Once again, featuring:
-Adam, from Lone Star Ball
-Matt, from Halos Heaven
-Blez, from Athletics Nation
-Me, from here
-Marc, from Beyond the Box Score
Either Oakland or Anaheim comes tomorrow - I forget which. Anyway, read on...
Marc Normandin: The Mariners added a few new faces this offseason; Kenji Johjima, Carl Everett, Matt Lawton, and others. Which of their transactions do you like the most and the least? Explain
Adam Morris: The move I liked most and least for Seattle this offseason...Difficult question, mainly because I wasn't that impressed with any of the M's moves. I guess I'd have to say that adding Jumanji was probably the best move, although I like the Lawton pickup as well...I think he's got a decent chance to bounce back and be a solid player. But Jumanji fills an obvious hole for the Mariners, without costing a ridiculous amount...I think he ended up going for less than Hernandez, and less than what Benji Molina wanted. The worst move, no question, was Jarrod Washburn...he's a mediocre starter with bad peripherals who had a fluky year last year, and got rewarded for a great ERA which he's unlikely to ever repeat.
The Rev: The Johjima signing is the big ??? If he is Ichiro Piazza they score; if he is Dan Wilson Jr, they have a young serviceable guy. Washburn's signing was absurd considering it was for 4 years. Jarrod's left arm will be in a cadaver exhibit in four years.
Blez: I don't really like any of their signings, but if you give me a choice of all of their moves, I have to say the Appier one is the most absurd. Ape hasn't been a consistently effective pitcher since the Clinton administration. Johjima has potential to be the best signing, but I agree with Adam in that nothing really shouts out at me. I do NOT believe in Carl Everett though.
Marc: I bet Everett doesn't believe in you either; or dinosaurs.
Blez: Stop making fun of Jamie Moyer.
Jeff: Am I the only one who doesn't see the downside in the Johjima deal?
The Rev: I don't see any downside to it.
Jeff: This is a guy who's slugged .550-.600 for the duration of his Japanese career. And he's replacing one of the worst collections of backstops in recent history. Johjima may not be a star, but he's going to improve the team by at least 30 runs. That's big. On the other side of the coin...Long-term, the Washburn contract sucks. But part of me thinks he might be able to stave off his inevitable collapse, at least for 2006. Carl Everett, though...I'm not seeing it. That was a worthless signing, made more worthless by Lawton and Petagine.
Marc: Personally, my favorite was Petagine, but we know how I feel about Roberto. That's not analysis wise, just as a fan.
Jeff: I think it's sad that Petagine has been reduced to wrestling with Greg Dobbs (Edit: and now Joe Borchard, a fight which he'll inevitably lose) for a roster spot.
Marc: Maybe if he had a little more Willie Bloomquist in him...
Blez: The Johjima signing will also help bring in even more marketing dollars from Japan as well. The only downside to it is the chance for underperformance. But it will still be an upgrade over last year.
The Rev: If the M's are lucky - long term - they will tank in April, fire Bavasi, and rebuild around Jojima, Ichiro and King Felix. Beltre and Sexson could bring a mountain of prospects on July 31.
Jeff: Beltre and Sexson are sticking around for the long haul. It's the Meches and Guardados of the world who'll be available in July.
Adam: I don't know that Beltre can bring a mountain of prospects...he seems to have negative value, at this point...
Blez: Yeah, and those contracts are bad.
Jeff: Beltre's still, what, 27? He'll be productive, if overpaid.
The Rev: A decent season by either makes them look like the final piece of the puzzle to someone else in July, though...
Jeff: Contenders usually aren't looking to add expensive long-term contracts.
Blez: Unless they're the Yankees or Mets.
The Rev: BINGO!
Marc: Yankees and Mets are set at third. David Wright and some guy named A-Rod. Beltre is staying put.
Jeff: Giambi, A-Rod, Wright, Delgado...
The Rev: An underachieving Wright for a resurgent Beltre in July with the Mets tasting it and the M's looking at '07 - stranger things have happened...
Blez: I don't see it happening.
Jeff: That would go down as an awful, awful trade for the Mets.
The Rev: I must think like the NY media. Always go for the star, screw the future...
Jeff: Would you trade Casey Kotchman for Ryan Klesko?
The Rev: Stoneman probably came close to that deal this offseason.
Adam: Wright for Beltre? No way in hell Minaya even considers that...
Marc: The Mariners had three players with 2005 seasons that have different interesting aspects. Adrian Beltre in his decline from his 2004 MVP caliber season, Jeremy Reed in his fall from prospect grace, and Felix Hernandez in his excellent debut season. What do you see for these players in 2006 and beyond?
Adam: I think Adrian Beltre's 2004 will end up going down as a Norm Cash-ian example of a fluke season. His walk rate was awful in 2004, and I didn't see him being able to sustain that level of production. After the Mariners signed him, I described him as the M's version of Chan Ho Park -- another ex-Dodger given a 5 year deal at $13 million per that I thought was going to be a bust. I don't expect that to change in 2006. I figure him for a .260-.265 EQA, while there are more stories about him looking at tapes of his 2004 Dodger season and adjusting his stance to get his power back. Jeremy Reed, I think will bounce back...he had a .252 EQA as a 24 year old rookie, which was disappointing, sure, but he hit better in the second half, his walk rate is decent, and his defense is good enough that he'll stay in the lineup and get more chances to get his bat working. A good bounce-back candidate for 2006. King Felix, I don't know...I talked to Jeff some a little about this recently, and so much depends on his health. Young pitchers struggle to stay healthy anyway, and when you look at his mechanics and Seattle's bad track record when it comes to young pitchers, it seems like a matter of if King Felix gets hurt, as compared to when. If he stays healthy, he'll be another Johan Santana. More likely, I think, he's another Kerry Wood.
The Rev: Reed is the best CF I saw in the A.L. last season - and my season seats are right behind the CF in Anaheim, so I saw a good selection of them. If he can get his offense to even replacement level, I see Reed as the sleeper Mariner of them all. I am not happy that Felix Hernandez is in the A.L. West, but there are two other teams that share my burden, so all I can do is hope our pitcher has his game on when the king is in town. Beltre confuses me. Shall we go with the even-numbered year = MYP numbers theory? Flip a coin - Beltre: Beast or Burden?
Blez: I think I might've been one of the only ones saying I thought Sexson would be a better player than Beltre in 2005. Beltre had contract year performer written all over him. But I also think Reed will become a better player. There's a reason the Red Sox pursued him so relentlessly before they settled on Crisp. Plenty of first-year highly-rated prospects struggle, but come back to show why they were so highly ranked. I think Reed will fall into this category. As for King Felix, I expect he and King Richard Harden to be battling for years for the title of best pitcher in baseball. Yet, I also have injury concerns about Felix for the same reason that Adam mentioned earlier. Harden has followed that pattern.
Jeff: Adrian Beltre is 27 years old, and plays terrific defense. Even with last year's bat, he's still a good player, albeit overpaid. Given his age and track record, though, there's reason to foresee an improvement. It's just going to depend on how well he learns to differentiate between fastballs and sliders. I'm more pessimistic than I'd like to be, but I fully expect Beltre to be a better player in 2006 than he was in 2005. As for Reed, I'm confident that he'll figure things out before long. He's not going to hit for power, but he'll be another Mark Kotsay before too long. He'll be an asset as long as he sticks in CF. Finally, Felix...Injuries are the only thing that could keep him from becoming the best pitcher of our generation. With that stuff, that strikeout rate, that GB/FB ratio...Really, there are no words. You guys should consider yourselves lucky that you even get to watch him pitch. And I'll keep saying that until he blows out his shoulder.
Adam: Just something to throw out there...the guy who it occurs to me is a comp for Beltre is Richard Hidalgo. A guy with tons of ability, a great defensive player, and someone who put it all together for one season (and got a huge contract as a result), but who hasn't been able to stay healthy and consistent enough since then to reach that level again.
Jeff: I don't see any reason to believe that Beltre will become an injury-prone third baseman. And Hidalgo hit .309/ .385/.572 in 2003, so there's still hope. That said, the broader point is still valid.
Marc: If Hernandez is as smart a pitcher as Pedro Martinez, and can keep relatively healthy, I see him dominating at the least in a Pedro Lite sort of way, which is to say, at an astonishing level we won't fully appreciate until it's over. I'm jealous that you get to see Felix, Jeff...I was 11-12 years old when Pedro really started to dominate, and I feel like I missed out on some of it. Felix Hernandez is 12 days younger than me...
Jeff: Fans of every team in baseball will pay money to watch Felix pitch. I think that says it all. Same issue with me...Felix makes me feel old. And with all due respect, Harden doesn't have Felix's upside. Not to mention he's four years older.
The Rev: Makes me feel ancient.
Blez: I disagree, simply because we haven't seen Harden pitch a full healthy season yet. No one knows what Harden is capable of yet.
Adam: I think both of those guys are going to be chasing Johan Santana for the "best pitcher" title anyway...
Jeff: Felix is a far more extreme groundball pitcher. That gives him a distinct advantage.
The Rev: Harden and Felix at least don't have to pitch in hyper-media hype cities, so there are fewer intangibles to adversely affect them. We get to see the pure pitcher - when healthy.
Marc: I prefer Roy Halladay to Santana to be honest...it's the efficiency he pitches with that I love.
Blez: That is if Felix is who he says he is and is the age he says he is...see Jairo Garcia who recently was found out to be Santiago Casilla and is three years older than originally thought. You never know these days.
Jeff: There is zero question about the legitimacy of Felix's age. His injury risk is the ONLY concern. I'm being dead serious, here. And it's a considerable injury risk. Particularly given that he doesn't keep himself in real good shape.
Marc: Jeff -- how's his delivery, speaking health wise?
Jeff: In a word, violent. It'll be a small miracle if he avoids the DL.
Blez: If K-Rod has been able to avoid it with that screwed-up delivery, anyone can.
Jeff: K-Rod's not out of the woods, yet. That guy makes MY elbow beg for mercy.
Adam: We'll see how long K-Rod stays healthy though...
Jeff: Robbie Williams' "Come Undone" just came up on my iTunes during the Felix discussion. That worries me.
Marc: If it makes you feel any better, Limelight from Rush came on when you mentioned Robbie Williams. Said something about the universal being.
Jeff: The universal being will come undone? That's unsettling.