Guillen’s extension: no thanks

DMZ · August 29, 2007 at 12:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Dave’s off his rocker. Guillen’s been a nice pickup, no doubt, and we’re all happy he’s here, but the M’s already have roster problems in the outfield: Jones needs to start in 08, and we’ve also got Balentien, who has made huge strides offensively this year and looks ready. Both of those guys have potential coming out their ears, and they’re as close to free as to make no odds. To make room for Jones, someone’s got go to somewhere, and it ought to be Ibanez to DH or 1B, pushing Sexson out. Then to play Balentien, you can’t retain Guillen, since Ichiro’s not going anywhere…

I’m not all that worried that Guillen’s going to drop off a cliff or anything, though that’s certainly possible. Or even that the contract’s outrageous, because it’s not — though I’ll point out that it’s another great example of teams not learning from success. “Hey, we turned this random guy into an ace closer! No way that would happen again! Let’s give them a 10y, $230m extension!” “Hey, we found a pretty good outfielder on the scrap heap and only had to pay them a couple million! There’s no chance we’d ever be that saavy twice — extend that player’s contract!” There will be Jose Guillen-type finds next year. The M’s just won’t be making them.

And I don’t care that it means the team would be starting 08 with two new outfielders. They’re the best option the team has, and an Ichiro-Jones-Balentien outfield would be a huge defensive upgrade over this year’s.

But think even beyond that: this team has a huge gaping hole of a rotation for next year. I’m all for free talent acquisition, especially gambling in the 4-5 slots, but as we’ve seen, the team desperately needs to upgrade the rotation. Considering how they’ve doled out the payroll in past years, it’s entirely possible that $10m’s going to be the difference between giving Schilling or whoever a short, extremely lucrative deal and seeing who wants to come on board for $6.5m and free Moose rides.

The M’s have better, cheaper long-term solutions that will help build a young core that can compete for championships. They have better uses for the money. They’re paying for security when security’s not what the team needs.


74 Responses to “Guillen’s extension: no thanks”

  1. F-Rod on August 29th, 2007 1:38 pm

    Signing Guillen gives the M’s more options not less. Now basically any outfielder/1b/Dh in the whole organization could be traded (minus Ichiro and Guillen).

    A blockbuster could yield A. Jones out an Wlad in although it is likely the other way. Making a solid, moderate low risk move like this rarely hurts an organization.

  2. fdeezle on August 29th, 2007 1:40 pm

    How tradeable is Vidro? If we sign Guillen would we be able to package Balentien and Vidro for a pitcher?

  3. G-Man on August 29th, 2007 1:42 pm

    Conor (47), I should have addressed that. I was originally thinking that ther wasn’t much chance of him getting a better deal, but I may be wrong.

    In fact, I saw yet another wrinkle when I reread the terms that makes it more even more likely that he’d turn it down: the performnce bonuses apply only if the player exercises the option. So, he’d make $9M if the team picked it up abd he didn’t void it.

  4. Nuss on August 29th, 2007 1:49 pm

    I guess it all just depends on the roster moves they make around him. It’s a good sign that we haven’t heard any rumblings about extending guys like Vidro, Ibanez and Sexson, who all have contracts expiring at the end of next year. With that fourth option year, Balentein could be ready to step in at that point.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Bavasi does to remake the other holes. This seems like a first or second piece kind of move.

  5. Bearman on August 29th, 2007 1:52 pm

    If Guillen is signed to 3yr extension being reported in the PI that not a bad deal however I do see the downside to it:
    1)Chances are excellent Bavasi will be retained as GM after the season
    2)Both Adam Jones and Balentien are offseason trade bait for more “proven veteran” help
    3)Vidro is going nowhere neither any of the other “proven veteran” talent that helps profit margin
    4)The farm is expendable and will not repeat WILL NOT be allowed to develop any top talent that will make the big club because Bavasi will continue to throw up road blocks to their advancement and if they are called up they will just ride pine.

  6. F-Rod on August 29th, 2007 2:09 pm

    55 That is laughable…Look around and remember back the last few years…Many prospects under Bavasi have had a chance to develop.

  7. Typical Idiot Fan on August 29th, 2007 2:25 pm

    I don’t like it when mommy and daddy fight.

    I do. Sometimes I think Dave and Derek agree too often for my tastes. These last couple of speculative posts on acquiring players where Dave and Derek have disagreed have been good reading.

    A proper point / counterpoint debate allows us to think more for ourselves then just agree with whatever Dave and Derek are saying. Sometimes I think we get dragged along and coerced too easily when there’s no valid contrarian points.

  8. RealRhino on August 29th, 2007 2:39 pm

    This doesn’t make much sense to me. $10MM a year for what is an average RF in the AL for 3 years when you could have just extended him for his Age 32 season instead?

    Does it make sense only because there is no opportunity cost? Because it doesn’t objectively make sense to me.

  9. Karen on August 29th, 2007 2:58 pm

    I’ll bet Mike Mussina is available if the M’s take on his entire 2008 $11M salary and offer that little used outfielder that is taking up space on the bench, plus maybe another infield prospect.

    Tongue-in-cheek suggestion, but no telling with our M’s FO…

  10. Mat on August 29th, 2007 3:03 pm

    Sometimes I think we get dragged along and coerced too easily when there’s no valid contrarian points.

    If there are no valid contrarian points, what’s the point in being contrary?

  11. marc w on August 29th, 2007 3:35 pm

    “If there are no valid contrarian points, what’s the point in being contrary?”

    That’s idiotic. I don’t like your face.

    Sorry, just had to do that.

    Anyway, I’m with Derek here. One thing that hasn’t come up yet is OF defense, and Guillen’s defense has taken a nose dive after his injuries. At this point, he’s giving away some of his offensive value with his limited range – clearly, not to the same degree as Raul, but it’s there and it’s a real factor.
    Now, Dave think Wlad is a sub-par defender, and that’s probably part of his reasoning. I think Wlad can be an ave. to above average defender. He’s younger, he’s faster – he’s not Ichiro, but he can cover more ground at this moment. His arm is weaker, but it’s at least as accurate, probably more accurate. The point is, Wlad and Guillen would be closer in 2008 than you might guess just by eyeballing their offensive stats.

    Grizz is certainly right that “The real concern with Balentien is whether he will make enough contact, not how far the ball will go when he does.” But the thing is, he’s struck out in just less than 20% of his plate appearances, whereas Adam Jones struck out in 23%. Balentien’s also taking more walks (a trend that started last year). I’m not saying he’s the prospect Jones is, but we all agreed that Jones was ready, and we all agree on Balentien’s ‘achilles heel.’ So it’s worth pointing out that Balentien’s actually done better on that than Jones.

    Keep Wlad. It is a good thing to have contributing regulars making the MLB minimum.

  12. currcoug on August 29th, 2007 3:37 pm


    There are a lot of miles on Guillen’s body, not to mention the constant beanings he gets. Why doens’t Guillen wear an elbow guard like Ichiro?

    Moreover, has it occurred to Bavasi that Guillen has been on his best behavior because he wants a multi-year contract? I would have thought the infamous “Jones” comments by Guillen would have been a red flag to Bavasi.

    Now, the team will undoubtedly deal Balentien, whose has the kind of power that renders the confines of Safeco Field meaningless for a right hand hitter (see, Alfonso Soriano).

  13. patnmic on August 29th, 2007 4:07 pm

    Derek is right. The Mariners aren’t the Yankees with unlimited resources. They need to spend where a need is. There isn’t a regular reader of the USSM blog that doesn’t know that the Ms need a front line starter (not a righty outfielder) to get to the next level. That extra $10 million dollars would come in handy for that. Especially as we see more and more aces get re-signed before they become free agents. This years prices are going to be insane.

  14. RealRhino on August 29th, 2007 4:42 pm

    I’m a little concerned that we are seeing an M’s trait repeated, which is the inability to recognize when they’ve “lucked” into a bargain. We saw it with Bret Boone, a few others. You sign a guy on the cheap (relatively) because you (legitimately) have concerns. He exceeds your expectations for one year, then you make a commitment to him that you would never had made the year before, even though me may not have inherently changed as a player.

  15. Gilgameche on August 29th, 2007 4:44 pm

    What makes you think Raul won’t be the everyday left”fielder” next year?

  16. Grizz on August 29th, 2007 4:57 pm

    This doesn’t make much sense to me. $10MM a year for what is an average RF in the AL for 3 years when you could have just extended him for his Age 32 season instead?

    No, per Cot’s, if the M’s pick up the team option, Guillen had the right to void it (the M’s had the same right if Guillen exercised his player option). Guillen is essentially a free agent.

    So it’s worth pointing out that Balentien’s actually done better on that than Jones.

    Balentien is certainly going in the right direction, but he has struggled throughout his career with strikeouts and hitting for average. Jones has been more consistent and has hit for a decent average throughout the minors.

    I think some of difference between them comes from the scouting side. For example, Kevin Goldstein had a piece on them not too long ago where scouts were praising Jones for his advanced approach at the plate (for his age) and his willingness to apply what he has learned to his game, while pointing out that Wlad still tends to revert into hacking mode (even if AAA pitchers cannot exploit it).

    The more well-rounded players have a better track record than players who skew more toward the three true outcome.

  17. Wishhiker on August 29th, 2007 8:39 pm

    I’m fine with it if they’re shopping/dumping others to position him as a DH who can play the field if needed.

    If you want to call it a choice between Balentien and Guillen I’d take the choice that would be better on the field and base-paths, could produce similar with the bat costs next to nothing and doesn’t lock down that spot if you decide there’s a better option in 3 Months, 8 Months or 2 years. It’s about a $28M difference over the next 3 years to have yet another player who is a sub-par defensive OFer.

    Sign Guillen, trade Ibanez and DFA Turbo. Since I don’t think the first leads to the other 2, this is a foolish, wasteful strategy.

  18. Wishhiker on August 29th, 2007 8:50 pm

    Sign Guillen, trade Balentien and possibly Jones seems more likely by this FO.

  19. marc w on August 30th, 2007 9:19 am

    I know what you’re saying, Grizz, but if we’re relying on batting average as a proxy for strikeouts instead of just using strikeouts, well… that’s weird.

    Yes, Wlad’s been consistently hacktastic until this year. Jones has been more consistent, though he’s also had to deal with strikeouts.
    The point to me is that Wlad was always a hell of a lot more inexperienced. He’s from Curacao, and I’m betting he never played as much organized baseball as half the people in this comment thread. He was always going to take more time. So now, when he’s made some leap in his skillset, we chuck him? I know that’s not what you’re arguing…I’m just pointing out that relying on Wlad’s older track record may obscure more than it clarifies.
    The scouting thing is key, and I think Jones does have an advanced approach at the plate for his age (he’s younger than Wlad). But it really should be mentioned that he’s struck out more and walked less than Wlad, despite repeating AAA. Again, this isn’t to say AJ is overrated. He’s awesome. But Wlad needs to get credit for building on his 2006 and making a huge leap in his approach at the plate. Yes, he still reverts to hacking mode at times, and even AAA pitchers can exploit it. But so does AJ, so does everyone. It’s not a fatal flaw.

    I still think a lot of this has to do with the org possibly viewing Wlad as a *defensive* liability. Keeping Guillen and ditching Wlad on that basis truly is letting 2004 data drive 2008 decisions.

  20. Grizz on August 30th, 2007 10:50 am

    I was not the clearest there, but while strikeouts are related, no, I was using batting average as a proxy for the ability to make sufficient and consistent contact to hit for average – for lack of a better term, the skill of hitting for average. The scouting reports and minor league stats generally agree and suggest that Jones’ abilities in this category are solid to strong, while Wlad’s are more in question. For example, one of the criticisms of Wlad has been that with two strikes, he is still swinging for the moon. Jones, on the other hand, has shown the ability to shorten his swing and take whatever the pitcher gives him. When transferred to the big league level, Jones is likely better prepared to make the necessary adjustments, while the better quality of pitching is more likely to give Wlad trouble.

    Overall, the track record is better for players like Jones with a toolbox filled with good tools than players like Wlad with one great tool and so-so other ones. In addition, maintaining a walk rate from the minors to the majors is one of the more difficult things to do, so a player like Wlad who relies more heavily on walks may have a harder time adjusting to the majors. And overall, Jones (314/382/586) put up a better line in Tacoma than Wlad (295/368/526).

    As for defense, the only places I have ever seen someone suggest that Wlad’s defense is a liability are in the comments on this site. It is just that Jones projects as a plus defender, while Wlad projects as merely average. In terms of the “why Jones now, but not Wlad?” question, Jones can still be an asset even if he struggles at the plate, while Wlad must hit right away or he becomes a liability.

    I am certainly not anti-Wlad or advocating dumping him. I like him, a lot. He has the type of power and ability to hit to the opposite field to overcome the Safeco effect on right-handed hitters. He made a legitimate breakthrough this year. But he needs to not only sustain it, but build on it, like Jones did from 2006 to 2007, and he is more likely to continue to develop in Tacoma than Seattle.

  21. RealRhino on August 30th, 2007 11:13 am


    Good, let him walk. Who cares? Not me, really.

    To me, again, the only way this makes sense is if you have a FO that sees literally NO opportunity cost. In other words, paying Guillen $10MM per year won’t affect a single other piece of your club: there’s nobody else you have to play RF and the money couldn’t be better distributed elsewhere. I think that’s pretty damning in terms of the creativity or ability of the FO to build a ballclub (if all they can see is Guillen vs. Wlad and if it’s Wlad we just eat the $10MM).

    To me, the FO has duped itself into thinking we are the Yankees, a perennial contender that just needs some consistency and we’ll make the postseason. But what is the young core of this team? Who can we reasonably expect to improve next year? LF with Jones, 2B and SS with Lopez and Yuni, maybe Felix and Morrow. OTOH, we should expect decline from Guillen, Ichiro, Sexson, Ibanez, Vidro, Johjima, Washburn, Batista, and a few guys in the bullpen, probably. This is not a playoff team as currently formed, IMO, so we shouldn’t be looking merely to minimize risk.

  22. currcoug on August 30th, 2007 11:47 am

    You guys are worried about Balentien hacking?

    I can think of another “hacker” with a similar russian first name, and he is a perennial Allstar named Vladimir Guerrero.

  23. Grizz on August 30th, 2007 12:44 pm

    You are confusing unbelievable plate coverage (and a willingness to use it) with “hacker.” Vlad is not a “hacker”; he is one of best hitters in terms of making conact in the game:

    Minors career: 345/405/584, 96 BB/115 K in 1071 AB

    Majors career: 324/391/579, 604 BB/728 K in 5985 AB.

    Wlad’s career? 275/345/522, 193BB/537 K in 1868 AB.

    If you can’t differentiate between a player who in his major/minor league career has hit .330 and struck out in only 10% of his plate appearances with a player with .275 average and 25% strikeout rate (all in the minors), I don’t know what to tell you.

  24. marc w on August 30th, 2007 2:08 pm

    The thing about Wlad is that he’s actually not a terrible hitter for average.
    In Wisconsin, Wlad had the edge. In the cal league, they were within a couple points of BA. The difference is the Texas league, where Jones had a BABIP north of .400 and Wlad was well under .300.
    Look, AJ has the edge in this skill, but given the volatility involved in it, I’m not sure it’s worth as much as the scouts think. AJ’s defensive skill make him the superior prospect all around – I’m not disputing that. But Wlad’s had huuuge detractors in this org (and elsewhere), and I’m still not quite sure why. Poke at one claim, and many shift discussion elsewhere. Sure, he hit .291 in the cal league. But he didn’t walk enough or show pitch recognition. OK, he did those things better in 2006 and 2007, but what about batting average?

    I agree that AJ has a ton of tools in his toolbox. But I think we’ve pigeonholed Wlad as an all-or-nothing hitter that he really isn’t.

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