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.

Comments

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

  1. terry on August 29th, 2007 12:05 pm

    yep

  2. Dave on August 29th, 2007 12:08 pm

    Dave will tell you why he’s not off his rocker when the contract becomes official, but basically, it comes down to what you think of Wladimir Balentien, and its no surprise that I like him less than almost everyone else.

  3. Sec 108 on August 29th, 2007 12:08 pm

    Well said! I guess that means we will see ink on a contact by week’s end. :(

  4. wilymo on August 29th, 2007 12:09 pm

    Smoltz resigned with the Braves so he’s not gonna be available.

  5. DMZ on August 29th, 2007 12:12 pm

    Stupid Smoltz.

  6. CCW on August 29th, 2007 12:15 pm

    I was assuming someone had hijacked Dave’s computer when I read that… Unless there’s something more to that contract, I don’t see how it could be a good idea to sign Guillen for 3 years, $10M. The Ms are fine on the corners. Learn from the smart teams, like the Indians… LF, RF, 1B and DH are the easiest positions to fill. Take care of them last.

  7. SDRE on August 29th, 2007 12:18 pm

    2 years I’m cool with. It’s the third year that’s worrysome. No doubt it’s the third year that’s the clincher for Guillen to sign. Fukodome or Jenkins might be better options since they’re LH. Guillen, however, has shown that he’s a good three hole hitter this year and you probably can’t say that about Fukodome or Jenkins.

    It’s a dream to hope for Schilling or Smoltz next year. No way they are coming to Seattle. Smoltz won’t leave Atlanta and Schilling will go to Boston, Yankees, Philly or Arizona. The Tampa Bay rumor earlier this week was so laughable.

  8. scottg02 on August 29th, 2007 12:21 pm

    I’m gonna have to agree with Dave, we dont’ need two rookies in the outfield next year and Guillen’s been a gamer. I like him. Pay him, keep him.

  9. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on August 29th, 2007 12:23 pm

    Still on the fence as I indicated in Dave’s thread below, but I am currently tending toward Derek’s line of thought here in the abstract. The real question for you Derek is: outside of your “perfect” world, you know that the M’s won’t throw two inexperienced outfielders out there in the same year. I think Bavasi’s said as much. What do you do when that’s added to the fact pattern? I agree with what is in the best interest of the club, but if Wlad is a no-go next year, what do you do? That’s where Dave’s reasoning becomes more persuasive to me, though it’s still a pretty old guy with migrating injury issues locked up for double digit millions/per for three years. I just start to get nervous in that territory.

  10. SDRE on August 29th, 2007 12:23 pm

    #6- That’s why the Indians drafted Beau Mills. A big bat but no defensive skills and a future DH.

  11. joser on August 29th, 2007 12:24 pm

    Balentien is a bad match for Safeco. Just as Ichiro is uniquely valuable to Seattle (to a far greater degree, obviously), Balentien will be more valuable to some other team than to the M’s. He’s a great candidate for a trade. Unfortunately, I have no faith in Bavasi getting anything of value back. But I’m not going to be hugely upset by not seeing Balentien in the outfield next year. The argument for having Ibanez push out Sexson at 1B to make room for Jones still stands.

    And I do agree with the more general sentiment: this team overvalues veterans and refuses to learn from its own experience. I suppose the Tacoma cupboard’s been bare, and the team’s pockets have been deep, for so long now that it has completely distorted their perceptions of value and don’t recognize it when they see it.

  12. Mike Snow on August 29th, 2007 12:24 pm

    About that starting rotation, where does Morrow fit in? I know that most of us would expect him to spend a year or so in the minors to work on that, but I’m not completely clear how the team sees things. He will have, after all, spent a full year in the majors, and demoting him after a reasonably successful performance seems out of character for the organization. Is it possible that they expect to use him to fill part of that gaping hole, maybe even from the outset?

  13. scraps on August 29th, 2007 12:25 pm

    There’s almost nothing more overrated in sports than intensity (under its various names). I don’t care how a player does what they do: I just care what they do.

  14. Paul L on August 29th, 2007 12:37 pm

    My problem with all of this is that mgmt says flat-out that they won’t go into next season with two rookies in the outfield.

    Why? If they’re the best at the position they should start.

    I just don’t understand that “reasoning” here.

  15. joser on August 29th, 2007 12:37 pm

    I’m not real up on how these things work, but they may send Morrow off to winter ball to see how much he can stretch out, evaluate him in ST, and then send him to Tacoma with the promise of a call-up later in the season. Of course, he may show up in Peoria unable to pitch 6+ innnings even at the AAA level, in which case they do have a hard decision between sending him lower or keeping him in the pen. But they’re hoping to have Lowe back and healthy, and if that’s the case (a big if when it comes to his durability) Morrow is kind of redundant in the pen.

    But I expect this is all getting too far off topic for Derek’s taste, and there will be a post (or several) about the future of the rotation in due time.

  16. Mat on August 29th, 2007 12:38 pm

    Dave will tell you why he’s not off his rocker when the contract becomes official, but basically, it comes down to what you think of Wladimir Balentien, and its no surprise that I like him less than almost everyone else.

    It seems to me like it also comes down to what you think of “the scrap heap.” The options in RF next year aren’t simply Guillen or Balentien, though I’m sure you’re aware of that.

    Guillen’s a career .274/.326/.447 hitter, and has had some health problems in the recent past. Given the size of the Mariners’ payroll, it seems like they can probably get away with overpaying him, but I guess it seems like an ultraconservative move to me. (The riskier move being digging through the freely available talent channels or looking for a trade to address RF.)

    And though they aren’t the same type of hitter, this contract extension reminds me of the 3yr/$18M deal that the Twins did with Shannon Stewart after he was given too much credit for helping them to the playoffs in 2003.

  17. firova2 on August 29th, 2007 12:39 pm

    6. In 2006-07, Cleveland has won one more game than Seattle. Cleveland knows what they are doing, but I’m afraid it is all lost on Mariner management, who probably think they are doing just as well judging by the standings.

  18. scottg02 on August 29th, 2007 12:41 pm

    14 – They won’t be the best at the position…. well Jones will be.

    Balentien is not and will not be next year > Guillen.

  19. gocougs1 on August 29th, 2007 12:41 pm

    #15 I would guess that if the Mariners were going to pay Guillen 3yrs/18 Million almost everyone would be quite pleased with the deal.

  20. Mat on August 29th, 2007 12:45 pm

    I would guess that if the Mariners were going to pay Guillen 3yrs/18 Million almost everyone would be quite pleased with the deal.

    3/$30M from 2008-10 is essentially the same as 3/$18M from 2004-6. That seems to be about what inflation in baseball’s free agent market has been.

  21. G-Man on August 29th, 2007 12:45 pm

    I’ll second this:

    “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 this:

    this team overvalues veterans and refuses to learn from its own experience.

    I’m afraid that they won’t even get Jones into the regular lineup if they bring back Guillen. They’ll have trouble moving Sexson.

  22. VaughnStreet on August 29th, 2007 12:47 pm

    Since I wasn’t at the USSM outing, and didn’t hear Bavasi, I have no idea what he thinks of Balentien — beyond the “we won’t start two rookies in the outfield next year” line. But I am very curious. Would anyone here be able to shed some light on what Bavasi is thinking about doing with Balentien next year? Back to Tacoma, for his final option year, on the bench in Seattle, trade bait?

  23. VaughnStreet on August 29th, 2007 12:48 pm

    They should have no problem moving Sexson. Drop him off at the airport with a one way ticket.

  24. Mat on August 29th, 2007 12:50 pm

    Would anyone here be able to shed some light on what Bavasi is thinking about doing with Balentien next year? Back to Tacoma, for his final option year, on the bench in Seattle, trade bait?

    Balentien doesn’t seem like a prototypical bench player, so I would suspect that he’ll either be trade bait, or getting regular playing time in Tacoma. Of course, I didn’t think that–strictly from a player development standpoint–they would let Jones sit around without facing live pitching this much.

  25. Dan W on August 29th, 2007 12:51 pm

    I agree with Dave since his cousin is better looking. Probably.

  26. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 12:52 pm

    Dave will tell you why he’s not off his rocker when the contract becomes official, but basically, it comes down to what you think of Wladimir Balentien, and its no surprise that I like him less than almost everyone else.

    Well, lessee: Wlad’s made All-Star in the Arizona League, Cal League, Texas League, Pacific Coast League, and he’s a Venezuelan Summer League MVP. Basically, everyone who’s seen the guy thinks he’s been one of the best players in his league, everywhere he’s played. His stats are good.

    I do think he might be a bad fit for Safeco- he’s a lot more likely to turn into Magglio Ordonez in someplace like Texas or Chicago, where you can get cheap HRs to LF. That would be my problem- Seattle is probably the worst possible place for him to play every day. Of course, if we fixed Safeco somewhat for RHB, it’d remove a lot of my objections.

  27. mr.smartypants on August 29th, 2007 12:52 pm

    6 – You’re right, but the team already has 2B, SS, 3B, CF, and C filled for now. Not to say that money couldn’t be better spent on pitching, I still don’t have a problem with retaining Guillen.

    The only fear I have is that the team won’t start AJ next year. They seem intent on keeping Vidro at DH, and with Raul, Broussard, and Sexson still around, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be in a position to get playing time. Which is incredibly maddening just to think about.

  28. Dave on August 29th, 2007 12:55 pm

    Really? We’re using minor league all-star teams as prospect evaluation tools now? Awesome.

    I’m going to go throw myself from a cliff.

  29. HamNasty on August 29th, 2007 12:58 pm

    [ot, stop being ot, it's annoying]

  30. Tom C on August 29th, 2007 12:59 pm

    [no]

  31. G-Man on August 29th, 2007 1:00 pm

    Another option is to just pick up Guillen’s option for 2008.

    Here’s his deal signed 12/06, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. It would cost $10+ million if he stayed healthy and played most games.:

    $1M signing bonus

    07:$4M, 08:$9M club option ($0.5M buyout)
    if club exercises 2008 option, Guillen may void & forfeit buyout
    if club does not exercise 2008 option, Guillen may exercise 2008 option for $5M, and club may void & pay buyout

    performance bonuses for 2007 and 2008 if player exercises option:
    $0.125M 300 PAs, $0.25M each 350, 400, 450, 500 & 550 PAs
    for GS at any position other than DH: $0.125M for 90 GS, $0.25M each for 100, 110, 120, 130 & 140 GS

  32. robbbbbb on August 29th, 2007 1:00 pm

    There’s more than one way to acquire rotation talent, Derek. I’d be surprised if Dave doesn’t cover this in his post, but my opinion is that Balentien’s a bad fit for Safeco Field, otherwise known as Career Graveyard for Right-Handed Pull Hitters.

    That means his greatest value to the M’s is as trade bait. Send him out for rotation talent. And then you cover the hole with Guillen, who’s going to be a fine performer at a reasonable price.

    Keep talent in the organization. It does not matter where that talent comes from, but keeping talent within the organization is always good.

  33. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 1:00 pm

    It seems to me like it also comes down to what you think of “the scrap heap.” The options in RF next year aren’t simply Guillen or Balentien, though I’m sure you’re aware of that.

    The scrap heap even includes guys like Jeremy Reed and Mike Morse, who I think would be a decent platoon corner OF for someone at the MLB minimum- you wouldn’t get eye-popping numbers, but .270/.330/.440 isn’t unreasonable, plus decent glove (an OF of Reed/Ichiro/Jones against RHP would likely be VERY good defensively) and always having a decent PH on your bench who is used to seeing pitching every day and hasn’t rusted from disuse? I’d take it for 800K.

  34. Russ on August 29th, 2007 1:01 pm

    This whole “two rookies” thing is stupid beyond words. It’s not they’ve never played baseball before. They have and quite successfully to boot. I’d take some early season ooops with two young studs who project beyond our wildest dreams over the steady (ly declining) Raul & Jose.

  35. joser on August 29th, 2007 1:01 pm

    this team overvalues veterans and refuses to learn from its own experience.

    Which is all the more painfully ironic because the only reason veterans have any added value is precisely because they’ve learned from experience. Unfortunately, the M’s organization is the perpetual rookie, every year a slate washed clean, wading wide-eyed and oblivious into the shark tank.

  36. ConorGlassey on August 29th, 2007 1:05 pm

    G-Man, did you see this part: “if club exercises 2008 option, Guillen may void & forfeit buyout”

    Which would almost certainly happen because he knows he could get more years and more $$ as a free agent.

  37. CCW on August 29th, 2007 1:06 pm

    #10 – If you don’t think the Indians’ philosophy involves building up the middle and dealing with the other end of the defensive spectrum later, you’re going to have to point to more evidence than a recent draft pick. They also have Hafner as a permanent DH, so obviously they aren’t 100% against all-bat, no-field players. Look JUST at the deals Cleveland has done with the M’s over the past few years, and you’ll see a trend.

    Smart teams don’t wind up with 3 DHs, as the M’s have right now in Vidro, Ibanez and Broussard. The M’s keep spending money and resources on guys like Ibanez, Sexson, Guillen, Everett, Vidro, etc., and it’s evidence that they just don’t understand the defensive spectrum and how it affects a player’s value. It’s as if they say “Yay, big bat”, but don’t pay any attention to where, or how well, the guy plays in the field.

    On its face, Guillen at $10M/year doesn’t seem too terrible, but locking up right field with a guy who’s not that great a right-fielder, and is only getting older and worse out there, just doesn’t make any sense given how many guys that can do the same thing the M’s already have.

    Unless some new information on the contract comes to light, I’m 100% with DMZ on this one.

  38. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 1:08 pm

    Really? We’re using minor league all-star teams as prospect evaluation tools now? Awesome.

    Well, YOU were the one who said you like him less than everyone else. I’m pointing out some of how much less.

    I do think having the people who see a guy play every day in the league think “hey, you’re pretty good” counts for something. Does it mean you ignore other elements of prospect evaluation? Of course not. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to notice that Wlad’s been called out for special attention in five different leagues he’s played in.

    You might also note that I tend to think this organization (as it stands now, playing in the current ballpark) is a bad fit for him- so I basically agree with you.

  39. nadingo on August 29th, 2007 1:08 pm

    Yet another reason why this site rocks: The only thing better than reading the insights of two extremely knowledgeable baseball guys is reading the insights of two extremely knowledgeable baseball guys who still fundamentally disagree with each other every once in a while.

    Of course, Dave’s the one with the ridiculously hot cousin, so odds are he’s right.

  40. Bender on August 29th, 2007 1:09 pm

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

  41. Nuss on August 29th, 2007 1:10 pm

    I might go for it if the third year was a team option or something, but the main problem I have with this deal is this: He’s a guy with a history of injuries with a prospect coming up behind him.

    If he gets hurt or doesn’t produce, what’s the likelihood anyone will take him off our hands at $10 million a year?

    If he produces at the level he’s produced this year, $10 million will be about right. But that’s a big if.

  42. Grizz on August 29th, 2007 1:12 pm

    Balentien is a bad match for Safeco.

    I’m not sure that is true. He has plus to plus-plus power, and right-handed hitters with similar power have been able to counter the Safeco effect on fly balls to leftfield — see Sexson in 2005, or Wlad Guerrero’s and Manny Ramirez’s career power stats at Safeco.

    And at least based on his balls in play data from Tacoma, he is not a dead pull hitter. Right-handed hitters who can go the other way and find the airstream to right-center/right have done well at Safeco — see Edgar, pre-2004 Boone, Guillen this year.

    That said, while Balentien may have similar power to Guerrero or Ramirez, etc., he does not have the same overall hitting skils or approach at the plate. The real concern with Balentien is whether he will make enough contact, not how far the ball will go when he does. And that concern would exist regardless of whether he plays at Safeco or at the Kingdome.

  43. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 1:16 pm

    That means his greatest value to the M’s is as trade bait. Send him out for rotation talent. And then you cover the hole with Guillen, who’s going to be a fine performer at a reasonable price.

    The problem is that the last time the Mariners tried this trick (trade “surplus” talent in the bullpen and prospect for things we wanted- hitting and rotation bolstering), they ended up with Jose Vidro and Horacio Ramirez, and we signed Chris Reitsma to replace Soriano. Whoops.

  44. oNeiRiC232 on August 29th, 2007 1:19 pm

    IMO, it all depends on what we get for Wlad on the trade market.

    If he allows us to get a good starter, and the only opportunity cost is a “downgrade” to Guillen in RF, then the move is great.

    Trading talent doesn’t necessarily mean losing talent.

  45. oNeiRiC232 on August 29th, 2007 1:20 pm

    I should really hit refresh before I post. Holy redundancy, Batman.

  46. NBarnes on August 29th, 2007 1:24 pm

    Whatever upgrade, if any, Guillen represents over Balentin is not worth the cash spent on a position where the Mariners are very deep versus spending it on starting pitching.

  47. bakomariner on August 29th, 2007 1:28 pm

    21- we can move Sexson no prob…they could have moved last week…the problem is that bavasi won’t get anything good in return and the Ms will eat the salary…

  48. bellacaramella on August 29th, 2007 1:28 pm

    Not knowing the terms of the deal, this is all speculative. But say they commit to Guillen for three years. You don’t *have* to trade Balentien right away. He has another minor-league option year left and really deserves another spring training camp. I’d like to see him hit major league pitching before handing him a place in the outfield. Figuring that Jones should play in Seattle next year, I prefer to see Guillen’s signing as a harbinger of Raul and/or Richie Sexson’s ticket out of town.

  49. IdahoInvader on August 29th, 2007 1:35 pm

    Great to see Guillen tied to that much money. That should really help upgrade our rotation.

    Oh wait…

  50. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 1:36 pm

    Whatever upgrade, if any, Guillen represents over Balentin is not worth the cash spent on a position where the Mariners are very deep versus spending it on starting pitching.

    The problem is spending on SP in the free agent market is a Russian roulette game with lots of bullets and not so many empty chambers. Better to pick it up via trade.

    Of course, my nightmares go something like this:

    - Bavasi and McLaren signed to extension
    - Bavasi trades Sexson, Wlad and Feierabend to SF for Zito
    - mass suicides among USSM authors and readers

  51. 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.

  52. 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?

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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…

  60. 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?

  61. 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.

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

    Dave,

    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).

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

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

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

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

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

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

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

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

    66:

    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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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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