Tuesday, December 23, 2003
The big news in arbitration was that the team got Freddy Garcia to sign a one-year deal. This is another example of how the team makes a lot of small moves that go unnoticed. And we learn something about Freddy too (and its good but I'll get to that). Okay, first, Bavasi said that one of the reasons that the team wasn't able to trade Garcia away was that teams felt there was a good chance that the team would not offer him arbitrartion and they could get Garcia for free. But arbitration means the player gets a raise. The only question is how big of a raise. And Garcia's not worth the raise. So it would seem that the team is stuck. But no! They somehow got Garcia to agree to a one-year deal. This is huge. If Garcia is on in spring training like he was at the end of the season, other teams will look at him and decide it's worth trading for (but also, what does this team need?). This way the team makes sure that they get something for him.
The other thing people overlook as that this deal means that Freddy isn't that big of a jerk like some people said. He could have said "No deal!" and the team would have been in big trouble. Instead of going to arbitrartion and getting a raise Freddy signed a one-year deal for less money. If he didn't want to be here, why sign that deal? It gives up his only real chance (not being offered arbitration) that he had to get out of Seattle a year early (though it also doesn't mean he won't get traded -- but then he's giving the team a chance to get something!) Freddy has been frustrating for the town I don't think anyone can argue that but he's a PROVEN ACE!!! There is no reason next season couldn't be just as good as his star years. If that happens, the Mariners get an ace for a couple million, which is cheap. If he is okay, the team can trade him. If he'd bad, we have many other guys that would be happy to come up and pitch aggressively (which has been Freddy's problem).
Also even though Cirillo vetoed the trade to the Mets, we have to be impressed the team found any taker for him at all.
Friday, December 19, 2003
The Mariners signed Ichiro to a four-year deal, and they paid a lot of money to do so. I know a lot of people get on the Mariners for not making the really big free-agent deals, but when you think about it, they have made a lot of them and demonstrated their committment to baseball in Seattle:
Boone (3 year deal)
Ichiro (paid for bidding rights and then paid a lot more to sign him)
Edgar (every year)
These are all top guys at their positions. Even though Boone and Ichiro might have gone to arbitration if they had not been signed to a contract, that doesn't make their investment in the team any less important. They wouldn't be better players if they were true free agents. In fact we should give the Mariners even more credit for keeping these guys out of free agency where the Yankees or someone might offer them $20million a year and we'd lose them. They're acting even before they have to. Signing Ichiro is huge. He's the spark plug of this team and has been since he got here. The fans love him, he plays great defense, and he changes the game when he gets on. IT's so exciting to watch him play, he's worth every penny. This is a great day for Mariners fans because we know Ichiro will be patrolling Area 51 for four more years at least.
Can you tell I'm happy?
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
The Omar Vizquel trade didn't go through, not for lack of trying though. It looks right now like Omar's knee isn't in good enough shape and the Mariners' doctors said 'no'. This doesn't seem like much, but we should take this as another good sign this off-season. How many teams have been burned when they trade for someone who gets immediately injured? A lot, I think. Think of Mo Vaughn and there was that other trade where the Chicago White Sox took a guy with a bum shoulder when they weren't paying attention. The Mariners may not be a team that rolls the dice and takes all the chances we want to see but this is another case where their thoroughness paid off by avoiding a deal that, while it looked good, weas not going to turn out well for the team. We shouldn't feel sorry that Vizquel isn't going to be an M (we should, because it would have been good if he was healthy and good) but we should be happy that the M's have a really good medical team that they can trust these decisions to.
Monday, December 15, 2003
I'm totally happy today. Why you ask?
First, the M's signed Scott Spezio. We finally have a third baseman! And he can hit! This is totally cool. Spezio's not like Eric Chavez (who is?) but he's clutch (as we saw in the playoffs!), and if you watched the Mariners at all last year you know the team was flat out not good at getting the runners around. That costs a team games, and I think getting a solid clutch hitter instead of Cirrill-0-for-5 is going be an impact on how the team approaches the game and it's going to help bring back the can-do attitude of the 116-win Mariners who would not give up a game. Spezio's a cool guy too and he appreciates Seattle and that's always good. We should never sign a guy like Mo Vaughn who doesn't want to play here. If their head is in New York, it's not in the game, right?
I was a little bummed about it at first because I thought the team should have given the position to Bloomquist. He's local and he plays good defense at third, and also he is cheap and when he was playing third regularly last year he hit pretty well. Maybe he's just a guy who needs to be out there every day or almost every day to perform well. I would have stuck him out there and said "Go to it Willie!" But Spezio's a veteran guy you can count on, and I guess the team must have some other plan for Bloomquist I just haven't figured out yet. Maybe he'll be the backup infielder and rest everyone there all the time, which is cool.
Next, we didn't sign Miguel Tejada. Many people are all bummed out by this because the Mariners didn't go to a super-long term contract, but I was kind of mad when I heard that the team had considered going to four years, breaking their three-year deal limit. One of the ways the Mariners are able to stay competitive is that they don't sign bad deals that will hurt the team for really long periods (like the Orioles with Albert Belle for instance, and many other examples) so in any year they don't have to work with a huge handicap like other teams do. If Tejeda would have been a good deal now, maybe he would have been a much worse deal later, and then what do you do with him? Jeffy shows us that it is harder than ever to trade guys with big contracts. If you wanted the Mariners to go seven years to Tejeda that's really whawt you wanted: a chance that in 2008 you would be hanging around the Mariners board on ESPN saying "Mariners could trade a pitching prospect to the Yankees and make them take Tejeda 2!!! FINALLY NO TEJEDA!!" We should be proud that our team is disciplined and smart enough to not make dumb deals. Instead Guillen is back on a one-year deal. I would have liked to see Sanchez, because Sanchez could really hit at Safeco, but Guillen's been good for the team, he's pretty good on defense and he is also a switch hitter which is great for putting together a lineup. I know I like switch-hitters too much but if I had a team I would have as many of them as I could. Then the other team couldn't bring in a lefty to face your lefty, and if that was the only benefit, we would have shorter games. Pitching changes are boring. I know I'm off track a little. Sorry. One year to Guillen is a good deal. If they can make a trade or do something else, he can be a super-utility guy like McLemore (also a switch-hitter hee hee) and then next year the team can let him go.
And then last, McCracken. People make fun of McCracken but I don't understand why. First, COOL NAME!!! Then McCracken can be an excellent backup outfielder. I don't understand why everyone complained the last couple of years that the Mariners didn't have a good backup guy (McLemore did great!) but now that the team went out and got one everyone complains about the flavor? McCracken can hit a little and rest all the other guys more often and that might help prevent the Ichiro Slump which has killed this team late season because Ichiro is the sparkplug that fires the offensive engine (I stole that, I think from Fairly?). So if Bloomquist is the infield super-substitute guy then McCracken does the same for the outfield and everyone's better rested and hits and plays defense better. That's smart team makeup.
The Mariners keep making the moves that will improve the team and not hurt them down the road. That's awesome! I think adding depth is really good. The only big question left is what to do with Garcia, I guess.
Friday, December 12, 2003
It looks like many people believed some hoax last night about Vlad Guerrerro going to the Indians (ha!). It's funny because I think people who are on the web tend to take the web too seriously. The web is good for opinions but when it comes to stuff like this no one knows anything and you should read the papers. When the papers (like the Times and PI) write up a rumor or something you know that they got it from the Mariners front office, so there's some credibility to it. The reporter or columnist has something to lose (credibility or job!) that matters and the paper keeps a tight reign on them so they don't damage the paper's reputation either. And they have (many) sources inside the team. I can't call up GM Bavasi and ask him how the talks with Tejeda are going (I could, I guess, but would he answer?) but the guys who write for papers have good relationships they've developed over time and they can do that. For stuff like this you have to listen to the team, and to people who have talked to the team, and figure that anyone who isn't (I want to say in print, but then what about the TV guys??) a real sports guy may have some stuff to say, but you shouldn't take it seriously until you hear it from someone who knows these things.
I like that the team is thinking about bringing back Omar Vizquel. He's a Gold Glove shortstop who will improve the team's defense and he can hit, too. Carlos Guillen was okay for us, but he always gets injured. Vizquel got injured last year but that's the only time I think he's been down for long. It would be great to have the Vizquel-Boone double-play tandem. Plus Vizquel is a switch-hitter like Winn so you could set the lineup to never repeat guys like (S = switch)
Ichiro - L
Vizquel - S
Winn - S
Edgar - R
Ibanez - L
Boone - R
Wilson - R
That's just me guessing. I'm not sure if you want to set the order like that if it means you move a 3-hole guy to the 2-spot or the other way around.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Hi! I'm Michael Hobbes, and I'm a Mariners fan (that sounds like I'm starting a 12-step program, not a blog!). I'm starting this blog because I think that there are a lot of people who don't think the Mariners are trying hard enough, and that's not right. I'm just a fan and not a writer (like you probably) so please excuse my spelling and grammar if it's bad (sorry!)
Look at what the Mariners have done since the season ended:
They brought back Edgar. How can you argue with that! He's a great hitter even if he's really slow running and gets injured a lot. Everyone wanted him back but when they brought him back everyone was like "oh, but look at this other stuff that's wrong" But everyone loves Edgar and he is a symbol that the team is committed to the players and to the city.
They brought in Raul Ibanez. He was a guy who came into himself after he left Seattle and started to hit. He's a big left-handed bat in the lineup and everyone knows that's one of the things the team has really needed. And now they have it! If he hits like he did in Kansas City the offense is greatly improved.
They brought in Eddie Guardardo. Everyday Eddie! He's a left-handed closer but he said he was willing to pitch wherever the team wanted him to, like setup. He was awesome in Minnesota but they couldn't afford to keep him. Arthur Rhodes was good for a while but last year he was injured and didn't pitch well, so now the team has a reliable guy who can close of Sasaki is injured again, and he's left-handed if they need to go to a lefty-righty setup thing, like the Yankees used to have with Stanton and Nelson, and that worked really well for them.
They didn't bring back Rhodes (See above) and Mike Cameron. Mike Cameron seemed like a good guy, but he couldn't hit! If you can't hit at home that's a major problem! YOU PLAY HALF YOUR GAMES THERE!!!!! I like Cameron on defense but Winn used to be a center fielder so that's not that big of a deal, I think.
Now they do bring back Randy Winn. THis is good: last year we really saw him get a lot of clutch hits, which the team didn't get enough of, and he's a switch-hitter which is great for matchups. And they bring back Ryan Franklin. Franklin has been really good these last couple years since they moved him from the bullpen and the bullpen - rotation swing thing Pinella had him doing. He's a guy who goes deep into ballgames and puts it out there and relies on his defense.
Look around the league! Most teams have much worse off-seasons, and are cutting salary and they're not getting any better. The M's are adding salary, they're signing players that fill holes the team had last year (and before!) and they're not even done yet. I'm excited for the season and to see what Bavasi has in store for us next.
I'm going to try and update as things happen, but I"m not a writer, really, so I'll see how this goes. Thanks!!