Just Say No To…
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on September 17, 2006
It seems like every fall the Mojo Maniacs take off running with ideas that Player A or Player B should be signed to a big-money contract to help the Hometown Nine climb out of the American League West cellar.
One in about every three or four e-mails I’m picking up these days is a question asking how the Mariners can get their hands on some over-hyped, overrated bat with an enormous contract, an aging power arm with a hefty price tag or a has-been named George.
Well, the theme of my replies is always the same – Just Say No.
Tell the Dodgers you want no part of a Rafael Soriano-for-JD Drew trade. Make the phone call to inform John Smoltz that even if there was a chance that he’d have interest in Seattle as a free-agent-to-be, Seattle isn’t interested, so don’t even bother.
Finally, it’s time to put The Kid down. He’s done. Has been defensively for three years, and offensively he’s but a shadow of his former legendary self.
But this offseason, like most in the past, is going to be fun. It’s going to be different, as in unpredictable, but it’s certainly going to be entertaining.
Below is a list of ideas that have been thrown at me this season. Some from local beat writers or columnists, some from readers or other bloggers. Heck, I even got one idea from a scout and another from a player… how about that?
And I added some others the M’s should avoid this offseason.
OF – Rocco Baldelli
Baldelli is a fine player, but not the kind of upgrade the Mariners should be looking for. Tampa would surely be seeking legit young starting pitching in return, as well as a young center fielder, simply because they have no need to trade Baldelli, who is set to make just $9 million over the next three seasons.
Giving up a package of Adam Jones, Rafael Soriano and, say, a Ryan Feierabend for Baldelli, who is not a left-handed power bat, makes very little sense, so please, people, stop emailing me asking me why the Mariners don’t offer up three of their good young players for him.
OF – Mike Cameron
This one baffles me. His value is on defense, and he’s decent offensively, even still, if he’s surrounded by a strong lineup with high OBP guys who hit for power. Trading anything of value for Cammy would be a huge mistake. He’s not getting any younger, is clearly on the decline with the bat and to a lesser extent his glove, while still a plusin center, isn’t quite what it used to be.
Shutup about Cameron and enjoy watching Ichiro, a better player all-around, roam the pastures in Safeco’s center field.
2B – Marcus Giles
Why? So Jose Lopez, who’s not eligible for arbitration until the offseason that follows the 2008 season and therefore is not scheduled to make a penny over 400k until then, gets to sit on the bench for an injury-prone Giles who’s third-year arbitration eligible and is likely to earn a hefty raise into the $3.5-4 million range?
No thanks. Giles is better defensively, at least while he’s on the field, but that may not last long. Lopez’s offensive production is likely to match, and probably even surpass what Giles could give any club in his prime.
Stick with the homegrown kid.
Oh, you wanna deal Beltre and play Jose at third? I’m not totally against it, but dealing Beltre without sacrificing too much cash and avoiding taking a hit offensively is going to be awfully tough to do. The club cannot afford to take a step back in the run-production department.
In case you haven’t noticed, Lopez hasn’t homered since June 2, and Beltre is slugging over .450 for the season, including a very respectable .437 at Safeco. He may not be justifying his contract, but Beltre is a far more reliable bat Jose Lopez right now, and I wouldn’t bank on that changing until at least 2008, if ever.
LHP – Barry Zito
Zito is this winter’s overvalued pitcher of the year. It was A.J. Burnett last winter, and though Zito is an accomplished, tested and polished starter in the bigs, he’s not worth anywhere near the cash that Burnett is making. Although, neither is AJ…
Zito will get offers in the 5-year range for upwards of $11 million and will again post slightly better than league-average FIP numbers until he hits the ripe age of about 32 or 33 when his fastball starts to top out at 86 and his curve ball hangs even more than it does now.
There isn’t a whole lot of staying power in Zito’s arsenal these days. Seattle shouldn’t even contact Scott Boras. It’d be a waste of $50+ million and the club is already throwing away $9 mil a year on Washburn, who is basically a poor man’s Zito.
LHP – Mark Mulder
Mulder’s health concerns are alarming, considering how quickly he went from a 230-inning Cy Young candidate in the AL to a league-average, at best, starter in the National League in a span of two seasons.
Mulder’s shoulder just isn’t sound and the investment interest in the Michigan State product should be very minimal, at best.
Mulder is probably only worth a 1-year incentive-based flyer, at least until moreis known about his health situation. If he was 100% healthy, there may be value in a 2-year deal for the lefty, but not for the money he’s going to command on the open market.
The Mariners should show zero interest in mark Mulder.
LHP – Jon Lester
Sadly, Lester has another battle to win with his medical issues – good luck, Jonny. But the southpaw is going nowhere, and the Red Sox aren’t interested in a Reed-for-Lester swap, and never were.
There is no scenario, not now and not likely ever, where Seattle and Boston can matchup in a trade for Lester. Besides, he’s not all that good anyways. I mean, sure, he’s got a solid future ahead of him, health providing, but he’s not the savior.
OF – Manny Ramirez
Never will Manny agree to be dealt here. Never will the Red Sox trade Ramirez for anything shy of a blockbuster that includes young pitching and a potential blue-chip bat heading east to
OF – Goeff Jenkins
I know he’s left-handed. I know he has power. I know he’s from Thurston County, Washington. So what? He’s declining, expensive, and isn’t any good anymore. I can back that up by citing his OPS of .420 and his 123 strikeouts. He’s an average outfielder who brings very little to the table except the occasional long ball from the left side of the plate.
The M’s need bats. Productive, consistent, patient, OBP-driven bats. Jenkins is none of those things.
OF – Andruw Jones
Jones would likely do well in any ballpark. Thirty to 40 home runs, hit about .270 and post a solid OBP to go with solid, if remotely unspectacular defense in center field… sounds pretty good.
Now tell me, are you willing to send Atlanta J.J. Putz or Rafael Soriano, plus Adam Jones for a free-agent-to-be?
IF – Nomar Garciaparra
While I think Nomar would put up an OPS in the .830 range in the AL as a Seattle Mariners infielder/DH, he just won’t stay on the field for 150 games to make his $10 million contract worthwhile.
One reader said he’d offer Nomar a 2-year, $20 million deal where only about 15 mil was guaranteed. First off, Nomar will get a better offer than that, maybe even from the Dodgers and Angels both.
Secondly, unless Beltre, Sexson or Ibanez is traded, where is Nomar going to play? He won’t agree to be the full-time DH, the M’s have Lopez and Betancourt up the middle and Garciaparra can’t play the outfield, especially every day.
I love Nomar, but he doesn’t fit here, not unless the guts of this team are replaced and a veteran righty bat is a necessity.
LHP – Doug Davis
Davis is one of my favorite starting pitchers in the league, but he can be as painful to watch at times as he is entertaining in other outings. He has pretty solid stuff but his command is inconsistent, and he’s 31 years of age this month.
Davis is in the final year of a two-year contract that pays him $2.7 mil this season. He is not a free agent at year’s end, but he is arbitration eligible and probably due upwards of $5.5-6 million.
If Davis can be had for super cheap, he could be a serious bargain. But he’s probably going to be on the trade radar of several clubs in pursuit of starting pitching, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Braves.
Davis’ propensity to issue the walk scares me off. I thought he was making progress at the end of ’05 when he walked just 3.1 per nine innings in his final 11 starts, but I guess you can’t teach an old dog good tricks, either.
RHP -Jason Schmidt
This is going to disappoint some people, frustrate others and maybe even puzzle those who see Schmidt as the perfect fit.
The pros are easy to see. Schmidt is an accomplished starting pitcher with a 92-95 mph fastball, a tight slider and a decent splitter. He’s a horse and misses bats pretty consistently. He’s also a little feisty and stubborn, which is something the Mariners lack with the departure of one Jamie Moyer.
But the cons far outweigh those pros.
Schmidt will be 34 years old before next season. Thirty-four. That isn’t an age when pitchers typically get better, that’s for sure. But it is an age-range known for the start of decline, most notably for power arms.
Schmidt has a history of nagging injuries to his back, knee and elbow and has made his share of trips to the disabled list, though he usually manages to make 29-32 starts per season.
He’s also never had success in the superior American League.
The problem is, at some point his age-health is going to bite him, and when it does, I sure would not want to be the club that guaranteed him $40 million over four seasons.
Sorry, fellas, Schmidt is a no-no.
Unless, of course, he wants a two-year deal for $20 million. I think Bavasi would have to jump on that.
And last, but certainly not least…
Manager, Mike Hargrove
Hargrove wasn’t a good manager in 1999. He wasn’t any good in 2002. He was bad last year and he’s been wretched this season.
He doesn’t know how to use his bullpen, he has no idea how to mix professional loyalty with getting the job done and he’s flat out horrible at getting his clubs ready to play on a daily basis. It starts in spring training, and Hargrove has no presence int he clubhouse. Not in March, not in May and certainly not in August, September or October.
I know Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have to think about throwing $2 million down the sewer chute, but Grover isn’t the guy for the job, and it’s better to eat two large now and hire the right manager to get the most of the talent on the roster, than to hand out $90 million in contracts again and underachieve for the third straight year, sending attendance into another tailspin, like this year.
Chuck, Howie, Bill… Just Say No To… retaining Mike Hargrove.
Apparently, they have already gotten that message. Most sources are now agreeing that the club has already decided to send Hargrove packing, and some concur that he was notified sometime earlier this month.