Next up, those Seattle Mariners. Many thanks to the fine Mariners blogs U.S.S. Mariner and Lookout Landing for their work. It's always good to consult the experts before doing a writeup on their team.
Bill Bavasi's contract obligations:
C - Kenji Johjima - $5.2MM
C - Guillermo Quiroz - $0.3275MM
1B - Richie Sexson - $14MM
2B - Jose Lopez - $0.335MM
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt - $0.4MM
3B - Adrian Beltre - $11.5MM
IF - Willie Bloomquist - $1MM
LF - Raul Ibanez - $5.5MM
CF - Ichiro Suzuki - $11MM
RF - Chris Snelling - $0.3285MM
OF - Jeremy Reed - $0.375MM
DH - Ben Broussard - $2.5MM, Eduardo Perez - club option, est. $2MM
SP - Felix Hernandez - $0.34MM
SP - Jarrod Washburn - $10MM (estimated)
SP - Jake Woods - $0.332MM
SP - Cha Seung Baek - $0.332MM
RP - J.J. Putz - $0.415MM
RP - Rafael Soriano - $0.5MM
RP - George Sherrill - $0.335MM
RP - Francisco Cruceta - $0.33MM
RP - Mark Lowe - $0.33MM
RP - Julio Mateo - $1MM
It seems that the club has roughly $70-75MM tied up for 2007. The Opening Day 2006 payroll was about $88MM. There are all sorts of ways Bavasi can prove his mettle with the '07 club.
The catching situation is well accounted for, and that's a feather in Bavasi's cap. It's probably time to let Quiroz back up Johjima, which is not a big risk because Johjima is out there almost 85% of the time.
In perusing Lookout Landing, speculation was that the Ms could attempt to trade Sexson this winter coming off a resurgent second half. Given his salary, age, and profile, that's a fine idea. In the meantime, we'll pencil him in.
The middle infield looks OK. Jose Lopez appeared to be breaking out this year, but pitchers adjusted and he hasn't responded. Next year will be his age 23 season, so there's hope for more growth. Betancourt's stepped it up a little bit and will hopefully continue to do so as a 25 year-old.
Since June, Beltre's been quite good at .284/.343/.521. Mark Teahen is the only 3B in the league who outhit him over that time period. Beltre could still be moved; Bavasi might get a good return given the weak free agent class.
Ibanez is solid in left, and Ichiro's finally moved to CF to help the club. It looks like Snelling can hit like a league average RF (.287/.350/.472). It would be wise to keep Jeremy Reed around as a fourth outfielder and defensive replacement rather than deal him with his value at a low.
The Brourez DH monster hasn't worked out well in Seattle, surprisingly. At least part of it should be back for '07, if for nothing else than to justify the price paid for Perez and Broussard.
Skipping ahead to the bullpen - it looks like one of the game's best and at a ridiculously low cost. If the medical staff can keep these guys healthy Mariner games will become six inning affairs.
Obviously the big need in Seattle is starting pitching. Woods and Baek should maybe be competing for the fifth slot, but both will probably struggle given full-season exposure. Both pitchers might be penciled into rotation slots to begin 2007, but it won't end that way. In reality, the Ms need one ace and one mid-level guy to field a competitive team next year. Ryan Feierabend looks promising, but may not be ready until 2008.
Maybe the Japanese connection will help the Mariners snare Daisuke Matsuzaka, or perhaps Jason Schmidt or Adam Eaton will be persuaded to pitch near home. Getting the Japanese star in addition to Schmidt/Zito could never happen given the number of teams looking to spend money on pitching. Bavasi should do everything he can to get Matsuzaka, and then try a Miguel Batista/Byung-Hyun Kim/Jeff Weaver type as well. Last year, the Mariners came in second in an attempt to sign Wade Miller. They could renew interest this winter.
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