AL West Notes: Pujols, Elias, Mariners’ Payroll, Astros

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Christina Kahrl looks at the difference between Albert Pujols' in 2013 and his hot start in 2014 with a pair of heat maps to demonstrate that Pujols is doing far more damage on pitches in the zone in the early-going than he was able to do last season. While it's a small sample and his .259/.322/.556 triple-slash isn't exactly vintage Pujols, his hot streak since hitting that first homer is a promising sign after a bleak 2013. Kahrl writes that the Angels' biggest need is for Pujols to fend off Father Time for a few more seasons. As "The Machine" closes in on 500 career home runs — he's currently at 496 — here are some more AL West links…

  • Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias' dream has come true this season, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. The Cuban defector talked with Johns (via his interpreter) about the excitement of nailing down his first big league win and the inspiration he drew from his son. Elias impressed his manager, teammates and opponents in a win over the Rangers, as Lloyd McClendon and Elvis Andrus both offered high praise. Said McClendon: "I don't think facing Prince Fielder is really going to scare him that much. He was fighting for his life trying to make it to this country. He's shown a lot of poise."
  • In an excellent piece from Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Baker examines the Mariners' payroll in contrast with the team's overall value, noting a large discrepancy. Last year's purchase of a 71 percent stake in ROOT Sports Northwest more than doubled Seattle's TV revenue, and their growing revenue over the past few years was enough that BizofBaseball.com founder Maury Brown estimated to Baker that the Mariners could fetch $1 billion on the open market were ownership to sell. Recent estimates from Bloomberg pegged the club's value at $720MM, but that was prior to the ROOT acquisition. Brown told Baker that there "should be no limits" on the Mariners in free agency despite mammoth commitments to Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez. Baker concludes by calling baseball a "cash-drunk sport with only a vague notion of its financial ceiling" and noting that the Mariners "can't spot their ceiling with a telescope."
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that two weeks is the "bare minimum" amount of time needed to make evaluations of minor league players, but many other factors are involved. Among them are whether the player has moved up a level, if they played in the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, and what their Spring Training was like. Luhnow said he expects the club's "most famous prospects" — presumably George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Carlos Correa, Mark Appel and Michael Foltynewicz — to move quickly. As far as the players themselves are concerned, Springer tells Drellich he's not really sure what Super Two status meant, while Singleton "had an idea."


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22 Comments on "AL West Notes: Pujols, Elias, Mariners’ Payroll, Astros"


docmilo5
1 year 3 months ago

Baker should stop writing about baseball. Go away Geoff!
Seriously, yes, they have a ton of money to spend. Extend their own guys. I am soooo glad Fielder didn’t want to go west of the Mississippi and Hamilton chased the big lights of So Cal. Free Agency just isn’t what it once was. Teams have a lot of money and extend the guys worth extending. Most of the guys getting to FA these days just aren’t worth the commitment. Just look at the Yankees and the Angels.

Signing guys to short term deals like the Cardinals do and Boston did this year is the way to go. The M’s spent big on Cano, but he’s got a track record of playing 160 games a year.

BK
1 year 3 months ago

Hah! This is revisionist history at its best. The Cardinals and Red Sox, had a couple things break their ways. The Cardinals had a MONSTER wave of young arms mature, which is part good scouting but a huge part good luck and the Red Sox made a trade that allowed them to ship off redundant expensive assets and saw a couple international prospects develop faster than expected.

It is a bit naive to think that there is some formula here. Check back in 5 years and see where each teams bulletproof strategy gets them.

docmilo5
1 year 3 months ago

There is no formula. It’s just it’s much easier to make adjustments when you have inexpensive players and a good source of young talent vs paying a bunch of old guys. Boston replaced their old expensive guys with old not so expensive guys and won. St Louis adds old non expensive guys to their young core. They pay Pujols when he’s a value and lets him walk when he’s not. Think the BoSox are going to get stuck over paying for Lester?. I don’t. They will find someone that does almost the same thing for less money if they can’t replace him from the farm.

RyanWKrol
1 year 3 months ago

And now those old expensive guys are on the Dodgers, and they went to the NLCS. The Sox still could’ve won with those players.

1 year 3 months ago

There actually is a formula. The Sox and the Cardinals as successful organizations over the past decade have an easier time of getting players to come on shorter deals. Napoli this year and Victorino the year before passed up on extra years because Boston is a great place to play. St. Louis’ similar success makes it a very attractive destination.

There’s also a formula to drafting well. Sure both teams caught breaks but they’re incredibly well run organizations.

RyanWKrol
1 year 3 months ago

If there is a formula, everyone is using it. Every organization does whatever they can to put a competitive team on the field. So no matter what the playing field in general is up for grabs. It’s just a matter which team wins and which team loses. And any team can rise up and any team can suddenly tank.

1 year 3 months ago

There’s a difference between having a lot of money to spend and actually spending it. There’s a reason smart people don’t spend all their paycheck as soon as they get them. The Mariners probably should’ve added another pitcher. At the price Garza signed for in Milwaukee, it’s a little puzzling to see them not really involved on that one. But beyond that, this wasn’t a great free agent crop.

GD
1 year 3 months ago

The Mariners had a TON more money to spend this past offseason, if they just wanted to spend it. And yes MLB is a “cash drunk sport” and going to get even more rich! FAs like Drew and Morales are going to start getting those $15-17m contracts.

The Mariners needed another potent RHB, and technically needed another top SP. They had the money, but instead of throwing money just to throw huge amounts for mediocracy (Cruz, Ervin Santana) they chose to hold off to evaluate things the 1st 2 months of the year to see where their obvious weaknesses are at, and I believe it was for 1-2 serious mid-season acquisitions from teams falling out of contention.

Teams to watch who could be trade partners with Seattle if they fallout of contention soon: Rockies (CarGO), Florida (Stanton), Cincy (Jay Bruce), Blue Jays (Bautista, Rasmus). And Dodgers WONT fall out of contention, but I can see them move Kemp and eat salary…and they need a 2B badly.

“If” Stanton or Bautista’ RHB come on the market we need to jump all over it the second we are able to make a trade for either one of them for RF. On the open market all these guys would get north of $20M+. Bautista is locked in for the next 4 years from 16-20/yr.

1 year 3 months ago

I agree with almost nothing you said.

northsfbay
1 year 3 months ago

The players you mentioned are not for trade.

westcoastwhitesox
1 year 3 months ago

Pujols’ nickname is ‘The Machine’?

stl_cards16
1 year 3 months ago

Only for like nine years, yes.

1 year 3 months ago

Didn’t see the ESPN commercial with him?

1 year 3 months ago

I’ve always called him Winnie the Pujols. I think Chris Berman came up with that one.

DogleggedWalnut
1 year 3 months ago

Our payroll (the Mariners) should be around $100-110M. That means we could have gone up another $10-20M. We needed another power bat for RF and should have ate some money in a Franklin deal to get it. The team has been doing good so far, but we could be better. Hopefully something comes up in May/June before we get out of the playoff race.

Denny Doyle
1 year 3 months ago

So the Mariners woke up one morning and said we’re no longer a small market team. It shows how ridiculous small market and big market labels are, and how they are only used to create victims.

Lefebvre Believer
1 year 3 months ago

Just because you have money doesn’t mean you should automatically spend it. While I would have liked to have seen the Mariners go out and get another SP and a center fielder, I also did not see much of an opportunity to do so and actually improve the team at the same time.

This whole notion put forth by Geoff Baker that they are somehow obliged to push payroll up just for the sake of doing it is nonsensical. Of course, this is coming from the same city that elected a socialist to city council who is attempting to pass an unprecedented minimum wage hike on pretty much the same basis, that is no basis at all.

Oh the joys of living in self righteous Seattle.

Christopher A. Otto
1 year 3 months ago

I like how an .878 OPS is a hot start.

Charlie Burns
1 year 3 months ago

Compared to the last few years, it is for Pujols. But I get what you mean.

ChrisFromBothell
1 year 3 months ago

Baker is a one trick pony. He’s been basically writing the same article every few years, with the exception of being a place for disgruntled ex-employees of Zdurienciek to vent. He hasn’t had Ichiro to kick around anymore, so all he has left are pointless screeds trying to spend other people’s money (with no realistic examples of where to spend it, as Lefebvre Believer and DocMilo5 allude to). I am so glad he is no longer the daily beat writer for the Times.

Oh
1 year 3 months ago

As a lifelong mariners fan, Baker is quite disappointing. His sources are really just guessing as he has no direct proof of the Ms financials. Are you serious?

docmilo5
1 year 3 months ago

Very well said.