Cracking "The Safe"
Cracking "The Safe": The Seattle Mariners
~ Everything to do with the Seattle Mariners ~
Friday, December 19, 2003

I realize that John over at Trident Fever was trying to make a compeling argument as to why Arthur Rhodes was a more economical choice, but sadly he missed a few noteworthy facts.

#1. Oakland signed Rhodes to be their closer. Rhodes for his career TERRIBLE at saving games. For his career Arthur is 17 for 44 in save opportunities. That means he gets the job done about 39% of the time for his career.

#2. Seattle signed Guardado to fill Rhodes' shoes THIS year. But once Kazu's $8 million deal is off the books, Eddie will be the closer. For his career, Guardado is 116 for 142 in save opportunities. That works out to 82% effective. Guardado also boasts 89 career holds, proving that he can adapt to any role. He will make $3 million next year ($2.5 base salary and 1/3 of his $1.5 million SB). When he switches to closer, he will still making no more money than Keith Foulke in Boston and less than Wagner or Percival.

As for the comment about Guardado using every out and base to record saves.....It doesn't have to be pretty if he gets the job done.

Rhodes was great and may still have a lot left in the tank. But anyone (including the A's) who thinks Guardado is not a much better deal is not looking at the big picture. Not many teams get a guy in his prime who saved 41 games the year before to be their set up man at $3 million a year. I highly doubt that Rhodes will last the entire season as closer.

This is one of Bavasi's better moves in my opinion.

posted at 12/19/2003 10:26:00 PM

Steve's Mariners and Stuff is debating whether or not Richard Hidalgo would be a good acquisition for the M's.

The knee-jerk reaction to that question is a resounding "no" largely thanks to his huge $12 million contract in 2004. But let's say for the sake of this argument that the Astros picked up part of the tab.

Obviously, acquiring Hidalgo would make Randy Winn expendable. He's signed fairly cheap for two years with an option year and therefore has great trade value. Any package that you put together would most likely include Winn.

Before we dive into that scenario, let's not even bother bringing Jeff Cirillo into this discussion. He is owed $15 million over the next two years which is more than what Hidalgo will make when the option year is bought out for $2 million. Shedding Winn's salary would close the gap to about $8.25 million. That is still a huge figure. I think Houston would have to chip in $3-4 million to be rid of Hidalgo....

But my true feeling is that Hidalgo is not worth even half of his 2004 salary.

His 2000 stat line was huge: .314 AVG 44HRs 122 RBIS and a whopping OPS of 1.028

But Hidalgo has never had another season of 30 HRs (his closest total was 28 last year). His other season high HR totals were 19, and 15 twice. With the exception of last year and 2000, Hidalgo has post SLG %'s below .500 each year. His OBP for his career is very respectable at .359 but his Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde splits are terribly concerning.

As many argued when McCracken was acquired, one great year can't necessarily be the barometer for great things ahead. Especially when intermixed with less than stellar seasons.

Sorry Steve, I have to pass on this one.

posted at 12/19/2003 09:31:00 PM

Last little Aubrey Huff soundbite and I will shut up.

Huff wrote a nice little article about managing the count as a hitter where he name drops two Mariner products, A-Rod and Edgar, as prime examples of classic line-drive hitters to emulate.

posted at 12/19/2003 05:45:00 PM

The Chi-Sox resigned Carlos Lee and Kelly Wunsch today.

Lee will get a two year deal worth $15 million to stay in Chicago. He will make $6.5 million in 2004 and $8 million in 2005 with a club option for 2006 at $8.5 million.

I like Carlos Lee. I think he is definitely not given the credit he deserves (mostly because he shares an outfield with Magglio). His second half numbers show him to be a strong stretch drive performer. It seemed that the consensus was that the White Sox couldn't afford to keep him expecially with Ordonez sticking around.

He would have been nice in an M's uniform but the Ibanez deal and his price tag made that a moot point. I wouldn't have spent $8 million for Carlos Lee in 2005.

Did I mention that Aubrey Huff might be available for the right price and only made $325,000 last year?

posted at 12/19/2003 05:39:00 PM

Hell, Huff's line was even better than Nomar's last year.

posted at 12/19/2003 01:43:00 AM

How many guys can you name who hit .311 with 34 HRs and 107 RBIs last year while making $325,000?

Just one, Aubrey Huff.

Huff's season line was fantastic: .311/.367/.555

Sure, he played half his games at Tropicana. But he actually hit 19 of his 34 roundtrippers on the road. What makes Huff's 2003 line so incredible is what he did against LHP. You would be hard pressed to make a case that Aubrey Huff is not a major league hitter when you look at this breakdown:

Vs. RHP: .308/.374/.596 (416 ABs)
Vs. LHP: .318/.353/.477 (220 ABs)

Huff is a player who does never needs to be sat because of a matchup.

I point all this out because there are numerous rumors floating around about the Devil Ray's willingness to trade Huff for the right package, probably of pitching prospects.

I leave you with two lines that are significant to this conversation:

.375/.400/.750 and .429/.474/.886

The first is Aubrey's totals at Safeco last year and the second is his totals against the M's.

posted at 12/19/2003 01:42:00 AM

In Letterman-like fashion, I give you....

The Top Ten Reasons To Be Happy A-Rod Is Still A Ranger

Number 10: Maybe this means Magglio might come here...Oh Nevermind....

Number 9: Manny won't be lobbing balls onto Royal Brougham all year....

Number 8: The Texas fans might hate him as much as we do....

Number 7: Nomah...Nomah...Nomah....can you say Bo-Sox new clubhouse cancer?

Number 6: A-Rod can still mistake his team's latest starting pitcher as the ballboy...

Number 5: George Steinbrenner wasn't forced to buy the Kansas City Royals in order to acquire Carlos Beltran....

Number 4: Even though he will be wearing Texas red white and blue next year, Alex's favorite color is still green.

Number 3: Memo To Alex: Donate some of that contract to the Make-A-Pitch foundation.

Number 2: Because A-Rod almost bought himself a title, something that will never happen in Texas.

And finally....

Number 1: The fans at Safeco haven't run out of Monopoly money yet...

posted at 12/19/2003 12:53:00 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Will The Real Ben Davis Please Stand Up

Ah Ben. How's J-Lo...oops wrong Ben.

It's easy to forget sometimes that we have a catcher on our team not named Dan. Ben Davis was easily the biggest first half surprise and possibly the biggest second half flop of any Mariner in 2003.

How can the same person post a .294/.333/.490 line before the All-Star Break and a .140/.204/.204 line after?

Some people are quick to blame Bob Melvin for not playing Ben in the second half. Those same people argue that he needs to see 75% of the time at C rather than a 50/50 split with Wilson or even 60/40 like last year.

But consider that Ben actually saw as many ABs in August (46) in the heart of the pennant race as he did in June, his statistically strongest month.

His line in June: .304/.340/.435
His line in August: .130/.146/.174 (ouch!)

You might think that his strikeout totals were up in August right? Wrong....
Ben actually struck out half as often in August as he did in June (14 to 7).

With catchers, the possibility of fatigue is very real. Having two able catchers is almost an unwritten rule in baseball. Melvin has said that Davis will get every opportunity to win the starting job this year, evidence that the M's want to know if he will grow into the role they traded him to fill, or if they will need to look elsewhere for a future backstop.

It's time to step it up Ben....

posted at 12/18/2003 01:37:00 PM

Trident Fever posted a lovely breakdown of the projected 2004 lineup for Oakland with their 2003 OPS lines.

If you are having a hard time feeling good about the 2004 M's, take a look. Trust me, you'll feel better.

posted at 12/18/2003 01:38:00 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Boston sure is looking to add payroll....

A-Rod and Magglio.....hmm how 'bout non-tendering your RF Theo?

posted at 12/17/2003 12:59:00 PM's so hard to keep things straight sometimes. But the actual origin of the "King Felix" tag should be attributed to the fellas at the USS Mariner.

The Origin of King Felix

Sorry for the confusion.

posted at 12/17/2003 12:16:00 PM

Trot Nixon needs to be Bill Bavasi's idol this week.

I know, I know...he doesn't hit lefthanders. But Safeco is death to RH hitters and I don't see a ton of LH hitters who mash LHP anyway.

Trot's Splits at

Trot's 3 year Splits are pretty nice :

Overall: .279/.369/.514
Against LHP: .221/.303/.341
Against RHP: .295/.386/.560

And how did he hit in Safeco over that period?

.300/.364/.625 (in a relatively small sample size granted 40 ABs)

Trident Fever had an astute observation that not ONE of our starting outfielders would rank in MLB's top 100 in terms of slugging percentage.

There is a good chance that Trot may not post a .578 SLG% again next year, but he will only be 30 years of age and could be entering his hitting prime.

I know that many mourned the loss of Drew to the Braves, but come September, Trot will be leading someone into the playoffs, and Drew will be looking for his 300th AB.

Come on Trader Bob....he's your need him....

posted at 12/17/2003 02:16:00 AM

Prospect Watch 2004 Part II

Felix Hernandez.....say it to yourself.

Dubbed "King Felix" by the irreplaceable USS Mariner crew(check them out at USS Mariner), this kid (he will turn 18 at the beginning of the season) had a phenomenal debut.

Standing 6'2" and weighing in at 208 lbs, Hernandez has a nice build. He uses it to sling a mid to upper 90's fastball toward the plate. He uses the fastball in tandem with a plus curveball. The changeup will come with time, let's not forget how young he is.

His stint at Class A Everett in the Northwest League was dominating. His stat line reads like something a young Pedro Martinez might compile:

W/L 7-2 55 IP 43 H 24 BB 73 K 2.29 ERA

He was so dominating that the M's sent him to High A Ball to help Wisconsin during their playoff run. You would expect that his numbers would have dipped, but instead, he posted this line (albeit in fewer IP):

W/L 0-0 14 IP 9 H 3 BB 18 K 1.93 ERA

Felix handled the promotion well and continued to post excellent K/BB ratios. He will certainly need to learn more about commanding the strike zone to have success at higher levels, but his development at such a young age is astonishing.

2004 Prediction

Hernandez will probably pitch for Class A Wisconsin of the Midwest League again this year as there is no need to speed him along. He will benefit from the abundance of arms at the upper levels of the system.

There is no reason to believe that he won't pick up where he left off in 2003, dominating hitters who are on average 3-4 years older than he is. It will be important to keep an eye on his walk totals. If he can keep them down, the K totals will remain high. At each level hitters will get more selective and he will need to adjust.

Barring injury, King Felix should be in an M's Uniform sometime around 2006-2007.

posted at 12/17/2003 01:03:00 AM

Thanks also to Jason at USS Mariner, the undisputed king of M's blogs. He also gets extreme bonus points for figuring out my Office Space reference.

If you don't know what we're talking about, rent Office Space, and get back to me....

posted at 12/17/2003 12:22:00 AM

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Huge thanks to Steve at Steve's Mariners and other Stuff as well as Paul at Ahoy The SS Mariner! for the links and shout outs!

The M's Blogging Community is going to take out Beantown and The Big Apple baby!

posted at 12/16/2003 10:53:00 PM

The M's Blogosphere grows daily.... I'll do my best to keep up and link everyone under my links section. I know that I have been reading the good ones daily for awhile now...We have some serious writing talent in Marinerland, certainly a lot more interesting reading than what the Times and PI spit out.

posted at 12/16/2003 09:38:00 PM

Pheww!!! Vizquel to Seattle got nixed!

This trade made no sense, looked a lot like a PR stunt, and would have been disastrous on the field.

Note to Bill Bavasi.... Use the friggin money to sign someone BETTER than what we already have. Got it? Sheesh....

I'll be back later to post my second installment of Prospect Watch 2004....

posted at 12/16/2003 09:36:00 PM

Since most of the other blogs are focusing on the current disasterous state of affairs in Marinerland, I thought I might shift my focus to something positive for 2004 and beyond

Today marks the first in a string of Prospect Watch 2004 Reports.

My first candidate? Not a prospect anymore (oops!)

Rafael Soriano put that distinction to rest last year with a dominating second half series of performances.

In 40 games last year, Soriano showed just why the M's have made him a virtual "untouchable" in their various trade talks.

Soriano's line was eye-popping: 53 IP 68 K 12 BB 1.53 ERA

What the stats don't show is that Soriano made a lot of good hitter look VERY bad.

His fastball is consistenly in the mid 90's but does touch the upper 90's on occasion. Amazingly, Soriano's easy, fluid motion to the plate makes his delivery appear effortless. The ball explodes from his hand and moves quite a bit. His location is not perfect yet, but with movement at 95 MPH, the ball does not always need to be located.

His slider can be equally devastating. It features a hard North/South sweeping break. Soriano favors the fastball as his out-pitch, but with maturity will learn that the slider is an equally effective and necessary weapon.

His changeup has been a weakness. For this reason, many project him as a closer rather than a starter. But M's management have every intention of giving him a shot at the fifth starter gig in Spring Training provided that Freddy Garcia is gone. He is throwing approximately 75% sliders and changeups in Winter Ball to prepare for this transition.

Wherever he ends up, he will be a serious weapon for Bob Melvin in 2004

posted at 12/16/2003 03:17:00 AM

Vizquel to the M's? For Guillen?

Larry Stone seems to think so....

Does this make any sense? Why would the M's want to acquire an older more expensive version of Carlos Guillen who they just locked up for the bargain price of $2.5 million a year ($3.4 million with performance bonuses). Omar will make $7 million next year.

I realize that Bavasi has pulled off some stinkers so far, but I can't imagine that ANYONE would make this trade....

Bavasi's quotes in Larry Larue's article make me think that maybe he has something else in mind....

I got over being I am extremely curious to see what these guys do, if only for the awesome stupid spectacle of it.

posted at 12/16/2003 03:00:00 AM

Quinton McCracken. Not even in town yet, but already dogged.

Most sites point out that "Q" as Melvin likes to call him has posted only 1 good year in his last 5. I'd like to take the opportunity to point out that he has only really played a full year once in the last five years.

After his 155 game, 614 AB 1998 campaign with Tampa Bay, Q played a grand total of:

40 Games in 1999
15 Games in 2000 and
24 Games in 2001

In 2002, during Arizona's championship run, McCracken played 123 games, collecting 349 ABs and posting what many would like to call an "lucky" year.

2002: .309/.367/.458

I would usually agree with this, but those same people are also using his 2003 campaign as a yardstick of his value...

2003: 115 Games, 203 ABs, .227/.276/.271

The 2003 line is terrible, but consider that McCracken saw extremely sporadic playing time, went down with a strained abdominal muscle in mid-June and was out for the year by July with torn cartilage in his wrist. Much like Colbrunn, McCracken had little or no chance to succeed in 2003. His 203 ABs don't mean that he got a shot. He was injured and phased out.

In no way is this a defense of Quinton McCracken. The M's could have done much better. But the outcry against him is not as warranted as some think. He is not a terrible baseball player.

If he sees fairly regular ABs, I don't see why he can't post numbers close to his career average line of .280/.341/.383

Oh and don't forget who he is replacing:

Mark McLemore

2003: .233/.318/.314
Career: .259/.349/.341

McCracken is better than McLemore.

posted at 12/16/2003 02:52:00 AM

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I stayed away while all the Miggy rumors flew around....

So the Orioles made a better offer. Not necessarily a smarter offer for the long term picture, but a great offer financially for Tejada.

The M's final offer of 5 years, $45 million is nothing to be pissed off about. The M's were ready to commit more money to Tejada than any other player currently under salary. That shows that they were serious players. But when you break down the O's deal with a huge portion of that deal backloaded at the end of the contract, it becomes clearer why the M's were not in it at the end. The O's know that splashy sells tickets. Expect Orioles season tickets to be a hot commodity again if they land the Tejada-Pudge-Vlad trifecta.

It then becomes important to scratch your head if you are an M's fan. The M's avoided breaking the bank on one player (which is never smart [see A-Rod]). For that they should be commended. I like Tejada a lot at $9 million with this team. I like him a lot less at $12-13 million. But....and I should make this a HUGE BUT....

...the loss of Tejada does not ruin the offseason. Where is the game plan Bavasi & Co? In absense of Tejada, who are you going to get? If you aren't making one big splash and several tiny ones, where is the series of impact signings? Guardado is a great pick-up sure....but he is only replacing Rhodes and is not statistically a massive upgrade. Ibanez effectively takes over for Cammy with the net upgrade coming out in a wash due to the offensive/defensive upgrade/downgrade trade-off. You brought back Shiggy and signed Guillen, Franklin, and Winn at savings over what they would have made in arbitration...all solid moves. But in lieu of Tejada where are we filling holes?

Sure, ship Cirillo off to the Mets for Cedeno. Cedeno sucks too but at least Cirillo's presence won't bring the team morale down. And we would save another couple of million.

Make a decision either way on Garcia. My theory is that the M's will offer him arbitration, lose, and then say that they can't afford to make other deals.

I used to wonder why Seattle never seemed to get the national respect on ESPN and in East Coast circles. The M's never make the moves that count. They haven't and they won't.

I would take a series of minor moves that makes this team better as a whole. But I see an aging team that has no upgrades in sight.

The game clock is expiring on the M's as we speak. Plan A left the building and Plan B was never really an option.

At least I have money that I won't have to spend next year.

I will continue to cheer from afar and root for the M's in my heart. That seems to be what true fans do, but this management is missing the boat on capturing new fans, and losing old ones as well.

posted at 12/14/2003 11:41:00 PM