Star Players and Attendance

Dave · November 17, 2011 at 10:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

During yesterday’s radio spot with Brock and Salk, Mike brought up the team’s lagging attendance as a point in favor of splurging on a star player like Fielder who could serve as a gate attraction. After all, the team’s revenues are tied to how many people they can get to the park on a nightly basis, and the organization can’t continue to lose fans at the rate they have been over the past few years. If bringing in a star player could actually have a substantial effect on attendance, there’s a case to be made that a guy like Fielder could pay his own freight in some ways, and reduce the overall total cost of acquiring him to begin with.

So, just because I’m curious and like evidence, I decided to look at the attendance of teams from one year to the next after they imported a star player – one with enough cache that you would think that fans would be incentivized to come to the park to see the new guy. Not all situations are the same, of course, and some acquisitions don’t really help answer the question we’re asking, as teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs aren’t likely to see attendance boosts from star players because they’re already near their peak attendance levels to begin with. So, let’s focus just on situations where the fan base could use a shot in the arm, and where the park or the history wasn’t enough to draw fans itself.

2011: Washington Nationals sign Jayson Werth.

2010 attendance: 1.83 million
2011 attendance: 1.94 million
Net Gain: +110,000

2008: Detroit Tigers acquire Miguel Cabrera from Florida.

2007 attendance: 3.07 million
2008 attendance: 3.20 million
Net Gain: +130,000

2007: San Francisco Giants sign Barry Zito.

2006 attendance: 3.13 million
2007 attendance: 3.22 million
Net Gain: +90,000

2007: Houston Astros sign Carlos Lee.

2006 attendance: 3.02 million
2007 attendance: 3.02 million
Net Gain: +0

2001: Colorado Rockies sign Mike Hampton.

2000 attendance: 3.29 million
2001 attendance: 3.17 million
Net Gain: -122,000

2001: Texas Rangers sign Alex Rodriguez.

2000 attendance: 2.59 million
2001 attendance: 2.83 million
Net Gain: +240,000

2000: Cincinnati Reds acquire Ken Griffey Jr.

1999 attendance: 2.06 million
2000 attendance: 2.58 million
Net Gain: +522,000

There’s seven examples of mid-market teams making big financial outlays (in each case, the player signed $100+ million contract, even the ones getting acquired by trade) and seeing a rather mixed bag in terms of attendance increase.

The Reds got the biggest boost after acquiring Junior, but that was basically the perfect storm of a situation – he was a local hero whose Dad had starred for the franchise, and was the most marketable baseball player on the planet at the time. Perhaps no team could ever pitch their fans a more attractive acquisition than Griffey “coming home” to play in Cincinnati and follow in his father’s footsteps. The pitch worked, and they drew an additional half million fans in his first year with the Reds.

It’s worth noting, however, that the burst was extremely short lived. The Reds won 85 games in Griffey’s first year, but the fans didn’t stick around in 2001, and their attendance dropped back to 1.88 million, lower than it was the year before they acquired him.

The other big splash was the A-Rod contract, as the Rangers gave him the largest deal of any athlete in the sport’s history, and Tom Hicks sold the signing as the beginning of a new era in Texas baseball. They got about half the spike of what the Reds got, but still saw a pretty decent increase in Rodriguez’s first year with the team. However, just like with Junior, the shine quickly wore off once the fans realized the team still wasn’t very good. In Rodriguez’s second year with the Rangers, attendance shrunk back to 2.35 million – once again, a number lower than what the team drew in their final year before signing him.

The other acquisitions were followed by much smaller attendance gains to begin with. The Tigers got 100,000 extra fans in the year after they acquired Miguel Cabrera, but the story was the same there, as the team was still lousy and they saw a massive drop in attendance (-700,000 fans) in year two. The economy in Detroit is obviously a complicating factor, but it’s worth noting that the Tigers got a +500,000 fan boost in attendance last year compared to 2010, which coincides with the team actually being good again. There are clearly people in Detroit willing to spend money to watch baseball, but they weren’t willing to pay that money to watch Miguel Cabrera play on a losing team. They were willing to pay money to watch the Tigers play once they got good again, however.

Werth and Zito’s arrivals coincided with small attendance spikes (though Zito’s first year in SF was also the year Barry Bonds became the all-time HR champ, so how much of the spike was due to Zito is debatable), but nothing of the sort that would justify those contracts. Houston and Colorado saw no attendance benefit after bringing in Hampton and Lee, and of course, those contracts have been disasters as well.

Overall, the story over the last decade is pretty clear – when a mid-market team “shows that they’re serious about winning” by throwing a lot of money at a marquee free agent, it is usually followed by a small attendance boost in the first year of the deal. If the team doesn’t actually win in that first year, however, those fans flee very quickly, and the bad will fostered by a huge contract gone bad may actually have a negative effect on attendance.

These results jive with just about every study ever done on the effects of what drive attendance to Major League ballparks. Fans come to see winning teams, not individual players. If the Mariners want to get fans back in Safeco Field, the formula is easy – put a winning team on the field. Trying to buy yourself out of declining attendance by throwing money at one big name free agent just doesn’t work.

Comments

90 Responses to “Star Players and Attendance”

  1. fdeezle on November 17th, 2011 10:40 am

    Take that, Salk!

  2. GOB Bluth on November 17th, 2011 10:50 am

    I don’t understand. Mike Salk said there is a boost to attendance when a big name free agent is signed and we all know that Mike Salk is never, ever wrong.

  3. maqman on November 17th, 2011 10:51 am

    More big contracts turn into albatrosses than don’t. I don’t see the M’s being immune to that. Walker, Ackley and Hultzen together cost the team about $20MM and that wouldn’t pay for one year of Fielder. I’m no math whiz but they add up to me, Fielder doesn’t.

  4. wsm on November 17th, 2011 11:01 am

    I get that this post is about the attendance debate from the radio show, but I think that attendance is a smaller reflection of the “goodwill” impact of a Prince Fielder signing.

    Goodwill is a monetary figure that’s derived from public perception of a company that increases or decreases the overall value of a company. I don’t know how its calculated by the Mariners, but I’m sure that a Prince Fielder signing would have a not insignificant affect on this number.

    Imagine the opinions of your typical non-educated Mariners fan after this offseason. They are likely to be far more optimistic if Prince Fielder is brought on board than they would be after another year of Doumits, Capuanos, and Olivos. The Mariners have a method of measuring the monetary impact of these two outlooks and it will factor into the team’s decision making.

    As for attendence numbers, I think a Fielder signing would be a much bigger impact move than most of those listed, with the exception of Cabrera, Arod, and Griffey. There also isn’t really a way to calculate how much attendence would have decreased if those players had not been brought in, so you can’t really ascertain the signee’s net impact on ticket sales.

  5. The_Waco_Kid on November 17th, 2011 11:06 am

    Fielder would give us an early attendance boost, but that’s it. Bringing in smaller pieces would not instantly spark attendance, but if we started winning, it eventually would. I know we don’t want the fans to be pessimistic, but winning will cheer them up fast.

  6. robbbbbb on November 17th, 2011 11:08 am

    One could also make an argument that Ichiro’s addition to the Mariners in 2001 drove an attendance increase from Japanese fans. To wit:

    2000: 3,148,317

    2001: 3,507,326

    ~+360,000. Pretty darned good. Of course, the 2001 Mariners were in the midst of the best season of all time.

    One note, Dave: Can we look at this in terms of attendance-based revenues, instead of warm bodies? One possible criticism could be that teams expect a rise in attendance due to signing a big-name player, and consequently raise ticket prices to capture the revenue therefrom.

    Of course, the subsequent collapses in attendance in the cases of Griffey and A-Rod work against that notion.

  7. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 11:16 am

    WSM-
    Yes and no I would think… That factor is more short term than any contract we might take on in a “big splash”. Think back to Randy Johnson… Fans were beside themselves when we jettisoned one of the best pitchers in baseball for a bunch of no names… But those no names became familiar names, and the team did quite well with them, and that trade is now generally considered one of the better ones during that era of M’s ball.

    And I think Dave left off another prime example… Bringing in Cliff Lee to Seattle… It was only half a year, but the bigger point is that fans cared more about how the team was doing than the fact we signed Cliff Lee. That bump didn’t even last half a season.

    I’m not discounting the factor- because I agree it’s real- but if you agree that fans will come out to support a winner, that’s definitely a LARGER more long term factor than the feel good bump of an “at least they’re trying” signing in the minds of the casual fan.

    The return fans, who spend the most in attendance are more affected by a winning team than one name in the lineup. Lose those fans and you’re losing someone who’ll come to 10-20 games a year. Those fans add up quick (or subtract out quicker). And they wanna see the team do well if they’re gonna come to a significant number of games. They’ll ask each other “hey, wanna go to an M’s game tonight” not “hey, wanna go see Prince Fielder bat 4-5 times”…

    Kinda like going to a crappy movie versus going to a great movie… Most people don’t wanna go see the first type, even if Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Harrison Ford are all in it together. And quite similarly, the first weekend might have good box office numbers, but word gets around, and that turnout is short lived, and the movie flops…

  8. Chris_From_Bothell on November 17th, 2011 11:16 am

    Isn’t there a certain amount of “correlation does not equal causation” here, too?

    Unless you have direct feedback from people coming to the ballpark as to why they’re there, there’s a lot of factors that might skew this data even lower.

    For example, the M’s attendance likely has some predictable peaks around the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, perhaps a couple of interleague games from time to time… but not because the fans are coming out to see the Mariners…

    There’s also some predictable amount of fans out when the weather’s nicer – whether it’s locals on summer vacation or tourists. And Little League weekends or kids-run-the-bases weekends seem to have specific spikes too.

    All of this makes any sort of point about boosting attendance from Salk or average-fan have a bit less weight. Even with the low numbers Dave pulled out, you can probably lower them either more for other reasons that are barely related to the Mariners’ product on the field.

    Now, what could really boost attendance is making the games more affordable. But that’s a completely different rant. :)

  9. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 11:25 am

    This redundant Fielder debate brought an old commercial to mind: does anyone remember that ‘Beggin’ Strips’ ad where the dog can only think ‘bacon!bacon!bacon!bacon! Its BACON!’.

  10. drewgggg on November 17th, 2011 11:29 am

    You’d want to look at the gap between actual attendance and expected attendance, not just the year-over-year change.

    If the team was really bad in year X, then attendance in year X+1 should be less.

    So, Carlos Lee added 0 to attendance year-over-year, but maybe without him, attendance would have been down 250K.

    It’s a difficult question to answer, but I don’t like your methodology.

  11. StorminGorman on November 17th, 2011 12:08 pm

    Roger Clemens and the Blue Jays come to mind as well. Signed a big contract (four years/$40 million) and was lights-out—consecutive Cy Youngs in 1997 and 1998.

    But the teams were mediocre on the field and messy off the field, and attendance slipped:

    Pre-Roger:
    1996 attendance: 2,559,573. Record: 74-88

    With Roger:
    1997 attendance: 2,589,297. Record: 76-86
    1998 attendance: 2,454,303. Record: 88-74

    Post-Roger
    1999 attendance: 2,163,486. Record: 84-78

    Living there at the time, I recall that Roger produced little bump in attendance for the games he started vs. the average.

  12. Jamison_M on November 17th, 2011 12:09 pm

    In addition to ticket sales, merchandise sales would also spike. But, similar to attendance, it would last about a year unless the team got better.

    From what I gather about this article, the assumption is that the team will not get any better between now and 2013, which is why the attendance goes back down after the “big free agent’s” first season. Are there any examples of a mid-market team going out and getting a big-name, expensive free agent and going from bad to good?

  13. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 12:14 pm

    I’m sure someone has already done this: Prince Fielder has averaged 3.9WAR in his 6 seasons (23.4WAR total)…Not exactly the savior some expect.

    Dan Uggla is only 1.3WAR behind Fielder from 2006-2011 (is Uggla worth 20M?). Nick Swisher is only 3.1 WAR behind Fielder. Grady Sizermore is .2WAR ahead, despite playing 250 less games than Prince. Jose Reyes is 4.9WAR ahead despite playing 150+ games less. Albert Pujols is a full 24.1WAR ahead of Prince! Albert is twice the producer, and half the size.

  14. PositivePaul on November 17th, 2011 12:17 pm

    Heck – let’s look at the Mariners own history!

    After a HORRENDOUS 2004, and after years of being called cheapskates (rightfully so), Chuck & Howard finally let their GM actually go out and spend a decent chunk of change. The M’s signed both Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre to quite sizable contracts. And both of those guys, while not exactly elite superstars known universally throughout baseball, were still decent stars. Adran Beltre would’ve been the NL MVP had Bonds* not been well, Bonds*.

    2004 M’s attendance? 2,940,731
    2005 M’s attendance? 2,725,459
    Difference? 215,272

    Yeah, after making the biggest splash they’d pretty much ever made in the off-season, their attendance shrank!

  15. Rick Banjo on November 17th, 2011 12:20 pm

    It’s more simple than a signing. When you win, you get bigger crowds. Unless you are in Tampa.

  16. JoshJones on November 17th, 2011 12:22 pm

    Great post Dave! I’ve always wondered if there was a correlation between star players and attendance.

    You HALF sold me on this one. A-rod and Griffey are the only one’s I view as significant comparisons to the M’s signing Fielder. Based on your stats it would appear that it makes a big difference in attendance. The part I think is most interesting is THE FOLLOWING season where attendance drops back down.

    If the M’s are going to sign Fielder and then sit on their hands the next season at a payroll under $100M then maybe we shouldn’t sign Fielder. However, with our surplus of young pitching don’t be suprised if JackZ intends to follow signing Fielder with the acquisition of a 3rd/OF (Prado, Sizemore, David Wright, Casey McGee, Mark Reynolds) via trade this season or the next.

  17. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 12:32 pm

    2006-2011 wRC+:
    Carlos Beltran (current FA): 138
    Jim Thome (recent FA): 140
    David Ortiz (current FA): 141
    PRINCE FIELDER (we already know!): 141
    Joey Votto (not available…maybe?): 151
    Albert Pujols (cream of the crop): 167

  18. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 12:36 pm

    Spanky
    Pujols should wear your quote to all his GM meetings (re: Fielder):

    Twice the producer, half the size.

    Also, fyi, MLBTradeRumors is reporting the M’s are in on talks with Grady Sizemore.

  19. gwangung on November 17th, 2011 12:37 pm

    If the M’s are going to sign Fielder and then sit on their hands the next season at a payroll under $100M then maybe we shouldn’t sign Fielder. However, with our surplus of young pitching don’t be suprised if JackZ intends to follow signing Fielder with the acquisition of a 3rd/OF (Prado, Sizemore, David Wright, Casey McGee, Mark Reynolds) via trade this season or the next.

    Yeah, but just remember that such a large contract reduces the options to make those additional moves, and other teams know that. Fewer options will hamper even the most puissant of magicians…

  20. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 12:42 pm

    Reality Check 101:

    Let’s ask ourselves “Why would Fielder choose Seattle?”

    1) Lovely city (Probably not in his eyes)
    2) Contending team ( silence )
    3) He likes our restaurants (plausible… a’la Silva)
    4) Jack Z signed him to his first contract ( definitely, because a player’s loyalty to former execs is NEVER HIGHER than to a guy who then LEFT HIM in a mid size city to take a different job– he loved Prince that much… They were THAT close… )
    5) We offered DOUBLE what all the contending teams who want him did, and he liked it better in Milwaukee when they weren’t winning (only chance in Hell- and NOT going to happen)

    But yeah, “Bacon BACON BACON!!!!!”

  21. jrdo410 on November 17th, 2011 1:28 pm

    if the M’s were so inclined to go balls-out, why not go for Pujols over Fielder? I think he’ll age better and he’s a better player to begin with. Not saying they should do either, but I’d rather have Pujols at 9/$30 per than Fielder at 8/$25 per.

  22. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 1:29 pm

    I wouldn’t mind Sizemore on an incentive laden contract. If he isn’t healthy, he will be gone in a year, or two with nothing really lost. If he is healthy we should have an above-average LF/CF/RF/DH. And it could be insurance for the underperforming duo of Guti, and Ichiro.

  23. Skiba on November 17th, 2011 1:41 pm

    I’m not sure I understand this fully. If the argument is that fans come out to see good teams, would it not be the case that attendance will increase as wins increase? Is there a correlation between wins and attendance or is it that only teams competing for a playoff berth see a spike in attendance. The argument has never been that Fielder would not help the team win, its that the value he offers isn’t efficient enough to build out the rest of the roster.

    Additionally, if there were even a modest increase of 100k fans as a combination of seeing the new star player and our young core (not to mention the kings court all season long), at $40-50 per fan for tickets, concessions etc, that is an increase of $4-5 million dollars of revenue. If you want to think of it in those terms, a $25 million salary turns into a $20 million dollar salary, which might be at a level worth considering.

    Admittedly the logic isn’t flawless here, but to say that we are not in a position to see attendance grow, for a variety of reasons, would be inaccurate. Whether or not that increased revenue goes into player payroll, and thus to cover a portion of the salary of a high ticket free agent, is the real question.

  24. lamlor on November 17th, 2011 1:46 pm

    Also, fyi, MLBTradeRumors is reporting the M’s are in on talks with Grady Sizemore.

    That article also said he was likely to get his $9M for one year that the Indians declined to pay. Sizemore at $9M would be joke.

    but I’d rather have Pujols at 9/$30 per than Fielder at 8/$25 per.

    Pujols is 31 and Fielder is 27. I think would change my thought regarding 8 and 9 year deals.

    Also, all those WAR numbers given for the various players above show what their worth was and not what their worth will be. Beltran and Thome are worth almost the same as Fielder? Really?

  25. gwangung on November 17th, 2011 1:51 pm

    I’m not sure I understand this fully. If the argument is that fans come out to see good teams, would it not be the case that attendance will increase as wins increase?

    A modest amount of wins will bring a modest amount of attendance increase. And any one player is five or six wins. That only means something as you approach playoff contention. Going from 70 to 75 is worth less than going from 82 to 87.

  26. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 2:02 pm

    Lamlor: do you actually believe Fielder is on his ascent?

  27. KaminaAyato on November 17th, 2011 2:35 pm

    Dave, I know you’re writing this article in response to Salk’s (BS) arguments that he’s presenting.

    At first, I thought that you getting on the Brock and Salk show in the past was a good thing as I thought they were receptive to you.

    Now it turns out that Salk is just as big of a “BLAH BLAH BLAH” person as Softy is – and just as annoying.

    Is there some type of main media outlet anywhere in Seattle that won’t dismiss your points out of hand? Because it seems like you’re having to work harder now to try and beat back the MSM – who is continuously fanning the eventual rage that will happen when Fielder is not signed. Which, by the way, will result in people not coming, and is completely unproductive in his argument to get butts into seats.

  28. Mike Snow on November 17th, 2011 2:45 pm

    I don’t think it’s especially informative to lump pitchers in with hitters when trying to analyze whether star players affect attendance, since the pitchers aren’t playing every day. In a five-man rotation, a starting pitcher is only going to be able to boost attendance in 15-20 games, depending on how his starts are distributed between home and road. You won’t get extra people out to watch Jason Vargas pitch just because Felix is on the roster.

    That being said, I think on a game-by-game basis, star pitchers are more likely to have a real impact on attendance. But that may be mostly cannibalized from the total pool of which games fans choose to attend, so it doesn’t actually boost overall attendance. I can see that in my own ticket-buying patterns – I think I’ve been to more Felix starts over the last few years than all other pitchers combined, but I haven’t really been going to more games overall.

    This post is a fairly rudimentary back-of-the-envelope kind of analysis, since actually trying to isolate cause and effect for attendance is quite challenging to do right. In general, though, attempts at studying it do indicate that just winning makes more of a difference than any one player will.

  29. jack z is a beast on November 17th, 2011 3:13 pm

    Werth didn’t improve the attendance, that was all Strasburg.

  30. Mike Snow on November 17th, 2011 3:28 pm

    Strasburg was there in 2010 before Werth signed, plus he was injured almost all of 2011, so it doesn’t make sense that it was him. Just spot-checking the few starts Strasburg did make this year, he doesn’t seem to have really boosted attendance in those games.

  31. opiate82 on November 17th, 2011 3:29 pm

    There is also another financial issue to this. The increase to revenue does not equal what it adds to the bottom line. Salk kept talking about 6 million extra dollars if we got an attendance spike of 250,000. He didn’t account for the fact that a large portion of that $6 million would cover the variable costs associated with the increase in revenue.

    I do not know the M’s margins, but I would guess maybe 1/3rd of that $6 mil would actually end up going to the bottom line. As anyone who read Dave’s WAR article knows, $2 mil would not go very far when it came to building a roster around Fielder if we signed him.

    It’s not a simple $6 mil in revenue = $6 mil added to payroll, not even close.

  32. opiate82 on November 17th, 2011 3:32 pm

    Oh, and since you refuted Salk’s stupid “Sign Fielder to get the attendance boost” argument, can we refute the “lets move in the fences” argument he also brought up in that interview next?

  33. BLYKMYK44 on November 17th, 2011 3:45 pm

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned this yet. While it is true that Griffey probably was a huge deal to Cincinatti and there was a spike in attendance. I would disagree that he is responsible for the entire 550k.

    Looking at the team I see the records of:

    81-81
    76-86
    77-88
    96-67

    Prior to his season as a Red I see some middling to disappointing teams and then a pretty good team. So, I would imagine that the 96 win season was artificially low at the beginning and then when they signed Griffey they thought it was going to be a WS team not just because of Griffey, but also because of their previous season’s success.

  34. dafixisin on November 17th, 2011 3:45 pm

    While I am undecided on signing Fielder, I wouldn’t complain if they actually did it. What I would complain about is if the deal was in fact for 7+ years.

    In a similar vein to Dave’s post here, I wonder what the correlation is between a team’s winning percentage and their attendance figures? Is there a threshold percentage, above which you get a situation where the ballgames represent the hottest ticket in town?

    Sounds like a lotta work to figure that out.

  35. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 3:50 pm

    Lamlor-

    You said-

    That article also said he was likely to get his $9M for one year that the Indians declined to pay. Sizemore at $9M would be joke.

    Not sure which article you were reading, but that was definitely not one of the ones I was reading… Most report he’ll definitely be on an incentive laden plan, mainly because he’s only managed to play a little over 100 games the past two seasons combined (103), and hasn’t hit over .248 the past 3 seasons.

    In that light, he would fit the mold of the guys Z has brought in lately, but definitely with more upside than a Cust/Bradley/Wilson type, IF he can stay healthy– and if not he probably doesn’t earn very much.

    Which article said he’d get $9 million? (Just curious, not questioning you)

  36. BLYKMYK44 on November 17th, 2011 3:57 pm

    Can’t you also do this the other way around:

    San Diego 2011 Attendance: 2,143,018
    San Diego 2010 Attendance: 2,131,774

    So, despite being a worse team and losing Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres had better attendance this year.

  37. Violinguy72 on November 17th, 2011 4:13 pm

    BLYKMYK44,

    Good point. I think that just proves even more that signing a star player does not have any real effect on attendance.

    An increase or decrease could have absolutely nothing to do with the players signed.

  38. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 4:14 pm

    I would actually rather do a Sizemore/Betemit/Doumit (or some similar mix) multiple signing, than reach the dizzying heights we would need to land either Fielder or Pujols, and then bargain hunt to fill out the rest of the order…

    Don’t like “large item pickup day” strategies… Try “found it on the side of the road on Aurora Ave” pickup day (with some sticky substance on it that hopefully washes off).

    I just want some real baseball players out there on the field, now that we have a basic feel for which young guys seem to show promise. Most of the kids should be going back to developing again, in a more traditional “farm system” scenario than last year…

    Let’s sign 3 guys for $6-7 million each, rather than 1 guy already peaking for $20-25 million, if we’re gonna have to give him 6 or 8 years…

    Let’s sign three 2-3 WAR guys for the same price as one 3-4 WAR guy (Fielder has averaged 3.7 WAR the past 4 seasons)? Each for 1/3 the price… Even I can figure out that math pretty easily… It fills more holes, offers more WAR, provides better coverage of the roster per $…

    And it’s realistic. Which should count for something, yeah? THOSE guys might actually go for playing a few years in Seattle, without gagging on the thought.

  39. TomC on November 17th, 2011 4:15 pm

    Let’s try different scenarios. All assume tickets at $30 a pop and $10 profit on stadium food (per person per game) to the team (these are generous assumptions in my mind).

    The first scenario: Fielder boosts attendance 500K (the Griffey homecoming effect). That means $20 Million in new revenues. Fielder will cost more than that. Net loss.

    Second scenario: Fielder boosts attendance 250K (the A-Rod effect). That means $10 Million in new revenues. Big loss.

    Third scenario: Fielder boosts attendance 100K (the average big name signing effect). That means $4 Million in new revenues. Huge loss.

    Remember, all three scenarios are good for only the first year. Most likely there is no effect whatsoever in the out years.

    I very much fear Fielder’s contract will be another Silva level fiasco. Please no.

  40. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 5:05 pm

    Tangotiger posted a reply to Dave’s article. His last sentence is “wins is what draws fans, not names.”

  41. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 5:33 pm

    Another little tidbit in my boredom of Fielder research.

    Cecil Fielder in his first 4 full seasons only missed 18 games! Then he only played in 130 or more games twice before his retirement/can’t-play-anymore.

  42. gwangung on November 17th, 2011 5:36 pm

    Tangotiger posted a reply to Dave’s article. His last sentence is “wins is what draws fans, not names.”

    Which means focussing on getting productive people in the non productive holes. Fielder by himself is not going to add 20 wins to this team.

  43. MrZDevotee on November 17th, 2011 5:54 pm

    Tangotiger posted a reply to Dave’s article. His last sentence is “wins is what draws fans, not names.”

    Which means focussing on getting productive people in the non productive holes. Fielder by himself is not going to add 20 wins to this team.

    And the words “is” and “are” are (is?) sometimes interchangeable.

    (said “tongue-in-cheek” not snarky, btw)

  44. spankystout on November 17th, 2011 6:01 pm

    Haha, that was all Tango. But he is allowed to F up, only because his alias is amazing.

  45. stevemotivateir on November 17th, 2011 6:26 pm

    Well, you said something right Dave. If you look at the comments on Brock and Salk’s article about the discussion (written by Shannon Drayer), about 90% are supportive of you.

    Shannon also made a notable point… if the Marlins offer to AP was actually 9 years and 230 million, Fielder isn’t even close to being in our reach, as you could argue his deal would be about the same, give or take a year and 20-30 million.

    Funny thing is, I’m sure Jack already knows whether or not he’s got a shot at signing him. I suspect the answer is no, and there’s other plans underway as we gab about it.

  46. djtizzo on November 17th, 2011 6:54 pm

    Ive learned a lot from this blog over the last few years, but disagree that a guy like Pujols wouldn’t boost attendance. Sabermetrics can’t evaluate what the attendance “might” be. Fans would form long lines before BP to see a guy like him or Fielder smash baseballs! Every Fri-Sun homegame would be like a Ichiro bobble head night!

  47. Chris_From_Bothell on November 17th, 2011 7:09 pm

    Every Fri-Sun homegame would be like a Ichiro bobble head night!

    You mean a whole batch of people coming in, paying full ticket price, collecting the bobblehead/batting practice session, then leaving immediately?

  48. Dave on November 17th, 2011 7:18 pm

    This isn’t “sabermetrics” – this is simply being willing to deal in facts. You can say whatever you want, but you shouldn’t believe it until you first find out if it’s true.

    STL attendance in 2000 (last year before Pujols debuted): 3.3M

    2001: 3.1M
    2002: 3.0M
    2003: 2.9M
    2004: 3.0M
    2005: 3.5M (coming off 105 win season, won 100 games)
    2006: 3.4M (new park opens)
    2007: 3.5M
    2008: 3.4M
    2009: 3.3M
    2010: 3.3M
    2011: 3.1M

    Please show us how St. Louis’ attendance patterns support the idea that “fans would form long lines before BP to see” him. In his first year in the Majors, attendance went down. In the year that everyone knew could be his last in St. Louis, attendance went down.

    The only times the team actually drew more fans with Pujols on the roster than the last time they didn’t have him were when they were coming off a 105 win season and when they had a shiny new ballpark.

    This isn’t about WAR or OPS or anything you might not like. This is about facts. The facts simply tell one story – players don’t have much of a substantial impact on attendance, no matter how much you might believe otherwise.

  49. JoshJones on November 17th, 2011 7:59 pm

    In reguards to Prince Fielder I believe the disconnection between you (Dave) and a lot of the readers here at USM (including me) is the position of the Mariners.

    Simply, are we rebuilding or not?

    If we are, then we need to trade Felix/Ichiro/League.

    If we aren’t then we need to add some key big name players..Prince Fielder isn’t richie sexson a player anyone could have seen was ready to fall-apart. Fielder is one of only a handful of players who have hit 50Hr’s in a season and walk over a 100times a season. He might be overpriced, but he’s not a bad contract.

  50. JoshJones on November 17th, 2011 8:04 pm

    And your attendance figures speak for themselves. Anyone who think there is much of a correlation between signing 1 big name player and a significant (if any) increase in attendance is…being unreasonable and wasting your time.

    Winning brings spikes in attendance…that and bobble head days.

  51. stevemotivateir on November 17th, 2011 8:31 pm

    ^What do you think the trades of Fister and Bedard were made for? You can try to win and add pieces as needed. But you don’t trade away your ace early into an affordable contract and you’re most consistent veteran (one off-year doesn’t make him inconsistent) who pulls in a ton of revenue from a foreign market (as well as the local one). Who the hell says you have to dump your biggest assets to rebuild? You build around guys like Felix. It should be clear by now that Jack is doing exactly that. League could be dealt, but do you really think you’re going to get much out of him?

    One more thing… A bad contract doesn’t have to be dictated by under-performance. Look at A-Rods deal with the Rangers.

  52. gwangung on November 17th, 2011 8:39 pm

    A bad contract doesn’t have to be dictated by under-performance. Look at A-Rods deal with the Rangers.

    I should point out that a lot of people don’t think that was a bad contract…it was the OTHER big contract that were handed out that hurt the Rangers.

  53. JoshJones on November 17th, 2011 8:53 pm

    But you don’t trade away your ace early into an affordable contract and you’re most consistent veteran

    Felix’s salary is about to jump to $19M. Now that you know that please reconsider everything you’ve said and try again.

    And for the record, I want to keep Felix AND Pineda and sign fielder/sizemore. Then make a move for a 3rd baseman in 2012 if one of our dosen’t pan out. At that point we will have a better idea of Furbush, Beaven, Hultzen, Paxton, and Walker. 1-2 of them plus a seager/liddi or one of our surplus of outfielders should be enough to steal a 3rd/OF away.

  54. djtizzo on November 17th, 2011 9:00 pm

    …players don’t have much of a substantial impact on attendance, no matter how much you might believe otherwise.

    So, withouth Pujols (maybe) next year you’re saying attendance will stay steady at over 3 million huh?

  55. gwangung on November 17th, 2011 9:03 pm

    Um, y’all being silly there? Winning, remember. Can’t win more than a world series.

  56. Dave on November 17th, 2011 9:52 pm

    Uhh, yeah, considering they drew 3 million fans before Pujols ever arrived in St. Louis, and now they’re coming off a World Series title, I’m completely sure they’re going to draw 3 million fans next year.

    Seriously, just look at the facts and admit that you assumed incorrectly.

  57. JoshJones on November 17th, 2011 10:01 pm

    So, withouth Pujols (maybe) next year you’re saying attendance will stay steady at over 3 million huh?

    I dont feel like you rubed it in enough Dave. Allow me.

    If they lose Pujols they will replace him with Berkman. Holliday is still a premier hitter. Allen Craig fills Berkmans spot in the outfield. Adam Wainwright will be back next season. Joy Jay, Skip Schumaker, Yadier Molina, a full season of WS MVP David Freese. And if they don’t spend the $30M on Pujols they will be able to fill any other holes they feel necessary.

    Oh and they just won a World Series.

  58. PackBob on November 17th, 2011 10:52 pm

    Another thing about this scenario is that it supposes that Fielder will continue to hit like he has, which is not a given. If Fielder struggles at first, or even falls off the cliff, then you not only have the contract, you probably have a worse situation than before with drawing fans (unless the team as a whole somehow performed better).

    Any star power draw that Fielder might have would have to be supported by continued performance at a high level.

  59. stevemotivateir on November 17th, 2011 11:57 pm

    Felix’s salary is about to jump to $19M. Now that you know that please reconsider everything you’ve said and try again.

    You really don’t get it. He signed a 5 year 78 million dollar deal. Most people expected him to sign for 100+. If you think that was a bad deal, or some kind of unnecessary weight, you’re nuts. It was an affordable deal for his talents. When you’re building a team, that’s exactly the kind deal you want for a solid ace, a guy to build around. You don’t ditch someone like that 2 years into the contract, unless someone throws the entire farm at you. That’s just stupid. If it isn’t clear, I’m critical of your idea that Felix has to be traded if the team is rebuilding. If you need something to compare it to, look at Sabathia’s 5 year 122 million deal.

    You might want to reconsider posting rebuttals. You wont get too far with the Fielder argument either. Nobody here is saying they wouldn’t love to see him in the line-up. The issue is cost. It’s been laid out a million different ways now. Unless payroll is increased significantly, it doesn’t make sense to go after him when there are several holes to fill.

  60. Valenica on November 18th, 2011 3:31 am

    According to Stone, Felix only adds 2,000 more fans a game than other starters. Over an entire season, that’s 32,000 tickets.

    The best way to look at fans is to split them into 2 categories: the ones who are actual baseball fans, and the people who go to a baseball game.

    The first category is us: we try to only go to Felix/Pineda games. Just because we got Fielder doesn’t mean we’re going to a Furbush game, it means we’re more likely to go to a Felix game. But considering there’s less than 32,000 of us, this effect is small.

    The second category go to games because it’s cool. This group is 2 million – 3 million people. They only know who Ichiro is, and maybe Felix. They don’t know who Fielder is – he’s not Ichiro, A-Rod, or Griffey. All they care about is a team that’s relevant, so the act of going to a game is more relevant.

    Look at Moneyball. 2001 with Giambi and Damon: 2.1 million, 102-60. 2002 with Hatteberg and Justice: 2.1 million, 103-59. 2003 lost Justice: 2.2 million, 96-66. They saw zero effect losing a star player like Giambi. They only started seeing decreased attendance once they couldn’t win 90+ games anymore.

    The only way to truly raise attendance is to win 90+ games. If we sign Fielder, our chances of winning 90+ become slim. The teams who win pay $12 million for 10 WAR production, not $25 million for 5 WAR production. Damon, Kotchman, Peraltra, Beltre, Berkman, Roberts, Putz, Huff – all guys who were way underpaid for their production. We need to be looking for these guys, not Fielder.

  61. msb on November 18th, 2011 6:41 am

    [pedantry]These results jibe[/pedantry]

  62. MrZDevotee on November 18th, 2011 8:48 am

    We don’t need no stinking stars…

    Look at these numbers from the Dominican League:

    7 HRs
    15 RBIs
    .316/.382/.671
    in 79 at-bats

    Guess who…?

    Carlos Peguero.
    (ducks for cover, hides behind the couch)…

    I kid, of course. But it IS his real final line form the Dominican circuit.

    (I kinda left out the 28 strikeouts in 79 at bats part, though… Slipped my mind somehow…)

  63. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 10:26 am

    Doumit is expected to make a decision today. He’s supposedly narrowed it down to two AL teams. I’d love to see him here. Would make sense as a back-up catcher/DH.

  64. JoshJones on November 18th, 2011 11:05 am

    You don’t ditch someone like that 2 years into the contract, unless someone throws the entire farm at you. That’s just stupid. If it isn’t clear, I’m critical of your idea that Felix has to be traded if the team is rebuilding.

    Be as critical as you like. We difer from strategy I guess. If the solution to the problem is continuing to try and find Lance Berkman 2011 then I would preffer we just traded Felix, League, and Ichiro.

    Unless payroll is increased significantly, it doesn’t make sense to go after him(Fielder) when there are several holes to fill.

    Again we disagree. I’d sign Fielder, Bedard, Doumit.
    -$20M came off the books this season.
    - We’ve been a $100M organization before.

    If we aren’t going to trade Felix, Ichiro, and League for players that can help us/shed salary and we aren’t going to have a $100M payroll then we aren’t going to compete with Texas/LAA anyway.

  65. lalo on November 18th, 2011 11:08 am

    ProspectInsider Jason A. Churchill
    “I’m being told the M’s ARE one of the finalists for Ryan Doumit.” #mlb #mariners

    Via @prospectinsider Twitter

  66. JoshJones on November 18th, 2011 11:41 am

    Twins got him.

  67. opiate82 on November 18th, 2011 11:49 am

    You really don’t get it. He signed a 5 year 78 million dollar deal. Most people expected him to sign for 100+. If you think that was a bad deal, or some kind of unnecessary weight, you’re nuts.

    You are right, Felix gave us a hometown discount. However two things you aren’t considering is that his deal is back-loaded so the last two years are a lot closer to CC numbers than they were to start the deal. The other is if we aren’t going to win with him we should get some value in return for him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather win with him, but as Dave pointed out, good things can happen when you are willing to part with your superstar (like trading Griffey to Cincinnati then winning 116 games).

  68. jld on November 18th, 2011 11:51 am

    I’d be interested in seeing a comparison of teams that win with a few bigger stars and a ton of scrubs versus teams that win with 25 +2 WAR players.

  69. Liam on November 18th, 2011 11:53 am

    Ichiro has ten and five rights, so he can’t be traded without his consent.

  70. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 12:12 pm

    If we aren’t going to trade Felix, Ichiro, and League for players that can help us/shed salary and we aren’t going to have a $100M payroll then we aren’t going to compete with Texas/LAA anyway.

    If you shed Felix, Ichiro, and League, you don’t just shed salary, you shed your ability to win immediately and you gamble on what you can do in the near future. Those are proven players. There’s already one hole in the outfield, possibly two, if Guti isn’t 100%. You’d be setting the team much further back than they already are.

    $100M payroll wont be enough to land Fielder, Bedard, and Doumit -as things are with the current salaries and after arbitration. If boosting payroll 6-8M is all it would take, I’m sure Jack and Chuck would be all over that.

    Not having 100m+ to spend doesn’t mean we can’t compete with Texas or LA though. A solid team can make good things happen. Last season showed many examples of that, with Arizona, Tampa, and Detroit all in the mix. Even Pittsburgh was in it most of the season. With an extra wild-card spot, there’s even more reason to believe that anything can happen.

    Fielder is going to cost an insane amount of money. This shouldn’t be news to anyone. You have to consider the ability to resign some of the young stars in the near future as well, like Ackley, Pineda, Smoak (if he produces), Carp, Hultzen, etc. You can argue that Ichiro’s next contract wont cost as much (assuming he stays here)and Figgins will be gone by then, but you’ll still have a load of potential contracts to address. If you’re paying one guy 25-30M a year, things wont be any easier.

    Speaking of Doumit, he may very well be a Mariner by the end of the day. He’s from Moses Lake and he’s reportedly down to two AL teams. You figure, the Mariners are likely one of them. If the Mariners land him, it would be a good indication that they are not in on the Fielder sweepstakes. He’s already turned down a $3M deal from the Dodgers, so expect him to sign for more than that. That’s just one player. Still have much more to address.

  71. lalo on November 18th, 2011 12:22 pm

    Speaking of Doumit, he may very well be a Mariner by the end of the day.

    He won´t, he signed with the Twinkies…

  72. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 12:25 pm

    You are right, Felix gave us a hometown discount. However two things you aren’t considering is that his deal is back-loaded so the last two years are a lot closer to CC numbers than they were to start the deal.

    Felix is from Venezuela, so I don’t why you’d call that a hometown discount. You could call it loyalty to his first team, but hometown?!

    Also, nearly all long term contract are back-loaded. I don’t know why you would think I haven’t considered that, since I was the one who brought up the contract. It’s was and still is a good deal. If the Mariners unload Felix, it’s not likely going to happen until the final year of his contract, assuming there isn’t an insane package offered for him.

  73. MrZDevotee on November 18th, 2011 12:27 pm

    Purely a devil’s advocate statement, and I’d be PISSED if we traded him…

    BUT!

    Rangers had no one in Felix Hernandez’s league, really, and did pretty well this year… And they’re letting CJ Wilson walk, rather than pay what he’ll probably get. Plus, last year their model seemed to be: make a push, and then rent expensive pitching (Lee) for the 2nd half if things are looking good…

    Overall, their pitching did decent, but a LOT of those wins they earned were because of the offense, not the pitching– which I think ALSO lends itself to the idea that their pitching performed better than expected. We can’t overlook the fact that two of the better pitching staffs in baseball, finished 3rd and 4th in the AL West.

    If you have offense, you can win games where your starter gives up 4-5 runs. (See Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, etc.). We pretty much can’t.

    Sometimes I think we get stuck TOO MUCH in an either/or sort of debate, when it comes to offense or defense/pitching… You can have BOTH decent pitching AND decent hitting. And those teams usually do pretty well, compared to recent Mariners teams. I would seriously be happy just being a .500 team the next couple years, with the opportunity to get hot and do better, while manuevering to take the next step behind the scenes, rather than continuing the “let’s play craps at the local casino” dice throw approach we’ve played the last two years.

    In that light, Felix is not untouchable to a serious baseball team. But like I said, I don’t want to trade him. Felix gets traded, Ichiro retires, and then we’re the Pittsburgh Pirates/Houston Astros.

    (Speaking of, has anyone figured in the Wins bump we’ll get from adding Houston to our Division, plus playing in that stadium a good number a games a year, plus less travel when we can hop from Dallas to Houston on road trips now… Which is about a 45 minute flight…?)

  74. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 12:29 pm

    Damn, just saw the news on Doumit (after lalo posted). Wonder what kind of incentives were offered. Anway, maybe Snyder is a target for the Mariners now?

  75. JoshJones on November 18th, 2011 12:29 pm

    Not having 100m+ to spend doesn’t mean we can’t compete with Texas or LA though. A solid team can make good things happen. Last season showed many examples of that, with Arizona, Tampa

    And how did they get to that point? oh yeah they traded big name players for years and filled from within until they could finally compete. The 2011 Mariners are nowhere near where the 2011 Diamondbacks are.

    Again, I’m not advocating for trading Felix/League/Ichiro. But if we aren’t going to make some moves to put some players around them via trade or free agency this season then unfortunately, we should look into trading at least felix and league.

  76. MrZDevotee on November 18th, 2011 12:30 pm

    Felix is from Venezuela, so I don’t why you’d call that a hometown discount. You could call it loyalty to his first team, but hometown?!

    Really? We have to nitpick and argue about EVERYTHING…? Maybe “hometown” because he lives here, has a home here, family, and loves the place (via his own words)… I’m no genius, by any stretch, but pretty sure that was the implication of him giving us a “hometown discount”.

    (face… desk…)

  77. Chris_From_Bothell on November 18th, 2011 12:42 pm

    I’d be interested in seeing a comparison of teams that win with a few bigger stars and a ton of scrubs versus teams that win with 25 +2 WAR players.

    I don’t think you’ll find the latter, and I don’t think it’s what some folks are getting at.

    Also, define “win”. Division / Wild Card at all? League Champs? World Series? Above .500?

    I suppose for a start at this, look at the last 5 World Series winners,

    I’ve dug out their team WAR at the end of that season, and how many players they had above 3.0 WAR. # in parens is # of players below 4 WAR. The slash after is position players vs. pitchers, though that shouldn’t matter, I suppose.

    2007 Red Sox: 30.3, 7 – 5/2
    2008 Phillies: 35, 5 - 4/1
    2009 Yankees: 36.1, 9 (4) – 6(2)/3(2)
    2010 Giants: 31, 6 (3) – 4(2)/2(1)
    2011 Cardinals: 34.3, 6(1) – 4/2(1)

    And the number of “stars”, which I’m defining here as players with 4.5 WAR or more.

    2007 Red Sox: 3 - 2/1
    2008 Phillies: 4 - 4/0
    2009 Yankees: 3 – 2/1
    2010 Giants: 3 - 2/1
    2011 Cardinals: 4 - 3/1

    So the last 5 World Series teams had 3 or 4 exceptional players, sometimes a couple of solid players having good years, and the rest run the gamut between 0 – 2 WAR or so. (I think the worst by far was Ryan Franklin posting a -1.2 WAR last year.)

    The Mariners need that cloud of 0 – 2 WAR players first, as much or more than they need the stars and over-achievers.

  78. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 12:48 pm

    The 2011 Mariners are nowhere near where the 2011 Diamondbacks are.

    JoshJones: Disagree. Arizona was basically in the same place last offseason that we are now. If we find the role players like they did, the Mariners could do just as well. Arizona didn’t sign anyone like Fielder. And you don’t have to win the division to make a run at it. Especially with another wild-card opening up.

    You’re right about Texas and LA building mostly from within (Texas made some great small moves from outside the organization too though). They don’t have contracts like what Fielder will get either, though Wells’ contract isn’t pretty. But I don’t think the Marines are so far off, that they need to completely unload and rebuild. You can try to win now and fill the holes as you go.

    MrZDevotee: As you pointed out, the Rangers had the offense that the Mariners don’t have. The Mariners are more dependent on their pitching. A deal for Felix would upset a ton of fans, me included, and it wouldn’t make sense unless it’s a deal you just can’t ignore. You’re right, a good team will always listen. Right now, I think it’s clear that Jack’s plan has been centered around Felix, so I’d be real surprised if that were to change so soon.

  79. JoshJones on November 18th, 2011 2:01 pm

    But I don’t think the Marines are so far off, that they need to completely unload and rebuild. You can try to win now and fill the holes as you go.

    I don’t think they are either if they are willing to add a couple pieces via trade or free agency. But if those pieces are Erik Bedard, Chris Snyder and Angel Pagan then there is a problem. Those players don’t make us competitors or give us a shot at the wild card. We need those players + a big league hitter.

    1st option: Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen,Alex Gordon, Pablo Sandoval etc. WE AREN’T GETTING THESE GUYS WITHOUT GIVING UP THE FARM. It’s not worth it.

    2nd option: David Wright type players who are getting big money but there’s a lot of question marks. Again, not worth it.

    So i’m going to leave you with this. What’s the point in having Ichiro, Felix, Leage if we can’t get another big time offensive player to support them. We’ve wasted the cheap years we had on Felix. Let’s not waste the cheap years we have on Pineda, Smoak, and Ackley too. I’m not saying throw the money around carelessly. Go get someone who is going to guarantee you top level production for the next few years. It dosen’t have to be Fielder…but I’m not sure who else there is. Then in 2013 or even 2014 we will still have our core players and can add that missing piece.

  80. MrZDevotee on November 18th, 2011 2:40 pm

    Steve-
    I agree, but was just exploring other sides of the coin. A part of me feels like there’s some head-against-the-wall thumping I’ve been doing the past few months, hoping for significant upgrades.

    In my head (now thumped and pained), I want us to upgrade the offense, yet maintain the level of pitching, all at the same time, with basically the same amount of money in the budget. Maybe my expectations aren’t reasonable? It’s like my assumption has been- subconciously- we’re not spending smartly or wisely. Our roster should have been significantly better these past two years. And moving forward, we can do better without any real change to payroll or any need to change the bulk of the roster.

    Dave’s article about the WAR of this year’s playoff teams, versus the WAR of the Mariners, as it relates to Mariner payroll limitations, has got me leaning towards the idea that maybe there is another way to address the problem.

    It’s almost like we ran into a wall at a dead end a few years back. Our focus on pitching and defense went so far as to hit that proverbial wall where no amount of improvement was going to compensate for our historically bad offense, and cause us to win games at a higher rate. We (me included) blamed it on bad luck, but it’s starting to look like maybe marginal Major League players en masse do not produce offense very well.

    We haven’t seen yet if slightly better than marginal Major League hitters en masse can win enough to contend with above average pitching… So perhaps the next “exploration” should be to give some distance in our exceptional pitching, for the opportunity to improve MANY of the position players– not to superstar status, but to a level where they can perform and function like an average to above average offense.

    Is our pitching depth deep enough to survive that, and remain above average itself?

    And would the combination be more likely to win games than our current distribution of the roster?

    It would seem yes.

    I guess what I’m wondering/realizing, is a rational limitation to WAR at its purely literal level– based on the M’s recent history, it would seem that a team with 40 WAR of pitching and 0 WAR of offense is not a contending team, even if 40 WAR should theoretically put you at 85-90 wins… I don’t believe that team would reach that level.

    Just as a team built with 40 WAR of batting, and 0 WAR of pitching, probably wouldn’t reach the expected win level either (thinking of late ’90s Cleveland teams and early 00′s Texas teams that always seemed so well constructed offensively- but couldn’t win).

    So where is the safe balance of reasonable expectations within that 40 WAR model… What is the minimum offense and minimum pitching you can win with?

    That seems to be the big question that the Mariners are dependent of figuring out.

    Might we need to give up some of our pitching to get there? Maybe…

    If we could improve our offense by trading Felix, who you’d think would command some pretty high level prospects and/or major league level talent, what would be the effect of replacing him with two less expensive #1 starters (say $8-10 million each) who could contribute more to a winning effort than one $20 million guy every 5 days?

    (Especially this year when there is quite a few starting pitchers in the free agent market, and come late winter some of them will be below market as that market starts to shrink and the big market teams are done with their signings.)

    I guarantee the front office has pondered this stuff, and had their staff run the numbers in multiple ways, and tried to figure out the safest “WAR Spectrum” to attempt to land…

    I just wonder what that might be. And wonder if it might not require a major shift by the Mariners front office to get back to winning.

    AND… (how many words is that? looking up above…)

    Bottom line, I don’t want to trade Felix. But it might make sense to some larger minds in more important positions…? Even if just based on the collection of Dave’s articles this past week…

  81. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 3:01 pm

    Those players don’t make us competitors or give us a shot at the wild card. We need those players + a big league hitter.

    Those players, plus the emergence of Ackley, Smoak, Carp, Pineda, and maybe Hultzen and/or Paxton CAN be all the difference. And they can give us a legit shot at a wild-card.

    As Dave just pointed out, again, and very well, we can still get a solid, effective bat, that doesn’t cost nearly what Fielder would. And we don’t even have to do it now. We can wait til after the season starts, play our cards as they fall. Maybe someone out of contention come July, is willing to sell? We simply don’t know what the future holds.

    What I don’t get, is how you think we’re close, and yet you suggest dumping our stars and rebuilding if we can’t get a guy like Fielder. That sets us back considerably. That would make you far more likely to be wasting the cheap years on Smoak, Ackley, and Pineda.

    The point of having Felix, Ichiro, and League, is that we are close! The big bat you’re talking about, may come later in the season, and it doesn’t have to cost us 25-30M a year. It may not even be necessary if we land the right role players and the players we have live up to their potential.

  82. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 3:57 pm

    MrZDevotee-

    I’ve had many of the same thoughts. And what I always come back to, is the 2001 Mariners. The ‘ace’ was Freddy Garcia. The big hitters, were Edgar, Olerud, Boone, and Cameron. None of those guys were real expensive and all of them really produced. Edgar and Olerud may have been two of the most underrated hitters of all-time. You could argue from that standpoint, that someone like Felix isn’t needed, but then again, we don’t have those kind of bats -yet. Maybe our younger guys can produce this year?

    The last two seasons were incredibly disappointing. It’s easy to second guess when looking back, especially as things haven’t generally worked-out. But I don’t believe we’re that far out of it.

    I’m not against trading some of the pitching for bats. I just don’t think there should be a plan to dump Felix. Jack has made it clear he isn’t interested in doing that anyway. What that does, is drive-up the asking price.

    If a team really felt Felix was their missing piece, and was willing to throw a ridiculous package at us, you would obviously listen. Then see who can do better. The time for that is more likely in July, near the trade deadline. That’s pretty much how we landed Smoak in the deal for Lee. It would surprise me if a deal for Felix, that was worthy of even listening, would pop-up this early.

    In my opinion, trading a guy like Pineda would be a better plan, if it’s determined that dealing a pitcher needs to be made to acquire a bat. And that would actually make a lot of sense if Guti doesn’t recover and an answer at 3rd isn’t clear before the trade deadline.

    The thing about baseball, is everything can look great on paper. Numbers line-up, everything shown can suggest a perfect fit. And yet, a player can completely bomb. At the same time, a star can arise from nowhere. I would argue that just as many players have had surprise success here, as there are players that have bombed. The problem is, we need that to be a lopsided number, with more successful players!

    If the philosophy hasn’t changed yet, it will soon, if scoring runs continues to be a problem. I’m more confident that things will turn around, than completely blow-up though. Carp, Ackley, and Smoak have all the tools to get things off in the right direction offensively. That’s not enough, but if Ichiro and Guti do rebound…. suddenly, things aren’t looking so bad. You’re dead-on about finding that balance between offense and defense. Wish it was easier to see that line.

    One thing about Jack, is he always seems to surprise us. Nobody saw most of his moves coming. The Putz deal, the Lee deal, the Figgins signing, the Hultzen pick. I think he has some more surprises up his sleeve. Although I’m generally patient, I’m really eager to see how 2012 plays-out.

  83. JoshJones on November 18th, 2011 8:54 pm

    What I don’t get, is how you think we’re close, and yet you suggest dumping our stars and rebuilding if we can’t get a guy like Fielder

    Depends on your opinion of close. I think we are 2 big bats and a few small pieces away. If we intend to sign Fielder, Sizemore, and Bedard as close then yeah i’d say were close. However, if we intend to sign Jamie Moyer, and trade for Angel Pagan and Casey McGee…then I don’t see the point in dragging Felix or even league and ichiro through that unless they want to. Let alone wasting a combined $40M on those 3 alone when we could shed their salaries and aquire great young talent. Those small moves you want us to make wont make us a competitor or even an 85 win team unless we get some better hitters. Do you not see how that makes sense? If you disagree that’s fine. Just understand it’s not irrational thinking it’s just a difference in opinion.

    the Mariners added Chih-Hsien Chang, Francisco Martinez and Carlos Triunfel to the 40-man roster, reports Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Radio Seattle

  84. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 9:27 pm

    Depends on your opinion of close. I think we are 2 big bats and a few small pieces away. If we intend to sign Fielder, Sizemore, and Bedard as close then yeah i’d say were close.

    Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Unless payroll is increased significantly, there isn’t going to be money for those three. And again, if you dump Felix and Ichiro (Ichiro wouldn’t be as easy to unload as you might think, as a 10 and 5 guy with an 18m contract), you create two huge holes to fill. So you’re even further back. By the way, Seizmore is reportedly working out a new deal with the Indians.

    Small moves made the Mariners an 85 win team in 2009! So, tell me why that can’t work again? That team was competitive, in the hunt, most of the year. And that was with Griffey hitting .214 most of the year! I don’t disagree that more bats are needed. But cost is the biggest factor. There’s more than one hole to fill. And how do you know Ackley, Carp, and Smoak wont have break-out years, and be those stars, the big bats you mentioned?

    I’d never refer to Felix as a waste of money. As you mentioned, he did us a favor with that contract. He wanted to be here. He’s clearly the guy we’ve been building around. Dumping him immediately for prospects, if we can’t land Fielder, is just dumb. At the very least, you wait and drive-up the price. And show him some respect in the process. I’d be more prone to deal Pineda for an impact bat, if trading pitching seemed like the best solution.

  85. CSM on November 18th, 2011 11:55 pm

    In regards to the post, I think the numbers speak for themselves in terms of ticket sales in years after a star player has been signed. I’d still be interested though to see if overall revenue for the team jumped at all after a star signing to low income team like the marlins for instance.

  86. CSM on November 19th, 2011 12:09 am

    @stevemotivateir-
    Dave’s whole point the last several posts is that one player, even a superstar like Felix and Ichiro, isn’t going to push us over the top unless we have a solid foundation. Honestly everyday players have more value than pitchers and we have lots of pitching anyway.

    We have to give something good to get something good and while i’m not saying i’d be happy with it, if a package was offered that included trading Felix that could significantly upgrade left field and/or 3rd i’d go for it.

  87. rwd on November 19th, 2011 11:15 am

    I love this article. It’s nice to see somebody trying to figure out a logical answer to a question before speculating on the radio. Dave, I think the word you want is “jibe” not “jive.” The study results don’t dance. Take care.

  88. stevemotivateir on November 19th, 2011 3:52 pm

    CSM-
    This whole debate started over a comment, that if we don’t sign Fielder, we need to trade Hernandez and Ichiro now. My argument is simple… no, you don’t need to.
    I’m not saying anyone is untouchable, Felix included. But dumping him immediately isn’t wise. If we’re serious about competing now, you would need a bat(s) that is equal to his value and can produce immediately. That just doesn’t happen before the season starts. Not often anyway. If you’re going to go after prospects…. wait! Start a bidding war. We would be far more likely to bring in a bigger, better return, if we showed patience and waited til July. Or more likely to anyway.
    You’re dead-on about giving something good to get something good. Even Jack has said that he tries to make deals where everybody wins, gets what they want. I don’t expect Furbush and Beavan to get traded for above average hitters!
    Dumping Felix now, makes no sense. Unless a team is going to throw the farm at you, it’s not a wise move. Dumping Ichiro is pretty much impossible unless we eat salary and he agrees. I don’t want to see him go either. If Guti doesn’t recover, we could be in need of 3 outfielders. Imagine…. no Guit, no Ichiro, and Wells as your left fielder? That’s not a good scenario. Halman, Peguero, Saunders, and Wilson aren’t good enough for starting positions.
    I’m not opposed to trading pitching for bats. It actually makes a lot of sense. But not Felix, right now. Patience. I have confidence that Jack can fill the holes. If not immediately, than maybe before the trade deadline.

  89. Valenica on November 20th, 2011 5:26 am

    If you go ALL the way back, Griffey added 250k seats on a team that went from 68 to 73 wins.

    In 1995 Seattle finished 1st in the AL West for the first time. In 1996 they saw 1.1 million extra seats as a reward, despite losing Randy Johnson (but gaining A-Rod).

    Winning generated FOUR TIMES as much interest as the Kid hitting the majors. Fielder is maybe half that, adds 120k for a year. Winning would generate eight times (and if it was continued winning, 16 times) more interest than just Fielder.

    Win and the fans will come. Signing players to “fix” the attendance issue is just a band aid when you really need stitches.

  90. LanceWWU on November 23rd, 2011 11:39 am

    Agreed. It all comes down to wins. I don’t care how many celebrities we have on the team, if we’re winning 60 games a year, losing gets old. Watching a team of no names win 100 games would be exhilarating and the attendance figures would improve correspondingly.

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