Friday, December 28, 2007

Monahan Was Juiced. Pee Wee Briley next?

Kind of an interesting story out of Colorado. Former Mariner Shane Monahan coming out and admitting he was a seriod user. As the story points out, Monahan was in the M's organization at the same time as other juicers Ryan Franklin, Glenallen Hill, David Segui and Todd Williams.

Nothing earth-shattering here. Player takes performance enhancers to help him get to the next level. The stakes are so high financially that even baseball purists can understand where guys like Monahan get their motivation to juice up. The interesting part of the story is the frankness that Monahan brings to the table in discussing his drug use and the motivations behind it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What's Good?

I've been reading lately about how the Mariners simply paid the going rate for a good pitcher in today's market as a way of explaining a $48 million dollar contract for Carlos Silva. You know, I don't really have a problem with that in principle - if you want good players, you need to pay what the market calls for, unless you can beg your way into some kind of hometown discount, which is rare.

But I have a problem with the assessment of the notion of "good". What's "good"?

Well, in grading systems - "good" is a B - it's well above average. You're better than the average Joe, but you're not outstanding.

Fortunately, we have a statistic to measure what an average pitcher is, and it controls for what kind of a park you pitch in on any given day - it's called "Adjusted ERA+". If you score 100, you're the exact league average. If you score 110, you're slightly better than average; 90 is slightly below average. Pretty simple.

Examples for you - Paul Byrd, with a 4.59 ERA had an ERA+ of 100. Tim Wakefield, with a 4.76 had an ERA+ of 100. Byrd has the better ERA, but because he pitches in a less-hitter friendly park, his Adjusted ERA+ indicates he's really no better than average - he is Wakefield's equivalent.

Josh Beckett had an ERA+ of 145; Erik Bedard - 146; Danny Haren - 137. They're outstanding. Got it?

So is Carlos Silva "good"? His ERA+ was 103. All things being equal, he's average. Huh. So we're buying average? $48 million dollars for average, not good.

Let's look at the projected Mariner rotation then.

* Felix Hernandez ERA+ 110
* Miguel Batista ERA+ 101
* Carlos Silva ERA+ 103
* Jarrod Washburn ERA+ 100

See a pattern developing? Bill is having a hard time assessing what's good - because according to this, you have yourself exactly one starting pitcher that's better than average.

And that ain't good.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

M's Need To Run, Not Walk, Away From Silva

It constantly amazes me how well Seattle sports franchises practice the art of "Subtraction By Addition." The headline in the Times today Silva ponders Seattle offer seems backwards for good reason. Why should a pitcher who has allowed opponents a career .299 batting average get to ponder a 4 year, $44 million offer from any team?

While 2007 was no picnic for Silva, you just have to look back to 2006 (5.94 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, Opponent OPS: .892) to realize how Silva could be the next Horacio Ramirez, last season's shining example of Subtraction By Addition (SBA). It's easy to bash on Silva, so I'd rather focus on the concept of SBA and how it can bury a team. Every team has a bad signing here and there, or a trade they would love to take back. What separates the good teams from the perpetually mediocre is the ability to minimize these bad decisions and not allow them to snowball. For the Mariners, you can look back to SBA moves like the pile of cash they dumped on Washburn, and last offseason's move of Soriano for HoRam, as examples of deals that can ultimately handcuff a franchise.

You have to wonder if the Mariners even bother to ask themselves the tough questions. If you agree that Washburn is no better than a back end starter, then what would the M's have been able to do with the Washburn money a year later, or mid-season when teams are dumping good players with big contracts? What could the Mariners get for Soriano now? Or better yet, what could they get for Putz if they were open to sliding Soriano into the closer role. What other bad moves were made to compensate for these moves? (Reitsma comes to mind.)

Seattle fans know this concept all too well. We watched Wally Walker dismantle a contending Sonic team using rock solid SBA principles. Singing Jim McIlvaine was the first SBA move, as Walker and the Sonic brass refused to sit on some cash when no real big men were available. That move eventually snowballed into the trading of Shawn Kemp, which then gave the Sonics the opportunity a couple years later to pull another SBA move by bidding against themselves in a move to pay Vin Baker millions more than any other team was able to offer him (something to the tune of $20 million more than what the next team could even offer). That sealed the team's fate. (One thing worth noting is that the Celtics made a move that the Sonics didn't have the guts to do: Telling a frequently hung over and out of shape Baker that they weren't going to pay his giant salary until he was ready to live up to his contract.)

The Mariners should take notice that the team they are bidding against for Silva (Royals) are the same team that paid Jose Guillen 3 years, $36 million. Slide in a Josh Towers, Freddy Garcia, or someone like that, and save the cash to be in acquisition in July. You don't have to be a pennant contender to lockup a veteran bargain, with a year or two left on his contract, at the trading deadline. You just need cash and some minor league talent. $44 million would be a start.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Serenity Prayer Never Seemed So Appropriate

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

Yeah, I know there's more to that, but this section really seems quite applicable right now.

According to the bizarre under-bite of Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners are really going after Carlos Silva.

I think my feelings on Silva are well known from previous posts. This move makes as much sense as Paris Hilton giving the keynote address at the National Association of Mathematicians Conference. It's asinine. I've seen it described as "retarded" which is a little low-brow for even me, but it applies nonetheless.

And if anyone even utters the notion that once Silva gets the opportunity to work with Mel Stottlemyre, he'll be a new man, I'll honestly vomit all over my keyboard.

Bill, isn't the point to fill holes, not dig them?

"...accept the things I cannot"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The case for Freddy Garcia

so Hiroki Kuroda signed with the Dodgers - and all in Mariner land gnash their teeth, wail at the sky, and pull at their hair. Here's my prediction on what that $35 million buys them: 12 wins and about a 4.85 ERA. Whoopie.

The scarier part about this whole scenario is what to do next. Doing nothing gives us a back end of the rotation with Brandon Morrow, Ryan Rowland-Smith, or maybe their big acquisition thus far - R.A. Dickey. Yeesh. Morrow could certainly develop into something solid, but he still remains unproven as a starter.

Many fear the M's will take the $36 million they had out for Kuroda and slide that proverbial envelope across the table to the agent of Kyle Lohse. Perhaps even worse, upping that to 4-years $40 million and giving it to Carlos Silva.

In Lohse, you have a guy that you would pray could win you 11 games and at least keep you in half of the other games he starts. The remainder, you pretty much know he's likely to get shelled. There's nothing exciting about paying top dollar for a 4.80 ERA and a .284 BAA. That's the absolute best you'll get from him, unless Lohse discovers a new undetectable drug, "HTH" - Human Talent Hormone - and takes a shitload of it.

In Silva, you get a right handed Washburn with inhuman control. He misses few bats, gives up a ton of hits, and lives and dies by put-it-in-play outs, except his usually come on the ground instead of Washburn's warning-track outs. Opposing batters actually hit .324 off of him in '06. .324!

Both of these guys, because of the market - are due huge paydays. They are back of the rotation guys at best - and frankly, a good team wouldn't even have a Kyle Lohse on their roster (sorry Kyle, I'm sure you're a super guy and all...).

So...running the risk of sounding like the good Reverend Jackson, if not them, who?

I'm not the first to say so, but I lend full support to the notion of making some high-risk, low cost, potential high-reward deals (this, of course, is in direct opposition to the high-risk, high cost, low reward potential of Jeff Weaver, just in case you needed the bizarro scenario). Leading that list would be Freddy Garcia. Yes, last year was a disaster - but in seven of his nine seasons, he's thrown over 200 innings, he has a career ERA of 4.07 (3.87 in '05 and 4.53 in '06) and he has won 12 or more games in every season which he was healthy. It seems to me that it is entirely likely that, if healthy, he posts a season no worse than Kuroda. And it's likely that it would only take a two year commitment, maybe $15 mil total, to get him.

Head case, check. Out of shape, check. Injury risk, check. But for a team as desperate as the M's, that seems like the right kind of risk to be taking.

Another guy is Bartolo Colon, who was apparently nicknamed "Boogie Bear" in Anaheim, so from now on he will be referred to simply as "Boogie", largely because it's fun and I'll probably not write about him much in the future. When you're 270 lbs. and you stand 5' 11", it's no damned wonder you're having back spasms - but the fact of the matter is, Colon has been dominant as a fat, bloated pig in the past - and if some trainer can work magic on his elbow, there's not a whole lot that says he can't do it again. But who really knows if he can get his moving parts happy enough to pitch again. However - it'll probably take only two years for Boogie to sign somewhere, and it's probably in the same region as Freddy $$.

Head case, check. Out of shape, check. Injury risk, check. But again, we're looking for lighting in a bottle here, folks.

Lastly - I've said it before... I think they should take a flier on Prior. There are a dozen other teams thinking the same thing, but I'm not sure there's another team more desperate.

Between the three of these arms from the scrap heap, something's got to pan out. If you're lucky enough, one of them actually contributes for two years, which helps you fill a rotation slot next year when Washburn finally walks (collective hooray!).


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchel Report Checks - Vina & Hill

If you were afraid of spiders you probably would have juiced yourself up too.

I'm not sure what Vina's excuse was.

A huge congrats to Bret Boone, who was clearly smart enough to pay cash.

Former M's named in the Mitchell Report

Glenallen Hill, Josias Manzanillo, Ron Villone, David Segui, Fernando Vina, David Bell, Ryan Franklin, Todd Williams, Jose Guillen, Ismael Valdez.

Really, a big "who cares" on the Mariner front. There are some interesting tidbits in the report about shipments coming in through the Mariner clubhouse, but in all, the guy who should find himself a plane ticket to the dark side of the moon is the clubhouse guy for the Mets, who turns out to be the big rat here. Roger Clemens will be looking for you...

Mitchell Report Names

An exciting day ahead of us with the Mitchell report coming out. We assume Jose Guillen will be mentioned, but what other Mariners? Ryan Franklin? The biggest name in question is probably Bret Boone. Could you imagine the fallout if Edgar's name showed up in there? If you are a big proponent of the "change in body type" arguement, you can't rule him out.

Broussard Era Over...Anyone Care?

For some reason I do. A Broussard/Sexson platoon at 1b seemed to make too much sense I guess. I don't want to overstate the impact of dealing a part-time player. But with the decline of Sexson, Broussard and his .733 OPS vs RHP might have been useful. (His .838 OPS vs RHP in 2006 with significantly more AB is notable.) This would have been a defining season for Broussard in Seattle, as the team has enough holes to get him the AB's he needs to prove whether he would sink or swim.

In return the M's received middle infield prospect Tim Hulett.

Hulett, 24, spent the 2007 season with the Oklahoma RedHawks,
the Triple-A affiliate of the Rangers. He batted .275 (142-for-517) with 31
doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 67 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. In four Minor
League seasons, Hulett has a .280 career average with 127 extra-base hits and 83
stolen bases. He was selected by Texas in the 14th round of the 2004 First-Year
Player Draft out of Auburn University and is the son of former Major League
infielder Tim Hulett.

Since Jose Lopez proved once again last year that he was one of the most overrated young players in MLB (I write "was" because the secret is finally out), maybe Hulett can give him a run for his money at 2b? Probably not, but we'll see what he can do. Won't be tough to supplant a guy with no power, no speed who doesn't hit for average.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Horacio Ramirez

has been offered a contract by Seattle in lieu of being non-tendered so that another team might take him up on his 7.16 ERA services.

In other news, the Iranian Islamic Press nominates George W. Bush for a humanitarian award for his work in bringing divergent cultures together for a greater understanding of each other and the hope for a more peaceful world.

Okay, one of these isn't true. But both make about the same amount of sense.

More strange news today

So Aaron Rowand is going to be a Giant?

I'm actually a big fan of Rowand - he helped me and Paul haul down a pair of CBS Sportsline Fantasy Baseball championships with a career year last year.

Now this will be pointed out by everyone, far and wide, with the exception of a man named Sabean - but a five year deal for a 30 year old player coming off the most productive season in his career is just not smart business. It'll be really interesting to see the terms of this deal, because between Rowand and Zito, Sabean could be tying up $40-$45 million dollars in payroll between two players who may not be a hell of a lot better than your typical replacement-level players for the next five years. Yeesh.

The other tidbit is Cliff Floyd is apparently going back to Florida where he enjoyed some productive years. Except he's changed fish. Marlin to DevilRay, or I guess it's just "Ray" now that the Devil has been shown the plank.

This probably means that we can put to rest the Ben Broussard for Edwin Jackson hopes, as far-fetched and distant as they may have been in the first place. Hell, Big Ben might not even get tendered... we'll know more later tonight when we find out what scrubs hit the slush pile of cast-away free agents.

Tejada an Astro

Houston gets fleeced for an average infielder is the way this should read in the Houston area papers tomorrow.

I know Tejada is a sexy name, but the fact is, his bat isn't anything horribly special anymore, he's never been a particularly good defender (for several years, anyway) - and it sounds like the Stros want him to play SS for them, which they may regret. His .799 OPS puts him just a hair above Ty Wigginton. And for that, they gave up arguably three of their best prospects in Patton, Costanzo, and Albers. They also give up a solid ML bat in Scott and the Safarte kid, I know less about - but he's had pretty solid stats at the ML level and in the minors, though he doesn't show up on Baseball America's list of top prospects for the Stros.

Is this the beginning of the Oriole fire sale? Will Bedard and Roberts be next? If so - if 5 high prospects is the price for a mediocre 3b/SS then what the hell can we expect for Bedard? The whole AAA squad?

I guess we'll see. If there's any good information about this deal, it's that the O's acquired three starting pitchers - which might just spare Brandon Morrow in a deal for Bedard, but I'm just speculating. I'm sure Bill will give away something that hurts just as much...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mench designated for assignment

So the guy who murders lefties for a living will be traded, released, or put on waivers in 10 days.

At last check, some saber-geek had Mench at roughly -11 with regard to "positionally adjusted net runs above average" - loosely translated as him sucking at defense. But I can't help but think he would be a nice compliment to Ibanez and his total inability to hit left handed pitching. Mench/Ibanez sure would make a nice DH platoon. Actually, together - they would be pretty terrific.

But then I guess we'd need to find another OF and get rid of Vidro - two presents that I'm sure Bavasi isn't planning to put under the tree this winter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why not pitching AND offense?

So there are rumors that the Mariners are still in the hunt for Santana. There are lots and lots of rumors linking the M's to Erik Bedard. And then there's all the well documented Hiroki Kuroda blatherings (who, apparently is visiting all the interested teams next week - terrific... 42 and pissing rain vs. 70 and sunny in Phoenix and L.A.).

What I can't help but wonder is - if the Mariners are really, REALLY, serious players in this Santana brew-ha, then they absolutely must believe they have the payroll to give him his expected 20-mil per over six, seven years. There's no way they dump the lion's share of their youthful talent for a guy we'll have for one season. Is there (I can hear Paul grousing about anything being possible when Bavasi is involved...).

I've also read many-a-blogger lament the fact that the Mariners are not just an "ace arm" away from being a serious contender in this juiced-up AL that we now have - and rightly so.

So here are some thoughts. If the Mariners were willing to dump that kind of cash on Santana, why not figure out a way to pull this Bedard thing off, and use some of that "available cash" to improve your outfield defense and offense.

Why not float an offer for Andruw Jones? Stellar (okay, maybe "good" is a better superlative) defense and at least the potential for big offensive numbers - with the risk of a Sexson egg, of course. Jones wants a Torii Hunter-like contract. The only reported offer I can find is a rumored two-year $32 mil offer from the Dodgers. In a world where we give $8 million dollars for an all-but-assured stinker to a guy named Weaver, what stops us from giving Jones 15-per for a pair of years and see if we can catch lighting in a bottle?

Update...Jones signed with the Dodgers for two years, $36 mil. So much for Boras requiring a Hunter-like deal. Honestly, this seems like a great move by the Dodgers, but time will tell.

Move Broussard and a mid-level prospect (or anything within reason from the farm system) to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. Just do it. In this dream world scenario, it gives the M's Bedard, Felix, Batista, Washburn, and Jackson in their rotation.

Platoon Sexson and Ibanez at 1b. Your defense will be average at best, but you just might get above average production at the position and you'll avoid having to watch Raul run around like a drunken ostrich after fly balls.

This leaves a tricky situation of another OF slot to fill (assuming Adam Jones is dealt in the Bedard deal). What about a one-year deal for Milton Bradley? He's supposed to be ready for opening day and hell, if Guillen can behave in Seattle then maybe we can get lucky with a guy with a career OBP of .358 and OPS over .800 for five of the past six seasons. How about working out a deal for Xavier Nady, whom the Pirates would like to deal. He is a capable defender, could play some 1b in a pinch, and could expected to post respectable offensive numbers - not far off from what Guillen did for us last year.

This isn't likely - but there's also the possibility that the Cubs want Ibanez so badly, they'd give us Sean Marshall for him - which is a deal the M's ought to take (in concert with some plan on how to fill the OF positions).

Anyway, the point is that the M's need help in more ways than one, but it seems to me there are not-terribly-creative ways of pulling that off and making the team much, much better on both sides of the dish.

We'll see if they come up with anything.

The reason to love winter meetings...

Because when you mix Baseball executives, beat writers, and agents - this kind of crap can sometimes come out of all the rumor noise:

Three way deal involving the A's, Mets, and Twins.
  • Mets send Jose Reyes, Kevin Mulvey to the A's and Hector Pellot to the Twins.
  • A's send Crosby and Dan Johnson to the Mets
  • Twins send Santana to the Mets
Yes, so the Twins get Haren and Pallot, A's get Reyes and Mulvey, and the Mets get Santana, Crosby and DJ.

This is from - which is a site full of great fun. He posts this from a reliable source of his, he says - which I actually doubt very little.

But if this trade goes down, in the form written above - I will get a tattoo on my neck that says "GULLIBLE".

But again, deals made in fantasy-land are what the winter meetings are all about. It would just be fun to track exactly how this one got this far. Lord knows it probably started with Billy Beane talking to Omar Minaya about how he wished Danny Haren would cut his hair... and within hours, we've got a barn burner!

Poor KC

Kansas City's apparent signing of Jose Guillen for 3 years, $36 million is a curious move considering how tight the Royals payroll is. At .290/23/99, Guillen had a solid season. His defense is good enough to keep him in the OF for the rest of that contract. But there is a reason he has played for 11 teams in 8 seasons. Chalk it up to injuries, his temper, roids, whatever...Guillen is an average starting major league OF when healthy.

For some reason I can't help but root for KC to pull it together. But it seems they are stuck in a kind of small-market-limbo, where they can't afford to bring in real talent, and their prospects (especially SP) never pan out. A lot of questions after the Guillen deal. Can KC afford to pay an average player $12 million a year? Or are they forced to overpay for players in order to get them to come there? (Answers: No and Probably.) The Royals need to ask themselves another question before they spend their precious payroll: WWBD? If Beane wouldn't even dream of making a move for a player in Oakland, why should the Royals?

Here's a crazy idea...since KC had $36 million burning a hole in their pockets, why not toss a few prospects at some teams for a player going into arbitration, or with a couple years left at $17 mil a year, that could bring some excitement to the team. Miguel Cabrera comes to mind. What's wrong with bringing someone like that in for 2 years instead of 3 years of Guillen?