Felix the person

November 26, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 49 Comments 

Geoff Baker pens a long and interesting column from Velencia, Venezuela after spending time with Felix Hernandez and his family at their home in South America. While there’s nothing earth shattering in the piece, it is enjoyable to read, and a huge step up from the offseason stuff we grew accustomed to from Bob Finnigan.

And, if you’re wondering what Felix’s workout program is like, well, let’s just say it’s not a big surprise.

A very brief reiteration of our position on Mr. Bloomquist

November 25, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 43 Comments 

I think this is a rare instance where I can safely speak for all of the USSM authors. I’d like to be quite clear, in the wake of his extension, where we stand.

We acknowledge that Willie, as a professional baseball player, is a supremely talented athlete. Even as we may lament his inability to hit better, it is a wonder that anyone hits that well at all.

We believe that Willie has value to the team, in that he is indeed defensively versatile, can steal a base, and is not totally helpless at the plate. He’s a guy you can push onto the field to rest a regular or even as multi-position insurance. In particular, we think that makes him a fine choice to fill out a 25-man roster.

We appreciate that he seems like a nice local guy, and that there is, indeed, a contingent of fans that likes him a lot. That he’s occasionally prodded into saying he should be a starter doesn’t seem to have ticked off any of his teammates. The media love and frequent overselling of his abilities is grating, but not at all relevant to his performance on the field.

We also feel that there is absolutely no evidence that he can hit major league pitching. There is no evidence he’s suitable for any starting job, especially no evidence that his offense would improve enough to make him suitable if he played regularly, and this is supported by repeated trials as a starter.

We also feel that players with Bloomquist’s skill set are not that hard to find, and that it is also easy to find players with different skillsets who contribute as much as their team’s success.

Because of this, it’s not worth paying Bloomquist much above the major league minimum. If the team feels that his PR value is high enough that it makes it worth paying him a premium (for instance, paying him twice league minimum, or 2.5x) that’s still not as huge an error as wildly overpaying Carlos Lee. It’s a little annoying, because we’d love to see that money spent on something more useful, but it’s not the end of the world.

Where this is really harmful is getting him 250 at-bats a year. If Bloomquist gets that many at-bats, something is badly wrong with the way the manager is using him. 250 at-bats for a guy hitting .247/.320/.299 is bad for the team. It costs them runs, and runs cost the team wins, and we want to see the Mariners win games and compete for pennants and go to the World Series and win it, because we’re fans.

Building winning teams takes two things: roster management, where you assemble all the best tools you can, and the actual use of those tools. While a million dollars is too high a price to pay for Bloomquist, he does have value when used correctly. Paid too much and used so badly, he’s a symptom of what’s wrong with both the roster construction and on-field management of the Mariners, and that makes us sad.

You can’t make this stuff up

November 25, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 126 Comments 

The Mariners have made a signing! The offseason has begun. The Mariners have…

signed Willie Bloomquist to a contract extension through 2008.

No, we’re not kidding. We’ve now guaranteed the worst player in baseball two more years in a Mariner uniform, where he can continue to make outs and hurt the team while getting tongue baths from the announcers.

Feel free to commence mocking… now.

Graph for the holiday weekend

November 24, 2006 · Filed Under General baseball · 20 Comments 

Position players only.
Offensive contributions only.

As you can see, the correlation between last year’s performance and the annual value of the player’s new deal is extremely high (the correlation’s .85). There are a number of interesting possibilities raised here:
– overall ability has mattered less than last year’s stat line
– defense hasn’t mattered that much
– age (and projections, etc) hasn’t mattered that much
– the price of a free agent starts at about $4m, climbs to $8m for a 20-run player, and then only really goes up for the 50-run guys (making the 30-40 run guys huge bargains)
– all of the above
– none of the above

Good news for the M’s

November 24, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 109 Comments 

The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Lee on a 6 year, $100 million contract. Bad for the Astros, who have just inherited a decent player for an all-star salary, but good for the Mariners.


This is essentially the move the M’s needed to have happen if they wanted to exploit the market and reshape the roster by trading Richie Sexson. The two teams who are most interested in Sexson are the Giants and the Orioles. Both teams have significant cash to spend and covet a RH power hitter to add to the middle of their lineup. Neither team has been able to get any of the free agents they’ve chased to take their money, and an already mediocre market is now smaller by one big name.

The M’s should absolutely take advantage. With both teams running out of free agents to offer money to, Richie Sexson is going to look like a legitimate option for both Brian Sabean and Mike Flanagan. At this point, the chances of the M’s both removing Sexson’s contract from the payroll and getting a legitimate talent back in return are as high as they’ll ever be.

It’s a sellers market. Take advantage.

Gil Meche’s Thanksgiving List; Plus, Idle Speculation!

November 23, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 48 Comments 

Even it were not a national holiday, it would have to be a pretty exciting time to be Gil Meche. In a time when Adam Eaton can postulate receiving a $36 million deal — albeit fictionally, in Derek’s exceptional video game sendup — visions of ducats have to be dancing in his head.

Despite it being 4 a.m. in Louisiana right now, we have somehow managed to obtain the text of Gil Meche’s remarks to his family when asked to start the traditional “What Are You Thankful For?” recitation. As you might imagine, he’s shaken out Mr. Bad Feeling with great success.

Evidently, the Meche family celebrates early and often. As well they should. Without further ado, the text of Gil’s remarks: Read more

Offseason Adventure

November 22, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 43 Comments 


You are in an open offseason in your office in the headquarters of a successful west coast baseball team. It is dark and raining here. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
There is a suitcase here.
There is a neatly stacked set of travel documents here.

> examine documents

You have been booked on a ten PM redeye flight from Seattle to Naples, Florida. There is a long layover in Atlanta.

> oh, no.

I don't understand that.

An staffer enters your office.
"Sir? I'm ready to drive you to Seatac. Oh, Lee says that the Cubs signed Aramis Ramirez."

> examine Aramis Ramirez signing

Aramis Ramirez signed for $75m over 5 years.

> what?

You must supply a direct object.

> are you kidding me?

I don't understand that.

> fly to Naples

After a forgettable flight and a layover you wish you could forget, you arrive in Naples, Florida.

You are in Naples, west of a big white hotel.

Billy Beane is here.

> say "Hey, Billy"

Billy sighs and pretends not to notice you.

> examine hotel

It's a nice hotel.

Billy Beane is here.

> poke Billy

Billy glares at you.

> say "Sorry"

Billy sighs and pretends not to notice you.

> enter hotel

You enter the hotel. Behind you, Billy Beane answers his cell phone.

You are in a hotel lobby, with baseball people all round you.
Jim Bowden is here.
Jim Hendry is here.
"I signed all the good minor league free agents," Jim Bowden says.
Jim Bowden laughs at you.

> examine Jim Bowden

You see nothing special about Jim Bowden.

> wish Jim Bowden good luck

Jim Bowden smiles happily.

> punch Hendry

Hendry ducks your blow.
"Ha, ha, you kidder, Bill!"

> punch Hendry

Hendry ducks your blow.
"Ha, ha, you kidder, Bill!"

> go to room

"See you, Bill!"

You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> sleep

It is November 14th. You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> go downstairs

You are in a hotel lobby.
Jim Hendry is here.
"I just signed Mark DeRosa!" Jim Hendry says.

> examine DeRosa signing

Mark Derosa signed for $13,000,000 over 3 years.

> punch Hendry

Hendry ducks your blow.
"Ha, ha, you kidder, Bill!"

> sign minor-leaguers

You can't do that now.

> call Pelekoudas

You call Pelekoudas.
"You going to try to sign Soriano?" Hendry says

> punch Hendry

Your hand is holding an expensive team-provided cellular phone. Are you sure you want to do that?

> no

Pelekoudas answers. "I'm up," Pelekoudas says.

> sign minor leaguers
You sign Cibney Bello
You sign Renee Cortez
You sign Jared Eichelberger
You sign Jesse Foppert
You sign Josh Kite
You sign Rey Ordonez
You sign Tony Torcato
You sign Brant Ust
You sign Michael Wagner

> who is Jared Eichelberger?

I don't know either.

> hang up

Jim Hendry laughs at you.

Your phone rings.

> examine phone

The phone display reads "Howard Lincoln".

> u

You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> sleep

It is November 15th. You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> sleep x4

It is November 20th. You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> d

Are you sure?

> d

That might not be the best idea right now, if you get my meaning.

> clean up

You clean up nicely.

> go downstairs

You are in a hotel lobby.
Jim Hendry is here.
"I just signed Alfonso Soriano!" Jim Hendry says.

> examine Soriano contract

Alfonso Soriano signed for $136,000,000 over 8 years.

> I hate you and wish you would die.

I don't understand that.

Jim Hendry performs his Dance of Joy.

> punch Hendry

You catch Hendry unaware!
Hendry is wounded!
The other GMs look at you with awe.
Hendry runs away!
Some GMs applaud you.

> bow

How gracious.

Wayne Krivsky signs Alex Gonzalez.

> examine Gonzalez signing

Alex Gonzalez signed for $14,000,000 over 3 years.

> examine Gonzalez signing

No, you read that right.

Pat Gillick asks you how Adrian Beltre is doing.

> remind Gillick of Franklin signing

Pat Gillick looks hurt and leaves.
Brian Sabean is here.

Your phone rings.

> trade Richie Sexson to Brian Sabean for Matt Cain

Brian Sabean looks confused.
"Why would I do that?" Brian Sabean asks.

> trade Richie Sexson to Brian Sabean for Marcus Sanders and live arm

Brian Sabean ponders this.
"I do need power," Brian Sabean says.

> don't look anxious

You look cool.
"I don't know though," Brian Sabian says. "We're not sure if we're trying to rebuild or not..."
Brian Sabean looks at you expectantly.

> trade Richie Sexson and Rafael Soriano to Brian Sabean for Marcus Sanders and live arm

Brian Sabean nods.
"Let me think about that," Brian Sabean says.
Brian Sabean takes out his cellular phone.

Jason Schmidt is here.

> sign Jason Schmidt

You don't have Jason Schmidt's contract demands yet.

> get contract demands from Schmidt

Jason Schmidt hands you a brochure.
Jason Schmidt leaves to find Brian Sabean.
Adam Eaton is here.

> get contract demands from Eaton

"In today's market we should start at $36,000,000 for 4 years," Adam Eaton says.

> laugh

Adam Eaton looks offended.

> apologize

You pretend you were laughing at something else.
Adam Eaton looks suspicious.

> make excuse to Eaton

You tell Adam Eaton you will have to talk to management.
Adam Eaton leaves.
JP Riccardi is here.
"We agreed to terms with Frank Catalanotto and will announce it tomorrow," JP Riccardi says.

> bang head against wall

You bang your head against the wall, producing a satisfying thumping sound.
"Sorry about that," JP Riccardi says. "There's always Alou."

> remain calm

You breathe deeply.
JP Riccardi leaves.

> u

You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here.

> order room service

What did you want to order from room service?

> order pizza, liter of Hornitos, 12 limes, salt, knife from room service

You order a pizza from room service.
You order a liter of Sauza Hornitos tequila.
You order 12 limes.
You order salt.

A knife is provided with the silverware in the mini-kitchenette.

> get knife


> z

You wait.

> z x3

Room service delivers your meal.

> eat pizza

You eat the pizza.

> cut limes with knife

You chop up the limes.

> suck piece of lime. drink tequila. eat salt.

You drink a shot of tequila. Mmm, that's tasty.

> repeat x10

You pass out quickly.

You wake up.
It is November 22nd. You are in a hotel room.
There is a bed here. You are in the bed.
There is a bottle of tequila here.
You have a headache.

> examine phone

You have new voice mail.

> get tequila

You take the bottle of tequila.

> d


> d

You are in a hotel lobby. There are many hazy shapes here.

> drink tequila

Hair of the dog! The shapes resolve into other GMs.
Ned Coletti signs Juan Pierre.

> examine Pierre contract

Juan Pierre signed for $44,000,000 over 5 years.
Bill Stoneman signs Gary Matthews, Jr.

> examine Matthews contract

Gary Matthews, Jr. signed for $50,000,000 over 5 years.

> examine tequila

You notice nothing special about the tequila.

> examine Coletti

Ned Coletti appears happy.

> examine Stoneman

Bill Stoneman appears concerned about your appearance.

> weep

You weep gently.
Billy Beane steals your wallet!

> quit

You scored 200 points out a possible 550 points using 75 turns.

You are a Saavy Trader. Better luck next time.

You need to not sign Carlos Lee to achieve the next higher ranking.

Press enter to start a new game...

More Insanity

November 22, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 100 Comments 

I noted this in Derek’s news wrapup, but this deserves its own post.

The Angels have signed Gary Matthews Jr to a 5 year, $50 million contract.

5 years, $50 million for Gary Matthews Jr. This guy.

Let’s take a look at his career, shall we?

In 1993, Matthews was drafted in the 13th round by the San Diego Padres after attending Mission College for one year. He was signed and sent to the Northwest League as a 20-year-old. He barely hit his weight, putting up a lousy .209/.286/.251 line.

He then spent the next three years in Class-A ball, posting mediocre performances and finally earning a promotion to Double-A at age 23. He didn’t hit in Double-A that year, either.

At age 24, repeating Double-A, he put together a decent half season but battled injuries. The performance earned him a promotion to Triple-A in 1999, where he was assigned to the Coors Field of the PCL, Las Vegas. He didn’t hit there, either.

He was then traded to the Cubs for the immortal Rodney Myers in 2000. They watched him not hit in Triple-A at age 26, and let him go on waivers. The Pirates grabbed him in 2001, watched him not hit for them at the major league level, and then sold his contract to the Mets for peanuts. A few months later, the Mets traded him to the Orioles for the John Bale, who is probably hanging out with Rodney Myers today. Matthews actually had a decent season with the Orioles in 2002 at the age of 28, putting up 344 useful at-bats as a solid fourth outfielder.

The Orioles, however, valued those at-bats so much they put him back on waivers, where the Padres claimed him in 2003. He had a slightly worse year, but was still marginally useful, so when the Padres put him on waivers at the end of the year, the Braves put in a claim.

However, he failed to make the Braves in spring training of 2004 and was released. The Rangers signed him to a minor league deal six days later. He went to Texas and resumed his career as a semi-useful fourth outfielder. He was pushed into everyday status in 2005 and was his usual self, hitting .255/.320/.436. After finishing his age 30 season, he looked like he was leaving the prime of his career, which had culminated in him being a decent reserve or a poor starter for a non-contending club.

Then, 2006 rolls around, and at age 31, he has a career year, hitting .313/.371/.495 as an everyday center fielder. However, there wasn’t a significant change in his skillset – his walk rate declined slightly, his power was exactly where it was the previous two seasons, he didn’t hit any more line drives, and his HR rate actually fell. The improvement was completely and utterly tied to his ability to have balls fall into gaps where fielders weren’t standing.

The Angels apparently think that’s a repeatable skill, and are now going to pay Matthews Jr $10 million a season for his age 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36 seasons. They could have claimed him on waivers any one of four times during the past five years, or traded a non-prospect for him, or signed him to a minor league contract when he was released by the Braves.

But no, they didn’t think enough of him then to take him when he was free. A six month stretch where a few extra balls find a hole here or there and a diving catch that ends up on Sportscenter, and now, he’s a $50 million player.

That’s absurd. You can talk about inflation and wanting to win all you want, but Gary Matthews Jr is a completely replaceable role player who is going to be taking a large step back in performance during the next few years.

The Soriano contract was ill conceived, but at least the Cubs got a good player. The Pierre contract was ridiculous, but at least the Dodgers got someone who can legitimately play center field for the next few years and has a skillset that is traditionally valuable among major league GMs.

But Gary Matthews Jr got $50 million for no reason that I can comprehend. What a horrible, horrible contract. We’re going to see more wasted money this offseason than any other offseason in history. Denny Neagle and Chan Ho Park are going to look like relative bargains by the time the decision makers are done blowing a half billion this winter.

Wednesday news-a-go-go

November 22, 2006 · Filed Under General baseball · 58 Comments 

Actual headline “Matsuzaka dines with Red Sox, leaves deal to Boras“. It’d be better if Borat did his negotiating.
Jeff Francis signed a 4y, $13.5m deal with the Rockies. Nice.
Added By Dave: Angels spend $50 million on Gary Matthews! Woohoo!
Derek says: As Mariner fans, we should all be extremely happy about this latest signing

On ESPN, Barry Melrose, who I find to be one of the most vapid and obviously uninformed analysts ever to grace ESPN’s sets, raved about Morneau and said that at 25, Morneau would win “5 or 6 more”.

Multiple MVP winners:
2 (about twenty players)
3, only 7 players: Berra, Campanella, DiMaggio, Foxx, Mantle, Musial, Schmidt
7, only one player: Bonds

So Justin Morneau is going to go down in history as the second best hitter in the history of baseball. I know Melrose is Canadian and over-excited about this, but it also makes it clear that he has no idea what he’s talking about or what it takes to win more than one MVP.

Also, my nearly-new Logitech laser mouse is totally flipping out on me, making it really hard to do work. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Graph of the day for Wednesday the 22nd

November 22, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 32 Comments 

Willie Bloomquist's performance tracked against AL average

Scale for OPS is .400 (.200 BA, no power or walks) to 1.200 (excellent performance by elite hitter)

Bloomquist performance graphed against NL pitchers

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