Mariners Sign Kevin Millwood

Dave · January 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners have been rumored to have interest in Kevin Millwood for a month or so now, and today, news has come out that he has agreed to terms with the team on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. It’s not at all uncommon for teams to bring in veteran guys to hang out in Arizona so the team can evaluate whether they have anything left to add – the team just did that very thing with Aaron Heilman, for example – but that’s probably not how we should look at this deal. Barring injury, I’d say Millwood has a very good chance to make the team as a starter out of spring training.

The M’s have been talking about wanting a Major League veteran for the rotation all winter. Right now, the 2-3-4 spots in the rotation are being filled by Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, and probably Hector Noesi, so the middle of the rotation is two rookies and a guy with a decent history of health problems. Yes, Vargas has thrown 400 innings over the last two years, so perhaps the perception of him as a five inning guy shouldn’t be there anymore, but there’s no question that he’s still viewed with some skepticism due to his second half fades the last couple of years.

With those three penciled in for rotation spots, it was always unlikely that the team would hand the fifth starter’s job to another youngster, whether that was Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, or James Paxton (the latter two could certainly benefit from a few months in the minors, and people screaming that this move “blocks them” should realize that Millwood will not present any kind of obstacle to their promotion once they prove they’re big league ready). Eric Wedge just wasn’t going to be comfortable breaking camp with Felix followed by four guys with limited track records in the big leagues, so it was always likely that the team was going to add an older guy to the mix. Enter Millwood.

At 37, he’s been around the block a bunch. Wedge and Willis know him from his time in Cleveland. And, if there’s one thing you can say about Millwood, it’s that he’s always been a guy you could count on to rack up innings. Before last season (when he spent the first few months on the sidelines waiting for someone to give him a job), he’d thrown 150+ innings every year since 2005. Declining stuff has meant that the quality of those innings have gone from being good to just okay, but even at his worst, he’s never posted xFIP higher than 4.86, and he was actually pretty good in limited time with the Rockies last year.

From 2009-2011, he posted the following line:

7.5% BB%, 15.2% K%, 40.1% GB%, 11.5% HR/FB, .294 BABIP, 98 ERA-, 107 FIP-, 105 xFIP-

He’s basically been a pretty generic MLB starter, posting a walk rate right around league average and a strikeout rate just a tick below that. His ERA has been slightly better than his peripherals would suggest, even with the inflated home run rate, but all three of the minus stats (remember, 100 is average, and like with ERA, lower is better) put him right around the average-ish starter mark. Any basic projection of his 2012 performance will start with that performance and then take a bit off to account for the fact that he is getting older, but even at 37, Millwood’s still a useful fifth starter in the big leagues – if he stays healthy and throws 150 innings, he’s probably something like a +1 win pitcher next year.

On its face, it’s hard to argue with bringing in a useful veteran who adds pitching depth at a minimal cost and reduces the amount of apprehension on the coaching staff. Bringing in Millwood simply gives the Mariners more options, not less, and provides them with some security in case Iwakuma’s shoulder is still an issue or Noesi proves not to be ready to step right into a big league rotation. Depth is nice, and when it comes to pitchers, you can never have enough guys capable of taking the hill and throwing strikes.

That said, Millwood doesn’t really represent any kind of significant upgrade for the team. While Blake Beavan’s ERA wasn’t supported by his underlying performance, he offers the same basic throw-strikes-and-hope-it-turns-out-okay skillset as Millwood does. Swapping out Beavan for Millwood is basically a lateral move, and while it’s nice to have two of these guys in case of emergency, the team isn’t appreciably better with Millwood in the rotation than they would have been with Beavan.

And that’s kind of the sticking point about this move for me. As I talked about in my recap of the Montero-Pineda swap, I was fine with the concept of trading pitching for hitting in order to take advantage of the deflated market for free agent starters right now. Spending the remaining money in the budget to upgrade the offense wasn’t going to be easy, but with guys like Edwin Jackson sitting around hoping someone shows some interest in him eventually, using that cash to replace Pineda with a quality starting pitcher wouldn’t be too terribly hard.

The Mariners could theoretically still make a run at a guy like Jackson, but this signing makes that a lot less likely, I’d imagine. My guess is that the team will be content to go to spring training with a projected starting rotation of Felix-Vargas-Iwakuma-Millwood and then one of the young pitchers (with Noesi probably having a leg up at the moment), with the losers of the Beavan/Furbush/Noesi battle headed to the bullpen. They wouldn’t have signed Millwood had they intended to just displace him with another free agent starter, and I don’t see the team being overly motivated to completely shut off the collection of young arms from competition in spring training.

So, the question once again comes back to “now what?” Assuming Millwood gets $1 or $2 million in salary if he makes the team, the organization has a currently projected payroll in the low-$80 million range right now. That’s a good $10-$15 million below what they’ve been running in prior years, and I can’t see the team actually deciding to slash payroll this winter, especially with so many fans having hyped themselves up into hoping the team gets Prince Fielder. It’s just tough to imagine that they would have publicly displayed any interest in Fielder if Plan B was just going to be to spend no money whatsoever and fill out the roster with a bunch of low cost guys that the average fan has never heard of.

So, if we assume that this move means that they’re not going to pursue a guy like Jackson to upgrade the rotation, then it’s not exactly clear what else the team would do to upgrade the roster before spring training begins. They don’t really have a roster spot for another LF/DH type, so the only way to fit another bat onto the team would be to jettison Miguel Olivo and go with Jaso/Montero as the catching platoon, and I find it hard to believe the Mariners are really ready to make that kind of commitment.

So, when the question is “now what?”, I don’t really know what the answer is. They theoretically still have money to spend, but they’re running out of roster spots to hand out to guys who would represent a substantial upgrade of any kind. At this point, the only thing I can see the team still doing is swapping out Chone Figgins for a better third baseman (such as Mark Reynolds), because beyond that, any other upgrades might have to come from some kind of rabbit-out-of-the-hat trade that none of us see coming.

Like with every other move they’ve made this off-season, Millwood’s a nice role player at a good price. These guys make sense and give the roster needed depth, but I can’t imagine that the team is really going to say that they’re good with all of their transactions representing that kind of move. Even while I’ve advocated for a spread-the-money around plan in lieu of throwing a huge contract at Prince Fielder, I’ve advocated for acquisitions that would offer the hope of bringing in players who could be everyday guys both now and in the future.

Millwood is not that. Sherrill is not that. Iwakuma and Jaso might be, but both come with significant question marks. Montero can be that, but he cost the team a similarly useful piece in order to get him, so that was more of a lateral move than an upgrade. Noesi could be that, except signing Millwood now makes it somewhat less likely that he’ll make the team as a starter on Opening Day.

Jack Z has done a nice job of acquiring players who should help ensure that the team won’t suck as badly as they did last year, but he hasn’t really done anything yet this winter that pushes the organizational talent base forward in a substantial way. Given that the Mariners should still have some money to spend, they shouldn’t be content to call Millwood the final off-season acquisition and just go to camp with the roster they have now. They can and should do better. There’s nothing wrong with signing Kevin Millwood, but this can’t be the last move. There still has to be something else. And now that the something else probably isn’t another starting pitcher, I’m just not sure what other options the team has left.

Time to pull off another move that no one saw coming, Jack, because right now, this team isn’t going to win back enough fans to make the 2012 season a success.


50 Responses to “Mariners Sign Kevin Millwood”

  1. dmanjam on January 22nd, 2012 4:45 pm

    So this is why we dumped Pineda? LOL – I think I will watch Dumb and Dumber tonight.

  2. Cody on January 22nd, 2012 4:55 pm

    Something big must coming…

    That or Jack Z is planning on starting with a low payroll purely to make Baker’s head explode

  3. Kyle in Illinois on January 22nd, 2012 5:17 pm

    You say that Jack hasn’t done anything this winter that really pushes the team forward. I could understand that if you’re just talking about the 2012 season–but if we’re not talking about 2012, I don’t agree. Jack traded Pineda because he believes that we have quality pieces in the minors who are close to replacing Pineda. If that’s true, adding Montero is a HUGE upgrade. A big, young, team controlled, bat for the next 5-6 years.

    Whether we like the idea or not, I think 2013 has kind of been the unofficial target for a while now. Pujols to LAA probably just made that more of a reality. He’ll be another year older by then–and so will all of our young up-and-comers. I agree with you that we should add someone else who can help us now and in the future. But considering Montero, it seems a bit harsh to say we haven’t done anything to improve going forward.

  4. Dave on January 22nd, 2012 5:21 pm

    Swapping out Pineda for Montero isn’t improving the talent base in the organization – it’s simply rearranging it. I’m not saying that the team shouldn’t have done it, but the truth of the matter is that the Mariners don’t have any more interesting young players in the organization now than they did a few months ago. And that’s a problem.

  5. stevemotivateir on January 22nd, 2012 5:30 pm

    Speaking of adding talent, when might we see a post on possible draft targets? I know it’s a bit early, but it would interesting.

  6. Kyle in Illinois on January 22nd, 2012 5:31 pm

    Okay, I can see that in terms of total organizational talent. But does the fact that we improved talent at a deficiency (hitting) while we reduced talent at a deep position of strength (pitching) tip the scales in at least a slightly favorable direction?

  7. Dave on January 22nd, 2012 5:35 pm

    You need a lot of pitching. It’s not like the team was going to have to bench Pineda when Paxton and Hultzen arrived. At best, the rearranging of the talent adds half a win or a win to the team overall, and that’s assuming that Montero’s offensive performance can equal the value of Pineda on the mound pretty quickly.

    This is still a 75-ish win team. I don’t think anyone here is under any kind of false assumption that the M’s will keep up with TEX/LAA this year, but they should at least try to push themselves close to .500 so they can stop the attendance slide and put themselves in position to make a run next year.

  8. formerstarQB16 on January 22nd, 2012 5:37 pm

    Dave –

    Ackley, Smoak, Montero, Felix, Paxton, Hultzen… that seems to be a lot more “interesting (near MLB ready) young players” than most teams have. It seems to me that what this team is really missing is solid players in the prime of their careers. Of course those are always the most difficult assets to acquire….

  9. Salty Dog on January 22nd, 2012 5:38 pm

    I think Geoff Baker wrote some articles about how the team might be prepping for a sale, and all of the moves seem to point in that direction. No multi-year contracts, low payroll, enough young talent to feel like there’s hope for the future – it all seems like part of a larger pattern that involves something more than putting a winning team on the field.

  10. Westside guy on January 22nd, 2012 5:56 pm

    Baker – well, every beat writer, in truth – needs to generate copy even when there’s not much to write about. I’m not saying he doesn’t believe the whole “prep for a sale” idea; just that generating content day after day is hard, and some pieces may be a bit less insightful than others.

    Basically I’m saying (mainly in response to Salty Dog’s comment) it doesn’t make a lot of sense jumping to conclusions until the off-season has wrapped up and we know what the final composition of the team is.

  11. charliebrown on January 22nd, 2012 5:58 pm

    I think Geoff Baker wrote some articles about how the team might be prepping for a sale

    This move really makes me wonder if that’s true. The “Pursut” of Fielder was a long shot at best, but it gives ownership and management something to point to when they get asked about cutting payroll on a team that lost 95 games. THey’ll say they tried to get Fielder and they’re trying to get better when they basically knew all along he wouldn’t sign here.

    I’m not holding my breath for another significant move this off season.

  12. Liam on January 22nd, 2012 5:58 pm

    Maybe they are cutting payroll and we really do only have $3-4M available to spend.

  13. lalo on January 22nd, 2012 6:10 pm

    I´m starting to think that´s true, last year, Chuck Armstrong said the payroll would maintain at 94 or 95 millions, this year he didn´t say this, and if they are willing to spend 14 or 15 millions this offseason Prince Fielder would be the only option, I can´t see Jack Z spending 12 or 13 millions per year for Edwin Jackson or six millions in Johnny Damon, we´ll see, maybe they´re just saving money for next season, with Josh Hamilton, Napoli, Swisher and Cole Hamels in the free agent market…

  14. ThundaPC on January 22nd, 2012 6:26 pm

    I’m wondering if the M’s are finalizing their “last resort” roster? I don’t remember ever seeing as many major free agents available at this point in the offseason as this one. Unless things speed up in a hurry, we’ll be in the middle of spring training by the time the last one comes off the board.

    Zduriencik recently broke out his “takes two to tango” phrase, when talking about where the team is at during the offseason. There is definitely the implication of the waiting game being played by Z quite a bit. It’s very unusual to have as much money as the team has to spend this offseason and to have not spent most of it. It’s January 22nd and Prince Fielder, Edwin Jackson, and Roy Oswalt have not signed anywhere yet. Ugh.

  15. Dave on January 22nd, 2012 6:36 pm

    If you want to talk about what Geoff Baker wrote, he’s got a blog – comment there. This blog is blissfully free of conversation about his baseless speculation.

  16. Kyle in Illinois on January 22nd, 2012 6:41 pm

    It may not be a last resort plan but it may just be the plan. It’s possible the thinking all along was just “we’re going to sign Prince Fielder and other complementary pieces — but if Prince won’t come, we’re not just going to throw our money at guys for the sake of spending money.”

    What other free agents would have really made sense for us anyway? Aramis Ramirez maybe? Carlos Beltran? I don’t think there was ever much thought to give a 4-5 year deal to a starting pitcher. If we didn’t try for Fielder, I don’t see where the money would have realistically gone too anyway.

  17. bookbook on January 22nd, 2012 6:49 pm

    Well said. This is a team that needed to develop it’s depth, and had taken some steps in that direction. They still need more on the offensive side of the ball, and a smattering of luck. Between Hultzen, Paxton, and the upside of a Beaven or Furbush, I doubt Millwood holds the rotation slot all year, so by that measure his agent didn’t do terribly well by him….

  18. eponymous coward on January 22nd, 2012 7:07 pm

    The other possibility is that ownership has given Zduriencik a budget in the low 80 millions because last year’s team lost money and burned through a bunch of the retained earnings, and the attendance projections for 2012 are grim indeed (and would likely blow through a bunch more of the retained earnings).

    Yeah, an 81-81 true talent team will bring in more fans than a 75-87 true talent team… but attendance is a lagging indicator, and I could see ownership looking at what Oakland’s done (or other teams that do this), and going “we might as well make money while we don’t contend”.

  19. kennyb on January 22nd, 2012 7:11 pm

    People seem to have a tendency to look at each move on it’s own. I don’t think Jack does. He is an intelligent man, and this whole off season smells like laying groundwork.
    I think he has had a plan for the team and is following it. He may have money to spend but that doesn’t mean it has to be spent on a free agent. There may be a trade he is working on where the team takes on payroll.
    The point is that we should probably wait until the season starts before we pass judgement.

  20. Mariners35 on January 22nd, 2012 8:17 pm

    What if the veteran depth spent half a season in Tacoma, rubbing off that veteranny gritty goodness on the guys like Paxton and Hultzen who are just about to level up? Minor league contract with major league camp invite doesn’t mean they have to make the 25-man to be useful. Would be nice to have some injury insurance in Tacoma that is vaguely useful.

    Perhaps an Oswalt or Jackson signing happens after all. I mean, the Rainiers have to have some sort of credible team, and with the waves of guys who just came up or are just about to, it could be a pretty uneven – if not awful – season for them.

    In other words, the talent in the org seems to be in the majors, half a season or less from the majors in AAA, or in AA. Perhaps there’s some shoring up and Plan B going on, while potentially more major pieces like Jackson, Fielder, TradeNoOneSeesComing, etc. are being hashed out.

  21. MrZDevotee on January 22nd, 2012 8:30 pm

    I’ve got a tiny bit of hopefulness when it comes to Millwood, only because what he throws would seem to translate MUCH better to Safeco Field than it did the past 6 years in Texas, Baltimore, and Colorado…

    Is that too hopeful?

  22. nickwest1976 on January 22nd, 2012 8:42 pm

    What about a rabbit out of the hat deal for David Wright to solve the 3B issue? I am grasping at straws here but you never know.

  23. Valenica on January 22nd, 2012 8:59 pm

    A lot of teams cut payroll $10-15M for a year or so before build it back up. Atlanta did it from 2009 to 2010, Detroit cut $25M from 2010 to 2011, Cleveland cut $20M from 2009 to 2010 and another $12M from 2010 to 2011, etc. Brewers cut $10M from 2002 to 2003, then $13M from 2003 to 2004 before bring it up in 2005 and on. Coincidentally, 2002 was the year the Brewers drafted Fielder and 2005, his first year in the Majors, was the year they started spending again.

    It just means there was nothing on the market worth spending money on, and we want to use the young talent to see what we have. If Jack is following Milwaukee’s plan we’re probably not spending much until almost all our players are up meaning 2013 or 2014.

    Spending money to spend just because we can won’t make us better. We have to spend money when it makes sense.

  24. henryv on January 22nd, 2012 9:16 pm

    I like this move because it gives the M’s basically a league-average starter for virtually nothing that doesn’t block Paxton, Hultzen, or Walker in the future.

    Additionally, the team should still be looking for a team-controlled young 3B that you might trade a OF and Paxton, Walker or Hultzen for.

  25. shortbus on January 22nd, 2012 9:17 pm

    When the Casey McGehee and Jed Lowrie deals went down I felt as though the M’s should have been the ones getting those players. We could easily have equalled the talent given up in either deal. Are they really serious about going forward with Figgins / Seager / Liddi at third?

  26. kenshabby on January 22nd, 2012 9:18 pm

    It’ll be interesting buying tickets this season. With a little bit of planning in 2011 I had little problem picking a game in which either Felix or Pineda pitched. In 2012 I’ll have to buy tickets much closer to game day to avoid watching the 2-5 flotsam in the rotation.

  27. Valenica on January 22nd, 2012 9:33 pm

    The only 3B that makes sense for a Paxton/Walker is Rendon in 1-2 years. And that’s only after 1. WSH extends Zimmerman, 2. Rendon is proven healthy 3. Espinosa proves to be a valuable 2B and 4. Paxton/Walker put up Pineda like numbers

    There aren’t many teams with elite 3B prospects above A-ball, especially ones that are expendable due to being blocked by another elite MLB 3B. If you want a chance at an elite 3B prospect you’ll have to wait awhile.

  28. sexymarinersfan on January 22nd, 2012 9:44 pm

    [Please do some research before you post illegitimate rumors from people who make up lies to get attention. Also, your username is ridiculous.]

  29. Sports on a Schtick on January 22nd, 2012 10:33 pm

    Not crazy about this move for all the reasons Dave listed. The M’s are stocked with replacement level outfielders and starters. Wish the team would make a play for a blue chipper at one of those positions.

  30. xeifrank on January 22nd, 2012 11:38 pm

    Millwood’s most similar starting pitchers over the past two years using the skilled stats of K/9, BB/9 and GB/FB are…. (Min 150 IP)

    K.Millwood (6.17, 2.68, 0.96)
    1. B.Cecil (6.20, 2.92, 1.03)
    2. J.Jurrjens (5.90, 2.88, 1.06)
    3. B.Duensing (6.06, 2.57, 1.34)
    4. J.Santana (6.51, 2.49, 0.76)
    5. Johnny Cueto (6.37, 2.71, 1.35)

  31. greentunic on January 23rd, 2012 12:27 am

    Let’s remember this is a minor league deal. Oliver Perez got a minor league deal and no one freaked out about us wasting roster space on him.

    Why the mass confusion? We signed a 37 year old vet to a minor league deal. I just don’t see the same mutual exclusivity to a Edwin Jackson/Roy Oswalt signing that others see.

    This seems to be a near non-story to me. I’ll be a good jedi and excercise patience.

  32. Gritty Veteran Poster on January 23rd, 2012 12:29 am

    It seems to me that if there’s another “big” move to be made it will have to be via trade as there aren’t a lot of significant free agents left. Who would you see as the likely candidates to go in a major trade? Would Jack include one of the Paxton, Hultzen, Walker group? Nick Franklin? Maybe someone of the major league roster? I know it depends on who the M’s would be trading for, but wondering what the most likely trade bait might be.

  33. maqman on January 23rd, 2012 1:47 am

    Jack Z has shown he’s a man with a plan and he’s shown a preference for young guys with years of cost control. 3B is our most glaring need and a package of Seager and K-Pax and maybe another piece might land Rendon since the Nationals are reported to be working out a multi-year deal with Zimmerman. This only a personal guess but I think Z has been setting something up.

  34. wetzelcoatl on January 23rd, 2012 7:02 am

    I’m gonna go ahead and point out that if Z wanted Rendon he already had a pretty good opportunity to get him for basically nothing.

    I feel like there has to be something else coming but I’m getting a little scared of what it might be. With what is left on the free agent market it seems like it would have to be a trade for an established player, or dealing Smoak as part of a package for something and then signing Fielder.

  35. smb on January 23rd, 2012 7:45 am

    I also consider the total absence of any of Baker’s baseless speculation on USSM to be quite blissful.

    And I also see the Pineda-Montero deal as basically a lateral move that doesn’t add to the org’s overall talent level, rather it just shifts some assets by type–and that is why we needed to get more than two players in return for an arm like Michael’s. Especially having thrown in Campos–I wish it would’ve looked more like what SD got for Latos.

    I like the Millwood signing, too, especially as a no/low risk option, but this can’t be it, he has to have something else up his sleeve.

  36. TumwaterMike on January 23rd, 2012 10:44 am

    3B is our most glaring need and a package of Seager and K-Pax and maybe another piece might land Rendon since the Nationals are reported to be working out a multi-year deal with Zimmerman.

    Wasn’t Rendon in last years draft and don’t you have to wait at least a year to trade the players in the draft. If that’s the case I don’t see Rendon coming here this year. However I do see Michael Young available if the Rangers sign Fielder as he won’t have a position.

  37. Paul B on January 23rd, 2012 11:56 am

    One way to use up some money in a useful way would be to trade Figgins and a big pile o’ cash (enough to pay almost his entire salary, at least) to someone who needs money for some middling third baseman who they didn’t really want to pay this year.

  38. just a fan on January 23rd, 2012 12:13 pm

    Rendon can’t get moved until August 15th. Theoretically, he could a PTBNL as soon as February 15th (clubs have six months to name the player). But that would be crazy because what if he gets hurt again? Also, Natties have lots of pitching. Perhaps we could trade them what they really need, prayers for the health of Strasburg’s arm.

    Regrading Mark Reynolds at 3rd, he had a worse WAR than Guti last year despite blasting 37 dingers due to an atrocious (and career-outlying) -28.1 UZR. Maybe he’s not that bad, or maybe he’d just be fun.

  39. TumwaterMike on January 23rd, 2012 12:40 pm

    I just heard that the NATS have offered Fielder an 8 year deal. If he signs with them, would that make Mike Morse available? If so could he play 3rd base? He has 9 games, 8 with Seattle and 1 with Washington, at 3rd base.

  40. Valenica on January 23rd, 2012 12:41 pm

    Yes we’d have to wait at least a year. But in a couple years if Paxton shows number 2 stuff in the MLB and Rendon is MLB-ready with no position to play, and none of our 3Bs stick (Seager, Catricala, Martinez, Liddi) and no 3B FAs exist again, I could see it.

    I don’t see anything major happening anymore this off-season. People talk about winning now without sacrificing the future but acquiring players that take away playing time from MLB-ready prospects is sacrificing the future. We have a limited window you know.

  41. Paul B on January 23rd, 2012 1:51 pm

    Morse never was a good enough fielder to play at third. Unless he’s improved since he left Seattle, I’d say no.

    He’s probably as good a fielder in left as Carp, a Morse/Carp platoon in left would be pretty scary.

  42. vertigoman on January 23rd, 2012 2:18 pm

    Regarding Rendon,
    I believe they’ve changed the rules on that as per the latest CBA. Or maybe it was the draft signing deadline.

    Nevermind, I don’t think I have anything to contribute.

    Except, it was speculated that the Nats were considering sliding Rendon to 2B. If his bat is legit, they’d find a spot for him

  43. eponymous coward on January 23rd, 2012 2:22 pm

    People talk about winning now without sacrificing the future but acquiring players that take away playing time from MLB-ready prospects is sacrificing the future.

    Surprisingly, minor league performance is actually predictive. Nobody in our high minors, or who got significant playing time in their first go-round in 2011 (even guys like Smoak) projects strongly as being a quality MLB regular for 2012, other than Ackley. You have to do a lot of special pleading handwaving at ZiPS projections and so on to argue otherwise. While it’s inevitable that some will exceed projections and some won’t, you can’t bank on drawing to a bunch of inside straights when it comes to player development.

    Our talent base still isn’t all that good that we should be going “no we can’t possibly use (insert name of average to good player), we need to see if (insert name of Mariners prospect) might turn into an average to good player”. This is still a ~75 true talent win team, which means it’s not really all that far-fetched that 2012 ends with the M’s losing 90+ games for the fourth time out of five years.

    I think the question that you have to ask is whether or not a 75 win true talent team with kids is “enough”. A lot of people would argue it’s not. On the other hand, that’s basically what Billy Beane’s been doing in Oakland for the last half-decade: putting together a team with underrated players that can’t score runs, but plays enough defense and has enough pitching to not be terrible, and wins 74-81 a year.

    On the other other hand, you also can’t argue that if the M’s win 75 with an $80 million budget, that they will start automatically spending more cash in 2013. Maybe they’ll decide they like making profits and being mediocre, and they will trade Felix for young talent, not bother resigning Ichiro, League or Vargas, and the 2013 team will be another ~75 win team, but at a payroll of $40 million…

  44. djw on January 23rd, 2012 2:41 pm

    “He’s probably as good a fielder in left as Carp”

    Color me skeptical. Did you watch the games where he played the outfield for us? Carp runs less than ideal routes, slowly. Morse routinely runs the wrong direction.

  45. ck on January 23rd, 2012 4:41 pm

    Re: Figgins / Reynolds and upgrading Third base; I hope Seager gets plenty of chances to show he can hit in MLB. Nevermind that he is cheap, under control forever etc. Picture in a year or two that Seager plays Second Base, and Ackley plays a corner outfield position, and we have another legit Third Baseman from our system or trade or free agent or stork delivery…

  46. Westside guy on January 23rd, 2012 5:27 pm

    I’d think Ackley’s bat is more valuable at 2B than it would be in a corner outfield position – moving him to the outfield is a worst case sort of scenario.

  47. Valenica on January 23rd, 2012 5:43 pm

    Except, it was speculated that the Nats were considering sliding Rendon to 2B. If his bat is legit, they’d find a spot for him

    You figure though, with Espinosa hitting the way he did, and with their lack of pitching depth after the Gio trade, they might consider moving him for a top arm instead of moving Espinosa for a MOR arm. He’s the only top 3B prospect considered potentially moveable in the next 1-2 years if you look at who the top 3B prospects are and who’s blocking them/how far they are.

  48. asuray on January 23rd, 2012 5:53 pm

    I was playing a little Out of the Park Baseball this afternoon, which I hadn’t played in a long while, when I got a notification that Greg Halman had healed from his injury and was ready to come off of the DL. I had totally forgotten about the Halman incident this offseason. I feel like this isn’t getting enough discussion. I hope there will be some sort of tribute or sleeve patch or something this year.

  49. goat on January 24th, 2012 11:36 am

    I kind of had the same initial impression, but was hoping this article would provide some reason to believe otherwise. Would Jackson or Oswalt choose not to sign a deal here because the Mariners signed Millwood to a minor-league contract? Doesn’t seem like it. Maybe Jack is hedging his bets in case one of them doesn’t want to come here. Or maybe there isn’t any money left in the budget after all.

  50. Johnny Slick on January 24th, 2012 12:36 pm

    I don’t know… signing 7 guys to fill 5 slots isn’t the worst possible idea if you ask me. I could see Millwood crowding out a Jamie Moyer but someone with recent success? Come on.

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