves it singlehandedly is certainly a variable, and up for debate. Still, he does fit the mold of a player who intimidates pitchers at the plate, not just because he's big -- he's got a very solid track record of power and production. In 2004, he showed no signs of slowing down (9 HRs in 23 games; 23 RBIs and 20 Runs) before he went down. The biggest factor, of course, will be how long his shoulder holds out. Sure, he's an above-average risk to spend significant time on the DL, but the wonders of modern medicine and training regimens can certainly lower that risk. Even if he only returns back to 80-90%, those are some decent numbers he'll put up.

Several of us have equated him to Buhner (and I can probably take some credit for being one of the first to make this Buhner-esque comparison in the post-Sexson-signing M's blogosphere). That's a nice piece to have in your lineup. Delgado has been quoted as saying that he's encouraged by the M's signing Sexson. It would make Seattle more desirable for him. Not that I think we should continue our quest for a slugging first baseman, but still, there's a part of me that agrees with the KJR folks (and others) who say that in spite of the glut that it produces, Delgado's bat would fit nicely in Safeco.

3) Taken at face value, this hints at a few things the M's are willing to do:
  • Spend money. Lots of it.
  • Take HUGE risks. Sure, this could pan out to be a complete disaster, and is more likely to than other more calculated risks would be. Still, they've got the cash to play high-stakes poker.
  • Give out a contract longer than three years. I suppose you can count Ichiro!'s deal, too, before 2004. But I consider the Ichiro! thing with the M's a unique situation.

It's finally good to hear Lincoln practice what he preaches. For once, I'm starting to believe him. I'm pretty emotionally scarred by Lincoln's past sins to be too quick to forgive him, but I will give him a little credit for getting things moving. Furthering this, here's Howard's thoughts on this signing from an AP article on the Sexson deal:

Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln acknowledged that Sexson's contract represents "a heck of a lot of money." The deal should counter criticism in recent yearsthat Seattle wouldn't spend what was required to compete.

"We recognize that to get this team back into the playoffs as quickly as possible, we're going to have to spend significant amounts of money," Lincoln said. "We've made no secret of that.

"Right now, we're in the process of spending a lot of money -- and we're not done," he said.

Like I've said before, I'm not going to be quick to forgive Howard. There's a significant leap of faith he needs to take before I abolish my thoughts that he's a 'money-grubbing soulless leech'. Still, he has taken a step (whether it's forward or backward is still debatable), and we have to give him at least a little credit for that. Here's to hoping they spend A LOT more. Heaven knows, in spite of how they spin it, they are not hurting at all financially.

In summary, this deal's done, and there's now nothing we can do to prevent it. Let's welcome Sexson to town, and since the doctors that looked Omar over think that Sexson is OK, let's trust them for now and let Sexson prove he's worth the $50 million they just gave him. I'm fairly shell-shocked in both a good way and a bad way. It's either going to help push things over the hump for getting another big bat in, or it's going to be a complete disaster. I'm rooting for Sexson, for sure!

High stakes poker, indeed. Fortunately, I'm too conservative and poor to play that game, and it's not my money (yet -- though those thoughts were formulated before the market imploded for buyers. I'm considering revising that post, and probably will later...).

Monday, December 13, 2004

More Spewage From the Top

I'm pretty sure that Munchausen is already formulating his thoughts on this article, but I'm so livid, I thought I'd jump in and share my thoughts on Howard Lincoln's interview with Les Carpenter in Saturday's Times.

Let me start this off with Howard pointing out how his wife (sarcastically) feels about him:

"Listen, Grace," he said. "Listen to what this guy said, he called me 'a money-grubbing soulless leech.' "

Grace Lincoln paused.

"Yeah," she finally replied. "That sounds like you."

So, Howard's speaking through his wife saying basically "I'm not a 'money-grubbing soulless leech' -- you can ask my wife!"

I'm very scared that this article is appearing just before the M's sign Sexson, and in the thick of the Winter Meetings. It appears to be yet another piece of evidence that the M's are trying to downplay expectations by exploding this signing as the biggest in franchise free agency history. Quite frankly, it's not. I'd actually equate this signing with when we signed Olerud. Olerud was certainly not going to approach .400 in Seattle any more than Sexson will approach 45 HRs in Seattle. A minor, sign-a-local-fading-star, type of contract, sure. But a big splash -- not at all! More like a belly-flop, especially if it's the sole offseason signing. Even worse if it's Sexson AND Delgado.

Howard, if you REALLY want me to think that you're NOT a 'money-grubbing soulless leech' then you need to not tell me (and, yes, having your sarcastic wife tell me that you're not is equivalent to YOU telling me), but rather SHOW ME. Here's a hint: add to the Sexson signing by bringing in Beltre, JD Drew (or Beltran), and Matt Clement (or something equivalent). Do this, and I'll send you a formal apology for even thinking you're a 'money-grubbing soulless leech.' I might even publish it in the Seattle Times...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

L43 If We Don't Get Beltre!

I'm not trying to steal Munchausen's thunder. I still want his post to be prominent on The Morsels, so here's the link.

Now that Glaus is off the market, and Sexson is indeed seriously back on the market, I'm praying we avoid Sexson, and do what it takes to land Beltre. I'm very seriously pondering nudging Beltre up to a "3" on my Splash-Size Pre-Raking Scoresheet.

Was AZ crazy to give Glaus 4 years $45 million? Absolutely! This is yet another signing that shows how crazy the market is this year. About the only decent contract I've seen is Nomar's one year deal ($8 million, possibly more with incentives). I especially want to avoid giving a mediocre pitcher $8-10 million, especially at the cost of a big bat. But what do you do if you're Bavasi:
If we could improve one or the other, we’d probably go toward adding offense. ... But as players come off the board, if we have the money, we’re not going to bypass tremendous pitching in favor of mediocre offense.
So, taken at face value, could this translate into spending $8-10 million on Russ Ortiz, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez -- or even $10-12 million for Pavano, as opposed to $4-5 million on Corey K_____ or $8-10 million on Renteria/Cabrera? Would M's fans be OK with this? If I'm reading into this correctly, then I would endorse such a move.

However, Bill, please be greedy and get two bats.


If we don't get Beltre, then let's have Leone for Third (L43).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Splash-Size Part III

I really do want to finish my thoughts with this thread, and get going on listing my "splash-size" scores at the very least. Using ESPN's top-50 free agent list ( to start with, I'll assign my custom "Splash-Size" score (grey whale to belly flop) to the list. I'll try to justify my scores a little bit, too, but being at work trying to be productive, this may be a little difficult.

1) Carlos Beltran:
  • Splash-Size Score: 3 (Grey-whale-tail-sized splash)
  • Comments: The M's sole signing of Beltran would end my fiscal protest, and show to me that they are indeed VERY serious about building a winning club for the long term. They are getting the best guy available, regardless of need, which I absolutely encourage. Beltran is the only guy on the market that I see as a sure-fire centerpiece to an offensive lineup that needs to be rebuilt for the long-haul. Plus, he's more likely to improve in the next 3-5 years than decline. Considering where we're at now and what we have in the farm for offensive prospects, we need some young offensive studs NOW! Beltran is the least-risky of the current free agents, and arguably in the years to come (2005-6 and 2006-7), to offer a top-10 contract to.
2) Adrian Beltre:

  • Splash-Size Score: 2 (Walrus-sized splash)
  • Comments: Okay -- why only a "2" you ask? Well, it's actually a 2.5, but I'm forcing myself to pick a whole number, and I cannot justify giving him a 3. This is merely because I am relying on others' comments and reviews of Beltre more so than my own experience. Based on what I've read, Beltre would be a "3" but I can only give him a "2" from what I've seen. In thinking about this more, I can also justify Beltre losing a little on the splash-size score in that M's fans who either a) do not play fantasy baseball AND/OR b) do not participate in the M's blogosphere (and hence aren't aware of terms like VORP and OPS and PECOTA, etc.) would very likely not even know who he is. I've talked to several baseball fans similar to this, and when I mention Beltre as being at the top of my covet list, they either look at me and stare (Who?) or get him confused with Beltran .

    I'll also admit to being fearful of the contract-year-1-hit-wonder Boras client potential problem. But, that's where the risk lies. Other reports say that he's the best all-around player since A-Rod. I'll be ecstatic if we indeed take that risk, but not so overjoyed like I would be were we to sign Beltran. My gut tells me that Beltran's a safer risk for top-10 money than Beltre is. Still, it would be sweet to have the best young hitter in the game, were the scouting reports on Beltre and his future potential to be true.
3) Roger Clemens

  • Splash-Size Score: 3
  • Comments: Now, I'm sure you're confused! A 42-year-old future HOF'er who will not be playing baseball in 3-5 years? What good would he be to the M's -- especially since we're in rebuilding mode??? Well, Roger Clemens happens to be one of my top two favorite pitchers (RJ being the other) and I'd LOVE to see him retire in an M's uniform. I'd love for him to rub off on our young pitchers, even if it were merely for a year or two. Ain't happening, and I know it, but still, it would be a dream come true.
4) Edgar Renteria

  • Splash-Size Score: 1 (Penguin-sized splash)
  • Comments: Well, I'd give him a 1.5, actually, but see Beltre for my integer rating decision. I'm actually quite surprised to see him ranked so high on ESPN's list. Or maybe I'm not, because they certainly are not very accurate in their assessments of talent. Still, Renteria is a solid player, but will be overvalued and, hence, overpaid. He's along the lines of a healthy Carlos Guillen, with slightly less pop. A solid, above-average player, but not someone to build the franchise around.
5) Pedro Martinez
  • Splash-Size Score: 3
  • Comments: Well, actually he's a 2.5, but I'll round up in this case, and give him a "3." Pedro Martinez is the only ace on the market this season. Sure, he's on the downslide of his career, and health is certainly a factor. He's too good of a pitcher, though, not to find ways to shape his skills with age. A lot of people hate him and his attitude, but I'd say that it would be a very useful addition to this club. Our pitching staff is too "nice" -- at the very least they may try and come across as scary and mean, but are just too unproven to scare anyone. Kinda like that Grover Dill kid who tries to take bullying lessons from Scott Farkus in Christmas Story. He's just not really all that scary by himself. Like Clemens above, imagine Pedro infusing some life into the M's pitching corps. And, although some people believe Pedro is 33 going on 75, I really don't think I'm one of them. Even if he's in decline, Pedro at 80% is STILL better than any of the other FA pitchers on the market this year. Hands down!
6) Carlos Delgado
  • Splash-Size Score: 2
  • Comments: Rumored to be the M's #1 target this offseason, for good reason. Delgado would be a sweet signing for the M's. A lefty power bat that is legitimate, and park-independent. I can't justify a 3 for him, though, because of his knees and the slight possibility he could be another Cecil Fielder, Kevin Mitchell, or even worse -- he could be Bavasi's next Mo Vaughn. There are a lot of people thinking the M's would be crazy going after him. I'm not one of them. He'd add some instant credibility to this lineup, and would nicely replace Edgar in his prime. Looking at his comp's over at BBReference, I must admit that it's kinda scary that by age 35 (which is what he'd be if he signed an expected 3-year deal) most of the guys he rates with were no longer in baseball. Aside from the four comps that are still playing and yet to reach 36, we're down to two. That's not a good trend. But -- that's why I'm not a stathead, really. Sure, they can't be ignored, but they can't be adored, either.

7) Magglio Ordonez

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Another round-down 1.5, really. His injury is really quite scary, and he plays a position that will adversely be affected by long-term effects of that injury. Being a righty, a good comparison might be Edgar. His seasonal average stats are slightly less than Edgar's except for HRs and RBIs, where he's an upgrade. There's speculation that he will start the season on the DL, and that of course would reduce his value. Being a Boras client, though, he won't be a steal. It's entirely possible that Chicago will offer arbitration, and he'll accept to show he's healthy. Ordonez would be a good pickup for a decent contract, but there's a lot of risk. Looking at his 2002-2004 splits at Safeco, I'd say that he's the type of guy you'd like to avoid picking up. Sure, you get into sample size and all that, but I looked at them last year (2001-2003) and they were pretty pathetic, too. His 2001 splits were OK at The Safe, but still, overall they're actually worse than *gasp* Willie F. Bloomquist's...
8) Jason Varitek
  • Splash-Size Score: 2
  • Comments: The M's have never had a catcher that can hit anywhere above the #9 hole. Never. Dan Wilson probably would get my vote as the best all-around catcher the M's have ever had. They were so set on Wilson for the long-haul that they let Varitek get away in the trade, along with Derek Lowe, which I really consider more for Jamie Moyer (and, thus, the trade for Slocumb was really for Darren Bragg) . Varitek is a clubhouse leader and a good pitcher's catcher, just like Wilson. He's slightly younger and a much better hitter than Wilson. BUT -- do we really want to spend that kind of money on him? I'm not so sure -- however if we were able to bring him back in, I'd consider it a pretty big splash. I'd prefer him to tutor any of the remaining catching prospects in our system (as well as Olivo) than Wilson, though, and would love to see his switch-hitting bat in Seattle. Since I doubt Varitek will be leaving Boston, let's hope that Roger Hansen has helped Olivo as much as he helped Varitek before he left Seattle in 1997.

9) Carl Pavano

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Again, a down-rounded 1.5 like Magglio Ordonez, though less so. There's debate in the M's blogosphere how much a guy like Pavano should get. His numbers are comparable, though weaker, than Freddy Garcia's, and a lot of people compare him to The Chief. He seems to have turned his career around, which is a positive sign in that he's more likely to improve than not. But still, I was done with Freddy before the 2002 trading deadline (right before he tanked) and was hoping he'd get traded way back then. Looking at his BBReference comps (COOL! I just figured out how to link directly to the comps...), I don't see anyone that convinces me he's a TOR pitcher and should thusly be paid. Enjoy your freshly brewed Starbucks in Seattle next week Carl, but I'm concurring with the USS Mariner and saying that the M's should avoid Pavano.

10) Richie "Don't spell it Sexton!" Sexson

  • Splash-Size Score: -1 (Belly-flop!)
  • Comments: Let me see, where do I begin. A tall first baseman who is a decent fielder and was a great hitter. That sounds like a guy we DFA's last season. Except Big 'Rude' had a different injury issue. Actually, Sexson was more of a slugger than Olerud, and struck out a lot more, too. Sexson's health is a HUGE question mark. From all accounts, Sexson may actually be done as a great hitter, in spite of him only being 29, in the middle of the so-called "peak" years. I just don't envision him bouncing back to his hitting abilities prior to this injury. He may recover from his injury, which is fairly likely, but at the cost of being a shell of his former slugging self. Yes, he has local ties, and we're in need of a slugger. But given the choice of Glaus or Sexson, I'd take Glaus 9 days a week. Glaus may be relegated to DH, but at least he has bounced back from his injury to show that he hasn't lost a step offensively. I'm with you, Jeff, Richie Sexson is a bad idea.

11) J.D. Drew

  • Splash-Size Score: 3
  • Comments: This is the only other 3 I'm giving out. Unlike Beltran, though, the 3 I give him is merely a 3. They'd have to sign another player or two for me to end my financial protest (remember -- I said I'd end it if the M's signed Beltran and no one else). The M's were very seriously rumored to be making a run for J.D. Drew in 2003, in exchange for Freddy Garcia. And right at the trading deadline in 2003, they were still trying to get him (but didn't want Beltre). Because we got prospects and a young catcher, I like the trade we made better, but I would've been happy getting Drew at the time.

    As much as I see Beltran as the best guy on the market, JD Drew is probably the second-best, and he's likely to go for less than Beltran. Drew will have a higher average than Beltran, but less speed. Unlike Beltre, he's put up consistent numbers over his career. His lefty bat would fit nicely in Safeco, and a move to CF is not out of the question considering he was certainly not going to replace Edmonds in CF at St. Louis, nor would he roam CF in Atlanta for Jones. He's young yet, has a career OPS over .900, and would be a nice fit for the M's.

    The biggest question has to be his health, but we're talking Carlos Guillen type health problems, not Richie Sexson type problems. Hopefully the injury bug is behind him now, and he can start playing regularly. I'd sign him in a heartbeat! But, he's probably going to stay in Atlanta.

12) Nomar Garciaparra

  • Splash-Size Score: 2
  • Comments: Nomar's a 1.5 that I'm actually going to round up to a 2. I think it would make a fairly large splash in the non-VORP speaking M's fandom, and this would push my score over the 2 mark. Injuries and clubhouse personality push my score down a half-point or so, but I'd be intrigued if the M's signed Nomar to a deal.

    I like the idea of waiting a year or two on deciding if Lopez will be an everyday shortstop, or will move to a different spot on the field. If I had my wish, we'd pick up Nomar to play short for 2-3 years, let the SS prospects we have fight to take over the spot, and send Lopez down to Tacoma to play 2B everyday, with the thought of him becoming Bret Boone's heir-apparent.

    I just wish people would shut up when saying that Nomar would come to Seattle by the mere fact that his brother is in the M's minor league system. Now, it really works the other way (see Griffey, Craig). Michael G will never come anywhere close to playing at the level of his brother. I highly doubt that he's saying anything good about the M's org to his big, famous brother.

    Questions about his health and his defense are certainly valid. But, heck, he's got one of the highest batting averages for a career, all-time! His closest comp through age 30 is Ernie Banks -- one of my top-10 all time favorite players. I'd love to see him hit #3 ahead of Delgado OR #5 behind him. I'd take a risk with Nomar on a 2 year deal for $20 million, including incentives, and an option for year 2.

13) Troy Glaus

  • Splash-Size Score: 2 (as a DH), 1 (as a 3B)
  • Comments: Troy returned from his injury last season a little ahead of schedule to finish the season as the Angel's DH, and to show that he can still play the game (though he did struggle offensively upon his return). He wasn't able to field 3rd, though, and that's cause for concern. Considering the Angels said they're not going to resign him, and that he's been a big part of their success for several years, that's another red flag. Still, he's a heck of a slugger, and I wouldn't mind having him in the lineup for the right price. Preferably as a DH, though Bucky would be a cheaper option.

14) Armando Benitez

  • Splash-Size Score: N/A
  • Comments: Been down this road before. Signed with the Giants.

15) Steve Finley

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: A young 39, but still declining. Might be a nice slight upgrade to R Winn defensively and power-numbers wise. But, not a good fit for the current situation.

16) Troy Percival

  • Splash-Size Score: N/A
  • Comments: Signed with Tigers, who overpaid. Not one Anaheim castoff I would've like to have had. Past his prime and should really retire.

17) Matt Clement

  • Splash-Size Score: 2
  • Comments: Another 2.5 rounded down. Barely. Clement is a power righty definitely overshadowed by two (Wood and Prior), if not three (add Zambrano), of the best pitchers in the game right now, on his own team. Still, Clement to me is a slightly rawer version of Freddy Garcia, but with more of a potential upside. I predict he's this year's Jason Schmidt. Could need a change of scenery to help his career. I concur with several in the M's blogosphere who say that Clement, not Pavano, should be our top pitching prize. I prefer to concentrate hitting, which is stronger in the FA market this offseason than next, and wait until a stronger pitching market next season to go after a TOR guy. But, I'd be very cool with signing Clement to a reasonable deal.

18) Orlando Cabrera

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Along the lines of a 1.5, really, rounded down, of course. Cabrera and Renteria are, to me, interchangable. Maybe a little offensive edge goes to Renteria, but they're very similar players. I'd rather have the Brothers Boone on the same team than the Brothers Cabrera. Were we to look more long term at short, I'd pick Renteria over Cabrera.

19) Jeff Kent

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Kent's bat is certainly nice (hence the "1" vs. a "-1"), but his defense is horrid. Like Finley, he might be a nice bat to have if we were tweaking for the postseason, but we're not and we should avoid him. ESPN has him going to Oakland. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in pinstripes.

20) Moises Alou

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Were we to be tweaking for the playoffs, given the choice, Moises would be my first choice of guys to go after. Defensively solid, very underrated as a hitter. The Cubs are going to miss him for sure. At age 38, with lots of outfield prospects, I don't see the M's fitting him into the plans. Still, his presence on the team would be great.

I'm going to stop at 20, for the most part, and select a few others below. This post has taken me more than three days already to research and write, and my time is very limited right now. I'll start with the players who have rumoredly received offers from the M's, and wrap up with perhaps a couple more guys.

22) Jaret Wright

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: May come cheaper than a lot of the other pitchers, but he's too similar to what we already have to really upgrade what we have. I'd prefer to go after Clement or Russ Ortiz.

31) John Lieber

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: Lieber will return to the Yankees. He showed some promise and really shored up the Yankees' shaky staff. Again, not a pitcher that would help the M's that much, because he's too similar to what we already have. Doesn't have a lot of upside.

32) Corey K_________

  • Splash-Size Score: -1
  • Comments: I'll continue the mantra of the PI bloggers, and won't even spell out his last name. I'm sure you know who this is talking about, but if not, he's most recently manned 3B for the Twins. After a career-high 25 HRs last season (most of which coming in the Homer Dome), suddenly word has gotten to the M's organization that he's a "power at the corners" third baseman. WRONG! To give him credit, though, he's a very similar player to Carlos Guillen. Solid, probably, but not much above average. As I've said before, my plan A at third is Beltre, as are my plans B and C. If we don't get him, then I MIGHT be convinced to give Glaus a shot over at third. But only after much medical scrutiny. We already have a guy who plays solid defense at third, in spite of his batting average suffering a huge tank (Sandfrog frontman Spiezio). Koskie would add to the pile of relatively-touted players thrown $5-7 million at to suffer a career-ending debacle manning 3B for the M's. I'd rather keep what we have (Spiezio, Leone, Bloomquist) than add another casulty to the M's 3B pile.

37) Jeremy Burnitz

  • Splash-Size Score: 1
  • Comments: I know I agreed with the Horse Painter over at the PI blogs and said that Burnitz would be a good pickup. Now, John Hickey says the M's are considering him. I'm less convinced of this now, after having some time to mull it over. He'd be a nice bat off the bench for sure, especially being a lefty with some power. Kinda like Ellis Burks, when we were rumored to go after him as a backup DH. I'd say that Burnitz is a better fit for the M's than Burks would've been last season, but I think a team like Detroit, San Diego Washington or Oakland will give him a shot. His numbers were certainly inflated by Coors, but if you look at them overall, they're actually quite Glaussy (and BBRef lists our favorite Bone, Jay Buhner, as his most comp through age 35).

That should wrap this up for now. There are a few guys I might want to pick up still on the list. I won't go as in depth on them, but here are a few guys that intrigue me:

26) Russ Ortiz: 2
The pitcher on this list that most reminds me of Freddy Garcia. BBReference compares him more similarly to Jason Schmidt, which is encouraging. I'd be okay if we signed him to shore up the rotation. I'd just worry about consistency issues.

44) Orlando Hernandez: 1

Might be a nice stop-gap pitcher for 1-2 years while our prospects develop or the market opens up. Injury problems are possible, though.

23) Jermaine Dye: 2

Still has some game left in him, but health is still a major concern. Heading down the wrong side of 30, but may be a good value in this offseason. Not much of an upgrade over Ibanez, though.

34) Derek Lowe: 1

Actually, I'll give him a 1.5. He's an enigma, even moreso than Freddy was in Seattle. When he's good, he's incredible, but when he's bad, stay away. Probably will be kept around in Boston, I suspect, but ESPN has him going to the Orioles. Someone will likely overpay him to be an inconsistent enigma.

50) Steve Kline: 1

I'd take him over Villone, but I think our bullpen should be fairly solid (the question mark of Guardado's health being the only factor). I'm going to watch Sherill with a close eye this season, as I really believe he's a lefty version of Raffey Soriano. Thornton would be a nice replacement for Villone in the 'pen. If we have to have a veteran lefty in the pen, then I'd take Kline over Villone for about the same dough.

I think I'll stop there. This is draggin on to the ninth page in Word (I copied and pasted it there as a backup in case my computer crashes or something).

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

What's the truth about the M's payroll?!

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the M’s current payroll situation, in regards to how much money they have available in budgeting for free agent signings. I thought I'd do some research to see if I could figure out just how much money is available, and how that figure was reached. (I am not trying to prove anything, or even say my research is accurate, I just would like to share what I found.) The latest, from Finnigan, is $15-$16 million:

“It appears that the Mariners are juggling the $15 million to $16 million they are thought to have available to spend on free agents this year. That does not include the $4 million to $5 million they have earmarked for bringing back Wilson and Villone."

So from this we can assume there is between $19 and $21 million available, if Wilson and Villone are not re-signed. (Side point: $4-$5 million for Wilson and Villone is awfully expensive, if you ask me. The M’s had better make a play for another starting pitcher, relegating Villone to the ‘pen, because if Boras thinks Villone will be a starter he’ll use that as a negotiation ploy.)

Wait a second, Munchausen – wasn’t the M’s payroll around $95 million and aren’t a whole bunch of salaries coming off the books? What about Olerud, Edgar, Sasaki and Cirillo’s bloated doles? Isn’t Moyer going to be making less this year? Aurilia’s gone, too…

Well, let’s take a look at how this has progressed.

• The first item I found was some creative Mariners acounting from Finnigan’s column from January 29, 2004:

"Although Sasaki walked away from $8 million guaranteed for 2004, the Mariners figure there is only $7 million available to spend on player acquisitions. The Mariners say they were $1 million over their projected $95 million payroll budget before Sasaki made his decision. Subtract from that $2 million for use on possible in-season acquisitions, it leaves $5 million for immediate additions to the payroll via trade or free-agent signings. Subtract $1 million to $1.5 million for a reliever to replace Sasaki — with left-hander Ron Villone thought to be a likely possibility — and there is $3.5 million to $4 million for offensive help."

So, right off, there’s evidence that the M’s accounting stats are, well, Enron-esque. A concrete, unquestionable $8 million windfall slashed in half within three paragraphs. First, a “projected” payroll of $95 million, (which it was not), subtracted $1 million right off the bat. Next, $2 million for in-season acquisitions – hah! That obviously didn’t get spent, so it rightfully should be added to the 2005 budget. $1-$1.5 million to replace Sasaki – no, they already had Guardado signed to do that. That is a full $4-$4.5 million used up on virtually NOTHING.

Furthermore, One Stop Baseball reports the M’s payroll was $81,515,834 as of April 9, 2004. That is far from the $95 million “projected” payroll quoted in Finnigan’s article.

Even furthermore, from Jim Moore’s column from February 27, 2004:

“Lincoln noted that the team's payroll increases every year and that every dollar of profit goes back into the team, whether in player acquisition, player development, scouting or something else. The idea that this ownership group is somehow getting a dime out of this business is not true," he said, adding that he wants to win a World Series as much as the fans do."

So, that unused $13.5 million ($95 million minus $81.5 million) should be going right back into improving the team, including adding payroll. “Should” is the operative word here…

All of this so far has little effect on the 2005 budget, but does start to show a pattern of misreporting and deception on the part of the Mariners and their flunkies in the press.

• The next item is from John Levesque’s column from August 14, 2004. At that point, the season obviously hadn’t been going the way the front office thought it would go, and the team was “grinding”, (to use Bob Melvin’s favorite word, other than “yes sir”), to get season ticket holders (STH) to renew their seats. Howard Lincoln addressed a couple of groups of STH, and this is what Levesque wrote about it:

“Still, it's worth noting the meetings were deemed important enough to have team president Chuck Armstrong and team chairman Howard Lincoln make brief presentations. The executives assured the ticket holders that this year's startling turn of events is in no way a capitulation, and certainly not the beginning of a long "rebuilding" program.

“Lincoln pledged that he intends to right the team right away. Despite the drop in revenue that assuredly will accompany the drop in ticket sales this year and next, he said he will not reduce the team's payroll from the current low-to-mid-$90 million."

OK. That states, as plain as day, both that the payroll will not be reduced, and that it is in the $9x millions.

From the previous link, we’ve learned that the M’s player payroll was $81.5 million, meaning that at the very minimum, $8.5 million should be available this year to add to the player payroll, and - this is key – that is without even taking into account the drop in payroll due to player departures and possible trades.

• From that, you’d have to figure “hey – since they only have $15-$16 million available now, that must mean that only $7.5 million is coming off the books!” ($16 million minus that $8.5 million). Not so!

John Levesque writes this on October 6, 2004:

“Either way, the Mariners will have more than a few bucks to be a serious player in the offseason. Not counting what they saved when Kazuhiro Sasaki walked away from the U.S.A., they are free of the contracts of Olerud ($7.7 million), Freddy Garcia ($6.875 million), Kevin Jarvis ($4.25 million), Rich Aurilia ($3.15 million), Martinez ($3 million), Quinton McCracken ($1.75 million) and Ben Davis ($1.4 million).

“That's $28 million or so right there, much of it available for use since many of the replacements for those players will be paid next year at or slightly above the major league minimum of $300,000."

Well, by my count, (adding the free $8.5 million to the deleted player salaries), it’s $36.6 million available to pick up new players.

• Sounds good, right? That should be plenty to pick up Beltran, Beltre and a starting pitcher. Wrong. The figure’s already dropping. Just one day after Levesque quoted the already erroneous $28 million, Finnigan brings a new figure to the table - $22 million, no, make it $14-16 million:

“About all that is widely known is that the Mariners will have money to work with — while less than previous speculation, it should be about $20 million to $22 million — and possibly a bit more if they trade Bret Boone."

"Lincoln said earlier this year, and confirmed it in the final week, that the payroll would be at or slightly above last season, when the Mariners had about $87 million to spend on players (plus a contingency fund of around $5 million, for a total payroll budget of approximately $92 million).

“About $65 million of that is spent, with Jamie Moyer's incentives bringing him in at $8 million for 2005 and the club still suffering the Jeff Cirillo/Kevin Jarvis hangover for about $5.5 million, including more than $2 million owed to catcher Wiki Gonzalez — remember him? "

"If one projects that Seattle has $22 million to spend — assuming Lincoln's same-budget promise includes the $8 million that was to be paid Kazu Sasaki before he quit — they may have quite a bit less for outside free agents.

“Figure on about $6 million to $8 million to re-sign Wilson, Villone, Meche and less veteran players on the roster. That leaves $14 million to $16 million to spend.”

• Is that true? What about this quote from today’s (December 1) Finnegan column?

“It appears that the Mariners are juggling the $15 million to $16 million they are thought to have available to spend on free agents this year. That does not include the $4 million to $5 million they have earmarked for bringing back Wilson and Villone."

BUSTED! You can’t subtract $6 million to $8 million to re-sign Wilson, Villone, Meche, etc. from an (already-reduced from $94 million to) $92 million payroll, and then subtract an ADDITIONAL $4 million to $5 million, (apparently to re-sign Wilson and Villone to UNPRECEDENTED SECOND CONTRACTS), that would take the available money down even further! This is so blatant I can’t even believe it’s supposed to be fact! Doesn’t Finnigan know that this stuff is archived for anyone to look up?

• Finnigan contradicts himself again on October 30, 2004, when he states the payroll situation thusly. (Draw your own conclusions as to whether or not these salary figures are accurate – I have serious doubts about the $10 million Villone/Wilson/etc. fund):

“The Mariners have some money to spend, but apparently it is not as much as many outside their front office have guessed. The budget, said to be about the same as last year when the club spent about $87 million, is projected to be $94 million.”

So it’s $94 million again? What about the $92 million from less than a month previous? Anyway, that article goes on to detail the finances:

“Another $6 million is due departed players Jeff Cirillo, Kevin Jarvis and Wiki Gonzalez. The Mariners set aside $2 million for contingencies and $3.5 million for prorated signing bonuses. The following veteran players, including free agents Dan Wilson and Ron Villone, should combine to cost the Mariners about $10 million: SP Gil Meche, RP Ron Villone, C Dan Wilson, C Miguel Olivo, UTIL Jolbert Cabrera.

“From the group listed below, expect six or seven to make the 25-man roster next spring, each making just over the minimum, about $350,000, for a total cost of just more than $2 million: OF Jeremy Reed, SP Bobby Madritsch, SS Jose Lopez, RP J.J. Putz, 1B-DH Bucky Jacobsen, IF Willie Bloomquist, RP Rafael Soriano, RP George Sherrill, RP Julio Mateo, IF Ramon Santiago, RP Matt Thornton, RP Clint Nageotte, RP Scott Atchison, RP Aaron Taylor, SP Travis Blackley, SP Cha Seung Baek, 3B Justin Leone, 3B Greg Dobbs. That brings the total to about $81 million, leaving $13 million to spend on free agents."

Later in the article, the under-contract players’ salaries are laid out in spreadsheet form:

“The Mariners expect to have a payroll budget of $94 million for the 2005 season. They have roughly $57.5 million committed to the following 10 players:
OF Ichiro…………….$12.5 million
2B Bret Boone……….$9.25 million
SP Jamie Moyer……..$8.0 million
RP Eddie Guardado….$6.0 million*
SP Joel Pineiro………$4.7 million
OF Raul Ibanez………$4.415 million
OF Randy Winn……..$3.75 million
RP Shigetoshi Hasegawa.$3.225 million
3B-1B Scott Spiezio…$3.167 million
SP Ryan Franklin……$2.5 million”

* (Munchausen’s note: Keep in mind that Guardado’s salary will be $2 million less than reported, at $4 million, due to smart offseason maneuvering by Bavasi.) Also, keep in mind that only $55.5 million is tied up in ACTUAL payroll, meaning there is, in truth, at least $38.5 million readily available for free agents. Of course, much of that will go towards re-signing the team’s own players, as Finnigan shows above. I’m just disagreeing with how much he claims they will spend for certain players.

(In addition, there’s the little matter of that $13.5 million discrepancy between the $95 projected 2004 payroll and the actual $81.5 million cost, which Lincoln said would be put back into the team, and which unfortunately does not show up anywhere on these figures!)

• Finally, should we be worried about all of this? I mean, with the Mariners’ pathetic record in 2004, will the team attempt to, instead, cut payroll because the front office thinks attendance may be down in 2005? Art Thiel’s October 6 “Interview with the vampire” (Howard Lincoln) column says “NO!”:

The most important thing we can do is maintain a very high major league player payroll, at least in the top 10. If we can do that, that's the most significant contribution the ownership group can make to the Mariners. That's precisely what we intend to do in 2005, even though in doing so we will budget for a loss. We are prepared to accept that loss in order to provide maximum financial flexibility to (general manager) Bill Bavasi and the baseball people, to give them the full opportunity to get things done right.”

“It's hard to say what will happen. Fans don't make decisions in October about what they'll do next year. Our offseason moves will have a lot to do with attendance. We're very appreciative of the tremendous support fans have given us over the years. We don't take it for granted. Nevertheless, it's fair to say we have to anticipate some decline in attendance. We will go into the season projecting an operating loss in the many millions of dollars, without getting specific.”

“We certainly project for not only next year, but following years. Where things stand now is that we don't want to be part of a five-year rebuilding plan that other teams have followed. Our plan is get this turned as quickly as possible. Our group has been told by Bill Bavasi there are a number of holes to fill. We're going to do our best to fill as many holes as quickly as possible. We want to maintain a high payroll, instead of cutting."

"Q: Speaking of perceptions, you've always been a strong advocate of a balanced budget. Why are you willing now to take an operations loss in 2005?

A: There is a perception that we have some kind of static business model that never changes regardless of circumstances. That's not the case. If we're going to achieve the objective, there are times when we have to consider taking a loss. It's not something we look forward to, and we've had seasons where we've made a profit and maintained a high payroll. Every season is different. We don't operate with a model that never changes.”

Well, there you have it. All the information I could dig up on the subject. Now it’s up to the reader to decide what’s going on with the M’s, and what attitude to take into this free agent period. Hopefully we won’t be disappointed.

Go M’s!


(Note: in this post, I link to a number of articles found on the NWSource site, available only by subscription. If you don't want to subscribe, use the username: "blowmeharder", and the password: "library" (without the quotations). (This information courtesy of Bug me

Rally at the Safe

Munchausen -- I'm going to post this below your great work. That post will get top billing on the Morsels for awhile! I'm still thankful you took the time to assemble this stuff. Great work!

On Channel 13 news at 10 "Q it up Sports", Dan Devone and the KCPQ folks showed a small group of faithful fans taking action outside of Safeco. I was wondering which one of the M's blogosphere had the guts to protest as Santa (Trent, was it really YOU??? Dave Cameron or Derek? I know -- it was Logan Summers from the PI blog!). Whoever you were out there, THANKS! That was SWEET!

Indeed, as Devone points out, the showing was quite weak, but the message was a good one. He fumbled through trying to explain that the main purpose of the protest was that the fans were tired of the FO pocketing the money at the deadline, and not spending the cash in the FA market. He concurred that it was an important message, and that the M's fans are hungry for a good offseason.

A subtle, weak, but well-intentioned action. I called for this several months ago, and was motivated to organize it myself, but haven't had the time or the energy. Huge kudos go out to those folks who braved the ridicule. Got my attention, and I want to see more. Maybe the post-USS Mariner feed can encompass a rally in front of Safeco. It might attract a little more, and a little more serious, attention. Unfortunately I have a family commitment across the bridge, but I might swing by for a bit (and I'm sure my wife and toddler would join in) if there were indeed a huge rally at the Safe.