How could we have not even interviewed Paul DePodesta? I don't know where the roulette wheel of plays is going to stop, but even if it halts right here, leaving the Unit in Arizona, the Dodgers made out like bandits by getting Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi.
But the real stunner of the day so far is the trade of Scott Kazmir by the Mets. When I first read the deal, I thought they had acquired Carlos Zambrano. I thought, hey, that's a high price to pay, but at least they got a quality ... then I saw the word Victor. I'm still recovering.
In the past, I suggested offeringFreddy Garcia for Kazmir, but figured the Mets would laugh at that offer. I'm still pleased with what we got for Freddy, but if this was the price for Kazmir, I really regret the M's not looking for a match to get him.
This is a funny article in the Chicago Daily Herald. It would make me cry if I were a White Sox fan, but because I'm an M's fan, it's amusing.
Want to know why the Twins swept the Sox, and why they're favored to win the division? No, silly, it's not because Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas are hurt.
It's because the Sox don't have the leadoff hitter they need: Jason Kendall.
Stop laughing -- the guy's serious! Check it out:
Even if the White Sox had Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas in the lineup instead of on the disabled list, they'd still have a glaring need at the top of the order ...
If the Sox are serious about overcoming this week's three-game sweep by Minnesota and getting back into the race, Williams has got to act fast and find a proven leadoff hitter ... one player in particular would instantly solve the White Sox' trouble at the top of the order.
You don't need those two slugging all-stars back. After all, Kendall is "one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball" and, even more importantly, he's "gritty." Most important of all, he "plays the game the right way."
So forget about Maggs and the Big Hurt. Magglio Ordonez is not walking through that door! Timo Perez might be walking through that door, but he isn't the answer! This time, the hero comes in the form of an over-30 catcher with a sub-.800 OPS who has stolen eight bases this year. While being caught seven times.
How he can maintain this ratio and remain one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball is very impressive indeed.
Skeptics might point to the whopping $10 million Kendall is due next season, or the $11 million he'll be paid the year after, or the staggering $13 million in '07. Fret not, gentle Pale Hose backer! This writer, Scot Gregor, has heard that the Pirates were willing to pay half of Kendall's contract just to get him out of town!
So, for the low, low price of $17 million over three seasons for a catcher in the decline phase of his career, you can get all this grit that Kendall brings to the table. "If the Pirates are still willing to [pay half the remaining money]," Gregor writes, "the Sox should send Class AAA Charlotte starting pitcher Felix Diaz and another player or two to the Pirates and get Kendall."
Perhaps the Pirates would also like the fillings out of Ken Williams' teeth while they're at it. It would no doubt be worth it for one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball. And then neither Magglio nor Frank would have to rush back, with the future of the franchise assured.
Sure, we'd all like to be cheering for a first-place team right now -- but since that's not happening, I'm enjoying watching all the new players that have been stuck at Tacoma. We're going to lose a few, but that's OK.
With the trade deadline coming up on Saturday, the Mariners are about 50-50 on whether they will make another move ... Melvin admitted that there is interest from other clubs in left-handed pitchers Ron Villone and Mike Myers and in Hansen as a pinch hitter.
The club isn't at all anxious to deal Villone, a reversal from a few weeks ago when it seemed likely Villone was headed elsewhere.
"Villone would be a tough guy for us to move right now with all the trouble we've had with our starting rotation lately," Melvin said. "He's a veteran who's done a good job, and you don't want to go out there with all kids." ...
Hansen and Myers have had good moments with the Mariners, and in particular, the club would like to keep Hansen ... Myers, as a situational lefty in the bullpen, has some value to contending teams, too. If he's traded, the Mariners have three other lefties in the bullpen to soften the blow.
This is mindbogglingly asinine. I am sitting here with my lower lip dragging against the computer desk in awe, trying to find the words to describe how ludicrous holding onto any of these players is.
These are spare parts for a contending team. We're not a contending team. We don't need any of them. If Willie Bloomquist is apparently too good to pinch-hit for, why do you need Dave Hansen? Villone is a journeyman who is a free agent at the end of the year. And go back and re-read that line about Mike Myers: "If he's traded, the Mariners have three other lefties in the bullpen to soften the blow." Soften the blow. From trading a mediocre LOOGY? When you have three other left-handed relievers?
Before the season started to go south, I defended Bob Melvin (sort of) by pointing out that he won 93 games last year. If the team exploded, I suggested, it was largely a personnel issue.
Since, Melvin's game-management decisions have baffled me (and Dave, and Mike, and others).
This is worse than being paralyzed by old-school addictions to bunting and an aversion to sensical substitutions. Keeping these players is an indication that Melvin, or Bill Bavasi -- or more likely both -- has no idea why this team took a nose-dive this year.
Here's a hint: it has nothing to do with "going out there with all kids." It has everything to do with relying on mediocre, overpriced, easily replaceable veterans.
This year's gone. Refusing to part with players of that nature makes me fear for next year, too.
Another quote from that Jim Street story I just linked has Bob Melvin (sort of) praising Miguel Olivo:
"There is a lot of (sic) work with there," Melvin said. "He can run, throw and hit to all fields with power and is very enthusiastic on top of that. And he's very upbeat. He still has some work to do in learning our pitchers, but that will come the more games he catches."
Olivo, it seems, just needs more experience. That way the 24 year old can grow and be effective when the M's are ready to contend. So why isn't Olivo starting against lefties, say, like Mark Mulder? Well, maybe Melvin just wanted to rest the young backstop, to give him a day off.
Except he inserts him as a pinch-runner for Dan Wilson in the eighth after Wilson reaches base. Seriously.
Is Bob Melvin the only person in Seattle who didn't think Olivo had a better chance to get a hit off a tiring Mulder than Wilson did? If you're going to put him in the game, great, but does anyone really think Wilson is a better hitter than Olivo at this point -- against any pitcher?
And while I'm at it: what is Willie Bloomquist doing hitting against Mark Mulder late in a tie game with Edgar Martinez on the bench, available for pinch-hitting? And where is Eddie Guardado? Why leave Mateo out there to give up the game -- against left-handed Scott Hatteberg, left-handed Erubiel Durazo, and left-handed Mark Kotsay no less?
Substitution patterns and bullpen management are costing this team easily winnable games. I really can't think of a single good argument for not firing Melvin.
posted by Jefflink 3:08 PM 
Two weeks, two big false alarms: A new story on MLB.com takes a poke at KJR. Scroll down to "Listen Up."
Jim Street chastises the station for erroneously reporting that Joel Pineiro's injury was more serious than it was and for reporting that Gil Meche had been traded for Mike Sweeney, the subject of much scrambling and frenzy this morning.
I'm not at all a KJR fan, but this isn't really fair. On Pineiro, they were just repeating a report by Fox's Ken Rosenthal. This morning, they didn't report that Meche had been traded -- they just leapt to an irresponsible conclusion based on an abruptly canceled interview.
Says a lot about KJR's accuracy, though, that my defense of them is just based on credulity rather than credibility.
posted by Jefflink 2:50 PM 
After all, our boy from Sand Frog has put up a Bloomquistian line of .211/.286/.358/.644 thus far, and that stacks up with anybody on that list.
In fact, the numbers are eerily similar to Rich Aurilia's pre-release .241/.304/.337/.641, and Speez is playing a supposedly offense-centric position. Check out Steve's chronicle of our prize free agent's assault on the Cirillo Line. Then revel in another weak groundout. Oh, the humanity.
posted by Jefflink 1:38 PM 
Transcribed verbatim from last night's postgame news conference: REPORTER: Bob, why did you let Willie Bloomquist bat against Octavio Dotel when you could have pinch-hit with Bucky Jacobsen, a hitter with the power to tie the game?
BOB MELVIN: Well, three reasons: first, as I told John Hickey, "Willie's probably got a better chance to get on base there." I thought Willie's robust .285 on-base percentage gave us the best chance to extend that inning. Of course, later I looked at Bucky's numbers, and his on-base percentage is over .400, so that didn't work out.
Second, as I told Bob Finnigan, "Bucky ... had never seen Dotel before." But as it turns out, Willie hadn't either before last night! It was his first at-bat against Dotel! So that didn't work out.
Third -- and mainly -- we just want to give Willie a chance to show what he can do. And in that situation, he showed us he isn't afraid to strike out late in the game.
REPORTER: Bob, Bill Bavasi says Ramon Santiago is a fine defensive player who can "pick it up and throw it." Why not put in Santiago for defense late in a close game instead of leaving in Bloomquist, whose eighth inning error gave Erubiel Durazo an at-bat with a runner aboard?
BOB MELVIN: We want to take a good hard look at Bloomie this year to see if he figures in our plans as a starter next year. And we really like his arm strength. He showed me a lot on that wild throw: a lot of players wouldn't have been able to get that much on the ball. Plus, he showed real grit, making an error in the eighth inning and having the wherewithal to gather himself and whiff in the ninth.
Besides, we need to give him a chance to prove himself. Some players, like Jacobsen and Justin Leone, proved they can play the game in the minor leagues. Willie didn't really prove much in the minors, so we figured we'd give him a shot to do so at the major league level.
REPORTER: But if you aren't going to use Santiago for his defense -- he's hitting below .200 in Tacoma, after all -- then why call him up?
BOB MELVIN: Baseball is all about confidence. And right now, Willie's confidence isn't where it needs to be, what with him being the most anemic hitter on the team and all.
So we figured that we'd call up Ramon to boost Bloomie's confidence: Willie's .320 slugging percentage will start to look pretty good after a few days watching Santiago take batting practice. It'll only help Willie's outlook.
Here's another. Guardado's contract is a mutual-option contract, and there's no guarantee he's coming back. Thus, there are two off-season scenarios for Eddie: either you lose him for nothing, or he exercises the option to come back at his full salary.
Obviously, if you're going to lose him for nothing, turning him into a prospect is the better option. Both ways, you clear his salary, but you also get something for him. If there's any risk he walks -- and I think there's substantial risk -- there's no reason not to deal Eddie.
posted by Jefflink 9:12 AM 
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Rumblings:There was a lot of buzzing over the weekend about a potential deal that would have sent Mike Sweeney to Seattle. But the Royals are believed to have told Sweeney they would trade him only if they could get him into a pennant race. So that Seattle deal? Not happening.
Woo-hoo! Yes! Thank you, Jayson Stark!
According to clubs that have spoken with the Phillies, they scouted Seattle's Ron Villone over the weekend but were told he's no longer available.
Boo! Go home, Stark! Quit spreading your venomous lies!
Are they going to start offering discount airfare to San Diego for former Mariners?: From the Union-Tribune:
John Olerud, the Seattle first baseman who was released, is on the Padres' radar ... but for now he's a long shot to join San Diego's pennant bid.
Random items: Matt from The Grand Salami has been writing greatposts lately. Actually, the whole gang have. Patronize the place if you don't already.
I totally agree with Tyler about Ricky Williams. Put yourself in his position. You're 27 years old. You have a lot of interests and a lot of money in the bank. You don't feel passionately about your job, a job that could well leave you permanently disabled.
So what do you do? You quit, and you go do the things you like.
First basemen, second thoughts, third arm surgeries: We all breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out Fox News' report on Joel Pineiro's injury was heinously inaccurate. I've never been so glad to strike a post as I was to deep-six the one about how this dealt a real blow to the team's chances next year.
But one interesting, underreported part of this story relates to Gil Meche, who will likely be called up while Joel is on the DL.
Remember the hubbub about whether Meche had an option left? We eventually established that he did, but this is definitely his last option year.
(Edited ~ 10 a.m. to correct an inaccurate explanation of the option process. Thanks to Steve at Mariners Wheelhouse.)
Speculation? The M's have a trade nearly in place involving Meche. His two weeks with the big club would carry us through the deadline.
The Mariners and Royals are deep into discussions on a trade that would send slugger MIKE SWEENEY to Seattle in exchange for starter GIL MECHE and some prospects. The proposed deal has raised eyebrows with some executives, who wonder why the Mariners would want a player with a questionable back and $37.5 million due to him over the next three years. But Mariners GM BILL BAVASI recognizes his organization, which is loaded with pitching prospects, is devoid of young power hitters.
"Deep into discussions," eh? That sounds more serious than "are believed to be interested." Where do I get that latter phrase, you ask? From another rumor about another first baseman.
Mariner Minky?: Absent from trade speculation in the blogosphere recently has been the fate of Twins first sacker Doug Mientkiewicz. He's been told that he'll be traded before the deadline to make room for Justin Morneau -- a wise decision -- and the Mariners are among teams "believed to be interested in his services."
Both of these players fit right into the Bavasi/Mariner pattern of acquisition -- clean-cut white guys with reputations as Veteran Leaders. Sweeney's got local ties; Minky was an Olympic hero, like Kurt Angle without the power. Both are also on the wrong side of 30, of course.
Regarding Sweeney, while he's a better hitter, he's also a dramatic injury risk. You'd think that Scott Spiezio would have taught Three Dollar Bill a lesson about older corner infielders with back trouble, but apparently not.
And sweet mother of pancake batter, look at that contract! $11 million a year, every year, through 2007? With an escalator clause that bumps his deal up to $12.5 million annually if he gets traded? That's not an albatross, that's a dead blue whale with vestigial wings. And if you're trading with Kansas City, forget about them contributing dollars toward the remainder of his deal.
Plus, does anyone think it'll take $12.5 million a year to get Carlos Delgado? It would seem wiser to wait until the off-season, sign the Jays' slugger (who is left-handed and likely less of an injury risk) and not give up any prospects.
Minky's more complex. He's still a stellar defensive player and has been an underrated offensive player in the past. Like Delgado, he's lefthanded (about the only trait they share). And while his $3.75 million deal through next year (with a 2006 option) isn't cheap, it's not a crushing stone weight, either.
Of course, he's headed form the decline phase of his career. While Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system doesn't see him collapsing, it's hard to imagine him making a major impact, either.
The bottom line for me is that Sweeney is much too big a risk to pursue. Back problems can be devastating for sluggers, and trading for him means taking a chance on getting almost nothing for a huge investment.
Minky, on the other hand, could be a valuable player under the right circumstances. Combine him with Bucky Jacobsen, and you could have a relatively low-cost tandem at first (yes, Bucky's better served as a DH, so it shouldn't be a strict platoon arrangement). That would free up money to go after real mashers.
If the price is right, getting Mientkiewicz could make sense. But Sweeney? Pass.
Shameless Jeff-Promotion: Got a brief article in the July/August Sierra Magazine. If you get a hard copy, there's a really cool photo that goes with it, but no such luck on the website.
posted by Jefflink 8:36 AM 
Monday, July 26, 2004
Not Pro-Villone, But Pro-Trading Villone: Trying not to read too much into the reports that Ron Villone won't be traded, since said reports don't seem to be based on anything.
The prevalance of these reports is still disturbing, though, and it isn't just the Philly news reporting that he's off the market. Have a look at this P-I notebook, which says:
"[T]he possibility of contending teams prying pitcher Ron Villone and/or pinch-hitting specialist Dave Hansen from the club can be discounted."
Talk about tortured prose: another example of the passive voice doing the reader wrong, in my view. It "can be discounted"? Discounted by who? By fans? Other front offices? And according to who? Who says it "can be discounted?" Whether it's Bill Bavasi saying this or an outside analyst makes a big difference, and even the awful "a source within the organization" clause would tell us more than this does.
[While I'm at it, what does "can be discounted" even mean? You can believe the M's are going to rally to win the West, but that doesn't mean you should, let alone you have to. The context of the article implies that we ought to give up on trading Villone. And why?
Because, get this, Villone didn't like being traded the last time he was. Huh?
Last time I checked, Ron Villone was a 34 year-old journeyman pitcher signed to an overvalued one-year contract when no other club seemed interested in him. The deal didn't include a no-trade clause, and was basically the M's making a significant financial investment in a commodity that didn't look like it would provide an equivalent return.
As it turns out, Villone's had a fine year, increasing his perceived value. At the end of the year, he'll either walk as a free agent or re-sign to an even more inflated, overvalued contract, neither of which are good options for the investing party.
Shouldn't the Mariners take the third path, flipping him for whatever they can get, thereby getting a return on their financial outlay -- and shouldn't they do this whether it would please Villone or not?
Disturbing Referrer Log Result of the Week: One person found the site by Googling all the Blogspot pages for "wife's legs."
posted by Jefflink 11:40 AM 
The Blog Ate My Homework, I Swear: Had a long post eaten by Blogger yesterday. Finally, I feel the pain of others who have had such missives swallowed into the maw of swirling pixels that is this Intermanet thing.
The post, among other things, celebrated the protean return of the late and lamented Safe, a.k.a. Gabriel and Jeffrey's Safest Blog on the Web. Gabe's set up a news aggregator from various Mariner news sources, and has reinvented The Safe as a valuable collection of M's news links.
Welcome back, in pog (er, blog) form.
Extracurricular Favorites: San Shin has two new favorite non-Mariner players, both Red Sox, both already likeable guys who went that extra mile for me this weekend.
-- Most every Mariner fan has wanted to do what Jason Varitek did this weekend:
Thanks, Jason! And anybody who wants to give Varitek static for leaving the mask on misses that ol' A-Rod started the scrap with his choice profanities at the catcher. He knew what he was getting into. If you try to step up against the guy in the mask, it's not his job to level the playing field.
Of course, he could've head-butted him with the mask and I'd be saying the same thing. But I digress.
-- Kevin Millar's always had a great attitude. Setting aside "Cowboy Up," even, he seems to appreciate the gifts he's been given as a major league player. Said he felt like he should give back a portion of his new contract 'cause it was too much money, for example.
But high-fiving the Officially Endorsed Candidate of San Shin after homering against the hated Yankees really puts you over the top with me. Talk about doubling your pleasure. Testify!
Debate's an amazing activity for developing young minds (and young college applications). If you have a daughter in high school or know of a bright young woman looking for applications of her intellect, I can't recommend the activity or the WDI staff enough.
We feel strongly about keeping the costs down, so the staff doesn't get paid. Hence, WDI is a federal 501c3, and is accepting fully tax-deductible donations to help defray costs. It's hard for me to fundraise -- asking people for their hard-earned coin has always been a struggle. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't even think about posting a donation link if I weren't 100% enthusiastic about how awesome this camp is, or if I were less than fully convinced that every buck donated saves a high school kid or her family some money.
"In other trade news, a league source said Seattle Mariners pitcher Ron Villone won't be headed to Philadelphia. He is off the market." -- Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday
"The Phillies will be watching with interest as Seattle Mariners' lefthander Ron Villone makes his third start of the season tonight. Villone (3-2, 3.13 ERA) will be facing visiting Anaheim.
"The 34-year-old Villone has made 36 appearances this year, including 34 in relief. The Phillies have had some scouts at his games, fueling speculation that he could be part of a trade to Philadelphia."-- Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday.
"Despite their public claims to the contrary, the Mariners are listening to what is available for closer Eddie Guardado, and will deal lefty set-up men Mike Myers and Ron Villone." -- New York Post, Sunday
What's really going on? Your guess is as good as mine. But now is the right time to deal Villone, and I hope a pact gets sealed soon.
posted by Jefflink 12:00 AM