Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Working Hard or Hardly Working? 

Is it just me, or is it hard to get into working when only about 10% of your office mates are in the office? This wouldn't be bad if there was anything happening in the sports world that interested me, but it looks like all's quiet on the Mariners front. The Seahawks don't play again until Sunday. My fantasy football teams are dead thanks to too much reliance on Philadelphia Eagles.

So, I'm left to ponder potential trading partners for Randy Winn, how much we should spend on Odalis Perez (up to 3-year, $24 million), and who should get the 5th spot on the offensive bench (not Willie Bloomquist!)

Assuming no offer blows our socks off, I think trading Randy Winn should wait until after the season begins, if at all. We simply have too many possible holes (starters, relief, outfield, shortstop, catcher) to know which one will be in most need of patching come May. And since it seems that Bavasi is going to keep Jeremy Reed in the starting lineup, then Winn's playing time only comes at the expense of Bucky Jacobsen, a 29-year-old .250 hitter whose upside we have probably already seen.

I like Bucky, don't get me wrong. But there is no need to trade Winn to guarantee that a DH has a full-time job.

There is a lot of posturing in the media that the M's need to trade Winn to clear salary room to add an Odalis Perez. I think going $3 million over budget should not be a problem for a team that came nowhere near its 2004 budget. And look what a rash trade to save this kind of jack did for the Mariners last year. Carlos Guillen would have been a fantastic replacement for an ineffetive (take your pick) Aurilia, Spiezio, Olerud. But we never had the option because we traded him for a bag of jelly beans.

It would appear that Bavasi has learned his lesson from that trade, and will only deal Winn for something shiny and pretty.

In the meantime, the wait for Odalis continues. And now, back to work...

Monday, December 27, 2004

Seahawks In The Playoffs... phew! 

Yesterday, my wife gave me a wonderful Christmas present. No, not that, get your mind back on sports! She allowed me to get away from the Christmas toy heap of three children, and actually watch an entire football game at a nearby sports bar.

I quickly found the one other Seahawk fan in Austin, Texas, and by the end of the first quarter we were commiserating over how bad (scared?) Trent Dilfer looked, and how the Seahawks were going to ruin my good mood by laying a huge egg again, and missing the playoffs entirely.

A field position battle was favoring the Cardinals, and Anquan Boldin was unstoppable and it was quickly 7-0 Cardinals, as the Seahawks offense countered with drives of 3, 3, and, uh 3 plays. But though the defense bent a bit under a wave of Anquan, they did not break. A second Cardinal score is stopped by a fantastic jump ball interception by Ken Lucas. And just before the quarter ends, what's this? A first down!

The "drive" sputtered, but the Seahawks now had complete control :-) And the Hawks got the break they needed when Bobby Engram returned a punt 50 yards to the Seahawks 20. A few plays later, Shaun Alexander burst across the goal line. A second later, the ball burst across as well, and Shaun pounced back on it in the endzone to tie the game up at 7. Phew!

A late field goal gave the Seahawks the lead heading into the locker room, and they came out fired up and dominated the third quarter to take a 24-7 lead into the fourth.

And the state of the Seahawks is such that Seth and I immediately start anticipating the Seahawks demise. Seth predicts two deep TD passes around a defensive stop, followed by an onside kick and an Emmitt Smith run to beat us 28-24.

Sure enough, it started to unfold. A deep TD pass followed by an interception had visions of another Seahawk collapse in my head. A sack followed by a missed field goal gave me hope of that we could finish this one easily. But then, the Cardinals scored again with two and a half minutes to play and we were only up 24-21.

At this point, I knew something had to be done. The Cardinals still had two time outs, but surely they realized that an onside kick was a sure thing for them. Everyone at the game knew it. We were going to blow this game unless *I* did something. I thought hard. There was a time when the Seahawks were good and finished off teams. This was sometime in the '80s. What did I do back in the 80's? I know, I wasn't married! I quickly took off my wedding ring and put it on my key chain, vowing not to wear it during any more Seahawk games.

Somehow, Denny Green got the message. The Cardinals kicked off, thinking they would just stop the Seahawks, and forgetting the great running ability of our own Michael Vick, ahem, Trent Dilfer. The game was ours, and a new ritual was born. The Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl, and my soon-to-be-tanned ring finger is going to help.

Of course, this plan nearly died a quick death when Mrs. Optimist discovered my wedding ring on my key chain when I got home. But Mrs. Optimist is nothing if not understand of her hubbys insanity in thinking he can somehow affect the outcome of a football game played 3000 miles away. The law was laid down, I only get to take the ring off DURING games.

So, I'm doing my part, and when Shaun Alexander hoists the Lombardi Trophy over his head, you can send me (and Mrs. Optimist) a thank you note.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blogosphere Happenings 

Derek Zumsteg, of USS Mariner fame, gets an article published in the P-I. Now the cycle is complete, and Derek has turned to the Dark Side of M's reporting. Soon we will learn that Bob Finnigan is Derek's father.

Of the USS Mariner guys, Derek is the one I disagree with most often, but there is no denying his skills as a writer or his baseball acumen. My only complaint with this piece is that I wish he could have called Stars & Scrubs by its true name (and pay homage to its roto history), rather than the "Stars-and-filler" phrase he puts out in this article. Other than that its a nice overview on how this offseason is a departure of a good kind for the M's but why Sexson is still a risky signing.

Also, let me send out a hearty welcome to Chris Becker and his new Mariner Madness site. I do my best to keep the blogosphere links on the right up to date, and while it seems that quite a few have called it quits in recent months (I'll miss Steve at the Mariners Wheelhouse for sure), Chris' site may signal the beginning of the 2005 wave.

Edited: Alas, I left out another newcomer to the M's Blogosphere from Dylan and Graham. It is M's vs. A's and looks to have a focus on both Seattle and baseball in the Bay Area.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The Boston Red Sox signed Wade Miller to a 1-year, $1.5-4.5 million contract. Could be a huge bargain in 2005.

Miller and Perez 

For $10 million in 2005 and a little more in 2006, the Seattle Mariners could lock up two of the best pitchers available (at any time) this offseason, and push themselves from "nice offseason, but probably needs more to finish better than 3rd in AL West" to "AL West Favorites".

We would be looking at how we match up with the Red Sox and Yankees rather than just how we match up with the Angels and A's. The blogosphere wouldn't know what to do for the next three months.

Either of these pitchers could put up numbers as good or better than Matt Clement, Carl Pavano, Jamey Wright or anyone else signed this offseason.

Miller is obviously a greater risk, which is why we sign him to the incentive-laden 2-year deal a la Jon Lieber two years ago. If he pitches well in 2005, great! If not, then in 2006, when Moyer and Franklin are definitely off the books, Wade Miller slides in as the staff #1 or #2 (depending on the growth of Pineiro or the emergence of King Felix).

Don't stop yet, Mr. Bavasi. You did an excellent job in finding a potential huge bargain in Adrian Beltre. And somehow, these two talents are there for the taking at a price much lower than the going rate. Promote how Safeco and an improved defense will be their haven. Push our awesome fan base, and how they could be the ace pitcher on a resurgent team.

Go get em!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Juicy and Non-Tendered 

The blogosphere is flying with ideas on the best of the non-tenders who the M's should acquire, so I'll add my two cents.

Certainly David Eckstein and Alex Cora deserve a look as an alternative to Jose Lopez. Either one would likely need to be given a good shot at the starting shortstop job in order to consider coming to Seattle. These guys are not going to take a backup role to a rookie unless no one else offers them a job. But if we were to give either of them the starting reins in Seattle, we would likely get similar production as Lopez (though perhaps without upside), and most likely better defense. It would give Lopez another year to work on his defense in AAA (and perhaps begin working on his footwork for 2B). Not a bad idea, but it may be no better than the Rich Aurilia signing of last year. I like the idea of using Eckstein against the Angels, and he is quite the character, and that's always fun to add to an already character-laden clubhouse.

Eckstein was dumped because the Angels signed Jolbert's little brother Orlando to a 4-year, $32 million contract! Congrats to the Cabrera family. Orlando is a nice shortstop, but not the kind of offensive force I would want the M's to spend this kind of jack on.

OPS for past three years (2002, 2003, 2004); VORP for past three years:
Player A (701, 807, 689) (22.7, 49.8, 14.7)
Player B (805, 625, 745) (34.7, -0.7, 19.4)
Player C (752, 651, 671) (37.5, 11.5, 15.7)
Player D (n/a, 770, 696) (-11.3, 19.8, 7.5)
Player E (n/a, 638, 613) (8.3, 1.4, -2.1)

As you could probably guess, player E is Willie Bloomquist, the definition of replacement level and the guy who should have been non-tendered. Player A just received a huge contract from the Angels, who obviously think he will return to 2003 form. Player D is his big brother, who is a solid utilityman. Player B is Alex Cora and Player C is David Eckstein.

Note that Jose Lopez had a VORP of -0.6 in his rookie 2004 season. He may blossom, but then again, he may not. If we can land Eckstein or Cora for a bargain price, it solidifies the offense, and allows Lopez time to grow his skills to where he dominates AAA. And, if the M's signed David Eckstein, it is quite possible that they would release one Willie F. Bloomquist.

So, the Optimist is all for a David Eckstein signing. How about that other name mentioned prominently, Wade Miller. Wade Miller was a dominating righty for the Astros but missed the end of 2004 with a frayed rotator cuff in his pitching arm. The Astros non-tendered him to avoid arbitration on a guy who $3.4 million last year, and before getting injured put up numbers (7-7, 3.35 ERA in 89 innings) that might still have earned him a healthy raise. So, the question is how much the Astros think he's worth, and whether the M's might consider upping the dollars on a one-year contract or even going for two years on a guy who won't pitch off a mound for another two risks.

Without the health issue, there is no question that you go after Wade Miller. With the injury, it may be that he has a mediocre 2005, but is fully recovered by 2006. That is how I would play it, and try to sign Miller to a 2-year, $8 million contract (or 1 year, $3 million with 2nd year $5 million option/$1 million buyout). If he returns to form, its a bargain. If not, its a $4 million gamble thats off the books by 2006. Astros GM Tim Purpura summed it up perfectly.
"There's a chance somebody could come out of it with a very productive pitcher and probably an equal chance that somebody could come out of it with an injured pitcher."
Of course, the Optimist is still on the Odalis Perez bandwagon, and it appears that at least Perez' agent still thinks its a possibility
"It's definitely a possibility," said Perez's agent, Fern Cuza. "I know beefing up the offense was their first priority, so we'll see what happens. Odalis definitely has interest."
Given a choice between Wade Miller and Odalis Perez, I'd still go with the riskier Wade Miller first. But why not add both? The cost to add Perez and Miller for 2005 is probably less than $10 million. In a perfect world, we could offset that by trading Winn, Spiezio and Franklin to a team with payroll needs and roster holes (the Giants, Cubs, and Mets come to mind - who is the Mets 1B if they don't land Delgado?) for something trivial, like Sean Green, or a bag of donuts. Or, better yet, M's management just adds the freakin' payroll as an "I'm sorry" for the debacle of 2004.

Imagine a rotation that looks like...
Joel Pineiro
Wade Miller
Odalis Perez
Bobby Madritsch
Jamie Moyer

If not traded, Ryan Franklin moves into the long relief role he was born for. Gil Meche allows Miller time to ease into the rotation, and is ready to replace anyone who gets hurt or is ineffective. If Meche goes to the bullpen, he could be a dominating setup man, or even the closer should Guardado falter. All of a sudden, we have a rotation that, along with our offense, looks like a true World Series contender.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Next Up: Odalis Perez 

News from this morning's Washington Times indicates that the Mariners may be leading the pack in the bidding for pitcher Odalis Perez with a 3-year, $18 million contract on the table. It appears that Mr. Bavasi may have one more surprise for the stockings of Mariner fans in this wonderful holiday season.
[Washington Nationals GM Jim] Bowden still would love to sign free-agent left-hander Odalis Perez, who yesterday rejected an arbitration offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but until baseball gives him the green light to resume full operations, the GM is hamstrung.
Baseball sources said Perez, who went 7-6 with a 3.25 ERA in 31 starts last year, would prefer to sign with Washington and even would be willing to take less money to come here. But with the ballpark debate dragging on, Perez may have no choice but to sign with another team. The Seattle Mariners are believed to have offered him a better deal than the Nationals' proposed, three-year, $18 million contract.
If the Mariners sign Odalis Perez, then it is likely that Ryan Franklin gets sent to the pen or is traded.

Tonight at midnight is the non-tender deadline, so we may see a number of players come available. One player that most Mariner fans would love to see come available is, of course, Willie Bloomquist. One who will not become available is Ron Villone, who accepted arbitration, and will be back in the Mariners bullpen in 2005.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Beltre in Beantown? 

According to Peter Gammon's latest, it was Boston, and not the Dodgers, who came the closest to keeping Beltre out of a Mariner uniform.
The reason the Mariners had to go to $13 million for five years with Adrian Beltre is that that's where the Red Sox went with Scott Boras. Boston planned to plug the 25-year-old star in at third and go for a cheaper shortstop until Hanley Ramirez is ready, but Beltre preferred the West Coast and wanted $14 million a year over five seasons to go to Boston. So Beltre went to Seattle and the Red Sox signed Edgar Renteria, 29, counting on him being close to his 2002-2003 norm when his on-base percentages were .364 and .394 with an average of 55 extra base hits and 88 RBI. When the Mets were talking about trading their entire farm system for Manny Ramirez, the Red Sox were in position to sign Beltre, Renteria and J.D. Drew, 27.

Its a helluva offseason, folks. The Mariners spend $114 million in a 24-hour span, and the A's trade 2 of the big 3 and may be better off for it. Dan Haren and Dan Meyer both look to be formidable in the near future. The A's have had an interesting offseason. First they trade FOR Jason Kendall, and then they pawn off Hudson and Mulder for the crapshoot (albeit a high upside one) that is prospects. As a Fantasy Baseball wheeler & dealer, I admire the build through trade efforts, but it seems like these deals might have waited till midseason. We'll see. I'm certain that Beane knows more about the players he acquired than I do.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Anatomy of a Blockbuster 

How did we manage to get Adrian Beltre yesterday? Here's how I think it happened, take it for one man's opinion.

Early in the offseason, it was established that the only players for Beltre were going to be the Dodgers and the Mariners. Thankfully, the Yankees and Red Sox were never involved. Other big market teams like the Cubs also had 3B solutions. And bless the Angels for taking themselves out of the picture by committing to Kendry Morales. Beltre was a West Coast guy. So the players were the M's and Dodgers. And that's it.

Boras wants 7-yr, $90 million for Beltre. That's $13 million per season for 7 years. Wisely, the Mariners are not comfortable with contracts in excess of 4 years, but will go to 5 years for young superstars like Tejada and Beltre.

Bavasi wants to establish the market just like he did with Tejada and hope that this year, no Oriole team shows up late to blow the offer out of the water. So, Bavasi puts an aggressive 5-yr, $62 million offer out to Beltre. He realizes that this may not be enough, so he is also making big news with large offers to Sexson and Delgado. His (public) stance is - one big bopper is as good as any other, doesn't matter what position. This is of course, silly, but its what we saw in the papers for most of November and December.

Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta knows that Bavasi isn't a "Moneyball" guy, and the Bavasi track record is not littered with genius so he buys into it. The M's will sign Sexson and Delgado, and they'll be tapped out. Beltre will be left for them - all they have to do is wait. And if that fails, he knows that he is willing to go 6 years while the M's are not. And since the M's hit Boras' annual salary average and he didn't immediately sign, he must be waiting for more years, right?

The Dodgers want Beltre back, but they'd like a hometown discount. I mean, they've earned it haven't they? Nursed him back to health from a botched appendectomy, and dealt with high expectactions and frustrations through Beltre's late teens and early 20's. And DePodesta is used to getting discounts as assistant GM to the A's, he was always hunting in the bargain bin.

So, all the Dodgers have to do is wait out the Mariners. Eliminate the competition and Beltre would have no choice but to sign for something like 6 years, $9-12 million per season. It would be a coup for DePodesta, and allow him to do other things within the Frank McCourt budget. So he tells Scott Boras that the Dodgers want the last word, but that they are working out their finances and trying to dump Shawn Green so they have more money for Beltre, or some other story to buy time. The M's will be outta this thing before too long. They can't afford to be patient after their disastrous 2004, can they?

But on December 15th, things start happening fast. Very fast. The M's sign Sexson to 4-yr, $50 million, a huge amount that shows not only are the M's gonna be players, but that they are not necessarily waiting for Beltre to make their move. The articles that come out with the signing still say that they have offers out to Delgado and Beltre, and will sign whoever says yes first. Or, if you don't believe that, they are going to start thowing out 4-year, $40 million offers to Edgar Renteria.

Pressure is now squarely on Scott Boras. He sizes up the situation and decides the M's are too stupid to wait for Beltre, and they are going to spend themselves out of contention for his services. This is not what he expected. I mean, Sexson isn't even a Boras client! He calls his buddy Bill Bavasi on the phone and tries to convince him that he NEEDS Beltre and only Beltre. And with that Sexson contract, he should be willing to pay Beltre even more.

But Boras made a mistake with his initial contract demands. He established the rate at $13 million per season. If he had asked for 5-year, $80 million initially, the mindset might have been set that Beltre is a $16 million player. Instead, he went for the years, but one of the two teams in the market doesn't go more than 5 years.

Bavasi explains the 5 year limitation, but then throws Boras a bone. "Okay, Scott, I'll help you out here. We can't have Adrian signing for less than Richie can we? I'll bump the offer up so that he's making on average more than the $12.5 million that Sexson signed for. How about, 5 years, $64 million. That will make him the highest paid player in Mariner history!"

Scott says he'll call him right back. First he tells Beltre about the offer, and Beltre is digging it. "They love me," he thinks. But Boras says the Dodgers love you too, and we need to give them one more chance to prove it, so he hops on the phone to the Dodgers. "Look, the M's are going after this full tilt, and Adrian Beltre is not feeling the love from the Dodgers. You need to bring a big offer to the table and quick, or he's going to be a Mariner." DePodesta is caught off guard. Just this close to seeing the M's sign both Delgado and Sexson, and taking themselves out of the Beltre battle. All of a sudden things are happening too fast. Obviously, Beltre's big concern is the years, so he offers a guaranteed 6 years (maybe for $54 - 70 million) and add a 7th year option. Boras tries to explain that the years are nice, but Beltre needs to see the cash. But Boras has cried "Wolf" that way many times before. This is a bluff. The M's are about to sign Delgado, and Boras is trying to cash in before he goes. Stand firm, Paul. Years, not dollars is what's important to Beltre. Oops

Now its too late for the Dodgers. Its all about the money now, not the years. The Mariners offer is still for more money, and Beltre has to be thinking: "Who needs a 6th year? Look at this market. An injured FIRST BASEMAN gets a 4-year, $50 million offer at age 30. What could I get at 30? 4-year, $100 million? Forget the years, just give me the money now, and let me go to the team that obviously wants me - making me their highest paid player in team history. I'm tired of the Dodger fans and media and seeing that Kirk Gibson home run over and over on the Jumbotron. And look at the money ex-Mariners make! That place is a gold mine!"

Boras realizes that the leverage of the M's will likely go away if he waits any longer. He's done the best he can do in this situation. Win some, lose some. Besides, Beltran is going to be his big ticket. And, if the Dodgers lose Beltre, they'll have to become players in the Beltran sweepstakes right? That will drive up the Beltran price with the Yankees so much that it will make the extra $20 million lost on this deal look like chicken feed.

He gets on the phone with Beltre. "Adrian, the Dodgers are not going to top the Mariners offer. They'll give you extra years, but the M's package is still worth more. I think you should take the M's offer." And Beltre quickly agrees. An announcement is made and the Dodgers are STUNNED.

You can see this in DePodesta's quotes in the ESPN article
"We're disappointed. It hurts," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "Obviously, we would have loved to have him back.

"I think all of us knew this certainly was a possibility. We feel like we stepped up and made a very competitive offer, actually tried to make it a compelling one by offering a sixth guaranteed year. Unfortunately for us, Adrian decided to go elsewhere."
When asked if the Dodgers were given a final say in the matter, DePodesta said: "Not in so many words. They didn't come back and say, 'If you can do this, he's coming back.' "

"Scott did have a sense of urgency, we did try to step up to that. That really wasn't the forum. But then again, I'm not blaming Scott for that, either. Everything he did in this process was above board. There's no villain here," he said. "At the end of the day, Seattle stepped up and made a great offer. We had multiple meetings, face-to-face meetings."
That is a man who is still in shock and denial over the whole thing. He can't believe he just lost Beltre.

I'm guessing the key factors in this deal were:
1) The M's coming in early, and meeting the $ average that Boras asked for. Meeting with Beltre and showing him the love early and often.
2) The M's applying pressure by courting Sexson, Delgado, and eventually Renteria
3) The M's signing Richie Sexson
4) That this was a two team race.
5) The Dodgers misreading Beltre's desire to stay in L.A. and importance of years over average salary.
6) The Dodgers waiting around too long, and not showing Beltre the love. This gave Beltre time to really think about becoming a Mariner.
7) Scott Boras representing Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran. This is the biggest stretch, but watch the Beltran bidding now, and see if the Dodgers get involved.

So, congratulations to Bill Bavasi. He used the same strategy on Beltre that failed on Tejada the previous year. He established the market for the best fit for the team early. When that player kept the M's on hold trying to find a better fit, he held firm, telling that player that the M's were going to be top bidder, but not going to be manipulated by agents. He started looking at alternatives to put pressure on that player. Any similar offer is likely to still have the M's on top, because the player has been thinking about the M's for awhile, and liking what he sees (great facility, great fans, lots of money, competitive, no ghosts of Championships past to compete with).

With Beltre, the M's remained the underdog for the signing. Last year they were the favorites (and some reporters even announced Tejada to the M's as a done deal). But last year, the Orioles read the situation perfectly and swooped in with an offer that blew the M's out of the water. There was no way for the M's to recover from that without blowing their negotiating stance for future years. They upped their offer to 5 years, but it was too late.

This year, there wasn't an offer to blow the M's out of the water. The Dodgers thought the low-ball would work and that Beltre wanted to return to LaLaLand. They didn't think they needed to do what the Orioles did last year.

They were wrong.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Where things stand 

Luis Ugueto was designated for assignment with the signing of Richie Sexson. Could Bill Bavasi be cleaning house of past mistakes, and trying to become 2005 Seattle Man of the Year? If so, look for Willie Bloomquist to be DFA'd for Beltre.

At this point, its unlikely that the M's have a secret big move hiding in their back pocket. So lets see where the M's stand, and what smaller moves might make sense before pitchers and catchers report in a couple of months.

Catcher - Miguel Olivo
First Base - Richie Sexson
Second Base - Bret Boone
Shortstop - Jose Lopez
Third Base - Adrian Beltre
Left Field - Raul Ibanez
Center Field - Jeremy Reed
Right Field - Ichiro Suzuki

Catcher - Dan Wilson
Corner Infield - Scott Spiezio
Middle Infield - Jolbert Cabrera
4th Outfielder - Randy Winn
Last Bat - Justin Leone or Willie Bloomquist (go Justin!)

Joel Pineiro
Gil Meche
Jamie Moyer
Bobby Madritsch
Ryan Franklin

Eddie Guardado
George Sherrill
J.J. Putz
Julio Mateo
Shigetosi Haseawa

Areas for improvement look to be:
1) Rotation - too many ifs and hopes here. No one on rotation is a sure thing to be good in 2005. Odalis Perez is my favorite of the big money guys left, and could likely be had with a 3-year, $24 million offer that was backloaded. Kevin Millwood might be had for a 1-year, $6 million contract. Jose Lima, Hideo Nomo might be a cheap, but possibly rewarding one year flyer. Unfortunately, Matt Clement is approaching $10 million per season. Derek Lowe might be an interestng pickup, but I think he'll be expensive. Avoid the Eric Miltons of the world.

2) Shortstop. Lopez offense and defense may not be ready for Prime Time on a contender. Jolbert Cabrera is a decent stopgap. May want another middle infield defensive whiz for the bench. This could be a place to strengthen by trading some of our outfield depth, but this move may not be necessary until midseason, after Lopez has gotten a good shot. Orlando Cabrera is still out there, but thinks he's worth Renteria money (4/40). Perhaps adding Pokey Reese would provide a defensive whiz, bench pinch-runner, and an alternative should Lopez falter.

3) Outfield. Questions aplenty, but also a lot of talent. Many great 4th outfielder options, but no great centerfielders. Ichiro is the only sure thing. Ibanez, Winn, and Reed will battle for starting time, and the loser may end up knocking Bucky from the DH slot. Chris Snelling and Jamal Strong could be waiting in the wings as well. While I would love a Carlos Beltran or J.D. Drew signing, its probably too much to spend on a place where we have lots of options. Any free agent move would likely be accompanied by a trade of the salary of Winn or Ibanez.

4) Bullpen. Guardado's health is an issue, and this was a shaky group last year. Ron Villone is still the favorite for long relief and could move into the rotation if things get really ugly there. It would be nice to pony up for a top-notch setup man, who might close if Guardado is not back all the way. Antonio Osuna, Paul Shuey and Steve Kline are three of my favorites for this spot.

If I were GM, this is what I try...
1) Sign Odalis Perez to 3-year, $23 million slightly backloaded contract. If he goes for more than that, shift to adding one of the lower lights to a 1-year deal.
2) Sign one of Osuna, Shuey, Kline to a 2-year, $4 million contract (or lower, not sure where their market lies without some research).
3) Keep our outfield intact, but be ready to deal Winn, Reed or Ibanez to shore up hole in middle infield, bullpen, or rotation. Unless I can package Winn with someone like Franlin or Spiezio in a deal for Kaz Matsui. Matsui is worth a risk at SS, then Lopez can season one more year in the minors, and move into second base next year.
4) Pray for the return of Scott Speizio's ability
5) DFA Willie Bloomquist, become instant blogosphero

Soon, if not already, you will see some more pessimistic bloggers and analysts calling for an end to the euphoria you are feeling right now. They'll say that the M's are not going to contend in 2005, but at least they'll have a shot at .500. They'll have the "stats" to back it up.

Don't buy what they are selling. The Mariners are contenders again in the AL West, right now. 90 wins is attainable again. Get on the bandwagon now, and enjoy the ride with the M's back into the playoffs and on to the World Series!

Holiday Wishes for those Less Fortunate 

During this wonderful Holiday Season, I just wanted to take a moment of pause from celebrating the Mariners to think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

Dodgers. Not only did they lose their MVP runner-up third baseman who've they nurtured from a pup, but on the same day, saw their trade offer of Edwin Jackson and Antonio Perez for Tim Hudson rejected by the A's and Hudson sent packing to the Evil Empire of the NL - the Braves.

A's. While the M's are spending and rebuilding, the A's are dealing their top pitcher for a collection of prospects, none of whom is likely to help much in 2005.

George Steinbrenner. The Mariners are stealing his headlines while he flails about trying to find some way to scrounge up enough value to land Randy Johnson in trade.

Mariner Bloggers. What are we going to complain about for the next few months?


Awwww.... today is a busy day. Even as I wrote this entry, Newsday announces that Steinbrenner has struck, with a 3-way deal for Randy Johnson that sends Javier Vazquez to the Dodgers and sends Brad Penny, Yhancy Brazoban, and Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks. I don't think this is a done deal, but it would be a fascinating trade, as it would cost the Yankees potential Beltran money, and free up space and additional money with the Dodgers which they might use to go after a pair of Carloses, and repair their relationship with their fans.

Ya gotta love Hot Stove days like today!

Tim Hudson out of the AL 

The news just keeps on getting better for the Mariners. At least for 2005. The A's have traded Tim Hudson to the Braves for three excellent young talents in outfielder Charles Thomas, and pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer.

Boras Clients 

The irony of this is that it looks like the Boras client was by far the better of the two deals the M's signed. Time to start bad-mouthing that Casey Close character who may have used the Orioles to turn a rumored 3-year, $33 million offer for Sexson into 4-year, $50 million.

Beltre's deal is 5-year, $64 million, which has to be a record low for a Scott Boras client who is 25 years old and coming off a 2nd place MVP finish. Well done, Mr. Bavasi!

So, if you don't like the Sexson signing, just use your imagination. Pretend that Sexson signed for 4-year, $32 million, and Beltre signed for 5-year, $82 million. Does that make it all better? Hopefully, all Mariner fans can agree that we are off to a wonderful start to rebuilding.

So, which Boras client do we turn our attention to next? I'm rooting for the bargain bin model of J.D. Drew. Though that Carlos Beltran kid is alright, I'm told.

I'm just giddy.


Peter Gammons is reporting that the M's have signed Adrian Beltre to a 5-year contract!!!

Let me just say...


Now, this may go through the same crap the Sexson signing went through, but the M's have my vote for best offseason.

My only link is from Rotonews.

Bavasi, given the FULL reins, seems to be righting the good ship Mariner.

Go M's!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Delgado - Red Light 

Okay, now that we have signed Richie Sexson, can we stop the pursuit of Carlos Delgado. I mean, its nice that Richie was willing to play left field, but I still think that was a negotiating stance to take with Delgado.

Sexson is an excellent defensive first baseman, and Delgado is not. Leave Sexson at first, and let the M's, Yankees and Orioles duke it out for Delgado's services (though we should stay in negotiations just to keep the price up).

Instead of weakening our defense to add Delgado, why don't we pursue J.D. Drew? I have seen no rumors of a Drew offer, but the boy can hit and play defense. Like Sexson (and to a lesser extent, Delgado), his big risk is his health.

Of course, Adrian Beltre should be priority one. We have decent alternatives in the outfield with two of Ibanez, Winn, and Reed. But the left side of our infield presents much more risk with Scott Spiezio doing a Jeff Cirillo impersonation and Justin Leone not looking ready for a starring role. Probably nothing short of an Adrian Beltre or Carlos Beltran signing will appease the Mariner masses.

So, please don't sign Carlos Delgado. It is not a good use of our resources, with Sexson under contract.

M's Sign Sexson - Hooray!!! 

Its official, and its huge. The Mariners ended their miserly ways and entered the world of big time free agents with a 4-year, $50 million deal to first baseman Richie Sexson.

Now, this is a very risky contract, solely because of Sexson's injury history, but we have to hope that the physical the M's gave him shows that the inury will not reoccur. I'll leave it to some of my favorite blogs to bitch and moan about this being the wrong splash (see DMZ at USS Mariner, and Jeff at Mariner Musings for the most pessimistic examples).

The contract is slightly backloaded with a $6 million signing bonus, $4.5 in 2005, 11.5 in 2006, and $14 million in 2007 and 2008. Essentially, Sexson only costs $6 million in 2005. This leaves us in excellent shape to acquire several more free agents this offseason.

Whatever else can be said, this signing shows that the M's are serious players for the top free agents. Will the naysayers forgive Bavasi for this signing when we also land Adrian Beltre at third? Lets say the M's go to the mat for Beltre and sign him for 7-year, $90 million. And say we also add Odalis Perez or Matt Clement to 3-year, $25 million contract. The M's will be contending for a title in 2005.

Unfortunately, the three additions may cost $40 million in 2007 and 2008, if these contracts are similarly backloaded. What will this mean in 2007 and 2008? Who knows? It may mean that two years of success have further swelled the M's fan base and increased revenues. It may be that Sexson is a $14 million albatross that makes us pine for the days of Jeff Cirillo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, I choose to have faith in the fact that 4 teams were pursuing Sexson, and that the doctors gave him a thorough physical and feel comfortable that he is physically ready to return to his 2003 form and beyond.

Time will tell how this impacts the Mariners, but one thing is for sure, a brave new world of big spending on free agents is upon us. And there is newfound hope for 2005. Rejoice!

Pitching on the Horizon 

From my blog to the PI, apparently the M's are now looking into Odalis Perez and Kevin Millwood. Hooray!

Millwood will come at a bargain price, and has a high ceiling, as evidenced by Cy Young quality seasons in 1999 and 2002. Last season was a "down" year for him, going 9-6 with a 4.25 ERA and spending some time on the DL with an elbow injury. The Braves are trying to bring him back to Atlanta with a 1-year, $5 million contract, well off the $11 million he made last year. A one-year contract in a great pitchers park may be a win-win for the M's and Millwood.

Odalis Perez, meanwhile, seems to have slipped off everyone's radar during the frenzied days of Carlpalooza, and the fevered signing and dealing of pitchers Ortiz. Of all the pitchers who might sign a 3-year, $21 million contract this offseason (and there seem to be dozens), he might be the one that is a bargain at that price. Perez has averaged 200 innings over the last three years, and last year put up a sparkling 3.25 ERA. He would be an excellent use of resources to go with Adrian Beltre and ONE of Delgado/Sexson.

Meanwhile, the word on Richie Sexson is still wait and see. It definitely appears that he was in Seattle and took a physical. Whether he passed, failed, or died is all rumor at this point. So is the contract, whether it is 3-year, $33 million or 4-year, $48 million. Lee Pelekoudas, the M's assistant GM, would not confirm "whether there had or had not been a physical." Fun stuff.

All these outstanding offers to top notch free agents sure has Finnigan perplexed. Finnigan's articles always irritate the Optimist. They paint the M's as short on cash, lucky to win any free agent, and shouldn't we all be grateful they are even talking. In this latest kitty-pan-liner, Finnigan explains how the M's must be resorting to a dreaded accounting device to squeeze two top free agents into their Finnigan-imposed $16 million cap... backloading. *Shudder* Oh, the horror, not backloading! And has great lines like... "with neither Beltre nor Delgado likely to sign here, Mariners officials have turned to shortstops." Whatever - they seem just as likely to sign here as anywhere else.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

MOTO mania 

It seems to me, that as of this moment, the M's are the highest bidder on not one, not two, but three Middle-of-the-Order (MOTO) hitters. 3-year, $33 million (or 4-year, $45 million depending on who you ask) on Richie Sexson. 3 year, $36 million for Carlos Delgado. 5-year, $62 million for Adrian Beltre.

Could we land all three? Certainly! Is it the best allocation of our resources? Probably not, as Sexson will remain a big (6'9") risk in left field, but boy it would make things interesting for 2005.

What would it mean for our team? Either Raul or Bucky would lose playing time as a result, but the bench gets a powerful bat to pinch-hit for our shortstop or catcher in the late innings. Our outfield defense would get weaker still (unless you buy into the PI forum rumor of us dealing Randy Winn to the Mets for... Mike Cameron!). And there will always be a cool breeze at Safeco, as the whiffing will increase dramatically. But, then, so will the long ball, and that's what its all about, kids!

And while it might be better to sign some pitching help, we would now have excess hitting available for trade during the season. And wouldn't this be a fun lineup to see on Opening Day:

RF Ichiro!
3B Beltre
1B Delgado
LF Sexson
2B Boone
DH Jacobsen/Ibanez
CF Winn (Cameron:-)
SS Lopez
C Olivo

Personally, I think that we will only land one of Sexson/Delgado, and that the "going for both" approach is just posturing. But if we were going to allocate the funds for three MOTO players, then maybe we should leverage the resources a little better. Forget about the $11-12 million per year on Sexson or Delgado, and toss in an extra $3 million per year, and make it say 6-year, $90 million for our new centerfielder:

RF Ichiro!
CF Beltran
3B Beltre
1B Delgado (or Sexson)
LF Ibanez/Winn
2B Boone
DH Jacobsen
SS Lopez
C Olivo

Any way you slice it, if the M's sign 3 big-dollar guys, they will have put their money where there mouths are, and ponied up to help bring a World Series to Seattle!

Stay tuned...

Interesting Tidbits 

Dodgers WERE ready to concede Beltre was gone and go after Koskie. The St.Paul Pioneer Press reports that Koskie turned down a 3-year, $18 million offer from the Dodgers (possibly because the Blue Jays deal includes a $6.5 million option for a 4th year that vests based on plate appearances).

So, does that mean the Dodgers have no intention of outbidding the Mariners? Or does this just increase desperation. Hopefully, with Jeff Kent in the fold, the Dodgers feel that they have the hot corner covered and do not have to cave into Scott Boras' demands.

The Orioles continue to hope they can swipe Richie Sexson out from under the M's feet. Any many M's fan are fervently hoping they can too. Carlos Delgado's demands seem to be for $16 million per year. The Mets are probably out of the Delgado hunt with Pedro signing. Unfortunately, another New York team met with the slugger's agent yesterday and the Red Sox have met with him the past two days. Cha-Ching!

Increasingly, the M's are being linked to the discussions on Edgar Renteria. The hometown Cardinals have a 4-year, $32 million offer on the table, but Renteria is said to be looking for closer to $40 million for 4 years. With Pedro gone, the Red Sox, may also be entering the fray. I've never seen a mention of an offer from the Mariners, but they are consistently in the list of teams mentioned with Renteria.

On the pitching horizon, Odalis Perez' top suitor just picked up Pedro Martinez. And the Braves have a 1-year $4-5 million take it or leave it offer for Kevin Millwood. So, while the Red Sox turn their now increased coffers toward Matt Clement, one of Perez or Millwood might be the bargain of this free agent class.

Finally... if the M's wanted to pick up a 5th outfielder in free agency, its too late. Apparently, Nationals GM Jim Bowden has signed them all. Jeffrey Hammonds, Wil Cordero, and Rule 5 pick Tyrell Godwin join the 25-man outfield yesterday to go with Endy Chavez, Ryan Church, JJ Davis, Jose Guillen, Terrmel Sledge, and Brad Wilkerson.

Finally, I'll leave you with the words of CEO Howard Lincoln: "I think it has been difficult for us to make clear that our No. 1 objective is to get this team into the World Series."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Hold the Presses! 

Its now 3:30 Central Time, and no further word on Richie Sexson. In fact, it seems far from a done deal.

I've seen reports mentioning 3 years, $33 million, or "bigger than Glaus", or even 5 years. But there is nothing definitive yet. So far, David Andriessen's article in the PI mentions two anonymous M's officials. Larry Stone throws out bigger numbers, and says that the M's offered around $150 million for Sexson, Delgado, and Beltre.

But at 3pm CST, this AP release came out indicating that the Orioles believe they are still in the running. And Sexson's agent, Casey Close confirms this. "Nothing is conclusive at this moment. We'll have to see where this thing goes the next 24, 48 hours. It's all speculative as to what people's perspectives are." While, I don't have a clue what that last sentence means, it definitely sounds like its not a done deal.

Here's my best guess: By "pre-announcing" the deal, the M's put pressure on both Carlos Delgado and, to a lesser extent, Adrian Beltre, to start getting serious about negotiations. They still keep the door open to Delgado by saying that Sexson has agreed to a move to left field. Rumors indicate that we have the largest offer on the table to both Delgado and Beltre right now, but this sends a message out that those offers could be revoked.

There is a lot of smoke here, but I don't think the Sexson fire is burning just yet. I, for one, would like to make every effort to get Delgado and Beltre before we commit to Sexson, who is coming off of a serious shoulder injury, and who has never consistently put up the numbers that we see from Delgado.

Stay tuned...

Richie Sexson to sign with M's 

There will probably be a lot of hand-wringing over this in the blogosphere, but regardless of whether Sexson is the best fit for the team or not, you gotta like the thought of going to an M's game and seeing Sexson and Bucky batting back-to-back. That's a lot of power potential.

Go M's!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Third Base Follies 

According to Larry Larue, the M's offer to Adrian Beltre sits at 5 years, $62 million, which is an average of $12.4 million per year, but does not reach the 7 year, $90 million that Scott Boras appears to be seeking, and both the M's and Dodgers are growing irritated.

And the fallback option for both teams appears to be gone. According to Peter Gammons, Corey Koskie is about to sign a 3-year, $17 million offer with the Blue Jays. No link yet.

So, you go for the big dogs, and the big dogs want the big dog money... of 2001, not 2003. Beltran is holding out for 10-year, $200 million, Beltre wants 7 years and $90 million, and out of nowhere Carlos Delgado is now asking for 4 years and $64 million.

Will we blink? Should we? Beltre seems like the best choice to blink on, as its 2 years and $28 million at risk for a 27 year old who fills a GAPING hole in the Mariners system. But the M's seem to be sticking to the same limit to 5-year contracts that they pursued last year. Last year it cost them Miguel Tejada. This year, it may cost them Adrian Beltre.

Ponder This... 

While we wait with baited breath to hear the fates of Beltre, Delgado, Beltran, Drew, Clement, and Renteria, lets look at this little throwaway item from that legendary beacon of journalism, the New York Post.
There was also talk of a potential Kaz Matsui-for-Bret Boone second base swap with Seattle, though a Mariner official dismissed it.
Okay, so we know this may have been dismissed, but just for fun, would we be happy with this trade? Well, if you think Boone for one year is a bad deal, then you aren't likely to be happy with Matsui for two years.

This would give the M's a 2-year, $15 million 29 year old Kazuo Matsui for a 1-year $9 million 36 year old Bret Boone. Its not much of a cash savings, and would lock in Matsui at shortstop or second base for the next two years. Matsui struggled in his first season in America, with a 272/331/396 line, and his defense was spotty enough that the Mets were planning on moving him to second base this year. Boone, in an obviously off year, hit 251/317/423, with an 740 OPS that was a huge drop from the 901 OPS in 2003 and 950 OPS in 2001. If you believe in the every-other-year-Boonie magic, then this is a horrible idea.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rule 5 Draft on Monday 

With the GM's getting together on Friday, there will be much wheeling and dealing and gnashing of teeth over steroids. One event that has been overlooked a bit is Monday's Rule 5 Draft. Baseball America has an excellent summary of the Rule 5 Draft here.

And, just like in the real draft, the Mariners pick 3rd and could help themselves out by picking up a youngster that could spend the whole season on the 25-man roster. Say, in place of Willie Bloomquist.

Here are the Mariner Optimist's Top three ideas for the M's to grab on Monday.

#1 Andy Sisco, LHP, Cubs. Sisco is a 6'9" hard-throwing 22-year-old lefty whose stock has fallen a bit since being considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. While he has had control issues, he has struck out 365 in 331 innings of pro ball. Remind you of any other big, hard-throwing lefties you've seen pitch in a Mariners uniform? This would be a fantastic pickup for the M's, but probably will be snatched ahead of the M's. No clue what the Cubs were thinking here. If we don't land Sisco, then the M's probably need more hitting depth, but they might consider one of these lefties: Tyler Johnson, Cards; Luke Hagerty, Cubs; Carmen Pignatello, Cubs; Royce Ring, Mets

#2 Mike Napoli, C/1B, Angels. Broke out in a big way in 2004 with a huge season in high-A, with a .282/.393/.539 line. Strikes out a ton, but knows how to take a walk, so think Adam Dunn. He's not a great defender, but he's serviceable, and could be a third catcher that is a good pinch-hitter. The M's could always use depth at catcher and first base. 23-year-old catchers who hit 29 home runs and 100 RBIs need to be looked at long and hard.

#3 Jake Gautreau, 2B/3B, Padres. This former first-round pick has seen his career derailed by a bout of ulcerative colitis. But last season, he began to return to form, putting up a .259/.351/.462 in AA and .274/.333/.500 in AAA. He plays 2B and 3B, positions where the M's will be looking for help either this year or next. He might be another option to Justin Leone if the M's fail to land Corey Koskie, I mean, Adrian Beltre.

The only Mariner in any danger of being grabbed in the major league portion of the draft is Bobby Livingston, who has put up excellent numbers, but whose stuff is Moyeresque.

Did you know? 

Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 pick, taken by the Pirates from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. I didn't, until Ben Maller pointed me to this article on the Pirates preparations for the Rule 5 draft.

How Bout dem Sonics?!! 

Being a Seattle sports fan in Texas means that I don't get to watch too many games, and I'm not a big enough basketball fan to shell out money for the NBA League Pass. So last night's game with the Spurs was the first Sonics game I've watched in its entirety. (I do follow the recaps at Sports and Bremertonians religiously, and highly recommend them).

And let me just say, I'm impressed. Against a team that had a 20 game home winning streak and many (at least in Texas) people's favorite to win the 2005 title, the Sonics came out and kicked some a$$. Dominating the second quarter to take a 17-point halftime lead, the Sonics then had to withstand one of those furious rallies that the Spurs always seem to unleash on their opponents. The Spurs whittled it down to two, and I had visions of M's-Indians, and pick your favorite 2004 Seahawks debacle flash through my head.

But the Sonics stepped up their defense, started nailing shots, and eventually pulled away for a big win. And the game was entertaining from start to finish. The optimist in me can't give up on the Seahawks, but right now, I'm looking forward to watching the Sonics beat the Mavericks next, while I'm dreading this Sunday's Seahawk-Viking clash. If you have been lax in following the Sonics this year, give them a try, they are a team that reminds me of the 2001 Mariners, and this may be just as magical a season (maybe even with a better ending).

Now, onto the bad news. Troy Glaus is off the market. He signed a 4-year, $45 million offer with the Diamondbacks. This is a high-risk, high-reward contract for the DBacks, who will look very smart if Glaus stays healthy for the next 4 years. But that's a pretty big if and its a risk I'm glad the M's did not take.

So, its Adrian Beltre or bust for the M's at third base. Rumors persist that the Mariners have struck hard first with a very aggressive 7-year, $90 million offer, but I still haven't seen any mention of this offer in Seattle media, which I find perplexing. Shouldn't they at least mention that it was mentioned on a Los Angeles radio station?

Okay, maybe its not Adrian Beltre or bust. Corey Koskie may be the next man on the list. But now Koskie may be closer to accepting less money to stay in Minnesota, joining Brad Radke in the hometown discount club.

So, what other backup plan could the M's have for third base? Rumors that the M's and Padres have resumed discussing a trade that would send Randy Winn and Scott Spiezio to the Padres for Ryan Klesko's bloated contract and Sean Burroughs persist. This would be an interesting idea to say the least. Burroughs could be a stud, but his power has stubbornly refused to develop. Klesko is a butcher in the field and might be best suited to first base or DH. This would open up center field for Jeremy Reed, or possibly, dare I say it, Carlos Beltran.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fun With Deadlines 

Why is it that Grand Jury testimony can be leaked to the press without any repercussions to the leaker, but at the same time, the identity of the coaches who ranked Cal #8 is a more tightly held secret than the identity of Deep Throat?

While you ponder that, lets catchup on the always exciting Arbitration Deadline Day deals!

Take the following players off the M's wishlist:
Nomar Garciaparra, Cubs. 1 year $8 million + incentives up to $11 million.
Jaret Wright, Yankees. 3-year, $22 million
Brad Radke, Twins. Returns to Twins with 2-year, $18 million deal.
Tony Womack, Yankees. Not that he was on anyone's wishlist, but this should put a smile on your face that the Yankees are locking up a roster spot on this mediocrity with a 2-year, $4 million deal. The Yankees say goodbye to Miguel Cairo, who was not offered arbitration.

Close but not done yet...
Jon Lieber, Phillies. Close to finalizing a 3-year, $21 million contract. Call it Benson money.
Eric Milton, Yankees. 3-year, $21-24 million. Yankees look to rebuild staff once again.

Dan Wilson will return to Seattle for his 12th season as a Mariner, with a $1.75 million contract in his hands. There was never that much doubt about Wilson returning, it seemed a question of for how much. This is half what he made last year, but still probably more than he is worth. However, veteran leaders and pillars of the community come with a price, and this is not a bad way to go.

Meanwhile, Ron Villone has been offered arbitration, which is most likely a time-buying device for the M's and Villone to work out a 2 year deal. Villone is a fairly effective lefty reliever, and if he is content in that role, then I am content to keep him.

In other news of Mariner fan interest:
Corey Koskie turned down a 2-year, $8.25 million contract from the Twins and indicated that he has a 3-year $16 million offer in hand. Rumored suitors are the M's, Tigers or the Blue Jays. Lets hope that its not the M's, or at the least that the offer is contingent on us failing to land Beltre or Glaus.

J.D. Drew was not offered arbitration by the Braves, removing the cost of a draft pick, and the #1 competitor to signing the outfielder. There has been no buzz about Drew in an M's uniform in the press, and his asking price of 5 years, $50 million is a bit steep, but a fan can dream.

Other free agents of interest who were NOT offered arbitration include Carlos Delgado, Troy Glaus, Jeromy Burnitz, Kevin Millwood and Russ Ortiz. Free agents who were offered arbitration and will therefore cost the M's a draft pick to sign include Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, Corey Koskie, Jon Lieber, Derek Lowe, Carl Pavano, Odalis Perez, and Richie Sexson.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Note: I refuse to use Carlapalooza as it sounds like a reference to a Cheers waitress, and Carlpalooza already syllabically matches Lollapolooza.

Carl is in Seattle today, and its got to be a dreary day. Regardless of how you feel about how Carl would fit in the M's plans, you have to think our chances of landing him from a up close visit in the wintertime are long indeed. Who wants to be in Seattle in December the day after a nationally televised Seahawks debacle. Yuck.

And look at the sales pitch he just left in Baltimore...
The video department provided him with a glimpse of what the future could hold by putting his photo on the scoreboard in an Orioles uniform and treating the occasion like Opening Day - even posting a head shot of Oakland Athletics left-hander Mark Mulder opposite Pavano's likeness as a preview of the April 4 game at Camden Yards.
The recorded voice of public-address announcer Dave McGowan introduced Pavano as the starting pitcher, and career highlights were shown on the big screen. The free agent played catch with (his agent Scott) Shapiro as the Orioles cued Eminem's "Business," the song that accompanies him from the bullpen before each game.

Carlpalooza is on its fifth stop in a six city tour, with Boston, Detroit, New York and now Baltimore in his rear view mirror. After Seattle, he is off to Anaheim, where coincidentally, the Winter Meetings will be held.

I'm with the rest of the blogosphere when I say that I think Carl Pavano will be overpriced, and I'd rather take my chances with Matt Clement. But still, its nice to be included on the tour. In fact, when I look at the marquis free agents, it warms the cockles that almost every one of them has been linked to the Mariners recently, with the recent mentions of Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre really perking my interest. Throw in optimism from USS Mariner of all places, and I am really looking forward to seeing what the M's cook up this offseason.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Next M's Third Baseman? 

I just returned from some business travel, and while looking over a fellow traveller's shoulder, I managed to catch this snippet in the Japan Times (forgive me if someone else has covered this already, but I've been out of the loop).

Norihiro Nakamura, Japan's highest paid player, is coming to America. Will he be manning the Hot Corner for your 2005 Seattle Mariners?

This is Nakamura's second trip to the states, when he shrewdly backed out of a 2-year, $7 million contract with the Mets to sign a 5-year $30 million contract with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. But his American ambitions seem to have returned.

So what do we have here? He's a 13-year veteran of the Japan Leagues, and is 31 years old. After putting up monster seasons in 2000-2002 (127 HRs, 357 RBI), he hurt his knee in 2003 but played out the season, a move that led to him playing in only 117 games, and his OPS dropping from 1064 and 997 in 2001-2 to a meager 816.
In 2004, he only played in 110 games, but his OPS rebounded a bit to 858.

He is also a good defensive player, with 5 Gold Gloves to his name.

He is not a free agent, so he will have to go through the well-understood posting system, which every M's fan understands, comes out of the special foreign players fund and thus does not affect the M's budget.

He trained with the Los Angeles Dodgers in their Spring Training camp in 2004, so that may be his preference. He will certainly come cheaper than Adrian Beltre. Heck, he will probably be much cheaper than Corey Koskie.

He could be an inexpensive addition to the Mariners, but looks very risky to count on for 2005. Still, if we are unable to land Adrian Beltre (and we should be going after him hard and heavy), then Nakamura may be an inexpensive player to take a flyer on, while we allocate big bucks elsewhere (see Beltran, Carlos), rather than overspending on Corey Koskie.

I'd love to say more on the subject, but frankly, that's all I know. If you follow Japanese baseball, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Nakamura and whether he might be a good short term (see next 1-2 years) with the M's.

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