The Mariners at the 2007 winter meetings

DMZ · December 2, 2006 at 8:35 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

With the real rock-em, sock-em winter meetings starting, it’s a good time to go through the off-season roster construction exercise and think about what’s yet to be done.

So for format, I’m grouping the guys, doing a little individual commentary, and then talking about the the group as a whole.

Rotation (5)
RHP Hernandez
LHP Washburn
RHP Thomson
SP4 ?
SP5 ?

We can assume that the 5th starter’s going to be available to Baek/Woods/whoever comes out of spring training. I still think the M’s lose the Schmidt bidding and land him for something ridiculous over four years. Or more. Don’t put it past them.

Winter meeting need: starters, any way they can get them. If they land Schmidt, they’re probably going to be shopping for cheap AAAA-type guys to make sure there’s something to throw into the 5th rotation and as insurance against injuries.

Relief (7)
RHP Lehr
RHP Mateo
RHP Putz
RHP Soriano

LHP O’Flaherty
LHP Sherrill
LHP Woods

The bullpen’s solid and cheap. There’s been no need for the team to go shopping for middle relievers. They may even be shopping Soriano, which makes sense: he’s getting expensive and if they don’t believe he can start, they may be able to get something they covet for him, and then fill his spot with a warm body.

Woods, or whoever finishes second in the race for the back-of-the-rotation spot, will be fine as the long relief/spot starter guy. Realistically, whoever has a hot hand in spring training is still likely to about as good as the rest of the options for that spot.

I hope Mateo, the veteran presence in middle relief, is going to come back from his 2006, but I wouldn’t bet on it. As long as Hargrove keeps him out of important situa.. oooooh. Right.

We’re quite fortunate in the strength of the bullpen. It’s strong, deep, and durable enough to absorb some innings if the team brings in a short-yard starter, if things come to that. Heck, they did well with last year’s rotation, this has to be an improvement, right? Right?

The bullpen could be improved, certainly, and maybe tailored a little more to the park and to vary the skillsets, but the cost to do so is pretty huge on the free agent market. I’m not going to carp about this unit.

We’re assuming here that Hargrove uses at least 12 pitchers. He’s been known to carry 13, because he’s not a good manager. That leaves us 13 position players:

Infield (5)
C-R Johjima
1B-R Sexson
2B-R Lopez
SS-R Betancourt
3B-R Beltre

Except for Sexson, this is a really good defensive infield, which means you don’t have to carry a glove specialist or two for lead-protection situations. It’s a nice situation to be in, from a roster construction standpoint.

Could use a left-handed bat for variety’s sake. But wait…

Outfield (4)
RF/LF-R Guillen
CF-L Ichiro
LF/DH-L Ibanez
RF/LF-L Snelling
Ideally, you get Snelling a day off at least once a week and DH him another day. You want him hitting as much as possible, but it’s entirely valid to be concerned about wearing his knees down and hope to keep him healthy by being smart about it.

The ideal defensive alignment clearly puts Ichiro/Snelling/Guillen out there, and pushes Ibanez somewhere else. Guillen’s likely to be unhappy in a 4th OFer role, and Snelling’s wasted. Hargrove’s likely to find some way to platoon with Snelling, even though it’s pointless.

The team’s backup centerfielder is playing for Tacoma. If Ichiro gets hurt, you can stick Bloomquist (or Snelling, for that matter) out there if you have to for a game, but they need a quality defensive centerfielder and besides Ichiro, they don’t have one on the short roster. If Ichiro’s hurt, they need to immediately fly Jones from wherever he is to wherever the team will be the next night even if it seems likely Ichiro’ll be able to play the next day.

That’s a reasonable solution, too. Earl Weaver used to say his backup shortstop was in Rocherster. Adam Jones needs his playing time more than the team needs him to sit on the bench in case something happens.

The rest (4)
DH/1B-L Broussard
Embarassing year at the plate. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Given the team’s general reliance on their eyes and their impressions of the player in front of them (even when visiting) it’s a little surprising they haven’t shown him the door already. (Bonus questions: will his struggles make him an even better musician, adding a little more angst and depth to his surprisingly good and catchy dude-strumming-guitar work?)

IF/OF-R Bloomquist
Plays decent defense around the diamond, hasn’t, can’t, and won’t ever hit.

IF/LF-R Morse
What do you say about Morse? He’s a failure at being an anti-Bloomquist. Anti-Bloomquist would at least hit a lot better (and left-handed). Morse hits a little and doesn’t play defense at your choice of positions. At least Bloomquist carries a decent glove around the diamond.

Dobbs might get the call instead of Morse as a left-handed bat, but that seems less likely.

C-R Rivera
Rivera’s on the 40m right now, which gives him an advantage over Rob Johnson, but it’s likely either way the M’s aren’t going to try and squeeze much production out of the spot. A better backup option, combined with a better manager, might get Johjima more regular rest and possibly help Kenji’s offense.

What’s that all mean for the winter meetings and the rest of the off-season?
They need to sign a pitcher, a middle-rotation-or-better guy they can pencil in for 200 innings. This will almost certainly be Jason Schmidt.

For the rest of the roster, it’s surprising when you look at it this way: they don’t scream out for much. I don’t look at this set of guys and think “oh, they’re dying for a switch-hitting middle infield backup who can steal 15 bases.” There are, for a decent manager, a pretty varied set of tools that don’t require a lot of caddies or substitutions, which is good, because there’s no evidence Hargrove still knows, if he has ever known, how to do those things anyway.

You can immediately see the problem we’ve been waving our hands and screaming about all year: the team’s got too many corner outfield/1B/DH guys.

That’s the second big thing that is probably on Bavasi’s agenda: clear a spot. They need to punt Sexson, preferably, but it still seems more likely to be Broussard. Then they can push Ibanez to DH, Broussard to first, or whatever they work out. Even if they signed or traded for some weird first base piece – a defensive specialist first baseman, heck – they could still work them in with the rest of the mix. But as it stands, they’ve got an excess on the corners and 1B, and they’d be well-off to fix it.

We all know they’re going into the winter meetings looking for at least one pitcher. The interesting question is whether they’re looking to solve their other problem, and if they’re looking to move Sexson to one of the few teams that could take him (do it! do it!), if they’re going to try to move the less-expensive Broussard to the larger pool of teams that could take him, and which direction they end up going.


68 Responses to “The Mariners at the 2007 winter meetings”

  1. JAS on December 3rd, 2006 10:43 am

    Soriano is worth the money all by himself, so his salary doesn’t factor into the equation. Reed is cheap.

    So why would Boston want Sexson? Not sure they would. The point is more that the M’s should want to get rid of Sexson, and that dumping his 40 HR’s on Boston would allow the transaction to move forward without dithering over how much of Manny’s salary is covered by Boston.

  2. Jeff Sullivan on December 3rd, 2006 10:51 am

    Yes, but Sexson’s salary negates the trade potential. Boston would be taking a huge offensive hit while saving little money. Soriano’s nice, but they’d be better off unloading Manny for a handful of B+/A- prospects.

  3. JAS on December 3rd, 2006 11:17 am

    For some reason, I kept thinking of Manny with a $25 mil salary (instead of $18+). Dunno why. I do think Sexson would be a better player (better statistically) at Fenway than Safeco. My rationale was simply that Soriano & Reed + a nice project would definitely interest Boston, and that Sexson is the price they would pay.

    Probably not the way they would think about it.

  4. terry on December 3rd, 2006 11:25 am

    At this point, Manny would basically a salary dump (i.e. there is not much chance they get equal value back and shed his salary)….why throw Putz in for the right to help the BoSox out? I get it, there are other teams like the Dodgers and Angels who might bid a little for the right to help the Bosox out… but both have prospects to burn… the Ms don’t have that luxury…

  5. bermanator on December 3rd, 2006 11:55 am

    I might have missed this, but why would Manny agree to accept a trade to Seattle unless it was accompanied by a lucrative contract extension?

    He can veto any deal, right? Or have those news reports been mistaken?

    At any rate, to get a hitter of his value (and he still has a lot of value, even with the salary), Seattle would have to give up something of value as well. A package centered around Reed and Soriano would have no chance of drawing Boston’s interest — how would that help the Sox?

    I would guess a team like the Dodgers overwhelms the Sox and gets Ramirez, but if not I would expect Boston to keep him before they accept fifty cents on the dollar for him. He may be a little bit crazy, but he does hit.

  6. IdahoInvader on December 3rd, 2006 12:06 pm

    Are the M’s even in talks to look into getting Manny or is this just something us M’s fans are discussing for fun?

  7. msb on December 3rd, 2006 12:13 pm

    from the Providence Journal today: “At least five teams have expressed varying levels of interest: San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Cleveland and Los Angeles. Of those, the Dodgers have by far the most to offer.”

  8. terry on December 3rd, 2006 12:14 pm

    here’s another roster-related thought….

    Rather than giving up Putz or Soriano for the priveledge of helping Boston’s payroll…

    The Twins/Astros are talking about Rincon for Ensberg…

    Why not Soriano for Ensberg as your DH?

  9. atait on December 3rd, 2006 12:27 pm

    Not to change the subject too much, but did anyone read Stone’s article today? Maybe his worst ever.

    And Soriano for Ensberg?? LOL. That’s rich…

  10. atait on December 3rd, 2006 12:28 pm

    Gammons mentioned Putz as trade bait for Manny. No thanks.

  11. Trent on December 3rd, 2006 12:29 pm

    Why would you deal Soriano for Ensberg when you already have Guillen locked into RF and Ibanez and Snelling competing for LF and the other one competing for time with Broussard at DH?. Soriano should be used to help land a monsterous bat or a good SP. We don’t need to further pollute the DH spot with guys similar, at best, to what we already have.

  12. atait on December 3rd, 2006 12:30 pm

    Never mind. It has been mentioned.

  13. terry on December 3rd, 2006 12:31 pm

    #59: i’d enjoy your argument….

  14. eponymous coward on December 3rd, 2006 12:47 pm

    Stone? You mean Steve Kelley, right? Well, whatever. He’s under the impression that if Bill Stoneman and Ted Hendry jump off a bridge, we’re at a competitive disadvantage if we don’t.

  15. terry on December 3rd, 2006 1:50 pm

    Why would you deal Soriano for Ensberg when you already have Guillen locked into RF and Ibanez and Snelling competing for LF and the other one competing for time with Broussard at DH?. Soriano should be used to help land a monsterous bat or a good SP. We don’t need to further pollute the DH spot with guys similar, at best, to what we already have.

    Just to play protagonist for Ensberg….

    Here are some career splits:

    Lefties: .226/.286/.407
    Righties: .275/.337/.478

    Lefties: .267/.317/.402

    Lefties: .290/.419/.541

    I just don’t find the notion of Ibanez being a platoon partner with Broussard at DH that compelling. Truthfully, Broussard needs to find sunnier pastures IMHO. Guillen basically is insurance for Snelling and in reality really expensive platoon glue. Guillen’s had three decent years with his bat in his career and I’m not sold he’s going to come off of an injury and have a resurgence in Safeco of all places. At best you’re hoping he’s a two win player. I’m not sold that aside form a cannon, Guillen’s defense isn’t all that great. Its an upgrade over Ibanez in left for sure but Guillen’s PRM to runs for his last two full seasons have rated him at or below average (last year was much better but I don’t know if I cant trust it due to sample size). Dewan’s fielding Bible is more optimistic. However, from what I can find sprinkled about the net, UZR hated Guillen in left in ’04. Truthfully, I could see a healthy Snelling winning right field coming out of spring training. If Snelling can’t win that job, well, I just don’t like the notion of him platooning with Broussard.

    Ensberg if healthy could easily be anywhere from a 3-5 win player with his bat. Roster wise, perhaps he’s not a great fit because it means Ibanez in left and marginalizing their *big* recent signing (Guillen). But I like the idea of Snelling starting, Ensberg DHing/spelling Beltre when he hurts his hammy, Broussard making hay in another team’s pasture, Guillen being a 4th outfielder/occasional DHer (and all around antagonist to PT for WFB) and living with Ibanez in left.

  16. Trent on December 3rd, 2006 2:16 pm

    #65 – So you’re advocating trading Soriano for a platoon player to hit lefties in the DH role?

    Guillen is not being brought in as insurance or as a DH. He’s the M’s new everyday RF. This could mean that Snelling and Ibanez will battle it out for the LF role and the loser of that battle will likely move to the DH spot. More than likely, the M’s OF will look like Ibanez, Ichiro and Guillen with Broussard or Snelling getting AB’s vs RH in the DH role and someone else being brought in to hit lefties.

    I’m a huge fan of Snelling, but, I also understand that guaranteeing him 500 AB’s with his injury history isn’t necessarily a terrific idea. It looks like his new role with the club will be as the 4th OF/DH role and he will be useful there and will hopefully be able to stay healthy and prove that he deserves to be an everyday player in 2008.

    This means that trading Soriano for a platoon player isn’t smart. There are FA that could be brought in to do the same thing without losing a player like Soriano.

  17. terry on December 3rd, 2006 2:59 pm

    I’m advocating having a DH that doesnt have to platoon….

    I’m saying Guillen in reality should be insurance for Snelling because well, he’s kinda…ewwwwwwwww otherwise

    There isn’t really a free agent left in the market that could reasonably do what a healthy Ensberg could do-especially at Ensberg’s salary.

  18. Chiro1623 on December 4th, 2006 1:34 pm

    Speaking of Morse. He has an overall 296 Major league average. He plays most positions in high fashion. He needs to be traded to a team that he can have the opportunity to play on a regular basis.

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