2005 Mariner veterans

DMZ · September 22, 2004 at 11:13 am · Filed Under Mariners 

In the 2005 Mariner post you’ll see that there are two huge questions we haven’t talked a lot here on the USSM, focusing instead on questions of the day.

Jamie Moyer and Bret Boone are both going to be paid huge sums of money in 2005. Moyer $7.5m and Boone $9m. The M’s are going to have payroll flexibility like crazy, but a lot depends on these two. Has age finally cost Moyer enough that he’s unable to walk that fine line between control-freak artist and all-too-hittable? Did Boone get old, fast, or is there Something More Nefarious going on with his hitting problems (and please, let’s not get into that)(please?).

I think Moyer’s the better bet for a return to goodness. But… maybe not. Here’s why:

Moyer’s striking out batters this year at about the same rate (~14%) as he has since he got to Seattle. His best rate’s about 16%, but 14% is good. His walk rate is ~7% which is higher then we’d like to see: in his good years in Seattle it’s 4-5%. It’s the HR rate that’s way, way up, to 5%. That’s ugly. He’s seeing more balls put into play go for hits, but we’ve talked about the decreased defense.

The walk rate was the same last year, cause for concern, but the hit rate would go down if the team improved the defense next year, and that’d help him a lot. The HR rate’s a real worry. It’s higher than it’s ever been in his career, and while pitchers don’t have as much control on hit rate as you might think listening to the broadcasts, Moyer’s been one of the rare pitchers who consistently has held it down. If he’s not getting weak grounders and pop-ups anymore — if hitters are mashing those over the wall not out of luck but because he’s not quite as fine, then this is trouble.

That said, the home runs are subject to a lot of luck. There’s an argument here that Moyer’s been forced to pitch off his game consistently because the team’s offense has been so weak he’s not going after hitters, afraid that the one hit’s going to be the game, so when he has to work from behind… I don’t know, and I haven’t done the tea-leaf thing with this detailed splits against historicals to look for clues there yet.

Boone, by contrast… there was a point in Moyer’s career where the light went on and he started being the crafty left-hander we’ve known and loved. When Boone came over from San Diego, he was a glove man who had never hit particularly well and suddenly was ripped with muscle and putting up seasons (in Safeco!) that looked like something out of Joe Morgan’s career lines, just blisteringly good. And then okay, and then good again, and then.. this year.

Except this year looks like something out of his early career.

There’s a chicken-and-egg argument over power and walks: that power creates walks because hitters get pitched around, or that by being more selective hitters can get pitches they can drive (Ted Williams, for one, weighs in on this side). Doesn’t matter which side you take, though — if Boone isn’t the fearsome power hitter, he’s not a guy who wants to take a lot of walks on his own, so he’s neither chicken or egg. The argument is kind of pointless with Boone anyway, as he took 40 walks in his monster 2001, 53 in his off-2001 2002, and 68 in his monster 2003 year.

What concerns me is that he’s displaying a normal aging path: if you figure as bat speed goes down and power declines, you’ll see avg drop, power numbers drop, strikeout increase (and walks, usually, but again, Boone-as-non-poultry), that Boone’s season for you. Huge drop in ability to make solid contact, when he does make contact he’s not putting enough on it, and he’s striking out more, either unable to pull the trigger or not getting bat-on-ball.

Average is the most variable of skills, and most people understand that even without the Bull Durham speech. But the whole package here? It’s not to say that players can have late-career peaks (heck, check out Boone, years 32-34) but if the reflexes and bat speed start to go, there’s no coming back from that.

Jason advocated benching Boone to avoid this option year. This is a case where I’d have to defer to the scouts: is this aging? Is he getting the bat around as fast this year? Is there something else going on?

Between the two of them, Moyer seems like the guy who can compensate for aging, who can come back next year and contribute. Boone’s the one I’m much more concerned about.


41 Responses to “2005 Mariner veterans”

  1. Digger on September 22nd, 2004 11:25 am

    I hope you’re right about Moyer. For him (and the rest of the pitchers) to have a chance to return to their old form, the new free agents, besides being big boppers, are going to have to bringthe team substantially improved defense at CF and 3B.

    The other points about Boone are that (1) he’s two big years away from being a Hall of Fame candidate, and (2) next year’s a walk year for him. Both point toward a return to form.

  2. Pete on September 22nd, 2004 11:37 am

    I remember when Moyer worked out his deal, that the third year was a vesting year wherein it could be about $1.5 M if he didn’t reach incentives, or something like that. Anyone remember the particulars?

  3. Troy Sowden on September 22nd, 2004 11:41 am

    Personally, I am more confident in Boone returning to form than Moyer. I think Jamie is done, and will be lucky to put up Ryan Franklin numbers next year. I’m not excited about Boonie’s chances, but given his younger age and very good season a year ago, not to mention what Digger said about next year being a contract year, I’d put it at about 40-60 that Boone is an above-average 2B. Any guesses what PECOTA will have to say about either of them?

  4. Dave on September 22nd, 2004 11:42 am

    The vesting option was tied to number of starts (essentially a health clause), and he’s long since guaranteed his 2005 salary. The CBA prohibits incentive clauses tied directly to performance; only award voting such as all-star, MVP, or Cy Young bonuses.

    Personally, I think Moyer’s just about done. The home run rate isn’t a fluke. He’s an 6 inning replacement level pitcher now, and that’s how the M’s need to view him when planning for next season.

  5. Laurie on September 22nd, 2004 11:47 am

    Is it my imagination or has Boone’s defense gone down the same tube as his hitting? Sure seems like he sucks all around this year, whereas when he’s had not-so-hot hitting years or streaks in the past, his defense was still brilliant. He seems to me to be lacking in intensity and motivation. Maybe a good shrink would help him revive at least a healthy degree of his 2001 form.

  6. Jeff Sullivan on September 22nd, 2004 11:51 am

    I ran a post yesterday (inadvertent spam alert) that eventually came to the same conclusion as Dave: Moyer’s control is a little worse than it has been in his successful years, and – long story short – more balls missing spots = more home runs = more losses = more disappointment.

    Between Moyer and Boone, I wish this were an either/or situation, but I have them both pegged for tough 2005 campaigns.

  7. DMZ on September 22nd, 2004 12:07 pm

    On Boone’s defense: yeah, he’s been making a crazy number of just bonehead errors that are just… they’re beneath him, frankly. Having seen him play for years now, we’re forced to watch him asleep at second sometimes, balls rolling under his legs, Boone not getting that first step, bobbling routing balls right to him. It’s part of why I’m concerned he gave up on caring this year, and why possibly next year with a new manager and personal contract-related incentive to work his butt off again, he might do better.

  8. Paul Weaver on September 22nd, 2004 12:34 pm

    Moyer….ooooooo, once the home run rate goes up this late in a career, it usually doesn’t go down. Great defense (and a good bullpen) will help everything, but next year, even best case scenario, is not going to be pretty. If his ERA is 4.something next season I’ll be impressed.

    I think Boone is having mental blocks. You can tell that he is really affected by an error when makes one. Have you noticed it always looks like he is about to cry right after he makes an error? Defense is a source of pride – something a player can rely on, especially when it’s not going well at the plate. In a good scenario, I can see a new level of intensity (i.e. better team wpct) making him sharper and less error-prone, and I can see better batters all around him making him better. Even with his below par season, he looks like a decent 6th hitter. He’s showing power. His average is up from where it was at the beginning of the year. Aggressive power hitters make decent 6th-7th batters, but not so much 4th, 5th.
    But…where you can see a light, you can also foresee doom and gloom. If his bat speed is down (i.e. expect less than .250 avg), and his focus will never be at the level it was (can’t help but fall asleep out there sometimes) – then he will quickly fade as the second baseman who was a couple seasons away from HOF consideration. He will still be the best 2b the Mariners have ever had.

  9. Jake Brake on September 22nd, 2004 2:25 pm

    I know you requested that we not go into any (more nefarious reasons) that could be behind Boone’s decline, but that “let’s not discuss it because it might offend someone” reminds me awfully of the Mariner corporate stance, which is frankly rather nauseating. And there is some telling circumstantial evidence that just can’t be ignored:

    1) 2001: Boone shows up having visibly added considerable bulk and muscle than he has had at any point in his career, and responds with a monster season, one of the best ever for a 2nd baseman.
    2) Boone’s numbers drop somewhat in 2002 & 2003, but still remain higher than previously in his career.
    3) Baseball announces a new focus on identifying and punishing steroid (oops, I said it out loud) users prior to the 2004 season.
    4) 2004: Boone shows up having visibly shrunken in body/muscle mass from the previous 3 seasons. Performance declines sharply, much closer to pre-2001 levels than 2001-2003 levels.

    Now, this doesn’t explain the defensive lapses, and he does appear to still have more power than he did earlier in his career (although this second point could be explained by the fact that he has learned to be a better hitter by using his ‘2-strike stance’ and not trying to pull the ball every swing). But there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that can’t just be dismissed out of hand.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of The Boone and he has been one of the great Mariners in their short history. But we can’t just ignore (and/or refuse to discuss) this stuff just because we don’t want to believe it might be true.

  10. DMZ on September 22nd, 2004 2:38 pm

    Please don’t be nauseated because I wanted to avoid this topic. My motives aren’t evil.

    Here’s why I don’t want to talk about steroids, and it doesn’t have anything to do with what I want to hear or don’t want to hear, or who I personally think may have used steroids or not.

    It’s that we don’t know. Unless you, or someone, have video tape of Boone doing steroids, preferably while holding up a copy of that day’s newspaper, we don’t know. We just don’t know if he does or not.

    The circumstantial evidence that people point to in favor of Bonds or Boone or Giambi using steroids is weak, and it’s possible that these things like weight gain are due to benign causes as well (Bonds, for example, becoming a nutrition and workout fanatic).

    To be totally honest, I have my own suspicions about who has and hasn’t used steroids, but I haven’t and won’t air them in public. Because I don’t know for sure, and until I know, I’m unwilling to accuse someone of doing something illegal that is such an emotional issue for so many people.

    That’s it. I acknowledge that steroids is one explanation for Boone’s late-season surge. But many players have weird careers that go wildly off the peak-27 path. Boone’s late-career surge and collapse could be just what he might tell you : serious weight training followed by age-related decline.

    I don’t want to say it’s steroids unless I know, and I don’t want to get into the “we should discount free agents by 25% if we suspect they’re users” thing either.

    If there’s a better way to approach this… I’d love to hear it, because I don’t know how to talk about this and not feel like I’m wronging someone.

  11. Paul Weaver on September 22nd, 2004 2:41 pm

    I agree. No topic should be off limits. Though the best we can do is speculate – and I can provide counterarguments to accusations that Boone used ‘roids, or that his decline has anything to do with future testing – we are speculating about Moyer and Boone, and should be able to speculate whatever may affect their performances.

    If that speculation is true, then we can expect a decline in overall power, but I don’t know about bat speed or focus – which are what I see as his biggest potential problem areas.

    Late bloomers aren’t impossible, and some times a light bulb clicks on and a player suddenly becomes very serious about his work out schedule and his approach to the game.

  12. Paul Weaver on September 22nd, 2004 2:44 pm

    Wow DMZ. Did we just write the same thing at the same time?

    I can scour the pages of the baseball-reference if anyone wants examples of late bloomers.

  13. Steve on September 22nd, 2004 2:56 pm

    Boone’s “motivation” went the same place his youth did. He’s getting old, for a middle infielder.

    I categorically deny that it’s possible for a fan or even a professional sportswriter to make intelligent fact-based comments about a pro athlete’s motivation or effort level.

    Look at Rickey Henderson.

    Boone’s season is a bit of a disappointment but not an impossible thing to believe. He’s getting older, and it’s normal to have ups and downs over a career. His defense and bat both have suffered. This is what ups and downs spread over a general downward arc look like.

    Moyer I think is done. Not done as in “can’t get anyone out at all”, but done as in not a front-line pitcher anymore. If Boone is old, Moyer is geriatric. Yes, he’s a soft tosser, but soft tossers are MORE likely to fade earlier than Randy Johnson types. I don’t think he’ll ever win ten again (well, certainly not for THIS team of stiffs), and I don’t think he’ll ever throw 200 innings of sub-5 ERA after this year. Maybe one, maybe the other, but not both. He’s FORTY ONE.

    The M’s got rid of just a bit of their dead wood this year; but they’re still piling on new dead wood for next. Unless Reed turns out to be Barry Bonds immediately, the M’s are going to lose 100 next year, too, and maybe even if he does. Free agents can help, but we’re miles from being a good team. This current model running out every night SUCKS, in case you haven’t noticed.

  14. bob mong on September 22nd, 2004 2:59 pm

    Boone isn’t that bad…major league 2B have an EqA of .260. Boone’s at .265.

    Now, $9 M (or whatever) for Slightly Above-Average Second Baseman ain’t great but, hey, it isn’t my money and it’s a sunk cost anyway. And you gotta figure we got a fat discount for his 2001 production, so maybe it evens out in the end.

    I mean, a 2B who pops 50+ extra-base hits, in a pitchers’ park no less, isn’t something to sneeze at. Even if he swears really loudly after striking out and doesn’t always have the attitude you like.

    On the other hand…Moyer’s ~5.00 ERA, in that same pitchers’ park…not good.

  15. andy on September 22nd, 2004 3:23 pm

    Saying that we got a fat discount for his 2001 production evens out his expensiveness at the end is weak. The front office should always be looking for the best bargains they can find. It’s the only way to beat another team with a similar budget.

  16. LB on September 22nd, 2004 3:48 pm

    Suppose Boone were traded to the Yankees. Could he enjoy an Olerud-like renaissance under the watchful eye of Don Mattingly? (Then he wouldn’t look like such a showboat for doing the bat flip after one of his occasional homers.)

  17. Adam S on September 22nd, 2004 4:16 pm

    I think Boone is more likely to rebound next year than Moyer who I fear is a #4 starter at best, but that may just be the fan in me talking.

    My thought is I see reasons for Boone’s decline that could go away next year. I thought I’d heard he was hurt but playing through it, his grandfather is/was very sick, and these things plus being 20 games+ out could lead to what seems to be a lack of focus at times. He made a spectacular play on Sunday to start a double play but at times he’s seemed “asleep” at second.

    Whereas Moyer seems to be healthy and focused and just old and next year he’ll be older. I like the chances of a 35 yo rebounding better than a 41 yo (I didn’t look up the ages but I must be close 🙂

  18. Jeff Sullivan on September 22nd, 2004 6:08 pm

    If you’ve ever wondered what a team with zero net VORP looks like, check out AK1984’s post.

  19. Matt Williams on September 22nd, 2004 6:54 pm

    DMZ I agree entirely on the steroids issue. When confronted with someone ranting about Bonds using Steroids I usually can’t resist claiming that Mark Prior uses them too. There’s no hard evidence either way…and the fact is that hitting numbers are all up this year, even with the new testing strategy.

    As far as Moyer vs. Boone…I have to weigh in that I think Boone has a better chance. I think Moyers problems are almost entirely age related, and I think that Boone’s are only somewhat age related. A good defense will certainly make Moyer look better, but it also masked Franklin’s raging mediocreness. As was mentioned above, Boone’s defense and offense problems could be countracted by playing for a winning team.

    When everyone around you is playing at a great level you’re afraid of letting down the team. I’ve even experienced this in long-distance relay situations. One person pulls an impressive run out and you have to kill yourself to do at least that well. It’s not so much a matter of embarrasment as making the rest of the team suffer if you don’t give it our all. I think the whole team, including Boone, has had the opposite effect. If you don’t expect to win, to turn that critical double play, to be ready when the ball is hit to you then you simply wont.

  20. Matt Williams on September 22nd, 2004 7:05 pm

    Ok, I had to search a bit to find the “juice box” numbers.

    Through Sep 22 2004 2003 2002
    Homers Per Game 1.126 1.071 1.043
    Runs per game 4.833 4.728 4.618
    Doubles per game 1.850 1.816 1.793
    Aggregate SLG .429 .422 .417

    Man, those hitters are just sucking now that they can’t use steroids! Look at how rampant of a problem it was…

  21. Pat Gillicks Hemorrhoids on September 22nd, 2004 7:32 pm

    A question regarding Boone’s defense…

    It’s somewhat well known that pitchers and batters can have bad years that they can bounce back from. Are there bad years when it comes to the defense of position players?

    I don’t recall when I’ve seen a quality defensive player have a horrible year that they come back from. Usually it’s a harbinger of worse defense to come.

  22. DMZ on September 22nd, 2004 7:59 pm

    PGH — One-year defensive slumps happen frequently, but I think it’s almost always injury related. Leg injuries in particular, like broken bones, affect not just speed and range but ability to make the first step and react quickly for infielders.

    Also, uh, would you please consider not posting as “Pat Gillick’s Hemerrhoids”? It’s a little.. it’s gross.

  23. Matt Williams on September 22nd, 2004 8:00 pm

    Hmm, you’re on second, a runner on first, with two outs, and hot Reed batting. You’re a guy with mediocre speed and a 65% career SB ratio and only 21 steals with 2296 AB(Ibanez)?

    I now, let’s break for third, get picked off, and screw the team out of the opportunity to go ahead.

  24. Paul Molitor Cocktail on September 22nd, 2004 8:11 pm

    Also, uh, would you please consider not posting as “Pat Gillick’s Hemerrhoids”?

    Is this better?

  25. Bela Txadux on September 23rd, 2004 6:55 am

    On Jamie and Boonie, two guys I’ve always liked to watch play: they’re history folks.

    Moyer broke camp with an _82mph_ fastball. Anybody know what his average velocity is now? I can’t believe its higher. His fastball is now so slow that he’s losing the spread on his pitches, slow as they are. His control, ans noted above has significantly deteriorated; this is significantly reflected in his gopher count. Sure, with better defense he would’nt have as many men on, but let’s be real: he’s going to be, what 43? I though for sure he was done, and then he sucked it up for that one same-old-Jamie start a week or two ago—but so has Edgar, for a game or two outside of which he hasn’t hit well enough to be in the lineup except it’s Edgar’s Last Year. Moyer has a superb chance to have an ERA north of 7.00 for the last ten weeks he will ever be in the rotation next year, and then kick around the bullpen until he falls on the sword (or is pushed a la Olerud). I wish, I wish to be wrong about this, but even more I wish Jamie would just suddenly retire (he won’t) so I don’t have to see a wonderful player end his career as badly as this one is all but certain to next year. He should absolutely _not_ be counted to be in the rotation all of next year, the organization must have a plan to replace him on a few weeks notice with someone who can win. Or they are only fooling themselves and the paying customers.

    On Boonie, we are now seeing the player he has always been, and who is the best this man will ever be until he’s out of the game. Boone had a very similar season his last year in Cinci (I think it was), with a few more RBIs due to the fact that that team actually put men on base consistently in front of him. He was having a similar season in the strike year. He was mostly injured in Atlanta, and definitely so in San Diego. His power is all swing-from-the-heels hacks over the left field fence. He has completely lost contact with the outer half of the strike zone, just waving through pitches there, so not only will he not take a walk the pitcher can’t give one away unless he sneezes a couple of times during his delivery to the plate. And still, Boon’es numbers are not bad for the lower part of the order, and few other 2Bmen are putting up much better.

    What was different about Boone for the last three years relative to ’04? Leaving aside unmentionables to the following post, Boone regularly DRILLED pitches in the outer half of the strike zone the other way, a good number of which went into the stands on a straight line. This year, he has two (three?) opposite field home runs, and and number of cue ball floaters to the rightfielder. Lost his bat speed? Well, this is just like Boone pre-’01 hit: do you think he had no bat speed then—or found some he didn’t have during ’01-’03? I think the answer is completely obvious, and said batspeed will not revisit Mr. Boone again.

    Boone’s defense: How many innings has he played?? It’s got to be sky high. Boone will play much better over all, not to say _hit_ any better, if he gets about 25 games off next year -> memo to the incoming manager.

    —And then Boone will be gone. But always fondly remembered.

  26. Bela Txadux on September 23rd, 2004 7:43 am

    I’m going to pack in some relevant comments re: juice to this post, and avoid spreading them around. I have more to say on the issue then I’ll butt in with here, but since I’m likely the bloke who put the subject in play, it behooves me to weigh in. I won’t harp on this subject day in and day out, but when obvious situations arise where the issue of enhancement is relevant in understanding the career and prospects of a player I don’t promise _not_ to raise the issue.

    DMZ: you are wrong—you can tell much of the time who is (or was) using. No one is (a) God on this, me included, and unless someone hands over a sample bottle on demand a couple times a year no one can prove jack about jacks, I agree. But with a lot of these guys—you can tell.

    I life weights. I have for years. I know plenty of people who do so too, and plenty of trainers. I put on muscle really well, and I have 45lbs of muscle mass I didn’t have when I started. I’ve never used. If you do the absolute most severe building program out there, quintuple pyramidals to failure, three a week, twice a days, eat right, mix up your regime, sure, you can put on 20lb of muscle mass—in a YEAR. How long is an offseason, DMZ? Four months is a third of that, say 7-8 lb, 10-12 if the guy is a freak and freakin’ crazy for it. Nobody, but nobody puts on 20+lb in and offseason. And keep in mind, most of these guys are pro atheletes, at prime ages, in good condition, who were already working out. Anybody who comes in after an offseason up 20lb with most of it upper body bulk, and that bulk cut is a user, DMZ. I’ve seen it in the gym umpteen times. One has to refuse to see it to avoid the conclusion, it’s that solid of a conclusion.

    Take a look at Sosa, Manny Ramierez, Luis Gonzalez, Boone when they’re young, then look at them when they have the monster years. You tell me what the difference is between McGwire when he hit 49 out, and McGwire when he started hitting 500 footers (besides the fact tha t”Hey, look at that,” he could play on a degenerative knee that had had him ‘physically unable to perform’ just before he ‘went long’). People add power as they learn how to hit, but this is as much about pitch recognition as anything; they’ve usually _lost_ batspeed by the time the do so, not added 100 feet. On a line drive. I JUST COULDN’T STAND TO WATCH MCGWIRE’S _RECORD_. And Bonds has been even worse, because he was such a great, great player before he got jealous of the cruds—and dove right in himself. I, personally, just can’t wait until he retires, and I turn fof the TV or leave the bar when he’s at the plate; I feel that strongly about it, but that is my perspective. I _wasn’t_ sure about Boone, and wanted not to believe because he had changed things in his approach and conditioning that were real. This year, it is so freakin’ obvious I would have to pluck out my eyes not to notice. Note: Boone had a horrible start last year—but everyone coming into camp knew they were going to be tested. Boone’s numbers kicked in midyear—when nobody tested was going to get nailed because it was on a no-names basis. Come ONNNNNN, DMZ.

    I can’t tell about most folks, sure, I don’t have spectroscopic vision. But the idea that ‘nobody knows’ so ‘let’s respect their reputations’ is crap as far as I’m concerned. The players stonewalled the issue; this is well written up. A lot of players have stolen a lot of money, and as a group they’ve stolen the ‘sport’ in a sport I love, or did for a decade, but I hope that’s done. Now, I’m not the kind of guy to sit in the stands and harsh on a player to his face about this, because I think that’s tacky—and up to the league officials anyway. I think ‘pretending’ that guys haven’t been using when it is a dead certainty that many of them have is, well, pretty weak.

    Take a look at Jeff Bagwell; take a look at Jason Giambi. Read up about the functional effects of performance ehancers (it was more than just steroids; human growth hormone among other things—the pituitary secretes that, yeah, but “It’s not a steroid,” medically the truth). I think one of these two guys is a patently obvious juicer (who in other repects I enjoyed watching as a competitor), and the other guy probably is not. If my team trades for the juicer, I’m not buying anymore tickets till he’s gone or clean: that’s may choice.

    Note to Matt Williams: Yeah, it’s interesting how those offensive totals jump when the pitchers dry out, isn’t it. You’ll want to factor in the fact that we aren’t seening a lot of 95 mph amphetaballs this year—and without that California’s prized sign of last offseason who just started a game (since we are requested not to state The Obvious out of ‘respect’ [for whom?]) has to get major leaguers out with his AA slider. Instead of throwing 75 pitches a game at 96 mph like he did for years.

    No, I can’t _prove_ who was juiced, and it IS unfair to tarnish players who are actually succeeding on their own talent and merits with the same brush. Tough. The players made no effort to clear up their peers, and hurt the sport. They’ve earned suspicion. This is what has happened in other sports like swimming and track which are slowly making their way back due to a quite ruthless policy toward users. That’s what it takes. Not looking the other way. I’m not on this blog to spoil anyone’s fun, and I can hold my peace most of the time. Let’s not cultivate an attitude ennables the problem, is all I’m saying at base here.

    -Bela Txadux-

  27. Jerry on September 23rd, 2004 8:43 am

    Regarding Moyer’s contract, I read something recently that he had two incentives in his contract based on innings and starts. I thought that he had 1.5 million base salary, with 1.5 million for a certain number of starts, and 4.5 million if he reaches 210 IP. He has reached the starts figure, but probably won’t get to 210 IP. He is at 192 right now, and will only get 2 more starts. So unless he pitches two complete games, he won’t reach the second clause. From the information I have looked at, the clause is all or nothing (209 innings = no incentive). Thus, he will cost 3 million next year. That is pretty reasonable.

    You have to wonder how things will work out with Moyer and Boone next year. Both guys are almost certain to not come back. Moyer will probably retire. I think that both players can veto trades. Moyer is a 10/5 guy, and I believe Boone will be too. (NOTE: I am not sure how the 10/5 rule works. Does a guy have to have 5 full seasons with a team, or just be in his 5th?). Since both players will be in the final years of thier contracts next season, both could be traded at next year’s deadline. For Moyer, he might welcome a trade to get one last chance for the playoffs. Same deal for Boone, although he might not have a choice. If the M’s agreed to eat the rest of Boone’s 2005 salary, they might be able to get some good prospects for him. Think about what the A’s or Yankees would have given up for Boone at the trade deadline this year if it wasn’t for Boones 9.5 million option. With Moyer, if he pitches well next year (as he did in the first half this year), he could bring back some prospects also. I could see it working out like the Borders deal, where the team moves him to a contender to let him have one last shot at glory. But in this case, Moyer would have some legit value.

    Both of these guys will need to be replaced in 2006. If the M’s are not contending next year, they should seriously consider moving both, and starting to look at possible replacements. If Moyer leaves next July, the M’s could bring up one of their young pitchers (Felix, Nageotte, Blackley or Baek) to let them get some more big-league experience. At 2B, the M’s don’t have a lot of options within the system right now. Leone could be an option, or they could move Lopez. But if Moyer and Boone have solid trade value next year, the M’s could try to get a 2B (or SS) player back in either deal, and put themselves in good shape for 2006.

    Regardless of how Moyer and Boone play next year, the M’s will have 23.5 million coming off the books in 2006 (Boone, Moyer, Shiggy, Cirillo, Wiki, and Franklin). The only position that will probably have to be filled through free agency is 2B. The rest of that cash can be spent on raises/contracts to arbitration eligable players (Mateo, Meche, Soriano (?), and Olivo) and in addressing other areas.

    The M’s are in a real good position to improve in 2005, and be a legit contender in 2006.

  28. Ron White on September 23rd, 2004 9:04 am

    At the risk of repeating something made up by the Mariners paid promotional/broadcast team, I haven’t seen any mention here of the electronic strike zone issue. Much has been made that Moyer is being squeezed by umps who have to adhere to the triangulated video strike zone (Questec?). That Moyer is forced to be finer than in the past and catch more of the white because umps are afraid to be poorly graded by the computer. I only listen to games, unless I go to them, so I do not have the benefit of verifying this on TV. Is this a legitimate possibility with Moyer or something Rizz, Hendu, and Valle made up to excuse decreased production?

  29. DMZ on September 23rd, 2004 9:08 am


    Moyer’s 2005 incentives based on this year max out at 210 innings. It’s not all-or-nothing. If you’ve got cites that say otherwise, I’d be interested in seeing them.

    See this PI story, which also implies (oddly) that Moyer’s start-based incentives are for this year.

    10-5 means that a veteran player who has been in the league 10 years, 5 in a row on the same team, can veto a trade (and gains certain other rights with regards to trades). This is Boone’s 4th year with the M’s so he doesn’t have 10-5 rights.

  30. DMZ on September 23rd, 2004 9:21 am

    To ‘roids (yayyyy): I am more familiar with performance-enhancing drugs and weight training than I think I’m given credit for. And if you, or anyone, wants to believe that steroid use by any player taints the game or ruins baseball, I really do respect that view.

    But this —

    ” I think ‘pretending’ that guys haven’t been using when it is a dead certainty that many of them have is, well, pretty weak.”

    No one’s pretending that anyone’s not using. No one’s suggesting it’s an issue to be ignored. Even my point, were I to boil it down to one sentence would be “I don’t know for sure, and I think allegations that serious require a great deal of evidence that no one has.”

    To another point:
    “Boone had a horrible start last year—but everyone coming into camp knew they were going to be tested. Boone’s numbers kicked in midyear—when nobody tested was going to get nailed because it was on a no-names basis.”

    This just isn’t right. The CBA specified there would be a year of anonymous testing to determine the extent of the problem. Every player knew that.

    Further, even if your allegation was true, you’re going to have to admit that steroid use isn’t something you turn on. Even if we believe that Boone spend a whole offseason juicing and lifting before he came to Seattle, that’s still months of intensive work to build the muscle mass. If Boone wasn’t using steroids in 2003 and then went back on them, there’d be a long gap where he’d have to get back into his juice-o-matic shape.

    What’s more, your specific allegation, that Boone started slow and this points to him not using steroids to start the 2003 season, is wrong.

    April: .290/.382/.551
    May: .327/.371/.625
    June: .324/.362/.602

    Boone scorched the ball coming out of the gate and his only bad month was August.

    This 2003 argument of yours doesn’t hold up, and it certainly doesn’t support a larger allegation that Boone used or uses steroids.

  31. Paul Weaver on September 23rd, 2004 4:22 pm

    DMZ thanks for debunking much of Bela’s arguments.
    However I think he has a point when he suggests the issue is being purposely ignored:
    “(and please, let’s not get into that)”

    So…getting into that: 🙂
    What is the big problem with performance enhancement?
    Creatine and other “performance enhancers” are allowed…seemingly because they are more mild. Ill health effects can come from lots of different physical activity – and these top-heavy ball players are already risking leg injuries by dint of their physique. It’s millions of dollars that are making them risk their personal well being – all for the sake of performance. I don’t have a clear stance on the issue, but it doesn’t ruin baseball for me.

  32. Red F & F on September 23rd, 2004 6:16 pm

    Beginning with 1994, Boone’s change in OPS from the previous year has exceeded .1 8 out of 11 times. I’d say a reasonable forecast of next year’s performance would be a shrug.

  33. Jerry on September 23rd, 2004 11:03 pm


    I re-read that article you posted, and it seems kinda ambiguous. Most of the contracts I have seen are based on all-or-nothing incentives, like the ones to Boone and Palmiero. I just assumed that it was not a sliding scale payment issue. But I don’t know. I would think that they would do it all-or-nothing just to simplify the contract and to benefit the team more. However, 210 is a lot of innings. One trip to the DL would keep anyone from reaching that.

    I hope that it is a 210 inning incentive that triggers the extra cash. It would really allow the team to invest more in free agents this year. But if it isn’t, I guess that they can just use that cash next offseason.

    It sucks that the M’s have totally fallen apart right now, but this is going to be an interesting next two years. I didn’t like the team policy of avoiding long contracts and star free-agents, but I have to admit that it has put the team in a very good position right now. They have 3/4 of their payroll free over the next two years. That is a lot of flexibility. I hope that we see some ballsy moves this year, because the team can always make more moves next offseason.

  34. DMZ on September 23rd, 2004 11:50 pm

    Dude, it’s totally not ambigious. Contracts are structured like this all the time, in tiers.
    100 IP = $1m
    150 IP = $2m
    175 IP = $3m
    210 IP = $4.5m

    Like Villone’s contract I believe has tiered incentives based on # of starts, starting with some crazy-low number. Sliding scale, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one of those.

  35. Bela Txadux on September 24th, 2004 12:37 am

    Follow-on to DMZ, here: I debated whether or not to put the ‘weak’ comment in the post, and practically speaking it would have been better not to have included it, whatever it’s truth value. My principal purpose is not head-hunting (you-as-target), and so the comment only detracts from such points as I might or might not make.

    Re: juice, your wrong. With what is available now, it _doesn’t_ take months and months of pumping, it takes about six weeks, and frankly you don’t even have to work out at that high a level. The stuff really _does_ work now, and you could just inject it without working out at all and get honking buff; the reason you work out is so those big muscles can handle the strain they generate and not tear out, and also so that your ligaments and even more their attachments to bone are gradually stimulated by usage (there are no chemicals to reliably improve non-muscle tissue at all), so that they don’t shatter with excessive speed (although they will wear out quite rapidly nonetheless because of the gigantic fibers pulling on them). I’m not an expert on this at all, DMZ, but all of this information is well-published and exhaustively discussed, and common knowledge to anyone working in athletics or even hanging around it for a long time like me.

    My understanding of how testing worked in ’03 is that everyone was tested anonymously _coming into camp_ after which there was random, anonymous testing throughout the year. It was basically ‘Don’t be stupid, boys’ crummy quasi-test: and the players as a group STILL failed it (‘nother story). My clear impression last year was that a lot of guys didn’t do their six-week cycles around New Years like they would have, but waited until after the camp testing; this put them behind. When would the juice have kicked in: mid-May. I knew when Boone’s numbers came back on DMZ, but I didn’t make that any too clear above, no.

    Unsupported allegations are a real bane, I admit it. Purported analysis of the ability and future potential of players that is made with a willingness not to see steroid use as an issue will be wildly off base. I have a strong dislike of denial, and that puts energy behind my positions which others may not share, yes, I understand.

    Here are three points, and then I’m going to be as quiet on this front as I can bring myself to be, which is more silent than of late:

    Minor league numbers are more important than ever for assessing a player’s potential—because the minors have a reasonably effective, universal testing program with sanctions. Guys who use have a good probability of being caught, and disappearing for a long-suspension for ‘personal reasons’ even though the process is ostensibly anonymous, so they’re flagged permanently if tacitly. So most guys don’t use in the minors, and their numbers are realistically projectable.

    Second, from 1993-2003 the majors were just rotten with the stuff. Before then, the kinds of steroids used were much more physically damaging (though they’re definitely still very unhealthy), guys who used stood out like a sore thumb, and a lot of players kept their distance. After the strike year, though, players just looked the other way, and things got out of hand. After Big Mac became Super-hero, sheesh, the ballboys looked to be running the stuff. Group and comparative analysis of players in this era, 93-03, is irretrevably ‘blurred,’ even while most surreal numbers are medicine chest products (not all, but most, and ‘you can’t tell’—that’s the problem the ‘problem’ makes): look at other sports and their surreal numbers, where a suspicious pattern of behavior or actual positive results surrounds almost everyone turning in ‘surreal numbers.’ It would be wise to add a deflator for outrageously high numbers for any baseball player during this span, but there is no realistic way to do it that doesn’t just add in it’s own distortions; the numbers are just cooked, so it’s Buyer Beware. But how can I beware if the ones looking at the numbers to tell me what they mean _won’t_? Beware that is.

    Third, one of the reasons I’ve decided to pop up on this blog rather than just be a read-along is this: The Mariners front office shies away from fan discontent. Oh, the present operating owner doesn’t care about winning, and he even said so: He wants to stay competitive, not the same thing at all, and the kind of weasel word that gets a flag in my mental review. A competitive team in the gem that is Safeco draws 3M a year, which means that the ownership group gets to pull $100 million a year out of the take as pure profit to finance the capsule vs. Box wars. (Which I don’t care about because a front-office which can’t build a winner with $95M a year to allocate couldn’t build one with $135M either.) So the front-office doesn’t really care what the fans want; they are, however well-attuned to what the fans DON’T want.

    This has been shown many times. Aurilia and Olerud weren’t punted off to make the team better; the team barely did anything. They were shown the door because they had become a magnet for fan discontent, and to make the organization look like it was doing something, and the strategy worked, the fans were assuaged. Look at the 101 issue: do you believe that you are winning? I do. The organization didn’t care a jot about the fans in it’s decision, but it cares a lot about the fans being hot, and if you keep it at a low, rolling boil they’ll get out of the kitchen first.

    If everyone on this blog was persuaded to scream, “Glaus, YES” (not that that will happen, but take it as an example), I don’t think it would significantly impact the M’s decision making this offseason: they don’t care about what we WANT. If everyone on this blog, in their own sweet way, was persuaded to say, “No WAY, Jose Delgado,” and to keep that up, the probability of impact would be much greater: why bring in someone who is already a magnet for fan discontent?

    This offseason will have repercussions for years to come. The team needs two RBI bats and probably a starting pitcher. These must come from outside the system, will almost certainly be experienced free agents since the team doesn’t have enough in ready-to-wear to swing a first rate trade; ergo, the imports will have multi-year deals at $$. The team has all but promised the media and the fans that there _will_ be signings. This is doable, but if the organization is striking out on the primo guys, they are going to sweat, and sign a ‘reach.’ —And signing a juicer can be just devestating for an organization. Do you remember, DMZ, the impact that Kevin Mitchell had here? Mo Vaughn with _two_ teams. Greg Vaughn in Tampa. How many teams got burned by Mr. Canseco on his way down. It’s in my best interests as a fan to help the organization be reminded that however desperate they may become this offseason to ‘please the fans,’ a denial about the most important issue in player performance in baseball in the last dozen years because ‘nobody can prove it’ has the potential to be extremely costly _and_ leave the fans leaving mad.

    And with that, I’ve said somewhere between alot and too much.

    -Bela Txadux_

  36. DMZ on September 24th, 2004 8:19 am

    First — if there’s a performance-enhancing drug that makes you buff without working out, as you assert, what is it? Even doing HGH over a long time, by itself, wouldn’t have the kind of dramatic 30-lb muscle gain in an off-season.

    Minor league numbers are more important than ever for assessing a player’s potential—because the minors have a reasonably effective, universal testing program with sanctions.

    It depends entirely on the organization how effective it is. Some minor league players tell stories about being told when tests were coming, even to the extent of teams selecting the players who would be randomly testing.

    My understanding of how testing worked in ‘03 is that everyone was tested anonymously _coming into camp_ after which there was random, anonymous testing throughout the year. It was basically ‘Don’t be stupid, boys’ crummy quasi-test: and the players as a group STILL failed it (’nother story)

    As a group, not that many tested positive, and the positive includes refusals to take the test. The effectiveness of drug enforcement in the minor leagues varies hugely. If you’re going to take minor league numbers as the true value of a player, the parent organization becomes another point of consideration.

  37. Jerry on September 24th, 2004 11:12 am


    I meant that the articles about the contract are ambiguous. That Seattle PI article talks about how he can make “up to 4.5 mil”, but then they talk about how many innings he would have to pitch to get to that number. I would really like to know what his salary will be. That 4.5 million is a big deal. That is two relievers, one good reliever, or the difference between Glaus and Beltre. That matters.

    Hopefully, it is an all-or-nothing thing. I would think that if it was as easy as you say, with different amounts for 150, 175, 200, innings pitched, the article would have just said so. If he has already reached 3/4 of the amount, I would think that they would just say that something like: “Moyer will make at least 6 mil next year, and possibly another 1.5 mil based on innings pitched.” But who knows. I searched on the internet and didn’t find any information that was more specific about the contract.

    Still, the M’s will have between 33-37 million to spend this offseason, assuming that they stick with this years max figure (95mil). Since Lincoln said that the payroll might go up, but would be no less than this year, perhaps they will be willing to go a little above the 95 mil figure (actually 88, with contingency cash). I think that this will be most likely if they make a late push for one of Boras’ mega-clients (Beltre, Beltran, Drew). I could see them signing a few players early in free agency. Since Boras will probably wait until late in the signing period for a little extra money, hopefully the M’s will do what Anahiem did when they stretched their payroll for Vlad. That will minimize the likelyhood that the M’s will just sign a player like Beltran, and then go for more Spiezios. Wishful thinking, but I think that if the M’s get into another late bidding war with a big-name free agent, then fail to make a good offer (ala Tejada), the fans will really be irate. I will be at least.

  38. Jerry on September 24th, 2004 11:20 am

    Really, the steriod issue is not really worth wasting time on. You really can’t know who is doing them and who isn’t. Some players are likely to be on roids (Giambi, Bonds) but you can’t be sure.

    Despite what you guys say, it is very much possible to get big naturally. There are products out there, like weight gainer shakes, creatine, and other supplements that work well. Since professional athletes are paid to just work out and prepare in the offseason, they can pack on muscle more than recreational lifters like myself. I read an article about JD Drew the other day, and he said that all he really eats (drinks) is nasty workout shakes. There are tons of products out there that are not going to harm your body. They are just concentrated forms of things that you eat (or should eat) daily. Plus, some people just gain mass faster than other people. I worked out with a friend for years, and he could just gain mass faster than I could, despite the fact that we were doing the same workouts and had similar eating habits. There are lots of variables. You can’t just say that any guy who is big, or who gains weight over the course of his career, is using banned substances.

    Since there is no way to know, the only thing that you can do regarding this topic is try to pressure the league to enforce the rules more.

    There are several guys on the market right now that are big. Adrian Beltre is a muscular guy. Carlos Beltran looks noticably bigger now than he did 2-3 years ago. Are these guys on roid? Who knows. But I don’t think that the M’s should avoid a player because he ‘might’ be on steroids. If there was any real evidence, I would think it would be important to consider. But in 99% of the cases, there isn’t.

  39. dave paisley on September 24th, 2004 12:28 pm

    From an article about Moyer negotiating his own contract last time:

    Comes this:
    “Seattle gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus, $6 million in 2003, $6.5 million in 2004 and $1.5 million in 2005. He can earn an additional $6 million in the final season — $1.5 million based on starts in 2003 and $4.5 million based on innings in 2004.”

    It was pretty convoluted, and even at that it doesn’t say how many innings in 2004…

  40. DMZ on September 24th, 2004 1:27 pm

    The PI article says it’s not all-or-nothing!

    “On top of that, he can make as much as another $4.5 million based on innings pitched, getting the full amount if he gets to 210 innings”

    as much as… getting the full amount if…

    It’s right there. It’s in the article. It’s not all-or-nothing.

  41. thoan on September 28th, 2004 10:25 pm

    Re Boone: One word: Steroids. Can’t take them now due to testing. Will never return to former levels of performance.