Official 2005 Mariner construction and free agent post
Your 2005 Seattle Mariners: Preview and Speculation
Brought to you by Scott Boras. Scott Boras thanks the Seattle Mariners for signing Adrian Beltre.
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.
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.
1B: Sexson/Ibanez ($3.75m)/Spiezio ($3.1m)/Jacobsen
2B: Boone ($9m)
3B: Beltre! Wooot!!
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.
FAs that could leave: Bocachica
Arb decisions: Bloomquist
Candidates: LF/CF Reed
Remote candidates: LF Snelling
I wanted to put Snelling in here somewhere.
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.