DMZ · September 13, 2004 at 8:29 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Last night was the first time in a while I’d seen an actual huge crowd at Safeco. Interestingly, if you went up to the ticket office and asked for seats they were telling people that there were only scattered singles available, but there were huge chunks of the upper deck with no one sitting in them at all. I’m not sure what happened there, but I wonder if the scalpers bought them all up early in the season and then got hit by busses or something.

The M’s are 10th in home attendance this year, with 36,000/home game (and I believe that’s tickets bought, as we’ve noted before). The M’s are surrounded by teams with better records. The only close bad team is Arizona in 15th place with 32,000/home game.

That seems high, and yet it’s cause for worry for the team. That’s 4,000 under last season, in a year in which season and advance ticket sales were really good, making for a huge base. Even on the worst matchups, mid-week, the Mariners have announced attendance of 28,000.

So here’s where this gets wacky: if you figure that the M’s got $20/head out of the average fan showing up between ticket and everything else, that 4,000 fan drop-off is $6.5m in lost revenue from last year. There are easily that many no-shows in the stands many nights, and if you figure the M’s don’t lose $5/head selling the ticket but not “everything” that’s another $1.6m. I’m surprised the team hasn’t explained that this is where Sasaki’s money went — even though in the past higher-than-planned attendance wasn’t used on payroll.

I haven’t found anything on ratings, but they’ve got to be down — even my wife asks “why bother?” when I tune into games sometimes, and she troops to more home games than anybody I know (not including me). The Mariners were fortunate to negotiate their deals at the height of their success, but the broadcasters are going to bring this up next time.

What’s this project to next year? I notice there’s been a huge difference in tone in the advertising to season ticket holders this year: Lincoln’s no-apology apology letter, for instance, and the constant reassurance that they appreciate season ticket holders (rather than the usual “get deposits in now” strategy). After a year like this the Mariners are going to see a huge drop in season tickets and advance sales will be way down too… unless the team makes some huge moves early this off-season, and I don’t mean Ibanez-style. There are season ticket holders who will bolt if they see a repeat of last year’s off-season. Or at least that’s what I hear… whether or not people follow through on that’s another matter.

If the Mariners win, I think the day-of-game sales will come back up. Safeco Field’s still a great place to see a baseball game in the summer, mingle — whoops, not anymore — and Seattle’s turned into a good baseball town. But season ticket holders buy expensive seats and because they’ve purchased them in advance, are more likely to show up because they’re financially invested. They also give the Mariners their money up-front, which is a substantial amount of float to make money off.

Another factor is that games are more fun to attend when they’re well-attended. It’s less fun trying to get your food and beer, but the difference in game experience between having 10,000 and 20,000 is huge, and 20,000 and 30,000 is large as well… and a sell-out packed house makes almost any game worth watching. A large season-ticket base ensures that the stadium’s always got a lot of fans in it, which makes it more pleasant for the casual fan to come out and cheer along.

The Mariners said they’re looking to spend a lot of money this off-season to help rebuild the team. Part of what they may be considering goes beyond on-field costs: if they sign Beltran, for instance, he might be worth overpaying if it staves off the erosion of their lucrative ticket base as they try to build a winning team again.


40 Responses to “Attendance”

  1. devil's advocate on September 13th, 2004 10:37 am

    this has absolutely nothing to do with the post, but i thought somebody would like to run over and check it out- ESPN’s baseball page is featuring a picture of eric chavez with a caption touting, of all things, his zone rating. with links to gammons’ latest column touting ZR and, among other things, mentioning that he thinks Bill James should absolutely be in the HOF. i just caught a weather report from the ninth circle… the barometer is dropping, snow is expected.

  2. Jimmie on September 13th, 2004 10:47 am

    I was at Saturday’s game with my wife, the first game I’ve gone to in quite a while (a bunch of us at work bought into the weekend games package for the last few seasons). It seemed that half the crowd were BoSox fans, as the cheering for them was almost as loud as the M’s fans cheering. I had tickets for yesterday’s game but did not go… of course they win THAT game. 😐 My softball team won both games of our doubleheader though!

    The only way I’ll buy season tickets next yaer is if they fire Howard Lincoln, Bill Bavasi, Chuck Armstrong, Lee Pelekoudas and Roger Jongewaard for starters. It’s time for new blood in the front office, folks that are a little more forward-thinking.


  3. Metz on September 13th, 2004 11:22 am

    There were a ton of Boston fans at the game yesterday. I’d say fully 1/3rd of the crowd was wearing boston paraphenalia. I know I was 🙂

    I’m curious if anyone who regularly attends D’backs game reads USSmariner. Since a huge % of the Phoenix population is non native, do they get significant amount of fans cheering for the opposing team?

    BTW – I think comparing Meche to Franklin is foolish. The skill set is vastly different. I think that Meche has decided to spend the 2nd half of 2004 working on cutting down his BB given up, take a look at his ball to strike ratio yesterday. I think he’s working on some things sort of like a golfer simplifying their swing. He’s got to trust his stuff and not nibble. I think the learning how to pitch instead of throw lightbulb may be turning on in his head. Time will tell.

  4. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 11:35 am

    ARGGGHHH. I didn’t compare his stuff to Franklin’s stuff. I said that his post-return performance was like Franklin’s in that he wasn’t walking anyone but was more prone to giving up the home run, only Meche was adding strikeouts.

    I’m going to need to be much clearer about this stuff the next time I make a comment like that.

  5. Jon on September 13th, 2004 11:38 am

    Sorry to post this off-topic, but what’s the deal with the personalized bricks at Safeco?

  6. Zzyzx on September 13th, 2004 11:51 am

    One thing I noticed in yesterday’s broadcast is that season ticket holders will now get a discount instead of paying $price of seat * 81 like they did when I was a holder. That’s a move in the right direction.

  7. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 11:58 am

    Ticket discounts happen now. I don’t have a full breakdown, but mine are $4 off/stub/game which is 17% off.

  8. bob mong on September 13th, 2004 12:04 pm

    If the Mariners win, I think the day-of-game sales will come back up.

    Do you guys really think the Mariners are going to rebound next year? I mean, really rebound, as in contend for a playoff spot? Or even a winning season?

    I’m a big baseball fan in general, and a big Mariners fan in specific, and I am generally not a pessimist about the Ms, but seriously: this team has a lot of holes that will require some smarts and creativity to fix. And those are qualities that no one in the Ms’ upper management possesses. Sure, Bavasi etc. might throw around some money and sign Beltran, Beltre, or somebody, but this is a team that is going to win only around 60 games this year. It is going to take a lot more than a couple of big name free agents to turn this disaster around. (See Baltimore: they are getting monster seasons from Tejada and J Lopez, and they still suck.)

    What is the base to build on? The only established quality performers we have for next year are Pineiro, Guardado, Ichiro!, Winn (ok, maybe a stretch), and Olivo. Three position players and two pitchers.

    The might-be-good-or-rebound guys are: Moyer, Boone, J Lopez, Meche, Madritsch

    The suck-or-injured are: Ibanez, Spiezio, Franklin, Soriano, D Wilson

    We have long-term crap in LF (Ibanez) and 1B/3B (Spiezio). Besides that, we have holes at 1B, DH, starting pitcher (Does a rotation of Moyer’s Corpse, Pineiro, Meche, Franklin, Madritsch/Nageotte/Thornton say “playoffs” to anyone? Anyone?), the bullpen (w/o Soriano and possibly Guardado), and the bench (D Wilson and W Bloomquist should have a contest to see who can have the next season with an OBP above .300 first).

    So, to turn this thing around (i.e., contend, which will require 90+ wins, a gain of 30) next season, we need massive upgrades at 1B, DH, 3B, LF, and at least one starting pitcher (more likely three). That’s five to seven starting positions that need to be filled, many of which are currently blocked by high-priced dross (Ibanez, Spiezio). You really think Bavasi can fill that many holes in a competent fashion? Or is it more likely that Bavasi will sign a big-name or two and fill all the myriad other holes in the same way he filled LF (Ibanez, three years), CF (Winn, three years), 3B (Spiezio, three years), and the bullpen (Hasegawa, two years) last year?

    We are fooked.

  9. Joshua Buergel on September 13th, 2004 12:05 pm

    I think my tickets were $18 this year vs. $20 full price. As for my plans next year, I’m thinking seriously about downgrading from the 40-game package to the 16-game package. Of course, if Ben Christensen is still on the roster after the winter, I should cancel my package entirely to follow through on my threat.

  10. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 12:10 pm

    Bob — I totally agree, my point there was that if the M’s won, I think we’d see the day-of-game sales return. I’d been meaning to write up a longer post like that, but you’re totally right that they’re likely to tank next year as well.

    Joshua — Christensen’s been released

  11. bob mong on September 13th, 2004 12:14 pm


    gotcha, hypothetically speaking, if they won, etc.

    My big fear is that when the Mariners will tank, attendance and revenue will drop so far that the Mariners will turn into a poorly-run, small-revenue team. Rather than a poorly-run, large-revenue team. In other words, I fear that this season is a precursor to 10+ consecutive seasons of crappy baseball.

  12. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2004 12:21 pm

    Yeah, essentially, I think Bob is right. I think this team is probably going to be doing pretty well to hit .500 next year. Odds are that the collective of Boone/Spiezio/Ibanez/Moyer/Shiggy/Franklin/Wilson are hitting their decline phase as veterans (all over 30, and in Franklin’s case, though he’s pretty young, his K’s/9 are well into Dave Fleming territory- he may NEVER have a decent year as a starter again). Add to that the Mariner predilection for glove men (Cabrera, Santiago and Bloomquist), and overpriced veterans who have a good year (Villone), and half of the projected 2005 roster is either old, bad or both.

    Look at it this way- the Angels at the end of 2003 started out in a MUCH better spot than the M’s do now, with talented players in their peak years (Glaus, Anderson), a pretty good minor league farm system, an owner who was willing to write unlimited checks, a solid bullpen, thus making them a smidge below .500. They signed the best FA hauls out there in Escobar, Colon, Vlad and Guillen, which we’re unlikely to do. And they STILL won’t make the playoffs, in all likelihood. Expecting Bavasi to end up with a better result with less collective talent is just not logical.

  13. Paul Weaver on September 13th, 2004 12:30 pm

    Optimist: A Pineiro, Meche, Madritsch trio, plus a middle-grade free agent, could field a decent rotation. The Belt brothers would fill the glaring positional holes. If Olivo’s defense improves, his bat will be an upgrade over Wilson. Lopez is showing power and should continue to develop. A Delgado, or even the cheap option of Bucky, should patch up the hole at first. Ibanez would DH with Reed or Winn in Left. It has been discussed here that the M’s should have about 30 mil to spend next year, which could land one or both of those big free agents. If we need to move the Ibanez or Winn contract, signing Beltre would make it easier, because Leone would become expendable as a fairly desirable 3B project. The M’s could get a solid reliever in return. Wilson should be a great backup C. If Spiezio returns even halfway to his old numbers he can be a fill-in superior to Bloomquist who will not fit on the bench.
    In this optimistic scenario (where noone gets injured and players eat their wheaties) the offense improves possibly .075-.100 on OPS, even if Beltre and Beltran don’t perform as well as expected. The team scores 0.5-1.0 more runs a game, maybe. The pitching (whether Moyer bounces back or not) gives up about 0.5 fewer runs a game. Now assuming a major earthquake in Oakland, and Vlad’s back giving out, the M’s get 30 more wins and take the West.

  14. Pete M on September 13th, 2004 12:31 pm

    anyone else up for starting a grass-roots campaign to get Melvin to start Edgar at 3B on the last day of the year? I think it would be beautiful.

  15. Paul Weaver on September 13th, 2004 12:43 pm

    Watching Edgar get beaned in the head by a line drive does not sound beautiful. Watching dribblers get through the infield is not beautiful. Heck, even just watching him try to bend at the knees or jog in from the infield each inning would be painful.

  16. Evan on September 13th, 2004 12:50 pm

    I have to disagree that well-attended games are more fun. Games in Olympic Stadium are great fun. You and maybe a thousand other diehard Expos fans sitting around eating your smoked meat or poutine, watching a decent game in a decent venue.

    I kind of hope Bud screws up the relocation again so I can make it back next year.

  17. PaulP on September 13th, 2004 12:55 pm

    If the M’s signed Beltran, Beltre and Nomar, the Season ticket sales would be as high as ever. The M’s still probably wouldn’t make the playoffs because of pitching, but they could solve that the next year (with their Boone money).
    I never thought I’d say this, but when you compare the M’s pitching to Texas, all the numbers but ERA are the same. The OPS is higher for the M’s, but that’s due to the HR’s given up. While the pitching hasn’t been great, it’s hard to believe the season would have turned out so bad if the M’s had any kind of offense.
    My point is that no, the M’s won’t make the playoffs next year, but spending HEAVILY in QUALITY free agents will keep attendance up enough to allow them to fill the remaining holes in 2006.
    On the optimistic side, has anyone done a camparison of the M’s to the 2001 Angels? 75-99-77 wins in 3 years is quite the yo-yo. Just wondering how they did it and how that could compare to the current M’s.

  18. Vertigoleys on September 13th, 2004 1:02 pm

    why do mariner fans never get the fact that a big name free agent will never be coming to seattle?

  19. Bill on September 13th, 2004 1:06 pm

    Picking up on part of this thread: I don’t think the Mariners can really hope to contend for a playoff spot next season, meaning in turn that it will be difficult for them to get a spike form day-of-game ticket sales.

    The possibility of signing Adrian Beltre or Carlos Beltran are frequently tossed around, but has the major signing of a free agent at their peak value ever really “saved” a team? (And I would counter that the Vlad Guerrero signing was a) icing on an already well-endowed cake and b) not above market value due to injury concerns) What good does overpaying for a free agent do, if at the end of the day, you’ve overpaid? If you are a team like the Yankees (or to a lesser extend the Red Sox or Angels) where payroll is not a concern, this is fine. You simply snatch up the best available talent on the market without thinking twice about the cost. But the Mariners, like many other teams, essentially operate with a hard payroll cap of $95M. The problem is intensified by a number of bad contracts–Spiezio, Moyer, Boone, Guardado–already on the books. Teams that thrive with a strict payroll do so by blending in good, cheap talent with their other players signed at or above their fair market value. If the M’s signed Beltre, they’d be paying him market value for his 2004 season when there is a slim-to-none possibility that he will maintain that production for the 5-6 years of the contract he will receive. Beltran for $17M/year for 6-7 goes by the same principle. A team with as many bad contracts as the M’s have simply can’t dole out this kind of money for this many years and be able to compete with the remaining payroll. There simply isn’t enough to go around UNLESS you’ve got productive pre-arbitration or under-market-value players filling out the roster. And the Mariners, even if they had productive versions of Reed and Madrtisch filling out the roster, don’t have enough of those kind of players to make signing a Beltran or Beltre work.

    To me, it seems like there would be two ways out of the rut: Number one is to trade for and develop top-level talent the way the Indians, Twins, Rangers, Marlins, and (a while back) the A’s did. This takes time and it sounds like the Mariners don’t want to go this route (and frankly may not have the intelligence to evaluate the necessary talent).
    So a better option might be to go route #2, which is to acquire free agent talent at below-market prices. That means unearthing the Jose Guillen’s of the free agent crop or trading for the Joe Nathan’s or Carlos Guillen’s. Don’t bother with Beltre, when you can grab a Corey Koskie coming off a down year. Grab an Odalis Perez with only single-digit wins and not a Pedro Martinez.

    My basic point is this: as nice as it is to discuss the Beltre’s and Beltran’s of the world, it is virtually impossible to envision dumping $15-18M into one of those guys a wise investment for a team with a hard-capped payroll under $100M. You know you’re overpaying when you’re a team that can’t afford to overpay. I think to get back into contention, which is the key to the whole attendance question, is to start “buying low.” The M’s have been experts at “buying high” and “selling low,” that is the first trend that needs to stop if this ship is going to get righted and attendance is going to return to the golden-age levels.

  20. LB on September 13th, 2004 1:06 pm

    We are becoming Cleveland. If you think this makes Joe Average Fan depressesed, I have a (now becoming worthless) Charter Seat License.

  21. jc on September 13th, 2004 1:06 pm

    Mariners drafts have been auful the last 5 years .we have 3 indy pitchers on are big league staff is this some kind of record for futillity are what???

  22. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 1:12 pm

    I wish we’d become Cleveland. They’ve got smart people in their front office.

  23. MHS on September 13th, 2004 1:25 pm

    Based on an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, about a month ago, ratings in July on TV and radio were about 23% off from the year before. I imagine that has caught the M’s attention as well. Whether it means that they will spend to keep the income flowing or cut back to prepare for lower revenues is unclear. (Although the pessimist within me suspects the latter is going to be the truth.)

  24. LB on September 13th, 2004 1:26 pm

    And yes, DMZ, ever since the 1994 strike, the owners of all teams have goosed the attendance numbers by reporting the number of tickets sold, not the turnstile count. Obviously they know the turnstile count, but they choose not to report it.

  25. bob mong on September 13th, 2004 1:29 pm

    why do mariner fans never get the fact that a big name free agent will never be coming to seattle?

    I hear this all the time – why do people think this?

    A Delgado […] should patch up the hole at first.

    Don’t bother with Beltre, when you can grab a Corey Koskie coming off a down year.

    Koskie will be 32 in 2005. Delgado will be 33. Both are coming off of injury-laden years. If Bavasi signs either of them to more than a one-year contract…ugh.

  26. Bill on September 13th, 2004 1:36 pm

    To clarify what I posted earlier–I was advocating “buying low” on free agents so that you can accomplish two things: 1. you can get them for less than market value, and 2. you can sign them to 1 or 2 year contracts like with Jose Guillen. This way, even if you screw up, you’re not doing much long-term damage, if any. Also, I personally am in the anti-Delgado camp if that’s worth anything. I think he’ll still go for too much and for too many years. I’m advocating going after players for reasonable price and short # of years.

  27. jeff angus on September 13th, 2004 1:41 pm

    I’m pretty sure to yield the 20-game segment of the season ticket pair I have, so matter what they do. It was my 1st year with season tix, so perhaps that makes it easier to do without. I would probably go to 8-12 games opportunistically.

    I think the litmus paper on whether they intend-to (or can figure out how to) compete for the chance at .500 next year is what they do at 1st base. If they sign Sexson, it says they are willing to spend but have no clue what they need. If they sign Delgado, they are willing to spend and have a clue what to spend it on. If they sign Palmeiro, they have some clue, but they’re unwilling to spend money and they’re being driven again by wishful thinking. If they sign John Olerud or Mo Vaughn or decide Bloomquist really is better to have in the lineup at first base than Jacobsen…

    But I don’t see what they can do even with Kaz$$ that will make this a team that can contend for a wild card next year without luck as good next year as it was bad this year.

  28. Paul Molitor Cocktail on September 13th, 2004 1:44 pm

    Based on an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, about a month ago, ratings in July on TV and radio were about 23% off from the year before. I imagine that has caught the M’s attention as well. Whether it means that they will spend to keep the income flowing or cut back to prepare for lower revenues is unclear. (Although the pessimist within me suspects the latter is going to be the truth.)

    Doesn’t that hurt KOMO more? They must be kicking themselves for spending, what, $100M for the radio deal?

    Anyway, I went to Friday and Saturday’s game. Both sections I sat in had many BoSox fans. It’s interesting to note that the Boston fans cheered for their team, whereas the Seattle fans cheered for the green hovercraft.

    (me talking to friend who knows how frustrated I am with the Ms)
    Me: “Yes, I went Friday and Saturday.”
    Friend: “Wait, you went to two Mariners game in a row?!?”
    Me: “No, I went to two Red Sox games in a row!”

  29. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2004 2:40 pm

    If they sign Sexson, it says they are willing to spend but have no clue what they need. If they sign Delgado, they are willing to spend and have a clue what to spend it on.

    Why do you think Delgado is a better investment than Delgado? Both have had years marred by injury, and while Delgado is a lefty, Sexson is 3 years younger- which is a BIG deal on a multi-year contract.

  30. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2004 2:40 pm

    Er, that should read “Delgado is a better investment than Sexson”.

  31. Josh on September 13th, 2004 2:58 pm

    Who was the biggest free agent signing to ever come to Seattle? I mean a player who was already big, not Boone, not Ichiro (big in our country). All I can think of is Ricky Watters for the Seahawks, but I don’t know much about the 70’s-80’s signings. Anyways, that’s not very big.

  32. Adam J. Morris on September 13th, 2004 3:09 pm

    Seattle is actually 10th, not 11th, in attendance, with Arizona coming in at 14th. ESPN (which I’m guessing is your source) put the All-Star game in its 2004 averages, for some reason. That comes in at 3rd, which pushes everyone else below the top two teams down one spot.

  33. Paul Molitor Cocktail on September 13th, 2004 3:17 pm

    Regardless, you’re talking about a decline from #1 in 2001-2002 and #2 in 2003 to #10. At the current rate, they won’t break 3M fans.

    At some point, if attendance doesn’t rise back up, the front office will start seeing turnover.

  34. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 3:32 pm

    (looking up stats)

    What the hell did they do that for?

    Fixed in the post. Thanks Adam.

  35. Troy Sowden on September 13th, 2004 3:35 pm

    Off-topic, any truth to the Fuson to Baltimore rumors, Derek? I knew we weren’t going to make a run for him, but I hate to see ANOTHER American League team get on the objective-analysis train while we continue to chill in 1952. Depressing.

  36. jeff angus on September 13th, 2004 7:52 pm

    Why do you think Delgado is a better investment than Sexson? Both have had years marred by injury, and while Delgado is a lefty, Sexson is 3 years younger

    1. Safeco Field, which, as you alluded to, crushes right-handed power and fluffs up a little the lefties who pull. Specifically, CD 2001-present is in 57 PAs in Mariners’ stadium:
    OPS 1.153
    .347 BA
    .439 OB
    .714 SLG
    and this compares favorably even with Edgar at home over the same period
    OPS .881
    OBA .409
    SLG .472

    Let’s ding CD for sample size. If we amputate 20% of CD’s OPS, he’s a left-handed Edgar with better baserunning and perhaps even adequate enough in the field to play a position. He’s a legit #4 or maybe even #3 hitter. Plus he’s a “good citizen” active in the community, which management likes — there’s nothing wrong with “good citizens” if they’re top 20% ballplayers — and if having CD fills a good citizenship slot, perhaps it will mean one less Al Martin who appeals to ownership’s need to collect such dudes. Finally, he gives good interviews — he’s intelligent and well-spoken….even smarter than Russ Davis.

    Sexson’s an awesome slugger, an ugly fielder(maybe he gets the job done…just watching his footwork scares me), a crappy, clueless baserunner like B Boone, though perhaps not as fast. But he’s right-handed — Mariners Park could turn him into David Bell with more strikeouts. Jacobsen’s short-term upside (not his 50th %ile) is probably close to Sexson’s average, but Bucky is something similar at the plate, we already have him, and he costs a mite less. I think Sexson is a fine player to have on one’s roster, but much of his benefit is diminished by the Mariners’ current environment: Jacobsen available & cheap, home stadium undercutting his greatest strength. Finally, he one of these players with “local” connection….and when one of these guys fails and needs to be traded or dumped, they find it really hard to pull the trigger or even cuts back the player’s usage (e.g., Brian Hunter, John Olerud).

    It’s not my money — I wouldn’t be comfortable giving either of them a very long-term deal, but I think Delgado is a lot more useful for the next couple of years.

    That’s my thinking. I’m open to counter arg…I couldn’t find Sexson’s line batting in The Clam.

  37. Jerry on September 13th, 2004 9:18 pm

    I don’t think that the situation is as bleak as a lot of you think. Really, to retain the interest of the fans, the M’s just have to be interesting next year. If they can have a turnaround like Texas or even Cleveland, that would get the attendance back up. Or if the team signs some players who are fun to watch. The most important thing that the M’s have to do next year is maintain high attendance levels. The way to do this is by signing high-profile players. Otherwise, the team will end up cutting back payroll, and really rebuilding. I don’t think that any of us want to see that happen for the next 4 years.

    Unlike teams like Cleveland, Texas, Milwaukee, and KC, the M’s don’t have much rebuilding to do. We already have some valuable parts, and we don’t have a ton of bad contracts. Contrary to what some of you have said, the contracts to Ibanez, Winn, Spiezio, Franklin, and Shiggy are not that bad. Well, they are bad, but they are not like Chan Ho Park, Charles Johnson, or Todd Hundley. Look at the roster of the Rockies, and compare it to the M’s. All of the M’s bad contracts combined only make around 15 million. Winn, Ibanez, and Franklin have some value. Shiggy could come back. I think that the only truly worthless contract we have is Spiezio, and even he will probably rebound to his average numbers next year.

    If you look at the rosters of most teams with contracts over 75 million, you will find a few bad contract on every one. Fortunately, the M’s bad contracts are short and low-cost. Franklin and Shiggy come off the books after next year, as does the Cirillo money. None of the bad contracts last past 2006.

    Because the M’s have so much money coming off the books this year, they can afford to make a big splash in the free agent market. They need to get better at 1B, 3B, and CF, and sign a starter and a reliever. All they will have to do is address one of those needs cheaply, and throw cash at the others. When Anahiem went on their spending spree (Colon, Vlad, Escobar, and Guillen) they spent 32 million towards their 2004 payroll. The Mariners have 37 million to spend this year, assuming that they move no contracts. That leaves them with a lot of options. Moving one of their LF players (Winn or Ibanez) would get them to 40 million.

    If I was GM, this is what I would do:

    Trade for Phillies 1B Ryan Howard (maybe for Nageotte or even Reed)

    Sign Beltre, JD Drew, Carl Pavano/Brad Radke/Odalis Perez/Matt Clement, and a reliever (like Scott Williamson).

    This would be the lineup:

    Ichiro CF
    Winn/Reed LF
    Beltre 3B
    Drew RF
    Boone 2B
    Howard 1B
    Bucky/Ibanez DH
    Olivo C
    Lopez SS

    Rotation: Pavano/Perez/Radke/Clement, Piniero, Moyer, Meche, Madritsch/Blackley

    Bullpen: Guardado, Williamson, Shiggy, Putz/Thornton, Sherrill, Nageotte/Taylor

    The team could then try to pawn off Spiezio, Ibanez, Franklin, and other spare parts, and put the rest of them on the bench/bullpen.

    That team might win the west, but they would be fun to watch, and could realistically reach .500. Plus, the team would be young, with a good nucleus to build around going into 2006. They would have very few players over 30, and only Boone over 35. The M’s will have another 25 million coming off the books then, and could add an ace pitcher and someone to play 2B.

    Contrary to what Bill says, players won’t be getting 17 million. Those days are over. The market is different from when Jeter and Manny made their millions. The five signings above would probably cost 30-35 million. So it is within their budget. If they could trade a few contracts, they could even upgrade from Drew to Beltran.

    Most importantly, people would come to see that team. That is what the FO needs to worry about most.

  38. Troy Sowden on September 14th, 2004 7:21 am

    For the most part, I like your plan Jerry. The biggest hang-up I see is whether we can get JD out of the South. This might be the one instance where someone being a Boras client will help us, because chances are the Braves don’t get a huge hometown discount and they might not pony up the cash to keep him. I’m not sure how I’d feel about trading Reed for Howard though.

  39. bob mong on September 14th, 2004 10:20 am

    I don’t think the situation, in and of itself is that bleak, but the situation combined with the management the Ms have is extraordinarily bleak.

    And the problem with the crappy contracts isn’t the money – it is the positions they occupy, and the likely unwillingness of the Ms front office to replace, say, Ibanez, Spiezio, and Hasegawa on the field. With Ibanez, Spiezio, and Winn locked in for another two years, do you think Bavasi will have the guts/humility to admit that those were idiotic signings and replace them on the field? Right.

    Anyone smart could come up with a good, within-budget plan to bring the Ms back into contention in the next year or two. You did. I could. DMZ, Dave, and JMB could. Bavasi can’t.

    If Bavasi does any of the following this winter:

    Cuts Spiezio loose.
    Moves either Ibanez or Winn to the bench.
    Cuts Hasegawa loose.

    I’ll eat my hat. Doing any of those things would require admitting mistakes, realizing the nature and depth of the problems with the ballclub, and taking some public-relations risks. Has Bavasi ever shown those qualities?

  40. bob mong on September 14th, 2004 10:49 am

    And let me just say that the damage that Safeco does to RH power hitters seems a little overstated. In particular, Bret Boone has never seemed especially affected by Safeco:
    Home SLG: .580
    Away SLG: .576
    Home SLG: .480
    Away SLG: .445
    Home SLG: .520
    Away SLG: .550
    Home SLG: .436
    Away SLG: .415

    From 2001-2004, he has hit 60 HR at home and 58 on the road.

    Sure, Mike Cameron had an amazingly difficult time at Safeco (well, until 2003), but I don’t think that is a universal condition.

    Other splits, 2000-2004
    Edgar: 51 HR at home, 59 on the road
    Mike Cameron: 30 at home, 57 on the road (2000-2003)
    Dan Wilson: 11 home, 16 road
    John Olerud: 40 home, 27 road (2000-2003)
    Ichiro!: 21 home, 16 road
    David Bell: 11 home, 15 road (2000-2001)
    Jay Buhner: 17 home, 11 road (2000-2001)

    The advantage for LH power hitters and the disadvantage for RH power hitters are real, but I don’t think that Safeco is going to turn Richie Sexson into David Bell or anything.