Mariners Mini Morsels: January 31

Due in part to some nagging injuries, things never quite seemed to get fully back on track for him [Michael Saunders] in 2013, though his second-half uptick leaves him bursting with optimism heading into the new season.

“I’m going into Spring Training looking for a starting job,” he said. “That’s what I’ve worked hard for in the offseason. I’ve been telling people that over the last three years. You definitely believe, and it’s not just a front. You believe it’s going to be a good year and you’re going to win. But there’s something different, and I can’t explain it, heading into this year.

“It’s about signing the best free agent on the market, showing the commitment to the city, the fans and the rest of baseball that we’re ready to win, and I’ve really bought into that. It’s kind of a different feel going into spring. I’m extremely excited. I truly believe this is going to be a different year for us.” From: Greg Johns at MLB


My sources are telling me that the Mariners may make an offer to Nelson Cruz as early as today. From: JimBowden at ESPNxm


So they said

“Perhaps the MLBPA should send a really big thank you card to Netflix, Amazon, Redbox, and all the other companies that are threatening the old cable business models. Major League free agents are getting very rich thanks to those companies existence.” Source: Dave Cameron at FanGraphs


“With the Moneyball generation of executives focused more than ever on extracting as much production as possible for their dollars, there likely are a high number of teams forever unwilling to pay a closer like a front-line starting pitcher.” Source: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]


Mariner’s potential off-season targets

The complete lack of public noise around [Oliver] Perez is notable, because he compares pretty favorably to this winter’s two big lefty relief free agents, Boone Logan ($16.5m over three years) and J.P. Howell ($11.25m over two years, with a vesting clause that could push it to $17.25m). That said, no one’s suggesting that Perez should be getting a large multi-year deal like Howell and Logan did. At this point, I’m wondering if he’s even going to get a major league deal, or if someone is going to end up with a relative steal of a minor league invite.

You can say it’s a steal, because over the last two years, Perez’ contact rate has been within a percentage point of Max ScherzerGlen Perkins, and Jesse Crain. His swinging-strike percentage is basically identical to Joe Nathan and better than that of Michael Wacha or Clayton Kershaw. His first-pitch strike percentage is the same as Hisashi IwakumaLance Lynn, and Trevor Rosenthal. None of those stats alone make for a successful pitcher, as I should hardly need to explain by the mere fact that Kershaw’s name is included here, but they do make for a guy who has been doing something right on the mound, especially notable since for so many years he was doing nothing right on the mound. Source: Mike Petriello at FanGraphs


Orioles “all in” on A.J. Burnett, Rays in, early in process. Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily


Baseball Best Practice

If history has taught baseball GMs anything, teams that make the biggest moves rarely end up winning the World Series. Just ask Los Angeles Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, whose 2011 and 2012 teams disappointed greatly after the organization signed big-name free agents Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton in successive years.
So while Cashman and Daniels made big splashes, they weren’t the general manager stars of the offseason. That title belongs to a pair of small-market geniuses: the Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Andrew Friedman. Indeed, much of baseball has grown accustomed to Beane and Friedman dominating the sport with limited resources and always finding ways to contend with the big-market teams who spend two and three times what they spend, and this offseason was no different. Source: Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]


Baseball Biz

Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors has written an interesting and in-depth piece on Free Agent Contract Trends: 2007-08 To PresentDave Cameron at FanGraphs has done a similar piece entitled The Rising Price and Length of Free Agent Contracts. Both confirm and document the obvious, which is that players are getting more money and longer contracts this off-season. The actual numbers and the speed with which they have grown seem more in tune with a game of Monopoly than a game of baseball. Given that MLB is indeed a legal monopoly, this should not surprise anyone. The two writers use somewhat different data which describe the inherent factors involved in distinct manners. Both are worth a read as they describe the impact of more and more media money on our game, and ultimately we are the source of all those big bucks the fortunate few enjoy. -Maqman


With renewals from virtually all of their ticket holders, the Dodgers have suspended sales of new season seats. Tickets for individual games go on sale Friday on the team website and Saturday at Dodger Stadium, with prices ranging from $10 to $150. The Dodgers divide individual games into four categories — based on projected popularity – and price them accordingly. For example, a seat on the reserved level could cost $45 on a bobblehead night, $35 for an April fireworks night, and $25 for a midweek day game. The $10 top-deck ticket – the cheapest available – will be available for 16 games, down from 49 last season. Those games all are weekdays, with no promotional giveaways.

“It goes to the overall demand for our tickets,” said David Siegel, the Dodgers’ vice-president of ticket sales. For the first time, he said, the Dodgers are reserving the right to adjust game prices during the season. For instance, that $35 ticket could jump to $45 if Clayton Kershaw is seeking a second consecutive no-hitter, or it could drop to $25 if the Dodgers have fallen out of contention. The Dodgers led the major leagues in attendance last season. In an industry in which a renewal rate of 90% is considered excellent, Siegel said the Dodgers have gotten renewals from “over 98%” of their season-seat customers. “The demand has been unprecedented,” he said. Source: Bill Shaikin at the LA Times 

(Mariner’s FO take note: you have to spend money to make money.)


Alumni News

Yakult Swallows slugger Wladimir Balentien apologized to his fans Wednesday, several days after pleading not guilty to domestic violence charges in Florida. As is the custom in Japan, Balentien bowed deeply and then apologized to his fans and teammates for the actions that led to his arrest on Jan. 13. “I want to apologize to my fans, the Swallows’ organization and my teammates for all the things that have gone on,” Balentien said at a news conference. “I’m glad I arrived in time for spring training and want to do my best to help the team win a lot of games this season.” Source: Associated Press via The Washington Times


Chat Review – Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs

Comment From TM: Which of Santana, Jimenez and Garza would you like to have pitching on your team for next year only, regardless of price?

Jeff Sullivan: Jimenez, then Garza, then Santana. Santana troubles me. Jimenez is coming off an incredible statistical season.


Comment From Ackley and Franklin: What is the likelihood that we are both Seattle Mariners in April?

Jeff Sullivan: Low, because Nick Franklin is increasingly likely to end up a Tacoma Rainier. But to actually answer your question, it’s still reasonably low but going up with every day that Franklin doesn’t get dealt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved for a starting pitcher, but we’re running out of time.


Comment From gig harbor: Any chance that the Seattle Mariners can convert Nick Franklin into an outfielder?

Jeff Sullivan: Probably not real quickly, but I have to imagine that’s a conversation the organization has had with itself.


Comment From _David: So is this the year that gets Jack Z fired?

Jeff Sullivan: Maybe if they give up way too much for David Price. Otherwise I’m not seeing it.


Comment From _David: What year will be the Mariners next winning season?

Jeff Sullivan: Like just above .500? 2015


Comment From Gresham: Would the Seattle offseason be a success if the Mariners could sign Bronson Arroyo, Chris Capuano and Oliver Perez? What would be reasonable contracts for each?

Jeff Sullivan: Well it wouldn’t be a failure. Not sure they need *two* veteran starters but I could understand it. Off the top of my head, in order, 2/$14, 2/$12, 1/$4


Comment From TC: Feel better Jeff! Who do you think will be the best FA value remaining on the market?

Jeff Sullivan: Still sticking with Capuano.