...they're talking about whether they want to "bite the bullet"...implying that they're not happy about doing it at the executive level. I bet they buy him out and then offer him a lesser deal and I bet he takes it and we watch him hit .250/.300/.340 and play a decent short for 150 games for 3 mil...not 8.
Moshing off of several Geoff Baker inside tidbits:
Armstrong says this was why Wakamatsu felt strongly about bringing in Mike Sweeney, to help "instill pride in the organization and change the culture back to what it had been."
Interesting, and encouraging, to hear that it was Wakamatsu personally who brought in Sweeney. And for the purpose of helping get rid of the me-me-me attitude that had set in under the Entitled Vet era.
Zduriencik, on Sunday's Fox All Access show, again and again emphasized that one of his two biggest job was simply "changing the attitude here."
And it's one thing for the coaches to preach; it's another thing for the inmates to watch their fellow inmates doing it right...
=== Griffey ===
Angie Mentink pointedly asked Zduriencik (on Sunday's TV show) where the Mariners sat with Griffey.
Zduriencik was more forthcoming than I thought he'd be -- a day before, Sims during the game broadcast had asked him about Beltre and Zduriencik said, "it's difficult for me to comment on any particular free agent."
Zduriencik didn't hesitate on Griffey: "We'll see. At the end of the day, nice stories are nice stories, but we need to get the players we are going to move forward with."
Leaving D-O-V to infer that Zduriencik feels like the culture has been changed and doesn't need Griffey and Sweeney to transition into next year.
Which wouldn't necessarily be the end of the story; Wakamatsu will be able to lobby for (say) Sweeney all the way up to final cutdown in March. But there you go.
EARLY LINE: 4:1 against Griffey's return;
1:1 even money that Sweeney comes to camp with a good shot at the 25-man.
=== Ichiro ===
From Armstrong via Baker:
... Armstrong had been privately horrified by information he'd been getting about the team's clubhouse ...
"Internally, the pride and the discipline that didn't exist. Then you saw people that do have so much personal pride. ... Nobody prepares any better on a day-to-day, 12-month basis, than Ichiro. He and I had conversations about, 'What have we lost here and are we going to be able to get it back?' "
In other words, even while Silva, Washburn, Putz, and others were throwing Ichiro under the bus for being weird and for being superior, Ichiro was always behind the GM's and CEO's skirts, so to speak. As he should have been.
The image of Carlos Silva his ownself, carrying Ichiro around Safeco Field chicken-fight style, was among the strangest I've seen in sports.
Once again, Griffey deserves a check from Ichiro for the 108-to-127 OPS+ jump.
Ichiro's quiet, focused preparation got him in trouble with Entitled Vets one year ago. Nowadays he's cool in the clubhouse as he is when playing for Team Japan, and you think about what that implies about the preparation.
EARLY LINE: 1:4 odds-on that Ichiro has enough improvement in his environment to enjoy baseball and have a good season in 2010, with or without Junior.
=== Johjima ===
There has been talk of the Mariners buying Johjima out so he can return to Japan. Armstrong will only say that Johjima is under contract. The catcher's agent, Alan Nero, insists he has no plans to request a buyout.
There'd been talk of it here, of course, but this is the first we've heard of it taking place among those who matter.
Nero's statement could easily be (or not be) negotiation. "Well, if you want to push us back to Japan, you'd better make it worth our while" gets you more money than "Johjima wants to go home. How much are you going to give him to leave."
We assume this one is a no-brainer as far as what the Mariners would prefer. The Mariners love Moore, and Rob Johnson proved that he is serviceable as a 2010 starter. The M's have had a migraine over Johjima since he first started trying to catch under Mike (MLB-TM) Hargrove. They need the $8M.
I'd love to see Joh in Boston or with the Dodgers or Cubs or Rangers. But guess here is that he'll take $2-3M (?) per year buyout to be able to enjoy his last seasons in Japan.
EARLY LINE: 3:2 AGAINST the Mariners offering Johjima enough jack to be able to move on.
=== Jack Wilson ===
The Mariners also must decide whether Bill Hall and Matt Tuiasosopo can fill the gap at third base expected to be left by Beltre, and whether to bite the bullet on an $8.4 million option for shortstop Jack Wilson.
Didn't see any insider info on this one.
From our read of the tea leaves, Wok seemed genuinely interested in having Wilson back for 2010. He seems strangely willing to give Wilson a pass on his horrific 51 OPS+ in the American League.
Wilson is a legit impact shortstop -- terrific range to his left and right, very athletic, hard-nosed, a guy who could captain a pennantwinner if only he could hit a little bit.
He SLG'd .299 in fully 1/5 season for the M's, and his EYE tumbled from 0.50 in the NL to 0.35 in the AL. There is no excuse for a punch-and-judy slap hitter running an 0.35 EYE; that's just embarrassing. You're taking arm swings and you still can't find the ball.
I liked hearing Armstrong say that the M's were "only set at five or six positions" for next year. Hmmm... RF, 2B*, CF, maybe 1B, maybe 3B, and what? Probably not SS, from the general tenor.
The M's believed in Snell despite the sabermetrics screaming bloody murder on him, and their tools-scouting trumped the sabr. If they bring Jack Wilson back, it will be because their tools-scouting eyes tell them that Wilson will hit in 2010. I doubt it, but they could be right.
As you know, Zduriencik consults with Wok and other guys and then decides. Wok's vote of confidence will be one piece of the equation to Capt Jack, and if Z moves on at SS, he's still got Ian Snell to salvage the Clement trade.
EARLY LINE: no line. Am afraid, though, that they're going to give Adam Dunn's* money to Jack Wilson and then watch him hit .200/.263/.299 for 155 games.
He's fun to watch, though.
I think a buyout - extension is likely with Jack W. But, it'll likely be something like $11 million over 2 years, maybe even a 3-year deal. (Christian Guzman got $16 over 4 years - and that was two inflation cycles ago). With no SS on the ranch, and the "all you need is glove" rhetoric, I don't see a better scenario. The SS position in MLB is woefully thin.
Adam Everett and his .614 OPS will be facing off against Nick Punto and his .621 in the AL Central title match.
Wanted you to know your fixation on eye ratio is beginning to color my assessments. While I understand at this point that YOU understand eye ratio out of context can range from dubious to worthless -- I am beginning to believe there are SOME eye ratios that demand warning bells regardless of context.
To oversimplify -- 1 to 3 eye ratios don't scare me off - though I expect SOMETHING for that sacrifice, (usually power). So, while Branyan and Gutz don't have the patience that I'd like, I think both are good values.
But, in 2009, the club had these problems:
Beltre - 19/74 -- (1 to 4 eye ratio is where I think problems become exponential instead of linear).
Wlad -- 13/43 -- just a hair over 1 to 3, but his power was waning, not growing.
Cedeno 10/50 -- (sorry, nobody competes FOR LONG with 1 to 5 ratios)
Josh Wilson 6/32 -- (ah-oh)
Bill Hall - 8/48 -- (yikes)
Saunders - 6/40 -- (I'll give the rookie a pass for transitioning)
JACK Wilson - 6/17 -- (hmm, he played hurt, struggled in new environs, but as bad as he fared, his eye ratio was TWICE as good as Josh).
While I like the "type" of pickup of Josh Wilson -- the eternal backup just wanting a chance. While his production has been nice -- that eye ratio I believe points to a case of him running an unsustainable line. I think he does bring more power to the table than is generally appreciated. But, I don't think it's nearly enough to offset the whiff-rate over the long haul.
But, the question for development purposes is simple ... is the eye ratio really his ability, or is their something fixable that can return the eye ratio to something serviceable? Wlad showed a much better eye ratio in Cinci than in Seattle. Hall USED to run 1 to 3 rates, which have gotten steadily worse. Is he lost cause, or salvageable?
I could see Wilson getting 5 mil this year...I was just throwing out a number to make my point that we're not going to be paying Jack Wilson 8 million dollars. Jack was just glad to be out of Pittsburgh. He'll sign for relatively cheap to be a part of this team. Bet on it.
I'll roll the dice on Mr. Wilson. The guy is just a pleasure to watch out there at SS.
Eye ratio in and of itself is only a starting point.
Wilson's eye ratio dropped off alarmingly on his changeover to the AL. We infer not that he can't play baseball, but that we'd better be aware of the fact that he's having trouble changing over.
It is the DELTA in a player's strike zone ratios that is difficult to take lightly. 6 walks vs 17 strikeouts, for a guy just trying to fungo the ball through the right side, that is an overmatch.