A Theoretical Roster

Dave · December 31, 2008 at 8:06 am · Filed Under Mariners 

To build on the post I did the other day, here’s a slightly tweaked roster that involves adding two non-major players that would push this team into the contending-is-a-real-possibility range. The numbers are based on the CHONE projections for 2009, and I projected the playing time.

As you probably noticed, the two additions are Nick Johnson and Alfredo Amezaga. They’re projected to combine for 600 PA, so I’m not penciling either of them in as full time players, but their impact on the roster could still be pretty dramatic.

Despite all of his injury issues, Nick Johnson is a remarkably productive player when he’s on the field. His CHONE projection has him at +25 runs per 150 games, or about +4 runs per 100 PA. Even with his can’t-stay-healthy, can’t-be-trusted track record, Johnson doesn’t need to play much to help the team. Washington simply isn’t going to demand the moon for one year of Nick Johnson, considering that he’s owed $5 million and his health is a pretty big question mark.

Amezaga essentially replaces Bloomquist on the roster, and is a pretty comparable hitter and baserunner. However, he’s a switch-hitter and a tremendous defensive player, which gives the team a legitimate defensive middle infielder. Amezaga is arb. eligible, which means he’s getting expensive for the Marlins, and could be acquired without giving up a key piece of the future.

That group of position players projects out to about a 720 run offense. Considering the run prevention that the defense and pitching staff should be capable of, that’s a ~.500ish team with real upside.

Nick Johnson and Alfredo Amezaga would add about $6 or $7 million to the payroll. Based on 300 PA apiece, they’d be worth about 3 wins combined. If Johnson stays healthy, that could easily be 5 wins. And, you don’t have to mortgage the farm to get either one.

These are the kinds of moves that I’d like to see the M’s make. You add a legitimate LH bat who gets on base and a great infield glove, give the team a shot at contention in 2009, and don’t set the organization’s build-with-youth plan back much at all. This team simply doesn’t have to be terrible in 2009. There are legitimate options to win and build for the future at the same time.

Here’s to hoping the M’s can pull it off.


44 Responses to “A Theoretical Roster”

  1. Graham on December 31st, 2008 8:19 am

    I’ve been interested in Johnson for years. If Zduriencik can pull that off I might just wet myself.

  2. mymrbig on December 31st, 2008 8:31 am

    Good stuff Dave. Would you mind giving a quick comment on some guys I mentioned in “A Team Worth Gambling On?” post? I was thinking along similar lines – guys who could upgrade one of the weak spots but wouldn’t cost too much (in terms of young talent) to acquire. Or anyone else can feel free to comment, I am really interested in these kind of possibilities as short-term acquisitions.

    (1) Matt Diaz, LF, Braves – good offense and defense in 2006 & 2007. If he can put those numbers up over a full season, he’s worth 4 wins. Even in more limited time, he could be worth at least 2 wins. No platoon split.

    (2) Luke Scott, LF, Orioles – good offense and defense 2006-08. Not completely worthless against LHP, but a platoon of him and Balentien (with Scott as a late defensive replacement when Balentien starts) could be very productive.

    (3) Matt Murton, LF, A’s – the baseball gods hate him, but he has generally been good offensively and defensively when given a chance.

    (4) Austin Kearns, LF, Nats – kind of the same situation as Nick Johnson, only he’s more expensive, but has generally been healthier until his 2008 performance.

    The Nats have small logjams at 1st and in the OF corners. They would also like some more rotation depth. Makes me wonder if something along the lines of Kearns + Johnson –> Washburn + Balentien could be done. Salary is pretty neutral in the swap and Bowden is a total sucker for toolsy outfielders (even if he already has enough of them).

    Hell, if the M’s really wants to take a stab at 2009, they could see if one of the DH options would take a 1-year deal (Dunn for $12-14 million?). Next year’s free agent class is much weaker and if the economy rebounds, teams will have more money to burn. Dunn is still young and this could be in his best interest long-term, plus he would re-unite for a season with his good friend (Kearns), and the M’s don’t even lose a pick since he wasn’t offered arbitration by the D-Backs. Don’t know if the M’s have the salary space though.

    Just imagine the roster additions:
    Kearns: +3.5 wins (he was +3.7 in 2006 and +3.8 in 2007)
    Dunn: +3.0 wins as a DH
    Johnson: +2.5 wins (if he is healthy 1/2 the season, though this would reduce Branyan’s contribution)

    It is fun to dream.

  3. Omerta on December 31st, 2008 8:32 am

    I love these posts because you take the time to explain exactly why these pieces would be useful instead of the more rampant internet rosterbation (often something like “it’d be great if we could pry Brandon Webb away from the D-Backs…”).

    Also, for the first time in many years, I can actually see our front office following your suggestions.

  4. PositivePaul on December 31st, 2008 8:36 am

    Dave — you know I’m probably the last Mike Morse fanboy left, but the biggest problem I see to this plan:

    “Mike Morse – OF”

    His best shot at any position would be Beltre’s backup at 3B (where he’s really not good either, but he’s relatively passable there) followed by 1B.

    I would never ever ever put him in the OF again…


  5. mymrbig on December 31st, 2008 8:48 am

    And when I say the Nats have a logjam at 1B, LF, and RF, here are the guys the have: Dukes, Kearns, Willingham, Wily Mo Pena, Nick Johnson, and Willie Harris (Don’t laugh, he was +1.9 wins in 2007 and +3.4 wins in 2008, excellent defense will do that to a guy). They could trade Kearns and Johnson and still have an OF of Pena/Harris, Milledge, Dukes with Willingham at 1B, not to mention a guy like Maxwell nearly ready for a shot in the minors.

  6. Mr. Egaas on December 31st, 2008 8:58 am

    I was hoping the Nationals would sign Texeiera simply for the fact that they could kick Johnson overboard easily.

  7. Gump on December 31st, 2008 9:30 am

    Luke Scott, LF, Orioles – good offense and defense 2006-08. Not completely worthless against LHP, but a platoon of him and Balentien (with Scott as a late defensive replacement when Balentien starts) could be very productive.

    I don’t think the O’s will be dealing with the M’s anytime soon after the gold they got away with in the Bedard deal. 😉

  8. mymrbig on December 31st, 2008 9:36 am

    I thought they would give the M’s Luke Scott for nothing as a sort of apology for taking the M’s to the cleaners last winter…

  9. Gump on December 31st, 2008 9:42 am

    I thought they would give the M’s Luke Scott for nothing as a sort of apology for taking the M’s to the cleaners last winter


    If only it worked that way the mariners would field an all-star team. I think Morse would give us an uplift as a DH\IF. If he can make it a whole season without injury I believe his hitting skills will take us pretty far.

  10. diderot on December 31st, 2008 9:43 am

    Would someone be so kind as to differentiate between RAA and WAR? Even my Hardball Times is no help. Thanks

  11. Mere Tantalisers on December 31st, 2008 9:45 am

    Johnson’s a guy that seems to always come up in trade talks as a desirable target for pretty obvious reasons, and I would be thrilled if we could get him. Is there any indication though that the Nationals are interested in moving him? What do you think it will take to pry him away? What the Mariners had to offer – relievers and back end starters – they’ve either run out of or the nationals don’t really need.

    Maybe they can be tempted with Adam Moore? I don’t know the state of their catching, system wide, but at a glance it looks pathetic.

  12. Graham on December 31st, 2008 10:04 am

    Would someone be so kind as to differentiate between RAA and WAR? Even my Hardball Times is no help. Thanks

    RAA: Runs above average. Several varieties – fielding, batting, pitching.

    WAR: Wins above replacement.

  13. bermanator on December 31st, 2008 10:04 am

    The Mariners would really need to be happy with Nick Johnson’s medicals for me to be excited about that acquisition. It’s not so much that Johnson’s been injury prone that concerns me, it’s that he seems to take a ton of time rehabbing those injuries. He’s not a quick healer by any stretch of the imagination.

    I do think he could be had very cheaply, especially since the Nationals are looking to make a splash via free agency or trade and might try to get a bigger name to take over first base.

  14. Graham on December 31st, 2008 10:05 am

    I would never ever ever put [Morse] in the OF again…


    I really enjoy watching him flail about like a confused mongoose though.

  15. Mere Tantalisers on December 31st, 2008 10:15 am

    I really enjoy watching him flail about like a confused mongoose though.

    Mongoose implies a certain innate agility and grace. I always think of slightly daft great dane when I see him; I think maybe it’s the very long limbs.

  16. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 10:22 am

    If the Marlines decide not to let go of Amezaga on the cheap because he’s so useful to a NL team, how about someone like Juan Uribe? He’s a free agent so the M’s wouldn’t have to give up a prospect for him. Bill James has his 2009 wOBA pegged at 11 points higher than Amezaga while he’s 3 points lower in Marcel, so probably a wash there.

    Uribe’s career UZR/150 numbers:
    2B: 10.3 in 1077 Innings
    3B: -4.2 in 641.2
    SS: 2.3 in 6540.0

    2B: 12.8 in 314.1
    3B: -10.6 in 234.1
    SS: 10.4 in 699.2
    CF: 15.6 in 1631.0

    Uribe’s also about a year and a half younger so I feel pretty comfortable looking at career fielding numbers for a comparision of the two players. The only problem is that he doesn’t have the OF experience of Amezaga (who also has limited time in RF/LF). But I think that with this roster having Ichiro!, Wlad, Chavez, Gutierrez, Branyan (who has 1500 innings in RF/LF), and Morse you don’t need your last sub to be able to play in the OF.

  17. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 10:34 am

    On another front…

    Dave, what was your reasoning for giving Wlad more innings than Chavez in your projection? I know that he has more offensive headroom, but his defense is much worse than Chavez and barring some major growth, he’s probably worth around 2 wins less than Chavez over a full season.

    Chavez is probably 20+ runs better in the field than Wlad. Their current production at the plate is roughly equivalent.

    I guess I just don’t see a long-term place for Balentien in Seattle. Gutz is going to be in CF with Ichiro in RF and Chavez is better right now than Balentien. Michael Saunders and/or Greg Halman will be up by 2010 to take the LF spot which leaves Wlad without a position to play.

  18. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 10:51 am

    UPDATE: current offensive projection for Chavez and Balentien about the same according to wOBA on Fangraphs. I just saw that CHONE has them 13 runs apart which I’m still trying to get my head around as Chavez’s slash line projection is .270/.319/.357 compared to Balentien’s .231/.302/.409.

    Balentien’s 2009 projected slash lines:
    Bill James: .239/.312/.444
    Marcel: .239/.298/.402
    CHONE: .231/.302/.409

    Bill James: .274/.317/.363
    Marcel: .275/.324/.378
    CHONE: .270/.319/.357

    So maybe Balentien is about 10-20 runs better at the plate than Chavez. Chavez is still 20 to maybe 25 runs better in the field than Balentien has proven he can be.

    So my question still stands, though it is looking like a closer run between Balentien and Chavez for playing time and I can understand giving it to the younger play in that situation.

  19. mymrbig on December 31st, 2008 10:53 am

    CMC_Stags – you just gave some good reasons to try and trade Wlad while he still maintains decent value as a toolsy OF who just hasn’t adjusted to hitting in the majors yet. Find an old-school GM who doesn’t pay enough attention to defense and trade away. I really think Bowden would be interested in him, looking at all the toolsy outfielders he has collected the past couple years.

  20. Gump on December 31st, 2008 10:57 am

    I like Balentiens upside and potential power tho. If he can just work on hitting nothing but curveballs all winter to me he almost has Buhner potential.

  21. joser on December 31st, 2008 11:16 am

    I thought they would give the M’s Luke Scott for nothing as a sort of apology for taking the M’s to the cleaners last winter…

    There’s no apologies in baseball. I’m sure their front office is still chortling that they finally managed to find as a trade partner an organization even more dysfunctional than themselves. But given the changes over here, I expect they’re going to hang on tightly to what they have, keep their heads down, and not even answer the phone when caller ID shows them a 206.

    I don’t think the O’s will be dealing with the M’s anytime soon after the gold they got away with in the Bedard deal.

    Exactly. But — doors and windows — now the Marlins might be open to a deal since the “Eff Dave Samson” guy is gone…

  22. joser on December 31st, 2008 11:34 am

    But even if Balentien finds his upside by finding a way to hit breaking balls, he’s still a bad fit for Safeco, and would have a higher ceiling (and more value) in a home park with a nearer left field fence.

    BTW, can someone explain Chavez’ platoon splits to me? I mean 460 PAs isn’t that small of a sample size.

  23. joser on December 31st, 2008 11:36 am

    Would someone be so kind as to differentiate between RAA and WAR?

    To see the steps to convert RAA into WAR see Dave’s walkthrough and Tango’s post.

  24. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 11:42 am


    When you say that you don’t think it will take much to get Johnson, what kind of prospect are you referencing? If the M’s could get him, it would seem to go a long way towards shoring up the DH/1B positions. It also looks like he plays well above average defense at first when healthy.

  25. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 11:47 am


    I saw those platoon splits too as I was checking to see if he or Balentien had career platoon splits that could be exploited but they both look roughly equal RHP/LHP. I think it’s because his career BABIP versus LHP is 10 points higher than versus RHP. If you normalize for that, I think it comes back into the expected outcome of him being better versus RHP.

    Though I’m not sure if there is some Line Drive tendancies versus LHP that makes that 10 point spread sustainable or not.

  26. CMC_Stags on December 31st, 2008 11:52 am

    But even if Balentien finds his upside by finding a way to hit breaking balls, he’s still a bad fit for Safeco, and would have a higher ceiling (and more value) in a home park with a nearer left field fence.

    Agreed… I’ve though about Wlad and Rob Johnson quite a bit and I think the M’s should trade them both if they can get an upgrade to Yuni out of the deal.

    I think that Wlad and Rob Johnson are both likely to not be with the MLB team in 2009 because the team has more capable players on the roster at their positions. I’m also not sure they have spots in 2010 and farther forward because the M’s – theoretically – have better prospects in Halman/Saunders and Adam Moore right behind them.

    I kinda hate to keep coming back to this, but would Milwalkee do a JJ Hardy for Rob Johnson and Wlad deal? I’d take Escobar if they don’t want to give up Hardy. Rob Johnson could come out of Spring Training as their starting catcher and Wlad would likely be their 4th OF. They can’t play Escobar and Hardy at SS at the same time…

  27. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on December 31st, 2008 12:19 pm

    BTW…Happy New Year fellow M’s fans! Here’s to a much better (knock on wood) 2009!

  28. SonOfZavaras on December 31st, 2008 1:02 pm

    1.) Happy New Year!!! I hope to make it to the USSM/LL event on the 10th.

    2.) Nice work on the post. From the look of it, you expect Shelton, Corona, Burke and Morse to all spend a lot of time in the minors for 2009.
    Can’t say I disagree with the basic idea, but Morse is out of minor league options- meaning there’s a chance we lose him to some other team if we figure he’s not one of the 25 at any point.
    Ipso facto, he’ll probably get more than 50 PA.
    I mull over the merits of Nick Johnson every off-season, but I never even considered Amezaga…he’s a lot like Mark Kotsay for me in the sense that I know what he does, I appreciate what he does but I never think of him in relation to being on my team…

    I like the idea of both acquisitions. Maybe Seattle is the place where Nick Johnson finally has some sustained success, really carves out a niche. But who do you give up to get them?

    Guys like Ryan Feierabend and Rob Johnson come to mind right away, but neither have done enough to net solid vets from other teams by themselves…

  29. Graham on December 31st, 2008 1:33 pm

    would Milwalkee do a JJ Hardy for Rob Johnson and Wlad deal?

    I really really doubt it. They can do much better.

  30. noproblempablo on December 31st, 2008 1:55 pm

    Nick Johnson would be a dream and just the kind of move we need if we’re going to build for the future while trying to get lucky in 2009. If Bedard and Johnson both managed to stay healthy for 80% of the season we could be right in the thick of it.

  31. Beniitec on December 31st, 2008 3:18 pm

    Ok, now I’m excited about the baseball season. I just saw the MLBTV Network launch is scheduled for tomorrow 6pm ET. Only I don’t have any of the services that it’s going to be broadcast on in my area…Time to make a phone call. Anyone else excited about that? 24/7 Baseball channel. How about that?

  32. Coolalvin206 on December 31st, 2008 3:44 pm

    I think Johnson would be a welcomed addition (assuming they don’t any big splashes) Still holding out for Jr. Though!

  33. diderot on December 31st, 2008 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the references. There, as well as on Fangraphs, I think I found the correlation I was looking for…

    if you lost a league average player and replaced him with a freely available guy, you’d lose about two wins.

  34. joser on December 31st, 2008 4:41 pm

    Yeah, the MLB channel sounds great… but think about what they’re going to fill the offseason with. Sure, the replays of “classic” games will be fine now and then, but that still leaves a lot of hours in the day to be handed over to “Old Fogey Hour with Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver” and “Free Agents’ Cribs” and “E! Presents: The Derek Jeter Girlfriend of the Week” and “Scott Boras 360”

    But hey, the half-scale replica ballpark set for “MLB Tonight” sounds cool* if they actually use it to demonstrate things, and — here’s hoping — a latet-night stats show would be awesome (they could do it like Mythbusters, right? “Why ERA doesn’t measure what you think it does,” “Why RBIs are stupid,” “In Search of: Chemistry”)

    A guy can dream, anyway.

    * Bonus Mariners’ reference in that link

  35. Paul B on December 31st, 2008 8:03 pm

    Question, what makes Alfredo Amezaga worth so much, when the M’s already have Tug Hulett? Offensively, they are about a wash. I guess it must be fielding at SS?

  36. bookbook on January 1st, 2009 6:58 am

    I can’t let this thread pass without mentioning possibly the biggest gamble we could take to jump into the fray in 2009.

    Sign Barry Bonds. Heck, I bet he’d take an NRI at this point. We have a DH slot for him.

  37. Philly M's fan on January 1st, 2009 11:00 am

    Isn’t Ichiro’s BA a little low for this season’s projection? The lowest he ever hit was .303 2 years ago, and hit .310 last year. His career BA is .331, which i think would be closer to this season’s projection.

  38. joser on January 1st, 2009 11:52 am

    IIRC Chone has never been especially kind to Ichiro. Other projections are more optimistic: Bill James has him at .320 / .368 / .402 for 1.2 RAA; Marcel is lower but still her than Chone at .310 / .361 / .397 for 0.6 RAA

    It would be a fun little exercise to build the same roster using the other projection methods to see how it turns out.

    Actually, that would be a really cool feature for Fangraphs: the Rosterbation page, where you pick players to fill out the positions on a team and it does the rest of the calculations for you.

  39. killer_ewok18 on January 1st, 2009 1:39 pm

    What frustrated me is that the M’s don’t appear to be interested in Bradley at all. All he is asking for is 3 years, 30 million. That seems pretty reasonable to me, even with his injury history. Slot him in at DH and we have ourselves a pretty decent team with a decent shot at stealing the division.

    But maybe big Z knows something we don’t?

  40. joser on January 1st, 2009 2:41 pm

    Maybe Bradley has a bit of the Raul in him, and wants to play for a team that will give him more than 20 starts in the field, rather than becoming a full-time DH.

    In any case, how do we know what the M’s are or are not interested in? The lack of rumors doesn’t mean anything, since the national press is all agog at the Yankees and the local press has other things to do. Plus it’s the holidays and bowl week and all that. This time a year a lot of front offices are like ducks in a current, not appearing to be doing much on the surface but paddling like crazy underneath (and often not getting anywhere).

    Of course, that’s a great reason to go to the USSM event in a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t expect to get a question about a particular FA answered directly (unless he’s signed by then) but I’d hope we’d get a pretty good sense of the philosophy the FO is using to (re)build the team — from which we can infer which players they might be more or less interested in going forward.

  41. bongo on January 1st, 2009 10:17 pm

    Some issues with the list:

    1. There are 17 names on it. Assuming a 12 man pitching staff, that leaves room for only 13. So 4 names have to go. Hulett and Burke seem most likely to start the season in Tacoma. If you add Johnson, then Shelton seems destined for Tacoma, since otherwise you’d have 3 first basemen (4 if you count Lopez). Similarly, if you add Amezaga, then either Balentien or Morse probably won’t be on the roster.

    2. SS and 2B makeover. While Amezaga gives us some quality IF fielding, the problem is pretty deep with both Betancourt and Lopez needing to be replaced. Adding yet another first baseman makes the position crowded even if Shelton does start in Tacoma.

  42. CMC_Stags on January 2nd, 2009 8:33 am

    But maybe big Z knows something we don’t?

    I’m hoping that Z is just waiting for the rest of the teams to fill their LF and DH slots and see who is left in the cold of the Dunn, Ramirez, Burrell, and Abreau camp and then get them for a cheap 1 or 2 year deal.

    2. SS and 2B makeover. While Amezaga gives us some quality IF fielding, the problem is pretty deep with both Betancourt and Lopez needing to be replaced.

    I agree with you on Yuni. He’s well below average defensively as a SS while being below average offensively as well. While a move to 2B would make him look better defensively versus his new peer group, he still doesn’t hit enough. He’s also probably finished maturing as a player and what we now see is what we’re likely to keep seeing for the next few years. He turns 27 this month.

    On the other hand, Jose is fine. He’s at or just below league average with the glove while being a league average or above hitter. He’s also just turned 25 last month. For perspective:

    Jose Lopez is…
    95 days younger than Jeff Clement
    125 days younger than Rob Johnson
    269 days younger than Tug Hulett
    276 days younger than Franklin Gutierrez

    I think most people here think that all of the above players still have room to grow and improve as players as they are still young. Why don’t we afford Jose the same growth potential?

    Also, though I know it’s Winter League, Jose is tearing it up, .349/.427/.596 with 13 Walks to 12 Ks.

  43. joser on January 2nd, 2009 12:42 pm

    I was going to go get the link for that yahoo story, but anything that lumps Ichiro and Beltre in with Silva, Washburn, Batista and Johjima as “slop” simply doesn’t deserve the favor

    The Mariners rake in revenue and can sustain nine-figure payrolls without much strain.

    Problem is, when so much of it is devoted to slop – Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Silva, Washburn, Batista and Johjima will make a combined $67.35 million this season – it handcuffs Zduriencik.

  44. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 2nd, 2009 12:53 pm

    I’ve read Passan for a little bit every now and then (when a headline grabs my attention on Yahoo) and his stories are always either what’s percieved to be the prevailing opinion (hence a lot of bias in terms of east coast-west coast), something he didn’t actually break (retreads), or based on poor assumptions stemming from limited resources (read: lazy). This is certainly another in that long line.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.