|Cracking "The Safe": The Seattle Mariners|
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Friday, January 23, 2004
Steve at the Mariners Wheelhouse has a nice post about why Pudge might be a good fit for the M's. His theory is that if Ben Davis falls flat on his face this year, the M's will be in desperate need of a catcher next season.
Good catchers are obviously a hot commodity and since no one in our minor league system is ready to step up in 2005, the acquisition of a catcher makes sense. Steve argues that by picking up Pudge, we are really also in essence buying ourselves at least two full years to obtain and groom a replacement.
I like Steve's line of thinking a lot, but when I look at the deteriorating health that Pudge has and will continue to exhibit in concert with his price tag, I shudder. While he is a fantastic hitting catcher, I am not sure I want to sink $10 million into a 32 year old with a history of back problems.
If the M's don't like what they see from Ben Davis midway through this season, they should make an effort to obtain a AAA catcher who can actually hit and catch (sorry Wiki) in exchange for some of our surplus of pitching talent.
But now that the big guns are mostly available only by trade, I think the M's should excercise some patience. Having $8-10 million to spend mid-season would put us at the top of any teams trade partner list.
With the signings of Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro, the M's rotation (barring a trade involving Garcia) looks to be set for next season. Just out of curiousity, I checked to see what Dan Szymborski at Baseball Primer had tallied for our starting five in his 2004 ZiPS Projections.
Here's how it stacks up:
Freddy Garcia: 34 games - 15-10 W-L Record - 3.77 ERA - 217 IP
Jamie Moyer: 33 games - 15-10 W-L Record - 3.88 ERA - 211 IP
Joel Pineiro: 32 games - 14-8 W-L Record - 3.61 ERA - 187 IP
Ryan Franklin: 30 games - 9-9 W-L Record - 4.64 ERA - 161 IP
Gil Meche: 31 games - 12-11 W-L Record - 4.39 ERA - 160 IP
That puts the projected record for our starters at 65-48 for the 2004 campaign. What is most interesting to note is that the ZiPS Projection (which are flawed like other systems) project a certain degree of success for Rett Johnson and Bobby Madritsch were they to step into the rotation.
This is an interesting read if you are into stat projections....
Kaz's departure certainly raises a multitude of questions.
1. Who is the new closer?
The odds here favor Eddie Guardado for many reasons. First, Guardado has the most closing experience of any of the candidates. A solid track record gives him the edge. Hasegawa is a decent alternative but his versatility should not be wasted. This guy can wear any role like a custom suit. He'll be seeing a good deal of 7th and 8th inning work. Rafael Soriano is undoubtably the most explosive pitcher on our roster. His repetoire currently makes him look primed for future closing duty. His poise and non-chalant demeanor would make him an intimidating force. But he doesn't have enough ML innings under his belt to get the nod, especially with two more experienced options around.
2. Who will fill the vacant bullpen spot?
If Guardado ascends to the closer throne, the M's pen is without any situational lefties. Hasegawa gets lefties out well but you really need at least one good lefty option. I expect that there will be spots for one or maybe two lefties in the pen. Newly acquired Mike Myers might have an edge in experience, but George Sherill and Bobby Madritsch have a definite advantage in talent. I think any combination of Sherill and Myers, along with Jose Nunez, stand a good shot at making this team. Madritsch is an intriguing starting pitching candidate who prefers to start and will probably wind up at AAA Tacoma.
3. Where does Sasaki's money go?
Ah, the $9.5 million question.
The cynics are already out in full force saying that this money goes in the pockets of the owners, but the fans will demand that the money that they invest by way of ticket sales gets used for some visible upgrade.
Go for Pudge? Nope, the M's won't risk signing a guy who could break down at any time and leave a giant albatross contract in his wake. Remember Sasaki's money will be a gift after his ridiculous suitcase accident. We shouldn't waste the money twice.
What about Carlos Beltran. Sorry M's fans, it is not going to happen. The Royals actually started to believe that they can win under Pena last year. With the addition of Juan Gonzalez, look for Beltran and all his $9 million to be staying put and keeping the Royals in contention at least into August. Also, the M's are forever wary of Scott Boras.
Ok, what about Geoff Jenkins? This could actually be feasible. The Brewers are up for sale and looking to shed payroll. Jenkins is a hometown guy and would make a dynomite addition to the lineup. He hits left-handed and would crush balls into the right field stands all summer long. But let's not forget the last hometown Golden Boy we welcomed home, Mr. Jeff Cirillo. I know he wasn't from here but the local ties sure gave him a nice complex. Jenkins only question mark is staying healthy.....
...As is the problem with Jim Edmonds. But Edmonds can rake. He has strong ties with Bavasi and the Cards might actually take Garcia off our hands in any deal. Garcia and Winn for Edmonds? Soriano to the rotation? Three holes in the bullpen?
Magglio Ordonez is an interesting option but the Mariners hate the idea of rent-a-players. Would they be in the market to keep Magglio for several years?
This all becomes a moot point if the M's can't get out of Sasaki's deal.