The 2008 Mariners through ZiPS
Let me warn you ahead of time: if you don’t like projections, and you don’t like sims like Diamond Mind, this is not going to be your post. And it’s long.
Dave sent me an email about the new 2008 ZiPS projections and being the geek I am, I loaded it up and went a-simulating: traded Bedard for Jones/Sherill/etc, set up the M’s likely lineup (last year’s with Wilkerson in right, no platooning), worked out the bullpen roles and went at it. Now mind you, all the other teams had the default bad to the point of almost-randomness profiles (except the Orioles, for who I plugged the rotation and activated Jones/Sherill). So the M’s operated at a huge advantage.
Dave warned me about what would happen and the results still shocked me.
The first season the M’s went 70-92 to finish 21 games behind the Angels and last in the AL West. They scored 733 runs and gave up 802.
I did some more work. Threw Horacio Ramirez off the team (as the team will likely do at some point), cleaned up some of the roles, brought Reed up to play a decent 4th OF and defensive replacement…
81-81, 3rd, 9 games back of the Angels, 750/804
69-93, last, 681-783
77-85, third, 717-809
72-90, last, 668-764
69-93, third, 690-810
64-98, last, 733-842
70-92, third, 754-763
… and on and on. Again, this is with the M’s as the only team in baseball with a roster set up with reasonable roles and a rational bullpen. When I do this normally, teams with that advantage play way, way over their heads. At least as ZiPS is concerned, this is not a good team.
Batista and Silva get shelled over and over. The defense is porous. A huge chunk of the lineup stinks against lefties. It’s ugly. It’s really ugly.
If you’re curious, my final M’s lineup, in which I tried to do some good around the margins while being realistic about who’s playing where, was:
Bench: C-R Burke, OF-L Reed, OF-R Balentien, IF-R Morse, WB-R Bloomquist
The corner outfielders need legs and right-handed backups, so Reed/Balentien are up. I gave Balentien some of Ibanez’s playing time v. LHP. I tilt towards more hitters, obviously, but that’s a whole other discussion. Really, any left-handed pitcher, you might be better playing the backups and… um, I’m already proving I’m way too into this kind of thing, so I’ll stop there.
It’s a pick-em in the bullpen. The projection wasn’t sweet on anyone, so it didn’t matter if I had Huber/Lowe out there. The last two relievers in the bullpen got rocked every year. I took Baek/RRS for long relief with two starters getting rocked regularly, but you could change that mix if you wanted.
Anyway, I could spend a lot more time on this, but I’ll spare you. The short version is having gone through this exercise, I’m worried my last estimates of the team’s strength were high.
But USSM is your home for Mariners-related pessimism, so what do we know.