USSM Mailbag: Meche heads to arbitration

DMZ · January 23, 2006 at 7:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

First in a series of slow-news-day posts.

Meche is going to make what in arbitration? Really?

Yeah, I know. Meche made $2.5m. He asked for $4.2m, and the team offered $3.35m. They may well yet agree, as they did last year, on a split-the-difference one-year contract.

But you might well be asking “What the hell? Why would Meche get even $3.35m?”

That’s a good question. Generally speaking, arbitration is not about performance. It’s about comparing the player to other players with similar service time and then determining where, within that range, the player’s performance lies. There are other factors that enter into it, but usually, playing time plays a huge fact. Take, for example, the Mariners v Brian Hunter, a case they lost:
M’s: He’s terrible! Look at his performance.
Arbitration board: If he’s so terrible, why did you play him all year?
M’s: We didn’t have any choice!
Arbitration board: We rule for Mr. Hunter. Mr. Hunter, if you could just walk over here and take this gigantic sack of money…
Hunter: I don’t walk, sorry.

Another thing that’s important to realize here is that given the two numbers, the arbitration board choses the one they think is closer to the established value. So say Meche’s number is horribly unrealistic. The M’s want the arbitrator to chose their number over Meche’s, which means they argue over what the best strategy is and then (historically anyway) they go in and lose the case.

Now, whether Meche’s numbers match up with people with similar service time, I don’t know. Meche’s service time is a thorny issue in itself, and I’m not a major league team with access to his info or that of his peers.

The problem is that Meche, given either of those numbers, is going to be really hard to trade. If it’s a couple months into the season and Meche has an ERA of 5, a $4.2m salary, and Livingston’s pitching well enough to force the issue, Meche probably heads to the bullpen (which might be a good move, but that’s another question) unless the Yankees are suffering another rotation meltdown.

Next up: more stuff!


58 Responses to “USSM Mailbag: Meche heads to arbitration”

  1. eponymous coward on January 24th, 2006 4:21 pm

    Seriously? You could have picked up Jason Johnson for about what you’re going to pay Meche. You could dumpster dive for the Halamas and Browns of the world on NRIs (I don’t like Kevin Brown’s chances of being very good very much…but he might have a better shot than Gil Meche). Sift through the young arms and wait for the midseason to pull in another starter.

    I wasn’t aware that Tomko went to LA for that much- under the circumstances, no I wouldn’t have gone for him.

    As to him playing better last year than Everett, yeah, but he’s a year older this year.

    So’s Everett, and Moyer’s usefulness at this age isn’t ENTIRELY unprecedented- knuckleballers and guys like Warren Spahn made it to this point. He’s a risk, sure. As far as a big risk…not really. I wouldn’t have sobbed bitter tears if we had gone a different direction, mind you. But what’s frustrating, though? Add up Everett, Meche, Moyer and Washburn and you’re VERY close to Johnson, Millwood and Loaiza… and you still have Matt Lawton, and you might even be able to scrounge up a RH bat to platoon in LF for 750K to 1 million. Aaaargh.

  2. Edgar For Pres on January 24th, 2006 10:48 pm

    I’d rather go with Meche than go dumpster diving. Meche has been consistantly inconsistant and has pissed us all off at points. He’s going to be on our team for the same reason that Thorton will be on the team. I hope Meche puts it together next year. If he does great, if he doesn’t then bump him out of the rotation. I think(hope) Meche will likely do better than Moyer this year. He’s one of the guys that I still want to see put it together. He’s still only 27 and has some stuff that can be good but just needs to be consistant for an entire game. $4 mil is a little steep but I think its a better deal than any FA on the market.

  3. DMZ on January 24th, 2006 11:27 pm

    That made almost no sense at all.

  4. Mr. Egaas on January 24th, 2006 11:48 pm

    When it comes down to it, we can’t really win with Meche. We’re already paying him 4 million plus… if he has a good season, he’ll likely command a large, multi-year deal, if not from us, than from somebody else. Do we really want to give him that, if he posts one solid season?

  5. eponymous coward on January 25th, 2006 9:31 am

    DMZ, which part DID make sense? I couldn’t tell.

    On the point in 54- Well, I suspect we would, because he MIGHT be executing the Chris Carpenter/Jason Schmidt turnaround at age 27, and going from being a pitcher with no idea where the ball’s going to a good pitcher. My problem is that paying $4 million to see if he can do this is the roster equivalent of taking your 401k when you retire and buying lottery tickets as a wealth-building strategy. Could it pay off? Sure. Is it a wise strategy? No, not really.

  6. Badperson on January 25th, 2006 9:55 am

    #51, It seems to me that the one tiny advantage Meche has is that we only are stuck with him for a year. With free agents, it’s often hard to avoid longer contracts. I’m fairly sure we could have gotten Kevin Brown for a year (since he’s so old) but I don’t see why he would be leaps and bounds better than Meche.

    I agree with your angst over the Everett+Washburn+Meche = Johson+Millwood+Loaiza, I just got done having it when we signed Washburn.

    As far as Moyer not being a good risk, I think the Moyer fans are squinting really hard at his home 2005 numbers. In the article about Defense on this site, I learn that a good sample size is 2 years. Over the last 2 years, Moyer struck out 5/9 ip, and walked 2.6/9 ip. I don’t have his groundball percentage rate, but he did give up 67 dingers in that time so I doubt it was stupendous. Apply a reasonable amount of regression for being 43 years old, and you get what? 4.5K/9ip, 3bb/9ip? Whoopee.

  7. eponymous coward on January 26th, 2006 11:57 am

    Heard on KJR that Meche and the M’s have come to terms (I’d assume at the halfway point).

  8. Tod on January 26th, 2006 1:57 pm

    If I hold my nose and overlook the fact that Gil Meche is getting $3.7 million, Bavasi has demonstrated a nice trend of getting folks such as Bloomquist and Meche to agree to less than a fifty-fifty split. I particularly like the Meche incentives, since they have improbably high thresholds – if he gets them, he will have earned his salary. (Of course, if the budget reserves for incentives on a dollar-for-dollar basis, as a fan their unlikely-acheiveability isn’t doing much for me.)

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