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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?

Me neither.

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.

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34 Responses to “Just Say No To…”

  1. Goose said

    “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.”

    Music to my ears.

    Is there going to be a “Just say Yes” column, as in who the Mariners should go after?(besides DM of course)

  2. Jack said

    Great stuff Jason! Now how about a “Just say Yes” list?

  3. ivan said

    Hi Jason:

    Please put Prospect Insider in the title tag of your HTML. Thanks.

    Now for a player the M’s *could* say yes to:

    D’Angelo Jimemez: I’m guessing this guy is cancer in the clubhouse or something. He is exactly what the M’s need. He plays 2B, 3B, SS, is a switch-hitter with some pop, he runs decent and he takes a walk.

    The M’s added some pop off the bench this season, which is good. I liked the Choo for Broussard trade, but *hated* the Cabrera for Perez trade, because, it appeared, Cabrera had some upside as a hitter. Perez, despite his LHP splits, has little.

    The M’s need a middle infielder with some bang on their bench, and Jimemez appears to fill that role. If you could enlighten me as to why this guy would be a bad fit for the M’s, I would appreciate hearing it.

    Anything to send the execrable Willie packing. One year those little weak ground balls he hits are not going to find any holes, and he will go below the Mendoza line. I do not care that he is from Port Orchard. He blows.

  4. Jerry said

    Jason,

    I liked your comments, although I was suprised that a lot of those names ever came up as possibilities.

    However, there are two things that I disagree with you on.

    First, I think that the M’s should definitely take a look at Mark Mulder. I agree with your overall assessment of the risks involved with him. But the one thing I don’t concur on is the assumption that he will get a big contract. The guy just had shoulder surgery, which should eliminate the possibility of guaranteed, multi-year contracts. If I were the M’s, I would be offering a contract similar to what Wade Miller got from the Red Sox a few years back: a 1 year deal with a base around 1.5 million and lots of incentives, plus a team option for a second year. Mulder would get a chance to rehab and build his value back up in a friendly ballpark. If some team does offer him a big contract, then the M’s can just say ‘thanks, but no thanks.’

    My second issue is a minor one. You mentioned that you didn’t think that Boston and Seattle are got trade partners at all. But there is one possible trade that could work great for both teams: Ichiro. The Red Sox don’t have a capable CFer right now, and they have had Kevin Youkilis hitting leadoff most of the year. Ichiro would be a perfect fit for them. From the M’s POV, the Sox have a very good farm system and some good young players, particularly pitching. While Jon Lester is just one option, the M’s would be wise to consider moving Ichiro to clubs like Boston. They could get a kings ransom in return.

  5. Mulder, like Zito, is going to get offers that make ZERO sense for the M’s to even come close to matching.

    Plus, his health status is up in the air. How can you advocate going after a guy who could prove to have a tear in his shoulder?

    No way.

  6. Jerry said

    Jason,

    It isn’t a question of whether he has a shoulder problem. He already had surgery on it, and almost definitely won’t be ready to pitch by spring training. This is precisely why he won’t likely get big, guaranteed multiyear contracts. Like you say, why would anyone give a big contract to a guy like that?

    If some team does make him an offer like that, the M’s should just back out of the bidding. No harm done.

    But Mulder could be an absolute steal if he gets back to his old self. It would be just like what the Yankees did with Jon Leiber a few years back. The market for him was non-existant, so the Yankees took a flyer on him. It ended up being a great move.

    Obviously, it all depends on what other teams are offering. But, given that he just had surgery and won’t be able to pitch until well into the season, the chances of him getting big money is nearly nonexistant.

  7. Nobody even knows if he’s going to pitch before July… but the question is, why would Seattle offer him the best contract?

    The Yankees, Red Sox and several other clubs can afford to take a risk on a guy like that. Seattle cannot.

    Would I be open to an incentive-laden deal with nithing guaranteed but the league minimum? Sure, but so would 29 other clubs.

    The difference comes when the Dodgers or Mets or someone like that offers him 800k guaranteed with vesting options…

    When he’s healthy, he hasn’t even been that good the past year or two, so coming off the surgery, I wouldn’t bank on him being league average. Way too big of a risk for the M’s.  Not money wise, really, but because they’d be thinking of him as someone they NEED.

    The Mariners need answers and Mulder is nothing but a question mark.

  8. Jason I believe you more, but I’m a little scared at all of the newspaper articles (like those that Pro Sports Daily has links to) saying that Hargrove probably WON’T be fired. Please assure me that I have nothing to worry about. I’m getting “twitchy” nervious.

  9. marinerswinws said

    Theres nothing to be worried about Hargrove`s days are numbered.

  10. eknpdx said

    I was wondering about the contract status of Jennings from Colorado. Cott’s blog states he has a mutual option with a buyout, but it looks like his service time falls short.

    Does Randy Wolf price himself out of the low risk group?

  11. Slackman said

    In reference to the “Just Say Yes” Idea, I have a really good one. Just say yes to rebuilding the farm system so we don’t have to worry about all these risky free agents as much.

  12. IMO, Wolf is less of a risk than Mulder, even though his TJ surgery is tougher to recover from than the somewhat mild shoulder procedure Mulder had. Mulder had a cleanup done on his rotator cuff, not labrum surgery, but Wolf is so much further alone than Mulder… he’s actually pitching right now, and not all that badly, either.

    Wolf isn’t going to get a ton of multi-year offers… if Mulder is healthy “enough”, his name alone will be more than enough to squeeze a few offers that freeze out the M’s from contention.

  13. Jason Jennings is not a free agent after this season, and will not be, no matter what happens with his option, unless he’s released or DFA’d, which isn’t going to happen.

    Jennings’ value, however, is negatively effected by his incentive-laden salary for 2007, which will be $6 million.

  14. Willmore said

    Randy Wolf intrigues me. I didn’t think of him before, but if he’s really getting healthier, and cast post his ’04 numbers over a full season, I think he could be a great #3-4 starter in combination with Washburn. The contract would have to be incentives-laiden, but I would love him in Seattle.

  15. The M’s have much bigger fish to fry, before focusing on the No. 4 and five spots in the rotation.

    They need a legit No. 1 or 2, which is where Daisuke Matsuzaka comes into play. That sutuation, if he indeed is posted by Seibu, will be resolved by the second week in November, so then the club can start thinking about guys like Wolf, etc.

  16. Willmore said

    I don’t see how one starting pitcher excludes talk about another one. We need to fill 2 holes in the starting rotation, assuming that one will be covered by a farm hand. Bavasi will need to hit the ground running and start talking about all the possible candidates as soon as they become available. If we get Wolf before DM, how does that hinder Matsuzaka’s status ? If we win the bidding process, it’s only a matter of salary, and I don’t think that Wolf’s salary will dent the coffers enough to make DM out of reach.

    Though I get your point, Wolf, in comparison to DM and a “big bat” are small fish. Still, the small fish can put you over the hump of a big whale. 🙂

  17. Edman said

    Not sure what the M’s are going to do, but I think that there is more to Hassey’s firing than meets the eye. I would suspect that Hargrove, being the good organizational manager he is, accepted completing out the year, where as, Hassey saw no reason to be loyal. I can’t believe that Hassey did anything meaningfully wrong as a bench coach. It’s really a manager’s choice, kind of thing….a sounding board, so to speak. That said, I expect Hargrove to be replaced, though it’s hard to get a read on this organization at times.

    As long as the Mariners accept that Snelling is ready to be the full-time right fielder, and Ichiro accepts staying in CF, then I wouldn’t touch the offense, with the exception of finding someone who can spell the outfielders, from time to time.

    The bullpen is fine, so I wouldn’t touch it.

    So, it gets down to this……Sign Schmidt as a FA and win the bidding for DM, if he’s posted. Baek has earned the #5 spot. If DM isn’t posted, resign Meche, because outside of Schmidt, all that’s out there come with similar risks to Meche.

  18. wufners said

    Good article, Jason–nice work.

    I’ve read other bloggers who also have sources that confirm Hargrove is gone. Yet the local media is reporting fairly consistently that he’ll probably be back. Any idea why the disconnect? Do the beat writers not have access to the same sources you do? I would think there would be an occasional overlap there. Or does being at a paying gig with a major paper make them more beholden to the Mariners? Are they less likely to repeat confindential info from sources in order to maintain a happy relationship with the Ms? Even if that’s the case, though, I’d think there articles would at least hint at Hargrove being in a bit of hot water.

    I’m just curious as to why the press is reporting thing differently. Perhaps that’s more of a question for them than you.

    Thanks!

  19. One difference, I suppose, is that bloggers have the liberty to speculate, whereas the papers are required by journalistic ethics codes to report what’s happening moreso than speculate on what might happen. It’s certainly possible as well that the two sources (blogs and papers) may, in fact, be talking to different people.

  20. Vidya said

    We have plenty of minimum wage guys at Tacoma to fill out next year’s bench. Why even think of pulling in a vet through trade or off the FA market to fill such a position? Same with the #5 starter. Why pay more than minimum wage for this position?

    Maybe we could get a bat for RF or DH, but I would rather focus on getting Matsuzaka and Schmidt in the FA market. With them in the rotation and our excellent young bullpen no one will notice the mediocre offense.

    Thanks soooo much for the Hargrove info. I don’t think I could take another year or even month of him as manager.

  21. slica said

    Slight question.

    1st off, Inland Empire 66ers won the Cal League Championship

    The go ahead 8th inning run came off of a guy named Limonta…it was a hell of an at bat…battling 2-2 pitches, followed by full count pitches, until he ripped an extra baser.

    Is he anything special? He was batting 4th at DH, so im guessing hes not a position guy…but the whole game the commentators talked about how much power he had.

  22. I agree that the M’s only hole is in the starting rotation, especially at the top. The bullpen is fine, especially with guys like Eric O’Flaherty coming along quickly and JJ Putz becoming a rock at the end. The hitting should be fine; you’re not going to get a 50HR hitter at Safeco …it’s just not going to happen. Adding some OBP to the lineup might help, but I think that’s a lesser concern for Bill Bavasi.

    As for the rotation, Mulder is very risky, and Zito and Schmidt are probably unaffordable, possibly overrated. That leaves Matsuzaka, who is likely headed to either Seattle, Boston, or New York, provided Seibu lets him go. It’s hard to say if the Mariners can match the big money the BoSox and Yankees can afford to and like will offer, but they will certainly try, because Matsuzaka could be the ace that propels the Mariners to the top. As for other starters to consider who are currently in the league…Wolf may not be a bad option, and possibly a cheap one. Mark Redman is another guy I would look at, because he could come cheap after a less-than-solid 2nd half for the less-than-solid Royals.

    One other question…where are the Jon Lester ideas coming from? I live in Boston and the Fenway Faithful might just start a riot if Jonny is traded!

  23. david flock said

    i feel a little better that jason thinks hargrove is history. if he does go how about tom kelly and as for free agents barry lamarr bonds could set the hr record wearing seattle threads

  24. JP said

    Whatever happened to Jesse Foppert? Is that a bust?

  25. The Lester ideas are all Seattle-area based.

  26. Slackman said

    I heard that Jesse Foppert is having problems with his elbow and shoulder. I can’t say for myself whether or not it was a bust but it was a risk worht taking.

  27. Foppert’s official injury is his hip, but it is indeed his elbow.

    I haven’t heard the shoulder rumors, but it sure wouldn’t surprise me.

    Right now, he’s a mess.

  28. Katal said

    Great analysis, Jason. I love your site – it’s absolutely ridiculous how often I check, hoping for an update.

    I was wondering about a potential move this offseason regarding our OF situation. Since it looks like Bavasi plans on having Benuardo as our DH next year, even if Jones spends the entire 2007 season in AAA, we’re still going to have either Snelling or Reed riding the bench while the other plays, and that seems like a tremendous waste. What are the chances that a guy like Reed gets dealt, and would he even be worth anything to another team?

  29. StandinPat said

    Reed prob wouldnt have alot of value to other teams right now, unless he was a throw in with some bigger pieces. Right now Reed, who cant stay healthy for an entire year, has more value to the M’s than just about anyone else. He’d be a great 4th OF, and def replacement, and he’s cheap. Plus there is nothing that says he couldnt find his stroke over the course of the year and create some value for himself. If Snelling finishes the year healthy he’ll prob man RF next year, which means we will need someone who can play about 60 games in the OF spelling Ibanez and Snelling, and maybe 2 games spelling Ichiro.

  30. DaddyO said

    Agree that trading Reed now while his value is low is a bad idea, and that he can either be a fourth OFer/defensive replacement or, if he finds his confidence and his stroke in 2007 can become higher value trade bait.

  31. Jerry said

    The problem with Reeds situation is that, as a 4th OFer, he won’t be able to improve his stock unless there is an injury.

    Moving Ichiro back to RF isn’t a good idea at all. I think that his value as a CFer is much higher.

    Thus, Reed is stuck in a roster crunch right now. I wouldn’t be suprised to see the M’s move a CFer, but Reed is clearly the one with the lowest value as it stands right now.

    Trading him this offseason could easily turn into another Carlos Guillen deal.

  32. Orlandu said

    What do you know about Carlos Triunfel?

  33. Jerry said

    The little information that is out there describes him as a 5-tool SS with a good bat and power potential.

    There is a little blurb on him in this:

    http://proxy.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=2505742

    and a better one in this:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/261865.html

    Both articles discuss the best international prospects available this year, and Triunfel was one of the best of the bunch. The first link compared him to Miguel Tejada.

    Yesterdays article in Baseball America is the best:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/262505.html

    The M’s gave him the fourth highest bonus of all the international players this year, at $1.3 million.

    Although it is tough to project a 16-year-old kid, this guy is a really good prospect.

  34. JH said

    Wow. Either this is a case of Engle overruling Guerrero, Guerrero seeing something that really changed his mind, or Guerrero underplaying his esteem for Triunfel’s abilities when he talked to me.

    I wonder if the Ms will send him straight to the US. It would be the first time the current scouting team has done that, and they really don’t like to for Dominicans, but everyone who’s signed for that much in the past has skipped the DSL.

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