A glance back at the free agent market
that was last winter probably isn’t going to make many major league general managers smile.
San Francisco, for instance, laid out $120 million for pitcher Barry Zito – the Mariners finished second in that bidding – and he’s been a first-year bust as a Giant. Los Angeles spent $49 million on Jason Schmidt – the Mariners finished second in that bidding, too.
Schmidt has spent almost the entire season on the disabled list.
There are lots of other examples. Boston bid more than $50 million just to talk to Japan’s Daisuke Matsuzaka, and $45-million-plus to sign him.
He’s won 14 games.
And then there’s Seattle, which landed Miguel Batista for three years at a total of $24 million.
Batista’s 15 victories this season tie him with the Cubs Ted Lilly for most by a free agent acquision. Batista has worked 185 innings in 31 starts and talked pitching with most of the young Mariners pitchers.
He’s been a nice part of a disastrous rotation.
Similarly, Jose Guillen (.288, 21 HR, 94 RBI) and Jose Vidro (.318, 6, 58) have been solid pieces in a team that’s going to finish above .500 for the first time since 2003.
Have there been moves that didn’t work? Of course.
Relievers Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes
were brought in to anchor the setup role and help get to J.J. Putz. Health kept both from contributing.
Horacio Ramirez won eight games but produced a 7.17 ERA and lost his job this month. A bust? This year, yes. He’s likely to come to spring training with a second chance to get the fifth spot in the rotation right.
Jeff Weaver? He’s won more games than Schmidt, a few less than Zito and won’t be back.
Trying to contend this season, the Mariners spent more than $100 million for the first time in franchise history – and our 12 games over .500 with eight to play.
They were in contention until a disastrous 2-15 stretch, and still haven’t been eliminated.
They’re a better team this year than in any since 2003. That’s not propaganda, just observation. The Mariners have been more fun to watch in 2007 than in years, and they’ve got a marvelous core to build around.
Adding Schmidt or Zito might have looked good on paper, but would have been disastrous. That’s simple luck – the Mariners tried to sign both, and most of their fans were clamoring to get those arms.
Instead, they got Batisa. And like this season, he’s been a pleasant surprise.