2009 Position Players

Dave · July 23, 2008 at 11:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the first tasks the new GM will have to do when taking over is do a real analysis of what he can expect going forward from the players already here. Since I’m a helpful kind of guy, I figured I’d just do it for him, using win values (as explained here) to gauge the true talent levels of each player on the roster and their relative value to the club. Also included is a comparison of their free market value compared to their current salary. Let’s just go right to the spreadsheet, with a tip of the hat to Colin Wyers for making this process much easier than the last time I did it.

To answer what should be the most popular questions ahead of time:

1. I included Ibanez in order to give context to whether the team should re-sign him or not. The answer is clearly no.

2. If you didn’t read the explanation in the linked post, here’s the short version: WAR is “Wins Above Replacement”, and tells how many wins that player would add over a theoretical league minimum Triple-A guy who could be acquired for free. A 25 man roster that equaled 0 WAR would finish something like 50-112, so you need about 40-45 WAR to be competitive.

3. WAR$ is our estimate of how much a player would get per season if he were a free agent and all 30 MLB teams valued him correctly, given that MLB as a whole is paying about $5 million per win in the free agent market right now. Actual is his real 2009 salary (or our estimate of that number) and the difference column is how much underpaid or overpaid he is relative to his free agent value. Obviously, guys who haven’t gotten to free agency yet will be underpaid – that’s how the system works.

4. Johjima and Morse work well enough as proxies for the bench players. This isn’t meant to be exact, and reserves don’t matter enough for anyone to flip out about the fact that I don’t have a full 13 or 14 player group here.

Okay, now, on to the Mariner specific points.

This group of position players is unbelievably horrible. As a group, they total about 11.5 wins above replacement. Beltre, Ichiro, and Clement are the only guys on the roster who would be starters for most contending clubs, and the Clement projection is pretty optimistic, honestly. LaHair doesn’t belong in the majors, so you can pick up ground by replacing him with a real first baseman, but there’s serious problems everywhere besides 3B and RF.

This team won’t win anything while hoping to get offense from all four of Lopez/Betancourt/Reed/Balentien. You might be able to get away with having one in your line-up, two if you surround them with a few all-stars. But if you give all four regular jobs, you might as well just punt the season.

Realistically, this team needs to replace one (or both) of Lopez and Betancourt with a +3 win infielder(s), acquire a +3 win outfielder, and find a +3 win first baseman, plus find a DH who doesn’t totally suck. Or, to put another way, the team needs about four more position players of Beltre/Ichiro quality.

I’ll do the pitching staff next. The news is a lot better there, thankfully, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that this group of position players is awful.


113 Responses to “2009 Position Players”

  1. nickwest1976 on July 24th, 2008 8:57 pm

    I would be VERY happy getting Melky Cabrera for Washburn. Melky is making around 500k and has only about a year and a half of service time according to Cot’s. He’s a lefty bat and 23 years old. I still think he has a lot of upside. Decent power and speed.

    Dave, do you have stats on Melky’s WAR? I would assume you would like him better than Reed moving forward but I could be wrong.

  2. DAMellen on July 24th, 2008 9:45 pm

    Dave talked highly of Balentien in this Future Forty post:
    I’d like to draw some extra attention to this comment:
    The scout who compared Wlad to Ordonez meant it as a compliment, and he definitely meant to indicate that Wlad had .300/.370/.550 upside. That doesn’t mean he’ll put that line up every year, but he could have a nice peak run at that level.

    I can’t speak for Dave, but I don’t think a whole lot of Cabrera. He’s very similar to Reed. He’s a good fielder and he doesn’t strike out much (we all know how much the Mariners love a guy who doesn’t rack up Ks), but he doesn’t walk much either (we all know how much the Mariners love a guy who doesn’t rack up BBs too), he has absolutely no power, and he can’t hit lefties. He’s three years younger than Reed and there’s a decent chance he’ll improve so if you’re giving me my choice, I’ll take Cabrera, but he’ll never be more than a decent player and I wouldn’t take him ahead of a worthwhile infield/pitching prospect. I’ll take Reed, Balentien, Saunders, Halman, and a pitching prospect ahead of Cabrera, Reed, Balentien, Saunders, and Halman.

  3. Steve T on July 24th, 2008 10:42 pm

    Wow, selective memory kicking in. I certainly don’t remember Dave saying anything like that, but there it is in black and white. I think that was optimistic, in the glow of a good couple of weeks. I think Balentien’s peak in the majors is more like .800 than .900. I think it’s extremely unlikely that Balentien is ever as good as Raul, let alone Magglio Ordonez. Of course, I’m a pessimist.

  4. Milendriel on July 24th, 2008 10:48 pm

    102- I’ll take anything that involves Washburn going away. Like, I’d take Jose Vidro leading off and playing center field every day if it meant Washburn was off the team. Same for any of our horrible contracts, really.

  5. Mothy on July 24th, 2008 10:56 pm

    The post on wOBA says “Singles are worth a bit more than walks, but less than doubles, which are worth less than triples, and nothing is worth more than a home run”… So how would seeing less good pitches and there by getting walked or getting out instead of getting hits of any sort not have an effect whatsoever on wOBA? I could see how you could argue that the effect would be tiny and therefore meaningless, but I don’t see how if it weighs singles, doubles, triples, and home runs heavier than walks how it wouldn’t have an effect on the rating.

  6. Steve T on July 24th, 2008 11:11 pm

    Walks don’t come at the expense of hits, they come at the expense of outs.

    Walks are by definition on balls out of the strike zone, and despite everything you’ve heard about “bad ball hitters” everybody hits much, much worse on balls out of the strikezone. So those walks replace mostly outs, not hits.

  7. scott19 on July 24th, 2008 11:33 pm

    I’d take Jose Vidro leading off and playing center field every day if it meant Washburn was off the team

    The thought of that is both deeeeep hurting and deeeeep loathing!

  8. Mothy on July 24th, 2008 11:59 pm

    Oh wait… I understand the formula now. I’m an idiot. (I really need to get more sleep)

  9. Matt the Dragon on July 25th, 2008 6:57 am

    Our rookies – Morrow, Clement, Balentin, RRS, and several others are at best 2WAR, and thus NOT enough to get us to even mediocrity…

    Umm, +2 WAR is the definition of mediocrity (i.e. +0 Wins Above Average)

  10. Steve T on July 25th, 2008 9:09 am

    Ah, mediocrity. I remember that. Wasn’t it nice, compared to this?

  11. Graham on July 25th, 2008 9:54 am

    Ah, mediocrity. I remember that. Wasn’t it nice, compared to this?

    No. Mediocrity sucks. 2005 and 2006 were way less fun than 2004.

  12. G-Man on July 25th, 2008 11:52 am

    I assume Cot’s service times are as of the beginning of this season, so Melky is going to have 2.5 years at the end and perhaps even be arb-eligible then.

    Until I see five better starters in the offing for the 2009 Mariners, I am unwilling to simply dump Washburn for dreck. Maybe I am too caught up in his recent performances, but he doesn’t look that bad compared to an unknown arm we dig up this winter. If we could get a little bit of true value for him, that would be different.

  13. LordLes on August 20th, 2008 4:49 pm

    I’m having troubles seeing the entire spreadsheet.

    And may I have permission to print the spreadsheet and your comments to show other people?

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