What the M’s can still do

DMZ · February 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

To be entirely open, it hasn’t been fun for me here at USSM lately (just deleted-another “you faked results to advance your agenda” comment! Awesome!)(to be clear — that many-seasons thing was not a prediction, it was “hey, I spent a lot of time using DMB, and here’s the interesting stuff that came out of it”)(I suspect that train’s long left the station, though), so it’s time to geek out about one of my favorite topics, roster construction. Benches benches benches!

winter break from paul goyette‘s flickr stream, used under the Creative Commons license

What does the team still need, and how might they still improve, assuming they’re dead-set on making a run for it?

First, the hitters. Let’s assume they’re not going to make any more major moves and dump any of these guys.
DH-B Turbo
C-R Johjima
1B-R Sexson
2B-R Lopez
SS-R Betancourt
3B-R Beltre
LF-L Ibanez
CF-L Ichiro!
RF-L Wilkerson

Nine spots burned.

Burke’s the backup catcher (#10), so that solves that piece. #11 is Bloomquist. Now you have 1-3 spots left, depending on how many pitchers the M’s carry. Let’s figure on 12 pitchers, so you’ve got two bench spots left.

What do you need that you could patch for on the bench? Horrible defense at first and left, and you’re hoping to get average defense in right out of Wilkerson. And you could really use a good pinch runner for those three and Turbo too. And if Bloomquist is your backup infielder, what you really need is two more backup outfielders who can chase flies like nobody’s business. A righty if you can manage it, to sub in for Ibanez or Wilkerson against lefty starters — and they don’t have to be that great to be better than them against lefties. And you could really use another bat off the bench, particularly a decent defensive replacement for Sexson.

If they’re not willing to go shopping, I think you have to go with Reed. His offensive performance was much improved last year in Tacoma, though his projections are not particularly good looking (PECOTA: .265/.321/.385, ZiPS .259/.312/.377) it’s a fine skill set to offer as a 4th outfielder: below-average but not horrible bad, good defense, particularly in the corners, not a base-stealing threat but a decent runner. Especially considering the question of Wilkerson’s durability, it makes even more sense. So I’d take Reed with the #12 spot.

Then what? It’s an interesting question, and I’ve got a couple of possibilities:
– You take Morse as a backup corner infielder/Sexson replacement
– Jimerson as a 5th OFer and pure defensive replacement and runner.

What you really don’t have any need for is a I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Bloomquist player like Cairo, who also can’t hit, but makes up for it by not being a good runner or fielder.

If you’re willing to spend, you’re not going to a lot better, really. None of Shawn Green/Trot Nixon/Reggie Sanders helps solve a problem you’re carrying. Corey Patterson would be a nice choice — he’s a glove, has some speed, might hit and might not, depending on which season it is. As a 4th OFer in spacious Safeco, he’s a nice choice. And likely comes with a high price tag. Kenny Lofton’s still out there, too, and you could certainly do worse.

There’s Bonds, if you want the ultimate in controversial and risky may-be-in-jail-on-perjury-charges choices. Then you push him into DH/LF as often as circumstances permit… but that’s not going to happen, so forget I mentioned it.

And surveying the field, Patterson’s a great choice if you can get him on the cheap, but beyond that, there’s not a lot to buy for your remaining bench dollar in the lineup.

So flip a coin (which will come up heads 90% of the time) and get yourself a #13 position player, and go on to the pitchers.

SP-L Bedard
SP-R Hernandez
SP-L Washburn
SP-R Silva
SP-R Batista
RP-R: Putz
We’re at 19… and then chaos fills the remaining six spots.

Let’s figure if they’re willing to punt the future, they’re willing to spend another year of Morrow in the pen. Ding! #20. Can I get Aumont, too? I mean why not, right? Then O’Flaherty, sure, that’s your first choice to get a lefty in there. #21.

Looking at that rotation, what do you need? If history’s any guide, some long relief when Silva’s defense fails him and he’s knocked out early, Washburn’s going to need a consistent bridge for the 7th-8th, and you won’t always have Morrow around (or Putz, for that matter). Take Rowland-Smith for long relief (#22), assuming Baek’s your 6th starter in Tacoma, and Sean Green for bridging as RP-R (#23). Now McClaren’ll want another short-use lefty – Rhodes may will break with the team out of spring training if he’s at all effective (#24) though I’d argue you’re better off taking a better righty option if you have one… so you might go with both Huber and Lowe here (I’d love to see Lowe healthy and effective) though they’ll likely only need one (#25 and done).

I don’t see any point on spending more on the bullpen. It’d be costly and probably wouldn’t do much better. And this throws HoRam to the minors/the waiver wire/wherever, which the org is unlikely to do, so you have to drop someone, and that’ll be a substantial downgrade.

Anyway — we know the 2008 starters. The next interesting thing is how they use the resources at hand to try and patch for the squad’s obvious weaknesses.


109 Responses to “What the M’s can still do”

  1. marc w on February 12th, 2008 11:41 pm

    99 – I think it’s entirely logical to focus on a minor leaguer’s bat, especially given scouting concerns that a player may not stick at his current position. We are – by choice, it’s true – focusing solely on his bat at this moment. If that’s distressing to you, please, look away.

    galaxieboi, I’m glad you’re confident of Clement. seriously, his college pedigree is great, and gives me a bit more confidence. My point initially was that his stats are pretty good for a young-ish catcher. They’re not the sort of stats that put to rest any doubt about MLB hitting ability. So yes, let’s hope he develops, and let’s hope his defense means he stays behind the plate.
    btw, what comps are you using? In PECOTA, his top comp is Ryan Christianson, which should give all M’s fans pause (2nd is Mike Jacobs, which is much better, although Jacobs didn’t stick at C).

    87 – I brought up Brown and Soto just to say that Clement wasn’t the best hitting catcher in his league last year. Again, the point is, he’s done pretty well *for a catcher* so far. If there’s any doubt about his ability to stick there, that’s necessarily going to impact his ranking. I’m not absolutely sure he’ll rake in MLB. I’m more confident saying he’s a pretty good hitting C prospect. If he was an OF, we’re not having this conversation, that’s all.
    Sure, Brown wouldn’t have been overlooked if he’d done this at 23. He was well known at 23, of course, but that’s another story.
    Also, if Balentien’s K rate bothers you, what do you make of Adam Jones’ rate?

  2. Wishhiker on February 13th, 2008 2:37 am

    I just think O’Flaherty’s got Fu. I don’t know what exactly Fu is, but it seems to me it might be the anti-scrappy. Ask Fu Master Putz about it…

  3. regfairfield on February 13th, 2008 5:15 am

    101 – If it doesn’t improve, he’ll never be a great hitter, but his patience, power and defense will keep his performance at acceptable levels. With that said, he’s got all the time in the world to make it better, and he’s gradually been improving. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits something like .240/.310/.420 in the first half this year.

  4. rea on February 13th, 2008 6:18 am

    #95 — You probably meant “Morse” is out of options

    Eeek! Yes . . .

  5. galaxieboi on February 13th, 2008 8:24 am

    Marc- I think you’re using last year’s PECOTA comps. Munson, Helton and Nixon are from the recently released PECOTA Weighted Means speadsheet. As a player makes improvements and ages his comps are apt to change.

    And I hope he hits better than 240/310/420 if he’s in Tacoma.

  6. marc w on February 13th, 2008 8:36 am

    Thanks 105 –

    And yeah, he better hit better than a .730 OPS in tacoma, but I’m assuming Reg meant in Seattle. And yeah, that’s about what I’d expect.
    So far, he was able to turn a disastrous intro to AAA in 2006 into extremely solid production in 2007, so it’s not like he hasn’t shown an ability to learn/grow.

    Out of curiosity, why do they have to keep Cairo? If someone opens their eyes, or if they’re able to grab someone else off the scrap heap, he’s outta here (OK, he and Jimerson). Just because they signed him to a major league deal doesn’t mean they’re bound to the guy.

  7. regfairfield on February 13th, 2008 9:04 am

    I was actually talking about Jones there, should have been more clear with the pronouns. I really value low strikeout rates in minor leaguers and it seems like anyone who strikes out more than once every four at bats struggles when they get to the bigs.

  8. rea on February 13th, 2008 9:04 am

    why do they have to keep Cairo?

    They’re not required to keep him, but it would be surprising to pay him $850,000 and then release him. If the Mariners are giving away money to peole they don’t plan to keep on their roster, I’d like some.

  9. gwangung on February 13th, 2008 11:39 am

    I was actually talking about Jones there, should have been more clear with the pronouns. I really value low strikeout rates in minor leaguers and it seems like anyone who strikes out more than once every four at bats struggles when they get to the bigs.

    Apparently, that’s the team attitude for the Ms.

    Not sure that really works out (see Mike Cameron).

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