The most popular theme in our inbox right now is “who should the M’s target in free agency this offseason”. This is a context-dependant question and deserves a longer post, but I figured I’ll throw out the names of guys I’d like to see the Mariners pursue. You can’t necessarily predict what a player will be offered, and focusing on signing one player at all costs is foolish, but the Mariners should have the financial flexibility to get some combination of two or three of the players below. Ranked in order of preference:
1. Carlos Beltran. One of the premier players in the game at a position of severe weakness for the M’s. Improves offense and defense significantly. Should age better than every other free agent on market, making long term deal less risky.
2. J.D. Drew. Becomes the superstar hitter and on base machine that the M’s sorely lack. Price should be kept reasonable due to perceived problems with his character and real problems with health. Don’t go more than 3 years, but he’s worth as much per season as any non-Beltran free agent.
3. Adrian Beltre. Finally living up to his potential in the year of the payday. Will be 26 at start of next year, could be signed to 5 year deal and still be in his prime when contract expires. Terrific defender in addition to power bat. Probably going to be overpaid by someone, though.
4. Nomar Garciaparra. He’s getting hammered in Boston, but his “miserable” 2004 numbers would make him our third best hitter. Odds are he returns to something closer to his superstar form of the past. Fills gaping hole at shortstop, allowing Jose Lopez to develop at third base, his real position.
5. Troy Glaus. Health a concern, probably has to play first base long term, but could be dominating power bat M’s have searched for at discounted price. Like Drew, he’s a good risk for a shorter contract.
A Beltran/Beltre combo would obviously be ideal, solving the CF/3B problems for around $24-$27 million per season. The M’s should have in excess of $35 million to spend in the offseason, even more if they can dump some bad contracts, and using the majority to get two impact talents would be wise. However, if I had to settle for a Drew/Glaus/Garciaparra trio for around $30 million, I wouldn’t cry.
The M’s have the resources to make some big noise in free agency this offseason. There are impact talents available. If they are serious about avoiding a rebuilding process (which I don’t believe they need to go through), then these are the guys they need to set their sights on.
You know, looking over the all-star rosters tonight, I realized I don’t care anymore. And then I realized why. These are the players that apparently aren’t all-stars:
If it weren’t for Barry Bonds, all three guys in the NL have a decent case for MVP, much less all-star. Abreu, Drew, Thomas, and Mora are half of the top eight major league players in on base percentage. These guys are among the fifteen or so best position players in the game this year, and they aren’t all-stars? But Moises Alou is? I love Miguel Cabrera‘s potential, but he’s not better than Abreu or Drew at anything except playing for the manager who picked the reserves.
Growing up, I loved the all-star game. Now, I probably won’t even watch it. Between interleague play and MLB.tv, its not like I haven’t seen these guys play. And the illusion that its the best of each league being represented was shattered a long time ago. Any all-star game that doesn’t include a guy like Bobby Abreu, Adrian Beltre, or Melvin Mora is just a joke.
On Molitor — my personal theory is that on a veteran-laden team such as the M’s, there’s really very little for a hitting coach to do. Lamar Johnson was a scapegoat after last season, and while I’m pretty sure Paul Molitor isn’t hurting the M’s this year, I can’t imagine how he’s helping the likes of Edgar, Boone, Olerud, etc.
Today’s game in quotes about Justin Leone.
“Awww, don’t swing at– nooo.”
“Get there- ahhhh.”
“No, don’t… gahhhh.”
“As a shortstop, he’s uh… an adequate third baseman.”
I’m happy to see Leone play, and I know he’s nervous, but jeeeez:
2nd: 4 pitches, K
5th: 4 pitches, 3 watched strikes, 1 foul, K
The really bad thing about this is that Leone’s presence in the lineup meant the team saw a couple more pitches than they likely would have with Aurilia in there. Which reminds me.
Mariners and pitches seen/PA
Dave Hansen, professional hitter, 4.28
AL AVERAGE HITTER: 3.83
Wilson: 3.81 (a career high since coming over from Cincy)
As frustrated as I’ve been seeing these guys hack at first pitches to quickly ground out, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d seen some of them with “2.10” or something shocking like that.
Now P/PA doesn’t necc mean anything: you can be good and swing early, like the good version of Nomar, and you can see a ton of pitches and not be effective, like late Rickey Henderson. But generally speaking, good hitters can work deep in counts and have much higher pitch/plate appearance rates (and K/BB numbers as well, since those only occur deep in counts). It’s rare to find a hitter who sees many pitches and stinks (of the ML top 10 P/PA, the weakest is Mark Bellhorn and his ~.800 OPS.. driven by his ridiculous .382 OBP.
Meanwhile, the bottom 10 includes Sean Casey, who is having a ridiculous year I think is a fluke, Vlad Guerrero, who has always been like this and is a terrific free-swinging hitter, Ivan Rodriguez, and Craig Biggio (who used to see a lot more pitches than this if I remember).
There’s no great generalization to be made. The Angels were succesful swinging early and often one year, but not the year before or after. Sometimes having a lot of numbers doesn’t mean you have any additional insight.
Still, stop hacking! Get your pitch and drive it. Isn’t Molitor supposed to help them with their hitting approaches?
And another thing — this team actually has decent speed. I hear Ichiro runs pretty well. Randy Winn, while not a great hitter, does have speed. Hiram Bocachica and Jolbert Cabrera are not what I’d call slow. Miguel Olivo, despite being a catcher, runs pretty well. And Bret Boone is much quicker than people give him credit for — he’s stolen bases at an 85% clip over the past two and a half seasons, including going 16-for-19 last season and 7-for-8 this year.
People see Edgar and Olerud and assume the whole team is slow, but it’s not true. Speed isn’t the problem, folks.
Four runs in three games.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2004 Seattle Mariners’ “offense”.
Just in case you weren’t already convinced, Bob Finnigan is an idiot.
If last Sunday’s trade of Garcia is any indication, Lincoln made a sound hire in Bill Bavasi.
Sure, lets take his one good move out of the context of the unbelievably awful offseason he engineered and conclude that he’s capable of swindling talent at will, despite a long track record that says its not true.
With Tejada out of the picture, and the Mariners not a serious player in the Vladimir Guerrero chase, the mistake might have been not to sign or trade for players with speed.
What is sportswriters obsession with speed? The teams that are stealing the most bases this year; Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. They rank 12th, 21st, 11th, 5th, and 23rd in runs scored respectively. And if you’re going to argue that the Cardinals are scoring a lot of runs because of Tony Womack’s legs and not the bats of Scott Rolen, Albert Pujols, and Jim Edmonds, then you’re a fool. Teams that are built on fast players don’t score runs. Never have, never will. So, for the love of God, get over your love of speed.