Hired Guns


Dr. K sez,

If I were Jack, I would be aggressively pursuing a salary dump in the outfield or third base.  My criteria would be not too many years left on the deal, say one or two.  If you could get Carlos Lee for a bucket of balls, I do it.  He doesn't damage your flexibility.  I don't want Alfonso Soriano because he has three years left on his deal.  Sadly, doesn't look like there are any good salary dump options at 3B.

Alternatively, they wait until the trade deadline and if the M's surprise us, they will have the payroll flexibility to add salary.

What I don't want to do is trade premium youth for expensive veterans.  Would you trade Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker for the privilege of paying David Wright $31M total the next two years?

:50 cpoints:


And Zduriencik has absolutely nothing against short-term hitters:

  • Jack Cust for DH last year ... could be (was) even called a reach by Dr. Dimento
  • Adam Kennedy at ages 34-35 in the middle infield, "saved" the M's 1st half
  • Milton Bradley in LF wasn't going to be here more than a year or two
  • Casey Kotchman, a weird glove-first "Moneyball" band-aid, was always going to be a bridge player here
  • Eric Byrnes came in as spaghetti against the wall, would have played if he'd been good
  • Russell Branyan was used for 1.5 years at ages 33-34, was not part of Z's future
  • Sweeney and Griffey

A true Stars & Scrubs GM, such as Billy Beane, isn't married to the idea that every single player has to be here for the 5-year scan.

He uses this process:  (1) Sign up your Zitos, Hudsons, Tejadas, Giambis if he can, (2) Get your dynamic ML-ready players flowing into the club, and finally -- as a last step -- (3) Putty in the gaps with quality 1-2 year veterans, Hatteberg / Branyan types.


=== Suggestions ===

Youse guys stay on top of this a lot more than I do, but here are a few players who fit Dr. Gaffney's general idea:

Lance Berkman is 36, making $12M, and a free agent at the end of the year.  He was rumored to be a trade chip at last July's deadline.  He's prominently left-handed, oft-injured, plays some OF and hit 300/400/550 last year.

I'd give valuable prospects, not to say the blue chippers, in this one.


David Wright is a little tougher to view as a bridge player:  the Mets will try to get a lot for him, and the team that pays it probably wants to think in terms of an extension.

Wright's fractured back, and declining EYE, means that SSI pencils him in for 3-4 WAR at third base, rather than 6-7 WAR.  But $16M for 3-4 WAR, at the right side of the D-spectrum, might be the right thing to do for the M's.

I don't think that you are talking two mega-prospects for Wright, not with his health questions.  My guess would be one top prospect, if that.  Could be wrong.


Curtis Granderson is a pending FA this year ($13M team option for 2013), and is a player that Sandy has suggested in the past.  With the Yankees and Red Sox in full-on cost savings mode, maybe this is where you put your Prince Fielder money -- a LH, homer-hitting CF in the Josh Hamilton mode.

"Say, Brian, is there anybody other than Felix you'd be interested in for Granderson..."  "Well, Jack, there are really only three...."


Grady Sizemore might be of interest on a Russell Branyan-type concept.   Shane Victorino is a LH* hitting center fielder who is a pending FA.  Nick Swisher is a pending FA who hits LH, has a 120 OPS+ established level of performance, and he has been great in Safeco (200+ PA's).

I don't think Swisher is part of the Yankees' future, probably, but he might give the Mariners a nice three years.  Again, it's a bit of a stretch to call the 31-year-old Swisher a bridge player, as such, except that his contract is up.

Lifetime, he has hit .290/.375/.540 in Safeco despite a low BABIP here (.288).  His walks, his power to straightaway RF, and his attitude play well here.

Not sure who the M's bridge player would be, but Kelly's idea has legs.  


ghost's picture

Power is fading, but Damon in Safeco could be a valuable OF4/DH2 option to fatten up our offense and take the pressure off of Robinson and Wells.


But Markakis might be gettable.  He's getting expensive for his .800 OPS, but that consistency (and veteran presence) could be helpful for a young Mariners team with money to burn.


His PX and SX are still close to what they always were, and he's hanging in there at 5.0 runs per 27 outs.
Leadoff hitters sometimes play well up to about 40.  Could think of worse things than an Ichiro-Damon lineup for a year.


Wouldn't mind aiming a bit higher, myself... 
Older I get, the more I dislike this syndrome:  entitled, well-paid vet loses more and more power, goes up there to smack a single a game, and play out the string as a player who Belongs...
Just my $0.02 ...


Over the last 4 years, Damon's avg-OBP decline has looked like this
'08  .303-.375
'09  .282-.365
'10  .271-.355
'11  .261-.326
That's a remarkably consistent decline.  His eye accounted for .075-.084 in the first three years.  Last year it was down to .065
He did hit 16 taters last year, but that is probably unsustainable in Safeco.
I'm not convinced that a Damon for Wells swap in the lineup gives us much (if any) offensive gain.  I would go with Wells and see what we have.
A Damon for Gutierrez (even with the 19 additional pounds) swap I could live with.
Markakis would be a great addition, but he's likely a $60M addition (looks like he can void the team option in '15), at least a $45M addition.  Such an addition would be very nice.  It would also mean, I think, that Ichiro doesn't return next year. 
Gutierrez cost $12M over the next two years (and then the team option).  Throw in 1/2 of Guti's salary, throw in a young arms/bats....and you could get Markakis.
Two thumbs up on that deal.  And...you could get him for Smoak. 
Which I don't think I would do. 

ghost's picture

When he came up, the OPs' faithful were all atwitter about him being Tony Gwynn...he's settled in there as a solid MLB(TM) .300-ish hitter with no remarkable skills to add to that. He's not that good in the field, he's not a good baserunner...he doesn't hit for much power...he doesn't draw a ton of walks (some is not a ton)...he's like a slow, non-gold-glove Ichiro with a 70 HIT instead of an 80.


Except at 2B or CF. Okay, maybe not DOWN, but certainly not UP either.
Which is quite a wonderful thing, when you think about it.  If Nick was a CF he'd be adored.  Position matters.
Kudos again to Jack for getting Ackley on a glove position - even if in hindsight it looks like we'd be better off with Ackley in CF and Seager on 2B than with Ackley at 2B and Guti in center.
Let's hope Guti's health issues have been properly addressed.


Unfortunately for the Orioles, Markakis is just about untouchable. You'd have a better shot at getting Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.
Angelos has publically singled out Markakis as his favorite player, for no better reason than the Greek connection. They have one-on-one lunch meetings during the season to make sure Markakis is happy with everything, and it was right out in the open that Markakis had direct input on the decision to hire Showalter.
The Orioles are probably further from the playoffs than any other team in baseball, and their #4-10 ranked prospects are almost certainly the worst in baseball as well. It'd make way too much sense to trade away Markakis's peak years in order to retool depth for the farm. Instead, the Orioles will be paying $15-17 mil per year for a #2 hitter on a last place team.

Dixarone's picture

This whole offseason is starting to rattle my taste for baseball, particularly when contrasted with football and hockey and the salary-cap world they inhabit.
I know the argument that you can't buy a winner, and people point to the Yankees as proof (particulary the non-early 2000's versions) of that point. And then further espouse the "moneyball" A's and Rays as another way to compete.
How is this fun for the fans? Seinfeld famously compared sports fandom to "cheering for laundry", but in baseball are we now put in the position of "cheering for wallets"? Best bank account wins? ...and the Oscar for Best Deployment of Future Television Revenue goes to...??
Bleah. I'm starting to pine for an even playing field, rather than hoping that the home squad can leverage or cook up some under-developed or under-utilized strategy to compete. Baker's been pushing for ownership here to spend more money, to join the "big boys" of the game, but really, where's the skill in that? My owner can write bigger cheques than your owner? Bleah again.
Look to football, where the salary limitations create delicious opportunities to be creative - in fielding a team, in negotiating contracts, and in truly evaluating opportunity costs in both signing and keeping players. Can you imagine if WAR actually meant something in baseball? It only sort of does right now, because if any team wants to exceed a "budget" (self imposed), it simply does. WAR goes out the window.
If football was run like baseball, the Packers wouldn't even exist. In hockey, if your favourite team is consistently awful, the best place to look is at management, likely screwing things up.
Baseball is losing fans because some teams (not saying the M's are in this group) are climbing a mountain so steep compared to their peers. Would you join a roto league if the player next to you got to start with $720 rather than $360 at auction? It's supposed to be fun, right? I'm not saying that owners are feeling this way (and Baker has done a masterful job lately at beating the drum that owners are making money regardless of the product on the field)...it's the fans...how is it supposed to be fun rooting for a team that has fewer resources at its disposal than it's competitors?


Since Angelos is famous for having favorite players, Brian Roberts as well, right?  If I remember, he didn't want to give up Bedard specifically.  I had heard that he was attempting to be a bit more hands off since then, but then again, maybe not.  Still, the Orioles are probably the most likely team for picking up a solid player on a slightly bloated contract without big commitment ala Guthrie or Reynolds unless Angelos has them tabbed as personal favorites as well.


Here is a December SSI article discussing the hammer-lock that payroll inequity puts onto the game.
I'd much rather see either (1) an NFL-, NBA-style system, or (2) an English soccer-style system, in which the lower teams at least have something exciting to play for... namely, their existence...

glmuskie's picture

So how is 'Cheering for Wallets' and 'Best Bank Account Wins' better than 'Shrewdest Management Wins'?  That's essentially what you have in the NFL, where stability and skill in management and coaching (Steelers, Patriots) defines who the perennial winners are.
The battles of baseball are like life.  The playing field for everything - jobs, sales, market share, an apartment - is not level.  Your business competitor has a trust fund and deeper pockets than you.  The other person being considered for promotion went to a more expensive school.  The other people applying for that apartment know the owner's son.  And so on.
And the funny thing, in baseball and in life, is that while the odds may be stacked against the underdog, the underdog wins a surprising amount of the time.  Because other factors ultimately are more important than starting capital.
The roto analogy is not a very apt one, I think.  Mainly because of the draft; teams like the Yankees and Red Sox rarely have access to the young and cheap years of talents like Strasburg, and Harper, ARod, et.al.  And for that matter, while I don't play roto, I imagine a league where there was a range of starting dollar figures from $360 to $720 would be pretty interesting.
To each their own, of course.  I prefer competition and economies that are as real as practical.  Sure we don't want AA caliber teams playing all-star teams, the kind of disparity you'd start getting if the payroll inequities became too great.  So I support the general way the draft is structured, and the luxury tax, and things of that nature.

Anonymous's picture

Man...he's pretty good.
He's never hit below .284, never OPS'ed below 106, last year was really his worst year at the plate and he still OPS'ed 109 AND won a GG (OK...probably not deserved).
Since his rookie year he's hit 69, 69,65,60 and 47 x-base hits.
How is a guy who hits .295, walks a decent amount AND gets 60+ x-base hits a disappointment?  He's done it year after year....If Smoak, or Ackley, does that next year, are they disappointing?
He's about to be overpaid....but he's never demonstrated anything but this consistent level of (productive) play.  Put him in leftfield and imagine he bounces back from last year and he's a 4+ WAR guy.
Ichiro, Markakis, Ackley, Montero, Carp, Smoak, Wells, Liddi/Seager, Kawasaki/Ryan would play just fine, thank you.
He wouldn't be the first guy I would get....but he's player....and if we could get him for Guti, that would be fine...especially if he's just a three year guy.  No way I seat Wells for him.  Just play Wells, and expect the free (or nearly so) near-Markakis level of performance. 


Yeah, sure, fans of the elite moneyed teams get to celebrate much more often than they average team, but they will never have the experience enjoyed by fans of a St. Louis or San Francisco or Florida (now Miami) when they reach and win the World Series. If Seattle should ever reach the pinnacle, we would be able to enjoy and appreciate what it took to get there in a way Yankee fans never will.
The key for baseball is to make that doable enough that one of the middling teams wins it several times a decade, and the have-nots never have to resign themselves to a perennial existence without the postseason, where some miracle may let them win it all. The day the rich are able to financially coerce the hoarding of the best draftees for themselves is the day baseball dies for the lesser teams. Sometimes it seems like it's going that way, but it's not there yet.
It's interesting but the advent of more and more RSN type mega-teams in my opinion, while widening the pool of haves, may take things right where they should not go. The more haves to overcome, the less chance the have nots have of ever making it to a World Series, much less winning one. It's like the squeezing of the middle class in the current economic climate. If the middle class loses hope, the consequences for society are dire. So it is in baseball.

Dixarone's picture

It's interesting but the advent of more and more RSN type mega-teams in my opinion, while widening the pool of haves, may take things right where they should not go. The more haves to overcome, the less chance the have nots have of ever making it to a World Series, much less winning one. It's like the squeezing of the middle class in the current economic climate. If the middle class loses hope, the consequences for society are dire. So it is in baseball.

Well put. This was something in the back of my mind as well. Even if the haves become 1/3 or even 1/2 of all teams, having the other half hopeless becomes a real issue.

Anonymous's picture

The battles of baseball are like life.

Maybe too much like life these days for some. Sports, in my opinion at least, should be about getting away from life for a while...at least as a fan, as a spectator. Different obviously for those on the inside.
So how is 'Cheering for Wallets' and 'Best Bank Account Wins' better than 'Shrewdest Management Wins'?

At least it's then a contest of identifiable skill...next stop on that continuum is "Best Players Win" - hey! that's actually what we are cheering for...the farther you go down that line, the closer you get to the reasons that most watch sports.
And I suppose that's what I'm getting at...the reasons I watch sports: I can (not really, but my fandom can) hold accountable an executive, or a GM for not capitalizing on the intricacies of the rules surrounding "cap-ology", or drafting the wrong players, or hiring a coach that can't control the clubhouse, or any number of things that are somewhat measurable and have direct influence on the outcomes of the games themselves. I can't get upset at my team, or management, if the 82 year old owner of a team down the block decides to blow his kid's inheritance and outspend every one else to a "championship". There's no rule against it, sure, and it could also backfire - I get that - but what can you do as a fan? All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say, "alright then, meh".
It makes it difficult to care deeply when - again, as a fan - you start to not be able to reconcile the discrepancies and differences of where the money comes from to run a team. To the specific matter of Prince Fielder, I am definitely not saying that if all things were equal (i.e. the $$), then he would have signed here, and therefore I'm mad. Last I checked, he still had the ability to decide where to play as a free agent. But when the "rules" are set up to allow a team to say, in effect, well for the next several years, we're just going to spend whatever it takes to buy what we want, and sorry that you don't own as much as me...
I start to find it hard to root for anyone. It's *interesting*, sure. But I don't really want to hold a rooting interest in something that I *know* is going to cause me grief 9 years out of 10.


The only model that makes sense is the NFL model. Pool all of the TV, Radio and internet money together and divide it evenly among the teams. That immediately shifts the competitive advantage from geography to good management.

robert mitchell's picture

Bring back Brany if he doesn't hook up with another club.If he can squeeze out 300 plus at bats he'll give u 20 or more taters and 50 plus ribs.If not he can provide what Sweeny did,mentor the kids and provide veteran leadership.Safeco is just another playground to Russ,where as others come there to have their jolts die.[Cust]He needs 6 ding dongs for 200 and bet he'd love to do it in Seattle and finish his career there.


Yes, the current monetary system is skewed wildly so the "skill" of having the largest population (market) is way to big a factor in determining utlimate outcomes on the field.
But, until that changes, the system still allows poorer (maybe not poorest) teams to "get good" via draft and farm systems. 
What the poorer teams cannot do is "stay good".  Staying good is where the big wallet wins the day.  Anaheim, Texas, Tampa, Minnesota ... all of these teams GOT good with relatively low payrolls.  They all leveraged the flexibility of instantly disposable "free" players to pull together enough good young talent "simultaneously" to avoid the Pittsburgh/Royals trap of producing only a couple of decent kids at a time and then trading away the next wave of youth for civics too soon.
It is impossible for the small markets to compete in any way other than massing "free" talent.  The skill is in development and timing.  You cannot win if you start bleeding the first wave of youth before the next wave is ready. 
But, it is also impossible for a small market team to "stay" competitive without payroll bloat.  Nobody can hold on to a couple of $17 million a year guys and maintain a $50 million payroll. 
For me, the financial aspect may be the underlying cause of the slow demise of baseball --- but I believe the largest impact on fans IS the Seinfeld effect.  The NFL has a system where the "stars" continue to stay with a single team throughout their careers.  Peyton=Colts; Emmitt=Cowboys; Favre=Packers ... (and when a guy like Favre moves on in the NFL, it becomes big news and almost comical in its sideshow essense).
AROD ... Griffey ... Fielder ... Tex ... Unit ... Cliff Lee ... these are Hall of Famers who switched teams at the peak of their careers.  The economic idiocy completely prevents the majority of teams from having a reasonable chance of holding onto a Hall of Famer.  It's actually a BETTER fan experience to lose year after year, but get to watch Murphy and Horner every year than it is to watch Brian Giles get good ... then traded ... then Bay (traded) ... or Beltran (raided) ... or Fielder (raided).
Maybe you get lucky and your team manages to reach the post season before the 1% take away *your* superstar.  But, I would argue the utter disdain by the Florida Marlin fans for their team demonstrates that the pull of loyalty and familiarity of a player owned has greater positive residual impact than actually winning a World Series.
I believe, effectively getting a new expansion team every decade (because you fire sale your roster after each title) creates a fan experience no different than randomly throwing darts at a board to determine which team you will follow for the next 10 years.  The fan experience is about a lot more than simply cheering for the guys that play 81 games nearby.

M-Pops's picture

Rumored to be open to a 1yr deal.
A package headlined by Jackson netted the Jays Rasmus. Why wouldn't the M's float a $8mil/1yr offer with the intent to flip Jackson at the deadline?
With the new amateur draft rules, this tactic seems like one of the few ways left to acquire more 'spects.
Would prefer a Felix/Jackson/Vargas/Iwakuma/Millwood rotation to start the season. Z is obviously not averse to the idea of almost completely turning over a starting roation, so the possibility that 3/5 of the staff may not be pitching in Seattle after the deadline would not trouble him. Would leave Furbush, Noesi, and Beaven battling for the swingman position and gives Paxton, Hultzen and Erasmo time to find their groove in Tacoma.
Lots of room for extra hurlers on this team. Almost half of the 25-man roster is ttypically reserved for pitchers. Edwin could be a fit, no?

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.