Aardsma’s Value

Dave · December 22, 2010 at 7:46 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Yesterday, we saw a report from mlb.com that stated the Mariners were seeking an impact bat in return for David Aardsma. My reaction? Make a joke about how that’s kind of a fairy tale. Plain and simple, the Mariners simply aren’t going to get anything resembling an impact major league bat for their closer, and they shouldn’t sit around waiting for that kind of offer.

There has been some talk that Aardsma’s market value has surged over the last few months, as the price for free agent relievers has gotten crazy. Logically, this makes sense – Aardsma does look like a relative bargain with a fixed salary of around $4 million next year when compared to the multi-year deals that relievers on the free market are getting. You would think that teams in the market for closers would then see trading for Aardsma as an alternative to paying the market rate, and the increased demand would drive up his trade value. However, as I noted on FanGraphs the other day, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Despite the inflation in free agency, we are not seeing a corresponding rise in trade value for players already under contract. The free agent market and trade market are not moving together.

The consensus seems to be that the main driver of this phenomenon is that teams are hoarding young talent now in a way that they haven’t before, perhaps in reaction to the rise in prices of free agents. If veterans cost more to sign, then teams are less likely to want to trade away players who could fill holes that they otherwise would have to pay market rates to fill. It could be that causality goes the other way, with more teams spending in free agency because they’re less willing to trade away their young prospects, but which one is the chicken and which one is the egg is not as important as the result itself. Right now, it seems like the trade market is pretty stagnant, and sellers are not doing as well as expected when moving veterans for younger talent.

So, the Mariners are faced with something of a dilemma. They can either move Aardsma for whatever the best deal on the table is this winter, likely settling for a decent-but-unspectacular prospect or major league role player in return, or hold onto him, let him rack up as many saves as he can, and then try to flip him this summer when teams won’t have free agent alternatives to add talent. There is a school of thought that closers garner more in return when moved at the deadline than in the offseason, though I haven’t seen much in the way of real evidence to support the assertion. But, beyond just the questionable rise in potential return, there are two main reasons why I don’t think the M’s would be wise to bring Aardsma to spring training.

1. Relievers are notoriously fickle.

Even the best relievers see their numbers shift wildly from year to year. George Sherrill, Trevor Hoffman, and Jonathan Papelbon all posted ERAs under 2.00 in 2009, then saw them balloon tremendously last year. Sherrill and Hoffman were downright terrible, two of the very worst relievers in the game. Papelbon was simply shaky, and saw most of his trade value disappear as his fly balls started to clear the wall with some regularity. Aardsma isn’t as good as any of those three were two years ago, and there’s a pretty good chance that he actually hurts his trade value by taking the mound in 2011. Remember, his ERA at the end of July was 4.59, which is one of the reasons the M’s ended up hanging onto him last summer. The risk of Aardsma tanking next year almost certainly outweigh the minimal increase in return you’d get if he pitched well and raised his trade value incrementally. Keeping him is akin to hitting on 17 in Blackjack. There are scenarios where it works out, but more often, you’ll end up going bust.

2. The M’s need the $4 million they’d save by moving him.

We’ve talked about some of the holes this roster still has. Specifically, they are at least one starting pitcher short, Milton Bradley is currently the team’s only reserve outfielder, and Josh Wilson would have to take a starting role if any infielder landed on the DL. Part of the reason the team hasn’t been more active in filling these holes is that they’re up against their budgetary limitations. Moving Aardsma would likely give them enough money to win the bidding for a starter like Jeff Francis or Kevin Millwood, and they have better internal options to fill Aardsma’s 60 innings out of the bullpen than they do the 180 or so they need from a back-end starter.

In fact, I’d argue that if the Mariners are in danger of losing out on a decent starter (especially Francis) because of a lack of funds, they’d be better off giving Aardsma away than hanging onto him and hoping for a better offer to come rolling in. Aardsma is worth $4 million to other teams. He’s not worth $4 million to the Mariners. They have other areas where the money he’s owed would be better spent, and the best options to fill those areas are going to get picked up in the next few weeks. The M’s can’t afford to let those guys sign elsewhere while waiting for a perfect offer for their closer.

If I’m Jack Z, I’m moving Aardsma for the best thing I can get right now. If that’s just a middling middle reliever or a C prospect, so be it. I’d rather have the $4 million to spend on something else, and I’m not willing to potentially lose out on a solid free agent addition while hoping that the free agent inflation finally does carry over to the trade market. I’m not convinced it ever will, and if the M’s are counting on that happening, they may be in for severe disappointment.

Comments

45 Responses to “Aardsma’s Value”

  1. coasty141 on December 22nd, 2010 8:18 am

    “Yesterday, we saw a report from mlb.com that stated the Mariners were seeking an impact bat in return for David Aardsma.”

    Maybe the M’s are ok with the impact of the bat not being positive. After all Jose Lopez had an impact bat in 2010. It just wasn’t in a good way.

  2. Carson on December 22nd, 2010 8:35 am

    Yeah, I’d be interested to know how impactful this bat is Jack wants in return.

  3. lamlor on December 22nd, 2010 8:37 am

    Here is my question. The Rockies say we are asking for an impact bat, so who exactly did we ask for?

    I know we didn’t ask for Tulo or Gonzalez because that would obviously been crazy. Iannetta? Not an impact bat nor do we need another catcher at this point. That to me leaves Stewart, Fowler, or EY Jr. Are any of those guys ‘impact bats’?

    Maybe it was a minor leaguer, but are they considered impact hitters? I just don’t get how they know what we want for him since they don’t have one for us to even ask about.

  4. kennyb on December 22nd, 2010 8:50 am

    lamlor, that’s a good point.
    As far as trading DA and signing a SP or anyone else, I see no reason that the M’s couldn’t sign someone and then trade DA. It isn’t like the players are collecting checks right now, you would still have time to trade DA after signing someone. No point in missing out on a good fit just because things didn’t go in a certain order.

  5. The Ancient Mariner on December 22nd, 2010 8:59 am

    Stewart’s one of the Rox’ starters, so there’s no way he was discussed. Fowler’s clearly not an impact player — I don’t see that adding him to Saunders and Langerhans would accomplish anything at all, actually. I would think EYJ could be quite useful to us, though, and I can’t really see the Rox getting sticky about giving him up, since they haven’t made any effort to make room for him; he could give us another candidate to start at 2B in the early going and some nice versatility off the bench when Ackley’s ready.

  6. ripperlv on December 22nd, 2010 9:15 am

    Dave, I think you know the M’s pressure points, cause you’ve been predicting this off season pretty well. I wouldn’t be surprized to see a trade real soon. With or without the impact bat.

    I think the ‘impact bat’ press leak was planted by the M’s to see if anybody bites in the next day or two.

  7. stevie_j13 on December 22nd, 2010 9:51 am

    For all we know, the Rockies started the “impact bat” rumor to drive other teams away from bidding. I hate this stuff because it is impossible to tell what is true and what is intentionally misleading, in part because these baseball writers never disclose whether this is a team source or not.

    If the M’s don’t go the prospect route, I think they should look at Jeff Keppinger. He is a much better hitter than either Brendan Ryan or Jack Wilson (.288/.351/.393 last year with a 1.42 BB/K) and can play adequate 2B. Once Ackley is ready, Keppinger could play a McLemore role for the next 1.5 years, moving Ryan to SS. He will cost about half or Aardsma’s price tag, but I think he could make the 2011 and 2012 Mariners better for not a lot of money.

  8. bongo on December 22nd, 2010 9:53 am

    If “impact bat” is defined as a hitter capable of improving upon the 2010 Mariners averages, then it’s not wishful thinking. For example, Willie Bloomquist would qualify.

  9. Boy9988 on December 22nd, 2010 9:59 am

    I disagree about just giving him up to save $4mill. We are going to lose anyway, whether Millwood is in the 5th spot or not. At this point I would rather let French pitch there than place a veteran who is going to cost 4x more to deliver the same performance. Leave Aardsma in the CL spot to make sure you don’t give away the games your supposed to win and wait for someone to get desperate. Worse that happens, you trade him next offseason.

  10. jayson on December 22nd, 2010 10:04 am

    Would a trade for Quentin be possible at all? What else would it take on our side?

  11. terry on December 22nd, 2010 10:26 am

    I’d trade Aardsma to the Yanks for Jesus Montero and might even kick in $1M of Aardsma’s salary as sweetener. :P

  12. georgmi on December 22nd, 2010 10:31 am

    I’d trade Aardsma to the Yanks for Jesus Montero

    Yeah, because what the Yankees really need is a right-handed closer. ;)

  13. wsm on December 22nd, 2010 10:45 am

    I dont think money is an issue with Aardsma. It sounds like any savings would go right back into the pen for another veteran arm or two.

    Chuck stated earlier this month that payroll would stay around $92 million. Factoring arbitration raises and players making the minimum, the payroll stands at roughly $85 million. With whats left on the open market, the remaining $7 million should be plenty to bring in another SP, a couple RPs and a bench bat.

  14. Miles on December 22nd, 2010 10:55 am

    Francis? Millwood? Blah. Just because the M’s are looking for an impact bat doesn’t mean that they are only offering Aardsma for that bat. The point is, why give up a chip that will probably have more value in June than it does now for something other than what you want? No point at all to make that move.

    Milton is probably not the reserve outfielder. Look for Milton to win the LF gig. It may not last, but who else is going to be hitting in the 3 spot and Cust is the DH.

    I would think the M’s would be looking for Sean Smith. He would be considered an impact bat in Seattle. I also don’t think the M’s would only be offering Aardsma in return. I could see the M’s offering Saunders, Aardsma and maybe a low prospect.

  15. henryv on December 22nd, 2010 10:56 am

    Considering how fruitless this year is likely to be, I don’t mind just trading DA for nothing, and sitting on the money for a year. Save it for a good contract next year.

    I have not problem with a Felix-Pineda-Vargas-Fister-Bedard/whoever rotation.

    If we can dump Aardsma and perhaps Figgins doesn’t suck or is traded for a salary dump, we have the potential to have a huge chunk of money to spend for 2012, when Pineda is hopefully fully ready for the bigs, Moore has his head out of his ass, Saunders has figured out how to hit a curveball, and Ackley is up and playing every day.

    Francis or some trash heap starter doesn’t make this team any more watchable for 2011. Felix and Pineda-days will be the only times I’m likely to watch the actual games, and other than that it will be background noise for grading papers and doing yard work. I suppose I’ll watch Bedard just to see what is left from that sack.

    And to be honest, I’ll probably go watch more Rainiers games than Mariners games in 2011, just to see the new place, and watch Ackley. Hell, maybe Pineda will be down there till May, too.

  16. Miles on December 22nd, 2010 11:05 am

    henryv, this ownership group doesn’t save money for next year. The budget’s the budget. Saving money on Aardsma just puts $4 million more into ownership’s pocket.

  17. asuray on December 22nd, 2010 11:11 am

    @ Miles; Just to be clear, are you proposing that we trade DA, our top young OF in Saunders, and a low prospect for a 28 year old reserve OF who has to be platooned against lefties in the person of *Seth* Smith?

  18. maqman on December 22nd, 2010 11:12 am

    I’m with Dave on this one 100%, an “impact bat” for Aardsma is somebody’s pipe dream. He’s not worth the $4MM, we have plenty of live arms to run out there in his place.

  19. CMC_Stags on December 22nd, 2010 11:53 am

    Leave Aardsma in the CL spot to make sure you don’t give away the games your supposed to win and wait for someone to get desperate. Worse that happens, you trade him next offseason.

    No, the worst thing that happens is that he gets hurt or lit up for a 5+ ERA and that no one will take him and that he returns no compensation picks in the future.

    The best case scenario for the M’s is that he continues to be successful at limiting HR/FB and keeps his ERA down and saves up. According to MLBTR’s Elias rankings, he was a type A at the end of last season with 7 players below him before the type B’s began. If that scenario happens, then the chance of a better trade return goes up as the acquiring team gets both a cost controlled closer through 2012 and one that is in line to be a Type A free agent.

  20. just a fan on December 22nd, 2010 12:14 pm

    I realize the M’s have a low probability of winning the division, but given how barren the offseason has been for our competitors, I don’t think it’s responsible to go into the offseason with Pineda and “Bedard/whoever” both in the rotation.

    Right now, the M’s may look like a 76 win team. But the top of the division is only sitting around 88. They’re not good enough to justify heaving piles of cash, but they certainly should be adding a cheap starting pitcher like Francis. One, you never know. Two, you don’t want the players going into spring training thinking the franchise isn’t even trying this year. Ask Zack Greinke.

  21. TomC on December 22nd, 2010 2:07 pm

    Right now, the M’s may look like a 76 win team. But the top of the division is only sitting around 88.

    I would say they look more like a 68 win team now. We probably need to add 20 wins to have a chance at the division title. Kevin Millwood, for example, is not going to get us there.

    As a fan, I am simply not interested in mortgaging the future in order to finish third in a four team division. Get whatever prospects you can for Aardsma – maybe 3-4 A level minor leaguers with speculative upside. Turn this season into an extended audition for young talent.

  22. MrZDevotee on December 22nd, 2010 2:09 pm

    I would think the M’s are really just dressing up Aardsma in as sexy an outfit as possible, offering him to the most desperate teams, hoping for someone to get tipsy and actually hit on him (regarding an MLB ready hitter)…

    Early enough in the game to do that, as the ‘closer’ market is pretty thin.

    I think the other aspect of closers, just as our being willing to move him, is that they fall lower on the list of “needs” in the offseason. You don’t actually NEED a closer unless all the other pieces are in place. So I would think his value would also rise (albeit with fewer teams) as ballclubs get nearer to an accurate assessment of what they have for 2011.

    Personally, I think we’d be better off waiting till spring training (when miscellaneous pitching injuries pop up, delaying the seasons of key players), or moving him EARLY in the season, when a team discovers an unexpected need for a closer/late innings guy after a quick start.

    I think we’re in a position of strength still in regards to Aardsma. Somewhat similar to the housing market. He’s in a highly desired neighborhood (a closer), and although he’s not the prettiest house in that neighborhood, he’s one of the few homes available to buy.

    The other reason I wouldn’t mind waiting is that if some of our hopes and wishes of the “young guys” on the M’s don’t work out early on in the season, we’ll have a better idea of exactly what piece we’d be best served to fill with a trade of D.A.

    And honestly, I’m going “all in” on the rebuilding process… I’d rather see us use the #5 starter spot (forget #2 or #3) as a temporary slot to let various prospects within the organization audition at the Big League level. Perhaps there’s another Vargas or Fister waiting to happen– and this year would be a great opportunity to check that out.

    I see the first half of this season as extended Spring Training, where we’ll be focused on instilling a new culture/mindset and level of expectations. Then we’ll be ready to start positioning ourselves towards 2012, and actually fielding a bonafide team, with another $10-12 million to spend.

    I’m okay with that- rather than spend more now, or get rid of Aardsma for little return. The only thing I’d really be interested in adding at this point in the offseason is a better fielder/hitter in LF or another combination OF/IF with a decent bat.

  23. Miles on December 22nd, 2010 2:43 pm

    No, not at all. I’m just saying that Smith could be considered an impact bat compared to what the M’s have been walking out there the last few years. Raul was considered to need to be platooned vs lefties at one point. He didn’t have things break for him until his age 29 season when he went to KC and got to play every day. At age 32 people thought he shouldn’t hit lefties and he put up a .295/.342/.438 line for the M’s vs lefties that year.

    I would prefer to see Saunders in LF, but I’m a little worried about him. He didn’t play well after his injury in July/August last year and he’s been struggling in Venezuela. I think he got hit in the elbow or something by a pitch and hasn’t played since.

  24. Duncan Idaho on December 22nd, 2010 2:45 pm

    A middle reliever who has just hit arbitration would be a wonderful return. Not to pidgeon hole the team either but I would like a reliever with very good breaking and off-speed pitches and very good control as a contrary piece to many of the hard throwing guys the team already has.

    Also I hope Wedge is smart enough to see that League performs the best when beginning an inning and throwing the proper mix of pitches he has a likely chance of being a shutdown closer.

  25. Snave on December 22nd, 2010 5:05 pm

    I’m not sure they should be dying to trade Aardsma, although he does appear to be one of their more tradable players at this point. I agree that League could close ballgames if used properly.

    The moves they have made so far this off-season appear to be acquiring placeholder-type players (Cust, Olivo, Ryan). It looks like they are trying to address a few positions and keep the ball club competitive while kids get ready in the minors and/or develop their skills (Ackley at 2B, Moore or ??? at C, maybe Poythress at DH?). While these moves have been unspectacular to say the least, they arguably make the team better for next year.

    While they have addressed a few positions now, I see Saunders (LF) as a question mark for next year. Do they have people in the minors who they think project higher than Saunders? If so, would it be harmful to use placeholder-types in LF? Maybe sign Laynce Nix, then trade for Ryan Spilborghs and use them in a platoon? Trade for Ryan Raburn and use him as the full-time LF for a couple of years?

    In any case, I think the team will score more runs next year (they certainly can’t do any worse). So I am hoping they can also add a SP before the season starts. A deeper rotation makes the team more competitive, and it seems that outside of Pineda, there aren’t any SPs in the Mariners’ minors who are ready to step into their rotation… so maybe getting a veteran SP is not a bad idea.

  26. gerrythek on December 22nd, 2010 5:36 pm

    I think there is a perception problem with trading Aardsma at this point. Fans see him as the team’s closer, a valuable position. Whatever the behind-the-scenes metrics, the casual ticket-buying fan will look at his 69 saves and will be seriously pissed if he’s traded for a prospect or average player to save salary.

    There’s just so many times that management can spit at the fans before they start walking away in droves. I understand the risk that DA might implode but I don’t think that such an outcome will be held against management the way a salary dump for a prospect would be.

  27. amnizu on December 22nd, 2010 5:36 pm

    I love the idea of trading Aardsma now or prior to spring training. I don’t share the opinion that we should give him away for less than market value. However, it does seem to me that the overall marginal net value for the M’s is higher for the 4 Million than Mr. Aardsma’s services next season. I’d rather see the M’s take a flyer on a low to mid level prospect with potential upside than a .5 or 1 WAR middle reliever here. If they are going to build towards the future then this is a good trade to take some calculated risk on.

    That said, I would rather bank the 4 million saved then spend it on an innings eating SP that may net one to two additional wins in an already lost season. We can play the waivers game one or two months into the season if we are within 3 or 4 games of first and need someone to eat innings for us. Otherwise, I say play the kids!

  28. lamlor on December 22nd, 2010 8:46 pm

    Here is the situation as I see it regarding Aardsma.

    They are trying to trade him for a bat (an impact bat is far fetched in my opinion). The reasoning to me is simple. Look at what is available on the free agent market. No legit bats, a couple closer types like Gregg for one. So by trading Aardsma and signing a guy like Gregg, they kill two birds with one stone. By keeping Aardsma, they have no chance at adding a legit bat.

    So they are using what chips they have to add what they need with little risk. If they get a bat at the expense of Aardsma they win. Aardsma will be too expensive next year for a team that won’t see .500 after week one. If he implodes, he is worthless on the trade market. If they trade him and still don’t sign a replacement, again, we are still losing nothing because contending will not be in our near future.

    Trading him is their best option.

  29. djw on December 23rd, 2010 12:51 am

    That said, I would rather bank the 4 million saved then spend it on an innings eating SP that may net one to two additional wins in an already lost season.

    I’d rather bank it, too. Unfortunately, they won’t put that money in my bank account or yours. For better or for worse, the budget is done annually, so there’s no reason to think 2011 savings will carry over to 2012.

  30. Badbadger on December 23rd, 2010 7:55 am

    I’m not sure I see what sort of “bat” they would trade Aardsma for. It seems to me the M’s are set in every position. There’s no way we’re going to trade Aardsma for a slugging catcher and we just signed Olivo. Smoak is set at first, second is waiting for Ackely, Can’t get rid of Wilson at short or Figgins at third. Not going to bump Ichiro or Guti. One likes to think they’re going to let Saunders start in left on the theory that he might get good. We just signed Cust as DH, and unless they’re going to cut Bradley I don’t see that they can carry a guy on the roster just to pinch hit.

    If the M’s could trade Aardsma plus Saunders for a prospecty outfielder I’d go for that. Otherwise, if they wanted to add an impact bat they should have done it in one of the positions they’ve already filled this off season.

  31. tres_arboles on December 23rd, 2010 9:26 am

    Whatever the behind-the-scenes metrics, the casual ticket-buying fan will look at his 69 saves and will be seriously pissed if he’s traded for a prospect or average player to save salary.

    You mean the way people were up in arms over the JJ Putz trade? I appreciate your POV but I don’t buy the argument for a second. We’re not talking about trading Felix here. ;-)

    As to the point of the column, I think the whole “trade for an impact bat” line of conversation is pretty useless without objective criteria for what constitutes an “impact” bat. Face it…the line-up was so record-settingly moribund last year a batter with something like a .250/.310/.410 line and 15 HRs/88 RBIs would make a several win difference on this team. What’s that worth? Certainly everything DA could give the M’s, if not much more.

    DA’s served the M’s moderately well for the past couple seasons, likes it here, is a good guy, and is a model citizen. But if there’s any offensive value to be had out there in trade for a “proven” closer, the M’s have to find that trade and make it.

  32. georgmi on December 23rd, 2010 10:17 am

    But if there’s any offensive value to be had out there in trade for a “proven” closer, the M’s have to find that trade and make it.

    There, I fixed that for you. : )

  33. gerrythek on December 23rd, 2010 5:03 pm

    When the Mariners traded Putz they got a starting CF, Gutierrez, in return. Plus, it was a time of optimism for the club – Jack Z was new and making impact moves.

    My point is that fans will take it badly if Aardsma, the team’s closer, is traded for a non-starter in a perceived salary dump at a time when the fans are already down on the team.

  34. eponymous coward on December 23rd, 2010 5:37 pm

    My point is that fans will take it badly if Aardsma, the team’s closer, is traded for a non-starter in a perceived salary dump at a time when the fans are already down on the team.

    … which is still an immaterial difference in how turnout will fare, compared to the M’s faceplant last year.

    You know what Aardsma’s WAR’s been the last two years? 2.1. One win over replacement is the contribution of a part time bench player (or a bad regular). He simply wasn’t very good last year, and even in 2009, he was ~a league average starting position player.

    Fans overrate closers because when they fail, they fail dramatically, but the bottom line is if you’re a GM, and you think the team’s improved (within your salary budget) by adding a ~1.5 WAR starter as a free agent and trading for a ~1 WAR bench player with your ~1 WAR closer… well, your job is to go “**** the fans”. What brings them out to the ballpark is a winning team. Billy Beane makes these kinds of moves all the time.

  35. ericlokness on December 23rd, 2010 10:20 pm

    Aaron Hill for Aardsma.

    I just read an ESPN, and got to thinking. It states that the Jays are shopping Aaron Hill due to budget restraints and injury problems. Hill has a salary of 5 mil for 2011, and then three years of options (8/8/10mil).

    He could be the stop gap for Ackley thus moving Ryan into a reserve infielder. Plus if he doesn’t work out, then simply don’t pick up any of his options. However, if he rekindles his 2009 line (.286/36/108) then he would be well worth all his options. I think most of us would agree that the Ms won’t get the “impact” bat that is quoted that they want, but this has a lot of potential with little risk. He is a capable defender and reminds me a little bit of Brett Boone.

    What do you guys think?

    Happy Festivus everyone!

  36. maddux on December 23rd, 2010 11:11 pm

    It seems to me that you roll the dice and keep Aardsma around. If he pitches similar to 2009 and the last half of 2010,then he brings more value in June and July than he would now. Who knows, if Figgins plays early on like he did in the 2nd half of 2010, could there be a deal out there that allows us to move both players, and Figgins contract in return for middling low cost players?

    We are not going to get anything now for Aardsma that matters anyway. We are two or three years away at this point to be competitive, attendance and revenue will be down over the next 2-3 years. You can only hope we reduce payroll now and hope ownership doesnt just pocket the cash, but instead creates a small warchest to maybe grab a free agent in 2013 that could be a difference maker in 2013.

    I seem to use the word “hope” alot. The M’s sure are a long way away from .500.

  37. filthyfred on December 24th, 2010 9:44 am

    for those who keep thinking the m’s are “cash strapped”,you need to research a little. forbes has m’s in 2010 at the 2nd highest income ever. “if” there is a 92 million budget…it is self imposed. the m’s also start getting paid this year for the 70 million cost overrun of building safeco. so giving aardsma away to save money is just flat WRONG! Jack is trying to fix the offense with what little trade chips he’s got…PERIOD.

  38. eponymous coward on December 24th, 2010 10:33 am

    for those who keep thinking the m’s are “cash strapped”,you need to research a little. forbes has m’s in 2010 at the 2nd highest income ever. “if” there is a 92 million budget…it is self imposed.

    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/33/baseball-valuations-10_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Income.html

    That’s data for 2009. It shows the M’s at $10 million of operating income, in the bottom third of MLB.

    That’s before the 2010 debacle- which is likely going to cost them money (not to mention the fact that they’re eating over 20 million in dead salary between the Silva/Bradley trade and Betancourt).

    Realistically, if the Mariners wanted to just make profit, they’d do what Florida does: put bad cheap teams out there and pocket the revenue sharing income.

  39. bongo on December 24th, 2010 12:35 pm

    Realistically, if the Mariners wanted to just make profit, they’d do what Florida does: put bad cheap teams out there and pocket the revenue sharing income.

    This strategy might not be so bad for the 2011 Mariners. While I get Jack Z’s point about young players needing to earn their spots on the team, competition can be provided by other young players as well as by veterans with a limited upside. Overall, the Mariners have contributed to their woes as much by being unable to recognize talent as by bad signings. The Choo and Cabrera trades are just one example; Matt Thornton and Scott Posednick also come to mind.

    While statistics tell us that Brendan Ryan, Miguel Olivo and Jack Cust are on average likely to better than options from the farm system, there is some significant chance that at least one of these bets will be wrong. Cust’s productivity has been declining for years; if the trend continues, he might not actually be much better than Halman/Wilson/Winfree at DH.

    Similarly, we are challenged in the infield. Are we really sure that kids such as Ackley, Lawson, Hulett, Mangini and even Carp couldn’t play their way onto the team if given the chance?

    Do we really need someone like Lance Nyx to compete against Saunders, or would Halman/Wilson/Winfree do just as well?

    While betting on the averages makes sense if you have a contending team, with a team as bad as the 2010 Mariners are likely to be, a strategy focused on finding “diamonds in the rough” might be not only more enjoyable to watch, but also more profitable in the long term.

  40. eponymous coward on December 24th, 2010 1:38 pm

    This strategy might not be so bad for the 2011 Mariners.

    It’s not so bad if all you care about is making money while you win 60-80 games a year, and basically tell the fans they are chumps to come out to the ballpark, since they will never see a consistent winner if you’re continually lowballing payroll.

    Yes, Florida’s won two fluke championships. Their attendance has been horrible nonetheless, because they’ve burned their fans. There’s also the factor that once the fanbase is told you’re giving up on giving them competitive payroll and competitive baseball, they may not come back (or the revenue they represent). They didn’t come back in Cleveland once that happened in 2002, even when the Indians were good.

    While betting on the averages makes sense if you have a contending team, with a team as bad as the 2010 Mariners are likely to be, a strategy focused on finding “diamonds in the rough” might be not only more enjoyable to watch, but also more profitable in the long term.

    I thought this at one point too. Then I saw research that shows that yes, wins ARE correlated with attendance. It is actually better to win 80 with a $75 million payroll than 70 with a $40 million payroll. There’s also the factor that it’s easier to add 10 potential wins to your team than 20.

  41. Madison Mariner on December 24th, 2010 6:14 pm

    Similarly, we are challenged in the infield. Are we really sure that kids such as Ackley, Lawson, Hulett, Mangini and even Carp couldn’t play their way onto the team if given the chance?

    Uh, do you mean Tug Hulett? If so, I just read a blurb on MLBTR that he signed a minor league contract with the Rockies.

    Which would make it very difficult for him to play his way onto the M’s 25-man roster next spring. ;)

    And, while I’m here, Merry Christmas to one and all at USS Mariner!

  42. Snake Hippo on December 24th, 2010 8:45 pm

    Aaron Hill for Aardsma.

    That doesn’t seem like a very good fit. Toronto is going to ask for more than just Aardsma, and Hill would be a bad fit for Safeco.

    http://hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2010_687&type=hitter

    His power is pretty much all to left and left-center, and Safeco would probably kill him. Do you really want to trade Aardsma + prospects for better Jose Lopez?

    And not only is Hulett gone, Winfree isn’t in the system anymore either.

  43. ck on December 25th, 2010 11:37 am

    Keep Aardsma until someone in spring training, ( or later ) demonstrates he could be a viable closer. Wins are what the 2011 team needs in April.

  44. Badbadger on December 26th, 2010 7:34 am

    Spring training performance isn’t a good way for a player to demonstrate if they’re a viable closer or not. Small sample sizes against opponents who might include a high proportion of people who aren’t going to make their team when you’re still rusty from the winter break says much much less about your abilities than your previous minor and major league records.

  45. kennyb on December 27th, 2010 8:57 am

    for those who keep thinking the m’s are “cash strapped”,you need to research a little. forbes has m’s in 2010 at the 2nd highest income ever. “if” there is a 92 million budget…it is self imposed. the m’s also start getting paid this year for the 70 million cost overrun of building safeco. so giving aardsma away to save money is just flat WRONG! Jack is trying to fix the offense with what little trade chips he’s got…PERIOD.

    Income is not profit.
    The budget has always been self imposed, but it is a budget none the less. The fact of the matter is that the 2011 Mariners are up against that budget and still have holes to fill. Aardsma’s salary would sure help fill those holes, and when you throw in the fact that he can be replaced by players already here, it makes total sense to trade him – even if it is a “cash dump”.

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