Dave’s Plan

Dave · November 11, 2004 at 1:27 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up my predictions for what the M’s would do this offseason. With the start of free agency only eleven hours away, now it’s my turn to extrapolate on how I would rebuild this team. I did a short suggestion write-up and a longer team construction post last year, and as you can see, the team basically gave me the finger, signing four players from the “Stay the Heck Away” category. I’m more optimistic that the team’s thinking this year is at least within the same stratosphere as my own. Keep in mind that this is entirely hypothetical, and I’m making a lot of assumptions on possibilities that we can’t know are true or not. An explanation of the moves will be found below the roster. All the salaries listed will be actual payout in 2005, rather than average annual value.

Position		Player		Salary
C		Olivo		0.4
1B		Ibanez		3.8
2B		Boone		9.0
3B		Beltre		9.0
SS		Reese		1.5
LF		Kearns		3.0
CF		Drew		10.0
RF		Ichiro		12.0
DH		Jacobsen		0.3
C		Wilson		1.0
Inf		Spiezio		3.1
Out		Reed		0.3
Util		Leone		0.3
Util		F. Lopez		1.0
SP1		Clement		6.0
SP2		Madritsch		0.3
SP3		Pineiro		4.2
SP4		Meche		3.0
SP5		Moyer		7.5
Closer		Guardado		4.5
Setup		Osuna		2.0
Setup		Sherrill		0.3
Relief		Hasegawa		3.0
Relief		Putz		0.3
Long		Atchison		0.3
Total:				86.1

Free Agent Signings:

Adrian Beltre: 7 years, $84 million, escalating from $9 million in 2005
Pokey Reese: 1 year, $1.5 million, club option for 2nd year at $2 million with $250,000 buyout
J.D. Drew: 3 years, $33 million, mutual option for 4th year at $14 million
Dan Wilson: 1 year, $1 million
Matt Clement: 3 years, $22 million, escalating from $6 million in 2005
Antonio Osuna: 1 year, $2 million, club option for 2nd year at $2.5 million, $300,000 buyout


Ryan Franklin, Clint Nageotte, Shin-Soo Choo, and Julio Mateo to Cincinatti for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez.
Randy Winn to Baltimore for Matt Riley

Explanations by position:


Olivo is neither as good as he was in Chicago or as bad as he was in Seattle. Considering the available options, giving him a chance to start is the best option. Dan Wilson’s return is simply a public relations move coming off a season where the team cannot afford to alienate any more of its fans. Finding a reasonably priced backup catcher who would be a significant enough upgrade on Wilson to offset the loss of goodwilll from sending Wilson packing is nearly impossible. Despite the fact that he doesn’t really belong in MLB, I would bring Wilson back for one last season simply as a gesture of good faith.

First Base:

I’m not a believer in spending big money on a position that is this easy to fill. Ibanez is a liability in left field with the glove, and his defensive limitations can be hidden, somewhat, with a shift to first base. This also allows for an easy platoon with Jacobsen against left-handers. Spiezio fills in as defensive replacement.

Second Base:

Boone’s contract is immovable, so you simply hope he performs well enough to be trade bait at the deadline. The acquisition of Felipe Lopez gives the team a legitimate option to turn to if Boone’s decline continues.


The crop of free agent shortstops are simply not inviting. Pass on the overpriced and overrated and offer Pokey Reese a chance to play most every day for a pittance. His defense will be a boon to the pitching staff, and Felipe Lopez can provide offensive support if his bat fails to show up at all. The hope is that Lopez’s improvements are real enough where he can claim the everyday job during the season, relegating Reese back into the utility player role he was born for.

Third Base:

Yes, it’s overspending, but not to the point where it’s going to be a burden even if Beltre performs to peak level. There’s some built in risk, but the Mariners need a franchise talent, and 25 year old MVP candidates at premium positions aren’t available very often. Take the risk.

Left Field:

The Reds just don’t know what to do with Austin Kearns. He’s been working out at third base during the offseason, but that experiment isn’t going well. He can certainly be had for the right price, and the hope is that a package that brings the Reds an innings eater, a league minimum young reliever, and two solid prospects while saving them approximately $1 million in 2005 salary is enough to make the deal. Kearns has an all-star bat and is one of the few opportunities to buy low on a potential elite player. He’s simply a 500 at-bat season away from being a monster, and he will never be available for this little again. Reed spells Kearns and provides help as the fourth outfielder.

Center Field:

We’ve been talking up J.D. Drew’s bat for quite a while, and now that Boras has stated his willingness to play center field, he moves up the list. His range is adequate for the position, while his offense makes him a superstar. The health risks are definitely there, but on a three year contract, the payoff is high enough to justify the move. Will this contract be enough to talk him into leaving Atlanta? Probably not in a perfect world, but the Braves are feeling a severe budget crunch and may be hard pressed making Drew a legitimate offer. Reed and Ichiro’s presence on the roster provide insurance in case of injury.

Right Field:

Ichiro’s still pretty good. Kearns moves to right field when Ichiro needs a day off, with Reed sliding into left.

Designated Hitter:

Bucky deserves a chance to at least enter the season as the regular DH. At $300,000, there’s no risk, and he offers potential of average performance for peanuts. Leone should get some time here, as well.

#1 starter:

Matt Clement is a solid pitcher with enough positive markers that its reasonable to believe that he could take a Jason Schmidt-style leap. The best value pitcher on the market, and Safeco will only help him.

#2 starter:

Madritsch was one of the premier pitchers in the American League in the second half. While he’s as good as he’s going to get, the ability to keep the ball in the park and throw consistent strikes makes him a solid bet to be an above average starter for several years.

#3 starter:

Pineiro’s health is still a big question mark, but he’s a solid third starter if he can overcome the injuries. Matt Riley’s acquisition is entirely driven by the questions surrounding Pineiro’s health, and he would be first in line for this rotation spot should Pineiro not be ready to go on opening day.

#4 starter:

There’s valid evidence to expect Meche to be an above average starter next year. There’s valid evidence to expect him to join Scott Sanders in the Christmas-Tree-Hall-Of-Fame. There’s valid evidence to expect him to spend a significant part of 2005 on the disabled list. Hello crapshoot!

#5 starter:

Moyer’s done as an effective starting pitcher and is simply holding this place warm until someone not eligible for social security takes his job away from him. Hopefully, that’s Matt Riley, once Pineiro proves healthy.


Guardado is not likely to be ready in 2005, but since he’s on the roster for $4.5 million and wants to pitch, you might as well try and let him. The M’s are out $9 million over the next two years anyways, so there’s little downside to hoping the rest-and-rehab plan pans out. Don’t ask me to hold my breath and bet on Guardado finishing the year healthy, though.


The loss of Rafael Soriano was a crippling blow, and this team needs a right-handed arm that can provide solid relief work. Antonio Osuna has been one of the more underrated relievers in baseball for some time, but his injury history will probably keep him on one year contracts for the rest of his career. He’s a good risk.


George Sherill pitched his way onto the opening day roster last year. He’s probably not going to be outstanding, but for $300,000, he’s a great fit as a late inning lefty reliever.


Shigetoshi Hasegawa isn’t going anywhere with his $3 million contract, so you just hope that he can smoke-n-mirror his way to another decent enough campaign.


J.J. Putz is overvalued by the club, but pitched well enough at times to earn an extended look. Again, for the league minimum, there’s very little risk.

Long Relief:

Scott Atchison actually pitched the best of the Tacoma relief corps but got little notice for it. Stuff isn’t good enough to be a great weapon out of the pen, but a career as the next Ryan Franklin is definitely within reach. A great swing guy for the league minimum.

The roster isn’t good enough to rebuild into a favorite to win the west in one offseason, so my theoretical moves are designed towards building a solid core to go forward with. Players on the wrong side of 30 are mostly avoided and holes that cannot be filled for the longterm and patched with one year contracts of semi-useful players. The emphasis is on acquiring talents who have potential to be performing at a level similar to their peak value in two to three years, which leads to the likes of Beltre, Drew, and Clement and away from Delgado, Sexson, and Varitek.

Realistically, the team listed above is probably going to win 80-85 games in 2005 with the chance to get into wild card contention with several positive breaks. It is designed to give opportunities to younger players at little cost, while allowing breakthrough minor league performers to move up without dumping a high priced veteran. With most expecting Felix Hernandez to be in the big leagues in late summer and Rafael Soriano potentially returning in 2006, the young talent would be in place to make a run in the latter half of the decade. By keeping the payroll flexibility in 2006 to add another impact player next offseason and building around players with a chance to sustain or improve their current performances, the M’s would set themselves up as a team on the rise. Honestly, it’s been about nine years since the team has been on its way up, and it is high time for this team to return to a place of hope.


139 Responses to “Dave’s Plan”

  1. Trent on November 12th, 2004 12:19 pm

    On the Ryan Howard craze that seems to be running rampant in Marinerland, let me ask everyone a couple simple questions regarding that issue:

    Would you trade Randy Winn for Bucky Jacobsen?

    Would you trade Jeremy Reed for Bucky Jacobsen?

  2. The Ancient Mariner on November 12th, 2004 12:31 pm

    Re #83: Jon, you misunderstand my point. If the Reds were to deal Kearns and Lopez for four guys Reds fans have never heard of, they’d have to make the case to the fan base. Franklin’s not hard, and Mateo had a good year in relief in ’03, but then you have two guys who’ve never done anything in the bigs, and you want to convince Cincy’s equivalents of Kelley and Thiel that these are guys worth getting. Well, if one of them is from Ohio, then you can say, “I saw this kid pitch in HS, and he’s a great kid with great stuff,” and a day or so after the trade you have a feature article where you interview him, his parents, his HS coach, his old neighbors, etc., you talk about the time he played a young Babe Ruth, and the fans feel a lot better about the deal.

  3. jj on November 12th, 2004 12:34 pm

    Trent at J for 3rd had a very interesting post also.
    ~Gil Meche, Shin-Soo Cho, and Jamal Strong for Brad Wilkerson

    I am not familiar with Wilkerson besides the stats I can find on line. For those who have seen his games, what’s your take on this trade?

  4. DMZ on November 12th, 2004 12:45 pm

    There is no way the ne-Expos would make that trade.

  5. David J Corcoran on November 12th, 2004 12:47 pm

    Cincinnati alienates their fan base on a regular basis. No reason to stop.

  6. Paul Covert on November 12th, 2004 12:47 pm

    Am looking back at the Roundtable to see what BP actually said about Reed pre-2004:

    Rany Jazayerli, pre-ranking outfield prospects:

    Delmon Young
    Alexis Rios
    Grady Sizemore
    Jeremy Reed

    Jeremy Reed had numbers that were so good that frankly, I have trouble accepting them, and I think it’s clouding my analysis. … So why am I putting him behind Grady Sizemore? I have no idea. Nate, gimme some comps here. Am I justified in being suspicious of Reed’s performance?

    Nate Silver:

    PECOTA thinks he’s the best outfield prospect in baseball. The dude hit .400 for a couple of months, and he does everything you’d expect to suggest that the batting average is for real, since he runs well and rarely strikes out. He’s not a huge power guy, but his secondary average should be good enough to make him a real asset, even at a corner position. I think he’s top-five material, perhaps top three.


    Jeremy Reed is a polished version of Grady Sizemore. Better plate discipline, slightly less power, also no real chance to play CF in the big leagues. I can make an argument for either one being ahead of the other, but if pushed, I’d probably give the edge to Sizemore just based on date of birth.


    Between the two levels where he played, Jeremy Reed posted roughly a .270 EqA last year, while Sizemore was at .240. That’s an enormous difference, and saying that they are similar types of players obscures the issue.

    Rany, posting preliminary Top 50 after positional discussions:

    11. Jeremy Reed

    PECOTA convinced me that my fear of Jeremy Reed was irrational, so I’ve moved him up a fair amount.

    Nate: If I were doing the list completely on my own, I suspect that I’d rank the top 10 as follows:

    1. Mauer
    2. Reed

    Reed had the best year of any player in the minors last year and has a very high probability of being an excellent player. I think a top-five ranking would be a just reward, and consistent with our emphasis on performance rather than tools.

    Jonah Keri:

    I like Reed too, and was going to stump for him before Nate did. We can quibble over where in the Top 5 he belongs, but he does belong there. Nate talks about the importance of performance–but BP has also gone out of its way to reward players being young for their levels in the past (Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, etc.), and Reed turned 22 in June and mangangulated Double-A. That doesn’t make him the next Robin Yount age-wise, but it does mean that he could be crushing major league pitching by his 23rd birthday, which isn’t all that common.

    Chris Kahrl: I’ll also parrot Nate’s comments on Reed and Justin Morneau; I’d like to see them move up.

    Gary Huckabay:

    Reed: way too low, should be top five.

    Dayn Perry: I think Reed should be higher than Young and Rios.

    Rany: I know that Marte looks a little funny in the #2 spot, but again, who’s better? Jeremy Reed? Possibly, but I’ll get to him in a moment. …

    So, here’s a wacky idea…how about Jeremy Reed as the #1 prospect in baseball? The historical record would favor him over Mauer. The performance record favors him over nearly every prospect in the game. He might well win a job in the spring…. I’m not saying it should happen. I am saying that he’s one of the few guys the majority of us like; it would be a *different* pick, but one more consistent with our message. At least think about it.

    Jonah: I like Marte and Reed more than Mauer, and if we’re sold on either guy, it’s worth making one of ’em our #1.

    Tom Wylie: …Whereas I’m not aware of anyone who thinks (say) Reed has a shot at the Hall.

    Gary: I’d definitely have Reed above Weeks.

    Dave: If someone wants to overwhelm me with evidence that his numbers are unprecedented and history suggests he’s going to have a long career culminating with 3,000 hits, I’ll try to get on the Jeremy Reed, Top 5 Prospect bandwagon. But having watched him several times a week this year, at no point did I ever think to myself “This guy is a great prospect.”

    …If we could go back to 1995 and make Rusty Greer a top-5 prospect, would we? For me, Jeremy Reed is that kind of player, and there’s obviously the downside risk that he still only has a half-year of Double-A and no time in Triple-A. This is a sketchy track record for a top-5 prospect, especially one without a whole heck of a lot in the way of physical projection.

    Nate: Two of Reed’s top five comparables were Don Mattingly and Tony Gwynn. Yes, there are also some Darin Erstads and Mark Kotsays and Greers in the mix, but there is upside above and beyond that level of performance.

    Rany: All right, I get the picture. I’m comfortable with Reed as a Top-five player. But I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the notion that he’s the #2 prospect in baseball. As incredible as his numbers are, I don’t want to totally discount the fact that his game is largely based on batting average. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and if he had two full seasons like last year under his belt, I’d be comfortable with him at #2. But there’s enough variability in batting average over one season that we have to at least consider the possibility that he’s not going to be a .320 hitter in the majors, but only a .300 hitter.

    I don’t want to overstate my concerns, but put it this way: if I had to choose between Reed and Marte for my franchise, I’d choose Marte. Same with Weeks. I would probably go with Reed over Upton at this point, which is why I’m now slotting Reed in at #4.

    Joe Sheehan: Overall I’d have Mauer, Weeks, Greinke, Morneau (opportunity), Rios, Kazmir (needs innings) and Young lower; Reed, Upton, Matsui and Crosby higher.

    Dave: I don’t think we can make a real good case for Reed being in the top 5, but Sizemore being in the 25-30 range.

    Rany, in the final wrap-up: I would like to make a few general points about this whole process.

    The first is this idea that we’re “performance analysts”. All I can say is, I don’t consider myself a performance analyst, and hope I never do. I’m just an analyst.

    It’s true that performance analysis remains at the heart of what we do, but that’s because we have found, over the years, that the translated performance record of a player is the single best predictor of his future performance. Saying that we shouldn’t rank players based on their scouting reports because we’re performance analysts misses the point the way that people who think Moneyball was all about getting on base and drafting college players miss the point. Moneyball was about how the application of intelligence can help teams win more baseball games, and what we do is try to apply intelligence to understand baseball better.

    … THAT is what BP is all about: challenging the conventional wisdom, even the conventional wisdom that we helped create.


    Personal comments on the above:

    (1) The #2 ranking for Reed pre-2004 wasn’t really Rany’s idea, but Nate Silver’s; Rany was talked into it by Nate, with support from Gary, Jonah, and a few others. Dave was more or less okay with the original ranking, but became a strong skeptic when the others started putting him in the top 5. (Derek never weighed in on Reed in either direction.)

    (2) The high ranking for Reed was driven largely by the PECOTA forecasting system. Now that they’ve had a year of experience with it, I expect the BP guys will be more cautious with it in the future.

    Derek’s comment on prospect-ranking methodology at the time was: “But I think taking input from that to make decisions is entirely valid, because it can provide us with ‘why’ answers to questions about which guy is ahead of which. I’d say we should rough-order everyone entirely on performance and then bump guys a limited amount based on what we find out from other sources.”

    I am in general sympathy with Derek’s view here, but would suggest putting it the other way around instead: Start with a BA-type set of rankings, and adjust for known biases in the scouting industry (e.g. over-rating pitchers relative to hitters). Or at least that would seem to me likely to give the best accuracy; if it’s not ethical to use other published sources as your inputs, then Derek’s proposal rises to the top of the stack for us non-professional-scouting types.

    (3) As for Reed’s value at the present time: BA’s post-season league rankings, based on manager surveys, put him at #5 in the IL and #6 in the PCL, based on half a season in each league. So I don’t think he’ll be dropping too much from his #25 overall ranking there.

    But still– here’s the list of outfielders ranked 25-35 by BA from 1990-98:

    Wes Chamberlain
    Mark Whiten
    Roger Cedeno
    Todd Hollandsworth
    Kenny Lofton
    Shawn Green
    Marc Newfield
    Bob Abreu
    Tom Goodwin
    Hensley Meulens
    Jermaine Dye
    Johnny Damon
    Jaime Jones
    Mike Cameron
    Carl Everett
    Michael Tucker
    Dermal Brown
    Midre Cummings
    Calvin Murray
    Midre Cummings
    Braulio Castillo
    Mike Kelly
    Richard Hidalgo
    Jay Payton
    Marc Newfield
    Alex Ochoa

    Of course a lot of these guys aren’t truly comparable because they got their ranking from being toolsy and having a good year in the low minors. But even so, I think it’s clear that a #30-type prospect is very, very far from being guaranteed even a solid career as a major league regular.

    I’d personally put Reed a little higher than that, maybe #20 or so. I’d expect that being a solid regular for five years or so would be a reasonable expectation for him. But I’m not counting on him as an all-star– it could happen, but no guarantees. As with Ichiro: If he hits .320 or better he’s a fine ballplayer, but if not he’s nothing special.

    (4) As for the question of what Reed has done that was inconsistent with the pre-2004 analyses: He’s hit below .400 in the high minors, which he’d never done before. More specifically, the high rankings were based on the possibility that his great run in 2003 might turn out to be mostly sustainable; and although he didn’t have a bad year in AAA, it didn’t sustain the Gwynnesque performance record that he appeared to be possibly putting together at the end of 2003.

  7. Dave on November 12th, 2004 1:10 pm

    Keep in mind that the published roundtable omitted a decent amount of back and forth talk. I was a lot more anti-Reed-in-top-five that it would appear from a cursory reading.

    Unfortunately, prospect evaluation has never been BP’s strong suit. That trend continued last year, and I was disappointed I couldn’t make more of an impact on the group during my time there.

  8. Paul Covert on November 12th, 2004 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the background, Dave. (No, I hadn’t been aware that the published roundtable was an abridgement.)

  9. Mike on November 12th, 2004 1:21 pm

    Dave, I went back and looked at your long term and short term lists from last year. If I read it correctly you had Tejada on the “stay the heck away” list. I realize hind site is 20/20, and if if’s and but’s were candy and nut’s it’d be christmas all year round. Do you feel Lopez is the long term answer at SS? Or should the M’s consider looking at some of the likes of Renteria or Cabrera? Nomar’s injury history scares me.

  10. DMZ on November 12th, 2004 1:29 pm

    I agree with Dave entirely.

  11. Jeff on November 12th, 2004 1:32 pm

    In ESPN’s list of the top 50 free agents, they (who wrote it the list?) have the Mariners signing Sexon and Jose Valentin. That was a joke about the Mariners signing Valentin, right?


  12. Jeff on November 12th, 2004 1:33 pm

    Sexson… sorry about that!

  13. The Ancient Mariner on November 12th, 2004 2:04 pm

    Re #104: No reason to keep it up, either.

  14. Todd on November 12th, 2004 2:05 pm

    While that ESPN list is a joke, signing Jose Valentine for reasonable price and a short term deal would not be a bad idea. Even though he is declining, he can still hammer righties for power, if not for average. Valentine has his uses, which can benefit a club as long as the price is right.

  15. furgig on November 12th, 2004 2:08 pm

    I agree on Valentin. If ALL the M’s do is sign Sexson and Valentin…um, lame. However, Reese vs. Valentin? Who cares? As a stop gap until we get something better, or as a bench player, Valentin can provide a few things. He does have an injury history as well, though, so don’t count on him for a whole season.

  16. zbully on November 12th, 2004 2:08 pm

    Anybody like Placido Polanco as a nice little signing this year to replace Boone next year? His numbers aren’t bad.

  17. Evan on November 12th, 2004 3:05 pm

    That ESPN list is insane. Who could honestly expect Billy Beane to sign Jeff Kent?

    And how is Tony Batista one of the top 50 free agents? Tony Batista this year had a VORP of 0.0. People talk about empty batting averages – Batista hits an empty 30 HR/100 RBI.

  18. Dave on November 12th, 2004 3:11 pm

    I think my favorite part was that the Braves, who are trying to figure out how they’re going to afford the raises due Furcal and Giles and are trying to restructure Smoltz’s contract, are going to sign J.D. Drew, Jaret Wright, Armando Benitez, and Bob Wickman. I’m not sure Atlanta could afford to fly those four into Atlanta for a press conference, much less pay their contracts…

  19. Jeff on November 12th, 2004 3:14 pm

    Defensively, wouldn’t Valentin approximate Aurilia? Todd, what would be a reasonable price? I thought Valentin’s ’04 salary was around $5m.

  20. msb on November 12th, 2004 5:11 pm

    #16; re: trading, I was heartened by remarks Bavasi made on KOMO last night:

    “You’re constantly talking about different types of deals, proposing different types of deals to the clubs where there *seems* to be a match with, there is always one little piece missing, or they can’t take on you’re money, or you can’t take on their money, or its a right hand hitter they’ve got and you’re looking for a left hand hitter. You’re always close, and as time goes by you have enough conversations, where you realize gee I remember a few days ago they said they needed XYZ and we’ve got it or we can get it from this other team and move it here, so you’re coming up with as much as you can– you have to be laying the ground work…. in general, when I approach clubs, there are guys that you know are not going anywhere, but you kind of have to ask about any one you can, you can’t leave it. If you can afford him, if you can afford the guy, and you think you might have enough talent to get him, you have to ask. Listen, all they can do is say no, and maybe get upset a little bit. You have to ask.”

  21. Todd on November 12th, 2004 5:52 pm

    Valentin is the anti-Aurilia in terms of defense. Above average range, but he is not as sure-handed, and his biggest defensive weakness is throwing accuracy. He did earn 5 last year. As for a reasonable price, let’s say 1.5 plus incentives. Too much beyond that and Valentin is no longer a value.

  22. D'ohboy on November 12th, 2004 5:53 pm

    The espn list is ridiculous, even at a casual glance. It would be a sad, sad day if Valentin ends up here.

    Given that several potential signees have questionable medical histories, is there anybody within the M’s blog community with some kind of sports med training who could give a cursory assessment of guys like Glaus, Drew, Sexson and Delgado? I don’t know much about the last three, but Glaus has had a torn rotator cuff and a frayed labrum (along with the standard niggling things like tight hamstrings), both of which have been recurring issues for him. Even from a layman’s perspective, this should be a problem for a third baseman.

  23. Grant on November 12th, 2004 7:01 pm

    I would mind having Valentin at short for 2-3 mil one a one year contract with a club option for a second, but his defense does worry me especially when he plays a critical position like SS. Does any one have his VORP compared to Pokey Reese, and VORP takes into account defense doesn’t it?

  24. KC on November 12th, 2004 9:43 pm

    This is from an Arizona paper today:
    “Kendrick said Arizona’s medical personnel estimated a 10 percent chance that Sexson could re-injure the shoulder.

    “If other teams are willing to make a commitment that leaves them with some financial exposure if he’s unable to play,” Kendrick said, “we can’t do anything about that.”

    Seattle — which could make an offer as soon as today — Baltimore and the New York Mets are interested in Sexson. Because he is a “Type A” free agent, any team that signs Sexson before Dec. 7 forfeits a draft pick to the D-Backs, so that could slow the process.”

    I would prefer the 10% risk over JD Drew every time.

  25. Bela Txadux on November 12th, 2004 11:08 pm

    Couple o’ points on the comeback, folks:

    On ESPN, guys their job is to get the maximum eybeball share for their site and broadcast outlets. It is manifestly obvious looking at what they write, and their whole approach for many years that their ‘commentary’ is SOLELY geared to get a hot-button “I can’t believe he said THAT!!” response out of their audience—so that you keep watching/clicking for the benefit of their advertisers. It is pointless to critique a ‘list of projections’ on espn.com, or waste time on Joe Morgan’s remarks, because almost everything on that site is designed to get the hook in _your_ snout to keep make you argue so you keep coming back. That list of 50 isn’t just laughable, it’s risable—and meant to be so, so you keep arguing over it. To the extent that any of these guys use actual ‘sources,’ the bias there is so extremely pro-player that it’s clear that players agents and selected senior players are their primary resource for rumors. And that’s just how that list of 50 reads, like a group of agents wrote it to spin the market for their guys. As far as I’m concerned, John Sickles is the only guy on that site who has a shred of credibility since Rob Neyer decided to stay well-remunerated and got with the company line there by junking any serious analysis. As for the rest, fuggeddabouttem.

    Regarding Nageotee and Cincinnati, if I recall correctly Clint’s name was in the mix on the trade-that-wasn’t for Aaron Boone at the deadline in ’03. When Gillick made comments at the time that the Ms FO wasn’t willing to ‘trade away top prospects,’ Bowden went and dealt Boone to New York largely for spite. They haven’t gotten all that much out of Claussen, have they? I’m reasonably sure that Nageotte is still very much on Cincy’s radar screen, poor year notwithstanding, and if a trade for Kearns could not be made without including Nageotte I would with great regret wave bye-bye to Big Clint, knowing that I’m very likely going to regret the deal. But seriously, I would think that a package for Kearns could be put together with another pitcher and still not include Felix el Rey, Jose Lopez, or Asdrubal the Lad. For example, take Dave’s breakdown but substitute Bobby Livingston for Nageotte; Livingston is a left and had a better year. I was also quite serious about swinging the proposed deal for Matt Riley, and then turning him around in a deal to the Reds. The issue with Nageotte is that he had a bad year and isn’t a complete pitcher yet; the issue(s) with Riley are that he’s been a non-team guy and had a major arm injury: who _acutally_ do you want to develop of the two? Again, Bobby Livingston or Clint Nageotte: who _really_ has more potential? Again, Cincy may be unwilling to deal Kearns without getting Nageotte back, but I’d far rather find another way to make them geek if its possible.

    Regarding Kearns, yes, he has been fragile and there is an injury risk, but his high end is very high if he can play 120 games or more. Guys like this simply are not made available unless there is risk or ‘management fatigue’ involved, and to get the upside one has to gamble on the downside. But think about the package Dave’s suggesting: Ryan Franklin, Julio, Mateo, Shin-soo Choo, [incomplete power pitcher here]. Who are you really giving up in order to gamble on Kearns’ upside? Franklin is as good as anybody in the back end of their rotation now, but I assume that this is _actually_ a Seattle salary dump, which is why it was structured as 4 going for 2 coming back. Mateo if healthy fits nicely into Cincy’s bullpen, and has no advantage over three or four guys currently on the Ms roster beyond the fact that he has more ML experience. Choo to me grades out as Randy Winn with the bat at best, but much better defensively; a true fourth outfielder, then, or OF starter for a downmarket franchise—like Cincy. Griffey is through, folks, he’s DONE; Cincy can’t trade him, though, and will need a caddy and successor better than Rueben Mateo; Choo fits the bill nicely for the ML minimum. Giving up Nageotte really hurts in the package, which is why I’m suggesting trying a different mix, but he’s the _only_ guy who would be going for Kearns who really has any serious longterm upside, and even so that’s all potential, Clint’s pitching badly right as of now, sure. In a major trade, it’s what you get not what you give if you do it right. Kearns has more upside than Nick Johnson; more than Casey Kotchmann; more than Adrian Gonzalez; far, far more than Sean Burroughs (seriously, what has Sean ever _done_? I can’t believe he’s still taken seriously as a high end prospect; he’s the second coming of Joe Randa). If Cincinnati will let Kearns go for a package of usefuls, this is so totally worth trying I’d sprain thumb dialing a cell phone to be the first to say “Yesandthankyou.”

    Regarding Glaus vs. Beltre, I really dislike the idea of signing ANYBODY to six years or more, let alone seven. If the market on Beltre drops to five or under, there’s really no way you don’t make the offer. That said, if it’s seven for Beltre or three for Glaus, I’d so much rather have Glaus it’s not even a debate. And Glaus may very well turn out to be the better of the two players no matter what. I don’t pretend this is a slam dunk either way, but that’s just it, it’s _not_ a slam dunk. It’s much better not to commit long-term guaranteed money to anybody if a viable alternative is available, and I certainly think that Troy Glaus is the lattter at least at 3B.

  26. Bela Txadux on November 12th, 2004 11:44 pm

    And a further remark on J. D. Drew,

    Drew _may_ be a headcase, but seriously LaRussa IS a headcase, there’s no way to any other conclusion if you’ve followed his career. Tony the Red has always been a penthouse/outhose manager, and there has always been a contingent of guys he’s run off his team everywhere he’s ever been; that’s just part of how he ‘motivates’ people. Furthermore, LaRussa has had Jocketty and his FO in his hip pocket for fifteen years: who do you think REALLY runs that franchise? The fact that LaRussa wanted Drew gone is in no way a black mark in my book; if anything it’s a plus. What we saw in Atlanta is that a consummately professional manager who treats his players like men and rewards performance got a great season out of Drew: _that_ is the yardstick which I use to measure the player, not the veiled opinion of a mindgamer like LaRussa. If Drew had had personnel issues in Atlanta, I wouldn’t want to touch him, but that wasn’t the case.

    Drew has chronic knee problems, yes. Ultimately, they will wear him down as a player in the field—so the wise thing to do is to limit his playing time in the field to about 120 games and monitor him very closely. But the issue is to keep his bat in the lineup: this is why a move to the AL makes SO MUCH SENSE, because he can DH for 30-60 games a year to give his knee as much recovery time as possible. And Seattle’s projected lineup would be perfect fit for this: Jacobsen for 100-110 games at DH, but Drew for 30-50 games against tough righthanders. This means that the Ms, should they get Drew, would need a reliable backup for CF who can actually make good use of the playing time that comes with 40+ games a year. At the moment, that would project as Reed, although I would prefer a real ballhawk, which in turn would be Shin-soo Choo if he’s still in the system (which probably he shouldn’t be, but). The issue with Drew is simply monitoring his deployment so as to keep his _bat_ in the lineup, and that is entirely a doable proposition. Attempting to play J. D. 140+ games on the concrete field mis-call astroturf in St. Lou was very costly to his career; his knee couldn’t take it. Is everybody monitoring the fact or in any way surprised that he held up better on a better field in Atlanta?

    . . . As long as Drew can limp to the plate and swing, I want him. It’s only when and if he can’t run to first that I see his knee as an issue. For a three-and-an-option at fair $$, that’s a good bet to me.

  27. Eugene Choy on November 13th, 2004 12:54 am

    Hey!!Rusty, Why worry about injury-prone player like Drew,Beltre,or Kearns. We had Jay Buhner and now he is in the Mariners Hall of Fame. Those players are more talented than Buhner.

  28. D'ohboy on November 13th, 2004 2:21 am

    I have a couple of comments/questions about the injury prone/age comments being posted in regards to potential acquisitions.

    There are three (maybe more) kinds of injury prone athletes. One is typical type A guys who overtrain and play through injuries and eventually end up on the shelf. Another is a guy who plays with reckless abandon and ends up getting a lot of different injuries (Lenny Dykstra anyone?). A third is a guy with a serious degenerative disease/injury that recurs in the same joint or muscle. While these archetypes all overlap to some degree, it’s the third guy who we absolutely need to stay away from. Rarely will surgeries or rehab ever repair them to their pre-injury status.

    Also, I have heard Dave refer to “age-related decline” beginning at age 31. I take it this concept has a basis in statistical analysis. I’m curious though, is this analysis based upon stats going back decades, or is it more recent? The reason I ask is that, given the modern athletes’ obsession with fitness, this decline might be starting later. In hockey, there used to be a similar decline in players at age 30. Suddenly, once the age of unrestricted free agency was set at 31, players started training much harder in the offseason, thereby extending their prime earning years. While it may be fallacious to compare two different sports, is it possible that something similar could be seen in baseball? I’m not arguing that players like Clemens and Palmeiro are the rule, or that the M’s should jump at signing Moises Alou, I’m just positing that in the 21st Century, age-related decline might be more likely to begin at 33 or 34. I’m curious to hear somebody’s take on this…

  29. N Jenkin on November 13th, 2004 6:30 pm

    I am fairly certain St. Louis is a grass field. The turf was removed some time ago if I recall correctly.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the assessment of LaRussa. But I DO think it is important to note that Bobby Cox somehow gets max performance out of players other managers were unable to produce. It is what makes Cox special despite some of his post-season managerial tactical breakdowns. Do M’s fans think the atmosphere in Seattle is conducive to Drew succeeding? The vast majority of managers are incapable of implementing the talent arrangement described by Bela. That would require some degree of creativity.

    Another “knock” if you will on Drew is the “Contract Year Postulate”. Lots of guys “gut it out” in hopes of the big paycheck.

    I am a big fan of Drew’s skill set. But he lends one pause.

  30. Jerry on November 13th, 2004 8:59 pm


    I like that outline. In a lot of ways it is similar to the one that Jeff Sullivan recently posted on Leoneforthird. I like the idea of going for younger, 5-tool, but slightly risky players like Beltre and Drew. Those guys form a great heart of the order. I also like Clement, who would give the M´s a guy who can strike people out. I also think that at least one big trade is absolutely necessary. I had thought about Kearns given his situation in Cincy. I wonder how much the Red´s would really want for him. You would think that they would want a 3B prospect back as well.

    The outline on leoneforthird includes a trade for Brad Wilkerson, which is another great idea. Going after a player like Kearns or Wilkerson makes a lot of sense, and would help the M´s put together a good lineup beyond the big-name free agents they will probably go after. I like Wilkerson more than Kearns, because he doesn´t have the injury problems, is probably a better defensive player, is versatile, and is getting better. The fact that he is a lefty doesn´t hurt either. If the M´s could pick him up, he would be a big improvement in LF and could move to 1B if Ibanez is ineffective or can be moved later on. Kearns would be great as well.

    It is too bad that all of the rumors I keep hearing are really bad moves: Klesko and Burroughs (why?), Sosa (NOOOO!), and other crap. Lets hope that these are just rumors.

  31. Bela Txadux on November 13th, 2004 9:18 pm

    So N Jenkin,

    I believe that you’re right on the turf at Busch; I thought about that later overnight after I’d written it, and I believe I’ve got my years mixed up on that one. The ‘walk year effect’ is a very real risk in relation to Drew, no question, and I don’t doubt that J. D. played to the absolute peak he was capable of last year, yes, and that that may not be _consistently_ repeatable. But again, if you look at his actual numbers when he played, he really is roughly that good; the only difference is that he sustained enough playing time to finally have the ‘big year’ which had been the main thing lacking from his resume. So the idea for whichever team signs him is to do whatever possible to sustain him at maximum playing time; I simply suggested one obvious approach to achieving that end. There was a time when many players including prominent players were platooned; if the manager said, This is the Plan, it was the plan. Threre are even now many players who play multiple positions regularly through the course of the year. There are very few _stars_ who do this anymore, because now they have the contrat leverage as well as the ego to say, I’m bigger than the manager and the team, and no I won’t do that, and I’ll hold my breath until the fans turn blue if you try. This is why _stars_ don’t do this much anymore—but average players do this all the time, on many teams, every single year, and generally do it successfully if they are deployed to positions or roles they can actually perform.

    Drew should certainly lend one pause, no question; how much is at risk then, against what reward? Sigining him for more than three is a bad idea, sure. Signing him for even that many after age 32 would be really high risk. There should be some kind of de-escalator built into the contract if Drew has a major recurrence of the knee issues; I think that can be validly presented to the player, in return for which a bit more in a front-end bonus than he would otherwise. All that is what GMs and agents are for, getting the fine points of the deal balanced for mutual risk. Any team other than the Ms bidding for Drew’s services will face exactly the same risks, and will in all proability be asking for similar hedges against his knee, so Drew will have little or no leverage on it, while the Ms can sweeten the issue for him with a little extra $$ in their total bid; that’s how this is done.

    The vast majority of managers are no better than replacement level, as we see year by year, my friend, so their inability to implement an appropriate ‘player utilization plan’ is not something to let weigh upon one’s mind. The CF-DH split arrangement I propose is designed to extend Drew’s career, and sustain his ability to play at a high level. I think he’s likely to ‘get it.’ Anybody else can get with it, or get on the bus elsewhere. If the manager is not capable of persuading the players that this is a good plan (assuming that it is), than you replace the manager.

    It may be that Bobby Cox consistently gets better performances out of players other guys can’t, but I think you have this one figured backwards: it’s the other guys who are below grade, not Cox being so much above grade. I’m not saying this to diss Cox at all, I believe that you are right. My point is that at least half the managers in MLB at any one time are mediocre at best at managagin people, and that this is a principal function in why ‘troublesome’ players don’t perform well under them. It is hard for many fans to accept this—that most teams employ ineffective managers with some regularity, and that many teams every year have guys who are not help at best in the role—but that is my view of the matter from over thirty years of watching the game.

  32. stan on November 13th, 2004 10:22 pm

    Bela, I agree with your comments about Beltre but I am not nearly as impressed with Nageotte as you are. Of the guys I saw in Tacoma in 2004 I was most impressed with Blackley, Madritsch and Jose Lopez. I was not sure what to make of Bucky and Jeremy Reed looked like a good player but he did not have any one skill that really jumped out at me that made me think he would be outstanding. I saw Nageotte pitch for the first time in 2004 and I must say I was disappointed. I had heard the hype about him for a few years and I thought I was going to see a guy with a blazing fastball who would make batters look helpless. What I actually saw was a mediocre fastball and an almost absolute lack of command. The lack of command is something that can be fixed, though Clint did not look like he was the most fluid athlete and hence I would assume he would be tougher to coach. Perhaps he will put it together some day but I for one would not be upset if he was traded elsewhere. In my mind Blackely is a keeper though despite his performance in Seattle.

    Regarding Bobby Cox, one of the few players I can recall who did not get along with Bobby Cox was our very own Brett Boone. I am not exactly sure what to make of that because I respect both Brett and Bobby Cox. I guess baseball is just like life; you are not going to too see eye to eye with everyone.

    By the way, I really appreciate your posts. They are very well thought out and often they lead me to see things from a perspective I had not considered.

  33. N Jenkin on November 14th, 2004 10:01 am

    B. Txadux:

    Spare me the condescending tone. I was simply pointing out some elements concerning Drew that I believed were pertinent to any team considering signing the guy.

    J.D. Drew’s agent is Scott Boras. Do you believe that M’s management is equipped to negotiate with a guy who has repeatedly hoodwinked and flim-flammed just about every team in MLB?

    And your logic escapes me with respect to Cox. Everyone else stinks, he’s adequate, so all the M’s have to do is have an average manager and all will be ok? I have my doubts.

    Let me reiterate that I appreciate Drew’s ability. He is very good when he is on the field. But one year of success does not wash away a career littered with various “issues” health and otherwise. And that he prospered under the guiding hand of someone many consider the best manager of the last quarter century is more of a concern than anything else. Without the “ok” manager present it might well be that Drew reverts to his previous M.O.

  34. stan on November 14th, 2004 9:27 pm

    Actually N. Jenkin Bela’s posts are consistently the best of the people who leave their comments on this site. I know I enjoy reading them because they cause me to examine my own opinions about a game I have spent my life following.

  35. Jerry on November 14th, 2004 9:50 pm

    N Jenkin,
    “J.D. Drew’s agent is Scott Boras. Do you believe that M’s management is equipped to negotiate with a guy who has repeatedly hoodwinked and flim-flammed just about every team in MLB?”

    Why wouldn’t they be? Since Boras is representing Drew, Beltran, Beltre, and several other top free agents, I think it would be a huge mistake for the M’s to not deal with him. It is not like he is some hypnotist that can lure a normally saavy GM into a bad signing. He is just an agent, regardless of how long he is willing to draw out negotiations.

    Regarding Drew, you are right about there being some concern about his health. However, I think that the impact of Cox is being blown way out of proportion. JD Drew is a very talented, 5-tool player. He was one of the most highly-touted prospects in decades. He also has played at a very high level whenever he is healthy. I don’t see how Bobby Cox (as good a manager as he is) can really have a huge effect on Drew staying healthy. Really, given Drew’s tools and how he has played when healthy, I don’t think that his 2004 performance was totally out of line with expectations. In fact, he could reasonably be expected to play better. It is just a matter of staying healthy.

    He is a risk, but he is less of a risk on a 3 year, 33 million contract than Carlos Beltran is on a 7 year, 115 million contract. Both are elite players. Drew has more health issues, but the added years really negate Beltran’s consistency over the years. With Drew, you are not paying as much. I think that he would be an awesome addition.

  36. msb on November 15th, 2004 11:10 am

    as Jason has mentioned before. Bavasi & Boras have no problem working together.

  37. David Loewe, Jr on November 16th, 2004 1:41 am

    I’m puzzled by the “Boras has stated his willingness to play center field” comment.

    David J (aka JD) Drew has ALWAYS WANTED to play CF. He said that here in St. Louis. He just happened to have Ray Lankford (Drew has a better arm, making him more suitable for RF than Lankford) and then Jim Edmonds in his way here in The Lou and Andruw Jones in his way in Hotlanta. Drew, like Andy VanSlyke before him, has been playing out of position in RF because of the arm strength of other OF (Willie McGee in VanSlyke’s case) or CF superiority (Edmonds and Jones) of a team mate.

    Also, Busch went grass two years before Drew showed up in The Show. Drew’s injuries are not (Busch) turf related. Drew also played at a high level under LaRussa when not injured and Tony said he wanted him back, but felt that you had to offer good players in order to get good players. LaRussa and Jocketty were not happy about losing Drew, but he was their best trade bait to get pitching – something they needed here in The Lou after the disaster of 2003.

  38. Bela Txadux on November 16th, 2004 4:16 am

    So Stan,

    I, too, have a lot of hope still for Blackley long-term; his injury makes it much harder to figure where he will come down in all this, though. It _does_ mean that Travis is untradeable this offseason, which may turn out to be a great break for the Mariners.

    Regarding Nageotte’s ’04 season, if I was going to use it heavily in figuring where he’ll end up, I’d put a value on Big Clint at near zero: his year was terrible in almost every respect, as you had the ‘opportunity’ to view at more length than the rest of us. He never pitched with any command; his velocity wasn’t great; he wasn’t in the greatest shape; he made very little progress on perfecting a change-up. It was his worst year in professional ball. But guys do have bad years, and Clint was going to struggle when he reached a level of hitters who could hang in against his good pitches and nail his mistakes. My interest in Nageotte has three components, but a large helping of ‘hope-so’ on top of that. First, his slider is pure murder, a better out pitch than most pitchers ever, ever possess. Second, Clint’s fastball has terrific _movement_; velocity is only half the story with the fastball. Clint’s pitch moves so much he has trouble picking up the strikezone with it, or keeping it out of the fat part of the plate, especially when he falls behind in the count. I would far rather have a guy with great movement and try to see the coaching staff drill his mechanics and repeatibility until he _can_ pick up the plate than either a guy with great velocity but a flat trajectory or simply a mediocre fastball like, say, Ryan Franklin. Third, Clint has a good pitcher’s body, and has never had a major injury either to his arm or elsewhere, although as you noticed and his back trouble late in the season showed conditioning is and will be an issue for him. Repeatibility and conditioning are things that a pitcher can work on, and in principle improve if they want to do so enough. Clint now has a real challenge, as until last year he’s overmatched his league by season’s end; now he didn’t. Then again, promoting him to the ML team to start when he was obviously pitching poorly at his existing level was purest assininity on the part of the Ms FO. I suspect that they wanted to ‘see what they’ve got,’ but it did nothing for Clint but set him back and get him branded a ‘semi-failure.’ With his slider and a moving fastball and effective conditioning, he will eat up batters if he can consistently pick up the strikezone. He is NO guarantee to do that, but he has the potential to be dominating if he does. But if might very well take him five years to get there, that would not be unusual. He could become Brett Tomko, who never really has gotten full command of the strikezone because his stuff still moves too much. He could reach Matt Clement’s level, and Clement was in his fifth ML season before he was consistenly _effective_, let along dominating. I think Nageotte deseves a minimum of one more year to see if he simply had a bad year at the same time he reached a truely challenging level or if he’s actually plateaued. In the latter case, he may still make it but the evaluation on his worth changes dramatically.

    N Jenkin, a few thoughts. I, personally, do not see Cox as the best manager of the last twenty-five years at all, although I freely grant that he’s a very good one. Having said that, I don’t think it matters jack who’s the manager for Drew, although I didn’t speak to this directly in my previous posts where I’ve been interested in the differences of LaRussa and Cox, basically. Drew is and has always been a man who makes his own determinations as I’ve understood his career, regardless of what his managers and GMs think he _should_ do, and he has a history of producing with the bat if he is healthy under two extremely different managers. I don’t think that Cox had any great effect on Drew’s ’04 season; it was the man’s contract year, and he has a history of being motivated by $$$. My point with Cox managing Drew vs. an average (read not very good) manager managing Drew is that the poor managerial performance of many guys in the position drags down the average result and expectation—which has the side effect of making very good managers like Cox seem god-like and unique. Which they are not. Any reasonably good manager will find a way to use J. D. Drew if Drew is healthy enough to play. If somebody with a mediocre manager signs Drew, and the manager’s use of Drew becomes an issue, I reiterate that they should dump their mediocre manager and hire a better one—this would be in that team’s best long-run interest, after all. Rather than making Drew into a ‘problem,’ which I do not believe that he is, fundamentally. Regarding the best evidence of whether J. D. is a ‘problem player,’ I think Schuerholz’s take on Drew is the telling one. While the Atlanta GM has an up-and-down record on talent assessment in my view, he _never_ keeps attitude problems around any faster than he can find a taker; look at how Schuerholz is trying to move Andruw Jones. —But Schuerholz manifestly wants to re-sign Drew. That is the -30- on this argument, to me.

    Regarding whether or not my long-winded posts can be read as condescending regardless of intent, you seem to think that Drew’s health is a problem that cannot be managed whereas I am in the hopeful group that thinks fairly fundamental management and contract desicions can hedge that risk. Since you didn’t speak to those fundamentals, I repeated the obvious, which evidently you’ve considered and rejected or chosen not to raise. I suggest simply passing over what has no value for you in my posts, as I’m sure we can find enough commonalities otherwise to disagree in an interesting way without them. : )

    . . . And concerning Boonie and Cox, Bret had a massive ‘yah can’t teach me anything’ complex everywhere and anywhere he’d been until San Diego dumped him and he couldn’t get a multi-year. Then, suddenly as if by magic, he had an attitude adjustment. Cox clashed with Boone on merit as there was a great deal in Boone’s conditioning, approach at the plate, interaction with the team, and production that left things to be desired. Boone was just the kind of ‘problem player’ that Schuerholz has a history of dumping—and that’s exactly Atlanta did with Boone, they dumped him. But this is no demerit for Cox; he tried, but Boone simply wasn’t ‘manageable’ until he became unemployed.

  39. Bela Txadux on November 16th, 2004 4:21 am

    I also see it as no issue that Boras is Drew’s agent, quite aside from Bavasi’s smooth dealings with the guy unlike Gillick’s fear and loathing. If the Ms have their $$-and-year-and-hedge parameters in place, they can obviously do a reasonable negotiation no matter how much Boras tries to crank up and auction or put the team up on jacks to make off with the wheels. Boras’ approach only works when a team decides they’ll do anything to sign a player. The man has radar for a sucker, and he’ll milk any fool for the budget of a third-world country, sure. If Bavasi is a sucker, then there’ll be trouble. I suspect that he has a hard limit on his ante, though, so the team would likely be safe enough. It’s bad talent assessment which has really hurt the Ms more than Boras.