Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Here's a third article talking about Rich Aurilia becoming a Mariner. It also ends with a note about us looking to trade Cirillo to San Diego, mentioning Wiki Gonzalez and Kevin Jarvis.
It appears as if we're on the verge of signing Rich Aurilia (something in the neighborhood of $4m for a year) and dealing Carlos Guillen, potentially to Detroit. Here are two articles that mention these possibilities:



Not good news, but I don't think it's terrible news, either. That is, unless we trade Guillen for some nondescript garbage like Wil Ledezma or Ramon Santiago.
I know it's the New York Post, but it looks as if David Wells is a Padre.

The Yankee rotation is now lefty-less. That's terrible news for some of us; I'm looking at you, Raul.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Here's a question for you...

Who has had the better offseason: Seattle or Baltimore?

Leave your votes in the comments section of this post.

Monday, December 29, 2003

A rumor popped up a few minutes ago that Adam Dunn was traded (with Danny Graves) to Los Angeles for Edwin Jackson and a PTBNL. I thought the source could be considered pretty credible, but it appears as if he let me down.
Danger: Carlos Guillen has been mentioned as a trade possibility, meaning Operation Get Rid of Guillen is still going strong.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

As reassurance that this is still a baseball blog, in today's Mariner news we discover that nothing happened. This can only be considered a good thing.
What were the odds?

I've had one of those great days that only come around once in a long while, the days you need to appreciate because so rarely are they surpassed. The Seahawks are going to the playoffs, thanks to the most improbable of scenarios; at first, it looked like a tiebreaker situation in which Green Bay would get the shaft, but the miraculous Josh McCown pass made sure that everyone advanced. I've had an emotional connection with the Cardinals for a while, since being a half-fan (don't ask; I also liked the Jaguars) at a younger age. They're one of those teams you pull for because they're so utterly terrible...which, coincidentally, is how I became an Ottawa Senators fan.

The Saints won. Nevermind that the victory left open the initial possibility of a Seahawks playoff birth, but I spent my youngest years in New Orleans. Hence, another emotional connection. The Ottawa Senators won, and are playing their best hockey of the year at a time when they need to keep up with the Maple Leafs (grrrrrr). My Hattrick team is winning big. My Sim League team won its first game behind a strong Miguel Batista outing. This has been the best sports-related day in a long, long while, and it's much appreciated.

And, of course, on a slightly more personal note, I get to spend the remaining days of my winter vacation with the people I care about the most. Oh, and my family.
The folks over at Sports and Bremertonians talk about hockey on occasion, so I find it only appropriate to throw in a note about my Ottawa Senators. They're picking up steam at just the right time.

This is the year, boys. No more Jeff Friesen/Game 7 nonsense.
The one real encouraging thing about this winter is that, when they're playing well, the Seahawks can take on anybody in the league.

Let's hope they play well from here on out. We'll be facing either the Culpepper/Moss extravaganza next week (watch out, Shawn Springs), or the Stephen Davis steamroller. Not much in the way of balanced offenses on the horizon.
The Seahawks are going to the playoffs.

Via Rotoworld:

Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd admitted yesterday that his team won't be able to match the offers Rich Aurilia currently has on the table. "We know there are clubs offering more money and more security," O'Dowd said. "I think we could be creative (financially), and we would give him a chance to hit (second) in front of (Todd) Helton." Colorado appears to be a distant third in the chase for Aurilia. Seattle is the probable destination, and Toronto looks to be the primary alternative.

Dueling Banjos have a new official logo:

(Thanks to reader Devin Reilly for the artwork.)
Ivan Calderon was killed earlier.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Today's treat, in the spirit of the holidays, is that, upon returning home from Los Angeles, not only did the Seahawks win to stave off elimination one more day, but Clint Nageotte is still a Mariner (And Brian Jordan isn't).

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

For the sake of humor, I'll copy and paste this email I just got:



With warm hearts I offer my friendship, and my greetings, and I hope
This letter meets you in good time. It will be surprising to you to
Receive this proposal from me since you do not know me personally.

However, I am sincerely seeking your confidence in this transaction,
which I propose with my free mind and as a person of integrity.

My name is John komalo, the son of stephen komalo,One of the
most popular farmers from Zimbabwe, who was murdered in the
Land dispute in my country.

As led by my instinct, I decided to contact you through email, after
searching for Contacts via the internet, as it is the only means I can
contact anybody since I am cutting off ties with Zimbabwe for now. I
apologize if this is not acceptable to you.

The purpose of this letter is to seek your most needed assistance in a
Business venture. Due to the land and political problems in Zimbabwe,
and President Robert Mugabe's introduction of new Land Act Reform
wholly affecting the rich white farmers and the few rich black farmers,
all white farmers were asked to surrender their farms to the Government
for re-distribution and infact to his political party members and my
though black was the treasury of the farmers association and a strong
Member of an opposition party that did not support the president's

He then ordered his party members and the police under his pay row to
invade my father's farm and burn down everything in the farm. They
killed my father and took away a lot of items from his farm.

After the death of my father, our local pastor and a close friend of my
father handed us over will documents with instructions from my father
That we should leave Zimbabwe incase anything happen to him.

The will documents have a certificate of deposit, Airway bill

cash Deposit totalling Twelve million five hundred thousand united
dollars. [$12.5m] kept in custody for us in a security company
as personal belongings.

This money was deposited with this Private Security Company for Safety
and security reasons, and was to be used for the purchase Of land, new
machines and chemicals establishment of new farms in Botswana.

This violent and barbaric act by Mugabe has since led to the death of
my beloved mother and kid sister and other innocent lives.

I was continually threatened to abandon my inheritance from my father
after he was murdered. I resisted for a while, but when the danger
became unbearable, and I survived two murder attempts, I fled Zimbabwe
with the help of my father's close friend Mr. John Casannas from
Australia also a farmer who was leaving in Zimbabwe with us but left
with his family following this ugly development I have tried to reach
him but all to no avail.

I am currently staying in the Netherlands where I am seeking political
asylum. In fact my decision to come here to seek asylum, is because
the security company from South Africa, has a branch here, I have
contacted them to move the safe deposit from their office in
Johannesburg to The affiliate office here in Amsterdam The Netherlands
which they are waiting further directives from me before they effect
the movement.

I need to transfer this money to an account and invest part of the
Money. Since the law of Netherlands prohibits a refugee (Asylum
Seeker) to open any bank account or to be involved in any financial
Transaction, this is why I am seeking a genuine and reliable Partner,
whose account this money can be transferred after the consignment
must have been duely transferred from South Africa, hence your
involvement in this venture.

You have to understand that this decision taken by me is a very big
And brave one, and it entrusts my future in your hands, as a result of
the safe keeping of this money.

If you accept to assist me, all I want you to do for me, is to assist
with arrangements to claim the deposit from the security company from
their office here in The Netherlands, as it has now been transferred
from Johannesburg, South Africa to their branch here. The company will
be legally informed of you representing me.

For your assistance, I have two options for you. Firstly you can choose
to have 20% of the money for your assistance, and helping me open an
account for the money to be deposited here, or you can go into
with me for the proper profitable investment of the money in your

Whichever the option you want, please to notify me in your reply.
I have also set aside 1 % of the total sum $12.5M for all kinds of
Expenses that come our way in the process of this transaction, and 4%
For Charity donation. If you prefer to accept the 20% for your moral
and financial assistance then the balance will be left in the account
here for me.

Please note that this 1% is not with me at the moment but shall be
deducted from the total sum as soon as the money finally hits your
nominated account.

Finally I want you to maintain absolute secrecy for the purpose of
this transaction.

I look forward to your reply and c-operation, and I thank you in
as I anticipate your co-operation.

John komalo

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Note to readers: as of midday tomorrow, I will be in LA for a few days, and thus won't be updating the site. I think we could all use about a week away from this team, though, so the holidays couldn't come at a better time.
The Alex Rodriguez/Manny Ramirez deal is finally off (for now).

So, yeah, we might have the worst GM in the division now.
Todd Walker is a Cub. $1.75m for one year.

Yes, Walker has said (on numerous occasions) that he'd be willing to shift to third base. But at least we have Scott Spiezio...
By the way, Rich Aurilia's reported asking price is in the neighborhood of $3.5m per year (the offer Colorado has on the table).

This keeps getting better and better.
Ben Grieve is a Brewer.

But who needs that .360+ OBP, when you have Raul Ibanez?

Monday, December 22, 2003

Good article on Selig's involvement with the Rodriguez trade.
Better Off With These Guys Instead of Spiezio #712:

Jared Sandberg and Russ Branyan Platoon.

Branyan has a .264/.333/.604 line against lefties in the last three years, and while Sandberg's OPS against righties over the same span is only .721, it shot up to .803 last year. If he sucks, no big deal; Branyan isn't a disaster against right-handers by any means.

No, neither of them walk a lot (low OBP alert!), but they're powerful, cheap, and don't require multiyear deals to stay happy. We wouldn't get All Star production out of third base, but we'd get the improvement we're looking for for about $6m less.

And hey, their names at least came up in an article. But then, so did Frank Menechino's.
Rich Aurilia the Mariner?

I don't like it. Operation Get Rid of Guillen is still in full swing, I guess.
The Orioles are on the verge of signing Javy Lopez to a 3 year, $23m contract. This deal is almost sure to become a future albatross; Javy's batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS all declined each year between 1999-2002 before jumping to astronomical levels last year. You're all smart enough to know it's never a good idea to hand out an expensive multiyear deal to a 33 year old catcher coming off his best career performance, so I needn't elaborate further.

Update: It's official.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Freddy re-signed. One year, $6.875m (same as he made last year).

I don't know what to think. On the one hand, I'm not a Freddy Garcia fan in the least, and think we have better options stocking the high minors. In terms of value for the dollar, anyway. On the other hand, I'm relieved that we didn't give him a multiyear deal, because that just would've been foolish.

Now let's work on trading him.
In respose to a comment by Jeff, I disagree that Freddy Garcia is better than Kelvim Escobar.

Opponents against Freddy, 2001-2003:


Opponents against Escobar, 2001-2003:


Escobar has a considerably better strikeout rate, and when you consider that he's been hurt by Skydome (as opposed to Garcia having pitched in Safeco), I have to think that Kelvim is the better pitcher.

I wouldn't want to give either one seven million dollars, though.
Apparently, KJR is reporting that we've reached an agreement with Garcia, and won't have to decide whether or not to offer him arbitration.

Maybe it's just me, but if I had to throw too much money away on a talented but inconsistent pitcher, I would've given it to Escobar.
Ideas That Will Never Be Considered #241:

Tandem rotation spot shared by Soriano and Madritsch, after non-tendering Garcia.
You know your organization is in trouble when Jeff Cirillo thinks you suck.

Oh, and another quote from the article:

Well before the contract-tender deadline of 9 tonight, the Mariners will have to know if Garcia will accept their offer of a deal believed to be in the $6 million to $7 million range annually.

Can't say I'm fond of that idea.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Jose Guillen is an Angel. I want to believe that he was one of the biggest flukes in recent years, but having seen Bret Boone's turnaround, I'll give it a year.

Oh, and Jose Macias is a Cub. Y'know, just in case Tom Goodwin gets hurt.
Freddy Garcia:

Sign, or non-tender?

In order to gauge reader preference, leave your vote in the Comments section for this post.
I've been reading a lot of other blogs of late, and I have become a huge fan of Paul over at SS Mariner. If I were DMZ, I would give it my Official Endorsement.

Kudos, Paul. Your captivating banter amuses at least one of us.

On the baseball side of things, lots of good news tonight:

-We've shown interest in Rich Aurilia, who has posted an OBP of .340 or higher once in his career. Aurilia, as you may have guessed, is older than 30 (32).

-We also backloaded Ichiro's contract (*sigh*), according to the same article.

-Oh, and straight from the horse's mouth: "We're not done," Bavasi said. At least Melvin thinks the team's improved, and perception is reality, right?

This terminal pessimism will drive me to drinking far earlier than any of my close friends could have predicted.
To quote oft-reader Jeremy, of Sports and Bremertonians fame:

That being said, Bavasi is a dumbass, plain and simple. To think that just a week ago, my optimism for this team was pretty high. Now, I'm not sure where it is.

I'm inclined to agree. As I told a friend just a minute ago, the Mariners have put me in something of a death spiral with their recent transactions, and with the Garcia/Valentin rumors abounding, I don't know when it'll hit bottom.
It's really starting to concern me how many sources are talking about a Garcia - Valentin trade. And this quote is more than a little distressing:

"Let the next 48 hours happen," Bavasi said. "Let's see where that takes us."

I've never seen a guy fly by the seat of his pants with such reckless abandon.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Forty-four million dollars.

But at least we couldn't afford Tejada or Guerrero.
Let's take a shot at this.

Ichiro posts an average VORP of 46.1.

The Mariners get 5.98 VORP points per million dollars spent.

Thus, in fitting with the team, Ichiro should be given a contract worth $7.71m per year.

Sounds good to me.
Is anyone else as frightened about the financial details of Ichiro's deal as I am?

I can just about feel another "I HATE YOU, BAVASI" post coming on.
Arthur Rhodes the Athletic?

Just what we need, another elite southpaw in the division to make a mockery of our offense.

Update: Rhodes signed with Oakland.
Bigtrain21 has left a few comments of the "God I hate Bavasi >:(" and "DIE BAVASI DIE" ilk.

The revolution is starting.
We are close to re-signing Ichiro. A quote from the article:

That deal — perhaps three years, with a remote possibility of it extending to five years — may be back-loaded.

That strikes me as a bad, bad idea.

Ichiro is the proud owner of a shiny .293 EqA and an average VORP of 46.1. He's a good defensive right fielder, as evidenced by his career Rate of 108. However, he's not as valuable as Magglio Ordonez, Bobby Abreu, or the 2003 version of Richard Hidalgo, and these players signed eight-figure contracts in the so-called "Old Market". He's between 2/3 and 3/4 as productive as Vladimir Guerrero, neatly fitting into the upper middle-tier with guys like Mike Cameron and Shannon Stewart. Popularity aside, I would hesitate to consider Ichiro better than either of these outfielders, who will be earning an average of $6.5m and $6m (respectively) over the next three years. To me, that's about Ichiro money, possibly going up to $7.5m if Attansio's feeling greedy. Backloading the contract of a player who has declined by a good margin each year seems like a pretty bad idea, but I wouldn't put it past Bavasi to throw a Sheffield-like contract Ichiro's way in a prolific display of overestimation of a good player's abilities. Nevermind that Ichiro isn't close to as valuable as Gary Sheffield; he draws fans and plays the game "the way it should be played"!

And then I'll wonder where all the money went.
God dammit.

Pelekoudas said the Mariners are looking to add a potent hitter, a left-hander to the bullpen and another reserve.

You had your chance at potent hitters, and passed them all up in favor of Little Bavasi and Sandfrog.

Reserves can be found anywhere. May I suggest, say, Chris Snelling? Or Jamal Strong, since he seems to be the best fit for whatever it is Bavasi's trying to build.

And this pursuit of that elusive second lefty is really starting to wear on me.
Aesthetics question:

Anyone know why this site won't archive itself? I don't want everything I've ever written to be present on the main page, slowing loading time for readers with slower modems.
The Yankees will open the season in Japan, taking on Tampa Bay.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

You know times are bad when you come home from a family dinner, check the news online, and are thrilled upon discovering that Bill Bavasi didn't do anything stupid during those two hours you were away.
In the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, we selected Omar Falcon. This is hardly relevant news, which is one of the reasons I've delayed to post this (the other reason being directly below this), but Falcon might own one of the most interesting stat lines I've ever seen.

In 2002, he had 185 at bats for Idaho Falls. In those 185 at bats, he put up a .227/.363/.438 line. Not too bad; shows elements of a solid batter's eye, and for a 19 year old catcher it's a more than acceptable line.

Well, he struck out 100 times in those 185 at bats.

Those of you with a copy of Baseball Prospectus 2003 already know this, but strikeouts accounted for 70% of the outs Falcon made. Last year, he struck out 52 times in a shortened season (season-ending hand injury), while posting a miserable .613 OPS. Nevertheless, I think the novelty of having such a player in the organization makes him a worthwhile pickup. And hey, nothing wrong with selecting young catchers (he's 21) who've shown flashes of promise once or twice in the past.

At least we didn't end up with the *other* Omar.
So, I'm sure you've all heard that the Vizquel trade was nixed.

I'm pleased, but when your GM actively pursues these kinds of guys, it kind of ruins things regardless of whether or not the deal goes through.

I won't update as frequently for a few days, on account of recovering from a cross-country flight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

To quote our new favorite team official:

"We've got things out there that could happen (today), things we set in motion before Tejada signed with Baltimore," Bavasi said. "It's not going to be Vladimir (Guerrero) or either of the free agent catchers (Javy Lopez and Ivan Rodriguez), but it will make us a better team."

I think I speak for all of us when I say that you have improved us just about enough, Mr. Bavasi.
We're apparently on the verge of trading Carlos Guillen for Omar Vizquel.

I give up.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I'd like to tell a personal story, which may help explain my overwhelming pessimism towards this team. My apologies if this isn't what you're here to read, but bear with me for a minute.

Since I was a little kid in San Diego, I have been obsessed with competitive sport. I was never much for the home team; didn't care for the Saints when I lived in New Orleans, and actually rooted against the Padres and Chargers later on. I took a liking towards the Seattle Mariners (and the other Seattle teams), because I have an uncle from Seattle who I truly admired and enjoyed way back when (not to suggest that I dislike him now). I remember in that '92 NFL season, when the Seahawks beat the Broncos 16-13 in overtime; for some reason it was on TV in San Diego, but I had to go to bed before it was over. When I woke up, I asked my mom who won...I was thrilled when she told me.

Things have gone downhill since then, one could say. Sports have been a source of depression for me, if anything. My teams have this mystifying ability to raise my spirits to seemingly unreachable levels before letting me down in increasingly disappointing ways. All of you are familiar with the recent history of the Mariners. Start strong and finish weakly. The '01 team looked like an exception, but sure enough, there they went, falling victim to the Yankees while looking worse than they did a year before. The last two years they've come out of the gate with astounding success before wilting in mid-summer. It isn't limited to baseball, though. Look at the Seahawks, and it's the same story. They were leading the division this year by quite a fair margin, but since then they've played downright horrible football, and no longer seem a lock for the postseason. Happened a few years ago, too, when they squeaked into the playoffs only to get trounced by Trace Armstrong. Perhaps the toughest moment I can recall is last year's NHL Eastern Conference Finals. The Ottawa Senators, who have a long history of pissing me off come May, had battled back from a 3-1 series deficit against the New Jersey Devils, tying it up and leading to a Game Seven to be played at home. It was an up-and-down game until the third period, when, with two minutes left, Jeff Friesen spit all over my good spirits. New Jersey scored, Ottawa lost, and it was my mom's birthday. I've mentioned this before.

Maybe being a fan is more about appreciating the little successes than it is about winning a championship. The Mariners were the best team in baseball two years ago, and that should make me happy, right? Ottawa is a strong, young team, and they're always one of the top teams in the NHL. I should be ecstatic to have been a fan since they were putting up single digits in the win column, right? Nevermind their Oakland Athletics-esque playoff history.

And I do enjoy the little victories, the game-tying home runs by cult heroes off elite closers. But it seems like there should be more than this.

Perhaps it's all Bavasi's fault. Maybe I'm just having too strong of a response to today's disappointing transactions (which remain irrational and inexplicable). Yet it seems like something that's been brewing for a while. I think I get more enjoyment out of writing about sports than I do following them, because I get a sense of accomplishment and involvement that I wouldn't get watching Arthur Rhodes serve up a grand slam to Rondell White. It has occurred to me in recent weeks that I might enjoy disappointment more than success in the world of sports, because pouring your hostility and depression onto a page provides something of a catharsis. Precious few things bring about the kind of emotion that competitive sports do, and maybe that's where the enjoyment truly lies. Only one team gets to hoist the Stanley Cup. Only one team gets to shake hands with Bud Selig in October (as god-awful as that may be). Only one team gets to kiss the Lombardi trophy as millions around the world watch in awe. Seems llike an awful lot of disappointment for an awful lot of fans, doesn't it?

All things being equal, a baseball fan should expect his team to win the World Series once every thirty years. If winning the title is the only source of happiness, why has baseball remained so popular over the decades? Why did Baltimore draw nearly two and a half million fans last year, despite being a miserable team?

I think I've been missing the point all this time. Being a fan isn't about winning every year. I don't think a Yankees fan is truly any happier than I am. Satisfaction, even felicity, come from the emotional bond we all have with our respective teams, regardless of how they perform on the field. As a team goes through a losing streak, we can all be comforted by the knowledge that there are hundreds of thousands of people just as disappointed as we are, and being able to complain and bitch with them provides a kind of stress release you just can't find anywhere else.

The other day, I got an email from David Cameron. With his permission, I will paste an excerpt or two below:

We're put on this earth to impact other peoples lives in a positive way, and I realized that I'd be a lot happier in 80 years knowing that I'd led people to the Lord than knowing that I'd seen a lot of baseball games.
I love baseball, always will, but it doesn't come close to knowing that someone else is better off because of your actions.

What it boils down to is that there are so many more important things than the sports we follow. This is a cliche, and I realize that, but it's times like these when we should all remember that, no matter how thick-headed the Mariners' front office has become, sports are no substitute for knowing that you have made others feel better about themselves and their lives, if even in some minor way. Sports should be considered a means of releasing stress and emotion, be it positive or not so positive, and nothing more. I have more than once fallen victim to the idea that the Mariners, or the Seahawks, or the Senators, are more important than anything, and when Bill Bavasi performed a few magic tricks on himself this morning I thought it would ruin my day. What I need to remember, just like many of you, I'm sure, is to take what enjoyment from sports that I can, and to realize that there's a lot more to both sports and life than winning a trophy.

We can only hope that our front office doesn't provoke a similar rant in the near future.
Carl Everett has signed with the Expos for two years and $7m.

The Montreal freaking Expos signed a better player than Raul Ibanez for less.

Can Bavasi really be worse than Chuck Lamar and Omar Minaya?

Early indications suggest that yes, he can.
It's time for some ZiPS projections:

McCracken: .269/.329/.392

Spiezio: .269/.337/.441

Adjusted for Safeco:

.258/.322/.372 for McCracken.

.258/.329/.418 for Spiezio.

In case you're curious, Colbrunn's pegged for an .840 OPS.
According to a few sources, Mark Bellhorn is a Red Sox.

God knows he wouldn't be a better choice than Scott Spiezio.

Neither would Justin Leone, for that matter...
Please retire, Edgar.

More good news on the way: we signed Scott Spiezio!!!!!

Fire Bavasi.
I can't just let this sit, without commenting further.

Let's explore a quote or two from the article:

McCracken's overall versatility attracted the Mariners. He can play all three of the outfield positions and figures to get significantly more playing time than he would have with the D-Backs.

"I think that 'Q' is someone who benefits from regular playing time," Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola, Jr., said.

McCracken's lack of versatility has been well documented. He comes in with a career line of .280/.341/.383, barely suitable for a middle infielder, but atrocious for a corner outfielder. At 33 years old, he's not getting any better (expect his 2004 line to be closer to the .547 OPS he put up last year than the .825 from 2002), although it's difficult to imagine his abilities actually getting worse.

Quinton McCracken at $1.75m is an absolute joke. Trading your best bench bat, not to mention John Olerud's platoon partner, for him, is beyond funny. It's a nightmare. I can't for the life of me figure out what Bavasi was thinking inside that shiny bald head of his.

"Two good guys traded for each other there. Two really good guys."

Oh good, at least Quinton will help old ladies cross the street when he's not popping out or dropping fly balls.

It's horrible to be a Mariners fan right now. I feel ill.
Quinton McCracken is ours.

This is, without a doubt, the worst I've felt about the Mariners in a long, long time.

What an absolute joke this front office is becoming.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Edgar Martinez doesn't deserve this.
Little tidbit, just for fun:

In 2003, the Mariners combined for a total VORP of 520.2. With a payroll of $ 86,959,167 (per USA Today), we got 5.98 VORP points per $1m.

Over the last three years, Miguel Tejada has had an average VORP of 54.6. If he were to repeat that performance throughout the duration of his contract, then Baltimore would be getting 4.55 VORP/$1m.

For the sake of further comparison:

Alex Rodriguez: 4.11
Nomar Garciaparra: 5.55
Jim Thome: 5.48
Bret Boone: 9.48 (Does anyone else realize how much of a bargain he is?)
Todd Helton: 5.90
Dmitri Young: 8.64
Gary Sheffield: 7.17

Miguel Tejada is, in fact, overpaid, even when compared to contracts signed in the "older market". At $54m/6yr, like one of the earlier rumors said, he'd be a pretty good deal, but at an average of $12m per season, the Orioles can have him.
Jose Cruz Jr. has reportedly signed with Tampa Bay for a one-year deal worth $6m.

Chuck Lamar strikes again.

Carlos Guillen also re-upped on a $2.5m/1yr deal.

Update: Cruz's deal is actually over two years, making it less terrible.
I'm not quite so displeased anymore.

The AP is reporting that Tejada's deal is actually $72m over six years, with the following structure:

2004: $3m*
2005: $9m
2006: $10m
2007: $12m
2008: $13m
2009: $13m

He also gets a $12m signing bonus, a third of which will be paid out in 2004, and the rest in $2m increments payable in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011.

That, my friends, is blatant overpaying, and now that I've come down from my initial anger and frustration, I'm more pleased that Bavasi ignored the urge to go too high for a talented, but not elite player.

Needless to say, I want Vlad, dammit.
According to Ken Rosenthal, per Fox Sports, the Orioles have signed Miguel Tejada for five years and $65m. Sportsline says $54m/6yr.

This has been an extremely discouraging weekend, as it seems like Bavasi spent more time talking to Arizona about Quinton McCracken than he did visiting with Miguel Tejada's agents.

As recently as 24 hours ago, it seemed like a done deal. Now there's nothing even remotely encouraging on the horizon, as Bavasi has indicated that his Plan B is re-signing Freddy Garcia. A potentially monstrous offensive improvement has chosen playing for the Baltimore Orioles over a perennial contender, and while the obvious response is that he went after the money, you have to wonder if there's something seriously wrong with this team's negotiating strategies.

To date, Bavasi's tenure has been, in a word, lousy. We lost our best outfielder for nothing and signed a below-average corner OF to an expensive three-year deal. We threw away one of the premier left-handed setup men in the game and replaced him with an overpaid closer (who won't be closing). Pat Borders was offered arbitration for his "special relationship with the club", even though it's pretty clear to me now that Bavasi isn't any more familiar with the Mariners organization than Michael Clark Duncan. And the McCracken rumors won't go away.

I don't feel like a jilted fan. I don't even feel misled or conned. Just...disappointed. Disappointed that an organization with more money than they know what to do with really doesn't know what to do with all that money. This fan base deserves much, much better than what it's been getting, and while part of me would love it if attendance suffered next year, I'm sure that Lincoln & Co. would use the dwindling revenue as an excuse to keep even more money for themselves.
Tampa Bay is busy today.

They traded Joe Kennedy to Colorado for Mark Hendrickson (who went to the Rockies for Justin Speier, earlier), and then dealt Brandon Backe to Houston for Geoff Blum.

This is a relief, in that I had Blum pegged as a Mariner by opening day.
Interesting little salary database on the USA Today site. Nice resource to have, but don't bother going through a bunch of manual calculations. Take my word for it: it's not worth the time.
According to the M's official website, we offered Tejada a $45m/5yr deal that was turned down.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

A few things on what Rick's been saying at the Bullpen, again...

I'm also quite disappointed that we never so much as suggested that we've even interested in Vladimir Guerrero. I thought the market would be much bigger for him than it's turned out to be, and given that Baltimore appears to be the only serious suitor I don't see the harm in throwing a contract his way to see if it sticks. He's a better player than Tejada, and projects to post superior numbers than Miguel for a number of years. Of course, the last thing you can expect the Mariners to do is displace their current right fielder. (Speaking of whom, if the rumors concerning his salary [wants $15m/offered $10m] are true, I'm going to be irked.)

Raul Ibanez is not an excellent hitter. His .294/.345/.454 2003 line is almost exactly league average for an AL left fielder, and that came in the best hitter's park in the American League. That line, adjusted for a neutral ballpark, comes out to be something in the neighborhood of .284/.336/.441, which is what you'd want from your shortstop, not your starting left fielder.

His OPS+ last year was 99, which places him slightly below average. It would be bad enough if he were simply below-average when compared to other corner outfielders (which he was), but OPS+ also takes into consideration light-hitting middle infielders and Brad Ausmus. Ibanez's career high OPS+ was 116, which came in 2002.

Just for kicks, let's look at another player who was available this winter:

Matt Stairs OPS+: 114 in 2001, 119 in 2002, 146 in 2003.

Raul Ibanez hits like the pre-2002 Garret Anderson (the bad one). The difference between Ibanez and the pre-2002 Garret Anderson is that there're no upcoming 2002 & 2003 seasons on the horizon for Raul. He's 31 years old, beyond a player's peak years, and coming from the best AL hitter's park to the worst one isn't likely to jumpstart his career, left-handed hitter or not.
All the optimism is getting sucked out of me.

"You guys are focused on him and I understand why you have to be. I just think you are more singularly focused on that than we can afford to be."
Asked if the Mariners adjusted their offer -- believed to be three years for $25 million -- Bavasi said, "I wouldn't say that."
Colbrunn will make $2.5 million next season, while McCracken has a deal for $1.75 million. It's believed the two sides are trying to even out the money involved and the Diamondbacks would also like to discuss the move with manager Bob Brenly, whose flight to New Orleans on Saturday was grounded by fog in Dallas. He was not expected to arrive until late Saturday night.

If that trade is made, the Mariners could use Raul Ibanez as a backup for first baseman John Olerud. McCracken has experience at all three outfield positions and also is a switch-hitter.

In the interest of maintaining something of a readership, I urge all of you to send me suggestions on how I can improve this site. I'm new to the blogging game, and any advice would be much appreciated.

Also, if anyone knows how I could add a "Comments" link underneath all of my blogs, I will love you for life if you divulge your secret.
This blog has become something of a rumor central, and I realize that, but here comes another one...

Looks like Mike Cameron could be a Met. $18m/3yr (per Jayson Stark).

While I don't think Cameron deserves to go to such a disappointing franchise, I'd rather he play in New York than Oakland.

Update: Mike Cameron is, in fact, a Met. Details here.
No matter how bad Quinton McCracken may be, it can always get worse.

Quoting Chuck Lamar, on losing Mark Malaska to the Red Sox: "It shows how good we were getting since other teams were taking our guys off waivers."
Good news, from Rotoworld:

"Miguel Tejada has reportedly told his agent to get a deal done with the Mariners. Former Reds GM Jim Bowden reported on ESPNews that Tejada has picked Seattle over Baltimore and Detroit."
In the spirit of optimism, I've decided to spend the afternoon thinking of ways to justify a Colbrunn - McCracken deal, should it go down. And so, with no further ado, here we go:

-In 2002, McCracken had an OPS+ of 110. Greg Colbrunn's career number is a paltry 107.

-McCracken has stolen 80 bases in his career, and is a much better fit for our slap-and-dash offense than Greg Colbrunn and his hackneyed three-run homers and productive at bats.

-McCracken was released by Tampa Bay, the same team who got rid of Bobby Abreu. Spooky!

-According to St Petersburg Times writer John Romano, Quinton McCracken is a fan favorite. Greg Colbrunn isn't, and has suspicious eyebrows.

-In 1999, McCracken destroyed his knee trying to make a catch against the wall. Greg Colbrunn doesn't even play in the field.

-The Devil Rays have an annual charity golf tournament, and McCracken used to play for them. Greg Colbrunn's brother beat up a 12 year old on Halloween.

-Quinton McCracken doesn't have cancer, whereas Greg Colbrunn chews tobacco.

I think I've made it pretty clear which guy is the better choice. If you want a cancerous guy with bushy eyebrows who might beat up a preteen, fine, go with Colbrunn. If you want a true athlete who smiles a lot and has things in common with Bobby Abreu, you go with McCracken.
Quoting Billy Beane:

The A's will go after Mike Cameron "full steam ahead".

Juan Encarnacion is a Dodger. Dealt for a PTBNL.

And to think, just two years ago he was almost traded for Joel Pineiro.
Looks like JD Drew is a Brave, along with Eli Marrero, in exchange for Ray King, Jason Marquis, and Adam Wainwright.

I don't think Atlanta knows what it's doing. I didn't think the price for Drew was THAT high.

Adam Wainwright reached AA for the first time last year, and at the age of 21, he posted the following numbers:

7.99 h/9
2.22 bb/9
7.70 k/9
3.46 k/bb
0.54 hr/9
3.37 ERA

He's only 22 years old, now, and could conceivably be in a major league rotation by the All Star Break.

A quick look at the potential Red Sox bullpen, with the pitchers and their average ARP over the last three seasons:

Keith Foulke: 21.3
*Scott Williamson: 8.8
Byung-Hyun Kim: 16.8
Mike Timlin: 9.7
(Alan Embree averages 12.7 over the last two years, following a disastrous 2001)

*-Includes 2000 year, instead of 2001, when he was hurt.

If they keep this bullpen together, Boston could have the most dominating pitching staff in the majors next year.
According to ESPN, Keith Foulke has signed with Boston for three years and $21m.

As mentioned before, Foulke was the sixth-best reliever in 2003, behind Gagne, Cormier, Wagner, Donnelly, and Hasegawa (Soriano was #9). He saved 26.5 more runs than a league-average pitcher last year, so by slapping together some Pythagorean calculations we find that, by replacing Foulke with, say, Mike Stanton, Oakland loses three games in the standings.

It also looks like they'll be losing Rincon, their third-best reliever last year. You can't take a walk around the block without running into a qualified relief pitcher, but they're going to have trouble trying to replace two guys as good as Foulke and Rincon (Todd Walker nightmare be damned).
1:21, and McCracken isn't a Mariner yet. I can only hope this trend continues.

If this trade does, in fact, go down, heads will roll.

Or they'll do whatever it is oblong noggins do on a downhill slope, anyway.
I usually overreact to things before arriving at a rational conclusion. These last two summers, I've thrown things across the room after learning that Gillick skimped on the deadline deals, but within an hour or two I've managed to sit down, cool off, and justify his actions (or lack thereof). When the Ottawa Senators lost in the final minutes of game seven of last year's Eastern Conference championship series to the New Jersey Devils, I went out back and destroyed a trash can with a baseball bat before realizing that Ottawa's a young team who'll be better in similar situations in the future. When the Seahawks traded Ahman Green for Fred Vinson, I was pretty ticked until I remembered that fumbles suck.

Well, it's been three hours since I've heard the news, and I still think that Quinton McCracken is the worst player in all of professional baseball.

It's funny what a bit of terrible news can do to your outlook on things. Since learning of our intentions concerning McCracken (is McCrap'in too obvious?), I've formed a decidedly bleak opinion regarding our chances of landing Miguel Tejada. How could a GM do something so right just moments after doing something so colossally stupid? I was planning on writing a somewhat lengthy post later this afternoon discussing the numerous benefits of signing Tejada, considering it an all but done deal, but now I think I'll spend those two hours drinking things in the chemistry lab.

Life sucks.
Blogging would be a lot easier if the sites would stop going down every five seconds.
The A-rod-Boston talks appear to be dead. Personally, I'm glad; Epstein/Henry were never going to meet Texas's financial demands, and knowing that the Sox are stuck with Garciaparra for the time being might calm Steinbrenner down and put this arms race to bed (if only temporarily).

There were two possible outcomes of this deal:

1) Texas succeeds, in which case fans would point to A-rod's deal as the reason why the Rangers couldn't win.
2) Texas continues to do poorly, in which case fans proclaim "YOU DIDN'T NEED A-ROD TO STINK!!"

I'm glad that we don't have to deal with that kind of idiocy. Not right now, anyway.

Tonight's horrible rumor:

Greg Colbrunn for Quinton McCracken.

I couldn't make this stuff up.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Rule 5 Draft coming up. I was dreading this for quite a while, almost certain that the M's wouldn't put Leone on the 40man, but alas, they came through.

This could spell the end of the Craig Anderson era in Tacoma. No real news here, but it's always fun rooting for the John Stephenses of the world.
Rick, over at Mariner Bullpen, caught something in an earlier post of mine:

"I do think you comparison of Ibanez vs. Perez/Stairs platoon is worth thinking about - but it is also misleading. I assume the 2.7 mil is for one year of the platoon. One year of Ibanez is, what, a little over $4 mil. So you are really talking about a difference of $1.5 mil or so."

He's right, in that Ibanez is really only getting around $4.33m per year. However, the $13.25m figure acts as a comparison between the level of commitment we gave Raul and that which was given to Stairs/Perez (who, by the way, will cost $1.85m this year; Perez is signed for two years at 1.7, Stairs at 1 for 1). If Ibanez flops, we're on the hook for another reasonably expensive two years. If Stairs and Perez flop, one's gone after the year and the other can be hidden on the bench or cut, without suffering significant financial consequences.

I do not think the Ibanez signing will cripple the team, because he's still only the eighth-(?)highest salary on the roster. My problem with the acquisition is that Ibanez is an aging platoon player leaving the friendliest AL ballpark for the most hostile hitter's environment, and Bavasi (or Gillick, depending on how you see things) decided that that's well worth an eight-figure investment. Will Ibanez live up to his contract? I doubt it; he can't hit lefties, so even if you bench him for a third of his games and let him put up a .800 OPS in 400 at bats against righties, that doesn't scream "Give this man thirteen million dollars!" to me. Especially when there are better and cheaper alternatives, two of which i mentioned.

I'm not too concerned about any individual contract Bavasi's handed out, but rather all the contracts as a group. Ibanez won't kill us at $4.33m a year. Neither will Guardado at $4m. Hasegawa's not too much of a problem at $3m, either, and neither is Franklin at $1.7m. But when you put them all together, you realize that we've already spent $13m worth of our 2004 payroll on entirely fungible commodities. All right, so Guardado is something of a relief ace, but I'd be willing to take the downgrade from him to Madritsch if it meant we could invest that $13m in Vladimir Guerrero, wouldn't you?

If we don't sign Tejada, I'm going to be pissed.
I will take this opportunity to post some of the stats I've been calculating in a spreadsheet for the last while (if you want a copy of the excel file, feel free to email me):

Over the last four years, Mariners & Opponents have hit .252/.326/.391 in Safeco (.138 IsoSLG), with hits on 28.7% of balls in play.

Over the last four years, Mariners & Opponents have hit .274/.342/.436 on the road (.162 IsoSLG), with hits on 30.7% of balls in play.

Thus, Safeco has the following effect on hitters in general:

92.2% BA
95.5% OBP
89.5% SLG
85.3% IsoSLG
85.3% Home Runs
93.4% hits on balls in play

(For example, a .300 hitter in a neutral park could be expected to hit (.300)(.922)=.277 at Safeco, meaning that he'd turn out as a .288 hitter in a full season.)

This should be a handy little tool for projecting hitter performance in Seattle. I can't find splits for lefties and righties in Safeco/on the road, but I hear the Bill James Handbook has them. Hmmm...
Just how good was our team defense last year?

Slapping together a few calculations in the Voros McCracken mold, we find that our beloved M's got hits 30.9% of the time they put a ball in play last year. This is consistent with results from the previous three years, over which span the figure increases to 31.3%.

Last year, Mariner opponents got hits on 27.4% of balls put in play. If you're willing to believe that the Mariners' percentage represents something in the neighborhood of league-average, that means that, over the course of a full season, Mariner opponents recorded ~147 fewer hits than you would expect from an average offense.

While I realize that I'm taking some mathematical liberties here, opponents scored one run per 1.85 hits last year. If you use this number, then it's reasonable to conclude that the Seattle defense prevented a mind-blowing 79 extra runs last year, which means a difference of about seven games in the standings over 162 games.

Say what you will about the pitching staff and the ballpark, but my hasty math serves to provide a little more support to the argument that losing Cameron is going to hurt in more ways than one.
It is officially Rumor Season. ESPN takes us behind the scenes of the winter meetings and informs us that A) Guerrero could sign with Baltimore this weekend, B) Tejada could join him, and C) Greg Maddux could wind up a D-back relatively soon.

I hate this time of year.
Is anyone else tired of players unretiring?
Keith Foulke could be leaving the division as soon as today. Michael Wolverton's pegged him as the sixth-best relief pitcher in 2003 (you can check that out here), and if Oakland loses him, they'll have a bullpen to rebuild. Not that Beane doesn't know how to find good relievers on the cheap, mind you, but none of the guys he finds will be as good as Foulke.

Of course, my gut tells me that Foulke will stay with the A's, so maybe none of this matters.
So Tejada thinks he'll sign this weekend. I think that's good doesn't give Boston an opportunity to enter the running, after all. As far as Tejada's contract goes, if we get beat out by Detroit, then something has gone horribly, horribly awry, and we would need to re-examine our negotiating strategies in an attempt to find out why we scare the best free agents away to sign with lousy franchises.

At this point, it looks like Tejada could make or break our offseason. You sign him, and you immediately put our infield among the better offensive and defensive groups in the majors, and it leaves us with an extra option for third base (Guillen). Also, it would lead to eventual forgiveness for the heinous Ibanez deal.

...if we DON'T sign him, then we'll turn our efforts towards re-signing Garcia and Guillen (as stated in the article). I needn't outline the reasons why bringing Garcia back is a bad idea in many ways. It leaves us with Johnson/Blackley/Nageotte/etc on the outside of the rotation looking in again, along with a SS/3B combination of Guillen and Leone/Bloomquist/Cirillo. Color me unimpressed.

This team needs Miguel Tejada. I'm always pretty conservative about contract offers, but if we need to break the bank to bring in the best available shortstop, then we should break the bank. Nevermind the improvement on the field; Tejada would immediately re-energize a fan base sick and tired of hearing about the best players going somewhere else. I don't think I could take another offseason of "maybe"s and "almost"s.
In recent developments, Kenny Lofton may be the newest Yankee. No word yet on the financial side of the deal, although the article hints at a one year contract worth $3m+.

Lofton's still got some game, and in the short-term he should be able to muster something in the neighborhood of the .300/.350/.450 line he put up last year. The other side of the acquisition is that Bernie Williams would be moved to DH, something that should have happened a few years ago. It appears to be both a good deal for New York and a relief for everybody else, because it pretty much puts to bed any lingering nightmares concerning Carlos Beltran, Allard Baird, happy hour, and Murphy's Law.

Oh, and the Yankees signed Miguel Cairo, too, further proving that the organization has a curious fascination with crappy role players.
On an unrelated note...

Four months ago, this was the view from my front door:

Now, this is my view:

I sure am glad I go to school back east.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

$15m/3yr looks to be the deal for Batista.

Somebody out there cares. I just know it.

Update: It's a $13.1m/3yr deal.
Miguel Batista is almost a Blue Jay. Evidently, Ricciardi is close to signing the pitcher for a three-year deal somewhere in the $12-14m range.

Batista is an interesting guy; he was never a particularly good prospect, and didn't pitch well as a starter until 2001, at the age of 30 (insert Moyer comparison). He was good in 2001, average in 2002, and then good again last year, but he's been nothing but inconsistent for his entire career, and he'll be 33 years old next February. A team desperate for some rotation help would do well to get him (and Toronto did), but I'm not sure I'd be willing to give him three guaranteed years.

Toronto has reason to be happy, though. Batista is a groundball pitcher who shouldn't be hurt by Skydome as much as, say, Tanyon Sturtze, and he improved his K/BB to a career-best 2.37, good enough for 37th in the majors among qualified starters. Nothing great, but it's still some good insurance behind Halladay.

Of course, the only way this signing really has an effect on the Mariners is that it keeps Batista away from Texas, and anything that prevents a division rival from improving is a good thing.
It's been about three hours since I've had this thing up and running, and I already got a mention from DMZ over at USS Mariner. Many thanks to them for both their promptness and for their accessibility; I can only hope that, somewhere down the road, my rants become as enlightening and entertaining as theirs.

There is still more baseball news to be discussed, and in my excitement over getting this site up, I fully intend to mention it all. Like, right now.

We signed Winn and Franklin to extensions. Winn's deal is all right, I guess, but it would look a lot better here. Franklin, as we all know, is quite dependent on the defense behind him, so pitching with a Cameron-less outfield could spell disaster. When you strike people out about as often as Al Pratt, there's only so much success you can have before you make people suspicious.

The White Sox extended the contract of Mark Buehrle for three years and $18m. Buehrle is 24 years old, and has thrown 690.2 innings over the last three years. Not coincidentally, opponents have hit better against him with each passing season, and come 2006 I won't be too surprised if Buehrle's either posting a 4.50 ERA or rehabbing from major surgery.

Vinny Castilla and Fernando Vina found work. This is news in that it gives the bad Brian Hunter hope for a Better Tomorrow.

Andy Pettite left the Yankees to sign a big contract with Houston. At first, I didn't know what to make of this; I've hoped for a while that Steinbrenner would overreact to the Schilling trade by giving Pettite some ridiculously huge deal ($60m/4yr?), but such a deal wouldn't cripple New York any more than a mosquito bite hinders a hippopotamus. Pettite will go to Houston, post a 4+ ERA, and maintain his reputation by winning a playoff game or three. The Yankees promptly dealt for Kevin Brown, in a deal that gives New York another dangerous, overpaid superstar and gives LA the financial flexibility to sign Brian Jordan for seven million dollars. The Yankees are going to be a formidable opponent come spring training, but we'll see how well they're holding up as August approaches and the team holds its meetings in the local ICU.

Oh, and Dan Plesac retired. For a team who's allegedly been chasing after a second lefty for the last 4392758623495 years, we sure do let quite a few of them get away.
Entering the offseason, I had a plan for the franchise, the outline of which was as follows:

1) Cut Cirillo and eat his contract. And proceed to send him many nasty letters.
2) Explore the market for Freddy Garcia ("Kenny Williams? You don't think that highly of Joe Crede, do you?"), and eventually non-tender him.
3) Re-sign Cameron to a modest contract, something along the lines of the $15.5m/3yr deal he signed with us last time. Throw an option year in there, for kicks.
4) Deal Randy Winn and any number of nondescript live young arms to Milwaukee for Geoff Jenkins, a local guy.
5) In the event that the above doesn't work, sign Matt Stairs and Eduardo Perez to one-year contracts, and watch them mash.
6) Re-sign Rhodes, let Hasegawa walk, and fill the rest of the bullpen with any combination of Putz/Sweeney/Looper/Madritsch/Taylor/Gillick/etc.

Things haven't exactly followed. There has been encouraging news regarding the death of Cirillo as a Seattle Mariner, but I have a hard time envisioning the organization eating that much money. Freddy Garcia is being peddled relentlessly, but thus far there have been no takers, and with the arbitration deadline on the horizon, the pessimistic side of me thinks we'll ink him to a deal, particularly if the Pat Borders arby offer is any indication. Cameron's gone, and it looks like he may wind up in Oakland. I question the wisdom in giving him four guaranteed years, but Mike represents a colossal improvement over last year's Singleton disaster. It follows, of course, that Randy Winn will take over Cameron's job in 2004, providing worse offense and worse defense (but for a fraction of the cost! Nevermind that it's a rather large fraction.), which gave us the flexibility to send an early Christmas present Allard Baird's way. And, oh yeah, instead of re-signing Rhodes and letting Hasegawa take his smoke and mirrors act elsewhere, we signed a slightly better southpaw to a much bigger deal than whatever Rhodes can expect this winter, and we re-upped Hasegawa to an expensive contract. Don't get me wrong; Guardado's a good pitcher, as is Hasegawa, but for a team that could use so much offensive improvement, and for a team that has so many bullpen arms stocking the upper minors, these moves just don't make very much sense.

To make matters worse, one of the most inept front offices in all of baseball signed half of my dream platoon, while the ever-improving Allard Baird got the other.

Raul Ibanez, circa 2003:

vs lefties: .245/.291/.392
vs righties: .319/.371/.485


Eduardo Perez/Matt Stairs platoon:

vs lefties: .353/.459/.667
vs righties: .304/.402/.582


But what do I know?
For those of you unfamiliar with Justin Leone, he is a slick-fielding minor league infielder who destroyed AA pitching in 2003 to the tune of .288/.405/.541, after beginning the year as a utility infielder blocked at third by Greg Dobbs. Leone has a solid, if unspectacular track record, and at 26 years old (27 next March), he's unlikely to develop much more. This is where people get me wrong; I do not believe that Leone will be a permanent solution to our current third base problems. Even last year, his ML EqA was .263, which would place him squarely between Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo (the 2003 versions) in terms of usefulness.

When you consider, however, that said .263 figure would represent a 60-point upgrade over Dueling Banjo #1 and a 25-point upgrade over Dueling Banjo #2, the point becomes much clearer: Justin Leone, at the very least, would be a moderate improvement over the clowns we've been running out there for the last two years, and has the potential to become something incrementally better than league-average. At the league-minimum, where's the risk? By granting Leone the job for 2004 and avoiding the urge to purchase somebody else's garbage (Tony Batista, anyone?), we're left with some extra money to spend on Tejada, who would represent a gigantic improvement both on the field and in the front office.

Of course, if we hadn't splurged on the left field version of Bill Spiers (read: league average) and handed a couple million dollars to a fungible reliever in Hasegawa whose best years are most certainly behind him, this wouldn't really be an issue. But I've been pushing for Leone to get the starting nod since last summer, and damned if I'll be denied now.

I should say now that I'm not quite as pessimistic on Ibanez as Dan Szymborski, but projecting our starting left fielder for an OPS north of .746 should be a guarantee, not a wish.
Inspired both by USS Mariner and the AA play of Justin Leone, I have arrived. Not that this announcement deserves immediate acclaim, but I figure the more Leone supporters, the merrier.

We'll see how this goes.