Tag Archives: Jeff Francis

If I Were Jack Z

Happy Free Agency! I am a sucker for hot stove talk, MLB trade rumors, and general off season gossip. I get the feeling this could be an eventful winter for the M’s, and I am thankful that Jack Z will be calling the shots once again. That being said, I thought I would speculate on some potential moves the M’s could make over the next few months, and in doing, I’ve created my off season plan.

Before delving into the plan, let’s remember where the M’s are in, and the state of the franchise. 2012 will be the 4th year of Jack Zduriencik’s regime in Seattle. He inherited a major rebuilding project, no doubt about it. Top to bottom, the organization was a mess. For 3 years, Jack has concentrated on bulking up the farm, adding depth, and above all, talent. It took a couple years to shed the dead weight—bad contacts, bad draft picks, bad hires, and despite a couple setbacks (Chone), most fans understand the path the organization is on. It’s not as though losses don’t matter, but the record is not as important as the master plan, and Jack has not deviated from building the whole system, which is really the only way to sustain success. Even the Yankees and Red Sox, for all the money they throw around, build from within as good as anyone, and this has been Jack’s focus all along.

In 2012, wins and losses will matter. The grace period is gone, and the M’s had better start producing. A .500 record should be a reasonable goal, so considering the 2011 M’s won 67 games, where does Jack find an additional 14 wins this off season?

Let’s assume the M’s payroll is set at $90-95 million, which is on par for the past 3 years. $60 million is already guaranteed for Felix, Ichiro, Guti, Ryan, Ackley, Figgins, and Olivo, so Jack will have about $30 million to fill out the roster. Next, Jack will need to address the M’s 6 arbitration eligible players: Kelley, Vargas, Aardsma, L-Rodriguez, and League. If I were Jack, I’d non-tender Aardsma, but keep the others, for what will cost about $10 million total. Some would prefer to keep Aardsma, and trade League, but the money is virtually even between the two, and I think you need to keep one. League was an all-star closer, despite his brain lapses, so unless the trade market is high for a guy like League, I’d hang onto him. Finally, another $5 million will be tied up in about 10 spots, the kids like Smoak, Carp, Seager, and most of the young relievers who all make about $450,000. With the remaining $15-20 million, and still a few holes to fill, here’s the roster I would aim to assemble (click to enlarge).

Jump ahead to see how I’d get this team put together! Continue reading

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The Mariners Obvious Moves

Note- I started writing this over a week ago, but I don’t think anything has happened since then to change anything.  Consider it an indirect response to Joe’s earlier payroll post, although I didn’t originally intend it that way.

Coming into the offseason, everyone agreed that improving the Mariners to the point of playoff contention was a long shot.  Crazy things happen, and Jack Zduriencik has done crazy things before, but to improve the team that much with a very limited budget didn’t look like it would be in the cards.

What was apparent was moves that could be made.  Coming into the offseason, here’s what I would have laid out as the obvious moves I would look at if I were in Jack’s spot:

  • Find a DH with some power
  • Look hard for an upgrade at catcher
  • Find a middle infielder who could start at second and then shift to short when Dustin Ackley is ready or Jack Wilson gets injured
  • Find a right-handed bat who could platoon with Michael Saunders and ideally play some first base if needed
  • Find a starting pitcher who could be counted on to throw a lot of decent innings
  • Upgrade the bullpen Continue reading

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The Rebuilding Process, Year 3

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Years 1 and 2 of the rebuilding process the Mariners are in, orchestrated by Jack Zduriencik. With year 2 nearing completion, let’s look ahead to year 3 of rebuild mode.

Following this 2010 season, the Mariners will likely find themselves less ahead of schedule than what had been anticipated going into this season. The 85 wins in 2009 will be followed up with something like 65-70 wins. The Mariners do not have much money coming off the books, and their best player from 2009, Cliff Lee, is wearing a Texas uniform at the moment. In some ways, things may look bleak for the Mariners after this season. However, looking again at the big picture of rebuilding in 3-4 years, I think the positives still outweigh the negatives because of the strengthened farm system, the lack of bad contracts, and a strong nucleus that are all signed (Ichiro, Felix, Smoak, Guti).

Rewind with me again to November 2008. The Mariners were a mess, kind of like the Seahawks are today, and similar to Husky football after the Willingham era concluded. In each case, our team needed to blow things up and rebuild. This happens in sports, and typically, rebuilding takes 3-4 years. Of course the Yankees can do it in 1 year, and the Royals or Pirates need about 10 years, but for a Seattle team in a good market, 3-4 years is about the norm. This season it appeared the M’s might be able to take advantage of a weakened division and some savvy trades, and take the shortcut from rebuilder to contender in just 12 months. But 2010 has not panned out, and while it looks like the M’s are going to have to start over again once this year ends, the reality is the foundation for rebuilding was laid a year ago, and Seattle is finishing year 2 of a 3-4 year rebuilding process.

In his “Wait ‘Til Next Year” series, Matthew recently broke down each position, and forecasted the roster heading into next season. Certainly a common theme in these posts is the uncertainty at multiple positions, but despite the question marks, the M’s will continue building around a solid group that will surely include Felix, Ichiro, Ackley, Gutierrez, Figgins, Saunders, Smoak, Pineda, Vargas and Fister. Others from the current roster will be back next year, and some will not, and additions will need to be made, either via trade, free agency, or growth in the farm system. Given how difficult it is to predict trades, let’s look at the unrestricted free agent crop for 2011, and specifically, free agents that may be realistic targets for the Mariners, give their needs. Yes, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter may hit free agency, but again, this list only includes realistic targets, at positions the M’s may have an interest.
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