Position Roundtables: Starting Designated Hitter

Dave · March 3, 2005 at 7:57 pm · Filed Under 2005 Roundtables 

Jeff: Starting Designated Hitter: Raul Ibanez and/or Bucky Jacobsen

Dear St. Patrick:

Are you there, St. Patrick? It’s me, Jeff.

Look, I know I don’t take much time to reflect on my Irish heritage, probably because all we know of it is that my great-grandfather fled from some trouble he got into, changed his name, and forbade anyone in the family from ever speaking of The Old Country again. But I come to you two weeks before your namesake holiday to ask a favor.

You’ve got to help Bucky Jacobsen out.

Sure, you’re probably pretty busy with, um, driving the snakes out of heaven. Or something. And it’s true that I’m not even sure Bucky is of Irish descent. He’s a redhead, though, and that should count for something.

Most importantly, this is a guy who could use a bit of good luck.

Who doesn’t root for a career minor leaguer that keeps plugging away? Bucky has been biding his time, just doing what he does best — get on base and hit for power. Such persistence is often its own reward, but not every persistent guy puts up a .291 Equivalent Average in just under 200 plate appearances. Bucky did, and at 29, the prime of his career is now.

Just as his talents peak, though, his fortune runs out. The Mariners sign a marquee free agent that plays his position. Raul Ibanez, one of the most productive Mariners last year, is getting squeezed into the role of primary designated hitter, closing off another place Bucky could shine. At a time when his talent is at its maximum, it seems his opportunity is minimal.

That’s where the luck of the Irish comes in.

Evidently, Royal Brougham’s answer to Paul Bunyan also has a knee that’s still healing from offseason surgery. The differing accounts from The Buckster and from the team regarding the injury are disconcerting, too. It’s reminiscent of Arthur’s encounter with the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail, with Bucky saying the “it’s only a flesh wound!” line.

[Of course, if anyone on the team compares to the Black Knight in terms of physical well-being, it’s Chris Snelling. But I digress. And I apologize if this cultural reference in any way brings up bad memories of British imperialism.]

So here’s my request: it’s said that finding a four-leafed clover on St. Patrick’s Day brings twice the good fortune it usually does. If you have an extra one around — a really hardy one that can supernaturally pop up in Arizona — could you see that Bucky gets it?

It’s said that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Bucky’s been preparing for almost a decade in the minors. He just needs for a few things to go his way — a slot to hit from and the physical well-being to do it.

If Bucky is healthy, the team should give him a shot to hit small white balls great distances for relatively little money. Even as part of a pseudo-platoon arrangement, with Ibanez being rotated into the outfield and Bucky giving Richie Sexson the odd day off at first base, Jacobsen could get 400-450 at bats.

If he hits the way he did last season, they won’t be able to keep him out of the lineup. And luck’s got little to do with that.


Jeff Shaw —- Please note the Irish last name

P.S. I hear Felix Hernandez is half Irish on his mother’s side. So if you have two of those magic clovers …

Dave: As Jeff notes, Bucky had an impressive major league debut, posting a .291 EqA in 176 plate appearances. This was after posting numbers that would translate to a .277 MjEqA at Tacoma, meaning he fared
better in his time in Seattle than one would have expected based on his Triple-A numbers.

Interestingly enough, Raul Ibanez posted an identical .291 EqA, but did so in 524 plate apperanaces. And everyone and their mother seems to want to get rid of Ibanez so that we can play Bucky full time.

But, 2004 Ibanez was better than 2004 Jacobsen.

Bucky’s a great story. He’s a perfect example of freely available talent, and why teams don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on 1B/DH types. But he’s not a great major league player. He’s a guy with an above average stick who offers no defensive value whatsoever. There’s definitely room for that kind of player on the roster, but you don’t have to go out of your way to remove other quality players in order to find him a job.

I’m in the minority on this, I know, but I’d rather have Ibanez as the regular DH. The line-up is already very right-handed in a park that plays extremely favorably to lefties. Ibanez is one of the few hitters in the lineup who will contribute their “normal” production in Safeco Field as well as in any other park in baseball. That counts.

Ibanez is historically terrible against lefties and should be platooned. With the roster only containing four real outfielders, Ibanez is essentially going to be the designated reserve whenever Winn, Reed, or Ichiro need a day off, freeing up the DH spot for Bucky on that day. Just by using Bucky at DH against lefties and when Ibanez is in the outfield, you’ve created at least 60-70 starts for
him. That’s 300+ at-bats.

We also have a shortstop who needs to be pinch hit for in nearly every crucial situation late in the game. We have a catcher tandem that could probably be replaced frequently as well. The team needs a good pinch-hitter, and, well, that has Bucky written all over it.

We can give Bucky 400 at-bats without moving someone out of the regular lineup to do so. And you know, depth isn’t a bad thing. I’m all in favor of Bucky being on the team too, but not at the cost of removing other players from the team in order to find him a starting job.

When asked to choose between Ibanez and Bucky for DH, I say “Both, please”.

Derek: I too would like to see Hargrove employ a super-rotation that somehow manages to get Jacobsen a ton of at-bats. I also would like a pony. I’m unlikely to get either.

It’s interesting to consider that DH is even considered a position. The designated hitter is a strange evolving position — you could use it as a daily half-a-rest spot for regulars, or stick Frank Thomas in there every day and rest players the old fashioned way. As anyone who has read my stuff for a while knows, I’m a huge fan of flexibility on the roster, and the Mariners this year present a great opportunity to show off if Hargrove wants to. But there just isn’t playing time. At 600 AB/position, everyone stays healthy, figure

Reed — 450 AB in center
Winn — 400 AB in left, 150 AB in center
Ibanez — 200 AB in left, 400 AB at DH
Bucky gets 200 DH at-bats. Anything more than that has to come from somewhere. Pushing Winn’s playing time to get Ibanez in the field serves no one. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, there isn’t room enough in this lineup for all these guys.

Dave: Why does Ibanez get 600 at-bats? 200 of those will come against lefties, and last years flukiness aside, he shouldn’t be in the lineup with a lefty on the hill. Let’s say Bucky gets 150 of those 200, and now you’re giving him 350 at-bats. That’s not bad.

Derek: It doesn’t really matter. The difference between Raul Ibanez getting all the DH at-bats and Bucky getting them, assuming our guesses about their relative production is right, is pretty small. Over the course of the season, it won’t amount to anywhere near the impact King Felix might have as a mid-season call-up, or whether the team puts Aaron Sele in the rotation.

But that is why it actually matters a great deal. Unless the team is trying to get Ibanez playing time because they think it will make him more easily tradeable, or unless they believe they’re going to get better hitting out of him — and both are possible — the choice to play Ibanez over Jacobsen means the Mariners are running a charity, not a baseball team. They’re going to pay Ibanez whether he plays or not. If there’s a better option that would help the team win ballgames, they should take it. And that’s Bucky.

Dave: In 2004, the AL West was decided by 1 game. In 2003, it was 3 games. In 2002, it was 4 games. In 2000, we finished half a game behind the A’s, only avoiding the tiebreaker because we were already in as the wild card. Only once in the last five years has the division not come down to the wire. The small things matter.

And remember, Raul Ibanez was better than Bucky Jacobsen last year. Playing the better player, the one with a longer track record of success, the one whose hitting style is perfectly suited to the park we play in, and whose leftiness offsets an extremely inbalanced lineup as it is currently constructed, is “running a charity”? Come on.

Why is Bucky a better option, exactly?

Peter: Raul Ibanez was better than Bucky Jacobsen
last year.

How exactly ya figure that, Dave? Their rate states are strikingly similar:

Ibanez: .304/.353/.472, EqA .291
Bucky: .275/.335/.500, EqA .291

The striking difference between the two came in the amount of time they each spent in the batter’s box. I’ll buy an argument that says Ibanez was better because he put up that line in more time in the field. I could buy an argument that says Bucky was better because he put up the same line using up fewer outs. Eh.

Furthermore, while they performed the same, Bucky did it at less than a tenth of the cost to the Mariners. I can buy a white T-shirt from Abercrombie for $50 or a whole package of them from Wal-Mart for $5. Which is the better T-shirt?

However, our argument isn’t who was better LAST year, but who will be better THIS year? Trying to figure who best complements the current lineup is another connundrum. The Mariners already have left-handed-singles hitters in Ichiro and Reed. They already have right-handed-mashers in Sexson and Beltre.

Regarding the plate appearance figures, are we accomodating those numbers for injuries? Because considering our dramatis personae, the question is not “if” somebody gets hurt but “when”, “who” and “how long”.

I say that the question of who wins out with the DH lineup spot will be decided by the first victim of the DL gremlins.

Personally, now that Edgar is sitting comfortably at home, I can now cross party lines and say let’s forget the DH altogether. But that’s a whole other can o’ worms.

Dave: How exactly ya figure that, Dave? Their rate states are strikingly similar.

At the major league level, yes. But keep in mind that Bucky’s major league sample was pretty small, and he outperformed what his MjEqA said he would do based upon his time in Tacoma. In other words, even if Ibanez and Seattle Bucky are equal, Ibanez was still better than Tacoma Bucky. Adding Seattle Bucky and Tacoma Bucky together gives us an inferior hitter to Raul Ibanez.

Which is the better T-shirt?

But we’ve already bought these tee shirts. In this case, we’re just standing at the closet deciding which t-shirt to put on. When you’re trying to figure out if you want to wear the Abercrombie or Walmart t-shirt, do you care how much you spent on them last year? I don’t. I just want to know which one is cleaner.

The Mariners already have left-handed-singles hitters in Ichiro and Reed.

Despite Ibanez’s single-fest at the end of the year when he made his run at .500, it’s not really fair to call hiim a left-handed singles hitter. He slugged .472 and had 48 extra base hits, good for 33 percent of his total hits. That’s not cleanup hitter material, but its not Jeremy Reed (17 percent of his major league total hits were extra base knocks) or Ichiro (just 15 percent!). Do you consider Bret Boone a “singles hitter”? Because just 36 percent of his hits were extra base knocks last year.

the question is not “if” somebody gets hurt but “when”, “who” and “how long”.

Exactly. This goes along with my “depth is not a bad thing” comment. We can’t assume that we’re going to get 600 AB from either Ibanez or Bucky. Removing one of the two from the equation means that the backup DH is now… Scott Spiezio?

Peter: In regards to which is cleaner–Ibanez or Bucky–I’d prefer not to be the one to make that inspection.

Derek: I think the other big issue we’re not considering enough is whether Bucky’s healthy. Even if I think he might out-perform Ibanez, if he’s not healthy there’s no way that happens, and the team won’t carry two DH types if one of them is injured anyway. There would be better things to do with that roster spot — heck, maybe they’ll cary 12 pitchers (yeagh). Without knowing Bucky’s healthy, I’m resigned to Ibanez.


50 Responses to “Position Roundtables: Starting Designated Hitter”

  1. Paul on March 4th, 2005 2:23 am

    Goodness, do I get to be first with a comment?

    It seems a bit silly to me to directly compare Bucky and Raul using overall numbers. What we should be comparing isn’t their overall stats, but their stats in the situation it seems everyone agrees gives an advantage to Bucky.

    Raul’s three-year split against LHP is .268/.307/.409. Bucky’s with the big club was .340/.400/.640. Okay, that’s just 50 AB, but let’s face it- the guy is going to mash lefties harder than twice-whipped taters. (Obligatory Irish potato reference, in keeping with the theme of the kickoff discussion.)

    If the M’s want to put the best team on the field, and they have to choose between Bucky and Raul against a lefty starter, it would be nearly criminal to have Bucky on the bench.

    So get Bucky in against all LHP, and then the rest of the games mess about with the OF rotation and breaks and so forth.

    As long as we’re at it, move Ichiro! to CF, Reed to RF, tell Olivo he’s going to play no matter how he hits but he da** well better block pitches in the dirt, and whatever else the M’s do: Do NOT put those stupid bleacher seats up in the CF plaza area again.

  2. Scraps on March 4th, 2005 4:08 am

    I know I’ve said this in two threads before this, and I know that I’m in the minority, so I won’t belabor the point: it’s being generous to even say that Jacobsen was as good as Ibanez. He had one good month. Aren’t any of Bucky’s boosters worried that he tailed off significantly after July, and that what he did in July was more than his AAA numbers would lead you to expect? July did not turn Bucky Jacobsen into a full-time prospect. He’s a useful part, and a good story. Keep him, play him, pinch hit him a ton; but if you give him 600 at bats, don’t expect him to hit 36 home runs.

  3. Atlaz on March 4th, 2005 6:00 am

    I’m inclined to agree with Scraps. The sample size on Bucky is still so small that it remains to be seen whether he had a career month or is genuinely that good. Taking a single month of any player as any indication of how well they’re going to do over a season is crazy. Even if he is fit, Bucky doesn’t bring quite the same to the table as Ibanez.

    Personally on a bang-for-buck level I’d prefer Bucky (and trade Ibanez), but if I can only have one and the 4th outfielder is then going to be Mr Sandfrog in that scenario, then Bucky is on the first bus back to Tacoma.

  4. chris w on March 4th, 2005 7:14 am

    The conundrum is that, while the logic of 2 and 3 above is sound, what if you’re wrong? If Bucky doesn’t get the at-bats, we’ll never know what he can do. Maybe he made some sort of physical or mental leap in the past year or two. If he only gets 200 ABs, and doesn’t do as well, that’s a small sample-size, too. Perhaps it was this same sort of logic that kept Edgar out of the lineup for a few too many years early in his career.

    It doesn’t solve anything, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to complain (again) about the Sexson signing. That’s what is causing this problem, more than anything. The Ms should have learned last year how easy it is to get good production from 1B for cheap, yet they went out and spent a lot of money to get good production out of 1B.

  5. Steve on March 4th, 2005 7:27 am

    1. This seems a good place to dredge out my usual comment that Bucky’s minor league numbers – a bigger sample size – indicate that he hits RHP better than LHP.

    2. Dave – I would expect your t-shirt to be Hanes, not A&F or W*M.

  6. troy on March 4th, 2005 8:07 am

    Bad news in the Times: “Manager Mike Hargrove’s first impression of Bloomquist was strongly positive.

    ‘He’s a nice player, I like him,” Hargrove said. “He’s fundamentally sound; one of the guys the more you see him, the more you like him.'”


  7. troy on March 4th, 2005 8:09 am

    Anyone else want to fly to Peoria and sit Hargrove down for a second for a crucial explanation? “No, Mike, really it’s the opposite, the more you see of him the less you like him. Trust me!”

  8. John on March 4th, 2005 8:20 am

    While many seem to have strong opinions about who should be the starting DH, my only concern is that Bucky makes the major league roster. I don’t see any clear indication that he will outperform Ibanez, but I think he should at least be given a chance to prove he is valuable to the club. As long as he’s with the M’s and given some at-bats, doesn’t it stand to reason that the truth will sort itself out? I say give both Bucky and Ibanez an opportunity and then make ongoing playing time decisions based on their respective performances. Honestly, I imagine that is exactly what will be done and I don’t see a good reason to do it any other way.

  9. DMZ on March 4th, 2005 8:21 am

    Bucky did not have “one good month”. He’s got a ton of minor league time, and minor league records are excellent predictors of major league performances.

    If you want to argue that he out-performed a reasonable expectation in his major league time, that’s fine. But Jacobsen’s got much more going for him than one month.

  10. Lou likes to put the game in motion early on March 4th, 2005 8:41 am

    I’m really going to step into with this, but lets suppose Bucky is going to ride the bench and with Grover’s desire for a set lineup he won’t get many ABs. Should the organization do him a favor and trade him somewhere he will get a shot?

    I think we can all agree that Bucky needs significant playing time this year or his professional career is pretty much done. Although it wouldn’t be the best business decision it seems like the decent thing to do would be to send Bucky somewhere (KC?) where they are more inclined to take a shot on a cheap masher.

    This really applies to any of the career minor league types approaching 30 who might be able to contribute but generally don’t get the chance.

    Any merit to this or am I just a wimp?

  11. chris w on March 4th, 2005 9:05 am

    Here’s what Pecota says about Bucky and Ibanez 2005:

    Bucky: .254 / .341 / .473
    Ibanez: .270 / .324 / .420

    I’m not sure why PECOTA’s so down on Ibanez, but, as DMZ points out, just just taking into account what they did last year, in MLB *or* the minors, is to ignore a lot of other information.

  12. Jerry on March 4th, 2005 9:17 am

    Great Discussion,

    I think that both sides of this debate have been presented well, and there is a lot of merit to each argument. However, I think that there are a few things that haven’t been addressed enough:

    -first, Bucky’s health is a major issue. Peter makes a good point that this decision could be a no-brainer if Bucky doesn’t get healthy sooner than later, or one of the other OFers gets hurt.

    -second, I think that we need to remember that the M’s do have Spiezio and maybe Leone on the bench. Leone gives the M’s a power hitter, Spiezio is a switch hitter with a little power who is a far better hitter than most Seattle fans think. These two give the M’s a little flexibility off the bench, and Bloomquist is adequate as a replacement in the OF in an emergency. Snelling, Strong, and Choo are also viable options if the worst happens. Would it be nice to have Bucky on the bench? Sure. But I really think that having him get less than 300 ABs would be a waste of talent. A platoon situation could work, but that would mean other good players will get less ABs, and the other guys on the bench will be not getting much PT at all.

    -there is also the question of what these roster decisions will mean for the longer-term makeup of the team. I hope that the M’s do well in 2005, but they really need to be focusing on the long-term goal of building for a run in 2006. Bucky will probably be at least nearly as good as Ibanez in 2005 for much less money. Getting Ibanez off the books now could be a really smart move. I think that we can all agree that Ibanez is not the long-term lefty power bat that this team needs. Winn isn’t either. Both of these guys could have some trade value either now or at the deadline. Since the easiest place to get a lefty power hitter is probably LF, the M’s shouldn’t worrry about creating a hole there, espeically if it is just for a few months. Choo will also probably be ready by 2006, so continuing to move more expensive vets like Ibanez and Winn for cheaper players like Choo makes a lot of sense.

    -For the short term I like the idea of a platoon, with Bucky getting ABs against lefties, when Ibanez is in LF, pinch hitting for Pokey about 150 times, and perhaps getting some starts at 1B. However, I would hope that this would be a short-term setup. If Bucky continues to hit well, it would make Winn and/or Ibanez a lot more tradable. If Ibanez is getting most of his ABs in a platoon and as the DH, it could boost his stats and help keep him healthy. Plus, Winn has some value right now, and moving him could make this decision a moot point.

  13. Harry Teasley on March 4th, 2005 9:21 am

    Why is this strictly Ibanez v. Bucky? Why isn’t more, “Bucky should be on the roster instead of Spiezio?” Let Spiezio do pennance in Tacoma until we have an injured infielder, and let Bucky start as DH against lefties.

  14. chico ruiz on March 4th, 2005 9:29 am

    For what it’s worth, I’d say Dave’s comments are spot on. Ibanez is probably superior, but there’s no good reason to play him against tough lefties, and there’s also no good reason not to play Bucky when the regular outfielders and Sexson get a day off or to use him as a pinch hitter for Pokey or the catcher. Last but not least, there’s no good reason to keep a bunch of no hit, decent fielding utility guys around. Assuming Bucky’s healthy, either Bloomquist or Spiezio should go, and I know which one I’d choose(Bye bye, Willie).

  15. Dave Clark on March 4th, 2005 9:31 am

    I have to repeat Steve’s sub-comment #1, Bucky is better at hitting righties then lefties over his long minor league career. So why should he be the DH against lefties?

  16. ajp on March 4th, 2005 9:40 am

    With all of the comment on whether Bucky is a good bet to perform at the same level as last year, perhaps I overlooked the discussion about whether Raul is, also?

    As I recall, there was a lot of discussion after his signing, and almost all of it leaned toward the view that he was something of an illusion of Kaufman stadium. When he actually performed well the first couple of months, their was mostly pleasant surprise.

    He hit 10 dingers and 11 doubles and triples in April and May. He hit 6 and 20 the rest of the year.

    Any of you analyst types care to comment on whether Raul is a safe bet to perform at the same level as last year?

  17. edgarrulez on March 4th, 2005 9:42 am

    The numbers show that overall Bucky and Ibanez were equal. However,some people think that because Ibanez is a lefty he has some mystical ability that Bucky can never hope to transcend.

    The facts are that Bucky hits better vs righties than his small sample size in the majors last year would indicate. As we all know, what Bucky did to lefties was more than what Ibanez has done ever. Couple all this with one large fact: Ibanez is declining, Bucky is hitting his prime. Bucky will be better than Ibanez and that gap will just grow.

    Bucky is definately the cleaner shirt. Not only that, but Ibanez is just getting that worn out look around the edges.

    The argument that it’s either or is not valid. If we choose to make Bucky the starting DH, that just puts Ibanez into the backup role that Bucky is being considered for. You lose no depth whatsoever either way. If Sexsons arm falls off, the situation does not change just because Bucky started and Ibanez sat on the bench. The only thing that changes if Bucky starts at DH is we can expect more HR’s, more xbh, and more runs scored. And let’s face it, neither of them are batting leadoff or expected to set the table, they are going to be expected to cleanup the table set ahead of them. That’s what Bucky does far better than Ibanez.

  18. Jon on March 4th, 2005 10:15 am

    Bucky’s knee appears to make this academic. It doesn’t appear to be strong enough for him to get the reps he’ll need. AAA for him to start the season is my guess.

  19. Grizz on March 4th, 2005 10:30 am

    The feel-good aspects of Jacobsen’s story and personality and the negativity toward Ibanez’s bad contract are clouding this discussion. I like the guy too, but much of DMZ’s great “fan favorite” satirical piece could apply equally to Jacobsen. The bottom line here is that a platoon, as Dave advocated, makes the most sense, at least to start the year. While they project to put up similar numbers, Ibanez has a consistent track record of solid (albeit unspectacular) production against major league pitching, especially when minimizing ABs against lefthanders. Plus, right now, Ibanez is healthy and Jacobsen is not. Ibanez should get the majority of starts at DH against righthanders to begin the year, but Jacobsen, if healthy, should get a decent number of ABs as DH against lefthanders and as a pinch-hitter. If Jacobsen posts a high OPS in those ABs (or if Ibanez declines faster than expected), Jacobsen earns more ABs. If Jacobsen does not produce when given the opportunity, he spends more time on the bench.

  20. Paul Covert on March 4th, 2005 10:36 am

    I’ll save the full discussion of my thoughts on backups for whenever the crew does a bench roundtable; for now, suffice it to say that I don’t think we’re wronging Bucky if we give him a 200-300 at-bat season.

    As for Bucky vs. Ibanez as a starter: It seems to me well within the range of uncertainty which is likely to be better this year. Both sides of the argument seem to me reasonable (depending on how much relevance is attributed to which factors), but neither compelling against the other. In cases where the stats can be read either way, I’m content to defer to the manager’s inside knowledge.

    Also, on a related topic: One of the arguments for Ibanez (in the press, at least, though not so much here) is that he would break up what would otherwise be a Beltre-Sexson-Boone (-Bucky?) string of righthanders in the middle of the order. What I’d favor in that case, if Ibanez weren’t starting, would be putting Randy Winn at #5. Although perhaps having a #5 hitter without that power-hitting mystique would get Hargrove in even more hot water with the media than having a string of righties in the lineup would do….

  21. Scraps on March 4th, 2005 10:39 am

    DMZ, Do Bucky’s minor league equivalencies at any point come close to what he did in July? I’m not trolling, I genuinely don’t know (and don’t have a way to check that I’m aware of). We’ve been told that what he did in AAA before his call-up last year was considerably lower; had he been better before that? I said he’s had one good month because I haven’t seen anyone give a statistical argument that his July is not an anomaly.

    Do you think he’s more likely a 291 EQA guy or a 277?

  22. Evan on March 4th, 2005 10:44 am

    But let’s not forget that Ibanez doesn’t hit lefties well. We need to platoon him.

    I don’t care if he’s DH or LF or 1B when Sexson goes down, but he shouldn’t be any of those things when there’s a lefty on the mound.

    Bucky’s invaluable as a bat who hits both lefties and rightes off the bench. He should be our starting DH against lefties, and our starting DH when one of the fielders is getting a day off against a righty (and thus being replaced out there by Ibanez).

  23. eponymous coward on March 4th, 2005 10:46 am

    pinch hitting for Pokey about 150 times

    Uh, the M’s didn’t have 150 PH AB’s ALL YEAR in 2004, so expecting Bucky to pick up that many by himself is just difficult to do, especially in a league with the DH. (Not to mention the fact that it would mean Willie Bloomquist waving at a LOT of ground balls at SS in the late innings).

    Keep in mind you’re kind of unlikely to PH for your best defensive SS (and arguably best defensive player) in a game where you are LEADING in the late innings- and the M’s will likely have at least 60 games they win where they lead going into the 7th inning.

    But you sure could reduce Ibanez’s PA’s against lefties by using Bucky…

    Anyhee, I’ve been one of the Bucky Backers on the blog, but my argument for trading Ibanez largely revolves around getting something we don’t have (a power arm for the pen, for instance) for something we might have in surplus- but I’ve never thought we HAD to make the deal unless the right one came along. There’s worse things in the world than having extra players who are well above replacement value. Given Bucky’s lack of health right now, having him do a 15 day rehab in Tacoma’s post spring training’s not a bad idea- it gives you the 12th man in the bullpen while starters stretch out to 7-8 IP and lets him get his sea legs by playing every day. Then, once the starters start going longer, you swap out the 12th man for Bucky.

  24. John Hawkins on March 4th, 2005 11:59 am

    Derek, you want a pony? Where ya gonna keep it?

    Anyway, the basics:
    -Bucky is almost certainly a better deal (VORP/$$$) than Raul, even if it’s not clear that he would be a better overall player (VORP alone).
    -Regardless of whether Steve is right about Bucky hitting RHPs better than LHPs, Bucky is probably a better guy to have in the lineup against lefties than Ibanez.
    -We have a minor shortage of Left handed hitters.
    -Among the likely 1B/DH candidates, we have at least two (Bucky and Sexon) that enter the season as injury concerns.

    So, my plan if I were in charge would be to see how well Sexon and Bucky hold up health wise, and see if anyone was interested in Ibanez in a trade by mid season. From there, it’s play-it-by-ear, but for the first half of the season I would try to get all three guys ABs.

  25. Change on March 4th, 2005 12:05 pm

    You guys that think we’re going to have anything other than a 12 man pitching staff are on crack. When was the last time the Mariners had an 11 man staff? I’m pretty sure it was before Price hit his stride. I’m absolutely CERTAIN we’re going to carry 12 pitchers. Etch it in stone, it’s a done deal.

    Now for the even worse news. Bucky will start the year in AAA. The press has been harping on his bad knee, the M’s have been slowing him down and making sure he heals right. The bottom line is he’s not healthy, he won’t get a chance to impress Hargrove like he impressed Melvin and the rest of us last year. So he’ll start in AAA for sure, take it to the bank. Guess what happens after that? When we have an injury they call up Leone or Dobbs or some other, more ‘prospectish’ guy. Not Bucky. It sucks, it’s a raw deal, but Bucky had his cup of coffee and he’s done. He’s got too much ‘carreer minor leaguer’ written all over him. Barring some HUGE change in the way things are going, a miraculous recovery, or another abysmal season I think we’ve unfortunately seen nearly the last of Bucky. Sucky but true.

  26. Scraps on March 4th, 2005 12:06 pm

    It isn’t really relevant to talk about whether Bucky is a better per-dollar player than Ibanez when talking about lineup construction, and it wouldn’t be even if Ibanez were a bad deal (which he isn’t). They’re both here; what matters is who is a better player on the field, now. Or what combination of them.

  27. dirk on March 4th, 2005 1:12 pm

    Within the propaganda that we heard coming from Grover before Spring Training even started, he stated his reticence for anything but an iron-clad lineup that was written in permanent marker. Barring injury, to me it didnt seem like he was willing to make changes to what he cements on opening day.

    That being said, do you really think that Hargrove will go for a platoon-style DH arrangement?

  28. John Hawkins on March 4th, 2005 1:17 pm

    Scraps, of course it’s relevant to talk about per-dollar value. Although folks like to argue about how high the M’s salary budget ought to be, the fact is they do have one, and if they can get equivalent value for lower dollars, that is relevant. Maybe not for Opening Day’s lineup, but for how the team plans the future (which by my book starts July 1 ’05 at the latest).

  29. Grizz on March 4th, 2005 1:28 pm

    On the platoon question, if during the first two weeks of the season Ibanez goes 1 for 20 against Johan Santana, J.C. Romero, Kenny Rogers, Brian Anderson, Jeremy Affeldt, Mark Buehrle, and Damaso Marte, Hargrove should have an open mind about giving Ibanez days off against LHP starters.

  30. Adam S on March 4th, 2005 2:18 pm

    Grizz, the heck with the first two weeks of the season. There’s several YEARS of data that says Hargrove should have an open mind about playing Ibanez against lefties. Over the last three season (the only data I have) Bloomquist hits lefties better than Ibanez .747 OPS vs. .716.

  31. Evan on March 4th, 2005 3:56 pm

    Exactly right. Ibanez should not be playing against lefties, which means we need someone to DH.

    So we carry 12 pitchers. After the regular starting 9 and Dan Wilson, you have 3 bench spots to fill. Willie and Spiezio are not the guys you want at DH ever. Bucky is the only reasonable option.

  32. Grizz on March 4th, 2005 4:06 pm

    Amen, Adam. I was responding to the previous comment suggesting that Hargrove would not consider a platoon due to his stated preference for a set lineup. My point is that I would not read too much into an off-season statement Hargrove made in the abstract to a reporter’s question about his general preferences. If Hargrove is as inflexible as suggested (which I don’t buy) and makes a bad decision by installing Ibanez as the everyday DH to start the year, even the most stubborn manager would re-consider a platoon once he witnesses Ibanez’s struggles against LHP up close.

  33. dirk on March 4th, 2005 4:43 pm

    I don’t see Ibanez going 1 for 20 to start the season, which would undoubtedly force Hargrove to make a change and platoon the DH. It is mediocrity I worry about, however, because I believe that it is reasonable to expect such a performance from Ibanez against lefties.

    Mediocrity, coming from the DESIGNATED HITTER, is unacceptable.

    All managers cut players when the do not perform to standard – I’m just wondering where that standard is that Hargrove will use in order to judge whether or not Ibanez deserves the ABs.

  34. dr chock on March 4th, 2005 4:47 pm

    “but i digress” has to be one of the worst phrases in the english language. when i come across that phrase, i stop reading the article. a loose translation could be “i am a self-indulgant writer.” either find a way to make your “digression” relevent, or dont make the rest of the world read it.

  35. ray on March 5th, 2005 12:05 am

    What! Nooooooo! Why are so many people thinking short term (One year). Do you want to see Ibanez as your DH for the next 5 (or more) years or Bucky? If Bucky isn’t given the chance, don’t you think he will want to be traded or become a free agent? I would at at 29. And remember last year? He was doing so well at Tacoma. If he does it again and they don’t bring him up…what happens? All signs point to an unhappy camper if they think “just stick him in Tacoma.” Let’s not lose another (AJ Zapp).

  36. John D. on March 5th, 2005 12:09 am

    Re # 21: This page does not contain Bucky’s minor league equivalencies, but it does contain his minor league hitting record. Perhaps it will help. http://tinyurl.com/6zkkz
    BTW, let us hope that Hargrove is not so intractable that he goes with a set lineup no matter what. Say, for instance that he has a .340 hitter, a player who hits about .400 against RHP and .100 against LHP. Let’s hope that he doesn’t refuse to platoon him because of his preference for a set lineup.

  37. Scraps on March 5th, 2005 6:50 am

    Thank you for that link.

    And remember last year? He was doing so well at Tacoma.

    A .277 major league EQA, for a first baseman/designated hitter, is perfectly decent, but hardly something to get excited over, it seems to me.

  38. Pud on March 5th, 2005 10:20 am


    Didn’t everyone agree that the 2004 Ibanez was much better than anyone expected? If so, how can you use simply his 2004 numbers, and ignore his career numbers. Plus shouldn’t age be a factor as well?

  39. djw on March 5th, 2005 10:36 am

    I can’t believe it took to comment 38 to make the obvious point that helps explain why PECOTA is “so down” on Ibanez. Last year was his career year. He’s never been that good before, not even when he broke out in KC. He’s a very inconsistent player over the course of his career, and he’s well past 30, so a serious tanking is a real possibility. Dave seems to focus almost entirely on Ibanez circa 2004.

    (Granted, Jacobsen’s Minor league record has some questionable years too, so I’m not disagreeing with the conclusions–I’d say platoon and be ready to shift the ABs based on performance. But I don’t think PECOTA and ZIPS, which both have Jacobsen solidly outhitting Ibanez, are out of line).

  40. Dave Clark on March 5th, 2005 12:06 pm

    Could someone tell me why we think there is going to be a 12Man pitching staff?

    It has been an 11 Man staff for like the last 6-8 years and before that it was 10. The only team I know that has gone with 12 pitchers for any significant length of time is Colorado and that wasn’t that long. Unless a team has a Mark McLemore in his peak days how do they go with only a 4 Man bench (backup catcher in there)?

    Maybe I just haven’t looked closely enough.

  41. John D. on March 5th, 2005 12:53 pm

    Re (# 40) the 12-man pitching staff: Hargrove has repeatedly said that he plans to carry seven relievers, at least in the early part of the season. * If he also has a 5-man starting rotation, he has a 12-man staff.

  42. John D. on March 5th, 2005 1:00 pm

    [Continuation of # 41): * – IIRC, teams used to begin the season with a roster of 28 players, and go to 25 on May 1.

  43. Scraps on March 5th, 2005 1:57 pm

    2004 was certainly not Ibanez’s career year; his 2002 was considerably better. 40 more total bases, a few more times on base, 40 more RBI, a few more runs scored. 58 more points of OPS. He had a better OPS in 2001, too, but only played in 104 games.

  44. Dave Clark on March 5th, 2005 3:37 pm

    Could someone find a link on the Hargrove saying that he WILL go with 12 Man staff, and not saying that he is considering it?

  45. eponymous coward on March 5th, 2005 3:40 pm

    Scraps, has it occurred to you that Kaufman Stadium MIGHT be a better place to hit than Safeco Field? As in, one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball as opposed to one of the worst?

    THAT is why, though his counting stats and raw stats were better in 2002 because he was in the lineup more often and played half his games in a great park for hitters, Ibanez actually performed at a higher level in 2004, when he was in the lineup, because the park was working AGAINST him that year in half his games.

  46. Pud on March 5th, 2005 5:51 pm


    Ibanez’s 2002 was significantly better only if you ignore the fact that he played half his games in a park that favors hitters.

  47. Spiegs on March 6th, 2005 8:16 am

    I could be way off but didn’t Ibanez come on strong towards the end of the season? I still think he should be the starting DH but I seem to remember him not hitting the ball consistently until Auguest/September when it didn’t matter all that much.

  48. Scraps on March 6th, 2005 8:52 am

    So the park adjustment makes up for the whole difference in Ibanez’s years? Feel free to give an answer without snottiness, if you can manage it, ep. cow. I’m open to correction.

    If it does make 2004 his best year, I’m confident that it’s a slight edge, so saying that it was his “career year” as though it were out of line with his established ability would still be misleading.

  49. Scraps on March 6th, 2005 9:03 am

    For what it’s worth, Ibanez’s OPS was better at home last year than on the road: 837 vs. 814.

    In 2002, he was a lot better at home: 915 vs 847. But his road OPS in 2002 was still a lot better than his 2004 road OPS.

    So what am I missing here that makes his 2004 better than his 2002?

  50. Aaron on March 7th, 2005 11:05 am

    Derek: I too would like to see Hargrove employ a super-rotation that somehow manages to get Jacobsen a ton of at-bats. I also would like a pony. I’m unlikely to get either.

    Just too funny. I almost fell off my chair.

    Given that I’m biased, Bucky as DH makes too much sense once he’s healthy. When healthy, Bucky has overachieved at every level he’s been at. In his last AA and AAA seasons, Bucky averaged a homerun every 3.7 games (it was almost down to 3 to 1 in Tacoma). He was on pace to knock in 172 runs as well. And as was mentioned, his numbers in the majors were better than the projections. I have no doubt that Bucky will utilize any chance he has and continue to perform as he has in the past.