Friday, November 30, 2007

The Santana Possibility

Okay, so the M's are apparently players in the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

Before we get too terribly excited, I'm not sure that the Mariners have anything they can offer that would match Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and another well regarded prospect in a trade for the perennial all-star.

There's great debate among the Mariner blogosphere about whether or not to include prospects such as Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, and Jeff Clement. I, on the other hand, am completely convinced that there's one and only one solution: Obtain Santana at all costs.

I'm not going to spend pages on why I believe so, but to put it concisely - what do we know about Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, and Jeff Clement versus what do we know about Santana?

Adam Jones has a very good (borderline terrific) minor league track record and a mediocre major league one. He is regarded by most reputable scouts and baseball wonks as a great talent and he may very well turn into an all-star caliber player in the future. He has demonstrated high average, speed, power, and defensive ability. Yet while he just might be lighting in a bottle, there's nothing that says this Jones will be better than Jacques Jones in his major league career. There's simply no guarantee.

Brandon Morrow was lights-out for half a season and demonstrated major control problems for another half. He may play out as a good major league starter, but is regarded as a project with a live arm. Frankly, there are dozens of projects with live arms.

Jeff Clement? Great college player with a questionable work ethic and an equally questionable bat speed. Great talent - but are we trading the next Jason Varitek or the next Rene Rivera?

Point is - Johan Santana is a difference maker - guaranteed. He is the modern day version of what we had in Randy Johnson back in 1995 - the guy that could go out there and stop a losing streak, throw a shutout and save the bullpen, stick it to a division rival, whatever - but a guy who can demonstrate moxie that no other pitcher can. He has done it for years and he's young enough to do it for years to come. He is a rarity that teams must grab and clutch on to for dear life - he is a franchise.

He is a difference maker and the Mariners desperately need a difference maker in lieu of a highly touted prospect which we may wait for years to develop, a reliever who might be a good starter, and a catching prospect which we don't know what to do with.

Honestly, it'll probably take more than Jones, Morrow, and Clement. If there is a God, maybe we can include Jose Lopez. But does Bavasi have the nuts? Probably not. Because in my estimation - all GM's overvalue prospects and regret it later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More on Hiroki Kuroda

Not much happening in Mariner land these days - hopefully they're gearing up for the Winter meetings and filling some of the monstrous holes we have in this roster. But there have been a few interesting articles about Kuroda and who might be serious players:

The LA Daily suggests the M's have made a three year offer for $30 mil says the mighty Royals are interested, which has to mean the price isn't going to get too terribly high you'd think (or they're just posturing for fans).

A story from the "AZ Snakepit" suggests that Kuroda's home park was one of the most offensively friendly parks in Japan. I have nothing to back that up - but if it's true, perhaps the Safe could be a good environment for him (of course, they're saying the same thing about Chase field). Apparently, his home park was 300 to left and 300 to right and just 380 dead center. I think I'm going to get my old Easton out of the basement and hit the batting cage - I might even be able to hit a few bombs there...

From MLB Trade Rumors, via Yahoo! Japan Kuroda is seeking 4 years, $45 mil and hopes to make his decision tomorrow (the 29th)! Holy crap.

And lastly, Kuroda has his own website: It's all in Japanese, so I don't understand a damned thing he's saying, but I decided to run his last post through Alta Vista Babelfish and got this:

"You neglected. It came to the point of doing the representative and meeting on the 28th. Simply, when you decide, whether in newspaper reporting and the like in that day carp remaining behind or measure transfer it had come out, but there are no times when conclusion is put out in that day. The day the representative coming from America, receives present historical report, among those would like to think of directivity once more securely. In addition there was also reporting the contact with シアトルマリナーズ, but the fact that it has contact is fact, but it does not receive either bidding because and, you greeted just is truly casually, is not the case that directivity is decided, is. Simply it receives the report from the representative on the 28th and thinks once more securely and the directivity whether if remaining behind or measure transfer of can put out conclusion ahead of time, with you think."

And that almost certainly translates into good news for the Mariners, don't you think? Hmmm...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So things might be picking up on the Kuroda front. According to the usually-reliable Larry LaRue over at the Tacoma News Trib, the M's are going to pack up Bavasi and crew and fly to Tokyo, where residents will be menaced by Bavasi's size and shiny head. But apparently, the M's are going beyond the general niceties of letting his agent know of their interest, what a great community Seattle has for Japanese folks, that the M's have a fighting chance of winning, and oh, our catcher will be able to understand what the hell it is you're saying. They may get down to brass-tax, which according to Larry, might run in the 11-million per year range, which is pretty terrifying.

I don't know a whole lot about Kuroda. I mean, yeah, I've looked at his numbers and they seem generally solid, if not great. But examples of good and bad imports abound.

I'm not sure if you've seen this, but there's a YouTube account out there called 'AceKuroda' where you can watch just about any video of our man of the hour. I watched quite a few of them, including the marathon at bat that Matsui had against him years ago. Seems like the guy has nice stuff, good slider and splitter, and what appears to be late movement on his fastball away from lefties. But I don't get where the article says "scouts say Kuroda throws 96" - based on these videos, he doesn't throw terribly hard - a lot of his fastballs registered at 145-146 km/h which is roughly 90 mph. Check out the conversion if you'd like to check for yourself. I'm no pitching coach, so I won't analyze his mechanics and make some sweeping generalization for health and success in the MLB.

If you'd like historical stats, you can find them here. I tend to like that he typically gives up fewer hits than innings pitched, seems to have pretty good control and he's got enough zip or deception to have about a 7 K's/per 9IP ratio. But he did give up 20 HR's last year - which is just three fewer than Jeff Weaver served up. I have no idea about park-effects in Japan, so I won't even venture to argue it...

Seems to me if we can sign him up for Batista-like money, it'd be a good risk. There's a chance he could come over here and perform like a #3 starter - win 13 or 14 games and chaw up innings; of course, then there's the chance that he sucks. But hey, he's got to be better than HoRam, right?

Friday, November 16, 2007

know when to fold 'em?

So The Gambler dumps The Prince of Darkness as an agent and now we discover that the M's are interested in Rogers. Apparently, Batista and Washburn just aren't old enough and crappy enough for the M's - they'd like to upgrade the oldness and crappiness and throw into the mix the potential for beating the crap out of Brad Adam at Fox Sports NW.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Would you end-around The Prince of Darkness for $275 million dollars?

that's what Yahoo is suggesting A-Rod just did to try and re-up with the Yanks. For as much as I can't stand Rodriguez as an individual, I'd be pretty damned impressed if he eschewed the Jolly-Greed-Giant of Scott Boras in order to bring quick resolution to the debacle of his young free agency.

This also keeps him away from the Angels, which can only be considered a good thing. Maybe they'll blow their extra cash on some horrific free agent contracts towards Carlos Silva and Toriiii (yes, I know that's a typo) Hunter and bring some parity back to the AL West for the foreseeable future.

M's Offseason 2006/2007 Revisited: Nov-Dec 2006

I touched on the Soriano/HoRam deal in a blog post last winter. While we know how that one turned out (shocking!), I thought this might be a good time to review the moves from the previous offseason coming into a surprisingly entertaining 2007 Mariner campaign.

Here is a list of last year's November & December moves, along with letter grades and some thoughts:

Signed INF/OF Willie Bloomquist to a one-year contract extension. New deal totaled $1.825 MM over the next two seasons.

GRADE: B. Not much to say. Have to have utilities guys.

12/4/06 Signed OF Jose Guillen to a one-year contract worth $5 million, with an option for 2008.

GRADE: A-. .290/23/99, pretty good 2007 campaign. Not spectacular, but very good for the price they paid.

12/7/06 (Busy day)

-Acquired LHP Horacio Ramirez from the Braves in exchange for RHP Rafael Soriano.

GRADE: F. Thought about an F+ for a while, but couldn't justify it. This deal had us at hello with how terrible it was. Historicals have already been covered, so let's get to 2007:
  • Soriano (ATL): 72 IP, 3-3, 9 S, 19 Holds, 3.00 ERA, .86 WHIP, 70 K, .181 BAA. Salary: $1.2 MM.
  • Ramirez (SEA): 98 IP, 8-7, 7.16 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 40 K, .332 BBA. Salary: $2.65 MM.

M's get stuck with a player who can't make their 2008 roster. Braves get a future closer with a ton of trade value. To be fair, last January I compared this deal to the deal the Pirates got for LaRoche. At the time I thought PIT got a MUCH better deal than Seattle. So let's see how the PIT/ATL deal worked out:

  • Gonzalez (ATL): Limited by an elbow injury: 17 IP, 2-0, 2 SV, 5 Holds, 1.59 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .246 BAA. Salary: $2.35 MM.
  • LaRoche (PIT): Horrible first half. Just horrid. .272/21/88/71 OPS: .808. Salary: $3.2 MM.

Tough to judge the deal since Gonzo got hurt, but it is safe to say that 1 LaRoche is worth 4 or 5 HoRams.

-Acquired RHP Sean White from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash considerations.

Grade: D+: Limited to 35 IP due to bicep tendinitis. Was able to put up a 5.60 ERA & 1.56 WHIP before the injury.

12/12/06 Non-tendered RHP Joel Pineiro.

Grade: A. Free at last, free at last!!! What's funnier...Boston giving him $4 million in 2007 after he was cut by the M's or STL giving him a 2 year, $13 million contract after managing a 3.96 ERA over the last two months of the season with the Cards? Remember when he was going to close for the Red Sox? LOL

12/14/06 Signed RHP Miguel Batista to a three-year contract.

Grade: B-. 193 IP, 16-11, 4.29 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 133 K's, .282 BAA. Slightly better in the 2nd half of the season but not enough to get excited about. He is what he is. 2007 Salary: $6 MM.

12/18/06 Acquired INF Jose Vidro and cash considerations from the Washington Nationals in exchange for RHP Emiliano Fruto and OF Chris Snelling.

Grade: B-: Vidro finished the year with a huge 2nd half (.354 BA, .423 OBP). Huge for him, which means 19 TOTAL extra base hits in 66 games. A nice improvement over the 13 extra base hits he had in his first 80 games. That has to be tough to do. 2007 final tally: .316/6/59/78, with zero SB to go with his lack of power. .383 OBP, .780 OPS. M's paid him $6 million in 2007 and get to do it again in 2008.

Snelling was a non-factor due to injuries. He was recently claimed by Tampa Bay off waivers, so we'll see what he can do for the new-look Rays in '08.

Fruto: 3-9 with a 5.26 ERA in 18 appearances, including 16 starts, for Triple-A Columbus before he was dealt to the Diamondbacks as part of the Wily Mo Pena deal. Definitely nothing to write home about.

Nov-Dec Report Card: B, A-, F, D+, A, B-, B- Looks a lot like my freshman year in college...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A reason to be happy: Bavasi didn't do this

Evidence that drinking heavily, growing unsightly facial hair, existing well over the prescribed Body Mass Index, having an escalating ERA, BAA, and WHIP while a declining K/IP rate not to mention the old MPH's on his fastball, and generally doing his best David Wells impersonation - can still make you a very, very rich man.

Yeah, I know this happened a few days ago - but it still warrants a post. Todd Jones, ladies and gents, $7 million clams. When I first saw the headline that someone gave him that much money, I actually said a little prayer that it wasn't the M's - because between the M's and maybe the Orioles, I couldn't think of too many boneheaded GM's that would do this. But I guess when Zumaya went down, logic went with him.

So congratulations, Todd Jones - you have impeccable timing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I'm as big a fan of Raul Ibanez as anyone.

Wait, let me start over.

I'm as big a fan of Raul Ibanez as anyone, provided he's hitting against a right hander.

Apparently, he is drawing interest from several teams.

Let's recap what we know about the M's roster and Ibanez:

* Ibanez shouldn't be allowed to hit vs. lefties. He hit .256 with a staggeringly low .650 OPS vs. left handed pitchers. This isn't an anomaly - he posted a .663 OPS vs. lefties in 2006.

* He is productive vs. righties with a career .293 batting average. His '06 and '07 campaigns vs. right handers were among the best of his career as well, hitting over .300 and posting an OPS of .899 and .956

* He is to outfield defense as George Bush is to eloquent oratory. My three fingered grandfather with cataracts in both eyes could probably do the same job as Ibanez. He is a massive liability on defense. Some statistic guru could give you the +/- on runs I'm sure.

* He is noted as a "good clubhouse guy" - which in the McLaren regime, means you play every day regardless of your production or how badly it will hurt the team.

* He wants to be Edgar Martinez, which must be really frustrating for him on a daily basis.

* He is owed a modest sum of money, relatively speaking, at 5.5 mil. Even if McLaren came to his senses and only played him at DH vs. right handers, that would be cheap given his production vs. righties.

* There's not a damned thing available in free agency for any self-respecting team looking for a starter. $48 million for Carlos Silva is about as smart as trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez. Oh god, I just threw up in my mouth...

* M's have Vidro, Broussard, and Sexson - all of whom I would love to call someone else's problem - under contract for 2008. All are defensive liabilities, all should DH (if they play at all), and two have contracts that are almost impossible to get rid of.

* Yes, the referenced article suggest the Indians offered Laffey for Ibanez, which would be a little silly. Young and cheap, yes - but he hasn't really lit the world on fire in the minors - decent ERA, horrible strikeout ratio, nothing exciting. He has a robust future as a non-roster-invitee for teams hoping to find a back of the rotation innings-eater. Congrats, kid.

However, moving Ibanez could make sense - and if the Tigers are truly involved, I know of some young hurlers on that squad that would look really nice in Mariner blue. I don't want to get into all the ridiculous fantasy-baseball-like speculation about who we could package in trades, but it seems to me that moving Ibanez is a damned good idea if it is part of a deal that can help our horrible, horrible problems in the rotation.

Go M's. Mahalo.