This And That

Dave · February 15, 2009 at 7:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

My first Valentine’s Day as a married man was a lot of fun. It also involved zero baseball, so I’m catching up today. Might as well catch up out loud.

M’s sign Josh Fields for $1.75 million

As Derek noted, this is a bit of a surprise. While Zduriencik has stated that they were talking to Boras in the last few weeks, the tone of the conversations seemed to be “Here’s our offer of slot money, and if you don’t like it, we’ll take the compensation pick this summer.” However, the M’s sort of blinked, and met halfway between their original offer and Boras’ demand, getting Fields into the organization in time to get him into major league camp and get a look at what he could potentially offer later in 2009.

I know the initial reaction to the move wasn’t very positive, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t jump for joy either. We’ve been preaching for years how easy it is to build a bullpen on the cheap, and you just really don’t have to invest much in finding low cost arms who can turn into pretty good relievers. Remember, before J.J. Putz was J.J. Putz, he was just a generic middle reliever with no out pitch. These kinds of transformations happen all the time. So, in most cases, to spend a first round pick on a relief pitcher isn’t really the best use of resources. Not to mention the track record of recent “major league ready” college closers is absolutely horrible, so they aren’t nearly the sure thing that they are often painted as.

So, it’s pretty easy to sit here and wish they would have just let Fields go back in the draft, take the #21 pick next summer as compensation, and let Zduriencik and staff add another higher impact talent in June. However, it’s not so obviously cut and dried.

First, there’s a time-value thing at work here. You get Josh Fields right now, where with the #21 pick, you don’t get him until this summer, and that’s optimistic – the rule on compensation picks awarded for not signing prior year draft picks is that you only get them once. So, if the prospect the M’s took at #21 decided to take a hard line stance on his signing bonus, the M’s would be in a pay-him-or-get-nothing scenario. They would have significantly less leverage with the compensation pick than they have with Fields, so expecting a quick sign for that player is probably unrealistic. In most cases, when the team is in that kind of situation, they’ll go with a conservative pick – an overdraft on talent of a guy who they know they can sign for something close to slot money. So, hoping that the M’s could use that pick to nab an elite talent was probably wishful thinking. In reality, they’d be looking at taking a guy like Fields with that pick – a senior who couldn’t go back to school and had reduced leverage. In this case, they’re getting that kind of player now versus getting a similar player this summer and then hoping they could sign him without a potential compensation pick as leverage.

With Fields, there’s a non-zero chance that he could be pitching for this team in the second half of the year. It’s not likely, but it’s possible, and that possibility holds some value that the compensation pick just wouldn’t have. In a division that looks fairly weak, adding a 10% chance of a potential second half relief ace has some real value. So, to pass up that chance to help the ’09 Mariners, you’d have to believe that you could get a better long term prospect this summer, and sign them with reduced leverage. Is that possible? Sure. Is it likely? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure Zduriencik and McNamara know better than we do, and I’m certain they talked about this before signing Fields.

So, yea, Fields may be a sub-optimal use of a first round pick. In reality, if we could go back and time and have a do-over on that one, we’d gladly take it. But that’s not the option they had here – the question was “sign Fields or try to sign the compensation pick?” I think there’s a pretty decent case to be made that the present value of having Fields in camp now cancels out quite a bit of the possibility of getting a superior prospect this summer. Hopefully, this is the last reliever we spend a high pick on for a while, but signing Fields is a defensible move.

Braves bid for Griffey

Seriously, this is kind of ridiculous. The Braves play in the NL, where there is no DH. They want a LH hitting left-fielder, and are deciding between Griffey and Garret Anderson. Anderson isn’t the hitter that Griffey is, but he can still play the field. The M’s, also deciding between the two, need a DH. Griffey shouldn’t play the field. Anderson has no value as a DH. And we might be looking at a scenario where the M’s end up with Anderson and the Braves end up with Griffey? That’s just dumb. This whole thing is dumb.

M’s claim Luis Pena on waivers, DFA Tug Hulett

Speaking of building bullpens on the cheap, Pena’s a potential closer who just cut loose by the Brewers because he had one terrible season last year. His command deserted him for ~60 innings, and unless it was due to some kind of permanent flaw that isn’t fixable, he’s exactly the kind of decent upside free talent that good bullpens are made out of. Best case scenario, he’s the new Grant Balfour – a true power/strikeout arm with lousy command who figures it out and becomes a dominant flamethrower. The M’s just keep collecting guys like this, and between Walker and Aardsma and now Pena, odds are pretty good that they’re going to find one really good reliever out of the bunch. This is how you build a bullpen.

Hulett goes away to create a 40 man roster spot for Pena. He hit well in Tacoma last year, and he’s a LH bat, so he wasn’t without value to the organization, but the acquisitions of Ronny Cedeno and Reegie Corona made it impossible for him to make the squad this year, and the infield down in Tacoma was getting crowded as well. Hopefully, he’ll skip through waivers and stick around, but even if he doesn’t, Hulett for Pena is a trade worth making for this club.

Larry Stone has his own blog.

This is awesome. Any more chances to read Stone is good news. He isn’t the USSM Endorsed Baseball Wiriter for nothing. He has a great take on the game, and is a terrific writer to boot. Welcome to the blogosophere, Larry – the quality of our sphere just improved exponentially.


43 Responses to “This And That”

  1. msb on February 15th, 2009 7:23 pm

    and he shouldn’t worry about the bells & whistles of other blogs– because what we want is to read it for its intrinsic larryness.

  2. mlbnotebook on February 15th, 2009 7:32 pm

    Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who was ecstatic to see the Hot Stone Report.

  3. Breadbaker on February 15th, 2009 7:56 pm

    Dave, I essentially agree with you that current management had to look at Fields as the present and didn’t get a do-over. I also appreciate the analysis about what happens if your compensatory pick isn’t signed; if it had been mentioned before I missed it.

    The question is, given that one assumes a $1.75 million bonus was a deal that could have been done earlier, was it better for the M’s that Fields didn’t pitch last summer or worse? I assume for a college closer, Fields’ pitch counts through the CWS weren’t horrendous, nor would he have been overworked at Everett or wherever. So I’m thinking if the deal was going to get done at all, it was better to sign him earlier. But I’m open to what others think.

  4. Slippery Elmer on February 15th, 2009 8:03 pm

    That’s all fine and dandy, but what I’d really like to know is, what’s your opinion on the Pioneer Square hot dog cart opportunity?

    Thanks for the perspective on the Fields signing. I figured it couldn’t be all doom and gloom.

  5. GoBobby12 on February 15th, 2009 8:04 pm

    [sorry, let’s not do this again]

  6. Roy Stuckey Weaver on February 15th, 2009 8:05 pm

    The only people who don’t like the Pena signing are the people who actually get to see some Rainiers games and of course their eyes are all biased. It sounds like Z has a ton of confidence in his AAA and MLB pitching coaches and their ability to teach guys better control. We have got a lot of guys with no control. Maybe Corona somehow makes the roster?

  7. DAMellen on February 15th, 2009 8:10 pm

    How bout a link to Larry’s Blog? I’d love to take a look.

  8. gag harbor on February 15th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Shannon Drayer’s blog is up and running too.

  9. Jon on February 15th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Stoney weighs in with an interview with JJ Putz. JJ proceeds to throw Ichiro! under the bus after claiming he does not do that sort of thing. He also suggests the M’s are big meanies for trading him to a team that wouldn’t use him to close (I gather the M’s must’ve somehow “owed” it to him to do otherwise). Both of those comments, when taken together, allow me to conclude that JJ is highly delusional or hopped up on something, or both (which might explain his abject failure last season). Speaking of throwing, I guess we can throw JJ on top of the growing stack of (woefully underachieving) knuckleheads from last year’s team.

    This is perfect for Stone and the Times. What better way to drive drive interest than by suggesting yet again that Ichiro! is the problem? All of the Ichiro! haters get excited all over again and the rest of us feel compelled to point out the obvious fallacies–all while Stone and his comrade Baker get to say, “Hey, we’re just the innocent messengers. Don’t blame us.”

    I guess we need to start rooting for Ichiro! to stop padding his stats, so that either (a) he can win the stolen base crown (oh, wait, that doesn’t make any sense) or (b) the M’s can start winning.

  10. LJD on February 15th, 2009 8:15 pm

    I am not sure how to feel about the Fields signing. I feel we did have a chance at a do-over with the 22nd selection and this actually (to me at least) means Z thinks Fields was a solid selection last season. I hate to say so but this means Bavasi made a good selection in Z’s eyes. What are the chances the Nat’s pass and we get Strasburg?

  11. bakomariner on February 15th, 2009 8:15 pm

    Wow…JJ was pretty critical about the whole clubhouse drama rumor…and ICHIRO! specifically…

    Not trying to get that argument going again though…

    Just read the Stone blog…

    Great stuff…

  12. Mr. Egaas on February 15th, 2009 8:16 pm

    How bout a link to Larry’s Blog? I’d love to take a look.

    There is a link to it on the main page below the link to Geoff Baker’s blog.

  13. Dave on February 15th, 2009 8:24 pm

    Stone actually handled the whole thing well. He reported J.J.’s quotes, made note of the fact that these complains about Ichiro aren’t new, outright stated that he’s an Ichiro defender, and finished with the best take on the scenario – if the M’s win, all this goes away, as everyone loved Ichiro in 2001.

    Seriously, you can’t say Stone is stirring stuff up here.

  14. msb on February 15th, 2009 8:33 pm

    He also suggests the M’s are big meanies for trading him to a team that wouldn’t use him to close

    he does?

  15. LJD on February 15th, 2009 8:38 pm
  16. hcoguy on February 15th, 2009 8:39 pm

    Some of those comments are scary. I can’t believe some people can be that illogical and presumptive about someone they apparently have never even met.

    I’m just talking about Putz, the reader comments are not any better.

  17. Teej on February 15th, 2009 8:42 pm

    How bout a link to Larry’s Blog? I’d love to take a look.

    The URL is the same as Baker’s, except with “stone” in place of “mariners” at the end:

  18. Teej on February 15th, 2009 8:46 pm

    I’m constantly amused by the criticism Ichiro gets for only stealing when he thinks he’s pretty sure he’ll be successful. Man, what a jerk. Getting thrown out is a symbol of trust and respect among your peers, I guess.

    Seriously, if he were the stat-padding player he’s often called, wouldn’t he be stealing more?

  19. philosofool on February 15th, 2009 8:59 pm

    Just out of curiosity, what are the chances that Fields is a Max Scherzer in the making? (Scherzer was regarded as having merely reliever stuff as recently as April of last year. Maybe Scherzer over states Fields’s upside, but what are the chances he could develop starter stuff?)

  20. Breadbaker on February 15th, 2009 9:12 pm

    In the last five years, Ichiro has missed three games. Total. He is completely irreplaceable in the lineup as both a right fielder and a leadoff man. He is 35 years old. He knows his body better than just about anyone in the major leagues.

    Two of Bill James’s earliest insights were the extreme cost of a caught stealing and the basic idea that baseball is played every day. The first of these would tell you that you should steal when you can and not steal when you cannot. The second would tell you that watching the wear and tear on your body (the exact reason given by A-Rod for taking PEDs) is critical. The sum total of them, applied to Ichiro, is that he should do exactly what he is doing: stealing when he thinks he can succeed and not steal when he doesn’t.

    Ballplayers seem to get really weird ideas in their heads, particularly those on losing teams. It’s not Larry Stone’s job to say “JJ, whoever thought that is an idiot,” though he clearly understands that that is the case.

  21. juneau_fan on February 15th, 2009 9:19 pm

    I’m reading Putz’s comments bearing in mind that one player is still in Seattle, and one is talking about how much better a team that the Mets are. Management made their choice and perhaps a message was being sent with that choice.

    (An aside: I found J.J.’s comment that the Mets know they’re going to win to be odd. Like the way they keep collapsing at the end of the season?)

  22. bseblfevr on February 15th, 2009 9:32 pm

    has anyone considered Jim Edmonds?

  23. DMZ on February 15th, 2009 9:38 pm

    Only you, once a day. Please stop.

  24. msb on February 15th, 2009 9:38 pm

    it would be interesting to know if some/all of the ‘he doesn’t play the game the right way’ guys were among those now gone from the clubhouse

  25. supersam on February 15th, 2009 10:32 pm

    Only you, once a day. Please stop.

    Why shouldn’t the Mariners consider Edmonds? He can still play offense decently, and could potentially come cheaper than Griffey. You wouldn’t get the extra attendance, but you would get the same ballplayer for a cheaper price.

  26. DMZ on February 15th, 2009 10:37 pm

    I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t. I’m saying that making it into a question and asking it in each Griffey-related thread gets annoying. That’s all.

  27. joser on February 15th, 2009 11:21 pm

    Not to mention Edmonds is just one of a set of “can play offense decently, and could potentially come cheaper than Griffey” players, plus the “can play offense better, and would come for a bit more than Griffey” players. To obsess over any single one of them seems a little weird; to do so in every single thread is just tedious. A post on all the remaining non-Griffey options (including the most likely one, “nobody”) might be interesting, but I don’t see any point in focusing on one in particular unless we have reason to believe the FO is doing so. And I’m sure they are well aware that Edmonds is available.

  28. apsve on February 15th, 2009 11:44 pm

    You know, I’m not that familiar with Mr. Stones writing, I have heard him on KJR a few times and I’m sure I have read him in the times on a few occasions. Honestly, if you guys recommend a blog, I will listen. I just hope he does as good of a job as you do.

  29. scott19 on February 16th, 2009 12:25 am

    Another factor to consider with Edmonds is whether he would even want to come here in the first place. After all, didn’t he once state that he’d rather retire than play in Seattle?

    And that was back in the days (2000) when the M’s were actually in contention.

  30. The Ancient Mariner on February 16th, 2009 5:15 am

    That was also back in the days when Edmonds was a big name, and the choice was merely hypothetical. If it actually came to it, he might feel differently.

  31. Tek Jansen on February 16th, 2009 5:41 am

    The complaints about Ichiro not stealing enough bases is odd. Essentially, JJ and others think that Ichiro is as great as Rickey Henderson circa 1982, but simply chooses not be. Last year, Mac thought that Ichiro could steal 80 bases. I am an Ichiro fan, but I don’t think he is an unstoppable force.

    Why not simply say that Ichiro is selfish for not hitting .400 or breaking Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak.

  32. jro on February 16th, 2009 7:22 am

    Dave, would you please reconcile these two comments for me?

    We’ve been preaching for years how easy it is to build a bullpen on the cheap, and you just really don’t have to invest much in finding low cost arms who can turn into pretty good relievers.

    In a division that looks fairly weak, adding a 10% chance of a potential second half relief ace has some real value.

    These comments are conflicting to me. I agree with the first comment, but I have a hard time accepting comment #2, with Josh Fields as the context.

    Given the relative ease of building bullpen depth, I’m not sure I buy that Josh Fields as a potential relief ace (no matter what the probability), carries incrementally more value without negating the first comment.

  33. The Ancient Mariner on February 16th, 2009 8:19 am

    Hey, more talent is always good. Even if you have six dominating relievers in your bullpen, if you have another guy in AAA who’s ready to come up and be equally dominant, that’s still a good thing. (After all, there’s always a team willing to trade you something nice for a dominant reliever.)

  34. BLYKMYK44 on February 16th, 2009 9:00 am

    I’m constantly amused by the criticism Ichiro gets for only stealing when he thinks he’s pretty sure he’ll be successful. Man, what a jerk. Getting thrown out is a symbol of trust and respect among your peers, I guess.

    – I think in the player’s eyes there is a difference between “pretty sure” and “absolutely sure”. They don’t want him to just try and steal a base every time he is on first. However, if he could go 35 for 35 or 50 for 53 I think the player would accept the additional “risk”.

  35. jro on February 16th, 2009 9:07 am

    Hey, more talent is always good. Even if you have six dominating relievers in your bullpen, if you have another guy in AAA who’s ready to come up and be equally dominant, that’s still a good thing. (After all, there’s always a team willing to trade you something nice for a dominant reliever.)

    Agreed, and if there’s something the M’s could use is more talent. Given that JackZ inherited the draft pick, it certainly isn’t an optimal situation.

    Nonetheless, I was looking at Dave’s comments about Fields having value as a player because of our weak division, not as trade bait.

    If he pans out and is effective, we’re definitely the better because of it.

  36. riversurge24 on February 16th, 2009 9:32 am

    Griffey is going to sign with the Braves. My best friend (who works with the Braves) told me that its all but a done deal.

    Chipper Jones has been talking to Griffey this past week and Griffey gave his ok to sign there.

    Just FYI

  37. themedia on February 16th, 2009 11:28 am

    Today or tomorrow, claims Geoff Baker, we will know if we get Griffey in ’09….

  38. msb on February 16th, 2009 1:04 pm

    I’ve been fascinated by the callers/commenters who think that if he doesn’t sign with Seattle, it is just another sign the FO has failed the fan.

    Griffey never said he wanted to come to Seattle last week– in fact, he avoided making any comment at all when asked about the rumors; later there were stories that he (not Goldberg) had been calling the Braves about a job. If he signs with the Braves for less money, it will likely have nothing to do with what the Mariners might have or should have offered him. You can’t make
    a player sign with you.

  39. DMZ on February 16th, 2009 1:15 pm

    You can’t make a player sign with you.

    Well, you can. It’s just that coercion is grounds to void the contract later.

  40. msb on February 16th, 2009 1:53 pm

    oooh, blackmail!!!!

  41. NorthofWrigleyField on February 16th, 2009 2:13 pm

    Also… isn’t there a chance some team will give the Mariners some kind of compensation for Tug Hulett, even if it’s just cash considerations?

    Am I the only one wouldn’t be that disappointed if the Mariners signed neither Anderson or Junior and just saved the money until the trading deadline and acquired a lefty-bat on the cheap or whatever else they needed with whatever money they had available?

  42. Breadbaker on February 16th, 2009 5:40 pm
  43. Catherwood on February 17th, 2009 11:38 am

    I’m with you, NorthofWrigleyField. Makes sense to me to just pass on them both and wait a bit.

    I think Griffey really wants to play in the field, and it’s clear that the M’s aren’t interested in that. The Braves, God bless ’em, apparently are. Good luck with that.

    And, breaking news, KUOW of all people just sent me email saying Griffey’s gone to Atlanta. Who knew they’d get it first?

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