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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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April 29, 2008 8:55 AM

Clement and free-agent/ "Super Two'' status

Posted by Geoff Baker

UPDATE (9:36 a.m.): OK, so after all that down below, I see the point that "J'' in the comment thread is trying to make and he's absolutely correct in terms of free-agent status. Yes, Jeff Clement will be a free agent one year earlier if he is called up before May 7. For the sake of one-more-week-plus, though this team is hurting now, I do agree it is probably worth it to avoid Clement's free agency a year ahead of time. I was thinking about this more as a "Super Two'' short-term argument. But "J'' is correct. So, I believe now that I was premature yesterday in calling for the team to call Clement up right now. I don't think the gap between Seattle and the Oakland A's will double by May 7. It could still be problematic if it grows to six or seven games. Therefore, waiting on Clement will still be a risk. But I do think saving that extra year makes the risk worth it. Saving on the "Super Two'' money by waiting another six weeks would be nuts. So yes, wait on Clement until the next homestand.

But do read what was written below. It is still interesting pertaining to what teams face in terms of economic issues.

Greetings from Cleveland, where there is no snow falling, but rain is in the forecast for later. Did not arrive at my hotel until after 11 p.m. local time last night, but am caught up on my reading from yesterday's post and want to answer some questions. First off, while some of you are correct about looking into the service time issues regarding Jeff Clement, it did not factor into my calculations. That's because the team will have to wait at least another six weeks in order to avoid having Clement fall into the dreaded "Super Two'' arbitration eligible category. I know the feeling in the comments thread yesterday was that May 7 would be Clement's cutoff date to avoid this. By my calculations, it would be more like mid-June. Let me explain, since this is a great topic for the blog as it deals with real-world baseball issues. Please, beware that math was never my strong suit, as my French Canadian teacher in that subject at Chomedey High School (Mr. Bernard Goyetche was a very good junior hockey player once and tolerated me as an athlete, but barely as a student) could attest. But I have checked and rechecked these figures, so hopefully I haven't misplaced a decimal point.

Each player, as some of you already know, must accumulate three years of major league service time before becoming arbitration eligible. During that time, teams can pay those players major league "peanuts'' (though the money would come in handy for you and me). After those three years of paying players the major league minimum plus a few bucks in nominal salary increases, the arbitration process kicks in and good players can take teams to the cleaners -- see Ryan Howard jumping from $900,000 to $10 million in annual salary with the Phillies this past winter.

But not all players have to wait the full three years. The collective agreement also grants arbitration status to a select group of players, like Howard, who have played the equivalent of two full years and are working on their third season. Those with the top 17 percent of accrued time in their third year get "Super Two'' status.

It's all an estimate as to who those top 17 percent of players will be. But teams employ folks whose full-time job it is to monitor such brain-twisters and the computer age allows them to get pretty precise in their guesswork. If it was only a matter of Clement being kept in the minors eight or nine more days to avoid "Super Two'' status, I might understand the rationale. But for me, it would be more like June 14 as a call-up date at bare minimum. Let's do the math together.

A full major league season is defined as 172 days. Most seasons actually run 183 days, but players can't accrue more service time than 172 in any given year. This helps the teams a bit, but also the players, since they don't have to spend every single day of a season on the 25-man roster to get a full season under their belts.

Now, here's the important number. Since 1990, the average minimum amount of service time for a "Super Two'' eligible player has been two years, 135 days. If the team wants to avoid going to arbitration with Clement at the end of the 2010 season -- and keep paying him "peanuts'' in 2011, instead of a seven-figure wage -- it has to make sure he does not have two years, 135 days of service time by the end of 2010. At a minimum. Just to be safe, the team might want to wait another seven to 10 days to be sure.

But we'll go off the two years, 135 days for now. Follow? Since Clement has already accumulated 27 days, the team now has to make sure Clement does not accrue another two years, 108 days by the end of 2010.

Let's turn that into a baseball number of days. If one year equals 172 days served, Clement must accumulate another 452 days on a 25-man baseball roster before the end of the 2010 season to become a "Super Two'' eligible player.

Assuming he plays 2009 and 2010 in Seattle -- which the M's sure hope is the case -- that's 344 days of service time right there (two seasons maxed out at 172 days each). That means, Clement would have to play another 108 days this season to hit "Super Two'' status after 2010. So, let's go to the very last day of the 2008 schedule (playoffs don't count towards service time), on Sept. 28, and count backwards until we reach 107. Takes us to Saturday, June 14 against Washington. By my calculations, that's the absolute earliest the Mariners would want to risk calling Clement up if "Super Two'' is an issue for them. And as I said, that's a mere estimate. If you want to really be safe, tack another 10 days on that. Takes you nearly halfway through the season.

Can the M's afford to wait that long? I don't think so. No team wants to lose money. But chances are, Clement is not going to get a Ryan Howard type of contract. That said, not waiting on Clement could cost the M's a good $2 million or $3 million down the road. Should this be a consideration? It's not my money, so it's easy for me to say. I will tell you that the teams that get most criticized for botching their "Super Two'' calculations are the ones not expected to contend. The Kansas City Royals have several players spiraling towards "Super Two'' status, pitcher Zack Greinke being one of them, and are not expected to contend for several years. In my book, that's a mistake.

The Tampa Bay Rays kept Evan Longoria in the minors at the start of this year to avoid a similar problem. Tampa Bay is also not expected to contend this year, so why call Longoria up before they have to? The problem was taken care of when Longoria agreed to a long-term contract that carries through his arbitration eligible years, making the "Super Two'' concern a moot point.

But for a team like the Mariners, trying to contend in 2008, calling Clement up would fit right in with their "win now'' strategy. This team is hurting offensively in a major way, especially against right handed pitching. Clement is a lefty hitter who appears to have mastered Class AAA pitching. He isn't the full answer, but could be at least a temporary solution for a team needing to buy some of its hitters time to work through their first-month woes. Or, to work out trades with other clubs.

Seattle is already 4 1/2 games out of first place, even with standout pitching by the starting rotation. If that gap doubles by the end of June, will it have been worth writing off the season for the sake of saving a few million on Clement in 2011? If the answer to that is "No'' then he should not be kept in the minors based on a "Super Two'' argument.

Especially if an M's team contending for the playoffs is able to pack more bodies into the seats come late August and early September. Or add extra gates by the team by making the post-season. By then, the added revenues from ticket sales alone could make that extra $2 million or $3 million saved on Clement seem like chump change indeed.

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Posted by Steven Donegal

9:03 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Your paper just ran the scariest headline I've ever seen:

M's counting on Greg Norton to add punch to slumping offense

Call up Clement NOW!!!

Posted by Get Griffey

9:15 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Makes sense to me Geoff. We can now all go back to demanding the call up of Clement with a clean conscience, knowing that the team has no excuse.

Posted by markus

9:15 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Wilkerson is losing his job to Willie Bloomquist! Vidro is losing his job to Norton! Holy crap, for the love of everything, how crappy is this team when two of your important hitting positions are being taken over by a light hitting utility player and a NRI!!

Hey, did I miss something? Is Cairo still on the team or are we just carrying 24 players?

Posted by Paul

9:19 AM, Apr 29, 2008

If Clement is good enough by the 2010 season to truly worry about this rule, then they'll be wanting to sign him to an extension by then anyway which will pay him more in good faith preceding the end of this "peanuts" contract.

And you're right Geoff: all the maneuvering that's been done to be contenders this year undone to avoid paying an extra few mill in 3 years? That'd be crazy. We'll see what ownership and management is all about in the next few weeks...preferably days. But any argument that exists for keeping Clement, Reed and/or Balentien in AAA while Wilkerson and Vidro flat-out kill this team is a poor one.

Posted by scottM

9:19 AM, Apr 29, 2008

GEOFF, I got worried reading through your convoluted calculations that you were rationalizing having the M's be penny wise and pound foolish. I agreed with your conclusion, though. At the very least, the M's need to view the Wilkerson trade as a mid-rung salary bust.

There's one point, salary-wise, that you missed, GEOFF. If Clement comes up and delivers as DH/back-up catcher, his salary will be more than paid for from the money the M's will save when Vidro fails to vest in 2009.

from Spike: "I wonder what he [Griffey] could bring leadership-wise. The team badly needs to be waken up."

This is the question all the members of the late "Extend Jose Guillen Society" are asking, too. How many come-from-behind victories or put-your-foot-on-their-necks-when-you-have-the-lead would Guillen's clubhouse fiery presence have inspired already this April, if he were with the team? Where is the leader of this team?



Posted by Al

9:21 AM, Apr 29, 2008

I don't know if the money saved would be that big of a deal considering how the M's actually like to blow money on horrible contracts anyway.

Also one thing I don't hate about Bavasi is that he will sign young players to contracts to eat up their arb years and some free agency time. So you never know.

Posted by Get Griffey

9:25 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Steven Donegal - WOW that is a scary headline!

The article is almost as scary. I do give props to Norton, who has worked hard and if he is hitting well should be playing every day. (@ ether DH or First) But just the fact that our pinch hitter could take TWO spots from starters is somewhat pathetic.

Posted by lassidawg

9:26 AM, Apr 29, 2008

They won't call these guys up for the trip back east, if the M's continue their ways I would guess that they would call at least one of the players up to create a splash for the next home stand. I can only see them being called up on this trip if there is an injury. This team had better go 3-3 on this trip 2-4 could be disasterous

I just noticed this on their schedule twice to NYC within 2 weeks, it almost seems like a typo . I know this is off subject. I can see why a Seattle team gets worn out 5 of there next 6 trips are to the East Coast, and the other is a "short" trip to Texas. It is now really apparent to me why a good start WAS imperative for this team

Posted by scrapiron

9:27 AM, Apr 29, 2008

scottM - you beat me to the point. There is a vesting option on Vidro that won't be paid if Clement takes over as DH.

Currently the Mariners pay Vidro $6 mil, the Nationals are on the hook for $2.5 mil, for a total of $8.5 mil in 2008.

If Vidro gets his required at bats (rumored to be around 300) Vidro's option kicks in for 2009. It's unknown what that amount is, but it would be at least the $8.5 mil he made in 2008, with the Nationals not paying into any of that.

So calling up Clement actually saves $8.5 million in 2009. Put that money in a savings account for Jeff Clement's Super 2 arbitration.

Posted by j

9:29 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Avoiding Super Two staus would be nice, but its not the issue at hand here. And I don't think the M's care much about that anyway.

The real issue is avoiding having 2008 count as full year of service toward free agency. If they wait until May 7th, then 2008 won't count as afull season (172 days). That means that he would not be eligible for free agency until after 2014. If the M's do call him up now and he stays up all year like we expect, he'd be eligible for free agency after 2013. Sacrificing the 2014 season isn't worth it.

Super Two status doesn't make free agency come sooner, it simply adds a 4th arbitrtation year, which is I think where some people get confused. A player must have 6 full seasons of service time to become a free agent.

Same deal with Longoria - by keeping him down for awhile, the Rays avoided making 2008 count as a full year of service time. Thus allowing them to control his rights through 2014 as well.

Posted by scrapiron

9:32 AM, Apr 29, 2008

While we on the subject of saving money, bringing up Balentien or Reed for Brad Wilkerson could also potentially save $2 million in 2008.

Brad Wilkerson
$2M in performance bonuses based on PAs
* $50,000 each for 325, 350, 375, 400 PAs
* $0.1M each for 425, 450 PAs
* $0.2M each for 475, 500, 525, 550, 575, 600, 625, 650 PAs

Posted by Lance

9:42 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Interesting development in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates have released pitcher Matt Morris, with his 0-4 record and 9.67 ERA, despite still owing him $10 mil. for this season and a $1 mil. buyout for 2009 (remember how desperately the M's tried to hold on to the still unsigned Jeff Weaver last year?).

And, this is the Pittsburgh Pirates! Where $$$$ aren't aplenty.

Nobody over there said it is still early, it's still April. And, it's not like they've positioned themselves for the playoffs, anyway.

If the M's management is unwilling to take a bath on a few bad contracts NOW and let this season get away from them, or let this team dig itself into a big enough hole they won't be able to escape from, then the future for this franchise is, indeed, bleak!.

Posted by Paul

9:50 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Good point Lance. Although I'm not sure the Pirates are an organization I'd want to see ours modeled after, it says a lot that they're willing to part with big $ players to improve the team's play on the field and not logjam prospects' path to the bigs....meanwhile, M's decisionmaking is akin to turning a battleship.

Posted by Lance

9:50 AM, Apr 29, 2008

I just got around to reading Steve Kelley's column from Monday (no, he's not on my 'must read' list). And, so we can all appreciate at what level his baseball expertise lies, there was this little gem of a line:

"They gave the Orioles an outfielder with A-Rod-like potential, Adam Jones..."

Hey, I loved having AJ here. I believe, and still believe, trading him was a mistake. But, even I'm not going to say he's got the potential to be baseball's all-time home run champion.

Kelley writes with his heart, not his head. Anything he says, like trading for Griffey now, must be taken with a grain of salt. Lots of salt, in fact.

BTW, three home runs for Wladimir in Tacoma last night. That sore knee must be feeling a lot better. So, yes, you've got to consider promoting him, as well. Besides Clement, Reed and Jimerson.

But, he'd have to play fairly regularly. Which means LF against all but the toughest righties. Raul would have to move to 1B on games WBa plays.

Then you'd have to do something with Sexson. Do you release a guy you're paying $14 mil to. I doubt it.

Oh. the perils of having a lot of good young hitters when your good old ones aren't hitting a lick. .

Posted by DJ

9:51 AM, Apr 29, 2008

This is all a very interesting argument, but given Bavasi's history of signing young (good character) guys to long term contracts to avoid the whole Super-Two arbitration issue, i think this whole discussion will be moot as soon as Clement comes up to Seattle and gets a full season under his belt and proves he can perform at the major league level.

Hopefully, by this time next year Bavasi will have locked up Felix through his arbitration years (and maybe a FA year or two), locked up Bedard for at least 3 more, and will be working out a Clement contract.

This offseason should prove to be an interesting one when it comes to contracts. With the Longoria contract out of Tampa, i think more teams are going to try and sign their REALLY young stud players to those types of low risk contracts (which Clement fits perfect). Although the players union will fight those every step of the way. And with the Zito anchor of a contract i think MAYBE this might finally be the year where GM's wake up and stop offering up 6-7 year contracts to pitchers....I think CC may hit the pool just a year too late.

Posted by Anthony

9:52 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Not that I really see this as an issue (I mean if you're concerned about possibly $4 million, don't sign guys like Brad Wilkerson to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for you) but Geoff, I don't understand your math.

Now you said the average for a "Super Two" player over the last 17 seasons has been 2 yrs, 135 days of service time.

So out of a 172 days of service, the M's are now 30 days into the season. 172-30 (because Clement is NOT, and has not been, on the 25-man roster) = 142. 142-135= 7. 7 more days of sitting in Tacoma if you go off of the average, if you try to play it safe you wait an extra week.

Two weeks should be the maximum then, that Clement is still sitting in the minors. But like I said above, this should be of no concern to a team who is in the top 8 in payroll at over $110 million and is paying a RF who is hitting .160 $3.5 million (?) this season and just re-signed their catcher who is hitting .180 and the pitching staff doesn't respect as a game-caller to a $8 million a year (for 3 yrs) contract.


Posted by Lance

9:54 AM, Apr 29, 2008

What this team needs is a few well placed sprained ankles or pulled quads.

Oh, wait. We do have a well placed pulled quad. But, the guy's playing through it.

He's a real gamer, that Brad Wilkerson is. A real gamer. They may be lost games. But, games nonetheless.

BTW, where's Oregongal been?

Posted by D Truth

9:55 AM, Apr 29, 2008

What makes you think Mac would play Clement any more than he played Adam Jones last season?

Posted by Paul

9:59 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Why would Clement play when Jones didn't?

Last season the team was in a pennant race. This year they're not.

Last season the guys he'd replace, Kenji and Vidro, were hitting late in the season. Right now they're not.

There's a little less pressure on a new guy when there is nothing good that you're going to mess up.

Posted by D Truth

10:03 AM, Apr 29, 2008

You're still expecting Mac to play a rookie over a veteran. We both know he doesn't do that.

Posted by Donovan

10:04 AM, Apr 29, 2008

There is no evidence whatsoever of the modern day Mariners being cheap. If anything, they have been too free with their money. I think Geoff's analysis provides pretty convincing proof that arbitration cost is not a factor here. The present value of $3 million in 2010 is negligible to the budget of this franchise. Besides, if he hits, he's worth much more than that. If not, you can send him back down and stop his ML accrual. This is not a big deal.

The only possible consideration about bringing up Clement on May 7 is the impact it will have to the roster. While many here have written off Wilk and Vidro entirely (and some have written off half the lineup), I'm pretty sure the M's haven't. They want to try and salvage these guys, since they can't replace them all. I honestly think some new blood might help with that. I'd bring him up to DH on May 7, move Vidro to the bench, and release Cairo. Nothing personal Miguel. Just business. There will still be a big question mark in RF though.

Posted by M's Fan

10:08 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Can't bring Clement up until May 7?? OK, how about Reed? How about Wlad? Bring some guys in here that can get some hits and get rid of guys who either do next to nothing (Cairo) or aren't producing (Wilkerson). Do Bavasi and Co. really think Wilkerson and Vidro are going to miraculously find their swing this week? Wake up!

Posted by Statboys dad

10:08 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Hey Geoff I just read an article on Fox Sports by Ken Rosenthal.
He states the Reds want to move both Griffey and Adam Dunn…as soon as Griffey hits his 600th home run?

In your opinion what would it take for the M’s to get him? (Baek, Reed?)

Ichiro Cf
Lopez 2nd
Beltra’ 3rd
Griffey rf/Dh
Yuni SS
Raul Lf/ Dh
Johjima C/ Dh
Clement Dh/ 1st/C
Sexson 1st

What a line up and Sexson I still think he would do well with more protection!
This would also leave Vlad down until Septemebr which would help him.
The next three-four years would be set…

Bench, Bloomquist, Burke?, Norton, Cairo?

Bye Bye…Vidro, Wilkerson

What do you think?

Posted by Paul

10:09 AM, Apr 29, 2008

D Truth - I'll get on Mac's case with the best of 'em. I think he's the worst in-game manager I've ever seen, seriously. But to criticize him for not playing rookies extensively when the rosters expanded, based on 1/2 of a season when the team was legitimately in a pennant race and most of the bats that struggled throughout the season were hitting finally... I think it's a bit misplaced. This year's circumstances are completely different. I'll criticize him for his managing, but I think it's premature to characterize him as one who won't play young guys over vets.

Posted by Donovan

10:18 AM, Apr 29, 2008

The truth is that guys do have bad months, and for many hitters, April is typically their worst month. No matter how frustrated we are, it is not irrational to assume that career .300 hitter Vidro and one-time HR hitter Wilkerson will improve over their dismal April performance. The question is how much, how quick. I'm far more worried about Wilk than Vidro actually.

I'm all in favor of mixing in some youth and potential with the roster. I always have been, but it wouldn't be a miracle to see some improvement. It would be likely. What we need are some other options in the mix, so Mac isn't forced to put ice cold bats in the lineup every night. Let them work on their demons in the cage, and try them again after a few games off.

One roster spot can be freed up immediately with Cairo. You could possibly free up another by shortening the bullpen. I would wait another cycle through the rotation for that though to make sure the starters are healthy.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:18 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Your last 2 paragraphs make a call-up now make sense financially. Any kind of gain down the road by waiting til the 10th of June, is wiped out by having

If the Ms were willing to throw $ and prospects at Baltimore under "win now", and $ at Joh under "he's worth it", and creative financing of Ichiro well past his retirement under "he's so worth it", then there's no reasonable financial reason to keep Clement in AAA a day longer.

I'm nigh-certain that a) what you and I call reasonable financing is not the same as what the F.O. calls it, and b) that the last hurdles are not at all about $ but about player pride, i.e. making sure Burke, Joh, Vidro and/or Sexson are all taken care of when Clement is brought up.

Wlad, Norton and Clement should be in the lineup every day. DFA Wilkerson. Vidro and Burke to bench. Clement catches 2x a week (e.g. day-game-after-night) and DHs the rest. Norton DHs and moves to right when Clement is DHing. Wlad is in right and PHs when Norton is in right.

Free Clement.

Posted by David

10:20 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Hi Geoff, I was reading on that Jr., of course I'm talking about Ken Griffey Jr., will be a free agent at the end of this season. So I like to get your thoughts on when the Reds put Jr. on the trade market, should the M's go for it? If the M's do explore that option to bring Jr. to play RF, how much talent or/and who should the team give up? Additionally, if the M's doesn't go for the trade, should the team try to sign Jr. in the offseason to play RF? Jr. still makes plays and still have his arm. What do you think? Thanks. Oh by the way, thank you for the quick reply on last week's post on how Liberty Mutual purchasing Safeco would affect the stadium's name.

Posted by scrapiron

10:26 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Blue Jays release Frank Thomas, eat his contract
Pirates release Matt Morris, eat his contract

Roster moves need to be based on performance, not salary. Once you start keeping guys around because of salary, or fail to promote a player based on arbitration or bonuses, it's a slippery slope that we can't recover from.

Evaluate the players on the field and make roster moves to improve the team now.

Posted by shark2778

10:26 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Kjr is reporting that Clement is being called up in the next day or so, is this true??

Posted by Paul

10:30 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Shark - what did they say? If they said "in the next day or two", it sounds like conjecture. If they said, "he's been recalled", that's different. Did they cite a source? Thanks for sharing, but it raises more questions...

Posted by shark2778

10:33 AM, Apr 29, 2008

They did not cite a source, they just keep saying it in the update. "In the next day or two" is the exact quote.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

10:39 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Simple answer for those who are questioning whether Mac will play Clement:

Bavasi and Chuck will force his hand. As Mac was quoted as saying during spring "Clement won't be on this team to sit on the bench." Sounds like he took his talking points from management.

If Mac is willing to play Norton more often, then he will play Clement if it means getting some offense going. In the end, Mac will not be here much longer if things don't improve and I think he KNOWS it.

Posted by scottM

10:45 AM, Apr 29, 2008

If and when the M's bring Clement up, then it's Burke that goes. Clement is certainly a serviceable back-up defensive catcher to Johjima. It's simple. Any pinch hitter for Joh becomes a double switch if Clement is at the DH.

If and when the M's trade for Griffey, or bring up Balentien, then it's Cairo who's released (unless Cairo is part of the trade). Wilkerson goes to bench to sit next to his buddy Vidro where they can join together in singing BB King's classic: "Ain't nobody love me but my mother, and she could be jivin' too."


Posted by Beady Eye Guy

10:47 AM, Apr 29, 2008

I need to ask Mac something...he needed his 12 pitchers and I see the point with Bedard hurting as he was but seriously...why did he demote Jimerson only to have the slower Cairo be the PR in some games?

Does he have no clue how things should work? The faster guy who can PLAY OF should have stayed and the slower useless vet should have been given his Unconditional release.

Funniest yet? Had Wilkerson gotten hurt Jimerson would be a much better solution in RF than Willie. Look at what he's doing at Tacoma! Sure, he's a AAAA player at best, but who's to say he couldn't be our Emil Brown for a month or so until the better solutions present themselves?

Mac sure is foolish.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

10:52 AM, Apr 29, 2008


Burke should stay. Reason is that if Clement winds up playing 5 days a week at 1B, DH and occasionally Catcher it would be a bad idea to not have a dedicated Catcher on the bench in case something happens to Joh. Remember, if Clement is the DH and Joh got hurt, the pitcher would bat.

I have a feeling that when Clement arrives, either Cairo or a pitcher goes.

Posted by Paul

10:53 AM, Apr 29, 2008

ScottM - I disagree about Burke. Clement is a DH/C (maybe /1B if you believe some people's ideas)... I understand a double-switch is the way you'd handle the situation if you wanted/needed to, but it's not really wise to basically have no backup C when both are in the lineup on a regular basis. Especailly when you have a guy as useless as Cairo pulling splinters from his butt every day. Cairo should go.

Posted by Lance

11:16 AM, Apr 29, 2008

"No matter how frustrated we are, it is not irrational to assume that career .300 hitter Vidro and one-time HR hitter Wilkerson will improve over their dismal April performance." --- Donovan

Buddy, your rationale works with Vidro, but Wilkerson's problems go far beyond a bad April.

The biggest problem with Jose is even at his best he can't give you what you want and need in the DH position. He might make a nice switch-hitting pinch-hitter in the NL, or even here. But, anything else, he hurts you.

Wilkerson hasn't done much of anything in THREE YEARS. At his best, he was an average hitter with some pop.

In Texas, he was a bad hitter with some pop.

Looks like here, he's become a bad hitter with no pop who relies on leftfielders to misplay his flyballs for an occasional double.

But, Bavasi's never going to admit he made a $3.5 mil. mistake with this guy after one month. There lies your real problem.

Doesn't mean they simply can't DL him for a couple of weeks with that bad quad. That seems like the smartest thing to do, and still save face.

Posted by Nat

11:25 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Lance, regarding Oregongal- a week or two ago both she and Maui stated that they were not going to post anymore or at least for awhile because - to paraphrase - of all the snarky blog discussion. Can't say I blame either of them, but occasionally Oregongal pops in.. I miss her thoughtful comments and humorous tidbits.

I have a question for you- why do you keep recycling your posts from one thread to another?

Posted by Pete

11:30 AM, Apr 29, 2008

If Clement and Griffey are added to the roster, I see Cairo and Wilkerson as the victims.

With a line-up of


That would leave a bench of


I would add another outfielder to make it 14 position players, but that's how I see it playing out if they decide to make those moves.

Posted by statboys dad

11:36 AM, Apr 29, 2008

I like Burke as well off the bench. He hit so well last season and has continued this year. He is a great team mate and they could use him.

Did you see what Vlad did last night, 3 homers and 1 was an inside the park one. (he is healthy) he also will be ready when called upon.

Clement will get called up, 2008 stats 400 AB/ 22hr/75Rbi/ 50-70 strikeouts

Is GUFFY out there anywhere?

Posted by pbk13

11:38 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Geoff, there really is nothing to worry about! The Mariners are not contenders, and there's nothing they can do to fix the hole they are digging for themselves. The delusion that the Bedard trade suddenly launched them into contender status was just that: a delusion.

It's time for this franchise to start building for the future, the right way. No more sending off future stars for a few wins now. And Mariner fans, stop fretting! This time is going nowhere this year, so just sit back and enjoy.

Fans, your summer will be far more enjoyable if you quit worrying about this ridiculous team. Hope for some cleaning house in the front office. That's about all you have left to root for.

Posted by Lance

11:39 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Nat - thanks for the update. Sorry she feels that way. Yes, I, too, appreciated her contributions and hope she will re-consider and look past the snarkiness and simply focus on the quality comments, of which there remains plenty, I'd say.

As to reprinting comments onto a new blog entry, I'll only do so when it's just before Geoff posts a new entry and I feel my comment probably wasn't read by many, anyway, because it came after over a hundred other comments, but is still substantive enough to be applicable (ok, please, no cracks about their never being substantive enough), In other words, don't want a comment to get buried due to bad timing. I try to make that rare, however. Hope it doesn't offend.

Posted by your4thgrade teacher

11:44 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Okay guys no more Romper Room...

The Mariners will be contenders by the middle of May...To many things at stake...
Mac hired a lot of older coaches that have a name and when they talk the players listen. We have 3 players that are past their time, prime and need to be replaced. This will all fall in place in the next couple of weeks!! Griffey, Clement, Vlad etc.

Posted by K-Man

11:48 AM, Apr 29, 2008

"But, Bavasi's never going to admit he made a $3.5 mil. mistake with this guy after one month. There lies your real problem."

In the recent past, Bavasi has DFA'd, Released or Declined Options on:
Chris Reitsma ($1.35M)
John Parrish (Trade)
Jose Guillen ($3M)
Matt Lawton ($400K)
Horacio Ramirez (Horrible Soriano Trade).
Carl Everett (Prorated portion of $3.4M)

Bavasi actually has a pretty long record of releasing those who under-perform, regardless of salary or cost of players in trade. Granted, all these guys were given (a lot) more than a month to show something.

I think that if Wilkerson continues to struggle he will be released. The difference is he will be given a reasonable time-period to fail.

And yes, I also miss OregonGal and Merrill. Gone but not forgotten.

Posted by Donovan

11:49 AM, Apr 29, 2008

Lance - I agree wholeheartedly with almost all you say. Like I've said before, of Richie, Vidro, and Wilk, the one I am most worried might be toast is Wilk. I think Richie might have a hot streak or two and a few dingers left in him, and I think Vidro is potentially useful as a PH in late game situations. I think putting it all down to Bavasi's ego is an overstatement though. I think Bavasi is much more pragmatic than that. He just attempts too many long shot reclamation projects. 3.5 million just isn't that much money for this club, and cutting a guy sooner than May 1 would be highly reactionary, no matter what he was doing. I don't think anybody in the organization is one-tenth as panicked as most of the bloggers here. There is plenty of time for tweaking if they start now, and tweaking a lineup is always better than tearing it apart in the early season.

My real point was that some improvement is likely even for Wilk, because he can't really get worse. They won't want to cut him loose until something else is in place and working. It is not an absolute given that Clement can come up and produce. I like your DL notion. The M's have never been shy about DL'ing slumping players. There's your easy way to get Clement up soon, if for some (incomprehensible) reason, you can't bear to part with Cairo.

None of the M's options are really great right now, including throwing rookies out there and telling them to be the offensive engine. I think they will in the end try some of that, because they have no choice. With our pitching, we don't need the best offense in the league to win, but we can't have the worst either.

Posted by seavet

12:03 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Thanks for the update, Geoff. With all the dead-solid certainty around here, it's good to see that the lead dog can admit a misunderstanding.

I see Mr. Hickey with the rival outfit says bringing Clement up with the savior label will put too much weight on his shoulders. One thing Hickey's definitely right about; the rest of the team has to hit too. But a hot bat in the middle of that 5-6-7-8 wasteland sure couldn't hurt, and might help lift the others. Even if it just means a few more fastball counts per hitter.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

12:24 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Lance...I'd rather see Bavasi make these one year/no risk Wilkerson/Guillen/scrapheap deals to plug a hole than have him give the likes of Washburn long/expensive contracts.

Wilkerson is lost, yes but I can't fault Bavasi for making the move.

Posted by Thomas

12:28 PM, Apr 29, 2008

1. Bavasi has to GO!
2. McLaren will be next in line to go if he doesn't get off his "I have to stick with the veteran approach".
3. Everyone knows what Clement, Balentien & Reed are doing down in Tacoma.

At this point, I'd rather just see them promote all three guys, put Balentien in RF, Clement at DH/1B, Reed in LF. Move Ibanez to DH. Cut Vidro, Wilkerson & Cairo.

This will give the lineup more speed and upgrade the outfield defense.. I know Ibanez doesn't want to DH, but he's a liability in the outfied. Playing Clement occasionally at 1B might also light a fire under Sexson.

Something needs to be done cause I'm tired of watching an offense capable of only scoring runs by hitting sacrifice flies.

My other concern is that even if they promote Clement & Balentien, McLaren will sit them on the bench and give them one start per week!

Posted by scottM

12:42 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Beady Eye Guy: "Remember, if Clement is the DH and Joh got hurt, the pitcher would bat."

Good point, and like our lead dog, I will admit that I overlooked this. Burke will likely stay.

The focus, however, isn't on who will be released from our bench, but on who we can start that will PRODUCE AT THE PLATE. Wilkerson hasn't shown enough hints that he deserves to play. Powerlite Vidro, is only an effective DH with a high OPS. He has been clutch a few times, but with all those weak fly balls, seems to have lost his productivity. The question isn't who will be cut--Cairo, the 12th pitcher, etc--it's who can produce in what Seavet aptly calls "that 5-6-7-8 wasteland."


Posted by Nat

12:43 PM, Apr 29, 2008

There's still time in the next couple weeks to make changes and this team will not fade should these changes we're all talking about actually occur. But don't think that Oakland and the LAAngels teams are gonna slow down to wait for the M's to get squared away! They have organizations that are clear about their goals, have personnel in place to accomodate those goals, and they are also well...organized! Sometimes, within the M's organization the left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing.

Getting the offense provides no guarantee that the BP will right itself; the BP is what I found so demoralizing last weekend when Bedard and Felix pitched some gems! I hope the BP settle down as people have suggested. But as we go into Cleveland and New York this week, I know that our opponents are not gonna waste those opportunities. I came across one Athletics Nation blogger's thoughts on this point:

"Felix Hernandez was, by all auditory and transcribed accounts, even more dominant this afternoon than Bedard was yesterday.

"But the A's waited ... and waited ... and waited -- and finally Hernandez' pitchcount crept upward, he lost a lot of his control, he threw a couple hittable pitches, and the A's finally made him -- and the Mariners' accelerant-doused bullpen -- pay."

Just reading that made my stomach hurt. I think it's important to continue to put pressure on the FO to shake it up, to make these necessary changes. A couple weeks is okay, but timeliness is essential - these other teams are not waiting around for the Mariners to get their act together.

Posted by b_laing_206

12:44 PM, Apr 29, 2008

I had to stop from laughing too hard when I read today's headline about Norton bringing punch to our lineup.
Wow, it is a sad state of affairs when a journeyman who is more known for pinch-hitting is supposed to be your offensive savior and big bopper!!

Posted by Big Ebu

12:45 PM, Apr 29, 2008

I haven’t posted for a while so my apologies if this has already been hashed out in the blog.

The problem I see with a Cairo for Clement swap is that this leaves us with a bench (assuming we keep 12 pitchers) consisting of:

Clement/Norton/Vidro (2 of these 3 depending on who is DH)

This to me looks like a defensive black hole. You have lots of catchers and DH’s, but this leaves Bloomquist as the only backup for just about every other position except 1B and RF (maybe LF too though not sure how good Norton would be there). I agree with those that think replacing Burke with Clement and having your backup catcher as DH as being unwise. So does this mean going with 11 pitchers or making a move to replace Vidro or Norton on the bench with someone that can play outfield (Reed or Jimerson?).

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:12 PM, Apr 29, 2008

If you move Ibanez to DH why bring up Clement? He can't play 1B well at all, so he's a liability. He can fill in from time to time.

Having Raul at DH (LH hitter!) and Clement (LH hitter!) cancel each other out.

Either dump Sexson, Wilk and Cairo. Promote Clement, Balentien and Reed. Ibanez to 1B, Balentien to RF, Reed to LF and Clement the DH.

We can't move Ibanez to DH if we plan to use Clement.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:15 PM, Apr 29, 2008


My point on why it made no sense to cut Jimerson (who seems to be hitting well in Tacoma) while keeping Cairo.

Once Wilk went down, Willie became the de facto RF. WRONG Mac! I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that if Jimerson had gotten Willie's ABs in RF, he'd definitely produce.

As of now...we have to dump a pitcher now that Bedard is back and call up another OF. I see Reed if we plan to platoon anybody. I see Wlad if we plan to let him play everyday.

Posted by Brian

1:16 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Totally off-topic, but definiitely Mariners related. Here is a link to a funny story about a 20 year old college reporter trying to do a story about A-Rod in 1996, and his attempts to get interviews. It is Luke Burbank, who it says has a show on KIRO.

A warning, it does contain graphic language, but I doubt that would offend anyone around here. Also, makes me wonder if Geoff ever had to go through anything like that in his younger days.

Posted by scrapiron

1:17 PM, Apr 29, 2008

For those of you speculating who we wouod give up for Griffey, or whoever else, in a trade, I think Johjima and Clement are now untouchable.

Bavasi himself said that he wouldn't rule out moving Clement to another position at some point, but his biggest value is at catcher. He also said that with Johjima signed that it gave them depth at the catcher position. He said they wouldn't trade Clement, but it freed up some of the other catchers in the organization to potentially be moved in a deal.

I think Rob Johnson is now on the trading block, but until he catches regularly at Tacoma after they call up Clement, I don't know how much value he has.

Posted by Jeff C

1:20 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Please don't sit Vidro down for Clement! Are you kidding me? Everyone knows that will disrupt chemistry! Please let Vidro get his ab's and vest or else the vets like Raul will see that and there goes our chemistry!

Posted by Donovan

1:23 PM, Apr 29, 2008

I'm all in favor of airing out every opinion here, but some of these posts are from never-never land. No team in the history of baseball has ever DFA'd 3 starters in April because the team was 2 games under .500. The Mariners would be the laughing stock of the country. Can we limit our suggestions to those within the bounds of reality? You don't try to change everything at once. Bring up some young bats, ease them into the lineup, see how they do. If things improve, then you cut loose the pieces that don't fit, and tweak some more. Nobody ever built a winning team by swinging the wrecking ball all over the lineup in April. Patience grasshopper.

Posted by scottM

1:26 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Beady Eye, the notion that Ibanez will move to 1b or the DH just isn't going to happen.

Again and again and again... Ibanez's defense in LF is scarcely registers as a problem for the M's right now. And yet again, the M's main problem (along with settling down the Bullpen) is "that 5-6-7-8 wasteland."

Let's not complicate matters.

Posted by 4thgrade science teacher

1:36 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Donavon..I agree in most cases don't ry to make to many moves at once..May 1 as well. But look at this. The decisions that were made less then 30 days ago were wrong, we have 3,4 players Jimmerson, Reed, Vlad and Clement that have shown they could, can do better then what is in there . They are HUNGRY and again I do agree one step at a time..

Ms. Pramentace...Oh grass hopper!

Posted by Mike

1:38 PM, Apr 29, 2008

ScottM---But killing two birds with one stone is a good thing. Ibanez plays terrible D in a park where LF defense is more important than most.

Might as well prevent runs while we are trying to create some.

Posted by Lance

1:42 PM, Apr 29, 2008

"He (Bavasi) just attempts too many long shot reclamation projects. 3.5 million just isn't that much money for this club,.." --- Donovan

$3.5 mil. is nothing to sneeze at. Not even for the Mariners. You can sneeze at Cairo's $800G, but not $3.5 mil. So, I disagree there.

"...and cutting a guy sooner than May 1 would be highly reactionary, no matter what he was doing."

So, you disagree with the Bluejays' handling of Frajnk Thomas, or the Pirates' handling of Matt Morris.

"I don't think anybody in the organization is one-tenth as panicked as most of the bloggers here."

They should be. A lot more. FOR THEIR JOBS!

"There is plenty of time for tweaking if they start now, and tweaking a lineup is always better than tearing it apart in the early season."

Geoff was thinking about the middle of May is the time to stop simply tweaking. But, now, he's thinking that might be much too late considering how things are transpiring, and pretty fast. Even the A's are pulling away from us. I agree with Geoff's revised view of things.

"My real point was that some improvement is likely even for Wilk, because he can't really get worse. "

Quite a sad commentary, isn't it. It's been three years for the guy, Donovan. Skills diminish over time.

"They won't want to cut him loose until something else is in place and working."

You mean something like a young major league veteran with a good glove, speed, and a .320+ average in AAA?

"It is not an absolute given that Clement can come up and produce."

You've never heard of Ryan Braun, have you? Or, Ryan Zimmerman, the guy the Nats drafted right after the M's picked Clement, and his great rookie year in 2005. No guantees, but "have talent, will hit". Hey, he looked pretty good last September. Albeit September, but he was hardly overmatched.

"I like your DL notion. The M's have never been shy about DL'ing slumping players. There's your easy way to get Clement up soon, if for some (incomprehensible) reason, you can't bear to part with Cairo."

An easy out, isn't it. In a couple of weeks Wilkerson can have a rehab option in AAA. If he stinks then you'll know. Even then you can always evaluate at that time about the whole RF situation.

Cairo should be DFAed now. No one's going to claim him on waivers. If he refuses an outright assignment he forfeits his money, I believe. He can be insurance if they need a utility guy later.

I appreciate your thoughts. I just disagree and am thinking you might not be seeing the whole picture, or all the options available.

Posted by Walla Walla Girl

1:51 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Call up the AAA guys, and (very important) play the AAA guys. Call up any or all of the following (the more the merrier), and do it in time for this road trip.

Jeff Clement (AVG .397, 20 RBI, Bat L)
Wladimir Balentien (3 HR last night, 20 RBI)
Jeremy Reed (AVG .354, Bat L)
Charlton Jimerson (AVG .326 + speed)
Bryan LaHair (AVG .299, Bat L)

Let the nonproducers sit on the bench or take a working vacation in Tacoma. It's time to energize this club. Please don't insult the team/fans by trotting out the same tired lineup. Change is needed. Norton can't do it alone.

Bye bye Cairo and Wilkerson. Free the AAA guys.

I echo scottM's question on behalf of the late "Extend Jose Guillen Society": WHERE is the leader of this team? Anyone? Anyone?

Get Griffey.

Patience gone! Tweak the lineup until it works.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:57 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Using financial arguments when discussing Mariner player personnel moves is absurb. This team does very little that makes financial sense. To worry about Clement becoming a free agent a few years from now is riduculous.

Eiether this team has a "win now" philosphy or it doesn't. Time to choose. And if the choice is no, then why was the Bedard trade made?

Posted by Get Griffey

2:00 PM, Apr 29, 2008

OK I get as mad as anyone when Mac makes stupid in game decisions but the prevailing flaming lately has been about the “"We need to dot our i's and cross our t's. We're letting opportunities slip.” quote.

Posters us this to point out how he is downplaying the teams troubles.

Also some posters(Jeff C) are making fun of how he would never sit Vidro for Clement but he already HAS sat Vidro (partially at lest)

Here is another quote from the same interview that seems a little more critical of the team.

"I want to keep Norton in the mix," he said. "I've talked to Jose Vidro about it. We need to get some guys going. Like I said, we're a month into the season now...." "We've given everyone an opportunity. This game is about winning. It's not about me being everybody's best friend. It's me doing best for the Seattle Mariners and for the ballclub."

This is the article so you can read for yourselves.

He is defiantly not the best manager but one of his faults is not sticking his head in the sand(at least this time)^_^

Posted by CheeZ

2:07 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Ibanez has played well in LF. He runs good routes and blocks balls so they don't get past him. he can hit the cut-off man on the fly. So what if he's not the fastest man in baseball? Being smart and experienced count for quite a bit.

We used to have a fast, young guy who did not look good in the outfield and played so reckless that he ended up in surgery.

Worry about Ibanez later.

Posted by Nat

2:23 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Walla Walla Girl- you go, girl- from your writing to Bavasi's eyes. I agree with you 100%.

Unfortunately I don't think Bavasi is concerned with what the fans want...

Brian- funny, funny interview!

Posted by Donovan

2:48 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Lance - You are looking hard for things to disagree on here. After all, I'm in favor of sitting Wilk, cutting Cairo, and bringing up Clement ASAP. Again, we are in almost total agreement other than on the matter of urgency. I'm not the slightest bit panicked about the season yet, but they do need to start the tweaking now. The fact that we have been in almost every lost game suggests to me that even incremental improvements in the offense will pay dividends. It's not like we are getting killed routinely. This weekend will be quite a test for sure.

One nit - May 1 (give or take a week) is when teams that are not hitting their targets start evaluating roster moves, but you can't compare the Frank Thomas situation to anybody on the M's. That was all about the $10 million 2009 option vesting. Pure money move, as has been noted here previously. If not for that option, Thomas is still a Bluejay. I don't really know much about the Matt Morris situation. The Pirates don't have a hope in hell of contending though. Again, different situation to the M's.

I'm not betting on Wilkerson contributing much, but there isn't any reason for the M's to let him go before they have to. Better to drop Cairo and see how Clement does. If they want to bring Reed up to play RF, they can do that too, by DL'ing Wilk. I don't think Bavasi will be reluctant to cut anybody on this team once someone else starts producing in their place. Until then, it is sensible to keep options open where possible. I appreciate that fans want to see some action, but it needs to be calculated and rational, not reactionary or punitive.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:03 PM, Apr 29, 2008


I am NOT advocating Ibanez to move anywhere. I am trying to rebut somebody who thought that Clement and Ibanez should DH while Reed and Balentien play the OF.

My point is that you can't put Ibanez at DH when that most likely will be the position Clement is in when he comes up.

Personally, I don't see Ibanez as an awful defender. He's not great, but he's the least of my concerns on this team. I, for one, know the team will leave him out there for the rest of the year even if it pisses some folks off.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:07 PM, Apr 29, 2008

Walla Walla,

LaHair isn't a viable option no matter what he's hitting at AAA. He projects at best to being a fill in guy off the bench (Greg Dobbs comes to mind). Right now we should call Wlad and Jeff up for now.

If things don't improve I wouldn't be surprised if others get the call. I agree on Jimerson but we already took him off the 40 man. To bring him back (Thanks Mac!) means we have to release somebody else.

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