Well, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the M's are not going to end up with Matsuzaka.
The M's have likely turned their attention to the other top pitchers on the market, which is pretty much limited to Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito.
So, the question becomes: Which do you prefer?
Really, I think that you could make good arguments for both guys.
Here is a quick and dirty discussion of the pros and cons of each:
-WA native, who is open to signing with the M's
-Proven ace pitcher, who was dominant between 2002-2004
-prototypical power pitcher
-besides problems in 2004, he has been pretty durable, pitching 200+ IP three of the past four years
-consistently good. He has been solid to excellent for the past 6 years
-flyball pitcher who should be helped by Safeco, although SF also has a pitchers park
-at age 34 next season, he is risky on a long-term deal
-if the M's sign him, he would be switching leagues, and even in the best case scenario, his stats should slip a bit
-declining K rate is a major concern
-always has walked too many hitters
-seems to have lost a bit since his injury in 2004, and he hasn't dominated in the past two years like he did in 2002-2004
-in this market, he will be paid elite pitcher money
-incredible durability, with 6 consecutive years of 34-35 GS and 210+ IP
-pitched his entire career in AL West, so transition should be minimal
-flyball pitcher who should get a boost from Safeco
-doesn't turn 29 until next May, so even on a 5-year deal, he would still be in his prime at age 33 at the end of the contract
-he is exceptionally lefthanded
-consistently good, with 2004 the only season in which he didn't have excellent numbers
-mediocre to bad peripheral stats, with scary BB rate
-declining K/BB in each of the past three years
-memories of Cy Young make him overrated
-Scott Boras is his agent, which means he will likely sign late and for an exhorbinant sum
-stuff and repertoire make him project best as a #2 type
-will require a much longer contract than Schmidt
Really, I think that you can make a good argument for both of these guys. I don't think that anyone denies that Matsuzaka was the best option for the M's. I am not sure that either of these guys are a good Plan B, but it seems likely that the M's will go after one of them.
The local ties have led lots of people to suggest that Schmidt will be the M's #1 target. It remains to be seen how much of a factor that will be for Schmidt. But I think it is very likely that he ends up a Mariner in 2007.
Anyhow, I figured that this topic will be a prominent and contentious issue, and was wondering what everyone here take on this is.