Tuesday, January 20, 2004

They're Baaaackkkk... 

No, this is not about the recent signings of Joel Pineiro (3yr/$14.5M) or Gil Meche (1yr/$1.95M).

Its ARod Trade Talks are back on! Hooray! Who can't get enough of this discussion!

Okay, I changed my mind. Its about 2/5th of our pitching staff resigning.

Pineiro receives a significant bump up from the $440,000 he made last year in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Figuring that Freddy Garcia made $6.9M in his second year of eligibility, and that Joel could have similar statistics, this looks like a good signing. It guarantees security for Joel without risking more than 3 years, and if he becomes the staff stud by 2006, they are in great position to negotiate an extension.

Meche gets another year to prove his arm is sound, while getting a big raise from the $325,000 he made last year. If he proves it, the M's can buy out the rest of his arbitration eligible years and a year of free agency next year in a Pineiro-like deal.

Our rotation is set, now who will the closer be? My guess would be Eddie Guardado since he has the better track record and the bigger contract, but who should it be? Lets look at the batting average against numbers of our top four relief candidates:

BAA/OBP/SLG vs Left, then vs. Right
Eddie Guardado L - .175/.194/.222 R - .219/.264/.382
Shigetosi Hasegawa L - .246/.301/.317 R - .221/.262/.361
Rafael Soriano L - .191/.248/.287 R - .132/.200/.187
Julio Mateo L - .220/.237/.393 R - .219/.280/.370

From the looks of this, handling lefties is not a big concern for this team as Guardado and Soriano can both do the job. And either one of them would make an excellent closer. It sure would be fun to see Soriano in the closer role, but I'd prefer him to see more innings, and eventually crack the rotation. Plus, making him a closer will make him more expensive quicker.

My vote for closer goes to... closer by committee. Yeah, it will never happen since its looked at as a bad thing, but nothing irritates me more than seeing a pitcher dominate in one inning, only to be removed the following inning to another guy who gets off to a shaky start. If Guardado pitches a strong eighth, leave him out there for the ninth. Sigh, but who knows - I'm probably wrong and there's a reason they give assigned roles. Something to do with comfort factor.

And if that doesn't happen, I'll go with Shigetosi Hasegawa. He ended the year as the Mariners closer and saved 16 out of 17 games. If he falters, we move in Guardado. If he doesn't, then we have two better pitchers throwing in the more crucial 6th, 7th and 8th innings. Guardado stays in the Arthur Rhodes role, and Soriano moves up into the Jeff Nelson role with Julio Mateo moving into the Soriano role.

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