Meche and arbitration

DMZ · October 30, 2004 at 9:11 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Many people have commented that the Mariners won’t pay Meche more than, say, $3m next year. Whether or not that’s true, Meche heads into arbitration with a 2004 salary of $2m. Now, normally that can’t go down by more than 20% — it’s in the CBA — except that I found a rule that says they can submit lower if in the last year his salary went up over 50% through arbitration.

So maybe I was totally wrong there, and the M’s could submit a arbitration figure of $600,000 if they wanted.

Arbitration doesn’t work on merit, though, as much as you’d think it would. It is, by and large, an issue of service time. Players headed into arbitration are compared to other players with equal service time and that’s the single largest determinant.

Other factors include performance (including clubhouse leadership and community love! no, really!), the player’s past compensation, “existence of any physical or mental defects” and the performance record of the club.

They’re unlikely to argue that Meche is injured, obviously.
They’ve got a performance argument to make, yes.
Meche isn’t known as a leader or pillar of the community.
The performance record of the club similarly provides the team with ammunition, though I’ve never heard of this being a factor in an actual arbitration hearing.

We should remember that even Brian Hunter, after his awful season as a Mariner, beat the team in arbitration. The M’s thrashed him and the arbitration panel said “if he was so bad why’d you play him so much?”

The argument for taking him to arbitration’s a lot like the Freddy Garcia argument, exceppppt.. if Meche was available for a minor league contract, many teams would bite. Given that teams were unwilling to trade for Meche last year, or claim his contract for nothing when they had the chance early in the season, it seems unlikely that they’d be able to take him to arbitration and move him.

In that case, the team’s going to face the same decision they did with Freddy, sort of: do you take the gamble on the money and hope he performs well enough that you can get something shiny in trade, or keep the money and see if it can’t be put to better use elsewhere?


41 Responses to “Meche and arbitration”

  1. jj on October 30th, 2004 9:26 pm

    I am not sure I am following your logic. Meche is not going to get paid the same amount of money this year as Freddy and he has one more year on arbitration. Keep the 3 million and get who? To use that on offense and then leave another hole in the starting rotation? I am not sure I really get your argument.

  2. DMZ on October 30th, 2004 9:32 pm

    There’s no argument here, you’ve got the point entirely: the team’s going to face a decision on whether or not to risk paying Meche whatever he files for (probably shy of $4m, but that’s a total guess w/out having seen the service-time coms), or if they’re going to spend that money in their offers for Beltran/Beltre/etc, and plug the rotation hole with one of the guys we saw up this year (which, yes, could be pretty ugly).

  3. jj on October 30th, 2004 9:34 pm

    Got it! Thanks for the explanation. I thought Bavasi hates taking players to arbitration according to his last year’s comment?

  4. Garry on October 30th, 2004 10:12 pm

    I don’t think it will go to arbitration. Meche was very humble last year regarding only getting a 1yr deal for $1.9M. He realized that he has been coming off of 2yrs of surgery’s, and his performance in 2003 (though good) didn’t merit a multi year contract like Franklin’s or Pineiro’s. Again, with his demotion during the year to AAA, I really think that he would take a multi year contract very similiar to Franklin’s over the next 2 yrs with a 3rd option year for very reasonable!

    He still has some fine tuning to do! And, he knows it! I think he will come across pretty humble again this year and work with management!

  5. Scott on October 30th, 2004 10:28 pm

    Garry, good point. Meche does not seem to come across as an arrogant ass. Hopefully they can get him cheap for the next two years.

  6. Gary on October 31st, 2004 2:50 am

    “. . . keep the money and see if it can’t be put to better use elsewhere . . .”

    Due to the Mariner accounting system, the money will disappear immediately upon the arrival of January 1.

  7. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 8:23 am

    The fact that he spent about 3 months in Tacoma, could that be used in any way against him?

  8. MER on October 31st, 2004 9:54 am

    Hard for me to imagine that it will be possible to acquire the equivalent degree of pitching talent in the FA market for the dollar amount that Meche will receive in arbitration. Certainly, the upside of Meche is higher than most pitcher FAs who will command >$4 million/yr. Finally, given the current status of the Mariner minor leaque pitchers, it does not seem we have many less expensive options.

  9. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 10:16 am

    We could probably get a Cory Lidle/Aaron Sele/Terry Mulholland/John Halama/Shane Reynolds/Ron Villone type for less than 3, but if it came down to that I would just assume pay Meche more and keep him.

  10. Steve Valandra on October 31st, 2004 10:31 am

    The Mariners should sign Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. Then trade Ichiro for four to five quality players from an interested team. There would be plenty of suitors. He knows he’s wasting his time here, anyway.

  11. Trent on October 31st, 2004 11:18 am

    In regards to #4, come on. Do you really think a player will take a cut in pay or forfeit a raise because he knows he didn’t perform to expectations? If at your job, you are habitually behind on deadlines, do you walk up to your boss at the end of the year and tell him to cut your salary for the next year because you felt that you didn’t meet the expectations that were placed on you?

    Meche is going to be getting a raise. It’s that simple. Whether or not he gets that raise in Seattle or elsewhere is still up in the air.

  12. stan on October 31st, 2004 12:47 pm

    I have commented before that I think the Mariners need to get two free agent starters for 2005, and I for one don’t consider Villone a viable starting pitcher any more than Franklin or at this point in his career Jamie. If Meche is not offered arbitration the Mariners will need to get three free agent starters. Given the needs of other teams like the Yankees and Dodgers for starting pitching, I don’t think there is any way the Mariners could go out and get three decent free agent starters. My opinion is that there is no option other than bringing back Meche unless he could be part of a trade that would return a quality starter to the Mariners. Given Meche’s fairly recent injury history and the fact that he is in the arbitration phase of his career, I don’t see another organization sending us a quality young starter in return for Meche.

  13. DMZ on October 31st, 2004 1:54 pm

    Trent’s got a good point. Whether Meche is a good guy or not may affect his willingness to take a contract that pre-empts arbitration, but it’s not going to make him (and his agent) agree to a contract that’s far out of line with what players with similar service time receive.

  14. AJ Platzer on October 31st, 2004 2:11 pm

    Regards #11: It is more likely Meche will be getting his raise if he stays in Seattle, not so likely somewhere else. That dynamic, more than his humility, is why he may be “willing” to settle amicably with Seattle.

    Derek, while service time may be the single largest determinant in arbitration cases, I think merit plays a larger role than you suggest. As I read your Brian Hunter example, the M’s got burned more by having no answer to the playing time question than by Hunter’s poor performance.

    As counter examples, how about Freddy Garcia’s last two arbitration years? $6.875M in 2002 because he had shown signs of being a staff ace with just the blip at the end of the 2002 season. $6.875M again in 2003 because he had sucked for 18 months by that time. Yes, he settled before getting to arbitration in 2003, but as Trent points out, it is unlikely that he settled low out of the goodness of his or his agents heart, but rather because they knew it was unlikely they could do better.

    Now, contrast Freddy’s settlement with Javier Vasquez’ $10M settlement . Same service time, $3.125M difference. Many third year arbitration cases are settled for less than Freddy’s, and less than half of Vasquez’. Given the variation in similar service time settlements, wouldn’t you agree that merit plays nearly as signifcant a role as service time? Or, even more significant?

    I am betting that Meche never sees arbitation, but either way, with his ineffectiveness for much of 2004 and his time in AAA, his 2005 salary will be under $2.5M.

  15. Jerry on October 31st, 2004 3:16 pm

    Speaking of Javier Vazquez, I hope that the M’s look into a trade for him. His value is low right now, but he is still a young pitcher who has had a lot of success in the past. Seattle could be a good fit for him.

    A trade for Boone could help both teams. The only issue would be the difference in the salaries. If the Yankees paid the difference in 2005, plus a few million in 2006 and 2007, it would be a good deal. I think that 8-9 million/year is a good price for Vazquez. Or the M’s could include one of thier bad salaries, like Spiezio. That would make it a pretty good deal.

    What do you guys think of that? If it could work, the M’s would have a TOR starter without spending any of their free payroll. They could then commit all of their money (however much that might actually be) to improving the offense. It would also give them some flexibility in signing either a SS or a 2B free agent. I think that Placido Polanco would be a great pickup, or they could try to go after someone like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera.

  16. stan on October 31st, 2004 3:47 pm

    I can’t imagine the Yankees would trade Vazquez for Boone’s inflated salary, let alone send money to the Mariners to pay part of Vasquez’ salary. Brown for Boone maybe; after Brown’s self inflicted injury at the end of the year and poor performance in the ALCS I assume Brown is pretty deep in Steinbrenner’s doghouse. If I was Bavasi I would not trade Boone for Brown anymore than if I was Cashman would I trade Vazquez for Boone.

  17. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 3:50 pm

    Re #14
    Polanco is exactly what we DON’T need. Sounds like another Aurilia, if you ask me.

    I would trade for Vazquez, and even trade Boone, I think. I would get the Yankees to pay the difference for the remainder of his contract in ’05, to be counted toward the ’05 payroll, and then we can sign a Jeff Kent.

    The problem is, this years crop of free agent middle infielders is really bad. Nomar is a cancer, Kent is overpriced, Renteria is overrated, Cabrera is overrated, Vizquel is too old, etc.

    Now that I think about it, I would keep Boone, because I just can’t see a viable replacement for Boone who could match his numbers. Regardless of his performance this year, he was still one of the best 2Bmen in the league.

    I would still like to trade for Vazquez, if we could lay Shiggy, Spiezio, and a starting pitcher (think Cha Seung Baek), plus a Randy Williams type, and we would have a deal I would do. The Yankees may not fall for that, though.

  18. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 3:51 pm

    or Ryan Franklin as the starter. Or if Meche wins arbitration and is plum paid too much, we throw in Meche instead of Baek/Franklin.

  19. DMZ on October 31st, 2004 3:55 pm

    We can argue specific examples, but really, what it comes down to is that each side looks at the range of what other players with comperable service time got, and try to place the player along that spectrum. The player’s agent looks to make the best case they can, and the team tries to make the worst case they can.

    Now within that, there’s an additional dynamic: you don’t have to be right, you just have to be closer to what the panel thinks the player is worth. Take Freddy, for example. It’s entirely possible when the panel looked at his case in 2003, they’d figured his number as much lower than he wanted, but far higher than the team’s low-ball offer.

    The arbitration panel can only choose one of the two numbers. It’s not a determination of specific value at all — it’s like… using randomly selected ends of error bars to try and draw a graph. Over a large enough sample, the line will be about right, but for any two you shrug and move on.

    A better way for me to put it, rather than “service time is the greatest factor” would be “service time determines the potential range of salaries for all but the most outstanding players, while merit will determine what the player and team decide to ask for within that range.”

  20. Jim McMurry on October 31st, 2004 4:27 pm

    I don’t see Bavasi taking Meche to arbitration. If anything, this is not a guy who favors arbitration. I think a reaonsable deal even a bit on the lower side would work out with Meche. He knows he is an injury risk and he had not had two consistent years to back him up for a big contract. 2.5 to 3 mil this year, 4 to 4.5 mil next year with some bonus if he meet certain conditions might work out. I am not a big Meche fan, but we just have way too many holes to fill this year. And from what I saw on AAA, I will rather stick with him than Blackley or Nageotte or walk machine Thorton or Franklin.

  21. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 4:41 pm

    If Thornton ever has any success it will be as a reliever. Look at his walks. He is dominant through about 2 innings, then he just sort of dies down. Hopefully the FO realizes this.

  22. Jim Thomsen on October 31st, 2004 5:01 pm

    Off-topic, but if you were any GM in baseball looking to upgrade his outfuield or DH position next year, would you want THIS ballplayer?

    SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Sammy Sosa was humiliated by being dropped to sixth in the Chicago Cubs lineup, and claims he was mistreated by the club.
    When he struggled down the stretch of the season, Cubs manager Dusty Baker lowered the slugger in the batting order — much to Sosa’s dismay.
    “I’m not a sixth batter,” Sosa told Hoy newspaper in Santo Domingo on Saturday upon returning to his native Dominican Republic. “I’m a cleanup hitter or third because I’ve earned that right with almost 600 career home runs.”
    Sosa, 35, batted .253 this season — his lowest average since 1997. In 126 games, he had 35 homers and 80 RBIss, ending his run of nine straight 100-RBIs seasons.
    The season ended on a sour note for Sosa and the Cubs. Chicago squandered its wild-card lead with a severe slide in the final week, and the Cubs were eliminated on the second-to-last day.
    Sosa arrived late to the finale at Wrigley Field and then left the game early without playing. The Cubs fined him $87,500 — one day’s salary — because of his actions.
    “I know I screwed up and I can assure you that I’ve asked for forgiveness,” Sosa told the newspaper. “But I also need to say that I felt poorly treated.
    “So many things happened that I was in shock. I needed to rest that day because I wasn’t going to be able to give it my best.”
    Sosa has a year left on his contract that will pay him $17 million, and the club has an option for 2006. Trade rumors have already started, and the New York Mets are reportedly interested.
    The former All-Star has hit 574 home runs during 16 major league seasons, and Sosa says he plans to play into his 40s.
    “I’m going to play at least another five or six seasons, hitting 35 home runs a year,” he said. “That would allow me to finish my career with 700 home runs.”

    Seriously, what would the market be for someone like this? If I had the chance to get Sosa at, say, $5 million a year … I wouldn’t do it, and I think any GM that would is a damn fool. (Not that Sammy would take anything less than at least twice that.) Is there a player whose value has fallen further from 2003 to 2004 than Sosa? One year from now, he’ll be at an NRI level, and, I hate to break it to him … but he ain’t gonna be in baseball at age 40, unless there’s a team that for some reason wants a player who will hit .186 with 18 HRs and 43 RBIs, and post a .302 OBP.

    And how much do weaselly, self-serving comments like these FURTHER plunge his value?

  23. Trent on October 31st, 2004 5:13 pm

    In regards to #14, I like Vazquez. I’ve made a couple pipe dream comments about him and his availability over on our site. I just don’t know if it is feasible. If the Yankees are truly interested in acquiring RJ this off-season, Vazquez is their only marketable piece. Plus, with Jeff Kent on the market, why would the Yanks trade a marketable commodity when they can sign a similar, if not better, player to fulfill their need at second and hold onto Vazquez?

    I’ll admit that I fall into the speculation trap every so often, it can be entertaining at times. But I question if the front office staff would have the creativity to pull off a deal of that magnitude.

  24. Trent on October 31st, 2004 5:14 pm

    No. Let Sammy collect his huge contract elsewhere.

  25. Dave on October 31st, 2004 5:47 pm

    Maybe I’ll just build a macro to post this whenever someone mentions “Boone” and “Yankees” in the same sentence.

    Boone: .251/.317/.423, $9.0 million
    Cairo: .292/.346/.417, $1.0 million

    No matter how much you care about name value, A is not an upgrade over B, and Brian Cashman isn’t going to sink $8 million into his team to make it worse.

    Also, Javier Vazquez is a horrible idea. If he was a free agent, would you offer him a 3 year, $35 million contract? There’s just no reason to commit that much money to a guy who was absolutely abysmal and is coming off years of heavy, likely-to-break-down-soon type workloads. Even if you think the problem was New York (and honestly, there’s next to no evidence of this) and not Vazquez, it’s a ridiculous risk.

  26. adam on October 31st, 2004 5:59 pm

    I’m with Dave on this one. I am a huge fan of Vazquez but unless they eat most of the salary it’s not a great idea. His stuff has gotten less and less sharp, I don’t think it had to do with his enviorment.

    If the Yankees had the Vazquez of old they would’ve been in the World Series without question. The days of him throwing 94 with great movement, I think, are over.

  27. Jerry on October 31st, 2004 7:48 pm

    I totally disagree with you guys about Vazquez. He is a very good pitcher. Right now is the time to pick him up if at all possible, because his value is very low. The guy only had one bad half. Look at his stats:

    2001: 16 W, 11 L, 223 IP, 24 HR, 44 BB, 208 SO, 3.42 ERA, 8.37 K/9, 4.73 K/BB
    2002: 10 W, 13 L, 230 IP, 28 HR, 49 BB, 179 SO, 3.91 ERA, 6.99 K/9, 3.65 K/BB
    2003: 13 W, 12 L, 230 IP, 28 HR, 57 BB, 241 SO, 3.24 ERA, 9.40 K/9, 4.23 K/BB
    2004 Pre-Allstar: 10 W, 5 L, 118 IP, 19 HR, 32 BB, 95 SO, 3.57 ERA, 7.25 K/9, 2.97 K/BB
    2004 Post-Allstar: 4 W, 5 L, 79.1 IP, 14 HR, 28 BB, 55 SO, 6.92 ERA, 6.27 K/9, 1.96 K/BB

    This guy has been a great pitcher for 3 1/2 of the past 4 seasons. His bad 2004 numbers are the result of a horrible first half. I don’t buy the ‘not cut out for NY’ or ‘can’t pitch in the AL’ arguments because he was pretty good before the allstar break this year. Obviously, something happened to him in the second half. Who knows if it was fatigue, arm problems, or a flaw in his mechanics. The amount of innings he has pitched is scary. But he eats innings.

    Vazquez has been a great starter for the past few years. He does tend to alternate between good and bad years, and has been overworked. But he is only 28, and the Yankees are going to try to trade him. I don’t believe that you can just write him off because he has one bad half-season. His value is going to be very low because he struggled while in the spotlight. This raises issues about his quality as a big-game starter, but it also provides an opportunity to get a very good starter cheaply.

    I agree with Dave that his current contract is far too high. However, you have to think about the specifics of the trade that I suggested. If the Yankees either ate about 2-3 million of his salary every year, or accepted one of our bad contracts like Spiezio, it would effectively be like getting Vazquez for 8-9 million/year, which is a good value for him. He is a better pitcher than Clement or Odalis Perez, who will be getting similar money (perhaps a bit less). He has been far more consistent than either, and has some experience in th AL.

    Looking at Vazquez’s record of past performance, you have to think that this year was an aberation. He is only 28 and does not have any major health issues. He has pitched a lot of innings in the past few years, but there is no evidence that he has long-term problems. Scaling back his workload to a more reasonable level would probably help. If the M’s tried to limit his workload and still get 210 innings out of him. When he is on, he is an ace-quality pitcher. The main thing that I don’t like about him is that he is a fly-ball pitcher and gives up a lot of homeruns. However, he doesn’t walk many batters, and would benefit from Safeco.

    This trade also makes sense for the Yankees. They would be getting a good second-baseman in Boone, an infielder for their bench in Spiezio, and a lot of payroll flexibilty because Boone comes off the books next year. Basically, they would be getting two pieces they could use while getting Vazquez off their payroll. Plus, Stienbrenner would have his all-allstar infield and another big-name player.

    We could even chip in a prospect that they could use to get Randy Johnson. Or, we could potentially take Kenny Lofton off their hands. He could be a good 4th OFer for the M’s, and comes off the books after 2005. If the D-Backs are not interested in Vazquez, this trade makes sense for the Yankees. Boone fills a need for them, and Vazquez fills a need for us.

    DJ Corcoran,
    Planco is a really good player. Look at his stats. He really has nothing in common with Aurillia. He is only 29, plays very good defense, gets on base, has a little bit of power, and is a great #2 hitter. I would prefer that the M’s got a new SS and moved Lopez to 2B, but most of the free agent SS’s (Cabrera, Nomar, Renteria) don’t make much sense given their production and likely cost. Renteria and Cabrera are both good players, but I think that they will be too pricey. Polanco is a way underrated player. He has put up very similar numbers as Winn, and would fill the #2 spot when Winn is traded. He is a not a run producer, but he is a great role player and could help the M’s on both offense and defense.

  28. DMZ on October 31st, 2004 8:31 pm

    So if Vazquez is really a good pitcher, and you don’t think last season was due to NY-related issues, why would the Yankees trade him at all? Or, at least, hold on to him until he performs better and his trade value is higher?

  29. The Ancient Mariner on October 31st, 2004 8:52 pm

    Polanco would actually make a solid replacement for Boone; but a) Boone isn’t going anywhere, b) Polanco can’t play short, and c) he wouldn’t want to sign with a 63-99 team to be a utility infielder.

  30. David J Corcoran on October 31st, 2004 9:00 pm

    Looking at Polanco’s numbers, he had more HR’s than I would have guessed, his VORP is quite high, and I see a decent player tehre. His #’s went up, despite relocating to a more pitchery park this year.
    2 years 7 million would be fair.

  31. jj on October 31st, 2004 9:08 pm

    Good call, Derek. I guess in Jerry’s mind, Yankees just likes to throw away money for the heck of it.

  32. Jerry on October 31st, 2004 11:09 pm


    Who cares why the Yankees are shopping him? The fact is, they are. Stienbrenner has a long track record of spitting out players after they struggle in NY for a bit. If it comes down to them eating half his salary, I think that they will keep him and hope for the best. But Stienbrenner does not tend to just let struggling starters play for his team. I think that they will move him and Brown just to make room for new starters. They will have Mussina and probably retain Lieber and El Duque. I think that it is a near certainty that they pick up two TOR starters, probably Randy Johnson and a younger guy like Pavano or Milton. The topics from the recent Yankee front office meetings have been leaked, and are all over the NY media. It is pretty much a sure thing that Vazquez is available. Who knows what they will get.

    It is very clear that the Yankees are looking to trade Vazquez. This is not a speculation. It is all over the media. I just think that it would be a great idea for the M’s to take advantage of the situation if they can. Obviously, the Yankees might get another deal. But there just aren’t that many teams who can take on a contract like Vazquez’s. Since the Yankees are probably looking to sign a second baseman, and the M’s are looking for a TOR starter, it could be a good match. The NY newspapers are saying that the Yankees want to retain Cairo as a utility infielder. I think that the Yankees will probably try to get the D-Backs to take Vazquez as a part of a trade for Randy Johnson. Who knows if they will be interested in that. But if the M’s are willing to take on all but a bit of Vazquez’s salary, I think that the Yankees might do it.

    The Yankees DO throw away money for the heck of it. They picked up Kevin Brown and will be eating a bunch of his contract to ditch him. They did the same thing with Jeff Weaver. They are paying Derek Jeter 18 million/year. They will probably have either Jason Giambi or Bernie Williams sitting on the bench for 12 to 15 million dollars. Look at their payroll. Stienbrenner does not let money stand in the way of his plans.

  33. Cap on October 31st, 2004 11:16 pm

    I like Vazquez and would be intrigued if the M’s wanted him. I’d support the idea to look into acquiring Javier, but only up to the point where the M’s should inquire about his value to the Yankees at this point. Why would the Yankees trade Vazquez at all? That’s why you inquire, to find out.

  34. eponymous coward on November 1st, 2004 1:40 am

    Uh, we still have no explanation of why Bret Boone is anything resembling an upgrade over Miguel Cairo. It’s quite possible his career is about to go down the toilet (think Robby Alomar) as much as he’ll bounce back in 2005.

    If the Yankees want to go bottom-fishing for veteran second basemen who have posted impressive numbers in the past and might bounce back (because I guess they’re going to ignore the fact that very few second basemen are very good after 35- even ones like Joe Morgan started declining a lot at that age), Robby Alomar is not going to cost them 9 million. Heck, didn’t the Astros just cut Jeff Kent loose by buying out his option? Guess what- Jeff Kent actually hit decently last year. Why not him as a free agent instead? For less than 9 million?

    Kevin Brown is totally radioactive at $17 million, and with the only team (the Yankees) who can afford umpteen bad contracts. He’s going nowhere. I suppose Arizona might trade RJ- except aren’t they looking at bankruptcy because of so many backloaded contracts? How does adding future salary help in this situation? If anything, they should be dumping RJ for whatever minor leaguers the Yankees can scrape out of the bottom of their barrel.

  35. Jon Wells on November 1st, 2004 1:41 am

    off topic here but I’m filled with glee over the confirmation that Dave Myers will not be part of Hargrove’s staff.

  36. Jerry on November 1st, 2004 7:55 am


    The difference between the Yankees getting Boone and Kent is that, with Kent, they would be adding payroll. Plus, he is so brutal on defense that he would really fit better at DH. With Boone, they would be cutting payroll. Plus, it is likely that he will improve his numbers next year, at least to somewhere around .270, 25-30 HRs. I think that most people believe that he will be better than his 2004 numbers, especially in an environment where he is not the focus of the offense.

    One way to look at this trade is that the Yankees would be adding a pricey second baseman. The other way to look at it is that the Yankees would be saving themselves 9 million dollars in 2006 and 2007 (or more depending on what the specifics of the trade are). If they are set on ditching Vazquez, this is a way for them to free up payroll after 2005, while filling a spot they are looking to improve in 2004. Otherwise, they are stuck with Vazquez for the next three years. They are looking at a gamble. If they decide to keep him on the team and hope he pitches well next year, and he doesn’t, then they are totally stuck with him. Financially, it makes sense for them to acquire Boone. He is a salary wash this year, then they can either resign him for less after 2005 or get another player.

    I don’t think that this trade is likely. But it does make some sense from both sides of the equation. The Yankees would be moving a player they are not too happy with and freeing up payroll after 2005. If they are going to be going after players like Randy Johnson, Carlos Beltran, and Pedro Martinez, they will have to move some contracts to stay somewhere close to $200 million. This is a way for them to do that.

  37. Ralph Malph on November 1st, 2004 11:08 am

    How would the Yankees be cutting payroll by adding Boone and Spiezio? That’s absurd.

    Yes, under your suggested deal they’d get rid of Vazquez’ salary, but then they’d need to go out and find another pitcher to replace him, which you are leaving out of the analysis.

    The salary comparison that matters from the Yankees side is replacing Cairo ($900K) with Boone ($9M).

  38. Jerry on November 1st, 2004 12:08 pm


    This is a long-term payroll reduction for the Yankees. You need to think beyond 2005.

    NY’s side of the equation:
    Boone and Spiezio’s salaries
    2005: 9.25 + 3.1 = 12.35 million
    2006: 3.1 million
    2006: Yankees pay M’s 3 million

    M’s side of the equation
    Vazquez’s salary:
    2005: 10.5 million
    2006: 11.5 million
    2007: 12.5 – 3 million = 9.5 million

    The M’s could even pay the Yankees 2 million towards Boone’s salary in 2005 to even up the deal. The Yankees would be saving themselves 8.4 million in 2006 and 9.5 million in 2007.

    Another option would be for the M’s to take Kenny Lofton. This would even up the 2005 salaries, and get Lofton off the Yankees payroll. Lofton comes off the books after 2005, so it would not change anything for 2006 and 2007.

  39. Deanna on November 1st, 2004 1:41 pm

    Err, not to derail this to talk about Meche again, but actually, has anyone noticed the similarity between Madritsch’s numbers and Meche’s post-Tacoma numbers from this year?

    Madritch: 6-3, 3.27 ERA, 88.0 IP, 33 BB, 60 SO
    Meche: 6-2, 3.95 ERA, 84.1 IP, 18 BB, 58 SO

    Only major difference is that Madritsch gave up 3 homers while Meche gave up 15. Still. If Meche could keep the control he showed in the second half of the season, I think he’s as valuable a starter to the Mariners as Madritsch is. I saw Meche pitch a couple times in the late season, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw compared to the way he was in the early season. He wasn’t hesitating a ton anymore, and his command of the strike zone was really good. He needs to work on his HR count (one game I was at, he gave up exactly four hits. Unfortunately, three of the four were home runs.)

    I would expect the team to take the gamble and keep Meche. I don’t think we can find better elsewhere, and I also don’t think he’ll push it to arbitration if offered something reasonable.

  40. Ralph Malph on November 1st, 2004 2:33 pm

    Is there any reason to think a pitcher can actually change his HR’s allowed, other than by nibbling around the corners and giving up more walks as a result?

    If you challenge hitters you’ll give up some HR’s. I’d rather have the hitter-challenging, solo-home-run allowing Meche than the nibbling Meche pitching with men on base all the time.

  41. Dave on November 1st, 2004 3:18 pm

    HR allowed is one of the more consistent stats a pitcher will have from year to year. Its definitely the fruit of some type of skill (usually heavy sinking motion on the fastball) and not random luck. While it may be true that Meche matches Madritsch in all the other categories, the difference in HR rate is astronomical and very significant. Madritsch was the toughest major league starter to hit a HR off of; Meche was one of the easiest.