Getting to competitive

DMZ · June 12, 2005 at 8:33 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners are 9.5 games behind the Angels right now. If the Angels slack off and play .500 baseball from now until the end of the year, they’ll finish at 86-76. If the Mariners take a much larger step up to play .500 ball, they’ll finish at 76-86. The Rangers playing .500 gets them to 84-78.

The Mariners, to meet a stumbling Angels, would need to win 60% of their games for the rest of their season. That’d be a tremendous turnaround, and let’s be frank — even if we call Felix up and he’s the best pitcher on the staff, even if they find out Beltre’s been replaced by an evil robot and the real Beltre is freed from captivity (where he was able to keep his skills up and so on), and Ichiro goes back to being Ichiro! there isn’t a .600 team in this Mariners squad, struggling to get out.

There’s nothing that says the Mariners can’t or won’t make up a ten-game margin over a hundred games. But the odds are stacked so far against the team being competitive this year that it’s reasonable to give up on that.

Moves intended to make the team more competitive this year, at any cost to the next good Mariner team, should be avoided. I understand they’re probably feeling enormous pressure to scrape for the break-even mark any way they can, but I’d be much happier knowing the front office was looking to build a good team in the long-term than knowing my late-season tickets might keep the gap on the division leaders under ten games.


90 Responses to “Getting to competitive”

  1. G-Man on June 13th, 2005 9:48 am

    If a contending team calls Bavasi to get a starter for a stretch run, who is the most likely arm to be dealt? Not simply who Bill would be willing to dump, but who would fetch an agreed-on price?

    Piniero seems the least likely, as his 2005 forecast is poor compared to his long term potential (at least in our FO’s eyes). Meche is probably the same. Bavasi would need to get more than they’re worth to the contending team. If Sele has a couple more decent starts, I’d say he’s the one, with Moyer the next most likely (with some salary eaten here). Franklin I just don’t see anyone falling for, but Bill might take a bag of balls for him, so some team with a pitcher’s park might risk that price. We could get him back from the waiver wire within a month (see: Red Sox, Jeff Manto).

    But now that I’ve written all that an reread it, I don’t think any of these guys is going anywhere. There have to be better arms available elsewhere.

  2. Steve on June 13th, 2005 9:58 am

    What is Boone suppposed to get us in trade? Do you think the other 29 teams can’t see his age, printed right there in the media guide, just as easily as you can? I think a AAA pitcher is really reaching, and frankly a AAA pitcher we got plenty of. Personally I think they need to experiment with some different infield options. Morse is working out so far; whether that’s a long term bet that’s going to continue to pay out, I dunno, but we can try. Leone as well. Dobbs is a bust, obviously, and Bloomquist has been tried repeatedly and found wanting. But at least he can play different positions, unlike, uh, Dobbs. Or Choo/Doyle/etc.

    There’s just not that much to trade. As I said last year, Winn is our best trade bait, but we’re still not going to get as much in return as he’s worth here — his perceived value is still lower than his actual value. That’s the ballpark, I think. You could trade Ibanez, but for what? As I said, AAA pitchers we got plenty of. Guardado? Man, you’d better act fast; the “proven closer” tag is losing value by the second in this market.

    When you start looking further down, trading prospects for “now” players, you get into pretty risky territory. You’re talking about taking aging vets who might, MIGHT, have a bit more left than their current team thinks. But that’s not a good gamble, especially with our talent-evaluation skills. I fear that any kind of trade that sends away, say, Adam Jones, is going to get us more Bret Boones, or even Aaron Boones, in return.

    I don’t see any easy answers. Except “dump Dobbs” of course. 2007, anyone?

  3. petec on June 13th, 2005 9:59 am

    re: 51.

    My point was that there are 3 common ways to add players: minor league system, free agency and trades. The M’s are going to have to rely on free agency by process of elimination. Their system is pretty much devoid of high-ceiling guys. Without free agents, I’d like to see a roster than can contend in ’06 or ’07, especially on the pitching side. They don’t have a single reliable starter on the ML roster. I don’t think a rotation of Felix, Piniero, Madritsch, Baek and Blackley are going to take you to the pennant.

    Thus the Beane plug. They’re going to need to get creative to find some undervalued talent somewhere.

    Position players may be another story. I think a lineup of Ichiro, Reed, Snelling, Beltre, Morse, Lopez, Sexson, Clement and Bucky can produce enough runs in ’07.

  4. Evan on June 13th, 2005 10:07 am

    What would it take to get us Austin Kearns?

  5. roger tang on June 13th, 2005 10:43 am

    Feh. Trading Felix is the very epitome of short term gain/long term loss. Short sighted in the extreme.

  6. DMZ on June 13th, 2005 10:52 am

    There are packages I’d trade Felix for. No one’s untradeable from a baseball perspective.

    I mean really, if someone came to the Mariners today and offered, as part of a complicated package:
    – Joel Guzman (ss)
    – Andy Marte (3b)
    – Matt Cain (rhp)
    – Adam Miller (rhp)

    along with Jake Peavy and Johan Santana, I’d make that trade every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    The obvious retort is that that trade never comes, which is true. But to say that there aren’t any circumstances where they should consider trading him… maybe there are.

  7. MarinersInsider on June 13th, 2005 11:04 am

    Message to Petec: When did Doyle change his name?

  8. bilbo on June 13th, 2005 11:09 am

    would picking up a guy like Jason Schmidt and keeping him beyond next year be a good start to a solution?

  9. roger tang on June 13th, 2005 11:21 am

    re 56

    True enough. But those circumstances aren’t the ones being bandied about…and I’m not sure that a pressured Bavasi will be able to pull off something like that…

  10. LB on June 13th, 2005 11:24 am

    #58: The Giants have been working Schmidt like a rented mule for the last few seasons. This year, his record is 3-3 with a 6+ ERA in 11 starts. Felipe says maybe the problem is fatigue. Fatigue? Really? You think?

  11. petec on June 13th, 2005 11:28 am

    I don’t remember him changing his name *to* Doyle. ;^)

  12. PositivePaul on June 13th, 2005 11:36 am

    I got some pretty weird looks at the Rainiers game yesterday when I was screaming “Go Doyle!” during one of his ABs. Doh!

  13. Evan on June 13th, 2005 1:07 pm

    He didn’t have to change his name to Doyle. Doyle is his middle name.

  14. bookbook on June 13th, 2005 1:24 pm

    I’d like to see someone pry Austin Kearns and D’Angelo Jimenez away from Cincinatti. The A’s don’t need a 2b (unlike us), so maybe we’ll be the ones to do it. (Of course. we do have just about nothing to trade. so maybe not)

  15. Ralph Malph on June 13th, 2005 2:10 pm

    I’m not sure you’d need a really big crowbar to pry D’Angelo Jimenez loose, considering they DFA’d him and he cleared waivers and got sent down a while back.

  16. Evan on June 13th, 2005 2:49 pm

    Given the Reds’ current opinion of Jimenez and Kearns, a package including Dobbs and Olivo and Villone might snag them.

  17. bilbo on June 13th, 2005 3:00 pm

    #60. If you look at his innings, he hasn’t been ridden hard at all. I don’t know how many pitches they let him throw, but he just turned 32 and hasn’t logged a tremendous amount of mileage for a power pitcher. If this team is gonna solve its pitching woes, they are gonna have to take some chances…

  18. LB on June 13th, 2005 3:19 pm

    #67: Look at Schmidt’s pitcher abuse points, not his innings pitched. (See for this year’s data, and google with the pattern “2003 pitcher abuse points” for earlier years.)

    For 2003, is is #9 on the list.

    For 2004, he is #2 on the list.

    For 2005, he is #4 on the list s of today (and mind you, this is with a few missed starts already).

    Felipe Alou is “old school,” and I don’t mean that in a nice way. I was at the Giants / Red Sox game last summer where Felipe sent Schmidt out to hit for himself in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Giants had a 4 run lead. Schmidt had already blown his no hitter (the Sox had one hit) and was, if I remember correctly, well north of 110 pitches at that point. There was no good reason for him to pitch the 9th inning, and he finished the game at 133 (!) pitches.

    This is not the kind of chance you want to take. Stay away from this guy, far away.

  19. Evan on June 13th, 2005 3:46 pm

    It’s a shame Alou doesn’t get to manage Livan Hernandez (150 pitch outing about 2 starts ago). Then we could really see some Herculean pitch counts.

  20. Zero Gravitas on June 13th, 2005 4:20 pm

    63- Given his history, I’d say that (much like Austin Powers himself) – Danger is his middle name.

  21. ray on June 13th, 2005 5:05 pm

    re: 55
    Please explain how getting 2 prospects for one is short term? The idea is two of a lesser would be equal to the one. Generally speaking prospects are controlled for quite a few years.

    re: 68
    Here is some real pitcher abuse for you: Japan College Series, Game 4, each team is starting the same pitcher that started in Game 1,2 and 3. That is 4 starts in a row! Let’s make sure not to pursue those arms-to-fall-off-soon pitchers.

  22. Christopher Michael on June 13th, 2005 5:22 pm

    Ibanez, Winn, and Eddie… those are the three guys I’d like to see traded. Doyle, Bucky, and Sherill/Soriano can take up those three spots and even if we are worse those three should at least be able to get us something in return.

  23. johnb on June 13th, 2005 5:22 pm

    Right now we have the best pitcher in the minors in Felix, and the best hitter in Doyle. If the team is serious about this season as they say they are we need to see these guys up here by the end of the month.

    The reality is this team is building for next year, not this year. There was no way they could fill all the holes in one offseason.

  24. LB on June 13th, 2005 5:42 pm

    Small sample size disclaimer applies, but I was at the Tacoma game last week that Felix started. From what I saw, he’s not ready for the big leagues. He has flashes of brilliance, but consistency is missing. He walked the leadoff batter in at least the first two innings, and I think he did it on four pitches the second time. Patient major league hitters will wear him out. Let him stay in Tacoma and develop.

  25. Dave on June 13th, 2005 5:47 pm

    Ugh. People really think Doyle is the best hitting prospect in the minors?

    Get a grip, folks.

  26. Alex2 on June 13th, 2005 7:46 pm

    Great thread. No one has mentioned an important option the M’s have: agreeing to pay the salary (or send cash equivalent) along with an expensive veteran, such as Boone. That way, even for cash-strapped teams, most of our players can be moved. That still leads to the question of what we can get in return. But I guarantee that our bargaining position will be a lot better. The idea is to buy prospects from other teams who want to show their fans that they’re serious about winning (but don’t want to spend any more money).

  27. roger tang on June 13th, 2005 7:47 pm

    re 71

    Two of a lesser is NOT equal to the one higher. You can look it from a scouting viewpoint (you never get your value if you trade quality for quanity), or you can look at it from a more statistical viewpoint (the Stars and Scrub model, or that the further you get from the mean/replacement value, the harder it is to get that kind of talent, and thus it is more valuable), but it’s coming from the place that’s looking for more immediate payoffs than longer term development. Talking about controlling prospects is irrelevant if the person you’re trading IS a prospect.

  28. world series on June 13th, 2005 8:19 pm

    I think the experiment with Baek (and Campillo) should continue. He warrants a further look for next year. If these two can pitch than we can lose Piniero, Franklin, Sele, etc. Meche, I would give him the rest of this year to decide if he is part of next years plan. I have given up on Piniero, Sele, Franklin, Nageotte and Blackley.

    Campillo next year does not seem as bad as:

    Franklin this year, and that is without a single free agent signing, add one of those to replace a Meche, Moyer or Campillo and things aint so bad.

    I would like to see them incorporate Bucky and Doyle in to their offensive plans (if nothing else bench plans) for the rest of this year and next – whenever Bucky is healthy.

  29. gumbostu on June 13th, 2005 8:26 pm

    I know this is a bit premature and comes with quite a big question mark, but what if Soriano can make a transition into the rotation in ’07? That gives us a possible rotation of Felix, Soriano, Mads, Piniero, and/or any free agents/minor leaguers that we can pick up/call up. Soriano was quite good in the bullpen a few years back, and after pitching a good, healthy ‘I hope!’ season next year in the bullpen, maybe he can get his offspeed stuff to the point where he can be an effective starter. Thats a rotation that will probably not be amazing, but I think can easily be competitive.

  30. bookbook on June 13th, 2005 8:59 pm

    This team is only an OF, two MI, a C and five starting pitchers away from being competitive.

    I honestly don’t see how the M’s break .500 in ’06, much less ’05.

    Hopefully Felix works out, and any two of Piniero, Meche, Madritsch, Nageotte, Soriano, Baek become/recove to being servicable starters. then Doyle works out as a starting OF (and Reed comes along), Olivo finds his stroke, and one of the prospects becomes a servicable MI. That’s a lot of ifs, and still the need to acquire two SPs

  31. petec on June 14th, 2005 7:14 am

    Re: 75

    I’ll plead guilty to thinking he’s the guy most ready to help. Dave, for us benighted folk, who are your top 3 or 5 hitters in the minors?

  32. Dave on June 14th, 2005 7:20 am

    A couple of them just got called up; Rickie Weeks and Andy Marte. For players still in the minors, you’ve got Delmon Young, Joel Guzman, Jeremy Hermida, Ian Stewart, Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, just to name the cream of the crop.

  33. petec on June 14th, 2005 7:31 am

    Thanks, I thought you were responding to earlier discussion of M’s minor leaguers.

  34. ray on June 14th, 2005 7:41 am

    re: 71

    Of course it is a metaphor. It is the idea that two #2 starters would be as good as having just an ace. This is all in terms of baseball. Also, stats for prospects will only take you so far — remember they are projections anyway in terms of how one might do in the bigs.
    And you had brought up “short term gain/long term loss” so why is controlling prospects irrelevant? Isn’t how long you have a player the long and short of it? Anyway, all this aside my point is: the M’s have one potential ace (Felix) and everyone else. So far everyone else (except Campillo) seems to be a no#5 type starter based on their actual performances. If these would-be aces (Piniero and Meche) never make anything of themselves, the M’s are left with a rotation of an ace followed by 5, 5, 5, 5. No knock on Franklin but it’s like having four Franklins following a RJ — ugh! One great game then four mediocre to bad ones. I would rather see good to very good for at least two games. It should help the win column a lot more. I know it’s speculation but isn’t all of it? Those guys could bust, Felix could bust, and Safeco could implode causing a black hole sucking in Oregon and Canada.

  35. roger tang on June 14th, 2005 7:46 am

    re 84

    Yeah, well it’s the idea of 2 Number 2 or 3s is equal to a number 1 is what I think fails. It doesn’t make sense from either a traditional standpoint or a statistical viewpoint.

    And your point about control of prospects doesn’t make any sense either. It’s irrelevant if the number 1 you’re talking about has the same service time as the number 2s and 3s you want to trade for.

  36. Dead Ball Tim on June 14th, 2005 9:41 am

    June 14, the M’s are 10 games back at the 60 game mark or so or just past the 3/8ths post if you like bangtail analogies. Speaking of which, I ran my little handicapping analysis of the American League today. It called two of the three division leaders correctly. The oddball was Texas. My handicapper shows Texas as far and away the superior team in this division so I gotta predict that they will grab 1st place in the next 20 games and perhaps never look back. The poor M’s are toast and have been for a while. Perhaps the double-digit games-back crumbiness of it all will make the rebuilding effort more focused. The other teams are sitting where they should except the Yankees. My numbers say that they shouldn’t be 3.5 behind the Red Sox but more like two games ahead of them. So I call for NYY to climb up to challenge for 2nd but no higher. The O’s have the grips on 1st for the foreseeable future according to my simple minded figures.

    This handicapper I’m foolin’ with is my own concoction, a sort of pig’s breakfast of HR, OPS, and ERA. Its an experiment to test my notion that things like contact hitting, team speed, defense, and general athleticism are so evenly competitive at the MLB level that they cancel each other out for the most part throughout the American League. With that in mind teams have only two things left to get the edge on each other: power hitting and suppression of the opposition’s power hitting by way of pitching. That’s what I think this handicapper measures. With the exception of Texas at this point, it describes the leaders of each division. And I’m calling for Texas to prevail.

  37. DMZ on June 14th, 2005 10:01 am

    If you think your handicapper or whatever it is has any value, you should try and publish your methodology somewhere.

    Or, alternately, test it against historical data and see how it does.

  38. ray on June 14th, 2005 6:12 pm

    re 85

    I think your missing the big picture. I’m not talking math. It is relative position in a rotation. The roles that they fit in. Call them what ever number you want, I don’t care. Let me put it in other terms: team A has one ace and 4 mediocre pitchers in their rotation; tem B has two (very) good pitchers and 3 mediocre pitchers in their rotation. And for arguments sake, let’s say the defense and offense are equal. Which team based on their pitching rotation has a better chance of a better record? I think it’s obvious when 2 of 5 starts will be better than 1 of 5.

    And of course the time you control the player is relevant: the longer you can control his salary the longer you can keep him. Thus a long term strategy. Think of Oakland’s big three: the A’s were competitive for so long because of them but as FA and salaries go so the players had to. Beane knew he couldn’t keep them because their salary would have been too much. One part of a long term strategy is how long you can keep a bunch of good players together on one team while controlling costs.

  39. jeff on June 14th, 2005 6:57 pm

    I don’t know that I agree.
    An ace will win 80-90% of the time in a good year.
    Very good pitchers are in the 60-70% range.
    Others range anywhere from 30-50%.

    I think an ace and 4 5’s could do just as good as 2 #2’s and 3 5’s, but an ace makes it less likely that extended lossing stracks will occur.

    Besides the Mariners will not have Felix and 4 5’s. They will pick up another TOR starter somehow and witn Mevhe/Pineiro/Compello/Madritch, you will likely pick up at least one #3.

  40. ray on June 14th, 2005 9:37 pm

    I hope your right #89. I know it seems the Mariners won’t have for 5’s but the way these guys are pitching, it sure seems like it, except Sele, but I hope he gets traded away for something useful.