Okay, so I’ve had a beer

DMZ · December 15, 2004 at 8:38 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m a little more coherent now. Let’s deal with some of the big arguments.

The M’s had to do something
I won’t argue there was a strong drive to make some statement signings. I think there are better things to do.

The M’s finally sign someone and you’re whining — you’re no fan
If to look good and impress fans now the team is signing players who will cripple the budget in 3-4 years when the team comes around to contention, they’re doing harm to the franchise.

How can any fan be happy about moves that don’t substantially improve the team’s short or long-term future? You can disagree with people who don’t see the move as good, but to argue that people who are dismayed aren’t fans is nonsensical. Anyone who cares enough about the team to pay attention at least deserves a respectful argument.

What’re you so wigged out about?
It’s rich for the risk.
Or, as Dave put it

Spending $12 million per season on Richie Sexson simply continues that tradition. Even ignoring the risks surrounding his injury (which is fool hardy, but is another post all together), his expected performance from 30-33 will not put him in the superstar elite class. He’s going to be a good player making great player money, returning less marginal wins than should be expected from a player with his contract.

Or, even further back, Dave’s free agent writeup on Sexson.

He’s only had one injury ever
Okay, first, not true, second, would that be okay if it was (for instance) a stopped heart? We can reasonably be sure that the shoulder passed the physical, however, we can also be reasonably assured that as a pre-existing condition, that shoulder is uninsurable.

This improves the team, anyway
As Dave’s pointed out recently, it’s not about whether or not any move is an incremental upgrade, it’s about whether or not it’s the best use of resources.

Or, to put this another way: what would Beltre or Beltran have to sign for to make him not worth the difference between him and Sexson? A front-line pitcher? Or even interesting gamble pitchers with upside, like Odalis Perez?


93 Responses to “Okay, so I’ve had a beer”

  1. Tom on December 15th, 2004 10:24 pm

    I agree with others that said Seattle may not be on the top of every premier free agent’s want-to-play list. What is the first thing that comes to mind when an average person thinks about Seattle? Rain! It is way out there in the west! Not a big market! True or not, perception is everything.

    Richie might be all Bavasi could get at the moment. We don’t know unless someone from the front office tells us about the behind the scene workings.

  2. Rob on December 15th, 2004 10:24 pm

    I agree with you DMZ, although Zapp would outperfrom sexson injuries himself opening day 😀

  3. Rob on December 15th, 2004 10:25 pm

    Damn no edits, that last one should be “Zapp would outprefrom sexson IF he injuries imself openind day…”

  4. Thom on December 15th, 2004 10:29 pm

    Bavasi, and possibly Licoln, will probably be gone when the Mariners have to deal with the $14 million they’ll owe Sexton in the final two seasons of his contract. Furthermore, the ridiculousness of this contract just adds fuel to the fire; continuing the isanity of contracts this offseason. The M’s are their own worst enemy by furthering the trend and in all likelihood have taken themselves out of the market for Beltre because his pricetag has just now gone through the roof. Boras is going to make the M’s (Bavasi) look silly.

  5. AK1984 on December 15th, 2004 10:31 pm

    You know, I think the Mariners will most likely have either Leone or Dobbs at third base in 2005 — which is sad — instead of Adrian Beltre, for they aren’t going to have the means by which to sign him.

  6. Tom on December 15th, 2004 10:33 pm

    Well, which team can pay $15-$20m per year for Beltran or Beltre? Nobody! If Boras keeps this up, neither of the Belts will play next year.

  7. bilbo on December 15th, 2004 10:34 pm

    the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!

    Come on folks, get a grip! This is a premier guy and the numbers back that up. The risk is in coming off injury, but maybe that is what allowed a pathetic team to sign a premier guy?

    Why not sign him for less? Because he wouldn’t come here for less. Baltimore offered him almost the same $ and who knows if that offer was as backloaded?

  8. Shawn on December 15th, 2004 10:34 pm

    What has happened since last offseason that players are being so ludicrisly overpaid? What concerns me most is the contracts being handed out to players with obvious question marks concerning injuries. The Diamondbacks are an inigma and their unexplainable stupidity in giving Glaus so much money has started a frightening chain-reaction. Pedro gets 4 years even though everyone knows his arm is about to fall off and now this jem by Bavasi&Co. Even casual fans are going to be angry if and when Sexson re-injures his shoulder on a checked swing or some such thing.

  9. Bernard Aboba on December 15th, 2004 10:38 pm

    Carlos Lee is very likely to outperform Sexson over the life of the 4-year contract and he was available for much less in players and money than we are paying Sexson (Podsednik and Vizcaino).

    Bottom line: at this point the trading market is operating more rationally than the free agent market.

  10. Tim on December 15th, 2004 10:39 pm

    So I guess the opinion of the signing is that the M’s are now doomed to be a pathetic franchise for the next 4 years. Good grief. There is more than one way to build a team. I’m sure you guys have some graph or study stored on your servers that will explain to everyone why Manny Ramirez is in fact worth 20mil a year but Sexson isn’t worth 60% of that….

  11. Alex on December 15th, 2004 10:41 pm

    Someone’s earlier post brought up a great point. It mentioned that just because we have the money, it doesn’t mean that people will automaticall y flock to Seattle.

    I can give you a case in point in the NBA: Chicago Bulls. A few years back (around 2000 I believe) they had major cap room and it was just burning a hole in their pocket. They thought they were going to sign Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and/or Tim Duncan with all of this cap space? You know who their big pickups were? Eddie Robinson and Brad Miller. It wasn’t through a lack of trying that prevented them from obtaining these players, the players simply wanted to play elsewhere (in the case of McGrady and Hill) or stay put (in the case of Duncan). While the team with the biggest paycheck typically wins, these are human beings not a baseball card that someone picked up on EBay with the highest bid. They do have their agendas that sometimes do not include money and money alone.

    Perhaps the same thing is happening here. Has anyone heard Beltre, Beltran, Clement, etc say that they’d like to play here? If they have, then I stand corrected. I haven’t heard any such quotes from them, however. To give a baseball related example or this phenomenon, you can look at the Renteria signing. If you take what Renteria said, he indicated that he wanted to play for either St Louis or Boston because they are winners. He gave no indication that his motives were solely based on the almighty dollar. Just some food for thought.

  12. Montresor on December 15th, 2004 11:01 pm

    My largest concern about Sexson has been his strikeouts.
    PESSIMIST – he maintains his strikeout rate and has no power and routinely goes on the DL.
    DOOM AND GLOOM – He’s injured and forever rides the bench.
    OPTIMIST – he comes back with some of his power and learns patience at the plate.
    REALISTIC HOPE – He’ll have some of his power back (95%) and may lower stikeouts by 10%.

    Oy! I had hard buying that as I typed it.

    btw – do we even have enough of a sampling for a comparison of Bucky and Sexson of minor and major league stats for projections?

  13. RP on December 15th, 2004 11:04 pm

    Hey, maybe (just maybe!) Sexson will average .295 with 110 RBIs and 40-45 HRs over the next four years. If so, it isn’t the albatross that will kill their franchise. It’s unlikely, but if you assume that the M’s have to overpay for free agents, it isn’t the worst signing they could have made.

  14. Jeff Howard on December 15th, 2004 11:09 pm

    I just realized that the M’s are spending $48 million on a guy named ‘Richie.’ Yeesh.

  15. anonymous on December 15th, 2004 11:11 pm

    we had to do it, to lure others. plus his contract is backloaded, delgado would not back load his contract for his is a greedy dominac man. now comes beltre AND o. perez!

  16. Tim on December 15th, 2004 11:15 pm

    None of it matters anymore. The M’s would be better off folding the franchise. Ask Derek, he’ll tell you. The M’s are now doomed to the AL West basement because of Richie Sexson. But hey, Edgar Renteria for 4-40 is “reasonable.”

  17. Chris on December 15th, 2004 11:22 pm

    Who’s to say that this is the one and only signing that happens this off season? I tend to agree with most everyone on this site that Sexson is not my first choice as a big free agent signing splash. But, keep in mind that Carlos Beltre, Odalis Perez, J.D. Drew, and many others are still out there. In addition, there are still trades that may take place. Keep the faith………..

  18. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2004 11:32 pm

    My nightmare scenario for the offseason and 2005 goes something like this:

    Sexson is signed for 4 years
    Delgado is signed for 4 years
    Bucky gets buried on the bench or AAA for no good reason other than the roster being crowded with 24455121 1B/LF/DH types
    Lopez at SS, Spiezio and Dobbs at 3B- all of who live up to poor PECOTA projections (Leone also gets buried, as Dobbs is the organizational favorite at 3B for no real good reason)
    Our big money signees have bad years commensurate with their age/injury history, plus Boone collapses at 2B (injury or just plain bad)

    And the team…well, they win maybe 65-70 games, improving very marginally, and the attendance implodes by the end of the season, leaving us with a some overpaid stiffs limiting options for 2006, because we operated under the assumption that we could quick-fix this with veterans instead of investing in youth.

    It would seem my worst-case scenario’s getting closer to fruition. Thanks, Bill Bavasi and Howard Lincoln.

  19. roger tang on December 15th, 2004 11:38 pm

    Well, it CAN’T be the only signing. Otherwise, this offseason IS a failure, no matter how you look at it…

    Perhaps one of these types of signings is tolerable, but you need to add a Drew or a Beltre, where you get some value in the later years of the contract. And we’re not getting to the pitching….

  20. J.R. on December 15th, 2004 11:40 pm

    “he’s a good dude, man.” – Ryan Franklin

  21. clarence credence on December 15th, 2004 11:41 pm

    People smarter than me: Will it matter who plays 1B and LF between Sexson and Ibanez, assuming they’ll each play one or the other?

    I agree that the purported money for Sexson seems ridiculous, but what about Glaus at 4YR/$45 mil? It’s all relative, I suppose… As has been said (and Bavasi, I hope you’re reading), Beltre or bust.

  22. eponymous coward on December 15th, 2004 11:42 pm

    Yeah, if we’re signing Sexson to play LF if we pick up Delgado at 1B, why in the name of all that’s holy isn’t a Drew/Beltre combination JUST as useful, with the advantage of them not being at their peaks as opposed to on the downhill slide?

    AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH- there are times when I hate this organization. OK, now I’m going to go drink.

  23. NBarnes on December 15th, 2004 11:43 pm

    #57: Quote: This is a premier guy and the numbers back that up.

    I’d be FACINATED by the numbers you pull up to justify that. OBP over 400, ever? Nope. SLG over 600, ever? Nope. BA over 280 over anything resembling a full season? Nope. OPS over 1k, ever? Nope.

    Seriously, take a long, hard look at Sexson’s 2002 season and tell me that that’s worth 12.5. And that’s an uninjured Sexson. Even the 2001 or 2003 Sexsons are not ‘premier’ by my standards, they are merely very good, and very good at a position where ‘very good’ is not actually that terribly rare.

    Looking at Sexson, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, and Vald Guerrero over the seasons 2000 through 2003, we get (via http://www.baseball-reference.com)…

    All numbers are OPS+ (for players that didn’t have their shoulder explode in 2004, the 2004 OPS+ is in paranthese)
    Sexson: 112, 124, 130, and 136
    Thome: 132, 169, 191, and 151 (148)
    Ramirez: 185, 162, 190, and 160 (152)
    Sheffield: 178, 167, 140, and 167 (143)
    Guerrero: 166, 133, 162, and 144 (154)

    So, what do I take away from this?

    Sexson is not premier. He is not elite. He is not that good. He is not bad, by any means. And he might be expected to age well, since his skill set is one that ages well (Thome is not an unreasonable comparison, except Thome is much better, and they share a skillset that ages well; walk when you don’t see a pitch you like, try to hit the ball like a ton of bricks when you see a pitch you do like, fail at this fairly often and strike out). However, out of the four other players that I listed, who might reasonably be called four representative elite hitters from MLB’s 2000 through 2004 seasons, Sexson has posted an OPS+ surpassing any one of them in a given year… once, since Sexon’s 2003 season appears to be better than Thome’s 2000 (after adjusting for league averages; Thome’s 2000 was better in the absolute stats than Sexson’s 2003). You simply cannot compare Sexson to any of those players as hitters; they are all fundamentally superior, and most play harder defensive positions.

    In short, the numbers do not back up the assertion that Sexson is ‘premier’. The numbers do not back up Sexson’s expected salary. The money the Ms are spending on Sexson could be better spent if they were, right now, change their mind and tell Sexson to go talk to Baltimore. The team would be better, win more games, be better positioned for the future, if the money we are paying Sexson were to be paid, instead, to Perez or Drew (not all of it to Perez, and Drew should get 3 years at the same rate as Sexson and is a better hitter at a harder defensive position).

  24. MER on December 16th, 2004 12:08 am

    To quote Dave’s analysis of Sexson:

    “He blossomed into an elite hitter in his prime with the Brewers, peaking at a huge .272/.379/.548 season in 2003. He also established himself as one of the premier defensive first baseman in the game, and the combination of offense and defense he brought to the table in 2003 made him a legitimate MVP candidate in the non-Bonds category.”

    The hooker….the shoulder injury which again I would caution the non-orthopedic surgeons amongst us to from jumping to conclusions. Yes there are risks but are they higher than Drew (frequently mentioned above as a better option) who certainly has seen his share of ailments?

    There is no question that Sexson’s contract figures are much higher than one would have guessed a month ago but thats the market this year. Sure Vlad seems like a bargain now but its unfair to retrospectively apply todays economics to those of last year.

    The last issue to factor in this signing is the message that the M’s hoped to send to their fans and potential free agents….unlike years past, they intend to spend some money to make this team better (which they damn should given their revenues).

  25. roger tang on December 16th, 2004 12:18 am

    “The last issue to factor in this signing is the message that the M’s hoped to send to their fans and potential free agents….unlike years past, they intend to spend some money to make this team better (which they damn should given their revenues).”

    Wouldn’t it be better to give that money to someone who was a premiere free agent, as opposed to good, but risky free agent? Ya send the same message by giving Beltre 7/$105M or Beltran a 7/$125M doncha think?

  26. Coach on December 16th, 2004 12:27 am

    A couple things I don’t understand.

    The folks who argue that the Mariners needed to send a message, or that the $ amount is just what this market dictates. This would make more logical sense if we were only talking about the current year. Did you all miss the fact that the owners of this bolg have been recommending a strategy that would work in the out years as well?

    Second, those who say we must overpay in outrageous fashion because Seattle is not a place anyone would want to come to. Have you guys ever actually been to Detroit or Baltimore??

  27. MER on December 16th, 2004 12:27 am

    The “message” is clearly going to have to consist of more than Sexson. Yes, the message would be much stronger with either Beltre or Beltran. Given the above hypothetical contracts, go for Beltran (assuming the feeling is mutual).

  28. roger tang on December 16th, 2004 12:29 am

    On second thought….

    Perhaps the over-the-top offers to a single free agent is only good for a team needing a key part (say, the 2001 Mariners). For a team as bereft of talent as the 2004 Mariners, you need to bring in several talented players to provide a launching pad for a premiere free agent–in other words, you need to bring in the middle class free agents that are getting those astronomical contracts. Without those middle class agents, and the talent the represent (and not the money), a premiere free agent won’t take a look at Seattle, no matter how much money they pony up.

    Hm. The problem with this, though, is that this is a high risk high cost strategy, as you have to bring in an entire class at once (which, I think, hasn’t been done that frequently). And such a strategy won’t work if the markets get as wonky as they do, as your buying power won’t get you enough talent you need to bring in. Nor will it work if the free agent market is middling to thin.


  29. Tim on December 16th, 2004 12:38 am

    Great. Sexson isn’t as good as Jim Thome. The M’s are doomed.

  30. Paul Covert on December 16th, 2004 12:56 am

    Here are the four-year contracts signed so far (plus Pavano’s reported agreement-in-principle with the Yankees):

    Renteria 40/4 Bos
    Pavano 39/4(?) NYY
    RuOrtiz 33/4 Ari
    CrGuzman 16/4 Was
    Pedro 53/4 NYM
    Sexson 50/4 Sea
    Glaus 45/4 Ari

    Even the relatively “good deals” for teams so far this winter seem like reaches (hence Derek’s guarded phrase “one of the more rational contracts” with reference to Renteria); and the riskier ones… ouchouchouch.

    If the M’s were to come out this offseason and say, “sorry, folks, but we believe our competitors are out to lunch in this marketplace; so we’re continuing to rebuild the team, and we’ll be ready to jump back in next year and the year after when everybody else is crying poor”– I don’t think I’d blame them. I’d want to know that they had made good, serious offers for J.D. and the Belts; but if those guys were all going for 200/10, then I’d consider a failure to upgrade quite excusable.

    (“J.D. and the Belts”? Hmmm… sounds like a weird alternative band from the 1950’s, if such had existed then….)

  31. Jeff Nye on December 16th, 2004 12:57 am

    I guess my main question about this is, what does it say about the Mariners FO’s goals in relation to pleasing the majority of the fanbase and getting them to buy tickets?

    Is Richie Sexson really enough of a ‘name’ for the average casual fan to know who he is and say to themselves “man, those Mariners are really turning things around by signing a slugger! Maybe I should renew my season tickets after all!”

    As has been said in other threads here, the Mariners are going to get more benefit out of looking out for the opinions of the average baseball fan rather than a minority like the folks that frequent this site and others like it.

  32. jeff on December 16th, 2004 1:03 am

    Bavasi thinks that effort will be easier with Sexson in the fold. He said the 2004 collapse has been tough to explain to prospective Mariners.

    “Whenever we have talked to guys, they say, ‘If I’m going to be the first on board, what assurances do I have that there will be others behind?’ ” Bavasi said. “This is an important first step, it absolutely is.”

    this is why he got the money, no one wants to go to seattle until they can prove to them 1)that there serious 2) that they can guarentee some protection in the lineup, so i def think this move had to be made to make other moves, what do you think?

  33. roger tang on December 16th, 2004 1:05 am

    Re #81

    Hm. Depends on whether you’re looking short term or long term. Playing for the average fan will help you short term. But that’s not necessarily sustainable.

    Playing toward the more serious fan (or, actually, for more value laden goals) may mean short term losses (including this year!), but will be more likely to work in the long term, be more sustainable and thus be more successful.

  34. MR on December 16th, 2004 1:44 am

    So this year management thought it reasonable to put up $50 million /4 years for the surgically-repaired Sexson, but last year they claimed the Orioles were insane to offer $72 million / 6 years for the younger, healthier Tejada. My sense is that they were wrong then and they are wrong now.

  35. noo-b on December 16th, 2004 1:59 am

    This has got to be the-MOST NEGATIVE BLOG WITH THE BIGGEST BUNCH OF WHINING,FAIR WEATHERED FANS I have ever had the mis-fortune to run across!!! Seattle signed a good player!!Get over it!! Other signings will take place!!You complained when nothing was happening and now your complaining that something has!!!You make no sense.PATIENCE……

  36. Paul Covert on December 16th, 2004 2:07 am

    Re. #85: Please note that the owners of this blog, and many of the rest of us who disagree with the Sexson signing, were not the ones who were complaining when nothing was happening. Thank you.

  37. Jon Wells on December 16th, 2004 2:50 am

    #84 — things have changed and not just the market for free agents. Last year the M’s were coming off a 93-win season so they felt they could be selective and sign players on their terms or not at all.

    I have disagreed with this way of doing business for years — many times I’ve said that the WORST thing that ever happened to this franchise is the 116 win season in 2001, because it enhanced Lincoln’s arrogance (“We said bye bye to Jr. & A-Rod and had the best record in baseball.”) and affected the team’s affairs for years. Well, the 99 loss season in 2004 might be the BEST thing to happen to this franchise as it’s caused the club to shift their attitude.

    Seattle management now knows that they have to make big moves this year or risk seeing attendance fall below 2 million. Last year it was almost 3 million but 95% of those tickets were sold before the season began. No big signings this winter and they were looking at a serious dropoff in season ticket sales (they already know how many people didn’t send in deposits for ’05).

    It’s easy to sit back and say that it’s unwise for the M’s to offer long term deals to anyone but the 3 top players on the market (Beltre, Beltran & J.D. Drew). However in order for a 99 loss team to get the top free agents they have to overpay by a lot. Other than A-Rod when was the last time the #1 free agent on the market went to a team that finished in last place the year before? Sure if the M’s want to give Beltran 10 years for $200 mil they could probably get him but nobody’s advocating that.

    I’ve ripped on M’s management for years but I have to say that this time they’re finally starting to get it. If we see a signing of Beltre in the not too near future, then I’ll be really convinced.

  38. MR on December 16th, 2004 4:22 am

    Jon, I’m not sure we really disagree. What’s changed most is that last year the writing was on the wall and this year it is on the wall in fluorescent capital letters. It sounds like we both think the team took an unjustifiably complacent approach a year ago. In light of what’s available to the team now, it seems to me that management was wrong to turn up its nose at some of the players available last year (Tejada, Guerrero . . . dare I say Schilling). The team has been unwilling to spend what it takes to hire top talent, and now is forced to overpay for players with more question marks. I share your hope that they are starting to get it. My fear is that they are still too stingy and short-sighted to close the deal for a top free agent. If they do manage to do that, it will be without precedent in franchise history.

  39. Evan on December 16th, 2004 10:51 am

    “If they both play well, he was smart; if either one bombs, he was dumb. If they both bomb, he’s gone.”

    That’s an idiotic way to judge his success. Measuring the intelligence of Bavasi’s moves based on luck doesn’t actually measure the intelligence of Bavasi’s moves. All it does is measure the luck.

    Each roster move must be judged solely based on information available to the GM at the time of the signing, and based on that, Bavasi overspent for Sexson.

  40. Evan on December 16th, 2004 10:52 am

    Unless Bavasi had to overspend to lure players to a lousy team. Like Detroit last year.

  41. Pete on December 16th, 2004 12:03 pm

    Dave, Derek, etc…

    I’m not sure anyone has asked or commented on this, but I thought I’d throw it out there. Given the Spiezio disaster, I hesitate to suggest this, but everyone keeps shouting about Sexson’s great athletic ability. If he’s so adaptable, wouldn’t his 6’8, long-limbed bod, and strong arm plug the hole nicely at third base? I know he has the great reflexes and long arms to be one of the better first baseman, so it seems like that would at least make him an adequate three-bagger.

    This is probably a stupid suggestion, but it just occured to me this morning as I was thinking about the whole Delgado-Beltre debate.

    If Richie was able to play third, Ibanez could stay in left, Delgado could provide the powerful lefty at first, making room for Bucky (seems to be forgotten for the last month) at DH.

    Anyway, just seeing if there was anything to that mid-morning revelation…

  42. Adam S on December 16th, 2004 12:26 pm

    Teams have tried crazier things, and I’ve heard some fans suggest Ibanez at 3B. I think the idea of converting a 30-year who’s played at LF/1B his whole career to a more demanding position as not feasible. Some have gone as far to suggest that moving him to LF is beyond his defensive skills and 3B is much more demanding.

    I firmly believe the idea of Delgado at 1B and Sexson in LF is a negotiating tactic. It lets Boras/Beltre think the Mariners have a fall back plan to add a slugger.

  43. PositivePaul on December 16th, 2004 1:26 pm

    You ask:

    [W]hat would Beltre or Beltran have to sign for to make him not worth the difference between him and Sexson? A front-line pitcher? Or even interesting gamble pitchers with upside, like Odalis Perez?

    I answer:

    Taken out of the big picture and ignoring the intangibles, it’s a bold move that’s hugely high-risk. Good that it’s a bold move, bad that it’s a high-risk one. So, overall neutral or slightly negative. I’m leaning towards slightly negative.

    Now, getting back into the abstract, intangible picture, the value of this move in the perception of others on the market that the M’s are serious about winning again and (at the very least) are not afraid to spend money and not afraid to give a contract longer than 3 years. That, to me, is a HUGE positive, if indeed that’s how others on the market see this signing.

    If it means we land Beltre, even if that requires 7+ years at $12-15 million per (any more than $15 MM would be overpayment along the lines of Sexson or Glaus), then I can slightly ignore the albatross deal. If it means we land both Beltre and another bat (Drew/Delgado/Beltran), then it looks even better. If we ignore free agent pitching (with the possibility of using the trade market instead) and fill our lineup with 2-3 big bats total, no matter how much it costs, I’m willing to accept this huge mistake of a contract.

    Beltre or Bust, Baby!

    And, why stop there? Throw in Drew’s lefty bat while we’re at it.