Felix and the WBC

JMB · December 3, 2005 at 6:52 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Long story short, King Felix wants to pitch for his native Venezuela in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but the M’s, as you might imagine, don’t want him to. They’ve gone so far as to file “an official objection,” according to Larry Stone. Over in the PI, Morosi goes a bit more in-depth on the topic, pointing out the similarities between this situation and that of Rafael Soriano, who injured himself pitching for the Dominican Republic in the 2004 Caribbean Series. The M’s also filed objections for Travis Blackley and Chris Snelling, though their agent says this is of little concern given that injuries would prevent either player from participating even if they wanted to.

I’m torn on this. Sure, I don’t want those extra innings on his arm. But on the other hand, do you really want to piss him off? He’s going to be a free agent someday, after all. In case you were wondering, the M’s have already made sure Felix won’t be pitching winter ball this year.

Interesting side note: Kenji Johjima has already turned down his invitation to play for Japan, choosing istead to work on learning his new pitching staff. I like this guy already.

At the bottom of the article you’ll find some notes on minor league managerial moves, which mostly means guys moving up a level since Dan Rohn was promoted to the major league coaching staff.


42 Responses to “Felix and the WBC”

  1. John on December 3rd, 2005 7:02 pm

    I’m not torn. Keep him here, we can smooth out this problem over the next few years. A 19 year old pitcher needs more innings in a season like I need a hole the head.

  2. Gomez on December 3rd, 2005 7:08 pm

    Agreed with John. Have Chaves and company make it clear to him that this is not meant to be a slight, that they’re looking out for him and, while he may be upset now, he’ll look back and be glad later that they made this choice.

  3. mark from Oly. wa. on December 3rd, 2005 7:08 pm

    IMHO, I wish MLB would just make a true WORLD SERIES, if it wanted an international game to be held. A series between the MLB championship team and the Japanese national champion would be a great way to start.

    For Felix: He wants to play. The team expresses it’s concerns. The fans get out their lucky item of choice and hope all goes well.

    Johjima: His signing just keeps looking better.

  4. LB on December 3rd, 2005 7:23 pm

    #3: true WORLD SERIES

    To be played when? November? Perhaps in NYC, Boston, Philly or Chicago? Yeah, great baseball weather in those cities that time of year…

  5. Jake L. on December 3rd, 2005 7:26 pm

    I don’t understand why people think that Felix I (the first, since he’s royalty, and all) will bear some huge grudge against the Mariners for preventing him from participating in the WBC this year. If this “slight” is what keeps them from signing him to a long-term contract some time in the future, then I think anything short of the FO throwing rose petals wherever Felix walks would create a Manny Ramirez-level hissy fit. Sure, there’s a chance that this incident (which is too grandiose a term, I’m sure) could lead to further animosity, but there is FAR greater chance that pitching in the WBC could cause (if not now, then later) a serious arm problem. I would think that his only rational response to this would be, “We (as in the royal “we”) should be above this kind of thing.”

  6. msb on December 3rd, 2005 7:27 pm

    and if this WBC is a success, there’ll be another chance for him to pitch…

  7. Jim Thomsen on December 3rd, 2005 7:30 pm

    Appeal to Felix by appealing to his financial future. The more he stays healthy for the Mariners, the more he stands to be a very, very rich young man. I would imagine that line of reasoning would be very persuasive to him — and his agent.

  8. Jesse on December 3rd, 2005 7:38 pm

    Maybe I misread the article, but didn’t it say that MLB had turned down (maybe preliminarily) the request by the Mariners? So, the club may not have the final say, right?

  9. David J Corcoran on December 3rd, 2005 7:45 pm

    8: But they can certainly make other threats, such as : “We won’t let you pitch in the majors this year if you pitch in the WBC” which would be downright stupid, but still an option.

  10. Jim Thomsen on December 3rd, 2005 7:54 pm

    I would extort a concession from Venezuela: If they take Felix against the M’s will and he gets hurt, the M’s get something of equivalent value — say, all of that country’s oil or drugs operations.

  11. tede on December 3rd, 2005 8:11 pm

    The M’s have to be careful here.

    Especially after getting into beefs with there last two Venezualan players but ignoring the bizarre off the field behavior of their former Japanese closer Kazu.

    As a Japanese owned club they could be perceived by potential Latin players of applying different standards for Latin players vs. Japanese players. (And yes pitchers are different than RF’s)

    They are in a lose – lose situation here.

    The only silver lining is that Felix might get into game shape sooner.

  12. Nikku on December 3rd, 2005 8:24 pm

    Maybe a compromise where he pitches, but they make sure to limit his innings/pitches would be best.

  13. Aaron B on December 3rd, 2005 9:06 pm

    Didn’t the M’s do the same type of thing with Travis Blackley in 2004 when he could have pitched for Austrialia in the Olympics? He was up in July of 2004 and then sent down but the timing basically meant that he would not be able to join his country at the games. Or maybe it was just the fact that they brought up in July when for no real reason he was not needed at that point.

  14. Zach in Spokane on December 3rd, 2005 9:07 pm

    Anyone else get the feeling that Johjima’s withdrawal from consideration was dicussed and agreed upon as part of his major league contract? I’m not saying the M’s forced him, but…am I just getting old and cynical?

  15. David J Corcoran on December 3rd, 2005 9:08 pm

    13: Blackley was very much needed. Meche was pitching horribly, making his way down to Tacoma. Nageotte replaced him and was even worse. We needed a 5th starter very badly. Blackley came up at a time when he was absolutely needed. He was sent down shortly after because he didn’t pitch well.

  16. Nadingo on December 3rd, 2005 9:42 pm

    #14: I wouldn’t expect that it’d take much forcing on the part of the M’s to convince Johjima to skip the WBC. Not only is he a player adjusting to a new league, he’s also a catcher getting to know an entirely new group of pitchers, with whom he doesn’t even share a common language. His attendance at Spring Training should be a no-brainer.

  17. BJM on December 3rd, 2005 11:34 pm

    Aren’t we underestimating the King’s own concern for his well-being? It’s hard for me to imagine that a player that’s been in the game as long as he has would be unaware of the potential for injury. He knows what he’s risking; let him pitch. But in return the M’s should get the Venezuelan team to agree to a conservative max pitch count as well as limiting his per-inning count.

  18. Chris B on December 4th, 2005 12:14 am

    So funny – This morning I was thinking about Team Canada and the WBC, and then I started to wonder about whether King Felix would be pitching. I actually came onto USS Mariner to get the email address to see if I had missed anything about his intentions.

  19. Deep 6 on December 4th, 2005 12:31 am

    #14 & 16:
    Jojima said that Saduhara Oh suggested that he spend the spring here getting to know the pitching staff. Oh speaks!

    I think the M’s should adhere, without complaint or exception, to MLB’s ruling on this (if and when it comes).

  20. LB on December 4th, 2005 1:02 am

    #17: Aren’t we underestimating the King’s own concern for his well-being?

    I think you might be underestimating the invulnerability–no, immortality–a 19-year old, even a king, can see in himself. When I was 19, nothing bad was ever going to happen to me. Bad things happened to other people. Why shouldn’t Felix feel the same way?

  21. slim on December 4th, 2005 8:09 am

    Why do you think Felix will get in more innings in the WBC than he would in Spring Training?

    The IP formula the M’s use (10 IP for each year of age – 210 IP in Felix’s case) includes Spring Training. Since the WBC is being played in lieu of ST for these guys, Why can’t Felix take the 10 IP he would’ve used in the first half of March and use them in the WBC?

    Workload is going to be an issue for every pitcher in the WBC. Most of them aren’t going to be stretched out, so you’ll see a lot of guys pulled early and pitching on short pitch counts. The maximum number of games Venezuela could play is 8. Felix might get one start, but he’ll most likely be pitching in relief behind Santana, Freddy, both Zambranos, and Escobar.

  22. jared on December 4th, 2005 8:37 am

    i tend to agree with slim #21. It seems unlikely that the venzuela team would abuse his arm and that he would let them. It’s not like he is the only pitcher from venezuela. Plus, I think the downside of pissing him off is too likely. We americans tend not to take the olympics or the word cup events that seriously but citizens of other countries, who are perhaps less secure about their place in the worlds power structure, do take those events seriously.

  23. JMB on December 4th, 2005 8:43 am

    Hey slim — minor quibble. Felix turns 20 in April, so 10 x age = 200 IP.

  24. TeacherRefPoet on December 4th, 2005 9:09 am

    I’m torn about Felix, since I want what’s best for the Mariners. But I’m also excited enough about the tournament that I want the best players for each country competing, and that means Felix.

    Are the IP limitations written into the rules, or are teams on their honor? I hope the former.

  25. Christopher Michael on December 4th, 2005 9:12 am

    Its one of those things the Mariners have to do. Obviously they don’t want any of their star, or soon to be star, players doing any playing other than for themselves. Its no different than any other labor intensive job. Doesn’t stop you from doing it. Just means they don’t want you to chance hurting yourself while you’re out of their control.

  26. msb on December 4th, 2005 9:44 am

    fwiw, “Any player signed to a Major League contract must be approved to participate in the event by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association”

    didn’t Engle & Avila form a good relationship with the entire Hernandez family? seems to me I remember that one of the family’s main concerns was signing Felix to a team that would take care of him… although, it’s not like Venezuela won’t have any other players on their team 🙂

  27. Mat on December 4th, 2005 11:28 am

    Are there any Venezuelans on the M’s coaching staff? Perhaps it would be agreeable to all involved if Felix was allowed to pitch, but under the condition that there would be an M’s presence on the coaching staff that was able to make the call on taking Felix out of the game.

  28. Mat on December 4th, 2005 11:34 am

    “Why do you think Felix will get in more innings in the WBC than he would in Spring Training?”

    Spring training innings are different from innings in games where players care about the outcome. Most guys in spring training are more worried about working on a certain pitch and getting their arms ready for the season than they are about using all their pitches and going full out to keep runs of the board.

    Also, in spring training, most guys know ahead of time which innings they will be pitching and have a lot of time to warm up. Especially for a guy like Felix, a starter his whole career, I don’t know if we want him used in a relief role where he needs to warm up more quickly than he is used to warming up, or needs to pitch at full speed more often than once every 5 days. If Venezuela didn’t want him as a starter, I’d think they would have other guys in mind for relief roles.

  29. wilymo on December 4th, 2005 12:21 pm

    It should be noted though that Soriano’s injury in 2003 was not necessarily a direct result from his pitching in the Caribbean World Series. He had also previously pitched 40 innings in the DWL prior to the Caribbean World Series which probably wasn’t ideal given the number of innings he had pitched that season. It also could have occurred in Spring Training where if you remember he suffered the strained oblique and didn’t throw for a month. I guess my point is that I wouldn’t upset Felix because 1)He’s Felix and you don’t want to piss him off, 2) You’d hope he’d be throwing in some capacity anyways while the WBC is going on, and 3) From earlier reports, it seems as though pitchers will be held on strict pitch counts/inning counts so its not like Felix will be throwing complete games.

    Just my 2 cents.

  30. msb on December 4th, 2005 12:46 pm

    btw, Bud is having a press conference about the WBC on monday to open the Winter meeting

  31. [] on December 5th, 2005 12:52 am

    I say we tell Felix not this time, but we also guarentee him that we will ok him for the next one in 4 years.

    If Felix were to say that he doesn’t want to play in the wbc, people in his home country would look down on him. So we need to go out of our way to make it look like he is trying everything he can do to play and we are trying everything to say no. And in the end he doesn’t play this time, but can next time and is allowed to save face in his home country.

  32. Bob Q on December 5th, 2005 5:06 am

    Whatever King Felix wants, King felix should get. Feed the talent.

  33. msb on December 5th, 2005 9:05 am

    he wanted to throw a complete game early this season, do you let him do that too, just because he wants it?

  34. Deep 6 on December 5th, 2005 11:11 am

    32 & 33 You definatley have to look at the situation before deciding, but in this case the front office seems to be doing battle over ‘what if’s. I’m sure they’d rather have as much control as possible as to how he sets up for the season and I admit it would be a disaster for the team if he were injured. I don’t think it’s as big of a situation as it’s being made. You’ve got to choose your battles in anything. This is a small situation now. It could become a big problem, but it’s just debate and speculation right now.

    Bigger news would be finding out that MLB paid the Olympic commitee to remove baseball from it’s games in order for the WBC to gather a big following quicker. Anyone have an idea of what each team should expect in revenue for tickets, TV and Radio or, more importantly, who that money will go to?

  35. eponymous coward on December 5th, 2005 11:19 am

    The problem as I see it is that it’s pretty likely countries in the WBC aren’t going to play these games like All-Star or Spring Training games.

    Realistically, if it’s 2-2 in the 10th and Felix is on the mound nearing the edge of a pitch count, I don’t see Venezuela sending someone else out to pitch. Absent something like an iron-clad guarantee, I have to sympathize with the M’s here.

  36. Deep 6 on December 5th, 2005 11:32 am

    Felix may someday be good enough to only be nearing his pitch count after nine, but he was nearing it in the 5th through 7th every game I watched. I agree wholeheartedly that it’s a risk to just back off for more reasons than even the immediate. Future concerns will be decided, based at least partially, on the outcome of this. I don’t see any recourse beyond MLB’s ruling on the way I understand it to be set up. The only action I’ve heard of on this front is a complaint.

  37. Deep 6 on December 5th, 2005 12:07 pm

    the problem I see is what else can be done? What realistic leverage do individual MLB teams have over individual WBC teams choices of playing time? Over the player…The M’s used that card last year to keep Felix from playing winter ball (invite to spring training if you don’t go.) That’s what I think the M’s should not do again. Maybe there could be agreements between MLB teams and WBC teams that would solve the problem, but the answers I’ve heard seem to be a more difficult situaion than what we have. If an MLB team puts limits on playing time that are unrealistic considering the talent level of the individual. I’m meaning M’s say “don’t give Felix more than 10 innings, because that’s how much he’d have in Spring Training through the same time” obviously isn’t going to cut it unless Venezuela happens to have 5 starting pitchers that are better than him. Could the M’s start WBC prep early to stretch out pitchers for WBC. Should they haveto? If a WBC team wanted an MLB player to continue through injury, or come back early from surgery in order to play there should definately be some recourse for the MLB team who holds a contract with that player. I’m sure that professional teams around the world have the same concern, not just MLB teams. MLB created the situation by creating the WBC, so I hope they’ll figure it out in the next two months or so, before it’s too late. But maybe the revenues should go to a fund for team/player/family injury retribution?

  38. Not Pat Robertson on December 5th, 2005 12:09 pm

    I say we let him pitch but tell them if they overuse him we’ll assassinate Hugo Chavez.

  39. msb on December 5th, 2005 1:09 pm

    from the official announcement– “Strict pitch counts will be incorporated in the tournament games and there will be suggested limitations on the use of position players, conforming to the usual playing time expended by most Major Leaguers during Spring Training”

  40. gregod on December 5th, 2005 1:25 pm

    Losing teams don’t deserve priveledges or accolades. Better to focus on the season ahead. Winning teams get ice-cream… I like K-Jo too! Go M’s…

  41. msb on December 5th, 2005 3:23 pm

    there is a partial list of potential participants up at mlb.com, and as Gene Orzo commented during the press conference, apparently you just have to have had pizza at sometime in your past to make the Italian team (John Smoltz was declared eligible for the Italian team… he decided to stay with the USA team, though)

  42. Gomez on December 5th, 2005 4:12 pm

    Deep 6 and everyone else concerned with a possible work overload: with only three qualifying games for all WBC teams, eight games total for the finalists, and with Venezuela also fielding K-Rod, Carlos Silva, Johan Santana and Victor and Carlos Zambrano, I highly doubt Felix will be used for much more than a middle reliever. I’ll be shocked if Felix rings up 75 pitches TOTAL in the WBC, even if Venezuela makes the finals.