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The Insanity Continues

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on November 24, 2006

Carlos Lee signed the 6-year, $100 million offer the Houston Astros laid out on the table, and subsequently the 31-year-old slugger joined the fracas for the worst contract signing of the offseason.

More than $16 million per year?  Wow.

Lee is decent pickup for the Stros, but unless Lee is going to play 1B, which he’s done exactly none of in his professional career, he’s a DH playing in the wrong league.

I guess it helps that the Juice Box has a smaller left field area, but the money can’t be justified.

So, after Alfonso Soriano’s 8/136, Juan Pierre’s 5/44, Gary Matthews’ 5/50, Lee’s 6/100 is another in a long line of inexplicable spending.

This is good news for the Mariners, however, two fold, too.  First off, they didn’t sign Lee.  Second, the Orioles, Giants and Yankees are still looking for bats, and now the O’s will turn their attention to first basemen with Lee off the Market.  Maybe Richie Sexson is a little bit desirable to them now that they have no other options of that ilke.

One thing to watch is the Tejada-to-Angels thing.  If Bill Stoneman trades prospects for Tejada, one of the spects might be Casey Kotchman, medical reports pending, or Kendry Morales.  This would eliminate Baltimore from the Sexson sweepstakes, if there even is a sweepstakes for him.

The pitching equivalents of Lee and Soriano might be Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt.  Schmidt has a few years of age on either hitter, but with the lack of pitching on the market, why wouldn’t Schmidt get 5 years – or more – and 14 mil per?

He doesn’t deserve it?  Well, yeah, sure, his value probably sits somewhere around half that number, but Lee and Soriano far exceeded their true value, too.

He’s hurt a lot?  Well, he really doesn’t miss a ton of starts.  His injuries are nagging and residual so there isn’t much to hold against him as far as track record goes.

He’s old?  Somewhat, at 34 in January.  But Schmidt will use the careers of Clemens, Pettitte, Mussina, Schilling, Johnson and Smoltz as evidence that well-conditioned pitchers can be highly effective well past 35 years of age.

I would not be surprised to see Schmidt get a 5-year deal for 70 million.  Just not from Seattle.

As far as Zito is concerned.  He’s as overrated as any decent starting pitcher in recent memory, but he’s probabloy going to get 7 years and as much as 110 million bucks.

I think the Dodgers or Mets sign Zito, right after the Yankees ink Ted Lilly for 4 and 40 and the Chicago Cubs sign Gil Meche for 4 and 36+.

Sounds like Vicente Padilla may head to Toronto for 4 and 40 also.


81 Responses to “The Insanity Continues”

  1. larryl said

    Wow! Igawa is looking better every day and we’ve never even seen him. Any word if the Mariners have in fact placed a bid and/or what the bidding might have reached for Igawa?
    What does this do to the value of Rafael Soriano or JJ Putz. The budget for resigning those guys just went a lot higher, which makes improving the roster even that much more difficult.

  2. The Mariners have indeed placed a bid. They are one of 11 teams that bid.

    Only 6 teams bid on Matsuzaka.

  3. Putz and Soriano don’t have nearly the leverage, as they are merely arby eligible and not free agents.

    They can either be reasonable, or they can go year to year and be guaranteed MILLIONS less. It’s up to them, but I’d bet the house that they don’t play hardball.

  4. larryl said

    I think that when F.A. salaries escalate, expectations in the salary arbitration process also rise because players have higher numbers to compare themselves with. I imagine it also gives players more leverage when talking long-term deals because they know their value will be higher when they do get to free agency.

    Essentially, ownership is going to have align their salary structure with the new reality. Seattle will simply have to overpay if they really expect to improve this year.

    I shouldn’t even say overpay. It’s probably just a matter of getting accustomed to these salaries. I doubt it will get better in the future.

    Before lone Washburn will look like a bargain.

  5. Malcolm said

    No. Arbitration players are compared to other players with similar service time. The FA market has almost none (if any) bearing on arbitration.

  6. Like Malcolm said, Putz and Soriano won’t be compared to Speier and Walker and such, because they have far less service time.

  7. Edman said

    How in the world can you side with the owners, when they consistantly push the knives into their own hearts?

    Beltre and Sexson are looking like bargins now.

  8. Not bargains… just not as terrible as a year ago, partly because Beltre had a decent year and partly due to the massive contracts being handed out this month.

    But that’s neither here nor there. 4/52 for a 29 year old below average defensive first baseman coming off shoulder surgery and 5/64.25 for a 26 year old coming off his only star season… well, those were two very risky ventures.

    Someone would have given both players a similar deal if Seattle didn’t (LA offered 4/50 for Beltre at last count), just as someone else would have given Lee something close to 6/100… Baltimore offered 5+ an option year at 16+ mil per.

    Soriano, however… well, the second-best offer I heard was 7 and 115, so…

    Juan Pierre’s contracts stands as the worst so far, though. He sucks. He’s the worst player – BY FAR – of all the position players that have signed multiyear deals this winter.

    He runs well. Yay.

  9. drrew said

    So do you think we end up with Eaton for something close to those Meche numbers?

    Because of the $$$ craziness, have the expectations of the FO changed to focus on bringing in just one starter?

    Does the announcement on Igawa take place this weekend?

  10. I think we’ll know about Igawa by Tuesday.

    Eaton for the 4/36 ish? No. Not here.

  11. thr33niL said

    Everything is turning into a stretch. Its interesting and scary at the same time. How can the Mariners not go balls out after Igawa after the craziness of the last week? The best we can hope for now is Schmidt and Igawa. Schmidt would be a good fit but I don’t like his msrp. You would think the agent comes out with some ridiculous number like 14 million per and comes back to Earth. In this market, I think he might get it from some stupid club.

    Wonder what would win the worst contract of the year if that comes to fruition? Pierre at 5/45 or Schmidt at 5/70?

  12. Willmore said

    Heh, I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of this off-season. Jason, do you think that the insane deals will spread to insane trade possibilities, with teams wanting to acquire “proven” major-leaguer like Sexson at the expense of quality prospects ? If they are willing to put down that kind of insane money in free agency, surely Sexson’s deal seems like a bargain.

  13. Gookie said

    is ron villone available?

    …man with the rubber arm

  14. marinerswinws said

    Wow this has been a crazy offseason.

  15. Walrus said

    So how close is Bavasi to signing Erstad?

  16. yanush said


  17. cujo said

    Dont worry we signed WILLIE!We are heded down the wrong road again and again!

  18. another plane for him this season

  19. 3rd Watch said

    I’m really not surprized to see clubs spend lots of dough. If the M’s cannot get an impact player in the FA market then they should save the cash. The huge holes left in the rotation will undoubtably do in both Bavasi and Hargrove, dispite the week long power outages in the line up. I say save the money because I don’t want a third rate and on his last contract player. They become too costly and often come with the impact of a draft choice. If they are type A or B FA’s then the M’s should steer clear. This years draft is stacked at the HS level and should also yield some solid early round college players. I like the draft picks early and the M’s can build on a solid draft from last year.

    Trade news? Anyone heard anything new? I don’t think the M’s will make a move until they figure out which arms sign in different towns.

    Kind of a complex question to ask since the M’s have not offered arbitration to Meche. Should the Cubs sign Meche what would the M’s get as compensation due to all of the sigings by the Cubs this of season? I was hoping for a sandwich pick 1/2 round.

  20. larryl said

    Hope you got a good night’s sleep. I’m torn between thinking we should go young as you suggest or believing we can compete this year.
    The problem with shooting for the 2009 season is that the people making decisions have no hope of being there unless they win this year. I can’t conceive of Bavasi starting to rebuild at this point. He has some money available and he is going to spend it even if it means overpaying for ordinary pitching.

  21. Not even sujre Chuck and Howie are here if they LOSE for the next two seasons.

  22. larryl said

    If the Mariners were to sign two starters between Igawa, Eaton and/or Ohka, and do nothing else of note, could we compete in the AL West? The rotation might be Hernadez, Washburn, Eaton, Igawa or Ohka, and Baek or Woods.

    The hope would be that Felix becomes a stud, the bulpen bails out the other four starters, and the offense improves with the emergence of Snellling and the other young guys like Lopez and Betancourt. Is there any hope that could work?

  23. i’d say no, they can’t.

  24. Edgar said

    I think we could contend with a mediocre rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if everybody in our division is about as good as they were last year, if not a little worse. Our lineup should be better next year with Snelling instead of Everett and our defense is going to be better with Ichiro in CF instead of WFB/Reed. Plus, our young players should be getting better next year too. I don’t think we can really think about WS yet but I think its reasonable to expect us to contend for the division even if our offseason isn’t very impressive.

  25. Edman said

    You can’t really say how the division shapes up, until the deals and FA is pretty close to done. A trade and a signing can alter the outlook entirely.

    I think it’s fair to say that Oakland has a lot to replace, in Zito and Thomas, with not a lot of resources to get it done, in terms of money. Billy Beane is going to have to pull off some can’t miss deals, if he expects to replace what he’s losing.

    The Angels still have questions, especially in their rotation. They have the financial resources to make things happen, and a deep farm system to fill holes in trade. The best news was that they got Matthews, instead of Soriano. Paying a guy who was a career “who cares if he’s in the lineup” guy that much money for that long, is insane. I know the market is crazy right now, but what has Gary Matthews done that suddenly turned him into what he’s never been before? Even more risky than the M’s signing Beltre, because Matthews is on the other side of thirty, and not likely to get better than he is. At least Beltre was still under 30 with some hope.

    Texas depends on what it does every year….pitching. They get some, they could be contenders. They don’t, they’ll be home watching the playoffs. They need pitching, and set their first priority to signing Frank the Tank?…….sounds like the same old same old to me.

    At this moment, if Seattle has a good offseason, they can contend in this division. Can they do it with a haul of Ohka and Eaton type free agents?…..No really, IMHO. One, maybe. But, they have to get an inning eater capable of taking the pressure off of Felix. We’re talking about an impact arm. And, based on this crappy offseason, you’re probably talking about Schmidt.

  26. Matthew C said

    Hmmm. Huff could provide a decent value for the FA market. 2-3 yrs at 7-8M wouldn’t be that bad.

    Wonder if that’s contingent on the “blockbuster”.

  27. larryl said

    I also think we can contend with a marginal starting staff if we can inprove the offense. To do that, we need Ibanez and Johjima to repeat on 2006, Beltre, Bettancourt and Lopez to improve from 2006, Sexson to return to 2005, Snelling to blossom and Ichiro to get fired up. We also need to add a left-handed bat that can drive in runs. I doubt it is Broussard so, I’m looking for a trade. It’ll take a lot of luck.

  28. LA’s offense is at least as good as the current M’s lineup, probably better, and they have NO MAJOR QUESTIONS IN THEIR ROTATION.

    Weaver, Colon, Santana, Escobar and Lackey… no better rotation in the division.

  29. Jerry said

    RE 28,

    Don’t forget that the Angels also have a fantastic bullpen and, most importantly, incredible depth. They have a ton of near-ML-ready players (Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPhearson, Kendry Morales, Eric Aybar, Jeff Mathis, and Joe Saundeers) who can help them deal with injuries or just give them good cheap production.

    The Angels are going to be the team to beat in the AL West for the next few years. This is the team the M’s have to match up against.

  30. I couldn’t agree more. LAA is in a good position and if I were Stoneman, I’d pull the trigger on some of the trades involving McPherson, Kotchman, Mathis… they have value, even considering their own struggles on and off the field.

    I would NOT, however, trade Ervin Santana and/or Erick Aybar for Miguel Tejada or Manny Ramirez.

  31. mundeazy said

    interesting on the trade part…any word on the teams involved? or the chances of something actually going down? also i think brian lahair would do a similar if not better job than huff, dont think we should waste 8mill on a position we can fill internally…

    thanks for the info

  32. I agree, mundeazy, for the dough, or anywhere near, Huff isn’t a good idea at all. It’s possible that he’s a smokescreen backup plan to push another possibility along, and that’s what we should be hoping for.

  33. Any word on the teams involved in the potential “blockbuster”?

    The buzz here in Boston is that the M’s are one team that’s looking at Manny Ramirez, though I suspect that’s just Red Sox Nation stuff. Just wanted to see what you thought about it — I wouldn’t do it if I were the M’s, but…

    Also, any word on the Mariners pursuit of Schmidt? Are they close to a deal or is Bavasi taking his time on that one?


  34. JohnnyBeisbol said

    Ichiro getting fired up??? Yea that is doubtful… I think the only way that way possible is if we made major improvement to the team or if Matsuzaka came aboard…

    Why the heck would he be fired up with Adam Eaton, Toma Ohka, and Aubrey Huff…

  35. The M’s areen’t bringing in Manny… they don’t have the trade pieces.

    Soriano, Reed and what?

    The Mets are already willing to offer Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman, and that’s a better deal than Seattle can put together unless they want to part with Adam Jones with Soriano and another decent prospect.

    The Angels can beat the M’s in prospects or younger, cheaper players, too, and the Sox would surely want an SP.

    Soriano would step in and close for them but Reed hasn’t a ton of value, so…

  36. Edman said

    Jason, my comments were regarding the health of the Angels staff, and they had issues in that department last year. If they stay healthy, I agree they are the best in the division.

    I’m just pointing out, they aren’t a slam dunk, and if Colon can’t stay healthy, it will be an issue. I haven’t followed his health in the off-season, so I couldn’t tell you one way or the other.

  37. BoratForPresident said

    Eaton is off the market. He’s signing with the Phillies for 3/$24

  38. M-Pops said

    Great to hear! That actually souds like a pretty reasonable sign by Gillick.

    Jason, would you, and the Orioles, be willing to trade Sexson for Loewen? Young (22), left-handed, groundball-oriented, 7k per 9…O’s have 6 starters after acquiring Wright. Would the M’s kick in some cash to sweeten the deal?

  39. cujo said

    Gillick beats Bavasi for a pitcher in his own state.GO MARINERS..

  40. Goose said

    Phew, bullet dodged there.

    Thank you Pat Gillick.

  41. Adam said

    I’d doubt we could score Loewen for Sexson, but I’d do it in a heartbeat if possible. Then we could use that extra cash to sign Delucci to play LF, moving Raul to DH, and Broussard/Perez to 1B.

    But, alas, the reasons why Loewen is so attractive are the same reasons why we won’t be able to make a deal.

    And by the way, THANK HEAVENS that Eaton isn’t coming to Safeco! Thank you Pat Gillick!!

  42. Eaton will get torched in that stadium. Can’t wait to see those home splits.

    At least he was smart enough to go back to the NL where the juniors give him a chance.

    Loewen might be available, but not for Sexson.

  43. 3rd Watch said

    If Loewen is involved in a deal with Sexton then you would have to believe that this is a deal that Bavasi will have to jump on. There has to be other pieces involved, and my speculation that Soriano and Sexton would be dealt together does not work for this trade senario. The O’s just inked Baez the other day for alot of $$$. The other pitcher that I really like from the O’s is H.Penn.

    If an injury riddled Eaton gets about 8 mil a year then Meche is surely going to ring in 9-10 mil a year. WOW!!!

  44. cujo said

    The real question who is gonna be the Mariners 3-4-5 starters?Wh o cares about Eatons splits if he wins 12 games.I sure hope we arent thinking about Felix,Wash,Pienero,woods and baek if so hello 100 losses.We all critisize teams for over spending but look what is available.Not much and every day goes buy that one more pitcher goes away the price goes up for the rest of them that are left and other then Lilly.Schmidt and Zito who do you want?Loewen aint going anywhere unless you give them Felix he is a young star.Just for giggles watch Meche get 9-10 million if you think eatons deal was bad watch that one and try not to puke.

  45. Eaton might win 12 games, but that doesn’t mean he pitched well. Millwood won all of 9 games in 2005 and had the best ERA in the league. Wins mean jack when evaluating how well a pitcher has pitched, and they mean even less when trying to predict future performances. Wins are for TEAMS, not players.
    Eaton’s deal is only bad because he probabl’y won’t make more than 50 starts during those three seasons. That’s TERRIBLE value. If he stays healthy, he’s certainly worth the money. But that’s a pretty big risk.
    Even if Meche gets the SAME deal as Eaton, it’ll be a terrible contract. Meche… oy.

  46. We shouldn’t kill Gillick for this signing, though. They have the money to take such risks and don’t have an albatross-like contract on a player that can’t be moved.

    It’s a risk Philly could afford to take. Seattle could not. The M’s can’t miss on 24 million bucks. That’s happened way too much in the past.

  47. cujo said

    Tha mariners have a higher pay role then the phillies it is just invested in bad signs!The question who pitches in the 3-5 hole in seattles rotation?

  48. That is a question without an answer… but it’s only November 27 and only ONE starting pitcher has signed a multiyear deal thus far.

    Lots of work to do, but lots of time to do it.

  49. TopCat said

    Edman you are an idiot.

  50. As much as I wanna laugh… well, screw it, I’m laughing.

  51. Edman said

    Typical Top Cat, still adding valuable information to the conversation.

  52. Goose said

    Dellucci to the Indians. 3 years , $11.5 million.


  53. Dellucci is UNDERPAID.

    Shapiro is good.

  54. Adam said


  55. We’re not going to start a war here, guys. Ya each got a shot in… that’s enuff.

  56. 3rd Watch said

    Dellucci would have been nice, did he and his agent have any contact or offers from the M’s? Looks like Choo will be the fourth OF.

  57. I dunno if Seattle talked to him or not.

  58. Baseballistic said

    With Eaton and Wolf off the market, do you think the Mariners will try to trade for a starting pitcher, sign a free agent, or resign Meche? Or, is there a possibility that the M’s won’t bring in any other starters?

  59. the M’s will bring in two guys, Schmidt is probably one of them.

  60. Natereign said

    Are we completely out of and/or not interested in Meche. I’m not asking if anyone here wants to sign him just if the M’s might still sign him. 10% 20% odds? Thanks.

  61. Malcolm said

    JAC, any thoughts, personal or otherwise, about what it’s going to take to get Schmidt signed?

  62. Re: Meche

    I think the M’s have “some” interest, but if he gets 4 and 40, It doesn’t sound like the Mariners are biting on anything near that.

    re: Schmidt

    I think at least 4 years at 12 mil per. Up to 5 and 12+.

  63. Where does paying Schmidt $60+ Million over 5yrs rate on the list of horribly overpriced contracts?

    He’s aging, injury prone, and inconsistent — far from what you want in a top-of-the-rotation starter.

    Pre ASB: 6-5, 2.78ERA, 1.11WHIP
    Post ASB: 5-4, 4.76ERA, 1.48WHIP

    At Safeco Park (granted it was one game, but…)
    6.1ip, 9h, 6r, 6er, 1bb, 6k

    And it gets worse…Schmidt’s monthly numbers…

    April: 1-2 with a 4.76ERA and 1.35WHIP
    May: 4-0 with a 1.17ERA and 0.78WHIP
    June: 1-1 with a 2.80ERA and a 1.25WHIP
    July: 1-4 with a 4.97ERA and a 1.59WHIP
    August: 3-1 with a 4.10ERA and a 1.34WHIP
    Sept: 1-1 with a 4.91ERA and a 1.48WHIP
    Oct: 0-0 with a 4.50ERA and a 1.50WHIP

    Take May and June out of Schmidt’s numbers and he’s 6-8 with an ERA well over 4.00 and a WHIP over 1.40. That’s what Schmidt will do for whoever signs him for the future — he’s VERY overrated.

    I’d argue a 5yr $60+M deal with Schmidt is a top-5 worst contract of this offseason thus far.

  64. Malcolm said

    Take July and September out of his numbers and his ERA is really good. Cherry picking numbers, no matter which side you are advocating, is a really unconvincing method of making an argument.

  65. Edgar said

    An important lesson that has taken me a couple years of schooling and thousands of $$ in tuition:

    The first thing to remember is that anything can be proven with statistics.

    The second thing to remember is that nothing can be proven with statistics.

    These seem really simple but turn out to be a pain in the ass so most people just ignore them. A statistician can never tell a lie because he always qualifies with some sort of line like “with 95% confidence” or some BS like that. So go ahead, analyze data however you feel. You might just be right.

    That said, bold statements like ‘by ignoring a signifigant portion of last season’s data…Schmidt will fail next year’. Do not throw away data unless you have reason to do so. Data is your friend and the less you get rid of, the better your predictions will be. A better case could be made for ignoring September and April because maybe he was fatigued and rusty during these months and they do not show his true skill but again, we fall into the trap because maybe he is always tired in September and rusty in April. I feel like Schmidt is a lot like Sexson where they are streaky players who may be average for a large portion of the year but have the ability to get hot and be terific players for a short period of time.

  66. 3rd Watch said

    Early reports have stated that Randy Wolf is taking a home town discount to play in LA. It sure would be nice for Schmidt to take a home town discount. Even then I don’t see him doing much better than Greg Hibbard. He came with a great ERA and solid win production with both Chicago teams. Just to have his career end with an arm problem shortly into a nice big pay day $$$. I’m leary about having this contract extend too long into the twilight.

    Does anyone else sense the strange feeling that I get about the prospect of getting Schmidt?

  67. Matthew C said

    I just heard that Schmidt got a 3Y offer from a team for 14-5M per.

  68. westfried said

    Well, there *is* some basis for ignoring certain months. They’re called “outliers”. Many statistical models attempt to exclude outliers, in the theory that they do not best reflect the population. For skewed data, we know that median is “better” than mean (plain old “average”), but there is something called a “weighted median”, which only uses the central 80%. etc.

    So, given a population of:
    it is statistically acceptable to throw out the two highest and two lowest, resulting in:
    All things being equal, that’s a pretty good indication of his consistent value.

    As for “throw out May and June” – it’s a natural tendency to elminate the clear outliers. (Think “Brady Anderson, 50 home runs”.) 4.91 and 4.97 are not all that different from 4.50 and 4.76, so they don’t stand out as much.

    Overall, the picture is a mid-to-high 4’s ERA, 1.4 WHIP.

  69. Edman said

    I hate the month to month breakdowns. There aren’t many guys who don’t have great month….or bad months. It’s called ERA for a reason….it’s an average.

  70. Alex said

    According to SI.com the Cubs have offered Schmidt 3 years $45 million.

  71. Lamda said

    hehe.. the hometown discount will be when he accepts our 5/60 instead of taking someone’s 4/60.

  72. thr33niL said

    15 million per? How ridiculous can it get?

  73. JohnnyBeisbol said

    Im guessing we’ll have to give him the 4th year now… probably looking at something like 4/52 million or something like that..

  74. M-Pops said

    25 mil. winning bid for Igawa…based on that number, who do you think got ’em? Yankees, Rangers, Cubs?

    Why wouldn’t Schmidt play at home for the M’s instead of for the Cubs at 3/45? In this market, I would jump at that deal if I were Bavasi!

    Hope the M’s surprise us. Schmidt and Igawa would make my offseason.

    Jason, was that rumored blockbuster for an arm or a bat?

  75. thr33niL said

    The “blockbuster” he was referring to involves a trade, not a free agent signing.

  76. Matthew C said

    25 mil for Igawa? That’s insane.

  77. MajesticThouInRuin said

    Yankees win the bidding for Igawa.

  78. Vince said

    the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that the White Sox and Angels are discussing a trade that would send Garcia and third baseman Joe Crede to the Angels for versatile and fast Chone Figgins and 23-year-old starting pitcher Ervin Santana.

    …. we better get crackin on SOMETHIN!

  79. thr33niL said

    Crap -I can just see the Ohka signing coming. 3/21 is my guess.

    I’ve gone from wanting the Ms to sign this player or that player to now.. not signing a single FA. This FA class is weak and is getting overpaid to the Nth. Just plain ridiculous. Forget Schmidt, etc. Hit the phones and make a few trades.

    This offseason should have a big “Keep Away” sign hanging over the free agents.

  80. If the Sox make that move, they aren’t smart. I know they have a Crede replacement ready to go in Josh Fields, but look at this:

    A: 3.02 ERA
    B: 5.95 ERA

    A = Ervin Santana’s ERA at home in LA.
    B= Santana’s wretched numbers away from home. Wait til he starts 17 games in the best hitter’s park in the American League in Chicago.

    I like Santana, but most of his value is in a pitcher’s park because he induces a lot of fly balls. His command is mediocre and while his stuff if above average and he’s still improving is some areas, the White Sox would be making a mistake putting that deal in place. Chone Figgins is a reserve, too. He shouldn’t be starting games for a good team.

  81. Ralph said

    Speaking of insanity, Figgins is set to make 4.75 million in ’08 as a utility player.

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