Tying up loose ends

Dave · July 18, 2006 at 6:12 am · Filed Under Mariners 

A whole bunch of questions flooding the inbox, so it’s time for a notes post.

1. Trading for Alfonso Soriano would be a lousy, lousy idea. Yes, he’s having a good season in Washington, but it is the National League (and while the difference is probably overstated, the AL is significantly better this year, and that has to be acounted for), and Soriano is exactly the type of hitter that Safeco is harshest on. An optimistic expected performance from Soriano for the last two months of ’06 would be something like .280/.330/.500, and he could easily come in under that. Meanwhile, the optimistic expected performance of Chris Snelling would probably be in the .300/.360/.450 range, which is almost equal in value. Plus, Snelling is free, both in terms of salary and in terms of players needed to acquire him.

The M’s don’t need to trade for an LF/DH. They just need to use the ones already in Tacoma.

2. A few weeks ago, I noted the team had a glaring need for another strikeout pitcher in the pen to give Hargrove another option in the middle innings to use in situations where baserunners needed to be stranded. Since the end of the bullpen was made up of contact pitchers with mediocre control, the team had a significant weakness and really needed another reliever.

Enter Mark Lowe. 20 batters faced, 85 pitches, 57 strikes, 6 strikeouts, 6 groundballs. He put the first three batters he faced as a major league pitcher on board, and has since retired 14 of the last 17. He looked fantastic last night, going right after Rodriguez and Posada and getting out of a big jam. Despite his inexperience, he’s easily shown enough to be given that fourth reliever role, coming in to bail starters out of tough situations and getting strikeouts when needed.

Lowe’s a perfect example of why this new “the cost of good relievers is skyrocketing!” theory is nonsense. Relief pitching is the easiest job in baseball, and there are literally good arms in every minor league system who could come up and do the job well right now. You’d think organizations would learn when year after year, the leaderboard of elite relievers is cluttered with names their mothers wouldn’t have recognized before the season started.

The Mariners bullpen is a great example of this – J.J. Putz was a fringe prospect who is now an all-star caliber closer, George Sherrill was signed out of the independent leagues and is about as tough on lefties as anyone alive, and now the M’s look to have struck gold with Mark Lowe, who was a 5th round draft pick two years ago and had an unimpressive minor league resume coming into the year. Only Rafael Soriano was considered any kind of special talent.

Building a bullpen isn’t hard, just because Buster Olney tells you it is. And that is also why, during the offseason, the M’s need to give Mark Lowe another run as a starter. He has three pitches that he’s commanding right now, and while a move back to the rotation will cost him a little bit of velocity, he has some to give. It’s worth finding out if he could be effective for 7 innings sitting at 90-93 instead of one inning at 94-96. I’m fine leaving Lowe in the bullpen for the rest of the year while he adjusts to life in the major leagues, but he should enter Spring Training of 2007 in the hunt for a spot in the rotation.

3. Carl Everett is 19 for 106 since the calendar struck June, a .179 batting average, and we all know he doesn’t walk or hit for power. His continued presence in the line-up is a complete and utter joke, and a massive black stain on the organization. There’s literally no defense for not removing him from the job. The M’s are essentially going to war with an automatic out in the easiest position to field a hitter in baseball. Just ridiculous.

4. Willie Bloomquist has a .227 EqA, the worst of his already unimpressive career. He has four extra base hits all season. And this is the guy Mike Hargrove thinks we need to get into the line-up two to three days a week.

5. Thanks to the recent skid of 9 losses in the last 11 games, the Mariners chances of making the playoffs have taken a pretty significant beating. BP’s Playoff Odds Report has them at 5%, while coolstandings.com pegs them at 8%. I’d say they’re still a little bit higher than both of those, probably closer to 15-20%, but they aren’t great. While we still don’t have to make the buyers or sellers decision right now, we’re probably leaning towards sellers at this point.

6. How much is this starting pitcher worth to you on the open market?

28 years old, RHP, made the all-star team this year, averaged 200 IP for the last 5 years, posted ERA+ of 115 and 127 in the past two years, while posting a strikeout rate 20% better than league average, a home run rate 12% better than league average, and a walk rate 10% worse than league average. He’s got inconsistently good stuff but doesn’t always have command of it, but has managed to post low ERA’s and ranked 2nd and 3rd in the league in strikeouts the past two years. He also led the league in shutouts the past two seasons, though he has pitched in a pretty extreme pitcher’s park.

Sound like exactly the kind of pitcher everyone is hoping that Gil Meche has turned into, right? Meche’s rates this year are actually a bit worse (his K/9 is 16% better than average, walk rate is 18% worse than average, and his HR/9 is 6% worse than league average), but the profile is basically the same.

So, how much do you think that durable Gil Meche clone is worth, the one with an all-star team under his belt and 5 years of pretty consistent performance missing bats and living with the command issues? And are you worried that the performances have come in a pitcher’s park?

No? Neither were the Texas Rangers, when they signed that pitcher, Chan Ho Park, to a 5 year, $65 million dollar contract after the 2001 season.

Forget Jason Schmidt or Chris Carpenter – Chan Ho Park circa 2001 is almost an exact clone of what people are hoping Gil Meche has become. And they wonder why I’m against a contract extension…


134 Responses to “Tying up loose ends”

  1. bookbook on July 18th, 2006 1:52 pm

    $500 million saved on taxes, or getting to watch Hargrove’s daily suckiness?

    So glad we got the better end of that deal.

  2. Cynical Optimist on July 18th, 2006 2:00 pm

    89 – Lastings Milledge would be a good fit for any team, I think it’s safe to say. However, the A’s have apparently offered Zito for Milledge and been rebuffed, so I’d put that thought out of your head.

  3. revbill on July 18th, 2006 2:01 pm

    I wonder if they leave, if ticket/suite demand for the M’s will increase (along with the prices)?

    I was wondering about this too. I hear the “sports dollar” theory thrown around, but I’ve never seen any evidence that people really choose between two or three teams, or how a team leaving affects the revenues of the other teams.

  4. Grizz on July 18th, 2006 2:01 pm

    At least the fact that the FO is talking about Soriano would seem to mean that they are ready to give up on Everett.

    None of the Soriano stories (at least the ones I have read) attribute a source actually connected to the Mariners. Trade rumor stories usually contain fuzzy language like “reportedly” (i.e., some other member of the media reported it), “suggested” or “opined” (i.e., someone who works in the industry but without personal knowledge speculated about it), or “would make sense” (i.e., the author has no source but offers his or her own speculation).

  5. msb on July 18th, 2006 2:03 pm

    FWIW, from ther Times, “A spokesman for Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City, whose CEO Aubrey McClendon, is one of the investors, said the Sonics would play the 2006-07 season in Seattle but the future of the franchise depended on negotiations in Seattle for a new arena. [snip] In a meeting with team employees this morning, Sonics officials said they were committed to keeping the team in Seattle although they declined to give specifics on how that would happen.”

    so, no changes, really…

  6. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 2:36 pm

    Yeah right… If you buy a company from it’s investors, what are you going to tell the employees the first day? We’re moving the company to OKC? No, you tell them nothing is going to change. Put their minds at ease so you don’t have a mass exodus from the company.

    Why would a group of OKC investors buy the Sonics and want to leave them here? Not to mention that OKC already built a new arena for the purpose of attracting an NBA team.

  7. msb on July 18th, 2006 2:39 pm

    I mean no real changes from the situation before… really, what guarantee was there that they’d stay in the area before, especially after Licata & the Citizens for More Important Things got involved…

  8. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 2:48 pm

    I agree that we’re really in the same spot as before. Only difference is the primary shareholders live in OKC now, instead of Seattle.

    Didn’t it used to seem like people would own teams for a lot longer than the average owner does now? How many teams have been sold lately? Even in baseball, it seems like 3 or 4 a year change ownership.

  9. BelieveItOrNot on July 18th, 2006 2:49 pm

    Chris Snelling will be a better major leaguer than Soriano? Good God some of you are drunk on that Aussie Kool-aid. All the guy has done is show he’s fragile as glass…Soriano is a proven star. When Snelling has actually done something, get back to me.

  10. DMZ on July 18th, 2006 2:56 pm

    The tax write-off you get when you purchase a team used to run out after five years, which is why that’s the standard cycle. I believe the depreciation schedule’s been revised so it’s longer in the last few years, but I don’t have a cite at my fingertips.

  11. bermanator on July 18th, 2006 3:03 pm


    Yeah, I freely concede that “field” has to be dropped from the Soriano toolkit. And the “arm” as well. Still, he’s a power-speed guy with a better than average average … not many teams are in a position to turn that skillset down.

    I still think that if anyone is archiving these threads for posterity, the Snelling >> Soriano posts are going to look mighty silly two years from now. “Barring another injury” is a pretty big caveat for a guy who has missed as much time as he has.

  12. Evan on July 18th, 2006 3:03 pm

    109 – He did say “barring injury”.

    But production wise, Doyle has demonstated superior baseball skills.

  13. Evan on July 18th, 2006 3:05 pm

    Soriano’s walk rate is terrible. That makes me value his batting average a lot less.

    At this point I’d rather have someone like Reed Johnson and his .450 OBP

  14. Jim Thomsen on July 18th, 2006 3:10 pm

    And even Reed Johnson has a historically awful K/W split.

  15. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 3:10 pm

    I guess I’m just thinking of longer term owners like (ugh) Steinbrenner, or (ugh again!) Al Davis.

    Seems like we have more corporations owning teams now, rather than being owned by people, maybe that has something to do with it as well.

    Doyle vs Soriano debate:

    Soriano does two things exceptionally well. He runs fast, and hits for power. At everything else he is average or below (fielding in general). That makes for an exciting player, but he’s not All-Century or anything.

    For Doyle it’s hard to say exactly what he’ll be when he is in the Majors and healthy. I’d like to say he’s young enough to develop more power, and his OBP and AVG would probably beat Soriano right now. I haven’t seen him field enough to comment on his arm, glove or range, but from what I hear, he is a good corner outfielder (which is really more than can be said for Soriano).

    Now, am I being a homer? Of course I am!

    But regardless of how the two compare. I don’t want the M’s to waste the money or the prospects it would take to go rent Soriano for the second half. His game doesn’t fit Safeco very well, he won’t re-sign after the season is done, and the M’s are a longshot to make any waves in the playoffs, even if they can scramble their way in.

  16. gwangung on July 18th, 2006 3:13 pm

    Yeah, I freely concede that “field” has to be dropped from the Soriano toolkit. And the “arm” as well. Still, he’s a power-speed guy with a better than average average

    WHich is offset by his low walk ratio.

    Don’t think he’s as productive as you think he is…and his value even less so (the output to salary ratio is of value and is quite plausibly in Snelling’s favor right NOW)….

  17. Dave Clapper on July 18th, 2006 3:18 pm

    Soriano is good for fantasy teams and not much else. Next rumor, please.

  18. revbill on July 18th, 2006 3:24 pm

    …Snelling >> Soriano posts are going to look mighty silly two years from now

    If you factor in that Soriano will be making like $12 million/yr. more than Snelling, at 6(?) years older, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

  19. John in L.A. on July 18th, 2006 3:30 pm

    Look, the caveat was health from the beginning. If you want to argue that you’re going to get no takers. We’ve lived through it, we know.

    If you want to talk about the pure talent value, argue that. Don’t hedge your bets with health talk, that was already conceded.

  20. thehiddentrack on July 18th, 2006 3:35 pm

    The Sonics are gone.

  21. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 3:43 pm

    I see they guy’s point. Doyle may never be a major league player again. He could explode in radioactive cloud in the batter’s box tomorrow.

    I just think Soriano’s overrated.

  22. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 3:44 pm

    I’ll still take my chances with Doyle, rather than pay through the nose for Soriano. They can fix, repair and heal injuries, they can’t add talent.

  23. Mat on July 18th, 2006 3:44 pm

    As far as loose ends go, if the M’s hadn’t already moved on Eduardo Perez, it would’ve been interesting to see how much it would take to get Matthew LeCroy from the Nats. It could have been as little as what the Twins got Boone for last year. (Which is nothing, I believe.) From ’03 to ’05, Perez was .288/.397/.561 against LHP and LeCroy was .307/.382/.554 against LHP.

    LeCroy’s only had 67 ABs total so far this year, so I’m not sure whether that’s really enough to say that he’s declined a whole bunch. Even with a low average, he posted a solid OBP (.386) and good K/BB (10/8) numbers against LHP in his limited ABs.

    Anyway, I guess I’m just wishing the M’s didn’t spend Cabrera for a guy who’s hardly even playing when it looks like now there’s someone out there who could be had for less and be of similar value.

  24. eponymous coward on July 18th, 2006 3:44 pm

    Still, he’s a power-speed guy with a better than average average … not many teams are in a position to turn that skillset down.

    But the Mariners can,

    Here’s a funny stat- two LF’ers, A and B:

    Player A’s OPS+ through 2005: 111
    Player B’s OPS+ through 2005: 105

    Player A does have better speed by a good chunk, but player B’s OBP is a skosh better. Player A is a better player overall than Player B, and is younger, too, but player B is significantly LESS expensive than Player A, and offers maybe 80-90% of the value for 60% of the cost, won’t bitch about not playing second, and isn’t going to get killed by the New Death Valley in LCF at Safeco.

  25. Thingray on July 18th, 2006 3:46 pm

    Nicely done coward! Nicely done.. Some players fit certain ballparks better than others.

  26. bermanator on July 18th, 2006 5:13 pm

    #123 – You could probably get LeCroy for the cost of the waiver claim. But he doesn’t field a position at all. He was bad enough as a catcher that Frank Robinson had to yank him from a game mid-inning (I think he’d given up seven steals), and he’s no great shakes at first.

    I mean, he’s an upgrade over Everett at DH, but everybody in the world fits that description.

  27. cougs129 on July 18th, 2006 5:53 pm

    trading for Soriano is a VERY good idea… It gets Everett off the team most likely because Ibanez DH’s and we add a top notch bat… Do it

  28. John in L.A. on July 18th, 2006 6:31 pm

    Trading for Soriano is a HORRIBLE idea.

    He’s a right-handed power hitter, they come here and fail.

    He’s an NL power hitter, they come here and fail.

    He’s a LF/DH, a postion we don’t need. And bad at LF, to boot, which we also don’t need in SafeCo.

    He’s a rent-a-player.

    We’d have to give up SERIOUS talent. Three players. We cannot afford that. At all. You want to lose Clement AND Jones?

    One of the worst ideas I’ve heard connected with the Ms.

    Just an awful, awful idea.

  29. Jeremy on July 18th, 2006 6:45 pm

    While I don’t think that Soriano is a great fit for OUR team, he’ll be a nice player for SOME team. I remember a few years ago when Soriano was a minor league player and the SABR community called him an overrated bum and said D’Angelo Jiminez would be a much better major league prospect.

    Soriano is a nice player even though he doesn’t fit the SABR paradigm.

  30. The Ancient Mariner on July 18th, 2006 10:49 pm

    The problem wasn’t so much the paradigm — the problem, it appears, was that Jimenez had serious character/personality issues.

  31. Dave on July 19th, 2006 6:57 am

    While I don’t think that Soriano is a great fit for OUR team, he’ll be a nice player for SOME team. I remember a few years ago when Soriano was a minor league player and the SABR community called him an overrated bum and said D’Angelo Jiminez would be a much better major league prospect.

    The SABR community, for the most part, sucks at prospect analysis.

    They’re pretty good at major league analysis, though, and Soriano has had more than enough years to show that he’s not a great player.

  32. jeff angus on July 19th, 2006 11:48 am

    I’ll disagree with Dave a little about Soriano. IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT, he can be a great addition to a team. In no context would he fall farther short than here.

    We need a power lefty or a hiter with tons of patience or both. A-Sorry has neither.

    Moreover, he has no proven record at the Mariners’ field. While it’s CONCEPTUALLY obvious A-Sorry’s aptitudes don’t work well in The Clam, the hard record is worse: In his last 88 plate appearances here, he’s been 190/270/305 while his overall road mark has been 260/305/465. One could choose to dispute either, but disputing both at the same time is Russian Roulette With Five Bullets (might survive, but don’t bet on it and why even play?).

    Why add ANY undisciplined RH slugger when you already have too much of that and play in a park that rewards LH pull hitters and you don’t really have a bunch of ’em?

  33. Dave on July 19th, 2006 1:27 pm

    I’ll disagree with Dave a little about Soriano. IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT, he can be a great addition to a team. In no context would he fall farther short than here.

    I’m not sure what context could defend the acquisition of a poor defensive left fielder who posts an .850 OPS and commands two top prospects and $12 million per year.

    I’m not arguing Soriano’s not a valuable player. I’m arguing that the cost, both in talent to acquire and to pay his salary, far exceeds his value. It’s like paying $40,000 to drive around in a Ford Focus. A car might be valuable to you if you don’t have one, but you should still never spend $40,000 on a focus.

  34. Jed C on July 19th, 2006 3:05 pm

    Did anyone see the Josh Beckett signing? His ERA is 5+ this year, although his k/BB ratio is similar to Meche’s. He got a 3 year deal with a 4th year possible if he meets incentives. I know his ceiling is higher than Meche, but I’ll bet this is the type of deal Gil will look for.

    Also, Castilla was dropped by San Diego. Any chance they would trade for Beltre? We’d probably have to pick up some $$, but for the right guys it could work.

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