Shannon Drayer in her blog at My Northwest has done an informative interview with Howard Lincoln (which can be read in full here) on how he views the process to replace Chuck Armstrong and the state of the team’s finances. Shannon notes that this is the first opportunity since 1992 that the Mariners will have to redefine the position if they so choose. In hiring a replacement for Armstrong, Lincoln could go in one of two directions. Does he prefer to hire for continuance or change? It is a decision he has yet to make.
“I want to duck the question because I haven’t reached that point,” he answered. “I know that there are various alternatives. I could look outside, we could look within, we could rearrange deck chairs, there’s a variety of options available. Right now I am just considering all of them and not trying to exclude any. I have an open mind about every possible iteration or every possible way [we could go about this].”
As I had just done a bit on the NHL sales of their Canadian media rights below for Baseball Biz, I added Lincoln’s commentary on that subject, too.
“As for hitters steering clear of Seattle in general? Probably worth noting that, while Safeco did not become a hitter’s haven as a result of moving in the fences before the 2013 season, it did catapult from the worst park for hitters in baseball in 2012 to middle-of-the-pack this past season. Granted, single season park factors can be misleading, but it may be something where, over time, the place starts to lose its reputation as the ballpark where hitters go to die.” —Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk
Rosenthal: Desperate Mariners must consider all free-agent options. Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports points out some unpleasant truths about the State of the Mariners, saying: “The Mariners need to change the conversation, establish a winning culture under new manager Lloyd McClendon, establish an identity. Problem is, all of the free-agent hitters they are pursuing – with the possible exception of Ellsbury, a native of Oregon – would accept comparable offers from more competitive teams before coming to Seattle. Which isn’t to say the Mariners are destined for another barren offseason. The best way for them to get free agents is to overpay, and circumstances may line up for them to do just that, whether it’s the right decision or not.
None of the Mariners’ young hitters projects as an impact slugger, except maybe catcher Mike Zunino. General manager Jack Zduriencik, entering a make-or-break season, needs to make something happen. And certain free agents may jump at the Mariners’ dollars. Scott Boras, the agent for Choo and Ellsbury, generally directs his clients toward market-driven contracts. And who knows, maybe Napoli would grow frustrated with the Red Sox’s desire for short-term deals, and bolt for the money. The Mariners had interest in Napoli last offseason, but wanted him partly as a backup catcher. Of course, the signing of Napoli could mean reduced playing time for first baseman Justin Smoak, who – as the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee trade – remains a key figure for Zduriencik. The Mariners also could re-sign Kendrys Morales, a Boras client whose market figures to be depressed by the team’s qualifying offer.
At this point, the M’s cannot afford to be picky, cannot dismiss any option. They are like the poor guy in high school who keeps getting rejected by girls he asks to the prom. Whichever hitter says “yes” will become instantly more attractive.
Then again, it’s difficult to read the Mariners, who always seem to be in some form of disarray. Their previous manager, Eric Wedge, said he would not stay with the team even if offered a five-year contract. Their GM, Zduriencik, is the definition of “embattled.” And their long-time club president, Chuck Armstrong, resigned on Monday, saying he wanted to enjoy his family. Two sources used the same word to describe the Mariners’ current approach – “desperate.” Desperate teams shift course. Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything.”
So they said
“Like many others, Peralta survived the PED circle of life: Cheat, get caught, issue forceful denial, consider evidence, issue sincere apology, serve sentence, return like nothing ever happened, continue career. The Detroit Tigers said they forgave him, because to say otherwise violates the code of the clubhouse. What you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here. Besides, he hit .333 in October. The clubhouse would defend just about anything if it hit a ball in the gap once in a while.” —Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports
“By the end of Cano’s deal, given the escalation of baseball’s revenue, the contract may not seem so extravagant. Just look at Jayson Werth’s deal. It may have been an overpay in December 2010, but already it looks to be in line with the current market.” —Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated has tried to estimate Jacoby Ellsbury’s market value using a range of values for determinates, which naturally produces a variety of projections. Basically he feels that: ”Jacoby is expected to produce 20.2 WAR over the next seven seasons, which would have a market value of $126.3 million, a figure almost on the nose for Werth’s existing seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. Did I mention that Werth and Ellsbury are both Scott Boras clients?
Suppose we cut out Ellsbury’s troublesome fourth year and stick to a 5/4/3 weighting pattern, but a steeper aging curve whereby he loses 0.5 WAR per year instead of 0.4. That yields a 2014 value of 4.8 WAR, a six-year total of 22.9 WAR and a market value of $143.3 million. If we boost the cost per win to $6 million with the same rate of inflation, that figure skyrockets to $163 million. If we leave the cost per win as is but assume a gentle three percent inflation, the market value figure is still $133.9 million. If we go back to the four-year model and apply those same assumptions (steep decline, three percent inflation), we still get $104.9 million over the next seven years.
All of which hardly seems outrageous given that the general expectation is that Ellsbury will receive a deal north of $100 million. Boras is said to be targeting Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million deal — signed with Boston heading into his age-29 season — as a benchmark. MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes estimated that Ellsbury would end up with a seven-year, $150 million deal. As the numbers above show, Ellsbury might be overpaid by tens of millions of dollars over the life of the contract, but the same can be said for any similar free agent.”
Free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz had to be heartened by Jhonny Peralta‘s $53 million deal, as Cruz is the better of these two Biogenesis-connected players. It shouldn’t come as a shock that, according to sources, Cruz is said to seek about $75 million over four years. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise, either, that there are plenty of interested teams, among them the Mariners, Athletics, Mets and his old Rangers team. The Phillies are another that showed early interest but would probably have to trade someone to make room now. (Cruz’s agent Adam Katz declined comment on any and all.) —Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
Matt Murton, who went from being a part-timer and journeyman in America to being a star in Japan, has decided to stay with the Hanshin Tigers for another season. There had been some speculation that Murton might want to give MLB another try at age 32, but instead he’ll get $3.5 million to remain in Japan for 2014 after hitting .314 with an .845 OPS in 143 games this year. Murton is a career .312 hitter in four Japanese seasons and broke Ichiro Suzuki‘s single-season hits record in 2010. In the American big leagues Murton hit .286 with a .788 OPS in 346 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but never quite grabbed hold of a full-time job after 2006. —Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk
The NHL and Rogers Communications reached a lucrative 12-year, $5.232 Billion media rights deal for Canada, reports Maury Brown at Forbes.com. All 30 NHL teams will share the income equally, although the deal covers only the Canadian market. Rogers is the parent company of the Toronto Blue Jays. This continues the media rights increases seen in MLB national and regional deals. Each NHL team will receive about $14.5 million per year under it, plus their share of the American market media deals and their regional rights. MLB teams make about $52 million from their national media rights, starting with the coming season in 2014. Seattle was getting about $45 million on their old deal with ROOT NW, and now Forbes reports the Ms are to receive $117 million per year on their new deal whenever that kicks in, plus their majority share of ROOT NW profits. The team may have been bad at things like baseball decisions, but they are up with the very best in club financial management. That is going to allow the Mariners to make some major deals with free agent talent this off-season. This not a small detail; it’s a big deal.
As Howard Lincoln said to Shannon Drayer in an informative interview (that can be read here.): “The majority ownership of this regional sports network is a very, very significant development in the history of the Mariners,” he said. “It will … make the Mariners competitive if you combine the cash flow and the rights fees. It will be competitive with the Rangers and the Angels, and that is a huge thing we were able to put together. It certainly is comparable to putting up Safeco Field.”