So… Vlad. If I were to make a list of the Top Ten moves I’d like the M’s to make this winter, Vlad Guerrero would be all ten. Maybe not all ten, but if the price is right, even if the price means you let Garcia walk, he’s the guy to spend it on. And not even for entirely rational reasons of performance: I believe a huge part of the M’s problems last season were that the whole offense ran off two players, Boone and Edgar, and when they slumped, it was lights out for run-scoring.
And here’s the other scoop: there are almost no teams in baseball who have any money to spend at all. Of those teams, the M’s are the only team that can offer Vlad a place to be on a contender out of the spotlight. Seriously, Seattle is a town where people know where the players live and don’t bother them much. People who live around Ichiro, who can sign a ball and add $150 to its value, know he enjoys his privacy and let him be. I saw John Olerud in Bellevue a couple weeks ago, driving his convertable, top down, and people would look, recognize him, and that was that.
Of course, when Buhner went shopping wearing his baseball cap, he’d stop and sign autographs for everyone, but Bone’s cool like that, and when he had to get on with his business, people were cool back.
Alex Rodriguez used to walk down the streets of Seattle and people would give him the nod, and let him on by. I saw Ken Griffey driving some massive tricked out Chevy on his way to a game, and when he stopped, the pedestrians crossing the street on their way down the game gave him a smile and a wave, and he went on his way.
Now, call us a bunch of rubes. Call us unsophisitcated jerks who aren’t friendly enough to approach a ballplayer, whatever you want. But if you’re a guy like Vlad, who doesn’t want to get assaulted in a diner for muffing a play that night, if you want to be able to chill around town and have people be cool, I don’t think there’s a better place for you than Seattle.
So there. Sign Vlad, move Ichiro to CF, hoooooooooooooooooowah. Then get a decent 4th to rest ’em, oh baby.
So… the M’s are willing to offer Ichiro $10M per season, while his agent wants at least $15M. Folks, that sort of contract just doesn’t make any sense. For that kind of money the M’s could sign Vlad Guerrero.
Blogosphere Update: Bob Mong says of Bavasi “I’m not exactly optimistic, but I’m hopeful.”
I guess I’m the only one who doesn’t want to judge Bill Bavasi, 2003 GM by the standards of Bill Bavasi, 1994-1999 GM. That was a completely different ballgame. Jeffrey Hammonds was getting long term contracts. Mike Hampton got $100 million. Dot-Coms were booming, everyone had money, and it was a giant spend-fest. Yea, the Mo Vaughn contract sucked, and it should have been apparent at the time that it was a bad deal. But that was, what, 7 years ago? I’ve learned a lot in the past 7 years, and I’d imagine I’ll learn a lot in the next 7 years. Can we perhaps imagine that Bill Bavasi isn’t the same guy he was 7 years ago? I’d like that. Now, back to the team.
The biggest decision the Mariners have to make is in center field. It is apparent that Mike Cameron is moving on, though
Bob Finnegan’s assertion that he’s only worth $2-$3 million per season is just absurd. With Cameron leaving, you have to assume that the much worse and similarly compensated Randy Winn is going to shift to center field, causing the team strength of 2003 to become a weakness in 2004. To compensate, they absolutely have to find a left fielder who can mash to offset the loss of outfield defense. I’m firmly in the camp of anti-right-handed power hitters at Safeco Field, so the new LF almost certainly has to swing from the left side. That eliminates pretty much all of the big sexy names. And, for the love of God, can we please stop with the nonsense about Raul Ibanez being the answer. Yea, he’s left-handed, but he’s not any good. He put up a very average .294/.345/.454 line in a hitters park last year. Look at these home/road splits:
He’s the outfield version of Aaron Boone, except that he doesn’t play good defense at an important position. Take him out of Kansas City, then factor in that next year is his age 32 season (hello decline phase!) and Ibanez is the giant black-hole who is going to steal $15 million from whoever is dumb enough to sign him.
Now, as for Garcia, I think he’s probably going to get traded. The Mariners can actually offer him a 20 % paycut, but there’s no way he’ll take it. With the M’s depth of young arms, desire to get Soriano into the rotation, and the areas frustration with underachievers, I’m guessing we see a change-of-scenery trade, where the M’s take on someone elses underachiever in exchange.
And yes, I think the M’s take Guillen to arbitration, but likely shop him around during the winter. There’s probably a mid-market team who could use a shortstop but doesn’t want to pay a ton for him that would toss a C level prospect to the M’s for a $3 million version of Carlos Guillen. I’m guessing the M’s keep Guillen, make a run at Matsui or some other shortstop, and figure out what to do with Glass if they land the new guy.
The other major decisions come in the bullpen. Do we think that Arthur Rhodes ankle was what caused him to turn to crap overnight? If so, then you re-sign him, because he was the best left-handed reliever in the game the previous 3 years. If you think it was decline in talent, you let him go, because left-handed relievers aren’t exactly tough to find. If Bavasi shows an interest in plugging the talent from Tacoma and San Antonio into the bullpen, the M’s could save a lot of money by giving roles to two of Taylor/Looper/Putz/Simpson/Sherrill/Madritsch. Personally, that is the way I would like to see them go. Let the veterans get their millions elsewhere and create a tilt-a-whirl bullpen, much like in Minnesota, of good arms who can pitch effectively for 4-5 batters at a time.
If I can find some more time in the next few days, I’ll post a list of the guys I want and the guys I really don’t want. You can probably guess which list Raul Ibanez will find himself on.
Two things I’m seeing in response to the Mo Vaughn argument:
1) It was perfectly defensible at the time. I think we’ve shown that’s is not the case, and smart people then said so. I’ll agree those first couple of years were a decent gamble, but that seems to be all anyone who wants to excuse the contract focuses on. Look at the length, and the massive escalation, and see that it’s a dog. Woof.
2) At least Bavasi had the stones to step up and make a huge impact signing, unlike Gillick.
This last one… well, it’s a bad argument on the surface. To make a silly analogy, if Bavasi went out and signed Todd Hollandsworth to a 5y, $125m deal, would anyone be happy we finally had a GM who would take risks? Bavasi took a risk on Vaughn, that’s for certain, but it wasn’t a decent gamble, like playing craps, or doubling down on eleven, this was more stacking the team payroll on number 37 and letting the wheel spin.
Also, Gillick’s made a couple of big signings, and I don’t understand why he doesn’t get any credit for them. Olerud was a free agent. Boone’s contract pre-empted arbitration/free agency (and I thought that deal was a mistake and they should have taken him to arb repeatedly, which shows what I know). And as for risks that didn’t turn out, he took a huge one on Cirillo that didn’t turn out.
Here’s the question of the day: What was the best signing or trade Bavasi ever made in his years as the Angels GM?