Sketching out the 2007 M’s season

DMZ · January 1, 2007 at 9:58 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Sooooo I did some more sketching today, and I’m going to share.

The M’s are going to be a better offensive team than they were last year, but I don’t think it’s going to be as dramatic as we’re supposed to believe. Given some basic assumptions, using the blunt-force instrument of 3-year averages and then bludgeoning them up or down on my own biases, I’ve got the M’s scoring ~780-790 runs. My notes on where I bludgeoned the stats:

Assumptions, in order:
DH: Vidro sucks. The move to DH does nothing for his crappy hitting.
C: Johjima’s about the same. I – and I have no basis for this at all – think Johjima’s in good position to have a better 2007, but I am concerned about his no-walking ways. We’ll see, I guess.
1B: Sexson hits like Sexson
2B: Lopez hits like the crappy ground-ball machine Hargrove loves. If Lopez can get them to let him loose, he’ll hit a small batch of home runs and be a much more productive hitter. I’m betting on Hargrove’s incompetence here.
SS: Betancourt’s about the same. Dave’s written a lot about how we think last year was close to the top of his offensive potential. Dave’s a smart guy and I agree with his reasoning. I don’t think Betancourt’ll collapse, but he’s unlikely to be much more productive without doing something we haven’t seen from him yet (like hit line drives, or take walks)
3B: I’ve got Beltre down for a 2006 repeat. I still think he could do better. Call me crazy.
LF: Ibanez. I don’t think I’ve been as consistently wrong about a Mariner as I’ve been about Ibanez. I thought his original contract was nutty, but the M’s were right, his swing fit perfectly and he rocked out. I thought his extension was pointless and annoying, and last year he makes me look stupid again. At this point, I’m just putting him down for the 3-year average and calling it good. May he defy the expectations of aging again.
CF: Ichiro!
RF: Guillen’s a weird case. There’s a fair chance he’s done. Seriously. You’re hoping you get the 04/05 Guillen, the .290/.345/.490 hitter… but when he underwent surgery, the Nationals said the recovery timetable was 8-16m, and then 3m later he was supposedly taking batting practice. I know the M’s did the whole physical workup, but until he’s hitting against live pitching we don’t know. The difference between done Guillen and a live, productive Guillen is 20 runs easily.

I also assume the bench doesn’t help, which it won’t.

~785 runs.

The big variables: Guillen, obviously. Lopez. Does Ibanez defy age? Does Beltre break out again, or even manage a repeat of 2005? Can Vidro make a comeback, and can I set aside my hatred of that trade to rationally evaluate the chances of it happening?

The low end — Vidro sucks, Lopez is Hargrove’s happy groundout machine, Guillen’s done, Ibanez finally loses some bat speed – is still 765-770 runs. Probably less, actually, if all those things happen. The high end – Vidro mounts a comeback, Guillen’s 04/05 Guillen, Ibanez maintains, Lopez hits 20 HR, etc — they score 800.

That’s not that bad. Even the low end is about a repeat of last season.

What about the pitching?
SP Felix. Does Felix work out the pitch selection problems with his manager/coaches? Even a repeat of last year should produce better results.
SP Washburn. I expect Washburn to be Washburn.
SP Batista. I have low expectations for Batista’s performance this year. I figure he’ll be Meche Light. Yes, I just wrote that.
SP Ramirez. I have even lower expectations for Ramirez. Still, anything beats the 06 Pineiro.
SP Baek/Woods. How low? I think if Baek makes the rotation out of spring training, it’ll be a coin flip whether he’s better than Ramirez. I’m starting to think Woods might be pretty well-suited for Safeco starts, actually, if only for his left-handedness, deep fences, and the M’s ability to deploy a forgiving defense behind him. But anyway, that’s a whole other discussion.

The rotation, on balance, should be improved, even if they’re stepping back from Moyer and Meche.

The bullpen of Putz et al might be better than last year, even with Soriano gone. I like O’Flaherty a lot, and they can put together a really good unit. If they trade Reed/Broussard for more relief pitching, it could improve even more.

(Dave disagrees that the bullpen’s going to be better – he thinks it might be much worse. I can’t bring myself to believe they’ll come out of spring training with Woods/Huber over O’Flaherty/Green, but if it happens, he’s right)

Total, they give up… 770 runs. Potentially it’s much better than that if Felix breaks out and Batista/Ramirez are as advertised – it could be 740 on the low end. The worst-case isn’t that bad. I don’t think Felix is going to suck, Washburn might be a little worse, but I’m already pessimistic on Batista/Ramirez, and if they’re much worse than that, the M’s will sub in… oooooooooooh. Right. That’s it for starters. Soooo 790? 800

So my guess at realistic totals is
785 runs scored
770 runs allowed

Using pythag, we get 82 wins, more or less.

Assuming the high end on both sides (they score 800, give up 740), that’s a 87 win team. Assuming the ugly case on both sides, that’s 79 wins.

However, chewing this over… I’m not sure how I feel about this. If Vidro/Guillen sucks that badly, won’t they do something, like they did for Everett? But then what options do they have any more — going to Jones? The team’s also highly vulnerable to injury: their depth just sucks. There’s no way any regular goes down for any length of time without hugely hurting the offense. Any serious injury to Felix or even Washburn cripples the rotation.

We’ve said the 2007 M’s are about a .500 team with a high risk of collapse (which, really, is what we’ve been saying in different forms for a while), and looking at it today, it looks like that’s about right.

And the sad part about that is that if the 2007 team isn’t any closer to competing now than they were when they started this off-season, and they haven’t helped themselves compete for a pennant in 2008 or 2009 or whenever, well, you can see why that sucks.


63 Responses to “Sketching out the 2007 M’s season”

  1. msb on January 2nd, 2007 1:01 pm

    but won’t the 2007 season display Raul Ibanez’ Skills?

  2. terry on January 2nd, 2007 1:02 pm

    Your 1994 Seattle Mariners

    ahhhhhhh….greg hibbard

  3. spokane dude on January 2nd, 2007 1:15 pm

    I share Dave’s concerns about the bullpen, especially getting from the middle innings to the ninth. I think Sherrill is one of the obvious seventh/eighth inning guys and I think Huber should get a chance there, but, beyond that, there’s no one else on the team that I’m confident that will hold up in that role. That, to me, is why losing Lowe and Soriano is so important. They were the “lights-out” guys who would get the team out of a jam in the seventh and then shut the opponents down in the eighth. They’re a big part of the reason why you tell the starters to give you six strong innings and don’t worry about the rest. If they don’t do their jobs, Putz can’t do his.

    So, in my mind, if there’s one player the Mariners still need, it’s a reliable eighth inning guy.

    My projected bullpen:

    (eighth inning guy)

  4. Ralph Malph on January 2nd, 2007 2:30 pm

    I would be shocked if Vidro had better than a 780 OPS season considering he has spent his entire career in the NL.

    Is there some actual evidence that hitters who have spent their entire career in the NL decline when they come to the AL (or vice versa)? Or is this just a small sample size gut reaction based on Aurilia and possibly Beltre (though I think it’s too early to say about Beltre)?

    I’m just wondering.

    I would also be shocked if Vidro puts up a 780 OPS but not because of the change in leagues.

  5. Ralph Malph on January 2nd, 2007 2:38 pm

    Also, with regard to Vidro, this is not true:

    His platoon splits seem to show he’s best used against LHP as a rightie

    This is almost certainly not true. While his 2006 splits were better as a rightie, his 3-year and career averages are virtually identical from both sides of the plate. The 2006 numbers figure to be small sample size.

  6. mln on January 2nd, 2007 2:42 pm

    You forgot the most important part of the Mariners’ team in this anaysis. Yes, I am talkin’ about Willie Bloomquist. Where’s the write-up on The Ignitor. Willie has got to be worth 2 or 3 wins according to Pythagoras, doesn’t he?

  7. Trev on January 2nd, 2007 2:56 pm

    You forgot the most important part of the Mariners’ team in this anaysis. Yes, I am talkin’ about Willie Bloomquist. Where’s the write-up on The Ignitor. Willie has got to be worth 2 or 3 wins according to Pythagoras, doesn’t he?

    M’s vs. Pythag – Bloomquist Era

    2002: +1 win over Pythagorean record
    2003: -4
    2004: -6
    2005: -7
    2006: +0

    The Ignitor has powers beyond our comprehension.

  8. Johnny Slick on January 2nd, 2007 3:12 pm

    M’s with Bloomquist, taking managers into consideration:

    2002: +1
    2003: +6 (Bob Melvin took 10 wins away with his lack of grit)
    2004: +4
    2005: -2 (Hargrove only loses the team 5 wins but he’s still cruisin for a bruisin!)
    2006: +5

    I think that it’s very clear to see that, once I have adjusted the numbers to make things look better, things look better.

  9. Johnny Slick on January 2nd, 2007 4:23 pm

    One of the other things that my adjustments show is the surprising consistency of Willie Bloomquist’s grit rating. He had a bit of an off year in 2005 which can be attributed to having to for the first time understand how to create his own grit in the absence of Bret Boone. Nonetheless, he came right back in ’06. +6, +4, and +5 wins in 3 out of 4 years. The only way things could have gotten any better would be if the White Sox had traded Ross Gload to the team this offseason rather than to the Royals. You can’t win them all, I guess (although now Kansas City will).

  10. C. Cheetah on January 2nd, 2007 5:31 pm

    Thanks for the analysis, but I too feel you are overly optimistic of how BAD this team could and most likely will be.
    There is NO WAY that an outfield of Ibanez(34), Ichiro(33, and now in CF=more chance for injury), Guillen(existing injury and 31) plays more than 320 combined innings….then adding in Vidro’s injury plagued past, Johjima numerous innings (and still no viable backup), and even Beltre’s hamstring and Sexton’s shoulder….
    This is GUARANTEED to be an injury filled season, and at best 72 wins.
    I just hope the injuries do not come until after the team fails on the field, so FO can not use the injuries as an excuse on why this team sucks this year.

  11. Ralph Malph on January 2nd, 2007 5:51 pm

    320 combined innings? 36 games? I think they’ll manage more than that.

    Besides, injuries only mean opportunity for the Ignitor.

  12. Walrus on January 2nd, 2007 6:41 pm

    Re: 60… While I agree the M’s more than likely with have more than their fair share of injuries this year…320 innings? I’m with ya on 320 games though…which leaves the M’s with 100+ games of WFB and 70+ games of Dobbs / Morse / Reed or Broussard if they are still around…so yeah 72 wins sounds about right.

  13. Adam S on January 2nd, 2007 7:06 pm

    There is NO WAY that an outfield of Ibanez(34), Ichiro(33, and now in CF=more chance for injury), Guillen(existing injury and 31) plays more than 320 combined innings
    C’mon, this is one of the sillier things I’ve read here in a while and there are some silly things. Typo aside — I assume you mean 320 combined games — Ichiro and Ibanez alone combined for 320 games last year. Even if you figure Ichiro and Ibanez for 130 each, that’s only 60 games for Guillen. Injuries may happen and you may be right, but there’s certainly “NO WAY” it happens.

    But the lack of depth is a concern, but to me the biggest issue with this team is lack of upside. Aside from Felix, there isn’t a player on the roster who has a real chance to make a big jump above expectation. I guess Beltre could match his June-Septemeber and Lopez might get away from bad management, but I think it’s likely that someone gets hurt or otherwise has a bad year and there’s no way to “balance” that out with a big year elsewhere.

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