That’s okay, I’m optimistic

Dave · December 17, 2008 at 9:15 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Building on Jason’s post below, I figured I might as well throw this out there – I couldn’t be any more thrilled with how the Mariners are being run right now than I currently am. I know, most Mariner fans see 2009 as a lost year with no hope of contention. They see Washburn and Silva and Batista and Bedard and Johjima and are reminded of just how badly this organization was run the last few years. They see a big payroll, a bad offense, and a pitching staff with a lot of questions.

Not me.

I see a roster full of hope. I see two brand new tremendous defensive outfielders and realize that we no longer have to beg the team to understand that running down balls in the gaps is just as valuable as hitting balls in the gaps. I see a $1.9 million first base platoon of undervalued players who could produce league average production while holding down the fort until a long term replacement can be found. I see a potential long term replacement in the 22-year-old with a .400 OBP that just got acquired. I see two other intriguing young talents being added to the farm system in Ezequiel Carrera and Mickael Cleto. I see the team filling the holes in the bullpen with buy-low, solid upside guys like Jason Vargas and Jose Lugo.

If people want to call it rebuilding, that’s fine. I’d say it’s more of an overhaul, though – a complete teardown of the old processes and in importation of new, better processes. Not everything Zduriencik and crew do is going to work, but there’s a mountain of evidence that shows that they understand how to build a good team, and that the moves they make will be built on solid logic.

I see a team that has moved away from ERA, RBIs, and chemistry, and is marching towards actual wins. Yes, Raul Ibanez and J.J. Putz are gone, and the local media will tell you that those guys are humongous losses to a roster of bad players. I will tell you that this team, right now, is better than the one that went to spring training in March. Franklin Gutierrez is a better player than Raul Ibanez. The M’s aren’t rebuilding by getting worse and hoping kids develop – they’re rebuilding by bringing in better players than the ones that were previously.

The Mariners are going the right way. They’re building for the future and the present at the same time, and they’re implementing processes that will lead to long term sustained success. I haven’t been as optimistic about this organization as I am now in… probably forever. Let the pessimists wail about the losses of guys they know, and watch as the Mariners win with guys they don’t.

Go Z. Go M’s.

Comments

202 Responses to “That’s okay, I’m optimistic”

  1. robbbbbb on December 17th, 2008 9:20 am

    I think you’re entirely correct, but I think the pessimism of the larger Mariner fan base regarding next season is warranted. This is probably not a team that’s going to compete. Next year’s Mariners are a 75-80 win team.

    That said, you’re right: Zduriencik is using a much better process to build a winning baseball team, and that’s encouraging to see. Are the M’s gonna win in ’09? Probably not, but they’ll crawl back to respectability. And if ’09 is the suck we have to suffer through to get to a good team in ’10, I’ll take it.

  2. The Ancient Mariner on December 17th, 2008 9:26 am

    I have to say, I could be — if Zduriencik is able to move Washburn’s contract without eating most of it, and if he can flip Bedard for a reasonable return, I will be. It’s no small order, but I have hope. (Which is a nice change.)

  3. bakomariner on December 17th, 2008 9:36 am

    Rob, LAST year was the year of suck we had to suffer through…this year will be much better and if Z keeps it up, so will the next ten…

    Very good to be a Mariners fan right now…

    I’m honestly shocked at the difference from last year to now…from embarrassment to excitement…

    Go Ms!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. SonOfZavaras on December 17th, 2008 9:41 am

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a foregone conclusion that ’09 is the sacrificial lamb, but I’m willing for it to be in order to get to 2010 with a good, young team.

    Of all the new pieces, it’s Gutierrez that intrigues me the most. Does he become the second coming of Mike Cameron for us? Or did he just need a change of scenery in order to fulfill his potential. After all the moves and trades that have blown up in this organization’s face, it’d sure be nice- and not saying it will happen- for us to land a guy that just explodes with the opportunity.

    It’d sure be nice to not be “the team that let so-and-so get away” and be the other team that enjoys a windfall for once.

  5. Rockymariner on December 17th, 2008 9:41 am

    I’m in complete agreement with you Dave. I have not posted in over a year because I was too depressed by the team and it’s moves, (that and I had nothing interesting to say). Of course I still came to the site everyday to read.

    I’m so happy to see smart moves being made. I love what Z has accomplished so far and I have to say I really like a guy who has just worked his butt off and been successful everywhere he has been.

    There is a mountain of work ahead of him but you have to feel good about the direction and the approach so far.

  6. moz57 on December 17th, 2008 9:41 am

    The way I look at this off-season is something like this:

    Are the moves sexy and is their impact clear to the general fan out there? No.

    Do the moves make actual sense and improve the Mariners chances at winning? All signs point to yes.

    Am I pessimistic, though? Yes. For this year, at least. I think the future is getting a WHOLE lot brighter, though.

  7. skjes on December 17th, 2008 9:58 am

    I have to agree. The upgrade to our outfield defense is one of the things I’m most excited about. Especially since it could help make Washburn look better, which could make him more valuable as a trading chip, which would only help the team. The same applies to Bedard if he can stay healthy.

    I know there’s a lot of ifs in the above statement, and a lot could happen between now and then, but damned if it’s not fun to actually have hope for this year.

  8. Paul B on December 17th, 2008 10:00 am

    can flip Bedard

    Pet peeve time. Can we use the word “trade” when we are discussing trades? “Flip” implies, at least to me, a quick sequence of acquire and divest within a short period of time. We’ve had Bedard long enough that we should use the word “trade”.

    OK, flame away or ignore because it is such a minor point, but it just grates on me for some reason.

  9. The Ancient Mariner on December 17th, 2008 10:00 am

    For my part, I don’t expect contention, but I wouldn’t say I’m pessimistic; I think this team will win more games than last year’s, and more importantly, I think it will do so in a fashion that’s much, much more enjoyable to watch — and much, much more sustainable.

    (Sorry, Paul — point well taken.)

  10. Colm on December 17th, 2008 10:10 am

    Ancient Mariner:
    “if Zduriencik is able to move Washburn’s contract without eating most of it, and if he can flip Bedard for a reasonable return…”

    Shifting Washburn would almost certainly be addition by subtraction – but it’s probably more likely to happen after half a season of playing in front of a vastly improved outfield defence.

    Selling Bedard any time before June will inevitably mean selling low; I’d rather have him pitch here most of the season than flip him for a couple of no-mark, non-prospects.

    In general, yes, Zduriencik has made very wise moves rather than splashy, Peter Angelos-type moves, so average fans are pessimistic. So much the better. They were optimistic last year, and look where that got us.

  11. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:14 am

    Put me down as one who believes 2009 is already a lost year with no hope of contention. Add to that no hope of keeping Felix, I’m afraid. I sure hope I’m wrong on that, however.
    A lot of things need to work out for this trade to be considered a success, because all four players we gave up likely will prove to be helpful to their new teams, to one extent or another (can’t see Putz happy as a setup guy though). Not so sure we can say the same for the seven we got. Unless one considers great gloves, but with .240 bats having some to little power the way to build a winning team. Everyone else is unproven at this point, aside from Heilman, who’s just been an underformer, even moreso than Gil Meche.

  12. Dave on December 17th, 2008 10:17 am

    Pointless speculative despair? Check
    Ignoring defense? Check
    Relying on proven players? Check

    Congratulations, your post earns the Bavasi Award for thoughtlessness.

  13. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:19 am

    I might add that 2009 could easily be even worse than 2008. Say 105 to 110 losses. I’d say the odds are 50/50. The only thing we can count on, I’d say, is Ichiro getting two hundred hits. Whoppie! (not)

  14. Colm on December 17th, 2008 10:20 am

    Oakland has paced or bettered the Mariners almost every year since 2002 with great defenders and hardly a hitter of note (latterly, at any rate).

  15. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 10:22 am

    I might add that 2009 could easily be even worse than 2008. Say 105 to 110 losses.

    You could.

    And I could blather pointlessly as well.

    You’re still not supporting your point.

  16. Spanky on December 17th, 2008 10:22 am

    I WAS WRONG!

    Okay…I said it. When Z was hired, I protested loudly that this had the look of “old-style” baseball man that worked through the system and finally reached the top. I was ready to give up on the M’s because Bavasi (and by extension…his team) stamped out all the long-term love I had inside for this team. I was looking around to find the next team I could have an affair with.

    While I’m not sure I like everthing he’s done, I can at least see the logic and can defend the moves to friends in a logical way. It remains to be seen if he’ll have long-term success…but I’m happy to admit my infidelity and suddenly (for some strange reason)…the M’s look sexy again and can’t wait for February!

  17. SeasonTix on December 17th, 2008 10:23 am

    Dave,

    I think you should write a letter to Lincoln complementing him on the hire of Jack Z.

    I’m serious.

    After all the crap that has been heaped on Lincoln over the years for bad hiring decisions like Bavasi, it would be nice to give him some props for Picking Z when most of us wanted them to go with a younger “stats geek” type.

    Turns out, we apparently got the best of both worlds: an “old school” scouting type who understands and appreciates the value of stats-based player analysis. That seems like an unbeatable combination and every move Z has made so far shows that he has a tremendous amount of confidence in his plan and doesn’t care about PR or ruffling feathers in the M’s front office.

    I plan to write a letter to Lincoln saying how excited I am about Z’s first moves because I think it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

  18. coasty141 on December 17th, 2008 10:30 am

    Dave , What are your expectations for 2009?
    Is scoring 720-750 runs and giving up 730-760 possible? With a little luck could we be looking at a 80 win season?

  19. wabbles on December 17th, 2008 10:32 am

    I’ve wanted to ask about that $1.4 million first base platoon. I read in the Mariners Mailbag on the Mariner’s official site that Shelton isn’t on the 40-man roster so isn’t going to be Branyan’s platoon partner? Is he going to be moved onto the 40 man at some point or is there someone else I missed?

  20. Oolon on December 17th, 2008 10:35 am

    I agree that we’re heading in the right direction and that 2009 should be a more interesting season for those of us in the bleacher seats.

    But as to the question on espn.com, “Do you expect your favorite MLB team to be competitive in 2009?” – I had to answer “no”. Competitive to me means 90 wins or so – I can’t see it happening. 80 wins would probably be my over/under line. But I don’t think we’ll be scoreboard watching in September…

    I hope I’m wrong.

  21. bakomariner on December 17th, 2008 10:35 am

    Lance-

    Seriously?

    You are going to say the team is worse off?

    You really are an “old-school” Bavasi-type…

    Your comments alone were funny, but throwing “not” out there…wow…

  22. RoninX on December 17th, 2008 10:35 am

    @ SeasonTix. Fair enough. I’m tempted to say something about visually challenged squirrels and nuts, but I’ll refrain.

    I am as happy as (almost) everyone else about the new leaf the organization seems to have turned over with the arrival of Z. I am optimistic about the long term success of the Mariners for the first time since… well, about this time last year, if the truth be told. However, I am certainly not optimistic enough to think that we have a legitimate chance to be much better than .500 next year – so I for one still checked “no” on that survey.

    Lets enjoy the improvement in approach and vision, but lets not talk ourselves into expecting competitiveness next year.

  23. beef on December 17th, 2008 10:36 am

    I am also estatic about all the changes that have occurred in this brief timespan.

    But mostly I’m glad that most people don;t share the same optimism. We were able to shift to considerably better seats for our 16 game packages last week. Five rows off the field,looking down the 1st base line.

    As far as worse than last year, highly unlikely. Last year had as many things go wrong as the previous year had things go right. I’m not expecting wonders next year but I know the despair factor will have been cut dramatically.

  24. DMZ on December 17th, 2008 10:40 am

    I read in the Mariners Mailbag on the Mariner’s official site that Shelton isn’t on the 40-man roster so isn’t going to be Branyan’s platoon partner?

    The problem here is you’re reading the Mailbag on MLB.com. Don’t do that and you’ll be fine.

  25. Tek Jansen on December 17th, 2008 10:42 am

    Dave, I agree with your post. One of the reasons I was so happy about the Putz trade was that it made the 2009 M’s better than the 2008 M’s. I am optimistic because the M’s are better going into spring training now than they were a year ago. I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. I heard writers and other “pundits” comment on the trade and the Ibanez departure and they have constantly failed to recognize the obvious.

    The 2009 M’s are already an improvement over the team the broke spring training last year, and Zduriencik is simultaneously replenishing the farm system. It is a long climb back, but these are reasons to be happy.

  26. wabbles on December 17th, 2008 10:42 am

    Oh yeah, one other thing. The 2003 team committed a ridiculously low 65 errors all season. (I think the 2008 team committed that many in a single series.) This team doesn’t have the infield defense (yet) that that team had. But how might this team fare compared to that gold standard?

  27. The Ancient Mariner on December 17th, 2008 10:44 am

    Colm — I’m not saying now. The main advantage to dealing Washburn now would be to ensure that Morrow stays in the rotation, and I tend to be optimistic that that will be a problem Morrow will solve by himself with his performance; with any luck at all, I agree, we should be able to swing a better deal for him sometime during the season (though with a little luck, we might not have to wait more than a month or two, given our new OF gloves). As for Bedard, I wouldn’t even think of moving him now.

  28. bakomariner on December 17th, 2008 10:47 am

    Re DMZ-

    I read the mailbag too, but every time I do, I want to email Street and yell at him…he is freaking clueless…in the newest edition he talks about how Yuni is a gold-glove short stop…he recently advocated Morrow going back to the closer spot…I’m sure that in every edition there is something that he has ass-backwards…

    It’s really, really bad…

  29. wabbles on December 17th, 2008 10:52 am

    Okay, maybe I cited the wrong source but a review of the M’s 40-man roster reveals that Shelton is not, in fact, on it. He was signed to a minor league contract, I believe.

  30. Colm on December 17th, 2008 10:52 am

    Come poster, let us not pile on. Allow Lance to defend his 50:50 chance that this team could be nearly as bad as the 2003 Tigers. I am very curious to see his logic.

  31. mkd on December 17th, 2008 10:53 am

    Paul B: I agree with your larger point about not using “flip” as a blind synonym for “trade”, but I think its use regarding Bedard is understandable.

    In calendar days he’s been around for long enough to run out the statute-of-limitations on the word “flip”, but in service time, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like he’s pitched enough to have fully vested with the team. If we traded him today the story would read: “The Ms traded for Bedard, he pitched for half a season and then they traded him for x, y, z player”. In this scenario we never really used him for ourselves, he just turned out to be a conduit to other players. I think you could accurately call this “flipping Eric Bedard”.

    Not that I want to flip Eric Bedard.

  32. SonOfZavaras on December 17th, 2008 10:56 am

    Wabbles-
    to answer your question, the 40-man is at 38 right now and so there is room to add Shelton if they are so inclined. And DMZ is right- stay away from MLB.com’s Mailbag. It kills brain cells. Scientifically proven.

  33. BrianV on December 17th, 2008 10:58 am

    I’m pessimistic about our fortunes this coming season, but I haven’t been this optimistic as a fan of the organization in general in years. I’m very excited for a 2009 in which I don’t think we’ll be competitive.

  34. TheBird on December 17th, 2008 11:02 am

    I share the optimism. It’s much easier to root for a well-run team even if the W/L columns are not pretty. Moving from the bottom to top half of the simple matrix referenced by Paul DePodesta is the best gift a M’s fan can receive this holiday season.

  35. tim_davis_fan_club on December 17th, 2008 11:03 am

    Wabbles–

    Like SonofZavaras said, they will add Shelton to the 40-man roster (and the 25-man roster) if he performs well enough in Spring Training to make the team. Whenever you hear someone get signed to a “minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training” that’s generally how it works.

  36. Thievery on December 17th, 2008 11:03 am

    I think you should write a letter to Lincoln complementing him on the hire of Jack Z.

    I think everyone here should. I sent an e-mail to Howard’s attention via M’s FanCare just after the Putz deal complimenting the organization for its new approach.

    During last year’s unraveling, it was apparent by that the front office was aware of the unrest of many fans and the clamoring for a more sophisticated approach to running the ballclub. I think it’s critically important that Howard et al know that as fans, our 2009 record is secondary to the overall direction of the franchise.

    So, write. I think many would be surprised at how much difference it can make.

  37. msb on December 17th, 2008 11:04 am

    speaking of Jim Street, in his Heilman puff piece he notes “Wakamatsu said Heilman, Miguel Batista and Mark Lowe are the primary closing candidates at the moment, but the manager believes things will sort themselves out during Spring Training”

  38. shemberry on December 17th, 2008 11:04 am

    For the most part, I don’t care how we do in the win column in 2009. I will watch every game and be happy, why, because there is hope. I can watch a team lose if I have hope that better days are coming. 2008 was hard to watch, except when Felix was pitching, because it all seemed so hopeless.

    I have coached High School softball for over 10 years, and for years I have taught my players to “do things the right way”. If you learn how to swing correctly, it may be awkward at first, and you won’t see results right away, but stick with it. If you do things the right way and focus on the process instead of results, eventually you will get the results you want.

    That was why 2007 was so discouraging. It was like the M’s were closing their eyes and swinging at a pitch over their head and hitting a Home Run. The results looked good, so everyone believed they were good. The truth is that swinging at pitches over your head with your eyes closed will not produce good results.

    For me 2009 is the first year of the M’s doing things “the right way”. It may not get the results we want this year, but it will get us the results we want, and I will enjoy watching every minute of it, because for the first time in a long time, I have hope for my Mariners.

  39. Tek Jansen on December 17th, 2008 11:05 am

    Re DMZ and bakomariner-

    Last year, after the Bedard trade, Street was on XM’s MLB Homeplate and said that he didn’t know much about Tillman, Mickolio, and Butler. He works as a beat reporter and writer whose lone obligation is to cover the M’s, yet he couldn’t so much as offer a single, solitary opinion about the relative value of any of those three pitching prospects.

  40. Broadcast James on December 17th, 2008 11:06 am

    If the Mariners can manage to play .500 ball this year, they will wildly out pace the average fans expectations.

    Playing just .500 ball keeps one right around or below 10 GB almost all season long. The media will portray the team as being in the playoff contention into September (see Toronto).

    7 GB in July looks way better than 17 GB. The problem last year was that we were eliminated from the playoffs (in the casual fans mind) sometime in May. (I felt like we were eliminated sometime during the off-season.)

  41. Lance on December 17th, 2008 11:06 am

    gwangung. I could elaborate as to why 2009 already sets up as a real stinker of a year but I don’t believe anyone here wants to hear it. Not that I’m trying to change anyone to my views. I just feel we’ve given up four good-to-high qualilty players and all we can really count on is that our OF will have better defense with significantly less offense. Aside from that defense, everything we’re getting in this deal comes with big question marks. Most of the reasons we lost 101 games last year still exist.

    Branyan may be a small improvement over Sexson, but it looks like he’s just more of the same as Richie. Well, maybe not quite as bad, but more like Richie than the Carlos Pena-type turnaround we hope for.

    I’m hardly down on the long-term prognosis for this team. I share the optimism of many here. But, for next year we’ll probably have to just grin and bear it. My view anyway.

  42. n8tron3030 on December 17th, 2008 11:08 am

    I am pessimistic about the team’s chances of winning this year, but I am optimistic because it won’t be the same boring, overpriced players who do the losing. And it will be much more interesting to watch these guys because expectations are so low, yet they have so much more upside. If guys like Clement, Bedard, and to some extent Balentien come even close to the hype of a year ago they could make things interesting.

  43. RoninX on December 17th, 2008 11:12 am

    Most of the reasons we lost 101 games last year still exist.

    Well sure, Richie and Turbo certainly still “exist” … but, fortunately for us, they aren’t on the team anymore. ;)

  44. behappy on December 17th, 2008 11:20 am

    Long time reader, I’ve only left a few comments in the past. But I just had to say that I have been a long time Mariners fan, since the old days back in the Kingdome. I’ve seen more dumb ass and embarrassing moves, been the victim of more baseball jokes then I care to remember. But I would have to say the Bavasi era had to be the hardest to withstand. Kinda like when you puke in your mouth and swallow. That taste stays around for a long time.

    But Zduriencik…wow what can I say.It’s like finally brushing your teeth after all that puking we have done. Feels good. Refreshing. We can all smile and be proud to be a Mariners fan again.

    How can some of these fans be pessimistic are you guys f***ing blind. Zduriencik has logic. Follow the bouncing ball. This guy has a plan. If some of you fans didn’t learn from Mr. Bavasi. Sit down and hold on this is how you BUILD A TEAM.

    Also THANK YOU all from U.S.S MARINER. Ive been a daily reader for the last year and a half. I use to spen alot of time on the M’s team site. LOL. I know a bunch of lost souls over there. I have to admit, I thought your guys a little cocky at first, but after seeing a lot of your predictions come true I have converted over to the right side. Thanks for the education.

    Cheers. Happy Holidays.

  45. joser on December 17th, 2008 11:21 am

    I guess the question is “what does it take to make you optimistic”? Is it enough to be better than last year, or do you have to be looking at the promised land? Is a raise in income enough, or do you have to be rich? Can you find optimism in a road that seems to going to the right direction, or are you only optimistic once you’ve arrived?

    I might add that 2009 could easily be even worse than 2008. Say 105 to 110 losses. I’d say the odds are 50/50.

    You want to bet on that? Barring some catastrophic injury to key player(s), I don’t see that as likely at all. You could even run that exact same 2008 team out again and it probably wouldn’t lose that many games — the 2008 team underperformed its pythag (just as the 2007 team overperformed, leading Bavasi to make the disastrous trade for “one last piece”). The 2009 team is unlikely to challenge the top of the division, and it might even have trouble hitting .500, but it’s not going to lose 100 games again next year.

    And that’s assuming Zduriencik doesn’t make any further moves. The Opening Day roster is still months away.

  46. jonw on December 17th, 2008 11:39 am

    A year ago practically the only subject talked about here was the trade for Eric Bedard and the loss of AJ and the entire farm. What a relief, I can breath again. New players that have actual upsides are going to make for and interesting season. Even if that season only gets the M’s to 500. 80 wins is reason enough for me to watch and pay attention.

    I’m excited! “Jacked” I do not believe Zduriensic is done yet and I am really interested to see what he does with all of those early round draft picks. Go Z!! Go M’s!!

  47. Breadbaker on December 17th, 2008 11:53 am

    The moves the M’s have made, and sort of penciling in competence by the new manager and coaches, should certainly get the franchise up off the mat, even if there is a long way to go. Ultimately, longterm success requires the acquisition of stars, whether through drafting and development, smart trades or free agency. There is a dearth of standout star talent on this team and we have to hope that Ichiro will still be able to perform and Felix will still be here when they are joined by some stars (which is why so many of us were disappointed at trading Adam Jones). Will it be Triunfel? Will it be this year’s first pick? Will it be the equivalent of picking up Carlos Pena off the scrap heap? Baseball is way too unpredictable to know, but I like the direction.

  48. lokiforever on December 17th, 2008 12:09 pm

    I am optimistic as well.

    From reading this site, I have been schooled in the foibles of results based analysis, and yet the M’s under Z have yet to play a game.

    From a sociological point of view, the wisdom of crowds, the effect of happy friends, the potential of groupthink, this is all very stimulating and uplifting.

  49. The Ancient Mariner on December 17th, 2008 12:15 pm

    Lance: time will tell, eh?

  50. ChrisK on December 17th, 2008 12:15 pm

    I think you should write a letter to Lincoln complementing him on the hire of Jack Z.

    If Lincoln/Armstrong resist the urge to bring Griffey back, I’ll send my letter. But I still have a feeling they’re going to look at declining season ticket sales and make the panic, PR-friendly move.

  51. Lance on December 17th, 2008 1:07 pm

    A.M. – Eh!

  52. Carson on December 17th, 2008 1:12 pm

    Has anyone heard anything at all about Beltre lately? Are we safe to assume that the rest of baseball undervalues him (or, Jack values him correctly?), and that he’ll remain part of the plan moving forward?

    I think giving him an extension would be a decent idea at this point, if he’ll take it.

  53. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 1:15 pm

    gwangung. I could elaborate as to why 2009 already sets up as a real stinker of a year but I don’t believe anyone here wants to hear it.

    That translates to me as “I’m blowing smoke everyone’s ass, because I can’t back up my assertions.” (E.g, in just what you wrote, you made at least one provably wrong assertion about the outfield offense).

  54. dlb on December 17th, 2008 1:19 pm

    I am with Dave. Last year people thought the M’s would be great, but the numbers said otherwise. The M’s ended up sucking and everyone was stunned. This year will be the exact opposite. Everyone will pick us for the worst team in baseball and the M’s will surprise people by being competitive and in the race for the first 2/3 of the season. It will be awesome to watch.

  55. Celadus on December 17th, 2008 1:36 pm

    I think writing Lincoln is an excellent idea. I suspect there are several email addresses that might work–anybody have any ideas on which one(s) are most likely to get read?

  56. Taylor H on December 17th, 2008 1:38 pm

    Boy, I had my heart set on LaCava. And if not him, DiPoto would have sufficed.

    But Zduriencik? I couldn’t believe it. I envisioned Bavasi v2.0 and another 3-4 years of sucktasticness.

    And I was wrong.

    Sometimes it’s awesome being wrong.

  57. Taylor H on December 17th, 2008 1:42 pm

    Lance: time will tell, eh?

    Canadian!

  58. ima-zeliever on December 17th, 2008 1:46 pm

    I have read some encouraging things about Gutierrez’ second half numbers last year. I am curious how he will respond to being an everyday CF with a team that appreciates him…

  59. Andren on December 17th, 2008 1:47 pm

    During last year’s unraveling, it was apparent by that the front office was aware of the unrest of many fans and the clamoring for a more sophisticated approach to running the ballclub.

    I’d like to add that it’s efforts such as the analysis done here at USSM that have contributed to the cause. Major respect due here Dave, DMZ and co.

    We’ll never know to what degree ownership pays attention, nevertheless it’s nice to know that they have turned the corner.

  60. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 2:14 pm

    I have read some encouraging things about Gutierrez’ second half numbers last year.

    Folks have got to remember….even WITH his sucky first half, he’s an OFFENSIVE upgrade over Reed, Bloomquist, Balentien et al….

  61. spar123 on December 17th, 2008 2:19 pm

    Wlad needs to have the LF spot over Chavez – that would be the smart thing for the team to do. You can’t take away Wlad’s potential bat for a modest upgrade in defense. Wlad’s not incapable of playing the position and having a bunch of gazzelles out in the OF is not the only important thing. Chavez won’t come near the production Wlad can. Chavez should be the 4th OF’er that can give each position a rest.

  62. ima-zeliever on December 17th, 2008 2:23 pm

    “We’ll never know to what degree ownership pays attention, nevertheless it’s nice to know that they have turned the corner.”

    We know they have been doing some reading… My guess is that someone gave Chuck (or Howard) a copy of “Moneyball” before he got on a long plane ride.

  63. msb on December 17th, 2008 2:25 pm

    Wlad needs to have the LF spot over Chavez – that would be the smart thing for the team to do. You can’t take away Wlad’s potential bat for a modest upgrade in defense

    shouldn’t that read “a significant upgrade in defense”?

  64. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 2:31 pm

    shouldn’t that read “a significant upgrade in defense”?

    That’s a good question, I think.

    Vlad’s shown the potential for a signficant uptick in offense and at least adequate defense, but I don’t think either showed up last year. You do the math and he might go there, but he has to show some substantial improvement on offense.

  65. BigJared on December 17th, 2008 2:40 pm

    I feel optimism. It is a strange feeling because I haven’t felt it in so long.
    I don’t expect us to contend next year, but I do expect better than last year’s display of putrid baseball at all levels. I don’t think watching the ’09 M’s will be the exercise in masochism that watching the ’08 version was.

    Additions via subtraction:
    -Jose Vidro (Professional Hitter!)
    -Sexton
    -Cairo!
    -Willie
    -Raul Ibanez and his statuesque D in LF.

    How can we not be better?
    Keep up the good work Mr. Z.

  66. cheeseheadtransplantmax on December 17th, 2008 2:41 pm

    a complete teardown of the old processes and in importation of new, better processes. Not everything Zduriencik and crew do is going to work, but there’s a mountain of evidence that shows that they understand how to build a good team, and that the moves they make will be built on solid logic.

    I agree. These moves compared to last season’s are like night and day. Not saying “we have to go out and sign Richie Sexson, coming off an injury year for $$$”, but rather finding a cheap platoon that should end up playing better than Richie ever did here. Night and day.

  67. ThundaPC on December 17th, 2008 3:00 pm

    I’m optimistic.

    I’ve been pretty optimistic since the finalists for the GM job were decided. I’ve been quite thrilled with the change in direction this organization has gone.

    Zduriencik is not going to be perfect, no doubt, but to go from where we were before to where we are now is pretty awesome. I love the Putz trade and the thought process that went into it.

    I think when it’s all said and done this team will be at least a low 70-win team, somewhat similar to Oakland. It’s very difficult to lose 100 games without doing so on purpose so I always chuckle when someone suggest we’ll be as bad or worse.

    Even if 2009 doesn’t prove to be a competitive year for the team there’s enough freshness in the organization to be fascinated by how the season turns out. How does opening day look? How will Wakamatsu handle the team when its struggling? Will his staff get more out of his players? How will Zduriencik do in the 2009 draft? What happens at the trade deadline? What will Zduriencik do after having a full year under his belt?

    It’s strange to see people think that 2009 will be dismal. If you can survive 2008 you can definitely handle 2009.

  68. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 3:06 pm

    I’m not sure that we’ll be competitive (80-89 wins); but I think we are currently a better team. The improvement offensively at Catcher, 1b, and DH should offset LF. CF offensively should be a wash between Reed/Gutierrez. However, defensively we take huge strides forward in LF & CF; and I can’t imagine 1b being worse than it was in ’08. We lost Putz & Green; but the improved D should help our entire pitching staff every single play, every single game; rather than just in save opportunities.

    People keep talking about how great Raul was offensively, yet conveniently forget just how horrible Sexson, Wilkerson, Vidro, and Cairo were (and even Kenji) offensively (and defensively). It’s a team. We don’t have to replace Raul with one person. Branyan, Gutierrez, Balantien/Chavez, DH(?) should be equal to or greater than Raul, Reed, Sexson/Cairo & Vidro offensively; and when you add in Defense it should be a very nice upgrade. Not to mention Kenji on the bench and a full season of Clement.

    This is the happiest I’ve felt in a long time regarding the team.

  69. Evan on December 17th, 2008 3:43 pm

    I might add that 2009 could easily be even worse than 2008. Say 105 to 110 losses.

    Right, because losing Sexson and Turbo made the team vastly worse.

  70. wabbles on December 17th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Regarding Raul’s departure: When Cameron replaced Griffey, the line was that he provided more doubles, triples and stolen bases. Raul was indeed a productive hitter but is it possible that someone more fleet of foot could end up being just as valuable offensively? Not WFB “valuable” but valuable by getting XBH (and some homers) plus stealing bases and taking extra bases?

  71. JLP on December 17th, 2008 3:50 pm

    I could elaborate as to why 2009 already sets up as a real stinker of a year but I don’t believe anyone here wants to hear it.

    Actually, I’m sure everyone would love to hear it, as long as it’s a thought-out, well-constructed argument. The fact that you don’t want to elaborate makes it seem like you don’t have evidence to back-up your claim.

    Not that I’m trying to change anyone to my views. I just feel we’ve given up four good-to-high qualilty players and all we can really count on is that our OF will have better defense with significantly less offense.

    In my opinion, our outfield will have significantly better defense with significantly worse offense. However, the defensive upgrade also improves pitching staff, so your getting two upgraded areas and only downgrading one area. Sounds like overall improvement to me.

    Aside from that defense, everything we’re getting in this deal comes with big question marks. Most of the reasons we lost 101 games last year still exist.

    Reasons why we lost 101 games in ’08:

    1. Poor team defense
    2. Poor pitching staff, which was due, in part, to poor team defense
    3. Hitters that couldn’t take a walk or get on base
    4. An inept General Manager
    5. An inept Manager that couldn’t make the best of the pieces that we had

    There are more, but everyone here has a good idea of why we lost so much last year.

    A lot of those areas are improved. Dave and Co. have already elaborated on the vast defensive upgrade this team should be next year, and how that upgrade will trickle over to the pitching staff. Of course, how much of an upgrade Wakamatsu is over McLaren remains to be seen, but I don’t see how he can be worse. And Jack Z. has already shown how much better he is at the job than Bavasi ever was.

    Branyan may be a small improvement over Sexson, but it looks like he’s just more of the same as Richie. Well, maybe not quite as bad, but more like Richie than the Carlos Pena-type turnaround we hope for.

    Branyan(/Shelton, maybe) should hit slightly better than Sexson, and should also play better defense. That, and they aren’t costing the team an arm, leg, and left nut.

    And I don’t recall anyone ever saying they were expecting Carlos Pena-like production from either one of them.

    I’m hardly down on the long-term prognosis for this team. I share the optimism of many here. But, for next year we’ll probably have to just grin and bear it. My view anyway.

    I absolutely agree that we will have to wait and see, but, so far, things are looking up. It’s just nice to see the organization take a better route towards a more productive roster. I might have to buy another DVR just to dedicate to M’s games.

  72. Mike Snow on December 17th, 2008 4:03 pm

    However, the defensive upgrade also improves pitching staff, so your getting two upgraded areas and only downgrading one area. Sounds like overall improvement to me.

    While it’s a nice thought, pitching/defense are really one area, essentially equivalent to offense by itself. Looking at the relative size of upgrades and downgrades is more meaningful, and that’s the reason why most people here would see Zduriencik’s moves as an overall improvement.

  73. Slurve on December 17th, 2008 4:05 pm

    It’s okay to feel a little pessimistic about whether or not we’ll contend but saying the 09 team will be worse than the 08 team is just wrong.

  74. spar123 on December 17th, 2008 4:18 pm

    Thats whether you believe the only thing important is defense. I know the authors of this site have that narrow vision, its just not one I share. Not saying Defense is something to be ignored my any stretch of the imagination but if you give yourself 3 OF’ers that will hit around 20-30 hr’s combined then you better have some pretty huge hr hitters on 3rd and 1st which we don’t.
    As to Wlad’s bat not showing up – well he wasn’t really given a chance was he? Not to mention the fact that he’s a typical prospect that needs to grow into his mlb form, not an Arod or Griff that just were born with it and there aren’t many of those.
    It’s odd – people seem to want to give Clement all the time in the world to develop into a hitter/catcher but have no patience for Wlad who will hit a whole lot more than Clement ever will.

  75. Jeff Nye on December 17th, 2008 4:23 pm

    Thats whether you believe the only thing important is defense. I know the authors of this site have that narrow vision, its just not one I share.

    You’re nuts.

    What the authors (and most of the readers) of this site believe is that what matters is scoring more runs than the other team, and how you get there doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

  76. New Zealand Mariner on December 17th, 2008 4:42 pm

    Kunkoh – re: People keep talking about how great Raul was offensively, yet conveniently forget just how horrible Sexson, Wilkerson, Vidro, and Cairo were (and even Kenji) offensively (and defensively). It’s a team. We don’t have to replace Raul with one person. Branyan, Gutierrez, Balantien/Chavez, DH(?) should be equal to or greater than Raul, Reed, Sexson/Cairo & Vidro offensively; and when you add in Defense it should be a very nice upgrade. Not to mention Kenji on the bench and a full season of Clement.

    Exactly – that is a great call! We have lost a great offensive LF but the gains FAR outweigh the losses!

  77. thr33niL on December 17th, 2008 4:43 pm

    I think being excited by the current roster is really stretching it. One may be excited by the new direction the team is headed. I can see that. Any change from Bavasi’s line of roster creation has some exciting qualities to it.

    But the team we have currently is looking up at .500 in my opinion. A great defensive outfield is nice to have but we are off-setting that by having probably the worst offensive outfield in the AL. With all the improvement in OF defense, the infield hasn’t changed. Branyan is probably a better glove at first compared to Sexson but unless Yuni and Lopez step it up big time this year, up the middle is going to be an issue (again).

    I don’t think that there is anyway that the pitching will be near as bad as it was last year. Even without a healthy Putz, this staff will be better in ’09.

    But right now, I see a great defensive outfield that can’t hit, potentially bad up the middle infield defense and an overall poor offense. Combine that with good depth in the starting pitching department and a very ‘iffy bullpen.

    Really hard to be excited for this team unless the sole fact that its different turns your crank.

  78. Beniitec on December 17th, 2008 4:51 pm

    I do like Z’s first move. But we have yet to see the move improve the team on the field. I’ll wait to see that first before I get giddy. I do like your optimism Dave. Wish I could share it with you though. Just removing Turbo and Sexy would have made me optimistic at one time…but that didn’t translate to improvement on the field either. I think infusing the team with lots of changes will definitely change the team. But like Lance said… it could go either way. We have pretty much the same guys minus our worst offensive players and our best offensive power hitter. We’ve also lost the top “two or three” (if you count Morrow) pitchers in the bullpen. We’ve added some good D in the outfield. That and a couple of players that really haven’t “blossomed” at the major league level. Just sounds like days of old to me…
    5 SP’s (No change – yet)
    6 BP (No more Putz & Green add Vargas/Lugo)
    Pitching staff
    1B Change Branyan/Shelton
    2B No Change – Jose Lopez
    3B No Change – Adrian Beltre
    C No Change – Jeff Clement & Kenji Johjima
    RF No Change – Ichiro Suzuki
    CF Change – Franklin Gutierrez
    LF Change – Wlad/Chavez
    DH ???Undefined – one of WLAD/Chavez/Shelton/Branyan

    Interesting…but not optimistic…yet. At least not for me.

    Now having said that, I’m the biggest fan around. In the high times and low times. It’s because I’m a fan that I’m as pessimistic as I am right now.

  79. aeschylus1320 on December 17th, 2008 5:00 pm

    A big part of management’s moves has been in acquiring and hoarding draft picks. When you look to build your team through the farm system, it’s just going to take time. The reality is the Mariners probably won’t be contending for the playoffs for a few more years, but if Z brings in the right young talent then they should be building toward a long and fruitful run as contenders. Having said that, with good pitching and good defense, the Mariners should be able to at least compete period this year. Meaning we won’t lose 100 games again.

    nextseasonsports.com

  80. Breadbaker on December 17th, 2008 5:04 pm

    It would be shocking to the point of incomprehension if this is all we’re going to see. There are still plenty of free agents out there, plenty of guys who are going to be cut in spring training, etc. Zduriencik is going to be watching all those moves and pouncing on, we hope, the right opportunities.

    The non-tendering of Jamie Burke was another positive step for me; Jamie was another 2007 phenomenon that didn’t project to make any contribution in 2008 and spent the entire summer proving that. The thing to do with a scrub catcher who catches fire one season is to find a way to trade him in for something real or else to drop him. We just spent a whole year giving him innings and at-bats that could have gone to Clement.

  81. Lance on December 17th, 2008 5:05 pm

    Of the seven traded for only four have any chance of helping the M’s in this coming season, Gutierrez, Chavez, and Heilman, and maybe Vargas, who’s coming off a lost year due to a hip injury.
    Cesar Jimenez can do everything he does and probably better.

    Heilman is a former top prospect who has yet to develop a quality major league off-speed pitch. He wants to start, but doesn’t have enough quality pitches to do so. At best, he could adequately take Putz’ place.

    Guitierrez has great defense, but he’s another free swinger we’ll have to live with in our lineup. As if we need another free swinger.

    Chavez could be a capable 4th outfielder, but Reed’s a better hitter. Chavez is good as a late-inning defensive replacement, or pinch-runner. But that’s about it.

    So, for 2009 this is a four-for-four deal, if that. And, all things considered, we gave up far more than we got. The trade may or may not have long term benefits, but for next year it won’t make things better. The loss of Ibanez makes it worse.

    The defensive benefit the pitching gets is negligible. What we really need is defensive improvement in the middle-infield, a.k.a. move or lose Lopez. If we’ll be relying on our OFers chasing down deep fly balls we’ll still be in a world of hurt.

    And to the guy who said we’ll be better if we can avoid key injuries, that’s a big “if”. Because nobody avoids key injuries.

  82. diderot on December 17th, 2008 5:08 pm

    Mark down one more optimistic. 2009 doesn’t matter…we need to create a chance to be competitive on a regular basis.
    What will make me more optimistic: (assuming he’s interested) signing Beltre to an extension. What he did with a bad thumb all year long to me is beyond impressive. And on opening day he’ll still be (OK, barely) in his 20′s.
    What will make me far less optimistic is the signing of Griffey.

  83. Lance on December 17th, 2008 5:10 pm

    Breadbaker, isn’t calling Jamie Burke a 2007 phenomenon overstating matters? He did a good job. That’s it. And letting him go does not markedly improve this team, either. Backup catchers are a dime a dozen. You only hope they do a solid job for you. All things considered, he did. That’s pretty much it. Nothing more, nothing less.

  84. coasty141 on December 17th, 2008 5:14 pm

    Lance says

    “Chavez could be a capable 4th outfielder, but Reed’s a better hitter.”

    How do you figure? Is that a hunch? Gut feeling?

    Endy
    career wOBA- .299

    2009 Marcel Projection .308

    Reed
    career wOBA- .295

    2009 Marcel .306

  85. Alec on December 17th, 2008 5:15 pm

    Lance, you have ruined your already questionable credibility. Heilman’s best pitch is his changeup. That is an offspeed pitch. Also, the weak links of our staff from last year were Silva and Washburn, both flyballers who will benefit much more from improved outfield defense than infield defense. i don’t know why you even bother talking if you are so woefully uninformed.

  86. joser on December 17th, 2008 5:18 pm

    Has anyone heard anything at all about Beltre lately?

    Specifically, how he’s recovering from that hand surgery?

    If Lincoln/Armstrong resist the urge to bring Griffey back, I’ll send my letter. But I still have a feeling they’re going to look at declining season ticket sales and make the panic, PR-friendly move.

    You know… Let me just preface this by saying I’m one of the least Griffey-stalgic people you could find in Marinerdom. I was mostly not paying attention to the team during his glory years (after suffering through the 80s) so my judgement isn’t clouded by fond memories; and since he moved to the Reds I’ve been seen here and elsewhere calling him an overrated bag of glass and worse. And that was when he was younger and better than he’ll be in 2009. Having said all that…. if the team offers him a one year deal to DH, giving him a victory lap and a way to sell some gear and pull in some lost fans for a couple of games, I can’t really begrudge that. As optimistic as I am about the direction the team is now headed, I don’t think they’re going to challenge for the AL West in 2009, so it’s not like it really matters. The downside, of course, is that it would steal at-bats from Clement (especially) and others, and that’s not an insignificant problem. But at least it would finally and truly shut up all the frickin’ tedious nostalgia-addled juniorific windbags who go on and on and on… And that’s worth something to me.

    But if they gave him more than a one year deal for peanuts, forget it.

    people seem to want to give Clement all the time in the world to develop into a hitter/catcher but have no patience for Wlad who will hit a whole lot more than Clement ever will.

    And your evidence for this belief is what, exactly? Wlad is never going to show his full potential playing half his games in Safeco, even if he learns how to consistently hit non-fastballs.

  87. Breadbaker on December 17th, 2008 5:18 pm

    That’s it. And letting him go does not markedly improve this team, either. Backup catchers are a dime a dozen

    Carrying three catchers significantly cuts down on options on the bench, particularly when two of them are right-handed and can’t run or hit (and in Jamie’s case, can’t pitch). You don’t see a lot of pennant-winning teams carrying three catchers.

  88. Andren on December 17th, 2008 5:37 pm

    Alec, lay off Lance a little bit. Not every person here is going to be fully informed or an expert. Some are here for that very reason – to learn. Having an attitude like that is over the top IMHO.

  89. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 5:39 pm

    Guitierrez has great defense, but he’s another free swinger we’ll have to live with in our lineup. As if we need another free swinger.

    This is a rather ignorant comment.

    Given that his offense LAST YEAR, when it took a substantial dip, was better than ANYBODY outside of Ichiro that we rolled out there, focussing on his “free swinging” as a reason why our offense won’t be better is stupendously wrong.

    Given that he’ll probably improve modestly, and that his defense is vastly better than anybody we’ve had (including Ichiro), dismissing his worth is, frankly, stupid.

    (And that doesn’t get to the point that “free-swinging” isn’t nearly as useful as being offensively productive).

    Of course, you don’t want to hear that, do you?

  90. Lance on December 17th, 2008 5:42 pm

    Alec, it matters little to me that you just like to throw mindless insults around. However, the fact is Heilman’s changeup is not good. Which is probably why he’s a setup reliever right now. So where are you getting your presumed facts from. His style is similar to Putz, but with a fastball about five MPH slower.

    And, Silva has always been and remains a groundball pitcher. If he’s giving up fly balls he’s not pitching like Carlos Silva can and should.

    I agree Washburn would be helped most by a vastly improved outfield defense, but I’m working off the assumption his days as a Mariner are numbered, even if he starts the year in our rotation. Remember, too, that no defense, no matter how good, can stop balls from going over the fence in all but a few cases. Which certainly applies to Jarrod. And, did we really make this trade to help Jarrod Washburn? I think not.

    Most of all, just because my views don’t match yours doesn’t mean I lack credibility. It just means my views don’t match yours. Which makes your efforts at insulting me appear all the more juvenile.

  91. gwangung on December 17th, 2008 5:47 pm

    Alec, it matters little to me that you just like to throw mindless insults around. However, the fact is Heilman’s changeup is not good.

    You better back that up. He’s not the only one who thinks Heilman has a good changeup. Jeff Sullivan termed it as “awesome.”

  92. Graham on December 17th, 2008 5:53 pm

    Play nicely, kids.

  93. Lance on December 17th, 2008 5:55 pm

    “This is a rather ignorant comment.”

    “Of course, you don’t want to hear that, do you?”

    I’m fine with anyone who wants to make a counterpoint. Doesn’t bother me a bit. I just don’t see the point in all this presumptuous nastiness. Somebody’s going to have to explain the necessity of it for me to see it as anything more than simple immaturity.

  94. Slurve on December 17th, 2008 6:06 pm

    guti may be a free swinger but he makes up for it by making contact with pitches. Hielman has a good FB/CU combo good for a reliever but he needs a 3rd pitch if he wants to start but his slider is pretty bad.

    “Most of all, just because my views don’t match yours doesn’t mean I lack credibility. It just means my views don’t match yours. Which makes your efforts at insulting me appear all the more juvenile.”

    What he was trying to say is back up your claims with evidence.

  95. Lance on December 17th, 2008 6:08 pm

    gwangung, thanks for the valid counterpoint.

    What little I’ve read is that Heilman has a change up, but that it lacks command. If it was “awesome” why is he being used as a short reliever? Maybe for the same reason the M’s had trouble taking Morrow out of the pen, but typically guys are in short relief because they’re secondary offering are lacking.

    From what I’ve read Heilman’s main secondary pitch is his split-finger. I don’t know where Sullivan is drawing his conclusions from and I’m not saying he’s wrong. I guess we’ll get to see that “awesome” change this spring, won’t we. I’ll be watching for it.

  96. Lance on December 17th, 2008 6:18 pm

    “What he was trying to say is back up your claims with evidence.”

    It’s okay if you want to stick up for your buddy, but if that’s what he meant why isn’t that what he said? I don’t think that’s what he meant at all. He meant what he said. It was an effort to be insulting and one that I found juvenile, so I said so. That’s just an observation on my part. As I said, it doesn’t bother me at all.

  97. Alec on December 17th, 2008 6:21 pm

    i get my facts from reputable places such as Lookout Landing. And, by checking his Fangraphs page, i saw that you are correct to some extent. Silva is not a flyballer, but he is not a groundballer. He has an essentially league average batted ball profile, and therefore would benefit significantly from infield or outfield help. And i was working under the assumption the Z is trying to improve the teams weaknesses, a significant one being the outfield defense. We went from arguably the worst outfield in baseball if Wlad was there to arguably the best this side of Tampa Bay. Also, if we hang onto Washburn until the deadline, couldn’t his value be inflated from a bounceback season caused by improved outfield defense? Plus, RRS has flyball tendences, wouldn’t outfield improvement help him?

  98. Lance on December 17th, 2008 6:37 pm

    Stats aside, when Silva is right he’s a groundball pitcher. That’s well known. If the stats don’t bear that out it’s because he was not right as much as he should have been. He’s a sinkerball pitcher. All sinkerballers are groundball pitchers. At least when the sinker is working. And the infielders are good.

    I don’t doubt for a moment that Z is trying to improve team weaknesses and that OF defense was certainly one. But now while this trade solves one it creates another, the bullpen. And that’s a far worse team weakness than one’s outfield defense. Just ask the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians.

    This trade also got rid of someone who would have allowed Lopez to switch positions and made our infield defense much improved (Lopez was not an error machine, he simply let way too many balls get by him for hits). Which is exactly how Cleveland if going to use Valbuena. He’ll play 2B, moving Cabera to SS, moving Peralta to 3B. That’s going to improve their pitching more than having Gutierrez in CF would. That seems to be their thinking, anyway. That and having Joe Smith in their pen.

  99. Jeff Sullivan on December 17th, 2008 6:40 pm

    The bullpen isn’t much of a problem at the moment.

  100. Jeff Sullivan on December 17th, 2008 6:49 pm

    Heilman was used as a short reliever because he throws two pitches. An effective starter generally needs at least three.

    His secondary pitch is a changeup – not a splitter – and his changeup is great. It got more swinging strikes than both Johan and Hamels’ changeups last year.

  101. WestSeattle on December 17th, 2008 7:03 pm

    Any word lately about that old Hermida rumor? I know he plays right field and he hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations, but I thought there was rumor there was a possible trade for Adam Moore? Hermida is another lefty.

    Just wondering.

  102. msb on December 17th, 2008 7:11 pm

    Has anyone heard anything at all about Beltre lately?

    Specifically, how he’s recovering from that hand surgery?

    I just asked Larue to look into it for his off-season blog :)

  103. Breadbaker on December 17th, 2008 7:12 pm

    The bullpen isn’t much of a problem at the moment.

    I agree. For one thing, bullpens are quite irrelevant when starting pitching leaves you as far behind as our starters did last year, and when hitters don’t hit enough to ever put you in the lead, as our hitters did last year. But more to the point, it’s nowhere near as hard to find someone with one or two good pitches who can throw hard to three to six batters, than it is to find someone who has almost any other skill in baseball. And if you don’t invest too much in one (like, say, “Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek”), you can keep shuffling through candidates til you find someone who can perform.

    Chances are (a) at least one of our relievers will suck this year, the way O’Flaherty did last year; and (b) at least one of the relievers we got rid of will look really good next year. And the opposite of (a) and (b). As Satchel said, Never look back, someone might be gaining on you.

  104. The Ancient Mariner on December 17th, 2008 7:24 pm

    Lance, if you want respect, you might want to avoid in future not starting off treating those who disagree with you so dismissively. You might also want to check your facts before making assertions (such as that Heilman’s changeup isn’t good — to say he doesn’t have great command of it is not to say it isn’t a really good pitch, because it is).

  105. usabaseballfan on December 17th, 2008 7:25 pm

    I agree with everything you said Dave, except one thing. Gutierrez has shown his worth as a defender in this league, but I can’t believe you are claiming he is a better player than Raul. I would take Raul’s torrid bat and his ho-hum defense over Gutierrez’s glove and lackluster bat any day.

  106. Alec on December 17th, 2008 7:33 pm

    The bullpen is the easiest problem a team can have. Ask the 2007 Rays. Where was JJ before becoming a shutdown closer? Plus, in Heilman, we got a potential replacement for him. Sean Green s a clone of Roy Corcoran. Mark Lowe is coming back. We picked up a reliever in the Rule 5 draft. Valbuena is a loss, yes. He is hard to replace. However, the recent data has show us that Lopez may be close to average defensively. i would take that with several grains of salt as it is contrary to observed and recorded data, but it still must be weighed. Recent data also shows that he is probably above average at the plate. The only position he could conceivably switch to s third, where a phenomenal defender already resides, and even then, Dave just put up a post on FanGraphs about how a switch from second to third does not necessarily constitute an improvement.

    The improvement to the outfield defense alone makes the post JJ team better. Plus, Gutierrez has some potential for some major improvement at the plate.

  107. Alec on December 17th, 2008 7:33 pm

    [dupe]

  108. Benne on December 17th, 2008 7:54 pm

    Remember last year, around this same time, when everybody was accusing USSM of being too pessimistic? Funny how a competent front office changes things.

  109. eddie on December 17th, 2008 8:05 pm

    you know, I’m as excited about this coming year as I have been for a long time. Back in the good old days when the Mariners were good, or getting good, it was fun, but it’s fun now too. Almost funner.

  110. CMC_Stags on December 17th, 2008 8:06 pm

    Stats aside, when Silva is right he’s a groundball pitcher. That’s well known.

    This isn’t a comment that will convince anyone. You can’t say something like “Stats aside, Raul tried hard in OF and was a decent defender.” Or, “Stats aside, Pujols isn’t any better than Teixeira.”

    Stats are what validate – or invalidate – our day to day observations. If there is a player and you can show has 5 years of stats backing up the fact that that he induces league average amount of ground balls, then saying “stats aside” immediately invalidates your arguement.

    What the stats show, is that Carlos Silva’s GB rate has been steadily falling since he broke into the league.

    Year GB%
    02: 55.5%
    03: 52.2%
    04: 50.5%
    05: 49.2%
    06: 43.6%
    07: 47.5%
    08: 44.0%

  111. qwerty on December 17th, 2008 8:09 pm

    Chris Antonetti who? Sometimes things do work out.

    Also, may I take this time to apologize to Howard and Chuck? I had no confidence that they’d make a good GM hire.

  112. Graham on December 17th, 2008 8:15 pm

    But now while this trade solves one it creates another, the bullpen. And that’s a far worse team weakness than one’s outfield defense.

    Really? Prove it.

    Not anecdotally, with statistics.

  113. Benne on December 17th, 2008 8:29 pm

    Seriously, the bullpen should be the least of our concerns.

  114. Lance on December 17th, 2008 8:52 pm

    A.M. – how was I being dismissive? I was simply stating my views. Is there so much groupthink on the comments section of this blog that to disagree with what may be the popular view makes one dismissive? Seems like people are being dismissive of me, which is fine, but where’s dismissiveness in disagreement?

    Graham – I don’t need to prove anything, certainly not based on your criteria anyway? The Mets considered improving their bullpen as job #1 and were willing to trade a top defensive outfielder to do that. The Indians were also willing to trade a top defensive outfielder to improve their bullpen and get a young quality infielder in addition. Go ask them for statistics. Seems people love the way the Indians do things from all I raad. Go argue the point with those teams.

  115. Graham on December 17th, 2008 9:03 pm

    Graham – I don’t need to prove anything

    I’m sorry, what? If you want to disagree with people who know what they’re talking about, you’ll have to have something backing you up.

    Not ‘the Mets wanted to improve their bullpen so bullpens are more important than outfielders’.

    What you’re doing is like me saying I know infinitely more than you because I have Cantabridgiensis after my name.

  116. Benne on December 17th, 2008 9:04 pm

    Graham – I don’t need to prove anything, certainly not based on your criteria anyway?

    Read this.

  117. CMC_Stags on December 17th, 2008 9:06 pm

    Lance-

    The relevant quote in the link that Benne posted:

    Generally speaking, in discussions:
    The burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion, and the wilder your assertion, the better your evidence should be. If you want to argue that Raul Ibanez is the best defensive left fielder ever, or that clutch hitting exists, or whatever, you need to bring the proof. “You need to disprove my theory” is not an acceptable argument, ever.

  118. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 9:16 pm

    Actually, I think if you make a claim that is contrary the burden of proof resides on you. Sure you don’t have to give proof, but if you don’t give proof people aren’t likely to listen to what you have to say. If they don’t listen to what you have to say, then you just wasted time by posting it (unless there were other reasons to post like trolling). That’s how discussions/debates work.

  119. Slurve on December 17th, 2008 9:21 pm

    Meh our bullpen “troubles” replace Green with Corky/half the pitchers in our minor league system, replace Putz with Hielman or a healthy Mark Lowe. Lefty Situation dude-Thomas/Vargas/Lugo
    Set up role- Who ever doesn’t win the closer job. I wouldn’t say the trade created more problems. Guti is a legit CF who can hit 15-20 HR and Carp could fill our gap at 1B for the time being depending how well he does during spring training and AAA, Endy is a Reed clone but with better defense and we got some minor league talent along too who might prove interesting later on.

  120. Benne on December 17th, 2008 9:27 pm

    I’d say our bullpen is in solid shape right now, and there’s plenty of time left for Z to bring in a few more warm bodies to fill it out. Really, we won’t know for sure how it will shake out until the spring.

    Carp could fill our gap at 1B for the time being depending how well he does during spring training and AAA

    I’m guessing Carp will stay in Tacoma for some more seasoning in ’09, with a possible cup of coffee in September. Branyan/Shelton can keep the seat warm until then.

  121. DMZ on December 17th, 2008 9:29 pm

    I just want to say that I think it’s great USSM/USSM readers are being accused of being too mindlessly optimistic.

  122. Lance on December 17th, 2008 9:33 pm

    My issue is not in the request for proof. But in what one demands for proof? What one accepts as proof varies from individual to individual. Further more, for one to demand proof based on only the criteria they’ll accept is both myopic and narrow-minded. As if proof cannot come from other sources. And, too demand the elimination of one form of proof is further presumptuousness.

    As an example, I offered the behavior of the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians as illustration to prove my point. If that is deemed insufficient by the masses, fine. It’s nothing more than my opinion vs the masses as to who is correct (the majority is not always right. See Presidents of the United States).

    However, if one is married to the thought that statistics are the end-all and be-all in proving my statement correct, which statistics would you like me to present?

  123. Slurve on December 17th, 2008 9:35 pm

    As an example, I offered the behavior of the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians as illustration to prove my point.

    What point were you trying to prove?

  124. jamhov on December 17th, 2008 9:38 pm

    If you want to blindly believe that Omar Minaya’s roster construction priorities show the correct methodology to field a viable and competitive team; I guess more power to you.

  125. Lance on December 17th, 2008 9:39 pm

    That solving the problem of a bad bullpen is more important than one’s level of defensive play in the outfield.

  126. TomTuttle on December 17th, 2008 9:40 pm

    The only thing that hurts about these moves is that they should’ve been done YEARS AGO.

    As in, after 2003-2004.

  127. Benne on December 17th, 2008 9:44 pm

    The 2007 Rays had one of the worst bullpens in baseball. The 2008 Rays had one of the best bullpens in baseball. The common denominator in both scenarios? A vastly improved defense.

    That you think a bullpen is more important than defense makes it nigh impossible for me to take you seriously.

  128. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 9:46 pm

    That isn’t Proof. It’s an association fallacy.

  129. Dave on December 17th, 2008 9:49 pm

    Wait, let me get this straight. Two major league GMs get together and make a trade – one gives up a relief pitcher, the other an outfielder. This is evidence that relief pitchers are more valuable because one of them gave up an OF for an RP, but this is not proof that outfielders are more valuable despite the fact that one of them gave up an RP for an OF?

    It’s not groupthink to believe that the earth is round, that the sun is hot, or that outfield defense is more important than the bullpen.

  130. SonOfZavaras on December 17th, 2008 9:54 pm

    I admit, I pined for LaCava as GM- I thought he was by far the best long-range candidate. But seeing Zduriencik operate with what looks like competence is so unbelievably refreshing…like inhaling one of those air-freshener trees in cars when it’s new.

    I am looking forward to 2009. I’m a crown prince of optimism anyway, but the recent moves have been more ammunition to feel so.

    And, Lance…I understand what you’re trying to say, but read that orientation. Believe me when I say it’s followed to the core. Nothing short of pure, statistic proof on assertions will fly here. These guys are the reasons I’m spending my free time learning SABR.

    I try to say this in the most un-butt-kissing sense I can muster….but these guys are right a lot more than they’re wrong. Back up any points with proof, I’m willing to bet you’ve got no problems even if virulently disagreed on.

  131. Benne on December 17th, 2008 9:56 pm

    I admit, I pined for LaCava as GM- I thought he was by far the best long-range candidate. But seeing Zduriencik operate with what looks like competence is so unbelievably refreshing…like inhaling one of those air-freshener trees in cars when it’s new.

    I was in the Kim Ng fanclub, myself. But Zduriencik is making me want to have his babies.

  132. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:06 pm

    Benne, who in the TB outfield made them so superior than the year before? Did Carl Crawford become so much better all of a sudden? I thought he was always pretty good. Like Ichiro and Reed. Was it the improvement of B.J. Upton and Rocco Baldelli, whom they already had? Ben Zobrist?

    Or, was it the addition of guys like Grant Balfour, Chad Bradford, Dan Wheeler, and Troy Percival who really knew how to pitch? Much more so, anyway, than the turkeys before them that they got rid of.

    You made the statement. Supply the proof. You don’t even have to supply statistics for me.

  133. Benne on December 17th, 2008 10:16 pm

    Benne, who in the TB outfield made them so superior than the year before? Did Carl Crawford become so much better all of a sudden? I thought he was always pretty good. Like Ichiro and Reed. Was it the improvement of B.J. Upton and Rocco Baldelli, whom they already had? Ben Zobrist?

    Or, was it the addition of guys like Grant Balfour, Chad Bradford, Dan Wheeler, and Troy Percival who really knew how to pitch? Much more so, anyway, than the turkeys before them that they got rid of.

    You made the statement. Supply the proof. You don’t even have to supply statistics for me.

    Jason Bartlett, Gabe Gross and Evan Longoria are plus defenders that weren’t on the Rays’ ’07 roster. Balfour, Wheeler and J.P. Howell were all on the ’07 team, and were, for the most part, awful. Troy Percival was mostly a non-factor in ’08.

    If you don’t like stats, that’s fine. Just don’t expect to find a receptive audience here when you spout off nonsense like “clutchy relievers who really know how to pitch are more important than the defense playing behind them.”

  134. david h on December 17th, 2008 10:20 pm

    Lance –

    It would help if you acknowledge, instead of ignore, when you are proven wrong. You claimed Silva is a groundball pitcher; CMC clearly showed his is not.

    Sure, you qualified your assertion with “when Silva is right…” However, when it is shown that Silva has not been “right” for years, does it matter anymore what you think he tries to be? Isn’t what he is more important? Imagine Silva is a student who fairly consistently gets 75% on exams, though he always tries to answer every question correctly, and sometimes he pulls it off. Would you claim, “stats aside, when Silva’s right,” he aces every exam? Aside from the tautological truth of the statement, the implied claim that he is therefore an ‘A’ student is flatly wrong.

  135. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:24 pm

    Thanks, Dave, for arguing my point. Proof is subjective, not objective. As I stated it varies from individual to individual. Which is right? Is there really such a thing as right? Depends on who you ask. Such arguments can go on through infinity.

    One thing can’t be argued for. That the majority is always correct. Once upon a time the consensus was that the world was flat. They threw Gallileo into prison for believing and stating otherwise. Shall that be my fate, metaphorically speaking? Among this group, anyway.

  136. david h on December 17th, 2008 10:27 pm

    Benne, who in the TB outfield made them so superior than the year before?

    He said defense generally, not outfield defense specifically.

    In 2007, the Rays’ defense turned a measly 66.2% of balls in play into outs, worst in either league. In 2008, the Rays’ defense turned 71.5% of balls in play into outs, best in either league.

    Unless you feel up to the task of refuting the piles and piles of research, data, and writing showing that pitchers have little to no effect on how often balls in play are turned into outs, you may want to revisit your stance on the main source of the Rays run prevention improvement.

  137. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 10:28 pm

    Now you are falling into false dichotomy (among others). It’s not an either/or situation. There were a lot of variables that lead to the Rays improvement.

    The Rays improved their outfield, not just their relief pitching. Delmon Young to the Twins , more time for Gabe Gross, Upton also spent a lot more time in the field in 2008 vs 2007 (143 games vs 78), in addition Hinske played in 89 games providing even more good defense (11.0 UZF/150).

    In addition, if the outfield is good; and you improve your relief pitching the team will be better. It does NOT mean that relief pitching is more important than outfield defense.

  138. JI on December 17th, 2008 10:30 pm

    The up the middle combination of Wilson/Harris/Upton, with Delmon Young in center field was a crime against humanity.

  139. SonOfZavaras on December 17th, 2008 10:30 pm

    I’m relatively certain that if GALILEO Galilei were alive today and decided he liked baseball, he’d have a copy of the latest Bill James Almanac underneath his arm, the first day it came out.

    And Galileo could prove he was right, it just wasn’t convenient to him breathing any further (and learning more) for him to do so. Faulty analogy.

  140. jamhov on December 17th, 2008 10:31 pm

    Lance-
    Just so you know Galileo got thrown into prison for believing the earth wasn’t the center of the universe, not that the earth was flat.

  141. Jeff Nye on December 17th, 2008 10:33 pm

    Galileo also had a legitimate counter-theory supported by actual empirical evidence.

    You don’t.

    Seriously, there are two paths you can take from here, Lance:

    1) The one we all hope you take, where you realize that others just might know something that you don’t, and sit down and listen to what people are trying to tell you;

    2) The one you’re on now, where you’re so unwilling to admit the possibility that you’re wrong that you’re doing ridiculous things like comparing yourself to Galileo.

    We don’t expect people who come here to instantly be baseball experts; hell, there are a LOT of people here that know more than I do, and I readily accept that fact.

    You’ll get a lot more out of the discussion on this site if you’re willing to be a bit more open-minded and less worried about being right.

  142. Benne on December 17th, 2008 10:34 pm

    The up the middle combination of Wilson/Harris/Upton, with Delmon Young in center field was a crime against humanity.

    On this we can all agree.

  143. msb on December 17th, 2008 10:38 pm

    mindlessly optimistic.

    that’s us!!

  144. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:38 pm

    Okay, david h. Let’s say that statistical reality shows Carlos Silva is a flyball pitcher, contrary to the fact that he’s a sinkerball pitcher who is supposed to throw ground balls. Then how much are we truly improving the team by simply trying to trade to counteract another player’s weakness. Isn’t that self-defeating.

    It’s saying since our pitchers are going to give up a lot of long flyballs, let’s get guys who stand a better chance of catching some of those flyballs even if we have to sacrifice a lot of offense to do it. That is what has happened.

    I’m all for improving the defense. I’d have just started with the infield defense first. And, I wouldn’t have sacrificed our two best relievers and our best young major league-ready infield prospect to do it. But that’s just me.

  145. Breadbaker on December 17th, 2008 10:39 pm

    The guys at Baseball Prospectus, and you don’t get much more statistics-based than that, said before the season last year that just the addition of Jason Bartlett to the Rays would make all their pitchers look better, because they were going from a serious hole at short (are you listening, Z?) to a serious plus at short.

    Given that this proved to be the case, they should get some props for the prediction.

  146. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 10:40 pm

    Wow, the irony burns like hygiene. Galileo argued for scientific discoveries using mathematics to prove theories rather than blind faith.

  147. jamhov on December 17th, 2008 10:45 pm

    It’s saying since our pitchers are going to give up a lot of long flyballs, let’s get guys who stand a better chance of catching some of those flyballs even if we have to sacrifice a lot of offense to do it. That is what has happened.

    Are we really sacrificing a lot of offense? Ibanez was gone before this deal was made, I know he hadn’t signed yet, but he was going somewhere else.
    And also, wouldn’t it make sense to build a roster with players who have complementary skillsets? If you have a spacious outfield with flyball pitchers on your staff, wouldn’t outfield defense be a good priority?

  148. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:45 pm

    Bb – and I’m totally in agreement with that. Which I’m so sorry to see Valbuena go instead of being used to replace Lopez at 2B. That would have helped this team so much more than improving the OF defense will do.

  149. coasty141 on December 17th, 2008 10:49 pm

    I believe it was ussmariner’s Dave that said with the changes TB “don’t call them devil rays” made this last offseason it would make them the 4th or 5th best team in the AL. He was way off wasn’t he? So yeah, he understood how important the changes TB made to their roster were even though ESPN and 90% of american didn’t.

  150. Lance on December 17th, 2008 10:49 pm

    I wasn’t allowed to edit in my concluding statement, which is that that may happen yet.

  151. coasty141 on December 17th, 2008 10:50 pm

    Probably closer to 99.9% I suppose

  152. david h on December 17th, 2008 10:52 pm

    Lance –

    The reality that Silva is not a groundball pitcher is not necessarily contrary to the fact that he’s a sinkerball pitcher; rather, it is complementary to the fact that he is a lousy sinkerball pitcher.

    Further, your dismissive attitude toward the “statistical reality” is baffling – it’s not like we’re dealing with some newly devised advanced and complicated metric with disputable reliability; it’s just a count of how many ground balls he has induced over the years, which directly shows he is not above average at inducing ground balls.

    The rest of your comment makes me realize I should be in bed by now.

  153. spar123 on December 17th, 2008 10:59 pm

    if that is all they care about Jeff then how could you honestly say that Endy should get the job over Wlad? One will hit a ton and play above average defense will the other will hit a little and play great defense. Yet the authors of this site have already given the starting job to Endy so go figure.

  154. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 11:04 pm

    Spar, I’m not sure that Wlad is an “above average” defender. Also, I’m not sure that the “authors of this site have already given the starting job to Endy.” On the 11th, Dave listed Wlad as the starting LF. It may have changed since then; but if it did I missed it.

    http://ussmariner.com/2008/12/11/the-starting-eight/

  155. insidetheparker on December 17th, 2008 11:05 pm

    I think we can all agree that GMZ is trying to get the Mariners to score more runs than they allow (pretty much the point of baseball). Increasing the runs scored or decreasing the runs allowed ultimately leads to the same goal of success.

    Z saw that it is much cheaper (and easier) to upgrade defense because it is vastly under-rated around the league. Improving the defense will also boost the stats of the pitching staff….giving Z the opportunity to trade off the surplus of starting pitchers and get more value in return. I think it is a brilliant move that will speed up the “rebuilding process”.

  156. jamhov on December 17th, 2008 11:06 pm

    I’d like to add that Wlad isn’t exactly close to being able to “hit a ton”

  157. david h on December 17th, 2008 11:07 pm

    Yet the authors of this site have already given the starting job to Endy so go figure.

    As Kunkoh just pointed out, Dave listed Wlad as the starting LF. Also notice his comment in that threat:

    I’d imagine it’ll probably be something like a 75/25 start-share, with Chavez playing on days when the flyball/contact guys are pitching and coming in as a defensive replacement in close games. It’s a great idea, honestly – you give Balentien a chance to show he can hit bendy pitches while leveraging Chavez’s defense to keep the team relatively competitive.

    It helps when you don’t make things up.

  158. Benne on December 17th, 2008 11:08 pm

    if that is all they care about Jeff then how could you honestly say that Endy should get the job over Wlad? One will hit a ton and play above average defense will the other will hit a little and play great defense. Yet the authors of this site have already given the starting job to Endy so go figure.

    Wlad has yet to show that he can “hit a ton”. He doesn’t walk, can’t hit breaking pitches to save his life, and is a terrible fit for Safeco. His defense is also pretty bad.

    That being said, I’m not quite ready to bury Wlad yet, but he belongs in a platoon at this point, because we need Endy’s glove out there.

  159. Jeff Nye on December 17th, 2008 11:09 pm

    if that is all they care about Jeff then how could you honestly say that Endy should get the job over Wlad? One will hit a ton and play above average defense will the other will hit a little and play great defense. Yet the authors of this site have already given the starting job to Endy so go figure.

    That’s a lot of misrepresentation in one small post.

    No one’s “given the starting job to Endy”, and Wlad does not in any way, shape or form play “above average” defense.

    Honestly, I don’t think Wlad has a huge upside at this point; he’s a terrible fit for Safeco Field, and can’t hit a breaking pitch to save his life.

    He’s not some fantastic player that nobody is giving a fair shot to, any more than Mike Morse is.

  160. Jeff Nye on December 17th, 2008 11:09 pm

    Apparently, Benne and I are sharing a brain.

  161. insidetheparker on December 17th, 2008 11:10 pm

    Can we do both with Endy in left and Wlad at DH? Or is it accepted that Kenji is the catcher and Clement the DH?

  162. insidetheparker on December 17th, 2008 11:12 pm

    Sorry. I mean both as in use Endy’s glove and test Wlad’s bat

  163. Kunkoh on December 17th, 2008 11:16 pm

    I agree with insidetheparker on what Z is doing (and could be horribly wrong since I can’t read his mind). It’s basically what I got from reading Moneyball. Most people (ie. Reporters/fans) seemed to read it and then dismiss it as “Beane says that OBP is the most important thing in baseball. That is nonsense.” The heart of the book to me was to find something that is undervalued and exploit that. Defense, particularly outfield defense seems to be horribly undervalued the past few years.

    OF Defense is the new OBP.

  164. Benne on December 17th, 2008 11:17 pm

    Apparently, Benne and I are sharing a brain.

    I’ll be expecting my royalty check soon.

  165. insidetheparker on December 17th, 2008 11:26 pm

    “OF Defense is the new OBP.”

    I would say that any defense is the new OBP (Not just OF). But it seems to be more valuable than OBP because defense gives the impression that it is the pitchers that are “responsible” for their more impressive numbers rather than just a vastly improved defense. Valuing players differently is the basis for trade and if Z can see past the numbers and convince other GMs that Washburn is indeed having a rebound season then we can get a lot of value a potential trade.

    Therefore the improved defense will help in the trade market as well as on the field.

    Also how do you do the blue line quote thing? I can’t figure it out….

  166. SonOfZavaras on December 17th, 2008 11:26 pm

    Likewise, I got some snooze to catch up on.

    But, Lance- throw something in there that at least makes a claim at “empirical evidence”, if I can borrow Jeff Nye’s term- it can be predicated on freakin’ ASTROLOGY for all this site cares. It’ll definitely be debated. Very likely snickered at.

    But if that’s your body of proof, this site will first debate (briefly) the merits of your proof and then if deemed a worthy basis, then debate what you say is fact within it.

    “Seven of the twenty-five men on the active roster have Sun Signs in Scorpio- very powerful sign. Plus all throughout the year the Moon will be in the 10th House- which blatantly favors the Northwest. Based on this powerhouse combination, a 2009 AL West title for the Mariners is iron-clad. By ten games, at least.”

    I’ll tell you right now, I don’t think astrology will be considered a basis for anything around here… but at least if you bring up something that makes a claim to fact, and not a “take my opinion for what it’s worth”- that’s a step further than where we’re at with you now.

    And to reiterate:

    An opinion by itself, no matter how dipped in melodrama and analogy, without a set of facts, won’t cut it here. Never has, I don’t think ever will.

    And these aren’t off-the-loony-wall stats by the dudes you never talked to in math class that knew everything and had way too much time on their hands formulating more kooky stat-stuff for fun: this is just baseball-specific, scientific-method thinking.

    And it’s the primary reason that organizations like the Angels, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Red Sox (maybe others, I’m still finding out who uses SABR the most) have a recent track-record that beats the Mariners all to hell.

    No one wants you gone, Lancy. But the perimeters of this site are carved in fiber-optic granite. I’m like Jeff Nye, you can throw a rock and probably hit somebody that knows more about sabermetrics than I do; but I’m going to learn.

    I kinda think of it as the passport to being taken seriously here.

    Good Lord, I need bed, I’m starting to get all Elmer Gantry. Anyways, toodles, all. Lance, hope to see ya ’round.

  167. ima-zeliever on December 17th, 2008 11:36 pm

    I think if Mike Morse is healthy, he will have a better chance of beating Wlad out as the RH hitting LF matched with Endy should things stay the way they are… Did Z get Endy as a platoon player or as a 4th OF? Time will tell.

    On another subject…thank you Dave and DMZ for the best sight on M’s baseball. Outstanding! I hope you are well rewarded like Bill James finally was after all those years of hard work for the love of the game.

  168. Benne on December 18th, 2008 12:25 am

    Also how do you do the blue line quote thing? I can’t figure it out….

    Use (blockquote), then copy-and-paste the text you want to quote inside that tag, and close it with (/blockquote). Replace the parentheses with <, of course.

  169. DMZ on December 18th, 2008 12:36 am

    Or, even easier, copy and paste the text, highlight it, and hit the handy “bquote” button right there! yayyy quicktags!!

  170. Benne on December 18th, 2008 1:22 am

    That too. I like doing things the hard way.

  171. CMC_Stags on December 18th, 2008 1:58 am

    To start a long, late-night post… Some 2009 rough outfield projections (thanks Fangraphs!):

    Ichiro!:
    .348 wOBA (James)
    .333 wOBA (Marcel)
    between +5 and +10 UZR/150 in RF

    F-Gut:
    .332 wOBA (James)
    .320 wOBA (Marcel)
    approx +25 UZR/150 in LF/RF. probably between +5 and +15 in CF.

    Endy Chavez:
    .302 wOBA (Bill James)
    .308 wOBA (Marcel)
    about +20 UZR/150 in RF or LF

    Wladimir Balentien:
    .329 wOBA (Bill James)
    .303 wOBA (Marcel)
    between -10 and -15 UZR/150 in RF or LF

    Mike Morse Projections:
    .350 wOBA (Marcel)
    No clue on defense

    Jeremy Reed:
    .319 (James)
    .306 (Marcel)
    About average in CF according to UZR though his career numbers in the corners are actually really poor (possibly due to a small sample size).

    Rauuul:
    .346 (James)
    .344 (Marcel)
    between -10 and -20 UZR/150 in LF

    To sum up-
    F-Gut is somewhere around .020 worse in wOBA projection than Raul. Over a full season (let’s say 600 ABs) that’s about 10 runs. F-Gut is about 40 plays in a corner outfield spot better than Raul. Those are worth more than 10 runs. F-Gut should be better than Raul in ’09.

    Endy Chavez is probably your best chance for an everyday 3rd OF in the goal is to win in 2009. He projects out at somewhere between even to .020 in wOBA worse than Wlad while he’s about 30-35 plays better than Wlad in a corner spot. Based on those numbers, Wlad should create somewhere between no and 10 more runs than Chavez, not enough to outweight Chavez’s significant advantage (30-35 plays) in the OF.

    Endy Chavez is pretty much the same player Reed is when it comes to good/plus glove and no bat.

    So the M’s have improved their OF from last year. They have improved their IF from last year (Branyan and Shelton/whoever should be better than LaHair, Sexson, and Cairo). The starting rotation will be better – not including the defense being better – as Felix should be the same or better, Bedard should be better, Silva should not be so unlucky, Morrow will have a full season in the rotation, and the only candidate to be worse is Washburn. This leaves RRS and Heilman in the bullpen (subsitute with whoever you think they will be starting instead of) with everyone else and the bullpen will likely be around the same.

    Area breakdown:
    OF – large improvement
    IF – slight improvement
    SP – slight improvement
    RP – about the same

    The team also relieved itself of Raul’s, JJ’s, Sexson’s, and Vidro’s medium to large contracts from last year’s payroll without adding significant salary. Increasing the team’s competitiveness on the field, lowering salary costs for increased flexibility, and stockpiling draft picks at the same time? Count me in.

  172. Bandit23 on December 18th, 2008 2:36 am

    Longtime reader, first time posting. I am a die-hard M’s fan and have stuck with them through thick and thin and it feels good to see them heading in the right direction. You get the feeling that Z has a master plan for this club (something Bavasi clearly lacked). I think you have to be optimistic right now if you are an M’s fan. We will definitely be better than last year, even if Z doesn’t make another move (hoping that we do)!

  173. terry on December 18th, 2008 4:13 am

    Personally, I like Heilman’s change up-a lot. I wouldn’t want to have to hit it for a living but that’s kind of the point.

  174. The Ancient Mariner on December 18th, 2008 5:04 am

    Can we please not start calling him F-Gut? If you absolutely have to use a nickname, take a page from the SBN Indians board and call him Gootz. Or, if you want the parallel both to the actual spelling of his name and to Putz’ name, call him Gutz. But please, by all that is right and good, not F-Gut. It was OK with A-Rod because a) no one else had done that yet, and b) it was moderately euphonious . . . “F-Gut” has neither defense.

  175. CMC_Stags on December 18th, 2008 7:32 am

    Sorry, it was late.

    I’d prefer to find a new nickname for our shiny new CF rather than borrow his old one or mimic our departed closer’s name.

    Unfortunately, I’m not talented at coming up with nicknames… Franklin Rafael Gutierrez… Any takers? Dave/DMZ/JMB/Conor, can get get another optimistic fan thread where we try to pen new nicknames for Gutierrez, Branyan, etc.?

  176. Graham on December 18th, 2008 7:51 am

    As a small aside, I find it pretty funny that the teams that apparently don’t value outfield defence have Carlos Beltran and Grady Sizemore as their centre fielders.

  177. msb on December 18th, 2008 7:52 am

    speaking of Gutierrez, how long before the out-of-town scoreboard pops up “that was Gut!!!” after a highlight catch or a big hit?

  178. ima-zeliever on December 18th, 2008 8:08 am

    Or “that took a lot of Gutz!”

  179. Jeff Nye on December 18th, 2008 8:08 am

    I am optimistic…about [off-topic].

  180. Osfan on December 18th, 2008 8:13 am

    I loved this discussion and I think the discussion is important in that the reason I like this site is that the arguements are almost always well thought out and logical. So, keep up the good work! One nerdy and off topic complaint, and not to beat Lance into the ground any more, but Galileo’s point of contention was not that the world was round. This was proven beyond all doubt when Magellen sailed around it in 1521; 40 years before Galileo was born. Galileo was in hot water because he insisted that the Earth revolved around the sun. Galileo’s contempory Tycho Brahe used similiar data to Galileo and came up with some crazy alternative. He is still respected in that he found a solution that fit the data that was available at the time, more or less. So, from what I’ve seen on this site, your opinion will be respected regardless of whether you are Galileo or Brahe. But, it will not be respected if you blindly insist that the stars and planets earth.

  181. bakomariner on December 18th, 2008 8:34 am

    Seeing Mike Morse hit a home run on SportsCenter this morning made me smile…he’ll probably never have any impact, but it’s just another off-season thing that has me very OPTIMSTIC!

    Go Ms!!!!!!!!!

  182. Evan on December 18th, 2008 9:13 am

    Proof is subjective, not objective.

    As a guy with a degree in logic, I beg to differ.

  183. msb on December 18th, 2008 9:20 am

    Seeing Mike Morse hit a home run on SportsCenter this morning made me smile…

    why were they showing Morse on Sportscenter?

  184. Graham on December 18th, 2008 9:28 am

    why were they showing Morse on Sportscenter?

    It’s ‘People who will never amount to anything’ day.

  185. bakomariner on December 18th, 2008 9:40 am

    msb- because he hit a home run…i think it was one of the top ten plays from last night…

  186. msb on December 18th, 2008 9:54 am

    I forgot he was down playing for Lara

  187. bakomariner on December 18th, 2008 9:58 am

    i thought you were just being a smart ass…lol…

  188. msb on December 18th, 2008 10:03 am

    no, I just couldn’t figure out why ESPN would be doing 4th outfielder Mariner highlights in December, 2009 optimism or no.

  189. bakomariner on December 18th, 2008 10:05 am

    he probably won’t even make the team…unless he’s the RH platoon at 1B or DH…

  190. msb on December 18th, 2008 10:08 am

    the Yanks are introducing their expensive new initialed pitchers over on MLB; as Randy Levine puts it … “today we reaffirm the Steinbrenner commitment to winning baseball”

  191. bakomariner on December 18th, 2008 10:12 am

    It won’t work…if they had done it a couple years ago, it might have, but their offense is getting old in a hurry…and two of their mainstays probably won’t be back in Giambi and Abreau…

    So more OPTIMISM!!!! The Yanks WON’T win the WS in 2009!!!!

  192. msb on December 18th, 2008 10:19 am

    man, Randy Levine is a kiss-ass.

    oh, wait. I am optimistic that Randy Levine will continue to be a kiss-ass over the next year.

  193. Benne on December 18th, 2008 10:21 am

    no, I just couldn’t figure out why ESPN would be doing 4th outfielder Mariner highlights in December, 2009 optimism or no.

    Slow news cycle. The Yankees and Red Sox haven’t done anything big as of late, there hasn’t been any TO/Cowboys drama lately, Brett Favre hasn’t retired again, and Notre Dame still sucks. So yeah, nothing worth covering for ESPN.

  194. SonOfZavaras on December 18th, 2008 11:18 am

    Regarding a nickname for Franklin Gutierrez, and I agree “F-Gut” doesn’t have the ring of right to it…hmmm….

    “Frankie Good Glove”? “Frankie Five Fingers”? “Frankie Gutz”? Or just plain “Guti”?

  195. terry on December 18th, 2008 11:20 am

    Would it be fair to say that Silva is above average at not giving up flyballs?

  196. SonOfZavaras on December 18th, 2008 11:22 am

    Initials FRG….hmmm…Fergie?

  197. Benne on December 18th, 2008 11:23 am

    I’m just going with “Gutz.” Simple, to the point, and has potential for many, many witty headlines. Jim Street is rubbing his hands together in glee right now.

  198. SonOfZavaras on December 18th, 2008 11:41 am

    Jim Street would rub his hands together in glee if they promised him a candy cane for Christmas.

  199. joser on December 18th, 2008 2:01 pm

    The Yanks biggest problem is that they have to play 34 games against either the Red Sox or the Rays. And yeah, even after jettisoning Abreau and Giambi, with guys like Damon and Matsui still on the team they’re getting old and creaky. Heck, Jeter is going to be 35 and even the people who have been long deluded about his supposed defensive prowess have started to notice he’s lost a step.

    Did Z get Endy as a platoon player or as a 4th OF?

    Maybe he took him because that was the last piece in the deal and he was the highest value of the players the Mets made available. When you’re doing a 12-man three-team deal, nobody is getting everything they want, but you’re trying to maximize the value you get back for what you’re giving up. Now, if you’re somebody like Bavasi who fetishizes “roles” and is bad at valuing talent, you might take a bad deal because it gives you exactly the players you can plug into the holes in your system, even if those players aren’t as good as other choices who would seem to be redundant on your roster. If you’re a smarter GM, you take the best value and see where that gets you. You can always package and flip guys in later deals, or platoon people, or make them fight it out in spring training and send the losers to Tacoma (unless they’re out of options) with a chance to come back up in case of suckage/injury.

    Unfortunately, I’m not talented at coming up with nicknames… Franklin Rafael Gutierrez… Any takers?

    FRaG? Gooty? (I’m guessing his fellow players/coaches call him that, or Frankie)

  200. Teej on December 18th, 2008 3:48 pm

    Would it be fair to say that Silva is above average at not giving up flyballs?

    Probably.

    League average, according to Dave’s article, is 36%.

    Silva’s been steadily in the 33-34% range for the past three years. In 2008, he saw his GB% dip as his LD% rose.

  201. mydquinn on December 20th, 2008 2:30 am

    Just for fun, cherry pick the best 2007 or 2008 stats from the Ms roster. Yes, it is cherry picking and I used crude stats, but the whole point is to see what is possible. It’s not like I am dipping into ancient history for stats.

    Compare them to 2008 Tampa Bay! You can’t tell me this team does not have a shot.

    LF: Carl Crawford (.273, 8 HR, 18 net SBvs. Ken Griffey or other mid-level free agent LF (.275 BA, 20-25 HRs)
    CF: BJ Upton (.273, 9 HR, 28 net SB) vs. Franklin Gutierrez (.275 BA, 15 HRs, 15 net SBs projected)
    RF: Eric Hinske (.247, 20 HR) vs. Ichiro Suzuki (.351 BA, 39 net SBs)
    C: Dioner Navarro (.295, 7HR) vs. Kenji Johjima (.287 BA, 14 HRs)
    1B: Carlos Pena (.247, 31HR) vs. Russ Branyan/Shelton (.260 BA, 20-25 HRs projected)
    2B: Akinori Iwamura (.274, 6 HR) vs. Jose Lopez (.297 BA, 17 HRs)
    SS: Jason Bartlett (.286, 1 HR, 14 net SB) vs. Yuniesky Betancourt (.289 BA, 9 HRs)
    3B: Evan Longaria (.272, 27 HR) vs. Adrian Beltre (.276, 26 HRs, 12 net SBs)
    DH: Cliff Floyd (.268, 11 HR) vs. Jeff Clement/Morse (.280 BA, 15-20 HRs projected)

    1. Scott Kazmir (3.49 era) vs. Erik Bedard (3.18 era)
    2. James Shields (3.56 era) vs. Felix Hernandez (3.45 era)
    3. Matt Garza (3.70 era) vs. Rowland Smith (3.50 era as a starter)
    4. Andy Sonnanstine (4.38 era) vs. Carlos Silva (4.19 era)
    5. Edwin Jackson (4.42 era) vs. Miguel Batista (4.29 era)

    Other P:
    Percival (4.47 era) vs. Jarrod Washburn (4.32 era)
    Balfour (1.54 era) vs. Morrow (1.47 era as a RP)
    Howell (2.22 era) vs. Heilman (3.03 era)
    Wheeler (3.12 era) vs. Corcoran (3.32 era)

  202. ima-zeliever on December 20th, 2008 2:55 pm

    Dave/DMZ, will you guys refer to where I can read about properly valuing offense? From what I am seeing, it seems that Ichiro (dare I say…) is over-valued in what he brings offensively. Is that your opinion? Is there any chance that Z would trade him either now or at the deadline?

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