Shed Felix?

Q.  No, you shed Lee.  Or don't you?

A.  I was never as attached to El Cartelua as you amigos (justifiably) are.

Felix has never made me forget Randy Johnson.  But Cliff Lee is juuussssst about doing that.  What a joy to watch that man pitch.  I'll take 200 more games of 'im, please.


Q.  You don't seriously think the Mariners could sign Lee.

A.  I know as much as you do about the contract negotiations.  But I do know this for a fact:  ballplayers don't get as vindictive about losing seasons as we fans do.


You remember 2007?  In late June, Sports Weekly asked us for a column predicting whether Ichiro would re-up with the M's.  We predicted he was gone, with gusto.

This was right in the middle of the Mike Hargrove MLB(TM) Entitlement era, the M's were .500, they were 78-84 the year before, Ichiro was just about to come out with his scandalous interview on Hargrove.  Every player in that clubhouse hated Ichiro's guts, which was exactly how Mike Hargrove wanted it, in my opinion.

I wrote in Sports Weekly that Ichiro was a champion, and therefore completely out of place in a Mike Hargrove clubhouse, that he would almost certainly be gone.

Not one month later, Ichiro signed a 5-year deal below market.  Bet you Chuck Armstrong got a smile out of that one.  :- )


If Lee likes the people around him, and sees the numbers he wants, why wouldn't he sign?  Happens all the time.  Not every big FA signs with New York and Boston.

Zduriencik had a plan:  recruit Lee.  He announced this plan.  While 'net rats are guffawing at the Mariners, we're sure that Zduriencik is pursuing his plan.


Want another reminder of how far we fans get off base, guessing where FA's will go?  Two words.  Erik Bedard.


Q.  Even supposing you could re-sign Lee:  why shed Felix?

A.  I think Felix has pitched demoralized.  I think this may well be due to the fact that he's disgusted with a season down the drain.  And that this may have occurred very early.

Do you see Cliff Lee let the rest of the ballclub affect him?

Felix is the Tom Seaver of his generation, except Tom Terrific had an unsinkable attitude.  As did Clemens.

It says here, that one reason the M's season may be over, is that Felix lost* seven straight games in April and May.  The club followed his .... well, his lack of heart.


Q.  Lack of heart?

A.  That looks worse in print than I mean it...   :sheepish:

If SSI reads it right, and Felix has been hanging his head in Seattle, will that deter Theo Epstein?  Nope.  There would be no reason for Felix to hang his head in Boston.  Theo is well aware of this.  Theo will reason, hey, Felix is a change-of-scenery away.


Q.  Wouldn't it be better to keep Felix and Lee both?

A.  Sure, but maybe the self-imposed salary cap only allows for one.  I'm saying, if I can only have one, I'm fine with it being Lee.


Q.  What could the M's get for Felix?

A.  Just for openers, the Yankees offered any five* ....

Epstein publicly named Felix as the one guy he'd want to start a franchise with.  Since then, Felix has signed a long-term deal ... at about 50%, 60%, 70% maybe of his WAR/$ value.   Felix is worth twice what he was when Theo said that.

I think you would start with five impact prospects and then the bidding would begin.  I'm sure it would be the biggest blockbuster of the free agent era.

Trader Jack wants an overhaul, here's one way to do it.  Inside 12 months, the ballclub could be Brewers West.


Or not,

Dr D


Taro's picture

Trade both. Lee at the deadline and Felix in the offseason.
Its about time this team did a full out rebuild right. Both guys would be the most attractive pieces on the market and could bring us back the prospects we need to kick start this thing.
Realistically, there are too many holes to get back in contention for '11. I'm tired of half baked "re-tooling". We've been doing that for 8 years now and stinking in the process. I want to see a rebuild done right.


:- ) Just imagine the traffic jam.
Let's think about that one a second.  Can you rough-sketch the 8 guys we'd get back and how they'd fit in around Ackley, Chone, Guti et al?


I don't think anybody would be bored watching a .500 season led by 1st- and 2nd-year blue-chippers.
Never seen such a thing in Seattle baseball, that's for sure. 
Only time in Seattle sports, that we ever saw a super-young, super-talented team, was probably the Sikma-Williams-LaGarde Sonics, but you didn't have to sit through any losing with that one...
Maybe Knox' first year, with Fredd Young and Co.

moe's picture

If you trade them both and end up with a bunch of prospects some of them will be pitching prospects...who you hope will turn into something just a step or two down from Lee and Felix.
So why not get fewer players...and keep the actual Lee or the actual Felix...rather than hoping you get something kind of like but not quite the real thing.
There is a law of averages type of symetry to this season.  The M's weren't as good last year as their record indicated...they're not as bad this year.  Figgy, Lopez and Felix having average years would fix a lot of that.  Of all the M's only Fister (and perhaps Josh Wilson who I like more and more) are outside established comfort zones.  And I think we're looking at a long term #3-type starter in Fister.
I don't know what Bradley's "average" can be assumed to be anymore.  His gaudy Arlington-induced numbers of '08 are certainly aberations.  First, he was a .358-.466-.679-1.145 guy at home that year (of course)...and a .290-.410-.462 on the road guy.  His away numbers are still impressive.....but even that was driven by a season long and unsustainable .388 BABIP!
His mean might approach the 120-ish OPS+ he put up, combined, from '05-'07.  But even then...that was for a total of 232 games and 964 PA's over three seasons....and it was 3 years ago, and he's 32 now.....and he's not Ichiro.
But he will most probably be a better player next long as his mental progress continues.
So let's assume you can keep Lee..that gives you (perhaps) a rotation of Lee, Felix, Fister and (perhaps) Bedard next year.  That's a good place to start.  Add Pineda....there you go.  The real question for this team for next year is what do you do at 1B and LF (or DH is Bradley is your LF).  Ackley has to be one of those....if so, then you need a bonker at the other position.  This team needs a 30 HR bat.  I don't think it is Saunders.  I once thought (all the way back in ST) that Tui had that potential....but I don't see that now.  I don't see the home run stroke that I saw then.  I see a guy struggling badly, who doesn't recognize pitches and is just trying to get a piece of everything.  He needs to take a Sweeney lesson.  Pick a zone...swing hard at pitches in that zone. 
I love Lee.  But I'm not sure your best bet isn't to trade him.  Get two or three in return.  A major league arm of some sort and a AAA bat with pop. 
Felix?  He needs a butt kicking.  Time for Sweeney to shut the door and let fly, again.
What we have learned is that Snell, RRS, and French are not full season rotation guys. Not even close.
We've learned that Josh Wilson is a commodity worth hanging on to.
Lopez is a stud with the glove at 3B.  Keep him. His bat will come around.
Saunders is a 4th OF type of guy (I know..give the guy a chance some will say...But I'm not seeing 600 AB's of bat there).  Worth keeping as that.
Kotchman.  He's gone...and should have never been signed.  A major Z blunder.
Carp's stroke and approach are terrific. This year, something is missing.  I still like him, though. 
Langerhans...great guy.  Valuable to a contender.  Worthless to us.  I'ld rather see AAA guys like Wilson and Halman get a bunch of PA's.  They would strike out....but let's find out if they would mash some, too.
Let's see this lineup sometime early next week.
Josh Wilson-SS

Taro's picture

Yes, but either Felix or Lee will cost you around $20mil to keep in 2012 and beyond.
Most of their value is short-term. Felix due to his contract situation and Lee due to his age, pending FA, and excellent '10 season.
Lee would be the most attractive commodity BY FAR during the deadline. The same would be true of Felix during the offseason. We can expect a very strong return.


This is where your minor league evaluations are critical.
If you've already got Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett in your minor leagues, then ADDING them to Felix Hernandez and Doug Fister and maybe Erik Bedard makes your staff look crazy-good.  Pitchers don't have to necessarily have adjustment periods like most hitters do when getting promoted.  If a pitcher can execute, then he can execute.  If his stuff is hard to hit, then it's hard to hit.
A hitter has to get used to faster FBs, better offspeed and location...a pitcher has to see spot, hit spot.  Be deceptive. 
Robles has a 3.44 FIP with 10K/4.25BB and is basically unhittable when he's on. 
Pineda has a 2.31 FIP with 9.6K/2BB and is just as unhittable.
If Pineda and Robles are T-minus a few months away (and FYI, Hensley is not chopped liver yet either) then you have an instant boost to your 2011 pitching staff already, if you have the stones to play them. Losing Cliff Lee hurts, but Cliff is pitching as well as Wash was pitching.  In the playoffs, having a Cliff Lee absolutely matters.  If you've set your team up to be a defensive juggernaut, though, then he matters less in the regular season because you can get "lucky" performances from the Fisters of the world for 19.5 milion cheaper.
What we need are hitters.  Ackley will be coming up, and will get a higher-than-rookie-norm OPS because his eye is so freakin' good.
There's no one else right now.  Raben is interesting and at least a couple of years away.  Ditto Poythress.  Peguero has been interesting, but his .433 BABIP vs RHP is not gonna last forever, and his K rate, like Raben's, is highly concerning.
We can't just wait for Franklin to bomb out or climb his way to the bigs.
And we didn't draft any close-to-the-majors hitters in the draft.
Bats have to come from outside.  That will take money, and it will take trades.  If I could, I would trade Ichiro and Cliff Lee, leave Felix as The Man (when did he start struggling?  When Cliff Lee came back...) and reap the rewards of the trade of two mega-talents, plus use their combined 35ish million next year to buy some additional talent back.
We won't trade Ichiro.  If I was guaranteed Lee, then I might consider trading Felix, but we HAVE Felix for 5 years.  Lee hasn't signed anything.  Keep the guy you've got, who's been very healthy to boot, and move Lee for prospects closer to the bigs than our 2011 draftpicks for him would be.
Sign Victor Martinez, unless the Yanks give us Jesus Montero I guess.
Victor gives us a 30-40 OPS+ boost at catcher, easily.
Ackley will improve on what has happened in LF.
Sign a 1B - heck, add Jorge Cantu for all I care - he has a decent glove and can actually put up a 110 OPS+ which Kotchman will never do.
It doesn't help us this year, but it's why I would promote Pineda over some other pitcher options, either before or after Lee is moved.  Get him the experience so that everyone feels more "Comfortable" with adding another rook or two to the staff and the lineup.
Cantu - 103 OPS+ career, age 30
V-Mart - 121 OPS+ career, age 32
Josh Wilson
Carp can DH for Bradley if we have to cut him, or move to 1B if we trade Lopez (Cantu would play 3rd in that scenario I suppose).  This puts Ackley in LF for a season (or half a season) til we figure out Jose.  But it's workable.
Isn't that the offense we were trying for this year? Ichiro leading off, Chone hitting like he has the last coupla weeks in the 2 hole, a series of moderate bats who can hold their own well above 100 OPS+ but no monster going through the MOTO and winding up with some speed and OBP at the back of the order?
I don't think it was a horrible plan.  It was just utterly sabotaged by the players chosen to execute it.  And by swapping out 2 guys at Black-Hole-One (catcher) and Black-Hole-Two (first base) we can step some of the bleeding that amputated our ability to execute this year.
But there are worse things than trying to put together a good-but-not-great lineup, getting some young, affordable players to the roster (like Pineda, Robles, Hensley, Ackley, Wilson, Fister, Fields, etc) who can hold their own or even impress, and then see if you want to drop a bunch of money in the lap of a Prince Fielder or an A-Gone after the 2011 season when we get relief from the 12 mil we're paying Bradley.
Swapping Cantu back to 3B and posting Fielder at 1B or DH in 2012 changes that offense A LOT.  It's something I'd work on if I was the Ms.
If Pineda is what we think he is, in front of a good defense especially, then he mitigates the loss of Lee as well.  And this lineup doesn't include any spoils from any trades.
We're not sunk forever.  I don't NEED us to blow it all up and start over.  With Ichiro, F-Gut, Ackley shortly, and the pitching staff that needs some reworking (but will every year, and we have the arms to do it) but has talent, we have enough pieces to not require a total rebuild. 
We could blow it up by trading Felix and Lee (and at that point, Ichiro) and I'm not entirely opposed.  But selecting more appropriate players to execute stage two of our overhaul would be a preferrable path, to me.
I've watched the Marlins and the Indians do the blow it up thing.  It takes half-a-decade to recover, at least.  I don't think I can take 5 more years of 2008/2010. 
And with our resources, I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO.

Frog's picture

I agree. May as well toss in Bedard too. I'm guessing that's a multi-million dollar smile on Lee's face rather than, I'm just happy to be here grin.

Taro's picture

The problem is the salary and age though.
Setting aside $80mil for current players and arbitration players, we've only got a little over $10mil to spend next offseason.
We don't even have money to sign Lee, much less VMart+Cantu.
Even if we could sign those guys for $125mil or whatever we'd be putting all our eggs into 2011, and that team STILL might not be good enough to win the division. Then you get into 2012 where Ichiro, Figgins, Lee, VMart, Cantu, etc might all start declining.
Its time to reset IMO. We can rebuild and KEEP our succesful prospects unlike poor franchises and add FAs once the core is set. It shouldn't be as painfully long as franchises without as much money and/or rediculously good trade chips like Lee and Felix.


Let's say we can address 1B with a Lee trade.  Just pretend someone in a race wants to give us a Brett Wallace or something.
Victor Martinez would then be our major FA add.  I can live with that.  I'm not sure what you think he's gonna make on the open market, but I'd be surprised if it's substantially out of our price range.  Aging catchers don't tend to go for HUGE dollars, and Victor at 32 is an aging catcher. I expect him to get 4 or 5 years at 12 mil - and I'd take that.  If it's 18 mil, then no, and maybe he does get that.  We'll see.
If you address the catcher situation via trade instead, with adding a better young stud than we currently have, that's fine too - tho I think that might hurt some folks having to suffer more growing pains.
But then you have the money for Cantu, who can play in the AL fine.  Not great...but fine.  And his glove at 1B is probably better than fine, for those worried about dropping offense.
*shrugs* I expect to spend very little on pitching.  Since we're out of the race, we will keep our minor league pitching, add some extra in trade perhaps, and we just drafted eleventy billion arms. 
But we need to trade for a bat and pay for a bat to have a chance. Gutz and Ichiro can't drive the offense, not when the rest of the offense is this bad.
Maybe the Nats let Dunn get away and we do what we should have done a few years ago - sign him to play DH for us.  I'm not locked in on one or two guys (and basically picked the two I did name out of a hat).  We have plenty of lineup misery and can patch whichever one we like with money.
One or two more will be patched with talent (Ackley and New Traded For Guy).
But if you blow it up completely, you may never get it back.
The Indians blew it up in 2001 - and in a town that had set the consecutive home game sellout record their attendance bombed.  They've averaged just over 2 million fans a year since.  Sounds good, but they were sitting at 3.4 million a year for years.
The Mariners since deciding not to blow it up after 2003 have averaged 2.5ish million fans at the gate.  Maybe Mariners fans are more loyal...but I wouldn't count on that.  If you trade away every face of the franchise you have, then you'd better find some new faces fast.  They haven't done that in Cleveland, even with some good players - and they haven't won.
The Indians traded Bartolo Colon, too, at the height of his skills, so it's not like they didn't have an arm to auction off.
Maybe blowing it up after 2003 would have been the right decision on the field.  In hindsight though, and seeing what happened in Cleveland, it actually could have gone very poorly for us.  The TV contract getting done in 07 was a big deal for this franchise.  450 mil for TV rights through 2020?  Huge.
And since the same guys are in charge, and still making money, working this way, I don't expect an imminent implosion of the roster this time either.
Lee gone?  Yes.  Maybe some bullpenners?  Yes.  Ichiro and Felix? No. We'll see a budget increase before we ditch the great pitcher on a reasonable contract.  For better or worse.

Frog's picture

V Mart is great on a 3/30 or less, more than that and he's not as cost effective. I wouldn't pay him Jorge Posada money. Considering we have holes at catcher 1st base and DH, and how about that Vick happens to play all three. If Troy Glaus falls at $1.75 mil. better grab him too. In fact ony old slugger schmuck would work at > $5 mil. Rack Vmart up for a balanced 120 OPS+. It looks automatic to me.

M's Watcher's picture

G, you are spot on re minor league talent evaluation.  If we lose Felix or Lee for packages of prospects, some "major league ready" and others further out, we'd better not end up with Clement/Tui players that tear it up in AAA and fold against ML pitching.  Then we are better off keeping our stud pitching that is so hard to come by.

Taro's picture

What is there to lose though? We stink already and we aren't even rebuilding.
Next year's team is this year's team minus a dirt-cheap super-powered version of Cliff Lee and its still going to cost us $80mil. Could we still contend with some good moves? Maybe, but the odds are significantly against it.
VMart could Johjima us at $14/4. Catchers don't age well. I prefer running our prospects out there to see if one of them can stick. If it doesn't work out, Hey, Mike Napoli is just as good as VMart, younger, not as overrated, and will be FA in '11/'12. If not that, maybe a prospect in trade, or someone else.
I'm tired of seeing the Ms try to both rebuild and contend at the same time. We've seen that it doesn't work. Not unless you've got an amazingly good GM and/or great luck.
Good FAs will always be available and as long as we have Ichiro we can probably avoid a total attendance disaster like Cleveland.
I definetly wouldn't give Felix away, but if you can get a monster haul I think its time to pull the trigger. Felix isn't going to be that big of a bargain after 2011 and we probably aren't contending until 2012 anyways.

Frog's picture

The negotiation for the Felix contract started a 4/43. Somehow an additional $35 mil got tacked on for one more year. I'm not sure how that happened. It was probobly another one of those fan favorite deals. I'd trade him now before that $20 mil. a year becomes a problem and his value drops.


Why does Felix need to be a bargain?  Is paying him what he's worth some huge problem?  The only teams that live on having every talent be paid less than they are worth are basement-level teams, because they sell off their good players rather than be bothered to pay them market value.
The Rockies do well now - and they are starting to pay their players.  They decided not to pay Holliday, but turned around and gave money to Tulowitzki just to avoid arb talks ever (which was smart) and are paying Helton a ton of cash to finish his career in Colorado.
I guess for me it's a tough thing to trade Felix for a combination of arms and bats and hope at least two of those guys turn into stars (because Felix is worth a couple of stars as a frontline starter who was #2 in the Cy Young last year).
You talk about how we won't contend next year either if we don't blow it up.  Well, we won't contend if we DO either.  How many Gil Meche/Ryan Anderson stories do we need to have on this team before it's clear that getting a durable, top-flight pitcher is one of the hardest things to do in sports?  Young pitchers are not guaranteed to make it.  Young batting prospects aren't guaranteed to be impact players.  We could add a dozen of the best prospects around and still never contend.  We had 4 HOF players in a half-dozen year span with Randy, Griffey, Edgar and A-Rod, and still only made the playoffs twice.
Talent alone won't do it if your team is built incorrectly.  Trading an ace for a couple of good players (Freddy and Guillen) didn't sound too bad, but we still didn't win anything even with importing a couple of other great players.
Our bullpen is erratic but has good arms.  I want to get that mix right.  Our pitching staff is helped both by the park and the defense, but in the playoffs aces count.  Felix will count when the lights are bright - if we ever get there - but Pineda has already had more health scares than Felix ever has.  You want to rely on him as your horse?  The lineup is a mess.  How will moving Felix out to bring in bats help us?  Have you not watched Snell and RRS out there this year?  Great park and defense or not, I would hate to find a decent offense and have no starters in front of it.
The trick is to keep your strengths and fix your weaknesses, not move your weakness from the offense to the rotation.  We'll never have a better offense than the 90s one, and we had Randy, Jamie, and Fassero in that rotation.  Still couldn't pull it off due to terrible bullpen construction.
Should we have traded Buhner for a real bullpen?  Maybe.
Do he have such a largess at any position that we can afford to significantly weaken what we have to fix what we need?  I dunno.  Trading Felix, Lee and Ichiro would give you one bat (Franklin) above 120 OPS and Doug Fister headlining the rotation.  You get parts back, but most of them will be AAA and AA players who have growth ahead of them.  We'd have money to spend on the FA market, but would have to convince someone to sign on for the rebuild.  We'd promote Pineda and Ackley and French and see what happens...
But I don't see a faster or more sure way through the growing pains doing it that way.  It's a different way, but nothing about it is assured of being better.

Taro's picture

I guess the question is whether or not the '09 Felix was a career year at this point. Hes been consistently a 4 WAR pitcher since 2006, including 2010 so far, maybe '09 was just a good year?
If so, Felix will actually be 'slightly' overpaid even by FA standards in '12-'14 when he'll average $19mil per season. His value is ALL in the first two years of that deal in '10 and '11 when the Ms probably won't even compete.
Tulowitzski is a HUGE BARGAIN throughout the entirety of that deal. Hes a 5 WAR player and won't make $10mil until 2013 under that deal.
You don't trade a guy like that unless somebody blows your socks off. You don't trade Tulowitszki or FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ. Those guys are superstar players who are signed long-term at massive bargains.
The Ms simply waited TOO long to extend Felix. After 2011, hes no longer really an asset. If the Ms can get anything close to what they were offered from Boston in the middle of last year, they need to do that IMO.


Felix is 24 years old - two years younger than Doug Fister (and Tim Lincecum), three years younger than Jason Vargas and RRS. Short of injury, I don't understand how his value will drop. His peak is still years in front of him.

M's Watcher's picture

Tulo a bargain, yes.  We can easily see the woulda-coulda-shouldas of recent drafts and second guess.  The reality is that you have to draft well.  Sure we'd be better off with Tulo and Lincecum, but we don't have them.  We want a solution now or in 2011, but reality is that we need current players to perform.  Draft picks for Lee won't come our way until the 2011 draft and realistically won't be even sign for that season.  At the earliest, unless major league ready like Strasburg or Leake, they won't help until 2012 or later, if at all.  We can only hope that Jack can rape and pillage other rosters, because right now we don't have enough talent.

Frog's picture

Simply put he won't be worth as much in trade value in his final year of his contract compared to trading him now. It's all moot though. I don't see this team having a fire sale. It's never happened with this ownership group in the past. How about a 10 for 3 involving Lee, Felix & Bedard. A brand new AAA team sounds good to me. ;)

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