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A website devoted to serious bull on all things regarding the Seattle Mariners. We invite interesting input: send your thoughts to rickmichels@juno.com - we also invite you to join discussion at thebullpen@yahoogroups.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

He doesn't look like much of a gloveman, but boy, the dude can hit the longball - from the left side of the plate. Non-tendered Russell Branyan would be a delicious pickup. Platoon him with Leone. Use him at DH. Keep him around and next year, perhaps Spezio can move to 1st and Branyan can be the lefty DH. But get him some at bats. He's averaged a home run every 15+ official at bats in his major league career (70 in 1104). He's put up big HR numbers in the minors: 40 one year at A ball, 30 in AA, 28 in 300 ABs at AA.

Here's our chance to see what a pure lefty slugger could do in Safeco. And cheap! Interesting: Branyan's OPS against lefties over the last 3 years is .937, .752 against righties.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Garcia may pitch like he's worth $6+ million next year, but this team could have picked up the shortstop they so desperately seek by signing Matsui for similar money. Oh that's right - that would have required they both sign multiyear contract and compete with another team for talent. So they continue to search for stopgap shortstops.

Unfortunately, the Mariners management is setting a tone the entire team cannot help but pick up: winning a championship would be nice, but not essential for success. So long as the leadership of the franchise operates this way, the team cannot help but do so.

But wait - didn't they beat the Mets to Olerud? Sure, by virtue of John's northwest roots, and Gillick's long relationship with the family.

Some teams have less money. But they work hard to provide the best talent on the field for that money, and when they do so, they send a message to their players that they are working hard with the limited resources they have, so you can do so as well - and maybe we can end up outworking and out-thinking everyone else.

Some teams have more money, and compete head to head with the Yankees and Braves. They send the message to their players - "we are competing with the best in the league, and we expect you to as well." The Yankees are of course the prime example of this. Steinbrenner sets the tone: losing is not an option. He sets the tone not by his constant comments in the press in which he expresses his disapproval. He backs these comments up by his actions. Year after year, he competes with all teams for the best talent, and wins. So he expects his teams to do so as well, and so they do.

The Mariners don't project either. Their leadership/ their front office doesn't compete with other teams head to head - either by outsmarting or by outspending or by any combination of both. When they do compete for talent, they capitulate quickly and settle for half measures. So why should the players feel and behave any differently? They won't, and they don't.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I really like what Ryan did here regarding the Ibanez and Spiezio signings. Nice bit of analysis.
Ichiro signs a 4year contract. I haven't seen the details yet, but I am not sure you should give franchise player money to a corner outfielder whose ML career numbers are:

.374 OBA .440 SLG .814 OPS

- and who's latest season showed numbers below all those above. Of course, he brings other things to the table: great arm, great glove, 80% SB rate, a .389 BA and .980 OPS with RISP. Although it would seem the latter numbers are poorly utilized for a leadoff hitter on a team with a lousy bottom of the lineup, a big reason in my estimation why Ichiro was a good candidate for MVP in 2001 was because his prowess in this department: .449 BA 1.053 OPS - negated a big weakness in the Mariner lineup - guys like Wilson and Bell and Guillen populating the bottom of the lineup. Whenever they did get on, Ichiro maximized those opportunities.

Well, we'll see what the numbers are, but if you can get a Vladimir Guerrero for a few million a year more, I think you should go in that direction, try to win it all in Edgar's final year, and either let Ichiro walk or move salary around, depending on how he performs in his free agent year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Oh below, I forgot to subtrack Hasegawa from the payroll. Put him in the bullpen as well (or release him if I need the money - maybe I'll take it and go get Arod instead of Guerrero).
My theory to building a baseball is this: You pay top dollar to get a real stud in your lineup (a guy like Guerrero, or Arod). You then pay top dollar to get a stud starting pitcher (A Schilling, a Randy Johnson, Mussina, or Tim Hudson). Get those two guys and fill the rest of the team with smart bargains - good players who are overlooked. Chances are, you will go .500. If you get enough of your bargains to produce, you may win a pennant.

The problem the Rangers have had the last 3 years is not the bullpen, not the lineup around Arod. It has been the lack of that stud starting pitcher. And without him, all the money you spend for 2nd tier pitchers and veteran guys are probably not going to help you much. If you give enough guys in the fringes of the major leagues and minor leagues enough try outs through the season, you'll find your closers, your setup men, your supporting cast. And your two studs will keep you from falling too far behind the pack while you tinker. By midseason, you are really ready to trade for the pieces you need. You haven't wrapped all you salary up in guys like Cirillo to keep you.

Since this is my pet theory, it is painful for me to watch the Mariners do the exact opposite - and throw all their money at 2nd tier veterans.

When the Mariners lost their game of chicken with the Orioles over Tejada, they should have taken all their chips off the table, and entered the season with a lot of flexibility. They are instead determined to enter the season with no flexibility.

What would my system had called for instead? Go all out and sign Colon and Guerrero. Cut all the players I have to and can to get those two guys: Edgar, Franklin, Cameron, Garcia, Winn, Rhodes, Guillen. That's what, about $29 million? Okay, I can probably get a Guerrero. I may need to go into debt this year to add Colon, but I can release Olerud and Sasaki the next year, probably even Ichiro, Moyer - there's plenty of money there.

This forces me to put together a lineup like this:

Ichiro
Snelling
Boone
Guerrero
Olerud
Leone
Davis
Strong
Lopez

Starting Pitching

Colon
Moyer
Pineiro
Meche
Rhett Johnson, Craig Anderson

Relief

Aaron Taylor
Mateo
Madstrich
Soriano
Sasaki

I go into the season with this team. Some of these guys will stick, some wont. Meanwhile, I'm scouring for the next Estaban Loiza, or Rod Beck. Maybe Lopez isn't ready and I pick up Rey Sanchez.

Tell me if you like my team better than what Bavasi has put together. And where I'm wrong in my numbers or thinking. And remember this: Edgar was cut because my #1 priority was not to make everyone feel warm and cuddly, but to get the top two studs in the market. Maybe I can find money to sign him later. Or maybe I'll go get Harold Baines, or the next David Ortiz. Dh's are cheap.

Update: take Strong out of there and put him on the bench. DH is AJ Zapp or Glen Dobbs going into the season (maybe platoon Leone and Dobbs). I forgot Meche in the first draft. I made him #4 starter and put Soriano in the pen.







Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Vizquel fails M's physical, trade nixed.
Looking over Omar Vizquel's fielding stats, and comparing them to others, it looks to me he can still hold his own and more at shortstop. Last year in 64 games he had a range factor of 5.19 ((PO + A) * 9 divided by innings). Here's how he compared with others:

Omar: 5.19
Arod: 4.54
Tejada: 4.63
Sanchez: 4.39
Guillen: 4.12 (2.66 the previous year)

Since Omar only played 1/3 of a season, it may be more fair to look at his 2002 range factor:

Omar: 4.67

Sanchez incidentally, had a range factor of 5.04 in 2001 (he played 2nd base in 2002).

It's a substantial upgrade over Guillen defensively, but I don't think its substantially better than what Sanchez can give you, especially at a mere $1 mil.

The only way the M's can justify this is if Omar can duplicate his 2002 numbers:

.275 .341 .418 .759

Compare these to Tejada's 2003 numbers:

.278 .336 .472 .807

I don't see how anyone can reasonably expect this from Omar. Especially when we look at his 2003 numbers:

Omar 2003:

.244 .321 .336 .657

Guillen in 2003:

.276 .359 .394 .753

Sanchez in Sea. 2003:

.294 .330 .335 .665

So, it's like some of the other Bavasi moves this year - you can see how it could help the Mariners improve over last year. And you can see how it could backfire. Certainly Spiezio will hit more than anyone who was at third last year did. And we know Spiezio has a helluva corner glove, winning a gold glove in 2002 at first. Does he have 3rd base range? Well, if Omar's range is as good as the most recent stats suggest, it may even out defensively. Does Spiezio have an accurate arm? Well, that is Olerud over there at first. If Omar solidifies the left side (remember, he is a gazillion-time gold glove shortstop), and he and Olerud cover for Spiezio, then everything Spiezio gives us offensively is a total plus over what we got from 3rd base last year, which was a tad over nothing.

I know it looks like I'm apologizing for Bavasi/Gillick. But I'm mostly trying to understand what it is they are trying to do, what they are thinking.

Spiezio was apparently lured to Seattle because of the grunge rock scene. Maybe we should have stressed that with Tejada.

Peter Andrijeski writes in a TheBullpen post titled "Tejada you run, the behinder you get":

I don't like the payroll inequities in baseball. I think they are the worst thing about the game today, and by a a substantial measure. But as long as that's the playing field, the M's should be pressing their advantages. Instead Bavasi is quoted in the Seattle Times as saying they're not particularly disappointed about losing Tejada, although he doesn't know "how it's playing back home." (If he has internet access, it's easy to find out.)

Rob Neyer points out that Tejada's win shares over the last 3 seasons is greater than those of both Jeter and Nomar (even giving Nomar an extra year due to his injuries) and that both those guys are getting paid a lot more than Miguel. This just reinforces the impression that the Mariners are not interested in competing with the top level clubs.

Someone on the USS Mariner pointed out that M's management needs to understand replacement value. With all the "Bavasi knows more about baseball than you, Pete" caveats aside, I can't help but think this is truly a problem in their thinking. They really seem to think that if a player is half as productive as a superstar, they are worth half as much money as that superstar
After laughing his head off, Billy Beane must be on his knees, thanking the Good Lord the A's are in the AL West.


Apparently, we signed McCracken to keep Randy Winn happy. This is what you do to keep your stars happy (a little sarcasm here). The two were best friends in Tampa. And Melvin really liked him in Arizona - great clubhouse guy. And you can never have too many History and Poly Sci majors in your clubhouse. To paraphrase Vin Scully (courtesy of Peter Andrijeski): That's a lot of brainpower over there at the end of the bench (one end of it anyway).

Spiezio has been a terrible hitter at Safeco, which shouldn't continue. He's OK as a hitter. I guess that's what we're looking for - a lot of OK guys. Apparently a lot of OK guys add up to one stud. That's ridiculous, of course, but Bavasi apparently turned the heads of the Mariner brass by collecting a lot of OK, nice guys who eventually after being lousy for quite a while, put together a big year and won a World Series: "Hey, how'd you do that? We've been trying to do that for years!"

It gets worse, now that we have McCracken, we're working out a deal to unload Cirillo for Roger Cedeno. So now we'll have two utility pinch runners for the low low price of only about $7 mil a year.

But hey, why would anyone have a 1.00+ OPS guy like Colbrunn hanging around your bench when you can have TWO Brian Hunters.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

In response to Leoneforthird and USS Mariner (links are to your right), I'm going to pull out an old chestnut: clutch hitting. We know the Mariners really struggled last year with this, losing 6 games the Pythagorean stats said they should have won. What could be a better guess as to what could cause this than a lack of clutch hitting? How often would one hit at a key moment meant the difference between a win and a loss last year? I'd guess around 6 times.

Ibanez with RISP, last 3 seasons:

401 ABs .309/.376/.509/.885 - 186 RBIs

Jose Cruz:

396 ABs .227/.352/.402/.754 - 144 RBIs


Matt Stairs:

261 ABs .238/.379/.448/.827 - 103 RBIs

If you are looking for a hit to drive in that guy at 2nd or 3rd, I'd say Ibanez is your man.

Raul has driven in 103 and 90 runs in the last two years. Jose Cruz has never driven in more than 88 in a year, even in all those years in the Skydome, surrounded by all those good hitters. To be fair, Cruz spent a number of at bats as leadoff, when Shannon Stewart was hurt. Still, Raul Ibanez has been a proven run producer over the last two years.

Friday, December 12, 2003

In taking a good look at Cameron vs. Winn's CF defensive stats, I really don't see that much difference. They look very similar, which leads me to believe that maybe we wont really see the big dropoff in defense we're expecting with Cameron gone.

In CF in 2002, Winn posted a 2.91 range factor in CF, with a zone rating of.909. Cameron that same year posted 2.88 and .920. Last year, Cameron posted 3.42 and .922 in CF, but in the 20 games Winn played there, his numbers were 3.51 and .922. Winn can hold his own in CF. Can he hold runners with his arm? Well, he did have 10 assists in CF in 2002. Cameron had 7, and only 3 last year.

But will Ibanez's presence in LF hamper Winn? Last year, Ibanez's RF was 2.06 and his zone factor was .907. By comparison, Winn in LF last year posted 2.29 and .891. Ibanez had 8 assists, Winn 3.

In none of the years mentioned above did anyone have more than 2 errors.

I love watching Cameron play Center Field, and have always had a peaceful, easy feeling when balls were hit out there. But unless I'm missing something, I don't see our defense suffering with Winn (and Ibanez) out there instead. But Winn right now is the better offensive player, including on the basepaths: 23-5 vs 17-7 in SB-CS.
I may want to take the USS Mariner up on their bet that Miguel Batista will be more valuable for the Blue Jays than Ibanez for the Mariners next year. Since I'm expecting Ibanez to hit more like the 2002 model than the 2003 model, Ibanez was 42.6 VORP that year (neutral in the outfield). Last year, it dropped to 13. Batista was at 38 last year, 28 the year before.

But I may be more interested in comparing the year Batista has vs. Franklin. The two look awfully similar. Both had a 38 VORP last year. Batista has the edge in two categories sabermetricians focus on: K's and HRs allowed. But Batista is also twice as much money as Franklin.

But I'd rather the M's focus on left handed starters. I'm coming at this from the standpoint that Safeco field is hard on right handers. Would a Batista do well at Safeco Field? Here's how he did against left handed hitters last year:

.297/.351/.412/.763

Franklin did this last year:

.267/.341/.475/.817

Franklin, as you recall, gave up a lot of solo shot home runs. Incidentally, Franklin's ERA over the last three years was 3.70. Away from Safeco field it was 3.88. Franklin actually had a 3.21 ERA away from Safeco field last year. In 32 more innings at home, he gave up 10 more home runs (but, with a .247 OBA at home, there were a lot of solo shots).

Batista's ERA over the last 3 years: 3.76 (3.46 away, 4.12 home)

Batista is a ground ball pitcher. I'm not sure he's going to like the carpet at Toronto. It doesn't look like he cared much for it in Arizona. But come to think of it, a ground ball righty pitcher at Safeco would be preferable to a fly ball righty like Franklin. I suppose the extra $2 mil. per year saved will help us get Tejada, but Batista and Tejada would be a nice combination entering 2004.

Jeff over at leoneforthird will be "pissed" if we miss out on Tejada. I'm already pissed that we aren't even in the hunt for Vladimir Guerrero UNLESS we screw up the Tejada deal.

I've been defending the Ibanez signing - he's not too old at 31, he's an excellent hitter from the left side and the M's are desperate and have been desperate for a lefty hitter, and he always hits great at Safeco field. He had a tremendous 2002, and fell off last year, but so did Tejada. Give Ibanez a little more time off next year, and I am certain we will see a return to 2002 and probably even more. So I still think it is a good deal, on the face of it. But if signing Ibanez, Winn, Hasegawa, Franklin, mean we don't have the $13 million we could spend on getting Vladimir, I'll agree it was a bad deal. A Vladimir Guerrero comes around every once in a while - we're a rich team. Rich teams get to buy superstar talent. We can find a way to fit a lineup around Vladimir Guerrero. He's got a bad back, they say. So did Randy Johnson.

Now, I don't think the M's want to spend $15 mil a year on anybody, so we fill the lineup with the Ibanezes and Winns, etc.

I like Tejada, but I LOVE Vladimir. I'll take Vlad, and take my chances with Guillen (who hits well in Safeco, compared to Tejada - last year anyway). Then move Jose Lopez in there for 2005 - or if we catch lighning in a bottle, in the second half of 2004 if (when?) Guillen pulls something in his body.







Wednesday, December 10, 2003

It escaped my notice until yesterday the Mariners were #1 in the Majors last year in Rob Neyer's Pythagorean numbers. Which means this team was better than we realize. So what went wrong? We won 6 fewer games than expected. It surprizes me that Manager Bob Melvin isn't taking any heat for undermanaging. Was it just bad luck? The stars were not in alignment. Apparently there wasn't enough "fire" in the clubhouse, hence the need to go get Tejada. I think a Matt Stairs on the bench would have been more valuable. I really wanted the M's to go get Stairs. But I'm okay with Chris Snelling getting major league at bats instead.

Speaking of Stairs, I see the Royals signed him to a one year, $1 mil contract. Good, smart move. Then there's the signing of Benito Santiago and Scott Sullivan. I really like what the Royals are doing. Except that Benito's caught stealing rate is a mere .185, so expect the Twins to really test this guy. Still, these are good, affordable players to augment the excellent talent base the Royals have in Beltran, MacFarlane, Berroa - and I still look for good things from Febles. Then there are those good young starters. It looks like they are going to make another run at the pennant this year. Good luck, guys.

Sasaki, Guardada, Hasegawa - man these guys are practically indistinguishable - all excellent bullpen guys. Who will be next year's Julio Mateo? Aaron Taylor? Allan Simpson? Bobby Madstrich? Just how many good arms do you need? The Mariners apparently do believe you can never have enough pitching.

So, with the M's possessing the best overall major league talent - numbers wise in 2003, and if Melvin is presumably a year smarter, and with upgrades at the margins (assuming we get Tejada), how are things shaping up in the AL West?

The A's will miss Tejada, but Bobby Crosby is ready to step in, and maybe not fill his shoes, but he's got nothing left to prove in the minors and he's a waste sitting on the bench. I'm glad the A's don't have Ted Lilly next year, but they do have Rich Harden for a full season. It also looks like Beane is not able to work his usual magic over the rest of the league. Kielty for Lilly? Really - who would you prefer to have? A quality 27 year old left handed starter, or a low power on base guy with "old player skills" who only managed an OBP of .358 last year? Now, Lilly wasn't very good away from Oakland's pitcher friendly park last year, and his ERA there was only 3.95, but he pitched a solid 178 innings and had an ERA of 2.05 in September. The point is, he didn't steal Kielty the way he stole Foulke last year.

It looks like the Angels are shaping up to be our main competitor in the West. They are bulking up their starting pitching with Colon and Escobar to make their awesome bullpen even more intimidating. Young Phenom Francisco Rodriguez had a tremendous season: 8 wins, 95 Ks in 86 innings, a OBA of .172 and a WHIP of .99. The only real downside is he blew 4 saves, and gave up 12 home runs. I'm not a big Escobar fan anymore, but Colon gives them the #1 stud they need, and Escobar only has to go 6 innings anyway with that bullpen.

The Rangers? HAHAHAHAHA!!! I wonder if Royce Clayton is ready to re-assume shortstop once they exchange Arod's gold glove for Ramirez's Iron model?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

It pains me that the Mariners, with our “big market” position, aren’t even in the hunt for the greatest talent on the market since Arod. If he goes below Arod’s $25 mil a year, it’s a good deal. If it goes below Manny’s $20 mil., it’s a bargain. For a “big market” team that has plenty of top level pitching prospects, but no real position player prospects, with an aging lineup with salaries that can very soon be jettisoned, signing Vlad makes great sense. What has Barry Bonds meant to the Giants? Vlad is very close to being in that same category. These guys just don’t come along very often. When they do, and they’re only 27 years old, you gotta snag ‘em.

I laugh when I read that the Mariners are the best run organization in baseball. We don’t come close to either the A’s or the Giants. Look what the Giants do, while having to pay real money for their ballpark (the best ballpark in America btw). Look at what the A’s do with the worst ballpark in America. Now look at what the Mariners do with the biggest sweetheart deal, cash cow around. Certainly the Mariners don’t screw it up. Good for them – they aren’t stupid like Milwaukee or Baltimore. But the management is uninspired in the way it goes about its business. And in a city that gave birth to Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks – companies that used vision to completely dominate their markets, representing a city that became great by its own entrepreneurial vision during the Klondike gold rush, it’s – well, not very Seattle-esque in the truest sense. Where’s the boldness? Where’s the daring?

Rather than follow the visionary entrepreneurial Seattle model, the Mariners follow the old hackneyed Seattle civic model stereotypes – they are nice, polite, and friendly. Seattleites are eager to be well thought of, and happy when others speak well of us. Seattle is happy to host the goodwill games, the Final Four and stuff like the WTO, and everyone is on their best behavior, and we’re proud of the bit of attention we get. But we’ll never host a Super Bowl, an Olympics, a National Political Convention. But we don’t even really pretend that don’t want to. We pretend that we could, if we had some more money and resources to spend, but we don’t. We aren’t New York or Los Angeles, after all. And it’s like that with the Mariners. We pretend we could go to the World Series. But we don’t really compete, and we don’t admit we aren’t in the same game and thus work on ways to outsmart the system like the Marlins and the A’s do. We don’t reach for excellence by spending our money both smartly and boldly like the Giants do.

So we don’t beat the Yankees because we have a built-in excuse why. We can’t compete with such unlimited resources. Heck, we even voted for a baseball payroll tax – a tax that went against our own self interest - so that we could put a ceiling in that would excuse us from thinking big. We happily threw away the only advantage we had in our division – income – and my guess is because we’d lose the excuse that keeps us from thinking big. And so, not only do we not compete with the Yankees, but we can’t even beat the A’s. I guess that’s what you get when the taxpayers fund your very existence and you are run by a group of civic minded Rotarians.

I am really starting to miss the days of Sonic owner Sam Schulman, and the way he challenged the system, brought in Spencer Haywood (went all the way to the Supreme Court to challenge the right for a ballplayer to leave college early) and other ABA stars. Sure, he failed big. But he thought big. He was innovative, and he played the game to win. There were no excuses for Sam as to why the Sonics couldn’t compete and beat LA. And to this day it’s only the Sonics that have won any kind of championship for Seattle.

There was a time when the Mariners were innovative, when they went to Japan, first for their very existence as a Seattle club, and later for Sasaki and Ichiro. And it was the time of our greatest success. But the rest of the league quickly caught up with us and we went back to whining about our budget. We didn’t even compete for Hideki Matsui – an excellent fit for Safeco field. After all, the Yankees wanted him. It’s a good thing the Yankees didn’t want Ichiro.

Monday, December 08, 2003

I like what Brian W. from the Bullpen newsgroup has to offer here. Chances are Matt Stairs could be had for much less than Palmeiro and be every bit as valuable:

Matt Stairs and Reggie Sanders were both nontendered
despite fantastic seasons. Reggie made $1m last year
and is expected to go for about $3m this year. Stairs
made $900,000 and turned down the Pirates offer for A
PAY CUT despite hitting .292 with 20 homers.

Both are in their mid-30s, both are indifferent, at
best, outfielders, and both would likely be great
pickups to balance the bench and add a little power or
fill a vacant OF spot if we don't keep Cammy or Winn.

Oh, and did I mention that Stairs is a lefty? .862
career OPS, beats the snot out of RHP and can still
hit the long ball and draw walks off LHP, though the
average tanks. His main issues have been consistency
and defense.

Sanders is a career .835 who mashes lefties to a tune
of .932 and can still hold his own with righties,
losing more power than average. Also, while Stairs is
slow, Sanders can fly.

I say we sign them both, put Ichiro in CF, platoon
Ibanez and Winn in LF, and platoon Sanders and Stairs
in RF. We have a five-man outfield that rivals the
best in baseball, give Snelling time to rehab his
knee, have Stairs to step in at 1B if Olerud continues
to struggle, and can move Stairs, Ibanez, or Sanders
to DH if Edgar is hurt again or starts to show signs
of age.

Brian

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Cameron was not offered arbitration, and Bavasi says Winn will play CF next year. This can only be seen as a downgrade, and can only be justified by at least signing Tejada. Bavasi says he wants to spread the dollars around a little to get more offense. I suppose he figures Cameron would cost around $8 million for 2004, and if Winn is $ 4 million, that gives us $4 million to add to getting Tejada.

We'll have to wait to see what Cameron will get, but right now, the way the market looks, it's not a slam dunk he'll get $ 8 mil. - but he may. Offensively, he and Winn are VERY close, but Cammie has the edge and is the superior defender by a wide margin. Look for fly balls we got used to being caught falling in next year.

On the other hand, if Tejada is at shortstop, it is a definite upgrade there. Look for fewer grounders heading into Winn territory. And Tejada is the superior masher over Cameron, so it looks like a definite edge for the offense in 2004. If Guillen moves to 3rd, then Winn, Ibanez, Tejada and Guillen will produce many more runs in Safeco than Cameron, Winn, Cirillo/Bloomquist and Guillen did. Ibanez at left is a little less good defensively than Winn, although in fielding win shares for 2003 they were essentially equal. But nobody pretends Ibanez could play center so you know Winn is superior.

So we are incrementally improving the offense. The defense is degraded with the loss of Cameron, and it could be significant, even with Tejada. But if Ibanez is converting fly balls he hits to right into 3 run homers, I can live with a single or double dropping in between Winn and Ibanez here and there. If Tejada solidifies shortstop, and Guillen handles 3rd base until Leone comes in at the next Guillen injury, we'll get better offense and decent defense there as well.

The loss of Cameron in the outfield is potentially huge, and I don't see enough new offense to make me feel comfortable that we will improve the offense, even with Tejada, to say we are markedly improved over last year. But we are running out of options for areas we can improve. I see one possibility - Texas did not offer arbitration to Palmeiro. Raffy started 55 games at first base last year. He used to be a gold glover. If we could put Palmeiro on our bench, backing up Edgar and Olerud, I'd feel VERY comfortable about the improvement on our team going into 2004.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Tejada's Safeco field numbers over the last 3 years are not real encouraging. Can you say "Mike Cameron"?:

AB BA OBA SLG OPS

111 .288 .325 .468 .793

Well, okay, that doesn't look as bad as Cammie's .709 OPS in the same 3 year stretch, but here's what Tejada did at the Safe 2003:

38 .235 .257 .265 .522

Actually, Tejada's Safeco field numbers are pretty good until 2003, which drove down the overall numbers. It's a small sample, and Tejada had an off year. A .793 OPS for a right handed hitter at Safeco field is really not bad, it will probably be somewhat above the norm for similar hitters. But I think we have to also be prepared for Cameron type years if Tejada comes to Seattle. Tejada at the plate reminds me of Cammie without the patience. Now, that's not all that bad. Tejada will mash in Texas and Toronto and Fenway, and that'll be nice.

Here's Guillen's numbers over the 3 year period:

658 .274 .350 .384 .734

Guillen performs better at Safeco than on the road btw, due to the combination of his left handed power and the Safeco effect.

Here's something interesting. Last year, with 636 official at bats, Tejada had 53 walks. Guillen had 52 in 388 official ABs.

Tejada would be nice, I say but leave Guillen there and go after Vlad. Vladimir Guerrero hits everyone and everywhere. Tejada struggles in the pitcher's parks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

News Item: Yankees sign Sheffield and Quantrill

Man, it must be fun to be a Yankee fan.

Monday, December 01, 2003

There continues to be a lot of sniping on Mariner blogs regarding the Ibanez signing, in comparison to, say the Yankees, snatching up Sheffield, and perhaps Beltran. And then, what about Vladimir?

We'll have to see how Bavasi fills this team out. We don't see the final picture yet, and there is little in the rumor mill that excites Mariner fans.

But we have to remember that the Mariners have been chronically a weak hitting team against right handed pitching, and have never made any serious attempt until Ibanez to take advantage of the favorable right field wall (except that we have signed perhaps the two best opposite field right handed power hitters in the game with Boone and Martinez). The weakness of the team lineup is left handed power. We are strong with right handed power, with Cameron, Boone, Edgar, and even throw Colbrunn in the mix.

Yes, I'd love Sheffield. At $12-13 million, you are paying three times the price of Ibanez. Over the last 3 years, Sheffield (who is 3 or 4 years older than Ibanez) has slugged .555 against righties. Ibanez has slugged .523 against righties in the same period. Meanwhile, Beltran has slugged .517 against righties.

I am not sure why it is not considered smart by the Mariners to pay a third of the price of a Sheffield to get comparable slugging numbers in the area the Mariners are weakest in. Looking over the players available, if the Mariners need to complement Ibanez's weakness against left handed hitters (which statistically looks a lot like Olerud's) with a right handed bench bat, surely they can find one pretty cheap.

But a lot of it depends on who the Mariners put in CF. An Ibanez/Winn/Ichiro OF would be weak. Ibanez/Cameron/Ichiro is a big improvement against right handed pitching over last year, but I hope the M's are working on something much bigger and better, and Ibanez is good insurance and if everything falls through makes the team better capable at home and against RHP in 2004.

If the Mariners can truly unload Sasaki's contract by trading him back to Japan, the money is potentially there for a Ibanez/Ichiro/Guerrero OF. I hope the M's are thinking that big.

Cameron has said he'd love to come back. The M's, who supposedly sign players who have big smiles and happy personalities, have been silent about the idea. Now, it could be because Mike was kinda grumpy this year. And it could be because the M's really think Winn can play CF (which they've been silent about as well). OR it could be the M's are working on a bigger move. With Ibanez in the lineup to complement Boone and Edgar and Olerud, they have certainly protected their flank for a fall back position if Cameron is the best they can do in CF (which really isn't bad if you have a lefty hitter who can slug over .500 against the righties while Cammie is flying out against them).

Hot Stove league is about dreaming and hoping, right?



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