Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Sasaki Saves M's Again? 

I'm sure that by now you've heard that Kazuhiro Sasaki may be forgoing his final year of his contract in order to return to Japan to be with his family. I certainly look at this as a mix of good and bad news. I will miss watching the sweat poring down Kazu's face when he stares down an opposing batter, and the smile of relief after each save. But, I also recognize that $8M is way too much to be paying any closer, let alone one who now has some injury um... baggage, especially when we have depth of great talent in our bullpen.

I'm sure much will be written about how this affects the bullpen, the starting rotation, and our search for a big hitter, and I will chime in on all three. But first, I looked over the blogosphere for reaction, and was a little dismayed at what I saw. In most places, joy and pessimism. Brief joy that money was freed up and then pessimism that Bavasi would blow the money.

Yesterday, I sent an email to several M's blogs that I link asking for a reciprocal link. One blog responded to my email to say that they do not consider themselves pessimists, but realists, and mentioned that they get nasty email calling them pessimists. I believe that I somehow got lumped into the "nasty email" category since they took the time to email me back, and have several Sasaki posts, but have not taken the time to link to my lil ol blog. Let me just state here that I use the labels optimist and pessimists loosely, and am not attacking anyone's loyalty, fan base, or analytical capability. I just am categorizing sites mainly by tone on the 2004 season - the optimists see us as improved over 2003, and the pessimists as missing an opportunity, lucky in 2003, and doomed to 3rd or even 4th place in the division.

So here's a quick review of what the blogs and writers are saying about this surprising turn of events.

Sports and Bremertonians set the tone for pessimism. Normally I'd be really jazzed about this, but I'm honestly afraid to see how Bill Bavasi will spend an extra $9.5M, I really am.

U.S.S. Mariner - great joy and guarded pessimism The offseason needed something like this; pure, unadulterated, tremendous news....Of course, five minutes after I read the news, my joy subsided as I realized we are likely to just convert this into Maels Rodriguez. However, I'll save the pessimism for when Bavasi actually does waste the money, rather than anticipating the inevitable.

Ahoy the SS Mariner will miss Sasaki and hopes that money saved will be used at trade deadline. I loved that the focus was on Sasaki and his family and a reminder that baseball players are people too. I think I'm going to move Paul into the optimist links.

At Least the Red Sox have 1918 sets the standard for pessimistic blog titles, and while he attacks Bavasi, does a good job of laying out the three M's options. Join one of Scott Boras's imaginary twenty-team bidding wars, make a splashy trade (with great rumor-mongering by mentioning Ordonez, Nomar, Helton and even Pujols), or hold onto the money for a midseason acquisition.

Dave's Mariners and More shows bubblings of optimism with Let's hope that everything works out... and mainly raises the issues that now we have to figure out who will be closer, and if its Guardado then we need not a second lefty, but a first lefty in the bullpen. And what happens to Soriano?

Fire Bavasi reminds everyone that the money can't be spent yet. This is good news, in that it frees up a bunch of payroll; it's just a shame it didn't happen earlier in the offseason, when we could've made a bigger splash.

From Basketball to Baseball goes pessimist on hearing the news, and wants money spent on Pudge. Hmm...should we start a betting pool on how Bavasi will manage to blow this amount? Much as I love Ben Davis, I'd think it would be great to see the M's get Pudge Rodriguez and move Wilson to back-up catcher (primarily catching just for Moyer).

Mariners Musings is gets his pessimism off his chest early. Now why is it that the first image in my head is one of Bill Bavasi scrambling through the Official Mariners' Rolodex for the number of Bobby Ayala's agent? ("I know it's got to be here somewhere!") and then breaks down the M's options in bullpen and what to do with the dollars. Peter wants Eric Karros now to platoon with Olerud, and Carlos Beltran in July.

He also points out what stunned me as well. John Levesque quoting bloggers in his article. I thought he was quoting U.S.S. Mariner, and maybe Mariner Wheelhouse who recently sang praises toward Levesque. Unfortunately, it turns out he's quoting comments against the PI-Weblog.

And the praiser of Levesque, Steve's Mariner Wheelhouse, goes for feigned optimism. Always the optimist, I refuse to believe that Bavasi will spend any new-found payroll on broken down 40-year old players, not when there are broken down 30-year old players available. Steve starts lightly with a few trade possibilities, but then a few beers later, comes up with the biggest rumored trade out there, sending Winn, Garcia, Olerud and cash to the Yankees for Matsui, Aaron Boone and flotsam. You need to read Steve's analysis of how this one works as an entertaining read.

The Safest Blog on the Web keeps it, well... safe. Happy to let Sasaki go, don't blow it on Pudge or Maddux.

And What the Hell Happened? is excited about having something to write about again, and lays out a few possibilities.

All in all, a lot to digest out there. The news is good in that the M's have depth in the bullpen to cover Sasaki's departure and $8M to spend. Also, one has to wonder how much M's management knew of this possibility. The move to sign Guardado certainly looks even better with this knowledge. And how about Maels Rodriguez - does this increase the M's chances of signing him? M's management has a tough task ahead of them if they do not go for the *splash* move now. If they promise fans a midseason move with the money, this hurts their negotiating position with other teams that know the M's need to make a move. If they don't make any promises or additional moves, how much more ranting and raving will come from the fans and the blogs?

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