Monday, August 23, 2004

Wasting Spaces

The only good reason for Ramon Santiago to be on the Major-League roster is make he doesn't take at-bats away from better players at AAA. In other words, Santiago, if used like the bench-warmer he is, won't get many as at-bats at the major leagues as if he was starting in Tacoma.

But he certainly isn't the 25th best player in the Mariners organization. Santiago has an Equivalent Average of .176, the lowest on the M's 25-man roster. That's lower than Neifi Perez, who was just released from the Giants. If we look at the Major-League Equivalent Average, which approximates what minor-leaguers would do in the major leagues, we see that there are five Rainiers over .215, well above where Santiago is playing.

I suppose the other factor is that Santiago plays short, whereas A.J. Zapp, who's been on a tear recently, plays first; and we already have enough corner infielders on the big league roster. Mostly, I continue to be flabbergasted that we traded the best shortstop in the majors (even if you count A-rod) for Ramon Santiago.

Updated Links

Thanks to USS Mariner, who now joins the list of blogs that link to me. I can't stress this enough: if you ever wonder anything about what's going on with the Mariners, go there to find straight, smart answers.

Also, The Safe has returned as a news aggragator. It has only commentary-free links, and it will get you to most of the stories around the web each day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Leone out: proves he's not a "Gamer"

Justin Leone is out for the rest of the season with a couple of broken bones in his left hand. Listen to Bob Melvins reaction reported in the Times:
It's really too bad," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "After his first three weeks, teams have had a chance to scout him. And he was in the stage of adjusting, a time when you can really tell about a young player.
"When you play the game, you get an opportunity, and this was his big chance, and now this happens. It takes the edge off this game."

Does that sound to anyone else like Melvin is just about ready to write Justin off? The way I'm reading between the lines is: "The success he had to this point was probably just a result of being new in the league, and we were about to find out what he's really like. This was his chance to prove himself, but now he got himself injured, and he's gonna be really rusty now. Too bad for him." That may be to pessimistic of an interpretation, but nothing I've read has Melvin commending any aspect of what Leone has done so far in the big leagues.

Sure, Leone hasn't been the next Scott Rolen, but his low batting average is somewhat misleading. Though he hit only .216 in his brief stint in The Show, he also hit 6 home runs, and showed enough power to bump his OPS to .739, right between Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone. Melvin is right about needing to see Leone more to really see what he can do in the big leagues, though his minor league stats aren't completely irrellevant, as Bill Bavasi would have us believe.

What's unfortunate is that third base will probabaly be manned by a combination of Bloomquist, Speizio, and Ramon Santiago, none of whom are long-term or short-term solutions.

Monday, August 16, 2004

"Wait, I thought the trading deadline was in July"

If that's what you're saying after hearing rumors of trades, then you should check out--again, I can't believe I'm saying this--Jayson Starks Waiver Deals 101 column on July 31st is the last day teams can trade players without those players first clearing waivers; but August 31st is the last day for teams to trade players at all, as well as the last day to set their post-season roster, making a trade after that date pointless anyway.

For a more general explanation on the rules of rosters and transactions, see the ever-useful Rob Neyer Transaction Primer.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

More Expos: what might have been.

The Tacoma News-Tribune has an article about how devastated the Expos were by the 1994 strike. Author Darrin Beene notes how Montreal and Seattle were in similar situations:
"Had the season played out, the Expos were poised for a windfall. Increased
attendance would have added money, and a playoff appearance might have generated the kind of buzz the Seattle Mariners received in 1995."

It's been ten years of abuse at the hands of Baseball, and the Expos deserve better, now.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Breaking News: Sun rises tomorrow, Expos to remain homeless, Commissioner Spineless

Yep, rumor-monger Jayson Stark, who deserves little attention, does get credit for reporting that the Expos will still be homeless next year. To quickly re-articulate the reasons why this is beyond ridiculous:

  • MLB currently owns the Expos, yet MLB bylaws prohibit any owner from owning parts of more than one team. This prevents an owner from stacking one team with all the good players, not to mention all the accounting scams possible. However, MLB being simply a federation of baseball team owners, every owner actually owns a portion of the Expos. Not surprisingly, the Expos have not increased their payroll since MLB has taken ownership, and they've lost all but four of their players, as Stark reports. More simply put, it's an inherent conflict of interest, whether or not any owner has direct control over Expos operations.
  • Throughout this whole debacle, the Commissioner has continued to insist that the Expos will not stay in Montreal, rendering them essentially homeless. Not surprisingly, not many Montrealans seem to be particularly interested in seeing a team guaranteed to leave town. In 2002, after Selig's silly contraction ploy that suggested that would be their last season in Montreal, the Expos saw attendance go up by 33%--to 812, 537, worst in the majors. In 2003, MLB tried to raise attendance again (and it did) by putting some home games in Puerto Rico, increasing their average home game attendance from 10,031 in 2002 to 12,662 in 2003. But those gimmicks are wearing off. This years average game attendance is down to 9092, dead last. Selig continues to be the worst marketer of his own product, professional baseball, when he should be the consummate salesman of the game. He made his money selling cars, and now that he has to sell something that actually is a quality product, he continually bungles it.
  • Baseball has several options for where to put the Expos, including the eighth largest market in the nation, Washington DC. Orioles owner Peter Angelos continues to whine that DC is his market, but if you combine Baltimore, Washington DC, and a little bit--say 15%--of the Richmond and Norfolk metro areas (following Mike Jones' example), you get a TV market that is bigger (3,487,995 TV households) than every market except LA (5,402,260) and New York (7,376,330), a market bigger than Chicago and the Bay area. Certainly, there is room for two teams to share this market. Angelos' whining and Seligula's determination to extract every ounce of guaranteed public funding for a stadium is the only thing keeping the team from relocating--it certainly isn't because there are no places to go. Other viable options: Sacramento (1,278,430), Portland (1,073,210), Indianapolis (1,038,370). Las Vegas, oft mentioned, doesn't make sense to me, as it is way down on the list (51st, 601,700).

The solution is to tell Angelos, as they must have told Steinbrenner when they pushed through greater revenue sharing, to take his medicine or feel free to put the Orioles up for sale. Auction the team to the highest bidder in the DC area. Jayson Stark's article mentions possible protections for Angelos' TV rights that seem eminently feasible. There's nobody in power, however, that has the personal integrity and political will to solve this problem, and it continues to be a ridiculous embarrassment besmirching the game.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Old News, but worth a reminder

A email exchange among fellow Mariner fans took me to this article, which was published in April, but just now came to my attention. At least according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the M's were the most profitable franchise in baseball at season start. As we look to the off-season, let's remember the Mariners do have the wherewithal to sign marquee players.

On a more personal note, I thank whatever regular readers are left for their patience. An evening job and a move have kept me less attentive to the day-to-day foibles of our favorite team, and have taken much of the time and energy I'd be spending thinking of things to say in this consistently disappointing season.

There's been talk about the race to the bottom of the standings--Royals vs. Mariners, which I will see in person soon--and its implications for next year's draft. But if the M's sign a big free agent, doesn't that give their draft pick away to the team that lost that free agent? I know there have been several moves to eliminate "draft-pick compensation," but the last I heard, plans for scrapping it had been tabled. Anyone know any differently?
Update: Stephen left a comment in this post informing me that the teams with the 1st 15 picks in the draft do NOT forfeit those picks regardless of who they sign. Thanks!