November 25, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

You’re never going to believe it — I’ve updated the Big Board for the first time in over two months.

In the minors, you’ll notice quite a few holes. The M’s have lost a number of players due to minor league free agency (or by choosing to release them) since the season ended, and rather than make guesses about promotions, etc., I’ve simply left them alone. We’ll have a better idea about all this stuff come spring.

The major league roster, on the other hand, is in a state of if-the-season-started-tomorrow. I hope that one doesn’t scare you too much — I have an Ibanez-Winn-Ichiro outfield, as well as a Bloomquist-Guillen left side of the infield. Shudder. Players with dollar signs around their names are arbitration eligible.

In updating this I looked at minor league transactions all the way back to October 1st, but it’s certainly possible I missed something. Now that I think of it I’m sure I missed that Indy league pitcher they signed awhile back, but it’s not certain where he’ll be assigned come the start of the season, so that’s my excuse for now.

Enjoy, and as always, drop me a line if you see something amiss (that includes you, Dave).

Oh, and thanks to Toshio and Bob for suggesting as a new source for, well, Japanese baseball.

November 25, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

The “Sasaki back to Japan” scenario is interesting, if only because it raises the question of who would take his place as the M’s closer. I know Rafael Soriano is a popular choice among fans, and we’ve certainly seen how good he can be. That said, I still think he’s more valuable as a starter — or barring that, a high-workload reliever — so he wouldn’t be my choice. I do think the obvious option is sitting right under our noses, however — Julio Mateo. Mateo was one of the best relievers in baseball last season, limiting opposing hitters to a .220/.257/.382 line with no platoon split worth discussing.

In any event, when you have good, cheap relievers like Mateo and Soriano, there’s no reason to spend $6M on the likes of Keith Foulke or Eddie Guardado. Or $8M on Kaz Sasaki, for that matter.

Oh, and here’s another way it’s interesting. What do we get in exchange for him? I’d be happy just saving the $8M for next season, but if we got a decent player as well, all the better. I’d love to go check out Yomiuri’s roster, but unfortunately the Japan League website no longer comes with an English option. If anyone has another source (in English) for what we used to be able to get there, I’d love to hear about it.

November 25, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

If the Yankees sign Sheffield to a 2-year deal, one of two things happen:

– either they suck defensively for two years or

– they’re going to make some wacky changes

They’d have 3 OFers signed to huge deals: Matsui, Williams, and Sheffield. Williams can’t play center anymore, it’s that simple, and one of the possible solutions the Yankees might have tried this off-season was moving Williams to left, Matsui to right, and Jeter to center. There are other solutions, like trading for Beltran (which would have been their ace move if they wanted to burn into the WS again). Now they’re locked into that OF, and the best they’ll be able to do is ugly: Sheffield and Williams on the corners (pick your poison) and Matsui in center.

Let’s say they’re not satisfied with that, and sign another CF and push Williams to DH, as has also been rumored. This now requires Giambi’s knee (and the rest of him) to be consistently healthy next year, and in turn means that Nick Johnson’s forced out and would almost certainly be traded.

There are some who think Nick Johnson hasn’t lived up to his potential, and he’ll never be the hitter people saw when he was hitting .350/.500/.900 in AA at age 12 (warning: exaggeration)(but not much), because of his injury issues. But in overall offensive value when they were in the lineup (warning, Dave: look away) Nick Johnson was just behind Edgar Martinez in EQA. I don’t particularly care if you think EQA is bunk, but everyone should recognize that Nick Johnson can rake. He’s not the kind of power-and-speed guy that might age better later in his career, but I think Johnson’s going to have a year where he terrorizes the league all year long and maybe stubs his toe and misses 3 games.

If the Yankees sign Sheffield, either they’re punting outfield defense (again) and also likely letting Soriano and Jeter stay where they are (punting infield defense)(again), or there are moves yet to happen that will result in Johnson putting on another uniform next year. If he went somewhere with a crack medical staff (and I’m sure Will Carroll’s got some thoughts on this), and if he goes somewhere with a bunch of quacks (“the continuing stoooooory of a quack who’s gone to the dogs”), he probably won’t fare as well (this, incidentally, is a good argument why being a player isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: your entire career and earning value is tied up in your health, and your health is closely tied to the trainers and doctors your team employs, which can range from amazing to pretty bad).

All of which is to say I’d love to see the Yankees sign Sheffield, because it means they’re giving themselves at least one other problem. It baffles me sometimes why baseball’s most dominant and resource-intensive team makes moves like this that don’t solve the problems in front of them… but it’d suck if they weren’t so disfunctional, sat down in Tampa, and made a list like:

– Fix defense. Problems include Jeter, Soriano, Williams

– Get pitching. Fill open rotation slots with good pitchers

– Get younger. We’re old and should pay attention to that, or we’re going to find ourselves in an even worse position in a couple of years. Where possible, fufill the first two objectives while bringing the team age down or, at worst, keeping it at the same level.

Oh, and on Kazu — I like Kazu in the sense I like having cool characters around, but in the winning-team sense… yeah, seeing him go wouldn’t be so bad.

November 25, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Now this is interesting. The Yomiuri Giants reportedly are interested in convincing Kazuhiro Sasaki to come back and play in Japan this year. The Mariners should be interested in doing darn near anything necessary to help accommodate any team who wants to take his $8 million salary off their hands. Sasaki’s contract is the albatross that doesn’t get mentioned, but that money could be reallocated in a much better fashion. The Mariners have right-handed relievers coming out their ears, and his salary level is reserved for the premier closers in the game, of which Sasaki is clearly not a member.

This is a pretty weak denial by Bavasi, by the way: “At this point, that’s all there is to it.” And at this point, I haven’t eaten lunch today, but I sure plan to. Let’s hope that this is a case of where there is smoke, there is fire, and the M’s can find an extra $8 million in salary for 2004 by convincing Kazu to head back to Japan.

Also, reports out of the New York media (warning: truth optional) have Gary Sheffield being offered a 2 year, $20 million contract by the Yankees, and the Braves looking to counter at around $11 million per season. If Gary Sheffield is only worth $10 million, how on earth can Raul Ibanez be worth more than about $1.5 million? That signing is going to look worse every day as the offseason progresses.

November 24, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Dumping Cirillo and signing Randa… sounds like throwing good money after bad to me.

I like the M’s approach with Lee, as outlined by Derek below, even though it means they probably have very little chance of signing him.

Isn’t there a top-notch Korean outfielder on the free agent market as well?

Update: Looking around just now, I think I’m talking about Shim Jong-soo, although it appears he’s not headed for MLB as of yet.

November 24, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Also, what’s up with the talk that the M’s are going to release Cirillo and go after FA Joe Randa? What’s the point? The difference between the two taken as a whole is one, maybe two games a year. While I understand the reasoning behind regarding Cirillo a sunk cost, if the M’s spend a couple million on Randa that could have gone to Matsui, or towards Vlad, I’m going to tear my hair out.

November 24, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Peter Gammons reports that Bavasi went to LA to see about “both Kaz Matsui and Korean first baseman Seung-Yeop Lee.”

The Korea Times reports the M’s have made an offer, though at less than $1m/year. Lee is 27, hit 56 home runs last year. Further:

Lee, who hit an Asian record 56 homers this season, told reporters that he liked the Dodgers’ family-like atmosphere after meeting the team’s vice president Tommy Lasorda and general manager Don Evans with his agent John Kim.

“I feel like I’ve been here before although I am here for the first time,’’ Lee said. “The atmosphere was much better than with the Mariners. I want to play for the Dodgers.’’

And in the Seattle Times, Roger Jongewaard : ““We’d probably send him to Triple-A to see if he is the real deal.’’

For the M’s it looks like they would throw him in the minors, give him a year, and if he’s ready they’d plug him in at first in 2005 after Olerud moves on… and if he washes out, they hit the free agent market.

November 23, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Woof, woof.

November 22, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I’m sure Jason will agree with me when I sing

Bow Down to Washington,

Bow Down to Washington,

Mighty Are The Men

Who Wear the Purple and the Gold,

Joyfully We Welcome Them

Within the Victors Fold.

and so on and so forth.

November 20, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · 1 Comment 

I know it doesn’t have a chance in the world of happening, and the Mariners are almost certain to pass when the Rule 5 draft comes along, but I’m going to campaign for the selection of Chris Shelton anyways. The Pirates decided that the 2003 Carolina League MVP was not worth protecting, mainly because he lacks the athletic ability of, well, normal human beings. He’s a classic Oakland ballplayer; he’s not in very good shape, doesn’t have a natural position, is historically slow, and can hit the snot out of the baseball.

He split time between catcher and first base, though few teams would be willing to carry him as an everyday catcher thanks to below average catch-and-throw skills. Most teams view him as a DH and question whether he has that kind of power. I don’t think Shelton is an all-star, but he’s got a shot to be an interesting backup catcher/lefty mashing pinch-hitter for the league minimum.

I did a more thorough analysis on Shelton over at Baseball Prospectus, though its for Premium Subscribers only. If you haven’t subscribed to get more of Derek yet, well, what on earth are you waiting for?

So, there you go. My new endorsed Rule 5 Selection that has no chance on earth of happening. Its a sure bet that Shelton breaks camp with one of Oakland/Toronto/San Diego/Boston/Colorado though.

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