No Matsuzaka, but you may get another CO

DMZ · October 26, 2006 at 9:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Kirby Arnold, in the Herald.

Last week when Mariners baseball executives and scouts met in Arizona to map their strategy for improving the team, general manager Bill Bavasi asked for recommendations on potential free agents the M’s should pursue.

Nobody mentioned Matsuzaka’s name.

Hmm. Really? Technically he’s not a free agent. Maybe it just wasn’t in that discussion.

The bigger issue is whether Matsuzaka is worth the financial stretch it will take to get him. It may take a winning bid of $20 million or more just to gain the right to negotiate a contract with him and, with Scott Boras as his agent, it’s a good bet that he’ll get a deal worth millions over multiple years.

Bottom line is that Matsuzaka will get No. 1 starter money with no guarantee that he’ll become that kind of pitcher in the majors.

$20m, eh? Hmm. I love “millions over multiple years”. Ya think? Like $2m over 3 years? Plus, we just gave #1 starter money to Jarrod Washburn, and he sucks. At least Matsuzaka doesn’t suck. And really, if you get him for a cheap contract and a $20m fee, that’s not #1 money.

I would chalk this all up to the predicted mind-games. But here’s the jarring part:

And, like last year, spending what it will take to land Matsuzaka could severely hamper any other moves the Mariners need to make this offseason. Right now, the Mariners’ baseball people don’t seem interested in busting the 2007 payroll for one player, especially considering they need three more pitchers and, if there’s anything left, a corner outfielder.

Okay, first, Matsuzaka’s impact won’t be on payroll, it’ll be in the posting fee. But this is an interesting view, and continues the team’s long retreat from the “posting fees and foreign acquisitions are a separate account” position they espoused for a couple of years.

But here’s the really grating part — A corner outfielder. Really.

A corner outfielder.

This team needs another corner outfielder like they need to clone Mike Hargrove so he can occupy all the coaching positions at once. We keep pounding on this, but the team’s got a roster crunch already:

Ibanez LF (below average)/DH/1b (yech)
Broussard DH/1b (yech)
Sexson 1B (ergh)
Snelling LF/RF/DH, who for everyone’s sake he should probably play at least one game out of 3 or 4 at DH next year, just for safety

and that doesn’t include Reed, obviously. They shouldn’t be looking for free agent corner outfielders with any kind of substantial payroll impact right now, they should be moving Sexson, Broussard, or both of them, and then… you know all this, so I’ll skip on.

On Matsuzaka, though – if I were the Mariners, and I’m not, I would absolutely play a game that would appear identical to what we’re seeing from the team:
– personally talk to Lincoln/etc and get permission to pursue him
– with two, three people you know are absolutely leak-proof, figure out a posting number to bid
– internally, tell everyone else you’re not interested. Have them work on the backup plan in the guise of it being the real plan
– leak that you’re not interested, have other priorities, are concerned about his health, don’t think there’s any additional marketing benefit from having another Japanese player, Ichiro doesn’t like him, whatever
– submit the bid

Hopefully you’ve lowered the posting price, because the Yankees drop way down thinking you’re out of it. Then if you win, surprise! Everyone’s happy, and you’ve done a masterful fake-out. If you lose, no big deal, you’ve been prepping the public for it for ages, and you’ve got this great backup plan.

There’s really no way the M’s don’t bid, and make – if not a $20m-30+m bid – a serious offer.


58 Responses to “No Matsuzaka, but you may get another CO”

  1. mln on October 26th, 2006 6:07 pm

    This article might be part of the Mariners’ disinformation plan, as suggested. Or it could be what the Mariners actually intend to do.

    The question is do you think the Mariners are Machiavellian enough to conceive of this type of plan.

  2. BelaXadux on October 26th, 2006 8:08 pm

    I’d love to believe that the ‘info’ in the article referenced is a disinformation mindgame, but to play a mindgame you have to have a mind. The posting fee for Matsuzaka is at a frightening altitude under any circumstance, and the Mariners can have little love for that kind of price. OTOH Bavasi does have a good record of keeping his lip zipped on his _specific_ plans, and it’s difficult to believe that the Ms wouldn’t even make an offer on Matsuzaka. If the Ms do actually post and win, it probably wouldn’t affect signings with the a dollar value like Felix, J-Lopez, and so on, but it would surely affect deals like the YuBet sign where the Ms trumped a bidding war with multiple millions and a major-league deal: that’s the kind of offer that wouldn’t be made for several years, to me.

    OTOOH, Bill Bavasi has a record of telegraphing the _type_ of move he’s going to make. Remember last year’s “lefthand sock” and the need to get some pitching? His remarks there were not exceptional, and indicated his real intentions, just like the year before he made it clear he was going to sign some big bats. I do not doubt that Bavasi is zeroing in on a corner outfielder with power; that just fits how he and his guys have been ‘building the team,’ to me. And I’ve thought for many months that the Ms FO as a group were going to make a move on Jason Schmidt. So by that matrix, Matsuzaka is their third priority, and a hyper-expensive one, if they make an offer.

    My gut feeling for some time for what it’s worth [I’ll save you the trouble, Dave: “Nothing.”] is that Matsuzaka will NOT be a Mariner. Nothing in the article counters that feeling. Don’t let it creep up on you, folks, if it happens that the Ms big offseason moves this year are something like Cliff Floyd and Jason Schmidt. . . . Which is why I’m watching more squash than baseball these days. Ramy Ashour is something, inn’t he, hey?

  3. Typical Idiot Fan on October 26th, 2006 8:20 pm

    On the other hand, in general she won’t comment on the NPB hemorrhaging all of its talent to the MLB, because it depresses her. It’d probably depress you too if aliens from outer space kept coming in and kidnapping all the top talent in your league and leaving things like Shane Spencer to take its place.

    What a horribly negative way of looking at things. Although NPB and hte posting process seems a smidge on the reprehensible side in that it feels more like selling human beings then wishing them well with greater competition, it isn’t as if you’re not a fan of Major League Baseball too.

    To fit your analogy, if I happened to also like, follow, and watch Galactic League Baseball, I would watch my favorite former Earthican players taking on the best of the best on a greater scale. Meanwhile, if Tip-Tac- and Toe from the Zoq-Fot-Pik Frungy Leagues was purchased by the New York Yankees to play second base even though they hit a combined (3 splits) .235 / .290 / .336 and were horrible at fielding seeing as how they have no arms, I’d be interested in seeing how the newcomers handle the insane New York Media.

  4. Oly Rainiers Fan on October 26th, 2006 8:50 pm

    #26 – International signing bonuses are starting to rise, rise, rise with one factor being agents like Boras jumping in and representing the best of the best. Even so, Felix’s bonus wasn’t all that much compared to some others – like Francisco Rodriguez, who got 960,000 and Miguel Cabrera, who pulled down a cool 1.8 million bonus from the Marlins – both when they were SIXTEEN years old. Craziness.

    #53 (and Deanna): The whole point of the agreement with the Japanese League and MLB is, from Japan’s perspective, supposed to prevent the Japanese League from just becoming a farm team (like the Mexican League is) to MLB. They consider themselves a major league, so yeah, if they start losing too many good players to MLB and the quality of their league starts suffering noticeably because of it, I’d be wondering what additional changes they’d be wanting to make to that agreement with MLB (it gets re-negotiated every couple years I think).

    Of course, they may have bigger problems in that an article I read recently said the Japanese players union is starting to make some noise about how the agreement might violate Japanese anti-trust laws….if that movement gains any traction, the Japanese league would be in big trouble.

  5. Deanna on October 27th, 2006 12:05 am

    Eh, whatever. I’ve been trying to mentally retool the way I think about the whole situation. I mean, I obviously adore Kenji Johjima now, and am glad the Hawks got defeated by the Fighters in the playoffs, but at the same time, watching any of their catchers attempt to hit a baseball with a bat is somewhat painful. Thinking that they wouldn’t have lost if they still had Johjima and Iguchi is somewhat sad (and lessens the Fighters’ victory).

    Either way, I don’t really do roster speculation or posting speculation anyway, so I’m afraid I can’t really be of much help in this situation. I can, however, write you a song about it, if you’d like.

  6. msb on October 27th, 2006 7:59 am

    OTOOH, Bill Bavasi has a record of telegraphing the _type_ of move he’s going to make. Remember last year’s “lefthand sock” and the
    need to get some pitching?

    and then he got a catcher.

  7. Steve T on October 27th, 2006 12:28 pm

    I think y’all are lowballing the posting fee. I think the Yankees have a hardon for the guy, and they’re going to post north of $40 million.

  8. matthew on October 28th, 2006 6:22 pm

    I may have missed the date somewhere, but when exactly will we know who won the rights to negotiate with the highest bid?

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