The Cost of This Team

Dave · September 24, 2006 at 8:33 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

It seems like, at the moment, the prevailing school of thought on what the Mariners should do this offseason is keep this team almost entirely in tact, but just add two quality starting pitchers to the mix, with most of the general population agreeing that those two pitchers should be Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jason Schmidt. People generally seem to be satisfied with the rest of the roster, and feel that spending the available budget money on starting pitching is the way to go.

Except that it’s not. Assuming the organization don’t raise payroll significantly, the Mariners can’t afford to do that. They can’t even really come close.

The team has spent approximately $81 to $88 million on its 25 man roster the past several years. You’ll hear the team report a higher payroll figure that includes the entirity of the 40 man roster, buyouts and contract bonuses, and a reserve fund for “special circumstances”. But, in reality, the combined yearly salaries of the team’s 25 man roster has been in the $80-90 million range, and there’s no reason to believe that the ownership is going to give management significantly more to work with this offseason. You can argue that they should, but that’s another post entirely. Dealing with the realities of a budget that isn’t likely to increase by much if any, we’re bound by an upper limit of about $85-$90 million for the 25 man roster.

As it stands now, the Mariners have approximately $75-$80 million committed to 2006 contracts for the 23 players that most people assume should return next year. Take a look:

Player	           2006 Salary	2007 Salary
Richie Sexson	 $13,000,000.00 	 $14,000,000.00 
Adrian Beltre	 $12,900,000.00 	 $13,500,000.00 
Ichiro Suzuki	 $12,530,000.00 	 $12,530,000.00 
Jarrod Washburn	 $7,450,000.00 	 $9,500,000.00 
Kenji Johjima	 $5,433,333.00 	 $5,433,333.00 
Raul Ibanez	 $4,916,667.00 	 $5,000,000.00 
Ben Broussard	 $2,487,500.00 	 $4,000,000.00 
J.J. Putz         	 $415,000.00 	 $3,500,000.00 
Rafael Soriano	 $450,000.00 	 $3,000,000.00 
Eduardo Perez	 $1,750,000.00 	 $2,000,000.00 
Julio Mateo	 $700,000.00 	 $1,000,000.00 
Willie Bloomquist	 $650,000.00 	 $850,000.00 
Chris Snelling	 $328,500.00 	 $500,000.00 
Yuni Betancourt	 $677,500.00 	 $450,000.00 
Felix Hernandez	 $340,000.00 	 $400,000.00 
Jose Lopez      	 $335,000.00 	 $400,000.00 
George Sherrill	 $333,000.00 	 $400,000.00 
Jeremy Reed	 $375,000.00 	 $375,000.00 
Jake Woods     	 $332,000.00 	 $332,000.00 
Mark Lowe         	 $328,500.00 	 $328,500.00 
Emiliano Fruto	 $328,500.00 	 $328,500.00 
Rene Rivera	 $328,500.00 	 $328,500.00 
Total        	 $66,389,000.00 	 $78,155,833.00 

That’s a complete roster, minus two starting pitchers. The salaries for Putz, Soriano, Broussard, and Snelling are estimates, as they are arbitration eligible and we won’t know exactly what they’re going to earn next year until some point this winter. That said, I’m pretty confident that the esimates are pretty close to what they’ll be looking at, salary wise, next year. Some of the names are easily replaced with others; Fruto and Woods could easily be Baek and Huber, but for salary purposes, it doesn’t really matter.

While it’s true that we’re shedding the costs of Pineiro, Meche, Guardado, and Spiezio, we’re also giving out pretty significant raises. Putz, Soriano, and Broussard are going to get large increases in their pay through arbitration, Jarrod Washburn has a $2 million salary bump for 2007, Richie Sexson gets $1 million more, and the salary escalations for Beltre, Mateo, Bloomquist, and Perez total almost $1.5 million combined. As you can see from the total column, it will cost almost $12 million more to field this same roster next year compared to this year.

That leaves the Mariners with approximately $7-12 million (giving the team a payroll range of $85-$90 million for the 25 man roster) in spending money for the offseason, depending on how the arbitration cases go. $7-$12 million for two starting pitchers. That might get you Daisuke Matsuzaka, as long as the posting fee doesn’t count against payroll, but then you’re done. Would you be happy if the Mariners essentially brought back this same team with just Matsuzaka (or Schmidt, or whatever $10 million pitcher you think we’d acquire) added to the rotation to replace Gil Meche?

I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be. This team still has some issues that need to be resolved, and acquiring one starting pitcher and asking the rest of the team to pick up the slack isn’t the kind of offseason that most of us are hoping for.

If you want the Mariners to make significant additions to this roster, you necessarily have to be in favor of significant subtractions. The Mariners are in line to pay Sexson, Beltre, Ichiro, and Washburn $49 million for next season, leaving about $40 million for the other 21 players. When you have 54 percent of your payroll tied up in four players, those guys have to provide a significant contribution to the team. It’s nearly impossible to create a supporting cast good enough to carry those four players to the playoffs. The Big Four, salary wise, have to produce at a higher level for this team to succeed.

Or, alternately, one of them has to go. This team could create significant budget room by trading one of these four players, giving them enough budget room to replace them with a similarly compensated but higher performing player. Considering the team already has significant holes in the rotation, it’s extremely unlikely they would move Jarrod Washburn, and I’m not sure they could even if they wanted to. So, realistically, if you want any kind of serious upgrade this offseason, one of Sexson, Beltre, or Ichiro has to go.

Essentially, the M’s have two options. Keep this team in tact and make just one significant move this offseason, or remove one of the highly paid players that is already here in order to create room for a more complete roster.

Sexson, Beltre, or Ichiro; which one would you trade?

Comments

227 Responses to “The Cost of This Team”

  1. shaunmc on September 24th, 2006 8:40 pm

    Put me down for Big Richie. I worry about his age and fondness for digesting uncooked meat.

  2. Coach Owens on September 24th, 2006 8:41 pm

    I’d trade Beltre. The reason for this is that he’s overpaid, underachieving and is just plain ugly. I think if we traded him now we could get a couple of pretty good prospects such as a pitcher and maybe a third baseman.

  3. dnc on September 24th, 2006 8:42 pm

    They’re not going to trade Ichiro, so this essentially comes down to a Sexson or Beltre discussion.

    I’m not entirely convinced we could deal either of them without taking any salary in return, but assuming you could Sexson seems like the safer bet to have enough trade value to pull that off. A smart organization might be willing to take Beltre off our hands for 75 cents on the dollar, realizing that Safeco’s a big chunk of his problem. But there aren’t really any internal candidates to fill third immediately (or second if you move Pezzer to third), so I don’t see the value there anyway.

    It has to be Richie, IMO. Deal Richie, move Benuardo to first, Raul to DH, and split the Sexson savings on starting pitcher #2 and a new left fielder (or cf if you move Ichiro back).

    I don’t really think we have any other options.

  4. ConorGlassey on September 24th, 2006 8:45 pm

    That’s easy… I don’t believe they would ever trade Ichiro, unless he demanded it. He’s too valuable to the team – both on and off the field. So, that narrows it down to Sexson vs. Beltre, and that’s an easy decision. I would trade Sexson because he’s A)older, B) we already have his replacement and C) he has more trade value, so he could get us more in return.

  5. Coach Owens on September 24th, 2006 8:47 pm

    3. So you’re saying replacing a really good fielding, power hitting first baseman for the older/poor fielding/poor hitting combination of Edurado Perez and Ben Broussard?

  6. Dave on September 24th, 2006 8:49 pm

    It has to be Richie, IMO. Deal Richie, move Benuardo to first, Raul to DH, and split the Sexson savings on starting pitcher #2 and a new left fielder (or cf if you move Ichiro back).

    I didn’t put this in the post, because I didn’t want to turn this into a thread just about Sexson, but yea, I agree, this one’s a real easy call. Dealing Sexson wouldn’t be hard at all, as there are a lot of teams that are going to be shopping for a right-handed power bat, and Sexson at 2/28 looks a hell of a lot better than Carlos Lee at 5/75. You wouldn’t have to send any cash with him, thanks to his solid last four months, and I’m pretty sure you could get a B level prospect for him even without eating salary.

    Other teams, who haven’t already committed huge money to underperforming players, can fit the last two years of Richie’s deal in their budgets, no problem. The Mariners can’t. They can’t pay him $14 million to not be an all-star. They need to spend that money better. That doesn’t mean that Richie has no value around the league; he just isn’t a good fit for the Mariners anymore.

    Trading Sexson is the pretty clear choice, I think.

  7. ConorGlassey on September 24th, 2006 8:49 pm

    dnc – we think alike. I don’t think any team would take the salary completely off our hands, either. When the Marlins dealt Carlos Delgado this winter, they paid $5M of his remaining salary and got Petit, Jacobs and Psomas. I don’t think we could get quite that much – but I think we could get something similar. The only question becomes where. Who would need a thumping 1B for next season: SF? Cincy? Baltimore? Pittsburgh? Who else?

  8. Celadus on September 24th, 2006 9:01 pm

    If we could pick on Cincy, that would be ideal. As an opposing GM, I’m vehemently in favor of their policy of trading position players for middle relievers.

  9. ConorGlassey on September 24th, 2006 9:03 pm

    3. So you’re saying replacing a really good fielding, power hitting first baseman for the older/poor fielding/poor hitting combination of Edurado Perez and Ben Broussard?

    What are you talking about? Who is poor hitting?
    Three-year splits:
    Broussard vs. RHP: .264/.337/.476
    Perez vs. LHP: .288/.397/.561

    Getting that kind of production for $6M is a lot better than getting Sexson’s production for $14M. And…sorry to break it to you, but Sexson’s no Gold Glover.

  10. Jeff Nye on September 24th, 2006 9:19 pm

    Sexson, definitely.

    It’s easy to want to trade Beltre considering his (somewhat, the level of it is arguable) disappointing performance since he signed his large contract; but the reality is that we wouldn’t get significant value back for him considering his recent performance and contract status. The upside of the possibility of him turning things around (which is admittedly slim at this point) is bigger than the upside of what we’d get back in trade.

    Sexson, on the other hand, could easily bring back something shiny.

  11. Coach Owens on September 24th, 2006 9:19 pm

    9. Well they haven’t done much for us. Perez since the trade, 17-83 hitting .203 with 1 homerun. Broussard, 35-140 hitting .250 with 7 homeruns.

  12. Walrus on September 24th, 2006 9:30 pm

    Gotta love what Richie has done, but….Richie has to go.
    Broussard is younger, and has been getting progressively better the past 3 years. Further, we can easily find some right handed bat that can put up similar numbers to Perez, if (or when) Perez fades next year.
    Better yet would be to trade both Richie and Broussard, if Ben is going to actually make $4M next year…go with Raul at first, Snelling at DH, and get J. Jones from Chicago for LF…but that is beyond the Mariner’s FO abilities…

  13. Willmore on September 24th, 2006 9:45 pm

    Dave, you might be looking at different numbers, like using the CBA ones instead of the real budget ones, but some of your salary numbers don’t seem to mesh with this source here

  14. true_slicky on September 24th, 2006 9:46 pm

    Beltre, simply, would get more in return.

  15. David* on September 24th, 2006 9:49 pm

    No, simply, he wouldn’t

  16. dnc on September 24th, 2006 9:57 pm

    14 – I think Beltre is more valuable thanks to his position, age and defense, BUT:

    a) He is signed for three more years rather than two.
    b) A Sexson acquisition would much more likely be embraced by a fan base. He’s a known commodity and isn’t perceived to have been a one year wonder.

    I would imagine Sexson has significantly more trade value.

  17. JI on September 24th, 2006 10:08 pm

    Ooohh, a free pass to rosterbate!

    Not only would I deal Sexson (preferably for a young pitcher that could compete for the last rotation spot), I’d talk to Houston about a Beltre for Morgan Ensberg swap considering that Houston over the past few years will make up any excuse to keep Ensberg out of the lineup.

    Assuming that move isn’t a pipedream, you’d end up with a lineup of: Ichiro, Snelling, ?????? , Ensberg, Ibanez, Johjima, Benuardo, Lopez, Betancourt.

    Who do you get to fill that hole?

    Obviously no sane person on a budget would dish out 5/75 for Lee or Soriano. That leaves you with Alou (productive, but subject to attrition), or perhaps Nomar Garciaparra (ditto). And those aren’t really the type of players a rebuilding team should be blowing their allowance on.

    It seems unlikely we could contend with Matsuzaka, Felix, Washburn and two spots worth of Replacement Level Fodder, given that our run-production in 2007 is middle of the road.

    I think the best route would be to find next year’s Marcus Thames, Josh Williangham or Dan Uggla… Or pray that you win the Miguel Cabrera Sweepstakes, should they be offered. [Who would you trade for Cabrera? I'd give the Marlins pretty much anything but Felix, provided we felt we could ink Miggy to a 7/100 deal (or whatever the market equivalent of that becomes)].

  18. Coach Owens on September 24th, 2006 10:16 pm

    Sexson really isn’t that old since he’ll only be 31 in December. That’s the reason I wouldn’t trade him. He’s hit a lot of homeruns which is the reason we signed him. Beltre was signed because we thought he could hit 25-35 homeruns a year. I would rethink it if we moved the LF fence in but for now I would trade Beltre.

  19. awolfgang on September 24th, 2006 10:21 pm

    I know everyone is quick to deal Sexson, but if you can look past his batting average , just like you do pitcher’s era, then you’d see that he is only the third right handed batter to do good at Safeco. A-Rod, Bastard, had one good year, other than that it was Edagar and Steroid-Boonie. I say keep Beltre, Sexson, Ichiro, Washburn, and wait one year to do a salary dump on the crap scrappie, middle relief, gritty, buy-them-for a buck players, that you can get in any organization. By the way, Cha Seung Baek is a stud in EAsports MLB 2005, he is the right-handed Moyer, and I’ve got 2 CY Young awards out of him.

  20. joser on September 24th, 2006 10:34 pm

    My gut would rather move Beltre than Sexson (and whenever Beltre is falling on one knee while hopelessly flailing at an outside pitch, my gut is joined by every other fibre of my body). But my brain says otherwise. Yeah, Richie’s wingspan saves some runs, and when he’s hitting (like last year or the second half of this year) he gets a lot of dingers. However, first basemen — even “power hitting” first baseman — are more fungible than slick-fielding 3rd basemen. There are lots of people who can play a decent 1st base (including a couple already on the team). I know there’s a lot of people disappointed in Beltre because he didn’t equal his walk year in LA, but Beltre’s a bigger upgrade at his position than Sexson is at his, and would be harder to replace. Who would you play in place of Beltre? The Dobber? Morse? Bloomquist?

    Something else to consider: you’ve got Raul who can play first, or split time there. The team has a glut of outfielders coming up. We know Snelling can hit. Jones might too, given a bit more time and seasoning. Reed might put up better numbers with a fully-healed wrist. Putting Raul at 1st part of the time opens up a spot for one them, and they don’t cost the team anything extra.

  21. IdahoInvader on September 24th, 2006 10:38 pm

    [Pineiro]

  22. Tom on September 24th, 2006 10:38 pm

    Get rid of Sexson, get a starting pitcher for him, and then go and get Seung-Yeop Lee and Matsuzaka.

  23. true_slicky on September 24th, 2006 10:40 pm

    Beltre: younger, more upside. Any GM would want him anchoring the hot spot. If he could only maintain his second-half for the whole season, then you could understand why he would, simply, get more in return.

    The only hiccups would be his contract, and if he were dealt the M’s would be undoubtedly on hook for a good chunk.

    By the way, nice with the snappy come-baks David* It’s always nice to have baseball discussions with a good “Snap- aw no you didn’” interspersed!

  24. PositivePaul on September 24th, 2006 10:41 pm

    I would be intensely shocked to see the M’s even consider dealing Ichiro. He’s more the face of this franchise than anyone. With Boone, Wilson, Edgar, and Moyer all gone, he’s probably the only player left on the team that the common, everyday fan comes to the ballpark to see. Sure there’s a few folks that are able to latch on to Raul. A few others have grown an attachment to Willie Bloomquist. Beyond that, though, the kids only talk about Ichiro. Felix isn’t there yet. Neither is Yu-Bet, Jose, Kenji, Doyle, or any of the recent cast of characters. Ichiro is, for many of the money-spending commonfolk M’s fans, the face of the franchise, and the only one they endear themselves to. The ramifications for trading Ichiro would be more negative than positive, even if we were able to land David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado for him.

    Beltre — it’s a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” scenario. He’s too valuable to the M’s and yet too burdensome, too. I will say this, though. Even though he hasn’t been quite the player everyone expected him to be, he hasn’t completely backslidden into oblivion like the other curses we’ve had at third. Even if it’s merely slight, he has improved this year. Let’s not forget that last year he had his career high in doubles, and he broke it this year (and certainly could reach 40 doubles yet this season). His second half of this season, while not spectacular, still has been one of the best for AL 3rd Baseman. He’d probably thrive offensively in a different ballpark, and most certainly would be an offensive force in the NL. If an NL GM offers something crazy stupid for him, you gotta answer the phone. But trading Adrian (especially if you have to thrown in cash) would likely do more harm than good.

    Which, of course, leads us to Sexson (as seems to pretty much be consensus around here). I do agree that of these three, Sexson probably is the most tradeable, and would fetch a decent return without us having to send along briefcases full of cash. My only hesitation is that I’m really curious who will give us his production. Certainly it’s reasonable to expect better seasons and more power out of Jose Lopez, Doyle, and Kenji Johjima. But will that cover the 30-40 HRs + 100-130 RBIs? I’m not totally convinced. We’re already one of the bottom feeders in the AL for run production — as much as I’m not really a huge fan of his, how would losing Richie Sexson help this cause? I’m not certain I can answer that.

    I agree that we’ll have to shed salary in order to even get some league-average starting pitching to help fill HUGE holes in the rotation. It’s probably going to mean that Sexson will be traded (and he probably should). But I’m not totally convinced our offense will be fine without him. A healthy Doyle would help, certainly. But that’s an awful lot of production that would be removed from an already weak offense.

  25. Josh on September 24th, 2006 10:41 pm

    I know everyone is quick to deal Sexson, but if you can look past his batting average , just like you do pitcher’s era, then you’d see that he is only the third right handed batter to do good at Safeco. A-Rod, Bastard, had one good year, other than that it was Edagar and Steroid-Boonie. I say keep Beltre, Sexson, Ichiro, Washburn, and wait one year to do a salary dump on the crap scrappie, middle relief, gritty, buy-them-for a buck players, that you can get in any organization. By the way, Cha Seung Baek is a stud in EAsports MLB 2005, he is the right-handed Moyer, and I’ve got 2 CY Young awards out of him.

    I’m not sure everyone’s looking at BA alone.

    I’m assuming what you mean is that one year isn’t enough to count as doing well in Safeco. Wouldn’t that mean Sexson must have done well in both years since you qualify him as doing well at Safeco?

    I don’t have home stats for last year, so I’ll just provide the overall and not argue against it for now:

    2005 – .910 OPS overall
    2006 – .772 OPS at Safeco

    .772 isn’t exactly overwhelming. Taking into account $13m this year and his average-at-best defense, it’s pretty nasty. Still, with the point being how well he hits at Safeco, I don’t think he’s had two good years.

  26. s.bender21 on September 24th, 2006 10:43 pm

    To me this seems like a no-brainer. The only one we could deal is Sexson. Our return on Beltre would be a C level prospect or two and we would have to eat about $15 mil of his remaining contract. We already have Sexson’s replacement and could probably deal him for either a defensive LF or a strike out prone DH and a level B pitching prospect.

    As bad as it sounds, putting Reed in LF and DH Raul and having Schmidt on the mound is better than Raul in LF with Sexson at first and Piniero on the mound.

  27. joser on September 24th, 2006 10:45 pm

    I know everyone is quick to deal Sexson, but if you can look past his batting average…

    It’s not his batting average that’s the problem: .263 last year is effectively the same as his .259 this year, and we didn’t really have any complaints in 2005. The problem is his drop in OBP (.369 last year, .336 this year) and SLG (.541 last year, .494 this year) which adds up to a huge drop in OPS (.910 last year, .830 this year, well below his .875 career average). His OPS is lower than it’s been since 1999.

    By the way, Cha Seung Baek is a stud in EAsports MLB 2005, he is the right-handed Moyer, and I’ve got 2 CY Young awards out of him.

    Great. Now if we can convince the rest of MLB to play out the games online instead of actually having human teams play in real stadiums, the Mariners will be on their way to a World Series victory. Bummer that none of us will be able to experience it in person and the trophy is just a bunch of pixels.

    Oh wait, the Giants are rolling out 8 virtual cyborg Barry Bonds. We’re screwed.

  28. Tom on September 24th, 2006 10:47 pm

    #22-Forgive me for posting a lineup, but to make my point known, look at this lineup if you had Seung-Yeop Lee in there.

    Ichiro-L
    Doyle-L
    Beltre-R
    Ibanez-L
    Johjima-R
    Lee-L
    Lopez-R
    Broussard-L
    Betancourt-R

    5 lefties in your lineup that plays 81 games in a ballpark kindest to left handed hitters, and all 5 of them very good professional hitters. Oh, and also the other 4 guys, Beltre, Lopez, YuBet, and Joh are not half bad last time I checked.

    Let’s see, Joh and Betancourt are going to hit .300 this year, we obviously saw in the second half of the season what Beltre is capable of doing as a #2 or #3 hitter, and JoLo was an All-Star this year and could get better over time.

    Combine all those factors along with the possibility of the M’s hitters maybe getting more patient at the plate IF Hargrove gets fired and drawing more walks. . .

    Need I say more?

  29. PositivePaul on September 24th, 2006 10:47 pm

    Oh, and one more thing in regards to losing Sexson’s production out of the lineup. Certainly no one believes Raul is going to have yet another career year next season? It’s possible, sure — folks have been wrong with him before. But even I, often accused of being an optimist, wouldn’t bet the 2007 season that he’d have another season like he has had in 2006. It’s more likely that he’d suffer a bit of decline, and losing that (however significant it is) production, combined with the loss of Sexson, would decrease our chances, too. Of course, it’s easier to find production at 1B, but how many 30+ HR 125 RBI guys are out there on the cheap?

  30. Sane on September 24th, 2006 10:52 pm

    In order, Ichiro, Sexson, and then Beltre. Sexson’s the most expendable of the three IMO, but Ichiro would most likely yield the most return between the two. Beltre’s too valuable to the team right now, regardless of his contract.

  31. Tom on September 24th, 2006 10:54 pm

    #29-True, but surely he’s not going to go Jeff Cirillo on us and hit .230 next year. Would he?

    But Ibanez does have a letdown next year you could just switch S.Y. Lee to the #4 spot and Ibanez down to #6.

    Remember too that Adam Jones and T.J. Bohn are coming and should really be Major League ready by 2008 and one of them could always replace Ibanez if he starts to catch “Senior Citizen-itus” and falters at the end of his career.

  32. atait on September 24th, 2006 10:55 pm

    Can we say Ichiro AND Sexson?

    Ichiro would bring at least one A prospect. Sexson, even if to just get rid of his salary, would be worthy of a B prospect.

  33. colm on September 24th, 2006 10:59 pm

    Ichiro will stay in Seattle for as long as he wants. If he doesn’t get too pissed off at the team, they’ll let him play the outfield from his wheelchair.

  34. atait on September 24th, 2006 11:03 pm

    Ichiro costs WAY too much for his production. He’s overrated, and would be more valuable to this franchise if we dealt him for prospects. Besides, I’m not convinced he wants to play here past this year.

  35. gwangung on September 24th, 2006 11:11 pm

    Ichiro costs WAY too much for his production. He’s overrated, and would be more valuable to this franchise if we dealt him for prospects.

    Baseball sense ONLY (and I’m not so sure at that). PR & Marketing is another story…and those are not things to be ignored or scorned. It’s popular for statheads to do that…but a business is not run by statistics alone.

  36. Graham on September 24th, 2006 11:19 pm

    Well, Ichiro’s not going anywhere, so leaving him out of the discussion, I have to say Sexson.

    He’s overrated where Adrian is underrated, older, plays a less important position with far inferior defense. We can get more out of a Sexson deal than we could from Beltre, and I highly doubt there’ll be much difference in the value of the two going forward.

  37. joser on September 24th, 2006 11:21 pm

    Since 2003 Broussard hit 16, 17, 19, and 20 HRs (that 20 is CLE+SEA combined), and he’s a lefty. Note that while Jacobs field has similar RF dimensions to Safeco, in terms of HRs Jacobs field has actually been more of a pitcher’s park than Safeco every one of those years except 2005 (yeah, that surprised me too). Is Broussard equal to Sexson? Of course not, but he doesn’t cost $14M either (he’s half of Sexson’s production at about a quarter the price). If you’re going to pay for pitching, you have to find ways to do more with less everywhere else.

    As for Ichiro: he brings in more revenue than any other single player on the team (given the turnover in “names” on the roster I wouldn’t be surprised if he brings in more revenue than all the rest of them combined). And he has a personal relationship with the team’s primary owner. He’s not going anywhere else unless that’s what he wants. Since we have no firm evidence of that, speculating about it is kind of pointless.

  38. IdahoInvader on September 24th, 2006 11:22 pm

    22 & 28

    Just how attainable is this “Lee” dude? What’s his current status regarding wherever he plays now?

  39. Sports on a Schtick on September 24th, 2006 11:33 pm

    I would say trade Sexson, although if a team that needs a CF badly (Boston comes to mind) offered a boatload of prospects for Ichiro and Ichiro wanted to leave…

  40. dw on September 24th, 2006 11:41 pm

    I’d put all three of them out there and see what I get offered, and I’d be willing to deal all three if the price was right. It would absolutely kill the fan base, but I’d do it.

    But if I only had one to dangle out there… Sexson is clearly the one. Beltre’s hitting problems can be fixed with an adjustment to the leftfield fences. Sexson’s problem is that he’s in decline. Ichiro… he’s not hitting like a $12M player, but he probably pays for himself twice over in international merchandising and TV.

    And while I’m rosterbating… I’d try to deal Sexson to Houston or Los Angeles Not Orange County.

  41. John L. Morgan on September 24th, 2006 11:44 pm

    Ok, I would love it if we moved Sexson–as I think any intelligent fan would–but truth is, he’s a local boy and I just don’t think ownership will approve a trade. This seems like another situation where bloggers will be gnashing their teeth over what they deem an obvious move, while the politics of the situation will preclude it happening.

  42. godoyle on September 24th, 2006 11:49 pm

    #38, Seung-Yeop Lee signed one-year contract with Yomiuri Giants at the end of last season, so once the season is over he will become a Free Agent and can sign with whoever he wants. Lee made no secret about wanting to play in the major league. (Yomiuri owner put on an order to retain Lee, but that seems unlikely. Reports say major league scouts have been scouting him pretty much all season long.) He’s a good left-handed bat that can provide some power as well. His defense on 1B is average: not bad, but not great either.

    I agree with everyone here that unless Ichiro demands a trade, either Sexson or Beltre has to go. Since Richie is more tradable, he probably will have to go. Besides we can have Broussard/Perez play 1B (maybe move Doyle or Raul to DH?), whereas we don’t have a clear candidate to replace Beltre if we trade him.

  43. Josh on September 24th, 2006 11:50 pm
  44. Sports on a Schtick on September 24th, 2006 11:57 pm

    41: Does that mean the M’s won’t trade Willie for ten pounds of catfish?

  45. msb on September 24th, 2006 11:58 pm

    for all the BrushPrairieisms from Rizzs, does the average fan think of Richie as their hometown boy? I wonder if Raul might be thought of more as the ‘real Mariner’ by the base-level fan ….

    so if Benuardo go back to playing 1st where they both feel more comfortable rather than trying to learn to DH fulltime, what could we expect?

    They are at 30 HRs now, and if you go by the projected numbers they should come in at about 111 RBI, .332 OBP & .470 SLG. Richie is projected at 33 HR, 107 RBI, .331 OBP & .486 SLG

  46. msb on September 25th, 2006 12:01 am

    oh, and if Arte Moreno goes through with his promised ‘major’ move, does that put pressure on the front office, and do they bow to that pressure?

  47. Edgar For Pres on September 25th, 2006 12:28 am

    I’d say Ichiro. This won’t happen but it might be the best option. We could get some great SP prospects for him. Betancourt could become our #1 hitter. Reed or Jones would take over CF. This option does probably require Ibanez to play another season in LF which nobody is too happy about.

    Sexson is expensive, very expensive and he has a lot of value but I’m not sure that we would be able to fill the hole that this move would make in our lineup. He had a horrible slump but has really turned around his season (.318/.401/.601 since the allstar break). If we are going to be a really good team next year I think we need a hitter in our lineup who really has the ability to hit for 900+ OPS. If you don’t trade Sexson then you probably don’t need Broussard/Perez too much and then you could move Ibanez to DH.

    If we trade Washburn, we are basically forced to fill his spot with a replacement player. The mariners probably should trade him and try to bail on the contract as much as possible but we would probably be giving him away (or maybe even pay someone to take him)

    Trading Beltre doesn’t make much sense. Right now in other teams’ minds he is probably a 3B with potential that plays good defense but probably won’t take the next big step. I guess it depends on how likely he is to improve. If he doesn’t improve at all then you should have dumped him. I personally think that he is one of the players on the team who could really take us to the next level if he can step up his game (like he could).

    Another option would be to trade or not resign the Perez/Broussard tag team. This would save us about 5 million which isn’t as much as a lot of the other options but is enough to get a lower tier SP. Then we would move Ibanez to DH and plug Reed or Jones in LF (or CF if Ichiro moves back). This isn’t as exciting but might work out ok in the end and would avoid any huge moves. It would also give us better depth off the bench since we would remove two guys who can only play 1B or DH. We would lose a little production in LF but get better defense and the better pitching would easily make up for the lost offensive production too.

  48. Mat on September 25th, 2006 12:34 am

    Put me down for Sexson. First basemen with power always seem to be overrated by the market. It’s really not that hard to find them, but GMs seem to overpay for them fairly often.

    I don’t have faith in another GM valuing Beltre such that the Mariners would get fair value in return for him. It’s possible, and given Beltre’s maddening inconsistency (which doesn’t look like it’s going away) I’d certainly listen to offers for Beltre, but I don’t see him declining over the next couple years like I’d expect Sexson to decline, and Beltre’s defense is great.

    Ichiro, in CF, is an extremely valuable player. He doesn’t even have a lot of experience out there (yet), and I see him covering ground as one of the rangiest CF around. His OBP of .364 this year would rank him in a virtual tie with Johnny Damon for 4th best OBP amongst CF with 300+ PA this season, according to the positional assignments given by Baseball Prospectus. So that’s great defense at a key defensive position, and above average hitting for that position. All of that for a one-year, $11M deal? Where can I sign up?

  49. Steve Nelson on September 25th, 2006 12:50 am

    Ichiro generates enough revenue via Japanese tourists visiting Safeco to easily justify his salary. He is almost “free money” in that moving him would reduce team revenues by close to the same amount as his salary. (Of course, that doesn’t mean the team puts all of that extra ticket revenue into payroll.)

    Sexson’s contract easily makes him more tradable. He has the most value to a team that is a contender right now, but that needs add more power to the linuep. A team such as that can take on Sexson without risking crippling the team financially for years.

  50. Edgar For Pres on September 25th, 2006 1:04 am

    I think Broussard might be a big ? if we are going to rely on him to generate a large amount of offense. He’s a decent hitter but suffers from an approach where he hacks at everything and hopes its a fastball. He stikes out a lot and doesn’t walk that much. He is much cheaper than Sexson but frankly if I’m looking to get the best production I’d go with Sexson over Broussard any day of the week. Plus, guys its not like Sexson is in some sort of spiraling decline. Broussard isn’t too much younger and if you look closer at Sexson’s year, he isn’t losing much of anything. He’s basically the same player he was last year but went through a rather dramatic slump. Sexson is prone to slumps because of his swing and approach at the plate but he has recovered and hasn’t shown any signs of falling apart in the second half of the season. It just sounds to me like a lot of people are thinking we can get rid of Sexson and use Broussard to get the same production.

  51. LF Monster on September 25th, 2006 1:16 am

    40…totally agree

    I think it’s easy to agree with most that trading Sexson is the good route. Without the context of trade specifics including the other players involved I don’t think I could choose between the 3. I would trade Ichiro with his overseas marketing and everything in the right deal. I would trade Ibanez even quicker, but that’s not the debate.

    Since June 1, Beltre is slugging .523, tops among AL third baseman. Beltre is far more likely to win a gold glove than Sexson. It’s harder to find a 3b that could than a 1b that could.

    19…Beltre is slugging .450 for the season, including .434 at Safeco. His OPS at the Safe is .744 this year. For as much as Sexson hits better than Beltre at the Safe his 2007 SLg% .461 with an OPS of .772. If Sexson is one of the few good right handed hitters at Safeco how is Beltre not? A .028 difference in home park OPS is a very fine line. So is .027 SLG.

    I guess the fact that they have matched up pretty closely in overall numbers (aside from HR) and most of us here feel that Sexson’s been far superior to Beltre shows that Sexson’s overrated and/or Beltre’s underrated. If I was a GM of an NL team that needed a 3B or 1B I would look to pry one of the 2 from the M’s. I think that either could have at least a few more productive years in the NL. Beltre would seem to have the bigger upside and longer career left, so I don’t see how he would be so difficult to shop.

  52. Paul_Ibanyes on September 25th, 2006 1:18 am

    great breakdown – in view of salary/value the top priority trade bait must be; 1.Sexton 2.Mateo and then 3.Willy Bloomie as throw-in for combo package, well throw-in Grover too – and hope for solid SP + LH bat… er don’t care about LH, happy with a good OPS bat.

  53. Josh on September 25th, 2006 2:14 am

    Plus, guys its not like Sexson is in some sort of spiraling decline.

    Where are you drawing that conclusion from?

    Broussard isn’t too much younger and if you look closer at Sexson’s year, he isn’t losing much of anything.

    21 months is a very sizeable difference, especially when you are hitting and passing 30.

    Also, different people do take different career paths. Broussard has shown to be steadily improving, while Sexson has been generally declining for years. Could Broussard begin to level off and take steps back? Of course. That said, would you take a (random numbers) 40% shot at improvement or 10%?

    There’s no way you can say with a straight face that Sexson isn’t losing much this year.

  54. Dave on September 25th, 2006 6:29 am

    Since 2003 Broussard hit 16, 17, 19, and 20 HRs (that 20 is CLE+SEA combined), and he’s a lefty. Note that while Jacobs field has similar RF dimensions to Safeco, in terms of HRs Jacobs field has actually been more of a pitcher’s park than Safeco every one of those years except 2005 (yeah, that surprised me too). Is Broussard equal to Sexson? Of course not, but he doesn’t cost $14M either (he’s half of Sexson’s production at about a quarter the price). If you’re going to pay for pitching, you have to find ways to do more with less everywhere else.

    ESPN’s park factors are attrocious. They’re not even close to being accurate. So no, Jacobs has not been more pitcher friendly than Safeco.

  55. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2006 7:04 am

    53: I can say with a straight face that Sexson isn’t losing much this year. Yes, he started slowly, but his post-ASB numbers (when he would be older than his Pre-ASB numbers) are .311/.394/.588…That’s not just all-star caliber, that MVP discussion caliber. Yes, he had a slump early in the year, but I don’t think there’s any evidence here of a “Spiraling decline.” I’d also like to see the evidence that says that power hitters decline in general in their early 30′s. Unfortunately, much of the recent data could be tainted by steroid use (no allegations here, simply a potential influence on the numbers), but many power hitters continue slugging into their mid-late 30′s without a huge drop-off.

  56. Dave on September 25th, 2006 7:07 am

    Which, of course, leads us to Sexson (as seems to pretty much be consensus around here). I do agree that of these three, Sexson probably is the most tradeable, and would fetch a decent return without us having to send along briefcases full of cash. My only hesitation is that I’m really curious who will give us his production. Certainly it’s reasonable to expect better seasons and more power out of Jose Lopez, Doyle, and Kenji Johjima. But will that cover the 30-40 HRs + 100-130 RBIs? I’m not totally convinced. We’re already one of the bottom feeders in the AL for run production — as much as I’m not really a huge fan of his, how would losing Richie Sexson help this cause? I’m not certain I can answer that.

    The offseason plan addresses the issue. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, considering my noted disdain for spending big money on free agent pitching, but I clear a lot of salary space to provide a pretty significant offensive upgrade.

    Don’t worry, I’m not in favor of just removing Sexson from the offense and trying to get by. But I think that by removing Sexson, and replacing him with an even better hitter, the team could be significantly improved moreso than just throwing cash at a pitcher.

  57. Dave on September 25th, 2006 7:08 am

    53: I can say with a straight face that Sexson isn’t losing much this year. Yes, he started slowly, but his post-ASB numbers (when he would be older than his Pre-ASB numbers) are .311/.394/.588…That’s not just all-star caliber, that MVP discussion caliber. Yes, he had a slump early in the year, but I don’t think there’s any evidence here of a “Spiraling decline.” I’d also like to see the evidence that says that power hitters decline in general in their early 30’s. Unfortunately, much of the recent data could be tainted by steroid use (no allegations here, simply a potential influence on the numbers), but many power hitters continue slugging into their mid-late 30’s without a huge drop-off.

    Check out Sexson’s career first half/second half splits. He always hits much, much better when the weather warms up. It wasn’t a fluke that was followed by a regression to his true talent level. His true talent level includes a mediocre first half and a good second half. Which, overall, just isn’t worth $14 million per year.

    And really, if you haven’t seen the evidence that sluggers age in their 30s, you haven’t done enough reading. It’s one of the most obvious facts in baseball.

  58. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2006 7:30 am

    Dave, I’m not saying that Richie’s true talent level is exemplified by his second half, I am only pointing out that there isn’t any evidence of this Spiraling Decline some people are mentioning.

    As for sluggers after their 30th birthday, looking through the league HR leaders, we find Ortiz (almost 31), Soriano (30), Dye (32), Berkman (30), and Thome (36) all in the top 10. Of the next 11, 8 of them have seen their 30th birthday. Home run hitters in their 20′s are very rare. And while most of these guys are just over the 30 mark, There are enough (Dye, berkman, thome, delgado, thomas, giambi, ramirez) that are odler tham Richie that I don’t belive he can’t continue to hit right where he has been for the rest of this contract.

  59. Dave on September 25th, 2006 7:47 am

    Dave, I’m not saying that Richie’s true talent level is exemplified by his second half, I am only pointing out that there isn’t any evidence of this Spiraling Decline some people are mentioning.

    Oh, there’s a lot of evidence of decline. You’re just ignoring it. His BB% is 10.5% this year, down from 13.5, 13.9, and 13.8 the last three seasons. His K% is 26.4%, down from last year’s 29.9%, but still well above his previous levels of 23.3% in ’04 and 24.9% in ’03. His ISO is .232, down from .276, .344, and .278 the last three years. His HR/FB rate is 18.9%, down from 29.4, 34.6, and 24.5% the last three years.

    So, to sum it up, the three year trends are that he’s walking less, striking out more, and the ball isn’t traveling as far when he does make contact. I’m not sure what you want in a decline, but that’s pretty much the trifecta for a hitter right there.

    As for sluggers after their 30th birthday, looking through the league HR leaders, we find Ortiz (almost 31), Soriano (30), Dye (32), Berkman (30), and Thome (36) all in the top 10. Of the next 11, 8 of them have seen their 30th birthday. Home run hitters in their 20’s are very rare. And while most of these guys are just over the 30 mark, There are enough (Dye, berkman, thome, delgado, thomas, giambi, ramirez) that are odler tham Richie that I don’t belive he can’t continue to hit right where he has been for the rest of this contract.

    You haven’t done enough research on the subject, then. Sluggers decline in their 30s. It’s an indisputable fact.

  60. bedir on September 25th, 2006 7:55 am

    Dave, its intriguing that you included half of the arbie guys in the figure to determine dollars to spend. You could get nearly as much money from not retaining and/or dealing Broussard, Perez, Mateo as you could by dealing one of the three names you mentioned.

    10M$ from the three bit players
    11-14M$ from one of the three “name” guys.

    Aren’t BPM basically readily available parts through this system or filled easily from the ranks of the Free Agent class? They also have decent but not great value on the market.

  61. Dave on September 25th, 2006 8:07 am

    Dave, its intriguing that you included half of the arbie guys in the figure to determine dollars to spend. You could get nearly as much money from not retaining and/or dealing Broussard, Perez, Mateo as you could by dealing one of the three names you mentioned.

    Broussard, Perez, and Mateo next year should cost about $7 million combined. That’s half of what Sexson makes.

    Aren’t BPM basically readily available parts through this system or filled easily from the ranks of the Free Agent class? They also have decent but not great value on the market.

    Mateo, yea, he’s easily replaced. Broussard and Perez? No, I don’t think so. Despite his struggles here, Perez has been one of the best mashers of left-handed pitching in the game for the past few years. He’s had a rough few months, but I’m not willing to write him off based on the small sample we’ve seen in Seattle. $2 million for Perez is probably about what the market would bear. Wes Helms, a similarly skilled player coming off a better year, will probably get some kind of deal in that range, I’d imagine.

    Broussard at $4 million is undervalued, relative to the free agent market. He’d be good for something like 3/18 as a free agent, I’d imagine. He’s a comparable talent to Jacque Jones, who got 3/15 last offseason.

    And no, I don’t think the M’s have internal candidates who could be expected to replace the Broussard/Perez platoon and perform at an acceptable level. Clement might be ready to contribute towards the end of next year, and LaHair is a longshot possibility, but you don’t want to go into the season counting on either one.

    All that said, depending on what other moves the M’s make, I’m not married to Benuardo, and I’d be okay with moving both in the right circumstance.

  62. bedir on September 25th, 2006 8:18 am

    My bad, I would edit if I could. 7M$ not ten. I could quibble over dollar values or the 2M$ of Perez, but still the thrust of the story is sound. There are only three guys that have any potential at freeing up significant money on their own.

    I am also in the Sexson camp. Boston, Detroit, and most of the NL would seem to make some sense.

  63. Dave on September 25th, 2006 8:21 am

    My bad, I would edit if I could. 7M$ not ten. I could quibble over dollar values or the 2M$ of Perez, but still the thrust of the story is sound. There are only three guys that have any potential at freeing up significant money on their own.

    He made $1.75 million this year, and the team holds an option for 2007, so it’s probably around $2 million. It’s pretty rare for a player’s contract to be frontloaded, so there’s little reason to think his ’07 salary would be less than $1.75 million. It might be $1.8, it might be $2.2. So $2m is my best guess.

    I am also in the Sexson camp. Boston, Detroit, and most of the NL would seem to make some sense.

    San Francisco or Baltimore would be the two main candidates, I would think. San Francisco has Mike Matheny, Omar Viquel, and Randy Winn under contract for next year on offense. The rest of their line-up is free agent eligible. They’ve got a mountain of money, an obvious need for a power hitting first baseman, and have long been interested in Sexson.

  64. terry on September 25th, 2006 8:39 am

    #53: Why are ESPN’s park factors attrocious ad which source do you prefer?

  65. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2006 8:42 am

    59: Alright, so i decided to do some research. I figured, go look at the top 10 or so HR hitters of all time and see when their best seasons occured: Before or after the magical 30 mark.

    The top 10 HR hitters of all time are:

    Aaron
    Bonds
    Ruth
    Mays
    Sosa
    Robinson
    McGwire
    Killebrew
    Palmeiro
    Jackson

    Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have OPS numbers for all these guys, so I’m stuck with BA and HR

    Aaron: 1971, at age 37, hit 47 HRs (career high) and hit .327 (career high was .328)
    Bonds: I’m not even gonna bother. His best years all came after age 36, for some reason.
    Ruth: 1927, at age 32, hit 60 hrs (career high) and batted .356 (career high was .393, only hit 41 Hrs that year)
    Mays: 1965, at age 34, hit 52 HRs (career high) and batted .317 (career high was .347, but only 29 HRs that year)
    Sosa: 2001, at age 32, hit 64 HRs (66 career high) and batted .328 (career high). Not his best HR season, but he did it in 66 less ABs
    Robinson: 1966, turned 31 during the season, hit 49 HRs (career high) and batted .316 (career high .328, only 29 HRs that year)
    McGwire: 1998 at age 34, hit 70 HRs (career high) and batted .299 (career high .312 for a full-ish season, hit 52 HRs that year at 32)
    Killebrew: 1969, at age 33, hit 49 HRs (career high) and batted .276 (career high .288, 46 HRs that year, this is a close race)
    Palmeiro: 1999, at age 34, hit 47 HRs (career high) and batted .324 (career high)
    Jackson: 1980 at age 34, hit 41 HRs (career high 47) and batted .300 (career high).

    So, I dont ahve the numbers for all hitters considered sluggers and how they did before and after 30, but these guys represent hitters from pretty mich every era of baseball, and all 10 of the top 10 seem to ahve had arguably their best season after turning 30.

    Shrug.

  66. robbbbbb on September 25th, 2006 8:49 am

    So, Dave, important question:

    You’re already in favor of a deal including Jake Woods. Can you package Woods and Sexson together, and what’s the likely return? Does that help the deal or hurt it? And is there anyone else you can use to sweeten the deal?

  67. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 8:51 am

    59: Alright, so i decided to do some research. I figured, go look at the top 10 or so HR hitters of all time and see when their best seasons occured:

    Um, are you saying that Sexson is one of the top 10 HR of all time? Otherwise, aren’t you kinda cherry picking?

  68. Dave on September 25th, 2006 8:54 am

    So, I dont ahve the numbers for all hitters considered sluggers and how they did before and after 30, but these guys represent hitters from pretty mich every era of baseball, and all 10 of the top 10 seem to ahve had arguably their best season after turning 30.

    This isn’t analysis, and it’s certainly not applicable to Richie Sexson. Try reading this good starting article, this one on components, or or this one on selective sampling. Those will all be good for you.

  69. Dave on September 25th, 2006 8:55 am

    You’re already in favor of a deal including Jake Woods. Can you package Woods and Sexson together, and what’s the likely return? Does that help the deal or hurt it? And is there anyone else you can use to sweeten the deal?

    My offseason plan post is coming in the not too distant future, and that post will address these questions. This post is to help lay the groundwork for my thinking, so that you guys understand what I’m trying to do a little better.

  70. VaBeachMarinersFan on September 25th, 2006 8:56 am

    I was listening to the Orioles vs Twins Friday night. The broadcasters were talking about Sexson and picking him up this season as a free agent. They were drooling about what an upgrade he would be.

    Then one of their minions corrected them that he wan’t a free agent and had 2 years left. After some stumbling and pauses they said the Orioles should seriosly pursue him in the offseason trading some talent to get his bat.

  71. Dave on September 25th, 2006 8:56 am

    #53: Why are ESPN’s park factors attrocious ad which source do you prefer?

    Because their park factor formula is just screwy.

    The best park factor formulas are three year running averages broken down by handedness, since most parks treat RH and LH batters differently. The Bill James Handbook publishes these every year.

  72. AK1984 on September 25th, 2006 9:02 am

    Dave, do you think it’s possible for the M’s to deal both Jarrod Washburn and Richie Sexson to the San Francisco Giants — regardless of what is acquired in return for them — without having to pay for any of their remaining salaries?

    The Giants, who’ll have a need for both starting pitching and a power-hitting first baseman during the upcoming off-season, should have the financial wherewithal to acquire both players.

  73. JAS on September 25th, 2006 9:10 am

    For all of Washburn’s warts …. …. ….

    No punchline. You assume that San Franscisco management is grossly more incompetent than M’s management. Further, in such a scenario, you are postulating that M’s management is capable of getting mucho for nada, when clearly we should be prepared for nada (or poquito) for muchisimo.

  74. JAS on September 25th, 2006 9:11 am

    err….my point was that giving away bad contracts for nothing in return would be management at its best. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!

  75. msb on September 25th, 2006 9:16 am

    let’s not overvalue Sexson or any of the other Mariners — with the perceived lack of pitching in both leagues, why would teams be throwing SP at the Mariners for Sexson or anyone else?

  76. metz123 on September 25th, 2006 9:16 am

    Richie is the logical choice simply because the M’s have no replacements available at 3rd base or CF. Ichiro is extremely valuable to the club if he continues to play CF, less valuable in RF. At CF he’s one of the top 3 players in the game and will continue to be valuable even as his offense slips as he ages.

    The only way I trade Beltre is if we get back a legitimate starting 3rd baseman in return (no David Bells or Aaron Boones please). I also an intrigued by Morgan Ensberg or Cabrera manning the hot corner.

    Trade Richie to an NL team like the Giants, He’ll get back to his 40HR level and both teams will be happy. Considering one of the primary reasons the M’s signed Richie was to convince other free agents that the M’s were players, trading him wouldn’t be a great loss.

  77. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 9:21 am

    I’ve been in favor of dealing Sexson for a while — pretty much since picking up Benuardo, actually — so all of this only confirms me in that conclusion. My hope is that Bavasi can play SF and the O’s (and maybe another team or two, if we get lucky) against each other and work the price up a bit. I’ll be interested to hear who you think we might be able to land — the O’s in particular have a lot of young arms. (The Giants have Merkin Valdez, I know, and they also have Eddy Martinez-Esteve, whom we should have signed, if Gillick hadn’t been so cheap . . . but that’s another story.)

  78. Dave on September 25th, 2006 9:30 am

    Dave, do you think it’s possible for the M’s to deal both Jarrod Washburn and Richie Sexson to the San Francisco Giants — regardless of what is acquired in return for them — without having to pay for any of their remaining salaries?

    The Giants actually don’t need a guy like Washburn. They have Lowry, Cain, Lincecum, and Sanchez all as effective, young, pre-arb. eligible rotation arms. If they were going to spend $9.5 million over three years on a pitcher, they’d just try to bring back Jason Schmidt.

    The M’s, on the other, actually do need Washburn around, as much as I dislike the contract. They can’t fill four rotation holes this winter. That’s too much to ask. Considering his negligible trade value and the team’s need for a guy who can throw 200 innings, Washburn probably needs to be retained.

  79. Safeco Hobo on September 25th, 2006 9:33 am

    Dave-

    You’ve already said several times here that M’s management will see that Raul will retire a Mariner. After the season he has had, one can imagine his stock is as high as its ever been. If you were calling the shots would you at least make Raul available?

    I may be a pessimist, but i’m fairly confident that from here on out we will notice a decline in his skills (how rapid, i’m not sure). He is a pretty good bargin right now, so you are really not gaining much capital by moving him. We all know he’ll be with the organization til he retires, so this exercise is pretty meaningless. I was just curious what your thoughts were. Especially since a decline in both Sexson and Raul is inevitable, it would be pretty ugly if there was nobody to help pick up the slack whenever that happens.

  80. AQ on September 25th, 2006 9:36 am

    Dave – Can I ask why Betancourt would go down in salary in ’07? (From $677,500 to $450,000)

  81. Dave on September 25th, 2006 9:44 am

    You’ve already said several times here that M’s management will see that Raul will retire a Mariner. After the season he has had, one can imagine his stock is as high as its ever been. If you were calling the shots would you at least make Raul available?

    Honestly, if it was possible, I’d probably trade Ichiro and Ibanez. But I know its not possible, so I generally stay away from that kind of discussion. No Mariner GM is going to have the right to deal those players; not Bavasi, not Beane, not anyone.

    Dave – Can I ask why Betancourt would go down in salary in ‘07? (From $677,500 to $450,000)

    His salary this year was $350,000. The $677,500 is prorating his signing bonus of $1.3 million out over the four years of the contract. That number is the Annual Average Value number, while my salary numbers above attempt to reproduce the Actual Payout number, or what the players will actually cost the M’s in paychecks next season.

  82. AQ on September 25th, 2006 9:57 am

    #81 – Ahhh, that makes sense, thanks Dave. My vote (FWIW) goes to getting rid of Sexson as well. My rationale is very similar to what has already been said.

    We don’t have a genuine 3B prospect waiting in the wings (in the event of Beltre’s departure). Ichiro still has value to the team and value to the general public since he is the most recognizable player. Sexson can be replaced by the Benuardo platoon at 1B (Raul DH’s) or by Raul at 1B (and Benuardo DH’s). This would loosen up the logjam of OF’s that we have and perhaps we could go with Snelling in LF, Jones in CF, and Ichiro in RF. Or, replace Reed/cheap stopgap FA with Jones in CF if he’s not ready. Or, we could have Ichiro in CF, Snelling in LF or RF, and a cheap stopgap LF or RF until Jones is ready.

  83. JAS on September 25th, 2006 10:01 am

    Actually – we do have a 3B prospect – Jose Lopez

    But, do we have a 2nd base prospect if someone blew us away with an offer for Beltre?

  84. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 10:06 am

    Actually – we do have a 3B prospect – Jose Lopez

    Agreed. But he has a ways to go to equal Beltre’s current output at the bat, and I’m not sure he’d equal him with the glove. We really WOULD have to be blown away, to make up for the weakenesses we’d be introducing with a proposed Beltre trade.

    Don’t think that’s gonna happen…

  85. JAS on September 25th, 2006 10:06 am

    And what logjam in the OF do we really have?

    Snelling is a keeper. So is Ichiro – especially in CF. Ibanez should retire from LF, and should platoon at DH. We have the RH half the platoon already, so we need a legitimate LFer that is at LEAST equal to Sexson.

    That means Morse, Bohn, Reed, etc. are not legitimate candidates.

    Reed may be a keeper as a fourth OFer, but even at the top of his projection curve, he isn’t the bat this offense needs to replace someone like Richie. We don’t need any more stinking complimentary pieces.

  86. JAS on September 25th, 2006 10:10 am

    I agree that we are better off with Beltre at 3rd and Lopez at 2nd. My point was strictly hypothetical and assumes a very nice return for Beltre – such as a big LF bat or a TOR starter. IMHO – that is what Beltre is worth. Although fans may underrate Beltre, I doubt that the league is entirely devoid of savvy GM’s ready to pounce on Beltre’s skill set….

    My only fear, regarding Beltre, is that somehow this genius of a management group might underrate Beltre and sell him on the cheap. That would be a travesty, but I don’t think this fear is grounded in reality.

  87. Evan on September 25th, 2006 10:15 am

    Whoever suggested batting Betancourt leadoff hasn’t looked at his OBP recently. We’d be better off batting Raul or Doyle at the top of the order.

    I would like to see the team try really hard to move Washburn this offseason. Trading Washburn and Woods as a pair might work (basically the same pitcher, but only one of them costs money). Clearly trading Sexson is smarter than trading Beltre or Ichiro, but ideally I want to move Washburn to cut salary.

  88. JAS on September 25th, 2006 10:18 am

    Evan: You want to move Washburn to cut salary? Why not keep Woods, then?

    Are you saying the M’s should keep Meche instead of Washburn (assuming Washburn could be traded?)

    For the money, I think that is an interesting argument.

  89. Adam S on September 25th, 2006 10:22 am

    Right now we have a lineup with 9 solid players (counting Perez and Broussard as 1) and some reasonable bench players, guys who are good as fill ins or prospects who need to develop. No matter who we trade, we create a hole. Sure we can (and would) shift players around to put the Sexson hole in the OF, but it’s still a hole.

    But it’s a lot easier to fill a LF hole (see the post on Everett alternatives) — or live/hope with Jeremy Reed — than it is to fill a 3B hole.

    Dave hinted that once we free up $14M, his plan is to add a second pitcher AND fill the hole on offense and that’s a great idea. But a lot of people seem to think we have a logjam and as JAS said right now we don’t given that Reed hasn’t shown he deserves a starting spot.

    So from this thread it’s obvious the Mariners have to move salary and it’s obvious it won’t be Ichiro. Dave, do the Mariners understand this and how likely is it they get a deal done?

  90. Jim Thomsen on September 25th, 2006 10:25 am

    By the way, Richie turns 32 in December, not 31.

    I wonder if the possibility of an Ichiro trade isn’t stronger than we may think. He’ll be 33 soon, 34 at the end of his contract in 2007, and I wouldn’t be surprised if talks on a contract extension didn’t start — and possibly conclude — this winter. Ichiro won’t want contract ambiguity hanging over his head during his walk year, I would imagine.

    Part of me wonders how much Ichiro WANTS to come back to the Mariners, whether he’s going to want to squander his remaining few peak-production years on a team he may perceive isn’t headed in the right direction. I wonder if the Mariners may have to obscenely overpay him to keep his agent and the fans happy — and hamstring the team’s spending in other areas as a result. I wonder if between the M’s possible unwillingness to go to $15 to $20 million a year and Ichiro’s possible intransigence, talks might break down or fade away as the season starts. If that happens, I think one of two things will take place — the M’s cave and break the bank for Ichiro for the next 3-4 years, or they decide a deal just isn’t going to happen under any circumstances they can live with — and they abruptly deal Ichiro in midseason.

  91. CCW on September 25th, 2006 10:37 am

    Seems to me the choice is between Beltre and Sexson, and even then there’s really no choice. The best bet is to trade the guy who is the most likely to be overvalued by your trade partner. No question that’s Richie. He hits HRs, he plays a non-premium position, has mediocre on-base skills, and he’s on the wrong side of the 30. GM’s love to pay too much for that kind of player. Beltre, on the other hand, doesn’t have gaudy HR totals, but derives his value instead from his relative youth and his extraordinary defense. That’s the guy you keep.

    On somewhat of a related note, I pointed out during last year’s offseason that the Ms should have been considering trading Sexson then, in the Branch Rickey style. For what it’s worth (nothing), I was right.

  92. Ralph Malph on September 25th, 2006 10:50 am

    Saying that some power hitters had very good seasons after age 30 doesn’t prove that power hitters don’t decline “in their 30′s”. A guy who peaks at 31 or 32 and then declines steadily is declining in his 30s. Sexson had his best year at 28, got hurt and didn’t play much at 29, came back with a good year at 30 and has declined at 31. Is that decline “spiraling”? I don’t even know what that means.

    Your research is useless because (1) you cherry-picked guys who had long great careers and left out the many other hitters who started out great and fizzled in their 30s, and (2) you looked only at BA and HR totals, not at better numbers which would actually tell you the trajectory of a guy’s productiveness as a hitter. Even some hall of famers had precipitous declines in their early to mid 30′s (Foxx, Mantle, Gehrig to name a few you left off your list). How about George Bell, George Foster, Dale Murphy, etc. etc. etc.

  93. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 11:01 am

    If homerun hitters decline in their 20s then why did we sign Beltre through 2009? By the time his contract is up he’ll be 31. I think Dave some players are special circumstances such as Larry Walker who hit 26 homeruns well past his 30th birthday.

  94. Beniitec on September 25th, 2006 11:03 am

    I agree with most on Richie. As much as I’d hate to see him depart, he seems the easy choice. However, I’ll throw out there that Beltre seemed to have issues with his hammy this year. And before he came to Seattle, didn’t he have some other recurring injury with his legs? Is he injury prone? Or does he have bad luck? Due to that, I would lean back towards Beltre. Richie had the shoulder issue, but that was about it…he’s played all year hasn’t he?

  95. deltwelve on September 25th, 2006 11:08 am

    I’d move Sexson for whatever prospects we can get, and try to swap out Mateo for a better reliever as part of the deal.

    If Ichiro stays in Center, and we use Benuardonez at 1B/DH, Snelling can play a corner and we would just need to fill Sexson’s lineup hole with a corner OF. Craig Wilson or Jose Guillen could do, with Wilson constantly undervalued (though he now may be regressing towards his perceived value as he ages, and his defense isn’t so hot), and Guillen probably no longer overvalued coming off of TJ surgery (and a better defensive option than Wilson). Or Aubrey Huff to take advantage of his average lefty bat, though he may be a bit overpriced. Huff would also give us an option at third if we want to move Beltre midseason, and can be used to spell Beltre from time to time, cutting into Bloomquists’ at bats.

    If we have the cash, we could go after Torii Hunter, moving Ichiro back to right, but he might cost too much money at way too many years, and we would be blocking one of our best prospects. I suppose if we were to sign Hunter, and Jones pans out in the future, Jones could move to left and Snelling could replace Ibanez at DH.

    Is Austin Kearns under contract with the Nat’s after this season?

  96. deltwelve on September 25th, 2006 11:15 am

    #93 – Coach Owens,

    The Mariners’ signings have nothing to do with how players age. It has been well established that in many respects the Mariner’s lack an understanding of player projections, and often sign people expecting them to repeat their best season ad infinitum. That the Mariner’s signed sluggers through their age 30+ season has no connection with whether sluggers decline in their 30s. Further, teams often have to add a year or years to a contract in order to get them to sign. The Red Sox gave Varitek a four year deal in order to get the 2 productive years they could realistically expect; the Mets did the same with Pedro.

    As #92 said, picking the players who have had the most career home runs does nothing to disprove the known fact that sluggers generally decline in their thirties. The list you used necessarily is made up of players who continued to hit home runs in their thirties – it is the only way to amass that many HRs. The players to defy the decline phase will top the historical charts. But, as was said, this misses the thousands of players who faded out of the league in their thirties.

  97. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 11:24 am

    Yes, obviously, “some players are special circumstances.” The problem is, it’s impossible to predict with certainty which ones those are; thus it’s necessary to assume (with a few exceptions) that the player with whom one is dealing isn’t. That’s especially true with a player who is already in significant decline, as Richie is. Now’s the time to move the man, if the O’s or Giants will give us worthwhile return; I’m betting one or both will, and I just hope Bavasi makes and takes the best deal he can get.

  98. msb on September 25th, 2006 11:27 am

    #90– I wonder if between the M’s possible unwillingness to go to $15 to $20 million a year and Ichiro’s possible intransigence, talks might break down or fade away as the season starts.

    where Ichiro is concerned, you also have to factor in Mr Yamauchi and what he want.

  99. deltwelve on September 25th, 2006 11:32 am

    oops, the second half of my comment (#96) should be directed towards DarkKnight, not Coach Owens.

  100. Spencer B on September 25th, 2006 11:43 am

    While we are on the subject of avoiding big money deals to declining players, I would argue that Jason Schmidt is an accident waiting to happen this off-season. His strikeout rate declined by about 1 per game each of the last two years. The SF beat writers tell me that he’s lost a little zip off his fastball, as well. His numbers look superficially good, but he’s starting to come in for a landing. I wouldn’t bet $40 million on that descent being protracted.

  101. ChrisK on September 25th, 2006 11:43 am

    #79 and 96 – I was thinking the same thing re: Raul’s decline. The team will probably assume that he’ll continue to put up close to his 2006 stats from here on out rather than reverting to .280/20/80 or worse.

    The sad thing is, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that once he becomes a mediocre/bad player, the team will continue to play him every day for months, months and more months. It’s the same thing we saw with other fan favorites like Olerud, Boone, Edgar, and Wilson. This isn’t exactly the most proactive organization we’re talking about.

  102. cougs129 on September 25th, 2006 11:49 am

    definently richie… if you trade ichiro or beltre you just create another hole… You trade Sexson, Broussard can play 1st and we dont’ lose much

  103. Steve Nelson on September 25th, 2006 11:54 am

    As another example of cherry picking hitters and relying solely on HRs, click on this link for a chart of HRs after age 32 by some notable power sluggers. IIRC, the guys on this chart are all players who hit at least 40 HR in their age 31 season.

    Putting Sexson into the context of this chart does not augur well for Sexson. The HR output for the hitters on this chart who are most like Sexson – basically pure power hitters with lower BA and higher K rate, such as Buhner, Frank Howard, and Greg Vaughan – generally started plummeting right about Sexon’s age now. The only players who sustained high production into their mid- and late-30′s were all far better overall hitters than Sexson – Ruth, Bonds, Mays. And all of them were clearly declining in their early 30′s. (Bonds later career, of course, has a career trajectory that is totally unlike any other player in basball history. Hence, there is no point to attach any significance to Bonds’ post-35 career as a reference for any player.)

  104. Evan on September 25th, 2006 11:54 am

    88, JAS – I don’t think Washburn is tradeable without bundling him, and I don’t think Woods is terribly good so I don’t mind losing him.

    And I wouldn’t bring back Meche, either. Leaving those spots in the rotation empty allows for some nice bargain hunting.

  105. Steve Nelson on September 25th, 2006 11:55 am

    Whoops. forgot to inster the hyperlink:

    chart of HRs after age 32 by some notable power sluggers

  106. colm on September 25th, 2006 12:06 pm

    Some hitters are special. They have very long careers, hit tonnes of homers and end up in the hall of fame. But as stunning as this may seem, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth are statistical outliers, and not good indicators of what most players will do. Their success in their dotage is not an argument for stacking your team with guys who sport good power numbers and are moving into their 30s.

    Just think of Aurelia, Spezio, Cirillo, the venerable 2004 Mariners.

  107. Eleven11 on September 25th, 2006 12:06 pm

    Or, consider this. Identify the player(s) you want and see what package it would take to get there. For a team with 3 last place place finishes, why chose one guy and try to peddle him? Maybe he doesn’t fit with a teams that have what you need? Well then, who does? Trade him. I am not saying blow the team up or anything close, I just think it is limiting to protect anyone.

  108. ChrisK on September 25th, 2006 12:09 pm

    Dave – do you think there’s a reasonable chance that the M’s could actually lower the payroll next year?

  109. joser on September 25th, 2006 12:10 pm

    Also we should expect Schmidt to post significantly worse numbers in the AL; it’s Bronson Arroyo in reverse. I’d be willing to take a chance on a rising young pitcher switching from the NL to the AL, but not a declining vetran (and that’s even before the relative salary differences).

  110. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2006 12:10 pm

    In talking about replacements for Sexson…is there any chance the Royals would trade young Ryan Shealy? They just got him from the rockies at deadline-ish time. Kid is a big first baseman who can hit.

  111. joser on September 25th, 2006 12:11 pm

    Dave: I knew the ESPN park factors weren’t particularly good but they’re all I can find online (I don’t believe the Bill James numbers are available anywhere electronically, are they?)

  112. joser on September 25th, 2006 12:23 pm

    And Fox Sports says

    The Mariners are sure to add at least two free agent starters to replace Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro, neither of whom is likely to return. At best, Baek and Woods should be competing for one spot along with a Paul Wilson or Sidney Ponson-type veteran.

    Ugh!

  113. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 12:30 pm

    At best, Baek and Woods should be competing for one spot along with a Paul Wilson or Sidney Ponson-type veteran

    Right idea, wrong names. The guys we should be targeting in the FA market (note: that’s not Matsuzaka) are innings-eating veterans to supplement Washburn in the mid-rotation.

    That being said…if you have a spare million or three to put into an incentive-laden deal, maybe a guy like Ponson is fine as a spring traing NRI to compete for a 5th starter spot ala Dave’s idea last year about Kevin Brown. Ponson’s FIP/xFIP numbers seem to indicate he might look better on a team that doesn’t have a craptastic defense.

  114. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 12:40 pm

    I would like to see the team try really hard to move Washburn this offseason. Trading Washburn and Woods as a pair might work (basically the same pitcher, but only one of them costs money).

    Um…

    Washburn: 2.6 BB/G
    Woods: 4.6 BB/G

    One of these things is not like the other…

    I know we all hate the idea of Washburn making $Texas, but he’s not replacement-level talent like Woods is, either. That being said, Woods is the more tradeable player because his salary impact is negligible, and he will have a perceived value that exceeds his real value due to a shiny ERA, whereas Washburn won’t.

    And of the guys on Dave’s list, yeah, Sexson’s the one you’d want to target, I think.

  115. Dave on September 25th, 2006 1:24 pm

    Dave – do you think there’s a reasonable chance that the M’s could actually lower the payroll next year?

    Yea. Attendance was way down this year, and it’s certainly possible that the M’s give Bavasi less money to spend in ’07 than he had in ’06. It’s absolutely the wrong time to be tightening the pursestrings, but it’s possible.

    In talking about replacements for Sexson…is there any chance the Royals would trade young Ryan Shealy? They just got him from the rockies at deadline-ish time. Kid is a big first baseman who can hit.

    We can do better.

    Dave: I knew the ESPN park factors weren’t particularly good but they’re all I can find online (I don’t believe the Bill James numbers are available anywhere electronically, are they?)

    Baseball-Reference has park factors for each team/year associated. Those are better than the ESPN numbers, even if they aren’t as good as you want for the kind of analysis you were trying to do.

  116. dw on September 25th, 2006 1:37 pm

    In talking about replacements for Sexson…is there any chance the Royals would trade young Ryan Shealy? They just got him from the rockies at deadline-ish time. Kid is a big first baseman who can hit.

    He’s 27. And that makes me wonder if this last couple of months has been a fluke.

  117. dw on September 25th, 2006 1:42 pm

    Dave, do you think it’s possible for the M’s to deal both Jarrod Washburn and Richie Sexson to the San Francisco Giants

    Why the obsession with dealing Sexson to the Giants? I mean, the Astros will need a SP once Clemens packs it in this fall, and putting Berkman in RF permanently would open 1B up to Sexson in a park where he can kill the ball.

    And heck, we could get Mike Lamb back as a better-hitting Bloomquist.

  118. Dave on September 25th, 2006 1:43 pm

    He’s 27. And that makes me wonder if this last couple of months has been a fluke.

    Well, he hasn’t even been that good, so probably not. He’s hitting .284/.343/.458 since being traded to KC with a 15/48 BB/K. And, as you mentioned, he’s 27-years-old. He had a great series against the M’s, but he’s nothing like a great player.

    If Jake Woods is a litmus test for the Mariners, Ryan Shealy is a litmus test for people who try to evaluate minor league players. If you see someone tell you that Shealy is a fantastic player just waiting to get his shot, you pretty much can ignore anything else they say.

  119. Evan on September 25th, 2006 1:44 pm

    Sabean likes aging sluggers.

    Though Sexson probably isn’t old enough to play in SF yet.

  120. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 1:47 pm

    113. You mean a guy like Aaron Harang? He’s an older proven innings eater with a good ERA and very good control.

  121. Dave on September 25th, 2006 1:50 pm

    Harang isn’t a free agent, and he’s much better than an innings eater. The Reds know what they have, and they aren’t giving him away.

  122. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 1:52 pm

    121. Where’s that list of free agents Dave?

  123. Dave on September 25th, 2006 1:54 pm

    Here.

  124. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 1:56 pm

    Thanks Dave.

  125. bedir on September 25th, 2006 1:58 pm

    Dave, silly question, but in your plan what is your targeted result for the 2007 season? I am already operating under the assumption that you intend to build towards prolonged success of some measure, rather than a one year spike.

  126. TomC on September 25th, 2006 1:59 pm

    I agree with the majority here that Sexson is the better choice to trade. however, we should recognize the limits outside observers have in divining what the Mariners can do vis-à-vis trades this offseason.

    The problem with trying to determine which player is most likely to be traded (or even the best choice for trading) is the lack of any information regarding other teams’ intentions or evaluations. Baseball trades, like all human action, are not completely rational decisions. Irrational factors – for the perspective of U.S.S.M. readers – can play a role in what happens.

    Another team, for example, may covet Adrian Beltre so much that they are willing to give up what we would consider to be excessive compensation. Imagine if the Yankees were willing to give us A-Rod straight up for Beltre and compensate us for the difference in salary. Would Bavasi make that trade? Most probably. I don’t expect such an opportunity will present itself but Bavasi could not let that opportunity slip by if he could. Similarly, if the market for Sexson was minimal then maybe we have to keep the big guy and live with his contract.

    From U.S.S.M. perspective, Bavasi may well make, or decline to make, moves that we all agree are necessary for improving the team. We will probably never know what deals are available to Bavasi. Let us all just hope that, if Bavasi can’t get genuine help for the team, he doesn’t compensate by signing money holes like C-Rex.

  127. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 2:08 pm

    No question we could do better than Shealy. Heck, we could do better than Shealy just dealing with the Royals, and probably pay less — I’m no great fan of Justin Huber, but I still think he’d be a better option, and the Royals don’t seem to have him anywhere in their future plans. Might not be a bad pickup on the cheap for a bench bat / AAA depth.

  128. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 2:12 pm

    121. What about Mike Mussina if the Yankees don’t sign him?

  129. Dave on September 25th, 2006 2:20 pm

    Coach, this isn’t a free agent speculation post.

  130. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 2:27 pm

    Oh, and one other thing: The M’s are on pace to score 750-760 runs (which is close to what Derek projected waaaaay back before the season (I think he was guessing 775), despite:

    - Safeco absolutely crucifying righties like it always has. This meant that three of the M’s best offensive players, Sexson, Beltre and Johjima, went from being .800-850 OPS players on the road to .725-775 OPS players at home. Ichiro and Ibanez somewhat compensated for this, but the team Really. Needs. To. Fix. This.

    - the team getting absolutely BUPKUS from two lineup positions (DH+CF). Hard to believe this, but the Mariners got more out of CF in 2005 (.653 OPS) than 2006 (.627), and got a .666 OPS out of the DH…and that’s INCLUDING Ichiro’s time in CF (.694 OPS), and with Benuardo being worse than Everett (.620/.630 as opposed to .658). I find it hard to believe that this is going to continue in 2007, simply because I find it very hard to believe a CF of either Jones (if he shows any signs of readiness) or Ichiro, or whoever we bring in at DH will hit like WFB.

    To sum up- we have a good likelihood of having the best offense in the division (park-adjusted) if we trade Sexson and sign a good FA to replace his bat, as Dave suggests. And the problem this year was the pitching- which was also what DMZ was suggesting could be at issue way back…

  131. Emerald on September 25th, 2006 2:28 pm

    Kind of interesting, out of those “free agent” firstbaseman, if Sexson were added to the “available” list, he would easily be the best available first baseman. However, the most expensive depending on how much Seattle would pay on his contract to net a couple of decent prospects.

  132. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 2:44 pm

    Dave,

    I was wondering where you get your salary figures. I have found different figures on cots and mlb4u’s databases for these guys:

    Beltre: you had him down for 13.5 million. All the information I have found says 11-12 million. His contract was backloaded.

    Ichiro: you have 12.5 million. The other sources list 11 million. He has incentives, but that should come out of the M’s slush fund of incentives that they always tack onto the payroll.

    The difference between those figures adds up to 3-4 million. Not huge, but not chump change either.

    Second, I think that your estimates for Soriano and Putz in arbitration are probably the extreme worst case scenario. Guys like Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Rodriguez – all of whom had been closing for a while before their first abritration year – got around 3.7 million. I would think that that would be the absolute max for a relief pitcher in his first year of arbitration. Putz may get close to that, but Soriano is a setup guy. Obviously, you want to keep those guys happy. And the M’s would be smart to try to resign one or both for a few years. But I would be suprised if the two of them get a total of 6.5 million. Based on what other guys have gotten, I would guess it would be a million less than that.

    If the M’s are going into next season with a $90 million payroll, that would leave them with $16 mil to spend.

    It will be interesting to see what Bavasi and the front office guys say after the final game of the season. It is possible that they could cut payroll. But while the attendance is down, it is still damn good for a team with three consecutive losing seasons. If I were a front office wank, I would take that as a good sign. If they are competative again, they should rebound quickly.

    As you alluded to above, this is the wrong time to cut payroll. During their good years, the M’s were in the top-5 in payroll pretty consistently. But, given inflation and increased revenue, they are ranked around 11 now. Really, to maintain the status quo, they will need to add payroll to keep up.

    The M’s roster turnover is pretty much complete. Now is the time to add payroll. Hopefully, Bavasi will come out and commit to keeping the club up near the other big-market clubs. If they just added $10 million to the payroll, it would be essentially getting back to where they used to be. That little extra bump would be a huge difference in what they can do this offseason.

  133. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 2:54 pm

    Oh, by the way,

    If I were deciding between moving Beltre, Sexson and Ichiro, I would trade Ichiro.

    Obviously, it would be best to move Beltre’s contract. And Sexson’s salary is a major drain, especially for a player who plays the easiest defensive position on the diamond.

    But there are two big reasons why Ichiro would be a better idea:

    First, the M’s have pretty good options to replace him. Snelling could be a really good leadoff hitter. And giving Reed another shot in CF would be worth the risk. I still think that Reed could be an above average player. Plus, the M’s have Adam Jones waiting in the wings. If Reed continues to suck, he should be ready to actually contribute by late 2007.

    Second, Ichiro has far more trade value than those other guys. By today’s standards, his contract is reasonable. Lots of veteran clubs would jump at the chance to get him. The Red Sox, White Sox, and Dodgers immediately come to mind. Instead of focusing on just moving a big salary, the M’s would actually be getting some real good players back. Trade Ichiro for one young player, one premium prospect, and a lower-level prospect, and not only do you have $11 million in payroll. You also have filled at least one area of need with a minimum contract guy.

    With Sexson, the M’s would probably have to chose between getting an A prospect or moving the entire contract. With Beltre, they would have to eat a huge chunk of his money and/or take on another crap contract.

    Everyone keeps saying that the club will never do that, and they are probably right. But it is the smart thing to do.

  134. Jared on September 25th, 2006 3:05 pm

    Player Projected 07 Vorp 2007 Salary
    Richie Sexson 30.7 $14,000,000.00
    Adrian Beltre 29.8 $13,500,000.00
    Ichiro Suzuki 14.2 $12,530,000.00

    Just using the three discussed and using BP’s projected VORP of 2007
    Sexson 2.19 (Vorp/Million)
    Beltre 2.21
    Ichiro 1.13

    Or using WARP
    Sexson (4.7) .36 (WARP/Million)
    Beltre (4.9) .36
    Ichiro (3.2) .26

    BP’s Projected Vorp & WARP are going to change after this season, But i think this isn’t too terrible of a starting point when thinking about smart roster moves.

    Ichiro’s cool goes along way, If I were GM I would at least make a few phone calls to see who i could get excited.

  135. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:12 pm

    #49: Ichiro generates enough revenue via Japanese tourists visiting Safeco to easily justify his salary. He is almost “free money” in that moving him would reduce team revenues by close to the same amount as his salary.

    No he doesn’t, and no he isn’t, and I wish I could figure out why some people keep saying this.

    All it takes is a calculator to figure out that the M’s would have to sell more than 2700 $50 tickets (100 level) per game to Japanese tourists to cover Ichiro’s salary. That’s more than 5 747’s full of Japanese passengers every single day just to see Ichiro.

  136. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 3:15 pm

    129. I was talking about with money we could free up by trading one of those guys. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

  137. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 3:15 pm

    Jerry, Ichiro’s salary comes off the books after 2007, worst case scenario. Sexson is our baby in 2008. You have to include that in any assessment of relative value. That, and any replacement for Ichiro can replace Sexson, since our current DH platoon was a 1B platoon all of 3 months ago.

    Based on the aging patterns of the types of players they both represent (speedy OFers and slow big 1B), there’s not much question who I’d rather trade. Yes, you’d get more value for Ichiro back, but if Sexson turns into a .750 OPS player by 2008, he’s going to be an offensive boat anchor and player with little defensive value making 13 million- who could also be potentially fighting the park he plays in 81 games a year.

    Sexson is as clear a case of “trading a year early rather than a year late” that the M’s have had for a while. I think it would suit them well to do this for a change.

  138. bedir on September 25th, 2006 3:21 pm

    LB, about financing Ichiro. You only need to make up the difference between his performance based salary and his actual salary. Also there are plenty of other revenue streams that are added by Ichiro being on the team. Food and beverages, jersey’s in the team shop, Japanese language stadium advertising and stadium advertising in general for multinationals as they get on TV in Japan quite a bit.

  139. Jon on September 25th, 2006 3:21 pm

    Dave has outlined two options. But looking over that salary list and knowing it will cost around $12M just to keep this losing team together, I think I need to vomit.

    Look at the A’s and Twins again. Heck, look at the Marlins. I wish we had a third option: Start all over from scratch. Throw them all back in. I know it won’t happen, but I can dream, can’t I?

    We all know the M’s will be scaling back projected revenues again. Attendance is now in a free-fall, with little to use from this season to spin a marketing campaign on. There are huge needs for starting pitching, beginning with just plain innings-eaters. The market will be high for those. The risk of guessing wrong is high for those.

    So the M’s are stuck betwixt and between. Again. I don’t think the ticket buying fan base will believe the M’s are more likely to reach 82 wins than reverting to 63 next season. So why not trade at least 2 out of the 3 and see if Washburn can be dumped on somebody, too?

  140. Mat on September 25th, 2006 3:28 pm

    BP’s Projected Vorp & WARP are going to change after this season, But i think this isn’t too terrible of a starting point when thinking about smart roster moves.

    A couple things, though. Those all have Ichiro hitting in RF. In RF, league average is .287/.350/.471. In CF, league average is .274/.334/.435. That’s a pretty large difference, especially in power. Once you factor that in, Ichiro’s VORP goes up.

    Then, there’s the matter of how you value Ichiro’s defense. WARP is only as good as FRAR when it comes to defense, and FRAR is pretty terrible in general. Specifically, it has Ichiro listed as slightly above average in RF, where I would say that he’s a solidly above average CF. Considering the greater number of plays to make in CF, that’s a huge part of his value in CF.

    Ichiro in CF is a different story than Ichiro in RF.

  141. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 3:31 pm

    Um, guys, “falling back to 63 wins” is gonna be hard to do. Your despair is speaking, not your head. A group that improved 12 wins (at least) with young and improving talent is very unlikely to fall that badly…and even bandwagon fans know that. They’ll be skeptical, but they’re not stupid.

  142. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 3:32 pm

    And, more than likely, “blowing it all up” is going to make the casual fan even MORE skeptical; that WILL make them think 63 wins is likely.

  143. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:34 pm

    #138: It can only be the stadium advertising.

    Even at inflated ballpark prices, Japanese fans can’t eat that much or drink that much or buy that much memorabilia to make the numbers get even close to balancing out. (If some of the fans are frugal enough to buy 300-level seats or bleacher seats, you’d need to sell tickets to even more fans to make up for the cheaper ticket price.)

    There just aren’t enough flights from Japan every day for it to be true, and some of the seats on them have to be sold to people who aren’t coming to the ballpark.

  144. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:35 pm

    #133: The Red Sox, White Sox, and Dodgers immediately come to mind. Instead of focusing on just moving a big salary, the M’s would actually be getting some real good players back. Trade Ichiro for one young player, one premium prospect, and a lower-level prospect, and not only do you have $11 million in payroll.

    I am more familiar with the Boston system than either of the other two, and I cannot imagine the young player you have in mind. It can’t be a relief pitcher, because the M’s are much better stocked in that area than the Red Sox. It can’t be a starting pitcher, because the Red Sox have gaping holes in their rotation to fill next year. Their only young position players with any MLB time are Youkilis, Pedroia and maybe Crisp.

    Youkilis gives you fantastic AB’s and has OBP that would look quite out of place in a modern M’s lineup. Alas, he doesn’t hit enough HR’s to play a corner infield position in a lineup without other big power bats. Also, he’s only one more season away from arb.

    Pedroia is seeing MLB pitching for the first time this season and his big swing is looking quite overmatched. I know we are supposed to be able to project MLB stats from minor league stats, but I look at the numbers and wonder if he’s going to pull a Jeremy Reed at the MLB level.

    Crisp could replace Ichiro, I guess, if you like a fast outfielder with bad range and no arm who’s never topped .350 OBP in three MLB seasons. And oh yeah, he’s getting surgery today to re-repair the broken finger that’s already been repaired once this year.

    The Red Sox could certainly use Ichiro, but I don’t know if they have anything interesting to give back.

  145. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 3:35 pm

    134-

    Ichiro’s projected 50th percentile WARP/VORP for 2006: 13.4/4.0
    Current WARP/VORP (not a complete season, but pretty close): 36.7/6.1

    Sexson’s projected 50th percentile WARP/VORP for 2006: 43.3/5.7
    Current WARP/VORP 18.3/5.5

    One of these guys matched their PECOTA cards predicting an age-related decline. One didn’t (and as I recall, PECOTA HATES Ichiro, has been predicting serious declines for a while). That’s a HUGE factor- especially since by looking at 20906 data, Ichiro’s outproducing Sexson dollar for dollar, and doesn’t have as long a contract.

  146. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:37 pm

    #144: I should have said about Crisp that he has bad effective range, since he gets poor reads and/or takes bad routes to balls. There’s no doubt that he is fast. It’s really his only plus tool.

  147. Dave on September 25th, 2006 3:37 pm

    Beltre: you had him down for 13.5 million. All the information I have found says 11-12 million. His contract was backloaded.

    No one knows for sure. All that’s publically available about Beltre’s contract was that the total deal is 5/64, he got a $7m signing bonus, made $10 mil last year, and makes $11.5 mil this year. That leaves 3 years and $35.5 million to still be paid from ’07-’09, and no one besides the Mariners knows how that’s broken up. Also, we don’t know if the signing bonus was a lump sum (unlikely), or was broken into seperate annual payments (more likely). Since there are so many unknowns, I used the AAV number for Beltre rather than just making up a number. I’d bet that, on the Mariners book, Beltre’s ’07 cost is going to be around $13 million. I might be off by a few hundred thousand, but it’s not $11 million, I’m pretty sure.

    Ichiro: you have 12.5 million. The other sources list 11 million. He has incentives, but that should come out of the M’s slush fund of incentives that they always tack onto the payroll.

    Possible incentives come out of the fund – incentives achieved ahead of time, that are triggered before the year starts, count as payroll. In other words, known expenses are salary, while potential expenses are budgeted on a seperate line. Because of Ichiro’s performances from the last three years, his base salary for ’07 has gone up.

    Second, I think that your estimates for Soriano and Putz in arbitration are probably the extreme worst case scenario. Guys like Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Rodriguez – all of whom had been closing for a while before their first abritration year – got around 3.7 million. I would think that that would be the absolute max for a relief pitcher in his first year of arbitration.

    You need to account for inflation, and for the fact that the Mariners abhor arbitration and will not hold the line in an attempt to save a few hundred grand. Bill Bavasi has never taken a player to arbitration, and he’s not going to start now.

    Just using the three discussed and using BP’s projected VORP of 2007…

    BP’s projections for Ichiro suck. And they are horrible at evaluting defense, so WARP is near useless. Ichiro >>> Sexson, and he costs less.

  148. pdb on September 25th, 2006 3:40 pm

    All it takes is a calculator to figure out that the M’s would have to sell more than 2700 $50 tickets (100 level) per game to Japanese tourists to cover Ichiro’s salary.

    I don’t think #49 was talking about “covering” Ichiro’s salary – covering it and justifying it are two different things. If the M’s know that they’re going to get X dollars every year from the Japanese market consistently, almost solely because of Ichiro (be it from ticket sales, broadcast rights to Japan, or whatever (all teams’ merch revenue is pooled and split evenly with the other teams, IIRC) ), then it’s easy for Mariner brass to say “Ichiro’s worth what we’re spending on him”.

  149. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 3:42 pm

    Oh, wait, I flipped the WARP/VORP (it’s actually VORP/WARP the way I wrote it out). My bad.

    But anyway, the short form is Ichiro is a better player playing a more valuable defensive position, not showing huge signs of decline (his 2006 fits in with 2002 and 2003 just fine)- whereas Sexson is having his worst year as a full time player (not injured) since 2000. There’s not much question in my mind who I want off of my team if I can manage it. For a while, I was thinking Ibañez might be the best trade candidate…but realistically, he might age better and his contract’s not the boat anchor Sexson’s is.

  150. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:45 pm

    #148: Fine, if you want to take that point of view, but he did say: He is almost “free money” in that moving him would reduce team revenues by close to the same amount as his salary.

    Broadcast rights to Japan, BTW, are evenly split amoung the 30 MLB teams, just like any other out of market broadcast revenue. Ichiro TV makes as much money for the Kansas City Royals as for the M’s.

  151. bedir on September 25th, 2006 3:47 pm

    pdb, when a store run by the franchise (Mariner’s Team Store) sells merch they keep the same cut that Champs or Foot Locker gets.

    And LB, you just need to balance the difference between what Ichiro’s value would be as a pure FA and what he makes, somewhere between 3-5M$ I’m guessing. That’s not that tough. The advertising advantage alone gets a lot of that. The last 1-2M$ from an increase in Mariner Team Store Sales combined with tickets, food and drink. Incrementals are wonderful. That comes down to just an extra 19,000$ per game.

  152. msb on September 25th, 2006 3:54 pm

    All international revenue is divided evenly among the teams, through
    the agreement with MLB International, which is responsible for negotiating broadcast rights, sponsorships, licensing agreements and merchandising deals outside the U.S. They get to keep the ad revenue & profits on merchandise sold at Safeco.

  153. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 3:54 pm

    I think this discussion of Ichiro being traded is all moot, anyway. Ichiro’s not going to be traded unless he asks for a trade. Period. He’s in the Moyer/Edgar/Junior/Dan/Rauuuuuuul class of player now, who doesn’t go anywhere unless there’s an agreement that people need to go their separate ways, 5/10 rights be damned.

    I’m just not seeing Yamauchi (who almost certainly would be involved in the decision) giving the OK.

  154. LB on September 25th, 2006 3:58 pm

    $151: Like I said, that’s a defensible point of view to take, but that’s not what’s in the post I responded to. I believe it is not defensible to say he is almost “free money” in that moving him would reduce team revenues by close to the same amount as his salary.

    I think you are saying Ichiro is a “good value.” There is a difference between “good value” and “almost free money.”

  155. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:01 pm

    #153: You have BINGO. Ichiro is going nowhere because Mr. Yamauchi will not allow it. The Yankees could offer to trade A-Rod, Wang and Philip Hughes for Ichiro and the M’s would turn them down.

  156. Jared on September 25th, 2006 4:03 pm

    Point well taken that Ichiro had a solid, better than (Pecota) expected season and may well continue to do so for the next few seasons.

    I’m not sure the arguments for not trading Ichiro around fan support, japanese tv contracts are valid though. If the right deal come along we’d be good to trade all three of our high-priced regulars. The fans (and the dollars) will be easy if we’re winning.

  157. Dave on September 25th, 2006 4:09 pm

    The fans (and the dollars) will be easy if we’re winning.

    Tell that to Oakland. While winning will attract some fans, there’s significant value in keeping the fan base emotionally invested in the product. The M’s have probably gone overboard in this respect, but that doesn’t invalidate the concept.

  158. bedir on September 25th, 2006 4:13 pm

    msb, how then would they award revenue for a t-shirt sold at Fenway with six languages on it? Is that “international revenue?” Its not.

    The merch sold overseases is pooled by MLB, as are media revenues from overseas. There is absolutely no way to track merchandise sold in a team store to see if it is international or not. If someone from Japan buys an Edgar Martinez jersey to give to their good friend hosting them during their stay in Seattle, is that international revenue or a merchandise sale?

  159. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:17 pm

    #157: Oakland has to play in one of the crappiest ballparks in the AL, competing with the Giants’ nouveau retro-palace just across the bay.

    Don’t you think Oakland’s winning teams would sell a lot more tickets if they could snooker their taxpayers into building them a nifty new ballpark like the majority of MLB teams have?

  160. Daniel Carroll on September 25th, 2006 4:17 pm

    156&7

    It seems to me that if the M’s were to trade veteran stars for a World Series contending team, then they would probably wouldn’t just fire-sale after the year, and those players on that near-championship squad would become the new faces of the franchise.

    …and subsequently the team would hold onto them past their prime and we’d be wondering what the heck happened to the glory years.

  161. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 4:20 pm

    What Oakland has done with Giambi/Tejada/The Big Three/etc. is fairly extreme, though, and they have other issues (bad ballpark for baseball, ownership that was in the Carl Pohlad camp of maximizing profit by trading away any significant salary until recently- I was surprised to see Oakland’s salaries up north of 60 million this year).

    You could probably get away with trading Ichiro because the press sort of dislikes him for no good reason and would happily take your “we’re improving the team” spin and run with it…but I don’t think Yamauchi would like the idea. I don’t get the impression that Japanese superstars change teams very often (Deanna, little help?), unless it’s by mutual agreement or some sort of cloud involved, and I suspect Yamauchi would handle Ichiro similarly.

  162. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 4:23 pm

    RE 153 and 155,

    Really, how can we claim to know anything about Mr. Yamauchi’s thoughts on the subject.

    But there are other things to consider.

    First, I don’t think that it is a totally foregone conclusion that Ichiro wants to stay in Seattle. I don’t want to speculate on what is going on inside Ichiro’s head, because none of us have any idea what that may be. But, at this point, there is more speculation in the media suggesting that he might want to go to a contender. Again, I don’t buy most of that BS. But we can’t just assume that Ichiro and Yamauchi are working on a team friendly extension right now.

    Second, there is the topic of Ichiro’s contract. The M’s need to sit down with him and figure out what happens after 2007. If Ichiro wants to test free agency, they should trade him now. His trade value will be higher this offseason than midseason next year. If they just let his contract run out, it would be a pretty big waste. His trade value is much higher than two draft picks. If he wants to go elswhere after next year, then the M’s should sell.

    But if he is open to signing an extension, would that even be a good idea? I would imagine that Ichiro will be 34 when his contract expires. We are talking about Sexson’s imminent decline, but he will only be 33 when in his final year. I would imagine that Ichiro would be looking for a 4-year extension. Is Ichiro less of a risk at age 38 than Sexson at 33? I don’t think so. Unless Ichiro wants to sign a 2-year extension, I wouldn’t want to resign him. How many star players sign 2-year extensions?

    I agree with Dave that Ichiro is a better player than Sexson. But I think that there are much better reasons to deal Ichiro now: The M’s would get far more in good players in return for Ichiro than Sexson. Ichiro plays a position that is deep in the organization, and we have other players with similar skill sets to replace him. Ichiro is heading towards free agency, and resigning him would not be smart. Sexson’s value is low right now, and he has two years left of his deal. Keeping him one more year is a huge roll of the dice, but if he puts up similar numbers next year as he had in 2005, he would be much much easier to deal after 2007.

    Obviously, there is the fact that Ichiro is an icon. But if I were GM, I would deal him. In fact, I would be open to dealing both him and Sexson.

  163. Dave on September 25th, 2006 4:25 pm

    Don’t you think Oakland’s winning teams would sell a lot more tickets if they could snooker their taxpayers into building them a nifty new ballpark like the majority of MLB teams have?

    Sure. I also think they could sell a lot more tickets if they were able to keep honest to goodness all-stars, rather than paying Eric Chavez and Jason Kendall like all-stars.

    The A’s obviously have done a great job on the field, but I think there’s a definite correlation between roster turnover and low attendance. For you and me, it doesn’t matter. For a lot of people, it does.

    It’s not worth as much as the M’s think, but it’s worth more than 0.

  164. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:25 pm

    #158: For authentic MLB merchandise, team logos and player names are used under license. If you buy an authentic Ichiro T-shirt at Gart’s in Bellevue, the licensing fee is split 30 ways. If you buy it at the M’s team store, the fee is split 30 ways, but the M’s keep the retail markup. If you buy it in Tokyo, the M’s get the same (licensing) money as if you’d bought it at Gart’s.

    The pro-Ichiro case is that his presence on the roster drives so much traffic into the team store that the M’s get a huge stream of revenue from the retail markup. It is asserted that Japanese tourists spend so much at the team store that it dwarfs the 1/30th of the licensing fee they’d get if the same merchandise were sold in Japan.

    Note that I have stated that case without signing up to defend it.

  165. VaBeachMarinersFan on September 25th, 2006 4:27 pm

    Here is a decent article that talks about Ichiro merchandising and MLB television revenue from Japan.

    Ichiro Revenue

    It’s not very long but does give some good insight.

  166. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:28 pm

    #163: Correct, I root for the laundry. I suspect you do too.

    Is there statistical evidence that other fans aren’t like you and me, or is this an argument from scouting?

  167. Bender on September 25th, 2006 4:29 pm

    Hey, we could always resign Mike Cameron, right guys?

    I don’t believe that the Mariners have the stones to trade Sexson. I think they’re sold on the idea of signing a big free agent (or two) to quell the fan’s fears and moving on.

  168. VaBeachMarinersFan on September 25th, 2006 4:33 pm

    I gave the link to page 2 of the article by accident but you can select page 1 on the bottom.

    Out of the Japanese TV deal, that’s 275 million, divided by 30 teams, and divided again by the 6 years of the deal. Works out to roughly 1.5 million per annum per team.

    Howard Lincoln also gave insight on page 1 of the article into his thinking on Ichiro. He is a valuable commodity..i.e. He will be here till he wants out or retires.

  169. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:34 pm

    #162: But if he is open to signing an extension, would that even be a good idea?

    You, too, have BINGO. Ichiro’s age at the end of his next contract is the elephant in the room. If he were not who he is, yeah, he should be traded. But since he is who he is, that is not going to happen.

    My fear is that he’ll get an extension because of who he is, and that will cripple the team, both with payroll flexibility and the quality of the product on the field. Ichiro as the next incarnation of Boone et. al. would not be pretty to look at.

  170. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:40 pm

    #163: Excellent link.

    Now the fear I alluded to in #169 has grown larger.

  171. LB on September 25th, 2006 4:46 pm

    #167: I don’t believe that the Mariners have the stones to trade Sexson. I think they’re sold on the idea of signing a big free agent (or two) to quell the fan’s fears and moving on.

    Attendance is down. Big free agent salaries are up. How do you think they will pay this guy (or guys)?

  172. wabbles on September 25th, 2006 4:52 pm

    Well, as he’ll be a free agent after…2001,2002, 20003, then 4-year contract, 2004-7….2007 and is being driven crazy by our losing, why not Ichiro? Otherwise, I’m wondering about Sexson. I still have one of the author’s comment ringing in my ears about he’ll probably finish the season with 35 or so homers and 100 RBIs but all the times he’s failed in the clutch are not acceptable.

  173. Coach Owens on September 25th, 2006 4:58 pm

    Well Baeks been placed on the 60-day DL and Jorge Campillo possibly hurting his chances to make next years rotation. Here’s the press release.

  174. dw on September 25th, 2006 5:00 pm

    The A’s obviously have done a great job on the field, but I think there’s a definite correlation between roster turnover and low attendance. For you and me, it doesn’t matter. For a lot of people, it does.

    Anyone who was at the Edgar Martinez Night in 2004 should know that it does.

    I know of several people who have stopped going to games (or gone to fewer games) because they “don’t know the players.”

  175. chris white on September 25th, 2006 5:03 pm

    I keep hearing this is a lh hitting friendly ballpak .Why did Bavasi sign rh hitters with all the money ?Quit looking at the players and manager look above.

  176. Steve Nelson on September 25th, 2006 5:06 pm

    Re Ichiro economic impact to the Mariners.

    The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau several years ago estimated that Ichiro is responsible for around 40,000 to 45,000 added visitors from Japan to Seattle, specifically to see Ichiro and the Mariners (reference – Puget Sound Business Journal. Note that is incremental visitors. That doesn’t count Japanese tourists already in Seattle who decide to go to Safeco while they are here.

    Let’s say those tourists attend two games while they are hera. Let’s say they spend an average of $30 each for tickets. So right there that’s about $2.4 million in revenue directly attributable to Ichiro.

    Now those tourist are also going to spend money on concessions. Let’s forget about the team store for the moment, and focus on in-stadium concessions. I think $20 per game spent on concessions is a conservative estimate for stadium food, drink, and miscellaneous. That’s another $1.6 million in revenue.

    Most of those tourists load up on stuff from the team store. I figure another $50 per person there, minimum. So that’s another $2 million there.

    It might sound like that’s a lot of money to spend, but those visitors have already spent a lot of money on travel and lodging to get to Seattle. My guesses for what they are spending at Safeco are pretty small compared with the total budget. I don’t think they’re going to spend $1500 to $2000 on travel and lodging, then skimp on stadium tickets and souvenirs.

    ***

    Put all of that together and you’re at a minimum of $6 million added topline revenue generated by Ichiro, solely due to incrmental tourism from Japan. Then include the added revenue from Japaenese tourists who would have been in Seattle anyway, and decide to see Ichiro play while they are here. Finally include something for revenue generated by selling advertising in Japanese at the stadium, paticularly the scrolling billboard behind home plate that shows up on the CF camera (and that runs Japanese ads when Ichiro and Joh are batting).

    Readers can, of course, use their own numbers. But no matter how you reasonably parse the information, you’re going to wind up with Ichro having significant top-line impact, solely due to Japeanese tourism.

    ****

    Now that discission considers only incremental revenue attributed solely to Japanese tourism. It does not consider at all Ichiro’s draw in the local market. I don’t think there is a player in baseball who can match Ichiro for that addition to team revenues. Take Ichiro away, and there is a significant drop in top line revenue, which at some point will affect team payroll.

  177. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 5:11 pm

    I know of several people who have stopped going to games (or gone to fewer games) because they “don’t know the players.”

    That was a common reason given by fans when local media did feature stories; it’s not new, and it’s not rocket science. That’s a reason given by peripheral fans and is well known.

    Of course, people will “know the players” when the team starts winning…but remember three things–a) there are no sure things in players/prospects you’re getting, and for sure, you are giving up fan support and attendance if you trade Ichiro, b) there’s going to be a gap as the new players learn their ways and start to produce–they won’t win right away, and you’ve losing that income, and c) there’s ALWAYS a lag between winning and increased attendance (and you still may not have made up that lost revenue when you traded Ichiro).

    Now, this factor shouldn’t over-rule baseball decisions, but it’s not an insignificant one. And it’s certainly one you should consider when the action you’re taking is fairly risky (which an Ichiro trade would be).

  178. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 5:12 pm

    I think that we are getting carried away with the marketing issues here.

    If I were the M’s, I would design the 2007 PR campaign around Ibanez and Betancourt. Ibanez is already recognizable. Betancourt looks like an Ewok, and he makes crazy good plays pretty regularly. They could also push the raft from Cuba story more.

    If Snelling stays on the field with any regularity, he could also be a big media guy: Australian accent, outgoing, ‘plays the game the right way’, etc.

    Oh, and Johan-Sanataesque numbers from Felix wouldn’t hurt either.

    Casual fans will respond to good add campaigns. And winning makes people recognizable.

    Losing recognizable players is not good, but look at the M’s attendance over the years.

    The M’s lost Griffey, Randy, A-Rod, Buhner, and Cameron in nearly successive years. If you look at how the attendance was those years, there isn’t any notable correlation between losing team icons and empty seats. On the contrary, the attendance correlates nearly perfectly with W’s.

    Obviously, tearing the team down now would cause too many people to lose interest. But I don’t see why losing Ichiro would be any worse than losing Junior, Randy, or A-Rod.

  179. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 5:13 pm

    I keep hearing this is a lh hitting friendly ballpak .Why did Bavasi sign rh hitters with all the money ?Quit looking at the players and manager look above.

    WHo was available those years who’d fit the Mariner’s needs, particularly at third base? Doing an analysis in a vacuum is just grinding an axe.

  180. Grizz on September 25th, 2006 5:14 pm

    It does not consider at all Ichiro’s draw in the local market. I don’t think there is a player in baseball who can match Ichiro for that addition to team revenues.

    Yeah, debating Japan-based revenue attributable to Ichiro kind of misses the point. Ichiro’s popularity is not limited to Japan. In terms of local revenues (which the team does keep), Ichiro is by far the biggest drawing card. Ichiro and Niehaus are probably the team’s biggest non-capital assets.

  181. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 5:15 pm

    But I don’t see why losing Ichiro would be any worse than losing Junior, Randy, or A-Rod.

    AFTER losing, Junior, Randy AND A-Rod? Um, tread carefully…..very, very carefully….

    Not a bar, but it’s not a subject to treat lightly….

  182. Steve T on September 25th, 2006 5:22 pm

    Obviously you don’t trade any of these three just for the sake of getting rid of him. It’s about what you get in return, and what else you’d have to give up. With Beltre, there’s no way anybody is going to trade anything at all for him without getting a huge amount of cash too to offset his ginormous salary. So trading Beltre has no value, since the point of trading him is to free salary, not pay it to guys on other teams.

    Ichiro I would love to listen to offers for, but realistically the Ms aren’t going to do that.

    That leaves Sexson. He’s got market value, and we could trade him without giving up cash as well. The most important thing we would get in a trade for Sexson is salary room.

    I think you guys, particularly Dave, have as good a handle on what to do with that room as anyone. I just wanted to clarify how I see the logic. It’s pretty obvious.

    The rest of the roster doesn’t matter too much, in terms of what you do with it. Several guys are getting big raises that they don’t deserve, but there’s no way around that. Other guys are like Jake Woods — low cost, low risk, low reward nonentities. You could trade them, but you’re unlikely to get anything back that’s going to make a difference.

  183. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 5:23 pm

    RE #176,

    That is all speculative. I don’t think that you can accurately quantify how much money Ichiro alone brings in from Japanese fans.

    What we do know, with 100% certainty, is that making a playoffs for a few years in a row does boost attendance. Winning the world series will boost attendance for a few years afterward.

    That should be the goal. Instead of marketing to a specific demographic, why not just try to sell out Safeco every night. The best way to do that is to get into the playoffs on a regular basis.

  184. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 5:27 pm

    RE Sexson and money,

    If I were the M’s, I would be more than willing to pay a bit of Sexson’s contract to un-backload it. That is only 1.5 million/year. If it made a significant difference in the types of prospects the M’s got, it would be well worth it.

    A ML-ready premium prospect is worth 3 million more than a B prospect.

  185. LB on September 25th, 2006 5:28 pm

    The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau several years ago estimated that Ichiro is responsible for around 40,000 to 45,000 added visitors …

    Key phrase there was “several years ago.” Look again at the dateline on that article: April 12, 2002. In April 2002, they were basically analyzing the effect of the 2001 season. That team was good, coming off two consecutive playoff appearances, three in the prior six years. And there was exactly one Japanese position player in MLB in 2001, and he was playing in Seattle.

    And, I might add, he was playing for peanuts at that point.

    There has been quite a lot of dilution in the last five years. Iguchi, the Matsui twins, and Otsuka come immediately to mind. There are probably others, but Big Matsui and The House That Ruth Built have got to be a bigger draw to the Japanese fan base than Ichiro and The House The Taxpayers Built (in a Public/Private Partnership).

    I’d love to see a more current analysis, dating from sometime after the arrival of Matsui and the decline of the M’s.

  186. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 5:36 pm

    Obviously, tearing the team down now would cause too many people to lose interest. But I don’t see why losing Ichiro would be any worse than losing Junior, Randy, or A-Rod.

    Of course, the Mariners won’t be moving into a shiny new ballpark if they make an Ichiro trade, now, will they? In fact, they’ll be as bad as they were in the 1980′s, which was the last time they had three non-winning seasons in a row.

    Is that REALLY the time to trading your most iconic and consistently good player over the past 6 years?

    Yeah, you can make an argument for it on the “ruthless GM who trades people early” stage, especially if the returns are good. On the other hand, GMs have been run out of town for those kinds of deals (think the Frank Robinson trade, where Cincinnati’s GM traded HIM because he was over 30).

    As for the idea that we’ve got lots of talent… well, let’s see.

    Reed: huge bust so far
    Doyle: incredibly injury-prone
    Jones: Still a work in progress
    Ibannez: soooo, Ichiro’s supposedly about to slide, and Ibañez has a career year at 34, and HE isn’t the guy we should be dealing while he’s hot?

    I think we’re fine with our current constellation of talent, because Ichiro is consistently very very good and occasionally great- but trading someone who would likely be a mortal lock for the HOF were his career entirely in America isn’t going to help your depth, and, to be blunt, the M’s depth in the OF isn’t THAT great, unless you do some wishful thinking (Jones or Reed takes some big steps forward, Doyle can stay healthy for an entire season).

    Sexson’s value is low right now, and he has two years left of his deal. Keeping him one more year is a huge roll of the dice, but if he puts up similar numbers next year as he had in 2005, he would be much much easier to deal after 2007.

    But, if you roll snake eyes on that, he WON’T be easier to deal for value in 2008- he’ll be a complete boat anchor ala Olerud in 2003 or Boone in 2005.

    Like I said, you can construct an argument for trading Ichiro. I think it’s less solid than one for trading Sexson.

  187. JMHawkins on September 25th, 2006 5:46 pm

    What we do know, with 100% certainty, is that making a playoffs for a few years in a row does boost attendance.

    To quote Dave from a few posts above, tell that to Oakland. How many times have they gone to the playoffs in the last seven years? What is their attendance?

    A big part of that poor attendence is the turnover. Face it, the business side of baseball is entertainment, and going out and rooting for a bunch of guys you don’t know and who will be gone next year whatever they do isn’t as much fun for most folks as seeing if an “old friend” like Edgar can coax one more productive year out of his body.

    It’s a balancing act. Winning is great, but the team needs an identity in order to trigger the emotional investment from fans. Some teams (the older ones mostly) have an idendity that’s separate from the players (the Yankees are the Yankees to Noo Yawkers, no matter who’s playing Left Field, and the Cubs are the Lovable Loosers regardless), but the only identity the M’s have other than the guys playing for them is… what?

    Aside from “Refuse to Lose” and the 2001 season, it’s mostly dissapointment and bullpens that made you hope the kingdome’s roof fell in so the game would be called before Ayala got warmed up. Not much to pull in a crowd, so the team promotes a face to be the identity.

    Like Dave says, they probably value it too much, but ignoring it completely would be dumb business. A winning team full of guys the fans know – that’s turnstile gold.

  188. dw on September 25th, 2006 5:56 pm

    Ibannez: soooo, Ichiro’s supposedly about to slide, and Ibañez has a career year at 34, and HE isn’t the guy we should be dealing while he’s hot?

    Uh, you can buy two 2007 Ibañezs for the cost of one 2007 Ichiro — and almost have enough left over for three 2007 WFBs.

    It’s almost guaranteed that Ibañez will decline in 2007, but $5M for .250/.330/.450 isn’t that terrible. $12.2M for .290/.350/.370 would hurt if it weren’t Ichiro.

    Hell, if the Bosox want to send us Youkilis or Papelbon for Ibañez, I’d do it. But I don’t see anyone calling about him.

  189. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 5:56 pm

    Coward,

    So, you are suggesting that the M’s should resign Ichiro this offseason?

    Really, that is the decision: resign him or trade him.

    Letting him walk after his contract is up in 2007 would be just as unpopular as trading him. More to the point, it would be insanely stupid. If the M’s aren’t really sure they can resign him, they need to sell now. Simple as that.

    Would you be willing to sign Ichiro to a fair-market deal to avoid alienating casual fans and Japanese tourists?

    To really understand this issue, you have to look beyond 2007. Unless Ichiro would be willing to sign a contract that is far below market value (why would he?), Ichiro would be taking up a much larger chunk of the payroll than he is now.

    If you want to know how much it might cost to resign Ichiro, look at Johnny Damon’s contract: 4 year/52 million. Ichiro’s agent would use that as a starting point.

    Do you want to be paying Ichiro $13 million when he is 37?

    That is a lot of money to spend to keep the casual fans happy. The M’s have used that logic in the past, at it has bitten them in the ass repeatedly.

  190. gwangung on September 25th, 2006 6:02 pm

    That is a lot of money to spend to keep the casual fans happy

    It’s the casual fan that brings in the big dollars.

    The M’s have used that logic in the past, at it has bitten them in the ass repeatedly.

    This is not a binary proposition; it’s a balancing act of competing interests. Ignore that, and THAT will bite you in the ass as well.

    And….getting into the playoffs WILL bring you in money. But it’s the gap between now and that cascade of money that can bring gray hair to your head of hair…

  191. dw on September 25th, 2006 6:03 pm

    Aside from “Refuse to Lose” and the 2001 season, it’s mostly dissapointment and bullpens that made you hope the kingdome’s roof fell in so the game would be called before Ayala got warmed up. Not much to pull in a crowd, so the team promotes a face to be the identity.

    Except… this will be the first year the M’s will draw the M’s draw less than 2.5M in a year since 1995. And even then, 2.4M will still be league average.

  192. Jeff Nye on September 25th, 2006 6:07 pm

    I will depart from the normal thrust of this site to say this:

    I love Ichiro!.

    I want to see him stay in Seattle, even if his staying is slightly detrimental to the overall prospects of the team.

  193. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 6:08 pm

    RE 187,

    The Oakland A’s are so totally different from the M’s that they are not an adequate analogy: the play in a ghetto; their ballpark is one of the ugliest places in MLB; and they are the clear #2 baseball franchise in a market that isn’t really big enough to adquately support to teams.

    If you want to look at a team that is comparable to the M’s in facilities, market, and fanbase, why not just look at the past 5 years?

    The numbers don’t lie. When the M’s win, they sell an assload of tickets. The M’s were #1 just a few years ago. Safeco is still an awsome ball park. Even though they have been losing for three years, they are still 15th in attendance this year. Oakland is 25th, even though they are playoff bound. How can you seriously use them as a good analogy.

    Again, if you want to know how roster turnover effects the M’s, look at the past. A-Rod, Griffey, Randy, Buhner, Edgar, Cameron, etc. You don’t have to speculate much, because this has already happened several times.

    I am not saying that losing a player like Ichiro would be meaningless.

    What I am saying is that making the playoffs would totally supercede any attandance loss.

    The #1 priority for the front office needs to be winning. Plain and simple. If you are arguing that this isn’t the case, well…wow.

  194. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 6:10 pm

    I’d re-sign him to an extension because I think he’ll still be worth the money at the end of it. I think Ichiro’s going to age quite well. He’s keeping his speed just fine for now, and when he needs to, I think he’ll do a perfectly fine job of converting himself into a player who relies on “old player skills”–his BA will drop (though still be solid), and his walks and power numbers will go up.

    Can I prove this? No; but based on what we’ve seen of him so far, I think it’s a pretty good bet.

  195. Dave on September 25th, 2006 6:13 pm

    The numbers don’t lie. When the M’s win, they sell an assload of tickets. The M’s were #1 just a few years ago. Safeco is still an awsome ball park. Even though they have been losing for three years, they are still 15th in attendance this year. Oakland is 25th, even though they are playoff bound. How can you seriously use them as a good analogy.

    The M’s have never won with a roster of no-names, so that isn’t a good analogy either, if you want to pick nits.

    Again, if you want to know how roster turnover effects the M’s, look at the past. A-Rod, Griffey, Randy, Buhner, Edgar, Cameron, etc. You don’t have to speculate much, because this has already happened several times.

    Safeco Field opened. I’m not sure why you can’t see that.

    What I am saying is that making the playoffs would totally supercede any attandance loss.

    You’re wrong.

    The #1 priority for the front office needs to be winning. Plain and simple. If you are arguing that this isn’t the case, well…wow.

    No one is arguing any differently, Jerry. But hey, why not invent a straw man to try and make your point.

  196. LB on September 25th, 2006 6:14 pm

    …based on what we’ve seen of him so far, I think it’s a pretty good bet.

    Based on what? Haven’t you seen the quotes from Ichiro that he doesn’t take walks becuase people pay to see him hit?

  197. Steve Nelson on September 25th, 2006 6:26 pm

    #185:

    I’d love to see a more current analysis, dating from sometime after the arrival of Matsui and the decline of the M’s.

    So would I. Of course, I went to the effort of doing some research, and putting together some plausible (and preobably conservative numbers) to back up my assertions.

    Care to do the same to make your point?

    ***

    Even if the impact has been diluted, it’s still pretty substantial. And there’s a good change that my numbers were so conservative that the they might be valid even with dilutuion. Suppose fans go to three games instead of two? Suppose they buy predominantly field level and terrace club seats? Suppose they buy two or three times as many souvenirs? Spend two times as much money in concessions?

    Everyone of my assumptions was on the low side.

    *****

    Even if Ichiro does not fully cover his salary in “free money” (which I admist was a bit of hyperbole on my part), he is still one of the biggest bargains in baseball. If you look only at payroll, in Ichiro’s case you will greatly overstate his impact on team finances.

  198. Halamas Ghost on September 25th, 2006 6:30 pm

    has Ichiro! been demoted to Ichiro? the writing is on the wall…or blog, either way, it is doom

  199. msb on September 25th, 2006 6:39 pm

    msb, how then would they award revenue for a t-shirt sold at Fenway with six languages on it? Is that “international revenue?” Its not. The merch sold overseases is pooled by MLB, as are media revenues from overseas. There is absolutely no way to track merchandise sold in a team store to see if it is international or not. If someone from Japan buys an Edgar Martinez jersey to give to their good friend hosting them during their stay in Seattle, is that international revenue or a merchandise sale?

    “international revenue” is any merchandise sold overseas. It has nothing to do with merchandise style or design, or, with merchandise sold in a US venue. If Fenway sells any kind of shirt, they get to keep the profits, with the provisos mentioned in #164.

    I know of several people who have stopped going to games (or gone to fewer games) because they “don’t know the players.”

    have you asked tham how they are going to get to know the players (as they did Edgar) if they don’t watch them? :)

  200. LB on September 25th, 2006 6:50 pm

    #197: Care to do the same to make your point?

    It looks to me like you took the article’s 40,000 figure (a number which is likely obsolete for the reasons I noted) and multiplied it by a bunch of dollar figures pulled out of something close to thin air. If I don’t believe in the multiplier, it doesn’t really matter how conservative the dollar figures are on the other side of the multiplication.

    Sure, I can do the same thing, but I’d hate to bet $40m+ on the “analysis.”

    Suppose every fan is so happy seeing Ichiro play, they decide to buy a pony at the Team Store and have him shipped back to Japan by FedEx? How much revenue will FedEx book as a result? (Suppose they send the pony 2nd Day Air to make the most conservative assumption.)

    The article you cited was based on some interesting data. It’s now stale. I wouldn’t buy MSFT or DELL stock based on a five year old analysis, and I hope that the M’s don’t do that with Ichiro. (But alas, I fear they will.)

    Suppose in 2011, the 37-year-old Ichiro is hitting like the 36-year-old Bret Boone was last year (.640 OPS). Or the 36-year-old Bernie Williams was last year (.688 OPS). How many tourists will come to see him then, from Japan or anywhere else?

  201. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 7:26 pm

    Re #196: Exactly. Ichiro doesn’t work pitchers for walks because he doesn’t have to — he has another approach which works just fine for him — not because he can’t. He’s perfectly capable of doing so, and when his current approach no longer works well enough, he’ll be able to adjust it. Similarly, he can hit for power, he’s proven that; he just prefers to play a different sort of game, which works well for him (and which, it might be noted, provides more frequent gratification than a lower-average higher-HR approach would). When the singles aren’t coming often enough anymore, he’ll be able to make the shift to focusing on driving the ball more. Or so, at least, I conclude from listening to the man talk and watching him play.

    Remember, Pete Rose posted an OPS+ of 119 in 1981, at the age of 40. He was of course an extreme outlier, but I think there’s very good reason to argue that Ichiro could well be a similar outlier, especially given that he’s much faster and a much better fielder than Rose ever was.

  202. Mr. Egaas on September 25th, 2006 7:32 pm

    Through all of this Jeremy Reed has been kicked to the curb. I assume his value is at an all-time low, but maybe some NL club needing a gloveman with offensive upside would be willing to take a whirl?

    Could we get a starter worth plugging in every 5th day, can he be packaged?

  203. bedir on September 25th, 2006 7:40 pm

    The question isn’t even if you would retain Ichiro, the question is how much would you pay him to spend his ten years in MLB as a Mariner?

    Because if he spends ten years in MLB he’s a lock for the Hall. Pioneer status, an MVP, a hits record, at least 6 Gold Gloves.

    How much is that worth now and in the future.

    Three year extension at what dollars?

  204. LB on September 25th, 2006 7:58 pm

    201: Remember, Pete Rose posted an OPS+ of 119 in 1981, at the age of 40. He was of course an extreme outlier…

    Wow, you said it, extreme outlier. It’s interesting you cited the only year in the last seven years of Rose’s career that he put up an OPS+ over 100. I believe that’s called “cherry-picking.” The complete list over the last seven years was: 94, 119, 91, 69 (yikes!), 99, 98 and 61. Average them together and that’s seven years of mediocrity. (The bastard kept putting himself in the lineup at 1st base, a power position, so he could get the hits records with the occasional single, but that’s a different discussion.)

    Ichiro put up an OPS+ of 121 over his first five seasons in MLB. If he could put up an OPS+ of 119 in 2011 at the age of 37, I would be ecstatic, but that is an extremely high stakes bet, don’t you think?

    And for what it’s worth, I’m glad you can take it faith that Ichiro can morph from Alphonso Soriano into Bobby Abreu at the plate out of sheer necessity, but I’m afraid I’m from Missouri.

    I wonder where Bavasi’s from.

  205. LB on September 25th, 2006 8:00 pm

    #203: Three year extension at what dollars?

    I don’t think he’ll take three, because some idiot GM out there will offer him four.

    He’s getting $11m/yr AAV now. I’m sure he’s not expecting a pay cut.

  206. LB on September 25th, 2006 8:01 pm

    #202: Could we get a starter worth plugging in every 5th day, can he be packaged?

    I guess there’s hope. The Red Sox gave up a very hot prospect for Crisp to play CF.

  207. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 8:22 pm

    Come on, LB, grow up and think a minute. I’m not trying to argue that Ichiro will play until he’s 45, and I’m as well aware as anybody that the only reason he kept playing in 1985 and ’86 was that he was his own manager. But I wasn’t cherry-picking any more than you were in citing “the last seven years of Rose’s career” (emphasis mine), given that in the years before those last seven, he posted OPS+ of (working backward) 130, 119, 115, 141, 132, and so on. What I cited was his last productive year, which is the point which was actually relevant to my argument: namely, that the man could still hit at 40. Had I been trying to use that to prove that he was still productive to the end of his career, that would have been cherry-picking — but I wasn’t.

    And in any case, yes, Rose was an extreme outlier. So’s Ichiro.

  208. The Ancient Mariner on September 25th, 2006 8:23 pm

    Also, I’m not taking anything on faith, but on observation — which also tells me that Ichiro’s very little like Soriano.

  209. LB on September 25th, 2006 8:59 pm

    In the area of plate discipline, Soriano and Ichiro are practically the same player, only batting from opposite sides of the plate:

    OBP – BA, after 6 seasons as an MLB starter
    Player A: .326-.281=.045
    Player B: .375-.329=.046

    Looks pretty darn close to me. Too much of their OBP is tied up in BA. If you think Ichiro can morph into Bobby Abreu when he gets old, what’s stopping Soriano?

  210. Dave on September 25th, 2006 9:03 pm

    Right, because walk rate is the only way to analyze “plate discipline”.

    Really, you don’t think contact rate matters at all in aging patterns? You think Ichiro’s career 9.4% strikeout rate is the same as Soriano’s 21.4% strikeout rate?

    Read Tangotiger’s articles on aging. Or Nate Silver’s findings from building PECOTA. Or just ask me, since I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject lately.

    High contact hitters age better than low contact hitters.

  211. LB on September 25th, 2006 9:25 pm

    #210: It’s a quick and dirty toy (I think statheads call it “Isolated Discipline,” don’t they), but I didn’t mean to suggest it was the only tool in the shed.

    Ancient Mariner suggested in post #194 Ichiro’s walks and power numbers would go up as he aged.

    At this point in their careers, Ichiro and Sorino have based a great deal of their OBP on their BA. (AL average is about .070, if I recall correctly, and they are both hovering at about .045.)

    I don’t know whether or not Ichiro can maintain or boost his OBP when his BA drops; I never played the game at any level. AM says Ichiro can do it based on AM’s observation, but I don’t know what I should observe in order to convince me. I can’t tell a good MLB swing from a bad one. The only way I could tell Jeff Cirillo was a colossal mistake was to look at my scorecard at the end of the game and tally up another 0-fer.

    I have read that Ichiro’s approach at the plate is, uh, unorthodox, so I hope his transformation into an OBP machine won’t depend on getting hitting tips from the Don Baylor or Jeff Pentland of 2010-2011.

    Glad to hear that contact hitters age well. I don’t think PECOTA projections can tell us more about the 2011 edition of Ichiro than a weather forecast can tell us about the 2011 chance of rain on Opening Day. But since you’ve been researching this, I’d sure like to know your opinion.

    Will Ichiro be an elite hitter four years from now, a so-so hitter, or a fairly easy out in the lineup that we have to bat leadoff to please Mr. Yamauchi and the Japanese press and ballpark tourists (who I am led to believe pay a healthy chunk of Ichiro’s salary)?

  212. Dave on September 25th, 2006 9:34 pm

    Will Ichiro be an elite hitter four years from now, a so-so hitter, or a fairly easy out in the lineup that we have to bat leadoff to please Mr. Yamauchi and the Japanese press and ballpark tourists (who I am led to believe pay a healthy chunk of Ichiro’s salary)?

    I have no idea, because I think that generally, projecting one individual player is a fool’s errand. We can make all kinds of generalities, but we can’t know the future.

    Ichiro’s skillset should age quite well, however, based on historical comparisons. His speed isn’t declining at all, and he’s still making contact at the same rate as always. Players with speed/contact skillsets are generally great athletes (as Ichiro is), and great athletes often have longer careers than guys whose bodies aren’t in the best of shape.

    Ichiro’s durability is also a marker of his athletic prowess. The guy just doesn’t get hurt.

    The things Ichiro does well aren’t going away anytime soon. I have no idea what kind of hitter Ichiro will be in 2011. No one does. But guys with his skillset generally age very well, and we should expect Ichiro to age better than most players too.

  213. LB on September 25th, 2006 9:57 pm

    Okay, let’s make the optimistic assumption that he ages so well that 2011 Ichiro will not decline in any significant way compared to 2006 Ichiro. Let’s also assume that he’ll continue to patrol centerfield adequately.

    Johnny Damon got 4/$52m from the Yankees at age 32 because Bernie Williams’ corpse was no longer an option for them as a starting CFer (at the age of 37). I believe they also had to fork over $3.5m to Bernie to buy their way out of his option year. Is it fair to say that Damon’s deal approximates what Ichiro could get as a FA CFer? Is it a good idea to give Ichiro an equivalent deal this winter before he can talk to any other club?

    My fear, as you can tell, is that 37-year-old Ichiro becomes the Bernie Williams of the M’s organization. I suspect Damon will become Bernie Williams Mark II. Branch Rickey was big on trading players a year too early rather than a year too late.

  214. Typical Idiot Fan on September 25th, 2006 10:03 pm

    What I am saying is that making the playoffs would totally supercede any attandance loss.

    You’re wrong.

    He’s only wrong if we’re making stupid decisions. Trading away Ichiro, for example, would not balance out the attendence loss with any gain in attendence for winning. However, earlier this year we had the same discussion on whether to “win now” or “win later” somewhere around the trade deadline. In the end we agreed that winning (meaning getting to the postseason) would be beneficial for the team in the short and long term, despite what it might do to our situation for 2007.

    In the end, it’s how you go about it, not the idea of trying to win.

  215. Jerry on September 25th, 2006 10:12 pm

    Dave,

    That straw man accusation is totally baseless. There are at least 5 people in this thread arguing that the M’s have to keep Ichiro in order to keep casual fans happy. It is a clear issue of chosing PR over winning.

    The real issue is whether or not it is a good idea to resign him. Nobody here is arguing that signing Ichiro to an extension is a good idea as far as managing payroll or building a long-term winner. The arguments against trading him deal exclusively with issues like Japanese fans, international revenue, and selling tickets. Those things are peripheral to fielding a winning team. The only person who suggested that resigning Ichiro was a good idea explicitly stated that it was in lieu of winning.

    Please explain to me how this is a straw man argument.

    Keeping Ichiro in 2007 might help the M’s in the short term. But it makes little sense if you look past next season. If you disagree with this, I would love to hear your reasoning.

    You yourself, in this very thread, said that you would shop Ichiro. You just don’t chose to discuss it because you don’t see it happeneing. In that sense, I think that you are probably correct. What I am saying is that it is unfortunate that this is the case.

    These are the unpopular decisions that good organizations make. Oakland, Cleveland, Atlanta, Minnesota: all these clubs are good at recognizing the big picture, and making moves irrespective of fan sentiment. Many of the best trades these clubs have made were wildly unpopular.

    Regarding the effect of Safeco on attendance, I agree that the park has a huge effect on attendance. But we need to make a distinction between novelty and quality.

    When a new park opens, there is definitely a novelty factor. But you would expect that to wear off relatively quickly, as the park ceases to be new and exciting. But Safeco has been open for 7 years now, and the attendance is still higher than you would expect for a club that sucks as bad as the M’s. If the effect of the park are still strong after 7 seasons, and three losing seasons, you can asssume that that won’t wear off in a season or two.

    At this point, things have equalized. The M’s are still a very good draw relative to other clubs, and particularly when you consider their W’s and L’s the past few years. At this point, the newness factor has worn off. Safeco is still an awesome park, though. That doesn’t just go away. Safeco will continue to be one of the best parks in baseball for years. At this point, I don’t see any reason to think that the effect of Safeco will simply go evaporate. If that was the case, explain why the M’s are still selling so many tickets.

    Again, look at the team’s record versus the attendance. The M’s attendance is a direct effect of winning. When they suck, the attendance is mediocre. When they make the playoffs, they are in the top-3 draws in MLB.

    If Safeco was the main factor, you would expect to see 2000 as the biggest year. But their attendance figures peaked in 2001 and 2002, the year they had the best record in baseball, and the following season.

    People obviously still like to go to games even though the team sucks. But to suggest that this is independent of winning is silly. Nice park + crap team = mediocre attendance. Nice park + good team = high attendance. The reason why attendance has gone down recently is because the M’s are a bad team. If the club starts winning, those people will jump back on the bandwagon.

    The M’s are averaging over 30,000 people/game. If they are contenders, that will go up. I think that this is as close to a 100% certainty as you get in sports.

  216. Dave on September 25th, 2006 10:12 pm

    Johnny Damon got 4/$52m from the Yankees at age 32 because Bernie Williams’ corpse was no longer an option for them as a starting CFer (at the age of 37). I believe they also had to fork over $3.5m to Bernie to buy their way out of his option year. Is it fair to say that Damon’s deal approximates what Ichiro could get as a FA CFer? Is it a good idea to give Ichiro an equivalent deal this winter before he can talk to any other club?

    I’d sign Ichiro to a 4 year, $52 million deal in a heartbeat.

    My fear, as you can tell, is that 37-year-old Ichiro becomes the Bernie Williams of the M’s organization. I suspect Damon will become Bernie Williams Mark II. Branch Rickey was big on trading players a year too early rather than a year too late.

    Well, Bernie was a lot bigger than Ichiro, so I wouldn’t expect his speed decline to be a good comparison, but even if we allow for the possibility that he’s going to be a $5 million player in 2011 making $15 million, and he’ll be costing the team $10 million in wasted money that year, odds are the deal will still be a good one in total.

    And yes, I know the “year too early” cliche quite well, and 90% of the time, I think it applies. However, when your organization, which essentially has no history to speak of, has a guy who is probably going to be enshrined into the hall of fame at the end of his career and he’s still a highly productive player, you shouldn’t get rid of him on the fear of what he might become in 4 years.

    I’m not necessarily a “keep Ichiro at all costs” guy, but I’m not anywhere close to a “dump him before he becomes an albatross” guy.

  217. Dave on September 25th, 2006 10:27 pm

    That straw man accusation is totally baseless. There are at least 5 people in this thread arguing that the M’s have to keep Ichiro in order to keep casual fans happy. It is a clear issue of chosing PR over winning.

    No one is arguing that. People are stating, correctly, that the P.R. and additional revenue concerns have to be factored in, and that people like you who ignore all off-field concerns are ignoring all the facts that need to be weighed. Your position has clearly been that the decision should be made strictly on performance. There are others, including me, who think that the decision should be performance and P.R. and financial. No one thinks it should be solely made on P.R.

    Please explain to me how this is a straw man argument.

    You: “It is a clear issue of chosing PR over winning.”

    No one is choosing P.R. over winning. That’s a giant straw man comment.

    Keeping Ichiro in 2007 might help the M’s in the short term. But it makes little sense if you look past next season. If you disagree with this, I would love to hear your reasoning.

    It makes little sense to you, because none of the real world aspects of this decision matter to you besides how Ichiro plays on the field. Those real world aspects matter to the team, though, and they should.

    When a new park opens, there is definitely a novelty factor. But you would expect that to wear off relatively quickly, as the park ceases to be new and exciting. But Safeco has been open for 7 years now, and the attendance is still higher than you would expect for a club that sucks as bad as the M’s. If the effect of the park are still strong after 7 seasons, and three losing seasons, you can asssume that that won’t wear off in a season or two.

    The fact that the Mariners have maintained high attendance in spite of losing teams, by choosing to have a roster of marketable players, is a point in our favor, and I’m not sure how you can’t see that. On one hand, you’re criticizing the Mariners for “choosing P.R. over winning”, and then claiming that their decisions haven’t had an effect on their attendance. Which is it?

    People obviously still like to go to games even though the team sucks. But to suggest that this is independent of winning is silly.

    Hello straw man, nice to see you again. Been a while.

    The M’s are averaging over 30,000 people/game. If they are contenders, that will go up. I think that this is as close to a 100% certainty as you get in sports.

    No one is arguing this point. The point, the entire time, the one that you just keep missing, is that Ichiro adds value beyond his on-field performance, and that has to be figured into the decision of whether or not he should be retained.

    Your point has been made perfectly clear. On Field Performance alone determines whether he should be re-signed. Pretty much everyone disagrees with you, for a lot of very good reasons, and your response is to claim that these people are choosing public relations over winning.

    And then you don’t see the straw man argument.

  218. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2006 10:36 pm

    But Safeco has been open for 7 years now, and the attendance is still higher than you would expect for a club that sucks as bad as the M’s.

    The Baltimore Orioles, 2002: 2,682,439. 3rdin the Al in attendance. After FOUR 4th place finishes.

    The M’s actually are dropping off QUICKER than the Orioles did. Try again, please.

  219. mln on September 26th, 2006 2:00 am

    The Mariners don’t need Sexson, Beltre, or Ichiro.

    They have WILLIE.

    That’s all they need. ;)

  220. Typical Idiot Fan on September 26th, 2006 4:08 am

    The Baltimore Orioles, 2002: 2,682,439. 3rdin the Al in attendance. After FOUR 4th place finishes.

    In 1997, the last year before the mentioned four years of 4th place finishes, the Orioles drew 3.7 million fans. In 2002, as you mention, they drew 2.6 million fans. A net loss of 1.1 million fans over four years.

    In 2001, the peak of Mariner popularity, they drew 3.5 million fans. In 2005 they drew 2.7 million fans, a net loss of 800,000 fans. I don’t know what 2006′s numbers project, but unless they’re going to draw less then 2.4 million fans, they’re not losing fans at a faster pace then the Orioles.

    Besides that, the Orioles in 2003 drew 2.4 million fans, in 2004 drew 2.7 million fans, and in 2005 drew 2.6 million fans and they still finished 4th, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.

    Conclusion: Using the Orioles as a comp was a really bad idea. In fact, using any fanbase to compare to another fanbase is a really bad idea, because the teams involved are different, the motivations of the owners are different, the actions of the GMs are different, the markets are different. I mean, you have to factor in a ton of aspects before you can compare two attendence records on something so significantly blind as period of losing following periods of winning.

  221. BelaXadux on September 26th, 2006 6:53 am

    Subtractions: yeah. It is most depressing that the principle reason that this club as constituted isn’t a contender at all going into ’07 is that our principle free agent signings of the last few years are producing far less than their salaries necessitate. That’s a significant warning sign on allowing our present FO to reinvest the money freed up by dealing a major player. But we could get lucky even if we won’t get smart, whereas if we stand pat we won’t get either . . .

    Ichiro isn’t going to be traded. He may surprise us and bail at the end of his present contract, as mentioned above, though. If the Ms aren’t seriously contending by the middle of next season, I’d say it’s better than even odds he leaves. It seems clear that being associated with mediocrity sits ill with him. But that’s for next year.

    Beltre or Sexson?: Both of them. Oh they won’t both be dealt I feel sure, ’cause the Ms management doesn’t have the stomach for that. If the idea here is to free up salary, then obviously Sexson is the better bet to be moved. The Ms have more and better options to replace him, he’s on a decline path even if it is no certainty that he won’t bounce back next year, and his season this year just wasn’t all that great. But the thing is, it’s not who you give away, it’s who you get (unless you’re looking to offload Jose Guillen, that is). So hang both of them over the wall in the offseason until after some fool buys Carlos Lee, see what offers are floated by then when other GMs sweat a bit and raise their bids, and make the move WHICH BRINGS THE BEST TALENT BACK.

    This is about more than $$$. It’s really about changing the mix on the team, and bringing in new talent which makes a greater total. Where is the greater _talent value_ to be found, in trade or in reinvesting Sexson’s salary? Of course if no deal for either Sexson or Beltre includes a nice package coming back then dump Richie and use the dough. —But Beltre has a better chance, to me, of being the keystone in a multi-player package which brings back some _significant_ talent. To me, this is the angle that the Ms should be playing for, with dumping Richie as the back up plan. I’m not saying this to harsh on Beltre; he has real value, if not here equal to his present salary. But I think he’ll bring more back _in a trade_, and so he’s the one to focus on trading if possible. I don’t think we hear as many teams talking about ‘grabbing Beltre’ because the assumption is that he’s signed long-term and the team isn’t dealing him. So call up the other guys, disabuse them of that cannard, and see what they’re willing to pay for him. No matter how one values Richie relative to Adrian, NEITHER ONE is so valuable that he should be kept if a good multiplayer package can be built around _either_ one in a deal. So do the best deal.

  222. Mike Snow on September 26th, 2006 9:11 am

    In 2001, the peak of Mariner popularity, they drew 3.5 million fans. In 2005 they drew 2.7 million fans, a net loss of 800,000 fans. I don’t know what 2006’s numbers project, but unless they’re going to draw less then 2.4 million fans, they’re not losing fans at a faster pace then the Orioles.

    Wrong. 2001 was the peak of Mariner performance, not Mariner popularity, at least not using attendance as the measuring stick. Mariner attendance peaked in 2002 (as has been pointed out several times already, there’s a lag between winning and increased attendance). Compare apples to apples, please.

  223. eponymous coward on September 26th, 2006 10:36 am

    but unless they’re going to draw less then 2.4 million fans, they’re not losing fans at a faster pace then the Orioles.

    They’re going to draw between 2.4 and 2.5 million.

    However, since we’re going to be snarky about this, the Orioles went straight into the toilet, under .500 and into 4th place after 1997 (with the exception of 2003, going 78-84 and making it to 3rd place).

    The M’s after 2001: 3, 2, 4, 4 (the first two OVER .500, and over 90 games- in fact they won more games in 2002 and 2003 combined than some playoff participants over both those years. Their luck just sucked.)

    And, despite not having a team finishing over .500 since Wade Boggs was playing in the league, the Orioles drew 2.6 million last year. It’s taken them almost 10 years of bad baseball, AND a second team in the area (Washington) to fmake the fans finally give up (this year, the Orioles are going to draw 2.1 million).

    My point’s simply this: arguing “oh, teh Seattle fans are stoopid and don’t care about wins and losses and want cuddly faces” doesn’t exactly explain phenomena like Baltimore and Chicago, now, does it? I think, rather, that given a metro are of Seattle’s size, the baseline attendance is around 2-2.2 million even if your team is really the Tacoma Rainiers wearing M’s uniforms, unless you go out of your way to actively piss off the fanbase (think Montreal or Florida).

  224. gwangung on September 26th, 2006 11:27 am

    My point’s simply this: arguing “oh, teh Seattle fans are stoopid and don’t care about wins and losses and want cuddly faces” doesn’t exactly explain phenomena like Baltimore and Chicago, now, does it? I think, rather, that given a metro are of Seattle’s size, the baseline attendance is around 2-2.2 million even if your team is really the Tacoma Rainiers wearing M’s uniforms, unless you go out of your way to actively piss off the fanbase (think Montreal or Florida).

    Do you think trading team icons like Ichiro would be seen by fans as pissing off the fanbase?

  225. eponymous coward on September 26th, 2006 11:54 am

    Like I said, you might be able to get away with it, depending. Ichiro’s not as revered in the press as Edgar was, and if you can get away with trading RJ and Junior, you PROBABLY can get away with it…but you had damn well better win that next year.

    I think it would be a high-risk strategy compared to trading Sexson, for sure- and I’m not at all convinced that an argument of “you should be trading superstar players because they might suck in 2011 after you resign them to a deal next offseason” is really the right way to look at it. The primary consideration needs to be 2007, and maybe 2008- and I think it’s a pretty easy case to make that Sexson is far more replacable than Ichiro in the NEAR future, and the sort-term payoff is better.

  226. JMHawkins on September 26th, 2006 12:52 pm

    Ichiro’s not as revered in the press as Edgar was, and if you can get away with trading RJ and Junior, you PROBABLY can get away with it…but you had damn well better win that next year.

    Yes, well, the decline in interest is as bad as it is because the team has been both losing and churning the roster. Fans are saying, essentially, “call me when you figure out who you think your team is.”

    A little bit of stability in the roster plus games in September that matter (even if they don’t make play-offs, but at least are in the race) will stop the bleeding. I really don’t think Seattle can generate sustained fan interest without both.

    They blew it in 02 when they didn’t make a real effort to improve the team. Coming off two straight playoff runs and the magic of 01, plus the new stadium, they had huge buzz. The team – after 01 – had two big needs. A top-flight starter and a power-hitting left fielder. Instead, they got James Baldwin, Jeff Cirillo, Rueben Sierra and Luis Ugueto. Really, Ugueto? Here’s a team that is on the verge of winning over a city and establishing at least a minor legacy and they saddle the team with a Rule 5 kid who, despite being on the active roster all year, got 25 PAs, and probably shouldn’t have gotten that many. He should’ve been in AA. Where is he now? Released by KC last year. Not from their big-league roster either. Ouch. He had 31 PA as a major leaguer, all with Seattle. Ugueto in a best-case scenario would’ve develeoped into Charles Gipson. Who the M’s already had on their 25-man roster.

  227. LB on September 26th, 2006 4:03 pm

    #226: At the time, I was anti-Ugueto (or, as Lou nicknamed him, “The Rule 5 Kid,” great nickname) too, but it’s not unheard of for a team to carry a Rule 5 player and win the World Series. The Red Sox carried Lenny DiNardo on their roster in 2004, he pitched a total of 27-2/3 innings for them, and they went all the way. And now, two years later, he’s developed into… Lenny DiNardo. His upside seems to be John Halama.

    It seems appropriate to mention that Ugueto was suspended for steroids, so at least he and Ryan Franklin will have something to talk about at the 20th reunion of the 2001 team.

    Jeff Cirillo came into town with a gaudy .311 lifetime BA and taught M’s fans (and, we hope, the front office) about park adjustments. It was an expensive lesson.

    I think Baldwin instead of a stud FA starter was the big mistake. But don’t forget the mid-season acquisitions: Doug Creek and Jopse Offerman. Where are they now? (Rhetorical question; don’t waste time looking them up.)

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