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November 27, 2007 at 4:02 PM

Answering your questions

No sense wasting time, so let’s get right down to it. Glad to see, by the way, so many of you already commenting. Looks like the community is up and raring to go. Bodes well for next season.
Here we go:
Q:“In a worst case, the Mariners could trade Jones, Clement and Feirabend, for instance, and then see Santana go down with a bad arm one game or one year later. Always better to build a pitching staff from within—pitchers are always overvalued on the trade or free-agent market—and fill position-player holes via trades or free-agent signings, if the farm system is not producing enough talent to fill those holes.”
— Fred
A: Thanks, Fred. I hear you. By the same token, it’s also true that Adam Jones could crash into the right field wall on Opening Day, dislocating his shoulder and bouncing himself for the year. In which case, the M’s would be stuck with a mediocre starting rotation and roughly the same offense (minus Jose Guillen) that finished off last season. It’s nice to talk about building a staff from within (and Seattle is doing that with Felix Hernandez). But waiting for Brandon Morrow, Phillippe Aumont, or others to morph into impact pitchers could take several years. For sure, it’s the more economical way to go. But you have to have patience for that.
Q:“Santana would have to sign a long-term deal before you mortage the farm for him. I’m not confident that’ll happen. If the Twins don’t re-sign him, and they probably won’t, he’ll simply become a FA, anyway. Do you give up so much for one “Year of the Johan”? I wouldn’t.”
— Lance
A: Obviously, any team giving up the farm for Santana would have to have a long-term pact worked out first. Santana, I believe, would have to waive his no-trade clause and has indicated he wouldn’t do it without such a deal. In such cases, teams can get a 48-hour window to complete talks on a long-term pact before a trade goes through. In this case, it’s a given that would have to happen. As for Felix Hernandez, he’s several years from free agency and would be eligible for such a big contract right around the time Santana’s would be nearing expiration. So, not a huge concern of two big deals overlapping right away.
Q:“I just can’t see morgaging our future star for one who is already half-way through his career. Even if it is Santana – we need a group of young players to TAKE OVER for the likes of Ibanez, and Ichiro, and Johjima – all of whom (and Ibanez especially), might not be around for this great run with Santana atop our rotation for long.”
— Adam
A: Agree with you on the “taking over” part. Nobody is saying that parting with Jones would be easy. I was a bit surprised the team let Jose Guillen walk away so quickly because it makes it very difficult to deal Jones. Right now, Jones fills a valuable everyday role. Obviously, there would have to be somebody else brought in to take his spot and I’m not convinced Wlad Balentien fits the bill. We’ll know more about where he’s at come spring training. But on the other hand, this isn’t any old has-been pitcher we’re talking about. Johan Santana is one of the best in the game right now. Adam Jones may be a great position player one day. Or, he may not. You have to give up something to get something. Planning for the future is fine and lots of teams do it. Some of them do it forever and never have a present worth talking about. I think “mortgaging the future” is too strong a term here because we’re talking about a one-two tandem atop the rotation that could be dominant for years to come — four or five of them, anyway.
Q:“I am not as despondent or desperate as others over the Angels’ moves. Sure, it will be another story if they get Cabrera. In that event, next year will be a lost cause. But there has been reams written on other websites about the contract the Angels gave Hunter, and how he will be less than replacement level player two years into this five year deal. Add in the fact that the Angels are going to have to give up a lot to get Cabrera, and I don’t agree that this will set up the Angels for years to come.”
— daddydriz
A: I’m not sure why fans (and media) waste so much time worrying about what teams have spent on player contracts. I could understand if we were talking about small-market teams, but neither the Angels or the M’s qualify as those. Maybe the “Moneyball” era conditioned us all to think that way. But hey, it isn’t 2003 anymore. Free-spending by teams, especially AL playoff clubs, is starting to become in-vogue again, largely because of extra TV and MLB.com revenue. If the Angels have an owner willing to take payroll well beyond $100 million, who cares if they’ve overpaid Torii Hunter and might regret it in a few years? Do you know what winning the World Series did business-wise for the Angels after 2002? Made them a hot ticket. Lots of added revenue there. The way I see it, payrolls of $100 million are about to become the norm for contending, regardless of how wisely teams like the Indians or A’s continue to spend. I’m not advocating throwing money around frivolously. But if there is a plan and the moves can make you better, I’m not all that hung up on counting the pennies. Especially if the owners aren’t. In the case of the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and, to some extent, the Mariners, their ownership has shown a willingness to spend money to cover up previous expensive mistakes.
Q:“Two years ago it was Kevin Millwood and A.J. Burnett. Fans were plugging BOTH guys into there own team’s starting rotation, and were filled with venom if their team didn’t get either one.
Last year, it was Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito, and Daisuke Matzusaka. Two of those guys “led” their team to 4th and last place finished. The Jays came in 3rd with Burnett, but they always come in 3rd. Texas finished last with Millwood. And, we’re just speaking starting pitchers here. Granted Santana is a great pitcher. A proven track record that easily makes him a couple of notches above those five, at least. But, in the end what did it get those other five teams who overpaid terribly to make a big splash? Once the water calmed they were no better off than they were before, probably worse.”

— Lance
A: The difference between Santana and those names you’ve mentioned is, as you’ve noted, enormous. In their best seasons, only Zito comes close to what Santana has averaged over the past three or four years. The Red Sox just won a World Series with Matsuzaka as a solid rotation contributor in what was only his rookie MLB season. They might not have won the AL East without his help. Throw Santana — instead of Burnett — into the Blue Jays rotation with Roy Halladay and Toronto might be the AL East champs. So, the fact that some mediocre arms didn’t materialize into great ones for some teams in recent years really doesn’t excuse the M’s from sitting this one out. How many of those teams had a budding Felix Hernandez equivalent on their staff? Not the Rangers. Not the Giants. OK, Toronto did. They just picked the wrong free-agent pitcher to pin their hopes on. Boston has Josh Beckett and just won a World Series after signing Matsuzaka. Good teams won’t use the failures of mediocre ones as an excuse not to be bold. However you slice it, Santana-Hernandez would be a devastating one-two in a division that demands pitching.
Q:“What do you think about sending Jones, Lopez, and Morrow to the Twins for Santana (btw – the contract extension is a given on that one, folks… no such things as trading for one year of Johan)?”
— Jordan Husband
A: I’m all for it. Losing Lopez would not break this team’s back. He’s faded badly for two straight seasons. While he might rebound and become a solid infield contributor for years to come, it’s possible he may not. Would I trade this year’s version of Carlos Guillen and the mentioned prospects for several years of Santana-Hernandez? Yes I would. So, I would indeed trade Lopez and worry about who will play his position later on.
Q:“Welcome back, Geoff!
Isn’t the Colosseum a lot smaller than you expected?”

— david h.
A: Surprisingly, it was. It was supposed to seat 70,000 plus in its heyday, but I sure can’t figure out how. Unless they squeezed them in with the lions underneath the floor. You’ve got me there.
Q:“For Santana on a long term contract, I’d give up the following: ONE of either Morrow, Clement, or Jones, PLUS ONE of the following: Feierabend, Mickolio, or Lopez; PLUS their choice of any eligible AA or A player; BUT the Twins must take either Sexson or Vidro AND one of the White pitchers.”
— Everett fan
A: And I don’t think you’d get a deal done. Don’t forget, with the Yankees, we’re hearing Hughes, Chamberlain and Melky Cabrera, maybe Robinson Cano. All of them fine major league contributors already. Chamberlain trumps Morrow so far, Hughes trumps Feierabend and Cano trumps Lopez. Where’s the carrot? This is all stick. Sexson? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s just going to tick the Twins off and maybe they don’t even call back. That Morneau guy is pretty much a fixture at first base.
Q:1) the Mariners FO will not trade Ibanez because they see him as the face of the franchise.
2) Even if they did, you couldn’t possibly expect the Marlins to accept your trade offer of Ibanez and a few fringe starters and/or Mariners bench players for Dontrelle.
Although I believe Willis would be an even worse pitcher in the American League than he’s been in the NL, he still has value to the Marlins, and to other clubs in a pitching-starved market. They’re not going to take the M’s castoffs or worthless players for something of value.”

— Jeff
A: Ibanez is not the face of the franchise, Ichiro is. Felix Hernandez is also headed in that direction. Ibanez could very well be dealt this winter. That said, your point about Dontrelle Willis is well-taken. Let’s face it, pitching is so scarce right now that the Mariners apparently feel the need to tender a contract to Horacio Ramirez. Willis won’t be dumped for somebody’s castoffs.

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