Official 2005 Mariner construction and free agent post

DMZ · September 16, 2004 at 5:35 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Your 2005 Seattle Mariners: Preview and Speculation
Brought to you by Scott Boras. Scott Boras thanks the Seattle Mariners for signing Adrian Beltre.

Last update:
12/20 (Derek update of everything)

Since every thread we seem to have is hijacked into this, I’m going to take Dave’s suggestion and start one large post, which we can update as things happen and we debate possibilities.

SP under contract: Moyer (~$7.5m), Franklin ($2.4m), Pineiro (~$4m), Madritsch ($ small)
SP who could return if taken to arbitration: Meche (DZ: the least he’ll get is $2m, I’m guessing he’ll come out at $3 or better)
Candidates: many others

We haven’t talked about Moyer’s struggles much in the face of the disaster of the season, but you have to wonder if he’s lost just enough that he’s not going to be able to fool major league hitters any more. I gotta believe this is a blip, a product of defense and uh, luck? But that’s just me, I’m an optimist about this stuff. Pineiro’s slated to come back for next year. If you figure they’re going to take Meche to arbitration and Meche’s arm doesn’t fall off between now and next season, we predict Madritsch is going to open the season in the rotation, for a full five. As a unit, you’re hoping for a comeback (Moyer), a return from injury/breakout year (Pineiro), an injury risk/USSM official lightening rod (Meche), a guy who’s average at best (Franklin), and Madritsch. If it all comes together, it’s good. If any of that comes apart, it’s the tilt-a-whirl we’ve been enduring this year again, and things get bad quickly.

And maybe, dare we say it… King Felix could crack this rotation and… I don’t want to say too much.

Upgradability: Large. A top-line FA starter to replace Franklin (or even Meche) would help a lot, allow one of those risks to not pan out, and also give a lot of aid to…

FA upgrade candidates:
RHP Kevin Millwood. Could his problems with the gopher ball be solved at Safeco? M’s rotation says: some balls just can’t be caught. Buzz is he’s the M’s #1 pitching target.
(signed) RHP Pedro Martinez. Oh baby, what a gamble.
RHP Carl Pavano
(signed) RHP Matt Clement
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
LHP Odalis Perez. Ask Jason about Odalis– I hear he’s never going to be more than a swingman, or so Jason was told. I’m interested.
RHP Derek Lowe. Extreme groundballer needs a defense, and his early-season woes concern me
RHP Brad Radke. 31 but if you’re looking to stuff an inning-eating vet in the rotation, he’s a good bet to get 200 above-average innings in a year… but as an upgrade, what’s that do for the team?
(signed) RHP Jaret Wright.

CL: ?
Under contract: Hasegawa ($3.5m)
Candidates: Putz, Baek, Thornton, Sherrill, Atchison, Mateo, Nageotte, Taylor, Williams
May be brought back over our protests: Villone

DL: Guardado ($4.5m), under contract but likely out next year, Blackley, who has shoulder tendinitis” (which is medical for “we don’t know”), Rafael Soriano, who had TJ surgery and will miss next year barring something crazy happening.

Guardado supposedly will be back at some point this year, but I don’t think we’ll see him return.

How do you assemble a bullpen out of this? I don’t think it’s that hard if Mateo’s back to his form of last year, but a lot of these guys up from Tacoma seem like candidates to be the long-middle relief guys and not fill in traditional set-up/closer roles. Like I wouldn’t mind seeing Thornton pitching in that kind of a long relief role, but as a LHP set-up guy, I don’t see it. One of the qualities the M’s should look for in a new manager is the ability to assemble effective bullpens out of interesting pieces, like we’ve seen Cox/Scioscia and others do.

Upgradability: Huge. They could spend on a couple servicable reliable veterans on short-term deals and help patch this thing up.

FA upgrade candidates: Many

Part of the problem we’re going to have here is that this is a lot like a puzzle, and sliding a guy over means that someone else has to move. So bear with me.

C: Olivo
1B: Sexson/Ibanez ($3.75m)/Spiezio ($3.1m)/Jacobsen
2B: Boone ($9m)
SS: ?
3B: Beltre! Wooot!!
DH: Jacobsen

FAs that could leave: Wilson, Cabrera
Arb decisions: Bloomquist
Candidates: 3B Dobbs, SS-IF Jose Lopez

It’s not a sure thing that Lopez starts the season as the shortstop, though you’d think he’d have the advantage of incumbency by now. Dave has a long post about Jose Lopez and 2005 that’s worth reading.

As a unit, this is pretty weak. No matter where Spiezio plays, the team’s carrying a light bat. Ibanez doesn’t hit like a first baseban and fields like a bad one. But Leone at third isn’t a good solution — I don’t think Leone’s a bad one, if your alternative’s Spiezio, but he’s unlikely to be even a good 3B.

Did Boone get old in a hurry? Did he stop caring as much? Or is this just an off year? The Mariners will spend $8m to find out. If Boone turns in another HoF-style year, the unit’s redeemed, and if he stinks it up, it’s really bad.

Upgradability: huge, at SS and at 3B, but does Spiezio contract stop up the system?

FA upgrade candidates:
(signed — by the M’s!) 3B Adrian Beltre — young, will command a ton of money after this year, Dodgers seem committed to re-signing, and they’re rich
(signed) SS Edgar Renteria — 29, so not so old, premier shortstop talent
(signed) SS Nomar Garciaparra. NOMAHHHH!!! Would the M’s consider this? Even if the money was right? Even if he played for the minimum? Or is he too much of a clubhouse issue, which makes him unsignable? Nomar’s the kind of strange gamble the M’s need to look at if they’re going to return to winning before, say, 2006. 2007? Now I’m depressing myself.
(signed) SS Orlando Cabrera. Also 29, but I don’t see it.
(signed) 3B Troy Glaus. Same deal as Nomar, without the clubhouse baggage. Weird gambles, folks, let’s at least make this interesting.
(signed) 3B Corie Koskie. I’ve been convinced Koskie’s not a good buy by Dave’s arguments.
1B Carlos Delgado. Huge LH bat if he’s healthy, but he’s older, and these dudes don’t age well. Also makes the multi-headed LF/3B/1B problem worse unless the M’s pay someone to go away. I like him better than Sexson though.
(signed — by the M’s!) 1B Richie Sexson. Local boy, lots of power, right-handed pull-hitter not a good fit for Safeco. Injured.
C Jason Varitek. Team leader, catcher with pop, has great reputation. Also going to be 33. All downside.

LF: Sexson/Ibanez/Winn
CF: Winn
RF: Ichiro!

FAs that could leave: Bocachica
Arb decisions: Bloomquist

Candidates: LF/CF Reed
Remote candidates: LF Snelling

I wanted to put Snelling in here somewhere.

Upgradability: High

FA upgrade candidates:
CF Carlos Beltran, in his prime, huge power/speed combination (which ages well), plays good defense, like Beltran likely to command top dollar on the market.
CO J.D. Drew, health and durability concerns dampen enthusiasm, but dude can hit. But the M’s have corner outfielders out the wazoo already
(added by Dave)
(signed) CO Richard Hidalgo. Inconsistent, but powerful bat and very underrated defender. A risk with huge upside.
(signed) CF Jacque Jones. Improves outfield defense significantly, offense is overrated, probably going to cost too much.

I don’t like Magglio Ordonez for health reasons, though cheap enough it’s worth trying.

Looking over that list, you can see that in many cases there are a couple ways the M’s can go: top-tier guy, wacky gamble, safe veteran. So here’re my predictions.

Mariners go into next season having done *nothing*: they get Pineiro back but it’s essentially the same team they’re fielding now: 70 wins.
Mariners fill the worst holes with Aurilia-style proven upgrades from the 2nd tier of talent and paying too much: 75 wins.
Mariners get creative, take strange flyers and risks: 70-85 wins.
Mariners spend like crazy for all the first-tier guys: 85+ wins.

That looks optimistic to me. But hey, I thought they’d win 85 this year.

Now, a caveat here: I didn’t look up a single projection to do this. That’s all eyeballing. All the FAs, all the rosters, I’ve typed this whole thing in 20 minutes, and to be frank, I’m tired, hungry, and my house is kind of cold. So be cool, and I’ll update this later.


212 Responses to “Official 2005 Mariner construction and free agent post”

  1. Pete on October 28th, 2004 1:25 pm

    Econ guy,

    Never fear, I do think that money is the primary factor in signing free agents, and I’m also sorry that I skimmed over your positive comments on Delgado and Glaus. My CD analogy was intended to be an exaggeration. My only goal was to try to temper some of the over-enthusiastic bloggers who think that anything short of Beltran and Beltre and Michael Jordan would be a crime. I know your comments weren’t that extreme, but the “hope they don’t” phrase falling so close to names like Delgado and Glaus triggered a reflex in me.

    Carry on.

  2. DMZ on October 28th, 2004 1:36 pm

    Michael Jordan? Great athlete, well-known name, would create a stir, can’t hit… uh oh.

  3. Pete on October 28th, 2004 1:36 pm

    Epo Cow,

    I suppose I agree that the 2000-2001 pick-ups of the players you mentioned may, collectively, be better than a Delgado/Glaus off-season, but only because of the number of them. I would argue that both Delgado and Glaus are better than of the players in that group. So, if surrounded with a few lesser players – a starter, some bullpen help, bat off the bench – I feel like it would be the better offseason. Certainly you’d agree that the sheer star power of it would be a much greater impact.

    When people heard the M’s signed Oledude, I’m sure most people were like “Sweet! Now that’s a solid pick-up!” I’m not sure the reaction to Delgado would be the same. Perhaps, “Holy crap! Now there’s 40 HR’s and 120 RBI’s in the clean-up spot!”

    Anyway, nit-picky, but oh well.

  4. paul mocker on November 9th, 2004 10:48 am

    What happened to the enthusiasm? We still have problems to solve?

    Such as:

    1. What to do with Randy Winn? What is his perceived value? Yesterday, the Padres traded Terrence Long to the Royals for two pitchers. To me that says there could be demand for Winn (in spite of his contract.)

    2. Jamie Moyer. If he goes into the tank do we dump him? The odds Moyer sinking to a 6.00 ERA a month or two into the season are significant and yet no one has discussed this. My opinion is that his contract is a sunk cost and it should not be a factor in retaining him if he stinks. I have a feeling that ownership wants him to pitch for because he has fan appeal.

  5. vj on November 9th, 2004 11:38 am

    Moyer needs five more wins to pass Randy Johnson as the Mariners all-time leader. I’d expect the Mariners to give him a chance to accomplish this, as long as it does not look like a hopeless cause.

  6. Jim on November 9th, 2004 2:58 pm

    re: 205 – This makes it almost certain that Moyer will not be traded. So, make a deal to get Randy back, and let the two of them duke it out for most franchise wins! That might get some butts in the seats!

    re: various comments on hitters/outfielders – Power is our problem, we have none (save the potential of Leone and Bucky). Ask yourself, would you like to have the mid-90’s Jay Buhner back? Of course you would – we’d take his 40+ HRs and forgive the plethora of strikeouts and the .260 average.

  7. David J Corcoran on November 9th, 2004 8:10 pm

    Re 204:

    One craptastic pitcher with one OK season, bad clubhouse guy, not great stuff, a yucky guy.

    One J.J. Putz clone.

    I hope Winn is worth more than that.

  8. Andrew Robertson on November 10th, 2004 3:45 am

    Even though the M’s have the 2nd most lucerative TV contract in the Majors (2nd only to the Yankees) and 1/2 of the Japanese market in their pocket reverantly following Ichiro’s every move, buying Mariner products all along the way, the M’s still insist that they are prepared to “take a loss” for the up coming season/s with an increase in the Payroll at a projected “$87-93” million. HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Mariner owners. You guys Bank tons of money. The Yanks Mets and Boston are approaching or OVER $200 million on their payrolls. Taking a “LOSS”??? In preseason I predicted a poor season for 04 (though I NEVER dreamed they would approach 40 games under .500). Hell I was so ticked off when they missed the Tajada boat and didn’t even look in Vladdy G’s direction I went out and bought an Angels cap! I’m tired of the money machine that is our beloved M’s spending ZERO $$$$ at trade deadline/off season upgrade time and this year will be no different. I can’t get excited for the next Arillia or Mabry to be stockpiled by the M’s. They will not even extend a finger towards Beltran/Beltre/Nomaa but will again be takers in sub 2nd tier stop gaps to make it look like they are players. I know that coaxing a BIG time player here isn’t a piece of cake, but we may very well have to slightly over pay to get some folks here. Did you know that the M’s spend less percent of their incoming revenues then the Twins or Montreal/Washington?????? Scary thoughts indeed. In short, the M’s should make a BIG SPLASH this year especially thinking of the fiasco of last season’s 99 losses. Their thrifty nature will not cut it any more and the fans deserve the likes of JD Drew, or Beltre or Clement. 2 Power bats and a Starting #2 or #3 pitcher SHOULD be the order.

  9. paul mocker on November 10th, 2004 11:21 am

    I hope Winn is worth more than that

    There is no doubt that he is worth more.

    So if Baird were willing to trade crap for crap, would he have been willing to trade an ok player for another ok player? That is the point I made in 204.

  10. Econ guy on November 11th, 2004 11:17 am

    What I would really like to see the M’s do this off season is get two top notch bats as free agents and pick up a good starting pitcher (Clement?). I don’t think that they will actually spend that much, they will probably only pick up one top notch bat and a pitcher (this is what Dave implies). I really hope that we pick up Beltre as our top bat. However, this leaves several holes in our lineup. One of the big problems that I see is that we are left with 1B and DH being filled by Spezio and Bucky (or maybe Spezio, Bucky, and Ibanez if Reed starts).

    If we don’t pick up one of the top 1B free agent bats, I would like to see the M’s either trade for a young 1B or sign someone like Travis Lee. Lee should come very cheap and may still be a good player (good defense, decent power, decent walks, decent average). He is coming off of an injury and may turn into a great bargain. I would much rather see the M’s use their free agent dollars on players like Beltre, Drew, or even Glaus (and then pick up a few risky cheap players like Lee) than to use them on risky expensive players like Sexson or Delgado.

  11. paul mocker on November 16th, 2004 11:24 am

    As of 10:30 am today (11/16), both the Angels and Rangers have made offers on Beltran. It looks like the Angels are serious. This puts added pressure on the M’s.


    What should the Mariners do?

  12. paul mocker on January 10th, 2005 6:51 pm

    We now have the answer; Mets now have Beltran so the M’s get lucky. As of today, I predict both the A’s and Angels have win totals in the low-mid 90’s. Rangers and M’s will finish around .500 +/- 3-4 wins.

    The theme of 2005 will be to wait until 2006. Moyer will be gone. Felix will be the the once and future King. The youngsters should be sorted out by then and Bavasi will continue to show his new sabrmetric acumen.