Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Melvin and Cameron 

The Sunday Times had a Finnigan on Bob Melvin changing his approach in 2004. Its nice to hear that Melvin will be less reserved in the dugout, and that he will take a more active role with the team. This quote at the end jumped out at me.

"This year, I'll make the moves I feel are needed whenever they are needed. I will hit for guys. Last year, I didn't. I let someone like Cameron hit because he was a guy who was going to be out there for us and I was trying to get him started and I didn't want him to get ... down.

"Well, this time I'll do whatever I feel I have to do to win a game."

This change in approach is welcome, and should lead to improvement. Unfortunately, it shines a spotlight on the mistake made by the Mariners to deal their top pinch-hitter against lefties in Greg Colbrunn. But it does show why the Mariners were not anxious to spend $6M per on Mike Cameron. He was a guy they saw as needing a pinch-hitter in crucial situations. Its hard to invest $6M per on a player like that.

Much of the criticism of the M's offseason is centered around the early signing of Raul Ibanez. Cries of "too expensive" and "limits flexibility" and "stupid to use a draft pick" were probably the most common. But I understand why the M's did it, and they attempted to set the market price low on Ibanez. Here's how things looked to M's management back in November.

1. Mike Cameron was going to move on. The M's were unwilling to commit to more than a 2-year deal or more than $4M per. They were right and he moved to New York for a 3-yr, $18M contract.
2. Vladamir Guerrero had no interest in Seattle. It did not have the Latino community that Vlad was interested in, and it seemed like the Orioles or Marlins were likely targets.
3. Beyond Vlad and Cameron, the next best outfielders were Ibanez, Juan Gonzalez, Jose Cruz, Carl Everett, Raul Mondesi, and Reggie Sanders. Gonzo and Sanders have had injury troubles, Everett & Mondesi have attitude issues, and Jose Cruz is probably too similar to Cameron (nice glove, many K's) so that the player they chose was Ibanez.

So, the M's knew they wanted to land Ibanez and Tejada. In both cases, they were aggressive in their pursuit being the first team to submit an offer to both free agents. In the case of Ibanez, that offer was a little too high for where the market went, and in the case of Tejada, it was a little low. I believe the M's truly thought Vladamir Guerrero would sign with the Orioles early on, and that would take the O's out of the Tejada sweepstakes. Instead, Vlad let the O's offer sit on the table for months until a better offer came along.

In the meantime, the O's got aggressive on Tejada, and pushed the deal past the M's comfort zone, going to 6-yr/$72M, while the M's went past their comfort zone of 4 years with a 5-yr/$45M offer. Should the M's have ponied up an extra $27 million? Only time will tell. But with all the major trades this offseason centered around dumping salary, I think the M's made the correct long-term decision.

The problem with the "stars & scrubs" strategy that many fans and bloggers want is that it is high risk. If you don't have a diamond in the scrubs (like say the Montreal Expos) or if a star has an off year or is injured (like say the Dodgers with Kevin Brown and Shawn Green), you're left with an unsuccessful season, and no flexibility to fix your problems.

Jeff Cirillo at $7M per season was practically untradeable. Pat Burrell looked like the next superstar and signed a 5yr-$60M type contract and went out and SUCKED. So I do not blame the M's at all for having a "no megacontract" policy.

The M's had a plan this offseason, but it didn't quite work out, due to the machinations of the market. Tejada was the only big bat that was a good fit for us, but we were not going to bust the budget for him, especially when 2005 has a big crop of free agents and a lot of money coming available. Instead of Tejada, we get Rich Aurilia and Freddy Garcia (who would have likely been non-tendered had we gotten Tejada), and we wait a little longer for our "big bat."

Well, I rambled and digressed a bit, but sometimes things don't work out just as you hoped in the offseason. By being fiscally responsible, and picking up a variety of talent to go with our homegrown talent, the club has a lot of options, and with Melvin being more aggressive this year, we will use them to our advantage, rather than letting them waste as we did much of last year. I am very optimistic about this year, and am looking forward to being the official blog of the M's 2004 World Series.

Pitchers and catchers report in three days!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?