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.

No comments: