Projecting the 2008 Mariners team
Using random guesses, hunches, wishcasting, and general skullduggery. You can, as I frequently note, get extremely close to a good projection using a player’s three-year average. Therefore!
C-R: Johjima. No change. I still (as always) think he might outdo himself, but .285/.325/.435, no problem.
1B-R: Sexson. Ugh. Dead cat bounce. .245/.330/.460 … that looks high, now that I check it. Oh well.
2B-R: Lopez. I’m bullish on his 08 season. .275/.320/.400 on the low end. The more Cairo plays, the worse this gets.
SS-R: Betancourt. Last year’s about as well as you can expect him to hit without a change in what he’s doing up there. Step back a little, he’s still a .290/.315/.410 hitter. If he’s playing good defense, you take it.
3B-R: Beltre. Wooo! Beltreeeee! Call me a fan, but .275/.325/.460 is entirely realistic.
LF-L: Ibanez. .280/.350/.455.
CF-L: Ichiro. .330/.380/.420
RF-R: Jones. .270/.330/.440. I have no idea. OBP’s probably high, SLG might be low.
DH-B: Vidro. .280/.350/.380. Really. I realize I’m going to have to write up a long post on this at some point, but I’ve been spending a lot of time studying Vidro’s balls-in-play charts and I think he’s nearly done as a hitter, and if he doesn’t go off the cliff next year, we’ll still see a lot less. Now that I think about it, there will probably be two reactions to that post, and they’d run
– yeah, I see those same warning signs
– Vidro’s on fire! Revitalized! You hate him because of the Snelling trade!!!11!!oneone!!
which makes me wonder if it’s worth writing.
Bench: Burke/WFB/Cairo/?. They’ll drag down the line a bit.
So as a team, that’s a line of about .280/.340/.430, which is… drum roll please… about what they hit last year, when they scored 794 runs. No surprise there.
Defensively, it’s a step up. Replacing Guillen with Jones is a huge upgrade. Perhaps he and Ichiro can play left-center and right-center, and Ibanez can back up Sexson at first.
So to the pitching, then.
SP-R Felix Hernandez. Continues to progress.
SP-L Jarrod Washburn. Continues to be Jarrod.
SP-R Carlos Silva. Even if his fundamental stats don’t change, he’ll likely have an ERA of 4.50 or more.
SP-R Miguel Batista. Figure another year eats into his K rate a little, and he’ll still be pretty effective.
That last one’s a pick-em: Baek, HoRam, Morrow, whoever you want. Who it is, and how they do, could make a huge difference. Hard to be worse than HoRam.
Just swapping out Weaver for someone decent is worth 20 runs, at least. And then if you replace HoRam with any decent pitcher, that’s another 20. They’re not going to have any trouble putting a dramatically improved rotation out there.
Bullpen: I don’t think they’ll have any problem throwing together an equally-effective bullpen for next year, even with Putz bound to come down a little.
Overall on the pitching side, let’s call it… fifty runs. Might be better than that, but that’s reasonable, especially considering the defense with Jones offset somewhat by Ibanez and Sexson both getting a little creakier, then Betancourt not making as many errors.
We’re at ~795 runs scored, and ~780 runs allowed. That’s an over-.500 team, though not by a lot.
You can immediately identify where this could go wrong on the scoring side (Sexson not hitting would kill that offensive number, as would Cairo playing) or right (Vidro somehow sustains his crazy hit rate, Lopez breaks out) and on the pitching side (Felix breaks out/Jarrod breaks down).
But I don’t see a team that’s ready to challenge the Angels, and I don’t understand why people think they might be competitive. A lot of things have to break the M’s way, while a lot of other things can’t go wrong (particularly, this is not a deep squad that could take any serious injury to… well, I won’t point out who, because I’m paranoid). The Angels are pretty easily a 90-win team, and the Mariners as presently constituted aren’t close. Luck can swing a season, certainly, but hoping both that the M’s get lucky and the Angels suffer a catastrophe seems unrealistic and, if that view leads to trades that hurt the team’s chances to compete for a championship in the long term, harmful.