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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Are Pitchers and Catchers Reporting Yet? 

With the baseball hot stove slowly turning into a warm stew of questionable-or-worse trades and free-agent signings, I think it's time we got things going again here at Who Wants to Watch the World Series?, especially now that the Mariners have made their first major signing of the Dream-Team season (you know, the time of year when you can still imagine your team signing every one of the free agents they need, and you keep telling yourself, "If they had Sexon, Delgado, and Beltre...AND Renteria...that'd be quite a lineup!").

I don't really know what the deal with this offseason is, but, as has been noted ad-nauseum elsewhere, better-than-average players are really expensive. Four years at twelve million sure sounds like a lot for Richie Sexson to me, but what the hell do I know? You can't say the market's wrong. If Glaus is eleven million, I guess twelve isn't all that much. Anyway, he's a very good player if he can keep that socket from popping--as I'm sure we all pray that he can.

I think Delgado is a better player, and if this deal does anything to diminish the M's chances of signing Adrian Beltre, it wasn't worth it. Still, you could do a lot worse than a guy who hits 35+ homers every single year. Is he a difference maker at first base? I don't think so, no. But if he stays healthy, he's definitely a solid piece of the puzzle. But what should the M's do now to fill the holes around the Ichiro-Sexson core? I have some suggestions.

First, aggressively pursue Adrian Beltre. Just like everyone says you should. Forget Delgado, forget Beltran, and get Adrian Beltre in an M's uniform as soon as possible--that's my advice. 12-13 million per year for six years would be a good deal in this market.

Second, shop Randy Wynn and Raul Ibanez all over town. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that one of those two guys could get us something usefull. A mediocre starting pitcher, perhaps (I'm thinking Brad Penny, Adam Eaton, or Milwaukee's Doug Davis--someone like that). Or maybe a real shortstop prospect to plug in the nine-hole every day. Or maybe a DH who can take pitches and hit homeruns (while Ken Williams is blowing up the White Sox, maybe he wants to give away Frank Thomas--just as good as Delgado, much cheaper). The point is that Wynn and Ibanez are not good enough to keep around as DHs or First Basemen, and the outfield is full. Meanwhile, guys like Jermaine Dye are signing two-year $10 mil deals, which should make Wynn and Raul look quite attractive to teams missing an outfileder.

Third, make Meche the closer. I actually stole this idea from David at Your Thoughts Exactly, but it sounds like a good one to me. Why keep trying to force the poor guy to start a whole season? Sounds like he's just not built for it. But he's still young, he's got great stuff, and he's got great control. All he's missing is a stupid-looking goatee.

Fourth, sign Matt Clement (if he's less than $10 mil per year). This guy is just coming into his own, and he's at that age when a lot of guys like him put it together for a strong three-year stretch. Watching him as a Cubs fan has always made me very nervous, but you can't argue with his numbers. I'm probably just spoiled from watching Prior, Wood, Zambrano, and Maddux, the four of whom I have just decided to rename "The Proodbranux"). God, I love The Proodbranux.

As last year proved, just a few questionable moves can turn a good but aging team into a joke. But, as Billy Beane's tenure in Oakland has proved, it's always possible to put together a competitive team, under any circumstances, even on short notice, especially when other teams are overspending on household names.

Comments:
Meche as a closer is an interesting idea, but where does that leave Rafael Soriano? He will be coming off Tommy John Surgery, but the recent track record for pitchers recovering from that is impressive (think Lieber or Kerry Wood). He had outstanding stuff before the surgery, as well as a proven track record as a dominent righty out of the pen (1.53 ERA in 2003). Any idea when he'll be back?

And in addition to shopping Winn and Ibanez, the Mariners should see if anyone is stupid enough to take Speczio (think: Arizona), Franklin (Atlanta?) and/or Guardado (White Sox?) off their hands. Maybe get a bag of baseballs in return.
 
wow. its been almost a month over here.

maybe you guys will sign millwood, and it can be the proooodbranux.

is thomas definitely coming back from his surgery, injury, or whatever ended his season?
 
It's not a sure thing. He's expected to miss spring training. Even so, at seven or eight million less than Delgado, I'd say he's worth the risk. Posted a .436 OBP last year.
 
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