Villone accepts Arbitration; Another Dodger?

News this morning is that Ron Villone has accepted the Mariners' arbitration offer. The deadline was December 19th. It's expected that Villone and the Mariners will come to agreement on a deal before it goes before the arbitrator. From the article: "Villone said he and the Mariners 'are not that far apart' on a two-year contract." I would expect Ron to perhaps get something in the neighborhood of 2 years, $3 to $4M.

Villone returning is a good thing. He plays an important role in a pitching staff that has and continues to go through a lot of change. I expect there will be many extended relief and spot start needs like their was last year. Villone fills those needs well that stabilizes the pitching staff. I would have preferred a 1 year deal and less money, but sometimes it's okay for a guy to get paid.

In rumors this morning, the Washington Times is reporting that the Mariners have an offer into Odalis Perez that exceeds a Nationals offer believed to be 3 years, $18M. A serious run at Perez is hard to believe given that Bavasi and Lincoln are now on record as saying that the Mariners are done in free agency barring trades to move salary, etc. While Odalis would be a nice pickup, signing Kevin Millwood to a 1 year, "value rehabbing" deal (assuming he would be interested in such a thing) might be a better fit for the Mariners allowing flexibility in next year's free agent market.

Other interesting news:
  • Jason Varitek has declined salary arbitration with the Red Sox giving the sides until Jan 8th to come to agreement. Other Sox declining include Derek Lowe and Orlando Cabrera (who will not be coming back) and Pokey Reese and Mike Myers (not sure about them).
  • Carlos Beltran has declined the Astros offer of salary arbitration which gives Houston until the Jan. 8th deadline to resign him. The Yankees appear to be the front-runner. It's really too bad there aren't more teams that are interested in signing him. I'm a big fan of Beltre and would have liked to the Mariners make a run at him (btw, not that I'm complaining with Beltre!) The Cubs and Dodgers are rumored, but it appears that it's down to Houston and New York. I guess I'd rather see him back with the Astros, but either way it's disappointing.
  • If you haven't been following the DC baseball saga mess, it's pretty interesting. To summarize: MLB & DC agreed to the move contingent on an agreed stadium financing plan; DC city officials voted to alter the plan to involve more private financing; MLB halts operations suspending marketing & ticket operations; MLB enforces December 31st deadline; a poll of DC residents finds the majority support the private financing.

    I happen to agree with ESPN's Jim Caple. He's correct that the new owner should pay for the costs of the stadium. Forcing the community to pay is MLB being selfish. Oh wait Seattle knows all about that. But selecting DC was a bad idea from the start. The DC community doesn't want baseball like the other communities that competed. It would have been a far better solution to put baseball in Northern VA or even Las Vegas.

    If you bought a "W" hat, it's going to be a collector's item! In fact they are already selling for about $30 on ebay.


It's Official Now - Beltre to Mariners

Since yesterday afternoon, it's been Beltre "reportedly" to Mariners. The press release is now on the Mariners MLB.com website.
"Adrian is one of the best young position players in baseball," Bill Bavasi said. "He plays Gold Glove caliber defense and is an offensive force. In addition, he is a perfect fit for our goal of building for 2005 and beyond. For everything he's accomplished, he's only 25 years old. We believe he is just entering his prime and we are very excited to know that his prime will be spent in a Mariners uniform at Safeco Field.

"We are also pleased that, like Richie Sexson, Adrian is a great person as well as a great player. He will be a terrific addition to our community."
and ...
"Adrian is a perfect fit for how I envision the Mariners, next season and into the future," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "This gives us an infield with, basically, three Gold Glovers, pop at both corners and at second base and an exciting young player at shortstop.

"We are a much better team today than we were a couple of days ago. With Beltre, Sexson and Boone in the middle of our order and Ichiro at the top, we now have the ability to run a real legitimate line-up out there every day."

I've been waiting to let this out until the official press release .... Mr. Bavasi .... YOU DA MAN!! ... and Mr. Lincoln ... you too. Way to go! I'm so ecstatic with this news that I can hardly contain myself. I can't wait for the press conference.

Update: The Press Conference will be at 4 pm. Don't miss it. If you're at work, it's being streamed on MLB.com :) Enjoy this Mariner fans!

Beltre Reaction Roundup

By now, we've all read the analysis and opinion in the local rags. The Seattle PI's John Levesque, John Hickey chime in. As does the Times' Steve Kelley. I thought it would be interesting to look around the net for national reaction. Here's a little of what I found:

Dayn Perry of Fox Sports:
Although they underachieved to a degree last season, I'm not prepared to take them seriously as contenders in 2005. That said, I very much like the addition of Adrian Beltre. I anticipated that Beltre would sign a seven-year deal for something in excess of $80 million. Instead, the M's land him for five years and $64 million. I'm not entirely sure how to forecast Beltre's performance over the next half-decade, but it won't surprise me if he winds up being worth every penny.
Buster Olney of ESPN: The Magazine: Analysis: 4 Baseballs - "Extremely High Impact".
The Mariners' situation this winter was much like the Mets' situation: With their credibility eroded, they felt they had to make a splash to win back the interest of the fans. The signing of Richie Sexson was their Pedro Martinez gamble, giving a four-year, $50 million contract to a medical risk. Now they have followed that up with the signing of one of the best available position players -- the 25-year-old Beltre, who batted .334 with 48 homers and 121 RBI for the Dodgers last year, after fully blossoming for the first time in his career. There is no exchange rate involved in those numbers, either: Beltre put up that MVP-type season in Dodger Stadium, a pitcher's park, just like Seattle's Safeco Field. He had the grit to play through injuries last season, he had earned the respect of teammates, and he could be a terrific player for the Mariners for many years to come. He is expensive -- but in a winter when all teams are paying sticker price, that is the cost of talent ...But going forward, they have made a strong and bold statement; Beltre's a great player and he will be for a long time.
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times:
When asked about the perception that McCourt doesn't have the money to run a team in a major market, DePodesta said, "It's ludicrous. That's an absurd perception."

Here's what ludicrous: The Dodgers had worked out the basics for the Green and Penny salary dump before Beltre signed … and their offer still fell 30% short of the Seattle Mariners' deal.

Here's what's absurd: Beltre, who didn't want to leave, gave the Dodgers every chance to match the Mariners' deal and the Dodgers refused to even come close.
ESPN.com's SportsNation also had an online survey among the questions:
With Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre in the lineup, what happens to the Mariners in 2005?
51.8% Contend for playoffs
20.3% Around .500
16.2% Win the AL West
10.6% Win the wild card
1.2% Same as last year

How many home runs will Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre hit for the Mariners?
39.6% 61-70
28.2% 51-60
20.3% 71-80
6.1% More than 80
5.8% Less than 50

Who would you rather have for $115 million?

71.6% Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson
28.4% Carlos Beltran

Where does a lineup of Ichiro, Raul Ibanez, Bret Boone, Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson rank?

63.2% A notch below the elite but top 10
23.0% Up there with the likes of Boston, New York Yankees and St. Louis
12.3% Middle of the pack
1.5% Considering Safeco Field? Below average

Will Adrian Beltre ever match last season's numbers (.334, 48 HR, 121 RBI)?

50.8% No, his track record suggest last year was his career season
49.2% Yes, he's only 25 and will be an elite hitter for at least four or five years

Out of 21,511 responses (polls still open)
Interesting stuff!


Trading Day

Hot Stove rumors are quickly turning into hard news. With Richie Sexson signed and Adrian Beltre all but signed, no one would fault Mariner fans for not paying close attention to other dealings around MLB. I simply haven't even had the time to formulate a reaction yet.

Regardless, some pretty interested deals are happening. So, there's probably 3 things (hot-stove related) that could keep the Beltre to Mariners story off the front page tomorrow. Two of them happened:

Randy Johnson nearly a Yankee. Tonight, New York Newsday is reporting that Randy Johnson is going to the Yankees in a three team deal that involved the Dodgers. The report said:
The Yankees would receive the 41-year-old Johnson in the deal while sending pitcher Javier Vazquez and two minor-league prospects, catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan, to the Dodgers, according to an Arizona source. The Dodgers would send pitchers Brad Penny and Yhency Brazoban and outfielder/first baseman Shawn Green to Arizona to complete the deal.
Talk about your complicated deals. If true, there's an A-Rod and Big Unit reunion is in the making. Nice. Talk about two guys who deserve each other. George Steinbrenner has been obsessing about Randy Johnson for six months, so there's no way this deal wasn't going to get figured out. I vote for the Dodgers as the losers in this deal ... but clearly the cash is going to help them. If they spend it.

Tim Hudson traded to the Braves. The Braves and Athletics prove once again that they are probably the smartest franchises in baseball. And sometimes the smart guys have to deal with each other. The Braves complete a trade with Oakland acquiring Hudson for Charles Thomas, Juan Cruz, and Dan Meyer. The Braves get done what the Orioles, Dodgers, and Cardinals could not. Here's Peter Gammons take on the trade. By the way, this is where Gammons is at his best. As opposed to when he's trying to get the scoop on rumors (when he's always wrong) ... so it's worth a read.

Update: Oh yeah! ... You might be wondering what's the third thing that could have happened? Beltre's Boras stablemate Beltran signing. That is going to take longer.

Gammons: Mariners sign Beltre, 5 years, $65M

ESPN's Peter Gammons is reporting that the Mariners have reached a 5 year deal with Adrian Beltre for $65M$64M (as usual the numbers change ... and what's $1M among friends?). This confirms last night's report in the Seattle Times that Beltre and Mariners were close on a 5 year deal for $60+M. Gammons reports that the Mariners offer beat out the Dodgers who were offering 6 years and a 7th year option, but at less money.

I'll post further when additional details emerge, but I'm very happy about a potential Beltre signing. If the deal is as reported, my take is that it's reasonable valuation for young player who was shown superstar potential and is entering his prime.

Update: It's definitely true ... 4 hours later ... i'm still shocked that it happened. Shocked and impressed. A recent report filed by the AP includes these quotes from Dodgers' GM Paul DePodesta:

We're disappointed. It hurts," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "Obviously, we would have loved to have him back."

"I think all of us knew this certainly was a possibility. We feel like we stepped up and made a very competitive offer, actually tried to make it a compelling one by offering a sixth guaranteed year. Unfortunately for us, Adrian decided to go elsewhere."


DePodesta said the Dodgers' six-year offer to Beltre and agent Scott Boras included an option for a seventh season.

When asked if the Dodgers were given a final say in the matter, DePodesta said: "Not in so many words. They didn't come back and say if you can do this, he's coming back."

"Scott did have a sense of urgency, we did try to step up to that. That really wasn't the forum. But then again, I'm not blaming Scott for that, either. Everything he did in this process was above board. There's no villain here," he said. "At the end of the day, Seattle stepped up and made a great offer. We had multiple meetings, face-to-face meetings."

Although the Mariners haven't confirmed ... capitulation by your primary competitors is just as good for confirmation. The Red Sox' Larry Lucchino used almost the same words responding to reports that Pedro was signing with the Mets.

Congratulations Bavasi and the Mariners front office.


Sexson Contract ... 4 years, $50M?!?

Wow ... the AP just reported on Sexson's deal. According to the article, it's 4 years, $50M! The deal was originally rumored to be anywhere from 3 years/$33M to 4 years/$48M. This is more that anyone thought.

From the artice: He gets a $6 million signing bonus, $4.5 million next season, $11.5 million in 2006 and $14 million in each of the final two seasons."

Wow ... now it's official ... we got taken.

Update (6:00 pm): I took a quick scan of reaction to the Sexson contract and as you would expect it's mixed. There's disappointment over the dollars and length of the deal, some optimism that the low 2005 salary means that additional moves are coming, and a lot of concern that the 2007 & 2008 numbers will come back to haunt the Mariners.

The national and local media haven't reacted yet, so it will be interesting to see that come out. However I do not expect much national reaction, because the Pedro to the Mets story is grabbing those headlines. $50M doesn't buy you the attention it used to.

Also, the annoying "Sex" derived headlines have arrived. Heard so far: "The Joy of Sexson" (komo tv),
"Sexson the City" (king tv) and "Sexson Appeal" (foxnews.com).

Mariners sign Richie Sexson for 4 years

Finally ... the saga is over ... Richie Sexson signs with the Mariners for 4 years. At this point, the dollars are unknown, but the reports are $44-48M. No word on any incentives or health-related provisions. Sexson has been reported to be against both ... so it's unlikely.

I've previously posted that I am against the Sexson signing due to injury risk. Now the deal is done .... it doesn't matter. I just hope the physical exam vetted all the issues and that he stays healthy.

Welcome home, Richie.


Niehaus - Finalist for Ford C. Frick Award

Ahhh ... a break from the Hot Stove!

Dave Niehaus was the top vote-getter among fans for the Baseball Hall of Fame's 2005 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters. The Mariners broadcaster since 1977, Niehaus received 14,940 votes increasing his total from the 13,044 votes he received last year. Hopefully, a few of those votes were a result of some of this blog's readers linking from my earlier post.

Last year, Niehaus was second in the online voting to the Giants' Lon Simmons who eventually was named the 2004 winner. So perhaps placing first this year puts Dave in a good position to win. The winer will be annouced in February.

Anyway, it's a nice break from watching to see if Sexson, Delgado or Beltre (or their agents) sneeze and then trying to infer something from it. Plus, how often do you get to type and say "Frick"?

Lastly ... there's recently been a nice uptick in traffic here at the "House that Edgar Built". In fact, the site had its 1000th visitor and 1500th hit (since counting started October 1st). (Sorry, there weren't prizes ... maybe at 1M). So welcome to readers both new (and old). I encourage you to post comments, thoughts, news, and rumors about the Ms, the Hot Stove, or other baseball stuff. I hope you enjoy the site and please let me know if there's anything I can do to make your stay here more informative or fun. Go Mariners!


Winter Meetings wrap up

The annual Winter Meetings wrap up today and baseball's power elite prepare head home ... with or without done deals. Today the following were announced or rumored:

Richie Sexson. Last night, both the PI and Times were definitive in the story that Sexson will be a Mariner. In the light of day, it appears there may be some cracks in the story. First, no meida seems to be able to figure out what the agreed terms are. It's been speculated that the terms are 3 years, $33M by CBS Sportsline, to 4 year, $44M, and even up to 5 years. So that's a hint. Second, last night the Orioles claimed they were still in it. And today the AP reports the Mariners are "trying" to get the deal done. From the article:

Sexson's agent, Casey Close, said that Seattle and Baltimore were still competing for Sexson. "Nothing is conclusive at this moment. We'll have to see where this thing goes the next 24, 48 hours,'' Close said. "It's all speculative as to what people's perspectives are.''

I was very surprised to generally positive reaction to the story this morning. For example, the KJR talking heads seem to support it, their callers were positive, and several folks posting on the PI blog seem to be happy. The primary dissenting voices seem to be fellow bloggers such as myself. As I posted last night, "I'm completely against signing Sexson."

The arguments for support seems to be centered around (1) Sexson had great power numbers in Milwaukee and it would translate in Seattle and (2) at least the Mariners did something significant. I can agree with those statements. (1) Richie Sexson is a talented player who I'm sure can transition back to AL and be productive in a way that Cirllio and Aurilia for example could not. But they are 2 years ago are they not? (2) Signing Sexson would be doing something ... but how much credit should we be giving them for that? As fans who provide the 3rd highest revenue in MLB, shouldn't our expectations be higher than just signing any name player?

The general arguments against Sexson (to summarize other bloggers) are that Sexson's shoulder injury has historically had a good probability of reoccurring leadind to a poor "risk/reward balance" (thanks USS Mariner for that term) with Sexson. Simply stated, the Mariners must protect themselves from being in a position where they are paying players who cannot perform.

So if the Sexson offer is a 4 year deal heavy on performance incentives (say $6M/yr guaranteed up to $11M with relatively easily reached performance incentives for full employment) or a 3 year deal with some incentives (say $8M/yr guaranteed up to say $12M with performance and a 4th year vesting option), then I'm okay with that. But I'm not hopeful since Sexson has gone on record stating he doesn't think he should have sign a contract with incentives. Sexson is "confident" in the health of his shoulder, but not confident enough to put it in writing. That attitude really bothers me. And that's why I'm completely against signing him. But I'll wait until I hear the deal terms before we can call this a bad deal

Pedro Martinez to the ... Mets? What the heck? The media is reporting that the Mets will give Pedro 4 guaranteed years. Pedro got his ring and he's going to bolt for Mets purgatory for a few million dollars. No offense to Mets fans, but there's a lot of issues there. Who needs that in the last years of his career? Doesn't he want to come back to Fenway the hero? The Red Sox offer wasn't his top offer, but it was decent. I guess no one leaves money on the table anymore.

Corey Koskie, Toronto, 3 years, $17M. That rumor turned out to be true ... too many years, too much money. Sounds like a broken record.

White Sox - Milwaukee Trade. Ken Williams ships Carlos Lee to the Brewers for Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and a player to be named later. I gotta give Doug Melvin credit for figuring out how to do something with nothing. That guy is creative. He gets 6 decent players from the D'backs for Sexson who only played 23 games. Now this. I (like everyone else) am trying to figure out why this makes any sense for the White Sox. Some have speculated that there may be more deals coming ... perhaps involving Podsednik. We'll see ...

Mike Matheny, Giants, 3 years, $9M $10.5M. Looks like this ends A.J. Pierzynski's stay in SF. I think AJ really pissed off Sabean when he won his arbitration case after being traded to the Giants last year. I wonder where he's going to end up ...

Finally this evening ... Estaban Yan, Angels, 2 years, $3M $2.25M. That sounds better ... some of the early reported numbers were kind of sloppy tonight.

Update (7:30 pm): One more tonight ... the Indians sign Jose Hernandez for 1 year, $1.8M

On the Beltre front, the Orange County Register is reporting that the rumored 7 year, $90M offer was not made by the Mariners
. "That's been floated. But not by us," Mariners GM Bill Bavasi said. "We have not offered anyone a seven-year contract." And this:"We would certainly be prepared to (make an offer) at this point, but he (Boras) has made it clear to me what we'd offer at this point wouldn't be acceptable," DePodesta said. "That's a tough game of poker. It only takes one team to step up and make an offer, and you lose the player."

Hmmm ... so that's interesting, the 7/$90M numbers are in the negotiations but not offered by a team. Here's a wild guess ... it's Boras up to his tricks. Spreading a little rumors. Confirmed by off-shore local news. Get things started. Clever.

Update (10:15 pm): According to an AP report this evening, "A Seattle executive told an agent that the Mariners thought they were close to agreement on a three-year contract with Sexson. An official of another team that had sought the first baseman said the deal being discussed averaged about $11 million." So were back to 3 years/$33M. I still question the deal, but 3 years takes the sting out a little.

Also, if you care about Randy Johnson, the D'Backs have contacted the Yankees again. Since NY is the only place Randy will agree to be traded, Arizona needs them if they want to move him.

Update (11:00 pm): ESPN is reporting that "
The Seattle Mariners were finalizing a deal with Richie Sexson late Monday night, while the Baltimore Orioles, who also pursued the free-agent slugger at baseball's winter meetings, were completely out of the running. Reports have the deal for three or four years at somewhere between $33 million and $45 million, pending a physical on Sexson's left shoulder." This Sexson deal is moving sooooo slow ... it's like watching paint dry. Then again that describes the whole "hot stove" ... nevermind.

Update (12:30 am): Tonight the Seattle Times is slightly backing away from the Sexson story reporting that the deal isn't done "just yet". But the are saying the deal could be 4 years, $48M. That's bad. But there was some good in the article. It goes on to say that the Mariners were "growing frustrated" with Delgado and were putting more effort into Beltre including a meeting with Boras yesterday. Although they had 2 meetings with Delgado's agent ... so go figure. It's been reported elsewhere that the number for Delgado is up to 5 years, $65M which is up considerably from some estimates of 3 years, $18-24M before the off-season dealing began.

This passage cracked me up:
"And for a player causing so much consternation over his health, Sexson was known as an ironman until last season.

"This guy wants to play every inning of every game," said Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin, who traded Sexson to Arizona last winter for six players, mainly because the Brewers couldn't afford him."

"I remember, he got hit by Juan Cruz, the Cubs pitcher (in 2003)," Melvin said. "He just drilled him in the ribs, and Richie went down. We said, 'Oops, there's his streak. There's no way he's going to play.'

"He would not come out of the game. He could hardly swing the next at-bat. But he played the rest of the game, came back, played the next game and kept on playing."

It's great that he had great heart and wants to play. No one is questioning that. But if Sexson reinjures his shoulder, he cannot play. Big difference.

Update (1:00 am): I just can't help myself. This from the Hartford Courant, "
Beltran won't take a tour of teams, like Pavano did. "A lot of that stuff has already been done," said Scott Boras, his agent. Boras said Beltran has narrowed the field to five. The Yankees, Astros, Tigers, Mariners and Cubs are probably the five."

That's the kind of good news I need!


Oh %$@& ... Mariners land Sexson

Tonight the Seattle PI is reporting that the Mariners have reached a contract agreement with Richie Sexson subject to him passing a physical. Fox Sports/Sporting News is reporting similar information. Contract terms haven't been disclosed, but I'm sure they will come out. And it will be for more money than Sexson should get.

What can I say? I'm completely against signing Sexson. But it looks inevitable that I'll have to cheer for him next year ...

Update (11:50 pm): More bad news ... the PI updated the article and I quote: "This might be the only top-tier signing by the Mariners this winter. Bavasi admitted the surprisingly inflated market could decrease the number of free agents he is able to sign." If it's true, that's very sad and depressing. Sexson cannot be the Mariner's only answer to 2004. Even the D'Backs who are in complete disarray are doing more. I really hoped the naysayers were wrong and that the Mariners would find their backbone this off-season, but more and more it looks like they might be right and the market is just going to pass the Ms by.

Now for some good news (because I really need some right about now), Corey Koskie and the Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to a 3 year, $17M contract. That's a ridiculous deal for player like Koskie. I'm so glad we're not dealing with that too.

Update (12:30 am): Is there hope? Could it be that the Sexson deal is a figment of the Seattle PI's imagination? A mirage? According to Jim Street's report on the Mariner website, "
Several Major League sources told MLB.com on Sunday night that the Mariners were on the verge of signing Sexson to a multiyear contract and one agent said the deal already had been completed. But a Mariners official said nothing has been finalized." I really hope the PI is wrong. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles believe they still have a chance at Sexson. But then again, the Seattle Times is carrying the Sexson to Mariners story for tomorrow. So who knows? We'll see tomorrow.