Ask the Diamond Genius 11/11

Jason A. Churchill answers your Mariners questions in the first installment "Ask the Diamond Genius."

Q: What are the chances of the Mariners getting Ken Griffey junior back in Seattle?

- Joshua Whobrey, Vancouver, B.C.

DG: Probably slim to none. The contract Junior Griffey drags along with him not only pays the former Mariner 12.5 million per season thru 2008, but includes deferred payments from the first four seasons. The Mariners would require the Reds to make Griffey more affordable by paying a large percentage of his future salary as well as pay 100% of the deferred payments from 2000 through 2003. All that and we haven't even mentioned "The Kid's" health issues since arriving in Cincinnati.

Q: Is it even feasible that Seattle signs one of the bigger fish type free agents like Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Tejada, or Kazuo Matsui?

-Kevan Beke, Everett, WA

DG: Yes. Sorta. Vladimir Guerrero has already been offered a 5-year $75 million deal from his own Expos and it's expected that he will receive more similar offers on the open market from Baltimore, NY Yankees and NY Mets. The M's can't afford to toss all of their payroll eggs into one basket. Not to mention that the club has a history of shying away from contracts that stretch out to more than four years. Miguel Tejada is in the same situation on a smaller salary level. His market value is lower than that of Vlad Guerrero, due to age and overall ability, but still commands a salary of over 10 million a season. Tejada's suitors seem to be the two LA area teams, Baltimore, and possibly the NY Mets where his former manager Art Howe is now hard at work.

Q: How is the compensatory draft-choice process determined?

-Carlos Fuerteles, Bellevue, WA
DG: The compensatory draft choice is awarded to a team that offered arbitration to a free agent that signed elsewhere. The type of free agent that was lost determines the draft choice value. Major League Baseball has a contract with the Elias Sports Bureau to rank each player in three categories; type A, type B, and type C. If a team loses a type A free agent they will receive a first round choice. A type B free agent is worth a 2nd round choice. A type C free agent is worth a 3rd round choice. There are exceptions in this case and this is where the process is greatly flawed. If the signing team is slated to choose in the top 15 picks of the round, the team being awarded the draft choice will not receive a first rounder, instead receiving a choice in between round 1 and round 2. These choices are called sandwich picks.

The Seattle Mariners were awarded a "sandwich" pick for the June 2001 draft after losing Alex Rodriguez, clearly a type A free agent, to the Texas Rangers. Texas was choosing in the top 15 and therefore did not lose a first round draft choice. The Mariners used that choice to draft SS Michael Garciaparra. On the other side, the M's surrendered a first round draft choice to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the signing of reserve IF/OF Greg Colbrunn, clearly NOT the caliber of player that would normally render type A status. This process needs some tuning. Until then, we're stuck with it.

Q: How do the Mariners owners choose what the payroll is going to be set at?

-Janis Kayser, Sedro Wooley, WA

DG: The CEO of the club, Howard Lincoln, and his business people within the organization, have chosen to set payroll at 50% of the expected total revenues of the season in question. Whether this is 100% true or not you and I will probably never really know for sure. The idea is very realistic however and done with superb business sense. I am of the understanding that the payroll for 2004 will be pushed up above 95 million. This puzzles me a bit considering the above 50% philosophy. The payroll for 2003 was set around the 92 million mark and ended up around 95 after bonuses and incentives. After a disappointing 2003 campaign that saw the team slump in the second half and hand the AL West to the A's for a second straight season, how does the front office see attendance, a major revenue source, going up in 2004? They probably don't necessarily, and are wavering over the 50% mark in order to lean towards winning versus profiting a little bit more than they have ever done before. This is a great sign for M's fans.

Do you have a question for the Diamond Genius? Email the your inquiries to If he doesn't know the answer, he will find it for you.

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories