A Few Notes

Dave · January 6, 2009 at 7:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Larry LaRue has a few quotes from Adrian Beltre and one from Zduriencik where he notes that they have an offer out for “a piece of the puzzle”, and LaRue confirms that it’s not Ken Griffey Jr or Adam Dunn. Most likely, it’s Jerry Hairston, whom the Mariners have been linked to for a couple of weeks now. He would replace Bloomquist as the utility player du jour and be the defacto backup middle infielder. Personally, I prefer Alfredo Amezaga for that role, but of course, you have to make the Marlins trade him, so Hairston might be the better option if he comes cheaply on a one year deal.

Other stuff of interest – with the Rays signing Pat Burrell for 2 years and $16 million and Milton Bradley joining the Cubs for 3 years and $30 million, the cap has been set on what good offensive/bad defensive outfielders can command. Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn are going to have to take huge pay cuts from what they made last year if they want a job, because there are rapidly becoming fewer teams in need of a DH. I would imagine the M’s are keeping tabs on both players, and if the market continues to shrink for that skillset, the M’s could add a decent LH bat to the line-up on the cheap.

Also, yesterday was the start of the period where arbitration eligible players file their requests. We all know about Erik Bedard, but did you realize Felix Hernandez is arb. eligible for the first time as well? It will be interesting to see if Zduriencik approaches Felix with a multi-year contract offer that would buy out his three arbitration years and potentially a year or two of free agency. A four or five year deal won’t come cheap anymore, but it could still be a significant cost saver for the M’s in the long run.

Also, there’s ~100 spots left for the Q&A on Saturday with Tony Blengino and Tom McNamara. If you haven’t signed up yet and you want to, there’s still time.

Comments

47 Responses to “A Few Notes”

  1. msb on January 6th, 2009 8:14 am

    Larry Stone also talked with Zduriencik about the market.

    “Sometimes it can work to your benefit to be patient,” Zduriencik said. “You don’t always get the player you most want, but someone might fall to you that you didn’t think you could get.”

    In making decisions on free agents, he added, “you have to balance making your club as good as possible but not doing something that will tie your hands as you move forward.”

  2. Carson on January 6th, 2009 8:16 am

    Are we safe to assume Beltre will be sticking around for this season? I know there was talk that he was almost certainly gone, but I’m thinking that may not be the case any longer.

  3. Tek Jansen on January 6th, 2009 8:29 am

    I would assume that if the M’s are not in any form of contention and the offers are right then Zduriencik would trade Beltre midseason. If the offers are not right, they may take the draft picks. Hell, they might try to sign him to an extension.

    I prefer Hairston over Amezaga if only because I fear the various nicknames that Sims and Rizzs would use in describing Alfredo Amezaga. Rizzs would lean toward “Amazing Amezaga” while Sims would go the culinary route with “Alfredo Fettucine.”

  4. CCW on January 6th, 2009 8:34 am

    if the market continues to shrink for that skillset, the M’s could add a decent LH bat to the line-up on the cheap.

    You know, some folks got slammed by authors and commenters alike for making the same point Dave just made – if he’s cheap enough, Dunn’s not a bad fit… http://ussmariner.com/2008/12/03/adam-dunn-gets-you-to-two-problems/#comments.

    Is there any sentiment that perhaps the M’s are flat-out staying out of the big-$$$ free agent market this year? Seems to me like they just might not go there. If they do, I’d think they would want a 2 year deal, 3 at the most. Something like 2 yrs, $20-24 million for Dunn would make some sense.

  5. Spanky on January 6th, 2009 8:36 am

    It seems Hairston is much more proficient at HBP than Amezaga. I would love to see someone that had that skill set with the M’s!!

  6. Dave on January 6th, 2009 8:40 am

    You know, some folks got slammed by authors and commenters alike for making the same point Dave just made.

    Not really, no. We pointed out why 3/36 for Dunn was a bad idea. At this point, you have to admit that 3/36 for Dunn is way, way out of line with what the market for his level of talent is.

    I’m talking about something like 1/10 or 2/17 for Dunn, and more like 1/6 for Abreu. They can probably do better elsewhere (read FanGraphs after 2 pm for more on that), but that’s the area the M’s should be in.

    Neither Dunn or Abreu are the long term answer to anything. My point was that if the market continues to collapse, they could be an interesting short-term stopgap. I’m still nowhere close to the “Adam Dunn is good” crazy-ship that a lot of you are one.

  7. Teej on January 6th, 2009 8:44 am

    You know, some folks got slammed by authors and commenters alike for making the same point Dave just made – if he’s cheap enough, Dunn’s not a bad fit

    When that conversation happened, no one thought these poor-fielding sluggers would be signing for anything close to 2/$16 million. That changes things.

  8. CCW on January 6th, 2009 9:02 am

    When that conversation happened, no one thought these poor-fielding sluggers would be signing for anything close to 2/$16 million. That changes things.

    Actually, that conversation was *about* the fact that everyone’s assumptions about what these types players would demand might very well be wrong. People who weren’t paying attention tried to make it into a “Dunn Good. No! Dunn Bad!” conversation, but that really wasn’t it. The “Adam Dunn is good” “crazy ship” that Dave talks about… it’s not really here at USSM. Yeah, it exists in other places, but you don’t see it much around here.

    A lot of people here seemed have had the same mentality regarding the market for baseball players that America as a whole has had regarding the market for real estate. Markets change. Sometimes there are bubbles. Slow and steady appreciation is not a foregone conclusion. Appreciation over the long haul is, however, a foregone conclusion (assuming no salary cap), so it makes sense to buy low. Read over that thread I linked to above and you’ll see at least 5 or 6 different people telling us all what Adam Dunn’s contract is going to look like.

  9. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 6th, 2009 9:25 am

    Thanks for posting this Dave! That’s interesting regarding Abreu…I had considered Dunn, but never gave serious thought to him…therefore…

    More comparative last-season values!
    This is player, position, PAs, win value, equivalent worth, what they actually made in 08

    Adam Dunn OF 651 1.9 8.7 Made 13 M
    Bobby Abreu OF 684 1.1 5.0 Made 16 M
    With the pay cuts, I could see either fitting in (esp. Abreu around the 6 mil range). I agree with you guys though (and data supports it), that neither are more than cheap one-year stopgaps.

    As for Amezega and Hairston…
    Hairston UTL 297 2.4 6.9 Made 0.5M
    Amezega UTL 337 1.4 6.1 Made 0.9M

    Pretty close call on the values…I’m guessing Hairston’s probably decreases a little with more PAs, although both are close enough in this case to get a clear picture…breaking it down then:
    Name Values (batting, fielding, rep, pos, value runs, value wins
    Hairston 14.0* 0.1 9.9 0.3 24.3 2.4
    *Note: His batting value in his previous two seasons was -14 and -16.1, leading to -0.6 and -1.2 win values.
    Amezega -7.2 7.1 11.2, 2.5, 13.7, 1.4

    So Hairston was the better hitter (and has been throughout his career) while Amezega is the superior defender. Both these are consistent with their career batting and fielding values as well. So really, I’d go Amezega personally as a defensive replacement up the middle. Less pop in PH situations than Hairston, but I think having a solid defender behind Yuni and Lopez is much more valueable to this team.
    But again, as Dave pointed out, we’d have to both get Amezega as well as convince Florida to give him to us. Anyone with a deeper knowledge of our current farm system than myself care to venture prospects who could net Amezega reasonably?

  10. The Ancient Mariner on January 6th, 2009 9:29 am

    Y’know, CCW, I didn’t agree with your characterization of that thread then, and I don’t think it’s correct now, either. (I also don’t think it’s reasonable to dismiss a chunk of the posters in a thread as “people who weren’t paying attention” in an effort to ignore their contribution to what the thread was, in fact, about.) And the bottom line is, you had the lowest guess as to what Dunn would sign for — and it was 3 years, $30-36 million, and you were arguing that 3/$36 would be a good deal. If I’m reading Dave right, that’s squarely on the “‘Adam Dunn is good’ crazy ship.”

  11. msb on January 6th, 2009 9:33 am

    Al Leiter, Barry Larkin & Harold “analyse” the AL West.

  12. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 6th, 2009 9:33 am

    In the newest Larry Stone article linked at the top of this thread, he says we should file away Gabe Kapler as a potential signee too:
    Kapler’s 08 can be summed up as 1.7 wins in 245 PAs for a value of 7.7M while making just 0.8M.

  13. Dave on January 6th, 2009 9:39 am

    It’s never a good idea to just value a player on one year of performance. When you’re doing with guys who played half a season, it’s even worse.

  14. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 6th, 2009 9:43 am

    For sure…I was mostly doing it just to give a basis of comparison for the names we’ve heard talked about base don last year’s results. Obviously, the consistent trends of a career are more telling. I just put Kapler’s out there as an add on to the previous list.
    That’s why too, when talking about Hairston for example, I pointed out his previous negative batting values and mention how his value specifically takes a hit when spread out with more PAs. Kapler is certainly in the same boat.
    Aaron M.

  15. diderot on January 6th, 2009 9:48 am

    LaRue’s original post with Beltre makes me very sad. It seems like Beltre isn’t going to make any waves now because he appreciates how he’s been treated here…but there’s also no way he’s going to be around after this year.
    There’s no one I can see even remotely capable available to replace him (assuming Triunfel stays as a middle infielder).

  16. greymstreet on January 6th, 2009 9:50 am

    I prefer Hairston over Amezaga if only because I fear the various nicknames that Sims and Rizzs would use in describing Alfredo Amezaga. Rizzs would lean toward “Amazing Amezaga” while Sims would go the culinary route with “Alfredo Fettucine.”

    I foresee Ziggy
    Or worse, Zaggy

  17. kennyb on January 6th, 2009 10:11 am

    I can understand and even agree with CCW about Dunn. As the market sits right now you could probably lock him up for 2-3 years at a relatively cheap price. That being said, I would prefer it if the M’s took a pass. As much as I would like to see some power somewhere on this team, I would rather save the $$ to be used on younger players.
    When you look at all the draft picks we have coming, you can see that if they make good choices there will be players to trade in a couple years when we are a true contender. I would love to see us contend now, but I think we saw last year what can happen when a team over reaches for a winner and mortgages it’s future for a 1 time run.

  18. joser on January 6th, 2009 10:22 am

    You don’t think they’d pay lipservice to the eastern washington fan base by calling him “Alfredo Gone-Zaga”?
    (At least we’d know what to call him after he left the team)

    Of course, he’s apparently not in the running and Hairston is, so we can look forward to summer evenings enlivened by Rizzs extolling the grittiness of “Hairy”

    You know, now that the A’s have (re)-acquired Giambi (plus the Holliday they already have), the pressure for the M’s to “sign a big bat” is only going to increase. And Beane continues to demonstrate you shouldn’t waste a lot of money on a FA DH-only player: the Giambi deal is the kind of thing you expect to see for gloveless old hitters (I was going to bring Giambi into that Griffey thread but when I looked them both up I had a hard time making a case for one over the other).

  19. Sports on a Schtick on January 6th, 2009 10:34 am

    Priority #1: sign Felix to a long-term deal and buy out his arbitration years. He deserves it.

  20. marc w on January 6th, 2009 10:45 am

    That’s not the Dunn-to-M’s thread I was thinking of… there was another one, presumably earlier, where some jackass was arguing that Dunn could get a 7 year deal. Wow.

    I’ve never misjudged a market by this much. Really, this is the story of the offseason. It’s not that prices on mid-level players are dropping; that was bound to happen eventually (the average-to-a-bit-above has traditionally been the most overpriced). It’s the fact that defense seems to be driving it. I don’t know what Dunn will get, but it’s going to be half (or less!) of what I thought he’d get. Burrell got half of what I thought he’d get.
    I’ve been having some discussion with Dave about the Putz/Gutierrez trade, and part of my misgivings about that centered on the fact that we were trading a closer, something that teams typically value above what the WAR might suggest for defense, something that teams typically give away/undervalue. Well, it’s possible that the league now has a critical mass of GMs who really, really weigh defense heavily. Sure, someone can always offer Raul Ibanez 3/30 through his age 39 season, but the market for Burrell, Dunn, Abreu seems MUCH softer than I ever would have thought possible. The 1-year deal for Giambi that joser points out is more of the same.

  21. eponymous coward on January 6th, 2009 10:46 am

    OK, Dave’s operative quote from that thread is here, CCW:

    Adam Dunn is a league average player. You want cheap league average players, not expensive ones, so that you can spend real money on acquiring some stars. Continuing to spend significant chunks of payroll on non-stars is just a bad idea.

    See, what Dave was and is getting at that we want something like what the A’s did for Giambi: 5.25 million + a buyout/option second year, not “Let’s sign Adam Dunn for 3/36″, which is less than I thought he’d sign for the time (as one of the guys CCW is slamming, I suppose), but still isn’t very good, since league-average play should be at 10-11 million- and you have to consider that 3/36 is OVERPAYING for an average player who will be in his 30′s during the contract, since there’s a non-zero risk of injury/aging making the contract a bad deal.

  22. eponymous coward on January 6th, 2009 10:56 am

    (I was going to bring Giambi into that Griffey thread but when I looked them both up I had a hard time making a case for one over the other).

    I don’t. Giambi can actually still hit. Griffey hasn’t posted a full season SLG over .500 since 2005, and is pretty much useless against LHP at this point in his career (and I think he could very easily be done overall). The M’s are already possibly going to be platooning at 1B (unless they really do put Lopez there, in which case you’d be playing Branyan/Shelton at DH, Griffey in LF, which would be a disaster because Griffey’s terrible in the field). It doesn’t make sense to bring in someone you have to platoon at DH as well, as now that means you’re needing to carry FOUR players (two on the bench, two playing) who aren’t going to add defensive value, on a 25 man roster where quite often you’re carrying 12 men on the pitching staff, and you’ve only covered two lineup spots.

  23. CCW on January 6th, 2009 10:59 am

    My basic point has always been that there is a price at which Adam Dunn makes sense for the M’s and, because of the way their roster is constructed (i.e. they’ve intelligently left their biggest holes at 1B/DH), he might be more valuable to them than to a lot of other teams.

    The question is what that price should be.

    Dave just said:

    Not really, no. We pointed out why 3/36 for Dunn was a bad idea. At this point, you have to admit that 3/36 for Dunn is way, way out of line with what the market for his level of talent is.

    I’m talking about something like 1/10 or 2/17 for Dunn, and more like 1/6 for Abreu. They can probably do better elsewhere (read FanGraphs after 2 pm for more on that), but that’s the area the M’s should be in.

    So, Dave has named his price. Personally, I think that’s a bit low. He’s a 2 win player as a DH. That’s flat-out worth $10-12$M/year. Now, the market is down, so maybe you can get in for lower than that. But even if you aren’t able to buy low, it isn’t every year that two wins will push you above .500 and further into contention, which those two wins, on a projection level, do for the M’s.

    On a related note, No one should make decisions on a player’s value based on the “market”. Remember, as Dave has pointed out many times, the “market” is whack. I agree with Dave on this. You shouldn’t pay OVER market, because that would just be wasting money, but you shouldn’t reduce your calculation of a guy’s value based on what the market is doing, either.

  24. Lance on January 6th, 2009 11:04 am

    Adam Dunn would be a great addition to the 2009 Mariners. With him, Branyan, Gutierrez, Betancourt and Beltre in the lineup the Safeco fans, although not necessarily seeing good baseball, will be treated to a nice breeze generated by the constant whiffs.

    I’d include Ichiro to that list, but he doesn’t swing hard enough to create any kind of wind. All his wind is generated orally.

  25. joser on January 6th, 2009 11:04 am

    Getting back to Hairston for the moment, it looks like he’s not much worse at SS than Betancourt (though I really don’t know which direction to project Betancourt in, defensively) and better at the plate. He wouldn’t be a significant upgrade, and we don’t know that the presence of a new MI would in any way provide “motivation” for Betancourt either, but if Betancourt hasn’t slimmed down / straightened up this offseason, perhaps Hairston (or someone like him) provides a opportunity to pawn Yuni off on some GM who doesn’t believe in defensive stats and goes by lingering reputation? I know: probably too much to ask (and you should never plan around your competitors being stupid).

  26. joser on January 6th, 2009 11:09 am

    I don’t. Giambi can actually still hit. Griffey hasn’t posted a full season SLG over .500 since 2005, and is pretty much useless against LHP at this point in his career (and I think he could very easily be done overall).

    Well, I actually worry that Giambi might be about to fall over a cliff as well; living clean now may just allow those earlier years to catch up with him all in a rush. But I didn’t think he’d go as cheap as he actually did, either; Beane gave him the kind of deal that actually makes him a good, cheap pick-up. I just wasn’t expecting the market to be that weak, and that changes my perception quite a bit.

  27. Bilbo on January 6th, 2009 11:16 am

    actually, wrt Dunn, Eric makes the case over at Fangraphs that Dunn is worth +2.36 WAR with a FMV of $11.8mm as a LF and +2.58WAR with a FMV of $12.9mm as a DH. (Corner Outfielder Recap: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/page/5 )

    So if you are signing him to anything less than 3/$39 to DH (not even factoring in NPV) you are getting a good deal in terms of value. Hell, at 3/30 you could put him in LF and get value.

    Personally, I would bring him in on a 2-3 year deal because this team will have a lot of payroll flexibility in the next few years and can afford it. With where the team stands now, the extra 3 wins might be enough to make a run at the ALWest this year.

    Now if you want to argue that giving that much money to a league average-ish player is bad for roster construction then that is a different argument. :-)

  28. Dave on January 6th, 2009 11:19 am

    He’s a 2 win player as a DH. That’s flat-out worth $10-12$M/year.

    No, it’s not. You’re valuing wins at $5 to $6 million each, and that’s just not defensible right now.

    The dollar value of a win is about $2.5 to $3 million. The cost of a win on the free agent market is somewhere between $4 to $4.5 million per win, because of the limited supply of players. Paying $6 million per win is stupid.

  29. eponymous coward on January 6th, 2009 11:20 am

    So, Dave has named his price. Personally, I think that’s a bit low. He’s a 2 win player as a DH. That’s flat-out worth $10-12$M/year. Now, the market is down, so maybe you can get in for lower than that. But even if you aren’t able to buy low, it isn’t every year that two wins will push you above .500 and further into contention, which those two wins, on a projection level, do for the M’s.

    Billy Beane just got ~1.5-2 wins at DH for the A’s by signing Jason Giambi for much less than that, on what is effectively a two year deal for $11 million plus a buyout if things go south. Dunn represents, at most, half-win premium on Giambi for 2009- so why do we want to hand him 25 or so million MORE dollars over MORE years for the difference between a 1.5 and 2 win player?

  30. Teej on January 6th, 2009 11:23 am

    Adam Dunn would be a great addition to the 2009 Mariners. With him, Branyan, Gutierrez, Betancourt and Beltre in the lineup the Safeco fans, although not necessarily seeing good baseball, will be treated to a nice breeze generated by the constant whiffs.

    Betancourt and Beltre don’t strike out very often. And the M’s had the fewest K’s in baseball last season.

  31. Bilbo on January 6th, 2009 11:25 am

    Don’t we have to know what the incentives are for Giambi first? It is possible that it is a 2/20 deal if he plays up to par.

  32. eponymous coward on January 6th, 2009 11:33 am

    Well, I actually worry that Giambi might be about to fall over a cliff as well; living clean now may just allow those earlier years to catch up with him all in a rush.

    Yeah, but Griffey IS falling over the cliff (his performance has really cratered since 2005). Big difference. I think he’s a good chance to do a Carl Everett-style faceplant into complete uselessness in 2009, as he’s basically down to being an OK hitter against RHP, and I have to wonder how long that will last if he loses any more power- basically, the book’s going to be “blow this guy away, he can’t hit your good stuff very far any more”.

  33. Paul B on January 6th, 2009 11:36 am

    There’s no one I can see even remotely capable available to replace him (assuming Triunfel stays as a middle infielder).

    Lopez to third?

  34. Lance on January 6th, 2009 11:49 am

    Betancourt and Beltre don’t strike out very often. And the M’s had the fewest K’s in baseball last season

    I meant Balentien, not Betancourt. And, Beltre strukeout 90 times last year, which is plenty. I’d hardly refer to it as “not very often”. I’m also referring to the season coming up, not the one just ended.

  35. joser on January 6th, 2009 11:58 am

    Betancourt and Beltre don’t strike out very often. And the M’s had the fewest K’s in baseball last season.

    Nicely put. Lance: You need to keep your facts straight to not look like a fool. if you’re going to be a troll, at least try not to be a lazy troll.

  36. coasty141 on January 6th, 2009 12:00 pm

    “The dollar value of a win is about $2.5 to $3 million. The cost of a win on the free agent market is somewhere between $4 to $4.5 million per win, because of the limited supply of players. Paying $6 million per win is stupid.”

    Dave, didn’t you make the case the K-Rod was a reasonable signing even though he was higher than 4 mil per win? Whats the different in the two cases? Mets payroll being able to support it?

  37. Dave on January 6th, 2009 12:04 pm

    Big payroll teams with championship aspirations have some wiggle room in how much they spend per win, because the marginal return for the wins that bring you closer to a WS title are a lot higher.

    I don’t think the K-Rod signing was a good one, just somewhat defensible given where the Mets are in the success cycle and their inherent advantage of being in NY.

  38. JoeintheClutch on January 6th, 2009 12:09 pm

    Beltre ranked 55th (out of 147) in the majors in total strikeouts and 49th in strikeout percentage, in between Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. So, he struck out less often than a great majority of his peers.

    Not that strikeouts really matter all that much.

  39. coasty141 on January 6th, 2009 12:26 pm

    Thanks Dave. I guess you’re going to have to pay a little more for the final pieces sometimes. Its just a matter of knowing how close you are to the WS. Its to bad Bavasi thought we were so close.

  40. CCW on January 6th, 2009 12:37 pm

    Big payroll teams with championship aspirations have some wiggle room in how much they spend per win, because the marginal return for the wins that bring you closer to a WS title are a lot higher.

    How far are the M’s away from being a big payroll team with championship aspirations? Obviously, they’re trying to build for the future at the same time, but am I crazy to think they’re a contender this year? With one big bat added, they’d be fielding a league average offense, league average pitching (arguably – lots of variables here), and superb defense. That’s an 83-85 win team in a division where 83-85 wins is a contender.

  41. joser on January 6th, 2009 12:43 pm

    The K-Rod signing was defensible until they did the Putz trade (or, if you like, the Putz trade was more reasonable had they not signed K-Rod). As we discussed at the time of Zduriencik’s big 12 man deal, I think the Mets essentially overreacted to their end-of-season “collapses” two years in a row, and the back end of the bullpen was viewed as the instrumental in those debacles. In that media environment Minaya had to do something and with a new stadium in the offing he had the room to do more than strictly necessary. And as Dave says, if you’re legitimately trying for that last piece to push you into (and hopefully through) the post-season, it’s a little more justifiable — particularly in this case, where it looks like the Phils may be making themselves worse (or at least not better).

  42. joser on January 6th, 2009 12:46 pm

    The M’s have a superb outfield defense, but aside from Beltre the infield is only ordinary (and we’re really not sure since 1B is still unclear, though that matters the least).

  43. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 6th, 2009 2:03 pm

    Willie and Hairston note from Crasnick (ESPN):

    Two middle infield possibilities for the Royals: David Eckstein and Willie Bloomquist. The Royals also considered Jerry Hairston Jr., but are concerned with his health record.

    Interesting…
    Aaron M.

  44. msb on January 6th, 2009 3:35 pm

    Baker is reporting they’ve signed Tyler Walker from the Giants.

  45. msb on January 6th, 2009 5:50 pm

    hmm. looks like Walker might be able to hold Silva back from charging the buffet.

  46. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 7th, 2009 7:56 am

    hmm. looks like Walker might be able to hold Silva back from charging the buffet.

    He’s just wants to pitch… he’s not suicidal man!I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone stepping in between Silva and the buffet!

  47. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 7th, 2009 8:02 am

    Well, you can cross Hairston off the list

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