Looking Ahead to ’05

Dave · October 3, 2004 at 7:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m not going to get into a specific “what Dave would do” plan in this post. We’ll lay out our suggestions in time as the offseason begins. Instead, this is a general overview into what the team needs, broken down by section.


Bob Melvin will officially be relieved of his duties as manager of the club in the morning, and a search for the club’s new skipper will begin immediately. Expect the team to do interviews during the playoffs and hold a press conference to introduce the new manager shortly after the World Series has ended and the moratorium on transactions is lifted.

In less well known news, expect an announcement, perhaps tomorrow, that Pat Gillick will also be leaving the organization to “pursue other interests”. He has already expressed public interest in the available Washington job, and I will be surprised if he’s not the General Manager of another club next year.

There is a real possibility that the entire coaching staff from ’04 will be dismissed. Depending on who is chosen as new manager, Bryan Price could find himself being reassigned or released from his contract. If the team chooses an internal candidate such as Dan Rohn or Dave Brundage, the promotion of Rafael Chaves to major league pitching coach is a real possibility.

Position Players

The team has seven everyday players under contract who are nearly guaranteed a spot on the ’05 roster, barring trades; Olivo, Ibanez, Jacobsen, Spiezio, Boone, Winn, and Ichiro. These seven will most likely occupy starting spots at catcher, first base, second base, and all three outfield spots, as well as two of the six bench spots. That leaves the team with holes in the everyday line-up at third base, shortstop (depending on who you believe about Jose Lopez’s destination), designated hitter, and four bench spots. Players such as Reed and Leone are considered possibilities, but fall more into the longshot realm, and most likely won’t make the opening day roster without some help.


The team will plan on having Moyer, Meche, and Madritsch fill three of the rotation spots. Pineiro’s health is a question mark, making him a possibility for the 4th spot, but he will not be counted on when building the roster. Franklin will likely be moved to the bullpen or traded. Expect the team to acquire two major league starting pitchers during the offseason.


The bullpen is in the greatest flux. There are seven candidates for six spots currently on the roster, but only Shigetoshi Hasegawa is going to be determined to be part of the mix for offseason planning. Guardado (for health concerns), Sherrill, Atchison, Mateo, Putz, and Franklin will all be considered possibilities, but none are guaranteed a spot in the ’05 pen. Expect the team to acquire at least one major league reliever.

Overall, I’d put the over/under on new incoming players at eight, including the most substantial changes to the makeup of the roster this team has seen in quite some time. Regarding the cinicism of fans who expect more of the past, I can only suggest that you take a wait and see approach. The regime that persuaded management to avoid long contracts and superstar players in favor of a balanced, 25-as-1 approach has lost power. Whether the “big splash” that the organization is undoubtedly going to make will be a wise one is yet to be determined, but I have no doubt in my mind that the Mariners will be among the most active and aggressive teams in the market this winter.

Starting tomorrow, everything changes. Let’s hope the changes are for the better.


35 Responses to “Looking Ahead to ’05”

  1. Paul L. on October 3rd, 2004 8:01 pm

    The starting seven you list don’t exactly give me the warm & fuzzies. How can we expect to get much better with that group, nearly all of whom saw their productivity plummet this year and are only getting older?

  2. Jerry on October 3rd, 2004 8:33 pm


    When you say that the M’s will be looking at 8 new players next year, I am assuming that you are including some players from within the system. Because I would hope that they would not sign that many players in free agency. With possibilities like Reed, Lopez, Leone, Blackley, and Nageotte, I would hope that at least two or three needs can be filled internally. Reed did everything right except hit for power, and I could see the M’s starting him in CF. Lopez is obviously up too early, and I think that you guys might be correct about him needing another year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he started next year either. At the very least, I would think that they could fill some of the bench spots through the farm system. I would be surprised if the M’s don’t exercise the option on Cabrera, and resign Wilson as the backup.

    I just hope that the M’s don’t waste too much of their free payroll on a bunch of players. I would like to see them go out and spend money on 4-5 premium free agents. They will undoubtedly fill a few other needs through a trade or two. By my rough calculations, the M’s will have approximately 33 million to spend this offseason. For that amount, they could sign two premium position players (~10-12 million), one starter (~8-9 million), and a reliever (~2-3 million). Hopefully, they can trade some spare parts to address some of their needs, and not have to spread the cash around more than this.

    By the way, which guys do you think are trade bait? I was thinking that Reed’s emergence could really make Winn movable. Trading him for a reliever or a young 1B player would make a lot of sense, and allow the M’s to invest more money in better players. Since we also have more young relievers than we need, perhaps they could package some young players.

  3. Aaron on October 3rd, 2004 8:37 pm


    What do you think about the coaches you named? Would they do a good job and would you reccomend them?

  4. Matt Williams on October 3rd, 2004 8:38 pm

    My gut feeling is that we’re just as likely to see Reed out there next year as Winn. Winn has much better trade value, and I just feel like he’ll be dealt to pick up another needed piece (I’m not sure why). Reed’s small sample-size, combined with good minor league hype (management will have read all the hype, but won’t really look at the numbers) will make them pretty happy.

    And a question on that front, what went on with Reed’s three walks today? I wasn’t able to watch the game, and his plummeting walk rate was one of the biggest concerns with him. Were they good walks, or did he just see pitches that Ichiro wouldn’t swing at?

  5. eponymous coward on October 3rd, 2004 8:55 pm

    If that’s their thinking (Dave, I assume you’ve talked to your sources on the staff, right?), it sounds to me that Carlos Delgado is one of the team’s targets for flashy signings (at DH), with Raffy Palmeiro as a backup plan on a one year deal. I’d also guess Beltre, Glaus and Nomar are on the short list for FA infield upgrades.

    Hopefully they’ll be open to some other possibilities too- like maybe, just maybe, signing an OF that might help the entire M’s OF generate more than 40 home runs. Hey, it’s a thought- the team needs HITTERS at ANY position more than locking into just IF and DH, and if an OF is the best guy available, TAKE HIM and

    The FA market for starters doesn’t strike me as terribly deep, and the part about Piñiero worries me- be a damned shame if he was toast for his career.

  6. Sub_Mariner Al on October 3rd, 2004 8:58 pm

    anyone see the interveiw with bavasi after the game today?.. He said something that led me to believe they are thinking one BIG signing will be enough if they get other parts to go around him. yikes I am still leaning towards the wait and see aproach… mainly waiting to see if they fire melvin.

  7. eponymous coward on October 3rd, 2004 9:03 pm

    Hey, you didn’t mention Willie “Craptastic Local Product” Bloomquist as being a lock! Who says there’s not upside to a 63 win season?

  8. DMZ on October 3rd, 2004 9:23 pm

    I’ll only add that I think Bucky is more DH than 1B next year.

  9. Jerry on October 3rd, 2004 9:54 pm

    I hope that they don’t go after someone to DH. That doesn’t seem logical to me. If they are going to sign some guys for big money, why not get players who can help on offense and defense. It is easier to trade or develop a DH or LF player than it is to find someone to play 3B.

    This is the perfect plan:
    -sign Adrian Beltre, JD Drew, a starter (Pavano, Perez, Clement, Morris, Radke), and a reliever
    -trade Randy Winn to the Phillies for Ryan Howard

    The team would win more than 85 games in 2005, and would be in good shape for 2006.

  10. Ryan on October 3rd, 2004 10:12 pm

    A few thoughts:

    Getting rid of Franklin doesn’t seem sensible. What he would bring back in a trade would be fairly negligible and he’s proven to be durable and versatile despite his shortcomings. I think, at worst, he’d end up as a long man in the pen.

    The comments regarding Bryan Price are confusing. I’d be shocked if the organization gave up on him this early.

    Some of your predictions seem a bit over the top. I’d hate to see the M’s throw the baby out with the bathwater if they indeed decide to move on from Melvin – which also, in my opinion, would be a token gesture designed to satiate the casual fan frustrated by Mel-bot’s personality alone and should be a huge red flag for those who follow the game closely indicating that management still does not get it.

    Finally, every team goes into the off-season with a wish list. This off-season the Mariners wish list is a mile long and you’ve written that we should expect some big changes. Management has even hinted at big changes. However, unless you’re the Yankees, a team’s wish list is rarely filled. It seems to me that we should expect the Mariners to go into next season with one or two big holes, either in the lineup or in the rotation, and one or two stop-gap signings. I do not expect either Beltran or Beltre to end up in a Mariners uniform next season.

    The M’s aren’t the only team that will be shopping for free agents or the only team with the ability to sign them.

  11. Grant on October 3rd, 2004 10:41 pm

    Man, I love this site, a breath of fresh air after posting on the fan forum on the M’s site all the time. This post makes me optimistic, how can you not trust someone that used to write for BP. Dave do you have any suggestions for good books on sabermetrics. I got Bill James guide to pitchers and really enjoyed that, but I am looking for something that will really help me understand how to evaluate players, and is a good read as well. By the way I know this will never happen, but Ryan Franklin works on a knuckleball I’d like to see him make it one of his featured pitches and be in the 5th spot in the ro’ or the bullpen if the rotation is significantly upgraded in the off-season.

  12. Chris on October 3rd, 2004 11:01 pm

    They need either a heavy hitting CF or RF and convince Ichiro to play center if Ordonez or other RF is signed, Reed in LF. DH Jacobsen,1B Ibanez [if he can handle the defense there-I don’t know]SS Lopez, 3B pick-up a heavy hitter- you know who, farm hands fill out bench, FA line starter and reliever.

  13. Jim Thomsen on October 3rd, 2004 11:05 pm

    As a Mariner fan who’s followed the minutae for all 27 years of their existence, I can say without hesitation that I’ve rarely looked forward more to an event-filled off-season. There have never been more possibilities, more wildly open-ended outcomes and more suprises I’ll bet we can’t likely anticipate. All of the Mariners’ other moribund season were followed by moribund winters because the team was hamstrung by budget issues or simply didn’t have a management team inclined to big or creative deal-making or roster-revising. It’s an exciting time, and I would expect that the quality and quantity of posting on USS Mariner won’t tail off much from its in-season prolificacy. Not to say that every move will be as big and bold as we hope — they won’t — but in terms of the sheer spectrum of possibilities, it’s going to be exciting for those of us who surf the waves of every rumor.

    The only moves I feel certain should be made are:

    a) Trade Randy Winn. His trade value will never be higher, and there are a lot of teams I’m certain would find some value in a “proven veteran” leftfielder with speed and a high batting average, even at his inflated price tag. Jeremy Reed will be 24 next season, and has proven he can be successful at every level short of the majors (I’ll accept his September showing as an insignificantly small Bloomquistian sample size) and is ready to show he can play in Seattle.

    b) Move Ryan Franklin. It won’t be easy, considering his age, contract and bottomed-out value, but I see no place for him in Seattle except the low-leverage innings-eating relief role, and generally those jobs should go to major-league-minimum salary guys.

    c) Convince Ichiro it is in his team’s best interests that he play center field, and make the case sooner than later so he can work out a little during the offseason and come into spring training as adjusted to the new position as possible.

    Other than that, bring on the free-agent parade. Beltre, Beltran, Drew, Millwood, Pavano, Delgado, Glaus, Koskie … I want to see them like an Italian fashion writer gawks at models sporting the latest on a Milan runway. Dance for me, boys!

  14. Chris on October 3rd, 2004 11:09 pm

    Do we lose the 3rd pick in the draft next year if we sign FA?

  15. Evan on October 3rd, 2004 11:27 pm

    I think the top picks are safe. Including ours.

  16. Tank on October 3rd, 2004 11:27 pm

    I love the commentary I read about potential Mariner trades. It’s human nature to overvalue the things closest to you, but some of the trades proposed here and elsewhere border on ridiculous. Winn could get you something at least slightly useful, but other than that, we don’t really have players that have the value to be useful in a trade (that we would be willing to trade). I say we sign Renteria, Drew, and one big time starter (not E Milton). It’s time to fill some holes, Bill!

  17. Christopher on October 3rd, 2004 11:43 pm

    I thought last off-season could have been great. And yet nothing happened.

    Anyone pay much attention to Vlad and Tejada. Argue all you want about them being over payed but either one of them would have greatly improved this team. I’m hoping they’re looking at two big splashes next season. Not just one because this team needs it.

  18. Ray Oyler Fan Club on October 4th, 2004 12:09 am

    well…it shouldn’t take long to see where the team is going. they will have to do something fairly quickly to stimulate those season ticket sales. so I’m thinking we’ll have a pretty good idea of what we’ll look like by Christmas.

  19. JJ on October 4th, 2004 12:12 am

    Great analysis, Dave. I think the minimum courtesy a team can have when they want to fire a manager is to do it quick. So I agree with you that would be done very soon. I am still torn on how I feel on BP this year. So my question is if the new manager is coming from outside, won’t it be better to keep BP around since he knows our pitchers?

  20. Matt Williams on October 4th, 2004 12:25 am

    Move Ryan Franklin. It won’t be easy, considering his age, contract and bottomed-out value, but I see no place for him in Seattle except the low-leverage innings-eating relief role, and generally those jobs should go to major-league-minimum salary guys.

    Unfortunately, the fact that he has no trade value after this year means the best option will probably be for him to be long-inning relief and maybe deal him midseason if he looks good. I really don’t see anyone taking him, unless they’re giving us a bad contract in return. He’s making what, $2.5 mil next year? One look at his ERA and we’ll get, at best, nothing for him. He’s always looked like a great long innings guy, since he tends to tank after a couple innings, but is somewhat solid for a few.

    The problem is that a bunch of the new guys were pigeonholed into working relief, when they appeared to have the talent to be starters. Guys like Franklin who had the luck to come up earlier were pegged as starters, even if their performance pegged them as relievers, at best.

  21. eponymous coward on October 4th, 2004 12:28 am

    For all BP’s “knowing our pitchers”, it sure hasn’t kept them from having their arms break down consistently. I don’t see this happening to the same extent in Atlanta (Leo Mazzone) or Oakland (Rick Peterson).

    One HOPES that a 63-99 season will shake things up enough to get past preconceived notions (BP is a genius, we can win without stars, the statistical analysis that Oakland, LA and Boston do isn’t for us, etc.) and asking real questions. Part of the problem in baseball is there’s this prepackaged bullshit like “clutch hitting is real, clubhouse chemistry helps you win games, productive outs do too”, and people aren’t willing to ask “Gee, is that true or not”? While statistical analysis is NOT without its problems (one of which is simply that statistics =! the game, they are merely a somewhat incomplete description of it, the same way English can be used to describe a sunset), one thing it DOES offer is a way to ask those questions and get answers instead or shoveling out the same preconceived bullshit we all fall into as a result of our own biases. We could all stand to have our notions of the world shook up now and then by a little honest reflection and examination.

    OK, my rant’s over…

  22. Matt Williams on October 4th, 2004 12:33 am

    the same way English can be used to describe a sunset

    I just have to say, I really like this description of stats, especially stathead stats. Even the most perfect words can’t truly capture a delicate blend of glowing pastels demonstrating true beauty to anyone willing to look up. Maybe that’s one reason the philosophy hasn’t caught on widely…a Harold Reynolds spouting cliche bullshit doesn’t appear to describe the game any better than someone ranting about VORP and the liklihood of a career year.

  23. jwb on October 4th, 2004 1:23 am

    To answer the above question about losing a pick for signing free agents: It depends on whether the player was offered arbitration and what level that player is judged to be at. It would seem unlikely that a team would offer arbitration to a player they don’t think they can afford (top-flight guys).

    The Mariners then would be wise to just retarget if that’s the case. Of course, they didn’t do that last season when they had the hots for Raul Ibanez. It would be interesting to find out: What’s the highest pick ever forfeited for a free agent, by whom, and who was the free agent? Anyone know (I don’t)?

  24. Sean on October 4th, 2004 1:45 am

    The M’s won’t lose their #3 pick, no matter WHO they sign. The top picks (top 10 or 15?) cannot be lost to free agent compensation.

  25. Scraps on October 4th, 2004 8:13 am

    If management goes into next season with the same outfield as last season, they are blind. No matter what their philosophy of building a team, how can they fail to notice the huge difference in outfield defense between 2003 and 2004 and its catastrophic effect on the pitching staff?

    Well, maybe they are that blind. It’s hard to find anything encouraging about this bunch.

  26. Dash on October 4th, 2004 9:44 am

    Ugh,one of my co-workers and is convinced that Melvin was a good manager and that Franklin is a good young pitcher. I was about to break out stats on Franklin when he ended the discussion.

  27. jwb on October 4th, 2004 10:34 am

    Sean’s right. The bottom half (16) of teams can’t lose a first-rounder if they sign a Type A free agent. The Mariners would lose a second-rounder instead. I shoulda looked it up before I spoke!

  28. Sub_Mariner Al on October 4th, 2004 10:48 am

    I was thinking… do you guys think Giambi is done? I believe that if the Yankees would eat most of his salary, we should take a flyer on him and vasquez. Trade them Boone, Franklin and a reliever prospect. and take a chance on Giambi being able to turn it araound. what do you guys think?

  29. G-Man on October 4th, 2004 12:21 pm

    the team needs HITTERS at ANY position more than locking into just IF and DH, and if an OF is the best guy available, TAKE HIM and

    e.c., you were going so well, then you didn’t finish the sentence. You were probably going to say move Ibanez to 1B or DH, or to say move or trade someone. Anyway, I agree totally; get a big bat, then fit him in. OF, 1B, 3B, DH, C, whatever.

    I know the OF defense has declined, but we were a little spoiled by Cammie. Sure, I’d like to see it improved over this year, but I think that’s not on top of the priority list. I know we have pitchers like Franklin and perhaps Moyer that would benefit a lot, though. Those two will be gone after 2005 but not before, which is one reason that I see the rebuilding process as a two-year thing.

  30. John Hawkins on October 4th, 2004 2:09 pm

    I know everyone on this board loves to hate Ryan Franklin, but if you go by stats instead of emotion, there’s nothing wrong with having him on the staff. Sure, he’s no Ace, but he’s a solid guy to run out there every five days.

    He pitched over 200 innings this year, 17th in the AL. He was ranked between 28th and 32nd among starters in the league in ERA, WHIP, K/BB and ERC. Factor in Safeco field, and he still figures out as about the 40th best starter in the AL in 2004. That makes him a solid #4 starter. The big problem the M’s rotation had this year was that for much of the season Franklin was our second best starter. The problem wasn’t that Flocko was in the rotation, the problem was that he was near the top of it.

    We don’t pay him a fortune, and we have enough question marks elsewhere on the team that there’s no good reason to go make him a question mark too. Write him in as the #4 starter and then worry about having quality guys in slots 1 through 3.

  31. Dave on October 4th, 2004 2:16 pm

    Ryan Franklin’s road ERA: 5.62
    Opponents vs Franklin on the road: .309/.352/.504.

    Of the 41 pitchers who threw enough innings to qualify, those numbers would make Franklin the third worst starter in the AL this year, better only than Brian Anderson and Esteban Loaiza.

    Franklin is durable and can pitch a lot of bad innings. That is the extent of the positive things he brings to the club. He’s the definition of replacement level. Most Triple-A pitchers could perform at the same level, or better, for the league minimum.

  32. John Hawkins on October 4th, 2004 4:00 pm

    Most Triple-A pitchers could perform at the same level or better…

    Franklin’s Road ERA was 5.62. Let’s compare Road stats

    Franklin 19 GS, 1.48 WHIP, 5.62 ERA

    Vs. the Tacoma Kids:

    Madritsch 5 GS, 1.19 WHIP, 3.49 ERA
    Meche* 11 GS, 1.68 WHIP, 5.79 ERA
    Baek 2 GS, 1.29 WHIP, 6.17 ERA
    Thornton 1 GS, 2.44 WHIP, 6.75 ERA
    Nageotte 2 GS, 1.93 WHIP, 7.20 ERA
    Blackley 3 GS, 2.25 WHIP, 10.13 ERA

    * unfortunately earned the demotion from “proven big league starter” to Triple-A prospect.

    So, yeah, Mads can go in the rotation ahead of Flocko.

    Around the AL, there were exactly 6 rookies who started 10+ games and had as good as or better total ERA than Franklin’s away from Safeco.

    Madritsch, SEA (11 GS/ 3.27 ERA)
    Bush, TOR (16 GS/ 3.69 ERA)
    Greinke, KC (24 GS/3.97 ERA)
    Bedard, BAL (26 GS/ 4.59 ERA)
    Cabrera, BAL (27 GS/ 5.00 ERA)
    Riley, BAL (13 GS/ 5.63 ERA)

    Apparently most triple-A pitchers can’t perform at Franklin’s level. Aside from Bobby Madsritsch, ours certainly can’t. Or does emotion trump stats around here (big grin)

  33. ChrisK on October 4th, 2004 4:40 pm

    I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m camped squarely in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” group. After drawing nearly 3 million fans again for the most unwatchable team in the AL (sans Ichiro), I believe management may think they can still make a tidy profit by fielding an 85-win team with 2-3 fan favorites. Being from Chicago, this is the old Cubs marketing strategy – sell the ballpark, a couple of star players, and turn over the roster to give the illusion of “this year will be different!” Also, an 85-win team is usually “in the hunt” for a playoff birth at least through August.

    They’ll likely make noise about signing multiple impact free agents, but I think we’ll see something more along the lines of one decent FA pickup plus a bunch of Ibanez-type signings. Something like Carlos Delgado plus Joe Randa and some ex-Mariners and hometown guys to fill out the roster.

  34. BBB on October 5th, 2004 2:17 pm

    A few quick ones:
    – I don’t think we were watching the same Jeremy Reed play in Sept. Pencil him in for CF and trade Randy Winn, I agree that his trade value will not be any higher.
    – Gotta gotta gotta have a front line starter
    – I thought Eddie would be ready for next year? If so, add Putz, Shiggy (look at the H2 stats), Mateo, and Sherrill and that doesn’t look too bad for short relief, although one more quality arm would be good
    – We need HELP at SS and 3B both — with bats.
    – Bottom line: We are at least one starter and two bats short of contending. Get ’em where you can and move around guys if you have to. An add to the bullpen would be my third priority.

  35. Jeremy on October 5th, 2004 4:57 pm

    #32, you are comparing Franklin’s 19 away gs with our kids of 1 to 4gs besides Bobby. I don’t think that is enough data for the comparison. I like to see Franklin to be traded or to go to bullpen and no, I don’t love to hate Franklin. I like Franklin. I just think Franklin has shown us his ceiling and this is about it. There is no reason to have illusions of what more he can achieve. If your expectation and standard of your no 4 guy is Franklin’s performance this year, so be it. But I for one, want more from my starting rotation next year.