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.