It is Time for the Payroll to Go Up

Dave · October 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

For the last couple of winters, it’s felt like there’s been a bit of a battle for the souls of Mariner fans. On one hand, a handful of people have loudly proclaimed that the solution to all of the organization’s problems was to spend a lot of money in free agency. Sign Prince Fielder at any cost! Prove you actually want to win! Spend money and everything will fix itself! This one-note plan was always foolish, and has proven to be exactly that after the big spenders of last winter generally fell flat on their faces and have been replaced in the playoffs by the likes of the A’s, Orioles, and Nationals.

On the other hand, you had more rational voices arguing for moves that made sense. Last winter, I wanted the team to trade for guys like Angel Pagan and Marco Estrada or sign free agents like Chris Capuano, Ryan Doumit, and Edwin Jackson*. These guys all had pretty good years in the spots they landed, and could have improved the team without the risks that come with overpaying on the free agent market. Instead of simply relying on one pricey player to upgrade the franchise, I argued for smaller moves that add value to the organization at multiple positions in order to make the overall team better.

*I also suggested that the team trade Michael Saunders for Chris Volstad, so not all of my suggestions were good ones. The point isn’t to toot my own horn, but to provide examples of what the opposite strategy might have looked like.

The problem is that the Mariners decided to do neither. As I wrote in the post about the team’s signing of Kevin Millwood, they ended up missing out on good value buys in the market because they decided to cut payroll:

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.

I wasn’t advocating for rebuilding through a massive expansion of the budget, as my overall plan called for a team payroll of around $95 million. Instead, their opening day payroll was $82 million, continuing a trend of budget cuts that began after the disastrous 2008 season. Including that year, their opening day payrolls since 2008:

2008: $117 million
2009: $99 million
2010: $98 million
2011: $86 million
2012: $82 million

Sagging attendance has been given as the main reason for payroll cuts, and given that the team set a new low for attendance in Safeco this year, it’s possible that the organization could continue with their plan of cutting expenses in order to ensure that the franchise doesn’t lose money. However, just as it was last year, that would be a mistake. It’s time for the payroll to go back up.

This isn’t about some kind of “prove your worth to the fans!” cry for attention, or some need to have the organization show they’re “serious about winning”. Those arguments are hollow, and simply play on people’s emotions without actually considering the practical implications of spending money just to spend money. Instead, this is simply a realistic response to the current economic state of Major League Baseball.

On Tuesday, MLB announced that they had reached new deals with both Fox and TBS to extend their rights to postseason baseball coverage through 2021. Previously, they’d reached a separate agreement with ESPN to continue their coverage of the sport through the same time period. The figures that have been bandied about publicly suggest that MLB is going to double their revenue figures from national TV contracts under the new deals, totaling $12.4 billion over the life of the deals, or about $1.5 billion per year. Split 30 ways, you’re talking an average of $52 million per team per year. Previous national TV deals put something like $25 million per year in each team’s pockets.

These deals don’t kick in until 2014, so it’s not like the Mariners suddenly have $25 million in cash that they can spend on whoever they want, but they — along with every other team — just got a significant infusion of guaranteed future revenues. There’s simply no way for hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into Major League Baseball and not have it affect player salaries. These TV deals means that team payrolls across the sport are going to go up.

Put simply, if the Mariners decide to keep the payroll at around $80 million next year, they’ll probably find themselves in the bottom third of MLB teams, and this is not a market that should be settling for bottom third budgets. While the fans haven’t been banging on Safeco’s doors, the market is clearly willing to support a winner, and revenue growth is easily within reach if the team puts a better product on the field. With a cash infusion from MLB’s national television deals, the organization has a chance to put a better product on the field, which could lead to future revenue growth from increased attendance and potential playoff appearances. Investing in the on field product is a good idea.

As I wrote on FanGraphs a few weeks ago, my instinct is that we’re about to see some salary inflation that’s driven from the bottom-up rather than the top-down spending pressure we’ve seen in the past. With the luxury tax proving to be a legitimate deterrent for every team besides the Dodgers, top end payrolls are coming closer towards the league average, and the infusion of television money across the board is pushing up revenues for the lower revenue clubs, leading to a smaller disparity between the highest and lowest payrolls within the game.

The Mariners can’t simply spend $80 million again and hope that they can find enough value buys on the market to make it work. Even with attendance dropping, the positive economics of the sport as a whole have put the organization on solid financial ground, and they can afford to expand the payroll back to something closer to $100 million. It doesn’t mean that they should just get stupid and start throwing money around to guys who aren’t likely to produce at a level that justifies the expense, but the team shouldn’t just sit out the free agent market like they did last year, bypassing legitimately useful guys at reasonable prices simply because attendance had kept going down.

If they want to get fans back at Safeco, the way to do that is to win. Spending money doesn’t equal winning, but spending money in an intelligent way certainly doesn’t hurt. The A’s are where they are in part because they saw Coco Crisp as a free agent value last winter, and they gave him $7 million a year even while “rebuilding” because he was undervalued by the market and they knew he could improve their on field product at a reasonable price. The A’s just ended the season with a division title in front of a sellout crowd, and now they’re going to get some playoff revenues from at least one playoff home game, and potentially much more than that.

The Mariners need to put themselves in a position to be next year’s A’s. They’re not going to go into the season as projected contenders no matter what they do, but they can put enough pieces in place to make things interesting and safeguard against too many things going wrong all at once. And they can get some of those pieces by spending some money this winter. Money that they now have more of, thanks to MLB’s overall success even as their own franchise is struggling.

The organization’s issues won’t simply be solved by wading into the free agent market and signing a marquee hitter. Rebuilding through free agency doesn’t work, and the franchise is best served by continuing to build around young, cost-controlled players who can form a core of a contending team for years to come. But they don’t have enough of those pieces to win, and they can supplement those pieces with good additions this winter, especially now that MLB has given them extra revenues with which to play with.

You should still be happy the team skipped out on Prince Fielder and his onerous contract. You should be less happy that the organization skipped out on making other useful upgrades last winter when those opportunities presented themselves. They shouldn’t make that mistake again this winter. There will be smart ways to increase the payroll this winter, and the organization should take advantage of them. They can’t sit on the sidelines and watch other teams upgrade in an intelligent way again. It’s time to take advantage of those opportunities and give the roster a real chance to win in 2013.


59 Responses to “It is Time for the Payroll to Go Up”

  1. PackBob on October 3rd, 2012 10:18 pm

    If the Mariners by not adding a few players in 2012 sacrificed a few wins to see what they had with the young guys, it seems a fair trade-off. If it fueled the “can’t win because they don’t spend money” crowd, so what? They should have a pretty good idea now what they have and what they want to get.

    Whatever they do, I just hope it doesn’t include holding on to Olivo.

  2. bavasiisgarbage on October 3rd, 2012 10:22 pm


    Hindsight is 20/20, but who knows if they would have discovered what Saunders and Seager could do if they did sign someone, though if those two stayed around they may have forced the issue.

    Seeing a year of development is great, but having a better on-field product would have been nicer…and better happen next year.

  3. G-Man on October 3rd, 2012 10:23 pm

    From Dave’s keyboard to ownership’s eyes.

    I think they’ll have to make a non-trivial move or two this offseason to get moving in the right direction, but I don’t see anything big until that TV deal kicks in and the likes fo Figgins are off the payroll.

    The good news is, there is relatively little money committed beyond 2013; $21 million for Felix is the only big chunk.

  4. Liam on October 3rd, 2012 10:27 pm

    Gate receipts are split between both teams, so Oakland will get money from every playoff game.

  5. DarkKnight1680 on October 3rd, 2012 10:45 pm

    As much as I would like to see them spend more money, the in-house candidates at a lot of spots are more intriguing (and cheaper) than their free-agent counterparts. Some value grabs would be nice but I’m reasonably interested to see how an Ackley-Seager-Zunino-Montero-Jaso-Smoak-Saunders-Gutierrez group would fare given close to full-time jobs in 2013. If Montero could be moved for a young, talented outfielder (could he be packaged with Hultzen for Upton?), and with Miller and Franklin as potential SS option is the near future…there’s the makings of a home-grown core here. I’d hate to ship those guys out for mid-priced veteran fill-ins only to watch them bloom elsewhere. Though that is the Mariner way.

  6. thurston24 on October 3rd, 2012 10:57 pm

    I’m all for spending money as long as it’s smart. Please don’t overpay for someone in years and dollars (Hamilton could cause a massive overpay for some team). If they can add an above average outfielder, a starting pitcher, and a decent catcher who hits right handed and plays defense, I’d be elated. Also, they need to resign Iwakuma. If all of that happens, I think next year will be a pretty good one with the prospects coming up, the young players continuing their development, and the fences coming in.

  7. nwade on October 3rd, 2012 11:01 pm

    As others have said, taking the year to sit-tight and evaluate the existing talent wasn’t a horrible move.

    But if they don’t expand payroll for 2013, it’ll add a TON of fuel to the fire with regard to the “Mariners are for sale” rumor. EVEN if they lose a little bit of money in 2013/2014, raising payroll now makes it more likely the team is on the up-swing and producing some results _before_ they renegotiate the local TV deals in 2014/2015. I think having wins tick upwards and attendance start to climb gives them leverage at the contract-negotiation table; and results in a better TV contract that provides more money over the long term. I can’t imagine than an extra $10-20 million now won’t be made up for with improved TV contract revenues (and box-office sales) over the next 3-10 years.

  8. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2012 11:35 pm

    I’m really hoping inaction isn’t the watchword in the Mariners front office this winter. But if they choose to sign free agents, they’re going to have to cut loose at least one or two of the fringy types that are now out of options (e.g. Trayvon, Carp).

    A trade scenario might be better, but we’d obviously have to give up somebody we’d rather not – it’s not like we’d get much talent straight up for most of these borderline guys.

    I dunno… I believe Dave’s right, and I’m hoping that’s what the front office is thinking. But there have just enough examples of inaction in the past – such as last winter overall, or the fact that Figgins is still on the roster – that I’m now in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp. That’s actually overstating it, since the phrase implies I don’t think anything will happen – it’s more that I’m just not going to assume something will happen.

    What happens this winter, in my opinion, will give us a clear read on the intent of the FO and ownership. In the past, inaction could be explained – but it seems to me we’re at the point where they have to fish or cut bait. And no, I’m not necessarily talking about selling the team. Another possibility is the ownership is happy to turn a small profit and continue running a mediocre product out there, year after year.

  9. Dave on October 3rd, 2012 11:39 pm

    There is no rumor that the team is for sale. There’s one irresponsible writer making stuff up.

  10. californiamariner on October 4th, 2012 12:12 am

    With all due respect to the “Ackley-Seager-Zunino-Montero-Jaso-Smoak-Saunders-Gutierrez group” I wouldn’t expect a lot of wins if there aren’t some better players in the mix. I want a team that can make the playoffs whether that be this year or perhaps more realistically in 2014. Our hopes are on the upswing right now. Here is to management coming through! I am looking forward to the offseason plan post.

  11. bavasiisgarbage on October 4th, 2012 1:15 am

    If this team, with an 80 million payroll, thinks that is not low enough and waits ANOTHER year just to get rid of figgins, im done. That is RIDDICULOUS. One bad contract is NO excuse to stall a whole team.

    I am interested in the core as well, but maybe other teams are….just saying, creative moves to bring in value (well known or undervalued) could be big for this team. And getting a proven bat. I love development and potential, sure, but I’m sick of every damn hitter in this lineup weakly popping up with runners on, and it being chalked to development. SURE, yeah that is great. But we can’t have everyone with a smidgeon of potential take their sweet time to develop.

    Lol, I’m ranting, but we have to be shrewd and creative. Just waiting around is not the way to go. Baseball is entertainment, not my startup. Don’t need to incubate and wait.

  12. GarForever on October 4th, 2012 6:56 am

    DarkKnight — I appreciate the sentiment, but most of the guys you mention did have a crack at full time jobs this season. The only exceptions were Zunino (obviously), Jaso (whom it took Wedge a third of the season to figure out was the best hitter on the team), and Gutierrez (who, well, you know…)

    Seager and Saunders had nice seasons, and I see no reason why they can’t replicate them next year (no unsustainable BABIP, wacko plate-discipline numbers, and so on), and 6 WAR for what those guys are making, plus a full season of Jaso mashing righties will help. But as Dave has noted, Smoak’s September Surprise may be nothing more than a statistical blip (he’s done this sort of thing before). The fences being moved will probably help him especially, but unless he takes the job by the throat and makes it impossible not to play him, he should start the season in AAA. And Ackley — dear God, he just looks over-matched most of the time, and I hope he’s not the new Jeremy Reed.

    I’d say outside of the handful of guys who have already demonstrated an ability to play well and be indisputably valuable at the major-league level (Seager, Saunders, Jaso), there shouldn’t be any sacred cows. If the Mariners can find a good value at a position where they have an obvious question marks, they should do so in my opinion.

  13. maqman on October 4th, 2012 7:05 am

    The Dodgers new owners spent a fortune to drive up interest in the team before they sign their new TV deal this off-season because they know the TV money will more than cover the new costs. I have seen a believable estimate that they will get about $225MM AAV for 20 years. The M’s are a smaller market but their local deal will probably double if not more than they are getting now. They have got two seasons to drive up interest in the team to boost their TV revenue when they renegotiate. If they have to operate at a loss for a couple of years that’s a smart money move. If they don’t get it then sell the team to somebody who does.

  14. Mariners35 on October 4th, 2012 7:05 am

    No one should doubt that spending alone guarantees anything, and with the 2012 regular season done we have two glaring examples.

    1. Fielder. He was worth 5 WAR, says fangraphs. Mariner DHs did no better than 2.7. First basemen were almost exactly zero. Yet adding five wins to this year’s team doesn’t even make it barely .500.

    2. The LOLs Angeles Angels. They spent 1.7 million per win this season and still missed the postseason. They got the best pitcher in free agency, the (as of last winter) best hitter alive in trade, have the AL ROY and MVP candidate… but money and good luck in rookies didn’t magically make them work. Past contracts like Wells came around to bite them, and a clunker of a start from Pujols helped put them in a hole they never got out of.

    I don’t know if what the A’s did for success this year is part of year over year sustainable success. But the end to this season, compared to everyone’s assertions this past winter, should be a reminder that no one knows a damn thing. There are obvious moves to make and obvious things to avoid, but still, we should all temper expectations and predictions about every team.

    Hopefully seeing a variety of approaches get teams to the postseason, plus the falling out of fashion of projection systems like pythag, can be a starting place to tamping down hyperbole, hype and overconfident forecasting, this winter.

  15. furlong on October 4th, 2012 7:06 am

    I think the Jeremy Reed comparison is very apt because that is what I have thought ever since he came up.

  16. asuray on October 4th, 2012 7:12 am

    Any chance Wedge goes away? Manny Acta is out there. He certainly didn’t work wonders for the 2012 Indians, but previous comments he has made regarding on-field strategy lead me to believe that he might have a more enlightened approach than Wedge.

  17. eponymous coward on October 4th, 2012 7:16 am

    If the Mariners by not adding a few players in 2012 sacrificed a few wins to see what they had with the young guys, it seems a fair trade-off.

    Except that this not only meant it depressed 2012 attendance, but it also depresses 2013 attendance. Attendance is a trailing indicator of team quality (your best attendance years will be the ones AFTER you win the World Series). That reduces the resources the team has- and Tampa, Cleveland and Oakland are good examples of what happens when you repeatedly kick a fanbase in the teeth- they don’t draw when they have good teams.

    Some value grabs would be nice but I’m reasonably interested to see how an Ackley-Seager-Zunino-Montero-Jaso-Smoak-Saunders-Gutierrez group would fare given close to full-time jobs in 2013

    Zunino’s had minimal time as a pro. Everyone else on that list either has had full-time jobs and are what they are, or is made out of glass- and even if you add 6 wins to today’s talent base (this is about a ~75 win true talent team), you still have a .500 team. In a division with Oakland, Anaheim and Texas, do you really want your hopes for Mariner contention to revolve around being a ,500 team and hoping you get lucky, and that you’re the 1 in 10 .500 team that ends up winning high 80s-low 90s just based on pure luck?

    This team as it stands today isn’t THAT good.

    That being said…

    Put simply, if the Mariners decide to keep the payroll at around $80 million next year, they’ll probably find themselves in the bottom third of MLB teams, and this is not a market that should be settling for bottom third budgets.

    You’d think that, but I am worried that the team is going to go “Hey, we can give Smoak a chance! And Guti! We’ve got kids! Look at Oakland- they pay less than we do! We’re clearly making progress! We’ll be fine, and let’s not spend money we don’t have yet…” Just looking at how things went this September, where we saw way too much Olivo, I have a feeling he’s coming back, for one. Wedge clearly likes him, and Wedge is not going to be fired with the team thinking that everything’s going well on the rebuilding front, so he’ll have input into bringing players back.

    If you pressed a gun to my temple and asked for my prediction, I’d guess the team will spend around 80ish million next year, will take Olivo’s option, might trade Vargas for what they can get or try to bring him back on a two year deal with a guarantee that is a lower annual cost than what he would get in arbitration (similar to what they did with Ryan), they’ll make one Figgins-type deal for a midrange FA, probably an OF, (hopefully without being such a complete disaster like Figgins), maybe extend Felix, spend some time going through stuff left on the curb by other teams for Large Item Pickup Day for value- and call it done. They will start experimenting with Montero at 1B in spring training while letting Smoak and Carp play for the job. The hope will be this team is the Oakland of 2013, and if they catch fire the attendance rebounds AND there’s a lot more money to play with in 2014. The downside risk is that if they blow it on some decisions (Smoak goes back to being the crapfest he was, Montero’s the new Karim Garcia, the FA doesn’t live up to expectations), this is a lost year.

  18. hejuk on October 4th, 2012 7:20 am

    Isn’t the tv contract up for renegotiation in 2015? And if so, wouldn’t the value of winning (and so increased ratings) in the next couple years be disproportionately high?

  19. groundzero55 on October 4th, 2012 8:49 am

    Well, we have been given a potential out on the Figgins thing – he himself has now stated that he wants out, publicly.

  20. Mariners35 on October 4th, 2012 8:54 am

    Attendance is a trailing indicator of team quality (your best attendance years will be the ones AFTER you win the World Series). That reduces the resources the team has

    With all the talk of TV contracts around, for baseball overall and some regional networks specifically, attendance / gate ticket sales are a lesser part of overall resources. Lower attendance is as much or more a PR problem, and a poorer looking product on TV, than it is a revenue stream problem.

    If TV ratings and thus ad dollars and thus TV revenue is tumbling, that’s a problem. Or if attendance has a direct tie to ad revenue, that’s a problem.

    But I just don’t think attendance being down as a reason or excuse for lower overall budget and especially for lower payroll, flies at all anymore.

  21. Mariners35 on October 4th, 2012 9:15 am

    And I wonder if they just flat cut Figgins, or make a token effort to get like some AA scrub for him.

  22. Al on October 4th, 2012 9:24 am

    Hearing about the additional TV revenue doesn’t make it easier for me to swallow the increased season ticket prices. Give the fans a break!

  23. BillyJive on October 4th, 2012 10:37 am

    Figgins has publicly stated now that he does not want to play for the Mariners any longer. When was he playing for us??? The feeling is mutual Chone…thanks for…..nothing.

  24. Typical Idiot Fan on October 4th, 2012 10:40 am

    Chone wants out. Well, retire. Oh does that forfeit your remaining contract and keep you out of baseball for a while? Shucks.

  25. Westside guy on October 4th, 2012 10:53 am

    I can think of worse things than being paid $9 million a year while sitting on a bench…

  26. Westside guy on October 4th, 2012 10:59 am

    Hey, guys, Chris Chambliss isn’t being brought back – so Chone Figgins will be fixed in 2013!

  27. stevemotivateir on October 4th, 2012 11:00 am

    It could very well be that the team didn’t spend last year because they believed they wouldn’t have had a chance in hell to compete regardless. They may have felt that it was more important to see what holes could be filled internally before reaching outside of the organization, while saving money in the process.

    Whatever the reasoning, I’m not suggesting that was smart. In fact, it seriously disappointed me to see such a lack of effort last year. But my point is that they may very well be willing to spend this year. The holes are more clear now and they could address them decently without increasing payroll that drastically, as committed salaries are considerably less. We’ll find out soon. Looking forward to Dave’s off-season plan.

  28. eponymous coward on October 4th, 2012 11:42 am

    Sound like if there is action, it won’t be a lot of free agents…

    In a playbook borrowed from small-market teams everywhere, the Mariners keep hinting they will spend when the time is “right.” And yet, there is no definition given as to what that entails.

    “I don’t think it’s a secret that if there was a bat that we were able to pursue that would be a good fit for us, we would pursue it,” Zduriencik said this week.

    But at the same time, he added, the free-agent market looks weak and might require teams “to get creative” in seeking upgrades.

    Basically, it will be Cliff Lee-style maneuvers.

  29. sjudy on October 4th, 2012 11:44 am

    Other sites say that the M’s will likely continue to try and trade for hitting while signing pitching or growing it on the farm.
    I would give up Paxton + parts for a hitter (J. Upton) and kick the tires on some that may not be publicly available (E. Andrus).
    If we are still going to sign pitching, why not kick the tires on Haren? If he turns it around, he’ll have good value. If not, we’d still rather have him over Beaven, right?

  30. sexymarinersfan on October 4th, 2012 12:03 pm

    Rumor has it Upton is going to Texas in a trade surrounding Andrus to fill their SS need if the Rangers decide they can’t keep Hamilton.

  31. eponymous coward on October 4th, 2012 12:21 pm

    f TV ratings and thus ad dollars and thus TV revenue is tumbling, that’s a problem. Or if attendance has a direct tie to ad revenue, that’s a problem.

    I strongly suspect it does. And the market in Seattle isn’t going to get easier as the Sounders and potential NBA/NHL teams enter the mix.

  32. stevemotivateir on October 4th, 2012 12:34 pm

    Maybe we actually manage to rid ourselves of the Figgins issue this off-season? With him making it clear, publicly, that he wants out, something should get done! I know I’d have a lot more respect for him if he were to walk away from the contract.

  33. Badbadger on October 4th, 2012 12:50 pm

    Unless Figgins’ desire not to be here translates into him being willing to retire or somehow renegotiate his contract so we’re paying him less, I don’t see how it changes anything. I don’t get the logic behind keeping him just because we owe him money, but the M’s clearly think it’s the thing to do and I can’t see any other team wanting him for any reason.

  34. Westside guy on October 4th, 2012 12:57 pm

    I’m sure there are a number of teams that’ll be willing to take a flier on Figgins if it only costs them $400K – but who cares? He has no place here, he’s failed, let him go.

  35. jephdood on October 4th, 2012 2:41 pm

    At which positions do you bring in FA’s? Which of the young guys do you bail on? I see a glaring hole at catcher (can Jaso and Zunino fill it?), an offensive anchor at SS (we all know his defense is great, but can’t we find someone serviceable on both sides??), and a couple of OF spots up for grabs. Is Smoak out the door? Ackley? Nah.. What to do with Wells? Starting staff? Where do we put our money if we want to spend more next year?

  36. diderot on October 4th, 2012 3:22 pm

    Hamilton is obviously talented…and a total mess. Did you see the fly ball he ran past yesterday? He’s a space cadet. I’d stay miles away from him, as I’m sure the Rangers will.

    So Upton for Andrus and pieces seems like a no brainer, as much as I’d like to see Upton in Seattle.

    I’m sure one of the emerging questions over the winter is whether we should make an offer to his brother.

  37. Jopa on October 4th, 2012 3:24 pm

    The Mariners like to publicize how they’ve barely made money most years and lost money a few years (with the exception of huge profits in 2001). What they don’t talk about publicly is how they bought the team for around $150 million and it’s now worth over $700 million.

    Operating profit/loss has paled in comparison to the unrealized gain of the team’s value. These guys have made a ton of money.

    Further, smart businessmen know that you have to invest today to reap the benefits in the future, even if it leads to operating losses in the short-term.

    An extension for Felix is the highest priority. That alone would help attract FA’s. A bump to $100M/yr in team payroll is fair.

  38. Mariners2620 on October 4th, 2012 3:36 pm

    B.J. Upton is an attractive option that shouldn’t be too pricey. His OBP is pretty atrocious though. Justin upton would be huge. I would have no qualms about giving up a couple of our better prospects either.

  39. bookbook on October 4th, 2012 3:56 pm

    How big of a challenge will the curse of Theo be? Won’t Boston and maybe Chicago be out there spending like the owner of a video store who thinks he’s dying of a brain tumor so won’t be around when the bill comes due? (I could see Detroit and LA continuing to do the same, actually.)

  40. roosevelt on October 4th, 2012 4:00 pm

    Chone…. offer to tear up you K! Then become a free agent. Win Win for everyone. Do it Man!!!

    I don’t think the M’s have a chance to become next years Oakland A’s. We just don’t have that mind-set with the present Mgt. team.

  41. just a fan on October 4th, 2012 4:29 pm

    Obviously the positions to fill are OF and 1B. The M’s won 75 games this year, which seems about where they were pegged. A couple quality additions and luck with youth progress and the M’s could be in the playoff mix.

    At least we’re not drafting third overall again next year.

  42. groundzero55 on October 4th, 2012 7:49 pm

    Nobody is mentioning the growing problem at 2B. Can/will Ackley rebound? He was supposed to be the superior talent to Seager, but Seager has thrived while Ackley has flailed. What if Ackley continues to struggle…

  43. Sports on a Shtick on October 4th, 2012 8:06 pm

    “Nobody is mentioning the growing problem at 2B. Can/will Ackley rebound? He was supposed to be the superior talent to Seager, but Seager has thrived while Ackley has flailed. What if Ackley continues to struggle…”

    At least there is some depth coming up that could fill in at 2B. Carolos Triunfel, Nick Franklin, Stefen Romero and Brad Miller are viable options that aren’t very far away.

    I don’t think the M’s will or even should feel inclined to spend X dollars this offseason. It wouldn’t surprise me if the team consolidated talent though via trade — perhaps even a blockbuster. Seattle has a lot of interesting minor leaguers to dangle during the winter meetings…

  44. henryv on October 4th, 2012 9:18 pm

    I don’t know that Ackley’s 1.5 WAR is failure, especially considering he’s 24, and posted a 2.8 last year. Especially considering his BABIP is very low (.265) for his LD% (19.2%).

    His contact rate is up, and his K rate is down. He may not be a 4 win player yet, but he certainly isn’t a failure, and I don’t think he’s one of the biggest holes in the roster.

    I’d be inclined to fill a gap in the rotation with a starting pitcher, a LF, and perhaps a catcher on a one or two year contract, to give Zunino a chance to play one more year in the minors if he needs it.

    Determine if Montero can play 1st, and make sure you’ve got a DH available who can also play 1B.

  45. sexymarinersfan on October 4th, 2012 9:51 pm

    Brad Miller, Stefan Romero, Nick Franklin, and Carlos Triunfel could all be vying for INF spots. Romero’s natural position is 3B while Seager could shift to 2B, with the others all possible 2B candidates.

  46. Westside guy on October 4th, 2012 10:04 pm

    I gotta say – talking about moving a guy off third who hits reasonably well and provides well above-average defense seems… nuts.

  47. sonichound on October 4th, 2012 10:31 pm

    I am not sure about Justin Upton. He only hit 17 HR this year and 2/3 of those were at home. They have the 6th best park to hit HR in and he hit 60 points lower away from home. Maybe the new dimensions would help him but I wouldn’t give up give up a ton to get him. I am not a huge fan of reading too much into batting average either. The difference between a .200 and a.300 hitter is about a hit every 3 games. I am more concerned with how productive those hits are than the qty. Sure, if you fill your lineup with guys who are all getting an extra hit every three games you will be better, but there is definitely some reading between the lines that needs to happen.

  48. bavasiisgarbage on October 4th, 2012 11:04 pm

    Dave, this blog and Shannon Drayer’s blog give very thorough analysis of players, but from totally different perspectives. Which do you feel is a more correct means to think about the day-to-day and now season-to-offseason prospects of players? Reason I ask is that we see more of the human element in Shannon’s posts (how hard the player is working, adjustments being made, factors that may play in) while this site’s analysis is focused soley on stats (no quotes really).

    Love this site, just curious..

  49. gerrythek on October 4th, 2012 11:24 pm

    Don’t forget that, with Houston coming over, other teams in the AL West will have a much better shot at the wild card. I have no doubt that, if Houston was in the division this year, Anaheim would have beat out Baltimore for the second wild card.

  50. Phightin Phils on October 5th, 2012 12:24 am

    Oakland beat up Texas in the final season series. It was a great 3 days in this baseball season, for sure. So who’s roster from those 2 teams would you take, if you could, next year? Are any a sure bet for the playoffs next year?

    I made it to the season’s final game Wednesday. It was quiet most of the game, in spite of the joy that comes with an explosion of runs. Looking around (and my son and I walked to many parts of Safeco) I just couldn’t help but think that another couple years of rebuilding is not going to hurt attendance potential long term. Of course if we start winning (or when Felix shines) the place is going to fill up. But as far as long term damage, I doubt it.

    To point, on the way to the game on Wednesday, I listened to the final innings of the Texas Oakland game. Did you hear that Oakland crowd in the bottom of the 8th inning? Given some patience, that could be Safeco rocking again, like that glimpse we had at King Felix County Day.

    Random: one other poster made a comment about our manager, that made me think of the 2011 Rangers. Those Rangers were 1 strike away, more than once. Is that moment – one strike – within the margin of error of a manager’s impact? How about more than one 1-strike moment? Is it okay to lose patience at least with that aspect of our team.

  51. bavasiisgarbage on October 5th, 2012 2:58 am

    Could of more rebuilding years may not ruin attendance long-term, but do you want to sit back and watch it? I would rather the team makes smart acquisitions with the purpose of winning and developing instead of just playing a roster full of prosepcts.

  52. stevemotivateir on October 5th, 2012 7:01 am


    The difference between a .200 hitter and .300 hitter is not a hit every third game. Hitters hovering around .200 typically (the M’s are an exception!) find themselves lower in the order with fewer AB’s, or on the bench. But if both had the same number of AB’s, say five a game, the difference would show in just two games (on average). Base hits with nobody on are important, just as hits with runners on are. It’s not just about the hit with runners in scoring position, it’s the set-up to do that. Wearing the pitcher down, making him throw from the stretch, etc. I’ll take a .300 hitter over a .200 any day of the week, and have a .275 hitter like Jaso to clean-up:)

  53. Mariners35 on October 5th, 2012 8:54 am

    I’d be inclined to fill a gap in the rotation with a starting pitcher, a LF, and perhaps a catcher on a one or two year contract, to give Zunino a chance to play one more year in the minors if he needs it. Determine if Montero can play 1st, and make sure you’ve got a DH available who can also play 1B.

    I will not believe the whole “Montero to 1b” meme until we actually see Montero playing there fulltime in spring training. I know the org has speculated about it, and that Dave is convinced it should happen, but I would want to see a fuller year of his catching first. Compelling Wedge to actually play the catchers as catchers, by giving him only Jaso and Montero to work with, could help. I fear that any catcher obtained will get overused, because he’s got the kid gloves on for Montero and a deathly fear of playing Jaso against a righty ever.

    Rather than all the position flipping nonsense we’ve seen in the org, I’d rather see the M’s trade for or buy a truly superior first baseman, and legit corner outfielders, and use DH for getting additional at-bats for the best hitters. This Ackley to left field, Montero to first base, Liddi at 1b I mean 3b I mean LF, Figgins to everywhere, Mariner Moose to center field, etc. … it’s silly. What it’s doing is putting a bandaid over the real problem, which is finding and developing truly above average talent at specific positions, and having depth at specific positions. The forced versatility / utility model has not been working, and I doubt there’s many organizations recently that have made it work for more than a couple players at a time.

  54. Mariners35 on October 5th, 2012 9:47 am

    Don’t forget that, with Houston coming over, other teams in the AL West will have a much better shot at the wild card.

    Everyone in the west is playing the same 19 games against them. And everyone in the AL is playing more games against them and less against other possibly average or better teams. So any perceived advantage is lost because everyone else is getting that chance too.

    Unless you’re speculating that one team or another in the West, or the other 4 teams in the West in general, will be measurably better at beating up on the DisAstros than everyone else.

    Sometimes a team just has another team’s number. I mean, this season alone – the Tigers are AL Central champs. They’re like, what, 1-6? 2-7? against the M’s.

  55. Mariners35 on October 5th, 2012 9:50 am

    this blog and Shannon Drayer’s blog give very thorough analysis of players, but from totally different perspectives. Which do you feel is a more correct means to think about the day-to-day and now season-to-offseason prospects of players?

    It isn’t either/or, and shouldn’t be. There’s a variety of perspectives to take into account. This blog isn’t the only sabr-minded one. Drayer’s isn’t the only one with access to player backgrounds and interviews. There’s professional scouts who can break down swings and arm angles and approaches. And so on.

    It’s not either/or. Just like the AL MVP discussion shouldn’t be an either/or of traditional v. new stats…

  56. californiamariner on October 5th, 2012 10:33 am

    It seems like most people agree the Mariners need to bring in an outfielder, which I think is indisputable. However, I don’t agree with all the people saying the Mariners need to bring in a catcher. Remember how Wedge used Olivo? He clearly doesn’t trust Montero and Jaso back there full time, so we most likely would overuse the veteran again, whether it is Olivo (geez I hope not) or someone else. I’d rather force Wedge to use Montero and Jaso everyday. Then when Zunino comes up you still have 3 catchers.

  57. jordan on October 5th, 2012 3:57 pm

    We need Billy Beane

  58. djw on October 7th, 2012 3:40 pm

    I continue to be fascinated by the number of people who seem to be casually assuming that Carlos Triunfel may be the answer to a question worth asking. In his 700-odd plate appearances at AAA, he’s shown basically nothing. He’s young enough to keep around and hope he turns a corner, but there’s no sign that he has–since 2009, he’s looked like a busted prospect.

    Other than some optimism left over from 2008, what is it, exactly, about the .310 wOBA in AAA combined with defensive hopelessness is causing people to get excited about what he brings to the table going forward? I honestly don’t understand it.

  59. Badbadger on October 8th, 2012 12:09 pm

    I’d rather force Wedge to use Montero and Jaso everyday .

    Jaso yes, I disagree on Montero though. Montero isn't a good enough catcher to play that position and Zunino is going to push him out of there anyways, I don't see the point in wasting time and putting wear on his knees keeping him behind the plate. Montero's value is as a hitter, and if he's sitting out half the games to back up Jaso then we waste that. I think they Montero should do some kind of winter ball as a first baseman and if it doesn’t work out make him the DH.

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