Letting Ichiro Leave For Nothing

Dave · June 20, 2007 at 10:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

As we’ve talked about before, there is a large contingent of Mariner fans that want to see Ichiro get traded in July. With the team falling out of contention (yep, I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel), I expect these people to get louder as the next month and a half progresses. The rallying cry of the Trade Ichiro brigade is that he’s going to leave at the end of the season and the M’s cannot risk letting their superstar center fielder walk out the door without getting anything in return.

I’d done some research on the issue of trade deadline deals a few years ago, but with the issue being relevant to the Mariners right now, I decided to update the data and look at the decisions made by organizations in similar situations over the past seven years. I found 34 players that I deemed to be in comparable situations to what the Mariners and Ichiro now face. These players were all all-star talents in the midst of a highly productive season, were free agents at the end of the year, and were unlikely to re-sign with the club they were on at the time, and would be classified as Type A Free Agents for compensation purposes, meaning that the organization would get two high draft choices if the player left via free agency.

This gives us a tangible, real basis for what rent-a-player all-stars command in trade, as well as giving us a breakdown of whether the teams who traded their stars fared better than the teams who let their stars walk away at seasons end.

As it turns out, 16 of the 34 stars were traded, and 18 were retained, only to leave at the end of the year for greener pastures, giving us a pretty even comparison across the board. Here is the list of stars who were sent packing.

Stars Traded Date Of Trade Players Received
Carlos Lee 7/28/2006 Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, and Francisco Cordero
Carlos Beltran 6/24/2004 John Buck, Mark Teahen, and Mike Wood
Freddy Garcia 6/27/2004 Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, and Mike Morse
Shannon Stewart 7/16/2003 Bobby Kielty and Dave Gassner
Aramis Ramirez 7/23/2003 Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback, and Bobby Hill
Jose Guillen 7/30/2003 Aaron Harang, Joe Valentine, and Jeff Bruksch
Sidney Ponson 7/31/2003 Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, and Ryan Hannaman
Bartolo Colon 6/27/2002 Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore
Ray Durham 7/25/2002 Jon Adkins
Kenny Lofton 7/27/2002 Felix Diaz and Ryan Meaux
Scott Rolen 7/29/2002 Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith
Jermaine Dye 7/25/2001 Todd Belitz, Mario Encarnacion, and Jose Ortiz
Matt Lawton 7/30/2001 Rick Reed
Jason Schmidt 7/30/2001 Armando Rios and John Vander Wal
Dave Justice 6/29/2000 Ricky Ledee, Jake Westbrook, and Zach Day
Denny Neagle 7/12/2000 Ed Yarnall, Jackson Melian, and Drew Henson

None of these guys are a perfect comparison for Ichiro, but they were all highly coveted players who were significant contributors to their teams. Scott Rolen and Carlos Beltran were two of the best young players in the game at the time of their trades, so while they’re the most comparable players in on field value, they were also a decade younger than Ichiro is, which had a significant impact on their trade value. Kenny Lofton, Shannon Stewart, and Ray Durham are the closest matches to Ichiro in terms of offensive skillset, but none of them were as good as Ichiro is today. Carlos Lee, Jermaine Dye, Jose Guillen, and Dave Justice were middle-of-the-order sluggers, which are generally valued higher than leadoff guys by most major league clubs. And then, of course, Freddy Garcia, Sidney Ponson, Bartolo Colon, Jason Schmidt, and Denny Neagle were all pitchers.

So there’s not one guy on this list that you can point to and say “see, that’s an Ichiro type player, and that’s what he’ll bring in return”. You have to look at the list as a whole. So, when we do that, what do we see?

Of the 16 trades, three resulted in obvious net gains for the team who received some young prospects in return. The Indians reloaded with the Bartolo Colon deal, the Royals got a pair of productive hitters for Carlos Beltran, and the Reds got Aaron Harang in the Jose Guillen trade.

3 times, out of 16, you can look back and say that the team that traded it’s all-star away clearly improved the future of the franchise. And, to boot, there’s a giant asterisk next to the Colon trade, as it was made by a franchise that was literally making moves trying to keep themselves in existance – no one was sure the Expos would even be a franchise beyond 2002, and Omar Minaya and his staff were simply trying to save baseball in Montreal, or at the very least, go out with a bang. The circumstances that caused the Indians to receive a king’s ransom for Colon aren’t in play this year, and probably won’t be ever again.

There are a few other trades in there that have worked out okay for the trading team. Jake Westbrook has been a solid pitcher, and getting him for a few months of Dave Justice was a good move for the Indians. The Brewers are pretty happy with Francisco Cordero this year, although I’d argue that they’d have been better off just offering Lee arbitration and picking up the two draft picks, rather than settling for Role Player Soup from Texas.

But, the other 11 deals… there’s not much to show for the loss of a star player. It’s a collection of busted prospects and mediocre role players. Out of the 41 players received in return for the 16 traded all-stars, two have turned into all-stars (Grady Sizemore and Aaron Harang), several more are good everyday players or mid-rotation starters (Mark Teahen, John Buck, Brandon Phillips, Placido Polanco, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook), and the other 33 aren’t in baseball anymore or have little to no value.

Over the last seven years, the prospects coming back for rental players have had a 1 in 20 chance of turning into an all-star, a 1 in 5 chance of being a solid player, and a 4 in 5 chance of flaming out

How about the teams who decided to play out the string, let their free-agents-to-be stick around through the end of the year, and then collect a couple of draft picks after they walked during the winter?

Free Agents Compensation
A. Soriano 31st and 67th picks in 2007 draft (Smoker, Zimmerman)
Jason Giambi 24th and 35th picks in 2002 draft (Blanton, Brown)
J. Isringhausen 30th and 37th picks in 2002 draft (Fritz, Obenchain)
Johnny Damon 16th and 39th picks in 2002 draft (Swisher, Teahen)
Miguel Tejada 40th and 49th picks in 2004 draft (Street, Rogers)
Manny Ramirez 17th and 35th picks in 2001 draft (Denham, Martin)
Alex Rodriguez 36th and 49th picks in 2001 draft (Garciaparra, Rivera)
Mike Hampton 18th and 38th picks in 2001 draft (Heilman, Wright)
Mike Mussina 19th and 31st picks in 2001 draft (Fontenot, Bass)
Chan Ho Park 31st and 51st picks in 2002 draft (Miller, Hammes)
Juan Gonzalez 33rd and 82nd picks in 2002 draft (Whitney, Cooper)
Jim Thome 18th and 31st picks in 2003 draft (Snyder, Miller)
Jeff Kent 22nd and 33rd picks in 2003 draft (Aardsma, Whitaker)
Tom Glavine 35th and 79th picks in 2003 draft (Atilano, Stevens)
Mike Remlinger 36th and 43rd picks in 2003 draft (Salty, Reyes)
Andy Pettitte 23rd and 37th picks in 2004 draft (Hughes, Poterson)
Keith Foulke 24th and 36th picks in 2004 draft (Powell, Putnam)
Bartolo Colon 34th and 53rd picks in 2004 draft (Lumsden, Whisler)
Carlos Lee 17th and 35th picks in 2007 draft (Beaven, Borbon)
Carlos Beltran 38th and 89th picks in 2005 draft (Iorg, Manzella)
Ray Durham 26th and 33rd picks in 2003 draft (Snyder, Quintanilla)

You’ll see a few duplicate names on here, as Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, and Ray Durham were all traded to a club as a rental player, who got the benefit of the compensation picks after the player left as a free agent. Tip of the hat to Billy Beane for the Ray Durham coup in 2003, when he picked up two months of Ray Durham for non-prospect Jon Adkins, then offered Durham arbitration at the end of the year and got two of the top 33 picks in the 2003 draft for losing Durham two months later.

Anyways, as you can see, there have been a lot of teams who have decided to simply hang onto their free agents to be and sort it all out in the winter. The A’s, especially, have eschewed mid-season dealing. How has it worked out?

Of the 42 compensation selections on the list, three have become all-stars – David Wright, Nick Swisher, and Huston Street. Several more have become solid contributors – Joe Blanton, Mark Teahen, David Aardsma, and Aaron Heilman. And, a few others have become the elite prospects in baseball today – Philip Hughes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Adam Miller, while JoJo Reyes is just a good pitching prospect instead of an elite one, and ’07 draft picks Beaven, Borbon, Smoker, and Zimmerman are far too young to determine their value at this point.

27 of the picks could be labeled as busts, even though a couple still have a shot to turn into major league role players down the road. Three have been big successes, four have been good enough, and three others are among the most valuable young players in the game today, while we’ll have to wait a few years to figure out the fate of the other four.

Recent history shows us the compensation picks are returning better value to the teams than the prospects teams have acquired by moving their free-agents-to-be. Yes, if you trade Ichiro, you might Grady Sizemore, but you might also get Drew Henson. If you let him walk, you might get Rene Rivera (ugh, that draft sucked), but you might also get David Wright. The odds are about the same either way.

Now, this isn’t a completely thorough cost/benefit analysis. By trading for prospects, you’re not incurring the costs of signing the players, as you are with compensation picks, so the financial outlay is several million dollars higher by going with the draft picks. The payoffs are going to happen a year or two later by taking the draft picks versus taking the prospects in most cases.

But, the evidence is clear – the expected return by trading an all-star in the last year of his contract is not any higher than the expected return of letting that player walk at the end of the season and collecting two draft picks as compensation. The Trade Ichiro brigade are living on a false premise. The organization will not be any better off by dealing Ichiro in July than they would be if he left in October of his own free will.

When you factor in the added value of still having Ichiro on the team in August and September, the exclusive two week negotiating window that the team would have with him at the end of the season, and the actual chance (no matter how slim you think it is) that he might re-sign with the team, and the best path is astoundingly clear.

The ideal scenario is keeping him around, but even if you think he’s going to leave, you still shouldn’t trade Ichiro. It’s just not worth it.

Comments

162 Responses to “Letting Ichiro Leave For Nothing”

  1. dw on June 20th, 2007 10:16 am

    Could one of you put the following style rule in the CSS please?

    pre {overflow:auto;}

    Otherwise, you’re cutting off the trade lists.

  2. giuseppe on June 20th, 2007 10:17 am

    Wow. Thank you. I will be linking to this post frequently over the next few months I’m sure.

  3. Hooligan on June 20th, 2007 10:18 am

    The trouble is that fans don’t seem to make the connection between compensatory picks and free-agent losses. They only recognize that “our guy walked, and we got nothing.” So it probably places more pressure on the GM to make a trade where the return is published in the same article as the announcement, despite the fact that trades don’t tend to yield a decent return.

    And our GM is probably very concerned with public opinion.

  4. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:19 am

    I know next to nothing about CSS, dw – if you email me the coding, I’ll update it. I tried adding (overflow: auto,) into the pre tags, and it doesn’t appear to have had an effect.

  5. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:20 am

    And our GM is probably very concerned with public opinion.

    Actually, I’d say this is one of Bavasi’s strengths – he really doesn’t care what anyone outside the organization thinks.

  6. dw on June 20th, 2007 10:24 am

    I don’t think I want to tinker in the CSS itself lest I incur the wrath of DMZ.

    But change the two <pre> tags to:

    <pre style=”overflow: auto;”>

    and that should put in the slider bars.

  7. Hooligan on June 20th, 2007 10:24 am

    Really? I gave Bavasi the benefit of the doubt and assumed he traded for Vidro in order to appease fans who wanted a name (a former all-star). There’s just no way that Bavasi could have paid so steep a price for Vidro based solely on his skillset.

    And if Bavasi is fearing for his job, wouldn’t he want public opinion in his favor?

  8. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:26 am

    Really? I gave Bavasi the benefit of the doubt and assumed he traded for Vidro in order to appease fans who wanted a name (a former all-star).

    No, he traded for Vidro because the organization determined that they needed a contact hitter in the line-up. They had a bunch of aggressive free swingers who struck out a lot, and they settled on needing a guy who put the ball in play and had bat control.

    And if Bavasi is fearing for his job, wouldn’t he want public opinion in his favor?

    Trading Ichiro wouldn’t turn public opinion in his favor, and he wouldn’t do so anyways.

  9. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:27 am

    Sorry dw, I put that in there, and it doesn’t look any different.

  10. smb on June 20th, 2007 10:28 am

    Call me your first convert. The rub will be in making a strong push to re-sign him rather than just assuming he’ll walk, not making a winning-caliber offer, and assuming we will get something out of the compensatory picks (as the team that took Clement and Mayberry, I say unlikely). Bottom line, we have to re-sign him to be competitive in the near-term, and we need to add talent beyond that to become a first class team. Will the Mariners do that? Or do they think they can make Ichiro their highest paid player, surround him with 2-tool guys, and still have a realistic shot at a World Series?

  11. leetinsleyfanclub on June 20th, 2007 10:28 am

    Dave, great analysis. I too have come to the conclusion the M’s would be better off letting Ichiro leave rather than trading him. Not only do they receive compensatory picks but they also free up payroll that can be used to sign or trade for other potential impact players. We’ve seen this work before with A-Rod. Add to that the fact we get to watch Ichiro the entire year and I’m good with it.

  12. Hooligan on June 20th, 2007 10:29 am

    Fair enough. It just stinks to hear that the organization values contact hitting over OBP. Guess that goes back to your psychology theory about positive/negative outcomes.

  13. msb on June 20th, 2007 10:31 am

    oooh! Mahler & Fain take on the subject as we speak!

    The Mariners don’t have the guts to trade Ichiro.
    Adam Jones’ numbers won’t translate to the major leagues.

  14. terry on June 20th, 2007 10:34 am

    I’m in the give him $20M/yr camp. There is no sin in paying a guy what he’s worth-especially when he’s goiing to be really hard to replace. I want to see Jones and Ichiro in the outfield.

  15. Trent on June 20th, 2007 10:38 am

    Good write-up Dave. I agree 100% that dealing Ichiro mid-season isn’t a good decision, nor is it very likely. I also believe that Ichiro’s likeliness of returning to the M’s after this season is pretty slim (unless the M’s just throw insane money at him, fire Hargrove, etc.).

    On those two points, what if a team, let’s use the Dodgers as an example (as Colletti seems to undervalue young talent), offers a Matt Kemp/James Loney/Chad Billingsley/Adam LaRoche type player in return for Ichiro. In Bavasi’s shoes, would it not be more beneficial, for public perception and for the now, to add a young player who can contribute immediately?

  16. ducky on June 20th, 2007 10:38 am

    Anybody gunning to trade Ichiro mid-season should also consider that Bavasi has a horrid track record with trades (Soriano for Ho-Ram, anyone?), while one of the few redeeming aspects of his tenure as GM has been the draft picks. If he’s going to be in charge, I’d rather not have him trying to get value for Ichiro in a deadline trade.

  17. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:43 am

    On those two points, what if a team, let’s use the Dodgers as an example (as Colletti seems to undervalue young talent), offers a Matt Kemp/James Loney/Chad Billingsley/Adam LaRoche type player in return for Ichiro. In Bavasi’s shoes, would it not be more beneficial, for public perception and for the now, to add a young player who can contribute immediately?

    No, it wouldn’t. Matt Kemp’s a fine talent, but he’s a right-handed corner outfielder with power and terrible plate discipline who isn’t particularly good defensively. So, we’re going to replace Ichiro with Adam Jones, Guillen with Matt Kemp, and Ibanez with Wladimir Balentien, to go along with the infield of Johjima, Sexson, Lopez, Betancourt, and Beltre?

    If you thought this year’s line-up was too aggressive and overly right-handed, you’ll hate that one.

    Billingsley, LaRoche, and Loney just aren’t any better than what you’d expect to get with a high draft pick. Loney’s awesome run at the end of last year in L.A. aside, he’s probably a league average first baseman at best. Billingsley is a guy with bad command and arm problems, and LaRoche isn’t much of a third baseman and his bat might not be good enoughto play in the outfield.

    So, no, I wouldn’t trade Ichiro for any of those four.

  18. katal on June 20th, 2007 10:43 am

    Great post. The type that signifies why USSM is one of the best baseball blogs period.

    Obviously you advocate holding onto Ichiro, and the evidence you’ve presented supports that thought as well. But if an offer came along that featured one or two top-rated “can’t miss” prospects, would you pull the trigger then?

  19. The Ancient Mariner on June 20th, 2007 10:44 am

    I’m with ducky on that one. I was also interested to note how successful the “trade for rent-a-player and collect the draft picks” game has been; it’s not only Oakland, but I’d say Texas came out ahead with Carlos Lee, given that they got other players back for Cordero et al. as well (though as Dave notes, it’s too early on those players to say for sure)

  20. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:46 am

    Teams don’t trade the “can’t miss” guys. Philip Hughes isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Justin Upton, Evan Longoria, or Cameron Maybin. These elite talents just don’t get traded for rent-a-players, and they almost never get traded anyways

    Drew Henson, Jackson Melian, Jose Ortiz, Bud Smith, Ed Yarnall, and Kurt Ainsworth were all big name prospects. They missed.

  21. terry on June 20th, 2007 10:47 am

    Dave here’s a hypothetical. Would you trade Ichiro for Adam Jones (if AJ wasn’t in the Ms system)?

  22. Dave on June 20th, 2007 10:51 am

    Maybe. Probably not, but I’d think about it.

    But teams don’t trade their versions of Adam Jones, and they certainly don’t do it for rent-a-players. I’m sure we could all invent packages where it would make sense to trade Ichiro (send him to Boston for Lester, Buchholz, Ellsbury, Bowden, and Bill James!), but in the view of reality, those types of offers aren’t going to come.

  23. Manzanillos Cup on June 20th, 2007 10:52 am

    If Ichiro is traded or leaves at the end of this season, I don’t think I could ever forgive Bavasi. Ichiro is a one-of-a-kind, hall of fame player – how can an organization ever be better off losing someone like that? That we can’t build a competitive team around him, with our payroll, is really a slap in the face to all the fans of the team.

  24. hardball24 on June 20th, 2007 10:53 am

    Assuming all things equal and holding on to him or trading him have roughly the same chance of acquiring legitimate talent, shouldn’t we also consider that Bavasi would be more heavily involved in a trade than he would in the picking of amateur players in the draft? Maybe that’s not true, but if it is, based on the outcomes of his past trades, its probably a safer option to go with the draft.

  25. terry on June 20th, 2007 11:00 am

    Alright, here’s another one. Assuming Ichiro is gone at the end of the year and the Ms are out of it, do you trade him for Scott Baker and another youngster from the Twin’s organization? I guess it comes down to how valuable those draft picks are…..

  26. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:00 am

    No way.

  27. zagmark on June 20th, 2007 11:06 am

    Your reasoning seems to be partly based on the fact that other teams would only be “renting” Ichiro, and therefore won’t sell the farm for him. However, is there a scenario where a big market team with a history of winning would trade for Ichiro having a strong belief that Ichiro will resign with them and become a fixture in their outfield for the next 5 years, and therefore give up an elite prospect for Ichiro?

  28. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 11:07 am

    I was under the impression Scott Baker is Ryan Feierabend sans the control.

  29. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 11:07 am

    A right handed Ryan Feierabend

  30. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:07 am

    Nope. Bobby Abreu got the Phillies nothing last year, even though he was under contract for 2007 as well. Curt Schilling to the Phillies nothing, even though he was under contract beyond when he was traded. Scott Rolen got the Phillies (they suck at this, if you can’t tell) a decent player and some scraps, despite St. Louis knowing they could get him signed to a long term extension.

    It just doesn’t happen. Teams do not trade their elite can’t miss prospects.

  31. Nintendo Marios on June 20th, 2007 11:08 am

    I’ll be convert #2. The analysis is truly “astoundingly clear”.

    How do we value, however, the particular problem that the Ms front office will not pay to sign premium picks? So much so in fact that the Ms particular perception of “signability” prejudices draft pick skill evaluation?

  32. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 11:09 am

    Or at least his control (which was his supposed asset) went on vacation.

  33. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:10 am

    How do we value, however, the particular problem that the Ms front office will not pay to sign premium picks? So much so in fact that the Ms particular perception of “signability” prejudices draft pick skill evaluation?

    None of the guys selected with the compensation picks were tough-sign guys who fell and then signed for way over slot. There are good players to be had in the 20-40 range of the draft simply by scouting well, which the Mariners do.

  34. bookbook on June 20th, 2007 11:11 am

    This is excellent analysis, Dave.
    My only problem is that I disagree with your conclusion.

    Given that the outcome is about equal either way, the M’s would both save several millions of dollars in signing bonuses and get a substantially earlier return by trading Ichiro mid-season.

    When I weigh that against an exclusive negotiating window with a player who I know isn’t coming back, the midseason trade comes out clearly ahead.

    Now, if I highly value watching the half-season of Ichiro toiling at MVP-level for a noncontender, that would probably tip the scales the other way. I personally would also enjoying watching Ichiro go to the playoffs with someone else…

  35. the other benno on June 20th, 2007 11:12 am

    It seems to me that the ‘average fan’ is still about 5-10 years behind the times when it comes to looking at this sort of ‘trade him/let him walk’ scenario. In the late 1990s teams in general seemed to value their prospects less in these situations and were more willing to trade them for a player they thought would put them over the top. Now thinking for most teams has changed and the value on prospects (especially pitching) is much higher, seeing the value in the lower amounts they need to play these players. Therefore they are less likely to trade these players for short-term help.
    This is a concept that the owners and most of the frequenters of USS Mariner understand very well, but not the ‘talk radio’ type of fan.

  36. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:13 am

    Given that the outcome is about equal either way, the M’s would both save several millions of dollars in signing bonuses and get a substantially earlier return by trading Ichiro mid-season.

    You won’t get a substantially earlier return. The guys who have paid off big in the trade route, Sizemore and Harang, took just as long to develop as the draft picks who paid off big, such as Wright, Swisher, and Street.

    You can get a role player who might be able to help you next year, but you’re not getting a guy who can join the team in 2008 and be an above average player right away while also turning into a star down the road.

    When I weigh that against an exclusive negotiating window with a player who I know isn’t coming back, the midseason trade comes out clearly ahead.

    You don’t know he’s not coming back. The Mariners don’t know he’s not coming back. Ichiro doesn’t know he’s not coming back. You need to understand what you don’t know.

  37. Sammy on June 20th, 2007 11:14 am

    34. You know he isn’t coming back? Really? Cause I’d be willing to bet even Ichiro doesn’t know that yet.

  38. PositivePaul on June 20th, 2007 11:15 am

    So, if Ichiro does walk, then does the money they would’ve spent on Ichiro go back into the overall pot, or do they eat most of that and recognize that this team w/o Ichiro will not be able to generate the revenue that it’s generated w/him (thereby allowing them to put a little more money into signing Ichiro)?

    Or, in plain English: If the M’s budget, say, $20 million a year for 4-5 years to keep Ichiro around, and he signs elsewhere, would that $20 million be available to sign other players?

    Probably the wrong time to ask this, but I’m curious how much that decision factors into what they’re going to do with Ichiro in 2007…

  39. terry on June 20th, 2007 11:16 am

    Well we do know Ichiro won’t be signing in Cleveland…. :-)

  40. terry on June 20th, 2007 11:18 am

    [quote]You need to understand what you don’t know.[/quote]

    This is absolutely an essential point both for GMs and us fans.

  41. terry on June 20th, 2007 11:20 am

    Ill hit the “buy a beer for the author” button if quicktags make a come back….

  42. shemberry on June 20th, 2007 11:22 am

    Dave,

    Is there a realistic trade possibility that you would do for Ichiro?

  43. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:23 am

    If the all-dave-all-the-time posting spree hadn’t given it away, Derek’s basically out of the loop for the next 6 weeks, and I know nothing about site coding, so any requests like that are going on the shelf until August at the earliest.

  44. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:23 am

    Is there a realistic trade possibility that you would do for Ichiro?

    No. I want to keep Ichiro.

  45. shemberry on June 20th, 2007 11:25 am

    I mean, if he came to you and said, “I won’t be back next year”, and you were faced with the choice presented in your post. I want him to stay as well, I am just curious as to what you think his value is outside of Seattle.

  46. zeke5123 on June 20th, 2007 11:25 am

    Hello, I’ve lurked for a long time, but this is my first post.

    What are the conditions that 51 will resign? It seems to me the team would have to be able to compete, therefore we need to upgrade the talent. The best way to do this is promote Jones and bench vidro and let Feierabend start in front of Weaver. However, both are unlikely to be done if Hargrove is managing. With Hargrove still at the helm Vidro and Weaver would have to be cut/dealt. While Weaver might get cut, it seems unlikely with Vidro.

    Therefore the only way to improve the team is to fire Hargrove, which the FO wont do while there is a chance to stay in the race. So we need to lose games to get Grover fired but then we face the same problem. Ichiro doesn’t want to stay on a losing team.

    If Ichiro walks, I think you can blame not firing Hargrove over the winter (along with bad trades over the winter).

  47. robbbbbb on June 20th, 2007 11:26 am

    I made this point yesterday, but I think it bears repeating: Ichiro has more value to Seattle than just about any team in baseball. Baseball value, not marketing value.

    His hitting style produces similar numbers in a lot of parks. Given that The Safe is a tough place to hit in general, it means he produces more vcalue for the M’s than most other teams. Between that and the huge amount of outfield ground he covers (also important at Safeco, and doubly so with the flyball pitching staff) then Ichiro has more value to the M’s than most other clubs.

    Given those constraints, then it is worth it for the M’s to offer more to keep Ichiro than other teams. The M’s would be smart to offer Ichiro the best offer on the market so as to accomodate his talent.

  48. terry on June 20th, 2007 11:27 am

    At the risk of trying your patience, how about Ichiro for Manny or Arod (I know he’s not willing) type production in a rent-a-player/salary dump type transaction?

  49. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:27 am

    I mean, if he came to you and said, “I won’t be back next year”, and you were faced with the choice presented in your post. I want him to stay as well, I am just curious as to what you think his value is outside of Seattle.

    I don’t think its as high as everyone thinks it is, and I don’t anticipate anyone putting together an offer that makes me think “yea, that’s better than two months of Ichiro, the chance that he changes his mind, and two high draft picks”.

  50. SDRE on June 20th, 2007 11:28 am

    Nice research. I’m in the trade Ichiro camp but you’ve made me sway my opinion. I think you still trade him if the right deal is there. Call me crazy but I like the Dodger prospects (namely Kemp/Loney) in #15 or a Boston deal if we could pry John Lester away. Jacoby Ellsbury is their CF of the future but if they resign Ichiro, he could play RF, Drew to LF and they could finally trade Manny. Or if they fail to resign Ichiro then they get the picks.

  51. Dave on June 20th, 2007 11:29 am

    At the risk of trying your patience, how about Ichiro for Manny or Arod (I know he’s not willing) type production in a rent-a-player/salary dump type transaction?

    Nope.

  52. Broadcast James on June 20th, 2007 11:34 am

    If you can’t read the full list, but would like to, click “entries RSS” for a source view!

  53. joser on June 20th, 2007 11:35 am

    When I weigh that against an exclusive negotiating window with a player who I know isn’t coming back

    You have astounding extrasensory powers. Shouldn’t you be using them to, I don’t know, pick stocks? Or find criminals?

  54. msb on June 20th, 2007 11:36 am

    If the all-dave-all-the-time posting spree hadn’t given it away, Derek’s basically out of the loop for the next 6 weeks

    and thanks, Dave, for keeping the site going, so that we can all get our fixes …

  55. feingarden on June 20th, 2007 11:47 am

    Dave,

    Excellent, detailed analysis, as always. I’d like to add a variable, though, to the equation; the M’s ability to judge talent vs. their ability to spend money. I think your conclusions make even more sense when you stop to consider how poorly they’ve done evaluating talent, either on the free-agent market or as part of a trade deal. Given that, I’d far rather have them try to overspend on a known player in Ichiro! than risk them trying to get some compensatory talent in a draft or trade.

    If you’ve got a poor track record for bringing in good talent, why let good talent you have go? Okay, if he doesn’t sign and they’re forced into it, sure, but it’s still better IMHO to focus on keeping him rather than getting the most they can for him, now or later. Not their strong suit.

  56. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 11:53 am

    The only way it’d be worth trading him is if the stars aligned just right. You’d need a contender, who needs a CF, who has a prospect or prosepects who are good enough for us to give Ichiro up for, who are also blocked by other players, who we have a need for and aren’t blocked, and for the team to be desperate enough to pull the trigger. I think Bavasi should listen to offers, but things would have to be JUST right to pull the trigger on a trade, and shouldn’t trade him jist to trade him. We need starting pitching, nobody is giving us enough major league ready starting pitching to make up for losing Ichiro, nor are they giving us any high ceiling/high projection guys. Also, you think our defense is bad now.

  57. terrybenish on June 20th, 2007 11:57 am

    Conspicuous by its absense is the Randy Johnson for Garcia and Guillen trade.

    None the less including it does not invalidate your point.

    Talent evaluation, free agents, own minor leaguers, for the draft is the critical element for this team or any team. Letting Jones sit in Tacoma, signing Vidro, letting Broussard rot, drafting Clement and Morrow and subsequent “handling” of their development does not speak well for this team going forward.

    Do you think that their discernment is better around major league players or unsigned amateurs?

  58. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 12:00 pm

    #57 Dave said:

    I’d done some research on the issue of trade deadline deals a few years ago, but with the issue being relevant to the Mariners right now, I decided to update the data and look at the decisions made by organizations in similar situations over the past seven years.

  59. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:00 pm

    Conspicuous by its absense is the Randy Johnson for Garcia and Guillen trade.

    I only went back 7 years, because that’s how far Baseball America has compensatory selection information. I also didn’t include Mark McGwire for T.J. Matthews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick either, not because I was trying to prove a point, but because I wanted to use data where I had apples-to-appples comparisons.

  60. joser on June 20th, 2007 12:00 pm

    is there a scenario where a big market team with a history of winning would trade for Ichiro having a strong belief that Ichiro will resign with them and become a fixture in their outfield for the next 5 years, and therefore give up an elite prospect for Ichiro?

    Why would they have such a belief? Anyway, look at it from their point of view: They can do that trade, give up an elite prospect, and then pay whatever is necessary to resign him (which will turn into a bidding war). Or they can wait, hope Ichiro shows up on the market, and again pay whatever is necessary. Either way they pay through the nose at market rate; the only difference is that they give up an elite prospect merely to ensure that Ichiro actually ends up on the open market. Unless you assume they can sign a new contract with Ichiro in those couple of months he’s in their uniform, which seems unlikely to me — at that point, having cut ties with the M’s and having no particular loyalty to this new team, why would Ichiro not want to wait for the offseason to entertain other offers?

    Now, the team does get 3 months of Ichiro so if they’re already in the hunt and they think that’s enough to take them to the WS, maybe it makes sense. But I’m not sure that’s even worth giving up a truly elite prospect, though there might be a GM who thinks it is — or who sees less value in that prospect than the M’s do. But now you’re in the game of assuming some other GM is less savvy than Bavasi when it comes to trades, which is not a bet a lot of people here would take.

  61. westfried on June 20th, 2007 12:01 pm

    Great analysis, Dave. Thanks.

    My only concern with the “hold Ichiro, try to resign, or at least get draft picks” strategy is this: What if the M’s pull the “we can’t offer him Arbitration because he might accept it and we’d be screwed” bs? Bone-headed, I know, but I can’t label anything as “too dumb” for the current braintrust.

  62. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 12:07 pm

    #61, they’re gonna offer him arbitration because they’re gonna try to re-sign him, and even if they weren’t, they’d still offer him arbitration, because of the draft picks. I suspect the FO is getting a blank check to keep him.

  63. feingarden on June 20th, 2007 12:13 pm

    #62 – I agree, but I bet that he’d be more interested in a blank FO than an blank check. ;)

  64. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 12:13 pm

    Would a team trading for Ichiro get the draft picks if he walked at the end of the year? If so, that should make him more valuable to a contender.

  65. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:17 pm

    Would a team trading for Ichiro get the draft picks if he walked at the end of the year? If so, that should make him more valuable to a contender.

    Right – Billy Beane’s been exploiting this hole in the system for years, flipping prospects for free-agents-to-be, then letting the free agents walk and restocking his system with prospects acquired by the draft picks that he got for losing the free agents. See Johnny Damon, Ray Durham, and Keith Foulke.

    However, history clearly shows that teams are still not willing to part with enough talent in trade to make it worthwhile to deal Ichiro.

  66. westfried on June 20th, 2007 12:19 pm

    62 – yes, it would be completely idiotic to not offer arbitration. However, I have yet to see someting too idiotic for the current FO. Thus, what is the chance that they are dumb enough to do it?

    (ie, I agree with Dave that we *should* keep him, I just worry about the “they’re gonna offer” assumption…)

  67. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 12:20 pm

    Wow, I wish we had Billy Beane!

    That actually makes me think that at least a few contending teams, especially big payroll teams who hope they could sign Ichiro during end of the season or the exclusive period, will probably put together some pretty tempting proposals if we keep losing. Even if we never hear about them.

  68. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:21 pm

    It’s not an assumption – it’s a mortal lock.

  69. vb1138 on June 20th, 2007 12:21 pm

    [nitpick]
    The Freddy Garcia trade was on June 27th, I remember because it was my birthday.
    [/nitpick]

  70. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:22 pm

    That actually makes me think that at least a few contending teams, especially big payroll teams who hope they could sign Ichiro during end of the season or the exclusive period, will probably put together some pretty tempting proposals if we keep losing. Even if we never hear about them.

    I’m not sure why you’re willing to ignore the fact that no one did this with Alfonso Soriano last year.

  71. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 12:24 pm

    Do we know that teams didn’t put together packages with top prospects for Soriano?

  72. Gomez on June 20th, 2007 12:24 pm

    Dave, how about Ichiro for- LOL, I’m just kidding.

    I’m glad you wrote this, as while the external factors that give Ichiro value over other top OFers has been made clear, people didn’t quite realize that keeping Ichiro with the risk of letting him walk also makes sense from an on-the-field team-building standpoint… countering the big misconception people have about trading Ichiro (that it’ll net more talent).

    And even now, after you have outlined to the letter why trading Ichiro is not the best move for the team from a baseball standpoint, people are still arguing the point with you. Some of your readers are ridiculously stubborn (yes, I have enough self-awareness to realize that I probably fit with that group). But any retort at this point is a rehash of points you’ve already made. You’re dead on.

    Excellent piece in what’s been a week and change of excellent pieces. Keep up the great work.

  73. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:25 pm

    Do we know that teams didn’t put together packages with top prospects for Soriano?

    Yes. From an interview with Stan Kasten, the Nationals president:

    “NOT A THING– We would take today or YOU WOULD TAKE TODAY!. NOT A THING! That is better, than what we wound up getting. Now, why is that, its going to be a mystery to me. Because the truth is, we got better pitchers in our deals for Hernandez and even Marlon Anderson (Johny Nunez from the Dodgers) than for Soriano. THAT SHOCKS ME!! SHOCKS ME (POUNDING HIS DESK). Nevertheless, it is the truth.”

    “And, what I saw, coming down to the deadline, the last day, there was a determination to trade him (on the part of Washington’s Baseball Think Tank), I was worried. We were about to trade him for NEXT TO NOTHING!! And that’s, when I had to step in, and say–NO!!. We are not going down that road. WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO STUPID THINGS!!.”

    Mr Kasten went on to say: “I suspect its because people thought he (Soriano) was going to be a big expense (to re-sign). And, We ( the other clubs) are only going to have him for six months, and, they all just dropped out. Remember, no pitching prospects moved at the deadline. So, there is also a new conscienceness in baseball. My Owners (The Lerners) are saying: ‘They are adopting the Stan Kasten approach.’ Its not my approach, but, they (other teams) are husbanding their young pitchers. So, if its not Branch Rickey, its me. There was a new kind of momentum in baseball that worked against a deal happening. But, having said that, we desperately need TOP DRAFT PICKS. Also this year, we are going to have 5 of the top draft picks in the country. And, that’s going to be a huge contribution to our forward movement.”

  74. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 12:29 pm

    That is strange then, although I don’t know how you could know that. I just don’t get why at least one big market GM doesn’t understand your analysis today from the opposite side of the fence

  75. vj on June 20th, 2007 12:29 pm

    The two appearances of the Ms in these tables are kind of sad (draft picks for A-Rod, return for Freddy Garcia).

  76. joser on June 20th, 2007 12:30 pm

    Somebody remind me: the A’s got a pick for Zito, right?

  77. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:31 pm

    Yep. The A’s get picks for everybody. They got the 41st and 74th picks in this years draft as compensation for losing Zito.

  78. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 12:33 pm

    There was nothing wrong with the Freddy trade. We might have gotten better return letting him walk, but we got two high upside guys for him, and his value was way less than Ichiro’s. Those draft picks were awful.

  79. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:35 pm

    The Garcia trade was a good deal gone bad. In a lot of respects, its kind of the opposite of the Beltran deal, where the Royals got a couple of marginal prospects who have turned out better than anyone expected at the time. That was a bad deal turned good.

  80. Sammy on June 20th, 2007 12:36 pm

    To restate what many, many others have said:

    Your posts over the past week or so have been really amazing Dave. M’s fans may not be happy with the team on the field, but between you, DMZ, Jeff Sullivan, and, now, Geoff Baker, I have a hard time believing any other fanbase has a greater wealth of quality writing and analysis than ours.

  81. Free Range Chicken on June 20th, 2007 12:36 pm

    Wow. This is why I keep coming back to this site. Why is history such a mystery to so many when some digging and analysis results in a revelation like this? Excellent!

    Keep Ichiro.

  82. vj on June 20th, 2007 12:39 pm

    I wasn’t critizising the trade, just lamenting the result.

  83. natebracy on June 20th, 2007 12:51 pm

    Dave,
    You said in your post that you’re making the comparison to players that were unlikely to re-sign with their then current teams. Is that too strong a qualifier given your stance that we don’t know what Ichiro is going to do? That is, do you now think his re-signing is unlikely? Or were you using that as an easy way to filter the other players?

    Also, will we see a future post on what you think the M’s ought to do to improve the team this year, or would you just ride it out with who we have (seeing that there are very few with trade value whom we don’t want to see in our uniform next year)?

    Also also, how big of an issue is the M’s manager to Ichiro, in your opinion? If it’s significant and Hargrove gets axed, how much input do you see Ichiro having in that hire?

  84. Orlandu on June 20th, 2007 12:51 pm

    That was great analysis Dave. Keep up the good work!

  85. tangotiger on June 20th, 2007 12:55 pm

    A fantastic research piece, and satisfies my three conditions:
    - takes alot of effort to do,
    - gives you great insight,
    - is presented in a clear manner.

    Can’t ask for more.

  86. Dave on June 20th, 2007 12:56 pm

    You said in your post that you’re making the comparison to players that were unlikely to re-sign with their then current teams. Is that too strong a qualifier given your stance that we don’t know what Ichiro is going to do? That is, do you now think his re-signing is unlikely? Or were you using that as an easy way to filter the other players?

    Well, the concept behind this post was to create an historical comparison between free agent compensation and prospects received in trades. Looking at guys who weren’t traded, re-signed with their orginal clubs, and didn’t fetch any compensation wouldn’t have done us much good.

    I have no idea what Ichiro is going to do. I don’t think anyone does.

    Also, will we see a future post on what you think the M’s ought to do to improve the team this year, or would you just ride it out with who we have (seeing that there are very few with trade value whom we don’t want to see in our uniform next year)?

    I did that on Monday – callup Adam Jones, give Feierabend a spot in the rotation, and take Morrow out of high leverage relief situations.

    Also also, how big of an issue is the M’s manager to Ichiro, in your opinion? If it’s significant and Hargrove gets axed, how much input do you see Ichiro having in that hire?

    I don’t know. I think people read way too much into Ichiro’s bizarre quotes about his feelings for Hargrove, including putting their own personal feelings onto him because they like Ichiro and want to believe that he thinks like they do.

    I have no idea what he thinks of Hargrove, or, really, anything. He’s a strange dude from another culture who speaks a different language, and a guy I’ve never had any personal interaction with. I’m not sure why any of us feel we’re qualified to speculate on his opinions on just about anything.

  87. bergamot on June 20th, 2007 12:59 pm

    The next six weeks will be a good test of the “teams don’t trade their versions of Adam Jones” theory.

  88. colm on June 20th, 2007 1:01 pm

    I’ll be stunned if we see Philip Hughes going anywhere.

  89. Tek Jansen on June 20th, 2007 1:04 pm

    Why do I have an irrational fear that the M’s will be the ones to trade their version of Adam Jones, who, of course, is Adam Jones? I pray that this is only my irrational mind at work.

  90. scraps on June 20th, 2007 1:04 pm

    I think another argument against trading Ichiro is that the idea that he is overrated has become so firmly entrenched, he is in fact underrated. Even in normal circumstances, we would be unlikely to get adequate return for him. When you compound that with the unadvantageous circumstances and the fact that he’s more valuable in Safeco than he would be just about anywhere else, it adds up to a recipe for a terrible trade.

  91. msb on June 20th, 2007 1:07 pm

    the rumoring last July in the papers was that Bowden had asked for the moon, and that no one would give it to him:

    “Bowden, who negotiated with the Angels, the Astros, the Florida Marlins, the Seattle Mariners and other teams, remained firm about the hefty price tag.”

    “He had a price in mind, at least two top prospects, and he never relented. He went right down to the wire with the Twins, but they wouldn’t part with Matt Garza, the hard-throwing prospect who’s knocking on the door at Triple A. There was even talk he was holding out for Ichiro Suzuki with the Mariners, who were in it until the final moments before the deadline.”

    “The Nationals originally asked for one of the Angels’ top young pitchers, Ervin Santana or Jered Weaver, and one of their top two position prospects, Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood, but were quickly rejected.”

  92. scraps on June 20th, 2007 1:09 pm

    And another thing: Ichiro’s age will work against our getting fair value, though he is in fact the type of player likely to age very well.

  93. Dave on June 20th, 2007 1:14 pm

    Bowden made the right move. There’s no reason to settle for less than two good prospects if you’re going to get two high draft picks by not moving him. The “trade him or get nothing” mindset leads to things like Kenny Williams turning Ray Durham into Jon Adkins.

  94. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 1:16 pm

    msb: any stuff about what the Nationals were offered and turned down?

  95. Tek Jansen on June 20th, 2007 1:16 pm

    #92 — You are ablsolutely correct. I hear this all the time from Spokane sports guy Dennis Patchin. There is no evidence that “speed” players deteriorate faster than “power” guys, but such a notion has become so common place that people repeat it again and again.

  96. robbbbbb on June 20th, 2007 1:26 pm

    It seems like there’s an inefficiency in the market, here. Billy Beane has successfully flipped prospects for vets, and then let the vets walk for draft picks. If that’s the case, then one would think that the value of a rent-a-player would rise to include the cost of the draft picks.

    In other words: I think teams may have tightened up too much in what they’re willing to give for a rent-a-player. I forsee, in the near future, teams lightening up a little and being willing to spend a little more in prospects to rent a vet for three months knowing that the draft picks will help compensate.

    Not this year, though. It’ll take a couple years for that notion to sink in. And I don’t think we’ll ever return to the glory days of Buhner for Phelps, or Bagwell for Andersen.

  97. wfan99 on June 20th, 2007 1:28 pm

    I think the trade for Freddie Garcia was great but but a top 3 prospect in the game didn’t pan out. If we could get a top 40 prospect in the game I would deal Ichiro. What would you rather have the 20th or so pick or a top prospect who could help us by 2009. 2009 is the year we could win a title if we are smart with ichirio.
    starters;Felix, Washburn, Canada, Feirbrand,
    pen:morrow, putz
    outfield:Jones, Balentin
    infield:Current
    DH:Clement

    It could happen but wee need another pitcher hmm heilman, jon lester, billingsly, sowers or some other young pitcher

  98. Dave on June 20th, 2007 1:29 pm

    I think the trade for Freddie Garcia was great but but a top 3 prospect in the game didn’t pan out.

    Jeremy Reed was never a top 3 prospect in the game. Baseball Prospectus stuck him there because they sucked at prospect evaluation.

  99. wfan99 on June 20th, 2007 1:35 pm

    Dave, living in New York both Mets and Yankees fans are aware of the talent of Ichiro both as a true leadoff hitter and someone who can play D better then Damon or Shawn Green. We must trade Ichiro to a New York team and get some kids in return. Seattle stinks and Bravsi is awful. I am rooting for them to loose. Just hoping Felix pitches and Clement continues to hit.

  100. ducky on June 20th, 2007 1:38 pm

    99: To reiterate my point above, if you think Bavasi sucks, WHY would you to see him try to trade Ichiro? That’s SUICIDE.

  101. Dave on June 20th, 2007 1:40 pm

    Wfan,

    If you want anyone to take you seriously, you might want to work on your spelling and punctuation.

  102. coasty141 on June 20th, 2007 1:48 pm

    Dave,
    How does the determination of what type of free agent (A or B) take place? Only A and B agents get picks as comp, correct?

  103. Dave on June 20th, 2007 1:50 pm

    The Elias Sports Bureau has a pretty worthless formula that they use that is based on a two year performance average that slants heavily towards playing time. Basically, if you’re any good at all and you stay healthy two years in a row while playing everyday, you’re probably a Type A free agent. If you’re only a mediocre player and you avoid any major injuries, you’ll be a Type B free agent.

    Type A free agents give you two draft picks – a 1st rounder if the signing team is selecting no higher than 16th (their 2nd rounder if they pick #1-#15) and a compensation pick in the supplemental round. Type B free agents only give you the supplemental round selection.

    Once the M’s do determine that they’re out of it, for instance, Jose Guillen should be traded, as his miserable 2006 season could easily make him a Type C free agent. He’s going to have to hit really well this year to get into the Type B class.

  104. ducky on June 20th, 2007 1:51 pm

    Dave, ESPN.com has this up today in an article about great outfield arms:

    “Although Ichiro is well above average in center field, he no longer casts the same shadow over a game defensively. And while his arm is still top-notch, he doesn’t generate nearly as many “oohs” and “ahhs” as he did in right.”

    Curious to know what you think about that.

  105. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 1:51 pm

    Hey Dave, just saw the Stan Kasten post follow up, thanks! Still frustrating that we don’t know what “nothing” they turned down, but oh well.

    Also, if there is one troubling thing there, it’s when baseball people talk about untradeable draft picks like Kasten did. It’s as if he feels that the sum of having 5 picks is somehow greater than the individual picks themselves. If they had made a trade, he could also have said “we have 3 top draft picks and 2 good prospects drafted recently by another organization” and it would be just as valuable (depending of course on who those prospects were).

  106. Dave on June 20th, 2007 1:52 pm

    Ichiro’s arm has always been overrated. I think the aura of “The Throw” that nailed Terrance Long is finally wearing off.

  107. bookbook on June 20th, 2007 1:53 pm

    +You don’t know he’s not coming back. The Mariners don’t know he’s not coming back. Ichiro doesn’t know he’s not coming back. You need to understand what you don’t know.+

    Okay. Good point. I have felt since the beginning of this year that Ichiro was strongly implying he wouldn’t be back. If there’s a real chance of keeping him, my original point is largely invalid.

    I also misunderstood, thinking the traded prospects in midseason trades were further along than players just drafted. (I thought at least a year closer to realizing their potential, because they aren’t eligible to be traded for that long.)

    The M’s are paying an extra $5 million or so in Ichiro’s salary plus an extra $2-4 million in signing bonuses for prospects drafted rather than traded for. If that money was definitely going to be dedicated to making the team more competitive on the field (it wouldn’t) and one were 90% sure that Ichiro wouldn’t come back for what the M’s are going to offer (about right), then trading him at the deadline would have been the right move.

  108. MedicineHat on June 20th, 2007 1:56 pm

    So, by letting Ichiro stay, and you know the Mariners will continue ot play Ibanez and Guillen in the OF, what about trading him just to get Jones into the bigs and into the everyday line up to be ready for next season?

  109. SethGrandpa on June 20th, 2007 2:01 pm

    Dave this is just a fantastic post. The best I’ve ever seen from you and one of (if not the) best that I’ve seen on any blog. Thanks a lot. Kudos to exposing the trade-Ichiro contingent as a bunch of misguided folks.

  110. Dave on June 20th, 2007 2:06 pm

    If they keep Ichiro and fall out of the race, Jose Guillen’s a goner. With he and Balentien on the horizen, the team won’t be interested in exercising his $9 million option for 2008, making him a decently attractive asset for someone else. With Guillen off the roster, at-bats for Jones would be easy to find.

  111. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:08 pm

    109: Yes, it is a fantastic post, but I don’t think it is fair to say that the trade-Ichiro contingent is misguided.

    I totally buy all of Dave’s analysis, but I still would trade him if the M’s fall out of it and if it was the right offer (such as what Bowden demanded). And there is no way to judge a hypothetical offer for Ichiro until it is made, whereas we can pretty easily approximate the value of Ichiro and draft picks right now.

  112. jringler on June 20th, 2007 2:08 pm

    Thanks for doing all of this work, Dave. Your last two long coffee-sized posts have been much appreciated in fact.

  113. joser on June 20th, 2007 2:08 pm

    So, by letting Ichiro stay, and you know the Mariners will continue ot play Ibanez and Guillen in the OF, what about trading him just to get Jones into the bigs and into the everyday line up to be ready for next season?

    What about trading Guillen (for whatever you can get) just to get Jones into the bigs?

  114. Max Power on June 20th, 2007 2:09 pm

    If they keep Ichiro and fall out of the race, Jose Guillen’s a goner.

    How do you think the organization defines “out of the race”?

  115. bermanator on June 20th, 2007 2:11 pm

    Dave-

    The general consensus seems to be (true or not) that it’s harder to trade Ichico-type players now because you’re not getting value — teams don’t want to give up two or more top prospects for a guy they may only have for two months.

    But based on the data that you provided, wouldn’t it make sense for a team with a deep farm system to aggressively seek out that kind of trade? Wouldn’t a team like the Dodgers, Red Sox or Angels be well-served by trading a couple of good but blocked prospects for a guy who they see as a difference-maker who’s a pending free agent? That seems like it would be a low-risk move with a high potential payoff — you’re trading two good prospects for two draft picks that (if you do your job right) will also be two good prospects, plus you get the player for the stretch run.

  116. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:13 pm

    The Angels massively overvalue their own prospects, so I doubt they would ever pursue that type of deal. At least not with Stoneman around.

  117. bergamot on June 20th, 2007 2:16 pm

    Dave, ESPN.com has this up today in an article about great outfield arms:

    “Although Ichiro is well above average in center field, he no longer casts the same shadow over a game defensively. And while his arm is still top-notch, he doesn’t generate nearly as many “oohs” and “ahhs” as he did in right.”

    I’d like to know how ESPN came to that conclusion. According to my figures, Ichiro still has one of the highest OohsAhhs Over Replacement Player value in the American League.

  118. Mr. Egaas on June 20th, 2007 2:17 pm

    Definitely not par for the course, but there’s always A.J. Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser.

  119. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:20 pm

    118: Yep. That’s why you have to wait and see before summarily rejecting the trade idea. I just have a strange feeling that NYY and Boston will both be calling, and Bavasi will be able to play them off of each other if we wants to.

  120. Bearman on June 20th, 2007 2:24 pm

    Letting Ichiro for nothing and ending up with just the draft picks,Trading Ichiro and getting prospects and maybe a young SP etc…….are at best nothing but lesser of two evils.

    Only good option is to quit mucking about and resign the guy for say 3 yrs and 60 mil if that’s what it’ll take.Fire Hargrove and Bavasi then make every effort to recoup the pen and correct the rotation.

    If Ichiro leaves Seattle wheither via July deadline trade or via FA after the season and in my mind if he doesn’t resign by July 15th he gone for sure which method is mute.

    The M’s will lose the one player who actually to a large extent help to pay his salary by the # of fans he bring to Safecoand fans who come to see Ichiro play not the M’s.

    I have asbolutely no doult that if Ichiro leaves Seattle.I can safely predict a reduction of attendance and revenues of no less than 40% next season and season ticket sales down 30% with a 25% cancellation of renewals of same.

  121. scraps on June 20th, 2007 2:26 pm

    Thinking that Boston will be calling is a very strange feeling indeed, given that they’re the best team in baseball and any dealing they need to do will be from strength. If we make a trade with Boston, we’ll get hosed.

  122. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:26 pm

    well yeah, but this is more of a worst case scenario post. Ideally he’d re-sign yesterday.

  123. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:27 pm

    121: If you don’t think the Sox hear footsteps right now you are kidding yourself.

  124. Greg08 on June 20th, 2007 2:33 pm

    can u tell me why the teams are getting 2 draft picks? i thought they only recieve 1 for loosing an A-Type player?

  125. arbeck on June 20th, 2007 2:36 pm

    Greg08,

    I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong, but you receive the team’s that signed him unprotected pick, plus a supplemental pick. If the team’s pick is protected you get two supplemental picks.

  126. Dave on June 20th, 2007 2:37 pm

    Definitely not par for the course, but there’s always A.J. Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser.

    At the time of the deal, Liriano was still battling arm problems, Nathan was a failed starter, and Bonser was a back-end rotation guy.

    Just like the Beltran deal for the Royals, everything went completely in the Twins favor, but if a team called the Mariners and offered a broken down A-ball prospect, a failed starter, and another Cha Seung Baek, would you get excited?

    Despite Mr. Slider’s desire to believe that it happens, teams just don’t offer the kinds of packages he wants in return for Ichiro.

  127. hardball24 on June 20th, 2007 2:38 pm

    wfan’s spelling troubles have been contagious

  128. Jonah Keri on June 20th, 2007 2:38 pm

    One of the best, most insightful and informative articles I’ve read in years, Dave. I’ll be quoting from it liberally in the near future. Terrific stuff.

  129. scraps on June 20th, 2007 2:40 pm

    I do not in fact believe the Red Sox hear footsteps. The fans and media, sure; a few of the players, maybe; the front office, no way.

  130. Dave on June 20th, 2007 2:41 pm

    But based on the data that you provided, wouldn’t it make sense for a team with a deep farm system to aggressively seek out that kind of trade?

    Yep – if the Mariners hadn’t gotten owned by the NL central the last week and had kept themselves in the playoff race, I’d have been on board for sending a couple of guys like Balentien, Clement, and Feierabend to Chicago for Mark Buehrle.

    Now, it’s not worth exploring, but a team like the A’s would do well to offer a couple of good young players to Kenny Williams for Buehrle with no intention of re-signing him this winter, taking the value he provides for the stretch run, and pocketing the draft picks for next summer.

    And, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what Beane does.

  131. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:52 pm

    Dave, doesn’t your own article suggest that teams sometimes (but infreaquently) DO offer such packages? How highly were guys like Sizemore, Phillips and Lee rated when they were traded? Or the guys the Royals got for Beltran?

  132. arbeck on June 20th, 2007 2:55 pm

    93MPH,

    Dave already said that those guys weren’t that highly thought of at the time. None were considered can’t miss big leaguers.

  133. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 2:56 pm

    aha, sorry i missed that.

  134. Dave on June 20th, 2007 2:57 pm

    As noted in the post, the Colon trade was a massive exception to the rule – the Expos were going out of business, Omar Minaya knew that he wasn’t going to keep that job, and he had no desire to protect the future of a franchise that might not even exist at the end of the season. That trade isn’t any kind of real basis for comparison.

    And, as noted multiple times throughout the comments, Teahen and Buck were mediocre prospects who have developed far better than expected at the time of the deal. If the Mariners made an equivalent deal of Ichiro for prospects of Teahen/Buck type, you’d see people in an outrage.

  135. giuseppe on June 20th, 2007 2:59 pm

    Slider:

    No, this article doesn’t suggest what you suggest it suggests:

    “…there’s a giant asterisk next to the Colon trade, as it was made by a franchise that was literally making moves trying to keep themselves in existence…The circumstances that caused the Indians to receive a king’s ransom for Colon aren’t in play this year, and probably won’t be ever again.”

    “…its kind of the opposite of the Beltran deal, where the Royals got a couple of marginal prospects who have turned out better than anyone expected at the time.”

  136. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 3:01 pm

    Ok, thanks. I still think you underestimate what the AL East big boys might offer for him. But I hope you are completely correct and he stays all year.

  137. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 3:02 pm

    135: see 133

  138. Dave on June 20th, 2007 3:03 pm

    You think that history is wrong and your wishes are true? What is anyone supposed to say to that?

  139. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 3:04 pm

    “your wishes”.

    sigh

  140. Grizz on June 20th, 2007 3:07 pm

    Regarding draft picks under the new CBA, the team that loses a Type A free agent receives a supplemental 1st round pick and either the signing team’s 1st round pick (if no. 16-30) or its 2nd round pick (if no. 1-15). For Type B, the signing team receives only a supplemental 1st round pick.

  141. hardball24 on June 20th, 2007 3:11 pm

    At what point are players designated with their “Type”?

  142. 93MPHSlider.wow. on June 20th, 2007 3:15 pm

    By the way Dave, I’m not suggesting that you or anyone else ignore history. I’m suggesting that Ichiro is different, and there are different circumstances, just like there were different circumstances in the Colon trade.

    There are not too many players on your above lists who were near certain hall of famers in their primes. There are also not many who were international icons. And I can’t find one that was both during his walk year.

    I doubt that you would have believed that a Japanese rookie would win MVP before he did either.

  143. Grizz on June 20th, 2007 3:16 pm

    Type A is the top 20% at each position as ranked by Elias, while Type B is the next 20%. See Dave’s post above on what that means in practical terms.

  144. msb on June 20th, 2007 3:16 pm

    ah, here comes the ‘Mariners’ void of personality in the clubhouse’, and the ‘Ichiro lack of leadership’ crap on KJR.

  145. martin026 on June 20th, 2007 3:44 pm

    #144-

    As far as leadership goes, lead by example. I think Iciro does that.

    There was an article a few years ago about Ray Allen, and how he was always the first to the gym, doing shooting drills and such. The other players noticed this (Ridnour, Radmanovic, Lewis) and they began to show up early also. Ridnour said it became an unnoficial competition to see who would be there first.

    So who knows, maybe Iciro’s work ethic might rub off on the other players. We may never see Ritchie doing elaborate stretching excercises before at bats (would be fun though), but they might do other things to try to improve. They just might not be good anymore/or were good to begin with.

    And if Iciro’s work ethic does not rub off on other players, that problem does not fall at his feet.

  146. Gomez on June 20th, 2007 3:46 pm

    143. No, he’s asking WHEN the designation is made.

  147. Doc Baseball on June 20th, 2007 3:54 pm

    #47 – I made this point yesterday, but I think it bears repeating: Ichiro has more value to Seattle than just about any team in baseball. Baseball value….

    His hitting style produces similar numbers in a lot of parks. Given that The Safe is a tough place to hit in general, it means he produces more value for the M’s than most other teams. …

    Given those constraints, then it is worth it for the M’s to offer more to keep Ichiro than other teams. The M’s would be smart to offer Ichiro the best offer on the market so as to accomodate his talent.

    With respect, I think the correct analysis here is slightly different than this. In crude terms, Ichiro’s value is THE SAME for the M’s as it is for other teams — he will do the same in the Safe as he will in other parks. The problem is that OTHER highly productive players who do not have his skill set — who we might get to replace him — will do WORSE. So, two players, Ichiro and Player B, with equal OPS numbers, for example, are worth the same to other teams — but Ichiro is worth more to the Mariners than Player B is because when Player B comes to the Safe, he will perform worse than his previous numbers. Add in Ichiro’s defense in the Safe and his value then is even higher than Player B (or his OPS could be quite higher to compensate for the weaker defense). So, to be equal, if we say Ichiro’s fair market value is $20 million — in the Safe or in any park — we would have to replace Ichiro with something like a $24 million player — who would play like a $24 million player elsewhere but would play like “only” a $20 million player in the Safe. The problem is not that Ichiro has more value to the M’s; it is that other players (who do not possess his unique skill set) have less value.

    So if we sign Ichiro for $20 million, it’s kind of like getting a $24 Million player at a discount….

  148. geofftoons on June 20th, 2007 4:34 pm

    If Ichiro is willing to resign with the M’s, even at $20mil a year, I would think it’s worth it. Especially if you consider the revenue he generates alone from Japanese fans, M’s Japanese broadcasts, and mechandise, I would think that would more than cover his salary and protect that revenue stream.

    Without Ichiro, I would think the Japanese fans and money would soon dry up, cutting team profits, which would in turn create a decline in payroll, which would then translate into an even worse team with a severely limited payroll in the future.

    So resigning Ichiro, at least in my reasoning is a franchise defining decision that will effect the team for years to come.

    Any thoughts on this? Am I full of it or somewhat on the right track in my thinking?

  149. teacherrefpoet on June 20th, 2007 6:06 pm

    Thanks, Dave–This is exactly why I read USSM. I learned a lot about our situation here, and you had relevant data to back it up.

    Of course, what I learned is that we’re most-likely-damned if we do, and most-likely-damned if we don’t. Sadder but wiser.

  150. redpenguin on June 20th, 2007 6:26 pm

    I find it fascinating that Mariner fans don’t use Alex Rodriguez for justification for trading Ichiro Suzuki. The NET compensation for Alex as of today is Rene Rivera. Period. (for the unenlightened, Garciaparra was claimed off waivers by Philly)

    Paying Suzuki $20M/yr. won’t change status quo. The revenue created by Japanese tourists, while it may help the Mariner bottom line, it hasn’t changed the payroll substantially and it hasn’t been reallocated back into the team salary.

    There’s recent history showing this. With the (re-)signings of Winn, Ibanez, Spiezio and the trade for Cirillo in the 2003 offseason, the team sent a message that star players aren’t important and when guys like Tejada, who WANTED to sign here. The team didn’t use the Kaz Sasaki’s salary refund until they signed Adrian Beltre, several years later.

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned Suzuki’s reluctance try do things to help the team? Three years ago, BoMel and Co. asked him to play CF and hit third, to try and jump start the team, with his highly successful BA with RISP. He resisted and only out of reluctance agreed to play CF last year when the Mariners called up Adam Jones too early.

    I wouldn’t trade Ichiro Suzuki, unless Omar Minaya decides completely overpay as he did with the Expos. I don’t have the confidence in Bavasi to get the players necessary to make it worth it. Chances are, after three losing seasons and not a playoff appearance since 2001, Suzuki will sign with a top 15 team netting the Mariners a 1st rounder and supplemental picks.

    While it’s worth it for the Mariners to re-sign Suzuki, it’s not worth it for the Mariners fan.

  151. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 6:49 pm

    Dont be surprised if he does get $24 mil per from someone, if he plays like he has so far this year, he’s worth that.

  152. Chris Miller on June 20th, 2007 6:54 pm

    If he keeps playing the way he is, and puts up another super campaign like he did in 04, all while playing gold glove CF, man he could end up with a lot larger contract than is currently expected.

  153. jullberg on June 20th, 2007 7:06 pm

    This is certainly interesting. At first glimpse I was very much willing to jump ship, changing from a “TRADE ICHIRO” to a “KEEP ICHIRO”. The success of compensation picks is something I assumed was much lower than what this shows. Then I noticed that out of the seven guys who are contributors at the major league level right now, 6 of those seven were drafted by the Mets or the A’s. Even if you include the elite prospects, the rate of success for teams that are not the A’s or Mets is pretty darn low. If a guy like Beane or Minaya were running our team, I would have no problem trying to retain Ichiro and getting the picks if we couldn’t resign him, however I think that either way we are screwed. As long as Bavasi is GM, I have no faith in either option because he will either trade away for guys who won’t succeed, or he’ll draft guys who won’t succeed. Either way I think we are screwed. So instead of becoming a huge bandwagoner for either camp, my new bandwagon is the “FIRE BAVASI” wagon. Let’s get a GM with a brain and then we can talk about Ichiro being traded or not.

  154. Oly Rainiers Fan on June 20th, 2007 7:33 pm

    Didn’t Ichiro already turn down 3 years/50 mill? This possible factoid is lodged in my brain and I can’t remember how it got there.

    Also, while it is interesting work (the initial post), it’s also highly subjective to other influences. whenever you’re talking about player development (which you are, when you’re talking about draft picks, because they don’t go straight to the majors but need time to develop), you’re introducing variables.

    In either a trade or draft scenario, you’re relying on your organization’s ability to accurately assess talent. But in a draft scenario, you’re also relying on your organization’s ability to successfully develop that talent.

  155. Oly Rainiers Fan on June 20th, 2007 7:37 pm

    As an addendum to above post, we have poster children. If Morrow never becomes a legit starter, which is what was allegedly the intention when drafting him, it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have were he drafted by, oh, the Giants, who chose a different strategy of player development for Lincecum.

    Also, while Jones has responded well to being aggressively promoted through the minors, Clement has stalled, and Tui actually may have suffered from that philosophy. Drafted players (and international signings) are highly dependent on the player development philosophies of their drafting/signing team. The As are on the list for ‘let the free agent walk’ a lot, but they also have a VERY good farm system that’s good at pumping out players with skill sets that the parent club wants (like good .OBP). Does that not skew the data?

  156. NTNgod on June 20th, 2007 7:55 pm

    The Brewers are pretty happy with Francisco Cordero this year, although I’d argue that they’d have been better off just offering Lee arbitration and picking up the two draft picks, rather than settling for Role Player Soup from Texas.

    Most likely, the Brewers will have traded away a half-season of Lee and two 2007 picks, in exchange for a season and a half of Cordero and two 2008 picks.

  157. Tim on June 20th, 2007 8:48 pm

    Dave,

    I’m not sure I buy this analysis. The conclusions you reach are based on a very small sample size. Most of the results of these trades could be just as well attributed to luck. I don’t think you can look at the outcomes to deterimine if the trade was good or not…or help make a decision on if the Mariners should trade Ichiro.

    The real measure is what type of prospect you are getting versus the compensation picks. If you can get a top 100-150 prospect for Ichiro, what is the likelihood of this type of player over the years to become an impact player? On the flip side, what is the liklihood a 30 or 40 pick will turn into an impact player? I have no idea what the results of said analysis would be, but I think this approach would be much superior than looking at such a small sample. Thoughts?

  158. BLYKMYK44 on June 20th, 2007 9:24 pm

    So…does that mean that the reverse argument would work out as well? We should trade our prospects to try and get as many of the star players as possible??

  159. Typical Idiot Fan on June 20th, 2007 11:43 pm

    I find it fascinating that Mariner fans don’t use Alex Rodriguez for justification for trading Ichiro Suzuki. The NET compensation for Alex as of today is Rene Rivera. Period. (for the unenlightened, Garciaparra was claimed off waivers by Philly)

    For the unenlightened, that draft was done by incompetant idiots. Also, he was a big contribution to our making the postseason that year. You don’t trade away hall of fame talent when you’re in contention. That’s just stupid.

  160. joser on June 21st, 2007 1:02 am

    Something that struck me while watching the Pirates play the M’s tonight: the Pirates have no stars. None.

    The M’s have Ichiro. Before that they had ARod, and before that Griffey, and Johnson (and there was Buhner and always Edgar too, of course). Before that, it was the 80s, and the Mariners looked like today’s Pirates. No stars, nobody special. And nobody watched. If the M’s let Ichiro go, who is the M’s? Ibanez? Please. If their multi-hit wonder goes off to greener pastures, and without a star-to-be waiting in the minors, this team is the 80s M’s again. The team that turned me off baseball for a decade.

  161. hw1933 on June 21st, 2007 9:29 am

    To follow up on NTN’s comment the Brewer bullpen at the time of the trade was in complete meltdown. Derrick Turnbow had imploded beyond belief and literally EVERY reliever was suffering from a combination of gopherballitis and walkatosis. Feel free to wander through the game logs in 2006 and see the myriad of ways the Crew was losing games thanks to train wreck of a bullpen. Melvin needed somebody to try and bring some order to a chaotic situation. he GM was trying to salvage the 2006 season not to compete for the division that season but to at least get enough calm for the team to see who might help them in 2007. The bullpen disaster was a total distraction to the team-building exercise. That Cordero has actually excelled long-term (if a year is long-term) is a legit bonus. And I think anyone has to agree that the Brewers are a team looking to win “now” versus 3 years from now. Cordero appears to be helping that effort. So while I disagreed with the trade at the time I understood it.

    Also, wasn’t there talk about the compensatory draft picks going away? I thought Melvin mentioned that as an element of the trade when interviewed. Though I could be wrong about the timing…….

  162. DAMellen on June 21st, 2007 11:45 pm

    Not to say I didn’t like this article. This is actually by far the most compelling argument to keep Ichiro that I’ve heard this season, but I think you left out an important detail. Most draft picks are still going to be a long way from being major league ready. Double and Triple A players are going to be more like a year or two away. I think that’s another reason Ichiro should go.

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