MBSBL Draft Update: When Sodo Oh No snatched Jim Edmonds right out from under me, I had to take my second San Francisco Giant in two rounds: pitcher Jason Schmidt. Edmonds was the highest-rated offensive player on my board, with an OPS north of 1.000, and there were a bunch of other bats I'd like to have rated slightly lower -- and all around the same level.
Schmidt I had rated basically even with Pedro. His WHIP was below 1.00 last year, which is awesome. This gives me a true No. 1 starter and a chance to get one of those other bats I like in another six picks. I feel pretty good about this one, even though I'm not a Giants fan.
posted by Jefflink 2:14 AM 
Friday, January 30, 2004
Magglio Ordonez Watch: Since we missed out on Pudge, and Kansas City will likely wait before trading Carlos Beltran, my pipe-dream meter has been reset to "Mags." Hence, it's time to check in on what the White Sox are thinking. Besides, if there's a GM that even Bavasi can outwit, it's gotta be Ken Williams, doesn't it?
Case in point: Kenny can't even get his story straight on where the Sox stands with Magglio. In this morning's Chicago Tribune, Steve Rosenbloom reports that Mags won't sign an extension. ["Williams said the Sox have approached Magglio Ordonez about a contract extension, "but we were told he wanted to play his free-agent year out and find out his value on the open market.""]
Wait a second, though -- you might want to check the other side of Ken's mouth, the one that told Joe Cowley, staff writer for the Daily Southtown, that he "has attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to get in touch with both [Frank] Thomas and Ordonez this offseason." Cowley quotes Williams as saying: "I have not talked to Magglio, but we will talk," Williams said. "Magglio is a professional."
I suppose both of these statements could be true if they offered him an extension before the end of last year. But if you had Magglio Ordonez, wouldn't you keep in close touch with him to give yourself the best chance to re-sign him? For my money, that's a definite "yes" -- unless you don't plan on trying. Seems like Mags would be available for the right offer.
Like Kansas City, they might want to hold onto their big bopper to see if they can win the Central. But Phil Rogers of the Trib says that the Southsiders' desire for payroll flexibility might mean they trade Jose Valentin to the Yanks. If they're dumping salary, Bavasi's got to pursue Mags now.
Pat Gillick Watch:The LA Times reports that the Dodgers want to interview Gillick. That's not big news. But apparently I missed the biggest news of the past five years:
However, industry sources said the Dodgers planned to look into the availability of Pat Gillick, who is now basically unattached and living in Toronto after putting together championship teams with the Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners.
When did the Mariners win the World Series? Why did no one tell me? How did I miss the parade? I'm sure there are people in Baltimore as upset at I am about this.
Truly Awful Writing Department: I'll let the Everett Herald's Larry Henry off the hook for rambling. I'll give him a break for suggesting that the M's don't need an offensive upgrade. I'll even cut him slack for repeating the absurd "Davis/Wilson drove in as many runs as Pudge, so they're just as good" fallacy.
Hey, I'm in a good mood, so I'll even forgive his calling Randy Winn "a heckuva player." But if you're boosting Winn (which is cool), you don't have to take a poke at Cammy (which is not).
Henry: "[Winn] hits. Runs. Fields. Thinks (which Mike Cameron, the man he replaces in center field, failed to do at times).
Okay, why poke a popular, classy player in the eye on his way out of town -- especially given that Cameron was roughly twice as important to the team's success? And Cameron "failed to think"? When? When he gave interviews to the Everett Herald? Also, I notice in his list of Winn's virtues, Henry doesn't say "throws." Probably an oversight.
Besides, I'd much rather have Cammy and his instincts running down deep flies than either Winn and his degree from Santa Clara or Quinton McCracken and his Duke double-major.
Still, my joy is tinged with nausea because of one of the answers to said question. To wit:
Is this the worst bench in major league history? If Edgar gets injured, what abysmal hitter will replace him at DH? And seriously, will any Mariners bench players get a pinch hit all year? — Jeff, Bellingham
B. F.: No question, the bench is thin at this point. But the bench was supposed to be one of the strengths last year, and barely came into play. The most likely DH if Edgar gets hurt would be outfielder Quinton McCracken. Another option is use Scott Spiezio at DH, and have Willie Bloomquist play third base.
So if (when?) Edgar gets hurt, we'll replace Superman with JimmyOlsen. A guy with an OBP over .400 gets replaced by a young guy with an OBP of .317 or an old guy with an OBP of (yikes!) .276.
The Mariners have signed their second Taiwanese player, Yung-Chi Chen, a middle infielder. He's only 20, and theoretically this comes from the M's international "black budget," so it seems all good. I'm glad the organization has such a commitment to international talent.
There are a few random boxscores around the web from tournaments in Cuba, etc., but those don't tell you much. Still, signing a 20-year-old shortstop who has had success in world competitions doesn't seem like it can be a bad idea.
The other player from Taiwan in Seattle's system is Chao-Kuan Wu, a catcher who played rookie league ball last year.
posted by Jefflink 10:28 AM 
I was going to turn my attention to fruitless speculation about trading for Carlos Beltran or Magglio Ordonez, but Bavasi and his henchmen continue to suck all the joy out of even my pipe dreams. Now they're saying that they don't have enough money for a major offensive upgrade -- but they've got $1.5 million for The Great Ron Villone. I was going to rip the story where this appears, Bob Finnigan's latest lame attempt to explain why the Mariners can't actually spend more than a few million dollars to upgrade the offense, but David Cameron at USS Mariner did a better job of that than I could already.
So I'll just turn on my hollow mockery impulse. Remember the guy who said Pudge had decided to sign with the M's, Justin Spiro? Well, he's standing by his report, sorta, with gems like this:
"I stand by my report and will continue to do so until Pudge is at the podium to announce his signing."
Um, what? "I stand by my report until it is proven wrong. At that point, there was no report. Move along, nothing to see here."
"If he signs with Seattle, I will report it. If he signs with Detroit, I will report that too. I have nothing to hide"
I love the "I will report it" bit -- but the "I have nothing to hide" is the best non sequitur I've seen since I had the onion on my belt -- which was the style at the time.
I think I'll trust the AP that we're not getting Pudge, but continue to turn to Spiro for my comedy needs.
posted by Jefflink 9:02 AM 
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
MBSBL Draft Update: I made my first pick, Barry Bonds, taking him fourth in the first round. As the draft progresses, I'll post my selection and rationale here. Fair warning: I haven't done a Diamond Mind simulated league before, and I usually do AL-only fantasy leagues, so I'm a bit of a newbie.
So it may be my ignorance of this type of league, or I may just have gotten lucky, but I'll say this: if I had drawn the first pick, I would have taken Bonds. His on-base percentage -- and hence his OPS -- is just unreal. He's so far ahead of the field in Equivalent Average and Runs Above Replacement Player that it's scary. His 2003 EqA of .420 was FIFTY-EIGHT points higher than his nearest competitor, Albert Pujols.
Sure, he's an outfielder, and the position depth is pretty good there -- but I couldn't pass him up. We'll see how good the pick turns out.
posted by Jefflink 10:15 PM 
The good news: The story I was working on is done, leaving much more time for blogging, getting my fantasy draft lists ready, and watching this video over and over. I don't follow college hoops very closely, but Nigel Dixon breaking the glass backboard is pretty impressive.
The bad news: it looks like I won't be headed to Okinawa in February, as I thought I would. I'm planning on posting about Okinawa soon, with lots of photos, just to torture myself.
One thing I planned to do there was check out spring training for Japanese baseball (yakyu). Sasaki is very popular in Okinawa, since he's always trained there. On that note, here's an article from the Daily Yomiuri about how Sasaki's potential return would impact the Yokohama BayStars, who seem to be the frontrunner to sign him.
* "is there any reason the Mariners couldn't do a little goodwill and invite Boone to rehab with them if the Yankees do cut him loose? Surely Boone would be bolstered by his brother's presence in Seattle. And then the M's would be in position to sign him for the following season to play third base, while Scott Spiezio slides back to first to replace the retiring John Olerud." I'd be against this, since Boone is dramatically overrated, would command too much money, and (as Steve at Mariners Wheelhouse has pointed out), next year's free agent class at third base is pretty sweet. Don't forget that Boone would be 32 as of opening day next year and coming off a major injury.
All these factors, of course -- and the "family connection" factor that plays so well with the marketing-conscious Mariners front office -- mean that two Boones is a real possibility for next year.
* Johns repeats the asinine argument that Pudge Rodriguez wouldn't be that much of an upgrade over Ben Davis and Dan Wilson -- but he gets points for pointing out that Wilson's defensive reputation is largely undeserved these days, and that the numbers suggest Davis is better behind the plate.
I don't think I'd like a league where everyone wore nicknames on uniforms, though I do snicker when I think of Andy "Channel 17" Messersmith.
posted by Jefflink 10:00 AM 
I took a break from a story I'm working on yesterday to blow off steam. What better pressure-release mechanism than asking ten snarky questions in a row to Larry Stone and Bob Finnigan? Here they are:
1. Why did Bavasi trade for Quinton McCracken, an old player who can't hit, is average to poor defensively, and makes a lot of money relative to what he does? Isn't Jamal Strong a better player at this point anyway? Why give away our only decent bench player for this guy?
2. Why did Bavasi give away Carlos Guillen for nothing? (OK, OK, we got Ramon Santiago and a non-prospect -- LESS than nothing.)
3. If we weren't going to save any money, why did Bavasi trade for Kevin Jarvis instead of just cutting Jeff Cirillo? Does anyone really think that Kevin Jarvis should be pitching in the major leagues?
4. Is this the worst bench in major league history? If Edgar gets injured, what abysmal hitter will replace him at DH? And seriously, will any Mariners bench players get a pinch hit all year?
5. Doesn't that Raul Ibanez contract look pretty awful given the deals signed by Carl Everett, Jose Cruz Jr., et. al.? And doesn't Bavasi look pretty silly for giving him that contract at a time when the M's had to forfeit draft picks to do so?
6. Does Chris Snelling have a chance to stick with the team out of spring training as a fifth outfielder? [Or will Bavasi try to trade for some player with "veteran leadership" who can't hit a baseball?]
7. Given that Scott Spiezio has never played a full season at third base (and has a brutal fielding percentage there), Rich Aurilia isn't as good defensively as Carlos Guillen, Raul Ibanez is dramatically worse than Mike Cameron, and Randy Winn can't throw, how much worse is our defense going to be this year?
8. Please throw us a bone and at least let us THINK that Bavasi is trying to trade for Carlos Beltran or Magglio Ordonez. Please?
9. If any starting position player gets hurt, isn't this team totally done given how bad the bench is? I mean, check out the starter and his likely replacement:
For all of us salivating about the prospects of using the Sasaki money to go after Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran or Magglio Ordonez, there's a chilling quote in this story:
Bavasi's immediate concern was the impact of Sasaki's departure on the bullpen. "It's not the happy shopping trip you think it is," Bavasi said. "You've got to fill that hole."
He can't be serious, can he?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Sasaki fan. Even on the wrong side of 35, he's a very good relief pitcher. But he's a right-handed relief pitcher, a commodity we've got in spades in the majors and minors alike, and he's an older player departing a team that needs to get younger. The bullpen shapes up like this so far:
That's a pretty effective bullpen. Each of the top four was at least very good last year, and the fifth is going to get a job strictly for being a portsider, so that role is spoken for regardless of what Kaz did.
So assuming they carry six relievers, that leaves one slot to fill. I'm hoping Bavasi is just blowing smoke about going out looking, since it seems clear to me that Aaron Taylor (26, who has shown consistent excellence in the minors) should slide into this role nicely.
Additionally, since we've already paid through the nose for this year's bullpen (the Guardado and Shiggy contracts), it would seem like the balance of these funds should go to improve the offense.
Sadly, I don't think Our Oblong-Headed Friend is fronting. If we've seen anything about Bavasi's tendencies, it's that he loves veterans. This entire offseason, he didn't acquire any new major-league players under 31 years old besides the unforgivable Ramon Santiago. Given that Taylor struggled at times during last year's cup of coffee, I'd be surprised if he got a fair shake. Same goes for J.J. Putz or Aaron Looper, who also would also be low-cost, in-house options.
No, I think we're probably looking at two things: 1. The miserable Kevin Jarvis sticks with the team (I'd much rather we eat his contract and release him) in long relief and (shudder) spot starts, and 2. Bavasi probably looks for another veteran hurler to invite to spring training, further blocking the path to the majors for our minor league talent.
I hope I'm proven wrong. But that's sure what it looks like.
posted by Jefflink 9:24 PM 
There are good arguments for why the Mariners shouldn't go after Pudge Rodriguez. But Darrin Beene of the TNT doesn't make any of them.
Basically, he says signing Pudge wouldn't justify the expense for two reasons: Pudge isn't that much better offensively than the Wilson/Davis tandem, and the defensive upgrade he'd represent isn't very important in today's game.
The first of these arguments is heartstoppingly asinine -- and both ignore a primary reason to go after Pudge: this team desperately needs Edgar insurance. When our beloved Ancient Mariner inevitably goes down for a month with a pulled hammy, who slides into the DH slot? Dave Hansen? Willie Bloomquist? Quinton Freakin McCracken? Bill Bavasi has managed to create what might be the worst bench in major league history. Adding another quality stick is an important hedge against that.
To make matters worse, he runs out a classic straw person argument: "Are six home runs worth $5 million? Last season, Mariners catchers Dan Wilson and Ben Davis had as many RBI, 85, as Rodriguez did.
Yeah. And you're comparing two players to one player, two players that managed to be dramatically less productive in 50 more combined at bats.
And yup, Pudge didn't hit very many home runs (16) last year. But he did hit more than 150% of the taters our two-headed collar machine did. He also hit more doubles and triples than both of them combined, which helps explain why Pudge's on-base percentage (.369) was much higher than Wilson's slugging percentage (.339), and damned close to Davis' (.382.) Ivan the Terrible's OPS (.843) was nearly 200 points higher than the devilish number posted by Davis (.666) -- and Davis was the best of our lousy bunch. 200 points isn't a gap, it's the Grand Canyon.
So Davis is almost exactly league average, Wilson is below average - and Pudge is way, way above both of them.
Even more telling is the second set of numbers, Runs Above Replacement Player (RARP). Yup, Dan Wilson was actually worse than a replacement-level catcher last year.
The numbers estimate that a year of Pudge is worth about 40 more runs than what we have now. Think about THAT for a minute. We don't know when those runs are going to come -- but that's an awful lot of scoring. Is it unreasonable to think that those runs could be worth, say, five games? And is it unreasonable to think that five games could make the difference between playing in October and not?
Now, you can make a case that it's too risky to throw a lot of money at a 32-year-old catcher due to risk of injury or a quick decline. That's fair. But to say, as Beene does, that Pudge isn't worth the $5 million more he makes than Wilson + Davis is pretty hard to defend. [And even that is misleading, since you'd presumably trade one of the two and save a little of that salary, and Pudge would also take at-bats from a stiff like Hansen or McCracken.]
I think he's right that defense from the catcher position is overrated. But even when Beene's right, he throws in something wrong: he writes that "Wilson is solid behind the plate, and he is noted for his ability to call a game." That's great and everything, except that the team's ERA was better last year with Davis behind the plate. this is just another case of a guy's rep flying the face of available facts.
OK, signing Greg Maddux is a bad idea (though Beene points to Kevin Jarvis as a potential stop-gap measure if someone in the rotation goes down, which is forehead-slappingly stupid). But signing Pudge Rodriguez is a great idea for next year.
I'd feel comfortable offering him a two-year deal for sure, and probably a three-year deal -- but that's another post.
posted by Jefflink 9:52 PM 
In retrospect, that's overstating the case. It's true that Boone is largely overrated -- he's got a lifetime .780 OPS at a power position, and has historically been a hackcentric out machine -- but Enrique Wilson is only valuable in the sense that he might influence Manny Ramirez to sign with your team. Ditto Miguel Cairo.
Now, I don't think either of those two players is likely to start the year at third for the Evil Empire. Especially if the Pinstriped Peril can get his contract voided (since he was injured playing basketball, an activity that is apparently prohibited by his deal), they'll spare no expense in filling this hole. Never thought I'd say this, but it's a good thing the Mariners have Sand Frog's frontman under contract -- any serviceable cornerman still available in free agency would probably see his price shoot up. Good thing Pudge doesn't play third.
Since he doesn't, I'd expect to see the Yanks make some noise in the trade market. They've proven they're not afraid to spend money in free agency or take on big contracts. I don't think their lineup on April 1 will look like it does now.
posted by Jefflink 9:30 PM 
Believe me, I'll be thrilled if Pudge eventually signs with the M's. And I totally understand the impulse to scoop the competition with a big story. But I think a lot more effort -- in sports reporting and news reporting, whether in blogs or in papers -- should be put into being, you know, right.
posted by Jefflink 1:39 PM