Mariners Mini Morsels: October 8

Joel Sherman of the NY Post asked seven baseball executives if they thought that the Tampa Bay Rays would trade David Price this off-season, and all of them said that the Rays would do so (which you can read here). The Rays control Price for two more seasons.  He made $10MM this season and is probably looking at about $15MM for next season, and if he stayed for his last arbitration year, that would likely be another $20MM for the Rays to pay. Price will bring more this off-season in a trade than the next off-season. The Rays clearly know that if they keep him one more year, they will lose half-a-boat-load of talent treasure in addition to the $15MM they pay him.

Whichever team acquires Price gets a two-season window to playoff paradise and will then have the option of giving him a qualifying offer – unless, of course, the acquiring team signs him to an extension.  His two remaining arbitration years are worth $25MM in total and he should be able to get something like 5/$150MM to 7/$200MM in today’s market for an extension on top of the remaining $25MM arbitration cost. So the acquiring team gets a total of 7-to-9 years for  between $175MM and $225MM (an average of 8/$200MM or $25MM Average Annual Value – AAV) and the loss of more talent than a tornado hitting the Academy Awards. Plus a high possibility that he won’t be quite as effective in his age 35-37 years. This is indeed an expensive and talent-draining proposition.

Masahiro Tanaka is 24 years old and has had an ERA below 2.0 for three straight seasons. As an interesting side note, he recorded 23 wins this year without a loss. Japanese experts say he’s better than Yu Darvish or Daisuke Matsuzaka or any other Japanese pitcher – ever.  NPB is not the MLB, but if an American pitcher hung up those numbers in AAA he would attract an audience at his auction. Yu and Daisuke cost posting fees of over $50MM, so it may well take $60MM to get the right to negotiate with Tanaka. However, if an agreement isn’t reached during the negotiation period, the team that posted payment gets its money back.  He can sign for 6 years and then be a free agent for his age 31-season and able to go for nine figures.  What would that 6 years cost?  $11MM a year would be $66MM total, (Darvish got 6/$56MM) on top of the $60MM posting fee for a grand total of $126MM at $21MM AAV—substantially less than the probable cost of Price for 6 years, and the buyer gets to keep their farm system and get a draft pick if he leaves via free agency. If $21MM AAV seems high, consider the $18MM AAV Hunter Pence just got, what Price would hypothetically get as a free agent this off-season, and what Cano will get this off-season. Cano’s asking for $30MM AAV for 10 years, by the way. The price of free agents has gone up and will keep going up with all the new media money floating around, as every team gets an additional $25MM this coming season.

Cuban and Japanese players don’t count against MLB mandated budget limits and they are less expensive than the few available free agents with believable talent.  If you can buy better than David Price for less than David Price, with the additional perk of getting to keep your farm productive and add a first round draft pick down the line, it’s worth a thought when NPB opens its posting window on November 1st.

 

Baseball Best Practice

“We made a gamble when we bought the team and paid what we paid for it, and everyone said we paid too much,” [Stan] Kasten, the team president, said before Game 1 of the Dodgers’ division series Thursday. “We paid that much because we thought it was worth more. And it turns out, gee, it really was, on the basis of the support we were going to get from our fans, from tickets, Cokes and hot dogs, from strategic partners wanting to align with us, from sponsors and, yes, from media partners.

“We thought all of that would be there if we got our job done first, and that’s what we tried to do. And so the result is we’ve had a lot of success in sponsorships, we’ve had a lot of success in TV deals and we’ve had extraordinary success in attendance. What makes me as proud as anything is that we also led baseball in road attendance, because that means the Dodger brand that we’re trying to restore is taking hold and becoming appealing and an attraction for all of baseball in every city.” —Tyler Kepner at the NY Times

 

So they said

“It’s one of those things you won’t truly appreciate until it’s not there,” [Orioles] manager Buck Showalter said. “I can’t make people realize how hard it is to do what these guys do in the ninth inning. … Jimmy has never wavered in his belief in his team. We’d all love for it to be aesthetically [pleasing] and go out there and throw nine pitches and strike everybody out, and the game’s over after the eighth inning. … It’s hard to do. When you find someone who can do it, you better realize what you’ve got. They don’t come along very often.” —Eduardo A. Encina at the Baltimore Sun

 

“Back then, [baseball] was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.” —Alex Rodriguez, February 2009 quoted by Cormac Eklof at Irish Central

“You remember [Joe] Maddon‘s early years, when everyone figured he was just another guy who was going to be eaten alive by this franchise. He didn’t chew and he didn’t spit and he didn’t cuss. He was in contrast to every image everyone had of a major-league manager. Lou Piniella? Now he looked like a manager, my goodness. Maddon? He looked like a Grateful Dead fan at a steelworkers convention.” —Gary Shelton at Tampa Bay Times

 

“The crowd’s “Kel-ly! Kel-ly!” chants did not have as dramatic an effect as “Cue-to! Cue-to!” had on Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto in Tuesday’s NL Wild Card Game. Still, to ensure a better chance of success, future Pirates postseason visitors might do well to trade for Brett Oberholtzer or some other pitcher with a chant-challenged name.” —-Tom Singer at MLB.com

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

 “Marlon Byrd is an interesting case because he had the best season of his career in 2013, hitting .291/.336/.511 with 24 home runs. However, the 36-year-old hit just .210 with one home run in 2012, and just .276 with nine home runs in 2011. With only one good year in the last three, most teams won’t even pay market price for what he accomplished this season. However, if Byrd, who hit a home run in his first postseason at-bat of his career on Tuesday in the National League wild-card game, has a banner October, the aforementioned thin market for corner outfielders could work to his advantage and earn him at least a two-year deal.” —Jim Bowden at ESPN  

 

“As for [Phil] Hughes, it’s been widely speculated in the media the Yankees are unlikely to re-sign him this winter. He was awful for the Yankees this year in a variety of roles, as he allowed 24 home runs in 145 1/3 innings this year. However, he’s a fly ball pitcher, and pitching in Yankee Stadium as well as the other bandboxes in the American League East is not conducive for Hughes to be successful. With that said, it’s possible he could be a better fit pitching the bulk of his games in pitchers parks, as his home runs could be better contained under such conditions. As such, I wonder if he could be interested in a one-year deal in an attempt to boost his value going into next winter. If so, the Mets could take a flyer and hope he thrives at Citi Field working with Dan Warthen.” —Michael Baron at Metsblog

 

By the numbers

Last year, baseball reached an eight-year deal with Fox, ESPN and TBS for its national rights fees. The value of that contract was $12.4 billion, a 100 percent increase over the previous deal. That equates to $413.3MM per team, or $51.6MM per team per year.

 

Felix Hernandez racked up 216 strikeouts, his fifth straight season with 200-plus K’s. Hernandez has notched at least 165 strikeouts in all eight of his full Major Leagues seasons. The only other pitchers in Major League history to have 150-plus strikeouts in their first eight seasons by age 27 are Bert Blyleven (1971-78) and Walter Johnson (1908-15), both Hall of Famers.

 

Hisashi Iwakuma‘s WHIP of 1.006 was the lowest in franchise history. The previous low was 1.045 by Randy Johnson in 1995, when he won his first Cy Young Award. Johnson also had a 1.052 WHIP in 1997 when he went 20-4 and finished second in the Cy Young voting, while Hernandez‘s lowest full-season WHIP was 1.057 in his Cy Young season of 2010. —Greg Johns at  MLB.com

 

International

Living in England I get plenty of feedback when baseball is mentioned.  One thing I’d never thought about, though, was what a baseball game would sound like if the TV play-by-play man was English. It seems somebody has thought about that, and you can experience it here. A little translation: Rounders is an English game somewhat similar to baseball, which they insist was the precursor to baseball. Hitting it for 6 is a dinger. Bowler = pitcher.

 

Alumni News

[Orioles GM Dan] Duquette said the goal is to have a rotation rich with pitchers who can log 30 starts and 200 innings, as right-hander Chris Tillman did this season. Tillman started 33 games and logged 206 1/3 innings while going 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA. Gee, he had a better year than Erik Bedard.