Dan Wilson: A History and Evaluation
Dan Wilson was plucked from the Reds organization when former Reds manager (and Dibble-whupper) Lou Piniella came over to Seattle. Piniella had two apples, one for each eye: Dan Wilson and Bobby Ayala. The M’s gave up long-swinging Bret Boone and Erik Hanson. Boone had a great first season (.320/.368/.491) and then got worse for a while, Hanson had an average year for a starter. Ayala.. let’s not get into Ayala.
Anyway, Dan becomes the full-time catcher for the next 9 years. He’s amply paid for his troubles, while the team screws over Edgar repeatedly.
1994 .216 .244 .312
1995 .278 .336 .416
1996 .285 .330 .444
1997 .270 .326 .423
1998 .252 .308 .394*
1999 .266 .315 .382
2000 .235 .291 .336*
2001 .265 .305 .403
2002 .295 .326 .396
Car. .265 .313 .392
* 96, 90 games that season
Wilson over his career’s been about a league-average hitter when in the Kingdome, which isn’t good, and since then has been really bad and then, for a catcher, decent. Last year he was worth about 10 runs with the bat more than an average catcher. There’s no evidence at all that he’s any better defensively than a league-average catcher today. He’s well-regarded based on a reputation earned years ago.
Dan’s never drawn walks in 10% of his PAs and his BB:K rate runs about 1: 1.5-2. He’s a put ’em in play kind of hitter, and you can see on those likes that his overall value depends almost entirely on whether he’s hitting .260 or something closer to .300. If you believe that a hitter’s batting average is the most-lucky part of their line (and you should), that’s something to note. Wilson has never developed old hitter skills: his plate discipline hasn’t improved, he hasn’t developed power. As his bat speed declines, and it always does with age, Wilson’s entire offensive game goes to heck with it.
Dan’s been overrated offensively because of this dependence on batting average. He could run with Buhner on average, but who’d you rather have in the DH slot? Dan Wilson’s sort of a Brain Hunter behind the plate, without the speed and the threats to beat me up. Wilson’s also been consistently overpaid based on his production (and especially considering his age, skill set, and replacability), in large part because he’s a pillar of the community, a good guy who’s handy with the press, and the women love him (and women, I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, but it’s true Dan has more than his share of female admirers). There is no way that Dan Wilson is worth $3.5m to this team, or to next year’s team, especially given the free-agent freeze-out, and especially given the number of replacement candidates out there. The Mariners could have snagged Corky Miller from the Reds, for instance, and plugged him in to back up Davis, and we’d be better off (um, except that Miller’s not hitting well in the minors, post-having-the-Reds-break-his-spirit), or if they’d been willing to punt a little offense for better glove work, picked off any second-third string catcher floating across the transaction wire coming out of spring training.
This season Dan’s off to a slow start, or so we’d believe. Except that his .255/.295/.349 line is pretty much his 1998 (Kingdome) or 2001 (Safeco) line, and right in line with his career averages. The only reason we should expect to see improved production from Wilson is that he’s getting more rest this year, and that may help keep him fresh, which particularly would show up in his power numbers… and hasn’t.
That the Mariners have consistently seen fit to extravagently reward Dan Wilson for his popularity while at the same time playing hardball with fan favorite Edgar Martinez at every turn speaks a great deal about the organization’s biases and priorities when it comes to making decisions on what kind of a team they’re going to field, and how pound-foolish they really are.
The Big Board has received its weekly makeover, so I encourage you to click on over and check it out. Starting at the major league level, the biggest move is John Mabry to the disabled list and Pat Borders up from Tacoma to take his place. Laugh if you must, but know that Borders has been absolutely killing the ball for several months now (including spring training). No, I don’t expect that he’ll get to play much, seeing as he was given all of one at-bat at the start of the season when Dan Wilson was on the DL. And yes, I’d expect that the M’s will be looking for a legitimate bench player (an outfielder would seem to make sense) to replace Borders in the coming days, especially if Mabry really is going to miss two months. It’s worth noting that they signed veteran outfielder Jeff Abbott (White Sox, Marlins, spring training with the Mets this year) and assigned him to Tacoma — Abbott could easily wind up seeing time in Seattle before all is said and done.
Elsewhere in Tacoma, the Rainiers have had a recent run of injuries which has left them with a bit of a different roster. 1B Andy Barkett was finally put on the DL for a concussion he suffered a few weeks ago, leaving room for infielder Jay Pecci to remain on the roster despite Ruben Castillo being activated. I’ve also left Troy Cate on the Rainiers’ roster for the time being, even though he’ll be sent back to Inland Empire later this week as Ken Cloude returns from the DL. So please, no emails asking if the M’s are crazy for having Cate skip two levels in a year.
Finally, light-hitting OF Carlos Arroyo was moved from Wisconsin to Everett in anticipation of the Northwest League starting up, allowing indy league signee Dustin Delucchi to move from DH to the outfield. This in turn opened up a spot for Blake Bone — a personal favorite for no other reason than his super cool name — to take over DH duties. Bone spent last season in the California League and was quite productive despite a low batting average. Like Jay “Bone” Buhner before him, Blake is an all-or-nothing type of hitter and the bulk of his at-bats end in one of the Three True Outcomes (homer, walk, strikeout).
Series Preview: Mariners at Phillies
Yes folks, it’s the matchup you’ve all been waiting for, one of the fiercest rivalries in all of baseball. This is why interleague play exists: to allow marquee matchups like this that you, the fans, demanded.
Tues the 3rd, 4:05p, LHP Moyer v RHP Millwood
Wed the 4th, 4:05p, RHP Meche v RHP Padilla
Thu the 5th, 4:05p, RHP Pineiro v RHP Duckworth
Sarcasm aside, good games ahead, and that first game could be an awesome matchup: Millwood’s having a great year, and Moyer is Moyer. Padilla’s been okay, and I’d like to see Meche turn in a great start to steal that game. Then Pineiro v Duckworth, Pineiro pitches well and boom, we’re out of Philly with the sweep. No need to play the games, risk injury — just send us our share of the gate. Thanks. And for all the talk about Philly’s huge offensive upgrades in the off-season, they’re not as good so far this season as the Mariners have been. Seattle good pen, Philly not good pen.
Has anyone else noticed that Melvin, by quietly making a couple of flips in the rotation, now has them arranged more-or-less by quality? From the start of the season, it’s now 2-5-3-4-1, but by performance this year it’s now pretty well balanced by performance this year versus overall goodness, Freddy’s awfulness now having booted him all the way to the back (but, as I’m sure Melvin would say if called on this, still nominally the #1 starter).
Minor League Highlights for Sunday, June 1
Sacramento 6, Tacoma 4. The Rainiers took an early 1-0 lead, but then surrendered runs in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th to trail 6-1. They made things interesting by scoring three runs of their own in the bottom of the 9th, but in the end their valliant comeback effort fell short. RF Jacques Landry was the offensive hero in this one, going 2-5 with a homer, three runs batted in and a run scored. CF Chad Meyers and 2B Mickey Lopez also added two hits each. LHP Craig Anderson (6 2/3 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR) took the loss for Tacoma, falling to 3-6 on the season.
San Antonio 3, Arkansas 1. RHP Clint Nageotte (6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) had one of his good outings, running his record to 6-1 and lowering his ERA to 3.39 on the season. His 6-1 record is rather remarkable, given that when he pitches poorly he tends to get shelled; the Missions have bailed him out on several occasions so far this season. DH John Lindsey provided Nageotte more than enough offense, with a 2-3 day that included his 5th homer, a run scored and two driven in. LF Jaime Bubela also had a pair of hits, including a double, and SS Luis Ugueto stole his 19th base of the year.
Inland Empire 9, Rancho Cucamonga 5 (14 innings). Already short a pitcher because of LHP Troy Cate’s spot start for the Rainiers this weekend, the 66ers played a marathon of game in which the two clubs combined to use 14 pitchers. Inland Empire was so thin by the end that SS Eddie Menchaca (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) pitched the final two innings — and picked up the win! — as his club exploded for four runs in the top of the 14th. 1B John Castellano had four hits in seven trips and drove in four runs, as three 66ers — Castellano, CF Sheldon Fulse and C Luis Oliveros — homered. Fortunately for their beleagured pitching staff, the team has the day off today.
Wisconsin 4, West Michigan 1 (DH Game #1). The Timber Rattlers took the opening game behind the strong pitching of RHP T.A. Fulmer (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K), who gets credit for a complete game in the abbreviated contest. Fulmer ran his record to 4-2 on the year with a 3.20 ERA. Offensively it was a balanced attack, as six different Wisconsin hitters had a hit but none of them had more than one; the same was true of the club’s four runs scored and four runs batted in.
Wisconsin 4, West Michigan 1 (DH Game #2). Wisconsin won the second game by the identical 4-1 score, as LHP Miguel Martinez (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) came out of the bullpen for his first start of the season. LHP Oscar Delgado worked the final two innings (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) for his 3rd save. On offense it was the same story as in the first game — seven hits by seven hitters and four runs scored by four different players.
Minor League Highlights for Saturday, May 31
Tacoma 3, Sacramento 1. In a rematch of last week’s duel between the two pitchers, RHP Rafael Soriano (8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) pitched perhaps his best game of the year to get the better of Sacramento’s Rich Harden. Soriano allowed the lone run on a solo homer in the top of the 8th, then gave way to RHP Aaron Looper (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) who picked up his 2nd save of the season. Offensively, CF Chad Meyers provided a spark at the top of the order by going 2-4, stealing a pair of bases and scoring a run.
Arkansas 6, San Antonio 1. LHP Bobby Madritsch (5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) was plagued by one bad inning — a five-run 3rd — and took the loss, though he didn’t get much help from his hitters, either. San Antonio hitters managed just seven hits and didn’t draw a single walk, and thanks to hitting into a pair of double plays left only four runners on base. SS Jose Lopez and LF Jaime Bubela each had a pair of hits. 1B A.J. Zapp doubled and then scored the club’s only run on a Bubela single in the 2nd.
Inland Empire 6, Rancho Cucamonga 5. RF Shin-soo Choo hit a solo homer in the top of the 10th, leading his club to victory in what was a fairly wild contest. The 66ers took an early lead with three runs in the first, gave two back in the 2nd, scored one more in the 3rd and then found themselves tied at four after three innings. RHP Juan Done (2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) was unable to record an out in the 3rd and gave way to LHP Glenn Bott, who did a remarkable job in long relief (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K). The 66ers trailed 5-4 after seven but tied things up in the 8th before Choo’s game winning homer in the 10th. Whew! CF Sheldon Fulse, 3B Hunter Brown, LF Greg Jacobs and 1B John Castellano each had two hits in the game, while Choo’s heroics made a winner of RHP Emiliano Fruto (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K).
Wisconsin 12, West Michigan 2. The Timber Rattlers scored four runs in the 2nd and seven more in the 3rd, allowing LHP Bobby Livingston (6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) to run his record to 8-1 on the season. CF Gary Harris had three hits in the game, but 3B Matt Hagen had the big hit — a 3rd innning grand slam — that gave Wisconsin their early 11-0 lead. LF Corey Harrington also homered, driving in three runs on the day and scoring twice. DH Blake Bone, who had been on Inland Empire’s disabled list all season, made his 2003 debut by going 1-3 with a double, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs.
I was originally planning on posting profiles of four or five players that the Mariners may be considering with the 37th pick for the draft preview. However, everything I hear points back to one guy, and its almost unanimous that he’ll be the pick unless something crazy happens. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the likely next first round pick of the Seattle Mariners.
Greg Moviel, LHP, St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland, Ohio)
There may not be a more influential scout in the organization than Ken Madeja, who covers the northern midwest for the M’s. Madeja was the man who scouted and signed Ryan Anderson in 1997, than convinced the M’s to gamble on Matt Thornton with the 22nd pick in 1998 when most had him rated as a 5th round pick or later. He also added Andy Van Hekken (now with Detroit) in the 3rd round of the 1998 draft. More recently, he’s signed 1999 5th round pick Clint Nageotte, 2001 6th round pick Justin Ockerman, and the first ever player signed out of Russia in Oleg Korneev (who was released last week).
Besides being pitchers, these guys have one thing in common. They’re huge, and almost all left-handed. Anderson is 6’10. Ockerman is 6’10. Thornton is 6’6. Van Hekken is 6’6. Nageotte is 6’4. Korneev is 6’7. Nageotte’s the only righty in the group. Madeja is extremely fond of supersized southpaws, and Moviel fits the bill. At 6’7, 220 pounds, he’ll fit right in to the Mariners collection. It doesn’t hurt that Madeja is a big fan of Moviel and is pushing for his selection.
Most sources rank him as a reach in the first round. I’ve seen him projected from the late second to early fourth rounds, though signability may have a bit to do with that. Moviel has a commitment in place to Vanderbilt, who has a great track record of keeping their recruits. With pressure on scouting director Frank Mattox to get the picks under contract this year, Moviel’s willingness to turn pro will be the final piece in deciding whether they call his name tommorrow afternoon or not. Slot money for the 37th pick will be approximately $800,000, and the M’s aren’t interested in going much over that for the player they select. If Moviel is giving indications that he’ll take an offer near that range, expect him to be introduced to the media as the newest member of the organization.