Cameron rumors

DMZ · February 22, 2005 at 9:56 am · Filed Under Mariners 

From the latest Gammons column on

The Mariners are very eager to bring back Mike Cameron, and Scott Spiezio and Randy Winn are two names being mentioned as trade bait.

We’ve talked about this before (quick summary of the reaction then: Jason sure, Dave enh, me no). But this really doesn’t make sense. Winn’s not too expensive and reasonably good, there’s no reason to move him unless it’s going to be a significant upgrade. The Mets probably want to move Cameron even though I just now read a different story where they reassured him they weren’t trading him.

But why would they want Winn? Cliff Floyd has to play left if he plays, Beltran’s a lock for center, and there’s really no way you want Winn over Cameron as long as you’re forced to stick one of them in right field.

And why would they want Spiezio? They’ve got a stud 3B and a bunch of guys to play first, including Doug Mientkiewicz, who they just got off Boston in trade.

This doesn’t make sense for the Mets or the Mariners. The Mariners, if they’re going to trade Randy, are probably going to look for something they’re going to need down the road, like pitching prospects. Otherwise, they’re better off letting him play and if the right trade emerges later, making it then.

I can’t believe that the Mariners would be “eager” to make a trade that commits them to paying Cameron so much money when his expected performance — and I say this as a huge fan — is far below that, and they have better, cheaper alternatives in hand right now.


46 Responses to “Cameron rumors”

  1. andy on February 22nd, 2005 10:09 am

    I think the Mariners are attempting to put gold glovers at every single position…

    but really, what about Jeremy Reed? Are the Mariners willing to put him in left if Cameron comes back to play center? Ibanez wasn’t a great defensive left fielder, but he can play it, and his hitting isn’t any worse than Reed’s. Reed’s value is much higher as a center fielder and it would be a waste to move him to left so early in his career.

  2. Todd Robinson on February 22nd, 2005 10:17 am

    I propose that the M’s consider Cameron as having +20 pts of BA, +30 OBP, and +50 SLG, when they considering whether to sign him. There is enough wiggle room in an almost-$100M budget for human considerations to play a bigger role than they do. And I don’t mean “he brings veteran leadership”. I mean that everything I know about Cammy tells me I like him and want him on my team unless it is a bad move. I want him if it’s an “eh” move. Basing everything on efficiency is boring, imho.

  3. Evan on February 22nd, 2005 10:22 am

    I love Cammy.

    But I’d rather see a Winn-Reed-Ichiro outfield than a Reed-Cameron-Ichiro outfield. The second one is better on both sides of the ball, but the price difference is pretty large, and I’m with Andy on moving Reed to left.

    But, getting rid of Speez would be pretty nifty. He’s almost a wasted roster spot, at this point. Even if Sexson goes down with injury, we still don’t need him for anything. We’ve got Bucky and Ibanez.

    So, while I don’t think the Mets are dumb enough to make the deal, I would trade Winn and Speez for Cammy. I would not trade Winn for Cammy straight up, even if the Mets made up the difference in cash. It’s a trade I’m only willing to make if they take Speez.

    But the Mets won’t do it. Well, they might. Minaya’s made some really poor decisions in the past.

  4. Evan on February 22nd, 2005 10:23 am

    And he and Ichiro are really close. Ichiro looks happier in the outfield when he’s playing next to Cammy. He smiles more.

  5. Todd on February 22nd, 2005 10:24 am

    I think that this is a silly rumor. There is no plausible reason to trade Winn before the season starts. The M’s should and probably will see how the team is doing. If they stink up the joint, they can move Winn for prospects. If they are competing (my fingers are crossed) and Reed, Ibanez, and Bucky are holding down CF, LF, and DH, then they can trade Winn for a player to contribute now. If they are winning and Winn is not disposable, they will keep him. My guess is that someone from NY told Gammo that the M’s were eager to make a deal.

    At least Gammo did not preface his M’s comment with his patented “Understand this.”

  6. forgotten schmo on February 22nd, 2005 10:24 am

    Mets – Mariners are a bad fit as trading partners. Like Cammy, but just don’t see a trade that makes sense from both sides.

  7. Jeff on February 22nd, 2005 10:25 am

    Listening to rumors is like playing telephone with multilinguals. Gammons says the discussions are hot, the New York Post has a source that says “he’ll be moved before the season starts in six weeks [with the] two most likely destinations [being] Seattle and Houston” and Omar Minaya says he’s “not even thinking about trading Mike Cameron.”

    Not all of those can be true unless Omar Minaya is going to trade Mike Cameron without even thinking about it. Hey, wait …

    There are two issues here. The first, as Derek mentions, is whether there is a fit between the two teams — and I agree, it doesn’t appear that there is one.

    The second issue is whether bringing back Cameron would be wise. As Derek said, here’s where the USSM crew stood six weeks ago: Jason “would take him back in a heartbeat”; Dave was “not totally sold”; and Derek said “no way.” [Check the first two comments for the full context of their thoughts.]

    Count me in with Jason on this.

    It’s true that Cameron’s offensive skills are diminished by Safeco, but his defensive prowess is more vital because of the fly-ball nature of the pitching staff. Let me point you to Dave’s awesome post about exactly how much of a difference Cameron’s center-field defense makes. Cameron’s an underrated offensive player, a phenomenal defensive player and the current market makes his contract look far from unmanageable.

    Do I have reservations? Sure. I have concerns that he’ll age more like Tammy Sytch than Laphroiag, I’d want to be sure he was healthy, and I’ve already mentioned that I don’t know if there is a place for him given the outfield glut. But in the abstract, I’d love to have Cameron back.

    Check out our “starting left fielder” roundtable tomorrow for extended, remixed thoughts.

  8. msb on February 22nd, 2005 10:38 am

    and Jon Heyman at Newsday has:

    “A person familiar with the Mets’ various trade talks told Newsday “the market wasn’t what they thought it would be” for Cameron. Which explains why general manager Omar Minaya abruptly removed Cameron from the trade market yesterday after weeks of talks. “Mike Cameron is going to be our rightfielder,” he said.

    It’s hard to imagine what great windfall the Mets expected to reap for Cameron, who’s injured and disgruntled, and who gets on base far too infrequently, whiffs far too often and looked oddly lost in centerfield at Shea at times last year.

    It shouldn’t have shocked anyone that it wasn’t much. There were chances to acquire Eric Byrnes, who’s really a fourth outfielder, and Preston Wilson, whose 2005 salary is double Cameron’s. But that’s about it.”

  9. D E Butler on February 22nd, 2005 10:39 am

    I enjoyed watching Cameron play…like everyone else. I wish he could have stayed with the team, just like I wish he could have put the bat on the ball a little more; just like I wish his salary wasn’t disproportionate to his contribution. Let these rumors die…or leave them to Gammons and the like. Cammie returning makes a nice story, but the future of the M’s outfield wears another name.

    As a side bar: What is the PI thinking running a fluffy J. Hickey article on the DH position when DMZ had already written an infinitely more substantive one a week before? Are they convinced that readers of their paper can’t handle (or don’t want) rigorous, serious baseball writing?

  10. Jon Helfgott on February 22nd, 2005 10:43 am

    Dugoutdollars is admittedly unreliable and hasn’t been updated in almost a year, but it seems like the contracts of Winn + Spiezio make Cameron’s salary seem pretty manageable.

    Winn + Spiezio will earn $6.75 million in 2005 to Cameron’s 6.5 million. Cameron’s also due 6.5 million in 2006, compared to Spiezio’s 3 million and Winn’s weird dual option for $5 million, which probably won’t be picked up. It seems like a Winn + Spiezio for Cameron deal would cost the Ms 3.25 million extra over the next 2 years.

    Am I missing something? That doesn’t seem like a huge amount of money.

  11. Tangotiger on February 22nd, 2005 11:02 am

    I don’t get the people who are down on Cammy. The guy is a slightly above league average as a hitter, meaning that over the next 2 years, he’ll probably be right around an average hitter. Average full-time players are worth 4 to 5 million$ a year. So, that’s worth 9 million$ over the next 2 years, with league-average fielding.

    His fielding is either the best in the business, or, today, is above average. So, somewhere between being 15 runs to 30 runs above average. Over 2 years, let’s make this 25 runs to 50 runs above average (or 2.5 to 5.0 wins above average, which is worth 5 to 10 million$).

    At worst, he’s worth 14 (9+5) million$ over the next 2 years, and at best, 19 (9+10) million$.

    Unless his injury and defensive lapses indicate much more trouble than we expect, teams should be lining up to get this guy, with the Yanks front-and-center (no pun intended), and the Giants if they weren’t so weirdly put together. Unfortunately, the perpetual focus on his strikeouts seems to be a lost cause against the Mets.

  12. Shoeless Jose on February 22nd, 2005 11:03 am

    Bah. Cameron’s not coming back. Griffey’s not coming back. Edgar is not coming out of retirement. Moyer should be in retirement. The Kingdome is gone. Stop living in the past, people.

    There are better places for the Mets to move Cameron, teams who have more need for a centerfielder and more to offer than another outfielder and a questionable infielder in return. Unless you’re suggesting the M’s hand over part of the bullpen, or some of the young pitchers — which is what the Mets need and would ask. Remember you can’t conjure up a trade that gives you someone you want and gets rid of all the people you don’t want, even if that sometimes seems to happen in real life. GMs may make moronic decisions from time to time, but you can’t plan on that. And the Mets have been making some reasonably good decisions lately, so either they’ve bought a few clues…or they’re due to make a bonehead trade. But even a bonehead trade is bound to be with someone other than the M’s.

  13. Brian Harper on February 22nd, 2005 11:07 am

    At least Cameron has replaced Griffey in the “let’s bring back a beloved former center fielder!” rumor game.

    Personally, I’m all for it. I view Spiezio as utterly worthless, and would rather have Leone or some other kid on the bench, so it makes the salaries just about even. And I like the idea of having a world-class outfield defense again. Plus I just plain like Mike Cameron. I don’t see how we’d be any worse off with Mike than with Randy, assuming Mike is healthy. Yes, we still have one too many players for the outfield and DH positions, but there’s enough flexibility (Reed can play CF or LF, Ibanez LF or DH, Bucky 1B or DH) to rotate guys through them, and when Sexson gets hurt we’ll have a ready-made solution. Plus let’s not forget that we’ll be needing a pinch-hitter for Pokey in any game where we’re tied or trailing in the late innings.

    So if by some chance this crazy rumor actually has legs, I’d say go for it.

  14. chico ruiz on February 22nd, 2005 11:07 am

    It seems to me that the real issue here is whether Reed is the long term answer in centerfield, and I for one have my doubts. He certainly deserves a chance to show what he can do with the bat, and if he’s got the range to play center, I’d agree that it would be a shame to reduce his value unnecessarily by moving him to left. If conversely he really is stretched in center (which appeared to be the case to me–but then I was used to Cameron), then getting Cameron back and moving Reed over to left would be a great solution, particularly because the Mariner lineup would allow Cammy to move down to about seventh, where his strikeouts wouldn’t kill us. Ignoring for now whether the Mets are willing to do something with the Mariners, my question is, what do Dave, Derek, et. al., think are Reed’s prospects as a centerfielder?

  15. Colm on February 22nd, 2005 11:22 am

    I doubt the value of moving Spezio. Yes, he pulled a total Cirillo last year, and he may be just as garbage this year, but he probably won’t. Instead he’s likely to be the only thing close to a bat that the Mariners will have available on the bench in 2005.

  16. eponymous coward on February 22nd, 2005 11:37 am

    Yeah, I think the argument of “What exactly does this do for the Mets?” and “Wouldn’t the M’s be better served with trading Winn for filling another hole like pitching?” are the best ones. Winn, Reed and Cameron aree likely to be washes at the plate, though Cameron’s clearly the best defensive player among them, and Wiin/Spiezio for Cameron is also clearly a salary wash.

  17. Russ on February 22nd, 2005 11:49 am

    I’ll take Winn over Cameron given we have Reed in CF. Winn hits for average and doesn’t make the silly baserunning errors that I’ve seen Cammy make far too often. Winn is less expensive and as was said earler, he is a valuable trade player if the season goes bust.

    Winn doesn’t have the power of Cameron but he gets on base, alot. He is as fast on the bases as 95% of MLB players. With the hitters we have to surround somebody who gets on base, they are bound to score runs.

    The team that scores the most runs wins the ballgame. The teams that tosses away outs and run into outs lose ballgames. (see 2004 Mariners).

  18. Tim on February 22nd, 2005 11:56 am

    I’m surprised that so many people here are callling for a return of a relatively high-priced veteran who has showed average statistics. He’s good on defense, but is he that much better than Jeremy Reed? I’m inclined to say no. Personally, I think its time to move on, I’d rather see them give the young guys a chance at the league minimum (Reed, Bucky, Snelling) and save the real dollars for an ace pitcher in the future (trade or free agency).

  19. M's Zen on February 22nd, 2005 12:29 pm

    Financially, I think it makes sense to move Spezio and Winn for Cameron. Given the salary similarites of the 2 for 1, and that Spezio’s salary and anemic batting average is a glaring chunk of rotting dead weight, this makes some sense…at least for the M’s.

    Should the Mets and M’s agree on this thing, then it might be the 2nd to last piece we need to make the M’s a legitimate contender THIS year. Sure, a little short-sighted, because I do see Reed moving back into center after Cammy’s contract is up in 2 years, but man, our pitching could use an outfield featuring Reed, Cammie, and Ichiro. We have Moyer, Boone, and a couple other old guys, we might as well take a shot while we can.

    Reed indeed looks good in center, but Cammie is THE centerfielder of centerfielders, and though he strikes out too much, his presence makes a HUGE difference to our hurlers. Winn is an average fielder with a weak arm and I don’t know what it is, but he’s just a hard guy to get behind.

    An outfield of Reed, Cammie, and Ichiro would be the best defensive outfield in the league…combine that with some improvements on infield defense…and yes, we could play some ball this year and have some fun guys to cheer for too. Who doesn’t want to see Cameron’s big smile and crooked hat effortless running down those deep balls that will inevitably be hit?

    Stat guys…back me up or shoot me down…its just what I’m thinking.

  20. Steve on February 22nd, 2005 1:12 pm

    Imagine you’re the GM on another team and Bavasi offered you Winn and Spiezio for one of your guys, and you were interested in making the deal.

    Wouldn’t your answer be, “Keep Spiezio and you’ve got a deal”.

    Throwing in Spiezio just to even out salaries – and thinking that makes the deal more attractive – doesn’t make sense. With Spiezio’s contract, adding him to a deal makes the package less attractive, not more attractive.

  21. Tangotiger on February 22nd, 2005 1:18 pm

    Yes, Spez makes the deal less attractive… that’s the point! The point here is that:
    – Cameron makes as much money as he deserves (maybe a little too much, maybe a little not enough)

    – Winn is a bargain

    – Spez is overpriced

    So, to even it up, Winn + Spez = fairly priced = Cameron

  22. Jason Lake on February 22nd, 2005 1:23 pm

    I just wanted to say that this is one of the most intelligent discussions I’ve ever read on this board. Well done – especially Jeff, who referenced both professional wrestling and fine Scotch in #7. Bravo.

    There are compelling reasons for and against bringing Cameron back to Seattle. One “for” reason to add to the pile would be fan relations, an area that I hope will see improvement this year.

    Two ideas come to mind here: the “Stars and Scrubs” approach and the concept of value. I think Cameron fits the bill on both counts. He compares favorably to Torii Hunter, but isn’t as expensive. The thing is, much-maligned Randy Winn is arguably even better value, as long as he’s in left field. But he is neither star nor scrub. Neither is Spiezio at this point.

  23. ChrisK on February 22nd, 2005 1:49 pm

    Let’s not forget that this organization is driven as much by marketing as it is by pure baseball analysis (I think their 5-tool evaluation system actually consists of Hitting, Fielding, Community friendliness, Being an ex-Mariner, and Having NW ties). The fact that Cammy is a huge fan favorite alone would be enough for Lincoln to green-light Bavasi to explore a deal, so long as they don’t have to take on too much (or any) money.

  24. chris w on February 22nd, 2005 2:13 pm

    If the Ms can get Cammy for Winn and Spiezio, that’s a fine deal, assuming Cammy’s healthy. It improves the defense (giving the Ms insanely good defense actually), leaves the offense about the same, doesn’t impact finances very much at all, unloads a terrible contract, and brings Cammy’s smiling face back into the dugout. The real question is why the Mets would do that. The answer is: they won’t.

  25. ChrisK on February 22nd, 2005 2:43 pm

    Ditto what chris w said. There’s no reason anyone would want to take on Spiezio’s contract right now. He’ll need to hit .500 in spring training to get anyone even remotely interested. Basically he’s Aurilia with a 2-year guaranteed contract.

  26. Jack Howland on February 22nd, 2005 2:46 pm

    Winn is a center fielder who can’t play center, and a left fielder who hits like a center fielder. I do not understand the argument that Winn is a better offensive player than Cameron. (Get over the strikeouts people!) With all things being equal, Cameron is as good or better. When you factor in that Cameron is a center fielder and Winn is a left fielder (which traditionally is reserved for run producers) I would say that Cameron is clearly better. (Somebody PLEASE show me some proof that Winn is a better offensive player than Cameron. Enough of you think it.)

    Breaking Reed in at left field for two years seems like a good idea. Reed could be used in center when Cameron is out of the lineup. Right now we have nobody to backfill Reed unless you count WFB. Ibanez could spell Reed in left if Reed struggles.

    I know of five people in Peoria who would love this arrangement.


  27. DMZ on February 22nd, 2005 2:54 pm

    Winn is a center fielder who can’t play center

    Except that that isn’t true, as he demonstrated last year as became far better as the season went on. He can play center. He’s not spectacular, but he’ll play.

    I do not understand the argument that Winn is a better offensive player than Cameron.

    To be blunt, not understanding doesn’t make it not true. Park-adjusted, Winn was a more productive hitter last year to the tune of about 10 runs over the course of the season.


    and elsewhere.

    Now, whether Cameron’s glove can make up for that is an entirely different question. At the least, it’s not nearly the clear-cut decision you make it out to be.

  28. chris w on February 22nd, 2005 3:12 pm

    Winn had 679 plate appearances to Cameron’s 550 last year. If you did a RARP/PA, they are very close to being equal. Moreover, using 2005-pecota-projected VORP / breakout % / collapse %, Cameron comes in at 24.4 VORP / 31% breakout rate / 17% collapse rate, while Winn’s at 22.4 / 7%! / 25%!. I have yet to see anyone make the argument *effectively* that Winn will be a better offensive player next year than Cammy.

  29. greenlaw9 on February 22nd, 2005 3:13 pm

    Ok, I think most would agree by now that we’d be better off with Cammy/Reed than Reed/Winn…

    As for whether it happens or not, that’s still to be seen.

    What I really like about this thread are the nods that are being given to what the Mets need, want and might be willing to do (which gets forgotten all too often in most trade rumors).

    The interesting question – for me at least – is what would it take to make the Mets jump at this deal; if not at least become a little excited about it? Which pitcher would send this over the top for them? Who could we live without that might help both of us?

    Maybe Franklin?… or some other minor league guy?

  30. Evan on February 22nd, 2005 3:15 pm

    After the 2003 season, comparing the numbers showed Cameron to be a superior hitter. Everyone seemed to think otherwise, which is why Cameron ended up a Met.

    Winn had a good year in 2004. Cameron continued his inevitable decline. Winn’s younger than Cameron, so it could be that we made the swap at the best possible time. We had Cameron for all the years he was superior to Winn, and we haven’t had Cameron for all the years he was inferior to Winn.

    I like Cammy. All else being equal, I want him on the team.

    All else is not equal. If only we could get him for Ibanez instead of Winn. But then we’d still have too many outfielders.

  31. Steve Thornton on February 22nd, 2005 3:51 pm

    When looking at Cameron and Winn, it’s important to consider not just how they compare to each other but how they compare to their reputations. I’ve said this before here: Winn’s ACTUAL value is much higher than his PERCEIVED value. The same used to be true of Cameron years ago but isn’t anymore.

    People think Winn is average or a tiny bit better than that if they’re feeling generous, but he’s actually a pretty good player. I say that even though I really don’t like Winn at all; I’m not a fan. But that’s an aesthetic judgement. Objectively, Winn, while no superstar, is clearly MUCH better than the casual observer thinks he is.

    That means that if you trade him you’re going to get hosed.

    Winn is exactly the kind of player that smart teams tend to trade FOR — because he will always cost you less than he’s worth. Remember, the hard thing isn’t figuring out how great the Barry Bondses of this world are; it’s figuring out which side of the line the middling players are on, and how far. Because you can’t have Barry Bonds, but you sure as heck can gather Randy Winns together, and if you then avoid spending huge bucks on guys who are the opposite — perceived value GREATER than actual value — you will be able to put together a better team.

    All of this used to be true of Cameron but isn’t anymore. His perceived value is now at least equal and probably greater than his actual value. Again: I’m a huge Cameron fan, he was one of my alltime favorite M’s. But not now, not for the price we’d pay.

    And really, none of this matters; what’s keeping Hargrove and Bavasi up these nights isn’t outfielders, it’s pitchers. Or the lack of them. Our rotation projects to STINK this year, worse than last year, with a couple of guys barely above average and the rest well below it. Safeco effects again; people think good pitchers are great and humdrum pitchers are good and crappy pitchers aren’t THAT bad. But they are that bad, and right now what is standing between us and a good season is three to five miracles, and you rarely get more than one.

    We know what the optimists say, but what if this happens: Moyer is bombed out by the second inning of every start, Madritch slips back a notch or two, Franklin turns into Dave Fleming, Meche flames out forever and Piniero gets hurt. Unlikely to have all those things go wrong at once, yes; but it’s quite common to hear the opposite, with that many things going right. Just as unlikely.

    I think any trades you hear about now will be for pitching, not Mike Cameron.

  32. chris w on February 22nd, 2005 4:19 pm

    It’s not as fun as analysing and arguing, but the fact is that the Ms best bet is probably to:

    – realize that this is a rebuilding year
    – do nothing right now, except possibly trade Winn for a pitching prospect (but, really, what sort of pitching prospect are you going to get for Winn? not a very good one…)
    – focus on keeping young pitchers healthy. That means inning eaters like Villone and Franklin and Moyer have value, because the main goal ought to be to keep Madritsch, Meche, Pineiro, Felix, Nageotte, etc. to low pitch counts.
    – focus on developing the young position players. That means getting Bucky enough at-bats to find out if he’s really going to be our future DH and getting Reed enough looks in CF to find out if he can play there.

    It isn’t sexy, it’s prudent.

  33. El Dorko on February 22nd, 2005 4:28 pm

    Yay for Steve’s analysis.

  34. chico ruiz on February 22nd, 2005 4:55 pm

    For those of you arguing that we should pass on Cameron and trade Winn or Ibanez for a pitcher, I’d recommend that you take a look at Dave’s posting last August 21 wherein he established pretty clearly that the impact of Cameron’s defense on a pitching staff is huge (I mean huge). I doubt that we could trade an expendable outfielder for a pitcher upgrade that would make as much a difference to the performance of the staff as would having Cameron back patrolling the pastures of Safeco. Yes, and I’m still hoping a stathead will convince me that Reed’s defense in center is almost as good as Cammy’s, but so far, there are no takers…..Anyone?

  35. David J Corcoran on February 22nd, 2005 5:23 pm

    Egg. At least the Griffey rumours are gone.

    But folks’s, there’s no reason to acquire a CF. Say we trade Winn. Say Snelling stays healthy, say Choo is what we all expected. We have a freakin’ logjam of freakin’ outfielders and there is no freakin’ reason to trade for another one.

    I would sooner stock up on ground ball pitchers. Trade Ryan Franklin for some AAA starter with a lot of ground balls. We have one of the best infields in baseball. We need to be bolstering that with good ground ball pitchers, not worrying about the outfield. I never thought I’d say this, but that contract the Dodgers gave Lowe? I’d give it to him.

  36. firova on February 22nd, 2005 6:52 pm

    I like Cameron as well as anyone, but aside from all the reasons stated for not acquiring him, I don’t think anything like this can happen until he proves the injuries are behind him. Seems pretty important, and probably a major reason why teams aren’t interested–yet. Same with moving Spiezio–he has to prove he’s not still at the bottom of his career (though how he gets the chance beyond spring is a mystery). We don’t really know what Reed can do yet, either, though all the signs are good. I agree that pitching is the priority. Assuming a Winn-Reed-Ichiro outfield, the defense has already been upgraded at cf, lf, 3B, ss, 1b over late 2004 (based on assumption that Winn gets to more balls in left than Ibanez, and Sexson as upgrade over Ibanez/Bucky at first–Olerud having already departed). The offense has had a shot in the arm–but what about pitching? Putting more resources into an improved defense when the pitching is in this kind of shape seems out of balance.

  37. Matt Staples on February 22nd, 2005 10:01 pm

    Here is a hypothesis to think about. You have a club with pitching that, due to park factors, is much worse than it appears. This is readily apparent for nearly all the M’s pitchers in 2004, a season in which the team’s defense is downgraded from significantly above average to only slightly above average. Suddenly, people realize the emperor has no clothes, and the M’s pitching actually is a bunch of #3-5 starters and 4A guys. This might be a bit harsh in some cases, but unfortunately, not by much.

    In this situation, you have (pre-Beltre and, arguably, Sexson):

    1. No power whatsoever, and no real offensive philosophy.
    2. A relatively severe pitcher’s park, which exacerbates #1.
    3. Mediocre pitching, as referenced above.

    If you want to look at the M’s roster as full of commodities, an extreme upgrade to the defense is likely the best way to increase the value of the commodities on the roster, even if it comes at the slight expense of offense.

    If you can take the ill-defined mass of mediocrity that is the M’s staff, and suddenly turn it into guys like 2003’s “underappreciated and unlucky” Ryan Franklin, you have commodities you can move. You can see this in the infield signings of the M’s during this offseason, particularly Reese. For Beltre and Sexson, this is probably correlation more than causation. It is true nonetheless.

    Given the fly-ball nature of the staff, the incremental gain from adding defense in the outfield, particularly CF, is more significant for the M’s than most teams. This is particularly the case for a team that plays half its games in Safeco, even absent the roster structure issues I spoke of above. Sure, the addition of an outstanding CF defender is worth more than adding an outstanding third baseman to *all* teams, but this is particularly the case for the M’s.

    I’m not saying I’m for adding Cameron. I think that, particularly since Sickels thinks Reed can man CF for the league minimum (or close to it) for three years, it makes more sense financially to target pitchers, particularly southpaws, which have had some problems in bandbox ballparks in the past (Eric Milton comes to mind here, were he not severely overvalued this offseason due to his win total and handedness). What I *am* saying, though, is that a move to get Cameron might make particular sense for the Mariners in a way that goes beyond the marginal wins we might expect to directly add from the addition of Cameron’s defense in CF.

  38. chris w on February 23rd, 2005 7:16 am

    Mr. Staples makes an excellent point… the Ms are the ideal team – because of their park and the nature of their pitching staff – to take advantage of good defense. 2001, when the starting pitching didn’t strike a lot of guys out, but was still excellent, is a perfect example. We’re basically just wish-casting at this point, because the Mets aren’t going to take Spiezio off our hands, and that’s the only way trading for Cameron would makes sense from the Ms perspective. Still, it’s worth noting how important the Ms defense might turn out to be this year.

  39. Jack Howland on February 23rd, 2005 8:10 am

    The argument that Winn is far superior offensively started well before the 2004 season. Looking at 2003 we see nearly identical performances between Winn and Cameron.

    If we look at 2004, Winn had an EQA of .281 and the MLB Average for a left fielder was .277 leaving a difference of +.004.

    Cameron had an EQA of .272 with an MLB average for a center fielder of .264 leaving a difference of +.008.

    Since Ibanez and Bucky hit at a .291 EQA and Ibanez plays about as well in left field as Winn, shouldn’t Winn be the odd man out in any situation regardless of whether or not Reed or Cameron are in center? (I am assuming that Winn is not an option for center, which I understand is now debatable.) Even if Bucky was not available, it seems to me it would be easier to pick up a cheap DH in the .280-.290 range.

    Cameron gets lambasted in this town for his offense ( he strikes out too much, he doesn’t move runners over), but in all three years his EQA was above average for center fielders. And this is all before considering that he was quite possibly the best defensive center fielder on the planet while he was here as Dave set out to prove last August.

  40. Tangotiger on February 23rd, 2005 9:26 am

    Winn was born June 74, and Cameron Jan 73. Age-wise, they are pretty much the same.

    I have Winn and Cameron as dead-even as hitters, forecasting Cameron as a little higher in SLG and a little lower in OBA.

    What it comes down to is how much more value Cameron has as a fielder. UZR thinks highly of Winn, but the fans and Pinto’s PMR do not. UZR has thought the world of Cameron entering 2004, and he did fine, but not great in 2004. Fans think highly of Cameron entering 2004, but the Mets fans were a little reserved, but still liked him alot. (Hard to believe, but he looked lost a few times.)

    Anyway, Cameron is probably worth 20 runs more than Winn as a fielder. The range would be to think Winn and Cameron are even, to Cameron being 30 runs better. 20 runs = 2 wins = 4 million$. That’s the difference between Cameron and Winn. Assuming injury likelihood is not a consideration (which it obviously always is).

  41. Graham on February 23rd, 2005 9:50 am

    … and Ibanez plays about as well in left field as Winn

    Eh? Ibanez is a slightly below average left fielder, wheras Winn is a well above average one.

  42. Jack Howland on February 23rd, 2005 10:29 am

    #41 – I’m basing on ZR. What is a more accurate stat that I should be looking at for this?

  43. Evan on February 23rd, 2005 10:53 am

    Anything other than ZR.

  44. Jack Howland on February 23rd, 2005 11:02 am

    Have you got a link for that Evan? I’ll give Winn nine runs per season better based on UZR.

  45. Terry Benish on February 23rd, 2005 10:04 pm

    Winn seems to hit real well in the back half of the season and not very
    well the first few months…that’s my recollection of the past two years. The import of that is that he hit when things were out of reach twice.

    He has yet to touch a wall except for a gratuitous leap to watch the ball head out. And he can’t throw.

    Another thread that illustrates the under appreciation or understanding of the role of defense.

  46. eponymous coward on February 24th, 2005 12:10 am

    The import of that is that he hit when things were out of reach twice.

    Well, actually, no. 2003 wasn’t out of reach when Winn got hot. The M’s were leading the division by 4 games on 7/31/2003. And if you want to ride Winn’s ass about not performing in April 2004, I’ll point out that Ichiro was basically just as awful (.613 OPS in April as opposed to Winn’s .603)- AND Ichiro had a very bad last 2 months of 2003 (at a time when the team died in in no small part due to a teamwide offensive slump), unlike Winn.

    So, can we describe you as another poster who underappreciates Randy Winn? Because admittedly he’s not a great defensive player on par with Cameron- but his overall skills (some speed, walks, range in the OF, especially in LF) make him a quite acceptable player on a good team. Yeah, he’s not a prototypical LF who hits 30 home runs if you put him there- but his speed makes him a very solid LF (one of the reasons the 2003 team was good on defense is they had 2 very good CF’s in Cameron and Ichiro, and an adequate one in LF in Winn- that’s a REALLY GOOD OF), and an adequate if not superior CF.