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...).


At 12/16/2004 5:45 AM, Blogger Jeff Sullivan said...

Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre Beltre...

At 12/16/2004 2:37 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

More Morsels from Munch as he's munching on lunch. I love it!

And, what I was referring to, with Sexson returning to 80-90%, was that there's some room for decline. A declining Sexson (i.e. if he recovers from injury fully and declines with age, the Safeco April Wet Air factor, etc..) will still produce numbers in the 30-35 HR range and 95-110 RBI range. Numbers badly missing from our lineup, outside of a well-protected Boone.

I'm obviously elated with this move!


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