Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back Again: How to Save the Mariners (In retrospect)
By Zach

So, as I write this, the Seattle Mariners are currently in last place again in the AL West, 45-59. They'll most likely miss the playoffs for the 4th straight year despite having a state-of-the art stadium, one of the most lucrative local media contracts this side of the Bronx, one of the league's most popular players (who just happens to be a semi-deity in Japan), and a loyal and devoted fanbase which showed up in impressive numbers each of the last two years despite the mediocrity (or worse) on the field.

Of course, I think I could do better.

Here are the basic parameters. Most of the moves I'm talking about will encompass the period of time after the 2004 season, with a couple of exceptions. Secondly, the Mariners have stated in the past couple of years that they want their payroll to be in the 90-95 million dollar range. I'll try and stick fairly close to this mark, but with the massive income the team has pulled in when it has been good (like in 2001), I may take some liberties with this. One figures that if a team winning 43% of its games can spend 88 million, a team that hopes to win 60-65% can spend 95-100 million and make up the revenue fairly easily.

The 2004 Off-season Moves:

Sign free agent shortstop Miguel Tejada. A slam dunk. Tejada, following the 2003 season, wasn't going to stay with the A's, who didn't have the money to keep the former AL MVP. Tejada stated that he wanted to play for Seattle, in part because he wanted to stay in the on the West Coast and in the American League. The sticking point wasn't necessarily the money, but the length of the contract. He wanted 6 years, the Mariners offered 5. At the time, Tejada was 27, and would be 33 in the final year of the deal...which may be near the decline of his career, but it's not likely, and if his fielding started to slip, his bat is potent enough to consider a move to third base, left field, or even DH.

Let Shigetoshi Hasegawa go. Hasegawa was coming off an all-star year in 2003, though he slumped precipitously in the second half, as did the rest of the team. The Mariners signed him for 4 million a year for 3 years...to be a set-up guy. Yikes. The fact that he's stunk since is irrelevant, that's too much money to spend on any bullpen guy but the closer.

2004 In-season Moves:

Trade Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, and Mike Morse. Wow, they actually made this move. While Garcia is a talented pitcher, he struggled to regain his early career form. Plus, as he was nearing free agency, he was clearly going to cost more to keep then I'd want to invest. The White Sox signed him to a 3-year, 27 million deal which borders on reasonable, but I'd take my chances on getting some good young talent for him.

2005 Off-season moves:

Trade Joel Pineiro. My team doesn't have room for Pineiro and Gil Meche, and Meche has better stuff and more upside. Pineiro has lost velocity, probably a result of arm injuries, and has lost confidence as well. He might be able to bring back a B level prospect or two, which is fine with me. Besides, as you'll see below, I don't need him.

Sign Richie Sexson. They did this one too. He provides a massive upgrade offensive over John Olerud, and plays great defense. He has the power to hit the ball out of the park to all fields, and while he isn't a great contact hitter, can still hit .270. With guys around him to get on-base, he can be and RBI machine, and has decent plate discipline.

Sign Adrian Beltre. See, I like some of the moves. Even though Beltre has underachieved this year, it's still a good signing. He's a 25-year-old third baseman who hit 48 homers at Dodger Stadium. Which means, if nothing else, he can succeed in a pitcher's park. Plus, he's another very good defensive player, which helps with the staff I've constructed. In my lineup, he's hitting 5th, which should take some of the pressure.

Sign Odalis Perez. I really thought they'd get this one done. Perez is a lefty with good stuff and good control. His numbers may be a bit inflated by Dodger Stadium, but Safeco won't change that. He doesn't strike many guys out, but with the big park and the solid defense behind him, he'll do fine. And, at 4.5 million, he's a bargain.

Sign Matt Clement. Clement is a bit more of a strikeout pitcher, but that's fine. He also comes fairly cheap at 6.5 million this year. Plus, he gives us a righty power arm we're lacking.

Sign Eddie Guardado. While I don't love closers who don't dominate with power, Guardado is a lefty, and has had plenty of success. Plus, he comes at a decent price, which is always nice.

Those are the only major moves I'd make, with the rest of the team already under contract.

This leaves my lineup looking something like this:

1) Ichiro Suzuki-RF
2) Randy Winn-LF
3) Miguel Tejada-SS
4) Richie Sexson-1B
5) Adrian Beltre-3B
6) Raul Ibanez-DH
7) Bret Boone-2B
8) Jeremy Reed-CF
9) Dan Wilson-C

My rotation looks like:

Odalis Perez
Matt Clement
Jamie Moyer
Bobby Madritsch
Gil Meche

The bullpen is:

Ryan Franklin-Long Relief/Spot Starter
Ron Villone-Long Relief/Lefty Set-up
George Sherill-Lefty Set-up
Jeff Nelson-Righty Set-up
J.J. Putz-Righty Set-up
Eddie Guardado-Set-up

The bench is:
Willie Bloomquist-1B/2B/SS/3B/LF/CF/RF
Greg Dobbs-1B/3B
Chris Snelling-OF
Miguel Olivo-C

I'm still short one player, but I really don't care who it is. Probably another outfielder, or maybe a reliever.

Here are the salaries for each player (In millions of dollars; rounded):


Total Salary- 97.8 million dollars.

Something tells me that team is better than 45-59 at this point. Plus, I have some talented young players who can move into the lineup/rotation after the 2005 season. Snelling, if healthy, can replace Winn. I've got Jose Lopez or Yuniesky Betancourt to replace Boone, and "King" Felix Hernandez to replace Moyer. The talent in the big leagues also allows me to consider trading guys like Lopez/Betancourt, Clint Nageotte, Matt Thornton, or whomever else if I need to make a move at the 2005 deadline. Plus, assuming the team is playing well, I know the fans will respond by selling out games, which could probably convince ownership to take on a bit more money to get another pitcher or whatever the team needed. This team would be able to win now, and likely could remanin competitive at a reasonable price for the next 3-5 years as well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see you back again Yrahcaz...

2:42 PM  

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