Today’s giggle

DMZ · December 6, 2004 at 3:32 pm · Filed Under Mariners’s Mariners Mailbag includes this gem:

I ask myself this every year, but do you see the Mariners actually going out and spending some money to acquire a much-needed addition (or two)? It seems like we always make offers, but never get the job done. The Mariners have one of the highest revenues in baseball, and what about all that money they ended up not having to pay for Sasaki?
— Jason Y., Puyallup, Wash.

You must have forgotten that last winter, the Mariners signed several free agents (Eddie Guardado, Raul Ibanez, Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia and Ron Villone) for more than $50 million and re-signed Ichiro for $44 million. That’s a lot of money to most of us. Some of that “Sasaki money” was used to pay off underachieving players (like John Olerud and Aurilia) after they were released during the season. The Yankees paid very little of Olerud’s $7 million salary, and the Padres paid about $175,000 of Aurilia’s $3 million contract. And just because a team makes an offer to a player (they offered Miguel Tejada $45 million over five years) doesn’t mean that the player will take it.

That Sasaki money wasn’t spent on anything. At the start of the year, they had $5-7m or so (depending on who’s talking) in money that they had said they were budged for, but had not spent on payroll including Olerud and Aurilia. Dropping those two didn’t do anything to the budget. If anything, it raises a larger point: if the Yankees paid Olerud something, and the Padres picked up any of Aurilia’s salary, then the total amount they were under their original budget was higher, not lower, than when they started the season with Sasaki money burning a hole in their pocket.

Or, if you prefer…

There hasn’t been much written or said about Matsuzaka, who pitches for the Japan Series-winning Seibu Lions, and held the touring U.S. All-Star team to five hits in a complete-game win in Sapporo last month. The reason for the lack of publicity is that the right-hander isn’t a free agent and therefore can’t sign with an MLB organization for several more years.

Except for, you know, here. And the reason for the lack of publicity? Before he re-signed there, he was going to be a free agent after this season and there was much speculation that he’d come over.

Also, uh… Dan Wilson’s been terrific for 11 years, which is greatly overstating his case. Even if the Mariners sign Delgado *and* Sexson, there would still be “plenty of at-bats” for Bucky to pick up. “Since Koskie is less expensive, his signing would allow the Mariners to fill other holes.” Like last year! We should spend tons of money on multi-year contracts for a new set of aging players every year, because then you’re filling more holes — and you guarantee you’ll have holes the next year! Yay!


49 Responses to “Today’s giggle”

  1. PositivePaul on December 6th, 2004 3:37 pm

    He currently is on the Triple-A Tacoma roster and is eligible for the Dec. 13 Rule 5 Draft.

    At least he got the Rule 5 thing right…

  2. brain on December 6th, 2004 3:38 pm

    After I got done laughing, I started crying.

  3. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 3:45 pm

    Egads! People. Are. So. STOOPID!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (bangs head against table REALLY hard)

  4. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 3:46 pm

    Maybe we should trade Ichiro to the Cubs so we can let Gary Harris start in Right Field…

  5. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 3:49 pm

    I hate to be mean to Mr. Street, but how can he honestly publish that GARBAGE?!?!?

  6. PositivePaul on December 6th, 2004 3:49 pm

    If he’s talking about the prorated-minimum contract cost of calling up the “yout’s” to replace Aurillia and Olerud, then I guess SOME of theat Sasaki fund was spent. Actually, though, didn’t SD take over the remainder of Aurillia’s contract since they traded a minor leaguer for him?

    And, I suppose, he included the total 44 million Ichiro got as part of the 2004 budget. If that’s the case, then we should have 11 million for the next three years more to spend…

    I still am thankful to my cohort Munchausen for taking the time to summarize the inconsistency in the M’s budgetary spewage:

    Since Koskie is less expensive, his signing would allow the Mariners to fill other holes.

    With the added benefit, of course, of having yet another No Power at the Corners third baseman whose career will suffer a catastrophic blow manning 3B in Seattle. The hole would be much larger, actually. How high will this heap pile up there???

  7. mfan on December 6th, 2004 3:53 pm

    Yeah, but how do you know that the Sasaki money wasn’t spent on Aurilia and Olerud? And then, the money that was going to be paid to Aurilia and Olerud is the money they kept.

    The key words in Jason Y’s post seem to me to be “much-needed”. It appears Street missed that.

  8. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 3:54 pm

    But Mfan??? How could we have ever survived without Spiezio? He can play Music! He is a leader! He had a clutch home run!!!!

    And Villone! He led the team in wins! Talk about a good pickup!

  9. msb on December 6th, 2004 3:55 pm

    from The Daily Yomiuri (Dec 3, 2004)
    While accepting the hefty raise that made him the highest-paid pitcher in Pacific League history, Daisuke Matsuzaka broached the delicate subject with the Seibu Lions of being allowed to go to the major leagues in the near future.

    Matsuzaka, whose salary was jacked up 50 million yen to 250 million yen, brought up the subject of making the jump across the Pacific during negotiations at the team’s offices in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture.

    “The team told me that if there are fans that say they want to see Matsuzaka pitch over there, they will not oppose it,” Matsuzaka said.
    “We never talked exactly when it would happen, but as soon as possible is best.”
    With six years under his belt, Matsuzaka still has three more to go before becoming eligible for free agency. He could go to the majors earlier via the posting system used by Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhisa Ishii.

  10. Evan on December 6th, 2004 4:13 pm

    “Having never seen him [Gary Harris] play, it is impossible to have an opinion on him.”

    I never saw Warren Spahn play. Does that mean I can’t have an opinion about whether he was any good?

  11. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 4:19 pm

    Jim Street may have never heard of a “stat line”

    My scouting report on Gary Harris having never seen him play:

    Gary Harris…hmm.. a 25 year old LF in A ball, shows nothing real special, except he seems to be pretty fast. He strikes out a lot, shows no power, and has many holes in his slow, ugly swing.

  12. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 4:19 pm

    Projects to AAA roster filler at best.

  13. mfan on December 6th, 2004 4:25 pm

    I’m convinced David. It was the exclamation points, I think, that finally turned me.

  14. JPWood on December 6th, 2004 4:25 pm

    For those who are wondering , 25 million Yen is $2.5M: the highest in Pacific League history.
    Anyway, since $44M went to Ichiro last year, that means the Ms have about $33+M more to spend over the next 3 years. That plus the Sasaki money that didn’t go to buying out the Olerud and Aurelia contracts and 1st round draft choice bonuses that were paid for players that didn’t sign and Rule 5 picks that charged double because they came from USC and rehab assignment expenses (hotels, restaurants, phone bills…) for players who were injured at the end of the season and…

  15. Munchausen on December 6th, 2004 4:34 pm

    #8 – “But Mfan??? How could we have ever survived without Spiezio? He can play Music! He is a leader! He had a clutch home run!!!!”

    That Jim Street Mailbag is always good for a laugh. It’s one of the most front-office-friendly features you’ll see anywhere.

  16. chris w on December 6th, 2004 4:41 pm

    There’s front-office-friendly (i.e. spin) and then there’s blatantly lying. I think this crosses the line and Jim Street deserves whatever nasty emails he gets for it. He’s not ignorant. He knows that Olerud’s and Aurilia’s salaries weren’t “paid off” by the Ms and that any money the Ms got back from the Padres and Yankees was actually a windfall. Even if Street acknowledged that he was simply speaking the Mariners’ company line, and didn’t hold himself out as a member of the media, it would be unethical for him to make misrepresentations like this. I know I’m taking this too seriously – maybe it’s my mood – but I just can’t see the humor in this one.

  17. Evan on December 6th, 2004 4:47 pm

    It’s possible Jim simply doesn’t understand the team’s accounting sufficiently well to be able to tell the difference.

    Journalists are rarely known for their strong grasp of math.

  18. Deanna on December 6th, 2004 4:47 pm

    Re: #14 — Err, no. Norihiro Nakamura was paid 50,000-man yen for the 2004 season, or $5 million or so, playing on the now-merged Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Pacific League. I’m pretty sure there have been other PL players paid nearly that much, but that’s the one I know of offhand.

    Matsuzaka’s not a free agent for three years, so they did get that fact right. Free agency and the posting system are two completely different ball games, pun intended. Nakamura, on the other hand, had signed a deal with the Mets for the 2003 season, but backed out due to some problem he had with how they represented the deal in the media, IIRC. Go figure.

  19. eponymous coward on December 6th, 2004 5:12 pm

    “plenty of at-bats”…brain exploding…ow.

    Apparently Street’s never played fantasy baseball or noticed that we have 3 OFer’s who stay in the lineup nearly EVERY DAY when healthy, and adding a full time DH and full time 1B blocks every position Bucky plays…and the Mariners have had a TEAM TOTAL of 57 to 97 PH AB’s each year since 2001.


  20. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 5:29 pm

    But between Delgado, Sexson, and Ibanez, they will split time on the DL.

  21. Ty on December 6th, 2004 5:38 pm

    Boy, you sure like to bust on Jim Street don’t you? I don’t blame you. And, also, some of the questions asked are just plain stupid.

  22. Jon on December 6th, 2004 5:45 pm

    I cannot give Jim Street any more slack. He’s an idiot. Let’s see now, the money I saved by not spending it on a player who’s now gone is gone (the money that it is) because I used it to pay someone else who’s gone. Howard Lincoln must have stolen Jim Street’s identity. Or the Marx Bros.

  23. Jim Thomsen on December 6th, 2004 6:08 pm

    Speaking of available thirtysomethings with lots of proven-veteran history, anybody want to take on Denny Neagle for the next two years? … At $40 an outing, he’s a cheap pickup.

  24. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 6:10 pm

    Nah… I’d be open to the pursuit of Billy Koch though. For the league minimum, there is an awful lot of talent.

  25. Montresor on December 6th, 2004 6:24 pm

    I am just waiting for the Front Office to come out with the “oops sorry we were out bid” comment. Followed by “let’s see what we get out of spring training.” And that followed by, “we are hoping that we can at the least be in the pack at the end of the pennant race.”

    Sheesh enough! – Are most front offices like this?

  26. Jim Thomsen on December 6th, 2004 6:24 pm

    Koch is the Nuke LaLoosh of current baseball … a million-dollar arm and what appears by many accounts to be a five-cent head for the mental game of pitching. Having grade-A heat with nothing he can control to complement it is no better than being a batting-practice pitcher. I seriously doubt anybody can teach Remedial Pitching 101 to someone of his age (30 next week) and history the last few years — and trends, according to BP, for the next five years (which basically say he’s not good enough to stay in baseball). I sure wouldn’t want that on my team. Have you seen his comparables? Guys like Eric Plunk and Jeff Parrett and Todd Jones. Blick.

  27. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 6:26 pm

    Re #25:

    Unfortunately, Yes.

    Except for Baltimore (they spend the bucks, they just stink), NYM (ditto), Anaheim, New York Yankees, Oakland, Minnesota, Boston, and LA, I believe all front offices are like ours.

  28. chris w on December 6th, 2004 6:47 pm

    Does anyone know what became of Freddy Garcia’s salary in the White Sox trade? Did the White Sox pay their pro rata share of his 2004 salary and, if they did, isn’t that another $3M that should be in the Ms’ salary pot?

  29. Trent on December 6th, 2004 6:51 pm

    To my knowledge, the cash the M’s sent the White Sox was to cover Ben Davis’ salary, not Freddy’s. So you could add another $3 million or so to the total of cash saved by the team last season.

  30. chris w on December 6th, 2004 7:05 pm

    Thanks, Trent. The Ms have got to be the most frustrating team to follow. We’re squeezed between management that is bad at evaluating talent, a front office hell-bent on misrepresenting its salaries, and beat writers that will shamelessly shill for both. Without USSMariner, I might explode…

  31. Xteve X on December 6th, 2004 7:34 pm

    Having watched Billy Koch all too closely on the White Sox the past couple of years, I can safely say that even for the league minimum he’s not worth the headaches. He’ll make Ms fans long for the halcyon days of Bobby Ayala.

  32. Joe C. in Buffalo on December 6th, 2004 7:55 pm

    If a “normal” company were exposed for accounting such as the Mariners, they would be dragged through the mud and discredited. No one would be a fan of that company. I am really starting to struggle… why should I be a fan of this team? Am I alone here?

  33. Chris Begley on December 6th, 2004 8:23 pm

    Umm.. not to state that I think the M’s don’t pactice funny accounting, but for #32, most large normal companies do as well. GAP standards are a myth, as near as I can figure. What is the joke? Three accountants go for a job, and are asked to do the companies books. At the end of the day they are asked how the company did. Teh first one answers You made 1 Million dollars. He is thanked. The second says You broke even. He is thanked. The third just asks, How do you want the company to have done? He is hired.

  34. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 8:26 pm

    Re #31:

    At least we were a better team when Bobby Ayala was around. Ayala was around in 1995, 1997, and 2000. We were good when Ayala was around, we aren’t good now that he is gone. Therefore, Bobby Ayala must be the reason we stink now.

    I love putting good Mariner logic to work!

  35. David J Corcoran on December 6th, 2004 8:27 pm

    Whoops, Ayala wasn’t around in 2000. Silly me.

  36. Joe C. in Buffalo on December 6th, 2004 8:29 pm

    I recognize this, but that makes it fine and dandy? Look, the fans want to win. Other teams have management that excite fans and go for the win. Even though some signings may not be brilliant, at least the owners seem to be trying. The M’s management does not even seem to be trying to do anything except snow people and make lots of money. I wonder if they want to win at all, other than enough to keep people interested for most of the season, which will keep tickets selling the whole year. I get that the point is to make money, but the M’s seem to take this further than other baseball teams. Catch that? Baseball teams. The point is to win. But this debate has been well documented, so why rehash it all now? I just find it exceedingly frustrating.

  37. Mark on December 6th, 2004 9:19 pm

    Baseball teams. The point is to win.

    Is it, though? Sports is entertainment. The point of entertainment is to be entertaining. A winner is entertaining, sure, but then a second-place club can be pretty entertaining, too. Even a last-place club could conceivably be entertaining (though you’d probably need Bill Veeck to be the owner).

    I want a winner as much as you, but it’s worth keeping a wider perspective on things. If the Mariners keep us enthralled through the 2005 season, but fall short at the end, they will have succeeded as an entertainment option. If they’re dull as dirt, then of course they’ll have failed, but that still doesn’t quite equate to, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

  38. Colm on December 6th, 2004 10:28 pm


    My problem with the 2004 M’s was not that they did not make the playoffs, nor even that they lost 99 games, but that, with the exception of Ichiro and some of the callups, they were “as dull as dirt”.

    And a shocking waste of money.

  39. Colm on December 6th, 2004 10:37 pm

    And since I’m at it, the response by Jim Street to the post-er who asked what happened to the Sasaki money is pure BS. “Some of that “Sasaki money” was used to pay off underachieving players (like John Olerud and Aurilia)”.

    You mean that the Mariners had not accounted for the money to pay Olerud and Aurillia for the second half of the season and were lucky that Sasaki quit and freed up this cash? Or that Sasaki’s $5-7M just about covered the league minimum for Bucky and Leone who replaced them? Throw in Dobbs as well and that comes to $900,000 for the season. There is at least a $4.1M hole there, and it is not Jim Street’s job to perpetrate such flannel on behalf of the Mariners’ FO. I don’t agree with calling him an idiot, but based on his performance, I don’t agree with calling him a journalist either.

  40. Rob on December 7th, 2004 12:59 am

    The comments about winning is the only thing, look at the redsox. Their team could be worst in baseball the next 5 years and people will still be happy about 2004.

    The FO might want to entertain, but if you ask the players, I bet they care about more about winning.

  41. Billius on December 7th, 2004 6:59 am

    Hey, first off, wanted to introduce myself. My names Bill, I’m not a huge Mariners fan (Red Sox fan transplanted to the Seattle area actually) but I do love baseball and keep up with what the Mariners are doing since I do live here. I’ve been reading this blog for a few weeks now, and enjoy it. I probably will not be contributing too often, but when I feel like saying something I will. So see you around maybe. Now that that’s out of the way…


    ‘Apparently Street’s never played fantasy baseball or noticed that we have 3 OFer’s who stay in the lineup nearly EVERY DAY when healthy, and adding a full time DH and full time 1B blocks every position Bucky plays.’

    My response is: is that nescesarilly a bad thing? I mean, sure, give the guy chance, but let’s face reality, it’s hard to be completely sold on the guy. One obvious problem is that he’s injury prone, although so has Carlos Delgado (for the sake of argument, being a potential FA signing) as of late. What really seems to be a big clue to me is that he didn’t reach the majors until he was 28 (nearly 29) years old. Doesn’t that tell you something? Not only does he have injury problems, but he’s probably only got so many seasons left until he starts to go downhill. And on top of that, the fact that it took him so long to make it to the bigs seems to suggest that there’s not much there anyway for him to lose.

    Signing some proven, productive guys (such as Delgado) and potentially limiting Jacobsen’s playing time is a much better alternative than not signing those guys, and waiting and seeing whether or not this guy will pan out to be great, which he probably won’t. At least not as good or productive as a proven player like Delgado. He’ll probably put up decent numbers, but he doesn’t look like he has what it takes to be a big numbers guy.

    A lot of why he looked so good last year was because it was hard not to compared to most of the ‘talent’ he was playing with. He comes up in the latter half of the season, hits a few homers, and looks great compared to a team that overall lacked power. It’s important not to be jaded by that, and to make aquisitions that improve the team overall.

    And in reply to #37:

    Winning is what brings fans into the stadium. I went to games consistently over the course of the 2004 season, and the drop-off in attendence over time was obvious. I was at some weekday games where it seemed like there were barely 10,000 people there. Granted, the Mariners were awful last season, but still. There’s an obvious pattern. In the 2003 season when the Mariners were out all but out of the playoff picture attendance fell too, at least at the games I went to it appeared that it had. People overall want to watch a winning, playoff bound team, not a team that’s able to compete to be second best all the time.

    Obviously there are exceptions (coming from a Sox fan, this must sound pretty absurd), but in a city that really is relativly new to Major League Baseball in general, and especially new at having a strong fan base, set-backs like this can hurt fan interest.

    Oh, and as far as what this thread was originally about: I have to agree, Jim Street is a joke.

  42. eponymous coward on December 7th, 2004 9:12 am

    It’s important not to be jaded by that, and to make aquisitions that improve the team overall.

    It’s very questionable whether acquiring players either in or about to hit their decline phase of their mid-30’s “improves” a team that lost 99 games. The odds you’re going to win a pennant or contend the next year aren’t good, and that’s when these kinds of signings can make sense- which means by the time you ARE ready, the older players are very likely to be declining (see Olerud, John, Boone, Bret, and Aurilia, Rich).

    Bucky’s minor league stats indicate he can give cheap and decent power at the major league minimum for a year or two, while we acquire different kinds of players (the Beltrans and Beltres in this class, who AREN’T in their 30’s yet).

  43. Evan on December 7th, 2004 10:41 am

    GAP standards aren’t a myth – they’re just flexible. There are many different ways with GAP you can account for just about anything.

    I’ve been lobbying my employer to abandon GAP for years – I think they just cost us money in labour costs, as we have to have a team of accountants just to keep track of the GAP. But we only have 40 employees – I could do the accounting adequately, and without following GAP.

  44. Billius on December 7th, 2004 1:27 pm

    Re: #42

    ‘It’s very questionable whether aquiring players either in or about to their decline phase of their mid-30’s “improves” a team that lost 99 games.’

    Good point, I have to agree with you on that. It’s pretty clear that the Mariners aren’t going to be contenders any time in the next couple of seasons. They have a lot of work to do to get to that point. It just seems to me like signing a solid guy or two would help them in the right direction towards being able to make the right choices in the future. They’ve had trouble pulling the trigger on big moves in the past. Granted that the guys they’re looking at are heading towards their ‘decline years,’ but I still think that they’ll be better producers than Jacobsen is during that time, at least the time that they’ll be under contract.

  45. eponymous coward on December 7th, 2004 1:54 pm

    Right, but what makes more sense for a 99 win team- acquiring one player who’ll still be here in 2007-2009 and in his late20’s/early 30’s, or two who will be a couple years from being on a HOF ballot by that point?

    The essential problem is that Branch Rickey was right- it’s better to trade a guy one year early than one year late, and most players peak by 30 and go downhill from there. Investing in veterans is fine if you are “one player away”…but why do it when you can’t possibly invest enough in a declining market?

    In my opinion, there’s something called “fundamental attribution error ” going on here. The Mariners’ problems aren’t mostly stemming from that they aren’t signing the right FA’s- they are a symptom. The problems stem from tremendous unproductivity from the farm system- the last really outstanding player (at least one All-Star berth) to come out and provide any significant playing time as a Mariner was A-Rod. Name me one team that’s had a long run of excellence without significant contributions from the farm. Even the Yankees (the best counterexample) were BETTER when Jeter/Posada/Pettite/Williams/Rivera were at their peak than they are now with FreeAgent-palooza.

    When the team isn’t getting anything from the minors, it means they have to patch using free agents- which means you shell out salary AND take more downside risk as you don’t get the young-and-coming, cheap years. Thus 2002’s Jeff Cirillo, Ruben Sierra and James Baldwin disapointments turn into 2003’s John Olerud collapse turn into 2004’s teamwide trainwreck. It’s like the story of the Little Dutch Boy- eventually you run out of fingers to plug the dike because more and more players age, and the Zuider Zee comes in.

    THAT’S why I have a fundamental objection players like to Delgado and Burnitz. Why pay millions for 100% of a declining market when we can pay $300K for 80% of that in Bucky, and spend the money bringing younger p0layers in?

  46. Dave on December 7th, 2004 1:59 pm

    While I mostly agree with your premise, how about the Boston Red Sox? The only homegrown player who got any significant playing time was Trot Nixon. The team was built through free agency (Damon, Ramirez, Ortiz, Foulke, Mueller) and trades (Varitek, Lowe, Martinez, Schilling, Bellhorn). Sure, they benefited from Nomar’s development, but the roster that won the world series was basically a collection of acquisitions.

  47. eponymous coward on December 7th, 2004 2:08 pm

    Note my qualifier: “Name me one team that’s had a long run of excellence…”

    One World Championship as a result of two recent wild card appearances doesn’t hit the bar- yet. (Anaheim is also an example in that sense…and their farm system has been MUCH better than Boston’s). Atlanta and the late 90’s Yankees or Cleveland are MUCH better examples of long term excellence through the farm system, in my opinion, as are the current A’s.

  48. eponymous coward on December 7th, 2004 2:19 pm

    And let me say make the point that you don’t just produce from the farm- it’s just that you build a CORE of talent from the farm if you want to win for a long time, and fill out around it with judicious trades and free agents. What made the 1990’s Mariners so frustrating was they had a talent core equal to some very, VERY great teams- I could make a case that Griffey/A-Rod/RJ/Tino/Edgar/Buhner as a talent core is BETTER than some Yankee “dynasties” we hear endlessly about in print- but the front office regularly botched the other parts of the roster. The 2000-2003 Mariners were almost the opposite- they cashed in what value they had in the farm system “core” they brang up in the early 90’s with some pretty good trades, filled in with FA’s…and then, by having a farm system that’s essentially been a dry hole for 10 years had the inevitable collapse that seems to happen in Pat Gillick-run organizations (Toronto post-WS, Baltimore, now here).

  49. Deanna on December 7th, 2004 2:50 pm

    And speaking of A-Rod, if you want to see a team that’s gotten great stuff recently from their farm system, you don’t need to look much further than the Texas Rangers. I wish *we* could draft and promote guys like Hank Blalock, Mark Teixiera, Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench… talk about cheap talent! (Unless the numbers were wrong on baseball-reference, the four of them *together* were paid $4 million in 2004, with most of that being Teixiera’s $2.6 million salary) If the Rangers could just get some pitching already, they’d totally topple the AL West.