June 14, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Hello, and welcome back to Seattle Mariners Jeopardy. Our next category is “Numbers.” And the answer is, “8.” Anyone? No? Bzzt! OK then. The question was, “How many runs have the Mariners scored in the last five games combined?”

I’m just sayin’…

June 14, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Hi. I’m Derek, and if Freddy continues to pitch as well as he did against the Braves, I’m announcing that I like my crow served to me crisply fried, seasoned only with a dash of salt and pepper.

In other news, holy cow does Furcal have an arm on him. I think that’s the fastest I’ve seen a shortstop throw so far this year.

June 14, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

It has been almost two weeks since the draft, and I’ve finally got some time to write about it now. I’ve gotten several questions on what I think of the M’s performance, especially with so many teams having shifted to the philosophy of selecting college players. While I usually get thrown into the pool of statistical analysts (apparently, anyone who values on base percentage is a stathead), I’m not in line with the drafting strategies employed by Oakland, Toronto, and Boston. I’ve read Moneyball (and written my thoughts on the book), and I know the fad is to decry the drafting of high school players. For the long explanation, you can follow the link, but my basic belief is that drafting HS players isn’t any worse of a strategy than drafting college players. For those decrying the M’s draft simply because of the lack of college emphasis, I’d suggest taking a gander at the facts first. This was not a bad draft simply because they took 18-year-olds instead of 22-year-olds.

That said, I’m not really all that thrilled with the picks. Most notably, the first round pick of Adam Jones doesn’t do a lot for me. The remarks I get on his bat when talking to scouts who saw him in high school range from “questionable” to “not a chance he’ll hit with wood.” The M’s like his actions in the field, his extremely strong arm, and his athletic ability, but they’ll even admit that his ability to hit is the question right now. I’m not a fan of using high draft picks on position players who aren’t projecting as offensive forces. You can snag a PAM (useful, no stick) in the later rounds. When using your premium picks, I think its important to get a guy who you believe will have an impact with the bat. If Jones turns into a hitter, he could be a fine player. The if is just too big for me, right now.

Some organizations will hedge after selecting a risky pick by grabbing some low-ceiling polished guys later to insure that the draft isn’t a total disaster. The M’s certainly didn’t do this, following Jones selection with the pick of Jeff Flaig, another high school SS who comes with injury problems. Everyone loves Flaig’s bat, so in that sense, I like the pick, but no one really knows how he’s going to respond when he’s fully healthy again. The word that comes up when discussing his shoulder isn’t injured but damaged, and some people aren’t sure if he’s ever going to regain the arm strength necessary to play third base. I’m glad the M’s picked a guy with the potential to be an offensive force, but I wish they could have found one with less question marks. Flaig, like Jones, offers an intriguing return, but comes with quite a bit of risk.

The most consternation from the stathead community came from the selections of the high school lefties in rounds 3, 4, and 6. However, Ryan Feirabend, Paul Fagan, and already-signed Erik O’Flaherty were all quality selections for where the M’s grabbed them. O’Flaherty, in particular, has gotten strong reviews from other teams as an astute selection. The easiest way to develop a pitching prospect is to gather a bunch of them and go with whoever doesn’t hurt their arm, and the M’s definitely went with the quantity method this year. I may have preferred they mix in one or two college arms instead, but I don’t see any reason to write these guys off simply because they’re high school pitchers.

The key to the entire draft could be 15th round pick Scott Maine, who had 2nd round talent and fell due to signability concerns. The M’s confirmed with his agent that he would sign for second round money before they selected him, and he is willing to forego college for the right price. If they can find the $700,000 or so in their budget to get him signed, it will be a coup. They’ll have to answer to the commissioner’s office, who is attempting to crack down on large signing bonus’ for players who fall, but Maine could be worth it.

Overall, I think the draft is a mixed bag. They got a lot of arms, which should help stack the lower levels with quality pitching, which they currently lacked, but they didn’t add any polished hitters who can make an impact in the majors any time soon. The position players they did select are projects, and the Mariners coaching staff is overloaded with projects as it is. A lot of this draft will hinge on Jeff Flaig’s shoulder. If he can come back healthy and show everyone that the Troy Glaus comparisons were legitimate, the M’s will likely do well. If he ends up in left field and can’t regain his power, they’ll likely regret passing the opportunity by to add some much needed power to the system.

Overall, I’ll give Frank Mattox a C in what could very well be his last draft as the M’s scouting director.